Jane (10) had her first belt promotion--going from white belt to yellow belt. This was Ana's (12.85) third promotion--going from orange belt to green. Both girls did amazing jobs, conquering their fears and breaking boards and, in general, exuding the self-confidence earned when you give something your best effort.
I must digress to tell a little Jane story. (Sue me.) Jane was terrified of the belt promotion ceremony. She really didn't want to go. She was afraid she wouldn't be able to break the board and that she'd be embarrassed in front of everyone. She was in tears before we went --and, you know, Jane pretty much eats nails for breakfast, so this was unusual. During the ceremony, as the time grew closer, she got more and more tense--it was almost palpable.
|Jane sits waiting, as relaxed as a coiled spring.|
My husband and I watched her and worried and hoped we were doing the right thing by making her go through with it. At one point, he leaned over to me and said, "I thought about telling her that the way the instructor holds the board --kind of pulling it or pushing it --helps the kids break it." I said, "For goodness' sake, we can't tell her THAT!" He said, "No, I know, I just thought about it, though, to try to ease her mind a little."
Jane stood up and the instructor talked her through how the process worked: Jane was to do two practice swings and then give it her all and break the board.
She broke it on the second practice swing! I didn't even get a picture of it because I wasn't ready! The instructor was a bit dumbfounded because she wasn't anticipating that, either.
Later, when we were congratulating Jane on facing her fears so spectacularly and breaking the board before anyone even expected her to do so, Jane said, "You know, the instructors hold the board to put tension on it so it's easier to break. I didn't want any help."
Classic Jane. Just...classic. (I learn something from her every single day.)
After the belt promotion ceremonies....no, no, wait, now I have to tell a story about Ana because Ana had a board-breaking moment, too. She was to do it using a hand strike called a "neck attack." (The first time I heard an instructor call it a "neck attack," I thought that she was saying some sort of glamorous Korean word, "nekattak." Turns out, it was English. Neck attack. Ah.) The first time Ana hit the board, the board didn't break.
She tried again two more times until she had tears in her eyes from the pain. Then she asked if she could hit it with a hammer strike (also English and means, um, strike it like a hammer) and, y'all, she broke that sucker smack in two.
Because Ana? Does. Not. Give. Up. Ever.
(I wouldn't mess with either one of my girls, frankly.) (And no, I'm not one bit proud of them.)
Okay, NOW to the point of this blog post. Because I have one, really, besides just bragging about my children.
After the belt promotions, there was an exhibition by these three teenagers who had earned their second degree black-belts. Each of these young men has been attending the school for about ten years and the level of excellence they displayed was truly breathtaking. In addition to their expertise in Tae Kwon Do, the boys sparred, and then they did some Jujitsu. It was a really impressive display, followed by each young man saying a few words of thanks and inspiration to the audience.
I spend a lot of time at the Tae Kwon Do school. I've written before about what a special place it is so I don't mind hanging out there one bit. Both of my girls take lessons there twice a week and I take yoga there at least three times per week (and would go more often if I could.) (I joked with the owner the other day that I'm getting to be as much of a fixture as the much-maligned yoga frog.) (If people start stopping by to rub my belly for good luck, though, I'm outta there.)
Anyway, the messages across the curriculum are consistent: discipline, perseverance, respect, intensity, excellence. (And for me, a little added message about PATIENCE.) The school starts talking to the students about these things in the Tiny Tiger classes and the messages continue throughout a student's career at the school.
Seeing those second degree black belts, something clicked inside me. Those guys spent many thousands of hours working on those belts. They have a passion for the art, true, but they still had to put in the time and the dedication--the (dare I say it?) perseverance and discipline to achieve their goals.
I think that maybe this was a message I needed to hear, especially right now. I have this idea rolling around in my head (apparently knocking me off balance) for a new book but I haven't...well, DONE anything about it. Haven't written one word. Not one outline. Haven't so much as named the characters. I guess I've been expecting to be sprinkled with magic pixie dust and to emerge with a fully written novel in my hands or something.
Maybe it's that because writing is my passion, I expect it to be EASY. But it's not easy. It's never easy-- I am not one of those writers. I have a friend who writes so fluidly and naturally that the words seem to just fall onto the page and require little editing. That would not be me. I'm more from the "gnashing my teeth, struggling for the phrases, go back and delete it all, begin again and then, sometimes, walk into a wall clock to REALLY knock the words out of me" school of writing. It's hard work and it takes (hello!) determination and discipline and perseverance to achieve my goals. Even this blog post took me a long time and a significant amount of angst and chocolate.
I didn't have to break any boards, though.