So you would think lucid dreaming, style, uncertainty and buried feelings have nothing to do with a story about self-control in the dojo?

I tried out one of Martha Beck’s suggestions on generating ideas. The one about reading a few paragraphs from different books on different subjects and seeing what comes up. She calls it “Throwing in the kitchen sink”.

Started out with a paragraph on lucid dreaming from The 4-hour body by Timothy Ferriss. Reminded me that I dreamt about a great topic for my PhD the other day. I distinctly remembered thinking in the dream that it was a really great topic. Except that I can’t remember it now that I’m awake.

Then read a paragraph on style from The art of editing in the age of convergence by Brooks, Pinson and Sissors. Reminded me of something Justine Musk wrote in a recent post: “Style is the story you tell about yourself to the world”. I like that.

Then read a quote from Embracing Uncertainty by Susan Jeffers:

No man knows whether death, which men in their fear apprehend to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good.
Socrates

Not sure what to do with this…

And then I read a paragraph in The courage to be yourself by Sue Patton Thoele about how women often seem to feel tired because they suppress their feelings and then carry these unresolved and unspoken feelings around in their subconscious.

Which provides a good background and intro to the possible cause of an emotional explosion in my karate class the other day.

***

At the inauspicious occasion of realising that I have literally worn through my first gi (karate suit) and now have a gaping hole under my right arm, I was unfortunately also reminded of the fact that I still need to work on one specific aspect or rather lack of this aspect in my life.

After each karate class, we line up and repeat these five maxims of karate: character, etiquette, effort, sincerity, and self-control.

“Character,” says the sensei.
“CHARACTER!” shout the children.
“Etiquette.” “ETIQUETTE!”
“Effort.” “EFFORT!”
“Sincerity.” “SINCERITY!”
(You notice I leave out self-control?)

For beginner adults, training with children has its advantages. They don’t mind if you’re slow. They have patience to show you the sequence of the kata. Again. You can learn at your own pace.
But then, they also want the attention of the sensei even when the sensei is busy with you.
“Sensei! Sensei?!”
Or they’ll fool around and deem it fit to rather neaten up the weights or whatever equipment. Which would be fine, except that if there’s more than one child wanting to do it, each of them wants to do it in his/her own way. Causing loud discussions (who am I fooling?) – arguing and sometimes hitting. In the dojo, for goodness sake!
So. Self-control.
Hm.
“No hitting in the dojo!” would have sufficed.
But no. I had to go on and on. In a LOUD voice. [Which I now think may be because of unresolved and unspoken issues, you see.]
Just after the incident I did manage to convert my anger into a quite powerful (for me!) kata, though.

***

Can’t help it, want to end off with a Terry Pratchett reference. In I shall wear midnight, Tiffany Aching tells someone that witches don’t get angry. They do feel anger, but they put it away somewhere until they can do something useful with it.
I suppose my problem is to do something useful with it before it explodes on me, hey?

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How to become a superhero underneath

Talked about just doing it and habits yesterday. Starting with small steps are effective “because they cannily sidestep that primitive part of your mind that senses change, or difficult task ahead, and so slams on the brakes and spins you toward some stress-relieving activity”, like watching tv. Just write down what you eat? The lizard brain laughs at this because it’s no threat. So you write down what you eat each day and without even noticing begin to eat slightly more healthy the next day and the next, until after a while you notice that eating six portions of veggies and fruit has become a habit. The principle behind this is apparently called kaizen, the Japanese word for progress through tiny but steady improvements. Justine Musk write more about this with regard to writing a novel: How to get out of your own way and quit procrastinating on your novel.

On the repetitive nature of building habits, I found Victoria Moran’s words (in Living a Charmed Life) motivational:

You can’t buy muscle. The only way to get it is to build it yourself.

By becoming as strong, flexible and fit as is possible for you, taking the whole package that is you (heredity, age, lifestyle up to now, physical limitations) into account, might have positive physical manifestations like trimming down and having muscles that make other people envious.

But the cherry on the cake is that when you KNOW you have “strength and endurance and flexibility beyond what’s expected, you may appear to be a mild-mannered hairdresser or physician or second-grade teacher, but there’s a superhero underneath.”

Maybe I’ve been under my son’s influence too long, but being a superhero underneath seems to resonate with me. Knowing something positive about yourself – holding yourself in high esteem – that’s where your power is.