One of the best parts of 2011 came very early in the year asI won a trip for our whole family to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. Though we were only there for a few days, it was a fabulous experience. When we returned from Hawaii, we finally moved out of my mom’s house where we had been living since the loss of our house in a mudslide during the 2010 flood. We moved into a condo that we have been renting since then. Though a little bigger than our house, living in our new place has been an adjustment to renting again and settling into a new routine. I have continued to feel blessed by my work at the Pastoral Counseling Centers and by the fabulous people that I work with. The work that we do is phenomenal and usually quite rewarding. However, the rewards have not been monetary this year. After making as many budget cuts as we can, the organization continued to struggle financially. It has been a challenging year in that regard. I am blessed by a staff that so believes in the work that we do that stay and support the organization when things have been difficult. The struggles this year did not keep me from trading in my 2006 Honda Shadow for a 2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 900LT and I have loved riding my new bike. Just enough bigger than my last bike to be more comfortable, I try to ride to work as often as I can and it makes life just a little more fun.
As 2011 moved to a close I had the opportunity to realize a goal of the past few years. On December 10, I tested for my black belt in tae kwon do (TKD). I began taking TKD in 2007 and have had an ambivalent relationship with it since then. I was drawn more to the “art” part than the martial arts and anticipated a fun way to exercise that I could add to other workouts. I soon realized that TKD would be more than that. I enjoyed the physical workouts, learning the forms/patterns, and hitting and kicking targets, but I was not so much into the loud shouts and the sparring. I liked that I learned things that might help me defend myself on the streets, but every time I tried to spar another student in class I wound getting my butt kicked. It was at times like this that I realized that TKD was more than just another way to exercise, but involved mental, emotional, and physical aspects that paralleled life. I am person who likes to be able to check off boxes and have a feeling of accomplishment. My work challenges me on a daily basis with a process that does not always get tied up in neat little packages. I don’t like to have a lot of attention drawn to myself and, therefore, I struggle with being awkward, imperfect, or inadequate. TKD has challenged me on regular basis to move out of the comfort zone – to risk failing at something new and appearing foolish in order to accomplish something great. I have had to tolerate slow learning and being imperfect. I have had to accept that there is a process to the learning and you cannot move towards mastery without going through the intermediary steps. I have had to realize that I can learn from others, but I cannot compare myself to others. I have to always strive to better than I was before, but I have to accept that there will always be another who is better, faster, and stronger than I am.
That being said, some days have been easier for me than others as I struggle with learning something new or challenging myself in a new way. I have come to a place of always trying something new and realizing that I may not be able to do everything. Along the way I reached a point where I knew that was going to see the process through to some point. I came to realize that achieving the black belt, while a great accomplishment, is only a beginning that marks a level of mastery of basic skills. I remain somewhat ambivalent about continuing as I have new aches and pains, as I continue to feel uncomfortable with being imperfect. But I have come to realize that the more I can learn to tolerate the process of learning and growing TKD and experience the joy of new accomplishments there, the more I can do this in my life outside the TKD studio. I am excited to see what challenges and excitements come in 2012. I pray blessings for you in the New Year.