Endurance

Endurance picEndurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.” – Buddha

In January, 2015, I used this picture and quote as my monthly theme for class. The reason I did was when I consider monthly themes I take suggestions from my assistant instructor and I think about how the students have been doing in the recent month. I try to think what might motivate or excite them, to push them.

I thought Endurance would be good for the start of the year. Yeah, so many times the theme of Goals is used and I’ll bring it out now and again. But I wanted the students to toughen up a bit, get through some of the difficult parts of the workout and form work we do.

Endurance is akin to perseverance. You’re trying to keep going to reach the goal. I think endurance, however, can be broken down into the areas of mental and physical.

One of my exercises I do every so often is go through my form, full power, seven times. After the first couple I’m doing all right. By the fourth or fifth round, I’m feeling it – in my muscles, my breathing, and especially in my mind. It becomes a mental exercise to keep going, to finish those seven. I’m sweating and I’m pushing those kicks, trying to stay relaxed (not tense throughout), and focusing on technique rather than the strain and pain I’m feeling. The mental game to endure the strain and pain and keep going. Push, kick, strike. Again. Again. One more time. The mind counts up from one then counts down how many more rounds I have. Push, kick, strike. Again. One more time.

Of course, to endure, the physical side comes into play. By years of training I’ve built up strength and stamina to keep going. To endure.

Region 114’s annual camp is an excellent venue for endurance. The classes and exercises are intense and demanding. The Masters instructing will push you to your limits. They’re not harsh or come down with punishment for failure, but they will push. They’ll encourage improvement, celebrate success.

But only after you’ve endured what they have to offer.

None of us is Superman, but as I mentioned, training does help endurance.

I think of those who go through the SEAL training. Normally, it isn’t the biggest guy in the bunch who succeeds. Those who succeed will be the ones with that physical and mental endurance to push past the pain and the mental anguish. Late in 2014, I heard commercials about enduring the training of one of the military branches. The man speaking was pushing himself mentally, saying to himself that he needed to keep going for just a bit longer, just a minute more. Then he’d succeed.

Endurance is strength of body and of mind. It doesn’t always have to be something physical like a martial arts form or military training. Sometimes, it can be about a job interview or writing the final chapter in a book.

Where in your life have you had to endure to succeed?

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Adult Truth #17

Yes, I know it’s Thursday, but it’s one of those rare weeks where an earlier post is necessary as I’m off to Black Belt Camp and will be busy tomorrow.

——————————

#17I wish Google Maps had an ‘Avoid Ghetto’ routing option.”

Unless your destination IS the ghetto.

This brings up an interesting discussion. Let me lead you into it slowly and try not to upset you too much.

When you take a trip, do you just get in the car and drive? You have no destination, no time frame for your trip, no plans whatsoever, you just get in your car and drive, right? Well, some people take a vacation with no set destination in mind but I’ll bet they have a time frame. I mean, they’ll have to go back to work or get back to responsibilities at home at some point.

So…do you say to yourself, “I’m going to write a story today”, sit down with pen in hand or in front of your laptop and start writing?

You’re ahead of me, right? Well, think hard before you answer.

My point is, everybody outlines.

“No, they don’t, sir. I certainly don’t.”

Yes. You do. You have to. Now before you start in on your protestations and snarky emails, read on. I’m talking about basic outlining. You have a story idea. You have a couple characters and a vague description, maybe a setting, and, oh, yes, the hero gets the girl in the end. Right? Well, that’s outlining.

I’m not saying you have to do a Jeffrey Deaver 180 page detailed outline. However, you still have to make some decisions. How old are the characters? How much time is going to pass from the story’s beginning to the end? Are you starting when the hero is twenty years old and end it when he’s ninety-five or start when he’s twenty years old and end when he’s twenty years and two days old? How do the characters change throughout the book? Is there a resolution to the problem or are you setting up for a sequel?

I think these are some of the decisions you have to make before you write Chapter One. You have to have some idea of where you’re going. Maybe you don’t have the trip to Paris or that one of the character’s will die halfway through the story, but I think you have to have some vision of the future.

Too often I’ve heard authors say they don’t outline, they just sit down and start writing. More often than not, I don’t see a completed story. Why? Because they usually run out of steam, or more likely, lose their way in the story. They don’t have to vision to continue. So, the story peters out around chapter two or three.

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t successful authors who don’t outline. I’m just saying I haven’t seen very many who stick around very long. I congratulate those who can write an entire story from scratch with no real notion of where they’re going, how they’re going to get there, or when they’ll end. The old adage of ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’

comes into play a little bit here.

I’ve written before that not outlining for me is like trying to explore a complex cavern with only ten matches for illumination.

I’ve heard the argument that, “Well, I just don’t want to be bound by the outline. I can’t work like that?” Fine. You’re a writer and writers break rules all the time. You’re not fettered by your outline. There is no rule that says you can’t change your mind down the line somewhere. I do. The publisher isn’t going to come back to you and demand to see your outline and lambast you for coloring outside the lines. There is a time, maybe a few times, where I realize my outline needs to be modified because something isn’t working. I just make it work. I have the creativity to adjust and modify. I do it all the time in my taekwondo classes. I have a class planner but sometimes the students just aren’t understanding what I’m trying to communicate. Maybe it’s my fault, maybe it’s their fault. But I know when to stop the exercise or the drill and move onto something else. I can come back to the original point later on but I don’t want to bore the students. Just as if you continue on with the same vein in your story, you risk boring the readers if it isn’t working.

So, what’s the point here? I think it this: Be realistic when you claim you don’t outline. If you have the vision, the perseverance, the time, and the motivation, then go for it and I’ll will congratulate you when you’re finished. But if it doesn’t work…then revise your plan and jot down a few notes to help you along.

Now, as for the unplanned trip…wow! I’d absolutely love to do that one day. No destination, just explore, no care in the world where I’m going or when I’ll be back.

Can you imagine that?

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Chapters – IV

C04We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it be included in the price.”

I don’t know about you, but even if the park DID provide swimsuits, I don’t think I’d wear one. Even if it has been washed fifty times over, how many other bodies have worn it?

***

So what do you think about when you see the price for something? Everybody has a personal opinion on if a product or service is too expensive. It all comes down to what we think is worth the money.

Years ago I went with my dad to a model train fair. We visited many booths and displays and saw a lot of pretty good stuff. At one booth, a guy was hawking a product one used when creating scenery. I can’t recall exactly what it did (a special glue or foam to connect pieces of material to make construction easier and more realistic) but the bottle cost around forty dollars. Now, dad has been into model trains for decades so he was attracted. I thought the price was a bit much, but dad ended up buying a bottle and found the product worked pretty good.

I guess I’m the same with books. I used to be a big eBay purchaser and until the site went to strictly Paypal payments I would shop a lot. The problem I found was that several sellers were ripoff artists. I know book prices have increased and today you shell out close to nine or ten dollars for a paperback in the store. I used to have a bit of an OCD complex where I wouldn’t buy a book unless it was in pristine condition. Then I realized I was missing out on a lot of books because of my standards. (However, I still read with the book open only far enoughto read the words without cracking the spine. I’m also glad that dad does the same when he borrows some of my books.) However, back then books ranged from four to six dollars.

Anyway, I shopped on eBay because I could peruse used books and older books no longer in the stores. I saw some pretty good deals and thought the money spent was justified. However, I thought a lot sellers were cheats because the book itself may have cost anywhere from 99 cents to four dollars but the shipping was always four-six dollars, or more. So, I would have ended up paying new-book price for something years old. No way. I knew it didn’t cost six dollars to ship a book.

Today, with Amazon and other online stores it’s a bit easier, in one sense to be able to shop around. The liability is, there are various ways to buy books, to get the one you want for the right price may require a lot of time. And with the explosion of eBooks and especially with self-published books, the old warning of BUYER BEWARE is so important.

I’m not against self-published books. I know authors who have gone this route and their books are just fine. However, in my book reviews, I have run across so many more that were not. It’s not difficult to recognize a self-published book at times because of the poor quality of the plot and all of the errors of grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. No self-respecting editor or publisher would allow that crap to get published.

I must correct myself by saying…some do. That’s one of the downsides to small indie publishers. Not saying the big six doesn’t put out crap, but some of these small publishers are so close to fly-by-night outfits, it ain’t funny. That is why writers must do their homework before submitting. Check out the company as thoroughly as possible before submitting or accepting an offer.

Quality counts. It doesn’t matter if the price for a book is less than a buck, if the story is awful, the writing is amateurish, and/or the editing is noticeably bad, then you’ve wasted your money.

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Food For Thought: New China Buffet And Grill

New China Buffet and Grill

New China Buffet And Grill

1201 East Army Post Road

Des Moines, IA

515-287-8477

Lori Campisi has just finished her meal and is writing to her contact, John Hundt, who is interested in learning all about the dining experiences in Des Moines.

***

Mr. Hundt,

I’m sitting in a back room at the New China Buffet and I think except for the fact you wouldn’t be able to see much of the buffet line (and no I’m not insulting your shortness, just stating a fact), I think you’d enjoy this restaurant.

Along with a traditional menu, there is an extensive buffet and a small grill where the chef would cook up your raw chicken, beef, shrimp, and vegetables. Near this was a selection of sushi.

The buffet had many expected items such as Chicken with Broccoli, egg rolls, crab rangoon, sweet and sour chicken, soups, and fried shrimp. It also had clams, coconut shrimp, craw fish, cheese mussels, baked seafood casserole, and pizza. Dessert was a small selection of pastry and cups of ice cream.

N.C. offers a lunch buffet, too. Lunch costs $6.99 and dinner is $9.99.

It was all delicious and fresh tasting. I noted the consistency with which the staff replenished the trays. For bigger groups, they have three ‘party rooms’ available.

For a Friday night, it was busy and for me, I found that a liability. This is nothing against the restaurant, but for myself, I thought the place too loud with too many people.

I would return if I saw less traffic where I could be content to enjoy my meal.

I know you’d enjoy some of the unique items and they would provide a booster seat. (Sorry, couldn’t resist, but I told you that if you kept up your teasing of me, I would return the favor.)

Until next time,

Lori

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Perseverance

PerseveranceMany moons ago I attended a taekwondo tournament in the Minneapolis area. I was either a Second or a Third Degree Black Belt at the time and my competition consisted of some excellent martial artists. In the sparring competition, I faced a gentleman who, within a minute, executed a spin hook kick to my head. My hands were not up as far as they should have been and I was not fast enough to block in time. As I understand it from witness’ reports, my body went both limp and sideways and I hit the floor.

I don’t remember much during the next five minutes or so. I think I heard people talking but was unable to respond. In short order I found myself at a local medical center and on the doc’s advice was driven to downtown St. Paul to receive a CAT scan to make sure nothing was wrong inside my noggin. Luckily, I recovered with no problems.

For the next two or three years at tournaments, I met this same guy in my ring either during the first or second round of sparring. He didn’t knock me out again, but he always beat me. Easily. One year, again in Minneapolis, I was determined that the result was going to be different. I was psyched up and told myself that he might win, but this time he was going to work for it. Unfortunately, he didn’t compete that year and soon after, left the organization.

Perseverance. I kept trying. I never came close to beating him, but I kept trying. In recent years, although I still compete I’ve not had good scores in my forms competition and usually have been defeated in sparring. I keep trying and last year, when I made the decision to get serious about a fitness regimen to become healthier, carrying less weight, and with better stamina, I also became serious about earning better scores at tournament. And it’s worked. I’m still exercising because although I’m stronger, I still need to lose more weight and improve my cardio stamina. When warmer weather has arrives, I can get outside for some better exercising. Meanwhile, I have the hotel’s fitness facilities I can use.

Writing has been the same way. I started scribbling stories as a child and for a year or so after college while on my own for the first time. In the middle 90s when I created the Mallory Petersen character, I decided that I wanted to get serious about writing and ultimately, to get my stories published. However, I was shot down (tactfully) during my first few rounds in a critique group. I wasn’t knocked out, just verbally battered around a bit.

I didn’t quit. I wrote and wrote. I cranked out short stories every week. I dove in deep on the second Petersen story and also completed my supernatural novel Night Shadows. With Beta and Shadows being refined I looked around for some agent or publisher to accept them. Years passed and finally those first two books were published. I then resurrected the first Petersen story I had laid aside, reworked some angles, persevered, and about a year and a half later queried Oak Tree Press. In 2012, Alpha became my first book in printed form as well as an eBook.

I am friends with a writer in Des Moines. We’ve hung together ever since my early days in my first critique group. She’s written several stories but can’t seem to get over the hump of getting any accepted. But she keeps trying and one day, she’ll join the ranks of published authors.

I’ve seen too many individuals give up after receiving critiques or those who are never able to get past chapter one or even an outline.

Perseverance. It’s always easier NOT to do something. I’d rather go home and go to bed each morning after my night shift job. Sleep would be so much more preferable than spending another hour out running or finding a place to exercise. Whiling away the hours reading or watching television is so much easier than picking up a pen and pad and writing the next chapter or the next short story.

But where’s the fun in taking it easy? If I hadn’t persevered, I wouldn’t have reached the rank of Fifth Degree nor would I have three books to my credit.

It is also so easy to say, “Don’t give up.” That phrase can be shrugged off. What may get some to thinking is: “Find a reason NOT to give up.” What might happen if you didn’t give up? What might be the result if you pushed just a little harder and for one more day?

I don’t know, but try it and let me know.

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Adult Truth #16

#16I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.”

I don’t frequent bars. I’m not a beer drinker. Now, this isn’t to say I haven’t imbibed and if you ask the right friends, they’ll tell you tales of times when I’ve, uh, well…let’s just say I overindulged a bit. However, this brings up an interesting point. Motivation.

Unfortunately, with this case of, uh, overindulgence (back in 1999 or was it 2000) I was motivated by depression. I know, bad idea to drink when depressed, and I won’t go into details. Rest assured, I paid for my bad choice.

Anyway, motivation. This truth came at a perfect time. As I write this, I’m thinking back upon the previous day. I received another draft of Alpha from my publisher and I was hoping to get through it in record time to complete final edits. I started about 3 in the morning, worked until 6:30, went home and slept until 3 in the afternoon, checked my email, and dove right back into the story. I was nine pages from the end at 10:30 when I went back to work. My motivation: to get it done and back to my publisher so she can get it published within the next two weeks.

Motivation. I’ve mentioned my exercise regimen in a past blog. I started it back in the spring of 2012. Why: I wanted to get serious about getting in shape. Since then I’ve lost ten pounds, am a lot stronger, and I’m motivated to keep going.

Motivation. I reached out to more local and area businesses and groups for the promotion of Alpha. Why: because my marketing plan for the last two books didn’t go so well. I want to reach more people, be more in the public eye. I’m motivated by the desire to sell more books.

Motivation. At the time of this writing, I’m almost half finished with the next Mallory Petersen story. Why: because I am excited about this next book and I want to write it and feel emotional about Mallory’s experiences. When I was reading through Alpha for the umpteenth time last night, I still choked up at certain points and still laughed at the humorous scenes. I want to feel this way for the next book. I’m motivated to complete it and get onto the rewrites.

Motivation. I’m reading the sequel to Night Shadows to my critique group. Why: because I want to complete this story. I want the struggles to end. I want to either get this story done or realize that it never will be. I want to write this story and the critique group is helping me see I still have some work to do on it.

Motivation. I should have tested for Sixth Degree Black Belt in 2012 but I didn’t. Why: not motivated enough. I have two more mid-term testings to pass, plus, I have to fulfill several other requirements before I will be allowed to test for the next rank. I need to get motivated to reach that higher rank.

Motivation. I don’t know where I’ll be when this particular blog gets posted. Why: the owners of the motel where I’m working at the time of this writing are selling the property. I don’t know whether I’ll have a job when a new employer takes control and if I do, how many hours I’ll have. I’m motivated by uncertainty to find other employment.

Motivation. I’m motivated to be debt free. To help myself I thought long and hard about tapping into funds not meant to be touched for years to come. Yes, I’ll pay a penalty, but I don’t want to go on for more years than necessary paying bill after bill after bill. I went more into debt with the purchase of four new tires for my vehicle. So, once my medical bills are paid off, I’ll have more money to attack the bigger debts.

What motivates you? Why do you set out to accomplish certain things? We share commonalities, but motivations are personal and individual. They’re not to be taken lightly and, for the most part, there are no easy roads to accomplishment. When you achieve success, though, then you can celebrate.

Now, if I could find an attractive woman who was motivated enough to want to have me as a boyfriend…

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Chapters – III

C03On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.”

Well, then bring along some Fritos.

***

Last time I talked about my basic day-to-day schedule, but my eating schedule has also changed since the move. I’ve been trying (somewhat successfully) to be more aware of what I eat. Trying to cut back on the carbs and the fat and the sugar and eat more protein, fruits, and veggies.

But my eating schedule and my diet has never been the best because of my work schedule. Since 1999, for the most part, I’ve worked from 11p-7a. Sometimes I’ll have a real breakfast after work, but most times it’s been something quick from the convenience store to suffice until the afternoon. Usually, I only eat once a day, with maybe a few snacks throughout the night. This has continued up to the present. On days off, I may get a few more meals in per day, but nothing on a regular schedule.

As I mentioned, I’ve been trying to watch the diet and not binge on sugar or sweets or chips although I may have some tortilla chips and salsa which shouldn’t hurt because usually salsa is fat free. I’m not sure if the Slim Fast or Walmart’s or Hy-Vee’s equivalent is doing any good, but a glass when I get home usually keeps my stomach from growling until I wake up.

When I created Mallory Petersen, I wanted her to enjoy a lot of the same foods I do but have a much better exercise regimen. She still enjoys sandwiches, Swiss cheese, hamburgers, pizza, but I think her metabolism is such that she can absorb these without suffering too much weight gain. Plus, she exercises a lot more often than most women. She’s not obsessed with it (I recently read an article where one woman claims to exercise two hours before work, another hour at lunch and at least a couple hours after work…every day) but she does take care of herself and she eats the foods in moderation. Yes, she drinks soda (Dr Pepper) which is essentially empty calories, but again, not to extremities. (I know a couple who have Diet Coke bottles all over the house, in the basement, in the garage, in the shed, in the car. They’re still cool people, though.)

Part of the fun in writing characters is I can infuse them with my own personality, but not have them become a replica. I’ve mentioned in interviews when asked how much of me is in Mallory, that she has similar likes and dislikes, is better looking, and a better taekwondo instructor/student.

As for Harry Reznik and Lori Campisi, I haven’t delved into their diets too much. In Night Shadows, Harry eats the cheeseburger while Lori stays with a healthful salad. Harry also likes his Pop Tarts but can make a mean omelet. (By the way, my family longs for the times when I make my mean omelets for them.)

At the time of this writing, I’m editing for submission a new novel with a stereotypical noir type of private eye – smokes, drinks, bad diet, sloppy, drives a crappy car. When I set out to write this character’s story, I wanted him nothing like Mallory. So, just as when they turned Hulk Hogan into a baddie for awhile, they went over the top to have his character be ‘believable’, I wanted to do something totally different from the characters I had previously created. I temper my private eye, named Sabastian Habeck, with a caring nature toward his ex wife and reluctantly, toward his clients and those he speaks with on his investigation. Now, that is not to say he isn’t harsh when needed. (In one scene I have him slugging a smart aleck drug using teenager. Of course the punk deserved it since he hit his aunt.)

I think food plays an important role in writing characters. I enjoy some of those cooking/food related mysteries because you usually get spicy (pun intended) characters full of fun. Many times food or dinners play an important role in getting close to the characters. Caleb Carr’s The Alienist and Angel of Darkness feature hours long dinners late into the night. However, many books don’t mention food or the fact that anybody eats, or else the eating is skimmed over, which, in some cases is bad because I think food is important in character development.

How do you relate food and eating in your stories?

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Food For Thought: Luigi’s

luigi's

Luigi’s

2811 Southeast 14th Street

Des Moines, IA, 50320

515-330-2112

https://www.facebook.com/LuigisDMS

On this particular Friday evening, Mallory is getting ready for a date with her boyfriend.

***

When I answered the doorbell, I found a handsome man on my doorstep. 6’5”, 250 pounds of muscle, sandy brown hair and deep chocolate eyes. He smiled when he saw me and I melted.

“Where are you taking me tonight?”

“I thought we’d go Italian,” I suggested.

Since Lawrence Cameron lived in the Quad Cities and I three hours away in Des Moines, we have come to an agreement. When I visit him he chooses the restaurant. The times he treks halfway across the state to my place, I decide. Neither of us has been disappointed.

“Sounds good.”

“I know of this little place on Southeast 14th that is just wonderful.”

Awhile later we shown to a table in a romantically lit dining area that contained maybe ten tables. Electric candles, wooden chairs. The waitress offered us menus and took our drink orders.

“This was an excellent choice,” Lawrence commented when the waitress had left.

“Just wait until you taste the food.”

The waitress returned a minute later with our drinks and a basket of bread.

“The bread could be a bit warmer and the butter not as frozen, but it’s still good.”

We perused the menu. The appetizers ranged from garlic bread to Mozzarell caprese. We went past the lunch menu and right to the dinner entrees. Everything you’d expect was listed. Chicken Parmesan, Fettucini Alfredo, Veal Picatta and your basic spaghetti combinations. Even hot and cold subs.

“What are you having?”

“I need to try some other meals some time, but I want the Shrimp and Scallops with scampi sauce over linguini.”

“You do like your seafood,” he said.

“Last time I ordered the Seafood Combo with shrimp, scallops, and mussels with the lemon sauce. Want to hear an amusing tale?”

“Always.”

“After ten minutes the waitress stopped by my table and said the food was almost ready. Then the hostess stopped by and said my meal took a bit longer to prepare than others and apologized for the delay. I told her I wasn’t in a hurry. Then the owner himself stopped by and apologized for the delay.”

“That’s pretty considerate.”

“They fussed over me as if I might get disgusted and walk out.”

“Was the meal worth the wait.”

“Oh my! All three stopped by to ask how I enjoyed it. The food was very good.”

Lawrence ordered the Baked Lasagna.

“Not too bad a price for the meals,” he said.

“Remember,” I said, “I’m paying.”

That was also part of our agreement. I didn’t mind. Luigi’s prices weren’t over the top. The dinners ran from ten dollars for the Chicken Picatta to sixteen for my Seafood Combo. Salads included with some meals. Desserts were traditional Tiramisus to Creme Brulee but our meals were so delicious and filling we chose not to indulge.

The owner thanked us as we were leaving and I said we’d be back again some day. We would.

Lawrence opened the car door for me. “Where to now?”

“I think we’d better find someplace to dance off all this food.”

“Another excellent idea.”

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New Year’s Resolutions

New Year's Resolution picI entitled this post ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ for a simple reason: I don’t make any. I used to but made progress on them for only about a week or so, then fell back into old habits. You know, the old standards: more exercise, watch the diet, quit smoking. Whoops, well, I can’t claim I ever made a resolution to quit smoking since I never started.

I’ve been thinking about the end of the year for a couple weeks now and I have come to the conclusion that resolutions for a new year are ill-timed. Let me explain.

A new year, a fresh start on ‘life’. Right? That’s what many people think. Every year news reports feature the resolutions people make. But they make them anywhere from a day before the start of the new year to a month or two before. “Starting January 1, I will…”

Why January first? What I mean is, are you going to continue to do the same bad things up until January first, then suddenly change? I can almost guarantee failure. Why? Because we aren’t geared that way.

I remember one new year, when I was living in Kewanee, Illinois at my first ‘real’ job out of college. I’d made the resolution to exercise more, to get out and jog. So, on a cold January 1 morning, I woke up early, before I had to head off for work, dressed in warm clothes, and jogged out and back for about five minutes each way. Now this was a couple years before I would begin martial arts, so my body was not in good shape, my stamina zero.

When I arrived back at the apartment I was sweating, cold, out of breath, and exhausted. I don’t remember how many more days I jogged in the morning, but the routine didn’t continue like I had wanted. Why? Because I couldn’t just get up and do that sort of thing without training first. Without preparing.

Besides, January 1 is NOT a good day to go outside and run. Too cold.

I’m trying to make a point and it is: Why wait until January first? If you’d made the decision to start exercising, watching your diet, or whatever, back in November or in the middle of December, why didn’t you start then? I can almost predict you didn’t make any plans to adjust to your resolution before the first day of January. You didn’t put down the Twinkie, you didn’t resist the cigarette, you didn’t go for a walk on the treadmill at the gym. No, you probably did what I did back in Kewanee. Made the decision and on January 1 you went ahead and started something that your body protested from minute one.

If you want to change, then start when you’ve made the decision to change. But start slow. Don’t jump into something because in all likelihood, you’ll fail, or worse, injure yourself. Start with little changes. By doing that, you’ve already started your resolution.

Instead of making a resolution to start ‘something’ January 1, make a goal. “By March 1, I will have…” If you set a goal, then you can plan how and when you can start to reach that goal and maybe the steps along the way. It’s why I outline each story I write. I see the goal. If I just started writing with no clear ending point, I wouldn’t know where the story needed to go.

I want to mention two people who have impressed me this past year with the things I’ve heard them say. The first is Joyce Meyer. If you don’t know who she is, look her up. I’ve listened to several sermons she’s conducted. She’s been in the ministerial business for a long time, is on television in front of crowds of multiple hundreds or thousands.

Anyway, on one of the sites for which I review, I chose one of her audio books, entitled, “You Can Begin Again.” It went through several chapters on how to make changes in your life, when to start, how to start, and of course it mentioned developing a closer relationship with God. What impressed me about this was she said it’s never too late to start again. (Of course, I had to disagree with her on that point with just a minor point that it’s too late when you’re dead. But I also think she knew that.)

She reminded me of those criminals who converted after many years in prison, or the person who waited until 90 to find God. I thought of the example I saw on a Richard Simmons special. (Yeah, and don’t ask me why I was watching a Richard Simmons special. I don’t know.) It showed a woman so obese she couldn’t get out of bed. She started watching a Simmons exercise program and started doing small arm movements. She worked herself down to a more reasonable weight.

As I mentioned above, small things. This woman didn’t heave herself out of bed and run five miles. She started with arm movements and probably consulted with her doctor on diet plans.

Anyway, Meyer impressed me with something obvious – that you can begin again if you want. It may be tough, but you can do it.

The second person this last year I kept an eye on was a former ATA instructor who lived in Sigourney awhile ago, Nathan Kirby. He moved down to Little Rock where he eventually departed with ATA and started his own gym and involved with MMA fighting.

This last year he began making short videos he posted on Facebook. Motivational vids with him in the gym or driving in a car. It was as if he had an inspiration and turned on the camera and started talking. In one of them he discussed life changes. To paraphrase, he said that if you feel your life isn’t what you wanted, what what you hoped, isn’t going well, then there’s something else out there and you should seek and find it. Discover what is wrong and make plans to change it. Yes, he mentioned God, too.

Kirby’s videos are like a motivational push. They dig into your brain and act like a support platform off which you can jump into something beneficial. Sure, they’re simple and say a lot of the things you’ve probably heard before, but Kirby’s energy is what comes through. He’s made only a few of them (let me correct myself in that I’ve seen only a few of them) and I wish he’d make more.

I’m not being critical about resolutions, not demeaning them. If you want to make, them, fine. I’m just saying that don’t wait until the beginning of 2016 to start acting upon decisions to change things in your life. Make plans and begin now.

Have you had any resolutions succeed/fail?

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Discipline

DisciplineI chose this accompanying picture specifically because I don’t like pushups. Never have. I don’t have the strength to do many pushups because of my right arm.

For those who aren’t familiar with my story, let me share. When I was a baby I fell out of bed. I was ill and the infection settled in my ankle and elbow. The ER nurse told my parents that I was crying just to get attention. (Dad, to this day still rankles at the memory.) The doc took one look at me and said “Surgery, stat.” He predicted I wouldn’t walk properly. He was wrong.

Everything was normal until I started playing Little League. Then my right elbow started acting up. When I was a sophomore in high school I injured the elbow again and had to have surgery to remove a dime-sized chip of bone. Since then I have been unable to fully straighten the arm.

When I began taekwondo in 1991, the arm started bothering me again. Something would ‘catch’ on on a bone spur or something (I don’t know what the something was) and I’d have pain when extending. At one point, I spent three hours trying to ‘un-catch’ it.

However, as I settled into regular training, I strengthened the elbow and managed to keep it from atrophying. In the summer of 2013, my physical fitness regimen was interrupted because of a move in both job and location. I didn’t return to actively using the arm until late October when it bothered me again. By January I was better.

Why? Discipline. As most know, I’ve been involved with WarriorXFit.com building strength and stamina. It’s a good regimen for the cold winter days when I’m stuck inside. Because of my schedule I will need to make time to work on my taekwondo form, sparring, etc, but I’m exercising when I can. On warmer days, I’ll go for a run to supplement the WXF.

Discipline doesn’t have to have a negative connotation. I was disciplined A LOT as a child. (Something my dad continues to bring up every now and then.) But that, too, was not negative. (Okay, it was to me, but it was the consequence of my misbehavior.)

Much of discipline is mental. My instructor once gave a challenge to perform my form seven times in a row, full power. Now, my Fifth Degree form consists of 95 moves. These include jump kicks, spin kicks, reverse kicks, and several hand techniques. 95 moves. Seven times in a row. Which means that when I’m done with the first, I step back to the ready stance, take a breath and begin again, then again. 95 moves. Seven times. You do the math.

Of course, I didn’t just decide one day to go for seven. I built up to it. Little by little, week after week. Three times. Four. Five.

The first few times are easy. I have the stamina. Long about the fourth or fifth round it becomes a mental challenge. Discipline. I think of this challenge as not seven to do, but rather I’ve finished one round. Then two. Then later it’s only two more to go, then one.

One afternoon, after warming up and practicing techniques, I told myself I was going to do the seven or stop whenever my co-instructor arrived at the club. After four times, I glanced at the clock and wondered where he was. After the fifth time I wondered again. After the sixth, I told myself, “Well, I might as well and complete seven.”

I’ve done the seven challenge several times. After a time, it does become easier. I love the sweat. I love the feeling of accomplishment. After a round of WarriorXFit, I love the sore muscles. (I have a great massage therapist who does wonders for those muscles.)

Taekwondo is exercising both physically and mentally. When I work out, I discipline the muscles to do what they don’t want to, but should do. I break them down so they can rebuild and be stronger. I also discipline my mind to work through the protesting muscles, to push a lit bit more, to not give in or up. Even when it means I have to do pushups.

In what areas are you disciplined to accomplish your goals?

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