Tomorrow is the start of a new day, week, month, and year (cue the opening music from Friends). It's a perfect time to make some changes...here are three small things you can do to kick off what could be an awesome year:
#1. No more snooze. Seriously, you set the alarm for a specific time for a certain reason. Grit your teeth and get feet to the floor as soon as the alarm goes off in the morning.
#2. Read for 10 minutes...longer than usual. If you typically read for an hour a day, then this is such a small addition. If you don't read hardly at all, then this is a huge step, but one you will not regret. Read in the morning (since you wont be hitting the snooze button), lunchtime, or whenever. Get it done.
#3. Practice focused breathing. Set a timer for two minutes. Get comfortable. Close your eyes. Focus on the inhale and the exhale. Ignore everything else going on around you...just don't try this while you're driving. My preference is to take 3-4 minutes around lunchtime...I find that it helps to stay relaxed, calm, but also focused in the afternoon.
Have an awesome week!
With only a few hours left in 2017, it's good to look back at the adventure that it has been. We have shared some terrific experiences this year, including:
- two new nidans in Sempai Matt and Sempai Mary
- three new shodans in Sempai Lianne, Sempai JI, and Sempai Andrew
- numerous other belt promotions
- The Kyiv Experience
- Spring Gashuku at Mount St. Joes
- Fall Gashuku on the beach in New Jersey
- Sempai Austin's semester in Chile
- the new Free Parent Program
- Wednesday night fight class, led by Sempai Matt
- visits from Shihan Melanson and Shihandai Mazur
There was also a great deal of success in those areas which are more difficult to measure. There are no belts for growing confidence, or stripes for courage. We don't have trophies for every small achievement. There was much growth this year. I'm proud to say the least.
In talking with the other yudansha, we all agree on one very specific highlight of the year: Abby's yellow belt test. THAT was an inspirational day for sure, and it captured everything that we are about: hard work, perseverance, and perfection of character through hard training.
2017 was a great year. Can't wait to see what 2018 has in store.
We're getting set for our first ever New Year training, which will take place outside on January 1st. I've already checked...it's going to be cold. Really cold. Like low to mid-20's kind of cold.
But it's going to be a great time training together and kicking off 2018 doing something pretty cool together.
Those who have trained with me long enough know that I would never ask someone to do something that I hadn't already done myself. So, this afternoon from 3-4 I went out and trained by myself...20 kata and 200 burpees. I've done this before, but never when it's been this cold. The picture is right after I finished and came back in the house. You'll notice that I don't have a sweatshirt on...believe me, it didn't start that way.
When we gather to train on Monday, wear layers. Bring gloves and a hat. I've got a plan in store that will help us create some internal heat...so much so, that you'll probably feel better taking the sweatshirt off by the time we wrap things up.
It's going to be cold...embrace it.
It's a little easier this time of year. Here are your 3 Keys for the week:
#1- Say "thank you" every day. Make it a point to vocalize your appreciation.
#2- Look out for those who need encouragement. Whether it's someone who could use a hot cup of coffee, or a cold beer, be on the prowl for folks you can pour into.
#3- Chill. Use this week to relax a bit. Enjoy the lightened schedule and extended time with family and friends.
Tomorrow the dojo will open for the last time in 2017. By 8(ish) Thursday evening, most of us will likely be getting ready to go separate ways during our annual Christmas Break.
As we begin to ease into the break, I'd like you to intentionally set aside just 10 minutes to look back on the year. What went well? What could have gone better? What are your goals for the upcoming year? How can we begin to work on those in the dojo?
Remember, we are about perfecting character through hard training. While we've all got individual goals, we are walking this path together. Osu!
"Osu Sensei, I won't be able to make it to class this week because I've got a big test to study for."
"Osu Sensei, I can't train this week because we have midterms at school."
I've heard it for years, and for years I've been somewhat "nice" about it, but I'm kind of done.
Want to do better on that test? Come and train.
Want to perform at your peak on that exam? Get thy butt to the dojo.
But how would I know, I've only been teaching for about two decades. Cramming the night before...it doesn't help. Training the night before...that's a different story. Don't believe me, check these articles out.
- Scientific American
- Harvard University
- New York Times
Invest an hour of your study time my getting away from your desk and into the dojo. I bet that you find the ROI will shock you.
I was reminded afresh this morning that there are no lone rangers; we all need a team.
I'm blessed to have a part of some amazing teams and have so many that I can look to and count on. In fact, I find that often when I'm in my lowest of lows, it's because I've isolated myself... not always physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.
So, the challenge for the weekend is this...take some time to think of someone on your team who may be isolating themselves; intentionally or without thought. Reach out to them. We're not going to make it alone.
Lately, if you ask how I’m doing, my reply is “living the dream”. I remember Mr. Smith (my high school history teacher) asking me, “Bobby, what are you going to do with yourself when you an adult, assuming you survive that long?” At that time, I wanted to be a teacher and “to have enough children to warrant owning a minivan”. Guess what folks? I’ve finally got the minivan of my dreams as I enter my 18th year as a teacher. I am, according to my teenage self, living my dream.
But there are other dreams I’ve had along the way. I’ve dreamt of serving in combat, working on some high-speed mission in a dangerous land on the other side of the globe. I’ve dreamt of being in school forever; as the student, not the teacher. Seriously, I would love to have degrees in everything; especially astrophysics! I’ve dreamt of running the dojo full-time and wearing my karate uniform for most of my waking hours. I’ve dreamt of making a million dollars in one year, only to give it all away. I dream all the time. You have to.
The thing is though, that I’ve had to put most of those dreams on the shelf; some for a season, others forever. I’ll never serve in a combat zone. I had the opportunity…it could have happened, but when the opportunity came, my oldest son was a baby. I was not going to leave my young family for a dream. There are countless men and women who can…and God bless them. They are rock stars and heroes in my eyes.
For at least the next twenty years, I don’t see myself getting all of those degrees that I dream about earning. That dream is on the shelf for a season.
It’s funny, in the sad sort of way, how we can become so attached to our hopes and dreams; almost as if our entire identity were wrapped up in the image we project for our future selves. Don’t get me wrong…putting dreams away, either for good or just for a season, is tough. There a grieving process that goes along with it…a real, legit process.
Dreams are meant to drive us toward goals, but shouldn’t distract us from the things that matter most. Our dreams and goals are mean to show us a way, not a destination.
Each Sunday, I'll be posting three simple ideas that will help you focus on creating the best week. The keys will always follow a similar pattern, will always present a challenge, and will always prove worthwhile. Oh, they won't be wordy either. Without further ado:
#1 Wake up 5 minutes earlier than normal. That's 5 extra minutes, all to yourself. No interruptions. No questions. It's just you! Parents...I cannot recommend this enough!
#2 Have a 5 minute conversation with someone you don't know. This is a special time of year. It seems everyone is more willing to open up an talk.
#3 Before you go to bed each night, write down one blessing that you experienced.
It's getting cold here in the DC Metro area with lows getting below the freezing point today and tomorrow. In fact, right around the time that the adults begin training tomorrow, it should be right around 35 degrees...nice and chilly. It won't just be the adults...kids and teens will all spend a little time training outside in the cold tomorrow, and here's why it's a good thing:
#1. Being cold makes you tougher. Think about it...the picture many folks have of winter is snuggling up under a nice warm blanket while drinking their coffee or hot chocolate. We will actively be fighting against that tomorrow when we head outdoors. Being cold, and embracing the cold, is an exercise in mental fortitude; and we could all use a bit of a push there if we're honest.
#2. Being cold burns a few more calories. When you're cold, your body is primarily interested with keeping your core warm...everything else take a bit more effort. Your body's metabolism is forced to work harder during cold weather training. Your heart works harder during cold weather training as it tries to keep your body warm. Training in the cold give an additional physical challenge.
3#. You'll be happy when it's over. Winter is dark and cold with heat and daylight bidding us farewell until March(ish). The Kids and Teen Classes will be able to grab onto the last bit of daylight; something that is under appreciated from a wellness point of view. Grabbing some winter sunshine helps to improve mood that may have taken a hit after a long day at school. Have no fear, the adults will also gain the benefit of elevated mood. Research is suggesting that a good workout, especially in the cold, can be up to four times as effective as antidepressants. Through cold weather training, you will experience a spiritual lift.
Don't worry. We're going to have a lot of fun tomorrow, but we will be smart and safe with our training. Remember that there's a thin line between tough and stupid...we're going to stay firmly on the tough side.