UPDATE ON MOM:LIFE IS GETTING VERY SHORT

“Life is getting very short. ”

That’s one of the things mom said yesterday when we saw her.

One of the reasons we made the trip to Little Rock was to spend some time with mom. The reality is phone calls are a waste of time. Either Tracey or Michael have to call me when they visit her. The last few calls I couldn’t tell if she couldn’t hear me or if she didn’t understand the words.

After seeing her the last few days I think it’s a combination of both, but the reality is her brain is very foggy now.

We stopped by for the first time on Saturday. She was in the dining room, strapped into her wheel chair so she wouldn’t fall out.

She smiled really big when she saw us. Said “hello Steve!”

I talked about the trip and brought her up on our current events. She seemed to understand but there was no give and take in the conversation. Her lunch came so we left.

The next morning my my brother Michael sent me a text. “You might want to go visit mom today, she doesn’t remember that you were there. It sucks I know.”

Yesterday we stopped by again. She was in her bed this time, picking at the food on her lunch tray.

A big smile. Greeted us both by name.
And for the most part for the rest of the visit she didn’t make a lick of sense. She rambled with long pauses.

I was able to not cry in front of her.

There were two moments of seeming clarity.

There had been several moments of silence. Then she looked me in the eyes and said:

“Life is getting very short”

I acknowledged that is was.

She then started rambling again.

As we were leaving, I hugged her and said:
“Love you mom.”

And she said ” Love you both. Remember that.”

I will remember that mom.

YOU CAN’T TALK TO ME LIKE THAT BITCH!

“You look awful, fat and old.”
“You look like a beached whale.”
“Why would anyone want to see you naked?”
“You are fat and lazy.”
“Everyone in this room looks better than you!”

Would you let anyone, I mean ANYONE talk to you like that? If you didn’t haul off and bitch slap them as soon as the words were out of their mouth you would have better self control than I do.

So if you wouldn’t let your dearest friend or even your mother talk to you like that, why do you allow yourself to have that dialogue?

Admit it. At some point in time you have indulged in negative self talk. And it probably sounded something like the quotes above. You might even have voiced those thoughts about yourself out loud to a friend, in a joking manner of course.

Do you have any idea how damaging that is?

Rule 101 of making a change in your life is changing how you think. But it’s not that easy is it? But I’m here to tell you, you HAVE to make that change. If you are trying to change how you look, you have to change the way you think about food and exercise. Here are some paradigm shifts I’ve made these last few months.

Exercise

Instead of:
“I have to go work out on the damn stair climber.”
I think:
“I get to go workout for an hour, read, and listen to music turned up really loud!”

Steve brought a stair climber machine into our relationship. I hated it. I respected his discipline for getting on that sucker for an hour one or two times a week, but it was not “my thing”. I like martial arts, and challenge, and…all those other excuses I came up with.

I don’t have martial arts classes here in Colorado, and yoga doesn’t give me enough of a cardio workout. I’m not supposed to do a lot of running because of my hip replacement, and walking is a total bore. After months (maybe years) of listening to Steve lecture about how good the stair climber would be because it gives me a cardio workout without impact yada yada yada I finally made a commitment to myself to do it for 30 minutes three times a week for a month. It also helps that we have the equipment in the house when it’s 25degrees below zero.

PARADIGM SHIFT

Now I look forward to my sessions. I use words like “I get to go workout now.” I use the highest level for an hour six or seven days a week. And I get an hour of reading and music all by myself. Win/win.

Food

This one is huge. If you have battled with food and food addiction at any point in your life, you know how dysfunctional your relationship with food can become.

During the periods of eating healthy, I would feel good about what I was preparing. But I didn’t have a lot of fun eating it. And in the back of my mind was the vision of all of the things I was missing out on, because what I was eating did not satisfy me.

When I was cooking things that actually tasted good, I felt guilty. You know what I mean. There is the feeling of joy and delight of “OMG this tastes so good!” mixed with “This is bad for me and is going to make me fat.”
Food was not my friend. And the love/hate relationship was making me really screwed up.

I’ve talked about this before, but I will say it again and again. The cookbook WELL FED by Melissa Joulwan 20 CHANGED MY LIFE. Paleo eating works for me. I already knew that. But as a foodie, the idea of just eating meat, vegetables and fruit for the rest of my life was dismal. Enter WELL FED and Melissa into my life. I love every single thing in her cookbook. I cook out of it every day. I serve her food to guests to rave reviews. I can eat this way for the rest of my life. I WILL eat this way for the rest of my life. Check out her website http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com

I love buying tons of vegetables and feeding them to my family. I love preparing meals for guests and they want to know where the recipes came from. I love seeing Steve and Keely dig into a huge plate of food that is good for them.

I don’t hate food anymore. And the funny thing is, I don’t miss the stuff that I used to crave when I was dieting.

After reading the book IT STARTS WITH FOOD by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig I understand that I had to get all of the sugar and dairy and processed foods out of my system and out of my house. Because my body is getting all of the nourishment it needs, I don’t have cravings. I can sit in front of a bowl of potato chips and a cheesecake and not even blink. Check out their groundbreaking website http://whole9life.com/category/whole-30/

PARADIGM SHIFT

I now look at food as good for me. I eat as much of it as I want, without guilt, and I’m not hungry. I love cooking again because I know I am giving joy and delight to those who eat the food, and I’m not damaging them.

So take a listen at how you talk to yourself. If you are not happy with the way you look and feel, take a look at your activity level and what you are eating. Commit to making a change.

And one last thought.

If you had a friend that invited you to lunch and then changed her mind week after week, what would you do? You would roll your eyes when you got the phone call and not even bother to put the lunch date on your calendar, wouldn’t you? Her promise means nothing to you because you don’t trust her.
So think about what happens every time you lie in bed and think “Tomorrow I’m going to eat clean.” “Tomorrow I’m going to work out.”

When you break those internal commitments you develop an attitude of negativity and distrust. You HAVE to honor your commitments to yourself. If you tell yourself you are going to work out for 30 minutes, do it. I don’t care if you have to get up 30 minutes earlier, or skip out on your favorite TV show. Follow through on your internal commitments so that you can trust yourself again.

MARTY IN NOVEMBER

Mom in Colorado
I tried to convince myself that the difficulty we had talking on the phone was caused by Mom’s hearing getting worse. Her hearing loss is a contributing factor, but the reality is she is confused. Her physical health has been deteriorating, and now it would appear that her mental facilities are following suit.

There are all the platitudes… “She is 87; she has lived a long life” “She should have died from a heart attack when she was 52, you have had her a lot of extra years” “It’s the cycle of life, we all die”
They have been said to me. I’ve said them to myself. I’ve recited them to my siblings.
All of those statements are true, and none of them make any difference.

This hurts. Losing my mom just plain hurts.

I haven’t seen her for several months. I knew when I put her on the plane in Denver after her last visit that I would never see her in Colorado again. The altitude and lack of oxygen are too difficult for a frail old lady that is battling for life every day with only one third of her heart working.

We visited briefly when Steve and I were in Little Rock in the spring. She was in a nursing home/rehab facility and was looking forward to being released pretty soon. She went home a few weeks later, and then the difficult decision was made to move her into an assisted living facility.

She had lived in that house for 47 years. Raised a family there. Celebrated holidays and birthdays. It was home. It was where we all gathered at Thanksgiving and Christmas to squabble and fuss and be a family. It was her home and she dug in fiercely whenever we brought up the subject of selling.

But finally, even Marty had to admit that it was dangerous for her to stay by herself.

She tried to convince herself that she liked the assisted living facility, but it was a tough sell. She rebelled once, called me and told me she was going back home. When I reminded her that the house was empty and up for sale, she changed direction and said she would go live with her family in Michigan. I gently signed off on the phone call with the words “Let’s give it a few days and see how you feel about it then, Mom”

She was trapped in that place, in that life, and there was nothing she could do about it.
Fast forward several months and she is back in the nursing home/rehab. She can’t walk, or even sit up in bed by herself now, so she can’t stay in the assisted living.

I think, deep down in my soul, that she has given up. And I can’t say that I blame her.

The mom I know, the Marty that many love, is barely recognizable. Instead, there is a confused and very frail little lady. The indomitable fighter doesn’t want to fight anymore. I don’t think she can think of anything really worth fighting for.

There are no challenges, no battles to fight, no goals. She’s expected to drift from meal to meal. And the meals don’t interest her anymore. She hurts. She has heard everything we could think of to say to her before. She has experienced so much, and now her body keeps her prisoner.

I think her brain has decided to shield her with a blanket of cotton to keep the sharp emotions from hurting her. I’m grateful for that.

This sucks.

WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT?

With the presidential elections coming up, and the plethora of political ads bombarding us every waking moment, I’ve been doing some reminiscing.

My ex husband Charles ran for state senate ( and lost) before we met, which was actually a good thing because anyone at knows me understands that I would have been an epic fail as a politicians wife. We met while working together in an issue campaign to change the 10% interest rate cap which was defeated in the 1980 election. He had been involved with Mo Udall’s presidential campaign, and then Jimmy Carter’s. He knew every politician in the state of Arkansas and many on a national level. Politics were his hobby and passion. They were not mine, but I knew when we got married that politics was part of the deal.

We had dinner one evening with Senator Dale Bumpers. Dale was considered one of the great statesmen of the senate and was in his last term. .

In the home of mutual friends around the dinner table he talked very frankly. The thing that made a huge impression on me was the discussion about how polarized the two parties had become. Dale said that he used to be friends with politicians from the other side, and that they would work together to do what was best for their states and the country. But that had changed, and the vitriol and backstabbing, lying and pandering had become overwhelming.

His name was being bandied about as a strong contender for the democratic presidential nomination. At that time he had not decided if he would run.

We were restoring a house across the street from the governors mansion. The historical Quapaw Quarter in downtown Little Rock was in a state of transition. There were whore houses, drug houses and slum lord houses on the same block as lovingly restored victorian and craftsman homes. One afternoon I went to the local grocery store to pick up some supplies. I was wearing grungy paint clothes and had a bandanna on my head. I am a very messy painter and usually had various samples of paint in my hair. Needless to say I bore very little resemblance to the person Dale Bumpers had met in other venues.

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Senator Bumpers was in line in front of me at the checkout. I did not say a word, hoping he would not notice me because I really looked like sh&#. Not only did he notice me ( he is a politician and a very good one) but he knew who I was and remembered my name. Dale was famous for being able to remember names and faces. BTW Bill Clinton has the same talent but that is another story.

By now he had announced that he was not running for president. I told him I was disappointed.

He said “Michelle, I thought long and hard about it. But I couldn’t do that to my family. Our lives would never be the same. I would never be able to stand in line in a grocery store and buy cigars and a carton a milk.”

I think he made the right decision.

Two years later my friend Bill Clinton threw his hat in to the race.

HAPPY DOUBLE NICKLE…LIFE IS GOOD.


I guess I can’t define myself as a young adult anymore. Any way you look at it, 55 is middle aged.

Inside I’m screaming “I’m too young to be this old!”

I feel better than I have in years. Not that I was really feeling bad, I just wasn’t feeling great. But with almost 25 pounds off, no sugar, dairy, grains or processed foods in three months, I feel great. I’ll write another blog about the eating stuff, but I can tell you it doesn’t matter how much you work out, if you don’t have your nutrition right, you are spinning your wheels.

I’ve done martial arts for thirty five years. But not anymore. One hip replaced, the other one bone on bone. Surgery on one shoulder, both shoulders still have issues. Knee surgery. And my darn torn quad is still giving me fits twelve years later. I have to acknowledge that martial arts and my overachiever personality contributed to the state I am in today. So I’m letting go of a huge part of my life, a huge part of my identity. And because everything else in my life is so good, I’m ok with that.

Before, I needed the challenge of martial arts to boost my ego and self confidence. I craved the sense of accomplishment of learning new stuff, forcing my body to do things that I never thought possible. There is something deeply satisfying about teaching, about being fully immersed in martial arts and owning a school. Owning a school can also kill your love of the martial arts if you let it, and I came close. That is another story and another blog.

I love Crossfit. Well, that may be overstating it a bit. I love the way I feel AFTER I have done Crossfit. Most days actually doing Crossfit sucks big time. But that is a price I’m willing to pay. I love the encouragement and camaraderie at 6:45 in the morning. And I have to say, Alison is the bomb. She watches me like a hawk, and makes sure I have my butt stuck out when I’m doing squats. Who could ask for more?

I thank God everyday that Steve and I are together. I’m not going to get all sappy about soul mates and true love, but we talk about that pretty frequently. There is a comfort and ease about our relationship that is very deep. We both know how fortunate we are, and we cherish and protect what we have. It’s good to be loved and to love without reservation.

People think I’m joking when I say I don’t like kids and never wanted any. I’m not joking. I never wanted kids. I guess I like them OK now. Some of them more than others. In moderation.

With a couple of breaks, I will have had a child under the age of 18 living with me from the time I was 24 until I am 64. I wouldn’t change a thing. My life is so much more full and blessed because of my kids.
David is now almost 35 years old. He has turned into a hardworking mature man and a great dad. Kat will be 29 in January and is kicking ass at the University of Louisville. Keely just turned 10.

Steve and I get a lot of joy from Keely. Who would have thought, at age 61 and 55, that it would be so rewarding to have a 10 year old? I think we would feel pretty young anyway, but she cements the deal. We plan trips and excursions around and for her, so we wind up doing stuff we never would have thought of doing if it was just the two of us. She insists on sitting between the two of us on the couch when we watch TV. She crawls in to bed with us every night for snuggle time. Hugs and kisses and “I love you”. Lots and lots of smiles. We love those rituals and realize that she will be gone in a flash, so we enjoy it all while we can.

However I still heartily dislike Halloween. Do you know how many times I’ve had to drag my butt trick or treating over the years?

There are friends in my life that I know I can depend on. Some of them I talk to frequently, others not so much. But those friendships are like having jewelry in a box, I know they are there. Some I pull out more frequently than others but they are all precious to me.

I’ve learned that it is really important to acknowledge my happiness. It may be as simple as telling myself how lucky I am to get to see the sunrise when I’m driving in to Crossfit. Or the smiles we exchange when we watch Keely harvesting the celery that she planted and making her own celery and peanut butter snack. Driving down the road holding hands. Sitting in the sunroom with coffee, the newspaper, and a tangle of dogs, cats, and Keely. There are going to be times when everything is not all sunshine and rainbows. Those times are a lot easier to take when I have a reservoir of happiness and contentment to draw on.

Typical Saturday morning

Steve asked me what I wanted for my birthday. You know, I couldn’t think of a thing? I’ve got everything I could possible need or want. I have the wisdom to know that happiness isn’t tied up in things. Happiness is the people around me.

Well, we had to come up with something for Keely to get me, because that is important for 10 year olds. So I made the suggestion, and Keely and Steve ordered a t-shirt for me. Keely wrapped it for and gave me a card. The artwork made it extra special.

My birthday card

Life is Good.

OUR NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE/CATASTROPHIC ENGINE FAILURE

The plan was to fly to Northwest Arkansas Saturday morning to attend a Taekwondo tournament, have dinner with our friend Tasha that evening, and then head back to Little Rock on Sunday.
On the trip over, Steve talked about different scenarios if we had an emergency. He discussed how long he could glide without an engine, and as we traveled across the wooded mountains he would point out roads or forest trails that he would aim for if we lost power. If you know Steve, you know that he can get very focused on a particular topic and if he thinks it’s important, he is going to impart that information into your head if you like it or not. The subject of airplane safety is very near and dear to his heart, so I’d heard all of this before. To tell the truth, I really didn’t listen to him very closely. I just nodded my head and said “uh huh” a lot. My eyes were probably slightly glazed over. I did however, look down several times and think about how very isolated much of Arkansas is. We flew for miles without seeing a single road or house, just acres and acres of heavily wooded rugged terrain.
Steve has been a pilot for over thirty years, and is very safety conscious. He is meticulous about keeping his plane serviced, and is just as meticulous about keeping his skills honed. I’ve been with him when he has practiced stalls and emergency landings; he has talked me through the process many times. But this subject was one of those things that I filed in my head under It Will Never Happen.
Everything was fine on the trip over. Everything was fine on the trip back. Everything was fine until about ten minutes from home.
We were coming into the Little Rock area where we had to talk to Traffic Control to vector into our home airport at North Little Rock. Steve had radioed, they told him to keep flying at a certain level. We got to a point where Steve decided to radio again, because he thought they had forgotten about us and we were going to miss our opportunity to land at North Little Rock and would have to go around.
Traffic Control told us to go ahead and start our descent. We turned towards N. Little Rock and Steve started doing his thing. I had our digital video camera and had been playing with it at the tournament. I’d filmed our take off from NW Arkansas and was going to film our return to N. Little Rock. So I started filming.
The N. Little Rock airstrip was in sight. We were in a steeper than normal descent when I heard a noise. I’d flown with Steve enough to know that that was not a normal noise. Then the noise got louder. A lot louder. I’d been lectured enough about the need for quiet during the landing procedure that I was hesitant to say anything. I just looked at Steve. He stayed focused on the controls but said “Michelle that is not a good noise.”
I didn’t say anything. My stomach dropped.
Here are the thoughts that went racing through my head:
“We might die”
“If I’m going to die, I’m glad I’ll be with Steve”.
“I don’t want to die, I want to see Keely grow up”
“I’m glad all the important people in my life know that I love them”
“I’m going to record all of this in case we crash. Maybe the recording can be like a black box”
“Should I turn the camera on myself and tell my family that I love them?”
“Steve knows what he is doing. If there is anyone in the world I would want to be with right now in this situation, it is Steve”
“Steve doesn’t want to die either”
That’s pretty much what my though process was. I was actually pretty calm. I filmed the cockpit instruments and what Steve was doing. He was very focused . All I could do to help was be quiet and not distract him. By now the engine was really making a racket and we were coming up to the runway.
We made a perfect landing. Steve immediately shut the engine off and said “I think we just lost our engine”. He called for a taxi, and they pulled the plane to the hanger.
We later found out that we had experienced a catastrophic engine failure. When the engine was rebuilt several years before, the company (which took bankruptcy) evidently rebuilt part of the engine with used parts. Those small parts inside the engine failed, and the engine literally came apart while we were coming in to land.
If the engine had come apart an hour earlier, we would have been in heavily wooded mountains with no roads or clearings.
There are a lot of scary “if’s”. But we were lucky, the engine failure happened right as we were coming in to land. Steve knew what to do and did it very well. We landed with no damage to the plane, and we both walked away.

Steve’s explanation of what happened:
We were flying into North Little Rock (KORK) from North West Arkansas. The flight had taken us over the Ozark Mountains, which are heavily wooded with steep terrain. North Little Rock (KORK) is located 6 nautical miles north of Adams Field (LIT) the main commercial airport in Little Rock. North Little Rock is a smaller general aviation (GA) field located inside the LIT Class D airspace and is adjacent to a restricted area to the north and Little Rock Air force base (KLRF) to the north. KLRF is a C130 training base and sees heavy military traffic at times and that combined with LITs normal commercial airline traffic means that the approach from the west is usually done by contacting LIT approach and expecting vectors for traffic.
Air traffic control can be busy handling the departing airlines and the military traffic plus any helicopter and other traffic maneuvering over the restricted area to the north. For non-pilots this means that with a typical piston General Aviation plane like my Cessna Cardinal RG you don’t just point the front end toward the ground and go down at whatever speeds you desire. There are restrictions on max speeds (never exceed), flap extension speeds, and gear extensions speeds. The plane will descend at different rates depending on your configuration but 500 feet per minute is typical with no flaps in the Cardinal. You want to enter the pattern to land at a reasonable speed because you are busy looking for local traffic and it’s not unusual in the area to see GA traffic all around plus a mix of jet and military traffic.

Kind of busy so I prefer a sterile cockpit and Michelle has her head on a swivel checking for traffic. On this particular day we did get vectors to the southeast for jet traffic departing LIT and were held at our cruise altitude of 5500 feet mean sea level (MSL) or in that area about 5000 above ground level (AGL). Pattern altitude at KORK is 1500 MSL so I needed to be at 1500 MSL about 3 miles from the airport to slow down, extend the flaps and gear and then today enter the pattern using right traffic for 17. That means I would be flying the approach on the west side of the runway, make a right turn to the east on the base leg and then another right turn to the south on final. Bottom line we needed to lose 3500 feet and at 500 fpm and a ground speed of 140 knots you can plan on 2 to 3 minutes per 1000 feet of altitude or for us say 10 minutes out we needed to set up a 500 feet descent and that equates to 20 miles out.

The nice thing about modern GPS units for planes is that a lot of these calculations are done for you but most pilots are going to think it through in the case the GPS fails in busy airspace and you end up navigating looking at a chart and the ground. Flying along and waiting for LIT to clear us back on course and to descend it became apparent that they were busy and had lost track of our intended destination. So a polite “approach we’d take another vector if a descent is possible” got a thoughtful moment of silence and then “Cardinal niner one hotel cleared direct North Little Rock descent at your discretion.”

I am way too high so throttle back and wait for the flap extension speed lower flaps, wait for gear extension speed and lower the gear. This sets me up for a 700 feet descend rate with the speed at 120 mph. That gets us down quick. About 3 miles from the airport I push the throttle back to pattern setting and then I hear a hell of a lot of noise and the front end started shaking so bad it felt like the engine was going to separate from the plane . I thought “oh shit we just lost the engine.” Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Michelle looking at me. I said “that is not a good noise”. I powered back the engine, it was still running at idle but very rough. I thought I could maybe get a burst of power if needed. I was going through the emergency checklist mentally, checking the runway “yep should make it if I keep it very tight”. Flew a normal engine out emergency landing approach and rolled off the runway. No oil pressure, no engine. Nice smooth landing so all that needed to be repaired was the engine.

So that was our near death experience. The engine was repaired and brought to Colorado. I’m just as comfortable as I ever was flying with Steve. Maybe more comfortable, because I know how calm and focused he is if something goes wrong. Catastrophic engine failure is fairly rare, so I figure we have only smooth flying ahead of us now.

OMELET MUFFINS

Omelet Muffins

INGREDIENTS:
1 TB olive oil or coconut oil
1 large onion or equivalent green onions, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 cup ham, finely chopped (optional) You can also use bacon or sausage
12 large eggs
Black pepper and salt, optional and to taste
Preheat oven to 350F
Saute the onions, if using, for 2 to 3 minutes over medium high heat. Add peppers and ham and sauté another two to three minutes. Let cool.
Whisk the eggs in a large bowl, add the salt and pepper and the vegetable/meat mixture. Stir well.
Spray muffin pan with coconut oil spray. Measure ¼ cup of mixture into each muffin cup.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove when the tops are lightly browned.
Great right out of the oven. Also good with Pico de gallo or salsa.

After cooling, I individually wrap each muffin in PressNSeal. A few go in the refrigerator, the others into the freezer.

A LETTER TO MY INSTRUCTOR, AND FRIEND

My friend and instructor Jim Robinson tested for his 7th Dan in July. The testing was in Memphis, and there was no way I could be there. When our mutual friend Diana Hampo told me she was putting together a celebration party for Jim, I suggested that she compile a book of letters and photos from his friends and students.

There are people in our lives that make a difference. They challenge you, push you, force you outside your comfort zone. We may not realize it at the time, but they are part of the fabric of who we are and who we become. Jim Robinson is one of those people in my life. My challenge to you, dear reader, is to reflect on those people in your life that made a difference, and let them know. A phone call, a letter, an email, it doesn’t matter. Don’t take them for granted,or think that they must know how you feel. Tell them!

This is my letter.

Jim,
It’s not often that we have an opportunity to tell someone how much they mean to us. I’ve been guilty of telling others of your impact on my life, but I never told you.
You were my first instructor. You were the person that challenged me to do that which I thought was impossible. You were stingy with your praise, generous with your criticism. You lit a spark inside me that is still alive 35 years later.
I remember you trying to teach me new techniques. Smiling at my ineptness and shaking your head, walking away. All that did was motivate me to try harder. It never was the trophies that motivated me to compete. It never was the color of the belt that motivated me to test. It was your approval that mattered to me.
You taught me to never, ever quit. You taught me to set an example for lower ranks. To be stronger, tougher, and never stop if anyone else in that room was still going.
Remember that attitude instructors had? Not only did your students believe you could walk on water, you did too. You were so darn arrogant.
I remember the trip to Lansing, Michigan in 1977 or 1978 to compete in Nationals. A group of us borrowed Ron Turchi’s van and made the drive. There is no way to describe the pride we felt when we watched you compete. The fierceness of your techniques, the way you could side kick straight up in the air, and hold it.
You weren’t the biggest guy in the ring when it came to sparring, but by golly your opponents knew they had been in a fight when you got done with them.
I’d never gotten rid of that martial arts spark. I bought the school that you taught me in. Your spirit was all through that school. I found myself using the phrases you had used with me when teaching. “The reason you twist your wrist when you punch is because it takes less effort to twist a screw into wood than hammer a nail.”
We had lost contact, so it was surreal for me that day you walked in the door, the first time I’d seen you in twenty years. Those visits to the school, the phone calls, you working out with us in class, meant so much to me.
My sister Tracey and I sat on the floor and watched you compete a couple of years ago. She looked at me and said “It’s like old times again, isn’t it? Watching him compete. Being proud to be his student.”
I watched you test in Dallas for your 5th. Remember working on yourself defense demonstration? The cowboy hat?
And full circle for me. I tested for my 5th in December of 2009. You were on the panel. What a very special honor for me, to have my friend and instructor still a part of my life. Over thirty years Jim.
The influence I had, the lives I changed, were because of you. The ripple of your influence spread out over and over throughout the years. I’m just one. I wonder how many of your former students are out there, proud of what they accomplished because of your tutelage.
I’m sorry I could not be there to see you test. But know that I was smiling when I saw the pictures. And if I could be there now, there would be a big hug for my instructor and friend. Love you Jim.

Michelle

THE THING ABOUT FACEBOOK….

I know a lot of people that really dislike Facebook. OK, I get that. Maybe it’s not for you.
Facebook is like alcohol. Some people can use it wisely and get good benefits; others are going to be stupid and irresponsible. It’s like Steve always says, you can’t fix stupid.
When I moved to Colorado two years ago I did not know a single person.
So picture my first couple of months in Colorado. I’m using the GPS every single day because I don’t know where anything is. I get to choose between Colorado Springs, Canon City and Pueblo to shop in because there is nothing in Penrose. We have a library, an elementary school, a bank, a VFW and three medical marijuana stores. And a Kwik Stop.
Those first few months were difficult. I’d uprooted my life, moved across the country, and I didn’t know a soul. Other than Steve, the only conversations I had were telling people hello and thank you while checking out in stores.
It would have been very easy to feel lost and alone. It would have been very easy to try to cling to my friends and family in Little Rock and pester the hell out of them with phone calls, text messages and emails.
Facebook helped with the transition. Even though I’ve now got roots here in Colorado and consider this my home, Facebook still keeps me connected those I left behind in Little Rock.
I have an easy going correspondence with our friends the Brakes in Great Britain through FB. Mandy keeps up with what is going on in my life as I do with her. Although I do post a lot more than she does so I have to email her sometimes to get the real scoop.
Several years ago I reconnected with one of my old boyfriends from high school. He was single, I was single, sounds like the beginning of a love story doesn’t it? Well it is, but maybe not the way you think. I’d also reconnected with my friend Susie, also from high school, that dated the same guy pretty seriously after he and I broke up. I told them about each other and they got together. He moved from Alaska to Florida to be with her, and as far as I know they are still together today.
How cool is that?
There is a whole group of people I went to high school with that are scattered all over the country. I get to keep up with them, see pictures of their family without going to a high school reunion.
When my friend Leslie and her daughter Anna Kate came out at the beginning of the summer, she cracked me up when she walked through the house. She kept saying…”I recognize this from your pictures on Facebook”. When we talked about what to do and where to go, she had a good idea because she read my FB posts when others came to visit.

I know when my sister Tracey is having a bad day and maybe needs a phone call from her big sis. I also know when she and Terry are camping and trying to make a phone call would be a waste of time. I know what is going on with my nieces and nephew much more now than I ever did when I was living in Little Rock. I get a lot of detail about my daughter Kat’s life because of Facebook. Would I get the same amount of detail if we talked on the phone every day? Maybe, but we are both really busy and we don’t, and never have, talk on the phone every day.
Steve reconnected with some of his former co workers on Facebook. Because of that reconnection, Randy and Kathy Finch, along with their son Andrew, stayed with us for a week this month. These are some really cool people that I would have never met if it had not been for Facebook. And of course we are now all FB friends and I can keep up with what is going in their lives back in Alabama. Next time Steve and I are in Florence we will for sure get in touch with them.
A big part of my life was martial arts. I stay in touch with those friends through Facebook. I got to see pictures of my friend of 35 years Jim Robinson test for his 7th degree. I couldn’t be there, but seeing the pictures and video was a pretty good consolation prize.
A couple of years ago this person named Diana Hampo sent a friend request to me. I didn’t know her, but we had a lot of mutual friends involved in martial arts so I accepted the request. Turns out she is about my age, lives in Hot Springs, and is taking Taekwondo with my old instructor Jim Robinson. I started reading her blog, and really liked the way she thinks. We had a few short conversations through Facebook, then she had knee surgery so really had some stuff in common. We have since had several phone conversations and I consider her a friend. She has been invited to visit us and I hope she will take me up on that because I think we would have a blast.
Of course there is a down side to Facebook. There are some people that are negative and complain all the darn time, or are terminally boring. You know what? I just hide their posts. I been contacted by a couple of people that I don’t want to have anything to do with. Just block them. Easy to do.
I don’t know what social media will be like in the next ten years. I’m sure it won’t stay the way it is. There is talk about FB not being “cool” because some of us old folks are on it and that bothers the young people. I’m not thrilled with Google+ or LinkedIn, but I’m sure there are a lot of smart people out there working on the “New Facebook”. Whatever they come up with, I’ll be open minded.

I WISH I HAD FIGURED THIS OUT TWENTY YEARS AGO

I love martial arts. I love the challenge of learning new forms and new techniques. I love sparring. I love hitting bags and pads. I love escrima sticks and learning knife and gun disarms.Nothing ever engaged my mind, body and soul like martial arts. That’s why I’ve done them for over 35 years.
And that’s why I have a lot of the injuries I have.
Right after I bought Little Rock Taekwondo in 2000, I had ACL surgery on my knee. I’d gotten kicked in the side of the knee in class during a two on one sparring session. The kick guillotined my ACL and there was no option but to undergo surgery to repair it.
Honestly, the ACL surgery wasn’t all that bad. But during Physical Therapy I tore my quad. Neither the therapist nor the doctor believed me, so I kept on with the prescribed therapy. Then I started having leg spasms. Holy cow they hurt. Back to the doc, he still didn’t believe my self diagnosis. Long story, but I ended up changes doctors, getting the diagnosis that my quad was “unraveling” and wearing a full leg cast (in August) for a month to try to immobilize the muscle. That didn’t fix it and I was told it was going to take some time to heal.
It took over two years. After some acupuncture sessions with Martin Eisle of Evergreen Acupuncture, my leg got better and I could start training in martial arts again.
A couple of years later I went to the doctor to see if he could treat my torn groin muscle. Imagine my surprise when he informed me I needed total hip replacement. On both hips. But one was worse than the other so I elected to have the left hip replaced. I’ll have to get the right one replaced sometime but I’m not in any hurry.
The next year, shoulder surgery on the right shoulder. They will both need to be replaced at some time.
The quad injury still gives me more trouble than any of the other injuries. Apparently the scar tissue has shortened the muscle. The result is a lot of pain when I do squats or lunges, kicks or stretching.
I am not saying that martial arts are responsible for all of my aches and ailments. I am the first to admit that I am a Type A overachiever. The need for a challenge, the need to push myself, has been a huge factor in what I am dealing with now.
If I could go back twenty years and talk to a younger self, my advice would be to use some moderation in my training. I’m trying to take that self advice now.
The daily requirements when I did the UBBT in 2009 were:
100 pushups
100 crunches
2.5 miles cardio
4 rounds of sparring
4 repetitions of my pattern (Moon Moo for all you TKD readers)
Not only did I meet those minimums, but I would do parts of that workout three or four times a day when I was teaching classes.
When I tested for my 5th Dan in December of 2009 I was in great shape. But my body is still paying the price today.
So I’m doing Crossfit three to five days a week. The classes are only fifteen to thirty minutes long but we go full out for that length of time. A session or two on the Stairmaster that we have downstairs if I miss Crossfit. Yoga for an hour and a half two days a week. If I miss the class I do it at home. Hopefully I’ll be doing Krav Maga again twice a week if we can get the instructor to do classes during the day.
But here is the big difference. If we are supposed to do lateral jumps over a weight bar in Crossfit, I modify the technique and do the jumps with no obstacle. I don’t do the 400 meter runs, I jump rope. I don’t try to overload my shoulders with the heaviest weights I can stand, and I use a lighter kettle bell so that I can get the reps in.
In other words, I’m listening to my body. I know the difference now between a pain that is screaming “stop doing this” and discomfort because of working muscles.
Let me just say that I really don’t like yoga. The reasons why are another blog. But during a conversation with my sister Tracey last week I urged her to give yoga a try. And I told her not to roll her eyes (which I knew she was doing and she admitted it)
Yoga is a good balance for the hard and punishing workouts I do. It’s a good balance for the running that Tracey is doing. It’s complimentary to martial arts and just about anything else you might be doing. So find a yoga class, grit your teeth and do it. It’s good for you. And you will thank yourself 20 years from now.
Find your activity, whatever it is, and do it on a consistent basis. But don’t overdo it.
My ego, pride, competitive nature, whatever term you want to use, is what keeps me pushing to do one more rep, one more mile, or to hold a yoga position when my arms are shaking. I have to recognize that I can’t do what I once did, and concentrate on what I can accomplish rather than what I can’t do.
Wish I had figured this out twenty years ago.

IT’S SKIN IS FALLING OFF!


“Its skin is falling off! Gross!”

That was the reaction from the backseat as Keely and her friend Michelle spotted their first Bison in Yellowstone National Park.

For the record, the skin was not falling off, the bison was shedding.

We left for Yellowstone the day that school was out. Michelle is one of Keely’s best friends, and we like her a lot. This is a good thing because all four of us were together 24 hours a day on the trip.

As we drove into the park, Steve instructed Keely and Michelle to keep their eyes open for animals. Bison, deer, elk, moose, bears, wolves, coyotes can all be spotted in the park. We agreed that if anyone saw something we would say the name of the animal…”bear!” “bison!” If we couldn’t think fast enough to name the animal, we could simply say “critter!”
There were so many bison in the park that we got to the point that we didn’t even acknowledge them.
From the backseat…
“Deer!” “A Deer!” “Deer peeing!” Then a gale of laughter.
Another time…
Keely said “It’s an elk. A white butted elk!” Michelle responded “They are all white butted Keely”
More gales of laughter.

We saw an eagle, and an osprey. We pulled over and watch a young wolf roll around in a meadow. We spotted a grizzly bear in the woods, although some of us were more sure of that than others. We did get to see a black bear and her two cubs pretty close. We watched an elk walk around a building in Mammoth. It actually walked up four steps to stroll around. I can’t imagine what my reaction would have been if I had walked out of that building and came face to face with an elk.
As we were driving across the park to West Yellowstone we stopped at Old Faithful. We were in luck, we only had to wait about 15 minutes for the show.

Since we had been in a plane or a car all day, I suggested we take one of the trails. Two hours later we made it back to the car in a slight rain. We only threatened to leave the girls once. The rest of the time we just kept walking when the moaning started. They always caught up.

We learned on that excursion not to let the girls walk in front of us. Neither Keely nor Michelle could walk a straight line nor could they keep a consistent pace. Steve and I either bumped into them or were constantly dodging them. So the kiddos were instructed to always walk behind us.

Steve and I had been to Yellowstone before, so we were watching for the reaction when the girls got the first whiff of sulphur from the bubbling pots.
“Oh it stinks! It really stinks!”
But the view was too good to miss, so the next comment was “Hold your breath and come over here!”

Michelle and Keely

On the drive in from Cody, Wyoming, trees stand blackened from forest fires. Michelle wanted to know “why don’t they clear out all these dead trees?” During one of the stops at the ranger stations the ranger talked about how forest fires help renew the forests. As we drove back the girls mentioned that those forests would be growing again.
We went through Gardiner, MT which at the North Entrance to the park on the third day. While we were walking around the town I saw a big bird flying close to one of the shops. It took a minute for me to realize it was one of those kite like things attached to a pole. By now the girls were so attuned to looking for “critters” that I wasn’t surprised when I heard Michelle yell “Look Keely, critter! A bird! Oh, that’s not a natural bird!” We all doubled over with laughter.
We bought them some postcard kits that they could color themselves. The cards were of animals or scenes in Yellowstone and came with a small box of crayons. There was a frantic scramble one time when Keely couldn’t find one of her crayons. “I have to find it! I have to! I only have one of those crayons and that is why I cherish it!”

The National Parks have a great Junior Ranger Program. Each of the girls got a book with lots of activities in it. We spent the next couple of days visiting specific visitor centers and taking specific hikes just so they could get the answers to their questions and fill out their book. The talk at the ranger station (required) was about bears, and the girls listened very intently. That particular station had a wolf pelt, which the rangers let them try on.
On the last day, we stopped at one of the ranger stations. They were quizzed by the ranger and took the Yellowstone Junior Ranger Oath. Then they received their Junior Ranger Yellowstone Patch. Keely has hers on her Yellowstone Cap. Hopefully it will be the first of many. It’s a great program and I strongly urge you to let your child participate if you happen to be in a National Park.

We were amazed at how much the girls enjoyed the exhibits at the visitor centers. When we walked around the park, they read every sign. They now know a lot about volcanoes and geology. They stood at the Continental Divide. They weren’t embarrassed to be with us and were interested in learning. It was a great time in their lives to let them experience the park.

Last day, Keely and Michelle were about “crittered” out. Keely started making dolphin noises. She is actually quite good with dolphin noises. She has also been reprimanded a few times in school for demonstrating her talent at inappropriate times. As we were driving along I heard dolphin noises. Then they stopped. Then they started again. Finally Steve had enough and said “If you want to keep that you need to keep it quiet”. There was a stunned silence from the backseat. Then I said “Steve, that was her mouth.” Laughter throughout the car on that one.

As we left the park we stopped for a drink and potty break before making the drive to Cody, Wyoming. At this particular stop, the toilets were in a log building adjacent to the store. As we walked back to the car Keely stopped dead in her tracks “Well you don’t see one of those every day! Look! A phone booth! With a phone in it!”
Wow. She was right.

Our last evening was spent in Cody, Wyoming. We didn’t have enough time to see the museums, which evidently are quite good. We did, however go to the rodeo which is held every night throughout the tourist season. I would definitely recommend it. The girls got to go down to the arena to participate in an event. They didn’t know what the event was going to be when they raced down, they just went. The game was to grab a ribbon that was tied to tail of a calf. Neither of them even got close to one of the calves, but they ran their butts off. I laughed until I cried.

It was great for Keely to have a friend with her on the trip. I have never in my life heard so much farting or fart jokes. Who would have thought those two little girls (10 and almost 10) could have so much gas? Steve and I finally quit looking at each other when the giggles erupted. We even got to the point where we didn’t even roll our eyes.

They never had an argument or got cross with each other. The only real issue we had with them was we could not get them to shut up sometimes. And that wasn’t much of a problem until we were trying to go to sleep and they were farting and laughing. We could live with that.

RESPONSE TO I’LL NEVER FORGET THE FIRST SLAP

This was received in response to “I REMEMBER THE FIRST SLAP”

 

I think it is only fair to know there are two sides to every story.

Abusive relationships work two ways. The husband/father gets abused and holds it all in and can only discuss the occurences with family and co-workers.

The husband does not drink, smoke, do drugs or anything illegal. His focus is only on wife and kids. His hobbies are fishing, golfing, and spending time with his wife and kids.

There is no time for fishing or golfing. He works two jobs and his wife works part time. In that period he still spends more time baby-sitting than the mother does. She sleeps during the day and does not have the energy to function at night.

He gets yelled out for not doing enough for the kids. He gets screamed at for not doing enough house work or yard work. His solace is going to work to get away from the spousal abuse.

Tempers rise from both parties. She attacks verbally and physically and he yells back and leaves to get away from the abuse.

He does not tell the kids or others about the abuse. He bottles it up and holds it in. What is the purpose for telling kids negative actions about their mother?

The mother intentionally made it a point to make her husband miserable. He wanted to leave the relationship many years prior. The right thing to do is be two parents for children and not a split family.

There are two sides to every story. Abuse works both ways, physical and verbal. Staying in an abusive relationship for the kids sounds noble, but in reality it is a death sentence.

Time is supposed to heal all wounds. Unfortunately outlets like Facebook and Twitter just seems to cut the flesh that much more.