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Sunday, September 15, 2013

What's Done is Done

I haven't been here in months. Months! Honestly, (and we all know it) I only come here in times of confusion, frustration, anger, and what have you. I come here to get it out there and I don't care who listens and who thinks this is a pile of worthless shit on the internet.

You read it and care, or you read it and think, "who gives a shit?"

I get it.

Been busy as hell trying to make something, anything of myself. After years upon YEARS of soul searching and following meandering paths I thought were right, I found what I'm meant to do and only, ONLY because it somehow...in some way... fell into my lap.

It's as if I just had to grow into a pair of shoes that were just too damned big until now. Ever feel that way?

That's for another day.

Today, I'm angry as hell. I don't care if it's out on the internet. I don't care if it's out there for the world to see. I'll post it up everywhere because I'm mad as hell. There is no more "getting over it", there is no more "moving on", I don't even believe that there is any more "forgiveness" left.

I am tired.

I was tired 20 years ago.

Now, I am just god damned exhausted and I am done.

Just done...

At first, I was hurt. I cried for hours when I heard the news (again, I heard the news). But for what? What was I crying for?

What was I crying over?

It was hard to remember. I couldn't recall. It was a vapor-maybe just a hint of a ghost floating through memory-

now just buried along with any recollection of happiness.

Mud soup on back yard swings, a game of 4-square on the street.

All I remember anymore now, is just sadness and hurt. All else has been erased from memory.

All I can think as I'm sitting here is nothing and everything and mostly, why?

The person I knew died years ago when I was still a kid. He is dead.

I realize this is reading like a poem, but that's how I see things: a swirl of pictures and still frames and happy times that seem at least 100 years and 100 feelings away. At least, in terms of my brother, or the brother I once knew.

He is gone and he has been gone. Thankfully, I was able to come to terms with that years ago.

Alcoholism took him from me.

It took him from all of us and now his wife suffers right along with the rest of us.

"But I love him", she says.

We all say that.

I've had enough though. Enough. We all hear stories about people and their "estranged" relatives and we sit there and we judge: how could you ever give up on your blood?

No. it isn't easy.

Too many times I've tried to walk away and I couldn't. It was guilt. My parents, my grandparents, my whoever telling me: "He's your brother. You have to stand by him."

But at what expense?

I had children. I have children. They have no idea who he is. I am both thankful and immensely sad. I had wonderful Uncles. I still do. My children don't know their Uncles. None of them.

Some by their doing, some by mine.

At this point, I don't want my kids to know Uncle Sean. They only know the good parts. I never wanted any of them to know him as long as they have been alive. He's been the skeleton in my closet...this dark secret that I hold.

My parents might be angry if they are reading this, but at the same time, I am sure they understand: I love my brother. I can't like him anymore.

There is too much now.

Too much.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lutheranism vs. Catholicism (non offensive, I promise!)

This entry is for my Catholic pals!

I seem to have a lot of them which many of my non Catholic friends tend to find amusing and a little strange on my part. I never knew friendships were to be defined by religious and political beliefs, but apparently, there are people out there who are that close-minded that they are unable to mesh with anyone who doesn't hold onto the same set of values, beliefs, and train of thought. (I don't understand it, but if you live in such a narrow world, I'm glad you are excluding me from it!)

Given it's the Lenten season, I thought I'd share a little. I tend to stay away from religion and politics as a whole, but sometimes it's ok for me to share a bit, especially when it might help others learn about me a little bit more.

So guess what Catholic friends!? I once was a Roman Catholic.

Now...I'm a laid back Roman Catholic!

Are you squinting at the screen and saying, "Um what the heck is she talking about?" Well, it's true. My dad is a Roman Catholic and my mom is a *gasp* Lutheran. I heard their path to the altar was no picnic. Apparently, a RC marrying anyone that is not an RC is frowned upon, but I digress.

I'm a catholic. Here is the proof in our Lutheran Apostle's Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended to hell.

On the third day he rose again;
He ascended into heaven,
He is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. 

And there it is folks, what we believe as Lutherans. The SAME as you in a nutshell. Though, the "holy catholic church" does not mean the big "C" Catholic, but the little "c" catholic, which means the "Christian" church were ALL denominations from Roman Catholic to Methodist exist.

What do I mean when I say I was once Roman Catholic? Well, I was, until a man named Martin Luther deflected from the Roman Catholic Church. In short, he did not like how the RC was being operated. According to him, it was corrupt.The foundation was there, but at some point, it had taken (in Martin Luther's opinion) a turn for the worse and the Catholic church had strayed from God's true teachings. His biggest problem was with men and their (for a lack of better words) "power trip" within the church. The men had all the power, the men spoke to God alone, you had to go through men to be forgiven. He called Hogwash on the whole situation!

And he left.

It took many years for me to dissect the history and a lot of years figuring out if I aligned with Martin Luther's beliefs, or not. .

In my years of personal study as well as in a certification program, I see many similiarties AND differences. But the binding stone is in God and Jesus. Catholics and Lutherans alike are under the same umbrella of love.  We just view that love...differently.

We believe, as Lutherans, the same basic things as Catholics do as stated in our Apostle's Creed AND the Lord's Prayer with THESE distinct differences:

We are saved by grace ALONE. Whoever believes in Him goes to heaven. If we repent our sins in our hearts, God will cleanse us from our sins. We do not need to physically go to "confession". We do not pray the rosary.  We do not need to do good works, or deeds to get into the Kingdom of Heaven, we just simply need to believe and we are forgiven.

We do not need a priest to absolve us of our sins. All we need to do is confess them to God on our own time, in our own space, and we are forgiven.

We do not believe in purgatory. You go to heaven, or you go to hell. There is no limbo of indecision.

We do not believe in the Papacy. We can speak to God ourselves and do not believe that any human being is chosen by Him as a vessel to speak through. So Pope Benedict, Paul, etc. is just some man like any other man.

We don't pray to the Holy Mother, although we do acknowledge that Christ was born from her, a virgin.

We DO believe in the sacraments, Ash Wednesday, lent (although we do not follow the same rules of sacrificing, fasting etc.), Christmas, Easter, Saints (but we do not pray to them), The Transubstantiation, Transfiguration and on and on.

As listed above, we just don't have the same set of rules and strictness. We don't feel a need for it. Basically, we, as Lutherans, are Catholics...minus the guilt.

And there you have it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Don't Know How it Happened. It Just Did.

Some things are just plain unexplainable: how the world came to be, deja vu, near death experiences, or how anyone could possibly dislike Chevy Chase. The one thing that I can not explain to anyone (including myself at times) is my karate training and the sheer level I try every day to bring it to. 

I don't know how many times I have been called crazy, stupid, nuts, and any other synonym I failed to recall resembling the word "crazy". On the other side of that, I've also been called motivating, inspiring, and dedicated. It's safe to say that I appreciate all of the compliments. Yes, I even find the word "crazy" complimentary. 

In fact, being called "crazy" and "inspiring" are great words to describe me. Most of the time, I feel a little more crazy than inspiring (especially if you've ever been sad witness to one of my horrible ushiro geris). When someone calls me crazy, to me it means that just maybe they don't understand why I do what I do often to the point of physical exhaustion, injury, and mental collapse where I cry all the way home from the dojo only to do it all again the next day. 

It does seem crazy to a lot of people I imagine. Have you ever purposely poured all of your heart and spirit into something that you never even knew you liked doing until many years down the road? 

I signed up as a white belt 5 years ago this coming January. The only reason I signed up in the first place was because I needed something to do. I needed to get off my lazy butt and do something and at the time, it was going to be pretty much anything. It just so happened that my son wanted to do it, so I said what the heck, it would get my stagnant butt to exercise and it would get me out of the house two nights a week. 

I had absolutely no clue what I was getting myself into, but there I was on a Monday night in a beginners gi and a white belt I didn't know how to tie. I had no idea that on that very Monday night standing there in my stiff crinkly gi that the moment when I first stepped foot on that mat, would begin a life long journey of self discovery. 

I HATED IT and I QUIT after one month. 

For some reason, I thought it would be easy. I was a ballerina! If I could double and even triple pirouette on pointe shoes, surely Karate would be simple to learn! Oh no. My body was moving in ways that it had never moved before. It was uncomfortable, awkward, and it hurt. It hurt parts of me I never even knew I had. Yeah, Karate SUCKED and it wasn't for me. I told my husband that we were in a contract so he had to go use the rest of the year up that I had signed up for. He wasn't happy. 

I don't know why, but after about 8 months I decided that I would try it again. I never looked back. I don't know what made me try again. Maybe it was Greg who didn't like it and his endless groaning about having to go, or maybe it was my Sensei and his endless questioning of when I'm coming back. That man has a very sneaky way of things.

He lights this fire under your butt, in your head, in your mind, and you have no idea how it got there, or when it arrived. I can't tell you what year it was, what day it was, or what belt I was, but this spark lit a massive fire. 

You would never know by looking at me today how I was when I first began. I never smiled, never talked to anyone, and had the most horrible self-loathing defeatist attitude. I had no confidence, put forth little to no effort, and didn't even attempt to give any effort. I really wasn't that interested until...I got my yellow belt. Then, I got my yellow/black belt, then orange and I won gold medals, and green, and blue, then purple and I won more gold medals, now one year into brown. How the heck did I do that? 

Now somewhere in there, I got to the place I have a hard time describing. It is unbelievable to me to look back on the person I was then five years ago and see the person that I am now. Not once in my wildest dreams (it wasn't even a dream of mine) did I think I would be teaching classes, or coaching fitness teams, giving advice, motivating others, leading people, and absolutely LOVING each day that I get to train. 

I never knew that I WAS this person and that I probably was this person all along. Thinking about this journey of self growth brings tears to my eyes because it has been so wonderful and unique. In my 36 or so years, I've been a part of some pretty amazing and incredible things and I've done some pretty amazing and incredible things, but Karate is the most incredible. I don't think there is any other sport on earth that has the ability to awaken the human spirit like Karate does, or maybe it's the Sensei and his, or her love of Karate that awakens it in others.

At times, the journey is not easy. It's downright hard. The physical challenge, the mental challenge, the challenge each day to be better than you were the day before. The discovery that there are some parts of you that are disgusting, ugly, and hurtful and the realization that all of these things can and will change over time, given time. 

The discovery that you can be amazing in ways you never even thought. There are things inside you that are perfect, good, and wonderful and all you needed was a little discipline and someone to tell you the truth. Even if that truth isn't what you want to hear, it's what you need to hear.

The discovery that getting a black belt is not, in fact, the destination, the end goal, or any kind of goal at all. It's a state of mind, a love in the heart, and fire in the spirit.

And to think all I was getting was just some exercise...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Short Story About MY Religion

True story:

Once upon a time, I lived in the city.

I was born to a Roman Catholic father and a Lutheran Mother. As tradition would have it, I would be baptized into my Mother's religion. I was therefore, baptized and raised as a Lutheran. I went to Sunday school and church as a Lutheran for 8 years. I was communed and confirmed into the ELCA. Because I was raised in the faith, I followed it.

I went to college and strayed, as many do.

After college, I met a guy. He was not affiliated with any religion.

I married him. 

We moved to the country. 

Because there was nobody, I went to church. I found acceptance and friends. I involved and immersed myself as much as possible and became a worship leader in 2007. It was all I had. At the time, I enjoyed and loved it. It was what I needed in my lonely time. I had my husband, we had 4 children ages 5 and under. I clung to my faith. It was what we knew and what my community supported.

7 years later, we moved BACK to the city. 

We found a church and went regularly, we became members. I became involved on the worship team, choir, and taught Sunday School loosely for 2 years. Then...my church SPLIT after the ELCA voted to accept gay pastors. One half went FOR and one half with AGAINST.

I went FOR. 

A mess happened.

I lost friends.

I left the church.

I still accept, love Jesus, AND accept electrons and random luck too. 

The end.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I Promise

I promise myself…to be so strong that nothing can disturb my peace of mind; to talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person I meet; to make all my friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them; to look at the sunny side of everything and make my optimism come true; to think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best; to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as I am about my own; to forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future; to wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature I meet; to give so much time to improving myself that I have no time to criticize others; to be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble; to think well of myself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud word, but in great deeds; to live in the faith that the whole world is on my side, so long as I am true to the best that is in me.
-Christian D. Larson

Friday, August 31, 2012

Sick to DEATH of politics. Just shut up!

When I was younger, I was a "Republican". Why? Because my parents were. Then I grew up, went off to a fairly liberal college outside of Philadelphia, got educated, and joined up with some random campus political movement that sided with liberal thought. I stayed with the "Democrat" label for quite some time. It even followed me out west five years ago.

The last few election years I blogged my brains out, siding mostly with the liberals even though one year I managed to pull the red lever. I was very boisterous about my political and religious opinions. There were many people who just couldn't grasp how, a then synodically authorized worship leader, could be so political and "so liberal" in my views.

You know why?

Because I realize that I belong to NO political party. I am a little "Republican", a little "Democrat", a little "Green", and a little "Libertarian". There is no check box on the registration forms that say "all of the above". Why is that? Why must we choose to slap a ridiculous label on ourselves as being this, or that? Sure, there is the "Unaffliated" box which I have checked off, but even unaffiliated voters typically lean more in one direction than the other much of the time. I, however, do not.

Everyone has a fair shot in the beginning. I take it upon myself to search out entire careers, voting records, and find the unbiased sources. Yes, there actually ARE unbiased sources. It takes A LOT of digging and for good reason. Politicians do NOT want you to have the correct information. They don't want people to have the truth because if people had all of the thruths, they wouldn't be voting at all. Instead, we are inundated with inane made-up televsion commercials with so much spin I need a dramamine to keep from throwing up. We have billboards linking candidates to the Taliban. We have candidates still questioning the validity of the President's birth place. And the saddest part is there are thousands upon thousands of people in this country who purchase into this unsubstantiated information because they aren't smart enough to pick up a book and read.

There's a REASON why politicians spend multi-MILLIONS on tv ads: they work for the uneducated. That's the vote they want, those and the wealthy white guys. If you are a woman, hispanic, or black, please don't vote. Thanks! Offensive or not, that's the truth and you can believe it's true because I said it was CHRIS CHRISTIE *smack head*

It's the end of August now and I STILL do not know who I am voting for, but I will tell you this much: I am sick and tired of the mud slinging, the name calling, the exaggerated half truths, the flat out lies, the coverups, the no solutions and the blatant avoidance of an honest discussion of the issues and corruption that are destroying this country as well as the back room deals and the corporate sell outs by nearly EVERYONE claiming that only "they" represent the working class. Not a single person in Washington DC represents the "working class" and never will. That is TRUTH.

I am a mad as hell American voter who is paying VERY close attention and taking notes on the voting records, short comings, predjudices and alliances of everyone running for public office regardless of the labels they adorn themselves with. Labels mean nothing to me. When someone attempts to slap a label on me, it gets shut down immediately and usually not to the person's liking.

I am fully awake and I am more than a little bit sad that I am only finding candidates to vote against but very few to believe in and vote for. This makes me an angry voter this year, just so you know....

P.S. Please keep your PERSONAL religious, racial, gender and sexual orientation biases out of how you PRETEND to represent me. Your beliefs DO NOT belong in MY life.

Rant over. I'm done discussing politics. For good.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Bench Warming 101

I had originally intended to keep this entry in my private journal, but I thought why not share? It may help others "get it", then again, it might not. At any rate, writing about this has helped me a great deal in coming to terms with what's coming and it has also been a very big learning experience. Things like this make me grow.

I'm sure many people in my life have been wondering why I'm being such a crybaby, or why I'm making such a "big deal" about having surgery on my foot. I've been told to "quit whining", "stop crying about it and just get it done", "do it and get it over with already!"

My answer is, it's not that easy.

It's not easy as all.

If it was an easy decision to make, I would have hung up my dance shoes 20 years ago and gone under the knife then when I first started having pain. Instead, rather than step back and recognize that I'm a human being with human being problems, I ignored the pain and continued getting shots in my foot whenever I had troubles. It didn't matter that the pain was so tremendous that I would cry myself to sleep many nights a week, I wanted to be in the dance studio 6 days a week. I needed to be there. I had things to accomplish, competitions to win, and people to blow away!

At 36 years old, I am still the same way I was at 16: I'm here to win and you can't stop me. 

No matter what you say to me, no matter what you do. You can break me down, but I will come back even stronger. I am here and I can do anything. Watch me explode. Just watch me.

The simple truth is, when you ask an athlete (if you have the audacity), to stop training even for a little bit, it's just like telling that athlete to stop breathing.

Are you kidding me? Surgery? Out for months?

It felt like I had been sent to the electric chair. I got a sick feeling in my stomach and I started crying right there in that doctor's office. He said I wasn't the first athlete to cry in his office. Many people had come in with career ending injuries. Mine is not career ending, but I still felt like the flooring had been ripped out from underneath me.

The initial impact was overwhelming. I am not one who sits on the sidelines. In fact, there is nothing that I hate more. I want to get out there, do what I love, and do it as much as humanly possible. Tell me to "slow down" and "take it easy" and I will probably tell you that you have no idea what you are talking about. My sports medicine doctor told me to take some time off. He then very quickly laughed at what he had just said and told me that he already knew I wouldn't, or rather couldn't.

Putting what I love aside for three months, or however long it takes is a loss. That is how to best explain it to others, a loss.

It also doesn't help my cause that I am horrible at asking people to "help". People don't "help" me, I help them. It's what I do. So, when someone asks me if I need help, or says "let me know if you need any help", chances are I will NEVER ask. Admitting that I need help (especially physical help) is a huge blow to who I am. To say that I won't need help during my healing time is foolish. I have four kids, a husband, a house, and a job I can't go to because I need my physical body to work there. I'm quite obviously going to need some help. I just hope that those around me can recognize the help that I need and just lend a hand because I certainly won't ASK you to help me.

This is such a stressful time for me. Hanging up my gi-even temporarily-is not something I've even given a single thought to since I was a white belt. Even when I spent nine months in the police academy, I came at every opportunity I had. I have desire, motivation, spirit, and a drive to succeed that is unmatched by a lot of people. I just want to keep moving forward, above, and beyond my limits. As hard as it can be sometimes, as painful, as character wounding, or building as it can be, I still want to be on that road and not only do I want to be on that road, I want to be the best.

I need to know how to constructively cope with this time away. For so many years, I kept telling myself that the pain was only temporary. If I didn't do anything to aggravate it, I'd be perfectly fine. I could manage it. And I did manage it for a VERY long time. Rarely did I even complain about it. Then all of a sudden, I couldn't ignore it any longer. One night, after no particularly different week in teaching or training, I was up all night retching in pain. It was as if someone was continuously taking a hammer and just slamming it full force into my foot. I was actually physically ill from the pain that night. the next day, I decided that enough was enough. I can no longer live like this.

I saw the doctor the next day and he confirmed what I had already known for years. Surgery was going to be the only fix. There were no more options aside from continuing to live with pain. Yet, the "loss" of my sport? The loss is going to be far worse than the pain of healing and recovery. I've got to sit on the bench and watch for the very first time in my entire life. I've always been the go-getter, the leader, the one with all that confidence. Now all of that has to be surrendered and it is terrifying.

Relying on others is terrifying. The thought of not fully recovering is terrifying. the thought of a slow moving recovery is terrifying. Being without my sport is terrifying.

I've told myself that it's ok to be sad. Heck, I tell my kids that all the time. Now I have to allow myself to be sad. As hard as it may be, I'm not going to push through this as fast as I can (as much as I'd like to). My body will need time to heal and recover, or I may not ever return to karate and that will be absolutely DEVASTATING. I am thankful for my husband, my Sensei, and my daughter's ballet teacher for helping me through, talking to me, and dealing with my indecision. I haven't been easy, but I have been much worse on myself. I already know I will spend a lot of the first week crying (it sure doesn't help that my baby will also be starting full day Kindergarten that week). But it's ok to cry. It's ok.

In my time, I also need to re-evaluate my goals and try to be a little bit more realistic. I want to be 2nd kyu by Christmas, but I know that's probably not possible. It's not impossible, but it's probably unlikely. I don't want to set a goal for myself that will leave me disappointed and self-defeated in the end. "If it's to be it's up to me", but at the same time, I can't control what is beyond my control and I know that.

Still I wonder after sharing this, if anyone else besides the athlete can understand my feelings. I don't expect it I suppose. What I do expect, or rather want from others is people to stop telling me to "get over it", "quit crying about it", "just get it over with". STOP saying that and allow me to feel whatever it is I feel because to admit that I have to sit on the bench for a few months is the hardest thing I've ever had to do.

These last few weeks have been a process. One day I'm angry, the next day I'm frustrated. The next week I think I'm coming to terms and the very next day I question the entire thing. Now, a week and a half out, I'm at acceptance. I know deep inside I will be ok and the chips will just fall as they may. I will control what I can control and let go of what I can not. Either way, it's personal growth and I'll be a better person at the end.