Achievement Unlocked

I have been largely absent from this space for most of April. Between retiring from a nine-year career in massage therapy and studying for brown belt test, my primary focus has been on self-care. While I wrote and worked on my new business a little, divesting myself of nine years’ worth of other people’s energetic sludge and not dying during what everyone told me would be a five-hour slog through Kempo were my top priorities.

It takes a lot of studying to succeed in martial arts.
A Saturday afternoon study session in the backyard. Five minutes later, some furious winds sent all the cards flying.

It is now May. Professionally, I’m slowly progressing out of my sabbatical. I’m almost at the point where I feel the call to work again. I don’t think I realized how deep my exhaustion went and how drained I became. But that’s another blog post for another time. In the meantime, I’m extremely grateful for an understanding husband and this gift of time I’ve been given.

On Friday, May 3rd, I had my brown belt test. It ended up being a small group of people; just myself and one other person tested. We had a couple others audit the test, and I was grateful for their presence.

Training in the martial arts is a long road.
My green belt with brown stripe, otherwise known in my dojo as First-Degree Green Belt. Definitely worse for the wear, but worn with pride.

I’m very proud to say that at 8pm on Friday, May 3rd, I was handed a brand-spanking-new brown belt.

The other testing student and I spent most of April practicing our techniques and forms. I honestly believe these sessions made the difference between passing and not passing. They also made the difference between having to go through a five-hour test and our test, which ended up being a little less than three hours.

A brown belt in any martial art form is hard to earn.
I’m still amazed that I came home with this. I mean . . . ME. I did this. W. T. Serious. F.

This past weekend has been one of recovery. I spent most of it on the couch, too exhausted to move. I’ve been working steadily and with increasing intensity toward this goal for the last eighteen months. I spent April hyper-focused on my training. Nothing else mattered. That kind of intensity takes its toll. I was seriously wiped out.

My Saturday morning latte included a triple-shot of espresso. It barely made a dent in my tired.

Now that I’m on the other side of that test, I’m taking a small break. My goal is to enjoy this huge achievement. Earning a brown belt isn’t something that you can just go out and do one weekend because you’re bored. I did A Thing. I did A Big Thing. I get to stop for a moment and enjoy that. I’ve earned it.

What’s next? Well . . . the Road to Black Belt, of course. That’s at least a two-year journey. I’m going to need those two years to ramp up the intensity and endurance of my training once again. Because that test? It’s a weekend-long festival of pain. I’d like to survive it.

But for now? Let’s just say this week is going to end with birthday cake, and as much of it as I want. Because the Road to Black Belt is a long one, and you’ve got to take a few pit-stops along the way.