Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Do Or Die

It's tax season. Yes, there is an element of "do or die" when it comes to taxes... Death and taxes, eh?

Need I say more? Well of course!

To say that trying to implement a new accounting program during tax season isn't bothering me would be a lie. I'm in an absolute panic to get it done on time so I don't get thrown in jail. And of course there is NOT enough time to get it done. There is never enough time to get taxes done in the day to dayness of running a business and raising children.

But it's not the reason I'm writing today. As always, I like to be a little 'gray' with my introductions and let the reader's mind wander a bit. ;)


I'm writing because last night something happened that is distracting me, on and off, to the point of tears. I can't focus properly on inputting my 400+ inventory items, which turns tax season into a do or die thing for me. But this 'do or die' by paper, is nothing compared to the images rolling around, heedlessly, in my brain.

So, perhaps if I get it all down, I will be able to let it go and get on with my paperwork in a more focused manner.


Now, it begins with me being pretty hard-nosed about my kids learning how to defend themselves. I guess it comes from a lifetime of being female... and a fairly small female at that. (I didn't break the 100lb mark until I was in my early twenties.)

And let's face it, just being female who reaches the age of 20, means that, at some point in your life, you've had a big, smelly, unpredictable man attempt to attach himself to you in ways that do more than make me shiver.

Fortunately, there are more gallant men out there than not who will come to your aid. But you can't always count on them being around... or being tougher than the guy with his big grubby paws on you.

Working in a couple of bars for a while in my late teens and twenties didn't do much to reduce these unpleasant occurrences. But you can't live your life being too afraid to do new things. And when a good paying job comes along... you take it, worms and all.

These experiences made me realize that I wanted to learn how to defend myself in a constructive way. I just never knew where to go to learn what I needed to know.

And I think, since so much of my life, I've depended upon my wits to get me out of uncomfortable situations, combined with a difficulty believing that I really would be able to
effectively defend myself no matter what PHYSICAL skills I developed, I've never pursued self-defence classes.

Add to that being carjacked in 1998 in front of a courthouse and barely managing to get my 13 month old daughter out of the car before the very large, six foot (+) tall man could zoom away with her, and you've got a good recipe for a somewhat paranoid, 5'4", 120lb human-wandering-the-planet-till-death-do-us-part-thank-you-very-much.

It also creates a mother who is determined that her children not feel the same helplessness in their lives, that she has felt in hers.

I am pragmatic, if nothing else, and completely aware that most of these situations are simply a part of the life experience. The difference in the impact upon the psyche is more about YOU than about the person offending you.


So, it' s been really bothering me that the kids are still not learning how to defend themselves.

I've been contemplating calling up a man, locally, who I know teaches self-defence classes. I know he keeps the classes extremely affordable. It's not too far to drive. And after some socialization time with his family a few years back, I found them to be a wonderfully dedicated family unit.

So what stopped me from calling? Doubt.

There's a part of me that just doesn't believe that any amount of physical skill is going to help in a truly (or even somewhat) frightening situation.

Wits (and a good dollop of street smarts) work. That's what I've learned.

the kids have taken Aikido before and it didn't really seem all that effective. Eventually, it was so far away and so expensive that we stopped going.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I ran into this local-self-defence-instructor-man's wife at the library.

"What the heck?" I thought. "Maybe the universe is sending me a sign."

So I asked her about his classes, fully expecting her to give me their phone number, and tell me to call for details from her husband.

I knew that I would take the phone number politely and probably never get around to calling.

Guess again...

She knew ALL the details.

She said NOW would be the PERFECT time to join because there are other new people who just started. She told me we could JUST SHOW UP and try a class. She told me the next class was tomorrow night. And she told me more...

Now aside from being in awe that she knew all the details (as many spouces/spice have no idea what goes on in their mate's point of self-employment), I also considered it to be a slap in the face from the universe.

I was being spoonfed all the information I'd been wishing for.

When this kind of thing happens, I worry that if I don't sit up, pay attention, and take advantage of what end's up in my lap... the universe will punish me for being stupid, unaware and COMPLETELY unmotivated.

And I become especially motivated regarding messages from the universe when my children's future safety may be at risk.

So, it was time to get off my butt and focus on getting the task of self-defence in order.

"What the heck." I thought, "
If nothing else, the children can at least become more familiar with how their own bodies work. And it's so affordable, it seems silly not to sign them up."


So the next night, I packed all the kids into the van so the older kids could try a class and I could watch. Ho hum. I really still wasn't thrilled about two evening classes a week. Life is so busy...

But I was resigned to it. After all, we mustn't ignore messages from the universe.

All I can say is... AMAZING!

I could not avoid signing up the children.

The "master", really is a "Master". That about sums it up.


Now, fortunately or unfortunately, my eldest child is going through a phase of not wanting to join in on anything. Even if I
make her join and go, she will just stand in the middle of the floor, like a lump, bringing the whole class down about 500 notches.

She doesn't get that from me, those are her father's genes coming through. And you better believe he 'got it' that night when we arrived home after I had to pull her out of the class for being a lump.

Nevertheless, onward and upward, I decided if she wasn't going to take the class with her brother, then
I would. For over ten years, if we had any extra money, it always went to something for the kids... no matter how much I wanted something for myself... as is the way with motherhood... as it should be.

But this time, the instruction of that class, moved me enough to not want to miss out on this rather rare opportunity for self-development... So, I have taken her place in the class.

And I am not just taking-her-place-la-dee-da.


I feel like I'm doing something that I should've done a lifetime ago!... Two lifetimes ago!

I feel like another piece of my life puzzle has dropped into place.

Somehow... I feel the universe is at work again.


The "master" not only shows the moves in slow motion, he shows what will come next and explains all the physics behind why the moves work.

THIS is why I am moved enough to put the money out to take this class. He has won my faith. I now believe that, indeed, perhaps I CAN physically defend myself effectively! I GET it!


Which brings us to last night... my third class... and the reason for my focal undoing today...

We were doing wrist hold escapes. Of course, always the cynic, I wanted to really see if they worked. The Master saw my need to see 'proof' and came over to let me experience, first hand, the receiving hand of the defensive technique.

Granted, he is much taller than I, and it goes without saying, much stronger. But what he did, was go through the move in slow motion, with me as the attacker.

He showed me that I was doing a lot of things wrong as a defender.

He showed me that being far away from the attacker was not very effective. He couldn't get away from me.

Then he showed me that getting close to my attacker was more effective.

So again, I grabbed his wrist as tightly as I could.

And, as the defender, he swung around me (again, in slow motion) and his chest actually brushed past my shoulder. As he did that, I could smell him.

Don't get me wrong, he didn't smell bad. He smelled like soap, actually... but I'll get back to that.

Then, though I could not see it, he followed through with the next move, using his free arm, which was, at that point, behind me, to reach around and lock my head (giving him the ability to also snap my neck).

What was so unnerving was that I could not
see his arm come around but I felt it.

The air moved... and I felt it.

It was astounding in a creepy kind of way.

The next thing I knew, I was completely under his control with no way out.

And this is why I cannot focus today. All I can think about is how helpless I truly am.

I'm in a sheer state of panic.

Why? After all, I'm learning the techniques. I'm obviously being taught by an effective teacher and master.

The Master is a kind and thoughtful man who cares enough about people to help them avoid getting hurt. He is an excellent instructor, a good husband (I see his happy, involved wife, so I know he is a good husband), a great father (I see him out and about with his happy kids) and a man who is predictable to the point of explaining the "where's and why's" of everything he does... and he does not smell bad.

Well, something clicked, being touched by a man who is not my husband... and feeling the air move... and knowing how much bigger and stronger than me he was...

I was slammed by the dichotomy of the Master in relation to a few old, previously forgotten, unpleasant memories of bigger, stronger men who were not so predictable and did not smell like soap (who all seem to be looming over me while I sit at my desk today)...


Of course, what happens from the point of view of a somewhat creative, somewhat paranoid person, such as myself?

I then lie in bed thinking about how helpless I am. How most (if not all) men are bigger and stronger than me. How many of them are unpredictable. How a lot of them smell like alcohol or worse. It's about remembering having to 'wit' myself out of situations and the smells of those situations like it was only yesterday...

And I think about how, if those old smells get behind me, I won't be able to see them coming either...

And I think about how I'd like a few less 'old memories' looming over my children when they are sitting at their desks doing taxes when they're all grown up.

I cannot get a blackbelt or learn these techniques fast enough.

I am committed.

And all my children WILL learn to defend themselves... like it or not.

For once, there's nothing gray about it... in what is usually
"The Gray Zone".

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