Quick Morning Blog

Thought I’d blog in the morning for a change!

I slept great last night. Went for a donut run just before going to sleep, and ate the last cherry donut when I woke up. We have this great local 24-hour donut place. I got I’ve been feeling more calm lately, it’s wonderful.

Yesterday was great, someone brought in a ferret named Carrot. It was this little squirmy thing, but not perfumed like many ferrets. The woman holding him was so happy. Everyone is like that with their pets– they just light up. I love seeing people and their pets interact, the love you see. It makes your day!

Just wanted to say “hello!” Hope you have a great day. I’m headed to work.

Amee

I Did It!! This Runt is a Self-Defense Bad Ass Today!!

My arms are sore, my voice is raw, and my heart is thumping.

I can’t stop smiling.

I GRADUATED my self-defense class tonight!!

And to think I almost didn’t go. I couldn’t find my book, I couldn’t find anyone to practice with, and I was worried that I wouldn’t remember what I’d learned. I was worried I was too weak. Happy to say, I WAS WRONG!

Reminds me of being in school, the anxiety I used to have over tests. I would study like crazy and not get any sleep, and sometimes miss class. In the past I would find all the worst-case scenarios about why I would fail.

But instead of worrying, I decided to believe. Since there was nothing for me to study with, I had no choice. I decided to have faith in my own muscle memory, my instincts, my adrenaline.

I realized I wanted to see my classmates. I wanted to be there for and with them. We were all being tested. It wasn’t just about me. And I wanted to prove to MYSELF that I can do it.

There was just one condition: Don’t quit.

I told myself, “You are going to do it!” I shut out fear and focused on being positive.

I didn’t do anything physical to prepare. I did get a good night’s rest. I asked for some prayers, and I prayed myself. And I met up with one of my best friends, Catt, for pie beforehand. We caught up, we laughed, we ate pie, we hugged. I went to our final class in a great mood.

I watched a few people go before me. We were all rooting for each other. It was hard to watch the other women struggle and I could see when they were losing strength and wanted to quit. But we all yelling, “You can do it!” and our instructor would be right there, encouraging us too. And they triumphed! I could see I wasn’t alone– it was just as hard for them as it was for me.

When he called me up, I was ready. It was nice, again, to be called, “Miss Amee.”

To be respected.

The test was designed to make us tired, to catch us by surprise, to test our endurance. It was scary, and real.

I got through the push-ups, punches, blocks, and surprise attacks.

But mainly, I USED MY VOICE. That’s what he taught us the first day. My VOICE is my biggest weapon!

I can say this for myself, I screamed the loudest! It felt good, too. I feel like A LION!

It’s amazing to know I’m capable of it.

Our instructor said afterwards that using your voice provides a burst of energy, and it’s true.

The adrenaline DOES work. I used some of the techniques, but I was good at blocking punches and getting out.

I learned that it’s not easy to knock me down. I have more energy and instinct than I realized.

He asked us all how we felt afterwards. I told him I felt PROUD.

He had us line up and receive our certificate of graduation, and he gave us our t-shirts in a traditional way, then shook our hands.

The last time I got an award for something was my sales, at work. And I was happy about that!

But this was so much MORE exciting.

In this class I learned that it does not MATTER that I’m small. I am still a FORCE! I had someone take a picture of me with it, and also my classmates and our teacher.

I feel happy, confident. Strong. Like a total bad ass.

I’m glad our instructor didn’t take it easy on us in that last test.

I had been worried I might fail– I had thought before, “Who is this guy to pass or fail me?!”

But he had our certificates waiting, printed up. AND MY NAME WAS SPELLED RIGHT! My whole name! So many times, it’s been bungled. That’s the price of having two unique names.

He believed in us all along. He knew we would graduate. It was just up to us to go forward and claim it!

He did his job, we did ours. Everybody won. It wasn’t a competition.

And I’ll tell ya one thing: I am FRAMING that certificate!! And I already put on the-shirt, it fits perfect.

The Comfort of a Good Book

So I just bought “Gone Girl,” (I know, EONS late!) and it’s glorious.

I saw the movie last weekend. I thought it was wonderful but crazy. I didn’t think I’d want to read the book.

It seems like everything I’ve been reading lately has been something with purpose, something non-fiction.

I need to give my mind a break and just let it wander! I love getting lost in someone else’s imagination.

It may seem like a boring hobby– it’s not rock-climbing or knitting or something active or social.

But I’m realizing now just how relaxing reading truly is for me. You’ve always got a friend with a book.

Reading is quiet and solitary, and that’s WHY I like it!

It keeps my mind sharp. It allows me to travel all kinds of places.

It gives me things to talk about! I love when people ask what I’m reading. I wish more people did.

Sometimes I find myself recommending books to people when they’re telling me about their lives, like a prescription. They are usually amused and it’s a good way to connect with them.

I have a talent. I can find a book for anyone, even people who hate reading.

Really, it’s one of the world’s most popular activities! I’ve got good company. :)

Nerds are the best, and I’m proud to be a book nerd!

Sucker Punch: Keep Fighting and Walk it Off

Tonight we reviewed techniques we’ve learned in this class.

And I was calm, ready, and logical. A few times I blanked out, but my instructor was right there telling us what we were doing wrong and how to fix it. They were fleeting moments, and then I figured it out and got it right. We as classmates broke down each other’s reactions and moves as well, re-positioning, critiquing and praising. It’s been that way all along.

I’ve learned so much about myself in this class. I started off very meek, and would panic easily. I was also defiant, because I didn’t trust myself or the moves in the class. But repetition and a safe environment helped me overcome that.

Last week, I had a small meltdown when I felt afraid. I panicked and cried, just gave up entirely. I had been holding it in the whole class– but crying helped me get it out. I went off by myself and calmed down for a few minutes. Sometimes you just gotta feel what you feel and release it. It’s bottling it up and pretending you don’t have a problem that gets you into trouble. My classmates were supportive, as was my instructor. I think it reinforced to them that although the class is also fun and a great way to get in shape and meet people, we are all there because we need to protect ourselves– and each other– in an unsafe world. We’ve become allies, if not close friends. But I do like and trust all of these people.

I had some major trust issues when I began this class. I still don’t trust most people unless they prove safe– but that’s smart. But now because *I’m* more confident, I’m finding it’s getting easier for me.

Probably the best thing I’ve learned is to not put up with disrespect. Confront it right away, and most likely you’ll stop it in the future. People will test your boundaries to see how far they can push you. It’s up to us to let them know we’re paying attention and what we will not tolerate.

The problem with being Christian is we are conditioned to forgive at all costs. But I’ve learned now that if someone moves to strike or threaten you, the SAFEST thing you can do is to make a decision and take control. Waiting to react on them could leave you dead.

I have no obligation to forgive someone who has betrayed my confidences, lied to/about me, threatened me or attacked me openly in any way. If you do that at a job, you get fired. Why do we make exceptions for people in our lives just because we have a long history together, we’re related, or we’re dating? The only people who are truly innocent are children or individuals with disabilities, be it mental or physical. Everyone else needs to be held responsible for their words and their actions.

I’m letting go of guilt over people I cut out of my life because they were insufferable or untrustworthy. Condescending, hostile, passive-aggressive, disrespectful, constantly drunk/high and using that as an excuse to behave badly. I’m making peace with realizing I let go of toxic friendships and relationships to protect MYSELF– and I don’t need to apologize to anyone for that.

I’ve become more decisive in my personal life. Things roll off me easier. I’m not scrambling for approval. I’m taking more pride in my appearance. I’m more relaxed, but also more aware.

Tonight I had a few moments of having to pause and think before I could react, but I never quit or got afraid enough to be emotional. I wish the class was longer, because I’ve come to really respect and trust this group. I’d like to keep in touch with some of them, or maybe take another class if my schedule and finances allow.

It’s nice to be called, “Miss Amee,” for a change. To be treated with respect, rather than objectified. All the men were respectful, not creepy. Once you’re treated well, you just can’t accept anything else.

I’ve learned to rely on reason, structure and repetition in this class. I’ve learned that I CAN keep myself safe, and that I’m way ahead of the game in terms of just avoiding bad situations and being aware. That being small can be an asset– and how to use it to my advantage. That I have excellent instincts, and I should trust them.

While watching me and one of the men in the class work on an exercise tonight, our instructor reminded me that I can’t out-muscle him– to stop struggling and just stick with the techniques. After that, I was calmer, and I did it quickly and correctly.

I don’t need to out-muscle anyone. Just out-think them. And that, I’m already doing.

If I know what I’m doing, it doesn’t matter what they’re doing. It’s wonderful.

The best scenario we did by far was tonight’s: we had to spin around with our head on a pole in circles, then fight off one of three people who would charge us, with padded shields. Our instructor said this is the closest way we can simulate being sucker punched. I asked for a definition and he said that’s being hit when you’re not expecting it– it’s not any particular location. It’s just being whacked hard and getting dazed a bit. And I don’t drink or get high on anything, so right there, I have a huge advantage for my safety.

He told us when to wait, when to charge. I charged my hardest, and I fought my hardest.

Now I’m going to study what I’ve learned, and practice with a classmate or two before the test. I already made plans for that.

Wish me luck! Whatever happens, I feel good. I feel capable. I feel strong.

Family of One

Today I took a picture for my new parish, to be included in the directory of families.

Officially, I am a family of one.

I put together an outfit in which I felt elegant, in two of my favorite colors: maroon and black.

Simple and conservative. I did my best with my make-up, kept it neutral.

I chose from photo packages for the first time solo. I watched the photographer go into sales mode.

I chose only one picture. I didn’t want any re-touching or Christmas themes. I don’t need to be flawless. I was proud of not getting sucked into that, and deciding on an economical package. Part of it is budgeting and the other is I’m just not as vain as I used to be! I don’t need that many pictures of myself. I figured I’d give some wallets to my parents and a few other close friends/family. I chose one 8 x 10 for myself.

Why not? This is me at 34. Families record their lives– and I’m my own family. I count!

It feels good to declare myself as single. Independent.

On my way out, one of the women asked if I was headed back to work? I was pleased I looked professional– that was the idea! As they say, dress for the job you want. I should wear this on an interview, it seems good luck!

Two days ago, the priest from my previous parish called to tell me that I’m missed at Mass. He wanted to check on me, see where I’ve been! And also, the family I brought Holy Communion to misses me. Today I returned his call and thanked him, explaining that I’ve since moved to a new parish. That I enjoyed my service to that family but resigned formally from duties before moving on.

He said he hopes I’ve found my “home” and that I’m always welcome back. That was heart-warming to hear.

I’m moving forward in small but sure steps. I feel decisive and confident.

Proud to be a family of one.

“She’s a Wildcat:” Week Nine of Self-Defense

I didn’t blog about last week.

But tonight was note-worthy. Small class, again.

I noticed my instructor complimenting me often, after weeks of criticism. I think he sees how hard I work– I’m probably trying harder than anyone in the class. That’s because I need the lessons in this class for my survival the most desperately, being the smallest. Also, I don’t assume I’ll be able to take the class again.

“She’s a wildcat,” he said, as I was about try something we learned with a partner. It was issued like a playful warning. I chuckled a bit.

This week I picked up the moves quick, and used my voice without thinking– loud and effective. In every exercise, I found myself yelling, “NO!” over and over. And he commented on that as well.

Clearly, I’ve earned his respect.

I noticed how calm I was doing these exercises. I used to get frustrated with myself instantly and want to give up. Now I can power through, especially with some help about my technique. Even when I had a neck spasm– I stopped, noticed it, massaged it briefly, and kept going. I was able to complete most of the moves with a calm face, without fear changing my expression. I have less fear, period.

But on one of our exercise scenarios, I started out working with a woman taller than me. We were working in a trio, along with a man I’ve worked with several times the past few weeks. She said she wanted to try it with him, not me, because my being small threw her off.

I thought that was fascinating. Here I am, feeling intimidated about “attacking” a woman bigger than me, almost feeling like I have a handicap because of my small stature.

And she was MORE afraid of me (when I role-played the attacker) because I’m smaller. I thought about how the joke about how elephants are terrified of mice– at least in cartoons. Probably a better example is arachnophobia. How often do most people joke about wanting to burn down a house just after seeing a spider? ONE?

Sure, spiders are poisonous– but only some. Bites can be fatal or at the least annoying. But the main reason people are so freaked is because they are small and move fast. Usually they blend in and you never notice them unless they move. My Dad has always said that “Spiders are a lot more afraid of you than you are of them!” And it’s true.

I suppose I can relate. How many times do spiders encounter grave danger, just going about their business? All they are doing half the time is walking or spinning a web, so they can eat. They are constantly being attacked by predators much bigger– they are pretty low on the food chain! Why do you think they are created to blend in? It’s their main defense against oblivion. But also, spiders are powerful. People know that.

I’ve been trying to blend in most of my life. I’m finding this is impossible. So instead of working so hard to do something that is sure to fail, I might as well embrace it. I stand out because of my smallness. I’ve got a big voice, though a quiet demeanor. I don’t raise my voice unless necessary– and that’s rarely. And this class is helping me learn to have a command presence as well.

If people want to be intimidated by me, I’m probably safer! So I’m going to stop hiding. I’m going to dress better, walk proud, make more eye contact and stop being meek. I’m not apologizing like I did. I’m doubting myself less and less.

I’m a serious woman, and I like that about me.

I have a feeling this will be good for me in business.

Love is a Force

which cannot be quelled.

which cannot be outnumbered,

nor rationalized away.

Time does not erode its steadfast warmth, abiding affection,

or choice to forgive.

Love is implicit trust over fear,

the grace and mercy which save.

Love is there when you are open to receive it,

when you are humbled, awed, thirsty.

It may not appear as expected,

but in a guise– to test you.

Thus, look for a small spark

of something to embrace, to accept.

Dare to hope, to invite

the miracle of love within.

Even if you don’t believe,

manifest your courage now.

Show love to others,

give what you don’t have.

And when you need it most,

once you’ve forgotten about you,

love will reappear and

you will be ready.