Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Catching My Breath, Regaining My Focus

First of all, Happy Halloween! This month has been a busy blur of activity leading up to our annual Halloween party. The party was a smashing success: We had a total of about 90-95 people over the course of the night, including kids. Plenty of food, and tons of beer-and-wine-and-punch was consumed. The music mix was a giant hit and everyone enjoyed the trivia game (although we only had one cash winner and he only won $5 -- oh well!). Nearly everyone was in costume.

I was a bumblebee dressed as a clown (the idea being "my own worst fears, combined" -- it was tremendously silly-looking):

Christine was a post-plane crash flight attendant:
Miranda created her own angel of death costume using pieces of old costumes we had lying around, and Trevor was a Red Power Ranger. Here we are getting ready to go trick-or-treating:Things wrapped up at about 1:45 in the morning, so we actually managed to get a decent night's sleep, although I awoke with a wicked sake headache -- well, really a beer-and-punch-and-sake headache... ;-). I made the mistake of attempting to "do some cleaning up" after everyone left instead of going straight to bed. We had a nice fire going in the firepit outside and I wanted to hang out until it died down. Needless to say, I was so exhausted from the run-up to the party and the drinks the second I sat down and started watching the fire I promptly fell asleep. Luckily Christine came down to check on me 15 minutes later and woke me up or else I probably would have slept in the yard most of the night!

So, after spending a few hours getting the house put back together we headed our to Sweet Berry Farms for a Halloween/Harvest Festival. The big attraction (aside from the beautiful scenic drive out through the Texas Hill Country on a gorgeous Autumn day) was a huge maze shaped like Texas. The goal was to find a dozen towns inside the maze. We managed to do so in about an hour. Then we looked at some farm animals, drank some drinks, ate some popcorn and homemade berry berry ice cream, and then headed back to Austin.

So, thankfully, things will now settle down for a while. We are staying in Austin for Thanksgiving this year, and will also not be having any out-of-town visitors anytime soon either (which is too bad -- the kids really miss their grandparent's, but I guess they'll have to wait until we get closer to Christmas for them to see them). So, we finally will have the chance to catch our breath. I've managed to get a few of my side projects off my plate as well -- finally got the computer I was putting together for a classmate of Miranda's pieced together and working well. These folks are really strapped for cash due to family illness and couldn't afford to replace the decrepit computer they had, so I went through my older equipment and pieced together a fairly acceptable basic system for them. Kids really need a computer around, and I figure I had at least one more than I needed, so....

Also got 2 video projects completed, although I still have three video projects I'm working on for Master Nunan to roll through. Luckily, two of them will be fairly simple efforts once I set aside the time to do them. One is nearly complete already, while the other is a fairly simple digitize/sort/edit effort without a whole lot of creative energy necessary. The third one, a 10-15 minute highlights loop/marketing piece I'm trying to piece together for a promotional event, will take more effort but will also be a lot of fun to work on.


One thing that has really been frustrating me is how hard it's been to focus on my training with all of these other distractions and demands on my time. Now that I've advanced to 6th gup I am attending the advanced (green, red, and blue belt) classes at my dojang and am, once again, the lowest ranking member in my class as well as the only 6th gup adult in the school. This can be really frustrating, as I am never taught new techniques alongside other students that are learning them as well -- the only other green belts around are 4th gups with at least 5-6 months of training in ahead of me, and of course they've all moved on to more advanced techniques already.

As a result, I tend to feel lost a lot of the time -- overwhelmed by the new techniques, and self-conscious at my relative lack of skill compared with those around me. It's a lot like when I first started. It's very humbling. But I was glad to see that when I attended class last night I felt like I did far better on the stuff I'm trying to learn, now. I'm starting to get an inkling of how to perform some of the new spinning kick techniques I need to learn, my hand technique combinations are beginning to tighten up a bit, and I'm getting the hang of the new wrist grabs and ho sin sul techniques as well. I've got a long way to go before I feel confident in them, but at least they are all starting to make some sense. I figure that at least part of this sudden sense of (slight) understanding can be attributed to just clearing out room in my head so that I can focus better. Hopefully this trend will continue over the coming weeks.

And once again I am in pain. The hamstring pain I began feeling prior to my last test hasn't abated one little bit, so I finally went to a doctor, who scratched his head and said "Huh.... It's not acting like a spinal injury, and it's not a muscle strain or it would be improving on its own." So he sent me to a physical therapist, who believes that I have a misaligned SI joint, which is causing all sorts of inflammation to a bunch of nerves in my lower spine, which in turn results in referred pain into my right leg. So now I'm doing PT once a week and lots of little exercises designed to strengthen my lower back and obliques and to stabilize my SI joint. In the meantime, ow-the-pain. Kicking hurts, stretching hurts, I'm off sparring for at least the next week to two weeks (until I begin to feel improvement, at least), and I keep getting other little muscle strains and pulls in my legs and sides because my body mechanics are all screwed up by the pain I'm feeling in my right leg.

So yeah, the fun continues. I think it's interesting, though, that it hasn't occurred to me for even one second that I should stop training for a while. I spoke with the physical therapist about this, and she said that stopping would probably help get it better faster, but that as long as I'm careful then training shouldn't actually make it worse. It'll just take longer to settle down. And as long as I know I'm not endangering myself I can deal with being in pain. I just don't want to stop training altogether -- I'll lighten up a bit, but just cutting myself off altogether is simply not an option I want to explore.

So, obsessive much? Yeah, I suppose.

Mood: Pleasantly distracted
Now Playing: Oingo Boingo, "Best o' Boingo"

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