Sigh. Feeling a little out of sorts today. The last couple of weeks have been fairly high-octane. Too much going on, first with the impending departure of my job, then with the networking and chatting up several friends to gain access to several very desirable positions with other companies, then with interviewing for one of these positions, then with a vacation to NYC with the family, then with returning and having a follow-up interview for the position I'm hoping to land, and now with ...
Waiting. It'll probably be about a week before I know for certain whether I've landed this new job or not. I mean, I think I've got it. I know I'm qualified for the position and I know I interviewed well. I was a bit nervous, but other than my nervousness leading to a couple of overly long and meandering answers, I don't think I came off as anything other than confident and capable. There are two positions available and while I'm not so arrogant or delusional as to think that there's no way there's another more qualified candidate out there, I have a hard time believing that there are two.
Plus I have an advocate who I'm sure will vouch for me as a good selection, and he happens to be the manager of the person I'm interviewing with. So, given that my skills are solid and I have some very notable "pluses" to bring to the table, I think that my buddy's recommendation should be a fairly solid way to set me apart from anyone else who is interviewing. But the person I interviewed with in on vacation for the remainder of this week and she told me that she was so booked up that it was unlikely she would be able to finish the "candidate selection process" before she headed out of town.
So now it's just waiting. Agh.
I'm really trying to to not get caught up in the whole job search panic thing. I'm keeping my search narrow right now, and have basically cherry-picked about 4 or 5 positions to pursue, with 3 different companies. I really want to avoid the whole contacting recruiters/posting resumes on-line route, because it just creates a whole lot of static and noise. Lots of phone calls and glad-handing from people looking to put you in ANY position they can, so they can make their signing fee and move along. I don't want just ANY job. I want something that is interesting, challenging, with opportunity to learn new skills and grow in new ways.
So that's what I'm focusing on. 4 or 5 specific positions that I've identified with a few companies. I'll be much happier with this entire process if I feel I've maintained control of things every step of the way. I don't want to fall into the "hapless flailing about" style of job searching that I see happening with some of co-workers.
Deep breaths. Deep breaths.
So, a few weeks ago I went back to my doctor to see what we could do about this nagging pain in my upper back and neck. It's been haunting me for nearly 2 months and had shown no signs of improving. So he slammed me on a 6-day round of prednisone, which helped bring the pain levels down a bit, and I've since begun physical therapy with my friend Pieter. Turns out I managed to seriously inflame two of the vertebrae in my upper back, which caused a whole bunch of other problems -- muscle stiffness and constriction due to the pain in the spine, referred pain in my right arm due to the inflamed nerves, and a misaligned rib due to the prolonged muscular stiffness. Fun!
So, I wound up having to take two weeks off from training, mostly because I have a really hard time taking it easy when I train. The improvement was significant. Still have some pain and discomfort, but I'm seeing Pieter 2x a week for adjustments (lots of cracking and popping, including one really brutal technique to get my rib realigned). I'm back to training, which is causing some backsliding -- some pain, some stiffness and soreness, some restriction of movement in my neck. But overall I feel like I'm improving. My current goal is to be pain-free by the time I attend the International Tang Soo Do tournament up in Rhode Island in July.
The last month has been an interesting time for me, in my training, due to this injury coming at a time when I'm also on my first prolonged "waiting period." I tested for 4th gup a couple of months ago, and now must waiting 6 months before I can test for 3rd gup (red belt). So for the first time since I began training in 2005 I am actually going to sit and watch a gup test and not participate. I've been spending some time thinking about this, trying to figure out what I should be doing with the extra time, what I'm supposed to be accomplishing in my growth as a martial artist during this period. I'm not having issues with the curriculum I've had to learn. Some of it is tricky, but I get it done well enough to test with. So, from a purely physical standpoint there's no reason I couldn't test in the upcoming gup test, which is still about 4 weeks off anyhow. More than enough time to sand off any rough edges.
So, what is the other three months for? I've been struggling with that a bit. It's not because I'm impatient to reach 3rd gup -- I look forward to testing, but I'm starting to worry less and less about rank advancement as a motivator to train. I'm more concerned with my current inability to grasp what progress, exactly, I'm supposed to be making right now. Obviously extra time training will have a beneficial effect on my physical skills when test time comes. More and more repetition leads to sharper and more confident technique. But frankly I've seen some really poor technique in high-level gup testing get passing grades, and I am confident that I can do the equivalent of "B or better" work on anything I try. So I'm not really so concerned about my own ability to physically perform at a reasonably high level of skill, even if I were to test sooner. So that's not it.
The obvious answer is that this is time for more internal growth and exploration, time for me to start looking inward to see what this art is teaching me about myself, and to get a better understanding of what I'll need to do in order to continue to learn and grow in the art. And this period of enforced reflection coming at the same time as my latest nagging injury definitely provides some food for thought. Obviously, as the techniques become more and more physically demanding, I am beginning to encounter some of my own physical limitations. They are fairly minor and can almost all be linked to my ongoing difficulties with shin chook, as well as with wan gup and him cho chung. Too much tension, and a tendency to practice all techniques with perhaps too much power and speed. But the results are a significant amount of pain and discomfort that interrupts my training, or at least my full enjoyment of my training.
I'm turning 40 this year, and while I'm pretty healthy it's becoming obvious that, though I'm in good shape, I just don't heal as quickly as I used to. Where I used to be able to train through injuries and get better in spite of continuing to aggravate underlying problems, I'm now finding out that some injuries just don't get better without rest. As always, the majority of my problems stem from over-exertion while tense. Too much power, not enough control and relaxation. So it's becoming clear to me that I need to focus on relaxation, on control of speed and of power, over the next few months. That I need to worry less about mastering techniques and extending my knowledge of curriculum and more on assimilating the lessons and deepening my understanding of the eight key concepts in general -- and of shin chook, wan gup, and him cho chung in particular -- in order to best continue on this path.
Now, I just have to figure out how...
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