Category Archives: 30 Days

Wishing For Greatness

I’m handing today’s Blog Challenge question–“What is the thing you most wish you were great at?”–to Jaynes from Sword and Chant.

He wishes, more than anything, that he could be a great leader rather than a feared warrior.

His father, Maradek, first earned his country’s respect by leading his tribe against the invasion of warriors known for their brutality.  After he succeeded his mother as chieftain of the tribe and ruler of the country, Maradek conquered a neighboring land, believing it the best way to protect his own people.

Thirty years after, Jaynes is facing the consequences of that conquering and occupation.  But he doesn’t know how to negotiate or compromise with the enemy chieftains.  He doesn’t know how to deal with people he doesn’t like–enemy or ally–and he doesn’t like to be wrong.  He does a great job directing those who agree with him.  He has no idea how to convince those who don’t.  Leadership outside a warrior’s role was never to have been his task.

Worst of all, Jaynes knows he’s failing, and he knows people are suffering because of his failure.  Since force seems to solve the problem in the short term, he falls back on it when his attempts to actually lead collapse.  And that causes more problems.

And Jaynes knows that, too.

I’m An Animal

Today’s post-prompt asks what sort of animal I would be.

First of all, I am an animal, using the broadest definition of the term.

I don’t think I’d make a very good other-kind-of-animal, though.  Wild pack animals are cool, but the whole groveling-for-alpha part doesn’t appeal.  The thought of being a marine animal creeps me out because I don’t much like the open water.  I’d never choose to be a little mammal because, you know, Food Chain.  The longterm outlook for larger mammals seems to be not so great.  We’re not even going to touch the topic of reptiles; they’re pretty cool, but I wouldn’t want to live in one.

A horse?  No, I don’t want to live life fearing the Horse-Eating-Fill-In-The-Blank.  Cat?  Nope.  Elephant!  No, scratch that.  Being a smart, emotional creature hounded by little animals that shout and carry guns would be awful.  I’d end up going on a rampage.

Perhaps I’m overthinking this.

So… maybe a dog?  Yes.  A pack animal, but usually not in a canine pack.  Something big but sweet with protective instincts and decent manners.

Aha.  A Newfoundland.  Also known as Nana in Peter Pan.  That’ll work.

I’ll just ignore the drool issue.

There Is No Such Thing As Typical

Today the 30-day blog challenge is to describe a typical day from my life.

I do not have typical days.

The best and the worst thing about being self-employed in three different fields–karate, wellness, writing–while also homeschooling a teenager is that no two consecutive days will be alike.  Toss in a sister who works as a flight attendant while parenting my little nephews, parents who love to spend time with extended family, and two crazy-sweet dogs, and it is guaranteed days will be interesting in the ancient proverb sense.

Let’s take today, for instance.

Up at eight in the morn (because I suck at early rising) to get laundry rolling and hoe the garden before it gets to muggy.  By nine, the garden has been weeded, laundry is well underway, breakfast has been eaten by human and canine residents, and I’ve settled in to answer wellness emails while the Son works through his assignments in algebra and economics.  We talk about Doctor Who somewhere in there.  At a few minutes after eleven, the Son and I head out the door, with the Son driving.  (We’re trying to figure out how to get the time for his driving test in before the end of the month.)

The Son sees his econ/algebra teacher for two hours.  In that time, I run to the printing shop to pick up karate-related stuff, then see a karate student at his own factory to provide a private lesson on kata and kicks.  We finish ten minutes late, which means I barely make it back to the teacher’s office in time.  But the teacher is also running late, so all’s good.  I return phone calls while I wait: a client looking for info on digestive enzymes, the mechanic trying to schedule what might be an all-day job for my car, someone seeking information on karate classes.

By the time we return home, it’s a little after two.  The dogs dance on their back legs as if we’ve been gone forever and threatened to never return.  Fortunately, the Lab didn’t find any unattended food items to devour, and the Bull-Boxer-Rotty didn’t tear up anything in his crate, so their greetings were well-received.  We indulge in many minutes of playing with the dogs because it makes the entire day better for all involved.

Then came the midday ninety minutes with the Son, when we make something quick and easy for lunch before sitting down to watch one of the nighttime shows we record to watch together.  Today was the most recent episode of Falling Skies.  I ate a Sloppy Joe and salad.  The Son had the Moo Shu left over from last night and a banana.

After the show, we chatted for a bit before the Son had to start his government assignment and I had to be out the door.  I reached the dojo just five minutes ahead of both my instructor and my sparring partner.  Fifteen minutes of kata work and forty-five minutes of sparring followed.  Less than five minutes after the end of practice, I bowed beginning students on the mat for the first class of the evening.  Four hours later, around nine, I bowed my last students off the mat.  In between, I taught some students a new kata, others a new throw, then worked as both teacher and uki for an hour of multiple-attacker self-defense.

Upon arriving home, a shower–quick and cold–was the second order of business.  The first was to hug the Son.  Since the Son is working on a Minecraft something or other video and chatting with his international friends, I am left to my own devices: more answering of email, petting the crazy sweet dogs, and writing this post.  By eleven, I’ll be settled enough to get some fiction in before my eyes begin to cross.  By midnight, I’ll curl up in bed with my yet-nameless Kindle, and read until I fall asleep somewhere around one in the morn.

And that’s about as typical as it gets around here.  Tomorrow I’ll teach karate again in the evening, and the Son and I will still spend our midday time together, but everything else will be different.

That midday time is most precious to me.  Because the Son and I both often work evenings, we can’t have dinner together very often.  Instead, lunch is our time.

Being Peevish

Why, yes, I did lose two days of my life to clients, karate training, and a dog show.  I could stress out about falling behind, or I could simply go forward.  I’m in a go-forward sort of mood.

So.  A few of my pet peeves—those petty day-to-day things that I just can’t help but complain about even though I know my complaining is completely unproductive.
Continue reading Being Peevish

Well, That Was Embarrassing

Another 30-Day Blogging Challenge entry…

I have never been more embarrassed than on the night my parents had to fetch their fifteen-year-old daughter from the county jail at three in the morning.

There were four of us–three girls, and the boy with the car.  They met me at the bottom of my driveway.  I’d crawled out my window after tucking blankets over a bunch of pillows in my bed.

Continue reading Well, That Was Embarrassing

An Assassin’s Three Passions

More on the 30-Day Challenge…

Benkil from Sword and Chant is one of my most favorite characters.  Without getting into spoilers for the novel, I can tell you he was once little more than an average warrior from an average tribe of Calligar–able to sit a horse with a grace, handle edged weapons to give more damage than he received, and loyal to his tribesmen, his chieftain, and his Iyah.  But Benkil succumbed to the Chant–the exiled god of sacrifice and unfulfilled dreams–and believed the Chant’s promises of eternal life.  So the Chant molded Benkil into an assassin of exceptional skill and ruthless intent.  But the Chant didn’t take Benkil’s awareness of self (or his doubts and fears and hopes), and left Benkil with the constant reminders that he chose to become the killer that he is.

Continue reading An Assassin’s Three Passions

The Dream Job

This should have gone up last night.  Alas, I got carried away with gardening and yardwork yesterday and thus spent the evening trying to ignore the spasms in my back.

Vegetable gardening is not my dream job, even though I do enjoy it and its results.

I cannot choose a single “job.”  I’ve never been the single-career track type.  I enjoy and take satisfaction in many things.  I don’t have a single favorite, but two.

Writing would, of course, be a significant part of the mix.  I love storytelling.  Were I able to devote more time to those endeavors, I’d love to experiment with scripts as well as novels and short stories.  As the coming year unfolds, time for writing will become easier to come by mostly because I’ll no longer be driving my son all over the place day after day.

Teaching must be part of it as well.  Whether it’s at the dojo or at a conference, I love sharing information, watching the student’s process of understanding, and hearing of successes that come when the new knowledge is put to work.  Teaching changes people.  That’s a remarkable evolution to watch and be party to.

My goal over the next three years is to establish a working base that combines the two.  I think I can make it happen.

The Blessing of Fault

The next question up on the 30-Day List is, “What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?”  Like the enduring-pain question, I have an unsettling number of experiences vying for the Number One slot.  I could even say, “I endured life from 2008 to 2011, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”  So I’m going to look beyond an individual experience and instead name a process.

The hardest thing I’ve done is accept, without reservation or qualification, that my life is my fault.

Understand that when I say “fault,” I’m not making a judgment about whether I’m a good person or a bad person.  I’m not dismissing the wrongful actions of others, taking on an undue burden, ignoring natural disasters and political/social policies, or battering my psyche with self-loathing.

I’m saying I make choices, and all choices have consequences.

Continue reading The Blessing of Fault

Five Fonts of Happiness

Mmm… Chinese food…

Ahem.

Five things that make me happy. Very well.

First, that mention of Chinese food does indeed make me happy. Mentioning Italian, Asian, Middle Eastern, American, Indian and European food makes me happy, too. I love food. I adore food. I don’t consider myself a foodie, or a great cook, or even a discerning eater. But taste and scent and texture—and sharing that experience with others—is a great joy. I remember the immense pleasure of eating fresh cilantro atop carne asada for the first time. I can recall the sweet tang of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, tossed with feta and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. My mouth waters over what I was served at an Indian restaurant in Salt Lake City, though I can’t tell you what it was called. The fried green tomatoes and chutney I ate in Charleston were a delight. Tarragon chicken. Burgers and onion rings. Cannelloni con asparagi. Moo shu. Noodles with butter, garlic and oregano. Sweet corn. Beef barley stew. Cheesecake. Naan. Fried mushrooms. Hummus. French fries. Marinara. Steaks. Oh, yes, steaks. Food makes me smile from the inside out.

Unless it involves fish, and then I really don’t want anything to do with it.

Continue reading Five Fonts of Happiness