Friday, May 30, 2008

Gardening, Again

Of all my personal victories, I find I'm liking the gardening the best.

I set as one of my goals to plant a garden and eat from it this summer. My house has a fantastic side yard that seems made for a little vegetable plot. I've lived there five years now, and every winter I promised myself a garden. And every summer I let myself get too busy.

But this peppers, yellow peppers, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, green beans, corn, cantaloupes, watermelon. Some will grow. Some won't. Add in my cherry, plum and apple trees and I'll have some great salads with my summer barbeque. Only that's not the best part.

The second best part is I've found a level of meditation in the gardening. It's different from the peacefulness of still meditation or the centeredness of kata, walking or other moving meditation. This feels (although I've not studied the subject at all) more .... um...transcendental? I feel connected to the earth, the plants that grow to sustain my family. I feel the boundaries between self and other sort of fade. I know that makes me sound like some sort of druid, but there it is.

The best part is my grannie and grandad. I've mentioned it before in these blogs, but they had a great big garden when I was growing up. They know how to do this, and they come to help me at least once a week. And you know what? I love hoeing and planting and weeding with my grandparents, talking with them, learning from them, just being with them. It's a real gift to have that time.

Come August, it's gonna be me, my wife, my son, my grannie and grandad, my folks and grampa. It's gonna be barbeque burgers and brats, with a big green salad and watermelon. And homemade cherry ice cream (with cherries from my tree) for desert. And the dinner conversation will be all the better for the time I was able to spend with my family elders.

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Just One of those Things

I often ride my bike to and/or from my house to my karate school. It's just under 4 miles, with some good hills to keep me honest. Takes me about half an hour and is a pleasant ride overall.

Yesterday, I just happened to be riding that route on a hot day during the lunch rush hour. The trip is along a main road. At one point (Cornell Rd & Brookwood), it changes from trees on both sides to fields on both sides. Just like that. One side of Brookwood equals trees. The other side equals no trees.

For the first time, I noticed how far, far worse the air quality was on the no tree side of the road. Like walking into a smoky bar. Yeeeech.

This is something I knew intellectually, but hadn't ever groked in its fullest until just yesterday.

I love what than happens. Even when the discovery isn't the world's most pleasant.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Well, That Went Well

Today is parent-teacher conferences in our school district, which means kids get two days off from school. We'll scoot right on by how in my day, we got one afternoon off, tops, and now these younglings are getting entire days.


We do camps on no-school days. Often, it's a very structured thing. Half-hour increments. Lots of guided activities. Goal setting. They're good camps, if I do say so myself.

Today, though, I'd been thinking about Last Child in the Woods. So what did we do? We played outside. We...

  • Dug in a mud puddle.
  • Dug a trench to turn that puddle into a stream.
  • Built a dam for the stream.
  • Explored a riverbed.
  • Did a scavenger hunt for things like the smoothest rock or the twistiest branch.
  • Learned a little about stinging nettles.
  • Lay on the grass and looked at clouds.
  • etc., etc.

I could see in the students how important (and probably rare) that time was. We had fewer arguments, more enthusiasm, better teamwork. And we had FUN. I'd forgotten how great it is to play in the mud.

I wouldn't do this sort of thing every day. The structure is important (not to mention a prime selling point). But once in a while, we will be doing this again.

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Change is the Only Constant

I've spoken to many about this already, but it's time to go public.

I'm winding down my studio, moving into a space where it's no longer my source of income. There are many reasons for this. I never did get the money good and strong, which makes the coming recession a little scarier than I wish to deal with. I don't like how many hours it takes in the evening, when my son is out of school and not in bed. I've had a good run and feel fine about how it's gone, overall, but it's time to move on.

How does this affect UBBT? Ironically, the only concern I've had about the program is how somebody who's not a full time martial artist could ever find the hours in the day. I guess I'm about to find out.

Right now I'm adjusting some of my goals. The accumulations are fine: I can make time for 150 pushups and 3 reps per day no trouble. Reading? Check. My acts of kindness and catalyzed acts already runneth over. No worries there. Living heroes/train with a master/meditate? Also fine.

The big changes will mostly be in my personal victories. I've already accomplished a few, and some I'm keeping, but I'll need to shift some. Two, especially, were about business goals.

The important thing is to take the hits and keep moving forward. My program will continue to exist. Instead of being The Man, I'll be on a board of directors. Instead of counting on it for my daily bread, I'll work a job and do my karate for the love of the art. I have to say I'm looking forward to it.

Now, after 5 years of business ownership, we'll see how well I do with having a boss....

Thanks for listening.