blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Sirens begins tomorrow!

(Well, Sirens Studio is actually already in progress, but I couldn’t swing my schedule into alignment until the conference itself.)

But I am excited! I pick up a friend at the airport tomorrow morning, then head to the hotel to meet up with existing friends and meet some new ones. A couple folks have volunteered to help out with “The Movement You Don’t See" (it’s a low-low-impact workshop, but I did want to demo a couple things that some might find uncomfortable), so I’ll get to meet up with them, too.

My son has been such a good sport, helping me decide what to leave in and take out of the presentation. My inclination is to teach a three-hour class, so keeping it all within an hour is a bit of a challenge.

So if you’re attending Sirens, find me and say hello! If you’re in the Denver area and not attending, drop me a line if you’d like to BarCon for awhile anyway!
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
In just about six weeks, Sirens will begin in Denver. This year's theme is Lovers... so of course I proposed a fight-related workshop.

(Hey, I wasn't the only one! Amy Boggs is presenting "Love is a Battlefield: Weapons and Methods for When Love Goes Wrong.")

The workshop I'll be presenting is "The Movement You Don't See." We'll be discussing and using pieces of kata to explore and understand things like power generation, grounding, and the like. It won't be about "pretty" kata, but its practical applications. And though movement will be a part of it, intensity will be low. I want participants to understand and be cognitive of the internal experience of fighting stances, strikes, and the like. Once we add the adrenaline of intensity, those thoughts are processed differently. If there's time, I'd love to go over some of the "hidden" pieces of kata and its grappling implications.

Here's an added cool thing: Anyone can sponsor a Sirens workshop or panel for only $35. Alas, it's too late for sponsors to be listed in the program, but if you sponsor "The Movement You Don't See," I'll make a grand sign indicating your sponsorship--your name, or "in memory of," or, "in the name of," or "prefers anonymity." Heck, I'll make the sign no matter who you sponsor!

So if you've the inclination, head over to the Sirens page on sponsorships and support, and check out the listing of Accepted Programming. $35 is all it takes!

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blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

In the comments to Making the Nice-Guy Challenge a Safe One, [ profile] mrissa and [ profile] scallywag195 both shared questions and perspectives I wanted to answer in more detail. That "more detail" ended up being much longer than I thought... but here it is!

Questions from [ profile] mrissa first:

My question is twofold:

1) In what context would his actions have been reasonable in a class/mat setting? In what context is "respond as though someone who is not in pads etc. is the actual attacker" the correct scenario? If this was a mismatch of reasonable expectations, I am having a hard time seeing where his expectation was reasonable.

The short answer is, "When Sensei says so."
Read more... )

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Alas, there shall be no TEDx audition for me. I was cut at the "fill out this form with your idea" stage.

Honestly, I did think I'd at least get an audition. The topic and the credentials I offered--the creative control and opportunities offered by self-publishing--seemed to fit perfectly with their theme of "Make + Believe," and I've over two decades of public speaking and teaching experience. But I must have failed to make it compelling enough at the "query" stage, or perhaps mistook the oddities of the online form as an indication they wanted brevity. (Any form that requires odd key strokes to create paragraphs...)

For whatever reason, I don't get speak.


But since my topic was on the empowerment of self-publishing, the cultural shift happening within the community of writers, and the way readers are embracing the creative diversity... Since I'd intended to speak on the impact of no longer needing to gain third-party permission for one's creative choices, and the new-found passion so many writers find in creative control...

In that spirit, I figure I'll write up the presentation and record it myself. It'll be my NOTx Talk, and be no longer than eight minutes. Why the heck not, yes? :)

More to come, as I put the pieces together...
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Thank goodness I flew home yesterday! By the time I touched down in Indy, it was about forty degrees -- a mere thirty degrees below what I'd been living in for the past week, so hey -- and there was sun. This morning, the wind chill is in the subzero region, snow is falling, and winds are gusting. Schools are closed and flights have been cancelled. A woman interviewed for the local news this morning summed it up. "I'm over it! I'm over it!"

Truly, I'd be very sad if I hadn't been able to get home. I missed my son!

Speaking of the son, he did just marvelously on his own. He had to navigate extremely messy roads in town and in the city, manage his time when schedules changed unexpectedly, do the raw-food feeding for the dogs, and keep up his school work. But he has figured out that, when the time comes for him to move out, he doesn't want to live alone. And he said he'd much rather travel with me next time than stay home alone.

And the conference! Amazing! Extremely high expectations were set before a group of driven, professional educators, and nearly everyone rose to the challenge. So many times in the last decade, parents and teachers have told me they wished their classrooms could run with the same focus and discipline as my karate classes. Now I have strategies to make it happen that is grounded in high regard and respect for the student, that respects the students' voice and choices, AND gives teachers a way to step off the frustration-go-round. Coolest of all? The strategies are what I've been using for years in karate classes. For me, the week's learning was less about hearing new things as it was learning a translation of things I already knew.

I met incredible people from diverse backgrounds, talked martial arts with folks from different styles, discussed the evolution of education, debated legal issues, and listened to stories about military experience, law enforcement challenges, personal struggles, and a thousand other things. And that was in addition to the conference!

Now, I'll be taking a few days to review the administrative side of things, then I'll be setting appointments. (Actually, I already have two appointments for next week, but don't want to add more until I feel more grounded in some of the business information.)

And tonight? Well, karate has already been cancelled, meaning I've taught a mere three of the last thirty days. Also meaning I get to write Sand of Bone!
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Clear an hour of your time. This video demonstrating the experience of learning disabilities and challenges will be worth it.

If you don't believe me, try the first ten minutes. I'd guess you'll find away to clear that hour.

Have I put this up before? I can't remember. If I have, it's worth the re-post.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
I always feel a bit out of sync for the week after karate camp. The camp facility has a decent internet connection, and though I tend to read postings and such during the week, everything but the training and the teaching seems so very far away.

And this time, I've a shiny new kata to work on alongside the other three I'm fine-tuning. By the end of August, I'll need to add polish to two additional weapons katas as well.

My teacher would really, really like to see me test for Sandan in November. I would as well, but those weapons katas aren't anywhere near where they ought to be.

And Dev needs a resume, and still needs to get his driver's license (a matter he seems strangely under-motivated to address). And we're finalizing his upcoming school year's commitments.

So I'm back, and full of ideas, and wanting to finish a couple short projects, yet the actual production end is veeeeeeery sloooooow.

And I'm still trying to unwrap my head from karate long enough to make interesting responses to emails, posts, and such.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Karate Camp is always a great--albeit exhausting--experience. But this year just seemed extra wonderful. I got to spend my time working with upcoming black belt candidates (my favorite group to teach) and being a pseudo counselor for the kids and junior counselors who were in the lodge rather than the main cabin this year.

The pattern for the kata Passai is now mine, so I can begin working on its lessons. Dev learned three new basic weapons katas that he has promised to pass along to me as well.

Best of all, I got to catch up with old friends, make a couple new ones, and see kids who'd never spent a night away from home find their confidence and evidence by the end of the week. I even spent about an hour with a fellow student and teacher who is interested in self-publishing his work.

Now, laundry is progress, the dogs aren't letting me out of their sight, and the work week starts all over on Monday.

And just for fun, here is Dev as The Doctor.

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
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 Dev works through his assignments in algebra and economics. We talk about Doctor Who somewhere in there. At a few minutes after eleven, Dev and I head out the door, with Dev driving. (We're trying to figure out how to get the time for his driving test in before the end of the month.)

Dev 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 Dev, 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. Dev had the Moo Shu left over from last night and a banana.

After the show, we chatted for a bit before Dev 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 Dev. Since Dev 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 Dev and I will still spend our midday time together, but everything else will be different.

That midday time is most precious to me. Because Dev and I often work evenings, we can't have dinner together very often. Instead, lunch is our time.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
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.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Mmm... Chinese food...


Five things that make me happy. Very well.

First, that mention of Chinese food by [ profile] spaceintheway 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.

Wow, that was a really long paragraph. I guess I'm serious about that food thing.

Second, my son makes me happy. Not in that general I-love-my-kid way, but in specific ways. He has a sharp wit, and isn't afraid to use it. He isn't afraid to make stupid jokes, either, if the opportunity seems right. When he heard the recent Doctor Who news, he told me that, on a scale from one to ten, his bummer feelings rated an eleven. "Get it, Mom? The Eleventh?" Yes, my child, I got it. But what makes me smile most about that is... My son loves Doctor Who! On the more serious side, his maturity makes me happy. His assumption that women are of course his equals makes me happy. His willingness to work, his growing ability to talk through problems and feelings and fears, his devotion to friends and family, his courage in the face of bigotry—all these things make me happy.

Third, training karate makes me happy. I like knowing I'm strong. I like sparring and self-defense, and working to be better at both. Every now and then I have a moment when I can't believe I'm doing what I'm doing. When I realize I'm in my forties, throwing and being thrown by teenagers and young men, and I'm less winded than they are. I did a very un-sensei-like happy dance on the mat last week, when I performed a few moves in kata properly for the first time after weeks and weeks of trying. It's joyful, that moment when every part of the body suddenly understands what the brain has been trying to achieve.

Fourth, I find great happiness in teaching. Whether I'm teaching karate, wellness and nutrition, basic writing skills or fundamental cooking tasks, passing along knowledge is one of my greatest joys. With cooking, it's seeing people realize the empowerment of transforming basic ingredients into a fulfilling meal. With writing, it's enjoying the beauty of story emerging as talent is honed by craft. With wellness and nutrition, it's watching people move out of illness and into the power of self-responsibility and hope. With karate, it's seeing children develop the confidence, respect, and honor that comes from hard work and achievement, and adults uncover the poise and conviction that comes from taking risks and not giving up. I love watching people straighten their shoulders, lift their chins and say, "I can do that!"

Lastly, creativity brings me joy. Developing an entire world--from the broad boundaries of geography to the details of textile fibers--is a delight. Sharing a story, bit by bit, with an audience is awesome. Acting, which I haven't done for years, was a thrill unlike anything else I've done in life. Directing live theater brought a sensation equal in pleasure, but deeper in satisfaction. In fact, directing was like a combination of writing and teaching. Yes, I controlled the parameters for the actors, but once the show opened, the actors had to take what direction I'd given them and make it their own.


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