Warrior Wednesday – Crazy Busy Life

So, I definitely meant to post something yesterday. It didn’t happen. When I got up, I didn’t have anything to say. Later, when I did, I fell asleep. Between school and martial arts, I was exhausted. 
I’m glad I managed to make it to iaido yesterday. Swinging my sword about was exactly what I needed. It’s been a tough week. I learned a former member of my high school drama club, who became a sweet and beautiful woman, died suddenly due to a suspected Fentanyl overdose. And my s.o. and I decided to take a break for now. We’re both too busy to be there for each other at this time, so despite how we feel about each other, we’re just doing the friend thing for now. All of that sucks.

It looks like everything is in order for the seminar this weekend. I’m looking forward to training and hanging with iaido folks. I’m happy the weather is getting a little more seasonal. That’ll make training better. Some big things have happened in the iai world in Canada as one of our main sensei has decided to retire. This has meant changes to the grading panel and I don’t know what else yet, but it’s exciting. I need to decide if I’m going to challenge nidan rank again. If I do, I know I won’t do the seminar before it. It made me extra nervous and I want to go in feeling confident. 

 Class was tiring but also really fun yesterday. We grouped up as if in a writers room and came up with TV show ideas for our network. Once we found the idea the upper management liked, we had a ball coming up with storylines. I don’t know if we’ll be continuing that, but we wanted to actually write the show after. It was awkward at first trying to feel out the new group members, but it wasn’t too long before we found a rhythym and got things going. 

I have a meeting before school today, but the person I’m meeting seems to be running late…

Off to start my day.

Guid cheerio the nou,

R~

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Thoughtful Thursday – My World for Now

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I don’t have one particular thing on my mind for Thoughtful Thursday, so I’ll ramble about life, martial arts, French, and writing today.

WordPress is acting strangely for me today, so I’ll apologize in advance for any possibly strange formatting and such. It has been deleting things after I type them…

Life

My bank accounts have all been sorted out. Unfortunately, I am not currently eligible for overdraft protection due to my currently unemployed state. It doesn’t matter that EI will be paying me nearly as much as what I netted when I was working. It also doesn’t matter that one pays income tax on EI. Ah well, I’ll be able to eat and pay for my mortgage and my other expenses. Self employment would count if I was actually making money off of my writing or any other venture.

I think I’m getting somewhere on cleaning my condo. Some days it’s hard to tell. I find something that needs to be gone through and that makes an area messier before it gets clean. This is rather like a number of things in life.

The outside of my oven is clean. I need to run the self-cleaning setting for the inside, but I have an appointment this afternoon, so it will have to wait until later. I don’t think the people that owned it before ever cleaned it, so it’s pretty gross looking inside.

One of the things I almost have organized is my movie collection. Any non Blue Rays are in CD wallets. They take up so much less room. The problem is that I had bought a movie I already owned. It was $5, but I don’t want to get into the habit of accidentally doing that. I have a list now that has all the movies I own in it. I should probably get a real copy of Rent eventually rather than the PSP version. It’s the only PSP movie I own. Hey, I should charge that thing up and play with it sometime soon. Actually, I can probably trade or sell some games, though I think most probably aren’t worth much.

I’m registered with three recruitment agencies now. Hopefully, I will get a job lead soon, though it could be nice if it happens after the snow is gone. I like to hermit in the winter except for fun things like ice skating.

That reminds me. It’s only about $20 to get a skating pass for the year. I should do that and get my butt out of my house as there are about 8 arenas near me, which is awesome. The canal is fun too, but not near my home at all and parking at Dow’s lake gets expensive.

French

French has begun. We have a new teacher that we know only by first name. He’s very different. He makes us work a lot and often leaves the room while we are completing an exercise.

I was already doing one of the things the teacher wants us to do this semester, which is reading French books to increase vocabulary. He wants us to present on the books we are reading. They can be children’s books. They should be at a level for us where a 10-word sentence would have 2-3 words we don’t know. Any easier, we don’t learn. Any harder, we don’t understand enough.

It sounds like exam is going to be very difficult, so I’m a little scared. At least the courses are inexpensive, so if I had to retake, it wouldn’t kill my wallet, but I rather prefer passing classes.

He often likes to mention things that will damn us if we are taking the government exams. I write those down in case I go that far with French. My main aim has been to talk to my extended family. It would be nice to be eligible for bilingual job positions, though.

Martial Arts

I figured something out about my grip last night while I was practicing my cutting in my condo. Generally, they tell us to have our right index finger at a certain spot on the handle. But my tiny hands kept slipping as I cut. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong for the longest time. Last night, I noticed something on my handle. As many might know, katana often have inserts of things like fairies and such. One on each side of the sword’s handle. Near the bottom of the handle is a knot. This knot is where the left pinky rests above, on top of an opening where the manta ray skin shows, which is grippy. Well, I noticed that on the right side of the handle, near the bottom of where my doves sit, is a similar feeling knot. Instead of making sure my index finger is one finger away from the tsuba (sword guard), I’m going to try to make sure my right pinky is gripping by this knot. Hopefully, my slipping grip will go away and my cutting will improve. I’m sure it will take a bit to correct this for good, but I already feel an improvement in my grip.

Writing

I’m struggling to write this short story. I did some plotting last night. Hopefully that helps me get it written and the anthology accepts it.

Once I finish it, I’ll be back to working on The Blood Waitress Club. I might still need to fix the parts I last read to my writing group. I’ll have to take a good look at it.

So much to do and there never seems to be enough time!

Ciao,
R~

Merry Monday – Blue Monday 2017

moon-969236_640This weekend has been all over the map.

Friday turned out unexpectedly good. As you may recall, I was dreading my appointment. I don’t really like going on in winter unless I’m doing something with friends. By registering with this one recruiter, I had the option of being registered with another. I’m now registered with three recruiters in Ottawa, so triple the chances of getting work! After the appointment, I went on a search to get tickets for the bus. I didn’t find the store for them, but at this corner the bus that takes me really close to home, the bus I can never catch, was right on the corner and despite not having the proper funds, the busdriver let me on. I had too little change or a $10 bill. I put in a ticket for excellent customer service without mentioning exactly what he did as I don’t want him to get in trouble. It was really cold that day too!

I pulled together a decent supper with a glass wine and managed to gobble my food down before it was time for writing group. My group enjoyed my WIP short sci-fi story, which is a nice boost. Group ended early, so I watched The Girl with All the Gifts. It was a different take on a zombie apocalypse. I don’t recommend it to pregnant women. I do recommend it to everyone else. It’s not extremely horrifying or overly gory. I hear the book is great too. Now I’m wondering if it’s only one book or a series…

I didn’t do a lot on Saturday. It was the anniversary of Alan Rickman’s passing and I watched The January Man in honour of him. It’s January and I’d never seen it before. It was a decent movie, but it needed more Rickman. Oh, I also made delicious gluten free wings in the oven that were golden and crispy. After that I watched Little Ashes. I really liked it. I enjoyed learning more about Salvador Dali and Federico Garcia Lorca.

On Sunday, I figured out my bank accounts are having issues. One account, my main one with all my money in it, had somehow lost its bank card mapping, so money has been coming out of the other one. That account I only transfer into as needed, so now it’s overdrawn. As a result? I couldn’t access either of them from a debit terminal and had to buy groceries with my credit card. Oh, also, I stupidly gave a cheque for the wrong account to my condo corp for the special assessment and of course it bounced. And my condo corp decided to take the monthly fee out of the wrong account, so I sent a nasty email to them because there is zero percent reason why they should’ve made a change to my monthly payment. I’m going to consolidate them into one account and not have this problem in the future. For now, I put the cheques for that account in a bag and left myself a note saying those are not the cheques to use. I’ve been to the banks today and I have successfully gotten my bank card designation fixed. My mortgage is also fixed, though I came to fix it so early that it didn’t show on their system, so they were confused as to why I was giving them money. I have a receipt. The account that gets paid from has been changed now as well. My life insurance is also updated. I think the only thing left is my car payment. The lady that fixed my bank card issue suggested I call tomorrow to close my one savings account as the other two I have make more in interest. I shall do that. I tried to use the phone earlier to fix this, but I didn’t have a 5-digit password and apparently I won’t need it to get through as they’ll just ask me things to verify who I am. I have this feeling that PC Financial has gotten hacked to a degree. How else would my bank card designations suddenly change?

Iaido was lovely on Sunday as it was only me on the student side of the room. I got corrections for a couple of kata, specifically Shinobu and Ukenagashi. Hopefully, those will stay in my brain and be accessible the next time we do that set. Shinobu makes a lot more sense now. It’s amazing what a slight footwork change can do to a whole kata.

Aside from fixing banking problems today, I also need to fix up my resume, and go to my first day of French level 3. I stopped at the liquor store to get some wine for my sanity and to confirm that my bank card issue was resolved. I hope the “soft, easy-drinking” red I picked up is tasty. I will test it with some pasta this week. I also got a small bottle of sake. They have way less on the shelf now that it isn’t Christmastime… Note to self for next year. Actually, I should just find a place that has my favourite one and stock up. Maybe the little blue bottle will become my favourite though… I also got more of the Sangria I received as a gift because it’s tasty. I didn’t find any Barolo there. Not even in the vintage section.

Well, I should eat lunch though I never got to breakfast. Wait. I think I had a couple of marshmallows for breakfast actually. I think I’ll be happy when this day is complete. At least I’ve been too busy fixing things to be overcome by the melancholy that often comes with Blue Monday?

Ciao,
R~

Merry Monday – Challenging Week

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Image created using Bit Strips.

A lot of my weekend was more challenging than I would’ve prefered, but that’s life sometimes.

Videos

Well, I spent a large chunk of the weekend trying to find video software that I don’t hate. I haven’t been successful. This is what I want. Filmora’s easy mode, but don’t force a theme on me or music. I like how easy it is to plunk a photo or two in and then have your main video and then another photo. The problem is that they force music and a theme and then your video is like some kind of animated scrapbook instead of a video and the parts where you are talking are gone. I don’t want to deal with things frame by frame. It’s too much for me to handle mentally, visually, etc. I want something simple, but useful.

And I’m getting really tired of applications that are listed on websites as free, then you download it and an hour into using it a popup informs you that actually it’s a trial. Tell me that at the get go. If your software isn’t free, it shouldn’t come up when someone searches “open source” in Google.

I tried editing the audio on a video, and came to the conclusion it would be easier to redo that video, so I’ll do that eventually once I find the video software for me.

Martial Arts

After my first Iaido and Kendo practices of the year, I seem to have injured my right wrist 😦

Not a good start to the year for martial arts. Hopefully, it heals quickly.

I did enjoy doing the special kata set that involves spinning and such to rid the dojo of last year’s demons. We did them a number of times to be sure we got rid of all of 2016’s badness. I don’t know the name of them. I can’t always understand things people say, especially with the heater running and it being in Japanese.

Job

Still looking for the next job. I can’t say I entirely mind not working during winter though. It’s nice not having to go out every day.

Writing

After talking with a friend, I figured out my short story had the wrong narrator. Suddenly I feel as though I can actually get the thing written. It’s hard to type or write with my wrist though 😦

Perhaps I can at least get a semblance of plot going, so I know what to write when my wrist isn’t so sore.

For now, I’m watching The OA because the dog down the hall won’t stop barking. It barks all day every day, so I left the neighbour a note. Hopefully, he’ll do something other than leave the dog alone all day. I don’t want to have to file an official complaint if I can avoid it.

Perhaps I can at least get another query sent out for The Page & The Magician. It feels good being done the editing as I can focus on writing other things.

Ciao,
R~

Fortifying Friday – Recovering from Failure

Last weekend was a downer. I wasn’t successful at grading. How do I feel about it now?

Well, it still sucks and I’m still sad about it, but I’ve had so many people come forward to tell me about the times they’ve failed at something including the Nidan grading that I’ve realized it’s going to be OK.

Part of me wanted to just stay home the other day, but hiding myself away won’t get me where I want to be. Black belts are not quitters. Black belts pick themselves up and tweak the plan as many times as we need to.

An outcome of failing is that I feel like I have renewed interest in iaido, so I’m taking things in better. I especially noticed this doing the kata that is like a drunken version of ukenagashi. I’ve never been able to do that one properly, but it’s starting to work.

I’m not really surprised that this happened to me. As a child, I was bullied. Especially in the athletic sense. Except for that one year where I beat several boys at running long jump, I was always too small. In volleyball, I wasn’t strong enough to serve over the net or tall enough to be useful on the court. I always seemed to be in the wrong spot too. I used to envy the kids that seemed to know how to do these things not realizing that they had probably been exposed to it outside of school whereas it was all new to me. My family isn’t athletic. They’re readers, gamers, and technical people.

While I aim for fitness, I crave balance more. It seems hard to meet people in Ottawa who understand that. There seems to be mostly people who spend all their time doing fitness (martial artists who run marathons and play a sport) or never go out (Netflix and video games only) or only do arts (museums, painting, writing, orchestra). Many of my closest friends are like me and do things from each category.

All this to say that it’s quite possible that despite having successes as an adult in terms of athletics, I still have that little girl in me who remembers being frequently told that she sucks, so when the pressure is high, it’s 50/50 whether or not I’ll rise to the challenge.

Anyway, I’m going to keep training and working on my confidence until I’m successful.

Some specific things to work on?

  1. Leg and core strengthening for posture improvement
  2. Tatehiza
  3. Seiza
  4. Flowiness
  5. Metsuke
  6. Whatever Sensei and Sempai say

Ciao,

R~

Merry Monday – Nerves


What happens when you let your nerves get the best of you? 

My weekend didn’t go the way I had hoped. I choked like a Maple Leaf during the playoffs and failed my grading. Considering that I felt like I did my worst example of iaido, I agree that I shouldn’t have passed. That doesn’t mean I’m not upset. I’m pretty damn sad about it.

What happened?

Leading up to grading I:

  • I caught my big toe on a computer cable, which tripped me and hurt my toe.
  • Weeks of fighting with acne as if I’m a damn teenager.
  • I dropped a plate into my sink, which broke itself and a bowl.
  • I cut my finger with a steak knife.
  • I got very little sleep the day before travelling.
  • I had car troubles.
  • I forgot to put my chicken bacon in the fridge at my friend’s place, so breakfast was different than planned.
  • I got lost in the building more than once. I should’ve read the signs better.

Pre-Grading Seminar

  • On nearly every kata they gave us corrections and I felt overwhelmed.
  • I was super tense.

Grading

  • While in line, my feet began to fall asleep. Also, I really had to go to the washroom, despite having gone several times before.
  • I was also crampy, because Mother Nature always loves to time her visits around iaido events for me. TMI, I know.
  • My big toe was quite sore.
  • My mind became jumbled up due to the corrections I received and I felt confused and unsure of myself. I couldn’t do basic things properly anymore and kata 1 looked like hell as a result.
  • I had pants issues on the second kata.
  • It also looks like I rushed through the rest.

After Grading

  • I was pretty sure I had failed. I didn’t feel like I had done my best.
  • As I searched for my number, I was initially confused when I didn’t see it because I didn’t really want to believe I had failed. Who does?
  • There were tears.
  • Lots of hugs from friends, some of who disagreed with the result, were helpful. I love you guys for having my back! Sorry for the above jab at your hockey team 😉
  • Then there was a light drowning of the sorrows and TV watching.

    What’s Next?

    • Keiko, keiko, keiko (practice)
    • Core strengthening
    • Posture work
    • Learning to deal with sport performance anxiety

    Thoughts

    I find it funny that I can get so nervous in grading while being able to stay calm in real danger-filled situations. If anyone has tips for not turning into a shaking meat sack, please share them.

    I think in the future it would be good for me to avoid the pre-grading seminar. There was so much thrown at us that it shook my confidence and I got confused. I think this will help with my nerves. I feel like it’s far better to have a good breakfast and be well rested.

    Had I performed how I’ve been in class lately, I would’ve passed. I just didn’t have it during those 6 minutes. 

    There haven’t been a lot of times in life where I’ve failed at something. One math test in high school and the first time I went for my G license are the only things I can think of. It always feels better to pass, of course, but failure teaches much more. Some of the most successful people have failed along the way. I think it’s important to keep trying. One doesn’t succeed by giving up. This is where my stubbornness is an asset. 

    Failing feels pretty awful, but it’s not the end of the world. And it won’t be the end of me. My spirit is a little bruised, but I don’t break easy.

    In fact, I love iaido, in part, because of how much it challenges me. I’ve not typically been a detail oriented person. I’m more of a big picture type. Iaido forces me to improve in other areas. 

    My posture still needs work, and so do a few other things. I have lots of time to fix things before the next time.

    Plus, it’ll be good to know how to use a sword in case of a zombie apocalypse 😉

    Ciao,

    R~

    Fortifying Friday – Calluses

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    Image created using Bit Strips.

    I first started learning guitar in grade 12. We had a course we could take and get credit for as part of our high school diploma. My then boyfriend was also taking it and class was slightly uncomfortable once we broke up, but I enjoyed it regardless. I had a blast performing with the class. I was supposed to sing too, but singing performances and I are like that Buffy episode “Nightmares” where Willow ends up singing with Pavarotti and can’t utter a word only weird screechy noises… Yeah. Put me in a car with friends and I’m fine. Shower? You betcha. In a musical or band performing in front of people. Nope. Unless I’m just one of the choir and not alone. I did make it through an O’ Canada performance with only two other people one time in high school, though. All our strongest choir members were at another performance and the football team needed singers. Us three thought there would be more, but nope. I’m off on a tangent again, aren’t I? The point I was trying to get to was that my learning of guitar was put on hold, not because of the failed relationship, but because it hurt my fingers too damned much to play the thing.

    I hadn’t built calluses yet.

    Calluses are a pain in the ass. There’s no way around it. You have to play until it hurts and play a little bit passed that, but not so far passed it that your fingers bleed. Bloody fingertips mean cut fingers and downtime from playing while they heal. We don’t want downtime because we need to build our calluses.

    I’m to the point now where I can play for a whole hour before it hurts. My calluses are coming along. Those fingertips feel almost like leather.

    They’re frail, though. I have to play every night to ensure they get strong.

    I’m not sure what the writing equivalent to calluses is in this digital age. Few people write by hand enough to get writer’s bump today. But I’m not talking about a physical callus. Could it be learning to accept rejection? We build up a tolerance to it and it hurts less each time we are told no. Perhaps it is learning to edit? We get better at killing our darlings as we collect experience. But that may only be some of us. I know I’ve begun asking myself what I’m aiming to accomplish with a sentence, paragraph, or chapter and I’m getting better at cutting when it isn’t accomplishing the objective.

    Perhaps calluses are really just visible experience markers and as we write more, we can see the progress in the quality of the words on the page. In which case, we should challenge ourselves with stories that make us uncomfortable to write. Stories that push our own boundaries and force us to reach for something beyond our current skill level.

    I know, at one point, I was playing guitar and it was all just noise. Now it sounds a lot more like the song I’m playing. I’m not playing with the recordings yet or at the right speed. I’m going to soon, though. In fact, my guitar teacher gave us special versions of the songs we wanted to play that used easier chords because we couldn’t play the advanced ones at the time. If I had the time and the cash, I’d take more lessons from her. She was pretty cool and skilled.

    In writing, my work last year felt like a mess of scenes that didn’t necessarily link together. Now it’s got a flow and looks like a novel. There are things like foreshadowing. There are climaxes and there is setup, etc. There’s more to do to make it the best it can be but it’s coming along really well.

    I’ve now been playing guitar for over a year. Lately, I play every day. Sometimes only a song or two. Other times I lose track of how long I’ve been playing and suddenly it’s bedtime. I used to have to stop after a short amount of time. Especially songs that used my ring and pinky fingers as those are often on the two thinnest strings. The strings that hurt the most. Now, those fingers have the thickest calluses. They have come farther than my other fingers.

    In martial arts, I began barely able to hold the sword in the right direction. Which was the blade’s edge again? Swinging it straight down the center line was hard to do. Harder still was the horizontal cut. Sensei would say things that had deep meaning to someone who wasn’t me. I eventually got the basics to a level that we can now build on the physical skill as well as the mental understanding. Each class I learn something. Often Sensei told me about it last year or perhaps even the year before, but I am only able to understand it now.

    Calluses are a mark of experience and while I have a long way to go before I can be called good, I’m moving in the right direction.

    I’m targeting my fitness callus next. There will be extra challenges for me with food allergies, exercise-induced asthma, and tendon pain. I discovered I was already in the right weight range for my height and frame size, so my current goal is to tone. I made up my own HIIT routine to help focus on the areas that I use in martial arts. What I enjoy about HIIT is that it is scaleable and you always just do your best. Instead of counting the amount of pushups you did, you just give it everything you have for the duration. I never feel like I suck because I did 20 instead of 25 of something. However, my original goal of doing HIIT twice per week was ambitious because my fitness callus had not been built.

    I’m also working on my French callus. Language learning works well a little bit each day. Too much and you overwhelm your brain. Besides, you didn’t learn your first language that way. You saw a thing you wanted and mom or dad told you the name of it. You gradually learned to then describe its appearance, texture, etc. Then you learned to speak full sentences instead of fragments. They were simple at first. “Clifford is a big, red dog.” It’s easy to put too much pressure on oneself to know something after a short amount of time. So I immerse myself a little at a time. I get a library book in French and work through it with a dictionary nearby. I don’t use translation app because that doesn’t force me to use my brain and map the neural connections that will build the callus.

    And there’s the geocaching callus. Currently, I have a high DNF rate (Did Not Find) and it’s frustrating. I’ll keep trying, though. I know it’ll get easier at some point. I installed a GPS app on my phone to hopefully get a little closer to the caches than a 13-foot range. After that, it’s honing other skills. I have to train myself to see the single grain of white rice in the salt shaker.

    Whatever you’re working on in life, you’ll face tough parts and you have to push through it to build those calluses. Challenges help us build calluses and prepare us for greater things ahead.

    Ciao,
    R~

    Oh, here’s my 7.5-minute HIIT workout in case you’re interested. I just modified one that I found online so it was more martial arts focused. Change the time as needed to scale it to you:

    30s Jumping Jacks
    30s Push Ups
    30s Lunges
    30s Punches (alternating left and right)
    30s Jumping Jacks
    30s Side Kicks (alternating left and right)
    30s Front Kicks (alternating left and right)
    30s Lunges
    30s Push Ups
    30s Crunches
    60s Obliques (30s each side)
    30s Squats
    30s Leg Raises
    30s Stretches (or as long as it takes you to stretch things out)