Beating the blahs, the scale, and the late-night snacks

Walking towards the light...

Walking towards the light...

Not too long ago I had a pretty rough spell, and my progression towards the leaner me stalled a bit. It might even have verged on regressing. Since that time I've had to deal with the mother of all sinus infections and our national qualifiers. I got through the latter OK, and I'm finally starting to beat the former... I think.

The one bright spot these days is that I'm finally getting back to beating the scale black and blue again. Last time I wrote about these things I was stuck around 125-126 lbs. But since Monday I've been under 125 and this morning the thing flashed at 122.8 before settling on 123.0.

Those are numbers I haven't seen in well over 15 years. And yes, I'm enjoying them.

How did I do it? One thing: I got my late-night snacking under control.

See, I often train at night. And by "at night" I mean I'm at the dojo between 4 and 9 pm, training and teaching. I can't eat dinner those nights because a meal before exercise means a bowling ball in my stomach and that doesn't train well. So I nibble throughout the evening, in-between classes. A piece of cheese, a few nuts, a bite of protein bar, that sort of thing.

As you can imagine, by the time I get home at 9:30 I'm ravenous. It's hard not to gobble up more food than I mean to. I believe this habit was holding me back, because there are very few things worse for your waistline than eating too much food half an hour before bed.

So. Last week I decided to get that under control. There is no magic formula to this, except to plan what I'm going to eat (i.e. not much) and not eat more than that. I eat it slowly so as to make the enjoyment last, and that's it. I go to bed hungry, but I'm learning to fall asleep regardless of the growling. Because I like what it feels like in the morning.

I dropped almost three pounds doing just that. A simple (if difficult) step that's making all the difference.

Now if I could only kick this sinus thing to the curb, all will be well. :)

Why the Finnish model of education works

Learning important skills while having fun

Learning important skills while having fun

Articles like this one make my heart sing but also make my head shake a wee bit. Because in my mind the number one reason Finnish kids do better than North American ones in education isn't because of teachers' unions or socio-economic status or any other systemic or institutional reason. Well, OK. Maybe a bit. I'm sure giving teachers enough autonomy to teach as they see fit contributes to better classrooms. But that's not where it's at.

I am not an expert in educational systems. But my experience homeschooling three kids for almost a decade now has taught me one giant lesson: children do not react well to a system that treats them like mini-bureaucrats. They don't do well in systems where they're in an unnatural setting (are there buildings less like the natural world than schools, I ask you? They look like insecticide factories), forced to comply with a regimented schedule, where they are constantly supervised and tested, and where they have very little time to play without constraints.

My kids are 10, 8 and "almost 7". I've done most of the homeschooling for the last few years. It's been a mix of classical curriculum (with a huge emphasis on stories, fables and fairy tales) and unschooling (where I basically give them freedom to decide what they want to look up and study - I have one kid who became an expert in animals that way, watching one nature documentary after another in her free time).

Recently we've overhauled our system a bit, because I was having trouble teaching the more advanced math my eldest requires (she'd normally be in grade 5 if she went to school, but she's a solid year ahead of that). The kids now spend three mornings a week (about 90 minutes) working on math/science, piano and French with their dad, and I take the other two mornings to do world history, literature, arts, grammar and whatever else strikes our fancy (including lots of crafts and drawing). My kids also get to sleep - usually 9 or 10 hours a night. This makes a huge difference in their life and health, which in turn helps them learn their lessons better.

We spend on average no more than 90 minutes a day teaching the kids. We don't take summer breaks, mind you, so it works out to a decent average compared to how many hours school kids spend actively learning anything in their institutionalized setting. We have never done any homework. We also don't give out tests. Just exercises to master. But you know what we do give the kids? Time to play. Not play dates, just free time. They're big enough to go to the park by themselves now, as long as they're together (it's a short walk, and the eldest has a phone of her own for emergencies and keeping in touch with me), and sure enough they enjoy that freedom to play unsupervised. They understand that freedom comes at a price - they must be responsible and well-behaved, and look out for each other. This does wonderful things for their character and developing maturity.

I will never insist enough on that - it is crucial for the development of children that they be given lots of time to play unsupervised. Not that you shouldn't watch young children for their safety. By "unsupervised" I mean: you the parent do not direct their play. You don't organize their games. You don't interfere in their minor squabbles unless it gets out of hand. You let them be. I don't even take part in their games anymore. I listen to hem tell me all about it, of course, but I don't get involved. I don't want to tell them how to imagine things. That's something they must do for themselves.

The results? So far, so excellent. I look at the provincial curriculum for reference, and based on that my three kids are all well ahead of where they would be in school, especially in reading and writing, where they all perform years ahead of their grades (maybe because both parents are writers, cough). My eldest trains with the karate team and has lots of time to develop her skills there (as well as travel to tournaments). My middle daughter devours every book and documentary on animals she can lay her hands on. As for the smaller one, she's had years now to develop her talent as an artist - she draws, paints, does things with paper and scissors, and all manner of creative things.

I don't like the idea of testing children, but I would be very curious to see how my homeschooled weirdos would fare compared to Finnish kids their age. My gut (based on everything I've read and heard about the Finnish system) tells me they'd be pretty much equivalent. I wish there were options for North American kids to get what my kids get without necessarily having the parents do all the schooling. Homeschooling isn't for everyone, and I'm here to tell you it's not easy. If I had the option to send them to a school that does more or less what I've been doing, I would, because then I'd have more time for my own pursuits. 

It's not so much the school system we need to overhaul in North America. It's our expectations of what schools should do that needs fixing. We need to understand that kids don't need tight schedules and performance tests, that they need a lot more freedom and play instead.

Plan your suffering and suffer less

Pushing hard when it matters, flying snot and all - photocredit: Craig Tiberi

Pushing hard when it matters, flying snot and all - photocredit: Craig Tiberi

This morning I listened to parts of a podcast featuring Tim Ferriss in which he was explaining the importance of stoicism (go team Marcus Aurelius!), resilience, and the ability to control your emotions. Paraphrasing what he said slightly, if we don't teach kids how to deal with suffering and adversity, they won't develop resilience and will not achieve their full potential.

Yeah. You could say I was in agreement.

One thing in particular he said was that you need to plan your suffering. The more you practice suffering, he explained, the less likely you'll be to crumble when unplanned suffering occurs.

And boy, is this true. If you never learn to get tougher in reasonably controlled settings (say, when a teacher fails you instead of letting you pass even though you didn't hand in your essay, or when a sports coach makes you work past the point of throwing up), you won't be able to push yourself through unplanned challenges life is bound to throw your way.

I spent the last 10 days dealing with a massive cold that morphed into a stubborn sinus infection. I don't remember the last time I was this sick for so long. I have been hacking and coughing and sneezing and not sleeping well and generally feeling miserable since last Friday. May 12, I mean.

Because we had Nationals this past weekend, I pushed through my cold and trained anyway. I figured I'd eventually sweat the stupid bug out. I sweated, for sure. But the bug persisted. This past Thursday I took it easier (only trained for an hour), hoping to be better by Friday when competition started for me. It didn't work. I pumped myself full of cold medicine and kept pushing all the way through the end. It worked, after a fashion. I did well in my divisions, but there were a few undignified moments, like the time snot came out of my nose during a kata (ignore it!) and the few times I came off the mat after a fight to erupt in a violent coughing fit.

No matter. I kept fighting and got results I wanted.

How did I do it? I dug deep inside myself and mustered everything all those years of hard training gave me. People often comment that I should take breaks more often, that I train too much, or too hard, or whatever. I always shrug it off (sometimes pleasantly, sometimes less so) because I know one thing: That if I don't push myself to train when I don't feel like it, I will not be able to perform in suboptimal conditions. This weekend I was suffering from extremely suboptimal conditions. My head wanted to explode, I couldn't breathe right, and my lungs burned after every performance (I did four katas and fought seven fights, on top of coaching my daughter through her divisions and running around the rings trying to cheer and encourage our dojo kids and their parents).

Now that it's all done, yes, I'm tired and sore. So today I take it easy. No training, and just some puttering around the house. I'll get back to training tomorrow, regardless of how I feel then. Because training hard when I don't particularly feel like it is what gives me the strength to push when it really matters.

If you make yourself suffer more on purpose, you'll suffer less when it matters and accomplish more. It's that simple. I highly recommend it.

Next step: Orlando

This weekend we had our National championship in Ottawa, where people who made it through their respective provincial qualifiers come to fight for a spot on the team representing Canada at the World Championships in Orlando, Florida. To qualify, you have to finish in the top four positions after two rounds.

Catherine and I both competed in kata (two divisions each) and sparring (one division for her, two divisions for me). She didn't make the cut in kata, though she came close in one division and is now an alternate in case one of the top four people can't make it. I qualified in one of my kata divisions, and I'm also an alternate in the other.

So far, not too bad. Then we did sparring. After the first round, Catherine was in fourth position. The way the math worked in her division, she absolutely had to win her first fight in today's second round to make the team. She did. She then lost a fight against the reigning champion, and got to fight again for third place in that round - a fight she won. Adding up the totals from the two rounds she came in fourth place, securing a spot on the team. She was elated.

Me: After one round yesterday I was third in one sparring division and first in the other. After four fights today, the final results are the same, so woot.

 

We are going to spend the next few months training and getting ready to rock and roll in Florida come November. Big thanks to Master John Douvris for all the awesome training and coaching. We are #TrainedByASpartan, and it shows.

When modeling good behaviour hurts

My kata | Many thanks to Joe Cunningham for the picture

My kata | Many thanks to Joe Cunningham for the picture

Our national qualifiers are fast approaching (it's this weekend, in Ottawa - if you're in the area come say hi), and this week is crunch time. We need to work and practice and get the kinks out of everything because we need to look and fight our best.

This morning Eldest - who'll be competing in three divisions this weekend; two kata divisions and one sparring - showed me something in her kata and all I could say was "your fist isn't tight". She got annoyed that I wasn't paying attention to what she wanted me to see and refused to tighten her fist because that's not what she wanted to show me. I insisted the fist mattered because in competition judges look at everything, good and bad, looking for excuses to not give you a medal. Don't give them excuses, I said.

That's when she got mad...

This of course led to a longish talk on the importance of not worrying about our feelings so much and worry instead about finding ways to improve what we're doing. If you already think what you're doing is fine, I said, you'll never improve. And while you're at a pretty good level right now, it wouldn't do to stay there the rest of your life now would it.

She knew I had a point, and had to swallow pretty hard. Which is a lot better than talking back. Point taken.

Then I went to lunch class. I'm still sick from this wicked cold I got a few days ago and didn't particularly feel like going, but did I mention Nationals are this weekend? Yeah. Off I went. I huffed and puffed and sneezed and coughed and cold-sweated my way through the thing.

I worked my own kata for a while then got not just one but two senseis whose opinion on the subject I value greatly take it all apart. I explained to my daughter afterwards that it's a good thing I don't worry about my feelings too much because otherwise I'd have been crushed. Instead I'm relieved I went today because if I'd waited until Wednesday to have them critique what I was doing I would not have as much time to fix it.

It's always important when dealing with children (especially your own) that you not only talk but also model the kind of behaviour you demand of them. I couldn't ask my 10-year-old to ignore her feelings and focus on what needs improving if I didn't ignore mine in order to make my own kata better. Well, I suppose I could ask. But it probably wouldn't have the same effect.

She's a good kid and will (I hope) benefit from the lesson. I think I will, too, snot and all.

Self-improvement under a dark cloud of eternal doom

Remember: there is always beauty after the storm...

Remember: there is always beauty after the storm...

A lot of you have been following my journey on the flab-loss thing (see here), and that's great. I meant this post, and the few accountability mini-posts that have followed on Facebook, to be mostly that - a way for me to make sure I stayed on track. But I'm delighted to hear from women who say it's giving them the kick in the pants they needed to set their own goals and work towards achieving them. It was all going splendidly, until late last week.

For some reason, I got hit by a massive dose of bitchiness followed by intense depression. Yes, I blame the hormones. I don't typically suffer too badly from PMS and other perimenopausal challenges, especially since I cut down my sugar intake. (I swear it helps.) But somehow last week my bitchiness levels went through the freaking roof, and I don't mean a little.

I do try very hard not to blow up when the crankiness hits. I tell the kids, warning them that my buttons are showing and it's probably best if they try to avoid pushing them. I give them more freedom to play and do crafts and watch documentaries (anything to keep them out of my hair, really). Normally this keeps us all reasonably happy, but last week it didn't work. I blew up for the stupidest of reasons because *everything everyone did was unbearably aggravating*.

If you're a human of the female persuasion you may have some idea what I mean. On top of that I started retaining water like a miserable sponge, which made me feel heavy and even crankier.

Don't forget your self-improvement goals, girl!

Yeah, right. Does it start with red wine, again?

I did what I could, but what with one thing and another I wound up about 1.5 pounds heavier on the scale. Probably a third of it due to water retention alone - so I tried not to worry too much. It's not about the scale anyway, remember? Keep plugging away; stay off the carbs, eat small portions, exercise, and sleep. This too shall pass.

That was late Monday. My period started, and instead of improving things went straight to hell.

Normally I don't suffer too much from that either. I get cramps the first day or two, but a regular dose of normal pain killer usually takes care of that. This week though, wow. The pain lasted through Tuesday and Wednesday, at some point requiring a triple dose of extra-strength aspirin (I don't recommend it; my head started buzzing - but it did eventually kill the cramps). And you know what else happened this time?

Depression. The cessation of caring. The big black cloud of intense doom. That f&^&cker sat on my head this week and wouldn't relent. I didn't care about anything - not about my work, not about my family, not about nothing. Doom, gloom, unhappiness all around.

This doesn't happen to me very much. I mean, I get variable moods like everyone else, and I've been known to cry for no reason at particularly vulnerable times. But this week it was something else: at some point someone talked to me about something they'd had to say to one of my kids who'd misbehaved and for the life of me I couldn't tell you what it was. I wasn't listening because I didn't care. I didn't care that she'd misbehaved, I didn't care how other people tried to discipline her... I'd completely lost interest.

Now that's pretty bad. Again, not something I normally experience, thank goodness. And I'm happy to report that it's a bit better this morning - I'm still meh but not nearly as hopeless as I was earlier this week.

What I am, though, is exhausted. Struggling to keep myself going on the path I know I must stay on regardless of what happens inside my head took its toll, to put it gently. And it may have led to a few bits of self-medication by way of food. (I'm looking at you, delicious dark chocolate with raspberries in it). I'm at the lake right now and I don't have a scale here so I can't tell you where things are - we'll see about that tomorrow. When I dearly hope my mood is back to abnormal because this is getting to be a bit much.

I did, however, find out something important about myself and about the goals I set out for the better version of me I struggle to become: when everything goes dark, there is only one thing that matters - to tell yourself (shout if you have to) to stay the course no matter what. That giving up when you're at your worst will not help you feel better, quite the reverse. That once the cloud goes away you'll be doubly proud of yourself for having held on, even if it was only by the tips of your fingernails.

That's why I'm sharing all this unpleasant stuff. So you, too, can find a way to cling to your goals even when Mother Nature (or life, or relatives, or stupid bosses) makes it incredibly hard not to quit.

Remember why you set those goals for yourself, and keep repeating to yourself that once you're on the other side of whatever cloud plagues you, you'll be able to see it clearly again.

Quebec Open and my gangsta look

Big tournament in Quebec City this weekend. The competition was fierce, and the pressure was on. To say I was nervous would be a fine understatement.

But the show, it must go on. I managed a bronze medal in traditional forms, with the newer kata I started competing with three weeks ago. I did it pretty good (better than the previous two times), and I was happy with the results.

In sparring, I won my two fights and won my division (veteran women, lightweight), which meant I would get to fight the winner of the heavier veteran women division, a pretty fierce (and tall...) fighter I was actually a bit scared of. I had to remind myself that the rule is "always do grands no matter what" and kick myself in the butt, hard, to go do it.

Also? There was money on the line... $300 for the winner, and $100 for the runner-up. Only two of us were fighting, and I confess I was tempted to not fight aggressively so as not to get hit too hard and walk away with $100. But I didn't. I screamed at myself to stop being such a #^%@^% chicken and go in there and fight like I meant to win.

I did. And took a solid punch to the temple that made me wobble a touch. I went back in and scored with a punch. Then she scored one with a jab, followed by a kick by me good for two points. That's when she punched me pretty hard in the nose... I knew I was fine, but here I have to come clean and say that no matter how often it happens, I don't like getting hit in the nose that hard. I know I always go on and on about being tough and able to take it - and when you get right down to it, I can take it. But I don't like it. And the little devil on my shoulder saw his opening and whispered in my ear that I could just move around and play it safe and collect the runner-up prize. I had to shout at myself pretty hard again. But I didn't give up. We finished the two-minute fight 10-9 for her (if memory serves, which I do not guarantee). Rule is you have to win by two points so in overtime we went. We both landed a technique more or less at the same time, but the refs saw her punch first so she won the fight.

I got my $100. First time ever winning money for fighting. And you know what? I actually earned it. I earned it by fighting as hard as I could, as aggressively as I could and by not taking the easy way out.

Yes, yay me. But also: yay team. For I couldn't have done it without the awesome training I get from my favourite Spartan, Master John Douvris, and without the invaluable ringside coaching I got yesterday from Sensei Cody Diesbourg. I lost the fight, but I won something bigger: a big fat dose of confidence, and some precious tips that will help me get better for next time...

p.s. Catherine competed very well but did not place in kata. In sparring she lost her first fight in overtime against a giant. She was reasonably pleased with herself, despite the lack of hardware. She had to compete against bigger and older girls and she did well. I'm super proud of her, too, and took her to get chocolate-and-whipped-cream crepes for breakfast this morning, which made the whole weekend that much better.

Sure, it's far. But it's rewarding

Mama in action

Mama in action

This weekend we drove to the other end of the world, aka Windsor. Because karate tournaments do that to us. And man, the fun we had...

Well, that is to say. Before we had all that fun we had to get through some rough spots. Both Catherine and I competed in kata first, and both of us got a mightily disappointing result. I finished fourth out of five, and she didn't place in a very large group - despite doing a really strong, beautiful kata.

She was very disappointed. In fact, she was in tears. She'd given it her all, she really cranked out a superb kata, and yet it wasn't enough to place. To say she felt discouraged would be a spectacular understatement. But, I said to her, she would have to put all that aside and find a way to focus on her point sparring, which was up next. Shake it off, I said. Put it behind you, and go do what you have to do.

She wiped her tears, suited up, and went in there. I coached her (gently) through her first fight and she won it fairly handily. Her second fight would be for gold, against an opponent who was bigger than her, excellent, and very well coached. I found something she could try against that opponent and told her about it. I coached her again and she won her fight pretty handily. First place in sparring, after feeling crushed in kata.

I hugged her very hard and told her what made me most happy - not the first place, although that's cool. No, I said, what makes me super happy and crazy proud is how you found it within yourself to get a grip on your emotions and go from "boohoo poor little me" to "I can win this here fight" in less than ten minutes.

These are lessons that you can't teach your child by talking to them about it. They have to experience the whole thing - the lows, the highs, and everything in between. And if we had to drive to the end of the earth to learn it, well, so be it. That's what the 401 was made for. Right?

p.s. Oh, I forgot to add: I also won first place in sparring after my disappointing result in kata. I get a brownie, yes?

See good things on the inside

Where I run. Isn't it gorgeous?

Where I run. Isn't it gorgeous?

You know how sometimes you get a lesson that stops you in your tracks and sucker punches you?

I had one like that this morning. I was out jogging with the pup as usual, getting back into the spring/summer habit of doing 5ish KM on the farm (the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa; that's a real working farm and research centre - plus museum - right in the middle of the city, and I live right by it lucky me) instead of the 3.5-4ish sidewalk blah business I get by on during the winter. The snow and muck are finally off the farm paths and it's once again pleasant to run there.

Except for the part where I'm still recovering from that flu, and my back, one shoulder and one knee are bugging me. I think in good part due to exercising and competing (and reno work at home) while trying to recover from said flu. The sun is out this morning and it's crisp and cool but not unpleasant, yet here's Brigitte wallowing in self-pity and griping that the pace is too slow and what a loser to think this is a run worthy of the name and yadda blahdeby pfft.

Fortunately for my soul, while this pity party is going on I'm also listening to a great podcast, a conversation between Tim Ferriss and Cory Booker (the politician). At some point Booker describes moving into a poor neighbourhood in New Jersey (at that point he was studying law at Yale) and going to a local person by the name of Victoria Jones and professing that he was there to help her. She took him outside and asked him to describe what he saw. He said something about drugs and poverty and so on, and she told him no thanks buddy, you can't help me. See, what you see on the outside of you is a reflection of what's inside you, she told him, and something something after that I don't remember.

Because I had stopped running, trying to catch my breath. That lady, whose words only came to me through a politician on a radio podcast, reached out through the space-time continuum and hit me square in the gut. But in a good way.

Her words crystallized for me a lot of issues I'd been thinking about these past 2-3 years about my time in politics and why I now think a lot of it was horribly misguided at best (I have a book brewing inside me about that) and suddenly I could see it. There was a big giant hallelujah only I could hear, and I was able to move on with my slow (but now happier) jog.

About 15 minutes later I see this guy with a bike leaned against a tree. He's doing some tai chi or other and then he stares down the path and starts running. Or rather, wobbling. He's not going fast at all, but you can tell for him that's sprinting. He does about 50 feet then walks slowly back to his bike. A minute or two later he's back at the tai chi and when I look at him again before turning on the path that takes me home, he's doing another sprint.

There are a lot of things I could see in that guy. But right there on the spot I make a conscious choice to see hope and beauty. He's doing what he can to make himself better, and that is the best any one of us can do. This guy is doing more with his 12-second wobble to make the world a better place than most righteous-sounding moralizers do in a week. I give him a giant smile he can't possibly see, and move on.

I am going to bet that it's true, what the lady said. That what you see outside of you is a reflection of what is inside you. And I'll take this one step further and bet that if I purposefully decide to see beautiful things on the outside of me, that it will help me have more beautiful things inside of me. It can't be an easy thing to do all the time, but what else am I here for if not try to make myself better?

Love, unfolding as it should

Griffin.JPG

The other day I asked my Facebook world if anyone had good examples of love letters between fictional characters. I'm kind of debating whether I want to try writing something in that genre, and thought I should look around for examples - good inspiration or bad, both are equally useful to the writer.

I had a couple of suggestions that looked promising. But then a friend lent me her copy of the Griffin & Sabine trilogy and boom, search over.

I'm not even through the first volume and already I'm in love, in the easiest, most open-hearted way possible. It's a completely implausible storyline (you'll have to read it for yourself; didn't you know I was a terrible tease?) yet once you decide to suspend disbelief and let the story wash over you, it takes you away to a completely different world.

A world in which love is, without being questioned. A world in which the impossible is no obstacle. A world in which beauty is paramount. A world in which imperfect people find their whole.

I'm almost scared to continue reading, in case it goes funky on me. But so far, the magic is doing its wonderful thing.

A silvery kind of weekend

Today found us in Brossard, just outside Montreal, for the KJS tournament. We brought home some bling: four silver medals in total. Catherine got one in team fighting with her buddy Tabitha, and also one in individual sparring. I got one in kata (with a brand-new kata; I was pretty pleased by that), and one in sparring.

I guess it's a sign of how much better we've become that we both found ourselves griping about what we'd done wrong. But gripe we did. And it's true that we both could have done better. But on the other hand, silver ain't that bad and besides, we learned some valuable lessons again today. Competition is like that, you know. It always teaches you important lessons you didn't particularly want to learn but needed to.

Among the best things today was the number of new people we had competing on our team. It was a treat and a pleasure to help coach these kids in what I am sure was a very scary and intimidating competitive experience. I'm very proud of all our kids, and very grateful to their family members who were loud and proud in their support. Karate is about more than kicks and punches, we always say. Today was a fine example of what we mean by that. Team Douvris rocks.

Provincial qualifiers: done!

Douvris mamas

Douvris mamas

We are in London this weekend for the WKC Provincial qualifiers. This is a step necessary to make it to Nationals in May, where the top competitors from each province compete to earn a spot on the national team representing Canada at the WKC World Championships in Orlando this fall.

For Provincials, you have to make the top eight. At Nationals, the top eight from each province compete and only the top four make it to Worlds.

Catherine is competing in three divisions: hard-style kata, classical kata, and point sparring. She wanted to try a new kata she's just learned in hard-style, against my advice (I think it looks good, but not as good as the other one she's been competing with for a year). Unlike her mother, Catherine is not at all stubborn and new kata it was. She placed fifth with it out of a dozen girls, and qualified. She went back to her usual kata for classical and placed third despite a small (but visible) stumble. I get points for not harping (much). I think she understood. She really likes the new kata and I'm really happy to have her switch, but we need a fair bit more work before she's ready to do it. I have a similar issue: I am competing in two kata divisions (veteran women, 35 years and older as well as 42 years and older). I'm doing the same kata I've been doing for a year, which earned me silver in both divisions. This works well for me, but part of me wants to switch to a different kata I've recently learned... It's not ready for competition, but it should be fairly soon, and I'd like to try it before Nationals in May. We have two tournaments before Nationals - one next week and one at the end of the month. Guess who's working their butts off on their katas this week?

In point sparring, Catherine got third place. So she qualified in all her divisions. I am competing in veteran women, 65kg and under, in both age groups (35+ and 42+). I managed to win all my fights yesterday and earned myself gold in both divisions.

We are pleased with our results from yesterday. Today is a day off. Back to training Monday.

We be zombies fighting

Not bad, for a zombie, right? (Big thanks to Headless Coach in the Douvris sweatshirt behind me.)

Not bad, for a zombie, right? (Big thanks to Headless Coach in the Douvris sweatshirt behind me.)

Holy crimini what a day. It started out with a really terrible night sleep. It was already going to be short (training Friday evening followed by getting up at 4:30 for a quick jog with the pup before driving to Repentigny for a tournament), and it got worse. One child decided to amuse herself sleepwalking into my room asking about wires on the floor (she didn't get a very polite response) while the youngest decided that was a good time to have repeated screaming nightmares. I think overall I got 4.5 hours sleep in 20-minute increments.

That is not enough.

But it's all I was going to get so I would have to make it work. We drove down to Repentigny for the Cobra International tournament. Both Catherine and I did good in kata - she tied for second then lost the tie breaker and ended up with a bronze medal (in a big and tough division; I'm pretty happy), while I got silver in my division. So far so good.

Catherine had more trouble in sparring today - she lost her first fight and didn't place, but she was fighting bigger and stronger girls and I'm very proud of her regardless of what the final score says. There is a difference between winning and being a winner, I told her. I want her to focus on the latter, always.

Then it was up to me to fight. I lost my first fight but thanks to great coaching won my second one pretty handily, which earned me a third place. Considering how tired I was, I gave myself permission to be happy with my result and drive back home with my head high.

Now it's off to bed as soon as the laundry's done, and up again tomorrow morning for some good old-fashioned ass-whopping at the dojo, to prepare for the provincial qualifiers next week.