Saturday, December 17, 2016

sigh - what you see sometimes is not actually what you're gonna' get

Another round of assumption-making and the problems it creates.

context: long term, chronic, injury? finally getting aggressive about treating it, specialists involved this time and maybe -dare I hope? a measure of success.

Primary specialist says, let's do some PT in the meantime but not the strength building normal PT - you don't need that. I want you to get xyz - and would prefer you use our people because they'll do what I want. Translation: they work with our patients primarily and know me as a doc so they won't run off on a rail.

Now. I have my own guys. Close to home, close to our gym. As a Krav instructor over 50, I'm a frequent flyer. But here's me thinking...well, you're already going one step further with this whole thing, go all the way and use her people instead.


Problem 1: PT is deciding the doc's orders aren't correct for the problem. Hmm.
Problem 2: Oh you definitely need the strength work - of course you do
Problem 3: and this is the big one. Making an assumption about who I am because of my age instead of who I actually am.

Addressing Problem 1. ME: okay - you have to make the decisions that you feel medically, ethically are correct. I get it. Before I come back for the second appointment, talk to the doc and explain to her why you're not following her script. Because I'm going to an unhappy camper if when I do my follow up with her in January - she says "no, no, no - you were supposed to do xyz, I need you to go for another round and do what was prescribed". So you talk to her before I come back, cool?

PT: silence (eventually she capitulated to the orders of she was going to NOT follow).

Addressing Problem 2: now this was interesting. We did the strength work. And I am definitely not anywhere I should be having paused all strength work over 6 months ago due to said chronic condition just getting aggravated by everything. Immediately maxed everything out and when I asked "how far" I was supposed to compress a round resistance circle thingy and she says "just as far as you can" and I collapse the thing on all 40 reps and she says..."oh".  And then, "well, next time we'll had some weights, I guess -if you want you can add weights at home"

Addressing Problem 3: on a stretch she asked for, I commented -"no stretching really but it's wanting to cramp and tighten the hip flexors and that's a problem...I've been working diligently to get that flexibility back and I can't afford to start over again" PT says..."well that's okay, sometimes you have to compromise for what needs to be done"
ME: not going to happen - this is not a viable option - I need all the flexibility I can get (at this point I have already explained what I do for living most days)

PT finally says after Problem 2 elements walk themselves out...tell me again what you do? ME: again brief explanation PT: what does that mean? ME: more explanation  PT: oh, so it's a little intense sometimes? ME: sigh.

Yes. I am over 50.
Yes. I am female over 50.
Your job is to see the patient in front of you regardless of the automatic assumptions and preconceived notions about what age and gender prescribe your reality to be. Maybe this autoscripted response is why so many woman remain physically weaker than necessary, more easily injured than necessary and more dynamically a workable viable target to a predatory Threat.

See each woman for who she is - where she is. That's a good start.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

victimizing assumption

Humans love us some assumption – at an intellectual level we understand how dangerous assumptions can be – but our monkey brains just love the stuff. Like a Claymore, assumptions guarantee collateral damage. This is not a lightbulb moment. The scatter blast damage zone of an assumption is a foregone conclusion. Hence the “you know what you do when you assume, you make and ASS out of U and ME”.
Here’s one that gets me curious and when my monkey gets all excited, frustrated and annoyed. And pissed, if I'm being honest.

“All women who train in self-defense have been attacked and have issues.”
Both pieces of this assumption are a trap. They trap the assum-er and they trap the target of the assumption. The assumption traps these women into a specific reality and by nature of the assumption, victimizes.
If I am a woman who enjoys rehabbing my natural predatory instincts and have never experienced an assault (of any kind) and you assume I have been the target of violence, your assumptions shuts down an entire aspect of my liberty. I am not free, not really. By your assumption, I am not free to take possession of my future, I am not free to choose how and where I play. There must be a dark and scary driver, or I wouldn’t be here. My past is in control of my choices…not me.
Fact 1: women have the capacity to be damned effective tactical agents. Studies show women can be better equipped for combat than men due to a myriad of brain wiring natural to most females.
Fact 2: playing the way tiger cubs play – practicing the hunt, pounce and kill sequence is fun. Baby predators play the way predators function. We are predators and because we are humans, we learn to play throughout our lives.
If you assume I have been attacked = I have issues to work out you are going to expect me to quit my training at some point (because I'm all better now). I don't get to be good because I just want to be. Thanks for that.
Moving on. Let’s say I am a woman who does have a history of violence and I train in self-defense seminars, classes, programs. This does not automatically preclude I am doing this for fun. The history does not naturally prohibit me from choosing it because I enjoy it. At some point along the way there may be a process of testing social conditioning and programming from a violent encounter, conditioning equating to a belief of “victim”. Cool. Very cool, in fact.
To presume women with a history train only to work through issues is remarkably delimiting. The assumption means once the issues are resolved – training is done. She moves on. Okay, maybe that happens and it’s perfectly fine. But if she continues to train, indefinitely, the assumption is going to drive the you have issues label deeper and deeper. Making her more and more pathological. This is a good idea…how?
It’s not binary, folks. If Susie trains to overcome feelings of victimization and helplessness and then moves on to other things once that is accomplished, good on her. If Sally trains to overcome same victimization/helplessness and then discovers this is just a metric ton of fun, she gets to do that. But if we make it binary – then Sally’s issues just get bigger, worse, more pathetic the longer she trains. She is more victimized instead of less...
Really. Think about it. Do you really want to cast that on her?
The redundant habit of assumption is a monkey brain function and has the capacity to create tribal rules/protocols. Those protocols become beliefs and those beliefs become fact.
And all along that unfortunate timeline, the women who train become sentenced to deeper levels of presumed victimization.
So much for empowerment (which sucks as a word anyway as it is so overused).
Next time you have a thought about women on the mat – check it – teach your monkey a little humility and remind it assumptions are a sign of weakness. Strong people get curiosity is a higher order. Only strong people test their beliefs against assumption and trade tribal bias for curiosity.
Be a strong person. Let women who choose to train define their own reasons and prescribe their own futures.

Monday, November 28, 2016

no one wants to see that -

Anna has been writing about women and self-defense. About what makes self-defense training appealing or accessible for women. It’s a marketing conversation and at the same time it isn’t a marketing conversation at all. It’s a good dialogue. Go Anna.

And as usual, reading Anna’s work gets me thinking. In the Krav world, there are video clips about women fending off assailants. Some of the videos have a professionally produced edge, other videos are clips from classes or vignettes of potential attacks role-played out to show how effective training can be.

I haven’t seen a single one that is realistic. In all the “encounter” video demos, our successful heroine is mostly unscathed. The hair might be a bit tussled, maybe her hoodie is off kilter or she has to pick her purse/backpack up from the ground.

No one is bleeding. She isn’t limping. Her clothes aren’t ripped or torn. No busted lips, no red handprints left on her throat, no black eyes forming and nowhere in any of these are she even tearing up, let alone crying.

She walks confidently away from the scene. Good advertising? Assuming this is what women want to see? We’re missing the trembling, hands shaking so hard she can’t use her phone to call for help. We don’t get to see the disorientation or the difficulty in forming complete sentences.  Or the waking up in the middle of the night – or the staring at the ceiling because she can’t sleep, or ….

Who wants to see that? And if we made self-defense clips like this I’m guessing there would be a violent outcry against the gratuitous violence.

No one walks away from a violent encounter smiling confidently. Maybe from a potential purse snatching that doesn’t go beyond an aborted snatch and grab. Maybe.

Violence is ugly. If she gets slammed against the car, it is going to hurt. The action is going to stun her.  Her head will snap back and bounce off the vehicle. If she fights back, her attacker will probably fight too. That’s going to send shock waves of pain through her body. If she gets hit, it’s going to leave a mark. After the violence ends, she is going to experience pain. It may last for days.

Using realistic violent attacks against women for marketing would be a mistake on so many levels - it’s not really worth the ink on the page to unpack. I’m pretty sure everyone gets the problem with it.

Somewhere though, at some point in the timeline of her training, someone needs to have the hard conversation with her. If she is one of the 4 of 5 women who have not experienced violence, she needs to know the confidently dusting-self-off video clips with crumpled (staged) men on the ground is not going to be her reality if violence ever invades her world. She needs to get the power and wisdom of avoidance and de-escalation. And, someone needs to tell her she will survive the pain – she will sleep again, she is going to be different – and that’s okay.

There is nothing pretty or inherently confidence-building about a violent encounter. Even if you win. It hurts and there is an aftermath. It doesn’t end when you adjust your hoodie, pick up your purse and walk happily down the sidewalk because you have bested Goliath.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

I got nothin'

Too many things I want to write about results in me staring blindly at the screen with a resounding...yup, I got nothing- and then suddenly...paragraphs spiraling down into what may be one of the dusty secrets in the martial arts world...may be

Got started with this one: do I pick up on the last post and stir deeper into the conversation about sexual assault, rape culture? Murky waters charged with deep emotionally charged contexts - got a whole lot of words on this one but I don't know if there's any point to it sometimes.

Or do I venture into the twisting threads about our judicial system and duty and self-defense? On the back side of a court appearance as a judicially approved "expert" in the field of violence dynamics - again I have a whole lot of words and at the same time...none. Questions mostly too, the difference between duty and justice and if they stand in opposition to one another, what weighs most heavily? Is there a "should" in there somewhere?

And then there's this. The most annoying little bouncy ball hitting its way around inside my skull at the moment. Annoying because it doesn't seem to be losing inertia and annoying because my monkey brain feels the topic is both moot (it applies to so few people perhaps) and incendiary (because where it does apply, half the band will be really unhappy with the dialogue).

Here's the This. A question really, one with an assertion behind it. Asked by a colleague -yes, a female colleague in the martial profession.

The question: I wonder how many women who have made it as professionals and moved out from under the wings of their male instructors got punished for it?
The assertion: a lot of them, maybe even the majority.

The observation: when the guys leave from out underneath and go on to create their own business, work, etc. in the martial field - their male instructors feel betrayed, angry, pissed, stabbed in the a degree. Before too long though, they're back to talking, even training together and collaborating. But when the women do the same thing the punishment runs deep.

The women's businesses are openly maligned. Rumors generate about how their ranks weren't legitimately earned, how they really aren't all that 'good' as instructors, practitioners, or whatever the context may be. People beyond the original instructor relationship get on board and shunning happens. And the punishment goes on much, much longer than what seems common when the same dynamic goes down between male instructor - and his male student-turned-instructor.

Important - the initial reactions of "thou shall not ever leave one's instructor-ever -ever - ad infinitum" are equal to both the women and the men who violate this deep martial arts control driven protocol. What's interesting, is my colleague's observation that it eventually dies down between the male students-turned-instructors and not so much with the women.

This observation sat and cooked and careened around like a Superball perpetually rebounding off the walls. And now there are three more questions, at least...
1) how isolated v. how prevalent is this dynamic?
2) why do martial arts instructors (male as this is still the majority) who help launch female instructors take on this intense level of possession over the women and their freedom to pursue what may be possible?
3) and to what degree does she, the instructor-to-be unconsciously assist in accepting the collar and it's invisible leash?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

re-languaging the aftermath of rape

Words are just symbols. They aren't the thing or the experience, they are just the conduit to pass the thing, knowledge, experience to another person for whatever reason it needs to become a shared context.

Still, words have a power of their own. In prayers, incantations, exhortations - there's a power in the words.

I have seen a lot of conversations over the past few months and once in a while, the conversation evolves into a discussion of what the actual words really mean - the words being addressed in the conversation.

One of these conversations was about rape culture. As in, is there really one...

Not going to touch that one, not at the moment.

Instead it got me thinking about the words-symbols used to identify someone who has experienced sexual violence. Victim. Survivor.

Victim - simple word. Victim of murder. We know what happened. If you're the victim of murder someone murdered you. Victim of poisoning. Someone slipped a little Nightshade into your after-dinner drink. Weirdly enough, applying the simple word "victim" to people who have experienced sexual violence is no longer simple.

Victim as a term is used in the legal system to identify who did what to whom-or was done to whom

I know people who have experienced sexual violence on the receiving end of things who choose to use the word victim to describe themselves. I know tpeople who have experienced sexual violence who can't speak the word victim without an equally violent shudder of rejection. Rejecting the word.

And in comes Survivor. This is supposed to be better. It has a tribute connotation to it. Respect-like...ish...sort of.

I think both words are dangerous. (As with anything dangerous, there is also an inert state. Humans suck at leaving words in an inert state.)

Victim = the person who was successfully attacked by ____________________.....
Survivor = the person who was successfully attacked by __________________......

the ellipses is/are important. They mean there's more to the story and the interpretations here get tangled in trauma, ego, blame, guilt, fear, wounds and scars. Hmmm, that sounds like fun...(sarcasm fully implied).

I'm working with a different word.

It may be a more brutal word. It's cold. It's practical. Target - the circles you send your arrow toward. The paper hanging out at 15 feet. And that is exactly what the girl was to the Threat who chose her for rape. S/he was a target. Joe likes to target paper silhouettes. Jane likes to target steel. Joe likes to target college age women. Jane likes to target 12 year old boys.

If we have a rape culture (and I don't like that phrase) - we have helped it along into existence by the way we symbolize it in our words.

I have more on this - but it's not articulable at the moment. Right now, it's enough to just say the more trauma we feed into this maelstrom, the more trauma we create.

There's enough depth to the impact of sexual violence on the Target, there's zero need to add fuel to the fire. Target is cold, accurate, descriptive. Maybe even neutral. Maybe - a word that can hold it's inert state for more than a nanosecond.

Victim and Survivor aren't good or bad as words. It's what we are doing with those words that might be problematic. And I do mean "might" because I am not the end-all authority on this. As good a chance I'm wrong.

For now, I find Target to be useful.

re-languaging the aftermath of rape

Words are just symbols. They aren't the thing or the experience, they are just the conduit to pass the thing, knowledge, experience to another person for whatever reason it needs to become a shared context.

Still, words have a power of their own. In prayers, incantations, exhortations - there's a power in the words.

I watched a bunch of words pass back and forth about a week ago. A lot of words interchanged back and forth by a couple of people I know and whole lot of people I don't (hello Facebook). I watched the words and then read them again later. It was both a conversation - where the words themselves where moving back and forth as the trains run up and down the DC Metro rail it was a dissection of the words. What did the words mean?

It started with a question about rape culture. As in, is there really one...

Not going to touch that one, not at the moment.

Instead it got me thinking about the words-symbols used to identify someone who has experienced sexual violence. Victim. Survivor.

Victim - simple word. Victim of murder. We know what happened. If you're the victim of murder someone murdered you. Victim of poisoning. Someone slipped a little Nightshade into your after-dinner drink. Weirdly enough, applying the simple word "victim" to people who have experienced sexual violence is no longer simple. It's a word used in the legal system to identify who did what to whom-or was done to whom

I know there are people on the other side of the Sexual Violence Looking Glass who use the word victim to describe themselves. I know there are people who have experienced sexual violence who can't speak the word without an equally violent shudder of rejection. Rejecting the word.

And in comes Survivor. This is supposed to be better. It has a tribute kind of connotation to it. Respect-like...ish...sort of.

I think both words are dangerous. (As with anything dangerous, there is also an inert state. Humans suck at leaving words in an inert state.)

Victim = the person who was successfully attacked by ____________________.....
Survivor = the person who was successfully attacked by __________________......

the ellipses is/are important. They mean there's more to the story and the interpretations here get tangled in trauma, ego, blame, guilt, fear, wounds and scars. Hmmm, that sounds like fun...(sarcasm fully implied).

Time for a new word-symbol.

It may be a more brutal word. It's cold. It's practical. Target - the circles you send your arrow toward. The paper hanging out at 15 feet. And that is exactly what the girl was to the Threat who chose her for rape. S/he was a target. Joe likes to target paper silhouettes. Jane likes to target steel. Joe likes to target college age women. Jane likes to target 12 year old boys.

If we have a rape culture (and I don't like that phrase) - we have helped it along into existence by the way we symbolize it in our words.

I have more on this - more about how rape and sexual violence gets reduced down to a trickle. Right now, it's enough to just say the more trauma we feed into this maelstrom, the more trauma we create.

There's enough depth to the impact of sexual violence on the Target, there's zero need to add fuel to the fire. Target is cold, accurate, descriptive. Maybe even neutral. Maybe - a word that can hold it's inert state for more than a nanosecond.

Victim has a story superimposed on the word by it's nature. So does Survivor.The story -the words created to symbolize the event, they don't belong to anyone except the person standing alongside dear Alice on the other side of the Looking Glass. So for gods sake - let's stop feeding the story line with superimposed expectations.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

connecting dots

....sometimes it takes me a while to put the pieces together...

Once in a while I wonder how I got here. graduated undergrad in the 80's with a teaching degree in Deaf Education (was absolutely captivated by the intelligent beauty of ASL).

Fell into a teaching job in an inpatient adolescent psych facility two years later (long and uninteresting story). Two years after that, and a move - teaching and going to grad school to become a psychotherapist.

That journey is 25 years + at this point in a dozen permutations and a terminal degree along the way.

So how then, did I end up eyeball deep in the world of violence dynamics? Krav Maga instructor, expert ranked (go figure). Own a self-defense training center, teach classes on the physical & psychological aspects around the country, have met some of the most stunning people of my adult life, and get to work with a tribe of folks that always leaves me feeling like the shallow swimmer - all wouldn't-trade-it-ever stuff.  But still...

When I get asked the question about why, at a less than "young" age, I launched into this and why someone with a doctorate would give up the office to run a training center...the answer is a little twisty. Parts that are made for public consumption, parts that take some 'splaining.

Digging down under all the various reasons and explanations - underneath it all is the reality of healing. I have always found myself in teaching/healing arts. Wired for it, I guess. And someone who's known me for a damned long time remarked "this just seems so opposite of everything you do".

It's the perfect and complete expression of everything I have done. Took me a while to see it though.

Me, most people I know, we look at teaching and healing arts as gentle, kind. We expect compassion to look soft and warm. Healing it isn't gentle. And compassion sometimes needs a hard edge. Teaching requires pushing, pressing people and that's got a hard edge to it too, but I think it's funny we still -culturally-find ways to soften it.

Nothing about healing is gentle. It's kinda' violent, really. The need for healing is born in violence and the process - perhaps necessarily - is equally so, if not in a different manifestation. If you break a bone, that wasn't gentle. The healing process of cells growing and binding and working to rebuild - it's certainly a violent disruption of life while the mending happens but it goes beyond that - the pain of illness and injury is no joke. We say "brutal" a lot in this context for a reason. Pain is a part of healing. A necessary part.

If you have ever had food poisoning, eaten something that should have been tossed in the trash, you get the violence of healing.

On our mat we screw around a lot. We joke and laugh and it takes the edge of the reality of what we're about. It makes the darker reality of what we do a little less emotionally overwhelming. This is healing. Pairing the strength of a great group of people with the reality of being human -and all that entails - that's healing. It's healing while we hit stuff, sweep people to the ground, disarm a gun threat, fight someone off who has dragged you off by your hair...all healing stuff.

Hmmm. Words aren't cooperating. Trying again.

Rehabilitating overly domesticated humans - that's a healing thing. Deeply, intensely and sometimes excruciatingly necessary healing. Jung was known for his cautionary statement about the people who were the most at risk for horrendous acts...the people who are totally divorced from what Jung called the shadow self. The part of us that is capable of murder, pillage, plunder and random acts of cruelty. The more domesticated we become, the more intensely divorced from Jung's shadow we become.

If this divorce becomes final, then giving your teenage son a shotgun for his birthday (because it's tradition) and doing so by recycling the used-once-almost like new one his older brother committed suicide with - becomes a really good idea. Then, wondering why son number 2 is suicidal....and having no idea why the therapist is suggesting the lovely gift might be just a wee bit of a problem....*

Aftermath of the divorce.

Healing this - it calls for violence. Remembering we are capable of it, remembering everyone else is capable too. Finding our strength within it, and the power to control it.

So really, this is the deepest and purest expression of everything I have done. So far, anyway.

*this is not one of my cases - it's a case written up in one of M. Scott Peck's lesser known works.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pollyanna's funeral

Yesterday was a good day to remember a necessary death.

I got a call from a young woman looking for a referral. She lives over 3 hours from our self-defense training center but wondered if I knew of any reputable places to train in her area.

I didn't. Not really. I know someone who is about an hour from her so we started with that. Maybe he can help her out. After I dug up his website for her, she paused, apologized for taking up my time but could she ask me a question...(that's such female thing to do - apologize for what you are going to do because you have been taught that making requests is an intrusion).

Here's the question: how do you know it's a healthy place to train?

The only reason that question gets asked is because experience has taught her it is a necessary question. When I got into this business I was incredibly naive. My previous martial arts experience had been positive. Both our kids trained in different arts with different instructors. I spent a little time in TKD. From our experiences, reality lined up with my expectation. Teaching martial arts means you are teaching a lifestyle of the tallest order. The instructors were mindful, respectful, and if they ever had a bad day - you didn't see it on the mat.

When I got deeper into training and ventured down the instructor journey I started to see the rest of it. The reasons behind this young woman's question. Hanging on to my Pollyanna attitude, of course this dark underbelly had to be rare, isolated cases.  Only it wasn't...isn't.

I have heard too many stories now, too many examples. I'm not exactly sure when Pollyanna died - it was a necessary death although what killed her still pisses me off.

After I gave her the info, we stayed on the phone for about 30 minutes. This young woman apologized no less than 5 times during the 30 minutes for all my time she was wasting and hopefully, at the end of it, she had a few ideas on how to assess a potential training center. And the question did come by way of experience. Conflict between a group of students caused the instructor to "fire" one of them.

The conflict developed when a student targeted with dojo bullying spoke up. The instructor knew she was being bullied. And told her that he was sorry but if she didn't leave the others would. He could afford to lose the $$ of one membership but not three. The bullies stayed and the targeted student had to go.

Maybe he meant well. None of us are buying yachts on our income. I get it. Sort of. At the end of day we do nothing if we have not helped our students stand for themselves. For however great of a guy this instructor may be, he taught a powerful lesson. If you stand up for yourself, you get kicked out of the tribe. WHAT?

If the martial gods have an ounce of power, they'll guide this ostracized student to a new training center where she will learn that speaking up for herself is the win - not abhorrent behavior punishable by banishment.

Friday, October 14, 2016

the dark waters of special


I have a a contentious relationship with the word. It is the source of substantial suffering. While humans seek to be, feel, experience specialness, the very nature of the experience is isolating. 

It feels good to be special to someone. The small gestures of mindful awareness in relationship leaves us warm and fuzzy on the inside. Before my spouse moved to his current position, he would make a cup of coffee for me in the morning and place it by my side of the bed. I would come to, drink my coffee and chat with him before he left - his schedule more structured than mine allowed for this little moment of specialness. He leaves before sunrise now and doesn’t disturb me - no coffee. I miss it. 

Dig deeper into the experience of special though, and it starts to get dark and murky leaving warm and fuzzy behind. 

In our over-domesticated society, we teach that violence is rare and uncommon. It is only a part of war; making soldiers special (especially brave or especially heinous). When home invasions happen, robberies, rape, etc. the target of this violence is given special attention. We post condolences and support on Facebook for people we’ve never met. News broadcasts give an “average citizen” 15 minutes of fame when something bad happens. 

Overall, most of us live in a generally safe environment. This makes violence look and feel rare, and so when we encounter it directly or vicariously - it’s unique - special. Only, it isn’t. Violence is everywhere. If you eat a hamburger, the food in your belly was predicated by violence, killing. If you munch a carrot - it too comes to you by way of violence. Damn thing got ripped from the ground so you could enjoy the pleasure of eating the very thing keeping the plant alive. 

Swat the mosquito and you commit murder. But we don’t want to think about it that way and so, violence becomes this removed context of animalistic behavior that happens only to a select few, performed by even fewer uniquely heinous individuals. 

And special now takes on a dark and murky feel. Special can isolate you, deeply and harmfully isolating - violence being rare makes it special. I started coaching again after resigning from in-office practice because my schedule became too erratic for appropriate consistency for an office setting. Rory agreed to see what would happen if we offered coaching under the context of the Conflict Communication model and it didn’t take long before I had a client generated from this model. 

In all of my coaching clients at present, there is a common theme - the isolation of specialness. Violence comes in many packages and in each client, there is a particular version/package and each person carries the perspective of isolation and the darker side of specialness. 

Violence isn’t special. It happens all the time, every day. Nature and people use violence as a tool because it works. Violence has a context to it that is predictable (in a way) and follows identifiable patterns. 

But - we make it random and odd and rare. Then when someone experiences violence they face dark uncharted territory in the process of reorienting their reality and what tomorrow (and next year) might look like. And - they feel they are charting this foreign terrain alone. They are- as their own particular experience goes - but as humans go? This is not uncharted territory and we do not travel it alone. It is well-mapped and many of us have already traveled these lands.

How do we bring the context of violence back to the reality of it? And, how do we do this and simultaneously avoid minimizing/dismissing the intense individual experience of re-ordering reality after a violent encounter? 

It’s do-able. It’s also work. Diligent, often difficult work. 

Do we keep violence special because it’s easier? Has our lifestyles of convenience made us lazy enough that the hard work of reality has become so distasteful we are now allergic? 

I have my own answers - think - wonder - consider what your answers sound like.

Specialness comes at a price. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

the world is watching

There are very few realities that are binary. Respect, intelligence, good v. bad, even gender isn't really binary.

But we like binary. On. Off. Good.Bad. Right.Wrong. Keeps life simple, doesn't it? The current state of affairs in the U.S. upcoming presidential election is a hard-won example (I'll explain that in a minute). Trump v. Clinton. One or the other. Binary.

Except it isn't. So many other choices exist. Yeah, I know...we need to change the two-party system, not enough people will vote Libertarian, blah blah blah. It's noise.

What happens if the majority of U.S. citizens just said to hell with this and no one showed up to vote?   I know that won't happen and so the people who do show up will ruin the potential of zero voter turnout but, what if? Or, what if we all wrote in our own candidate and we all wrote in our own name? Then what? Or a majority decided to get behind some random person and we all wrote his/her name in? Or....

And while you're running off with all the reasons that won't work/matter, you are running away from the point.  We have two "viable" candidates because we accept the reality as binary. As long as we accept this reality, it will be the definition of fact.

Trump and Clinton are complex human beings, so are you-me, everyone over the age of 5. But if we make them binary then we get to abdicate responsibility for the state of affairs and lay it all at the feet of the two-party system political engines. And this is a hard won example of the state we are all facing, the byproduct of trying to force humanity into a binary context when it just fucking isn't binary.

Is Trump a mysogonist prick? Is Clinton a criminal? Is that the sum total of who they are as people? Probably not. But it's easier to assume it is the sum total of their personalities because that makes it binary. If this crazy election season can offer us insight into anything, maybe it can teach us that our Hollywood driven idealism in which people wear black hats or white hats doesn't actually parallel with reality. Maybe, just maybe, it's time for us to grow up and realize that life can be difficult. People can be complex creatures and decisions as to what a thing is....or is not....might require more than five minutes worth of evaluation.

And maybe, if we want our lot in life to improve, we need to look up from our own navels and see where we can add value. The elderly woman struggling to load her groceries into her car...offer to help her. The frazzled parent with a screaming toddler in a public place - smile at them instead of rolling your eyes annoyed (trust me, that parent is having no more fun than you are) - someone not paying attention to the lane closure trying to "force their way in" - don't be an ass, let them in. What does it cost you? Are they clueless so your refusal teaches them they had better become more aware? Are they a cheating bastard who is outrunning the lane so they get ahead?

You don't. But if you make it binary, good or bad, life just got easy. You -we- get to self justify.

Trust me, when it comes to the lane jumpers I'm just as likely as the next person to cast stones. But I'm also not willing to dismiss someone's worth or value because of the decision they make on the roadway or in the voter's booth.  Like it or not, we are all in this mess together. Evidence of a true Alpha is demonstrated in the amount of resources s/he has and are offered to those who gain from being served by those resources. As a country full of people who pride themselves as Alpha's - guess what? The world is watching. Will you be a value-add resource? It starts in the parking lot of the grocery store folks, the voting booth is only a mirrored reflection.

Oh, and the world is actually watching. Talking to friends who live outside our boarders, their news channels are focused on our election. Not what's happening in nearby Syria, but what's happening here in our election circus.  Collectively we need to a) grow a pair and b) grow up.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

bow to being badass or don't bow

When you bow in to a martial arts class, who or what are you bowing to?

If you are teaching, who are your students bowing to? Do you think they are bowing to you? If you do - that's a problem. Bowing is a ritual and with it come a series of artifacts. And yes, as an instructor, you have put in hours, days, years of training to reach this place in life. Teaching other people is not a right of your training; however, it is a responsibility.

With all the different things you are teaching your students, the most important one is to teach them they can - and maybe should - be training to become better than you.

I could stop writing here. It is that simple. When you and your students bow into a training session everyone should be bowing in respect to this imperative: you (the students) are expected to be better than me (the instructor).

At our training center, this is a thing - a big thing. Yesterday, a group of us presented two intro to self-defense sessions at the Silver Eagle Group in Ashburn, VA. They've been running an open house this weekend, bringing in members of the community and providing free courses to their membership as a  "thanks" for being part of one of the biggest range and training center's in Northern Virginia. The director of training invited Kore Krav Maga to present the unarmed self-defense intro classes. 

Working with brand new people is a lot of fun. The discoveries and "ah-ha" moments are frequent and that's really rewarding as an instructor. 

One of the sessions was a women's only. Packed. That's fun too. 

Because intro classes are different than regular training, we highlight that point in a variety of ways during the intro course/class. When the session's over, we bow out Krav style - it helps say "we're done". With the women's group, we talked about why we do this in a circle.  You bow to each other, not to an instructor  - we're all equal - and...the circle helps us say that ... on our mat, you're training goal should be to become better than me.

It's a simple statement meant as an endcap - I was surprised by the reaction. Murmurs and statements about how cool that is and from a veteran BJJ practitioner - wow, that's really important, I never thought about that.

I'm thinking about it today, because her response spoke volumes. Sure, it feels good to be acknowledged for all the hard work we put into our training and our instructor certifications. But if you are training, your instructor is no god. If you are an instructor, be damn certain your students know this. They are not bowing to you. They are bowing to their own future. To the practitioner they are choosing to become. 

It's fine to think of this ritual as a means of demonstrated respect to everyone else on the mat, that's cool. But if that moment in your head is are better than they are or, they are better than's Not Okay..tell that internal dialogue to just shut the fuck up.

If you are training, please - please, check your internal dialogue and make damn sure when you bow into class, the only thing you are "bowing" to is your own potential (and if you have to bow to people in your thinking...then bow to their potential to be equally badass).

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

breaking bad and breaking the snooze

Maybe it's all the publicized violence. Maybe it's humanity's over-domestication reaching a breaking point. Maybe it's just what happens in a room full of top dogs. What ever the explanation is,  I had the undivided attention of a group of people who should have been doodling with an eye toward the door. By hitting the powerpoint, the mic, and the stage with conversation about what it takes to break bad the mental snoozing took a shift.

The last speaker spot at the end of day 2 of a conference.  On a break before I took the podium, one of the participants said something like "you're up next, oooh, last spot of the day, that's the worst time, everyone's eyeing the door."

Granted, I see that as a challenge so maybe that was part of it too. I took the stage and repeated most of what the guy in the hallway said with instructions. "when you're tempted to check your email, or get on your laptop - don't. Get up, move - stand against a wall. Do something..."

That maybe helped in the beginning - along with I had been watching them do this all day from the back of the room - but still, I think there's more to this. More to why no one pulled out their phone.

A brief overview of what could be 8 hours of material on conflict, violence and a small glimpse into de-escalation generated attention and thoughtful questions. Then more questions and conversation after the ALPA conference was trying to get us out into the hotel lobby so the room could be managed. The information isn't new - and frankly, it isn't even mine. It's a tiny glimpse of information put together with Rory Miller mostly developed off of his program material.

I usually give these talks to people at a shooting range or a group of martial artists so I expect the interest to be moderately high. But to a room full of business execs, VP's of this and that, Special Agent's In Charge, I did not expect the info to be the shiny toy of the day...but it was.

Whatever the reason, a room full of good people who care about the safety of others have a new way of looking at an old problem and they are thinking.  One email all ready from a participant looking for more ways to deepen the knowledge - and- Miller's Conflict Communication should see an uptick in sales.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

working backwards

This is sort of an AAR from our Infighting weekend. Sort of because it's focusing only on one thing and the training weekend has half a dozen different trails that can be after-actioned.

Working backwards -

Teaching/training the physical skills of self-defense feels like a forward progression - learning new things is forward action. And working the body, the physical - this is the most base aspect of being human. Working forward, learning new skills, at some levels is also about working backward, rewinding the progression of domestication and rewinding the tape on how you become who and what you are (at the moment). A student - who is also an instructor - remarked that putting the blindfold on to run a training drill made him more primal.  When we dig in to our bodies we dig in deep to who/what we are and a lot of that lives below the domestication.

It can go deeper too. At the risk of sounding esoteric, who and what we are gets carried in the marks and scars held in bone and tissue. In the world of Mindbody medicine, we say there is a type of memory held in the body. It's easier to use that language than get into how the various processes we think are utilized for storing and retrieving memory so we use shorthand - body memory.

This isn't like what people call muscle memory (which isn't really), it's more about a pathway to stored experience tied to movement and position.

You know how you can smell something and instantly remember a clear and distinct event or feeling from the past? The body works the same way.

The more chaos that gets introduced into physical training the more raw it becomes and the more likely the student will stumble across little -or big- revelations. The more the body gets moved, the more that movement is not scripted or controlled, the more problems and meat puzzles that have to be solved, the more likely the training experience will anchor down into something profound.

Don't think profound means earth-shattering or life changing. It can mean that it just doesn't always. Example? Something small like "oh hey - on the ground my focus is on hurting the other person instead of getting to a better position" or "when I have the blindfold on I am more primal" and then...this is the cool part...get curious. Each discovery means something. What it means has a significant impact on the student/practitioner's understanding of how they show up inside physical chaos and maybe a bread crumb trail back to the why.

If the student touches something primal, what does that mean for him? Is it a cool thing? Is it unnerving? Is it cool because it's fun to get primal or cool because getting primal creates permission to hurt people for fun? If the student discovers the ground fight is about causing injury to the other person instead of protecting herself from injury or death, then what? Getting curious creates discovery.

Remember we teach or train ultimately because we love this stuff. Really, that's what it should be about. Love it enough to be curious and let being curious make life better.

Friday, August 5, 2016

the opposite is most likely

Ipcha Mistabra

First the history (?) lesson:
From what I can tell, this is the real version of World War Z's Israeli 10th Man rule. After the war in 1973 when Israel was caught by surprise, a unit was formed to serve as devil's advocate. Sometimes refereed to as the Red Unit or Ipcha Mistabra.

Ipcha Mistabra is an Aramaic phrase found in the Talmud and means: the opposite is most likely.

The point of the unit is sanctioned opposition. It limits the transgressions that group think and emotional contagion can cause - like presuming a level of security that does not exist (and then getting caught with your proverbial pants down with devastating consequences).

The question:

Does it take tragedy to see the value of an Ipcha Mistrabra unit, person, or allowing dissenting ideas to be accepted within a tribe? Do we need a Yom Kippur War (Israel-1973), or a 911 before we make space for this? And, if we make room for the movie's version, a 10th Man rule, is there a point where we feel we no longer need it? Is dismissing it dangerous or common sense?

Within an organization v. a nation, does an organization need to implode first? Is it a mandate of human nature that we punish, squash, silence disagreement or voices that say...hey, I wonder if maybe the opposite is true? Is banishment & shunning our only option when someone has a different take? And this is can be literal, but we banish and shun all the time in subtle ways all the while holding the target of our correction to the rules we are banishing them for breaking.

Humans like to be right. I like to be right. So do you. It feels affirming to be right. And we want to dismiss dissent or disagreement because it threatens our need for confirmation that we might actually have a clue. Can we be disciplined enough to have deep enough dialogue such that an Ipcha Mistabra gets enough air time to be considered? It doesn't even have to be pretty. The monkeys can share their grievances even, in fact, one the best mediation systems around invites the monkey brain arguments and upsets to the table as the first step in reaching resolution (The Quaker's have this one down).

I think tribes prefer the black and white thinking of regulation and protocol because it is fundamentally easier than the alternative. And it is fundamentally easier. The alternative requires time and dialogue and thinking and discussion and decision making and...time.

When we create space for all that possibility our plumb lines risk getting fuzzy. We hold a hard line on pedophilia for example - we think it's really, really wrong. I'm good with that opinion and with the rules that enforce it. The North American Man/Boy Love Association disagrees. I don't want to give them the privilege of a ipcha mistabra seat at my table. It's a hard line for me but you might disagree...a rule, a regulation means we don't have to talk about it. I'm right. You're wrong.

It's easier to set up a rule. It feels safer. Thinking can be dangerous. Considering dissenting perspectives can be dangerous too. And if anything, humans will default to what requires the least effort to accomplish a task. It's why we have dishwashers and someone has invented a machine to fold the laundry.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

rambling little whine to commence

Once in a while I afford myself the luxury a good, solid whine. Read at your own risk.

Weary, frustrated, annoyed...did I say weary?  Describes my mental state and my physical state (probably more because of the summer cold I have - another reason I want to whine).

Stating the obvious: organizations are made of people and people are social primates and as such are driven to protect/defend/argue about: status, protocols, territory, and membership (of said organization).  It's one of those Captain Obvious moments, right? Like...if you stand in the rain you are going to get wet.

And I'm wondering if there is ever a circumstance when this organizational reality needs a good slap upside the head. When I look at the effort required for said slap - then I just feel weary again...whine, whine, whine.  Then I wonder if perhaps the head-slap is just self-serving (so I feel better) and if the right thing to do is let them have at it, do your protocol wars thing - it's a necessary tribal process.

If a group of people, an organization, has as it's primary goal the purpose of making people stronger, better, safer - shouldn't there be at least a wee bit of interest in keeping that mission at the forefront? Tribes must funnel energy and purpose into the maintenance of the tribe's existence, got it - check. When that's the fabric of every single tribe, ever, everywhere I should be smart enough to avoid jousting that windmill.

In self-defense and martial arts organizations what separates one tribe from the next is sometimes about the "what" that is taught and always about the "how" it is taught. The tribe needs a coherent identity - again I know - Captain Obvious. When the tribal identity drifts away from making people stronger, better, safer because the internal protocols become the primary agenda .... do we care? should we care? If tribes are fundamentally compelled to maintain themselves and the purpose of the tribe is secondary, is there ever a moment when jousting with the windmill has merit?

When good people with equally good commitments to helping people be stronger, better, safer forget that the mission is more important than the tribal markers we have lost ourselves -- Because I think organizations and people who care enough to teach the stuff that makes people stronger, better, safer are important, I think the loss of mission focus is more egregious. I know it's a bias. It's a bias I choose. And because of the bias I am wondering now about the slap upside the head v. jousting windmills and protocol wars and at the moment, I can't find an ounce of value in any of those efforts.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

tribal blindness

Tribe. Understanding our basic needs for belonging is becoming a little more common. More people are talking about it and writing about it.

That's good.  The more we look at it and talk about it the better chances we have for figuring out how to be in our tribes without completely fucking things up. What blinds us to the similarities between Tribe A and Tribe B causes conflict and violence. The internal similarities within our tribe blinds us to the differences we need to see.*

While we are learning how to better play nice with others, predators are learning too. Watch how Joey Salads demonstrates it. This post is not an endorsement of the guy and his social experiments because I have no idea if he is getting consent for these social experiments. Still, his little social experiment with the Pokemon Go phenomenon highlights a truth, and one I wonder how many people see.

 Watch the experiment here and then come back -

When we identify with a specific tribe we automatically assign deep levels of similarity and familiarity to the other members of our tribe. Humans do this without a lot of conscious consideration and often we do this somewhat blindly.

Defining the words.

Assigning Similarity: you think like me, behave like me, choose like me,  believe in what I believe in and follow the same ethics I follow even if I don't know what those ethics really are because most of us don't pause to evaluate this stuff.

Assigning Familiarity: I feel like I know you and you know me, sort of. Because we must be similar to share a tribe we must also already know a data set about each other. The more familiar you are to me, the more comfortable I am with you. The more similar we are, the more you have the right to assume you may be familiar with me.

Predators count on the assumed similarity and familiarity gained through tribal association. The shared S and F assumptions breed a level of trust. And Mr. Salads' social experiment identifies a harsh reality created by the S/F tribal assumptions.

I suspect when we deliberately choose a tribe and the tribe is artificial like the Pokemon Go tribe, we humans may be even more willing to assign a level of trust that is untested. It's one thing to belong to a tribe by the geographical markers of your childhood, or the religious markers, or tribe by heritage - we didn't choose that, it chose us. "Oh, you're Irish too? Excellent. I trust you completely." This is not what we do. Just because you have ancestors born where my ancestors were born does not mean I will jump in your car (if you didn't watch the video -the car reference doesn't have as much weight).

When our tribe is a product of our own choice perhaps we assume a deeper and riskier reality. We like to believe we are smart. Smart people make wise choices. Therefore, as I am smart, I naturally have chosen my deliberate tribes with wisdom and as a result - they are trustworthy. There are all kinds of things wrong with this proof of our intelligence but I think we do it anyway.

And I am pretty sure the predators are counting on it.

Most people have the ability to be smart. So be smart. Recognize when you choose a tribe by shared interests it does not mean everyone who shares your interest lives by your rules, your ethics, your moral compass.  Deeper still, don't assume they have chosen to share your interest because they want to join your tribe, the chosen interest might be a con and Mr. Salads demonstrates how easily the con works.

*this is all about Affordances: what you see completely determines what you can do. A concept in Conflict Communication and Violence Dynamics in Chiron Training programs I have the privilege to facilitate.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

the wrong medicine

I know what it's like to have a child who struggles. My oldest had debilitating asthma attacks from the time he was 6 months old until early high school. Trips to the emergency room with a toddler turning blue is a unique experience I wouldn't wish on anyone. As a parent, you can't fix this. You can't breathe for your own kid. The only thing you can do is hope like hell that the experts can fix it for you.

Sometimes they can. Sometimes they can't. Sometimes all modern medicine could do was load my 2 year old (who became 6 who became...) up on oral steroids after trips to the ER and keep our fingers crossed while we superimposed a temporary case of hardcore ADHD so he could breathe. It sucked.

So I get it when parents struggle and search to fix something they feel they can't but somehow are expected to fix. With the asthma, soccer coaches would look at him and me and talk about "conditioning" and pull little man on the bench. Sigh.

Working with me at our training center is a naturally brilliant kid's instructor. He's well-trained but that's not what makes him brilliant - he really wants his little students to excel. But he's not there to fix medical problems. Recently, I got a call from a mom invoking the 30 Day cancellation notice for her son, it's the first time we've talked to the mom....up until now it's been all dad.  I always ask for feedback on a cancellation because it helps me know if there is something we can fix.

"He's having fun and he's learning but his dad was hoping it would teach him more discipline." This follows an admission by dad to aforementioned brilliant instructor that the young man in question was diagnosed (this past year) with ADHD. It's not uncommon for latency aged kids with ADHD to have aggression issues and on the mat in a self-defense program our kid in question had trouble with his aggression toward the other kids; a lot of trouble. The instructor worked with the dad and was committed to helping this little guy to success.

Then the backstory comes out. They were hoping training in self-defense would teach him to control what his brain could not. However a parent chooses to address the medical needs of their child is a deeply personal dynamic and regardless of my beliefs - I respect those choices. That being said - here's an important announcement:

Kids Krav Maga (or any other martial art) will not fix or cure a medical condition. Teaching kids to punch, hit, kick and defend against the same will give them choices and options for control. Teaching kids to defend themselves (and punch, hit and kick) will not wake up the latent screening system in the kid's brain. ADHD etc. is a medical issue. The filter that allows humans to screen incoming data for importance is not working as intended. All the incoming data hits the brain with equal force. Taking a 45 minute class in self-defense a couple times a week is not going to fix that. 

Bring your kids to train with us.  We love our Littles and we have a fantastic instructor team who want nothing more than for our Tiny Humans to succeed. No matter how much we empathize with the struggles of parenting, our training program has a specific set of goals, as does every other martial arts program for kids. If your Little has something s/he struggles with, let us know. Let us work with you and with your Little. But if you use a martial arts program as a means of doctor/cure shopping, you will be disappointed.

Friday, July 15, 2016

the drift

Humans are not a hive, you do not share a hive mind. When it comes to agency and personal authority, it isn’t enough for you to know you have power and that you are biologically wired to seek, authenticate, and express your power. You must also understand that your monkey brain’s tremendous influence to keep you plugged into a tribe also has the potential to brainwash you into believing you are only as powerful as your tribe.  

This is a lie. It is a convenient lie. Convenient for your tribe, and convenient for your comfort and the basic human tendency towards doing the minimal amount of work in life to maintain that comfort. It is, nonetheless, a lie. We can and do figure this out. Sometimes. There is a ridiculous amount of the opposite going on right now. Although the hive-mind drift isn't probably any more prolific now v. other periods in our recent social milieu, it is perhaps more evident because of the violent nature of its current expression.

When we let ourselves be influenced by the hive-mind drift we are succumbing to an intrapsychic version of domestic violence. This is how it works: 

The aspect of your nature driven and created for independent thinking, creativity and decision-making periodically expresses its independence. The monkey brain is watching. As long as the human expression of power doesn’t disturb the bees in the hive, all is well. When the hive starts to agitate in response, the monkey is going to start punishing. The human expression of power submits, retreats, and there is a tentative truce masquerading as peace. For a while. But because we are wired to seek power, after a while, the cycle begins again.  

This should feel a little crazy. 
It is. 

Understanding and accepting the purpose of the monkey brain is critical here. It isn’t bad or evil. It is important and can be beautiful. It is what allows us to feel the intense warmth, beauty and security of deep relationship. It is the source of profound joy when our children reach a dream. It allows us to pull together with people who otherwise appall our sensitivities so we can collectively house, clothe and feed one another after devastating natural disasters.The monkey wants us to plug in. Our ability to think like everyone around us is what keeps people alive when trucks smash through crowds and when tornadoes the size of the gods rip through towns.

Know the monkey brain’s purpose in your community and in your family. Understand the monkey brain’s strengths. Get intimately familiar with its limitations

Ignore this and your tendency toward tribal comfort will mirror the escalating cycle of domestic violence. Eventually the abusing partner destroys the target of the abuse. Emotionally, psychologically, physically. Domestic violence ends in death. 

If you want to live from your natural capacity as an individual capable of independent, creative power and impact you will be required to do what she is required to do. You will have to risk everything. You will have to unplug from the hive and go it alone. There is no other option. What you will find out there is the ability to feel even more connected. Your monkey will be happier because healthy relationships thrive when the power differential isn’t constantly contested and your monkey wants - needs - to belong. You will be part of your tribe without the internal violence of your monkey brain beating your power into submission. And you just might be able to solve problems like we seem to be facing right now.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

there's someone I want to talk to

Somewhere there's this guy, he is in his mid-late twenties. He has black hair and fair skin. I know his last name but not his first and I can't shake this question I have. I want to ask him...what do you say about this?

The this is what's happening - open season, intentional open season on law enforcement. I'm thinking about this young man because I remember watching him, innocent and confused in his mother's arms at a fundraising auction for his benefit a year after his dad was executed.

I know the dad's first name if I don't know the son's first name. The dad worked with my husband. He was a motors officer who responded to a call from a concerned neighbor about something odd. There was no concerned neighbor. It was a planned ambush execution for anyone wearing a badge.

The details of the plan are irrelevant beyond the fact that like Dallas, and maybe like St. Louis...they worked. Les responded to the call. He paid for his job, his badge and his responsibility with his life.

A year or so after his execution, our department pulled together and hosted an auction to raise money for his widow and this black-haired toddler. Les' widow was bright and smiling and thankful and it was a happy atmosphere of support and community that I couldn't really get into. It was a long time ago but all I remember from that night was watching this little boy.

And I remember him now and I wonder. What are your thoughts right now? You know what this is. You have lived this. It is, in some ways, the backdrop of you childhood. Growing up without Les because someone decided it was open season, little-black-haired boy all grown up, you may be one of the few people who actually has a valid voice. You had and still have, a front row seat.

Do you have littles of your own now? What do you tell your kids about their grandfather? What do you tell them now? Do you hate cops because the profession stole your father? Do you hold them as heroes on a pedestal? Are you raging right now? Or is it a stoic the risk comes with the badge kind of thing?

Did you even make it? I wonder about that question too. His mom looked like she was adjusting and doing well. But that was an act, a necessary public face. Maybe this little boy grew up in chaos born of trauma and grief and maybe he tapped out and there's a headstone with his name on it too.

It's my assumption born of want that Les' son is a decently adjusted twenty something man with a front row seat. What happened in that neighborhood over 25 years ago is happening now in Dallas, St. Louis...I want this young man to be decently adjusted because it makes me feel better. If he made it, and he has a good life it's a small win.

I don't know what happened to Les' little boy and however that story has evolved, I can't do anything about it whether I like it's progression or not. Neither can you. But we can be present now. We can acknowledge our agency and our accountability and our capacity to act and our remarkable tendency to sleep through life until shit like this acts as our alarm. And then the next wondering hits me...along with that stunning capacity to sleep through our lives we are equally capable of hitting the snooze when the alarm sounds. Ignoring it. Hoping it will go away and take the day's reality with it.

That never ends well.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

need a new log-in

Before all the IT security people lose their shit, I am not publishing anything that could compromise any of my accounts, take a breath.

Over the last 5 years I have used log-in names etc. to reflect the next goal in my Krav Maga journey. It started when I went for my Instructor certification and Graduate Level 1 rank (number 6 in our system). It started because the internal conversation was snorting. You know, that laugh that is so spontaneous it's out before you can censor it? The one that blows milk out your nose because well, what you just heard is stupid ridiculous? That one.

To combat the milk activating laughter in my head, I made my log-in reflect the goal. Like "instructorkm1" IT peeps, that wasn't it -just an example.

It became a talisman for me. Instead of eyeing a finish line in a marathon, the log-ins reminded me of what was next, even when I was snorting milk out my nose.

For the last year, the info has reflected a goal I was certain was impossible. Krav Maga Global's Expert 1 certification. If you are a belt rank person, this is test number 11 and up until recently in the U.S. there have been 2 women with that one checked off. Inexplicably, I made the number 3 last month in Israel.

The goal isn't all that impossible if you have the necessary prerequisites. Things like lots of years of training (in contrast to my 5). Putting in several hours a week in preparation for the test (which for many reasons *cough* excuses, I didn't). Not being over 50 and not being a smaller than average human. Younger, stronger, more experienced and physically fit-er practitioners would not see the E1 as a steep mountain climb. For me though, it looked like a good opportunity for the milk-nose experience.

When Expert Camp started in Israel, the pregnant question was "are you testing?" My answer was honest: I'll give it a shot. I knew I would get valuable feedback from the experience and I wasn't up to par, I would have another chance in the U.S. later this year. The honesty of the answer struck people as odd. People tend not to test unless they're damn sure they can pass. Failing is like a scarlet letter.

I don't relate to it that way. Yes, of course passing is the goal and yeah - it feels great. NOT passing isn't the kiss of death though, the deepest lessons and biggest jumps in my skills have come from the places where I fell (literally and figuratively).

The test was no joke. In my testing group there were 6 people. One not yet eligible and testing for feedback, 5 testing for real. Two of us passed. My monkey brain is very happy. It feels good. And it feels...well...yeah, still looking for the word. What do I use for a log-in now? There are more E Levels I can go for but I'm not eligible for another 2 years. And that really isn't the point anyway. Those look attainable now.

The world shifts. Reality rewrites itself when the impossible becomes part of the daily 'sure, I can do that' conversation in my head. The nose-milk relationship is gone. I suppose moving into this territory could look like a good place to settle down. Like the westward expansionist settlers who breached the rocky mountains...alive. Done. Good enough. Build a cabin.

But....something happens when you land in new territory. We can enjoy the terrain instead of finding it daunting and insurmountable. And then, then we get to find new. New realities. Deeper contact with what it means to be human and what it doesn't mean. I don't know what the next log-in will reflect. Not yet, anyway. So for now, it can be a question.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

free to move about the cabin

Well, here we are. The Fourth of July weekend in the U.S. - full of sentiment, BBQ, Beer, and fireworks. We toss the word Freedom around and once in a while "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" shows up too.

Most of the time, mincing words annoys me. It shows up in debates as a way to control the debate and dominate, derail and generally disguise an intense need to be right over actually engaging in something that could be defined as a dialogue.

Maybe that's me at the moment. Mincing words.

Freedom and Liberty aren't the same thing. That much, wordsmiths agree on. Which definition goes with which word though, that seems up for debate.

Option 1

Freedom is a state of being capable of making decisions without external control.
Liberty, on the other hand, is  freedom which has been granted to a people by an external control.

Option 2

Liberty is an internal state reflecting an existential relationship with your capacity for agency.
Freedom indicates lack of physical constraint. Example? Spent a lot of time on a plane the last month..."you are now free to move about the cabin" - shuck the seat belt sister you have our permission to climb out of the little cage called your seat.

Because it makes my life easier at the moment, I'm going with Option 2.

Fourth of July celebrations are about both. But...

There's a sneaky little saboteur to your freedom and/or your liberty: scripts. While your tossing about the sparklers, have you thought much about your own thinking? What you believe? How did you come to believe it? If you haven't looked at all the things you believe, all the ideas you hold as truths, then how do you know if you have really chosen those thoughts/beliefs?

Simple test: how do you feel about "being on time"? Why? Where did that belief come from? If you think it's important...why? and how did you decide that it was important? Do you think people who are late are...what...rude? disorganized? inconsiderate? attention-seeking?  Hmmm. What if someone is late because their life is in havoc, or they were anxious about meeting you, or their kid bloodied a knee, or some smart-ass tried to own the road and caused a wreck right in front of them?

Sure, the cell phone belays the excuse of not letting you know - but (there's that word again), what do you believe about it? Do you choose that belief? Or was it chosen for you?

The more conscious we get about our scripts the more our ability to choose or reject them shifts from a hollographic possibility to concrete reality. The more scripts we consciously acknowledge, choose or reject, the more liberty and freedom we can actually claim.

This is no small thing and it seems to be remarkably absent in the masses across the U.S. at the moment when it comes to the decisions we are making about our freedoms and liberties.  Like the flight attendant's instructions to tighten my safety belt in turbulence, we seem to have cinched in on our willingness to think.

You are now free to move about your mind. Please do.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

can women really defend themselves?

This morning over coffee my spouse is on Drudge and shares this story with me. The link is here so you can follow it yourself if you like. Article Link.

In Colorado a mom hears screams from the front yard where her kids are playing. Races out of the house to find a mountain lion:

"she found the cougar on top of her son, the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office said. The woman "was able to physically remove her son from the mountain lion" and the boy's father called 911 as he drove his son to hospital, the sheriff added."...quoted from the article

Later in the article " Sheriff's deputies and a law enforcement officer from the U.S. Forest Service found the mountain lion in the front yard of the residence and put it down, the sheriff said."

Let's look at what is NOT said. She physically removed her son (who lives by the way). Authorities find the animal still in their front yard after they leave for the hospital and put it down (i.e., they shoot it). It's always a sad moment for me when a beautiful creature like this is doing what it is designed to do and it's nature crosses paths with a human. Like the Gorilla and the little boy at the zoo....neither creature is vicious or evil, anyway that's a different rabbit trail.

So, "physically removed her son" and then the mountain lion is still hanging around in the front yard...doing the math? This mamma fucked up that mountain lion. As a mom, I'm pretty sure she didn't pause at those screams...hmmm, I wonder what could be happening? I will look out the window first...oh dear...let's make a plan. Honey? Where's the shotgun?

Nope. Not what happened. I have heard hurt and panicked sounds from my kids when they were little. It hits a deep, lizard brain place and you just move. 

This lizard brain is, in it's own way, a tactical genius. It doesn't use higher level thought process, in fact, it's mostly a pre-verbal thing. If this mamma had been a lion tamer, an exotic animal veterinarian, or any other profession in which she was well-studied in Mountain Lion, we might say oh, there you have it, she knew the animal's weakness. I'm pretty sure Rueters would have shared that tidbit as it's just a wee bit important.

Think about it. This average adult human female took on a mountain lion to save her tiny human and.she.won.

The next time I hear any female tell me she's "too...(anything)" to be able to learn physical self-defense, I am showing her this story. Because here's the thing girls, we are hard-wired for it. Just imagine what you can do with all that instinctual tactical capability if we put a little training behind it?

And the next time a guy asks me "do you really think a woman can defend herself against a man?" He's getting this article as my answer. If she can fuck up a mountain lion, with the right motivation the human male is child's play.