Archive for March, 2013

Haikuesday 03.26.13

March 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Slow and steady, friends.

Why run fast if you don’t know

where you are going?

Categories: poetry Tags: ,

Just like people.

March 24, 2013 Leave a comment

When I saw you crossing the street,

I was surprised by how glad I was to see you.

I was cold.

The sun was steady, but my jacket was thin.

I knew the bus would be late.

You crossed the street smiling,

with a look like family.

Your eyes shone golden–soft and warm,

like creamed brown sugar.

With your thin fame and thin glasses

you almost seemed shy, like a child

since your eyes were still shining.

But I know you’ve seen too much.

It put me at ease to see that we could talk

just like people,

and not worry about the line set between us.

I can be strong today.

March 21, 2013 Leave a comment

When I was younger, I felt physically ill when I made a mistake. I couldn’t receive criticism. If someone pointed out that I did something wrong, my stomach would drop and my throat would close. I wanted to do everything right on the first try. I didn’t want to be someone who needed a lot of help. I want to figure out everything on my own.  If I learned I was doing something wrong, I felt suffocated by failure. Truthfully, it made me hate myself. And then I would be so afraid of being wrong again, I was terrified to to try again. So I just stopped trying, hoping everyone would forget that I was not perfect.

There are times when I still feel sick at the thought of making a mistake. I was overwhelmed today at work. Right now, I have some situations that have been dragging on for too long and need action. I have other situations that need intervention so they do not escalate, which require my action as well. I thought I knew what had to be done, but as I received new pieces of information, I started to worry that I was going to do something wrong. I felt hesitant to make decisions and reluctant to act. Once again, I found myself doubting that I had the strength be a social worker. I shook my head at myself. If I made a mistake, I would fix it. Since I am a fan of cheesy self-administered pep talks I told myself, “I don’t know if I can be strong forever, but I can be strong today.”

Tonight at judo practice, I worked with another brown belt woman and a lower rank woman. As we were fitting throws, I offered my less experienced teammate some instruction to help her technique. It was a small piece, but I could tell that she felt embarrassed that she didn’t know that little tweak already. She told me she was going to fit a different throw instead. I could see that despite my good intentions, I made her doubt her ability. A part of me felt terrible, since I knew what she was feeling. In judo and jiu jitsu, people with more experience often provide you instruction. At times it can be overwhelming since you’ll receive input from a lot of different perspectives. Each time you try, you someone points out something else about your technique that needs adjustment. It’s challenging to keep focused and stay positive with persistent critiques. I did not want to break my teammate’s spirit. But the bossy school teacher in my took over and I told her, “No, stick with this throw. You can do it.” So she did, and it was better. And even if it hadn’t been better, we would help her try again. No big deal. No one ever gets anything right on the first try in judo. And if they do, wise old black belts will tell you that person just got lucky.

Fear is powerful. It can be stifling or it can be motivating. With time, I feel less afraid of failure and more mindful to dodge placing limits on myself. I am starting to think that perfection is boring. Despite its many defeats, the pursuit of perfection is far more thrilling.


Haikuesday 03.19.13

March 19, 2013 Leave a comment

I didn’t quite know

how much I needed that break.

My sleep was quiet.

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Haikuesday 03.12.13

March 12, 2013 Leave a comment

I almost quit class.

I sat, breathed, and let go.

Then I went back in.

Categories: poetry Tags: , , ,

The Crush-Her

March 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Judo inspires me nearly everyday. Tonight, a conversation with my coach propels me to write my first judo limerick. Lucky you, readers!


The Crush-Her

There once was was a girl from ’round Philly.

She did judo–all thought she was silly.

Then she’d toss dudes about,

they’d cry and they’d shout,

“Yo, I’ma chill, cos that girl–

she could kill me.”

Categories: poetry Tags: , ,

Who’s your team?

March 10, 2013 Leave a comment

When I’m not training regularly and then decided to recommit myself to Judo and BJJ, I have this individualist perspective. All my thoughts start with, “I need to…”, “I will…”, “I have to…”, etc., etc. When I picture myself on the mat, the people around me are blurry and I am alone. I will face Judo and Jiu Jitsu alone. In the dark. In a cave. Like Batman.

That perception is warped.

When I step on the mat, I am not alone. My coaches are there. My old teammates are there. New teammates are there. As training begins, my coaches guide me and old training buddies encourage me. When I am paired with someone less experienced than I am, I offer instruction and do my best to help them learn to remain calm and positive.

I need my team. Last Thursday, I tweaked a muscle in my (chronically malfunctioning) hip. It hurt enough to scare me, and I knew I was going to have to sit out the rest of practice. I wanted to cry, not from the pain, but from the frustration. I didn’t want to be that way though; I wanted to keep my focus and have a good attitude even if I was on the sidelines. One of my regular training buddies stuck close to me, telling me stories about a recent high-level tournament she saw and new techniques she learned. She kept me distracted from my hip and subtly cheered me up. I think it was the first time I got hurt during practice and left in a good mood.

When I got to work the next morning, I realized I was going to see my team there, too. Sure, staff has a “team meeting” once a week, but that’s our structured time for problem-solving and planning. Our real team work happens when the other case manager and I pop into one another’s office after an intense experience and need someone to help us process what happened. We’re a team when the maintenance guy cooks lunch for us and we sit together to eat. We’re a team when our supervisor sends us home early on a Friday since we managed crises all week and she’s proud of our work. Our team becomes strong each time we reveal ourselves to each other as human beings, either through teasing each other in the hall way or sharing our fears quietly in a closed office.

I can get a lot done on my own, but I would collapse without my team.