The Reluctant Ninja….

    Here I am, hard at work transcribing, editing and compiling eight years of notes from three different notebooks, several different legal pads, and a multitude of sticky notes gathered over countless hours of martial arts training, classes and seminars. This daunting project is in anticipation of  testing for my next belt level. Some day. This next level is a comprehensive test which includes everything I have learned (or supposed to have learned) since the first day I entered the dojo and began training. Reluctantly, of course. You may recall that I was going to take a few classes, learn a few things, and then quit. I thought it was a form of recreation.

Then I discovered how serious these people were about their training. I mean, they had notebooks, for Heaven’s sake! “What were those for?” I wondered. Then I found out. I was given a few sheets of paper which listed the techniques I had to learn to test for my first level, my yellow belt. I giggled. I wasn’t ever going to test, I was probably going to quit soon, so why did I need that list? In spite of myself, I put the papers in a thin binder so as not to look out-of-place, or to appear disrespectful.

Then I took my first seminar. My teacher brought his Sensei out from LA to help us train. My teacher talked me into attending, telling me that it was a lot of fun and Sensei was just a great big teddy bear. So, I did. The first day the big teddy bear screamed and yelled. About everything. All day. Just when I thought he had surely run out of things to yell about, he bellowed and lectured us for not taking notes. All of the upper belts whipped out their notebooks and began frantically writing. I sighed to myself, pulled out a piece of paper, picked up a pen, and stared down at the sheet of paper. My mind was as blank and empty as the paper. I had no idea what I was supposed to take notes on. I tried to sneak a peek at the paper of the brown belt sitting next to me, but as far as I was concerned, he may have been writing in Japanese. Then I realized he was.

I noticed Sensei scowling and looking in my direction. Nervously, I began to write. After all, I didn’t want to be the only one staring off into space, especially after that lecture, so I wrote some notes. Bread, eggs, milk. I figured no one would notice that I started my grocery list because my handwriting is so bad no one could possibly read it. I hopefully looked up from my list. Everyone was still writing. I sighed again and started planning my menu for the following week. Since I was already working on my grocery list it was a natural segue. Finally, the note taking period was over and we started practicing our techniques again. Still, every now and then, one of the guys would step away, pick up his notebook, and jot down a few notes. Not wanting to be out done, I walked over to my notebook and wrote down a few other items that I needed from the grocery store.

That was eight years ago. I now have several different well organized notebooks including my original manual, my current manual, my instructor’s manual, and my testing manual to name just a few. It’s funny how things change. The last time Sensei came into town for a seminar, I was frantically writing notes when one of the newer students hunkered down next to me. She wanted to know what I was writing. She told me she didn’t have a clue what to write. She chatted a bit more until I finally told her to write her grocery list. She stared at me for a moment and said,  “You’re kidding!” I looked across the room and noticed Sensei scowling at me. I smiled back at him, turned to my fellow student and replied, “You’ve got to start somewhere!”

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP

Valentine’s Day….hearts, flowers and toilets.

    It’s funny to see how people respond to Valentine’s Day. Love it or hate it, it shows up each year. And it’s here to stay. Yesterday one of my single friends asked me if my husband had planned anything special for me this year. Why, yes, as a matter of fact, he did.

    I had the day off, so I was going to go to ballet class in the morning, and after I came home we were going shopping for a new bathroom. For some reason my friend thought this was hilarious and couldn’t stop laughing. Finally she said, “How romantic! Shopping for a new bathroom on Valentine’s Day!”

    I thought about it for a few minutes and realized that nothing says I love you like looking at toilets. It’s less fattening than chocolate. And lasts longer than flowers. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP

Reflections and confessions of a techno-moron.

      Don’t you love to laugh? I certainly do. I especially love to laugh at myself, and at some of my patterns of reluctance in trying new things. Just as I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the world of martial arts, it was the same story with technology.  

     The truth is that just a year ago all I could do on a computer was check my email. I didn’t even know what a blog was, let alone imagine myself having one. I had no idea what Facebook was or why anyone would ever want to be on it. I spent two years traveling a lot, and in the airports I noticed how many people had their computers with them. I wondered why anyone would possibly want or need their computer. And almost everyone was actually using them. I would glance curiously at the people busily tapping away at their keyboards. Funny, I noticed many of them watching me as I worked my magic with my knitting needles. They were probably wondering how I managed to get them through security. Just as I wondered how all those computers got through.

     My cell phone was a mystery to me. It’s a hand me down, so it is not exactly state of the art technology. But it was still above my level of understanding. I finally learned how to text two years ago because my youngest sister made me. I discovered that my phone had a “memory” and I could program frequently used numbers into an address book. Who knew? I found that nifty little tool while I was babysitting my niece and nephew. I took them to their baseball game, and entertained myself during lulls in the game by toying with my phone. After all, I ran out of conversation with the young Moms pretty quickly, and I noticed they all kept looking at their phones for some reason. Not wanting to look out of place (and cursing myself for not bringing my knitting), I kept glancing at my phone, too. Then I noticed they kept playing with the keys. Not wanting to be out done, I started playing with mine. Viola! I now had an address book full of names and numbers, even though it took a few days to learn how to retrieve them.

    A year ago my marketing advisor set up a blog for me. I didn’t even know what a blog was, but I knew I didn’t want one. Notice how I made that call before I even discovered what a blog was. Fortunately my youngest sister explained it to me. She sure is smart. Then I found out my friend also set up a Facebook account for me. No, no….don’t do that. I didn’t even know what that meant, but I certainly didn’t want any part of it. This time all of my sisters tried to explain it to me. They sure are smart. I still didn’t get it, but I tried to look intelligent as I listened to them, even though I didn’t understand a word they said. Good thing I have so many sisters. I figured with enough repetition I would eventually get it. In the meantime, my inbox quickly filled up with friend requests. Uh-oh, now what do I do? I mean, if someone sends me an invitation, the polite thing to do is to reply to it, isn’t it? The problem is, I didn’t know how.

    The point is, no matter how many times people tried to explain this world of technology to me, I just didn’t get it until I finally started playing with it on my own, with a sense of interest and curiosity. I discovered a lot more on my own than I ever could with someone else instructing me every step of the way. Did I make mistakes? Of course I did. But I sure did learn a lot. And once I let go of my belief system that I couldn’t possibly understand technology, my mind opened up to new learning experiences. Huh, sounds a lot like the Feldenkrais Method(R) and neuroplasticity, doesn’t it?

    So, here I am, sitting at my computer with my cell phone next to me. I’m shooting texts back and forth between sentences. Every now and again I give myself a break and see what my Facebook friends are up to, even though I have a few files to download and I could be working on an important document.  And I laugh at myself as I wonder what’s next around the corner. Perhaps one of those new fangled phones that actually take pictures, videos and can access my email. Maybe I’ll even learn how to copy and paste, a phrase I used to think was a cute reference to my kindergarten days. Oh, no, that was cut and paste, wasn’t it?

Be healthy, and stay curious!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP