Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Randomness Wednesday: Change of Plans

Okay, I took Memorial Day week off then got lazy. I'm going to get just a touch soapboxy today, so if you don't want to read on, I totally understand. I'll see you Friday. If you are interested, well...

I am putting Little Red Wolf on hold for a little while. I know, I know! I already published book 1, when is book 2 coming out?! Well, I'm looking at maybe July. I have another project that is consuming me. Let me explain.

By now most of you should know that I am fairly liberal and a total hippie. Like tree hugging level. Except spiders and mosquitoes, I love all life and think every soul is sacred. (Except the aforementioned insects. Those fuckers can go to Hell and burn forever.) So, when the person who I already detest whose name I flat-out refuse to use in a sentence referring to a position of power, declared that he was telling the rest of the world to fend for themselves, I got a little bit cranky. I hope everyone realizes that is a drastic understatement.

The truth is we as a country produce a lot of things. We have numerous companies that are household names all over the world that started here, some of them very close to me. But, our greatest export remains our culture. Pop or otherwise, American culture is a hot commodity in many places int he world. We are a world leader in many things. And, our scientists already know how to make us a world leader in renewable energy technology. We have the skill, the materials, and the infrastructure to change the global energy economy. We can influence the world!

But we're not. And why? Because big business and the politicians they own, think there's no money in it. Pure and simple. It is making them a shitton of money to destroy our environment. Now, that being said, there are quite a few companies who are taking action. Who have signed agreements with governments to reduce their carbon footprint. There are even some whose entire business model is built on that one goal. They are making a difference, but they are individual and separate. One person recycling is great, but an entire community is what it takes to make a difference.

Enter the Paris Agreement. If you have not read it yet, I highly recommend doing so. It is well thought out and practical. While there are points we as a country may contend with, the basic theory and motivation behind it are sound. Namely to save the world from our destructive tendencies. We as humans have the power to stop destroying our planet. And, we have the ability to clean up the messes we've made. Not doing so is acting like a tantruming spoiled little brat who won't clean their room. Problem with that analogy is that the room is full of toxic chemicals that are giving your neighbors cancer and a whole slew of other nasty diseases.

Our oceans are in serious trouble. If you think that isn't a big deal, please remember that water covers 71% of our planet's surface and most of that (96.5%) is ocean. If all the ice in glaciers and on mountains melts, that number will raise significantly. As so many memes and t-shirts say now, "there is no Planet B".

Because I am passionate about conservation and have trouble extrapolating my thoughts without putting them into story format, I am putting werewolves on a back burner and cranking through an old NaNoWriMo project. It is my conservation manifesto. It is my position, thoughts, feelings, and desperate warcry for action with regards to this beautiful, amazing, dynamic planet I feel blessed to call home. I hope you join me every Wednesday to learn about the Earth, climate change, and the process of writing this book.

The following links are a good place to start if you are interested in doing your own research.

United Nations Paris Agreement
USGS Water Statistics
Unstoppable by Bill Nye
NOAA Climate Change Indicators

Monday, June 12, 2017

Martial Arts Monday: Bruises

Let's face it. Bruises are a part of life. From the time we are born, we accumulate minor hematomas. A bump here, a bonk there, hell learning to walk is one of the most violent things we ever do to ourselves. Well, unless we are involved in contact sports.

I have troubles working in an office setting. Winter isn't so bad. Pants and sweaters cover a lot of skin. But int he spring and summer when I bust out the skirts and cute shirts my extensive collection of bruises is on full display. Honestly though, I wear them with pride. They are the marks of hard work. Of mistakes I learned the hard way. Of someone else's skill that I helped to hone. They show just how awesome my friends are and how tough I am.

They are outward representations of your journey through life. Each bruise, while it does eventually fade, is a marker of a collision with something that you survived. And that in and of itself is pretty badass.

But for someone in martial arts, they are a constant. There is rarely a moment when you are riddled with the odd blue, purple, black, green, or tanish tinge of a bruise in some point of forming or healing. It's inevitable. What I have learned is that most people don't really care. Unless it is huge or obvious (flashback to my giant black eye from ducking when I should have checked) most people assume you are in some kind of sport. Which they are completely correct on.

The problem comes in when you look like you had your ass handed to you (which you might have if you box) and you walk into a place like a church with your husband who is a foot taller than you and wears a permanent scowl. Yeah... awkward! BUT, I quick explanation and inspection of the calluses on your knuckles clears up the confusion, and accusations, without much fuss.

As a parent, I am less concerned with my own bruises and more concerned with my son's. Nothing makes finger shaped bruises on a kid's arm sound like a good thing. I mean really. "No, it's okay. His friends did that to him. He's fine. He let them do it. They were practicing." Again, awkward. And you look like the shitty mom that lets other kids beat the crap out of your kid. Yep. That sucks. However, I know that if anyone wanted to mess with my son, they have a nasty surprise coming. I also know that if I am in the store and anyone starts behaving a little iffy, there is a really good chance a herd of martial arts kids will stampede to the rescue. Helping at a dojo has a few odd perks.

So, I say wear your bruises with pride. Hold your head high with the knowledge that you are a little tougher, a little stronger, a little more badass for surviving whatever gave them to you.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Martial Arts Monday: Stress Relief

Imagine if you will, you've had a bad day. Life got stressful and everything Murphy and his law could throw at you landed in your lap. Sucks right?

We've all been there. Life is heavy. There is no rhyme nor reason, but somehow everything you try to do you just can't win. The load of chicken you already didn't want to haul to and fro spills in the back of your car. The person you try to avoid but can't makes yet another innuendo that is borderline harassment and refuses to take the hint and back off. Your boss berates you in a group email to the rest of the staff because she forgot how to read. Yeah, that's happened to me too.

Now, imagine you have an outlet. There is somewhere you can go with all that rage, frustration, pain, and hurt. All those feelings of being unseen, unheard, and disrespected swirl inside until you feel like you are going to burst. What if you had a place where that is okay? What if you had a padded room full of punching bags and friends?

Martial arts is a wonderful way to blow off steam. There have been days (like the one described above) where life just plain fucking sucks. On days like this I usually tell my friends that I need to just hit something. I am too mad, frustrated, sad, and disappointed to handle sparring with someone I don't actually want to hurt. That's when I bust out the boxing gloves and go to town on the bags until I am sweaty, exhausted, and potentially crying. It is an energy release. It gets all that pent up rage out in a constructive way. I don't hurt anyone. I don't even hurt myself. I get the rush of endorphins from the workout. And, it clears my mind.

Exercise of any kind is great for calming someone down and working through emotional upheaval. That being said, boxing, Muy Thai, or any other striking style of martial arts has the added benefit of channeling the physical aggression you feel when you are truly pissed off. There is just something immensely satisfying in hitting a bag and watching it swing from the force of your effort.

The danger is when you can't control yourself until you get to the dojo. Think bar fights and assault. These people either don't have enough self-control to make it as long as it takes to get there, are chemically impaired, or have nowhere to go. I truly believe most conflicts CAN be solved with honest, open communication. Unfortunately, most communication is neither honest or open. If the physical aggression is taken out of the equation, the only thing that is left is the rational explanation for the situation. Heads clear, hearts calm, and understanding can take place.

Now, I am one of those weird people who has a small in-home gym. So, if I'm really pissed, I can pull out my own punching bag and vent that pressure. If you don't have this set-up, then a pillow works great. Shut your bedroom door and lock it if you can. Make sure you are alone. I mean really alone. Yes, the cat counts in this case. Kick it out. Yeah, all of them. Now, place a pillow in the center of your bed. Put another one end to end. Sit on the first one on your knees so you're straddling it. Now, ground and pound the crap out of the second one. Fists, hammerfists, elbow strikes, head butts, whatever inspiration strikes, go for it. Yell and scream and rant and rave and tell off that pillow.

Feel better?