30 seconds: private karate lesson

Block/punch: Elongate the spine, shoulder & hip move at same time, exaggerate the openness & movement until it becomes natural then refine. Feel with blocks that the blocking arm pulls straight back into correct position.
Stepping in seisen dachi: back heel is grounded before the punch, don’t move it as I punch.

30 seconds

Immediately after every lecture, meeting, or any significant experience, take 30 seconds — no more, no less — to write down the most important points. If you always do just this, said his grandfather, and even if you only do this, with no other revision, you will be okay.

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30 seconds: Last night’s karate training…

Rinten zuki – found a much better placement of the foot that steps through. I was not stepping enough to the front which caused the turn to be unbalanced and awkward. And the path of the foot must cut through directly, my tendency is to move it in an arc.


This date is very significant to me. In December last year, I was with my very good friend who I met through work, we were sitting in a bar at the Woodford Folk Festival drinking in the atmosphere, and I announced that on the 11th of December 2013 I would be quitting my job, no matter what. Unless things magically improved.  Which they didn’t.

But magical improvements started happening elsewhere in my life.

  • Went back to yoga.  I listened to my voice inside that told me this is what I needed most.
  • Spent 6 months with big-hearted people learning to be a yoga teacher.  So much yoga, mindful yoga, started to break away the outer layers revealing more of the true me inside.
  • I went on a karate camp, made friends and became closer with people I’d previously only seen at training.  Also did a tournament for the first time.  And kept training, now I’m 7th kyu.
  • I went on 2 yoga retreats.  1 was part of the training course, another was a restorative retreat to relax and soften further.  I long to teach restorative yoga now I have certification.
  • Intuition opened up and an opportunity revealed itself.  I was able to leave my job a few months sooner than planned.  I went straight to another job with familiar lovely people, there is no stress, I work less and have 1 day off during the week, and I’m so much happier.  The pay is lower and it’s not exactly using my hard-earned accounting degree, but I’m OK with this.  It was tiring trying to be someone I wasn’t.
  • The day I graduated from yoga school I organised all the required insurances, business registrations etc and started teaching weekly donation only classes to my karate friends at the dojo.  Week by week and it’s getting easier.  People are coming back.
  • A friend from yoga asked if I’d fill in a couple of her spots teaching yoga at a local gym.  My first ever paid yoga job was today, 11/12/13.  Coincidence?  The class went well, they seemed happy and I will see them next Wednesday.  Feeling like a real yoga teacher now.

In the final days of 2012 I had no inkling that by this date today I would be teaching yoga, I would not have believed anyone that might have suggested it.  All I knew then was that I needed to make changes, and to sit with myself and explore.  When I started to play with the idea of teaching yoga I was scared of the reactions if I said it out loud.  It was so funny how many people told me they could totally see me as a yoga teacher.  My business persona clearly wasn’t fooling anybody.



Listening to my heart, finding my sankalpa

I haven’t written for a few months, but remembering how writing became a useful tool for me to work things out in my head this year, here I am back again, curious to see what words come out and what will become.

It’s been a year of learning and self-discovery.  My goal at the end of last year was to spend a year exploring myself, to look inside and find out who I am and what I  like, and to answer those questions people sometimes ask:

“What would you be doing if money was no object?”

“What are you passionate about?”

“What is your dream job?”

“What are you good at?”

With something other than “I don’t know, I’ve never really thought about it”.

I read once that to answer these kinds of questions, you take an hour or so, a few blank pages and write anything that comes up, could be occupations, tasks, ideas, words or short sentences, to the point, keep writing, and the one that makes you cry is the thing you should be doing.  I never did that exercise.  But I did start listening to myself in other ways.

It’s not easy to listen to your heart when you’ve built up armour over the years.  Strength and self-sufficency. I didn’t want any needy crap going on inside, I told “self” to go away and shut-up and not to show any signs of weakness.  Not that I am cold-hearted for other people.  I love people, I’m empathetic, I always try to understand others and not be judgemental. I hate that “suck it up princess” attitude.  Everyone needs nurturing… even me?  Was “I” still in there?

July this year: 4 day yoga teacher training retreat.  4 glorious days in nature, to learn more about yoga with amazing people, be taken care of, no cooking, cleaning, no demands from kids, no technology.  Day 1 meditation was heart based.  “Feel the breath moving up and down the body moving through the centre of the heart.  Feel the heart expanding, feel the heart beating.”  Nothing.  No heart beat.  Straight A’s for yogic breathing and not letting my mind wander off, but I couldn’t sense my heart.  But each day I was getting closer.  We rose early in silence, meditated, we wrote in our journals, quiet time was like gold for me.  I think anyone with kids can understand this.  By Day 4 yes there it was, my beating heart.  I also found my sankalpa.

My deepest purpose, when I gave myself space, silence, inner reflection, desire to find my heart, mixed with plenty of damn good yoga, expertly guided meditation and good people, started to emerge during that weekend.

Life is hard and we all have suffering, and my deepest desire is to make it a little easier for others.  That was the idea that made me cry.  The emotion I feel when I say it doesn’t come out in my writing but believe me, I choke up every time.  I think the emotion I feel is a recognition that I too have suffering, that it’s perfectly OK that I can feel pain in my heart, and feel needy sometimes, and that I don’t have all the answers and I’m allowed to show vulnerability.

Help others, make their life or at least this moment a little easier.  I can’t take away another’s pain, I can’t change bad things that have happened, I definitely don’t want to poke my nose in other peoples lives and give advice or try to “fix” them.  But I think, I hope, by being aware of this deep purpose “to make it easier” I can find ways to share a little lightness in the world.  Maybe it’s teaching yoga, maybe it’s spending more time really listening to people, maybe tiny gestures like letting someone in front of me at the supermarket who might have needed a kind connection at that moment.

What’s your sankalpa?


A fantastic ordinary day

I’m feeling unusually euphoric for an ordinary Wednesday work day. Here’s a list of all the good things that happened:

  1. Awoke at 5.30am, jumped straight out of bed and mediated for a little while then did some yoga.
  2. Had a yummy green smoothie for breakfast and packed a nutritious salad for lunch.
  3. Rode my bike to work. I decorated the basket with fake pink flowers which added even more joy to an already pleasant ride.
  4. I love my new job.  It been 1 month already and I feel things are going well.  It’s a pleasure to go to work.
  5. I taught my second lunchtime yoga class in the park.  My lovely colleagues are helping me out while I practice being a yoga teacher.  I was quite nervous last week, but this week I felt very relaxed and didn’t feel any pressure or place any expectations on myself.  I just want to share the yoga bliss with my friends and I think I achieved that.  The spring weather is glorious and this is our view…

    Cotton Tree

    A nice spot for yoga

  6. Rest of the work day went well.  I did all tasks with ease and felt an unusual clarity.
  7. Rode home with a big smile.
  8. Went to the shops with my 13 yo daughter who I love hanging out with more and more as she becomes a young woman, she’s so funny.  So is my son, he told me KFC stands for Kids Fattening Centre and we couldn’t stop laughing for ages.

So that’s it for an ordinary Wednesday.

Breaking up is hard to do

I broke up with my boss today. 9 1/2 years is a long relationship. I’m so glad we got to talk today and clear the air. It seemed he had been avoiding me since I put the resignation letter on his desk yesterday.  Speaking from the heart is not really his thing, I tried to get him to admit he was sad, yes I think I got the sad word out of him.  Tomorrow I will start a rumour that he shed a tiny tear.

Even though I knew I’d be quitting at some stage in the next 12 months, I was not prepared for these intense feelings of sadness for leaving what has become so familiar. I love the friends I work with, the flexibility, the laughter, the security.  But it’s also been a feeling of being trapped, we would joke about being victims of Stockholm Syndrome.  The trap is ourselves due to lack of self-worth, or clinging to familiarity even when the situation is not good, it’s easy to stay.

A list of things that made me cry very hard today (please understand I’m a non-crier):

  • I always wanted to be perfect in my role, I kept hanging in there to be better, I wanted to leave with 0 emails in my inbox, an empty mail tray, a perfect list of instructions for my replacement.  Resigning means letting go of this strive for perfection.  Yes I will be the person who leaves a heap of messy work for the next person, but I accept this now.
  • I realise now that I put so much of my heart into my job, I worked so hard to be good at what I do, and was very driven by my lack of confidence.  It was always a push to be better than I believed I was.
  • It’s been really hard the last few years. I’ve been working the best I could with limited resources.  I didn’t realise how strong I had to always be, and to finally release the pressure was like a dam breaking.   I couldn’t even admit to myself how hard it was until now.  To admit ‘I can’t do this anymore’ for the first time is immense.

So the grief comes from letting go of some redundant beliefs.  To realise it all doesn’t matter now.  To admit defeat.  To accept.  To move on.

Turns out there was a great job right under my nose with all the benefits of my old job (great people, location, flexibility) with more benefits (less responsibility, less hours, positive communicative bosses, growing business).  A happy day too.

Thank you to my yoga teachers.  I’m learning so much to open my heart, to soften the walls I’ve built up around my heart, to accept and love myself.  To be vulnerable.  To let go.

Grateful for…

This chair, seeing 1st ever bananas growing on my banana tree, time to garden this morning to plant a lemon tree and get some agapanthus into the ground, wearing a t-shirt in the middle of winter, my breath, my perfect feet, legs, hands, arms, body, doing whatever work I can think of this day, time to be home and attend to much needed house stuff, grateful for my dishwasher & washing machine, I can turn on a tap and drink clean water. Most of all grateful that I’ve absorbed some wisdom that tells me to stop and make a gratitude list whenever I need a boost. Grateful that all it really takes is 5 minutes of gratitude writing, breathing, stillness, and smiling to get me back on track.


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A few thoughts on karate, self-improvement and the joyful pursuit of a life worth living.


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