Believing in your children, believing in your students…believing in yourself


Yesterday’s karate class was (as always!) quite an eye-opening experience. Ever since last week when our beloved sensei drilled us until exhaustion (but he didn’t break us!), my family has adored going to Wednesday classes. We view it as an Ultimate Challenge – will we survive without asking for a break? Will our warrior will beat that of our sensei? etc.etc.etc.

Anywhos, alas, yesterday brought a number of newcomers to the class, so the desired “Go ahead! You can’t break me!” test of wills didn’t happen. Wah! But! During one of our drills, we had to kick a pad down the room one way, and then back up the next.

My eldest daughter went against our beloved sensei…and when she threw her first kick, he….

Didn’t budge.

Didn’t move.

Just gave her a look that said, you honestly expect me to believe that’s your best?

It took three kicks before he finally did move. And he kept up that intensity the whole time….resulting in my daughter doing approximately 3 times the number of kicks the other students did.

Now, keep in mind the following. I had given permission for my kids to be tested at the toughest level possible….and wow oh wow, but my daughter finally gave a performance she didn’t realize she had in her.

Simply because….her sensei held her to a high standard.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to let kids know you believe in them…and to shun half-buttocked attempts and demand the very best they can do. My family is really lucky – all of our senseis at our dojo really know how to bring out the best in kids (adults too!).

So! The next time your child whines about something being too hard…and you know they can rise to the challenge – demand it. You might be surprised at the response.



ps – Need some good study aids? Consider:

Ripping up a first grader’s homework

Ah, the joys of maintaining standards of excellent and self-pride in one’s work!

This morning my first grader brought to me his homework. Now, he is very much aware that half-buttocked attempts at work will result in mommy ripping up the page and having him do it again. Be that as it may, today he chose to write his sentences without any spaces between any words.

“But Mom, I’m not used to it! I can’t do it!” he whined to me when I brought his attention to this fact. Rather calmly, I went to my computer, printed out another blank handwriting page, and ripped up his first attempt.

BAM! You’d have thought the earth had been hit by an asteroid. The tears flowed, the angst erupted, and quicker than a lightning flash, I went to my knees to hug him tight to me and tell him, I believed in him and his abilities…and I KNEW that he could rise to the challenge and succeed no matter what.

It was a calculated move, I will admit…in hindsight, I can see how it might have gone either way. But when I came back to him 10 minutes later…..he had completely redone his work and was beaming with pride. “Look Mom, I calmed myself down and I finished it!!”

Wow. What an emotional roller-coaster. True, while there were spaces now between every word, there were missed capitals and the like….but I didn’t want to focus on that. Instead, I hugged him tight and reiterated how I knew he had it in him, how he should be so proud of himself for not giving up nor giving in….and what an utterly awesome kid he is.

He went to school quite happy!

Ah, the joys of showing you expect levels to maintained…and also demonstrating an undeniable belief in one’s child! I think that knowing someone believes in you is one of the most powerful gifts you can give your kids….it’s the thing that keeps them going and going and going.

You know, being a tough mom is one of the most difficult things I have to do for my kids. Staying the line, refusing to accept poor attempts, letting them cry….it can really be quite devastating. But the rewards at the end (super self-sufficient, confident magnificent kids) makes it all worthwhile.



ps – Want handwriting goodies? Consider:

When the weight loss going gets tough, the smart and safe get savvy

Wouldn’t it be simply peachy and mango-y if all you needed to do to lose weight is simply eat less and sit like a couch potato?

Alas, life just isn’t fair (if it was, those white chocolate macadamia nuts would burn up 849 calories upon consumption), and to really lose weight effectively, you simply must exercise. Get up and go, move those muscles, get the blood flowing and the energy moving…’s a plain fact of life.

Exercise works.

But! What happens when you’re on track with your exercise routine and suddenly….life happens, and you have to turn on a dime?

That happened to me last month, actually…and let me tell you, it’s quite a difficult thing through which to work.

You see, I have a lousy bone structure, so intense jogging is out for me. Instead, I used to love becoming one with my beloved elliptical machine at the local YMCA – I had it down pat! HIIT activities, slow paces, fevered dashes, why, I could even do my karate blocking drill while walking backwards!

In a word, I had my exercise routine down perfectly for my particular body and shape.

Well, over the past few months, my weight loss has produced an astonishing negative side-effect – all of that disappearing fat seems to have aggravated a bone tumor I have on my right femur. Joy! Not! All of a sudden, going from sitting to standing started to cause physical pain – it’s gotten to the point that I have to hold in my thigh whenever changing positions like that.

Now…think about this on the elliptical. Knees go up, knees go down, tendons snap over my exostosis, and pain erupts. Wah! No more ellipticals for me!

But….but…..but. It would have been ‘way easy to simply sit down and give up…my delusional healthy view of myself has been shattered by reality!

I gave myself some time to feel a ton of self-pity…and then picked myself up and looked for alternatives. It turns out that the treadmill doesn’t aggravate my condition at all….and so now instead of ellipticalizing, I simply walk on the treadmill at a 15 level incline for 30 minutes, and spend the rest of the 23 minutes at various speeds/levels/etc.

End result? I get drenched in sweat, my cardio workouts seem to get easier and easier….BUT! Because I didn’t choose to give up, I’m still on the right path for my overall health.

Which brings me to my point!! Life….it happens. And when it happens, sometimes you have to simply accept the fact that you’re no longer in the same peak of health you used to be. But that doesn’t mean you must roll over and give up!

Instead, let out the inner warrior in you…give yourself permission to say, I might be down now, but I sure as hell ain’t out! And then pick yourself up and make your success happen. After all, if you cave into fear….nobody else will be there to make things right for you for the future.

The future….it’s in your hands, and your hands alone. Meet it boldly….your body will thank you for it.



ps – Want to see treadmill goodies? Consider:

Kids, self-confidence, getting fit and more

One of the biggest challenges parents have today is guiding their kids thru the turbulent times of growing up to become a responsible, self-confident member of society.

I vividly remember my extreme lack of confidence in my earlier years…it was soooo bad, it got the point I used to be grateful for any attention (negative or positive). It was only in my 20s that my own inner strength and spirit began to emerge…and help me become the superbly marvelous person I am today.

And that brings me to the very important point of, how are you helping to instill in your children “self-confidence”? It would be so easy if all you had to do was witness your child’s experiences as they go thru life…and see self-confidence magically grow and grow!

Alas, it just doesn’t happen that way. Kids need positive reinforcement whenever they excel…and accountability when they choose to perform under the bar. Nobody is perfect all of the time (except my parents, of course)….but every moment can be used to help your children grow along the straight and true path of self-awareness and self-confidence.

Last week I witnessed a perfect example of this. One of my kids is learning how to use the karate sais in katas and demonstrations; she was thrilled she had it under control and called to me, mom, watch me to do this (this was in at the karate dojo in front of lots of people). Well, she got about 80% right….but all I could think of at the time was my gosh, when I was that age, I’d have preferred to be frozen in carbonite compared to having people actually watch something I haven’t entirely mastered. What self-confidence she showed! I was lavish in my praise of her afterwards; she was beaming with pride as well.

How the generations can improve.

Being healthy and content and in control of one’s being is a great way for instilling self-confidence. Here are some resources for that:

What about sports and team participation and such? Many kids will benefit from the martial arts, which instills self-confidence, discipline, inner strength and more. Here are some resources for that:

Always let your children know just how special and terrific they are…but also let them know when they slacked off as well. When you raise the bar for your child, quite often, their response will be to attain the new goals and levels you have set. And that is superb experience for a continued, healthy, self-confident kid to have.



ps – Brain games are a great way to build mental confidence! Look at:

Tiananmen Square – living the history instead of studying it

Yesterday in karate class I had quite the relevation. Several of our senseis are in their twenties…and as such, Tiananmen Square is the subject of history classes.

Well, back in 1989…I witnessed part of it as much as an American can. I was part of the protest march that marched upon Washington DC in protest. Not that it accomplished much (she said with the benefit of hindsight) but wow, was that an experience for me.

Tiananmen Square, back then, was referred to as the first war that was fought with email and fax. Every day new information would be snuck out over the wires and sent to faxes around the country.

I vividly remember the emotions that raged during this time. I will admit, the Chinese government handled it brilliantly for their end…they let the student leaders identify themselves via their talks and posturing and when all was set and ready, murdered them all. Whomp. One fell swoop, the rebellion was utterly crushed.

It was most bemusing to me to listen to my senseis talk about the history, while in my mind, I was remembering living through the 3rd party experience.

Here are more resources for Tiananmen Square:

Tiananmen Square protests of 1989


Witnessing Tiananmen: Clearing the square


Sequence of Events

Never forget Tiananmen Square. It was an event that seared the souls of all who witnessed it…yet also showed that the human spirit will never….ever….be entirely crushed.


ps – There are books for Tinanmen Square:

I am Woman, I am Mommy, I am Me, hear me Roar!


A few days ago, I experienced one of the most empowering karate sessions in months! Class size was at a minimum (6 kids plus yours truly – many parent teacher conferences), so our beloved sensei decided to drill us in hand techniques until ideally, our arms fell off.

Now, here is some background. We did the same thing last week only with legs, but because I cannot kick well, I wasn’t able to participate fully. But this time, hand techniques are my specialty, so I decided to ramp up the intensity by proclaiming, hah, you can’t break me!

30 minutes later everyone’s arms in class were quite aching, but nothing that was utter agony for me. But! Our next challenge was to do 10 punches and then 10 pushups, ….repeated a total of three times.

It never fails. If I’m preparing for a massive physical effort, be it pushups, sparring, fighting, etc., I mentally go into myself, the world fades, and all that’s in my vision is my goal that I must first conquer and then utterly decimate. My kids noticed me getting quieter and quieter and more and more focused, and when it was my turn, I …. whupped everyone’s rear with my abilities! :) In other words, I was the only one to successfully complete the challenge without collapsing; I knew I’d succeed and didn’t have to think about it twice.

That by itself was wondrous, but the next hour capped the physical exertion – it was kendo “let’s watch Mrs. Ling get toasted with her non-existent blocks!” time! Lots of the class was spent doing footwork drills and then during sparring, yet again, I felt the full power of one of our main kendo guys. But this time, no fear ensued – I simply learned from the experience and then thanked him again.

After that hour, I picked up my kids – they had wilted due to aikido and the earlier karate time, while I was pumped up and ready to spar anything that looked at me askancely. :) My gosh, have the times changed….I may be a weee bit older than, say, the last Ice Age, but wow, I’m doing peachy. It’s really quite an eyeopening thing.

Time to start the morning,


ps – Being toasted can actually be a good thing! Consider:

Wordly wise – an easy way to teach spelling

One of the unique results that stem from being the all-powerful Earth Mother is that other moms will ask me to tutor their kids.

This morning I was requested to help an 11 year old memorize her 15 Wordly Wise spelling words. I first asked her, how do you study? “Well, I use flash cards and memorize them.” Apparently this was not too effective, as past grades had shown.

So! Instead of just ‘memorizing’ the words, I had her do the following:

  1. Write down the word, stare at it.
  2. Close the eyes, picture a blackboard in the mind, and then write the word mentally on the blackboard.
  3. Repeat back to me what the blackboard says
  4. Open the eyes, see if the recital was correct
  5. Repeat twice more

I did this for each word, and then added repeating back other words at random.

It took 40 minutes, but eventually we worked thru all the words until they were down perfectly.

So we’ll see how the test goes.

This study method has proved to be extremely effective because it utilizes all sorts of learning – visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc. I figure that at least one of those styles must adhere! :-)

Thus, if your kids are having problems with spelling tests, try the above. You might be surprised at how useful it can be.



ps – want spelling help?

Dealing with chronic pain but not succumbing to it


I am really coming close to the end of my rope.

And I’m learning some ‘way useful knots to design so I can hang on! :)

Every day I’m made more and more aware of my leg problems…and every day, I tell myself, I can DO this. “This”, of course, is anything from walking to the kids’ computer to check their homework to lifting weights to sparring in karate to …. well, to anything where my body threatens me, you will give up and you will give up NOW.

I choose NOT to give up.

You know, sometimes it’s really tough not to feel life is just plain unfair. I’ve lost 40+ pounds but because of all that padding going byebye, my bone problems have been aggravated past all get out. :(

It’s not fair!

It really isn’t.

True, I keep my physical activities to just below the breaking point. I refuse to coddle myself and yet I refuse to go past the point of no return. Maintaining that fine line is beyond character-building. :-/

This morning, I was about to dash off to my beloved circle walk when I realized, golly gee, my thigh muscles are snapping again over my exostoses with every step. Joy. I suppose I could do that walk and hold my thigh (actually, now that I think on it, it’s definitely doable). But for now, I simply returned home and did some isometrics instead.

Today is advanced karate (yay!) but more importantly, kendo (double yays!). And I want to keep indulging in those activities until the day of surgery.

Courage consists of hanging on, one minute longer…. I never really internalized that until I chose to walk my current path. It’s quite character-building, indeed.

My afternoon whine,


ps – here’s another activity I enjoy.

You have only yourself to blame or congratulate for your diet

One of the toughest things I’ve learned over the past 4 or so months is taking ownership of my own emotions and responsibilities.

You see, back in July, my right leg started giving me some major problems. At that time I was 144 pounds or so, and the melting of the fat on my leg reduced the needed cushioning of my femur exostoses. Regular minor front kicks in karate became impossible to do, and more often than not, I had to hold in my right thigh to complete my beloved 2.4 mile circle walks.

Looking back now, I can see now that I had several choices back then. I could have decided, okay, exercise is becoming too tough, and just plain stopped (instead, I modified my workouts).

I could have said, okay, I’m deteriorating as I speak, and forgo my karate and kendo (instead, I modified that as well and do mainly hand techniques).

I could have said, I can always take off the weight while I’m in recovery from surgery, and returned to my original eating habits (instead, I figured EEEEEK! that would give me even more weight to remove in the future).

In other words, I have only myself to either blame, or congratulate, for my choices.

I cannot hoist responsibility on my spouse, my friends, what have you…. for any choice I have made regarding my diet, my health, my weight loss journey, etc.

I own it all. If I had let what others say influence my behavior, then I would have to assume responsibility for being swayed.

My dieting and weight loss results are mine and mine alone. I am the only one who controls what I ultimate choose to do.

Have you internalized this yourself yet? So many times, I’ll hear people say, I want to lose weight, I really do, while they’re snacking on ice cream or reading at the gym instead of working out. I think that happens because they have intellectualized the desire….but it’s not emotionally engraved in their very souls.

When you really and truly want to lose weight, when getting healthy tastes better than any chocolate cake in creation, when you can seriously say, tempt me with calories I will not budge….THEN, and only then, will the weight come off.

But you have to turn the key.

So tell me….at the end of your journey, will you be blaming….or congratulating yourself? I send you lots of good wishes that it’s the latter.


ps – Here are some rewards I could imagine congratulating myself with:

Teens, individuality, red streaks, oh my!


You know, back before the earth’s crust cooled, and when “java” meant “beverage of life” (ie coffee), I was quite the sorry pathetic loser of a person. Zero self-confidence, zero ability to feel good about myself, etc.etc.etc. It never would occur to me to buck any trend and showcase my individuality. True, I’m an entirely different person today, but wow, how I remember my childhood.
Zoom up now to the present. My teen decided she wanted get her dark brown hair streaked with a vibrant red; I took her to the salon yesterday. After 3 (count ’em 3!) hours (when I was told, oooooo, it will only be, hmmm, 45 minutes!), she was done; the contrast brought me up sharp. Talk about carrying a presence…my kid looks utterly awesome.

Which brings me to the point of this post! Hair color is an individual thing…and I’ve heard many parents decree, my kid will never get weird colors in their hair!

I used to think the same way. And then I realized…the ability to stand out from the crowd confidently is something I never had myself. What must it involve to say, okay, I’m going to be me!

So I changed my opinion. My kids know that no piercings shall enter our home (I can only take individuality so far!), but as far as hair color and style goes, more power to them!

Growing up. It’s a hero’s journey.


ps – hair color can come in many different packages! Just look: