Friday, February 3, 2012

New Heights!

When I was in my 20s I studied karate.  It was not something I had a burning desire to do, the only reason I went was because of a bet.  My friend bet me to go take a lesson with her instead of sitting at home on the couch watching Melrose Place.  I don’t remember what the bet was, but it led to me discover a passion.  I loved kenpo karate.  
Karate made me strong both physically and mentally.  It is not only about kicking and punching and putting the two together in certain combinations for self defense, but there is an artistic side to karate as well.  The forms are ancient and some take lifetimes to perfect.   The study of the forms is an exercise in control, patience and perseverance. My goal was to become a black belt, but children disrupted this plan.  Green belt was the highest level I achieved.  
Karate gave me an opportunity of a lifetime, a trip to China as part of a cultural exchange program.  During this trip I was able to visit the Beijing Sports University, study Tai Chi on the streets of Shanghai at 5:00am and perform in front of the Shaolin Monks at the Shaolin Temple.  What a humbling experience that was!  
Today my girls had a taste of empowerment.  They climbed 40 feet to the rafters of a warehouse outfitted with rock climbing walls of many shapes, sizes and difficulties.  They strapped on a harness, a helmet and with their fellow Girl Scouts, climbed as high as their muscles, willpower, and determination would let them. Some of the girls overcame a fear of heights.  Others pushed through muscle fatigue and reached the top of ladders and sat on ledges looking down at the astonished parents.
I did not attend this whole session, but just popped in to take some pictures at the end.  I wanted them to have this experience without me present.   I took my trip to China alone.  No close friends, no husband, no family, just the other students of the karate dojo.  It was very hard for me.  At times I did not think I would be able to board the plane.  I am sure my 9 and 11 year old girls walked into this facility with doubts and insecurities.  They walked out with heads held high and smiles plastered on their faces.  They did this without their mother or father.  This experience was shared with their Troop Leaders and the facility staff who were absolutely amazing with the girls.  Grace and Lilah loved the experience so much, they both want to sign up for a 1/2 day vacation camp session.
This was a day that will live in their memory as a day they reached new heights.  This is a day that they will carry with them when they confront their fears head on.  Whether it is traveling alone one day, or trying a new sport, or starting a business or choosing a college, or deciding on a job, they will have this little moment in their back pocket.  I hope it is only one of many times they will be able to recall the feeling of being able to do anything, just one step, one climb at a time.

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