The first time I recall it happening, I was in high school and taking taekwondo lessons. The center at a mere five-minute drive from my house, and I went three or four times a week for four years – from twelve until sixteen. As a child, I had been in love with the Power Rangers and Dragon Ball Z, and I grew up far more interested in climbing trees and roller blading than dolls. (All the Barbies I ever received sat in a dresser drawer for ten or more years until my sister was born and old enough to play with them, then I dumped them all on her and washed my hands of them.) Thanks to these factors, I wanted off and on for years to take up some sort of martial art.
After moving around, my finally settled down at our current home, and one day, while shopping at the neighboring WalMart, I saw the taekwondo center and wanted to try. By twelve, however, most of the confidence I held as a child had either fled or buried itself far too deeply to see, so my amazing mother, who had zero interest in martial arts, took an introductory class with me. That was enough for her, but I talked with her and the teacher and told them I was interested in continuing.
At first, I started out loving it, even if I spent days and days aching from the workouts. I particularly excelled in the forms that we learned at each rank, and although sparring scared me, once it came time for me to start, they eased me into the process, and I grew accustomed to it. Sometimes I even loved it!
Somewhere approximately halfway through my four-year stint there, however, I began dreading going. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to leave what I was doing or drive “all the way” out there for an hour-long lesson on a weekday night. I knew it usually ended up being alright or even a great class – sometimes I completely forgot I hadn’t wanted to come that night – but more and more I just dreaded going. I ended up continuing lessons until I got mono around December after my sixteenth birthday. I had to stay out of lessons for a month, roughly, but by the time February rolled around, I got that reluctant feeling again, and instead of continuing to pay the monthly dues when I wasn’t even attending, I bowed out just shy of my third degree black belt. (Yes, fear me, all!)
Towards the end of college, that dread came back. Rather, it always remained in the background, lurking, poking its head out every now and then, and retreating for a better day. During the last year or so of college, however, I noticed it much more frequently. I didn’t want to go on the geology lab hikes anymore, even though I enjoyed hiking. Heck, I often didn’t want to go on casual “hikes” with my friends, either! Considering my school was right in the middle of a forest with lots of trails, it wasn’t as if I had to go very far to start the hike.
It’s been almost two years since I graduated now, and lately the sensation of dread has forced its way back into my life. I complain about going to my night classes (once a week, four times a month) like I have to do tonight, even though they aren’t (always) as bad as my mind hypes them up to be. I dread being asked to attend dinner events with colleagues and vent to myself about it the instant I’m alone again. I dread school events that I know are coming up because I don’t particularly want to go or participate, even though it’s not usually bad and I really do want to show the students I support them.
I don’t do well with repetition. I started taking drum lessons on Wednesday nights from the drummer at my church back when I was in high school, and though I really loved learning to play, the repetition got to me. Same thing happened when I tried to learn the guitar. I think it’s because I get stuck in a rut, in a mindset of “Oh, those triplet notes killed me last week and the week before and (though I haven’t particularly practiced much on my own this week), they’re going to kill me again tonight and forevermore.” When I went off to college, however, I longed for the drums or guitar every so often, and when I got a chance to play then when I visited home, I didn’t care what I tried or sounded like, and I accidentally did some really nifty stuff that I’ll never remember.
My interests flutter around a lot, which plays a big factor as well. I got into a huge Jane Austen kick in high school after reading a fictional work that centered around the author. I immediately checked out biographies and swore to myself that I would finally read Sense and Sensibility. I never read the biographies and never got past the first chapter of the novel. That Jane Austen kick lasted all of a week, if that.
Other kicks I get on are writing (hey!), baking, cooking, singing, instruments, organizing (desks, planners that I never use…), researching grad schools, working on school or personal projects, languages… It just depends on the day. I can never predict what kick I’ll get on next nor how long it will last. This blog could be dead by tomorrow for all I know.
I say all this to finally get to the title of this entry: positive.
When I came to Japan for this job, I signed up for the JET Christian Fellowship (JCF) as a way to keep in semi-frequent contact with people who share my beliefs. Christianity makes up such a small portion of the religious pie chart that it’s essentially negligible. Very few people know anything about it other than, perhaps, Jesus’ name or that Christmas is celebrated as his birthday. That’s pretty much it. So I knew going into this that I wouldn’t have my Saturday morning worship practices and Sunday services – especially not being out in the inaka (countryside) like I am.
Shortly after getting settled in my apartment, we got emails telling us what other JETs had signed up nearby and how we could form Skype groups to meet. I ended up settling into a schedule of meeting Mondays at 8PM with another girl in my prefecture and a guy from a nearby prefecture. We do Bible study as frequently as schedules will allow, and it’s great to have that base to come back to after a week or two. (I’ll admit, however, that it, like my short-lived D&Ding and all the other things I tend to do in my life, that I did and still do sometimes dread meetings. Sorry, guys. I love you both!!)
We met for another meeting on January twelfth, and the guy who leads the sessions suggested an idea for us to try. Typically we read a passage and discuss it, but as the new year just occurred, he told us about something his church back home does every year. It’s called “My One Word” [see links at the end], and it’s such an interesting take on New Year resolutions and how we can make changes (and let God make changes) in our lives. Click the link for more, but I’ll give a basic rundown.
The whole concept is to focus on one word for an entire year. My word is “positive”. So throughout this year, I’ll keep this word in mind and try and act on it as much as I can. I’ll keep notes of my progress throughout this blog (I hope), and by the end of the year, I’ll look back and see how God has changed my life in this aspect. My goal with this word is to become less reluctant to do things like the ones mentioned earlier – go to school events, attend dinner gatherings. Maybe next year my word will be “health” or “routine” or something like that. We’ll have to see.
So, there’s my past and future in a nutshell. Anyone who is interested in trying My One Word for themselves this year, I recommend the links below, but also feel free to write me, and I’ll try and answer your questions as best as I can. It’s still new to me, too, after all. Have a great year!