I asked followers on my blog and twitter to let me know if they would like to do a guest post. Imagine my surprise when I received a reply from a grandmother that earned her black belt in taekwando at the age of sixty. I loved this story. The idea that she was willing to undertake the art so she could bond with a daughter touched my heart. It also hit me right between the eyes...I have no excuse. If I start something today or don't start something today, in 5 years I will still be 75. Galen Pearl did it so why can't I. I hope you enjoy this post by Galen Pearl.
|The Nunchucks Nana|
Nunchucks Nana, by Galan Pearl
When I tell people I have a black belt in taekwondo, they are, not surprisingly, surprised! I just turned 60 and I’m a grandmother twice over. My hair is gray and my skin has seen better times. And yet, there I am, out there kicking and yelling with people much less than half my age. And loving it.
Not a grandmotherly hobby. The joke in my family is that my grandchildren will not remember me baking cookies in the kitchen. They will remember me heading out the door in my black belt uniform with my nunchucks. (Nunchucks are martial arts weapons consisting of two sticks joined by a chain.)
How did this come about? When I adopted my last child, she was already a teenager. It’s hard enough to bond with teens we’ve raised from infancy. What could I do to connect with her? She wanted to learn taekwondo. Great, I said. Let’s do it together.
And so we did. Ironically, she soon lost interest and moved on to other things. We bonded over Chinese movies instead. But I was hooked. I set a goal to get my black belt before I turned 60. I worked hard for several years, and then last year I trained intensely for the black belt test in the fall. I got my belt in November and turned 60 in January. Whew!
Before starting taekwondo, I had spent years not being very active, other than taking the dog for long walks. I never ran, never exercised, rarely broke a sweat. But martial arts captured my interest and my loyalty. I learned to kick and punch, to yell and jump. And to sweat. A lot.
My school is a perfect match for me. Everyone is welcome, which means that there are many levels of ability represented among the students. We are expected to reach beyond our comfort zone and do our best in an atmosphere that is completely respectful and supportive, and allows for accommodations where necessary. At my age, I’m mindful of my knees and my neck especially, so I modify some exercises accordingly. But I give it my best, and then some.
When people find out I practice martial arts, they sometimes make a comment like, “Oh, I won’t mess with you.” I usually reply, “That’s right. If you stand very still and do exactly what I tell you to do, I can defend myself against you.” It’s true that I’m stronger and more fit than I used to be, but in truth, this isn’t about self defense. If I find myself in danger, I will still rely on running and screaming. And yet, I do move through the world with more confidence.
Even more than that, however, for me martial arts is a spiritual practice. It is meditation in motion. When I’m in class, I’m completely focused. My mind is not wandering. When class is over, I might be physically exhausted, but I am mentally refreshed and centered. The values and discipline of martial arts permeate my life, bringing alertness and courage to situations we all encounter. I’m so grateful for the ways it has enriched my life.
I practice several times a week. Since getting my black belt, I’ve branched out into other martial arts as well. I already mentioned the nunchucks. I’m also studying tai chi. I have no specific goals now other than to have fun. And fun is good!
Note: Galen Pearl writes a very popular blog called 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place. She is a mother, pet lover and is living her life with intention while focusing on the positive. She lead a monthly discussion group in Portland, Oregon, and is available to lead workshops and retreats in the Pacific Northwest. Galen Pearl is a pen name. She can be contacted at her email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.