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Apr 23, 2012

What is your excuse? This grandmother practices Taekwondo!


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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 Im 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.  Its hard enough to bond with teens weve raised from infancy.  What could I do to connect with her?  She wanted to learn taekwondo.  Great, I said.  Lets 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, Im 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 wont mess with you.  I usually reply, Thats right.  If you stand very still and do exactly what I tell you to do, I can defend myself against you.  Its true that Im stronger and more fit than I used to be, but in truth, this isnt 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 Im in class, Im 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.  Im so grateful for the ways it has enriched my life.

I practice several times a week.  Since getting my black belt, Ive branched out into other martial arts as well.  I already mentioned the nunchucks.  Im 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 galenpearl@gmail.com for more information.


18 comments :

  1. Barbara, This was great fun! Thanks so much for inviting me to guest post.

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  2. Galen what an inspiring post...I was jusst looking up classes for my grandson for martial arts of some sort to see if that is what he really wants to do. He is 13 in august. I don't hink I will be joining him but is is a thought to ponder...great post.

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  3. Oh, yes, Galen, fun IS good! I'm impressed that you took up a new interest when most folks are planning to simply put their feet up in retirement. More power to you!
    I love working out and doing the occasional yoga routine. Fun! :)
    Thanks for this great post.
    Blessings to you!

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  4. YES! I not only love this post, I am totally in favor of the philosophy expressed here! I will be 60 in a few short months and I've never been more active or involved! Two years ago I decided to become a published author and develop a career in motivational speaking. I hired a coach to help with the speaking part and when I started whining about how hard I was working and how little result I was seeing, he said exactly what you did; "In 5 years you are going to be doing something... why not make it what you are passionate about?" One of my favorite quotes is from Zig Ziglar, "At the end of your life you will either say "I'm glad I did" or "I wish I had." Which will it be?

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  5. Jan, I think martial arts is a terrific activity for kids. I've seen so many kids in my school come in shy and insecure, and grow into confident, respectful leaders. If you find the right school, it is character building and life transforming. Good luck!

    Martha, I like putting my feet up, too! That one thing that's great about retirement. We can have a bit of everything.

    Lynne, Wow, you are motivating me already! I'm so impressed. I'm working on a book right now based on my blog and I lead a couple of monthly discussion groups. I like both the writing and also the personal interaction with groups. What is the title of your book?

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  6. You have given a favorite quote of mine an author. Zig Ziglar knew what life was all about. As for your coach...that person is someone we all need to meet. It is so very true...if we are alive in 5 years we will be doing something. I certainly hope it is something I enjoy as much a writing this blog.

    Thank you all for stopping by. Galen Pearl did a wonderful job. (Oh and I am sorry I misspelled her name! shame on me.)

    b

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  7. Guest post is crucial to get feedback or information from clients or followers.

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  8. So admirable, Galen! It takes so much will power to stick to something like this. I am full of awe. Thank you for sharing. I am so inspired!

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  9. I'd love to do it. I started Kung Fu with my son, but then didn't feel comfortable in the school so we are still looking, maybe in a few years when I have more time...

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  10. Terrence, I was so pleased to write this guest post. It was fun!

    Vidya, It's easy to have will power when what you are doing is fun. And this has been fun, except perhaps the final months of intense training for my black belt test. I was relieved when that was over!

    Heal Now, I've been thinking about trying kung fu to learn something new. Like you, when I have more time....

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  11. Thank you very much for joining my Blog:)
    I don't do exercise at all, never did. Maybe I have to try something <3

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  12. Nikki,

    I can see why Galen is a follower. I looked at your blog and it is beautiful.

    Barbara

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  13. HI Galen,

    What a great way to exercise. I'm impressed that you keeping fit this way, but I love it. Your grandchildren will remember you for this one, how fun.

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  14. I am always amazed by your experiences Galen. I think you set a great example for myself and other grandmaothers. I played around with Nunchucks when my sons were in Jr. High. I should have tried to keep up with them.

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  15. Nikky, The key for me is doing something that interests me and is fun.

    Cathy, Yes, but will it be a good memory?? I guess we'll have to see! I'm hoping they will want to do it to. It's great for kids. At my school, kids can start at 3 as Tiny Kittens. It's mostly just playing. From 4-6, they are Tiny Tigers. So cute.

    Bonnie, Well, there you go! You can just pick them up again! Get the padded ones--they don't hurt as much when you clunk yourself!

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  16. Barbara, your posts are always interesting! Thank you for all of the work you do to inform us! And, Galen, your post is so refreshing! Love your attitude and fortitude!
    Hugs, GraceinAZ

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  17. Thanks, Grace! I love Barbara's posts, too!

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  18. Oh Grace, you always bring a ray of sunshine to my day. I hope you are doing well. I think of you often. When it gets cold in Oregon, Arizona calls my name. Be well.

    Galen I look forward to seeing you soon.

    b

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