Warrior Wednesday – Slow Progress Isn’t No Progress

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My life is in a hurry up and wait stage.

I’m waiting on my debit card for my personal bank account to come. It seems I can’t deposit my HST credit cheque into it until it’s here.

I have a meeting later today about my self-employment related account, so at least I’ll hopefully be able to get some other things moving. I have to go to a different branch because the one I was supposed to go to is having server issues today. Of course. This is my life right now. At least the other location isn’t far.

When I started writing this post last night, I was also waiting to hear the next step for work. A couple of days ago, I had been told there was some sort of form to fill out, but I hadn’t received it yet. This morning I found the link to put in my details for a background check. It was a little longer for me to fill out because I have several post-secondary papers and because I moved around a lot during the year I was going through a divorce. Past applications for security clearance taught me to keep that info handy at least or it would’ve been really painful.

I’m feeling better now that something is moving along.

I know when I start taekwondo, I’m going to be frustrated. It will be hard because I haven’t done that kind of exercise in a long time. I may be in somewhat decent shape for iaido, but I could be better for that too. Taekwondo will use different muscles. Eventually, I expect the two together will make me better at both. I sit a lot as a writer and office worker, so my hip flexors get tight and my glutes are weak. This is bad for posture, which is a major thing in iaido. Those issues will be made better with taekwondo.

Anyway, I may be waiting on a number of things, but the weather is cool enough that I can proceed with some painting in my living room, so I think I’ll be working on that later today. It’ll be nice to have that done before I go back to work full-time.

When I’m not worried about food, I’ll make myself a little zen garden area on my balcony. It wasn’t a great place for a vegetable garden, but I think a nice little meditative area would be great for reading and relaxing. I might need a plan for windy days or anything I put there will be broken. I’m really interested in container succulents, but we’ll see what I can keep out there in the summer. I may have to bring things in during the winter.

Part of me feels like things are moving too slowly, but maybe they’re actually moving at the exact speed they should to let me get all areas of my life in place for what’s coming next.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I celebrated with friends on Saturday. We had a lovely sake tasting adventure where we enjoyed K-Pop videos and fun conversations about anything and everything. I haven’t figured out what I want to do on my actual birthday, but perhaps it’ll be really low-key or maybe I’ll visit a DJ friend at work since I always say I will and never make it over that way.

R~

Warrior Wednesday – Perseverance

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Life has been a battlefield for me for quite some time. I thought things would be good after my divorce and moving to a new city for a good job. And it was. For a time. Until I was laid off and my position, along with a chunk of my department, was abolished.

So, I riskily spent my remaining assets on the parts of a graduate studies certificate in Scriptwriting because there was at least partially free tuition and I was hating my work. I didn’t feel bad making use of the free tuition as I had been paying taxes for nearly 20 years. Why Scriptwriting? Well, I already know how to write novels and while I could be better at short stories, I’ve at least gotten a couple of those published. Movies are a love of mine and it seemed hard to teach myself the basics, plus there was the benefit of making industry connections.

But since school ended in April, I’ve had to make temporary use of social assistance to survive. It has been better than nothing, but really quite awful and I’ve actually written to one of the new MPPs I met the other day about it in the hopes that others will be helped by some recommended changes.

I say others because today, after sending out upwards of 200 job applications, I have secured employment!

The timing couldn’t be better as next Thursday is my birthday 😀

Once I have some of my debt paid off, I’m thinking about taking up Tae Kwon Do in the fall, or at least when it’s not a heat wave, where my little buddy trains because I hear it’s a good place. I’ve been missing having a hand-to-hand martial art in my life and it fits into other goals I have.

Anyway, I’ve been busy applying for jobs and now I’m busy getting set up so job training can happen and so I’m sorry for an intermittent posting schedule.

Life is heating up as much as the weather, which was 48C with the humidity the other day. It was hotter than Miami, Los Angeles, and Tokyo! I forgot to check Mexico’s weather, but I totally should have.

All this to say, whatever your goal is, keep pushing toward it.

I was letting some of the darkest thoughts get to me and even started having nightmares about becoming homeless or possibly a zombie.  The last couple of months and the struggling in the decade before that have been really hard, but it really only took one day for everything to change that. And, oh boy, I’ve gotten several interviews and job offers all this week!

I’m looking forward to whatever comes next!

R~

Warrior Wednesday – Pans

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1. Music

Pan Flute: This music always makes me think of martial arts films. Maybe I’m just weird because it also makes me think of Chinese buffets like The Mandarin. There are probably a few with that same name, but I went to a huge one in Ontario years ago and it’s that specific one. It can be quite relaxing.

2. Film

Jackie Chan: Of course Jackie Chan has used a pan as a weapon in his films. I’ve seen him use bamboo chutes, ladders, and many other household items, so I wasn’t surprised by this.

3. Legendary Martial Artist

Pan Qingfu: Grandmaster Pan was the man with the iron fist. He attained legendary status by age 30 having become proficient in over 20 styles of kung fu and studied with 15 masters of Chinese fighting arts. Pan Qingfu was one of China’s most respected martial artists. He was adept at knocking his opponents out and it is believed he never displayed his full power. He last trained students in Ontario, Canada before his passing.

4. Martial Art

Pankration: An ancient Greek submission style martial art with very few rules. More than a sport, it was practiced by many Greek and Spartan soldiers. It was said to be a combination of boxing and wrestling. Sounds a bit like the first MMA to me. It was also put to use in their mythology. There’s a documentary on it.

5. Tournament

Panamerican Internationals: An international sport karate tournament that is world renowned. This year it’s happening in November in Miami, Florida.

R~

Warrior Wednesday – Fighting for Freedom

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It’s really hard to feel free when you’re in the position I am right now. I suppose I have some options, but many of them have things to weigh carefully. Financially, I need to make a serious change if I don’t get a regular job soon. I’m at risk of losing my home.

It’s not that I don’t have desirable skills. There is one particular skill that is making it difficult for me. Which one? I don’t speak enough French. I’m learning it, but I mostly know basic etiquette and swears. One of those is helpful for work.

I’m waiting to hear on the results of a job interview.

Options if I don’t get the job:

  1. Drive Uber: I’m already delivering food through them, but delivering people makes more money. There are drawbacks. One being that I don’t love driving enough to make it my main career. The increase in car maintenance costs needs to be considered. If something happens to my car, I’m back to having trouble paying my mortgage. But the schedule is flexible, which is great for writing. The varied clientele could be inspiring for a story. I could end up working less to pay my expenses. Note: I also recently applied to another type of delivery service that pays more.
  2. Relocate: I could apply to jobs in another part of the country. Peterborough would be my first choice because it’s closer to my family, closer to Toronto (a major film hub in Canada), and there may be more English speakers and less of a need to be bilingual. Also, I really like the dojo there. I could even get back into karate as they do that too. But moving means selling my condo. It needs a bit of work before I can really do that. It also means not seeing my movie club friends much, missing my little buddy, and his sister. I’d miss my dojo too, but I know I’ll see them eventually at a seminar at least. But I could go through all the work of moving again to end up in the same position. It feels like regardless this French issue will continue to pop up in my life. Selling includes extra costs like legal fees that would eat into any equity I’ve accumulated. Moving to Peterborough would put me closer to my family. My parents are in their mid-seventies, so it could become important to be closer to them.

I feel like if my car was paid off, everything would be easier. I’m feeling pulled in a couple of directions and I don’t know what the answer is for me. On the one hand, one of the options has a lot of potential, but on the other, am I done with Ottawa? The only thing I know is that I can’t stay in this limbo state forever. What about the other things I’m already working on here? I think some could be done from anywhere. I’m less worried about the cost of moving than I am about the possibility that no one will buy my condo. That could put me in a worse position.

I think if I don’t hear anything by the end of this week, I’m going to try option 1. Or maybe I should just set that in motion now via email…

The idea of getting back to karate is tantalizing. My life is rather busy for it right now though.

I’ve hardly been able to write lately 😦

I really don’t know what the right decision is on this. I think I can try option 1 for a bit, see if I can make enough doing that to support myself, and if not, go for option 2. I may try both and see what happens.

R~

Warrior Wednesday – Seated Kata

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In Iaido, we do a lot of katas from a seated position. Why? I think my sensei said a lot of our art is based on the what-if-you’re-just-sitting-there-and-someone-decides-to-attack-you idea. Maybe you’re visiting someone you think is a good friend and during tea they try to off you.

It’s not really that far-fetched. One can know someone for years and discover they’re vastly different than they seemed. Many people thought Ted Bundy was a fine gentleman.

Many of the seated kata start and end while seated and may have some standing parts.

In setei, there is Mae, Ushiro, Uke Nagashi, and Tsuke-Ate from seated. Four of the twelve are seated.

In the Omori-Ryu set there is Mae, Migi, Hidari, Ushiro, Yae Gake, Uke Nagashi, Kaeshaku, Tsuke Komi, Tsuki Kage, and Nuki Uchi. There is only Oi Kaze in that set that is performed while standing.

In the Eishin Ryu set, many of the kata are not only seated, but you must move around while seated. These include Yoko Gumo, Tora-no-Issoku, Ina Zuma, Uki Gumo, Yama Oroshi, Iwa Nami, Uroko Gaeshi, Nami Gaeshi, Taki Otoshi, and Makko.

In the Okuden Iai set there are separate seated techniques including: Kasumi, Sune Gakoi, To Zume, To Waki, Shiho Giri, Tana Shita, Ryo Zume, and Tora Bashiri.

Many of these katas have things in common. Several of the names are repeated. Mae is the foundation of the art and several katas are versions of Mae. Migi is Mae if one was facing to the right. Hidari is Mae if facing to the left. Ushiro is Mae if turned totally around. Yae Gake is if you do Mae and miss. Tora Bashiri is basically the seated version of Oi Kaze. Tana Shita is if you have to hide under something like a porch to then spring up and get the target then hide once more.

I have this feeling that many look at our art and because it’s not as fast-paced as some, they don’t see the layers of richness in it. The idea that because there are so many seated kata it must be for someone lazy. In truth, Iaido is harder than other martial arts in a lot of ways because it takes endurance. It also takes a lot of patience and dedication because the slightest mistake in angles could mean missing the target completely.

Now, you may have noticed several kata have the same names. They aren’t exactly the same though. Subtle differences in angles and positions tell a differed

Life seems to be trying to kick this modern day warrior while she’s down. My phone fell and the screen is slightly cracked despite that it’s made of Gorilla Glass and it practically jumped out of my purse while I dug for my keys. Its cover flipped open. It was such a fluke. Of course, this is the day after I’m approved to do deliveries, which I need my phone for.

Anyway, I’m continuing the fight. I sat with another recruiter today who found me, so time will tell on whether or not that turns into anything. I’m hopeful amazing things will start happening soon, but I’m not sitting around and waiting for them. I’ve put out probably close to a hundred applications and have gotten one interview scheduled. It only takes one though.

That’s a new philosophy I’m adopting. I read about an author who aimed for 100 rejections a year. It seems odd, but if you expect the rejection, it stings far less. You can remain somewhat detached from the outcome and just focus on doing a good job. And the most important part is that you continually create. Because you do more than someone aiming for perfection, you achieve more.

I always have the choice to sit and wallow in misery or to dust myself off and try again. I bought a screen protector to try and prevent the small crack from getting worse. Tomorrow I have a mock interview booked. I choose to keep trying to get where I want to be. Off I go to make my first deliveries tonight. Am I in the most ideal mood I could be in? Nope. But I’m sure that will improve in no time. And as I was typing this, the woman who helped me finish signing up the other day called me to see if I needed any help and my mood has already improved.

R~

Warrior Wednesday – Election Strategy

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Not that is has anything to do with today’s post, but I had to repair my kurigata again. Hopefully, it will last longer this time. Last time, I didn’t notice something about it. It wasn’t making full contact with the sword because it was arched like a human foot. I scraped off the old glue and filed it down some to make both surfaces connect better, so I think it will last longer this time.

In other news, the election is tomorrow. The province is a bit of a verbal battleground. Simply suggesting an article has too little information or another has come to be under suspicious circumstances results in backlash. Yet I continue to implore people to investigate more deeply. Don’t blindly accept something just because it’s about someone you don’t like. That’s not objective.

I don’t know why I can mostly stay calm despite all the chaos around me. Perhaps it’s my training, though there are many with similar training that seem anything but rational lately.

Elections are a gamble. Most politicians don’t follow through with their promises. In some cases, that’s a good thing. In others, it’s upsetting. It means though that we’re betting on someone we actually don’t know at all to keep their word. It’s rather messed up when you look at it that way.

There are a lot of questionable things being said. For example, people are getting hung up on a politician’s stance on guns. Sometimes that is reasonable because I’m way not in favour of voting for someone who wishes all the gun owners I know dead. That’s not even a gun issue per se, but rather that I’d prefer a homicidal person isn’t elected to any office. In this current election, it’s a little silly to get distracted by a topic like gun control legislation because this is a provincial election and matters like gun control and whether or not we would go to war are under federal mandate. Not that we should ignore it entirely. I mean, they might want to run federally someday and then it becomes a BIG problem.

Anyway, I never saw how angry people got during election time when I was a child. I guess I was too busy playing outside in the fresh air with my friends or reading a book. There were only the newspapers, the door-to-door campaigns, TV, and lawn signs to go by and they took a lot more time to get people riled up. Now, everyday is a new angle or attack and the news can put out articles several times a day. There’s not time to catch one’s breath and think critically about whether or not voters are just pawns in someone else’s game. A game where people staying divided is a goal.

This election feels rather… American… Not because people want to liken one of the candidates to someone in the south, but because there has been more focus on attacking the other parties than there has been on marketing their own philosophies and platforms.

I’m working this particular election, so I have an even different view of it than I’ve ever had before. I’ve been briefed on voter fraud and things people try because many votes will be coming through my station.

Thankfully, I will be busy all day tomorrow. I’m allowed my phone or a book because I may need to call people, but I’m going to elect to stay off social media, focus on my duties, and take a break from the news onslaught. I’ll pack a second book in case I make it through my current one.

R~

Warrior Wednesday – A Delicate Touch

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What I find hilarious about some people is their certainty that they are in the right about something they have little to no experience with. These are the same people that spend much of their time judging others’ ability and life experience based on superficial things like age.

The warrior knows better.

The warrior knows that even the most gentle person may carry within the ferocity of a tiger. A tiger knows they can disturb you enough with nary a look that strikes to your delicate core while they walk away. They’ll go achieve something important while you’re left wondering if they’re stupid. One may think they’ve won though they weren’t even playing the game.

Musashi and the Oar reminds us that delicacy often goes much further than force. This is another thing reinforced when practicing the life-giving sword. Fragile egos are something dispensed with by the serious practitioner. Without the ego, one is truly open to experience all aspects of reality instead of living in a fantasy world.

Those who live in reality tend to be more successful in all areas of life. Those who don’t, envy them. If one spends all their time refusing to deal with their own weakness, they will never achieve the things they desire. Everything around them seems unfair because they aren’t willing to dig deep to do what is necessary.

A seed is protected by a hard outer shell. It remains hard until planted and watered. The delicate sprout within will burst through the softened shell. Most will not survive the harsh wind. Of the few who do, only some will grow into robust plants able to fully carry out their purpose. It’s a hard life as a plant.

Fortunately, as humans, many of us have greater control over our own success. We have the choice to whine about the people who are successful, to let our jealously of their success overtake us, or to see what we can learn from them to further our own progress.

Even a writer such as E.L. James knows something I don’t when it comes to producing a book series. I may dislike her writing, but it doesn’t change the fact that she IS a best-selling author. I don’t have to agree with her work to know that she has something to teach.

Of course, it can be hard to open up oneself enough to learn from someone you don’t respect. I wasn’t good at it at all in the past. Today, I find that if I learn even one thing that can level up my skills, it’s often worth it. This is part of why I have friends from all over the political spectrum and from so many different lifestyles. It gives me far more information about every issue rather than sitting in a circle in some vacuous silo.

The beginner’s mindset is one of total openness. That’s not to say one should forget everything they do know, but to use a delicate approach when letting anyone know you know some things. Delicacy can help one use the proper level of respect and that goes far with many people. I have to admit, I screw up here sometimes. I’m still working on this. The people I have difficulty with are few and far between, yet I still work to improve because it’s important to me.

A delicate touch also changes depending on who gives it. It’s also quite a different thing when that touch is from a sword as even the most gentle of touches with a 2-3 foot razor can cause lasting damage. That’s why the preference to keep swords sheathed and resolve conflicts without ever drawing.

As an Iaido practitioner, I HAD to mention swords…

There are times to be soft and times to be hard in martial arts. The warrior knows when to use which and how to apply that knowledge to other facets of their life.

R~

Warrior Wednesday – Mouth Guards

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I was briefly thinking about the gruesome side that I could’ve went with in writing this post. Given that I write some horror, it could’ve been pretty gory.

Instead, I decided to talk about mouth guards. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen their use in any of the martial arts I’ve practiced including karate and jiu-jitsu and they probably should be. Now, usually in sport martial arts there are rules against punching in the head, but it really only takes a fall to smash one’s face into the mat and mess up one’s smile. Tooth repair is expensive and there are better badges of honour to achieve.

In roller derby we always wore them. The first one I had was a cheap one from a department store that is boiled. The protection level was good, but I couldn’t talk or drink water with it in. Let’s face it, during a game, communication can make all the difference in a win.

Once I could afford to, I switched to a SISU mouth guard. They’re thinner and highly protective while allowing drink breaks and speech. A bonus to them is that they only need hot tap water to form and can be easily reformed if your teeth shift.

When you’re rolling about on the floor and taking out someone’s legs, it’s possible one of you will break a tooth.

Kendo doesn’t use them here that I’m aware of, but though they get hit in the head with a sword, they don’t get hit in the teeth usually. Accidents happen sometimes, of course, but it would probably be overkill to bother with one. The real scare with Kendo is concussions. When one is getting hit repeatedly in the head, even with a helmet on, one can end up with a concussion.

Mouth guards should definitely be used if one is planning an MMA career. One’s ears are already going to turn cauliflower, so one might at least be able to chew their steak after a win.

Of course, it’s no surprise to me in arts where water breaks are akin to weakness that mouth guards aren’t popular. More on that separate issue another day.

Sorry I’m late on this by the way. I’m quite busy trying to get myself employed, so I don’t lose my home. It’s getting scary. Just a glimpse into my own personal battle right now. This means I’m missing out on the Guelph Spring Iaido and Jodo seminar weekend this year. I’m sad about it, but I’m meeting someone about an internship, which may lead to money down the road. At least, I hope so.

R~

 

Warrior Wednesday – 9 Fantastic Females

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It’s Warrior Wednesday and today’s number is 9. Today I’m doing a brief profile on several of the world’s best female martial artists.

*Please note that I don’t own any of the photos.*

1. Iaido – Atsumi Hatakenaka

Photo from the 2016 Canadian National Iaido Championships.

Of course I had to start with my main art. When talking about Iaido, it’s Atsumi Hatakenaka for me. She is an amazing woman to look up to. Not only is she skilled, but she once told me she hopes to bring peace to the world through Iaido. Hatakenaka Sensei is an eighth level black belt. She cross trains with hot yoga. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a video of Hatakenaka Sensei.

Photo from Centro México Asia

Pam Parker Sensei is one of the only westerners and the first female in the world to be awarded a Nanadan in Iaido, so I need to mention her. To be awarded a seventh level black belt in Iaido is rather rare for someone living outside of Japan. It is as much about character and manners as it is about skill.

2. Taekwondo – Zheng Shuyin

Photo from China Daily

Zheng Shuyin won the Olympic gold medal in the heavyweight division in the 2016 Summer Olympics. China hadn’t won gold since 2004.

3. MMA – Sarah Kaufman a.k.a. The Knockout Artist

Canadian Sarah Kaufman recently achieved the Invicta FC bantamweight title. Not only is she a persistent and skilled fighter, but Sarah is also well-educated. You can watch her fight against Miesha Tate here.

4. Kung Fu – Lily Lau

Grandmaster Lily Lau is the first and only woman to take over a Kung Fu System and teach openly as a Kung Fu Master. More about her here: http://laufatmangeagleclaw.com/

5. Kendo – Mizuho Matsumoto

Mizuho Matsumoto is the current women’s kendo champion.

6. Karate – Rika Usami

Photo from Blackwater Martial Arts

Watch World Champion Rika Usami as she performs a kata and you can guess why she’s the champion. The skill, focus, and fire she wields at just the right moments is breath-taking.

With the next championships later this month, will Rika still be on top?

7. Sumo Wrestling – Bum-Erdene Tuvshinjargal

Photo from India Live  Today

Bum-Erdene Tuvshinjargal is an accomplished wrestler despite a restriction against going pro. She is an inspiring woman. More on Tuvshinjargal here.

More female sumo wrestlers..

8. Wushu – Suijin Chen

Suijin is the current champion of the Women’s Taolu. Here is her winning performance.

9. Various – J.J. “Golden Dragon” McParland

 

Photo from The Huddersfield Daily Examiner

What list of fantastic female martial artists would be complete without Jesse-Jane McParland? You’ve probably heard of her. Her audition at Britain’s Got Talent went rather viral. She is a young woman who has won many championships. She is also an actress. Jesse practices a wide variety of martial arts and is said to have studied karate, taekwondo, and kung-fu. Here’s a more recent one than her audition. It comes in weapon-less and sword varieties. Below is the sword version.


But Jesse isn’t just flashy. Here she is performing kumite (sparring).

 

I would’ve liked to choose some less well known arts, such as Capoeira, but I could not find a female mestre of any level. Systema is another art I had difficulty finding out about. Women practice it, but it doesn’t seem to have a ranking system and the fighters don’t seem to be well-documented. If you are a woman in these arts, start documenting who the people are that you can look up to and keep practicing. There are many other arts such as judo, hapkido, BJJ, etc. that I couldn’t fit in the list of nine. It would be really something to know who are the key practitioners in some of the more rare arts too.

R~

Warrior Wednesday – Jung and Martial Arts

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I know. This post is so very late. But late is better than never, right?

All right. So, I found this post on a sensei who uses the Myers-Briggs types to figure out how best to train their students. The test was inspired by Carl Jung’s research, so that’s pretty interesting.

It could be dangerous to guess someone’s type and assume things about them because of it though.

I wonder how many are drawn to specific types of martial arts based on their types. I’m more drawn to Iaido and Karate because a lot of those are individual study. I’m an INTP aka Logician and Iaido is a mix of theory and has a lot of solitary practice. It also has a large focus on minute details. I know one of my dojo mates is an INTJ. I’m now wondering how many of us have similar personality traits.

Maybe there are more ESF types in arts like BJJ where there is more focus on winning a fight? In proving one’s worth?

Why did I say it could be dangerous to guess based on their Myers-Briggs? Well, humans are extraordinarily complex. I may be very analytical as an INTP, but I also care very deeply for other humans. I don’t put the same level of care into all my relationships, but that’s actually a healthy and reasonable thing to do.

There’s also the DiSC personality test where I show as primarily conscientious, but under stress I become dominant. What that also says about me is that I’m often happier in a team or underling role, but can lead when needed.

What else? Well, I’ve taken other tests that pinpoint me as 67% introvert and 33% extrovert. My friends reading this up until now were probably unconvinced that I’m an introvert because they’ve seen me be pretty extroverted. The life of the party even at times. But it’s not my default setting 😉

And I do make use of all of this in martial arts. I need to understand the why while learning kata because it helps me do the kata correctly. And correctness is important to me even if my skill isn’t at a level where I can achieve it. I help organize things and happily let others do the speaking, but I’m okay running the odd class when no one of higher rank can make it. I actually love our free practice nights the most because I can work on what I feel will help me improve at a pace that works for me.

I also like trying new things if only to experience something I haven’t before.

But I hate when people try to condescend me or infantilize me. I also don’t like being with a drill sergeant.

I can’t tell you if I’m type A or B at this point. I’m very driven, but I don’t feel the need to hassle others to be as driven as me because I know we all do things on our own time. Everyone’s path is different. I also know that success isn’t governed by following the same path up the mountain. Some seem amazing in the short-term, but many things take a level of persistence that few possess, so others may seem like they are fantastic until they burn out.

I’m also a fiery woman with French, Swedish, and Scottish heritage who has had a variety of other experiences that influence my personality in ways that go deeper than any test can likely capture. Perhaps this is where I get my courage from.

But I’m also a Gryfferin. That’s a mix of the Gryffindor and Slytherin Harry Potter houses.

I also have this need deep within to help make the world a better place. At one time, I thought social work was the way to do that, but it turns out that there are many people who are far better at social work than I am. What I realized is that I can do good things with my writing if I’m responsible with it.

What is your Myers-Briggs type? If you practice, what kind of martial art do you prefer the most? If you don’t practice, why not? Are you just a fan of the movies and/or UFC? Are you afraid? Are you too busy?

R~