We are in a profession where the demands are high and never-ending. Immediately after you achieve that lofty goal (1M in fundraising?) there’s another bigger milestone to reach.
That is why I want to share this important lesson that came from an unexpected place.
I started taking karate when I was seventeen (way back in the 1980’s).
My nineteen year-old boyfriend was already going three or four times a week and after every class I wanted to hear ALL the details… what did he learn, what kind of warmups do they do before class, is it really possible to defend against an attacker that has a knife??
And are there women in the class?
“Of course, there are women in the class… one of them is in her 40’s and could kick my butt”.
What? A woman as old as forty?
To a 17-year-old mind that was old! And after all, I had only ever seen men as the karate-type.
I was more than curious. And ready to jump into action.
At my first karate class I learned how to punch properly so I wouldn’t crush my hand in the process. Not only was it fun and a great workout, but the feeling of empowerment was huge!
My instructor taught me front punches, roundhouse kicks, jump spinning kicks, blocks, and so many other techniques. At times the entire class would be focused on what happens if your attacker has a knife or if there are multiple attackers in a situation.
I was hooked.
But it was more than the fun.
Part of the reason karate has so much appeal for me was the trend that most violent crimes and sexual assaults were committed by men on women. So by taking karate I was buying myself the freedom to do things in the world and still be able to protect myself. Things that men could do without giving it a second thought… like running alone in the woods, walking to my car in a parking lot after dark, or solo travel to another country.
Karate gave me freedom. Confidence. And incredible strength and flexibility.
But the most important lesson came directly from my teacher, Mark, years after I had stopped attending classes.
You see, Mark had made some life choices that didn’t serve him or his family very well.
And one day, all too soon and unexpected, he committed suicide by shot gun to the head.
My friend and black belt karate master!
A man who could defend against any attacks coming at him from anyone.
And yet a man that could not defend against the demons in his own mind.
He taught me the most important karate lesson of all… that the most difficult enemy isn’t the one in the woods, or in a dark parking lot… but perhaps the one within us that we live with every day.
For me, this is a reminder to be gentle with myself and others.
I wish you all the best this holiday season whether you’ve had a great year or one that you’d rather delete altogether. You are loved always!
Photo Credit: Tyler Nix https://unsplash.com/@nixcreative