That's what taekwondo is doing... and I love it. I adore the feeling of being drenched in sweat, breathing hard, trying desperately to contain your heart in your chest because it's beating so hard you fear it might escape. I used to hate that feeling because it made me feel out of shape and ugly. It still does, but now I know it's the feeling of getting stronger and healthier. It takes my body less time to recover from exertion than it used to. I think that's the strongest sign I've had yet of improved fitness.
Today I did these leap frog things with Sa Beom Nim. What you do is one person bends over and makes a gymnastics vault with their back for the other person to straddle jump over them. Samantha and I have done them before and I always feel bad because I'm so heavy and awkward I know it can't be easy, but today she was a little sick so Sa Beom Nim filled in. I swear the man is made entirely of muscle. It's amazing how solid his back is. If I have a quarter of that muscle tone when I leave Korea--or at any point in my lifetime (let alone when I'm 40 like him), I'll be thrilled. Seriously.
As a green belt, I've been learning the sa jang pumsae (품새 사장) or the fourth of the eight color belt forms before black belt testing. I realize that it's pointless to say that this is a really hard form compared to the first three because I'm figuring out that each form is progressively more complex than the previous ones, incorporating more stances and moves than the previous forms. Nonetheless, this one feels like the biggest leap from the previous form. It has a totally different rhythm and feel from the first three forms (which all begin with the same basic first move). It has side kicks (which are just entirely evil beasts unto themselves) and all kinds of back stance moves. Working on it has definitely improved my back stance, but at the beginning I felt like I might never master this one. It can be such a beautiful form and I butcher it so badly...
But the good news is that Sa Beom Nim said he's giving me a new belt Monday and we'll start the fifth form. Yay! It's amazing how much progress I've made. I guess going every day will do that to you, right?
And for those of you concerned that I sounded "down" yesterday, I was a little. I meditated for the first time in months last night. I feel a lot more centered and at peace. I reminded myself of the spiritual growth aspects of why I'm here--testing myself and my ability to survive and thrive independently, learning new things especially new perspectives on the world, focusing on improving my writing, finding some inner peace and getting to know myself better--and I realized that indeed, I am making a lot of progress on those fronts. I am even more grateful for blogging as it has helped both with advancing many of these goals and reminding me that I am achieving them.
I think the ups and downs of life so far from here feel more dramatic being so far from what I've known all my life as "normal." And that's ok if I recognize it for what it is. 주말 잘 보네세요, everyone! (Have a good weekend).