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Thrown flat on my face

It's a blessing to help someone grow in confidence--even if it hurts a little

In This Issue:

Flat on My Face

How a sad, aging woman found new meaning in her life when she beat the cr*p out of me

Tools and Talismans (New!)

How to capture, organize and use everything. Plus a writer’s productivity hack and an pep talk from Denzel Washington.

Feature: Thrown flat on my face

Robin hobbled into the dojo, barely able to walk, and burst into tears when the Sensei asked her how she was doing.

This 73-year-old woman was in constant pain because of her arthritis and other issues. She had just put down her ailing dog that morning. It was the anniversary of her husband’s death.

I started doing Aikido about two years ago for fun, fitness, and personal development. But the stakes were much higher for Robin.

I wouldn’t know her full story for a while. Over the next few weeks she would sit on the mat, or sometimes lay on her back, watch what we were doing, and try her best to imitate the stretches and other movements.

Robin gradually gained strength and flexibility, and shared more of her story as she got more involved in the class. She had been sexually assaulted twice, and wanted to learn to protect herself. Recovering her health and fitness was icing on the cake.

Last week, I was asked to be uke Robin for her 9th Kyu exam. This means I had to punch and grab her in various ways, and “receive” her technique. She told me she was terrified.

Then she threw me flat on my face in eight different ways.

Look, watching someone grow strong and confident is one of the things I live for. If I get to play a role in that growth, it’s a gift and a blessing. (Even if it comes with a bit of physical pain…)

After the test, I learned what was really motivating Robin.

She said, “I’m going to earn my black belt, even if I’m 80 years old.”

I don’t doubt her for a second. Earning a black belt is her Ithaka. She said it’s brought meaning to her life.

We are wired to be goal-achieving, meaning-making machines. Neuroscience backs this up. Many of the pleasure/reward systems in your brain are triggered by achieving a goal.

This is one of the main reasons it’s so easy to become addicted to Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and games of all kinds.

When you take the steps to reach an inspiring goal, you immediately boost your resilience and your confidence.

So I want to leave you with a question. What is your Ithaka? What big goals are you chasing?

Tools and Talismans

How Paulo Coelho overcomes writer’s block (it works for other things, too)

A pep talk from Denzel Washington (cued to the most important part)

Want to capture, organize, and use everything you read, watch, or listen to? You need Billy Oppenheimer’s notecard system