I recently celebrated (and I mean that in the fullest, truest sense) my 50th birthday. Although I'm generally not one for long periods of reflecting on my life, much less making resolutions and establishing yearly (or longer) goals, there's something about reaching the half-century mark during a time of major life changes that seems to lend itself to that kind of activity. Mostly, I think, I was prompted by the realization that my life is going really well right now, and that I'm currently being presented with some exciting opportunities.
As I considered all of this, I found my mind falling into something akin to what the business folks call a SWOT analysis, a tool used for strategic planning. SWOT stands for "Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats." I no longer remember what the differences are between strengths and opportunities, weaknesses and threats, but the general framework appeals to me. I've been promising myself time to play with it here, and the time has arrived.
I have a lot going for me right now -- strengths and opportunities both. My daughter is living more-or-less on her own and I don't need to structure my life so much around hers. My husband is wonderfully supportive of anything and everything I do. As sad as my parents' passing was, they left us with a level of financial security that allows a little more freedom than we had before. Work is going well; although I'm very busy, I have a flexible schedule and can generally get away with a 40-hour week; I have time to do other things. I'm in better health and physical shape than I've ever been in my life; I have the energy and ability to pursue both mental and physical challenges. Both my new karate school and new barn are making me very happy. My personal trainer has stepped up my workouts and we're starting to do some serious weight work, which is great fun.
Work has offered some new opportunities and challenges that I've been enjoying immensely. I've been involved in some new campus-wide initiatives that have let me stretch my brain while working in exactly the kind of environment that should (but seldom does) characterize academia: collegial, interesting, intellectually challenging, and just generally fun. A real change from the mire that is our department at thye moment . . .
In martial arts, I've recently joined the Board of Directors of one the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors and begun to really sink my teeth into a host of new tasks. At long last, I'm getting serious about studying self-defense as an enterprise separate from the martial arts, and am actively pursuing my instructor certification through the National Womens Martial Arts Federation. This, in part, because my karate teacher hopes to have me take over the women's self-defense programming at the school, which is pretty awesome.
I'm not anticipating riding in a lot of horse shows this year, but if Jordan heals up properly, my new trainer will ride her in some of the upper-end shows -- very exciting! My own lessons are going well. I'm not sure what happened, but a lot of my "jumping fear" has gone away and I'm starting to see some real progress there. I ride with some really fun adults, and am delighted with the move overall.
So that all sounds good. It is good. But I have to try to be at least a little realistic about what I want to accomplish over the next year or so. Although I'm stong and healthy, my joints aren't what they used to be, and I'm still prone to overtraining; I can't work out as hard and as often as I'd like. I'm still as likely as not to overcommit myself and wind up burning out, making myself crazy from trying to do too much, or just neglecting the finer points of self-care (quiet time with a good book, watching TV, hanging out with my husband, and even sleeping). I'm still struggling mightily with weight control, work still makes me crazy, and as comfortable as we are financially, I know I can't afford to show Jordan as much as I'd like (assuming she's as fit as we hope).
Given all that, what can I reasonably hope for? Barring accident and/or injury, I think I'll have my karate curriculum complete to black belt level by the end of the year. I've committed to trying my best to achieve Gracie blue belt level at the same time (which is necessary, among other things, for an NKA black belt -- it's not just about the karate). That'll be tight, but I should at least get pretty close. I hope to make a good start toward my self-defense certification and to at least start running a few of my own programs through the school. And I'm really excited about working with an excellent AWMAI Board to get some new policies and procedures in place to help the organization grow.
Somewhere in all of that I'm planning to take lots of time to groom and hang out with my horse, to goof off with my husband, see chick-flicks with my daughter, and see as many of my friends around the country as a strained travel budget will permit. Oh yeah -- and go to Ireland and get an awesome new tattoo.
Sounds like a good plan to me . . .