WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: UNFOCUSED

I chose this picture because this person maintained extreme focus but the result was unfocused.

WTF – Watch the Force!

Master Daniel focused to break 10 boards with his hand!

BELT LESSONS!

As my daughter got into bed, we shared a few last words. To give her a mental boost for the remaining busy week, I raved how proud I felt for her keeping up and again, dangled the reward of a mellow Friday night approaching in 48 hours.  I asked if she felt proud of herself for her report card and upcoming belt test. [Cue: Rolling eyes] “YeeEEESS Mom!”  Then I turned her attention to her Tae Kwon Do belt rack containing only one last empty spot and the excitement and the pride washed across her face as she replayed the last 18 months in her head measuring how far she’d come!

Stars in her eyes!

I love that in eighteen months, they earn the achievement of a black belt – but more, feel the confidence of the journey. They celebrate individual victories progressing through each belt, earning a special “Best Student” stripe in class, or most-improved for that belt! I love that they share this journey with each other!  On the mat, they respect each other, because they empathize and learn together.

First Tournament TOGETHER!

True, the initial motivation came from me.  When first considering Tae Kwon Do, the primary goals I saw were for self-preservation for my son on the Middle School black top, and for my daughter on dates!  I wanted them to develop innate skills and confidence to take someone down but, equally as important, have the self-control to stop.  My son’s going to be a tall kid, and I’ll admit, we have passionate blood in the family. Thus far, he’s a gentle giant who doesn’t recognize his own power, but that attracts its own bullies. If ever facing a bully, I want him to respect that boundaries exist.

I’ll admit that part of my motivation came from my own childhood of dabbling, never sticking with one thing longer than a few years.  We can evaluate my Gemini tendencies or childhood patterns some other post.  When I saw a three-year plan yielding so many things I hoped for my kids, I couldn’t see reasons why not to.

Had the kids hated it, we’d have stopped after the first belt. Fortunately they love it and that, too, grows with each belt!

Ready for anything!

WANDERING INTO FOREIGN TERRITORY

Today seemingly random sequences of events caught my attention and changed my focus.  I believe that nothing happens coincidentally. This year, my goal continues to ride every wave no matter how far or deep I need to swim.

Beautiful flowers in Seoul…

A thank you letter for a donation in honor of the recently passed Father John P. Daly landed on my desk requiring my bosses’ signature. My boss stopped his speeding train of thought to mention that Father Daly was an amazing man who did significant years of work with Korea and was crucial to the growth of the college’s Asian Studies program. Since Father Daly’s name inspires a smile on the face of anyone who speaks of him, I looked for an obituary.

I read that shortly after taking his Jesuit vows he rooted himself in Korea during a critical period from 1963 – 1975.  My curiosity flared and launched me in a full-circle moment.

I came to America through Holt International Knowing a religious undertone existed at the adoption agency, I wanted to know if Father Daly shared ties.  While I never located a link, I sparked some clarity on a 25 year-old question.

My parents explained that the end-result of the Korean War, the devastated country resulted in families leaving babes to adopt. One person pointed out, “The Korean War ended in the 50’s?!”  Truthfully I had no response and with history being my weakest subject – I wasn’t interested in finding one then.

Now, I feel like returning to the start could sculpt a more 3-D image of my past.  I am less interested in long-lost relatives, more interested in the time before I left Korea – warm fuzzy stories like the political climate, born as a half-blooded Korean and other societal factors that launched me towards the states. I live the fairy tale – how I’d literally been abandoned until someone found me and turned me into an orphanage, I fortunately came to America and never looked back.  But, it’s part of me.

I listed Going to Korea as one of my “101 in 1001 goals,” but don’t want to visit, I want to understand Korea. Father Daly’s influence on people to learn about Korea continues.

KOREAN TO THE CORE (PEPPERED WITH PAPRIKAS)

I am ½ Korean, born and left in Seoul, S. Korea but saved then raised in America. Even now, my culture feels foreign to me. I don’t know my other ethnic half, so I claim Hungarian/Swedish thanks to my parents. Trader Joes creates my Korean dishes but I whip up Chicken Paprikas almost from memory. I don’t feel displaced having not identified with Koreans before. Now, I’m mature enough to savor the experience.

Growing up in Maryland, I never knew any Asians. Upon returning from a Sarasota trip at age 5, my incredibly dark tan convinced me of my Native American Princess heritage, living with the pale skins until my painted pony rescued me from the suburbs and whisked me away to the wilderness.

My parents had a few Korean keepsakes but I had no idea what being “Korean” meant. I did get a full-Korean sister then a blonde baby sister who thought she was 5% Korean by association. Still, discussions of heritage come last, if at all, after taunting, teasing and tattling.

Upon moving to California, I instantly bonded with a fellow ½ Asian gal until I changed schools the next year. I didn’t see another Asian child until one started in 5th. Although, it didn’t help with categorizing me because I looked too exotic to be white and too cow-licked to be Asian.

This continued until my 20’s when I found out a co-worker was adopted (though domestic, not Korean). Weaving a common thread with someone that held roots in my childhood, I craved to weave others. My first conscious exposure to Korean culture was sampling kimchi at Costco. Soon followed a trip to a Korean restaurant with a trusted friend to handle ordering. Eventually, my kids’ births cured me of wanting to look like anyone.

Since then I’ve had all sorts of friends continue my Asian education. I traveled to Asian countries, but not yet Seoul. My Kor(ter)ean kids speak more Korean than I thanks to Tae Kwon Do. Their studio hosts a trip to Seoul every few years, so when my kids reach black belt, we’ll take that trip of a lifetime to celebrate the end their journey and the start of mine.

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