Thursday, October 18, 2012

I'm still here

Just wanted to quickly say "hi" and let you know that I'm still here!

I am working on another post about my shoulder injury and subsequent surgery. Perhaps not the most exciting stuff, but there is a good moral to the story, AND I've got high def pictures of the inside of my shoulder. Pretty cool stuff. I hope to have that up later today.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A secret I learned about Google Calendar and iOS

I hear complaints every day about iOS devices. One of the biggest complaints I hear is that the native calendar is useless to them because they can't sync with multiple calendars from Google. Today I learned that they actually can and how to do it. So, before you toss your iPhone for an Android one, try this.

Assuming you have already have your Google account set up on your iOS device and can see your primary calendar, this is how to get the rest of your Google calendars to sync:

  • Go to
    (Google Apps users can go to, replacing 'your_domain' with your actual domain name.)
  • Select the calendars you want to sync with your iOS device
  • Save your settings

That's it. All your selected Google calendars should appear on your device once it syncs again. Full instructions from Google (including how to add your Google account to the device) can be found here.

If this doesn't work for you, or you have any other questions, please let me know. I'll be more than happy to find the answers for you.

Friday, September 21, 2012


I can't believe it's been almost a year and half since I last made an entry here. I was hoping to keep this blog updated and current (I always say that, don't I?), but life keeps getting in the way. I felt a great deal of guilt when I realized that I was actually still getting page views when there was nothing new to see.

So, let's talk about the topic of the day - change. Change is one of those things in life that we can't avoid, and is sometimes hard to accept. It often happens gradually, sometimes imperceptibly, as we go about our daily life. Sometimes, things change quite suddenly and we are taken by surprise. Change can be good or bad, but that often depends on your attitude and/or perspective.

In the time since my last entry here, my life has changed quite dramatically. It has changed in ways I would never have foreseen and certainly didn't expect. The last time you heard from me, dear reader, I was living with Chris and our four wonderful children in a big house, with a very comfortable lifestyle. From an outside perspective, I'm sure my life looked pretty good. That was a beautiful illusion. It wasn't  good at all, and it really needed to change.

Last July, I made the decision to move out of the family home and into an apartment nearby. I hoped the move would be temporary and that, with good counseling and some breathing space between us, Chris and I could work things out. After a few months of marriage counseling, it was clear to me that leaving was the right thing to do and that our marriage was beyond repair. It was at this point that I told Chris that I definitely wanted to get divorced. This decision was difficult and painful, especially since the children were living with him, and I knew that they were counting on my moving back home after a few months. Telling my kids that I wasn't ever going to come home to live with them was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.

Fast forward to the current situation. The divorce is not final yet, but life is moving toward an new "normal" for us. The kids live in the family home with Chris, but they get to be with me twice during the week and every other weekend. In December, Dave, my sword sensei and good friend moved into my apartment with me. He was also in the process of getting divorced and it seemed smart to pool our resources, rather than maintain two apartments. Not surprisingly, getting divorced can be rather expensive! We were later even able to move into a larger apartment, which made things more comfortable for the kids.

I was one of the lucky ones. Chris and I were able to work out the details of our separation and child custody without the interference of lawyers. This was of great benefit to everyone, not just financially, but emotionally. Not only did we save an enormous amount of money, but we managed to get through a very painful process in a civil and mature manner and without the kids feeling caught in the middle. Don't get me wrong, this was still very hard on everyone, but I think that we did better than average at getting through it, without doing unnecessary harm to anyone involved. Like I said, I was one of the lucky ones. (Disclaimer: Avoiding lawyers, although theoretically a good idea, is not for everyone. From a legal perspective it could be very risky. This is especially true if there is any reason to believe that your spouse cannot be trusted or the two of you can't have a civil conversation. That said, I would recommend mediation before throwing large sums of money at lawyers. You might be surprised at how little assets there are left to fight about after you're both done paying your lawyers!)

When all is said and done, I think we will all be better off in the long run and I am already happier with my life than I have ever been. The only thing that could be better would be to have more time with the kids. The funny thing is that, now, from an outside perspective, my life would probably seem worse, rather than better. Let's see, I live in a much smaller place, I don't have much money, I don't get to see my kids as much as I'd like to, Dave just got deployed to Afghanistan and I'm currently recovering from surgery I recently had on my shoulder to fix an injury that happened way back in April! Despite all that, I'm still pretty happy. It's amazing how changing one really big thing in your life can make everything else seems pretty small by comparison.

What do YOU need to change to be happy? Think about it.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Random musings

I've been letting things slip too much lately and this blog is severely neglected. I'm going to try to find a place in my daily routine to fit it in. An unfortunate consequence may be that, although entries may come more often, they might not be that exciting. For now, my plan is to share random thoughts and philosophical musings. I hope, dear reader, that you find them worthwhile. Here goes...

Today, I want you to think about how often you smile. I've noticed that people smile for a variety of reasons. You might smile because you're feeling happy or maybe you are amused by something you heard or thought. Do you smile back when someone smiles at you? Smiling is rather contagious. I like to think of smiling as a gift of kindness to the people around you. Try to always smile, even when you don't really feel like it. Chances are, you'll make others feel good and it may even make you feel better in the process.

Think about it and smile!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Ah, Easter, a time of celebration and new beginnings. I like to think of Easter as the beginning of Christianity. Sure Jesus had followers before his death and resurrection, but they were relatively few. I'm guessing that many, many more took notice afterwards. How humbling to know that ANYONE would suffer and die for our sins, let alone God's only Son. How wonderful that God should raise him from the dead to show us that we too could have eternal life with Him!

Anyway, religious ramblings aside, I wish you all a happy Easter. May your your day be filled with peace and love, regardless of your beliefs!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Chicago recap

Rather than retyping everything about my trip to Chicago, I will share with you the account that I shared with my Mugai group here in Virginia:

Hi Everyone,

Now that I'm fairly well rested and can think clearly, I'll share my experience in Chicago (I apologize in advance for the length).

I arrived Thursday evening, so I could get some rest before training on Friday morning. As it turned out, it was a very wise decision. I don't think I would have survived all that training coming straight from the airport (like Dave did, ouch). Needless to say, I'm tired and sore, but I also came home strangely energized by the incredibly positive experience I had out there. The training may have been brutal, but it was well worth it, as I learned a great deal.

On Friday morning we started off by going over hashirigakari. Since these are my weakest kata, I welcomed the chance to practice them under Alvarez-sensei's guidance (thankfully, he is a very patient man). We spent a good deal of time going over various aspects of timing and other little details. Next we had lunch delivered to the dojo, and we got to spend most of that time listening to Alvarez-sensei tell stories of his various adventures. After lunch we worked on shoto kumitachi for (Dave wasn't kidding) FOUR hours. Alvarez-sensei showed us how to work jujutsu in there to make it more effective. Later we worked on daito kumitachi and we learned some tips and tweaks there, as well.

On Saturday we worked on various kneeling and standing kata before we all went out for lunch. After lunch was shinsa. I'm disappointed that Alberto didn't share his feelings about the testing experience (hint, hint). I know how much he put into preparing and he deserves our congratulations. I found it very helpful to watch the testing. It's always nice to see how things work before you actually have to do them. If anyone is wondering why I didn't test for shodan, it really all came down to cutting. There wasn't any time to practice cutting before shinsa, and Alvarez-sensei is now requiring gyaku-kesa for shodan. I was already feel shakey about my cutting and I couldn't imagine attempting something I'd never even tried before during the actual test. You can all be sure that I'll be pushing for lots of cutting so I can be confident when the next testing opportunity comes along. :)

Anyway, after shinsa, I really enjoy watching the "disposal" of the extra mats. It was especially interesting to watch Alvarez-sensei teach someone who'd never cut mats before how to cut. Of, course, it was great to watch him do his own cutting. He's pretty amazing. After we cleaned all that up we worked on habiki no kata (Mugai kenjutsu) and then Shinto Ryu shoto kenjutsu. As with the kumitachi, Alvarez-sensei stressed the importance of jujutsu principles and how they relate to kenjutsu. Very informative stuff. Unfortunately, we missed the Shinto Ryu daito kenjutsu, which they covered on Sunday.

The intense training was well balanced by the social side of the trip. I have to admit, when Alberto and I arrived at the dojo on Friday morning, I was nervous and a little intimidated, but it didn't last long. Everyone was supportive, helpful and best of all, fun. I can't say enough about how welcome Brian and his group made me feel. By lunch time, they had me feeling like family. Honestly, if you walked in on Friday afternoon, you'd already think we'd all been training together at that dojo for years. I'll spare the details, but some of the social highlights were a group dinner on Friday night, then on Saturday, a crazy road trip to Denny's and lunch at a place with really weird decor. Oh yes, and I vaguely recall something about pitchers of margaritas on Saturday night. :)

Before this gets any longer (I really could go on and on) I'll end by saying that this was an amazing trip and I am extremely fortunate to have been able to attend. I came to realize that I really am a part of a wonderful extended family of Mugai students that will welcome me anywhere and I'm more excited about Mugai than ever. I'm already looking forward to the next trip, whenever that may be. I also want to step up my training. So who's up for starting to train 2 days a week. :)

If you made it this far, thanks for reading and I apologize if any (or all) of it made no sense!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Greetings from Chicago!

I'm in Chicago, even as I type this. Believe it or not, this is the first time I've ever traveled more than a couple hundred miles away from home BY MYSELF. Yes, I've lived an extremely sheltered life, but there's a first time for everything, right?

Anyway, I'm here for Mugai Ryu seminars and to maybe (big maybe) test for shodan. Now I know I mentioned previously that shodan is like a black belt, but it isn't the kind of black belt that most people think of. It doesn't mean you're an expert. In many Japanese martial arts shodan means more along the lines of dedicated beginner. It's a lifetime learning process, so I don't think the ranks are even that important in the grand scheme of things. So, I'm not promising anything, testing-wise, even though it would be nice to complete a goal ahead of schedule, for once.

Regardless of whether or not I end up testing I'm really looking forward to learning a lot this weekend. Tomorrow the seminars run from 11am until 7pm. I'm sure I'll be pretty wiped out, but I'll try to make an update before I turn in for the night.

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