Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A New Short Story - "Karate Mom"


     What is the best metaphor for the karate punch?  In other words, what is the best way to execute one?  As the proud mom of kids in a bustling karate class, Chloe often wondered how her kids could pick up on the techniques so quickly, and seemingly, so easily as well.  All this went on, while she sat dumbfounded in the parents section, nodding and smiling and trying to be as congenial as she could possibly be.
     She generally pretended not to be lost in the class…
     The kids learned a few different moves every week, twice a week and they are tested at two to three month intervals for the acceleration of each belt.  Chloe is one of those parents who was constantly reading the flyers put up on the bulletin boards or any documentation for their next belt testing – just basically anything worded towards their karate goals, so that she might glean something from the whole process. 
      What the real treat is when some of the teacher’s female assistants teach his classes.  They are way younger than Chloe and she knows that if they can master their way through the art of karate, then maybe she can too (albeit as a bystander mom).
     She was reminded of stuffed animals….
     Drop a cotton ball into a teddy bear (instead of batting) and punch it down…for proper stuffing.  In other words compress and as it puffs up again, compress it some more.  Do this, she thought with a solid, yet appropriate…PUNCH!  That was the technique that Chloe came up with -  to drop in a piece of stuffing, then punch it down– with a compressing motion.  In other words; drop in a stuffing object, then punch to compress and stuff again.  Same went with that karate kick….she told herself. 
Stuff-compress…
     The karate teacher adored all his students and wanted them to excel.  She went over it, over and over in her mind, and it was a valid punching style, that crossed over most of the karate moves…
      When Chloe discussed her stuff-compress technique with the instructor, he likened it to the drop-kick technique, where you drop a boxing glove from up on high above, then you punch it when it comes to within striking view.
     Now believe it or not, Chloe used to be more athletic, and back in college….
     She herself took karate lessons, and it had been one of the most awesome times of her life.
     She’s now constantly trying to watch her weight and she’s been told that even too much of any healthy food could cause weight gain and that exercise was always the key. 
     Chloe’s other college sport was bodybuilding….
     She took Bodybuilding 101 was her other physical education elective.  Lifting weights gave her strength.  That class had its share of written tests, as well as a check of how well you could keep a log of the number of sets and repetitions of the different exercises you did.
     Chloe then graduated onto a bodybuilding show….
     Then came the moment, when Chloe was approached by her instructor to participate in the college Bodybuilding Championships.  It was going to be her first amateur bodybuilding show ever and she was so excited! 
     Let’s just say that she weighed in at 117 pounds for that night of the competition.  That was the most important part for her, that she had made weight.  At that time, that made her feel comfortable. 
     Catching back up to the present Chloe is not just a karate mom anymore…    
     In all that transpired between Chloe’s college days and her present life, she became an online greeting card artist.
      Her designs are fun, whimsical, unique and different.  Everywhere she went, she was reminded that there was a woman within that wanted to be sculpted out of the few pounds of padding she had added to her weight since college.
     The museums she frequented to get ideas for her greeting cards as well as the numerous books she had read all inspired her to reach within herself to become the best that she could be, to emerge from that transitional sedentary attitude that she had come to adopt.
     Coming away from sitting at the computer from what seemed like the entire day one afternoon she made herself a cup of tea and reflected on where her life had led her.  With a smile, she started a journal and titled it “Woman Within.”
     She began keeping a record of what she was doing to feel centered again.  Within the journal, she pasted-in the front covers of some of her greeting cards and she wrote captions for each of them.  There was a story behind each greeting card and from memory, she wrote about what inspired her to do each particular design.     
     The words didn’t come easily at first, but in time the pages became balanced between text and greeting card graphics.  She became so interested in what she wrote that she signed up for a creative writing course at the local community college.
  With a backpack in hand, she sat down in the back of the class and absorbed her instructor’s lectures without raising her hand too much.  Worlds of wonder began to open up for her as she read page after page of the accompanying textbook, which was filled with samples of the popular short stories.
     As part of the class assignments, she began to compose her own short stories and became aware that she had a knack for writing effective ones.  She soon advanced to the intermediate creative writing class after that one and began to choose her topics selectively.  Chloe did not write about the negative, she wrote about the positive things in life and she was always happy with the way each short story shaped up to be.
     She began to enter short story contests and began to set up writing deadlines for herself.  She weaved in her artwork for the online greeting card site during her writing while still remaining karate mom for her kids.  The writing gave her just the right amount of extra activity in order for her to back way from being so sedentary.
     Chloe began to re-assess herself on a regular basis.  Much like how she arranges her sock drawer as a beginning to taking inventory of her household, she will sit down and use her effective words to describe where she is in her everyday goals.
     Mechanical and electronic parts periodically need systems checks, so why not give myself a routine systems check too? She began to query herself one sparkling day. 
     She joined online writing communities where she received feedback on her first few short stories.  Chloe also joined an ‘online-weight-loss-through-diet-and-exercise’ group.  At that point in her life, she finally felt centered again.
     What is my assessment of myself today? She would ask herself on any given day and the resulting ‘self-assessment-report’ was always dramatic.  Mainly her goal shifted from once-upon-a-time trying to always ‘make weight,’ to now crafting the best individual short stories that she possibly could write.
     Then something dramatic really happened, she strung together 23 of her short stories one day, and found that she had virtually written a novel!  With a lot of tweaking, a good edit from a fellow writer and numerous cups of coffee later, she was ready to self-publish.
     The self-publishing company she signed with, immediately made e-books of both her short stories and her completed novel.  Chloe couldn’t have been happier!  She now had printed copies of her work both in print and in e-book format at her disposal.
     Inside her Woman Within journal, she still added graphics form the greeting cards she had designed and they seemed to steer her writing and therefore, also her self-assessments because they were like junctions of where her life was heading.  Each one continues to tell a story and each one is likely to be a snapshot of what she will write about next.
     One of her favorite advices from her creating writing teacher was to always ‘mix-it-up,’ to not stagnate and to always focus on the goal of being an effective writer.
     Some days Chloe still behaves as if she was still preparing for her first bodybuilding competition all those years ago.  She still hydrates herself with lots of water and she still tries to inspire herself to go ahead and exercise.  When the exercise doesn’t happen, she will do an ‘on-the-spot’ systems check.  She will ask herself questions like Did I not buy enough yogurt?  Was I not honest enough with my trainer about my weight?
     As far as exercise goes, she could never really pin-point a definitive analysis of her self-assessments regarding that, but with her creative writing, she was always right on top of things.
     Chloe is now always distracted with trying to figure out what her next short story will be about.  Her outlook holds a lot of clarity these days because she will stumble upon story ideas that are so cute and funny sometimes, that she just can’t wait to start writing about them.
     She is karate mom, an Internet greeting card artist, a short story writer and now has become….a novelist!
    

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