Last week we were asked to focus on intent while doing our Kung Fu. I needed to work on this area more than what I was expecting once I started to be mindful of it.

At work I have been concentrating on "where am I and what am I doing" but the last few days I have added "what is my intent for this 15 minutes?" and this has been improving my focus.  I use the "where am I and what am I doing" as a tool to catch myself when distracted and bring my attention back but by adding the "what is my intent for this 15 minutes?" it gives me direction and purpose.  If I use more than 15 minutes, it is too easy to let something else become the priority.  Any less time and I cannot complete a task.

Let’s talk about distractions..... I do not multitask well.  I am easily distracted so I need to focus on one thing and do it well and then move onto the next.  I am an auditory learner.  So this means when my thoughts are racing around in my head, I will try to talk them out to get them organized and bring them into some kind of logical plan.  So it should come as no surprise that my team has given me squirrel posters, they know how to distract me when I start bugging them about vacation hours, and they have bets on how long I can keep our team meetings on track.  Now that being said, I have an awesome team that works well together and really does support each other.

Using Kung Fu techniques at work has helped me tremendously this last year and I know that I will be pulling on these more as the year proceeds.  We always talk about how we can bring Kung Fu into our everyday lives but I want to talk about how we can bring our everyday things into Kung Fu.  I know that I am easily distracted so during class I have been trying very hard to make sure my attention is dedicated to my Sifu and my lesson.  I am trying to be aware of events or actions that may trigger a response (mental, emotional, etc) and ask myself "why is this happening, does this happen outside of the kwoon, and what can I do to change it".  We all have things that we bring into the kwoon but it is how we deal with these that makes the difference.  I am using opportunities in the kwoon to improve self-awareness and work on things I need to change and this becomes easier when I think of intent.

Jackie Kohut

Week 44

A Fly landed at the edge of a puddle to drink and wash his face and hands.  He could feel the cold coming off the water, and when he touched it, it did not give way.  It moved beneath his touch and rippled but he could not press through the surface.  The Fly thought this was strange, so he tried again to touch the water, pushing harder.  Again the water recoiled and shimmered, not giving way, but this time he heard a protest as faint as the spring breeze.  "Please don't do that, it hurts me."

Confused, the Fly looked deep into the puddle to see who has spoken.  There were no others, only his reflection.  "Who are you?" asked the Fly. "I'm a Snowman" was the response.  The Fly looked all around.  He had never heard of a Snowman before.  He strained and strained to see this new creature, but all he found was the water.  "Where are you?" asked the Fly.  "I'm right here in front of you, you keep pushing on me trying to take some of me away."

Shocked and shamed that he had caused harm he tried again to locate the Snowman.  "Are you in the puddle? Do you live in the water?" asked the Fly.  "I am the water" said the Snowman.  The Fly tilted his head to the side, "I don't understand. If you are water, then you are not a Snowman."  The puddle shimmered and waved.  "I am a Snowman, the Sun has changed me."  The Fly thought he understood, having gone through many changes himself.  "Were you always a Snowman before the Sun changed you?" asked the Fly.  "I have had many changes in my life.  I started as an egg, then became a larva, and when I was old enough I became a Fly.  The sun gave me warmth, the world gave me food an water and time gave me growth."

The Fly was very proud that he understood.  The Snowman was less impressed. "You are only a Fly, a small thing.  I was the Ocean. The Sun warmed me and I flew up to him.  I found others like me and became a Cloud.  When the Sun turned away we got cold and became Snow.  We floated back to the Earth and became her blanket.  Then the children came along and bound us together into a Snowman.  I am a grand thing, you are not."

The Fly was hurt by this Snowman's words.  "Perhaps I am small, but I help the world.  Through out my life I clean the world.  I consume that which cannot be consumed and return it to the Earth. When I fly, my wings clean the air and my fur helps pollinate the grass, flowers and trees when I move among them. I have value, just as you do."

"Hardly," rippled the Snowman, "you do not bring joy.  You do not provide a home. When I was the Ocean, I was a home for the creatures.  When I was a Cloud I would change my shape and the people would admire me and guess what I was.  When I was Snow, I was pristine and beautiful.  And when I was a Snowman, they laughed and played with me.  They gave me a name and I was valued.  You are just a Fly.  You are ugly and you annoy people.  You do not bring them joy."

The Fly was silent a moment.  The Snowman, having established his importance spread out in the sunlight, pleased with himself.  When the fly spoke again, his voice was quiet and strong. "I am a Fly, and I have value regardless if you see it or not.  I may not have beauty, but I also do not have cruelty.  I help others and do my work without malice or vanity.  I do not speak to others to make them feel as though they are less than what they are, that they have no value.  And when you told me you were hurt, I tried to understand you so that it would not happen again.  Perhaps you were all of those things once.  Ocean, Cloud, Snowman.  Perhaps you did bring joy to others.  But now you are a puddle, one that is without joy or kindness.  You are a jaded puddle who judges others worth by their similarity to you and not for their own abilities.  You are a dark puddle and one I do not wish to be near." 

The Fly took to the sky and did not look back.  The Snowman stared after him, furious that such a lowly creature would speak to him that way.  He turned his face back to the Sun, waiting for the warm rays to bring him back up to the sky and begin again the cycle.  But something was wrong.  He felt heavy.  Slowly he realized he was sinking into the dirt beneath the grass.  He called out, but there was no one to hear.  Bit by bit he was absorbed into the ground with no one there to be joyed by his existence. The Snowman realized too late the value of the companionship and compassion offered by the Fly. 

The Fly flew around the meadow.  He landed beside a puddle clear and cold, far away from the other one.  The Suns rays dancing on it's surface, sparkling and bright.  The fly looked deep into the water. "Are you a Snowman?" asked the Fly.

Lisa Freitag

Once upon a time, a long time ago . . .

Yesterday I ran across this picture of my first day of Kung Fu. Looking at how the height difference between Kayden and I has reversed itself, tells me it’s been a while. 

Like many others, I started as the mom and wife on the sidelines. One whispered ‘that looks like fun’ had my husband placing a uniform in my hands saying ‘you start on Monday.’ It was a cold weekend in our home.However, what was a bit of an unconventional start began a journey that lasted a distance with many valleys, long climbs, and downhills out of control along with mountain tops that would take my breath away. As I look at this photo I remember very clearly what it was about Kung Fu and more specifically Silent River that caught my interest and continued to bring me back through the doors every class.What I remember standing out was the respect, humility, hard work and compassion I saw being taught and practiced.I saw Silent River as a school that placed value and instilled qualities that I held high and ones that complimented what I believed and tried to practice in my own life. These are the qualities that still today I believe build men and women of character and integrity, something lacking in so many these days.

I have learned so many lessons in the last 12 years, been given opportunities to grow and contribute to the community and world I live, and I am thankful for each one. I know that the last 12 years have helped reinforce that what I put into something will determine what I get out. If I invest little or nothing, I can’t rightfully expect much in return. I have gained a confidence to try things that at an earlier time I allowed fear to hold me back from. I have been inspired and motivated to push and pursue. I have built meaningful relationships while sharing sweat and tears and even blood with some wonderful people. So for all of these moments and memories I am very grateful.

Alana Regier

Community Engagement

This weekend we did the Salvation Army Adopt a Kettle and even though many of the Sifus and Candidates were busy grading, all shifts were filled and it went smooth with only a couple of minor bumps.  This couldn't have been accomplished without everyone not only coming to help, but going above and beyond as well, some staying late and others doing double shifts.  I was prepared to fill in wherever was needed but the few times that I stopped to check in, all I received was a "don't worry, we got this". What an awesome group!

So what did we accomplish?  We pulled together to raise money for a good cause.  We worked together to support the local Salvation Army, for people who will be needing help especially during the holiday season.  Not bad for only an hour (or two) commitment.  As part of Silent River Kung Fu, giving back to the community is an important part of our training and engagement. This is something that I can improve on because doing community work should not be something I just fit into my schedule.  The more I understand how I can help, the easier it is to flex my schedule to ensure I can make these things happen.

Another community event that we also participate in is the Adopt a Driveway program.  We go and shovel the walks and driveway for a an elderly couple who are so appreciative of our efforts.  If you would like to help with this, please contact someone from the I Ho Chuan team or a Sifu. Many shovels make light work.

Thank you to everyone who takes time to support our community.  For all those that helped at the Salvation Army Adopt a Kettle, a huge thank you as well!  

Jackie Kohut