Practicing TKD

My TKD classes take a a summer break and I love taking time away from that weekly routine.

I generally don’t need a break from TKD per se, I need a break from having to get to class twice a week at a specific time.

This year though, I also needed the physical break, the time away from the movements.

After the stress and pain around my Dad’s passing in May and the stress of scrambling to catch up on things in June, I needed to just let my body do what it wanted to do at whatever pace it wanted to do it for a while.

Today, though, it was time to get back to those movements and it felt really good.

I just did the first four patterns, relatively easy stuff that my brain and my muscles are very familiar with.

And it was fantastic.

I loved the almost meditative quality of those familiar movements, the ease of just letting my body do something it knows how to do.

And I felt very satisfied with the whole process when I was finished.

Self care for the win.

I’ve been looking forward to “summer break”

The only difference between my winter schedule, and my summer schedule is the fact that I don’t have taekwondo classes during the summer.

So I have been looking forward to “summer break” but without kids in school and with my various projects and tasks continuing into the summer things aren’t going to be all that different.

Except for the fact that my single regularly scheduled activity won’t be happening.

And I guess that change in routine is enough to shake things up a bit.

Freeing up two evenings and Saturday morning is enough to give me a feeling of expansiveness, like there is more time to do the things I want to do.

Yes, realistically, my TKD classes aren’t in the way of things I want to do but I have those evenings and Saturday mornings blocked off in my mental schedule so they feel like nothing else can go on around those times (this is a mental hurdle I’m working on.)

So, with those classes no longer a factor in my schedule, I really feel like I can explore what kind of summer I want to have, how I want to spend my time, how I can fully enjoy the extra freedom of a changed schedule, warmer weather (I hope!) and a clear idea of the things I want to do.

Now I just need to get that clear idea in place. 😉

Accessing Muscle Memory

In June 2022, I tested for my 4th degree blackbelt in Taekwondo and I had practiced the hell out of my last 3 patterns.

I had practiced them all, of course, but those last 3, my newest ones, those needed extra work.

By the time my test came round, I was pretty confident in them. I had to take the last one a little slower than it would normally be done but I still knew it.

My brain knew it and my body knew it.

Then summer came and I was working on other things.

And in the fall, I started a new pattern and those 3 recent ones didn’t come up all that often.

Should I have been practicing them regularly anyway? Of course I should have.

Did I practice them regularly? Sadly, no.

I think it’s hard for anyone to keep practicing things they don’t use regularly but my ADHD brain throws up some extra challenges for me when it comes to that stuff.

I have trouble prioritizing on the best of days so on any given day, I‘m probably not going to be able to prioritize something that isn’t urgent.

And with my, let’s call it fluid, sense of time, it can feel like I *just* practiced something and, in reality, months have passed.

So, basically, while these patterns are technically there, in my brain and in my muscles, they weren’t easily accessible.

I could do them step-by-step along with the group but I no longer had a feel for them and I knew I had to prioritize practicing them or I might end up burying them too deep to retrieve.

So, in the past week, I have tried 3-4 times to go through those patterns. The first one was no problem. The second one was rusty but mostly doable – just a few sticky spots.

The third one though? My brain was refusing to let me have that one at all.

I could do the first few movements but that was it.

Then, on Thursday past, my back was being a jerk so I couldn’t participate in sparring class. Instead, I went to the back of the room and practiced my patterns.

I did the easy one, just to warm up.

Then I practiced the rusty one and as I did, I felt it become more and more familiar, like my muscles were saying ‘Oh, right! This one!’

And finally, I worked my way through the elusive third pattern.

Slowly, slowly, slowly, with some input from my friend and from my instructor, I eventually managed to remind my muscles that we know this pattern.

And, before I left class that night, it was back, it was accessible to me again, it was something I can more easily practice from now on.*

I just have to keep reminding my muscles that “We know this. We know this.”

*Again, I know everyone struggles to practice but my ADHD adds extra challenges in the task initiation area so there are *bonus* layers to my frustration with getting started with these things. And when I know practicing will be really slow and especially repetitive, my brain throws up an incredible level of resistance to the idea.

On laundry and executive function

The first item on my to do list this morning was to put my dobok (Taekwondo uniform) in the wash.

I meant to do it on Saturday but I was painting the living room that day so I put it off until Sunday. On Sunday, I was sick so I couldn’t go help with the TKD class anyway…you get the picture.

So, I had this reminder on my list today and after my tea, I was trying to talk myself into doing the laundry and get it out of the way.

Even though I know better, I was telling myself to ‘Just go do it! Just grab your dobok and put it in the washer.’

You may be reading that sentence and asking why I need to know better than to say that. If so, you probably don’t have ADHD – or at least yours is nothing like mine.

You see, for someone with executive function challenges, putting on a load of laundry isn’t just a one step thing. And it took me a long time to learn that ‘put on a load of laundry’ is shorthand for all of the steps involved.

A neurotypical person, or at least a neurotypical person who isn’t currently anxious or depressed, probably doesn’t realize how many steps there are in the process.

For me to put in a load of laundry, I have to walk myself through all of this:

  • Determining that laundry is, indeed, a priority right now
  • Reminding myself that, despite how it feels, laundry doesn’t actually take all day
  • Deciding to put aside all of the other things clamouring for my attention
  • Stopping the thing I am doing (even if it is just sitting at the table) and switching to the next task
  • Going upstairs
  • Choosing which clothes can go in the load with the needed item
  • Putting all the items in a basket
  • Bringing them down two flights of stairs while consciously ignoring all the visual clues of other things that need to be done
  • Possibly having to take clothes out of the dryer then put the clothes from the washer into the dryer and turn it on
  • Put current load into the washer and pay attention to all the settings that might need to change
  • Remember that the clothes are in the washer and need to go into the dryer (I usually set a timer to remind me)

That’s a lot of things when you put it out into a list, isn’t it?

For a neurotypical person, it’s usually compressed into ‘do laundry’ – a single task. But for someone who has trouble directing their attention, there are at least 11 decisions to make and 11 opportunities to get distracted.

Even the idea of walking through all of those steps and keeping my focus through all of those challenges feels tiring.

I do it, of course. I’m a grown up who knows she has ADHD and who has had to figure out ways to do the things that need doing.

But all of the irritation and frustration about it is still there, under the surface.

And there is always a chance that any one of those things could go sideways and get me off track.

So, that’s why telling myself to ‘Just do it! Just grab your dobok and put it in the washer!’ is something unhelpful for me to do.

Instead, I need to be kinder to myself, even in that small way.

Sometimes I need to itemize that list and check off each piece.

Sometimes, I set a timer and tell myself to jump up and get started when it goes off.

Sometimes, I need to reward myself for getting started, other times I reward myself for finishing.

Either way, I try to give myself what I need to get the job done.

After all, having a clean dobok is the goal and I can take any path that gets me there.

May 1: Low Key

I want a lot out of this month but I am trying to teach myself to add things slowly instead of trying to do everything all at once.

After all, I know that successful changes, new practices, come from starting small and building up.


I also know that jumping right into a bunch of new practices all at once feels good. I feel engaged and energetic and accomplished…until I run out of steam.

And despite the fact that I run out of steam EVERY SINGLE TIME, my brain still wants to chase that excited feeling of doing ALL OF THE THINGS.

Without the benefits of medication and experience, I would be planning to do more art, more writing, more exercise, more Taekwon-do, more house organizing, more everything all at once, starting right now, maybe half an hour of each, on top of what I already do each day.

It would be fun today but by the end of the week, I would be out of steam.

So, instead, I am layering all of those things into my life during May.

I will ‘touch’ each habit each day but only really focus on one at a time.

Let’s see how it goes.

?a view of a backyard patio with bare trees in the background
My patio and trees are on the same plan that I am – the basics in place but we’ll add new things a little at a time and let them grow. Image description: The view from one corner of my patio. A lawn chair is directly across from me and beyond that there are trees that don’t have any leaves on them next to my red shed.