Checking In

Okay, so maybe that martini last night was a bit of a mistake. It woke me up bright and early at 5:30am with such a headache, my head is still fuzzy even after the Tylenols and a couple hours of trying to get back to sleep. Not exactly the best start to the day, especially when I have to compete this afternoon. But I sure enjoyed it at the time.

History Bear and I are here in Milwaukee for the annual December NAC. Have I ever explained the North American Cups? They are national level tournaments held more or less the same weekends every year. Each year we have two at which we can fence Veteran events, one in December and one in March, plus Summer Nationals in late June/early July. So this is one of my three big tournaments every year. And my head is full of fuzz thanks to the martini last night.

I am trying not to worry about it. Because, see, I am a mature fencing bear now, all of 9 1/2 years old. Gosh, that's old. I was only 5 when I started this blog just before Summer Nationals way back in 2008. Do you remember what a basket case I was then? I could barely see straight at the tournament, I was so nervous. And, boy, oh, boy, did the demon Envy come after me. Now, I am a bear wise beyond her years. Now, I know how to prepare myself before a competition. No demons coming after me this morning, oh, no, no, no.

Yeah, right. I know that they are still out there, lurking, just waiting to catch me off guard. As, for example, just now, when I noticed that Blogsy seems to have updated its options since I last posted on the road. Oooo, look, I can change the font now. And the font size. Whoops, what size was I typing in before? Maybe this? Nope. How about this? And which font was I in? Hey, but now it looks like I have strike through. Heh, so I can make those throwaway comments that show what I really meant to say. Just kidding.

I am supposed to be concentrating. Telling you something pithy about how to get one's head ready to compete. I remember the second March NAC that I did. It was Atlanta 2007, and I was fencing for the first time in Div II (C and under, for those of you who are curious). I was absolutely terrified, had no idea what I was getting into. I fenced my pools so-so, coming out somewhere in the bottom third of the fencers for the event. And then I fenced what I think must have been my second DE. And I won. I really, really "shouldn't" have; my opponent was ranked 11th out of the pools and I was down in the 50s. And then I won again. And then I made top 16 and earned my D! It was a miracle.

But it wasn't to last. The next day, I was fencing Div III, theoretically an "easier" event (only D and under, none of those terrifying Cs). And I blew it. Not because I fenced that badly (I can't actually remember how I fenced, or, truth to tell, even what event; maybe it was Veterans), but because I thought that I "should" fence better after having "proven" myself the day before. I remember desperately trying to recapture whatever it was I had been thinking about (or not thinking about) the day before, trying to find that magic feather that would make all the difficulties go away. I thought that it had had something to do with reading Lone Wolf and Cub, 'cause, you know, it was about samurai. With lots of pictures.

Not. Because, you see, there is no magic feather. Or is there? Lisa Lane Brown would say that there is, although she doesn't call it magic. It is simply Right Focus: focusing on the things you can control, not what you can't. Like whether you are going to win--this is not the right focus. Nor is what other people think about you. That is definitely the Wrong Focus. Right Focus is keeping your knees bent when you tend to want to stand up. Right Focus is moving on the strip. Right Focus is breathing deeply before the director says, "Fence!" Right Focus is concentrating fully on what your opponent is doing, rather than wishing she would do something else. Right Focus is coming back on guard after a touch, regardless of who got the point. Right Focus is thinking about making this touch and nothing else. Right Focus is patience. Right Focus is trust.

"He knows what he is doing with me, and when he has tested me, I will come forth as pure gold." Every touch is a test: can I keep my focus? Can I trust God to know what he is doing with me? Can I trust that He loves me and is not out to get me, to humiliate me for wanting to succeed? I have problems, I realize, with trust. Trusting myself. Trusting God. I find it very, very hard to trust God. To trust that, whatever happens, I am worthy of love. To trust that I do not need to prove myself to God in order to be worth something. Anything other than dirt. See how strong the demons are? How quickly they can get inside my head? I need some more Tylenol. And maybe a feather.

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