Guest Post from Black Belt Karen Silverman!

Today’s post is very special! one of our new black belts, Karen Silverman, has offered to share her thoughts on achieving her black belt. Thanks Mrs. Silverman for taking the time to write this and giving us all insight into your unique journey!

“More than 2 weeks later it’s finally settling into my brain.  After 11 1/2 years of effort, dedication, sacrifice, passion, perseverance, anger, frustration, fear, uncertainty, euphoria, i have finally broken through to the other side.  I am a black belt.

A great part of what it means to me to be a black belt is to have that necessary sense of self-assuredness and an attitude of never giving up, both of and off the mat, coupled with the ever present dose of humility. It’s one of those things i thought i understood long before i really did. Sometimes my journey felt like a real battle and i was my own biggest and meanest opponent.  This is where my faith in my teachers became critical. I had to learn to trust that they knew more and better than i did, often about myself. I can so clearly remember many many talks with my teacher Mrs. Buckley, with Ms. Newman, with master Buckley and with grandmaster Lee. With great patience, they would listen to my concerns, fears, and sometimes even my “excuses.” (yup, that’s what they really were). As i now understand, a large part of “growing up” to be a black belt is learning to take responsibility for how much energy we want to give to negative thoughts that serve nothing other than to try and drag us down. i figured out that i didn’t want to waste another moment there.  sure, i’m human. we all are, and we all will have emotions we struggle with. “emerging black belt me” learned to acknowledge those thoughts and emotions, and then blow right past them. there was no more time to waste. i am quite sure that was when my own door to my black belt opened wide and i raced through it. easier said than done, but nobody ever said becoming a black belt would be easy. i can now embrace how deeply meaningful this is in my life, and know that the reward of my new belief system is mine forever.

my prize was the gift of always doing my absolute best despite my own personal challenges.  we all have our own challenges. some can be seen yet many others can not. my feeling of success came by pushing through those challenges and knowing that i wouldn’t let myself off the hook.  training for a black belt will always thrust us well past where we think we could ever go. the euphoria of achievement comes from knowing that we underestimate ourselves and that we are capable of so much more than we thought possible.  For me, that was my dream realized.

Each one of us is a unique individual, and our path to our black belt will be just as unique, personal and special. like so many of us, my life is multi-faceted: having a demanding profession, raising a family, maintaining a household, and devoting the necessary time to my training.  All this takes some aggressive juggling and certainly sacrifice. Sacrifice is the byproduct of deciding how important a thing is in our life and what are we willing to give up or postpone in order to achieve a goal. this is where i could feel the support of my family, knowing they always believed in me.  when i speak of family, i mean my martial arts family as well as my “silverman” family. though the journey and the accomplishment are mine, i never had to make that trek alone. totally the opposite: it would have been impossible to have reached this goal by myself.

As i was thinking about how to put my thoughts into words for this blog, i found  myself caressing my gold coin on its chain around my neck. it’s interesting how certain objects have taken on so much value and meaning to me- not because of their intrinsic value but because they embody the quest to discover “black belt me”.  my black belt, my ½ gold coin are now two of the most valuable things i will ever hope to own. when i wear them, i am reminded of how strong a woman i have become, and how excited i am to help others learn to find and express their own hidden strengths.  I am also reminded of how much more learning and growing i can still achieve. The adventure continues:)”