Joel Riggs teaches Aikido, plays piano, enjoys California, and reads voraciously.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

On Kids Aikido Classes

43 days until moving day.

I had a long meeting over dinner last night with Jeff, Michael, and David about handing over all my kids classes at the dojo. They wanted to know what I have found works and what does not work in running the classes. We also went through the list of students and I shared what I see each of them working on or needing.

At any point in any class, each individual student needs one of three things: to be supported, to be challenged, or to be left along. If a student is struggling a bit with a technique or with their partner, then they need some attention, advice, a helping hand, a guide to show them the next step, and sometimes encouragement to help them feel like they are making progress. If a student is goofing off or is not following the instructions well, then they need to be stretched a bit further, given an extra assignment that will make them stop and think and struggle to achieve it. And if a student is in the flow of the class and the practice, then they are best served by being left alone to continue.

With this little filter going on at all times, I can walk through the class and observe students one by one and can tell where to intervene and where not to. Before long, the class runs smoothly, and everyone has something to work on that is appropriate for them in that moment.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Boxes and More Boxes

44 days until moving day.

The fact that we are moving gets more real each day. Yesterday we bought a 15-place Ford van. Today I used that van to bring home about 35 boxes from deep storage at the dojo. (Thanks to all who helped me bring them down from the mezzanine storage.) I have been holding onto photos from my great grandfather Archie Whiting, as well as books and papers from my grandmother Winona Whiting Riggs and my grandfather Frellsen Smith. Now I plan to sift through everything to see what to keep and what to toss. I would like to keep everything that has sentimental or historical (as in family history) value, but toss those things (like church pamphlets from 1972) that do not really speak to me. After storing these things for over ten years, it will be an adventure to dig through them.

The van goes in for a checkup on Monday. Then to the DMV, and then we will trick it out to get it ready for cross country travel.

The Adventure Commences

Yesterday Maria, Rocket and I went to Oakland to purchase an enormous Ford van, the largest they made in 1997. $4500, with 200K miles. It has been well maintained by the three previous owners, and the latest--formerly a truck driver for WalMart--seemed almost obsessive about the van. She had taken good care of it, done lots of maintenance and upgrades, and seemed credible. We will have it checked out on Monday.

Room to carry 15 passengers, if it had seats in it. We have found a bench seat for it on Craigslist, and will snag that on Monday.

The only downside is the 8 MPG city, 16 MPG highway that it gets. And at $4-plus a gallon. Oh well, this will be our ticket to exploring the country later this year when we leave California for good. We plan to spend about two months travelling on our way to our new home in Georgia.

Major step #2 is that we gave notice on our house hear for May 31. We will officially be nomads after that.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Life of a Dad

This evening I got ready to drive down to San Francisco train aikido and see a couple of black belt tests. I had to stop by the dojo in Fairfax first, though, to pick up my hakama and belt. Just as I was about to leave the house, Rocket was whimpering in the bed; he should have been asleep already. I picked him up to shush him and to help him drift to sleep, but he grew more and more upset and agitated. After about a minute in my arms, he started crying out loud, and then he threw up a bellyfull of mom's milk that he had had for supper a half hour before. We cleaned him up and wiped the floor and I took a shower and changed. (Poor little guy, he has a fever now too.) Instead of getting to the dojo to train, I was a half hour late, without my hakama, and so ended up borrowing a white belt and getting onto the mat barely in time for the start of the tests. So I missed a class. No big deal. Being a dad is totally worth it, spit up and all!

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I Quit My Job Today

This morning I quit my job. Long story short, I was working in a small company (15 employees) that did not fit my style or personality. I did not feel like I was being productive at all, and in order to continue working there, I would have had to start lying about how committed I was to their mission and vision. I did not burn any bridges, but it felt great to walk out that door.

My wonderful wife, Maria, while anxious and scared about the loss of a steady paycheck (which would have ended in three more weeks anyway since I had already been given 30 days notice), has been totally supportive and encouraging, and, probably against her deepest feelings, completely trusting through this time. She even said she respected my decision because it was the best not only for me but also for my employer. So we go on.

I am going to take stock of our financial situation, of my resources, skills and abilities, and of our cash flow needs over the next six months while we transition from California to Georgia. It is going to be a challenging and interesting time. We have a baby six months old, a mortgage on the East Coast, and limited savings in the bank. So here is to adventure, hard work, creativity, and luck!