ADHD · martial arts

Through A Different Lens: Seeing My Power Now.

Remember a few months ago when I wrote about being the very model of a middle aged martial artist?

I’m at it again. 

Last week, I had the honour of taking part in a photoshoot with my photographer friend, Amy Cleary.

I really enjoy the process of helping people with their creative projects, whether I am coaching, brainstorming, or participating in some way.  So, I was having a great time observing Amy practice her craft while I was trying to create visually interesting movements.

That would have been plenty of fun for one afternoon but my enjoyment was enhanced by how excited Amy was about my TKD techniques and about the ideas she wanted to express with her photos.

While it would be possible to have a photoshoot and keep your subject as a passive participant, Amy doesn’t want to capture passivity, she wants to express the power of the person she is highlighting in her photos.

I enjoyed my afternoon with Amy and I appreciated her goal of focusing on the individual’s power but I didn’t give much thought to the end result. I basically considered myself kind of a prop for her creative expression.

I knew she would take artistic, interesting photos and I wasn’t worried about whether I would like how I looked in them. Whether I looked ‘good’ or not didn’t feel relevant to the project at hand.

And then she posted a photo from our shoot. 

an artfully shadowed photo of me in my white TKD uniform (dobok) and red sparring helmet and gloves. I am punching toward the camera with my right hand and I am holding my left hand back by my head. I am staring into the camera and I look very serious.
See what I mean? Determination, power, strength. This photo feels great! Photo credit: Amy Cleary Image description: an artfully shadowed photo of me in my white TKD uniform (dobok) and red sparring helmet and gloves. I am punching toward the camera with my right hand and I am holding my left hand back by my head. I am staring into the camera and I look very serious.

It was a revelation. 

I still didn’t consider whether I looked ‘good’ or not. What I saw was that I looked POWERFUL and that felt GREAT.

It also felt like a surprise. 

Because of my ADHD, unless I work to think otherwise, my brain divides time into ‘now’ or ‘not-now.’  Either I can accomplish the thing I want to do immediately or it gets put off to a time in the indeterminate future. 

I find it very difficult to do a small thing now that won’t pay off until the distant future and, unless I consciously work at it, I have trouble believing that a series of small actions will add up to a great whole. I’m sure you can see that this perspective creates a lot of challenges around fitness and exercise. 

After all, a single session of any type of exercise isn’t going to produce many tangible results so it’s hard to convince my brain to let me expend the energy now for something that can’t be ‘finished’ right away and that may not produce tangible results for a while. 

So, when I try to think about my body looking powerful, it is always something that will happen in the future, in the ‘not-now.’

It’s not that I think of myself as weak – I know the ways that I am strong and I often FEEL powerful – but I have this idea of what powerful *looks* like and I didn’t think I was there yet. 

So, that’s why the photo was a surprise. 

I’m not heavily-muscled, I’m not at peak physical fitness, I’m rounded in places where many athletes are sleek, but my body is powerful just as it is and Amy’s photos showed me that.

a photo of me in my white TKD uniform with my hair pulled back in a black bandana. My body is oriented toward the right side of the photo but I am punching my right fist toward the camera and I am looking directly at the photographer over my extended arm/fist.
I am delighted by my intense expression in this one. Photo credit: Amy Cleary Image description: a photo of me in my white TKD uniform with my hair pulled back in a black bandana. My body is oriented toward the right side of the photo but I am punching my right fist toward the camera and I am looking directly at the photographer over my extended arm/fist.

I don’t have to wait until the not-now.

I am powerful NOW.

And since I am already powerful, that changes my perspective on my current efforts. I am not starting from scratch, I am enhancing what already exists. 

My brain LOVES that idea.

Thank you for this incredible gift, Amy!

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