Negotiating like a Voss


I’m a big fan of the book, Never Split the Difference, by former FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss. I geared up to put his principles into practice: I was going to ask Sensei to let me catch up to my girls in Tae Kwon Do, despite my four-month absence and his seemingly strict testing rules.

Asking him to deviate from a system he’s been using for two decades for my sake was a big ask.

I planned my approach. I would start with a “no” question a la Voss, ie: “Would it be impossible for me to get caught up to my girls?”

The idea is, with that wording, he’d likely say, “No,” which is what I wanted.

Never Split the Difference, by negotiation-master Chris Voss

I had four points, Sensei’s possible counter-points, and my counter to those counters all ready to go, practicing them in my head for several days in advance.

When the night in question came, I prepped my girls to go directly to the van after class, so I could talk to Sensei alone.

My nerves ran high as Sensei and I meandered to the parking lot. I listened patiently as he talked about his parkour gym, finding people to video his jumps so he could analyze his technique, taking videos for others for the same reason, the open gym policy, the hours, the classes, exactly where the gym was located, that it might be near that one rock climbing gym…

Finally, he wound himself down. My heart pounding, I steadied and readied myself for the attack.

“So,” I began. “Do you think it would be possible for me to catch up with my girls?”

Darn it! That was not the “No” answer question I had so carefully prepped!

He responded immediately.

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You never know, so just, be cool.


I was running late to meet a friend at her house so we could drive together to some event. Her neighborhood has several speed bumps, and I had the misfortune of being behind someone who was taking each bump at 1 mph. I’ve never claimed to be patient. I will claim to always be cutting it fine when it comes to being somewhere on time. So this added slow-down was extra frustrating.

The car in front of me, probably sensing my irritation, (I suppose I was following too closely) eventually pulled over so I could drive past. I shot a glance at the driver, a dude in his 30s or 40s.

from Rodrigo on Pexels

I told my friend about it, when I eventually made it to her house. “Wasn’t that so weird and annoying?” I asked her.

“He was probably delivering a cake,” she said.

Just like that, my indignation was brought up short. “You think?”

“My mom made and delivered cakes. Sometimes I’d go with her and she always had to be extra cautious over speed bumps.”

And so what a jerk I was, being irritated by some guy who gave me a look as I passed that basically said, “Could you just ease up already?”

Maybe he wasn’t delivering a cake, (then again, maybe he was) but regardless, he undoubtedly had good reason for driving so slowly. Maybe a sick kid in the back?

My friend’s statement made me realize how much easier it is to understand people’s actions, and forgive them, when you’ve been in their position too.

But even if you don’t “get it” from your own personal experience, it’s always best to be patient and kind. You never know what people are dealing with.

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The one about physical therapy


I’ve been doing physical therapy twice a week, and it seems mostly pointless to me. Can’t I just get better at walking by, oh, I don’t know… walking?

I finally asked the lady at the front desk of the gym if she cared if I hopped on an exercise bike after PT. Her lips formed a tight line. “You’d need a membership,” she said and chased me out with daggers shot from her eyes.

That answers that question. Brrr. On my next visit, I’ll wear jeans so she’ll know I’m not planning to stay for an ill-gotten workout. Otherwise, I imagine her whispering to a colleague, “Keep an eye on that one.”

On my latest visit, I decided to make friends with my fellow PT inmates by saying to one, “So, what are you in for?”

She had had a tumor in her spine! Her entire spinal column is now titanium, and she’s learning to walk again after five years in a wheelchair.

I wanted to hide my lowly “bruised-boned” foot behind my leg.

A third woman was doing breathing exercises in a chair facing away from us. “I feel like I’ve been put in the corner,” she said. We chuckled genially. Then the titanium lady had to literally stand in the corner, one hand on each wall to do… something. I didn’t hear the instructions. Naturally I pointed out that she was now in the corner, to which Titanium responded in a plaintive tone to her imaginary accuser, “I’m sorry!”

Doing our best to make our mutual pain more fun.

The most challenging thing I have to do is lift my big toe–only. Lifting all my toes together, sure, but the big one separately? Not so much. It’s a different muscle, I was told, so I should be able to do it. I don’t know if it’s muscle damage or muscle coordination that’s the culprit here. I sent a picture to Hubby of my latest attempt.

Still a purplish Frankenfoot, but at least it’s from a distance. Don’t zoom in. I said, Don’t zoom in!

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The other amazing thing


But before I get to that… (I know, I’m such a tease.)

It happened.

I’d been keeping an eye on my Jiu-Jitsu place’s Insta to see when and who would earn their next belts. When I finally saw it, the sucker punch wasn’t as bad as I expected. Probably because I was surprised it took so long for someone else to pass the test. Also, further vindication that it’s HARD to pass the test! Thank you! Not that I failed, but the one piece I was able to complete before my injury took… a while to perfect.

Note my comment on the side. And the response. I miss this crew!

I really miss Jiu-Jitsu, but it was hard being out so much in the evening. Instructor told me if he starts daytime classes up again, I’ll be the first to know.

I also miss it because I’ve begun the self-defense class for students again. (And it’s NOT killing my foot. Had to mention the foot somewhere, right?) It is showing me how rusty I am, however, making me all the more want to get back to class for some serious refreshing. Le sigh. We’ll see what the future holds.

Now on to the amazing thing…

The beautiful and wonderful Wynne Leon graciously invited me on her Heart of the Matter podcast. Thus, I made my zombie debut.

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Amazing things afoot


I didn’t mean to make a pun there, leading you to believe this was yet ANOTHER foot post. It’s not, promise. I’ll only say that the foot’s improving, and that it reminded me to post this comment from Stuart some time ago:

Congrats on the foot! Getting better, one step at a time, I see! Looks like everything’s going tibia okay! Can’t wait to see you fully heel.

I’m sorry I just couldn’t help it. I guess I better leg it now.

He may have heard me groaning all the way out in Malaysia.

Nope, it’s something else even MORE amazing than puns, if you can believe it.

Hubby and I went to bar trivia with some friends last night. Beforehand, I thought it would be so great if there was a question that was perfectly tailored for me. I was thinking along the lines of: Who is the song “Dirty Frank” about (Jeffrey Dahmer, btw), or something involving the name Mookie Blaylock, as examples of something truly random that only I, being the freak that I am, would know.

Then a question began: “Which band’s 1991 album…”

I gripped by friend’s arm. “Oh my gosh!” I said.

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That guy again


Long-time readers know this person. Some may have read the title and known right away who this post would be about. (If you did, let me know in the comments. Now I’m curious.)

I was doing a free gym trial, figuring it would be a good way to rebuild leg muscle, when I ran into an old friend.

At long last, the face behind the legend. I’m surprised I got him to smile for you, but I suspect he enjoys an audience.

I hadn’t seen the Chex Mix Guy in more than a year. He was smaller than I remembered, in every way.

Gone was the cheerful, funny man who brought us twelve posts-worth of entertainment. Heartbreak had made him cynical, filled with career ambition and little else.

One thing I’ll note for my future self: When I told him about falling to the bottom in my martial arts classes, he said, “That gives you a goal to aim for. Work your way back to the top.” That was thoughtful of him.

When we were through catching up, he grabbed his phone to choose the next song for his air buds. I took two steps and turned back around.

“This is weird,” I said.

“What is?”

“This is the last time I will ever see or speak to you.”

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On Blogging and Buddies


My fellow bloggers understand this community and the value of the friendships we’ve formed. Like me, you’ve probably seen bloggers come and go, sometimes with no word, leaving you wondering. I appreciate it when writers give a head’s up that they’re shoving off.

Still, when one of my longest-running blog buddies gave the ol’ WordPress farewell, I cried a little. It felt like a death, which I admit is kind of ridiculous, but I was devastated. Chatter Master has been almost like a mom to me (Almost, Mom! I said almost!) and a surrogate Sensei, since she’s a fourth degree black belt in Taekwondo. (It took years for me to learn this amazing, unexpected fact!) Also, that means she outranks my sensei. Heh heh. Her encouragement with my martial arts struggles took her loveliness and wisdom to a new level.

Bossy Babe has also left us. To this I maturely responded in the comments with a string of “Nooooo!!!”s. Comparatively, I only knew her a short time, but I sure enjoyed her company. She also led me to Stuart, who in turn led me to Cindy, so I’m eternally grateful.

The only blogger I’ve met in real life, so far,

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Mary Shelley has nothing on me


After much back and forth internal debate, some soul-searching, lengthy discussions with Hubby, late-night consultations with a priest who doubles as an exorcist (that last part was particularly important), I decided to send Sensei a link to my last post.

What happened next?

This. Is that story.

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Betsy gets the boot.


So here’s what happened:

On January 9, I finally saw a specialist about the Jiu-Jitsu accident that happened September 29. He took one look at my foot and said, “You’ve got Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, which can happen after a surgery or trauma.”

According to Wikipedia: “CRPS is any of several painful conditions that are characterized by a continuing regional pain that is seemingly disproportionate in time or degree to the usual course of any known trauma or other lesion.”

In other words, I developed a condition that means taking a stupidly long time to heal.


He knew it on sight from the discoloration of my foot. Brace yourselves, I’m including a pic.

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Not-So-Crazy with a Brown Belt

My daughters in their new belts.

In keeping with my theme of titling the post “Crazy with a [color] belt” every time I earn a new Tae Kwon Do rank, I’ll just amend this one slightly since it was my daughters, not me. I could say “Not Crazy with a Brown Belt,” but since they’re my children, some of the crazy is bound to have been passed on to them.

A new belt means a belt ceremony, which means: baking something special!

How many of you just cowered a little in fear or internally groaned “Oh no”?

Thank you for knowing me so well.

Since this happened just before Christmas, what better than gingerbread men? And what better still than NINJA gingerbread men? Perfect, right?

Here’s what the ninjabread men look like on the package:

Surely we can replicate this.

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