After two months of intensive karate training Sensei Sparks said, "You can stay for the advanced class if you'd like." This was the first of the five compliments he would give me in the five years I trained with him. I don't know if he hadn't heard of the term 'positive reinforcement' or he simply didn't believe in it.
I was thrilled. I had learned the basic blocks, punches and kicks. I had attended classes five times a week, joking that I was paying by the month and I wanted to get my money's worth. And now I was being invited to join the advanced class!
In my reverie I had forgotten that my boyfriend was due to pick me up after the beginners' class. He honked his horn and I ran outside to tell him the good news. He wasn't impressed. "All you do is talk about karate, practice karate and come to these classes. I'm sick of it. What about me? You have to decide, either me or karate!"
I didn't need to think about it. I just turned my back and went back into the dojo for another hour and a half of training. I didn't need a boyfriend. Not when I had a punching bag, a makiwara and a new kata. Not even close.