More than 60 years ago, Earl Nightingale wrote The Strangest Secret, a radio piece about success and character development. He said, “We become what we think about most of the time.” It occurs to me that this is the most difficult of disciplines: that of controlling what we think about most of the time.  Consider that our consciousness is like a glacier.  Most of what is in our thoughts and feelings is part of the subconscious, and we may not even be aware of that part. This talk of controlling what we think about sounds like a lot of self-discipline.

Self-discipline can be about not eating that cookie you really want to eat. Or doing your workout for the day. Or getting up to go to work in the morning…on time. Or refraining from calling your spouse stupid without saying a word (heavy eye roll). Or ignoring the Negative Nelly in your head loudly accusing you (or a family member who doesn’t do things like you) of being too [fill in the blank with terrible accusations in an attempt to make them do things like you].

 My inner voice is my greatest critic.  And very often, I  believe her! I call her Amarga, which means ’embittered, spoiled’ in Spanish, my native language. For me, self-discipline is a stand I take daily with my dear Amarga, who pops her well-meaning head from her room and barrages me with doubts, recriminations, and foul-mouthed accusations when I am feeling most afraid, angry, tired, hungry, etc.  I have learned the art of kindly sending her away so I can live fully, but it has taken years. 

I began to think on what kind of influence we have on the children around us. Most of us expect children to behave decently, responsibly, kindly, fairly, truthfully, cleanly. And when they don’t we are HORRIFIED and DISMAYED

Oh, wait a minute, there are adults who haven’t got that well-behaved trick yet.  

If I have things correct, we want children to behave like imaginary, perfect adults. 

In my opinion, coming to terms with that sad fact can be devastating. Gary Ryan Blair says “Self-discipline is an act of cultivation. It requires you to connect today’s actions to tomorrow’s results. There’s a season for sowing a season for reaping. Self-discipline helps you know which is which.”

Do you know when to sow good seed in your child?

Do you value the sowing even though you don’t see the fruit? Even if you are pricked by sharp weeds in the process?

Are you OK with the fact that you might not be the one to reap what you have sown in your child?

Are you trying to reap what you have not even sown yet? And mad that the fruit isn’t even there?

And perhaps the hardest question…Have you done this cultivation within yourself?

Discipline: that dreaded word.

Let’s talk about the most hated meaning of this word, which is when we are referring to the correcting of wrong-headed, brain-damaged child-like behavior.

Most people fear this word, because we tend to think we are terrible at it, and we hate punishing our kids.  And, man, doesn’t it seem never-ending? Like laundry, or dishes? Or cleaning cat litter boxes?

Ask yourself the following question: What is discipline?

A. Torture of oneself or others

B. Acting like little soldiers

C. Washing someone’s mouth out with soap.

D. Retribution.

Did you answer with any of the above? 

Perhaps a perspective shift is in order. 

The word comes from the latin ‘disciplinare’ which means to teach, instruct, or educate.
Hmmmmm.  You didn’t know you were signing up for this when you first laid eyes on your cute little squalling bundle of joy, eh? Yeah, well, it’s not easy to build strong, confident children, but THAT job is a heck of a lot easier than repairing broken adults. 
Still, sometimes it feels like the blind leading the blind, doesn’t it? 
Here are my answers to the question, What is discipline?
A. Order that allows for creativity.
B. Rules that protect and preserve.
C. Consequences for actions.
D. Responsibility teaching.
Discipline done for any other reasons, might really only be about parental ego and control.

“The sign of great parenting is not the child’s behavior.  The sign of truly great parenting is the parent’s behavior.” ~Andy Smithson

Sometimes we can have done everything right, and still, the child does not learn.  So, I propose that the raising and discipline of a child has more to do with the development of the parent as a human being.  More an issue of process than product. More about staying calm in chaos.  
Truth is that disciplining our kids well takes as much of our discipline as we can muster.  Which is the topic of my next post. Self discipline. 
Post your comments!

Self Esteem.  A confusing topic, if you ask me.  As a parent, I knew I wanted to imbue my kids with self esteem…but how much was too much? 

I certainly did not want to be responsible for birthing narcissistic, me-focused, unproductive citizens.  And yet, I did not want to punitively overpower my sons and destroy their sense of self. I hope I can shed some clarity on this subject. 

This testing cycle, we examine Self Esteem.  In order for students to earn their yellow stripe, parents (or caregivers) need to fill out a Self Esteem sheet describing how the student shows Self Esteem. (Spouses of our adult students, this is a chance for you to say something nice about your spouse…perhaps for the first time.  Yes, please fill out a Self Esteem sheet for your husband or wife! In case you were wondering, it takes 10 good comments to equal 1 negative comment.) 

Sooo….. here goes. My thoughts on self esteem over my half a century on this earth.


A person shows self esteem by having a can-do and a never-give-up attitude even when something doesn’t go as planned.  A person with self esteem shows a confidence in their capabilities in one or more areas of their lives.  THAT is worth encouraging. Let me be clear. Pride in oneself can be healthy! What does your child (or husband) do often or say frequently that shows healthy pride? What do you do? 


People show their self esteem when they lift others up. When they look at other people’s good qualities over their bad ones. When they see the gem of potential in that person. Confidence and pride that puts other people down is called arrogance, and it is ugly. It is not healthy pride or self esteem. People without self esteem tear others down by pointing out each other’s flaws. How are you doing as a parent/spouse with that? Do you or your child choose to be a good-finder? 

Seems like true self esteem is very connected to humility.  But that is another big topic for another day.

Parents and students, please share your comments on our blog or on  our facebook page about your thoughts and feelings regarding Self Esteem!

Fight the good fight,

Mrs. Streacker

“For it is easy to criticize and break down the spirit of others, but to know yourself takes a lifetime.” Bruce Lee

Weapons for my kid…seems counter intuitive.

After all, aren’t we as parents interested in promoting cooperation, non-violence, and happy days?

Yes, we are.  Still, we live in a scary world, and the more we shine light on things that might be frightening within the safe circle of our adult presences, the better equipped our kids will be when faced with the inevitable negative parts of life. 

When I worked through my color belts on my path to black belt what seems like a century ago, (everyone knows I am ancient) we did not have weapons or chestguards or faceshields.  (Thank insurance companies for the additional gear.) Back then, weapons training was reserved for the black belt.  So, when I achieved my black belt, my instructor, Chief Master Patti Barnum handed me a Ssahng Jeol Bong (nunchuk) with a broad smile.  I asked her if I had to do weapons.  (Hear the whine?) She grinned and said, “yes, ma’am!” Grudgingly, I proceeded to drop my weapon over and over as I tried to master a 360 during that class.  Geeze, I thought. What a pain.

I am so glad she pushed me to do weapons and here’s why:

  1. I learned more about personal space and how a weapon extends my reach. (Think, self defense)
  2. I grew in perseverance through something I did not initially enjoy. (Bearing with uncomfortable situations)
  3. Training with weapons helped me face my fear, gain control of my aggression, and respect my power. 
  4. Weapons work improved my martial arts practice.
  5. I eventually achieved a district championship in Ssahng Nat (kamas)!!!!! Who would’ve thought!!! Certainly not me.
  6. I grew to love weapons, and have become very proficient in them.

I am so glad we teach weapons to color belts! It only makes our students better martial artists, and more respectful human beings. Which is exactly what our purpose is for our students. I expect that each student has a special place at home for their weapons, belts earned, and equipment.  I expect that each student must ask permission of their parent to work with their weapons.  In this way, we teach our kids respect for authority, a reverence for things that can harm others, and a measure of self-control that is lacking in many people today!

Parents, please comment on your experience with our weapons training!

Mrs. Streacker

Fifth degree black belt owner

Full Life Martial Arts


If you are getting this email, you probably have a child.
At some point, you might have gazed on this miniature version of yourself and thought, “how gorgeous!”, quickly followed by “OMG, what have I done!” Hence the interest in martial arts.
Parenting is perhaps one of the most frustrating, and rewarding, endeavors any human may endure. When my four sons were young, their warm hugs and sloppy kisses reminded me this crazy parent thing was worth it. In their teens, it was their surprise punching and kicking attacks as I rounded the hallway corner. These days, as they grow into manhood, words like “thanks for guiding us four crazy kids in becoming such smart individuals” from 23 year old Son #1 are all that I need to know that I did my best and it is at least recognized.
Whether you have been training in martial arts with us for some time, or you are simply testing the waters, get ready.  You have stumbled on a community of people who are interested in helping each other to grow and learn through experience, tears and laughter. In the next few weeks, you will explore the whys and hows of the martial arts, self defense and leadership.  The REAL purpose behind what we do here at Full Life Martial Arts.
Well, then, carry on…
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If you have been with us for a time, there is no greater compliment than for you to forward or share our emails with a friend. Thank you in advance for your support!
To power, love & self-discipline,
Estela Streacker, 5BD, NC