Martial Arts

Whatcha Need, Baby? – The Martial Arts Woman

The last place where you expect a life lesson to emerge is at a fast food drive-thru. It is place where you quickly stop  during your day to grab a drink or a quick bite to eat and go on your merry way.  Other than placing your order, there is not much excitement that happens at the drive-thru.

I try not to eat a lot of fast food. After all, as a martial artist  I am expected to be in somewhat good shape. I must work a little harder than the younger group of martial artists to keep myself healthy and fit. It is just the way things are. So, when I drive through a fast food restaurant, it is typically for something on the healthier side (if there is such a thing!) or a cup of coffee in the early morning if there are no fancy coffee shops around.

One time, I drove through a fast food place for a quick cup of coffee. I expected this experience to be like every other at the drive-thru:  order, pay, grab the food and go. I pulled up and patiently waited for the voice to ask what I wanted. Instead, I heard a woman’s voice echo something I never expected.

“Whatcha need, baby?” she asked.

Her question threw me off guard. I almost forgot that I was in line for coffee. I began to ponder….what do I need…? I nearly mumbled a laundry list of needs in my life to the woman behind the order screen who I could not see, until I came back to reality. Then, without much though, I blurted out my order, “A large coffee with two creams.”

Think about it. Wouldn’t you be shocked if someone actually took the time to ask you what you need? How many times does that happen?  Wouldn’t you jump on the opportunity to respond? What would your response be? A new car? A vacation? A new hairstyle, a romance, some money, a new job, a pair of shoes, or enough money to pay the rent? It would be nice on so many levels to get it off your chest and maybe, just maybe, someone would give you exactly what you need.

When I drove forward to the window to pay, I saw a heavy-set woman with long polished fingernails and a smile from ear to ear. As she collected my money, she said, “Have a great day, love.”

Her question, “Whatcha need baby?” kept haunting me. Somehow, I felt like she knew I was on the cusp of change in my life and needed some encouragement. I drove off with a coffee in hand and a burning question in my heart.

I consider myself very lucky. When I chose to learn a martial art, I also chose to challenge myself and find personal fulfillment. Not everyone finds that kind of passion in their lives. I would have never achieved a high rank if I had not learned how to break through my own negativity, overcome obstacles, and believe in myself. In that journey, I learned a lot about what I need to be happy and successful. But, no one really ever asked me that very succinct question before.

The beauty of my practice is that I redeem myself over and over. It is like being given a new chance to prove yourself.  A few kicks bring my life into focus and fill the very basic need that I have, to live a positive and empowered life. To grow in positivity, it is important to know that someone cares about you. If someone takes the time to ask what you need, you soak it up because you know that they care. Your confidence soars. You feel appreciated. Life is good.

You may never be asked about what you need, so today consider me the voice at your life’s drive-thru, asking “What do you need?” Take a moment to assess your life and what is important to you before answering. Fill your heart with the promise and hope of a new day. Focus on your strengths. Don’t forget your needs.

If, after some contemplation, you find that there is something that you really, really need, then just ask. I bet someone will give you a helping hand. Many times after falling on the mat after being thrown by someone in martial art class during practice, another student stretches their hand out to help me back up. That action is not as much about helping me up as it is about comradery and encouragement, something we all truly need.

Every time I pass through that drive-thru I hope for that beautiful, thoughtful woman with the long shiny fingernails and the smile as bright as the sun. I never saw her again.  I know that she sensed something about me that day and it had little to do with my order at her window. She gave me a wake up call, exactly what I needed.

I am thankful for the strangers in the world like my drive-thru friend who relay kind and positive messages. As Mother Teresa said, “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

There are a couple of phrases that I often share with friends and strangers alike that I picked up at the drive-thru that day along with my large coffee with two creams.  I try to say them every now and again because I know how much we all long to hear them.

“Whatcha need, baby? No matter what it is, I wish you a great day, love.”




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