By Kristen Byrne
I cannot remember a day when my head was not in the clouds, seeking a fantastical world in order to avoid the reality of my life. I was in my early 20s, practically a chain-smoker, convinced that walking to/from a metro station was exercise, and whose motivation for developing a professional career dwindled with each passing day. I was in a funk.
I’ve always been intrigued by martial arts. I used to joke with friends, and half-believed, that because I have Asian blood, my genetics would give me full ability to bust out killer kicks and punches if I were in a threatening situation. It wasn’t until I realized that I was going nowhere with my life that the small voice that said, “Why don’t you try it?” grew more earnest, until finally, I listened.
Tae Kwon Do (TKD) has turned my life around 180-degrees. It was as if I needed physical reinforcement that I needed to seriously restructure my life and priorities, and simply, start taking care of my body, mind and spirit. I strongly believe that a person cannot adopt a healthy, positive-minded lifestyle without being open and accepting of the transformation. If the mind is not receptive to the change, then the body will not perform the necessary actions to make the change happen. So it was with me. TKD has helped me to embrace a philosophy of wellness, of maintaining balance in all aspects of life and never giving up. I have been able to stay smoke-free and can happily say that I do live a well-balanced life. TKD has also helped me to release anger and stress, and in its place harbor thoughts of kindness and compassion – not only for others but for myself. TKD has helped me to be a better person.
TKD has profoundly changed my attitude towards life. It has strengthened my confidence that I am able to do something good for someone, that my being only one self is enough to produce a positive change for the world. I would never have entertained this thought three years ago when I didn’t know what a sidekick was. Though my head still gets caught in the clouds once in a while, I feel grounded and ready for whatever challenge life may bring.