As I’ve reflected the last few days on different ways to exercise self care, I’m reminded of some of the things that I love to do for fun.
Fun? What is that?
Fun definitely has a different meaning in my life now than it did for most of my life, and while I wouldn’t change a thing, it might be good for me to find some balance between old fun and new fun.
Two of my lifelong passions include musical theatre and martial arts. I’ve been in both since the mid 90s. Today I’m particularly thinking of my two decades of martial arts practice and how important it was and still is to me.
In 1996 my parents signed my brother up for a summer session of karate classes at Chon’s Karate in Belle Vernon, Pa. turns out he wasn’t too interested, but I was!
Tang Soo Do, the style that I practiced, quickly consumed me. I was at the do jang 4-5 nights a week, usually for multiple classes￼. I was asked to join the student demonstration team and chosen as Student of the Year all within the first 18 months. I swept the competition with four first place finishes in my first tournament. It was healthy. It was fun. I was good at it. It was mine.
In 1999 my family moved about an hour away, and in classic moody teenager mode and dealing with having to move before high school I didn’t really do much of anything the next year or two. I missed it though.
When I moved to Orlando for college in 2003, I was ready to get back involved. My university had an on school program for Tae Kwon Do, essentially a sister style of Korean karate that was similar enough. After a few months, they certified my black belt from Tang Soo Do and awarded me my black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
We started our own demo team and performed at events for the university, usually to large crowds. We competed in local and state tournaments and pretty much kicked butt everywhere we went. I tested for and was awarded my second degree black belt. It was so much fun, and I made friends that I’m still close with today. But college eventually ended too, and I moved to New Jersey for law school.
The only butt kicking that happened in law School was exams.
After law school, when I moved to New York City, I found another Tae Kwon Do school that I liked and started attending regularly for the better part of two years. I was never as fully ingrained with that school because of other life commitments, but I loved it nonetheless.
And then I moved home in early 2014 and landed at the Tang Soo Do Karate College in Bethel Park, my first return to Tang Soo Do since 1999! And I felt like I was home.
When I had my first baby in 2016, I had to take a leave for awhile, but I went back occasionally. After my second baby and relocating to the North Hills that became even less frequent. While I was pregnant with Milana, I was able to attend classes over the course of a few months in Wexford.
While I’m in this season, particularly as a single mom of 3 kids 3 and under, I don’t know that I’ll be able to pursue this passion much, but it’s something I look forward to picking up again as soon as life allows. And it’s something I dreamed about doing with my children for years, so I hope to see that dream come true too.
It’s so important to have things that we do just for us. Something that’s uniquely yours, not necessarily shared with a spouse. Somewhere where you can relieve pent up stress and pursue passion.
Martial arts has always done that for me.
What’s your thing, friends? What do you do for you?