This weekend, I had the chance to attend the Suncscreen Film Festival in St. Petersburg, Florida. I had an amazing time, but the interesting part about it is that it just fell into place. That’s how life works when you are open to opportunity and you engage positivity. Things happen that you least expect.
It was a post on Facebook from movie director and Facebook friend, James Wilson, where he mentioned he had lost the names of some locals in St. Petersburg whom he had promised to meet when he was here. I read it and thought, “Wait…James Wilson is HERE?” I lived in St. Petersburg for 18 years before moving 30 minutes South. I travel through it almost everyday. It is, in many ways, the most memorable place I have lived.
Grasping the opportunity, I sent James a Facebook message and told him I hoped we could meet. I also sent one to his brother, Don “The Dragon” Wilson. If you are not a martial artist, Don has been in more than 30 martial art action movies for years and is well-known to many. It was a golden opportunity because generally I do not travel much due to other commitments, and this was literally in my own backyard.
I bought two tickets to the movie, Paying Mr. McGetty, at the Festival in which Don Wilson starred and James Wilson produced. I talked to a few friends who were going. After that, I had no idea what to expect.
I read up more on film festivals. This one had an amazing array of events, actors, and directors. The next time around, I will buy a weekend ticket and attend more of the events. I had no idea how this movie event worked, what to wear, or if I would actually get to meet the Wilson brothers, but I had a mission and if you know anything about me, I strive diligently to follow my dreams and seek rewarding martial art and life experiences.
When you set goals for yourself and you have a general life mission, hold on to it tightly and never let it go. My overall mission, of making the world a better place using martial arts and positivity, is so ingrained in me that I cannot imagine my life any other way.
Sometimes a mission makes you grow. It allows you step outside of your comfort zone and do something you may otherwise not do, like walk up to a movie producer while he is standing with a group of people and tap him generously on the shoulder to get his attention for a handshake and photo, which is what I did. You need to go after what you want, and not just fade into the background.
Before learning martial arts and gaining better confidence, I would have never stayed steadfast in what I wanted, even if the opportunity was right in front of my face. I would have more often than not let the opportunity slip away. That is because I believed in others, but not in myself.
Having practiced martial arts for years, I began to write my blog, The Martial Arts Woman, just after I turned 50 years old. I had heard all too often that getting older meant that you are too old to work toward goals or a mission, that you have nothing left to offer, or that you can just give up and let yourself go because no one cares anymore.
Suddenly, through the blog and others requesting me to write for their magazines, I was instantly renewed. I started to realize that I did have something amazing to offer, and to deny it would be a waste of my potential and my dreams.
I’ve had small successes in the past, but I finally found my stride after writing the blog, for magazines, and my book, The Martial Arts Woman. I discovered all the hidden talents and treasures of my life that I had pushed aside for whatever reasons. I began to document kicks and other empowerment through photographing some of my personal martial art journey. I created motivational posters, inspirations, and sayings.
I finally felt true to myself and realized that it did not matter if anyone liked it or not. I was fulfilling my mission and my purpose. Martial arts have always been more than physical to me. They gave me the mindset to overcome tremendous obstacles in my life and looking back, I am thankful for that. If I could motivate myself, I can motivate others. My direction is only forward-looking.
The Sunscreen Film Festival in St. Petersburg, Florida, and having the opportunity to meet Don “The Dragon” Wilson, and James Wilson, may have fallen into place at the last-minute, but not without effort. I had to work for it. Whatever your vision of who you want to be is, you must put forth the effort.
I was excited to finally meet two people who have both realized their own dreams and successes. I am not as much in awe of their fame, but of what they have accomplished. It reminds me of the most valuable lesson in my life. I have a lot more work to do, and there are a few more shoulders I need to tap along the way. Not everyone will be as gracious as The Wilson brothers, but some will, and that is when I will get my chance to embrace my dreams.
I hope that you get to meet someone who inspires you to be more. Every day is a new promise to step out from beneath the limitations you have imposed upon yourself. I knew nothing about a film festival, and I didn’t know if I would get the chance to meet Don “The Dragon” Wilson or James Wilson, but I tried and everything worked out.
Try, try, and try again. Try and see what happens. What is important to you? How can you make a difference. Step out in faith and find out.
The Martial Arts Woman shares the stories and insights of more than twenty-five women in the martial arts, and how they apply martial arts to their lives. Unlike most other martial art books, the reader will catch a glimpse into the brave and empowered woman who dares to be all that she can be. Many of these women had to overcome great societal or personal challenges to break into the men’s world of martial arts. This book will motivate and inspire you to go after your goals in life and to fight through every challenge and defeat every obstacle. The Martial Arts Woman will open your eyes to the power of the human spirit and the martial art mindset that dwells in each of us!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andrea F. Harkins is a writer, motivator, life coach, martial artist, and public speaker. Her book, The Martial Arts Woman, is now available at themartialartswoman.storenvy.com.