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I was on vacation in Tennessee recently. It is much different from Florida. I tried and saw new things every day and that made it a memorable vacation.

I climbed hundreds of stairs to the top of beautiful waterfalls, explored a cave, swam in a lake, spent hours in a pontoon boat, went canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding. I enjoyed the outdoors and the activities. In Florida, where I live, it is too hot in the summer to enjoy being outside.

Many of the activities require balance, especially the canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Out on a deep, but beautiful lake, I had no desire to fall into the water at any point. Even with a life vest on, I am not extremely fond of deep water.

But, looking out ahead of where I was going, it was peaceful and relaxing and the scenery was spectacular.

In martial arts, balance is required all the time, and like the water activities above, there is always that bit of anticipation that you might fall over, get hit, or put your foot down when it is supposed to be up. If your body is not balanced, you lose sight of the technique and end up having to start over.

If your mind is not balanced, it affects everything in martial arts. I went to class once and when I arrived I remember thinking to myself, “I do not want to be here tonight.”

While generally I push right through and enjoy my class, on this night, I should have heeded my own advice and stayed home.

Unbalanced in my mind, created unbalance in my body. I did not feel balanced in any way whatsoever and ended up leaving early.

Unbalance happens to everyone, even great leaders, exceptional athletes, and dedicated martial art masters. It causes frustration, but it is the reminder that we need to seek balance again, even when it seems far away.

In those moments, we grow and stretch and find our way back to the person we want to be. You may need a little time to regroup, as I did in that one martial art class when I felt out of sync. Just a day or so later, I felt energized and experienced a great class.

Part of balance is knowing when you are unbalanced

This vacation, I learned great lessons about balance in mind, body, and spirit, especially the body! As I stood on the paddle board for the first time, it was easier than I thought it would be.

Two spots on the board outlined where to put my feet, and the long paddle reached easily to the water without me having to compromise my position.

Still, as I edged my way along, the board rocked slightly side to side, but I maneuvered well and sometimes I sailed along as if on a sheet of ice.

Life is a paddleboard. Flat, but requiring balance. There are hills and valleys, ups and downs, but beneath it all is a flat terrain upon which we create experiences and live our lives.

Through goodness, kindness, and positivity, we gain beautiful balance as we move through our days.

On the other hand, reactionary and emotional negative behaviors rock our smooth sailing until we fall off and must begin again.

As you stand up on your paddleboard of life today, know that you can sail forward with an outstandingly positive outlook and mindful balance. You can peruse along the way feeling refreshed and focused on what is ahead. Keep still when the path is rocky, and move faster when it is smooth.

Positivity is your paddle, so dip it in beside you as you go and let it splash back slightly to cool you for your effort.

My vacation in Tennessee was rejuvenating. By doing and seeing things I had never done before, I gained a whole new outlook and balance about who I am in this great big world.

I learned that I can find balance where I least expect it.

The biggest lesson I learned, however, was much bigger than keeping afloat in the Tennessee lakes. Life is buoyant but requires positivity and balance to keep afloat.

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Andrea Harkins, a/k/a “The Martial Arts Woman,” is an internationally recognized writer, published book author, blogger, motivator, and public speaker. She has been a martial artist for 28 years, and is also a martial art instructor. Today, along with teaching and training, Andrea's passion and goal is to make the world a better place through her mission of positivity through martial arts.