My Dear Omega Family,

I sincerely can’t believe it is that time of year again when I get to sit down and reflect on what happened throughout the year and express my love and gratitude for you.  Each year, when I write this letter to you, I have a tradition… That tradition includes pondering for a while and trying to picture each of you individually and visualize what growth you experienced this past year.  I always find myself amazed at the caliber of people we have here at Omega and I am so blessed to be a part of this wonderful family.

However, being in a working and functional family is not easy; in fact, often times it is very hard.  We are taught that the potential for the greatest sorrows and the greatest joys in life will come as a result of being in a family.  Why is this?  I have often thought about the dynamics of my own personal family and also the dynamics of our larger Omega Family and what it is that makes these two entities work.  Although I am no expert at evaluating the family, I have some things I have learned over the years that I would like to share.

Being a member of a family takes sacrifice.  We have all experienced times when we have had a long day and the thought of going to the studio and teaching students is difficult.  So, what do we do to push past this feeling?  We think of the students we will be teaching.  We think of the opportunity to give someone the gift of joy that comes from moving a little further along the martial art pathway.  We stop thinking about ourselves and we lose ourselves in the service of others.  Through this selfless sacrifice we overcome feelings of discouragement or doubt and we are blessed to see again why we chose to be a part of this Omega Family.  This concept applies also to your personal families.   When we are willing to sacrifice our time in order to serve and help our mom, dad, brothers, and sisters, we truly learn to love them on a more deeper level.

Being a member of a family takes being vulnerable, at times, and being willing to allow others in to your life.  Never have I had a meaningful relationship with someone in whom I was not willing to share a part of who I am with them.  In this life, we were meant to struggle and go through hardships.  If we never felt sorrow and hardship, then we would never know what joy and happiness really is.  However, we were not meant to go through those hardships and struggles alone.  This year we lost a dear member of our Omega Family when Sabumnim Catherine McNeece passed away.  This was a very difficult time for all of us.  There were many questions and emotions that were very hard to understand.  I loved and still do love Sab. Catherine for the person she was and the person she inspired me to be.  I will greatly miss her, but I know I will see her again.  Please always remember that in a family we know everyone struggles with something or many things, we just need to be willing to reach out and let others love and serve us through those struggles and hardships – I know it is easier said than done – but please try!

Being in a family takes the ability to love and to be loved.  You are all amazing people and very unique in your own personal way.  You are ALL worthy of being loved.  The thing about unconditional love is that you do not have to meet some sort of check list in order to receive love; by just being YOU makes YOU qualified to be loved unconditionally.  Unfortunately, I know many people in our Omega Family that don’t feel worthy of such love.  If you are reading this letter, please know that YOU ARE LOVED and that you have a family around you that will be there for you no matter what.  This I promise you!

I love each and every one of you in a very individual way.  My life is better because of my years of association with you.  We are one big Omega Family.  We need to be more mindful of this fact.  We need to be better at respecting one another, we need to love one another unconditionally, we need to sacrifice for each other, and we need to be willing to share our lives with each other.  By doing this I know that the feeling in and out of the studio will continue to grow and attract others who want to feel loved and accepted too.

Thank you for loving me, respecting me, and accepting me for who I am (goofball and all).

With Sincere Love and Dedication to all of You,

Kwanjangnim Richard