I feel so grateful to be writing you today.
After months of training, for the first time in quite some time, I’ve been able to walk around my apartment barefoot. Without much pain. Whoa.
You see, after an accident I had when I was a kid, major muscles from my back were transferred to reconstruct my lower leg. This process, along with 50 some-odd hours of surgery, took about 6 years.
I’ve gone through phases of awareness in my life regarding my leg — when I was wheelchair-bound it was impossible to ignore my physical state, but throughout my late teens I had a deep and unconscious resistance to acknowledging my own body.
It was easy to ignore it when I wasn’t in obvious pain.
I don’t know of many women who haven’t felt this way, at least once — the desire to run from one’s own body. It’s a stinging and raw kind of suffering.
Through my social media posts about surfing, you might already know that despite being differently-abled, I’ve always been the athletic type. I’ve never had real consistency, though. I’ve gone through periods of every-day yoga (and took that teacher training journey) to total bodily negligence.
From a near-obese BMI (thanks, six month road trip through the Deep American South) to super slim (sexy, until I realized it was from a 3rd world parasitic invasion) — I’ve had my fair share of body-blindness.
But I digress.
Six months ago, when I returned back to Bali from months of feasting in America, I discovered that I was unable to walk barefoot without quite a lot of pain.
No — a fuck-ton of pain.
Like, I-can’t-walk-without-shoes-pain. My feet were taking on the extra weight I had gained and my muscles had atrophied quite a bit.
This was terrifying for me.
Seriously though — I’m only 31. Deep fears around being wheelchair-bound were immediately triggered, hardcore. As much as I didn’t want to be “awake” to these changes, I knew I had to do something. There was no way I could be asleep in my own body anymore, or just exercise when I felt like it.
Fast forward to last week. I’m finishing up re-reading Julia Butterfly Hill’s “Legacy of Luna” story of how she stayed in a Redwood tree for over two years to save it, and the surrounding forest, from being ripped from the earth and gone forever. Julia was a childhood hero of mine – her strength, conviction, and heart appealed to my sensibilities. I was a bit of a rebel who hated the idea of growing up. My dad called me Peter Panette.
You can imagine my total awe and delight when, several years ago, I was able to hang with her when I worked at the Omega Institute. Julia was dynamic. She was fierce. She was also kind, and gentle.
But the one thing that stuck out to me, more than anything, was her incredible, palpable, spit-fire devotion to our planet.
She absolutely radiated commitment.
She talked about living through ice storms, noise torture from the corporation she was up against, and nights when she really, genuinely, thought she was going to die.
Can you imagine going through that? Like, voluntarily? For TWO years???
One thing Julia said was that had she known the despair, and fear, and pain she was going to experience – she might have never gotten up in that tree.
The seed of champion-ship was planted in her already, but she had not one scrap of a clue as to what she was in for.
Sometimes that’s how I think we are, right before we dive into planet earth and get born into this festival of paradox.
We’re these small and sweet little wisps of souls — and we land here, blissfully unaware of the pain or the joy we’re going to feel.
And somehow, through the shock of being human, we still wake up, everyday, tie our shoes and pat down our hair, and greet whatever that day’s challenges are. Sometimes that looks like facing a debilitating autoimmune disease, or an abusive boss, or a dying partner, or a pet cat who (let’s be honest) doesn’t really care about you.
Sometimes it looks like having the courage to look at our faces in the mirror, exactly as we are. No matter how scary that might be.
I think that’s the evidence of our seedling of champion-ship. We all have it. That potential to go forward even when it doesn’t feel good — and especially when it feels impossible.
Working with my trainer has brought me to absolute tears, and breathless (recovering asthma sufferer, yessir I am), and sweaty, and sick-feeling, and angry, and wickedly sore. I’ve wailed and shouted and moaned so loud that my neighbors have thought my trainer was my sadistic lover. I’ve been so out of breath that I can’t wipe my own sweat from draining into my mouth. Ew.
I’ve felt like “there’s no flippin’ way I can keep going. No. Flipshittin’. Way.”
And then I’d keep going.
Through all of this, I noticed a mental and bodily transformation that astounded me.
I understood the power of telling myself that I could do it.
That I could do 100 burpees in a session. That I could do tabata after tabata.
I never know what my trainer is going to hand me.
I just kind of land into each session and trust that I’ll get through it.
When Julia was up in the tree, she said there were times of such deep desperation that all she could do was fall down on her knees and pray to God — that Great Spirit that runs through everything and everyone as energy and fire and passion and surrender— for strength.
Amongst other gifts, I think she was infused with the humility to ask for help. Help with that commitment – the enormity of which she couldn’t have known she was signing up for.
This week, I finally walk around my apartment with only minimal/no discomfort.
For me, this is remarkable.
I think it’s because I consistently ask for help with my commitment. (Because for this little wild child, commitment doesn’t always come so easily.) And c’mon, we all know we can’t go through this life on our own.
I just wake up everyday with that seedling of champion-ship, and ask for help, and show up.
And I just wanted to remind you — star creature that you are — that you’ve got that seedling too.
And that one step at time, we can all become champions.
P.S. I wrote this a day before Clinton’s “champion themed” presidential announcement came out. Scout’s honor. I guess championship is running around the collective conscious brain.
P.P.S I’m fully aware that I’ve used “champion-ship” (it’s not a recognized word) as a noun, and a verb, and possibly even an adjective in this piece. It’s deliberate. When you know the rules, it’s a blast to break them.