Life is hard. I believe no one is exempt from that. Pain presents itself in different stories and in different ways to each of us. I have found that sometimes navigating through pain is harder than the pain itself...
Over three years ago I joined a seemingly simple, girly and mainstream fitness community. You may have heard me mention it a time or two...Founders, Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott, of Tone It Up, had easy enough recipes and workouts to follow along with, and it actually seemed fun, and, well, it really was.
I fell in love fast and hard. I signed up for every meet up, bought the protein powder and the workout gear, and surprised myself by my newfound commitment to health and fitness, something I had been struggling to maintain for years. I wanted to be fit. I wanted to feel strong. I wanted to be healthy and present for my family. This was, at the time, my “why,” and I felt fairly confident about it.
And then something changed. Somewhere in the first nine months I had a shift. Somewhere in the countless meet ups, check ins on social media, SoulCycle classes that helped to change my thinking, this obscure and cliché phrase, self love, was integrating and altering my thoughts and habits without my realizing it. However, this emotional and mental shift came to my awareness in a painstakingly abrupt and unexpected moment when my family received some bad news. I crumbled. It was as if the pain that I carried for 30 years, the pain that had no voice, finally caught up to me, and I handled the news in a way that I am not proud of. But I got through it, and soon I felt my why had changed. It was no longer about the toned abs, but rather how necessary movement had become in maintaining my mental and emotional health. It had become my therapy, escape, release and fuel to get me through the good and the bad. I almost felt I had it all figured out again. But of course, life happened...
It began as a small snowball effect. I was laid off from a job that I loved because the company was being acquired. Three days later, my dog died unexpectedly. A short time after that, my depression returned. Four months after that, my grandma passed away. And a few months after that, I was injured. My therapy and sanity (movement) temporarily inaccessible for eight long weeks. All of these things were challenging. They were hard. They were also just life. But then 2018, and the rough patch and pain I thought I was finally overcoming, came to an explosive finale in October. My sweet little family experienced agonizing heartbreak, and in a single evening, my entire world as I knew it came crashing down.
When I think of that fateful night, it is one of the few experiences that is still hard for me to put into words. How does one speak to or write about what it feels like when their husband says they no longer wish to be married? To this day, it brings me pain, and it is something I work hard on healing constantly.
This moment, though, unbeknownst to me, would be a defining and turning point in my life. It was hard. It made everything else I endured over the past year look like small hills. This, however, was a monstrous mountain that had me guessing if the journey might actually kill me. It wouldn't, of course, but everything I had learned up until that point, everything I had been working to improve in the past two years, would be put to the test. As far as I could see, I had two choices: The first was to continue drowning like I felt I was, the second was to love myself harder than I ever had and to show up for my family in a way that was new to me. In a way that felt impossible, yet crucial to our journey, all at the same time. So that's exactly what I did.
On September 23, 2017, at the Tone It Up tour, Katrina made a promise. She said, "From this moment on, you'll never be alone. You'll have the incredible power of the women around you." I took that to heart. So, I wasn't alone. I relied on the support of my parents and girlfriends. Finally, after years of denying it, either from pride or a genuine unknowing of how to tap into the army of support that I had, I embraced it. Finally, I found a voice for pain I didn't know how to speak to, or how to even validate. I showed up for myself in a way that I had never done so before. Unfortunately this change was forced by the painful circumstances I was going through, but regardless, it was happening. I FINALLY went to therapy. I finally listened to myself when the true answer was no, and when it was yes. I finally understood just how powerful movement was when it came to healing and growing.
I'm unsure at what point I began to feel like an entirely new person. Parts of the old me almost unrecognizable. But I would be lying to you if I said I never slip back into old thought patterns, or that I don't have days where I suck at being there for my loved ones, or for myself. Or that I'm not a messy, imperfect human, because I 100% am. It's just different now.
I use to say that I live and breathe fitness. Now I say, I live and breathe movement. The journey from joining TIU to today has transformed wildly. I don't care about the number on the scale. And I do feel strong. But more importantly, I'm able to navigate life much more easily, whether it's moving through heartbreak, or the monotony of the workweek. Movement has helped me to experience joy and happiness in a bigger and deeper way. It has helped with my ability to be a better friend, daughter and partner, and with my ability to love them better and harder. It's given me the ability to stop being so hard on the people I love because I'm no longer wrapped up in unrealistic expectations I put on myself.
This is a preliminary story of how Grounding Climbs came to be. During my darkest moments, I went to the rocks. I found the ability to heal, forgive and recharge through my climbs. They grounded me. And this is why I have a calling to talk about movement as it relates to growth and healing more than ever before. I know a lot of this was about Tone It Up, but only because it was instrumental in how I got to where I'm at today.
I hope this series helps you to feel empowered in whatever it is you are called to do. These stories move through the range of emotions because I feel every single emotion is important to explore. As my therapist would tell me, if you cut out a single color in the rainbow, the other colors cannot exist. And that is what Grounding Climbs is. It is all of the colors. It is heavy, light, sad, happy, exciting, work. It's life.