Summer of Sweat, Salt and Sun
For someone whose summer normally has loads of all three, how does one adapt to sudden change?
A hell of a lot of sweat. Sweat dripping, heavy breathing, heart pumping, blood rushing, muscles contracting, all propelling me forward into something bigger than myself. Something that innately connects me to the people around me. One body, one breath, all moving together. A collective energy of strength, power, and commitment. An exchange of energy amongst each other. Fitness is about how we feel. It's about the strength of self through realizing that you can do anything you set your mind to. Believing in each other, and most importantly believing in ourselves.
Along with the sweat life, my summers are usually always full of salt and sun. Being a part of SurfYogaBeer, a fitness adventure company that travels worldwide, means lots of time spent traveling to incredible locations across the world such as Costa Rica, Nicaragua, the Amalfi Coast and Oahu. Living the SurfYogaBeer lifestyle means, yup, you guessed it, even more sweat. Waking up and jumping in the ocean as a morning shower. Morning beach bootcamps, hiking to waterfalls, stand-up paddleboarding, all followed by sunset yoga around the pool. All outdoors, all natural, all the time. At the end of the week, leaving adventures feeling salty, sun-kissed, recharged and ready to go.
With all of the sweat blurring my eyes, this summer took a turn that I didn't see coming. For the past two months I have been out of commission due to a back injury with an extensive recovery process. That means no exercise, no teaching and very limited movement. The majority of my time this summer has been spent lying horizontal in bed, trying to rest and recover. Lots of doctors, tests and unknowns. For someone who naturally lives and breathes the sweat life, and has also made it their dream career, you can expect that this sudden change in lifestyle was not easy.
It has been a summer of learning, emotions, testing of patience, and letting go of what I can not control. These days, the extent of my perspiration is getting caught in the New York City heat while heading to doctor's appointments. My true sweat these days is not physical at all. In fact, it's a sweat that comes from a deeper place. My sweat is purely mental. It's about fighting for my body and fighting for my dreams. The same drive, strength and power that has always been a part of my physical sweat is now driving my healing process. Being an athlete has taught me how to never give up on myself, to keep moving forward even when things get tough, and to trust myself more innately than ever.
Being out of commission has meant that I can't sit for more than half an hour without my back hurting and can't be out of the house for more than a few hours at a time without aching. Most people would think I've had an amazing summer, so much time off, right? Wrong. Recovery has been a full time job, both physically and mentally.
So needless to say, this was not a summer of salt and sun. The ocean was not in the cards for me this summer, but that doesn't mean I didn't get my fair share of saltwater. In fact, it was a key ingredient of my summer. Tears. Lots of them. Lots of learning that it's okay to be vulnerable. It's okay to be sad. It's okay to not be okay. The waterworks were at an all-time high, crying by myself, to my mom, and to close friends. Trying to stay positive, while the whole time feeling like things were falling apart. Over time I started to welcome the tears, because they came to represent my rawness and my vulnerability. They stood for all that I care about, my dreams, visions and goals all rolled up into one. Each time that they came, they helped to refresh and renew me. My own salt and shedding was what helped to cleanse my soul.
Check yes for salt, but fun in the sun? We had a hot New York City summer, but you wouldn't know it from looking at me. For my Italian self, my skin is not it's normal summer darkness and my hair is not it's beachy blonde. I could definitely use some Vitamin D. However, being in the sun has been the last thing on my mind lately. Instead, I chose to chase after my own version of sun this summer, and that's the light from within. Each of us has a spark inside of us, a flame that burns. Sometimes it burns bright and sometimes it flickers. Sometimes we have to walk through a load of darkness in order to see just how bright our own light shines. It was a choice to hold onto that spark this summer. A choice to let the sun in. To remember that there is a fire in my heart that refuses to go away.
There will always be times in life when things don't go as planned. There will be twists, there will be turns. This is not my first bump in the road and it most certainly will not be my last. So how do we step back when it feels like we have no control? How do we relax and ride it out? (#punintended)
The only answer is to TRUST. To know that you are EXACTLY where you are meant to be. To know that what is meant for you, will always come around to find you. To acknowledge that you are HERE. Your heart is beating. You are breathing. To believe wholeheartedly that everything within you is all that you need. So that when things DO get tough, instead of saying, "Why me?" you say, "Try me."
My summer might not have gone as expected. Life might have thrown me a slight curve ball. Someone up above might be testing my patience, my strength and my courage. But within this, there are things to be grateful for. There is so much to be learned, so much to grow from, and so much to be shared.
My sweat might not be physical, my eyes might be puffy and my tan might not be present; but my strength is palpable, my vulnerability is raw, and my light refuses to burn out.