Growing up, Twistars USA was my playground. I spent 25-30 hours there a week doing gymnastics with my closest friends and coaches.
Tomorrow I walk back onto that playground with my sister. Changed as an athlete. Changed in body. Changed as a person.
However, despite those changes, a few things have remained the same. My love for the sport and what it taught me. My love for my fellow teammates and coaches who were so influential in shaping the values I took away from my time as an athlete in that gym: Determination. Loyalty. Perseverance. The importance of hard work and zero excuses.
The last couple of months, Allie and I have been meeting at night to choreograph and perfect dances to teach to the gymnasts. There’s been a lot of bruises, sweat, and smiles. Tomorrow morning we begin coaching.
And boy, am I feeling a gamut of emotions.
Am I prepared enough? Will the girls like the dances? Will they be able to pick them up okay? Are they too hard? Too easy?
And then there’s the feelings of pure excitement, anticipation, and overwhelming gratitude. Gratitude that my body is at a point that I was even able to commit to this camp. Gratitude that Allie and I will be there together…Coaching together, dancing together, and I am sure, laughing together.
And then there’s the fear I have been battling.
Let me just say that I HATE FEAR.
I usually try not to “feed the fears” but let’s face it. EDS and POTS are unpredictable. It’s pretty impossible to know if you will have a good day or a bad day until the day is here. So those pesky, ineffective, “what ifs” have crept in…What if my body gives out? What if I can’t make it through? What if I sublux something?
I have had time to think long and hard about all of these what ifs, so I decided to intentionally write out my thoughts. That way, if I come home, discouraged and exhausted, I can read my words and put myself in its place.
(Head shake, sassy style).
You are not that 17-year-old gymnast anymore so do not expect to go in there and act like you are. You have EDS. You have POTS. No, they are not excuses to do less, but they are real, and will need to be acknowledged the next four days. You will need to sit when you can, have your feet up when you can, use your foam roller when you can, and not get mad if you need frequent breaks. Because you will. That’s just the nature of your “blessings.” You know that. Chug Smart Water like a boss. Bring salad and lots of protein so your body is fueled. Sleep during lunch. Eat tons of salt. Take double the Midodrine. Wear your compression socks when you need them. Who cares what they look like. You are way past that.
Dig into those feeling of gratitude and leave your fears at the door. You are there. Dancing. With Allie. With girls who share the same love of the sport as you. You are moving. On your feet. That’s huge. Remember when you couldn’t walk for more than two minutes?
Don’t forget perspective, don’t forget the joy that dance brings you, don’t forget how far you have come. So no pity parties, no matter the challenges you face the next four days…no matter the outcome. Deal? And don’t forget to be kind to yourself. You have done enough. You are enough.
Now go shake your thang. And smile doing it.
(I say, whatever gets you through. Even if it means talking to myself and putting it out there for all of cyber-space to read).
Gymnastics camp here we come. Zebra style.
Let’s do this.
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