Learning to Bloom at Any Age
“Transformation doesn’t ask that you stop being you. It demands that you find a way back to the authenticity and strength that’s already inside of you. You only have to bloom.”
As much time as I spend trying to work on my personal development and improvement, sometimes it is a breath of fresh air to stop and take in the many beautiful transformations happening all around me. I find it especially rewarding to observe people finding ways to bloom in every season of their lives. There are lessons I can take from each of their experiences, and I believe they represent some universal truths we can all benefit from hearing.
Just last week, my husband and I received this text from one of our athletes who is in her second year of college at UNC Chapel Hill. She started CrossFit with us when she was fifteen years old.
I just wanted to thank you both for being such great coaches over the past few years. At the beginning of the school year, I joined the Quidditch team (yes from Harry Potter, but it's a mix between lacrosse and rugby so it's pretty intense honestly) and a weightlifting club and through them both I have met some great people and have gotten more involved outside of academics. I actually get to travel to other schools for Quidditch so it's pretty cool. But I never would have had the courage to join them if not for CrossFit and the fact that you guys always encouraged me and pushed me to try harder at every aspect of my fitness. I have gained way more confidence in myself through CrossFit and I would not be the person I am today, nor would I be as happy, if it weren't for you guys. Joining your box has completely changed my life and there is no way I will ever be able to thank you guys enough.
Obviously, this was probably the coolest text I have ever received. Finding happiness and improved human relationships through fitness stemming from a love of books - Boom! That might be this nerdy English teacher’s dream come true. Aside from all the awesome things this young girl is doing, she has the self-awareness to recognize that her bravery has allowed her to become comfortable pushing beyond her comfort zone, and THAT has made all the difference. She is making priceless memories, cultivating lasting friendships and outlifting many guys in her class because she decided to say “YES” when she could have easily said “NO” or “Maybe later.” How I wish every girl could muster up this type of courage to bloom at her age!
What does it look like to bloom in the trenches of motherhood? My neighbor, co-coach and good friend, I call her my Joy, is a perfect example. I still remember the first time I met her. She was a timid woman peeking in the corner of my garage watching wide-eyed as we all screamed and cheered on middle-aged people exercising. That shy woman, once hiding in the background, is now front and center as a Level 2 CrossFit coach at our box. She runs our schedule management system and created our Janesdottirs Program, a class born of her vision to inspire and strengthen teenage girls. An accomplished athlete herself, she has managed to reach all these goals while raising FOUR kids between the ages of 5 months and 8 years. She squeezes in workouts between carpools and carves a space for her individual talents and abilities to shine. There is no greater place to see her transformation than in the eyes of her children. Just last week her eight year old daughter informed her that she wanted to be a CrossFit coach when she grew up. Blooming in motherhood has a magical trickle down effect.
A very special family friend is at a turning point in her life. With her children moved out and the chance for a new career direction, she is bravely writing a new chapter in her life. While caring for her ailing father, she has opened up her heart for intentional soul searching. She recently told me, “I don’t want my whole life to be defined by only one part of it...I want to figure out what I want to do with the rest of it.” Most of us understand how easily we can live as a daughter, a wife, a mother or an employee, completely losing sight of our own identity and personhood.
Her bloom, subtle and deeply profound, is a slow unfolding as she delicately peels back the layers of her life spent caring for others in order to find her true self. On a weekly basis, I have conversations with her discussing something she has read, seen or heard. She is examining her life and how she wants to spend the remainder of her time exploring this world. Gone are her days of asking permission and always putting her own needs last. She is paying attention and asking tough questions of herself and others. In so many ways her journey mirrors my own. Much like my young mom friend, this lady’s grown children are also taking note of their mother’s metamorphosis and quest for intentional living.
A mother and grandmother, this special woman has found her way into my family’s heart. She gives the best hugs - the kind with an extra squeeze on the end just to prove they are the real deal. On more than one occasion, she has stepped in with a compliment or observation that filled up a bit of the void my husband and I share missing our mothers in our lives. When we met her, she could not squat and claimed to never have exercised in her life. Now she runs 400 meters without stopping and hits up a wod several times a week. I am thankful her daughter introduced us, and her daughter is thankful for the “confidence my mom has found here.”
This brave woman is in the first year of her retirement, determined to rise above societal expectations and prove that age is indeed just a number. The strength and stamina she built in the box was spent taking her grandkids to water parks, zoos, hiking trails and various activities all summer long. She traveled to Colorado for her son’s wedding where she got to show off and apply her improved fitness and strong “guns” in the perfect dress. Holding her head high and proud, she gave the bride a run for her money. It was the gorgeous view and that stunning lady in the purple dress that first caught my eye in the picture. It’s easy to recognize a beautiful bloom when you see it.
Transformation and coming into our own can take on so many different forms and can happen at any stage of our lives. We are never beyond the point of reinvention. These ladies show me the incredible potential in combining confidence, courage and commitment. They made an intentional decision to take care of themselves in order to better enjoy life, care for others and make the most of each day they walk this Earth. I am thankful for the opportunity to stop and bask in the glorious beauty of their bloom.