This morning, as I sit and sip some coffee, my mind takes me back eight years to a beach in Hawaii when I should have been enjoying my honeymoon. Instead, I was a jilted bride, left at the alter (okay, okay, it wasn’t quite the dramatic movie scene- it did happen a few months before), trying to make the most of my already-booked-vacation with a friend who had agreed to join me.
Some readers can probably understand what it’s like to feel as though your entire future has been wiped blank if they’ve been through a traumatic experience themselves, but if you haven’t, it’s a strange realization. Whether you meticulously plan for the future or not, subconsciously you envision a future self who is the sum of your past experiences and current desires. When a shift occurs and your experiences and desires can no longer weld together, the future is not only unclear, it is blank.
At the time I didn’t know it, but I had been given a gift: An opportunity to conciously create a new future entirely. Most people spend their lives reacting rather than acting, responding rather than choosing, but when the carpet is pulled out from under you, your only option is to make thoughtful decisions in order to survive your current dilemma. Being under emotional distress with no clear idea of what lay ahead, I had no option but to exist entirely in the present, which also meant becoming more in tune with my self and learning to listen to my subconscious.
Sitting on that beach in Hawaii, I played the voyeur as five large outrigger canoes came to shore and the women rowing them jumped into the sea to pull the boats to land. At that moment, I suddenly knew what I wanted in my future. After months of feeling as though I was wandering blindly, that I actually wanted something for my future was profound.
For the first time in months, I felt connected to my surroundings and sure of myself. It was an intense moment that carried me through. For an instant, I knew more than anything I wanted to spend my life playing sport and traveling the world, and it was the first truth that came to me when life felt as though it was a massive web of lies.
As this is a website dedicated to the sport of Olympic lifting, it seems anti-climactic that I should realize I want to spend the rest of my life as an athlete. But at the time, I was just recovering from a hip surgery to fix a torn labrum and bone spurs. In 2009, a torn labrum in the hip was a relatively new diagnosis and I had spent seven years in pain before a doctor discovered the issue and I was able to get surgery. I had long since given up athletics as they irritated my hip to the point where I couldn’t function.
On that beach, I realized that for me, life was not complete without sport. It was the beginning of a new chapter- one that lead me to CrossFit and eventually Olympic lifting. That moment was the catalyst for me later owning a box and becoming a USA-W Level 2 coach. Looking back, it defined me and it reinvigorated me. I don’t need to explain to any CrossFitter how my confidence built with each WOD as I realized both the strength of my body and soul. CrossFit made me me again.
The other realization I had that day was that I needed to see as much of the world as possible before I died. I have since been to twenty-nine countries. I’ve hiked the Incan trails in Peru, skied the snow-capped mountains of the alps, and taken a safari to visit elephants and lions in South Africa. I’ve met people deep in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, stood in Anne Frank’s Secret Annex, and dined with a Kurdish family in Turkey. I’ve seen the ancient temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, surfed the waves of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama, and eaten all the homemade pasta that Italy has to offer. I have lived.
The more I do what I love, the more I realize that this is what I need to do to be happy. I have also realized what I don’t need, which is equally as important. For those reasons, I’ve fully embraced the concept of lifestyle design.
In order to continue to travel as much as humanly possible, my husband and I have decided to sell our home and return to apartment living. This isn’t the answer for everyone, but for us, it makes sense. We don’t want kids so having an entire home for two people is a waste of money that would be better spent on our two loves: weightlifting and traveling.
Of course we will miss some of the aspects of our house. We won’t have the luxury of barbecuing anymore and no one likes dragging their laundry across an apartment complex to the laundry room. But a part of lifestyle design is realizing what you most desire, and then chipping away whatever stands in the way of those desires. The conveniences our house offers are not worth cutting our travels short. And the time spent on home maintenance could be time we spend in the gym.
This concept of lifestyle design has bled into both of our subconscious and it’s become an unstoppable force that guides our life. It’s the reason why Pete, my husband, left a cushy job to start his own independent venture. We could have easily afforded many luxuries if he stayed at a job that left him unfulfilled, but material items are no trade for inner happiness. He took the leap towards uncertainty because his gut told him to and a year later, it’s become clear that our intuition is always right if we just listen to it.
Maybe throwing ourselves under heavy snatches and clean and jerks day in and day out has made us bolder in our life outside the gym. Maybe that day on the beach when I heard my innermost desires loudly and clearly is still serving as a guiding light for me. Whatever the reason, realizing that it is completely within our power to design the life we want, so long as we are willing to make sacrifices and bold moves, is liberating.
So, what is it that you truly want in this life and what are you doing to make that happen? Comment below!