Disappointment

I’m back! Sorry I disappeared for the last month. I’ve been recovering from shoulder surgery, and it was super difficult to type with one hand. My mom came into town for the first few days to help Sean take care of me, but for the past three weeks, it’s just been me, Sean, and the pups. Oh yeah… and my physical therapist who I have to see quite frequently so he can try to rip my arm off. At least that’s how it feels sometimes. Anyway…

The past month has been extremely difficult. For many reasons. Figuring out how to do life with one arm is tough. Like, I know my other arm is still there, but I can’t use it fully. Ugh! It’s been so frustrating! Sean had to wash my hair and still has to put it up for me (which seriously tests my patience because I really like to be in control of my hair). He had to help me get ready in the morning. He still has to make my bed for me on the couch at night because I can’t sleep in a bed quite yet without hurting. But as hard as this has been, I’ve discovered how incredibly amazing my husband is. I mean, I already knew that when I married him, but he just continues to get more and more amazing. He has truly taken care of me and loved me so deeply through this healing process. And this healing process is still another two months! Help me!!!!! But for real though. Sean is the most amazing human on planet earth. And I love him with everything.

Also in the past month, I made the decision that it was time to move on from coaching. I knew this day would come, but honestly I didn’t think it would be this soon. Sometimes things happen that are out of your control and you have to make the best decision for yourself.

This decision wasn’t easy. It was actually heartbreaking. I absolutely adore the girls I coached for the past year and a half. And it’ll be tough to not see them everyday. But after lots and lots of conversations with Sean, we decided it was time for me to pursue the other desires I’ve had in my heart for a while now. More about that later.

I say all that to say that disappointment has been like a shadow on my life lately and it just won’t seem to go away. My hope is getting tired and weary. My heart is struggling to make sense of it all. Even in the Message Version of the Bible it says, “Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick…” (Proverbs 13:12). And I feel like that is the perfect description of me right now. Heartsick. The second part of Proverbs 13:12 sounds a lot better: “…but a sudden good break can turn life around.”

But… God! Where’s that good break! I need it! I need it like water in a desert! I mean, come on now. In one month, I’ve had surgery AND now I don’t have a job. I feel like I’m falling apart. Not to mention I haven’t even been able to try to find something else to do because I’ve been in a dumb sling. And I’m still recovering. For what seems like forever.

Even in all this pain (physical and emotional), somehow I still feel a glimmer of hope. I certainly don’t know all the answers. But one thing I am certain of is this: God, my Father, will take care of me. He’s not surprised by any of this. It hasn’t thrown Him for a loop like it has me.

How do I know this? Because He has always taken care of me. Even in my darkest moments. Even when I’ve felt like He wasn’t there. Like He had forgotten about me. He always has a plan and a purpose. Do I believe that He’s the one who has caused all this pain? Absolutely not. But I do know there is purpose in the pain. But what does that mean, exactly?

In the Bible in Romans 8:28, it says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God…”

I love God. I really do. And my goodness am I thankful that He causes everything to work together for my good. Because He loves me. So even though I’m not quite sure what this next season of life has in store for me, I know He does. I know He has a plan.

Honestly, this post doesn’t have a whole lot to do with gymnastics. But I think it very much can be applied to gymnasts. How many times in your gymnastics career have you been disappointed? Maybe it’s something you did. Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe it was something completely out of your control.

I feel like disappointment is part of any sport that strives for perfection. Because when we start to put the standard of perfection on ourselves, we get disappointed. Everytime. Because we as people just aren’t perfect. But I’m here to tell you today that if you’re facing disappointment right now like I am, whether it’s in gymnastics, school, or maybe just life in general, there is hope. I’m waiting for it too. But I can tell you it’s coming.

Some of you might be reading this and going, “Um… how do you trust in something you can’t see? How do you know that God is real? And if He is real, how do you know He has good plans and not bad plans for you?” First of all, I know because the Bible tells me so. And I believe the Bible. Second of all, I know Him. Have I seen him? No. But I’ve felt Him. I’ve felt Him in ways that bring more comfort than any human or thing could ever bring.

If you don’t believe me, let me give you a challenge. This might sound weird, but do it anyway. When you’re by yourself, maybe in your room, maybe in the shower, I want you to talk to God. Talk to Him as if you would talk to a friend. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Ask Him to show you His love. Ask Him to bring you His comfort. And He’ll show up. I can’t explain it. I can’t tell you exactly what it’ll be like. But He’ll show up. Trust me.

My prayer for you is that you will experience love, peace, and comfort like you’ve never experienced before. God is there with you. Even in your disappointment. You just have to be willing to let Him into your life. He’s a perfect gentleman. He won’t barge in. But if you ask, He’ll be there in a moment. Because He loves you, too.

Confidence vs. Pride

When I was eight years old, I remember my coach telling my mom that some of my teammates were saying that I had been bragging. My eight-year-old heart was devastated. I was so embarrassed. I never wanted to brag about my gymnastics. I never wanted to hurt my teammates feelings.

I remember walking in the gym that day so sad and scared and embarrassed. I was scared my teammates didn’t want me there. I didn’t want to look them in the eye. I was so discouraged.

From that point on, I decided that I wasn’t going to say anything about myself that could hurt my teammates. And in my little brain, that meant not saying anything positive about myself. I thought being humble meant being negative about my gymnastics and myself. When people found out I did gymnastics and asked me if I was good, I could never look them in the eye and say yes with confidence. I was always hesitant. I hated those questions. They made me afraid I was going to hurt someone.

I was afraid to own the fact that I was a good gymnast my entire gymnastics career because of that one moment. And that one moment made me buy into the lie that I had to be negative about myself to keep from being prideful.

I still struggle with this today. Sean, my husband, tells me all the time to stop being so negative about myself. But it’s like second nature to me at this point. Sometimes the words come out of my mouth before I even realize what I’m saying.

I’m really trying to work on this myself because negative words are SO destructive. What you say about yourself is what you eventually start to believe. And when you don’t stop, you just keep digging out your negativity hole. It gets bigger and bigger and soon, you’re stuck in the hole. You look around and all you see are the negative things you’ve spoken about yourself. The positive begins to disappear.

What I’m learning as I get older is there is a very big distinction between being prideful and being confident. Pride is thinking you’re all that. It’s believing you’re better than everyone else. And a lot of times, pride involves vocalizing that belief.

Have you ever been around someone who just talks about how great they are all the time? They talk about all the skills they’re getting, how much stronger they are than everyone else, how they’re skipping a level because they’re just so good. I think we all know someone like that. And that’s pride. Pride isn’t fun to be around. It builds itself up and tears everyone else down.

Confidence builds you up while building other people up in the process. It sees your short comings, but in spite of them says, “You can do this.” Confidence is seeing the negative and throwing the positive in its face. At the 2016 Olympics, Laurie Hernandez was getting ready to compete beam finals, and she was so nervous. But right after she saluted, she told herself, “I got this.” If you watch the video, you can even see her say it to herself. That’s confidence. Right when she started to get nervous and doubt started to creep in, she said to herself, “Nope. I got this.” There was no pride involved. Just confidence in herself. And she won the silver.

Now, let’s think for a second how her beam routine might have ended up if she had let her fear and nerves take over. Sure, she might have done the same beam routine. Maybe even still have gotten the silver. But I personally believe that if she hadn’t set her mind straight, she would have done a beam routine that was shaky and full of nerves and fear. And I think it would have been evident, resulting in lots of wobbles, maybe even a fall. I truly believe that’s the power we have over our mind. And she proved it.

Think about yourself for a minute. Where do you land when you think about your gymnastics? Do you have the tendency to be negative about yourself? Do you tend to talk about how great you are all the time? Or do you look your challenges, mistakes, and fears in the face and say, “I got this”?

Words are powerful. And because your words (or thoughts) can either build you up or destroy you, I want you to take some time to evaluate yourself. Really think about times you’ve been negative, prideful, and confident. Take yourself back to those moments and think about how you could have responded in a way that would have built you or your teammates up instead of tearing all of you down.

You have a choice every day you walk in the gym. You can choose to be negative, you can choose to be prideful, or you can choose to be confident. The choice is yours. So, what will you choose today?

Whose Gymnastics Are You Focused On?

When I was a gymnast, my mom used to ask me, “Whose gymnastics are you focused on?” So often I would come home from practice and tell her all about my teammates, and it usually had to do with one of three things: envy, jealousy, or comparison.

Let’s talk about the difference between these three things for a minute.

Envy is wishing you had something someone else has. For example, in the gymnastics world, it’s easy to be envious of the girl who gets five new skills a day, but it takes you a year to get five new skills. You wish you could be like her.

Jealousy is a fear that someone else will replace you. For example, maybe you are the best gymnast on the team, and because of that you get most of the attention. But then all of a sudden, someone else starts to get more attention. Your coach starts to point them out instead of you. And you become jealous of her. You become afraid that she is going to take your place. Jealousy is extremely common in friendship amongst teammates as well.

Comparison is comparing what you have or can do to what someone else has or can do. Comparison causes you to either think very negatively about yourself or to think very highly of yourself and believe you are better than everyone else. For example, you see your teammate get a new skill that you don’t have yet. You compare yourself to her and say, “How does she have that skill and I don’t? I must be an awful gymnast.” Or maybe you are the one who gets the new skill that your teammates don’t have yet, and it causes you to say, “I have this skill and they don’t. I’m so much better than they are.”

Do you see how all three of these can be destructive not only to you, but to your team as well? Envy, jealousy, and comparison are all nasty! But it’s something we all struggle with. Especially as girls. Especially as gymnasts.

I want you to think about yourself for a second. Which of these three things do you tend to struggle with the most? Maybe it’s only one. Maybe it’s all three. Whatever you struggle with, I have good news for you! You can overcome! You can become a gymnast who focuses only on your gymnastics while supporting your teammates without envy, jealousy, or comparison!

Now, I didn’t say it was easy. These three things seem to come naturally to us as human beings, so it takes a little retraining of our minds. Instead of thinking of yourself as better or worse than your teammates, here are some things I want you to begin to think of yourself as:

SUPPORTER. You are your teammates’ supporter. How amazing does it feel when you have the support of someone? When you have someone who supports you and your dream, it makes all the difference in the world. And you can be that for your teammates. Everyone needs support. So choose to be that support for them.

ENCOURAGER. In combination with being your teammates’ supporter, you are also their encourager. It feels so good to know you have someone there to encourage you when it’s a great day and pick you back up when it’s a rough one. But not only are you your teammates’ encourager, you’re also your own encourager. It’s time to start encouraging yourself! I have a gymnast that I currently coach who literally talks to herself. When she’s getting ready to go for a skill, she audibly says, “You’ve got this. You’re gonna go.” And I love it! I love how she drowns out the negative with the positive. Maybe you don’t say it audibly, but in your head, remind yourself that you’ve got this.

CONQUEROR. You, my friend, are a conqueror. Everyone has their own struggles. What you struggle with isn’t what your teammate struggles with. You have your strengths and weaknesses, and so do they. So instead of focusing on your weaknesses and their strengths, I want you to focus on how you can conquer your weaknesses and help your teammates do the same. After all, you are a team. You all need each other! Your strength might help someone else in their weakness. But if you’re too busy focusing on how terrible you are you’re never going to help anyone. Especially not yourself.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post on negativity and how it’s contagious. Well… so is positivity and encouragement! I want to challenge you to be the example. Even if no one else is doing it. Choose to be the supporter. Be the encourager. Be the conqueror. When your teammates see your example, they’ll soon follow. It’s contagious! They need you. And you need them.

So let me ask you, whose gymnastics are you focused on?

Injured? Remember These Things…

Injuries are awful. I hate them. I hate the uncertainty. I hate the waiting. I hate the patience they require. But goodness do we experience a lot of injuries as gymnasts.

I remember going to a doctor’s appointment one time and the doctor asking me to tell her all the injuries I had had. I looked at my mom with a look I’m pretty sure said, “Are you kidding me?! We’ll be here all day!” But, I sat there and did my best to go through each and every injury I had ever had as a gymnast. And let’s just say that’s a VERY long list.

If you name it, I’ve probably had it. Not to mention the two tears I currently have in my shoulder from spotting. So I’m having surgery in a month to fix that up. Basically all I’m trying to say is I’ve been there. I was pulled out of my level 10 state meet because I found out the week before I was supposed to compete that my back was fractured… for the third time. I missed an entire season because of a tear in my shoulder (completely unrelated to the ones I have now). I competed level 9 Eastern Nationals on a fractured arm (not recommending you do that.)

But injuries are something you have to be able to navigate as a gymnast. You have to learn to take care of your body. You have to learn to be patient and actually listen to your doctor… even though it’s not fun. At all.

I’m writing this to encourage you today. I want you to know that when you’re facing an injury and aren’t allowed to do anything, it’s going to be okay. You’re going to get through it. But there are some things you need to remember as you wait patiently for your injury to heal.

 

  1. It won’t last forever.

It’s so easy to get caught up in being miserable and bored because you can’t do anything. And because of that, it’s really easy to just ignore your doctor and do what you want. Please don’t do that! In the grand scheme of things, this injury is only a very short part of your gymnastics career. And if you push it too much, you might end up prolonging your injury even further, and I can tell you right now that you DO NOT want that! It’s much better to be patient (I know it’s hard) and listen to your doctor. Give your body the time it needs to heal. It won’t last forever. And you might even heal faster than expected if you do what you’re supposed to do! But it might last longer than you want it to if you jump back in too soon.

  1. You only get one body.

I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the body you have now is the only one you get in this life! And it has to last! I know it might feel like a good idea to take your boot off your broken ankle so you can test it to see if it’s better yet, but DON’T DO IT! You need that ankle to last until you’re 100 years old! And if you push it now, you’re probably going to live in pain for a big chunk of your life. And it’s just not worth it. I promise you, you do not want to live in pain. And you do not want to have to have surgery because you didn’t take care of your body. I’ve been through both. It’s not fun.

  1. You have time to get stronger!

I know, I know. Conditioning isn’t fun. But in this sport, it’s 100% necessary. Use the time you would usually be spending on skills to keep your strength up, and maybe even gain a little! Your skills will be so much easier when you do get to come back if you keep on strengthening your muscles. If you get lazy and depressed because you “can’t do anything”, you’ll lose a lot of strength and your skills will be that much harder when you’re released to start training again. This time can be so beneficial if you’ll actually use it to your advantage!

 

Sometimes it’s tempting to lose hope and give up when you’re injured. Especially if it means you miss out on competing for a season. But I promise you’re going to be okay. I remember waking up with back pain every single morning, so much so that bending over to brush my teeth was excruciating. And I was only seventeen! I was so scared that I was going to have to live with that pain for the rest of my life. Now my injury did require surgery, but I remember a few weeks after surgery bending over to brush my teeth and all of a sudden realizing I wasn’t in pain anymore! It was amazing! But I had to be patient. I had to do what my doctor told me I needed to do.

Thankfully, most gymnastics injuries don’t require surgery like mine did, but they ALWAYS require patience. If you do what your doctor tells you to do, if you do your boring physical therapy, if you’re patient throughout the healing process, you’re going to wake up one day and realize that you’re not in pain anymore! Doing your skills will be fun again because they won’t be painful! So choose to be patient. I promise it’s worth it.

How To Conquer Your Fear

Fear is a word that causes something to rise up within us. There is never a warm fuzzy feeling that accompanies fear. Fear always has a negative connotation attached to it. And it is something we all face as humans. Fear is an instinct. We even rank our fears, because, for most of us, we don’t have just one. Have you ever been asked the question, “What is your worst fear?”

Typically when most people think of fear, they think of things like heights or spiders or snakes or public speaking. But if you’re a gymnast and the word fear is mentioned, skills start popping up in your head. Am I right?!

Fear is frustrating! Especially when you can’t explain exactly what you’re afraid of. Maybe it’s your acro series on beam. Maybe it’s your release on bars. Maybe it’s a mental block that you just can’t seem to get over on something that seems like it should be so simple. Fear is part of gymnastics. Gymnasts do some scary stuff! But all of us want to overcome our fears. We don’t want to just sit there and do nothing.

First of all, I want you to know that having fears is okay. It’s natural! Fear doesn’t mean you’re weak. It doesn’t mean you’ll never get that skill. It doesn’t mean that you’re stuck. You can overcome.

And you will overcome! I want to teach you the method I used as a gymnast to overcome my fears. And trust me. There were A LOT of them. And sometimes, this method wasn’t a quick fix. Sometimes this method took days. So be patient with yourself. Every step forward is a step toward conquering your fear!

  1. Decide.

Sometimes as gymnasts, we think that one day everything will just magically feel perfect and the fear will be gone. So until that perfect moment, we just wait. THEN when that moment comes, we can do it! WRONG. I hate to burst your bubble, but those moments never come. Unfortunately, fear doesn’t magically disappear. I wish it did. But it doesn’t.

What I can tell you though is that you have control over your fear. Sometimes we think our fear is so much stronger than it actually is and we start to let it control us. And when that happens, the breakdown comes. The tears start flowing. And we cry ourselves into exhaustion.

But there’s a better way! And no, I didn’t say easy, but it is SO much better. You have to decide. There comes a point in our fear that we have to decide which way this is going to go. Is fear going to control us? Or are we going to choose to control it? Once again, making this decision doesn’t make the fear disappear. But what it does do is put you in control of that fear. It’s still there, but it doesn’t get a say anymore. Make the decision before you get on that beam or before you climb up on that bar that you ARE going to do it. No matter what.

  1. Commit.

So now you’re up there. You’re heart is racing. But you’ve already decided that this is the time. This is the turn you’re going to do it.

Now, decisions mean nothing without action. The decision is just a step toward taking action. Once you’ve decided that you’re going to do it before you get up on the event, now it’s time to follow through by committing to the skill.

When you’re standing up on that beam or in front support about to cast up to a handstand on bars (can you tell my biggest fears were on beam and bars??), now is the time to commit. You’re NOT going to do another timer. When your fear says, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING????” in the middle of the skill, your decision and commitment are strong enough to kick in and say, “GO!” But you HAVE to be REALLY committed.

Easy, right? Ha! Not really. But it gets easier! The first time is always the scariest. After you commit once, committing to it the second and third and fourth time gets easier and easier. But you have to decide and commit that first time.

  1. Conquer.

This is my favorite one! Once you go the first time, you’ve conquered!!!! Now, the fear may not be completely gone, and you might have to go through the decision/commit process a few more times, but ultimately you have conquered the worst part of your fear! Your fear isn’t keeping you from going for it anymore! And that’s HUGE!

You are a conqueror! You are so much stronger than your fears. I challenge you to decide and commit to overcoming the fear that’s holding you back. I believe in you!

 

I want to hear about your challenges and successes! Please feel free to message me with more questions about overcoming fear OR to share a fear you’ve overcome!