Change is Good.

Hi y’all, it has been a while! I needed to take some time. It is absolutely crazy to think that I was leaving Korea at this time last year.  I let my website gather dust and attempted to put a couple posts together since then and found myself putting it off.  The journey of my injury made it difficult to put anything down on paper.

I’ve been ‘soul-searching,’ if you will.  I didn’t know where my life was headed and had only a vague sense of myself. It was very challenging (and let’s be honest, terrifying) for me to bring that vulnerability to my blog.  But they say hindsight is 20/20… or in this case, pretty close.

I’ve spent this past year exploring my identity beyond volleyball player and beyond professional athlete. I’ve been trying to finding my way in this American world. Trying to get used to living a life in one place. Trying to figure out what life looks like when you’re not living overseas for eight months and having zero worries for the four months of summer every year (except for adventuring, working out and waiting on the next contract). Trying to figure out what it feels like to actually put roots down…and trying to figure out what roots even feel like anymore.

The kicker is, nobody tells you what to do (shocker!). There’s no school for professional athletes who don’t have a plan after they’re done with their careers. There’s no trail blazed for us. For those of us who haven’t prepared for this day, we are, in a way, fresh out of college again.  We try to find our way, while at the same time dealing with a large (HUGE) missing piece of life.  A missing piece that a lot of us don’t think we will ever be able to replace.

How do you tell the person who’s soul only sets on fire being under the lights, standing across the net from an opponent with a ball in their hand…that there is something greater to this life?

How do you tell that person that there is more, when their everything seems to be fading away?  Especially, when it’s not their decision to finish a season or a career? But how many pro athletes actually get to leave the game the way they want to?  

At the same time, there comes a point where the thought of waking up alone, in a foreign country, sore AF doesn’t really sound appealing anymore.  Even for the game we love so much.

I’ve been walking this road since last October.  I’ll be honest with you, I have spent the past year really floating along until July. I had zero direction and a few vague ideas.  I didn’t have anything that motivated me, or made me feel like was moving forward. I didn’t know where to go…

After I got hurt in Korea, my plan was to go back overseas to play volleyball in early spring of 2017. I had no idea what the recovery of my injury would look like at that time.  Regardless of the seemingly never-ending physical therapy, at no point did I feel like my injury would keep me from competing again.

My body felt otherwise, and was clearly telling me to slow down…so I listened. Spring rolled into summer and I found pilates along my path of recovery.  I also started to go a little bit deeper into yoga again. By that time my back was healthy enough and these things were making me feel GOOD. I didn’t make it back for spring season, but as I saw it, I was definitely going back overseas at the end of the summer. It’s what I do. It’s what my life has looked like for the past four years. Seasons start to change and it’s time to go back. I didn’t know anything else. Yet this time, something was changing and shifting inside of me. I found my body and mind in disagreement. My body did not want to do the things necessary to prepare for a season.  At the same time, I felt like going overseas was the still the next step, like it always has been.  In the back of my head, I knew that I did not want to leave Denver.  All of the things I love so much about life were/are here, and I couldn’t imagine leaving… oh, and WE GOT A PUPPY! How am I supposed to leave now? 🙂

It got to the point that I felt like volleyball was holding me back. I couldn’t move on with my life. I couldn’t do things to further the life I wanted in Denver without those things getting in the way of potential contracts. At the same time I was holding out everything.  Because of this fiery passion for the sport that made me feel so alive. I felt SO conflicted.

I pulled the trigger on yoga teacher training in May. But really, it pulled the trigger on me. Completing teacher training was one of my 5 year goals at the beginning of 2017.  I didn’t think I would be able to complete the training, and play.  It was always an ‘I’ll do this after I’m finished with volleyball’ thought.  And then it just sort of happened and I was doing it. The training would last from the middle of July until the end of September. Lots of contracts begin in August, and I knew I was going to be giving up some of that opportunity for yoga.  I was okay with that, and figured that whatever was supposed to happen next, the universe would work with me to make that happen.

As I got closer to starting my yoga teacher training, contracts started coming in. One in particular peaked my fancy. The team was going to allow me to finish my teaching certification and it would only be a three-month season. I would be home by Christmas. It almost seemed too good to be true. And when I mentioned it to my friend+life coach she said, you have to manifest it if you want it. She has showed me how to look at myself in a different way, break down previous belief systems, ask the hard questions and call my bull****, so I knew when she mentioned this, she was serious.  And she told me that manifesting is more than just putting thoughts out there, thinking and visualizing that you want something.  You can’t work with the universe energetically and not go out and take action.  You have to prepare physically as if what you want is going to happen.  And although I ‘wanted it,’ it was clear my physical body felt differently. I had no desire to put my body through the things necessary to prepare. And if this back injury has taught me anything it is that I want to be fully functioning for the rest of my life. I don’t want to be limited by pain or mobility or flexibility or lack there of. The future of my well-being is and will always be worth more than the financial gain or experience.

As much as I loved it and missed it, as soon as I made the decision to begin teacher training, I started to release my grasp on volley. And once I released that hold and started to take action in other ways, so many good things started happening. I found an opportunity in the pilates world, with a next-gen method called Lagree. With that came a feeling of badassness and insane physical challenge that so resonated with me in the way that volleyball did.  I finished my studio certification for pilates right around the time I was beginning my yoga teacher training.  I am now a certified Lagree Instructor at Pilates Evolution in Denver and a certified 200 hour registered Yoga Teacher and am finding a fire in teaching that I never thought I would feel again.

Throughout our yoga teacher training, we did a lot of self development work in group settings and I found myself letting go of s*** that I held onto so tightly for way too long. And slowly, things started to shift in my personal life as well.  I found myself having and loving the hard conversations. I found myself forgiving. I found myself letting go of resentments that I had held onto for tooooo long. Monkeys started falling off my back. I felt lighter and walked taller. And part of that was 4 to 7 yoga classes per week. But I can’t deny that through all of this so much change has been happening.

A friend of mine told me recently that being new at something is awesome because it makes you appreciate the process and embrace the growth.  My first thought was ‘NO! Being new is scary and I hate it because I have spent the past 15 years of my life perfecting this craft that I am really good at and don’t have to think about anymore.’  But the truth is being new IS awesome.  And growth is such an unbelievable reward.  I taught my first, actual, entire yoga class on Monday, y’all.  It hurt way less than I expected to rip off the bandaid.  I was actually terrified, yet walking into the studio Monday morning this sense of calm and grounding came over me (maybe that yoga stuff does work :)) and it went off without a hitch. I am embracing and enjoying the very beginning stages of this new and exciting adventure, and I can’t imagine what kind of teacher I will be once I have worked at this new chapter for 15 years.

It is amazing what happens if you let go a little bit and are open to new, potentially different possibilities.  It’s amazing what happens if you let go of beliefs that may have a hold on your life (that you don’t even realize).  The universe is always working with us, if we let it.  This is not at all to say I have it figured out, but it is a process.  It is a never-ending process of self growth and forward movement.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to everyone who has touched my life in one way or another during this period.  I appreciate each and every one of you and your connection and authenticity.  So much gratitude, my heart is so full. Shoutout to the River Power Vinyasa Yoga for the life changing teacher training (+connection to so many amazing BADASS women through our shared YTT experience) and Pilates Evolution for the opportunity to jump in as a newbie and start teaching right away.  And thank you for reading this lengthy blog post about my life, I love you all!  LOTS of exciting stuff+a website revamp on the horizon.  So excited about what’s to come!  Namaste ❤

View More: http://jeskimakphotography.pass.us/summerytt2017

Quick aside:  On top of all of this change, in the middle of September, I got a text message from a fellow Lady Vol that said “he’s bringing it back”… and I absolutely could not believe what was about to unfold. After all of the shift and change that had been happening in my own life…The University of Tennessee had decided to restore the Lady Volunteer logo and name to its rightful place in Tennessee athletics. A fight three years in the making… and we won! I still have chills.  Yassss go Lady Vols!

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One thought on “Change is Good.

  1. tenacious cait says:

    Wow, this is so great! I loved it. I am in the midst of recovering from an injury myself and I hope to step back on the court – but your entire thought process is just resonating with me. I hope you continue to find prosperity within your new passions as well as your life! It’s fun (albeit maybe a bit creepy) to follow along your journey! I look up to that in a lot of ways, so… thank you.

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