“Nikki you got a lot of life in you but you don’t need to jump out of a plane to have fun!”
I vividly remember my stepfather telling me this in our living room after number whatever MRI. We were talking about skydiving. And how I’ll never have the opportunity to do it.
You see, if you’re an adrenaline junkie like I am or half as stubborn as I
am was you’ll understand how frustrated I felt being told what I couldn’t do when my innate mentality was as long as I kept my body healthy I can do anything. In fact, it wasn’t just one thing I couldn’t do, I had just gotten back from my MRI and had a whole laundry list of activities I was forbidden from doing. Doctor’s orders. I was forbidden to do anything that caused high pressure to my brain like sky diving or strenuous weight lifting and anything that could result in a high impact fall. I felt limited from doing the things that brought me joy. In retrospect, it sounds crazy that I actually felt deprived. But that was my outlook on life for a long long time. And boy was I bitter.
When I was nine years old I had a major brain operation which saved my life. Because of this, I needed to be more cautious than the other kids. Growing up I had always been attracted to extreme activities. I used to fantasize about being in the X games (not like I was anywhere near good enough). Whether it was snowboarding, rock climbing, jumping off 70-foot cliffs, or sparring in a sanctioned boxing match [yes, this actually happened, I only made it to round 2 before I was almost knocked out], I was drawn to the thrill and tested my limits despite what my doctors told me. Hard to tame.
My poor mother.
Fast forward to mature Nikki.
I’m not sure what it was in me that changed. Perhaps it was just natural maturity over time. Perhaps it was finding yoga…or maybe they’re just interconnected. When I started practicing yoga, I noticed a shift in my mindset. Not only did I recognize that yoga was actually physically challenging, but the actual philosophy behind yoga taught me a whole lot about gratitude and humility. And as a yoga instructor I’m accountable for walking the talk. Man was I humbled.
What I learned was that I was able to challenge my students in a safe environment. I learned how to teach the principals of equanimity and knowing when to surrender one’s mind, body, and practice. But my biggest learning was really about myself…and how I finally recognized that I wasn’t invincible. My perspective changed; I no longer felt deprived or limited.
Long story short, today I feel alive and grateful for each day I’m living on this planet in this able body I have. I value what I do have and what I can do more than anything else in the world.