Yesterday was a very special day for both Red Cheetah Yoga and my home gym, CrossFit Soul. We pulled off an amazing and heart-felt celebration and fundraiser wod benefitting my friend and former college teammate, Sune Smith.
Sune was a swimmer while I was a sprinter between the years of 2006-2009 at the University of Miami. Sune also was an employee at the Student Wellness Center while I was her supervisor. I will never forget the day when I realized my track career was coming to a speedy end due to chronic injury, and Sune spent an entire shift talking to me about the pros and cons of quitting the sport I loved with all my heart.
Sune had a similar experience to mine. She told me and literally coached me into a mindset that quitting was okay, because quitting a sport is empowering. I was at a point in my career where track and field wasn’t serving me anymore: it wasn’t serving me financially, emotionally, physically, psychologically, spiritually, or socially. All areas of my life were beginning to suffer because I just simply could not let go.
Sune had already struggled with this experience before me. She said the most empowering part of choosing to quit swimming as opposed to waiting until her coach told her she was kicked off the team was great because it meant she made the decision. And, as anyone who is involved in the Cheetah family and philosophy, knows that decision-making, especially hard decision making, is part of our growing process and what we love to empower others to do. After all, our company slogan is “Choose to Evolve.”
Sune helped me immeasurably take control of my life when my life seemed to be coming apart at the seams. I felt I couldn’t get anything right back then, and I felt that I inhabited a body I no longer trusted, when my body’s abilities as an athlete was the single thing that gave me freedom of expression. Sune taught me that there was space and vitality beyond track and field, and that the life waiting for me on the other side of my childhood sport was great, abundant, inspiring, and wonderful. I recall her amazing attitude she had when we had our conversation: all smiles and warm wishes and gently urging me into my next phase, while all I felt inside was darkness brought on by failure.
Sune put things in perspective for me back then, assuring me I was not the only one alone in that struggle. I was definitely not the first, and certainly not the last, and her presence alone reassured me that I would feel good about my life once track was over, because she felt so good about her own life, and was appreciative of the experience she had as an athlete. She was a shining example for me.
So, making tough decisions is exactly what it is: tough.
The harder the decision you have to make, the more you are ushered into growth.
When I learned from our mutual college friend, Josh Cantor, that Sune had been diagnosed with breast cancer and she needed to raise money for the costs, I knew I had to help, and that I could help. Little did I know how many amazing souls would step up and help her cause!
We promoted her event in the gym and I promoted through the various avenues we have for Red Cheetah: on Instagram, on Facebook, and through our e-newsletter.
CrossFit Soul has a free trial class every Saturday morning at 11 am. After I finished teaching my class at CrossFit Kendall, I headed straight over to Soul.
The closer it got to 11 am, the more people were showing up, new people and members alike. Saturday’s class ended up being one of their biggest classes ever.
Before the workout, I took it upon myself to collect all of the cash and checks flowing in for her. I was truly overwhelmed by the immense support she was getting from a community that had not met her until that day; Sune is good friends with myself and three other coaches at Soul: Anthony, Aracely, and Nadia. I felt I finally had the opportunity to pay her back from that awesome talk we had in college that helped me decide to quit track.
Sune looked as elegant as ever without any hair. I hadn’t seen her since college, so I forgot how tall she was. The entire event she was all smiles, was happy to share her story when I introduced her to the entire group, and was really upbeat and positive about where she is headed in her treatments. Everyone I spoke to after the event all had the same thing to say about her: her glowing positivity really made it seem that overcoming anything in life is truly possible!
Sune is definitely a shining example of what is possible in our core, and in our way of being, of what it can be like to conquer cancer.
One of the greatest challenges we have as humans is to react to situations that happen to us, or to rise above and be confident and positive that even though things may seem dour at the moment, sometimes we have to walk through some dark and scary things in order to get to where we are meant to be.
Reacting and becoming scared, depressed, angry, or frustrated over a disease has been shown in study after study to only perpetuate the disease and make it worse. Over and over again studies have shown that remaining positive and believing you will heal will not only cause you to heal, but will help you heal faster. To me, this is what I saw in Sune when she walked into CrossFit Soul on Saturday morning. She is an example of remaining positive in the face of chaos and disease, and believing in our innate ability to heal and move on beyond terrible things that may happen to us.
After the wod, I took everyone outside for a yoga class under the bright, shiny sun. It was the perfect ending to a perfect fundraiser workout. Sune wasn’t able to do the wod with us, as per doctor’s orders, yet she was able to join us for yoga. In conversation with Sune after everything was over, she shared with me the mounting costs that are associated with cancer and the insurance company she has: she still has to pay thousands of dollars towards her treatments because insurance only pays for so much. To see her standing in front of me healthy and positive, with no hair and surrounded by old friends, new friends, and family, and giggling over her experiences with chemo treatments, she, as always, is a pillar of inspiration that we can achieve anything and have complete control over the outcome of our destiny.