I really wanted to see if there was a way for me to talk about challenge without bringing up my mother’s death, as sometimes I feel like a broken record when I write about losing her. However, as I sit here writing, waiting for my family to arrive at my apartment to kick off the weekend of my mother’s unveiling, I realize I wouldn’t be authentic to my experience with challenge if I didn’t talk about her — be it this weekend, or anytime, really.
Before I start, for those of you who may not know, an unveiling is a Jewish tradition that happens a year to 18 months after someone passes away. It’s called an unveiling because you are actually unveiling a foot stone, which is installed at the foot of her grave with some details about her life. I guess I could Google if this is meant to be a joyous or mournful occasion (shows you how close I am to my religion), but I can tell you I have a pit in my stomach the size of a watermelon at the thought of it. I have not yet been back to the cemetery since the day of her funeral, as her dedicated Central Park bench (her only dying wish) is the place I go to visit her and reflect. So going back to the cemetery really feels like a second funeral. The one comfort is that the weekend will be filled with family and friends, and some always-welcomed, completely dedicated time to think about, remember, and honor my beautiful mother.
So, challenge! HA! Yes, as many of you know I have seen my fair share of it in the last two years. From the death of my mother, to the death of a dear friend, to a breakup, to trying to build a company, to moving, and everything that comes along with each of those life events. After the last two years, I am, without a doubt, battered, bruised, worn down, and I’m fairly sure I have aged a solid extra four years (which totally gives me the right to fill my dating app profile with photos from high school!). However, despite the bruises, I can say something else without a doubt — I am most certainly stronger, wiser, and have never known so very much about this fascinating creature I call “me.”
I use a term often when it comes to people who have gone through significant loss at a younger age: “A most unfortunate privilege.” (Maybe the title of my first book?!?!? Hmmmm.) What does that mean? I truly wouldn’t wish the pain, heartache, and sorrow that comes along with such loss on my worst enemy (not that I have any) — and to have to face it at a younger age, is, in so many ways, just unfortunate. However, when you go through true and deep loss at a younger age, you are offered the privilege of a perspective on life that takes most people much longer to gain, if ever. Suddenly and swiftly you realize that nothing is permanent, and therefore should never be taken for granted. You become hyper aware of how you want to be spending your time and who you want to be spending it with. You choose your battles with others, with yourself, and with life wisely — not letting yourself fret over “the little things” so often. You truly realize what is important to you in life. And the biggest privilege of all is the big whopping lesson you learn about who you truly are, how you handle life, and how much stronger you are than you would have ever assumed. So yes, while all of this loss in my life over the last two years has most certainly been unfortunate, the perspective and strength I have gained is nothing short of a privilege.
Another outcome that I am grateful for is how I handle and face challenges that now come into my life. I almost welcome them. I now know that in times of challenge, I truly get in touch with myself, and it is the ultimate opportunity to test my strength and will. I have never been one to shy away from challenge, but I find that I am now challenging myself more and more. If I can handle everything over the last two years, what else can I handle? It’s almost a fun game to test my own strength and capacity — whether it be in the gym, out for a run, in my career, or in life. You never know your true character or how very strong you are, until you are faced (or face yourself) with challenge and conflict.
However, I don’t want any of this to be taken the wrong way. I am not insinuating that we are not living life to the fullest if we are not constantly making things harder for ourselves. Hand me a glass of rose, shove me in the sunshine, put me in front of the ocean, and let me tell you — that’s living! Life should feel easy, be full of happiness, love and contentment, and with as little suffering as possible! I truly believe there is a massive difference between challenge and suffering. For suffering only comes in how we face challenge, not in the challenge itself.
This week of content is all about Challenge and how we approach it: LA-based Pilates studio owner Heather Dorak talks about the challenge of outlasting the fitness boom; Louisa Stelle, the assistant to Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour confronts the challenge of keeping up a healthy lifestyle while living on someone else's schedule; CrossFIt box owner Jared Stein has taken on the challenge of shifting the image of CrossFit from intimidating to self-affirming; and TravelStyle founder Lia Batkin give us a crash course in the ever-challenging (but not so serious challenge) - packing for a vacation!
SPEAKING OF CHALLENGES (!!), over the next two weeks we are challenging you to challenge yourselves — and see what will you discover on the other side — A SWEET PRIZE (which you can only find out by signing up for our newsletter). Join our "14-DAY SWEALFIE CHALLENGE" — post a sweaty selfie every day for the next 14 days after your workout, tag @sweatlife_nyc, and use the hashtag #swealfiechallenge — and we will be picking one winner who completed the entire challenge to win the aforementioned sweet prize! LUCK AND CHALLENGE TO YOU ALL!
Until next week,
Founder, CEO, and Host
The Sweat Life