Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Circus of the Sun

It all started in middle school.

I would like to start out this blog with a S/O to my big brother and big sister. You see, they used to tell me that I was adopted from the zoo. Since my parents fostered children before they were adopted, I believed them. With my monkey heritage and gymnastics in mind, they have also called me a circus freak for longer than I can imagine. Well, Leah and Bubba, you called it.

My gymnastics coach purchased tickets for my family to see Cirque Du Soleil's "Alegría". I sat through the show in complete awe, like most do, but I had a special connection with the performers. While most people in the audience couldn't comprehend the athlete's abilities to perform certain acts, I realized that I had a clear understanding of their talent because of my background in gymnastics. When a gymnast watches another gymnast, it's almost impossible to just watch. We are naming skills in our heads and comparing our ability with others. We are perfectionists and we are competitive. The moment I realized that I understood their artistry is the moment that God placed a dream inside of my heart. It was a mere seed that would continue to grow with God's perfect timing for ten years and counting.

At this point, I was a level 10 in gymnastics and had been competing for around 6 years. By the time I graduated high school, I had seen two more shows. During high school, I attempted international elite for a few years. As most will tell you, I was *not* made for the elite world. In four years, I had two shoulder surgeries, breaks in both legs, and a nasty habit resulting from low self esteem. I had no confidence. While I often look back and wonder why I made the decision to qualify for elite, I am now grateful for the skills those years gave me. While most level 10's are doing gymnastics on repeat and rarely learning new skills, elite gymnastics enabled me to learn a large variety of skills that I probably wouldn't have attempted otherwise. I also spent close to 40 hours a week in the gym, which taught me to appreciate dedication, obligation, discipline, and an aggressive work ethic.

I graduated from Klein High School in 2007, and soon thereafter, I began my freshman year at the University of Maryland. I assumed college gymnastics would be the end of my performing career. I struggled through my freshman and sophomore year, but I began to understand myself as an athlete my junior and senior year. Better late than never! College gymnastics taught me repetition, time management, patience, teamwork, and it caused me to fall in love with the sport all over again.

My junior year of college, I met THE most attractive boy alive. He was 6'4" with baby blue eyes and an athletic build from playing lacrosse. He loved me before I even considered him as more than a friend. As we quickly got serious, I told him about Cirque Du Soleil, and we even went to see "Ovo" together in Washington D.C. Sometime during this period, I told him that I had always considered auditioning for Cirque. We were engaged our senior year.

 I felt like my talent had reached it's highest level thus far. I thrived off of my team's encouragement and the atmosphere that Terps gymnastics provided. Sometime between wrapping up my gymnastics career, graduating from college, planning a wedding, attending the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships, and moving to Max's home town of Columbus, Ohio, Cirque was removed from my thoughts on reality. Life was moving quickly and we were moving on.

After we were married, we both entered into the real world. No gymnastics. No lacrosse. No more college. Hello 8-5. Hello bills. Hello rising gas prices. As my gymnastics team likes to put it, we were muggles.

Although we've had a blast together in my favorite town, Upper Arlington, we both felt like we were living too safe. We couldn't help but question whether or not life is supposed to be more than putting the leftovers into a savings account. We were 22, newly married, and... bored. We both felt that we were filling our life with material investments instead of eternal investments- relationships, adventure, exploration. After a somewhat irrational conversation, we began to dream of quitting our jobs and starting something new. Because I had talked about Cirque on and off for so long, we both knew that Cirque was an avenue that could help fulfill these dreams. On a whim that night, my husband told me that it was time for me to go for it.

The next day, I sent in my resume and began training after 11 months off from gymnastics. My assistant coach at the University of Maryland told me that her assistant coach from gymnastics at the University of Florida had a gym in Columbus. I ended up calling him, and he let me come in and start training right away. 

Side note: Usually club gymnastics facilities only cover gymnasts 18 and under. Months before I came, Louis, the head coach, had an olympic hopeful training at the gym who was over 18. Because she was there just months before, Louis had new insurance coverage that allowed me to practice at his facility. I called other places, and they were unable to help me. God has perfect timing. 

I had to submit a demo video, so I started taping myself during training. With an all or nothing attitude, I tried new skills and repeated skills that I haven't tried in years. Yep, gymnastics was still fun. March was the first time that I've ever trained gymnastics for pure enjoyment. I had no pressure from coaches, teammates, or myself. I felt blessed for my God-given talent and I felt free.

At the beginning of April, I got in contact with Playback Performance to compile my demo video. On April 18th, the day before my 23rd birthday, I received two e-mails.

This first one was from Cirque Du Soleil asking me if I was interested in an opportunity. They also asked me if I had made a demo video.

The second one was from Craig at Playback Performance notifying me that my video was complete.

The e-mails came within 3 hours of each other. It doesn't feel like a coincidence.

Today, May 9, 2012, I will be signing a contract for General Training in Montreal, Canada. I will be in training from the beginning of August until the beginning of November. At some point along the way, I will prayerfully be offered a contract with "O" in Las Vegas. There is always a possibility that plans will change, so Max and I invite you to pray that doors continue to open.

Max and I couldn't be more excited about what's to come, whether Cirque works out or it doesn't. We realize that God's plan is the best plan, and we ask that you pray for us in this new endeavor. 

As excited as we are, there are a lot of unknowns. Please pray for us as we begin a new chapter. Please pray that I remain safe and injury free. Please pray for us to trust the path that is laid out before us. I know that God has had his hand on this entire process from middle school until now. Please pray that we choose Him as our guide and not ourselves.

Psalm 37:4, 7- Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him

I have to take the time to point out that this adventure wouldn't have even started without the approval of my amazing husband. Columbus is his hometown, and the people in Columbus have supported him his entire life. His family is here. Our home is here. Our financial stability takes root in Columbus solely because of Max. His professional lacrosse team is here. Resolute lacrosse is here. His dearest friends are here. We are safe here and Columbus is our home. It hasn't always been easy to be supportive, but Max has stayed along my side every step of the way. I picked a winner, ladies.

Welcome to my life. It's a Cirque-us.

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