We tell ourselves a lot of things that should be, have to be, should have been. Demons, setbacks, inherent disadvantages - we all have terms and circumstances that seem like the current is against us… a lot of times we give up and let those currents sweep us away, sometimes for years.
As a kid, I was a bright-eyed optimistic thing, leaving Alaska for a new life studying music and business. At first, I did well as a college student - two award-winning performances in NYC, an all-expenses paid international solo debut concert in Mexico, a 3 month paid internship to perform 8 shows a week for a professional musical theatre company, cover of a university magazine and featured on websites. It was a blow when a heart condition crippled my body for 3 years: 6 months bed-ridden, 2 medical withdrawals from school, 75 pounds gained, and 6 surgical procedures… A scholarship lost.
Sometimes just walking would make me faint. When you’re ill and can’t move, your mind can suffer too. And when the future seems bleak, hope can feel like an enemy. So what do you do when you feel like you were born to sing and perform but these things were taken away, maybe permanently?
After being self-destructive, you have a choice: continue or build on what you do have and can do. I worked with doctors, practiced walking indoors - in case I passed out and needed help. Focused on being patient, relationships and family: addressed pain from the past that I could no longer run from. After choking on bitterness and regret, I tried to feed my soul and mind with kindness, light, and love - listen to others’ triumphs and stories.
One day my heart started to improve, and finally my weak body was able to begin the slow process of healing. Indoor walks became outdoor walks, which became hikes, which became gym sessions - which became over 110 CrossFit classes with Clean & Jerk PRs over 120 pounds. I lost 60 pounds and started singing and performing again - and out of the blue a modeling and talent agency recruited me. I just finished filming a short series that is pacing to be added on Amazon Prime and also finished filming my first indie short film as a main character - which will be submitted to festivals and an international film competition. If the pandemic allows, I’m tentatively scheduled to film a full-length feature film this summer.
It’s a grind, I’m lucky to get better, and I’m grateful for it. I keep reminding myself - small, consistent steps. And if I wake up and suddenly lose everything again, I know I have it within myself to start over. At the end of the day - it’s not about your achievements, body, and “success.” It’s about the relationships in your life, the inner dialogues you have, and the small, intentional steps that get you there. Be kind, be loving, be bright. Be happy and inspire happiness in others. IAKI. Thank you for reading this post and blessings to you on your journey.