Camp Nerd Fitness is something I look forward to every year. Steve has done an awesome job of creating a bubble of love and acceptance that holds a safe space for all of the 400 attendees in the middle of nowhere, Georgia for 5 days. Every year, I leave at the end of Camp with all my needs buckets filled…and usually no voice to show for it because of all the screaming I do in my Hero Bootcamp.
This year, Headmasters (teachers) arrived a day early to ease into the flow of Camp. Travel went smoothly and we were all ecstatic to see each other again with the addition of a few new faces whom we instantly loved as well.
After a 2.5 hour shuttle ride, we had some food and more or less fell asleep on our faces because we were all so tired from the traveling.
Throughout my first night there, I couldn’t stop worrying about my health (I’d just gotten over being sick).
- What if I woke up with a sore throat?
- What if I got sick again?
- What would I do if I couldn’t scream in my Hero Bootcamp, something campers look forward to every year?
The next morning, I woke up to a throat that felt a little yuck, but mostly ok…and a bunch of stuff crusted around my eye. I know: gross, right? I chalked it up to allergies and put glasses on instead of contacts.
Halfway through the day, I took a nap and woke up to that same eye completely red. I called for the doctor and was told to sit in my cabin in quarantine and wait until he got in…5 hours later. Needless to say, the first thing I did was look up my symptoms on the internet.
Only one diagnosis fit the bill: bacterial conjunctivitis (aka pink eye).
The last time I had pink eye was when I was 6…maybe 5. How did this even happen?!
After I realized what it was, I worried myself into a shame spiral.
- What did I do wrong?
- What if I gave this to someone else without even knowing it?
- What will the campers and teachers think of me?
- Will they think I’m dirty or irresponsible?
- Will they avoid me the entire camp?
- I won’t be able to hug anyone!
- Will they cancel my classes?
As all this chaos was going on in my head, the voice of Love and balance spoke up from the background: Everything happens for a reason. Everything happens for a reason.
All this worry wasn’t getting me anywhere but worse. In fact, some might argue that the worrying itself got me sick!
With much effort, I was able to stop, take a deep breath, and shift: Why was this infection brought to me now? What was it here to teach me?
I firmly believe that every experience – good and bad – is brought to us for a reason. I trust in the universal order. It has always led me to light.
I chose in that moment to release the chaos of worry and instead embrace the lesson this might bring.
When the doctor arrived, he confirmed my diagnosis. To my relief, he also said that as long as I got meds that night, I’d be fine to hug people the next day! I just couldn’t touch my eye, then touch theirs…which is usually how I say hello, so that was a disappointment. ;)
I was starving by this point, and the only way to get dinner was to go to the cafeteria where all 400 of the campers and teachers would be eating.
I was worried about being seen like this. I was more worried about my self-consciousness and fear coming across to the campers in which I hope to inspire strength. In spite of all the worry, I took a few minutes to come back to my purpose.
I teach and live by the code that worth isn’t dependant on physical conditions. Though fear was an undeniable presence for me, the motivation to lead by example demanded that I re-root myself in what I believe in.
I actively surrendered my fear and worry to the Universe and stepped into radical self-acceptance, pink eye and all.
As I stepped into the cafeteria, immediately 3 of my Strong Inside Out Bootcamp members rushed up to me with open arms.
“We’ve been sitting here waiting for you!” one of them said.
At that moment, I was flooded with love and joy, my whole body and soul remembering that no physical condition could ever take away the work I’ve been able to do with them. No matter what I looked like or how “unclean” I was, I was still loved by these people. It hurt to have to tell them they had to wait for hugs until the next day, but they understood as soon as I told them what the deal was.
As I continued through the cafeteria and toward opening ceremonies, the same instance repeated itself with other returning campers, Bootcampers and Phoenixes I’d never met in person rushing up to me for hugs and to catch up. Over and over, I was able to release more fear and embrace more Love.
When I saw the teachers at opening ceremonies that night, they didn’t judge me. They asked me if I was ok. They reached out to hug and touch me to let me know I was loved… to which I had to tell them I could hug them the next day.
When the night was through, I didn’t feel the way I worried I’d be feeling. I felt loved, accepted and held in a way that stripped this physical malady of all its power.
In my meditation the next morning, I actually laughed to myself. I was so upset and worried about something I had absolutely no control over whatsoever; something that was not at all my fault. I made it out to mean something about the core of who I was. I displaced physical looks and assumed judgments onto my worth.
But my worth isn’t dependant on what I look like, how well I am or what I do. It’s a constant light within me, just like it is within you.
Plus, I realized that this experience was here to teach me something. After my reception in the cafeteria that night, I was brought back home to how this could enrich my teaching for the week. My classes all center around choosing Love over fear and never forgetting that our worth isn’t dependent on qualifications; it just IS.
I thanked the Universe then for bringing this experience to me. Because of this infection, I could be the living proof that we could accept and love ourselves no matter what’s going on with our outsides.
My eye looked crazy for a few days, but I hardly thought about it at all after that first night aside from making sure to NEVER EVER touch my face throughout Camp. It was what I needed to release my worries and root myself back into my truth.
I’m better now. Wiser, too. While I hope you never get pink eye, I do hope that you’re able to see the gift in whatever experience is brought your way.
Stay strong and know your worth,
photo by Will Byington