I am beyond honored to have my former student Bre Cooley Wilson guest post today. She is one of the most stunning souls I’ve ever known, and she continually marks my life profoundly. For more about Bre, please visit her very inspiring blog at FindPerspective.org. I KNOW you will love it!
When I lived in San Francisco a few years ago, I loved going to this really awesome, uplifting yoga class downtown.
Urban Flow was a beautiful yoga studio that became a sanctuary to me. Regardless of what happened in my day, I always walked out of class feeling calm, light and peaceful.
And every time I was lucky enough to see Oliver on his mat right next to me, I walked out feeling even more inspired.
Like clockwork, Oliver would walk in a few minutes before class began, say hello to anyone who met his gaze and roll out his mat in the exact same spot, every time.
As he got situated, he would look up a few times, making sure he didn’t miss a chance to give the gift of his smile to anyone around him.
He was one of those special people – you know, the kind who gives off a uniquely powerful and uplifting energy that is totally palpable – without saying a single word. His language was his smile.
He was tall and slender, wore blue shorts and seemed like the happiest guy in the world. I could literally feel positivity and love radiating from him every time he walked in the room.
And guess what – while spreading all of this refreshing, positive energy to those around him, he battled an intense physical condition that caused him to shake uncontrollably, without respite.
Yet throughout this vigorous, 90-minute yoga class in a heated room, Oliver did every single pose to the best of his ability.
He attempted every arm balance.
He tried every twist and turn.
He sweat just like the rest of us.
While I battled self-doubt in every yoga pose, he battled much more than that – a physical condition that tried to overtake every one of his limbs. Every single second of every single day.
But I never heard any frustrated sighs. I never heard any complaints. That’s not the kind of person Oliver was when he came to yoga.
When we turned to the left, I had a full view of him on his mat. It was truly amazing to see how he handled each pose, not judging himself or feeling like he was in over his head. He simply tried.
And if he did feel overwhelmed, he certainly didn’t show it.
Did he struggle immensely for 90 minutes straight? Absolutely. But that didn’t matter.
He wasn’t there to master every pose or show everyone what he could do. He was there to give what he could give in that very moment, despite the hardships his physical condition presented.
Whenever I caught a glimpse of Oliver, whether we were in downward facing dog or warrior pose, any shred of negative self-talk in my mind instantly disintegrated.
“I can’t do this pose…I’m not flexible enough for this….why am I even trying this?”
Oliver’s commitment to each pose quickly erased these self-defeating thoughts in my head. If I didn’t have to battle what he battled, how could I be so negative? Talk about a dose of perspective.
The great part about this yoga studio was the way the owner always encouraged everyone to connect with the people around us. To say hello, introduce yourself and “make the world a little smaller.”
So, after a few weeks of exchanging smiles, I went up to Oliver after class to do just that. As I walked up to his mat to officially meet him, he opened both arms and welcomed me with a big, warm hug.
How cool is that?
In that moment, I felt so uplifted. I was in awe of how warm, open and genuine he was to me – a complete stranger who knew nothing about his struggle. He told me his name was Oliver and I told him my name was Bre. And from that day on, I looked forward to seeing my new friend in every class.
I’ve always loved inspiring people like Oliver.
When I see someone come through adversity and make it to the other side, it deeply resonates with something in my soul. I feel an immediate connection to anyone who is brave enough to look fear, pain and suffering square in the face and say,
“You may knock me down, but I refuse to be defeated.”
On the days when I lose sight of what’s truly important in life, inspiring people like Oliver help me find perspective.
Bre loves to write and she loves inspirational stories. She lives in the Bay Area where she enjoys spending time with her awesome hubby Ryan, her son Brayden, and her family and friends. Bre’s a SEO and Content Strategist for Oracle University by day, and she blogs on FindPerspective.org by night. Her blog features real life stories about people who uplift and inspire. As Bre says so beautifully, “Life is good – attitude of gratitude!”