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Bounce Back from Unexpected Challenges Stronger and Happier

Jumping

“True happiness means forging a strong spirit that is undefeated, no matter how trying our circumstances.” -Daisaku Ikeda

Let’s face it, whether big or small, stressful or simple, we all face challenges every day, some easier to deal with than others. Unfortunately, life doesn’t come equipped with an instruction manual to handle these challenges.

No matter how much we try to plan in advance, calculate our every move, or predict what the future will bring, we can never prepare enough for the unexpected.

The past eight months of my life have been filled with more twists and turns than the most popular roller coaster at Six Flags. As a control freak, I was suddenly forced to surrender to circumstance, forced to take a back seat and reflect on what my life was becoming.

Sometimes it takes physical pain to get to the root of a deeper wound that you are unconsciously inflicting on yourself.

Ever since the age of three, my heart and soul has thrived on dance. For me, the ability to connect emotionally with others through movement is something that is indescribably fulfilling.

In May of 2012 I graduated college with my B.F.A in Dance. It marked the closing of four of the most demanding, stimulating, and downright remarkable years of my life. I grew emotionally, physically, and spiritually, molding into my adult self through incredible and trying experiences. I was healthy, in shape, and injury free.

After graduation, I set my sights high upon New York City, anxious to jumpstart my dance career. I moved in August and set out with a willing heart, determined to make my dreams come true. My approach was frantic, maybe even fanatical.

I needed a job, I needed to succeed, and I needed to prove myself.

That’s when life threw a curve ball that stopped me dead in my tracks.

I was taking a dance class before an audition when… twist, slip, fall, crack… In a blur I was in the ER clutching a broken leg, flooded with fear, anger, and distress. 

After the initial shock of what happened, it started to sink in that I would be out of dance for a while. Realizing this setback after just arriving to NYC was heartbreaking. In that moment, all I could think about was “Why me?”

I worked so hard and pushed so much to get to the top of my game, but in a way that was harming my body, physically and emotionally. I had let the competitive nature of the dance and theater scene get the better of me.

Suddenly, I found myself away from my NYC apartment and newfound life and back home with my parents, trying to heal. As a young dancer whose body is her career, having life abruptly stop was devastating.

Four months later I was able to return to the city to start again. Slowly progressing, I felt as if everything would heal. Then, another wrench in the plan: a follow up with the doctor revealing the fracture was not healing.

Just when things were looking up, they felt as if they were sinking down again. I would need surgery, screws to set the broken bone back into place, and another five months of recovery.

We all face setbacks at some point along life’s journey, and learning to bounce back is what really gives our spirit strength.

Sometimes accidents happen for very good reasons. In my case, the universe was trying to tell me to slow down, that I have my whole life ahead of me to work and dance and love. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Yoga played a huge role in my recovery process, enabling me to overcome the overwhelming sense of failure and depression that came with my injury.

Unable to do the physical asanas, I discovered the benefits of meditation, learning how to calm my frantic mind, and practicing acceptance toward the cards I had been dealt.

In college, I started practicing yoga as a way to cross train and escape my hectic class schedule. Since then, the practice has become an anchor for me, its emotional and mental benefits saving me from self-destructive thought patterns and allowing me the chance to release away from, and be at peace with, the pressures of the real world.

Before my injury, I started working a desk job at Pure Yoga in Manhattan to continue practicing yoga and to further my teaching skills. It was fate getting the job at Pure, as I landed myself right in the middle of an amazing community of loving, caring, and truly remarkable people. 

Throughout my injury and recovery my friends at Pure have kept my spirits lifted, encouraging me to keep moving forward.

When I returned to work, yoga was there alongside my friends to help me build back strength. It is so important to have a support system. When things get tough, your friends and family can hold you up—and you shouldn’t be afraid to let them.

My setback produced another positive, as it led me to complete a 100-hour teaching certification in yoga therapeutics. I quickly became more involved with how important a role yoga plays in healing the body, mind, and spirit.

Still getting my strength back, I have learned:

1. Letting go brings abundance.

Sometimes letting go is the absolute hardest thing to do. But when we hold on too tight, we leave no room for the light to get through.

It’s like catching a feather: you have to hold out your hand and allow the feather to fall into your reach. You can’t catch a feather by frantically flailing and grasping for it. Once you loosen your grip on a perceived outcome, things start to unfold organically.

Learning not to force things opens up the possibility for the brilliant and the extraordinary to happen.

2. Believing in love will lift your soul.

Believe that there are people in your life who love and believe in you. Believe that you are love, and that your soul has a limitless capacity to give and receive love.

How does the simple act of believing make you feel? Worthy. Infinite. Content. Express compassion and gentility toward yourself, and to others, and you will open up to the possibilities life has to offer.

3. Gratitude will ignite a light in the darkest of places. 

When I first came out of my leg cast, the simple act of being able to put weight on my own two feet made me realize how grateful I am for my health, and how much we all tend to take it for granted.

Be grateful for running to catch the subway in the pouring rain, because you can feel that rain on your skin and you can feel your feet as they pound the pavement. Experiencing gratitude in simplicity changes everything.

Each day our yoga is to embody positivity, in every situation. Let go of what does not serve you to let abundance in. Believe in your strength to overcome. Be grateful.

And don’t forget to breathe.

Photo by Zach Dischner

About Giulia Pline

Originally from New Bedford Massachusetts, Giulia Pline is a yoga instructor and dancer living in NYC. She teaches at Pure Yoga, Kula Yoga Project, House of Jai Yoga, and Earth Yoga. Feel free to contact her for more information at: giuliapline.com.

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  • Tim

    What a beautiful message. I think that I’m the first to reply to your post, and I wanted to say that it was awesome. I’ll have the image of catching a feather stuck in my head. Thank you for sharing that with us.

  • Anders Hasselstrøm

    Hello Giulia,

    Thanks for sharing a beautiful story,

    I’m convinced that the harder we fall the higher we bounce. Important lesson in life.

    Happy dancing 🙂
    Anders Hasselstrøm
    Motivational Speaker

  • Joe Scherrer

    Failure is an inescapable part of life. It’s inevitable that we experience failure. In fact, it’s how we learn (how many times did we all fall down before we learned to walk).

    What’s absolutely paramount is how we deal with it. Our future growth,
    development, and success hinges on the way you deal with it.

    The hard part is that if we are in any way perfectionistic, narcissistic, ego-driven, in it for
    personal glory, image conscious, we’ll have a hard time dealing with failure.

    In fact, we probably won’t tolerate it well at all and will therefore miss the opportunity for personal growth, learning, and development.

  • Mai

    Absolutely love this, this is amazing that you can reflect on all the obstacles you have faced to get where you are today. Happy to have you in my life and being able to share what an inspiration you are. Hope everyone who stumbles across this can gain some insight and take away from this, and remember to just breathe.
    Thank you for sharing, all my love
    Mai

  • Giulia Pline

    Dear Joe,

    Absolutely! Life is all about perspective and choices. The way we speak to ourselves when we experience failure or success says a lot about our current state of mind. We must have compassion for ourselves during tough times in order to grow and move forward, and gratitude during bright times when we feel peace.

    -Giulia

  • Giulia Pline

    My dear Mai,

    You have been such a source of love and light in my life. Your support and encouragement kept me going through the worst of it. You are such an amazing friend, and I am so grateful to have you by my side.

    So much love,
    Giulia

  • Giulia Pline

    Dear Anders,

    Thank you so much! I am humbled to be able to share my story with this wonderful community.

    Best,
    Giulia

  • Giulia Pline

    Dear Tim,

    Your kind words mean much to me. I am so grateful to have been able to share! Thank you.

    Best,
    Giulia

  • Gratitude is the key. If you know that everything is happening for your greater good, then being grateful for whatever happens helps you rise above but sometimes it’s tough

  • Harmony

    Yes! Gratitude and letting go are so important. I share a similar experience–an extreme love of dance that led me to overdo it followed by the universe insisting that I slow down. As long as we remain open to growth and transformation, love, joy and abunDANCE can enter our hearts. It’s when we resist change that we cause ourselves the most pain. Even in hard times, perhaps especially in hard times, we can be grateful for everything that we have in life. We can trust that every learning experience is helping us to emerge the beautiful butterfly we are.

  • Jim

    Such a fantastic story! Thanks for the wonderful morning read! You are truly a gifted writer.

  • Luca Samson

    Hey Giulia,

    I find that one of the best ways to bounce back from tragedies and such is acceptance and hope. You accept what has happened because you can’t go back in the past and change it, once you have accepted it you can move forward with new hope for the future.

    Cheers

  • What a gorgeous post! More evidence that our bodies are on loan, but spirit is eternal and infinite. I greatly admire yours, Giulia. 🙂

  • Anders Hasselstrøm

    “Bodies are on loan” – Nice 🙂

  • lv2terp

    Beautiful post, with wonderful insight! Thank you for sharing your story, and learned lessons! 🙂

  • Ms. Evita

    So beautiful and inspirational…

  • Zefyr

    This is a beautiful post. I love the analogy with the feather. Ive had a very difficult time letting go – whether the past, or people or change or accepting that certain things that matter a lot to me may not be within my reach ever.
    But I’m now beginning to realize that this lack of acceptance is the primary cause of my pain. Gratitude, acceptance of what I cannot change and at least trying to change what I cannot accept without being attached to the success of my efforts is probably the only way to move on and be less sad if not content.

  • Louise

    Hi Giulia,

    This article popped up at the bottom of my screen at just the right time! A third of the way through and I was crying as your words resonate so much with me and my current situation. 2 weeks ago I fell from 9 feet onto concrete and broke my heel, hand, wrist and back. I had surgery on my back and had pins and screws put in. I had only moved out of home 3 weeks and began enjoying my life after an already tough year; and now I’m pretty much bed bound and will be in a wheelchair for the next 3 months. I have already come to the realization that this is happening for a reason, and I’m now beginning to work out these reasons and look into meditation ; and yoga once my fractures are more stable. If you are willing to talk more about your experiences privately I would love that, as I don’t know anyone who has experienced something like this that could truly empathize.

    <3 Louise.

  • giulia

    Hope you are feeling well Louise! Over a year since you posted your comment and I am trusting that you are stronger and more beautiful than ever. Best wishes to you!
    -Giulia

  • giulia

    Right on Zefyr. Stay positive, there is love and abundance all around if you just open your eyes and breathe 🙂

  • giulia

    Thank you Larry!
    Best wishes,
    Giulia

  • giulia

    Thank you so much Jim.
    -Giulia

  • giulia

    Absolutely. Love.
    Best, G.

  • giulia

    100% right on.
    Best,
    Giulia