“Something very beautiful happens to people when their world has fallen apart. A humility, a nobility, a higher intelligence emerges at just the point when our knees hit the floor.” - Marianne Williamson
In December of this past year, REV instructor Jami Crist was in Mexico when she learned of the tragic passing over her mom. As with the passing of any loved one, life is put on hold. Things become blurry. There is a lot of noise and yet everything also seems quiet. Over the next several weeks, Jami acquired a deep appreciation for the community around her that radiated unyielding love and support. With the help of her REV family and friends, she was able to learn how to manage loss and how to overcome the pain of that immediate void.
Growing up, the relationship between Jami and her mom was rocky. Her mom struggled with many life obstacles that Jami could not understand at the time - Jami’s father passed away when she was 3 years old, leaving her mom as a single parent while overcoming alcoholism and taking care of both of her own ill parents. “I just kept thinking she didn’t want to be there for me and I wasn’t a priority,” Jami said. It took years for Jami to realize how strong her mom was as she constantly upheld a positive attitude through the most difficult times. Her mom valued relationships. Little did Jami know she would soon inherit this, her mom’s ability to connect with people on a more profound level. “She had this energy about her when you met her for the first time you felt like you have known her forever.” Jami’s perspective has expanded over the years as she has developed the same patience and affection as her mother. “…at times when people can’t be there for you or maybe their attitude isn’t the best, I just think, okay maybe something else is going on that I do not know about. Do not hold it against them.”
The true nature of people becomes known in the most difficult of times; in other words, your people will shine their light for you in the dark when you have lost yours. When Jami returned home after the funeral proceedings, the REV community was instantly by her side. “Walking into the studio and getting these huge hugs that were so comforting and felt like home to me.” She had always known there was a strong connection with her clients and other instructors, but that connection ran far deeper than she really realized. “I remember my first class back after everything… one student came up to me and said ‘I have been riding for you and your mom.’ I just hugged her so tight because I couldn’t believe it. She never met my mom and I always just thought I was her spin instructor. To have people think about you during their workout time and ride for you…it meant so much.”
When Jami was in Buffalo (where her mom used to live) after the funeral, she had a moment of angst. She had not worked out for a week and all of her emotions were beginning to build up. She found a local spin studio and, despite the nerves of attending a new studio, she took a class. “Once we got going, I cried, I sweated, and after the class I just felt this lift off my chest from all the emotions from the week.” Jami was locked inside of her own mind, asking herself what she could have done better to be there for her mom, and the single most effective outlet was fitness - a way for her to get out of her mind and into her body. “Going to class or teaching class to just shut off… with the music and the movement… was so therapeutic. I could allow myself to breathe and think that it’s okay.”
Letting go is not about loss or defeat. To let go of something is to cherish memories and move on. It is having an open mind and an open heart. Hardships and grief temporarily put life on hold, but the reality is that life keeps going. We must keep going with it, and we must find a way to manage the pain. Despite how busy she is with her job at Under Armour and everything she is involved with in the Baltimore community, Jami knows how proud her mom was of what she accomplished. In fact, that go-go-go quality in Jami comes from her mom who always said to her, “Jaim…if you want to go for it, then go for it. What do you have to lose?” Jami’s own life will continue on the upward trajectory, and she will continue to pursue her goals; however, she carries with her a new outlook. In honor of her mother’s legacy, Jami lives each day knowing the most valuable part of life is not her career, but her relationships with friends and family.
Jami’s advice to you: “Take the FREAKING TIME! I would get at least a few phone calls from my mom every day. Even though I was at work, she would leave me a voicemail every time and I remember telling her ‘Mom, you don’t have to leave a voicemail every time. Yet they would still happen. I cherish them so much now.” We all live busy lives, but those moments we have to talk to family should be prioritized - life is too short to ignore the call. Over the past 10 years, work was Jami’s main priority. “Climbing the ladder, pushing to be great at work and not missing anything was a major pressure I put on myself, but this has been an awakening. I’d rather be 32 realizing this now and making the positive changes in my life than be 50-something with a family of my own and missing out - when it’s too late.”
So pick up the phone. Stay focused on what matters most. Do not ignore the true value in the relationships with people around you. And lastly - “Help each other and be there for each other. You never know how you can change some one’s life and get them through the toughest times.”