Written by Janelle Kopa
I am inspired by people who believe that dreaming is an artform, and that dreams themselves, are platforms. I am inspired by people who recognize the child within themselves; the one that’s still in there dreaming, even when work calls. These admirable people have left me chasing harder after my own purpose, because I’ve felt the impact from them working hard at theirs. American Ninja Warrior athlete (season 8, 9, 10), Barclay Stockett, has made my inspiration list, not just for how she moves as a ninja, but for how she admirably lives.
The memory I have of listening to my first ever Ninjababes podcast, Barclay’s episode, is far too crystal clear in my mind for me not to share its lasting impression on my heart and on my life. Barclay’s words first echoed into my life when nerves were causing my foot to press harder on the gas pedal as I drove myself to Minneapolis course testing for Season 10 of American Ninja Warrior, which would be my first time ever one an ANW set. In this moment, Ninjababes met me where I was at. Barclay’s words were exactly what I needed to hear, and her wisdom became the reason I slowly let go of my fear.
I listened eagerly as Barclay described her childhood dreams and passions: circus performer, firefighter, archaeologist, architect, wrestling with her 5 siblings, climbing trees, gymnastics. Smiling, I began to reminisce on my own childhood dreams. I started to realize that these dreams are beautiful because they are limitless, free of expectations, based on inner passions, and they revolve around a desire to become someone greater than your current self. I believe that our purpose is built on these childhood dreams, for they were the start of our passionate hearts that have laid the foundation for where we are today, and for where we still hope to go.
“Follow peace.” These are Barclay’s words of wisdom about her life journey that speak to me each day. Through the pursuit of following peace, Barclay has discovered herself living a life even greater than her wildest dreams. Once she started opening her eyes and ears to her heart and the world around her, she began to notice newly opened doors of opportunity that aligned with her passions. For Barclay, this can be seen in transition from gymnastics to the sport of ninja, which she felt was the missing piece in her life after years of competing in gymnastics from age 12 through high school. The way Barclay follows peace is also seen in her journey from working as a head gymnastics coach to having a job teaching our U.S military obstacle course techniques through Alpha Warrior. Barclay learned that part of following peace meant that she needed to be honest about her passions, diving unapologetically into what makes her happy and the purpose she feels she has been called to through every different season of life.
As Barclay described what following peace looked like in her own life, I started looking at it in mine. I decided to challenge her internal questions for following peace against my own life. Was I overwhelmed? Anxious? Overworked? Did I have a balanced lifestyle? Was I happy with what I was doing and the direction my life was going?
Through an analysis of my own journey of ninja as I was driving to course testing, I realized that it’s possible to follow your dreams and not follow peace at the same time. Here I was, going to live out one of my childhood dreams, and yet, I felt unbelievably restless. The problem was that I had attached my dreams to people and expectations instead of my own heart. I learned that following peace meant I needed to give myself grace as I got honest with myself, redefining what my passions, values, and beliefs are for ninja.
As I redefined ninja as my passion, I erased the expectations I had held tightly that were only holding me back. That’s when I realized I was not only following peace, I was driving towards it. That’s when I found myself excelling on the American Ninja Warrior course achieving my childhood dream. Ironically enough, that’s also exactly when I met and became friends with Cara Poalillo, becoming a blog writer for the one and only, Ninjababes.