Finding Your Inner Warrior

Author: Emily Munoz

TAPS Launches 2016 Health and Wellness Initiative

Visit or email to learn more about how to get involved.

The pain of loss may make it difficult to find energy for anything other than half-hearted New Year’s resolutions. Too drained to go through the motions of identifying goals and possibilities, we never quite make it to the point of unwavering belief in what is yet to come. It is as though grief has robbed us of the power to invest in the future, believe in fullness, and commit to living richly.

The feeling of being comfortable in your own skin is elusive after any kind of loss or uncertainty. We feel doubtful and out of sorts - as if we are beside ourselves, watching the disintegration of the core around which we identify and orient. Our loved one died, yet we are the ones who may be lost, aimless and broken. Yearning for the good old times and weary of uncertain tomorrows, we wonder how we will ever have enough strength for the journey.

TAPS knows that strength for the journey is an important way we can help and inspire each other. We are proud that 2016 heralds the start of the TAPS Health & Wellness Initiative, a multi-dimensional program aimed at empowering survivors to reclaim feelings of wholeness and well-being. Our focus is on motivating and coaching survivors to feel seen, understood and healthy at the core-to facilitate experiences where purpose, life, and personal strength simply click.

Eventually, this program will encompass six dimensions of whole-person wellness, but our early focus is on the intersections of spiritual, emotional, physical and social health. In addition to a strong focus on self-care, community-building, and restorative therapies, we'll incorporate opportunities for thoughtful movement. As we retrain the mind, body and spirit, we open up possibilities and present new challenges, guiding each other to believe investments in self and others are worth it. We're starting programs for all fitness and mobility levels, from survivors who have never run a single step, to those who are ready for a triathlon or orienteering race challenge.

Our 2016 program asks you to find and connect with your inner warrior, the part of you that's committed not just to surviving, but to thriving. Find the part of you that wants to make your loved one proud.

Together we will

ENCOURAGE full-body wellness, self-care and healthy living,

LEARN together at training camps and special sessions as we become comfortable with our ability to set milestones and achieve them,

PAIR participants with coaches to help us stay on track,

BUILD communities and peer support systems centered around shared goals,

FIND different forms of courage and do things we never thought we could,

USE what we've learned about making it as survivors to push through obstacles, doubts and fatigue,

RISE to the challenges of our drastically changed worlds, and

RECLAIM power, perspective and possibility.

This year, as you toast the good old times and the familiar ache threatens, know that the ache is also your call to self-care. Grief depletes us, leaves us empty and wanting - yet, even in early grief, there are still ways to nurture and care for body, mind and spirit. When we are paralyzed with grief, and movement seems impossible, self-care sets the stage for taking personal power back. Let us help you invest in building strength for the journey-whether it's through rest, healthy sleep techniques, nutrition, aromatherapy or physical exertion. There's a difference between "good tired" and "grief tired," and we want you to know that we're here to help you find that "good tired" again when you're ready.

Sometimes we need to summon the inner warrior to make it through the day, and some days that inner warrior will drive us a little further. Wherever you are in your grief journey, Inner Warrior Program is about strengthening your own resolve and building your own capacity. Together, we'll become the best possible living legacies.

At the heart of wellness is CARE. When we feel as though we have lost everything, it is hard to invest in ourselves and the world around us. There is often a loss of pride in accomplishments, a drifting sense of living on top of the world, not in it. Part of healing is starting to believe that the little things matter. After devastating loss, this can be one of the most difficult things to trust - that the outcome won't always be a disappointment. We need to claim a stake in life again. We have to care.

Part of that is taking pride in your life, and part of it is taking care of yourself. The care program is overarching. It's about wellness, accountability and investment. We will learn how to enrich even the hardest days, reframe purpose when we need to, and nurture habits that will make us strong for any part of the journey.

When this re-investment in the world suggests motion, our introductory program will encourage you to MOVE! We are often stuck in mental, emotional and physical ruts, going over unanswerable questions as we wear out our recliners and entertain feelings of purposelessness. Our move program will encourage personal growth and physical wellness by fostering close peer connections throughout a transformative training process.

Participants in the move program will be able to attend an introductory camp and walk through the basics of starting a health and wellness program with a coach. We will offer webinars and online communities as we choose a goal race to run/walk. Most importantly, we'll deepen connections with people working through similar struggles, fighting to keep moving, daring to reclaim a sense of self and purpose, and giving each other goals and reasons to get out of bed and off the couch.

The STRETCH track is for those who are active and need a different challenge. Maybe you've found a way to be comfortable even in this horribly changed life, but now you realize you might be living smaller than intended. The stretch track involves training the body and the mind to go a little bit further, dig a little bit deeper, bear a little bit more purposeful discomfort. Survivors who want to stretch their emotional and physical capacities will have the opportunity to participate in:  

  • Ragnar relays  
  • GoRuck challenges  
  • Adventure races and  
  • Triathlon/marathon camps

These will help us develop endurance, gain strength and flexibility, change habits, and start believing that possibilities and limits, must be extended and stretched. We'll go farther, live bigger and find more of ourselves-and we'll do it as a team.

Ready to do more than you ever thought you could? Sometimes we need to pass beyond the limits we're holding in order to take hold of something bigger. To get you comfortable with gear, fitness, and your teammates, the REACH track will incorporate  

  • Orienteering  
  • Mountaineering  
  • Longer-distance triathlons  
  • Multi-day adventure races  
  • Backcountry hiking  
  • Multi-sport trips and training camps

All of the reach events require a degree of commitment that prioritizes training, preparation, whole-body wellness and accountability. And, like all the other tracks, you won't be doing this alone. You'll be surrounded by other survivors working to accomplish what once seemed outside our limits.

As we care, move, stretch, and reach, we rely on our strength and that of those around us. Along the way, we will rediscover parts of ourselves we had forgotten-more of who our fallen heroes loved. They loved us for our persistence, our courage and for our willingness to live their legacies as lives of purpose, power and adventure. They saw more in us than the darkness of our grief may allow us to see in ourselves. But not for long. Our goal with the Inner Warrior program is for participants to be able to say, "We see what they saw."

TAPS invites you to invest in your wellness and purposefully choose to embark on the journey of improvement and empowerment. We're going to be tired and a little smelly, but aren't we already? And we will see what our fallen heroes saw. Strength. Worth. Warriors.

By Emily Munoz, Senior Advisor, Strategy and Communications