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As I sat on my $98/night bed in Kamloops, half working on a course, half tuning in to the Lance Armstrong interview on Oprah TV, Oprah grabbed my attention with the question “Did you feel in any way that you were cheating”.  “Did I or do I?” Lance answered…. Interesting clarification….  “Did you?”.  Lance’s answer first surprised me, then upset me, and finally, forced me to consider my own point of view.

“I went and looked up the definition of cheat,” he added a moment later. “And the definition is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe. I didn’t view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field.”

So, is it cheating if we all do it?  And what are we really upset about?  The cheating or that he lied to us?

At the end of the day, many people are equally offended if somebody cheats or lies, but what is it about Lance in particular that has unnerved us?  Is it that we trusted him for some reason, or is it that we truly feel that doping is wrong?  In my opinion, the public’s reaction has far surpassed the disappointment of a cheat, but has morphed into something more personal, something that for some reason requires Armstrong to deliver an apology that we believe, in a way that we individually think is right, with proof that he has, somehow, changed, and a punishment that will last long into his life.  For some reason, we require more than is required in most families, workplaces, and churches.  So how did it get to a point that he has hurt us this way? And what can we do about it?

I started to think about times in my life where I had been caught in a lie, or maybe didn’t play as fair as I could.  I know the magnitude is much lower, but maybe some of the conditions were the same – why did I do it?  I knew it was wrong, it didn’t really feel good, but I found a way to justify it in the moment.  I think that the common element was that I felt I had to do it to survive the moment.  Right or wrong, something was at stake… Now I can’t speak for Armstrong, but I can tell you that the world of sport can sometimes feel like everything is at stake. In fact, this is the intention of the organizations that run sport – they need it to feel this important to make money and build the brand.  I remember moments where I felt like I would do anything it took to win, to be successful.  It was the only way I would be able to pay rent, or buy food.  I was lucky in that my world did not include things like EPO, doping, millions of dollars and a reputation that was on the line.  My world was relatively small, and relatively protected.  But what if it wasn’t?  What if I had been approached by somebody that I trusted, and what if it was as common in my world as taking a vitamin C?

I’m in no way saying that I would have taken this path – on the contrary, I grew up in a household that vehemently defended clean sport, and a mother that won a medal clean in an environment that provided that opportunity for her if she was interested… but I can see the conditions that may have led Armstrong (and most others in his sport) to win at all costs, including his own health and potential public fallout.

So in an effort not to defend Lance, but to perhaps understand him, I again ask, why is it so personal?  Do we recognize the dark side of ourselves in him?  Does it scare us that even a hero like Armstrong could fall to temptations and greed – because where does that leave us?

I’m in no way saying that the penalties and fallout are not appropriate – in life there is cause and effect.  Instead I’m hoping that we, as a society, can use this as an opportunity to learn about ourselves and what we do to win, our view of sport and excellence, and how we react and respond when somebody fails – do we turn our backs or do we help them to rebuild?  Because this will be our legacy.

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Well here we are – it’s 2013 and I although I haven’t written on my blog in over a year, it seems that somehow the amazing world wide web has continued to bring people to my site.  As I received my blog stats via email, I started to reflect on the past – when I started this blog, why I started it, and why I stopped writing.

I think it was a mix of things… I got busy (coaching)… I got very busy (moved, got engaged)… and then I got even more busy (work, travel, wedding planning).  In fact, being busy is the exact reason I have for stopping most things in my life that I probably should keep doing.  I’m not saying that writing a blog should continue forever,  but there was something very important and perhaps cathartic in expressing my thoughts, feelings and ideas.  Maybe it was simply creating something that I could reread, or getting thoughts out that I had pushed away in the process of being productive.  but I think that more likely, it was taking a moment for myself- to leave the outside world for just a moment, and create a little world by myself in a small cafe.

I’ve tried to fill the gap with things like yoga, running and lazy days watching Madmen, but in some ways these relaxing endeavors have taken a life of their own and have become sweat sessions at Bikrams Yoga, half marathon training, and a little too much online shopping to find outfits like Betty and Joan.  It’s funny how “productive” these little moments for myself have become!

So here find myself in another cafe being “unproductive”… and it feels awesome!  As I sip on my americano, and watch the misty rain drizzle on the window, I can’t help but reflect on this past year of successes, and announcements, triumphs and tears.  One thing is very clear- it was an awesome year!  It wasn’t perfect, but I grew and I changed.  And to be honest, it’s taken me till Jan.1, 2013 to really appreciate and think about that.

My resolution next year is to take all of my goals and ambitions and plans and relationships, and find ways to create moments to reflect on and appreciate what is happening with them right then.  I’m not sure exactly how this will change any of the outcomes, and maybe it won’t… but I do think that in the moments of craziness and busyness, if I deliberately take time to reflect, I will be reminded to stop, breathe, and notice that there is goodness and beauty in all of it.  The wins and the losses.  Because at the end of the day, it’s all about learning and growing.

 

I’ll leave you with an amazing little 5 step program! A daily resolution of sorts 🙂

 

The Five Reiki Principles

BY DR.MIKAO USUI

 

I – Just for today, I will not be angry.

Anger at others or oneself or at the whole world, creates serious blockages in one’s energy. It is the most complex inner enemy.

Letting go of anger, brings Peace into the Mind.

 

II – Just for today, I will not worry.

 

While anger deals with past and present events, worry deals with future ones. Although worry is not always a negative phenomena, endless worries may fill one’s head, and each one bores a small hole in one’s body and soul.

Letting go of worry, brings healing into the Body.

 

III – Just for today, I will be grateful.

Be grateful from your hart inward. Inner intention is the important element in this principle. Simple things as thanks, forgiveness, smile, good words, gratitude can improve others life and make them happy.

Being thankful brings Joy into the Spirit.

 

IV – Just for today, I will do my work honestly.

Support yourself and your family respectably, without harming others. Earn a respectable living, live a life of honor.

Working Honestly brings Abundance into the Soul.

 

V- Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing.

Honor your parents, honor your teachers, honor your elders.

Being Kind brings Love into the Will.

 

Happy New Years and all the best in 2013 – something tells me that this year is going to be a special one…Unknown-1

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From bad to worse..

8-1

That was the score of the Canucks loss last night.  The players looked visibly shocked, the coaches had no idea what to do and a city bustling with Olympic-like pride and gusto was immediately humbled.

Predictions were generous before the game – Canucks were getting better every game, every series.  Luongo seemed poised and confident, and our record was improving – 7 games in the first round, 6 games in the second, 5 in the 4th… and what was left?  A Four Game sweep of course!

So, if not a sweep, now what?

As an athlete and now a coach, I’ve often gotten caught up in the energy of “perfection”.  It’s what makes athletes, coaches, GM’s and franchises excellent – seeking perfect performances and doing every little thing that it takes to accomplish that.  And here’s where it gets tricky… we can train with perfection in mind but the second we try to play games perfectly is where things go wrong, because it’s very rare for a game to go exactly as we planned or envisioned…  We then miss opportunities as we search for the perfect play; we get caught up in our own mistakes, failing to move on from them; and when things don’t go well  we start to play with fear and caution.

There are a couple of ways to analyse why it happens that way- For all of those “The Secret” believers out there- Law of Attraction is the source of this. What we think about we attract.  Fear breeds the manifestation of fear.  Worrying about making mistakes breeds mistakes etc. etc. etc.  Our minds do not know the difference between what we want and what we don’t want.  It just produces what is on our mind.

And for those scientists out there, it’s pretty simple what happens.  Fear and nerves cause blood flow to pool in the stomach, thereby starving the extremities (aka arms and legs!), and so movement is not only restricted but our reflexes are much slower.  Looking back on last night’s game, does that sound familiar?

This is the “perfectionism trap”.  Perfectionism is great when things are, well, perfect.  But it quickly breaks down when things go wrong as it seems that there is no way out as we have already failed to be perfect.

So what now for the Canucks?  How do you regroup and come back from that performance?  I can’t say that I have the exact answer, but I think that the worse thing that they could do is overanalyze their performance.  They could go into strategy and technical aspects of the game and get caught up in what to change, but the truth is that the change that needs to happen is within them already.  They need to be okay with not being perfect, and have a little humour about the lesson they were given.  Trying to avenge a loss, or prove something to their fans will give them just that – a game spent trying and proving.  it’s uninspiring to watch, and even more uninspiring to play that way.

But I imagine they already know this.  They play week after week, in do or die situations.  They experience the best and worst of themselves on that ice day after day and so they are used to this and get coached through it.  They know how it goes.  But what about everyone else?

I’ve always said that the reason I was addicted to volleyball was because I could go through years of growth in 1 hour on the court. There is a start, middle and end to the game; you see what kind of teammate/partner you are; you see how you think and react when things are close- do you make the right play, do you get scared, do you blame your coach, yourself or teammate?  And then you finish the game, debrief, need to forget it and move on, while implementing new better ways to be in the future.  If this is not life, I don’t know what is!

But normally we don’t get to do the whole thing in such a short time.  Usually it gets stretched out over weeks, months, years and it feels neverending.  A bad play in hockey may see your team at a disadvantage for 5 minutes, but in life a bad decision could cost us years of discomfort, which really wears people down.  And so it gets really tough to forget the mistake and move on… to move past it with the information we learned and make different choices.  In fact, often there is so much time between the action and the result that we often lose sight of what caused what.  And then we (accidently) keep making the same mistake over and over and wonder why we ended up in the same place again.

It happens with work, money, dating, and family.  I’ve seen numerous friends find themselves in relationships with THAT guy that they tried to avoid.  Or people that keep ending up working with terrible bosses or who are perpetually broke no matter what kind of money they are making.

The question is, do we need a referee and a coach around or can we figure it out on our own?  When we make a mistake, do we know ourselves well enough to call the penalty, put ourselves in the box for 5 minutes, and then get back on the ice and play differently?  Or do we keep trying to play “through it” and force our game plan no matter what the other team is doing?  And though the Canucks got to walk away after 2 1/2 hours of playing with an 8-1 loss, what does that transfer into in real life?  Losing 8 things in real life is a much bigger deal – it may include a relationship, a house, a job, confidence, trust, time.

For me, I get stuck trying to be a perfectionist for sure.  Because it has served me in the past.  It has made me great at things and yet there is no doubt that there is a cap that it places on my life and so it’s important to look at my current situation and have a sense of whether I’m learning and changing myself or if I’m just trying to change the game.  Because 5 minutes in the penalty box may just be the perfect little time out – I mean, who knows what can happen while you’re in there… !

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Anybody that knows me well knows that I have always been a huge believer that we create our lives exactly as they are right now.  And I don’t mean we voodoo control life… just that life presents itself the way we we intend it to or expect it to- it’s why people that believe everybody is out to get them tend to keep finding themselves in situations where they must defend and protect themselves, and where I can walk around downtown Guadalajara, MX at night completely unscathed. And trust me, I have no idea why or how it works this way!

But as a believer in this philosophy, what happens when things work out differently than I want or expect?  What happens when something comes up that I feel I didn’t intend and maybe don’t even want?  This is where I get stuck because if I was completely in control, then it wouldn’t be this way, right?

Or maybe sometimes shit just happens.

I came across a quote from one of my favorite writers and philosophers, Kahlil Gibran:

“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”

The thing is that sometimes things just feel scary, or difficult or upsetting.  My instinct is that it’s not okay to feel these things and it means something is wrong.  I usually just push those feelings down as far as I can muster, and try to “get over it”.  Smile and keep moving forward. But does this actually allow me to explore myself and my world to it’s full capacity or do I cut off some self expression when I do that?  A year ago I would have read the quote above and thought…”k, i’m doing it all right, just smile and pretend all is okay until it feels okay”.  And now, for some reason that doesn’t seem sufficient to authentic happiness and growth.

I do think it’s important to see ourselves, others, and the world in a positive, powerful light and there is always the opportunity to do that in any situation.  That is the TRUTH in life, and this is who I know myself to be deep down at my core. But there is something about the full experience of being human which includes the spectrum of emotion- joy, sorrow, love, patience, anger, fear.  And it’s good – ALL of it is good!  But it’s the thought and action after that determine who we are in this world.  After our full experience of being human, do we stand for who we truly know ourselves to be regardless of the situation we are in or our feelings we have?  For me, I’m starting to think that really is what creating my life means….

Something tells me that the awesome kid in the video below truly LOVES her life!  And her life probably includes a few tears 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qR3rK0kZFkg

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I think I’ve said this before, but I love love!  Every part of it intrigues me, inspires me and challenges me.  As any and all of my friends will attest to, I love to analyze relationships, give advice (asked for or not!), and above all, I love to learn about the elusive chemistry that we are all ultimately looking for…

I mean, we are looking for that, right?

I think that it boils down to one thing, no matter what stage we are at in our lives- we look to connect in a world that is largely disconnected right now.  Whether we are looking for a life partner, a date, or a passionate finish to a tequila laden night, there is something in us that yearns for connection with another human being.

I always think it’s interesting hearing the point of view of a man on this, and I listen intently when I have the chance because I think it would save women a lot of time and energy if we just listened!  It’s why “He’s Just Not That Into You” became a raging hit.  If we truly listen (and not to the voice in our head), people will tell us how they want to connect.  It will always appear the way we want it to appear until we open our eyes and ears.  At the start of every relationship (whether it’s for the long haul or for a long night) people show interest, laugh, flirt, touch, text.  It’s all the same, which is why it becomes confusing!  When our own desires, hopes and perceptions start getting involved in defining another person’s intentions, that’s when we stop seeing the signs and absorbing the important information.

My friend Mae just went through this.  Tall, wildly bright and stunning, she would never know it if you asked her 😉  And though her humility is one of the things that makes her amazing, it gets in the way of her dating life.  She recently was seeing a man who, after giving her various signs of inconsistency and unreliability, told her “I will never be the man you want and need”.  PERFECT!  He gave her the information, right?  She can smile, thank him for an amazing time, and walk away to find what she is truly looking for…  It’s that simple, of course…(sure…!)

Well, here’s where it gets a little tricky (and it always does in love) – what if her goal is to have a relationship with a great communicator? She could take this statement as an act of great communication and personal introspection.  I mean, he kept calling and telling her she was great so maybe, just maybe, he’ll figure out that he actually could be the man she wants!

And then 4 years goes by and she realizes he told her 4 years ago…

I don’t exclude myself from this, by the way.  But I’m learning.  I’m understanding more and more everyday and I notice myself constantly interested in discussing love and dating with my couple friends, and helping out my single friends.  In my heart of hearts I’m a matchmaker, and I’m a coach 🙂 And like all coaches, usually the best ones are the ones who had to work harder, and be more technical about it.  The ones who just naturally and innately did it have trouble teaching others.

So I’m going to find a way to take this passion of mine, this deep down feeling of wanting others to have amazing, connected and fulfilling relationships and lives (whatever type of relationship or life they want!) and build something around it.  I’ll start with answering questions- sometimes with my own perceptions, but if I don’t know I will figure it out (I do have a pretty solid council of amazing women that needs something to do now that The Bachelor is over!).  Sort of like a “Dear Abbey” column on steroids…

Loving my new project and excited for where it may lead. Please feel free to send me any and every question you’d get a kick out of getting an “answer” about 🙂

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As I slowly opened my eyes, feet dangling beside the fireplace and spooned up next to my cat I looked out the window in a dazed confusion.  It’s sort of light outside… is it morning, evening, raining?  Why do I feel so tired? Am I really napping?!

I could blame it on Vegas, and most people would understand that – or on how I just recently wrapped my 8 month season of coaching.  Maybe it is the high of winning and the inevitable release that follows.  Or it could be the training… yep I’ve been doing more than usual…

But I know the truth.  I could notice how my circumstances might affect me, but I don’t believe that energy is a limited resource.  Like the sleeplessness and lack of hunger that new love joyfully creates, energy comes from a fire within – a purpose.  And while I have achieved many goals this year, I feel like I’ve been evading making some decisions with intention.

The thing is that my life is amazing.  Truly it is.  Every single day this year I loved waking up, going to work and I loved being in the gym.  I couldn’t ask for a better roommate and my family is one in a million.  My relationship has changed and grown, giving me a chance to discover pieces of who I am and what I am made of.

And the thing that I’ve been struggling with, that I feel has sapped my energy, can be slotted into one simple question “What do you want to do”?

And I guess I am stumped by this question most because I feel like I have figured out a lot of important stuff this year –

I know who I want to be

  • somebody who is my word
  • who believes that anything is possible for anybody
  • wildly creative
  • committed to the health and wellbeing of myself and everyone around me
  • somebody who inspires others to live their dream

I also know what I want to create in my future:

  • A healthy body and mind
  • Success in beach volleyball
  • A job that I love and that allows me to use all of my talents
  • An amazing relationship that is exciting, challenging, unique and creative
  • A beautiful and blissfully happy family that contributes to making the world better

What I am missing is the details of this.  How do I do this? How much money do I want?  Where do I want to live?  Who do I want to live with? How will I be spending my days?

My friend just started writing a blog, and he truly inspired me to consider declaring what I want and letting the universe take it’s course.  The thing is that I’m not exactly sure how to figure out how to get to what I want.  I seem to get many amazing and unexpected opportunities, and it feels so easy that I wonder if I am letting life happen to me or if I am the driver. I know my starting point, I know my ending point, but it’s the stuff in between that I get confused about.  Do I look 10 years down the road and choose a job that gives me that future, or do I do what I love right now, and trust that will take me exactly where I need to go?  This isn’t a hypothetical question, by the way… I’m looking for insights and ideas, so please share!!

At the end of the day, the more I think about this stuff, the more I know in my gut that there is nothing to figure out.  Trying to figure life out is causing me to feel like a different person than I am.  I feel like this process has taken the spark out of me and I’ve been dragging my feet, rather than reacting to life’s unexpected gifts and ideas.  So in knowing this, and also having to make some decisions – what is the balance?  How do I decide what is right, and an even bigger question would be… is there such a thing as right?

And maybe, just maybe this has nothing to do with making a decision or figuring out some far out purpose.  Perhaps my life will just keep giving me what I need to learn something about myself that I haven’t discovered. And right now it feels like an enigma but as soon as I learn, it will all make sense.  What I have noticed, above all, is that whatever decision I have made in the past few years has always ended up being about self discovery.  And maybe that’s the whole point… more to come as I figure this one out 😉

I read a few quotes about decision that resonated with me and I’m going to post them- feel free to add any comments or email me about your thoughts!

When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.  ~William James

A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one.  ~Rita Mae Brown

It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.  ~Roy Disney

You’ve got a lot of choices.  If getting out of bed in the morning is a chore and you’re not smiling on a regular basis, try another choice.  ~Steven D. Woodhull

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I’ve been writing this blog for about ten months now, and I don’t think I’ve ever gone through it.  For some reason, after I write I never want to re-read it for fear that I will wish I had written it differently or perhaps not at all!

And I was right.

Well, partially right.  It’s funny – as I sifted through my many thoughts and expressions I could see so clearly where I was and how far I have come.  I could see what my focus was, where my energy lay, and to be honest, I could see where I wrote from my heart and where I wrote from my head.

I started this blog in order to explore being fully self expressed and to find an outlet for what I felt in my heart.  I had played every sport under the sun, and there was this creative piece of me that I felt was hibernating.  And I wasn’t sure how to get it out, so I just went for it, and this is the product.  About 150 people a day read about my decisions, opinions and advice -sought out or not – and as tonight I breezed through 20 or so of my blogs, I just realized for me what the impact of that is.

I have a belief… maybe even call it a stand, that people are amazing.  I think that human beings can be and achieve things that are so extraordinary that we haven’t even touched the possibilities that lie within us.  And this is where I am not aligned with some of my writing – I look back on some of the things I wrote and I don’t see that belief  entwined in the words.  I see limits and rules and small perspectives that I have based some of my writing on and truth be told, I think that it came from a place of confusion on my end.  This year has been filled with so much self discovery, change, and growth and with this my integrity at times was shaken and I want to restore that in all of my future writings.

I am committed to the beauty and strength that everyone has (even the “bad” dates I used to mention!) and I am really excited for this to be a place for transformative  conversations… still wrapped in humour and fun!

Thanks for reading and I am going to leave all of my posts up – even the ones I am so-so about, because the journey really is the destination and regardless of who I am now, the pathway was perfect.

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