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Posts Tagged ‘life’

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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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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you vs. me Tyra 😉

So I did a photo shoot the other day with Vivvos (www.facebook.com/vivvos) and it was a mix of things- nervewracking (seriously what qualifies me to be doing a photoshoot?), exciting (yay I get to do a photoshoot!), easy (just smile), difficult (look intense?), and fun (Tomasz you rocked! http://mananetwork.net).  Just standing there looking like myself brought all of these experiences to me and what seemed so simple… “look like you”, has much more complexity than I thought.

Looking back on my small obsession with America’s Next Top Model (ANTM), I had never really understood what made a good photo from an average one.  Tyra would say

“it’s not this -[insert dead eye, “pretty”pose here],  “it’s fierce like this- [insert new and improved  pose here], as she demonstrates the difference.

As much as her shameless self promotion annoyed me, she had a point.  It was all in the eyes.  It was about convincing people that you were fierce, in that moment.

I alike it to someone telling you about something in their life… maybe it’s about their job, or their plans, or their boyfriend or girlfriend and even though their words say one thing, you just absolutely know that they feel differently?  And it comes off as fake, as trying, and as inauthentic?  Maybe they are telling you about a new guy, trying to act like it’s no big deal and you just KNOW its more – and they don’t get why you keep grilling them!  It’s because their words are futile…. you can see the truth in their eyes.  And we all have this ability to be able to see the truth, even with strangers.

That’s what a bad picture is.  Trying to seem fun, or intense, or powerful.  It comes off simply as trying, and there’s a weirdness to that.  I got some amazing advice yesterday from a woman who is a networking whiz.  We were talking about a project of mine and her advice was simple – be yourself.  Find a way to make this project about the depths of who I am so that I never come off as selling, or convincing or trying.  That is the authenticity in it.  And what an amazing way to live, to work, to date.  Know who you are and just do things that you are about!

It all becomes easy at that point.  When I was on the beach, the real turn around happened when I started to actually have fun, to feel intense, to feel pretty.  When my dead eyes came alive with energy and passion… When my inner Tyra stepped in and rather than worrying about how it would turn out, I just made it about that moment.  And while I am clearly no catwalking diva, for a minute I was a model (damn, anything is possible!)

So as in most people’s life, as one project is done,  new projects will emerge, new games will be played and the goal is just this – keep creating depth about who we are.  Be it and be true to it and the rest falls into place.  In volleyball, I think it’s official that I am not this zen chilled out player.  And that’s okay as long as I don’t keep trying to be! Just like when I date a guy just because he is successful, or really cute and I just don’t have that feeling.  My doe-eyed ANTM look comes out and I coast through the conversation, uninspired and definitely not my best.  Because it doesn’t ring true to who I actually am.

So here’s to knowing who we are, digging deep and, of course, “working the camera”  [insert annoying shameless self promoting Tyra pose here]  😉

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So the Olympics have come and gone.  For many people it’s a massive crash after 7 years of planning, organizing and creating.  It’s the calm after the storm, and even though everyone is exhausted, there is this energy and life in Vancouver that I’ve never seen before.  It’s patriotic, it’s proud, and it’s powerful.  It has reminded me of who I am, and who WE are.  A nation of excellence, of freedom, of anything is possible.

And so where to go from here?  In my opinion, we are only a success if we can bring the spirit of the games into our normal lives.  Not that we hold onto the past three weeks, clinging to a reason to feel the way we do, but that we see that the real reason that we were so inspired was that we came together as one to support our athletes.  Win or Lose, Rise or Fall, we had their back.  We were all one team, whether we were stuck in line waiting for a bus, cheering on our most talented Canadian Olympic team in history, grieving for Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, or sitting at Canada Hockey Place watching Crosby score the game winner, we were one.  And maybe that’s the point.  Maybe we finally got it.  When we are there for each other (as Canada was for our Olympic team the past 4 years), amazing things happen for everyone.  THAT is what the Olympics are about.

And so I’ve learned a few lessons that will definitely make a difference for me as I pursue my own Olympic dream.  First of all, I need others.  I need to invite people to go on this journey with me – to cheer me on, laugh with me, cry with me, heal me and guide me.  And in return, I will give everything I have to this dream and I hope in some small way it will make the world better and will create opportunities for all of the people that I am lucky enough to have in my life.

Secondly, I learned that excellence is a state of mind, and not a result.  I think we could all tell when an athlete was going to perform well.  They had this energy about them – an unshakable confidence, laser focus, and yet a lightness in their eyes.  They could smile, even when the pressure was on.  And that’s what I am taking from these unbelievable Canadian athletes.  They had humility but it was different than before.  Where we were once afraid to be great and somewhat uncomfortable on the top of the podium,  we now BELIEVED  that we were meant to Own the Podium.  And yet we were still “Canadian humble” but our humility was in who we were afterwards- Gracious winners. 

So now, bring on the Summer Olympics.  Bring on the sun and sand and bikinis.  Bring on the GOLD.  Ready for the ride of a lifetime?

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Sometimes the toughest decision to make!

I am indecisive.  It’s actually hard for me to admit but it’s true.  I wait till the last minute to make decisions, even small ones like where I’m going on Friday night or whether I am training in the morning or late in the day.  My parents say I can’t commit and even though I totally understand how it appears that way, the irony is that I believe I am a very committed person.  When I finally do make a decision, I am full on about it and often find it hard to let go of a commitment quicker than I should when the commitment no longer serves me. 

So I wonder, if I am a committed person, why is it so damn hard for me to figure out what to commit to?  Are there too many options?  Am I unfocused?  Do I actually know what I want?  And what are the implications of me being this way? There must be a benefit, or I wouldn’t be doing it, and on the flip side, there is clearly a cost.

I actually truly believe that we are a culture of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).  I personally find myself multitasking all the time – I will be hanging out with a friend, listening to music while responding to a text on my personal phone and reading an email on my work phone.  And I think I do it well 🙂 .  Studies have actually shown that human beings are unable to focus on more than one thing at a time.  It’s why we can no longer use our phone while driving – when our mind has to retrieve information or engage in a conversation, we reduce our attention to other details in our environment to allow for that brain activity.  It’s also why we can be in a noisy apartment unable to sleep one night and two nights later we are used to the noise and are fine – our body can “tune out” that which doesn’t help us do the most important task.

I realize that it is important to multitask- there are so many things on my plate, as most people feel, but, but at what point do I need to zero in – focus on the one important task? My brain, I’m pretty sure, doesn’t even know what that is, which is perhaps why I stay in the land of indecision for so long, NOT taking action, and not getting results.

There is a really great quote that I came upon recently that said this:

“Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives”.

It’s true.  The best in the world are committed.  They are decisive.  They are FULL ON.  Everything they do is towards one clear goal and for that reason, decisions are a lot simpler.  For me right now, I’m decided where to play this next season, with whom, with which coach, and which league.  I’ve been sitting on the same decision for the past 4 months, and am really no closer to my final answer.  Actually, I would even say that I am further from my answer as I have put more options on the table, which has confused me even more. 

I went to an awesome seminar on Monday and then talked to a couple of great friends, and here’s how I now intend to make my decision…. from my gut.

 I have information, advice, options.  The one thing I am missing is what my gut is telling me.  Not what I should do or think is the best choice, but what I feel the best about.  And I think I am worried about following that feeling because it’s hard to justify, hard to explain to others, and hard to understand myself.  BUT, one thing I know is that trusting my gut and taking risks have always led me to something great – an experience, a place, a person…. so to say that it is risky isn’t really accurate – I actually have relevant information and my experience is my data.  100% compliancy 🙂 .  It’s like the guy that looks great on paper, or that makes sense, but that you don’t have that feeling about.  You never buy in because deep down you know, and 2 years later you break someone’s heart and realize that you knew all along and just never chose your heart over your head.  In the end, the heart rules right?

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The infamous crop shot... signs of happier times???

So after my last blog https://leahallinger.wordpress.com/2010/01/11/no-you-dont-complete-me/ I said that in order to be successful we must be completely fulfilled regardless of the outcome.  Yes, a little altruistic, and a very simple ingredient to probably a much more complicated recipe.  Ali left me a comment that read

“so think you are on to something – but all I can think of after reading this is HOW. Yes, it all sounds great to live as “fully complete and fulfilled people” – but HOW do we do this? I would challenge that this is the hardest thing to do in relationships, as most people are significantly more emotionally invested in relationships than work. How do you retrain yourself from thinking that you do have something to win (happiness with someone else) and/or lose (confidence, a support system). Tackle this for your next blog”.

So yes, I’m tackling that question on this next blog – thank you for the inspiration Ali 🙂 

I want to start with my disclaimer… The truth is, I don’t know the answer to this question.  If I did, I’d save my answer for writing a book, it would be made into a movie starring Meg Ryan and Hugh Grant, and I’d be able to fund my beach volleyball career, sponsor free for the next decade…  BUT, I am committed to trying so here goes!

I think that the answer to this question comes from another question.  Are you playing life to win, or are you playing life not to lose.  It’s the same situations, same people, maybe even the same words and actions, BUT there is a different intention behind it.  I remember the most significant volleyball moment in my life.  We were in the semi-final at the National Championships.  I was in my 5th year playing for UBC and we were down 14-11 in the 5th game.  I was up to serve and my coach signalled for me to jump serve (a really risky but effective serve).  I really felt like I had nothing to lose – the game seemed out of our hands as we were one point away from defeat.  So I went for it – I hit the ball as hard as I could and I scored an ace.  14-12.  I did it again and they passed it over the net where one of my teammates hit it straight down back at them.  14-13.  And then something happened.  I started to think about what may happen if I made the serve, and what would happen if I missed.  And I tossed the ball up in the air,  a perfect toss- jumped up, and decided to take a little bit off the speed, just to be safe.  Just to make sure the ball was in.  So what happened? When I “took a little bit off”, the ball topspinned a little bit higher, which caused it to fall an inch out of bounds.  15-13 Manitoba.

Ironic that the one thing that I tried to prevent is what happened.  And it’s like this in EVERY aspect of my life.  That which I focus on, I create.  Good or bad, positive or negative.

So if you are afraid to be hurt, you will be hurt; if you are afraid you will fail, then you will fail; if you believe you have good parking karma, you will get the last spot.  This is the law of attraction, right?

So how does it apply to real life – how do we change our minds so that we play to win, rather than playing to serve the ball in the court?  While there are many ways to transform our thoughts, I’m going with a tried and true method called “fake it till you make it”.  Act AS IF you are the way you want to be and AS IF you feel that way.  Pretend your life is a play or a movie.  You are the director and you are the star.  What would the ending be, what type of conversations would you have, and what type of action would you take to get the job of your dreams or find the love of your life?  Would you be driven by risktaking, having fun, inspiration?  Or would you be worried about what someone thought of you, and how hard something may be and what you might lose if you didn’t succeed?  Remember that it’s YOU that has to watch the movie, so what would keep you sitting in the theatre?  The characters in the movies that I am moved by are not perfect and do not have it all figured out, but they always go out on a limb and they often fail before they succeed.  It’s not because of the job they get or the girl they marry… it’s that they played full on and there’s something so  real and so powerful about that. 

And if your life is a movie, you can always make a sequel, or a prequel if you prefer 😉  The movie is just that… 2 hours out of your life, and then more life comes.  It’s hard to take something so temporary seriously, right?  And that’s a good thing because the second we get too serious and too intense we lose perspective and that is when we start to play not to lose.  It might be like that Biggest Loser episode I saw last night where the girl was 3 steps away from immunity then started to think about it, and fell into the water; or maybe you are like me with your very own “Jacob” and you start to notice all of the things that may not work out in the future, so you kibosh the whole thing. (https://leahallinger.wordpress.com/2010/01/03/twilight-the-metaphor-for-the-modern-day-relationship/)  

As for the question about how to not get emotional about things that have an emotional investment in, I don’t think that’s possible.  Emotionally connecting with somebody is natural.  But the key is in remembering that moments come and go and change… it’s easy to remember an old flame and all the awesome memories and it’s easy to look at someone and imagine all of the possibilities, but that is only part of the story.  That’s the part of our brain that keeps us coming back for more!  Because if we really thought about the shit we go through in relationships, would we ever want to be in one??!  It’s like we have an erase button on all things negative about love – which, I believe, is a good thing in the long run but we have to keep perspective so that we aren’t disillusioned when we are dating and building a relationship.

So, after all this, my final answer to your question is:  Make sure, in every situation in your life that you ask yourself if you are Going For Gold or if you are  just trying not to be 4th.  And if all is aligned, go for it, and if not, force yourself to make a different choice, no matter how uncomfortable it is.

* check out the amazing things that are happening at www.vivvos.com.  We are going for gold in sexy brazilian swimwear!

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