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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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The thing about love is that we use one word to describe a million different feelings, a gamut of experiences, a choice, a goal, and a way of being.  We love ourselves, we love our friends, we love a joke, we are in love with our partner, and we love our hair…  It’s an action and a verb.  It’s permanent and it’s passing. It means a lot and it can mean a little.

And we wonder why we are confused about love.  Why when one person says that they love you, it means something different than when you do…

I’m one of those people that “love” love.  I feel like it’s the answer to the age-old question “what are we here for?”  I think that people find purpose in caring deeply about our planet, and there’s something about feeling so strongly for another human being that we risk being heartbroken.

And as I’m sitting here days before Valentines Day, where love is certainly in the air, I wonder what love truly means to me and how my perception of love has changed and developed through the years.  I mean, it has changed, hasn’t it?

I remember the first time I fell in love.  I was 19, and it was my first boyfriend in university.  I remember this sort of passionate, impatience to how I felt- we literally spent hours, days, and then weeks solid together.  I experienced my first fight, first makeup, first intimate moment, first “I love you”, first betrayal and first heartbreak.  I got it all in that relationship.  And I quickly after met the guy that would be my longest-term relationship so far.  4 years that finally ended in a bittersweet realization that we had outgrown each other.  Tears flowed on and off for months and I literally felt like I might not make it.  I felt physical pain, I questioned my decision, regretted it, then accepted it.  And he soon found somebody new, and 6 months later when he told me he was getting married, I relived it all once more.

I remember thinking “I will never feel like this again”, and meaning it.  I remember the moment- crystal clear, that I decided to never get hurt like that again and I haven’t.  I’ve played my game defensively since then.  Always careless at first in my excitement, “forgetting” the lesson I learned, and then when I noticed what was happening, I would  pull back just as fiercely.  The guys I have stayed with are the ones that were willing to deal with the dichotomy, and that would endlessly forgive my ambivalence.  Those guys, though unbelievable people, I’ve realized aren’t actually the right ones for me.

So now with that awareness has to come change.  If there isn’t change then it means I am operating with the same mindframe as a hurt 23 year old…

The coach I work with uses a quote “what’s in the way is the way” and I think it applies here.  The way to truly be in love is to put ourselves in a position to truly be hurt. For people that have had similar situations to me – every instinct will have us do what we’ve always done, and so it’s important to notice our instincts and feelings, but honour our commitment to changing.

So upon reflection about what love means to me and to answer my initial question – yes, it has changed.  For me, love used to be a feeling that I had.  I needed some way to describe the warmth, connection, and vulnerability that I felt.  Now, it’s changed a little.  It still describes that feeling but unlike a passing emotion, love for me is a choice to keep doing actions that cause me to feel love.  It means choosing to treat my partner with respect even when I’m frustrated, it means making sure people are taken care of and it means deciding not to pull back when I start to feel like I may get hurt.  And it’s the only way, in my opinion, for love to last a lifetime.  I let anger pass, sadness floats away, but love is what I’m committed to keeping.

So this Valentine’s Day I am going to remember how far I’ve come from the 23 year old who decided to be tough.  And maybe after the cinnamon hearts and chocolate truffles and sappy love songs, we can all take a moment to reflect about what love actually means to us and what we want our experience of it to be.  And then do it – put in into action… because at the end of the day, doesn’t Valentine’s Day always end with a little action anyways?  😉

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Someone said to me last week that pleasure is tension released.  Hmmm…. I know how this sounds… and yes, THAT is true  😉 BUT  we were talking about TV shows and her point was simply this – a writer creates the feeling of happiness by first creating conflict.    If the only outcome was for the hero to win we would experience, at best, contentment, but if there is a chance of failure or of losing, then when the hero perseveres we feel pleasure.  I mean, just imagine the boredom of watching an episode of “Survivor” where they do a challenge following a catered meal or “The Bachelorette” where all the guys are nice, rich, and actually single (yes Wes, I loved to hate you)!

A good example of pain creating pleasure is working out.  Today I had my toughest workout in six months.  I thought about it for a day beforehand, dreaded it throughout warmup, then almost puked and passed out during it.  And when I finished?  Well, it was the BEST feeling ever.  I’m not sure if it was the relief that it was over, or more likely the massive surge of endorphins (and it’s no coincident how our bodies do that!)  I felt unreal, and almost euphoric.

And extend those endorphin rushes to a bigger perspective of life.  There is truly nothing like overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream -Look at Joannie Rochette’s Olympic medal.  The death of her mother made her routine so powerful and as we all held our breath to see the final score, the floodgate of tears revealed that it meant more than all of the other bronze medals. It was not actually about the end result- there is something about what happens in the middle that makes it all more meaningful.

I think that we not only react to tension and conflict, but we actually create it in order to feel the emotions that follow. I know that it sounds masochistic but bear with me.. People love to fight in relationships.  There is something in us that feeds off of and creates drama.   I mean, to do this to ourselves means there must be something in it for us right?  I think that we sometimes just naturally create the tension we need to feel that spike in pleasure.  And I’m not advocating for this, just noticing that we have this in us.  Maybe when it gets boring, or easy, we shake it up so that we feel alive.   I mean, isn’t that what makeup sex is all about?  And isn’t it the best kind of sex?  Just saying…

My most interesting, fun, fulfilling times have definitely been the ones with a little drama, and my greatest accomplishments have been after my toughest times.  I always try to remember that without the dark, you can’t experience the light.  To have one, we need the other.  And in fact, maybe when the dark comes, when things get tough, and when tension rises, that’s our sign that something great is coming our way! I mean, a little tension might just be worth the price we have to pay for pleasure 🙂 Here’s to the masochist in all of us and in the words of the World’s Greatest:

There are no pleasures in a fight but some of my fights have been a pleasure to win.
Muhammad Ali

Yep.  I get it.

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You know how in your business or in whatever  passion you have that there is one person who stands out to you?  Someone you admire and who you call a mentor, an inspiration.  A person that you see excellence in and that in watching them perform, you catch a glimpse of your own possibility.  Well, for me that was Tiger Woods. 

He is a Competitor. He is a Champion.  He is a Cheater?

 I believe in the phrase “that which you do one thing, you do everything”.  As in if I lie about how tall I am in an online dating profile, I probably lie about something more significant in my life also.

And I think that’s why everyone was so shocked about Tiger.  Because he excelled in golf, we had him on a pedestal and we believed that his value system and ethics were at a celestial level.  For me, he was pretty close to perfect.

So the truth has come out and it’s pretty ugly.  And people have tried to figure it out – does he feel invincible, entitled… is he pathological, does he have an addiction?  Tiger has ceased to be human and has instead become a problem to solve, and a puzzle to figure out. And most of all – Tiger has become dirt.  In the media he is a joke and it has become a public pasttime to ridicule and judge him.

And that’s what this blog is about.  It’s not about whether what he did was right or wrong.  I think that’s clear based on the vows he took.  It’s not about what his publicist should or shouldn’t have had him do, it’s not about whether Elin should take him back or what his dad would say.  It’s about us.

I think that the true nature of people comes out during hardship.  It’s why it is important to date somebody for long enough to go through something emotional and difficult with them- you truly find out who a person is when things go sour and when there is struggle.  Do they get depressed, angry, judgmental, withdrawn?  Or do they find a way to make it better, to grow and to persevere.  Are they on your team when you are forced to fold, or only when you are dealt a royal flush? Can they see your character through your circumstances? And more importantly, can they help you revive your spirit when the chips fall?

Taking this back to Tiger, I was watching an interview with him while I was working out a couple of days ago.  There was no sound, and I think that because of that I was so much more attuned to his message.  It was loud and clear. 

I am broken.

The ever so present and untangible power that Tiger was known for is gone.  He spirit silenced.  And I’m not saying that he doesn’t have to go through some things to figure out how to move forward.  There’s no doubt that remorse and retribution may be a part of it, but how does OUR accusation, judgment and punishment lead to the healing of both Tiger and his family?  And what did we do in our lives to deem ourselves so perfect and righteous?

I’ve rarely seen a human being step up to their potential in the face of negativity and I doubt this is any different.  It’s not to say that we need to support an action that is hurtful, such as the many times Tiger cheated on his wife, but it’s definitely not our place to step in.  Someone recently argued that since Tiger used the media to his advantage for years, this is all justified that he would get the flip side if he F-ed up.  And I see their point if we subsribe to the notion of “and eye for an eye”, but I think it’s way more powerful to subscribe to the notion of humanity.

And it’s hard, especially when we are angry, and feel super justified about it.  I mean, say it was my husband… how would I feel then? The wisest people in the world manage to do one thing, no matter what their circumstances.  They always remain true to who they are regardless of what happens to them or how they feel.  Who they are is constant, and within their control.  How they feel, and what people do to them is out of their hands.

So the question is, who are we?  Right now, this situation has shown me that we are judgment, gossip, righteousness and condemnation.  You can’t look at the situation in a way that says “because you did this, I have a right to do that”.  Our reaction and the way we treat another human being is our choice and our responsibility… 

And what would we do if who we are is love, inspiration and community.  Would our actions change?  Would we be so justified in treating Tiger in the way we have been treating him if we were more committed to who we truly are than we are to how right we are?

Just saying…  And I know that a part of me feels for Tiger because I too have made mistakes.  I’ve hurt people I love, I’ve lied, I’ve cheated…. and we all have at some point.  Did he lie and cheat?  Yes.  Did he get caught.  Double yes.  Did he learn his lesson?  If you care about the answer to this, my point has been missed…  It’s not up to us to decide what he needs to learn and how he needs to learn it.  But it is up to us to be there, cheering him on when he finds his way once again…

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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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Badass Yoda knows what's up 🙂

Uggghhhh… my foot hurts. It’s been 10 months since I injured it and it’s still bad. I don’t know if I was hoping for this little miracle when I started doing prolotherapy on it, but it’s certainly been a slower ride than expected. This time off- albeit a forced break, although frustrating has done me a lot of good. I’m not even talking about the physical break, which has of course been something I needed, but I think this recovery time has done so much for me mentally. It reminds me of the people who get sick immediately following a big event, or the people who find themselves in a fender bender when they’ve been stressed out. Your body (and your life) will inevitably make you stop when it’s had enough or when a change needs to be made. When you are going in a direction that is unhealthy, unbalanced, and potentially threatening to your wellness, SOMETHING will always stop you.

In my case, I was super negligent with my health. I truly believed that the more I trained through my injury, the more food groups that I cut out, the more disciplined I was, the better an athlete I would be. As I’m writing it right now, it sounds crazy- and it was crazy. Every time my foot hurt and every time I woke up unable to walk, my strategy was to force it to be stronger and push through… and I did. I pushed and I pushed and my one tear turned into 5, which turned into, as the doctor put it “my plantar fascia literally tearing apart”. And my results? Well if I could sit here and tell you that I had an awesome season and that I was happy with how I performed then maybe there would be some method to my madness. But the truth is that what I wanted and what I actually got were so far from each other. In my desperation to make things better and to control what felt like a whirlwind of bad results, I kept doing the same thing, but more intensely. Crazy no?

I look at people in their lives outside of sport and I think it’s the same thing. In work, when we are struggling to do our jobs and to prove ourselves, what is our strategy? Do we try to control and push and force it to get better? Does that work or can people see right through this? Is there anything inspiring and excellent about a person who operates at this level, or is it more powerful to simply ask for help and admit when we are feeling overwhelmed? And in love, when you feel like you are losing someone, what do you do? Do you grip tighter, try harder, get jealous, analyse everything? I know for me that as soon as I try NOT to lose something, try not to make a mistake, try not to say the wrong thing, all of those things seem to happen! It’s common known in my sport that the best way to miss a serve is to try to not miss the serve! And I’ve also noticed that the second I don’t care whether or not I am dating I always meet somebody.

 My theory is that similar to fixing my bad season, the more I try the worse it goes. And why is that? Isn’t hard work the answer?

So here’s my final answer… it’s not about how hard you try- contrary to popular little league softball belief 🙂 it is about what you DO. As Yoda says, there is NO TRY, only DO. The focus can’t be on trying avoid a bad result, it has to be about what to do in this moment to get what you want.

For me 10 months ago, it would have been to take a couple of weeks off. If I hadn’t been so concerned about dropping points and placings, my action would have been to stop in order to heal and I would have saved myself hours of therapy and months of recovery. And I probably would have won more as I would be rested and healed. In a relationship if I wasn’t concerned about losing someone I love, I would act in the way that I wanted to experience life with that person, rather than doing things to prevent what I didn’t want to experience with them. There’s a difference right?

At the end of the day, what you think about is what you get. So instead of worrying about how I can’t miss a serve, I’m focused on placing it on the back line for an ace!

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