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GlitterGleeandGrit

The musings and life of a girly and uncoordinated want-to-be kickboxer.

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Wanna Be Athlete

There was once a time when I trained up to 6 hours a day. I rowed, ran, lifted and did whatever my coaches told me. Today I do a little bit of everything. Sometimes it works out but most of the time I am happy.

Positivity Challenge: A Few Weeks Out

My apologies for not writing much the past month. We have been doing a lot of running around the U.S. from a concert in Northern VA to a row in Dallas, Texas. Between travel and keeping up at work it has been a wild ride to say the least…

Maybe it’s because in October Dion and I will hit our one year here in the US or maybe it because Dion and I have been on some great adventures over the past month, but lately my heart has been very full and I am more grateful than ever.

When you are a bit of a gypsy like myself you always leave a bit of your heart in each place you live; you unfortunately always leave friends as well. In my case, I have friends in every corner of the globe. ¬†A lot of people say that must mean that I have a place to stay no matter where I go but what it means to me is that I don’t see a majority of my friends as much as I would like to. But, when I do get the chance to catch up with friends, even if it is brief, I can’t help but be nostalgic and extremely grateful for my friends. It never ceases to amaze me how it feels like no time has passed, which I think speaks to just how bad ass the people I have in my life are ūüôā

So without further ado, here are five things that the past few weeks have left me flattened with gratitude for.

1) My Friends: Pittsburgh, Dallas, Washington D.C., New Zealand and beyond, you are all amazing. As I said, it never ceases to amazing me how quickly we pick up right where we left off. Over the past month Dion and I have run into Friends at concerts, grabbed margaritas in Dallas, gone for a row and swapped hugs and embarrassing stories and for that I am so very grateful.

2) My Husband: Ok, Ok I know I have put him before but this is for something different. As many of you know, Dion is a Kiwi, and sometimes I forget how new and different things are to him and that really he is still a tourist in it all. Every once in a while it hits me and I am filled with awe for the little things that I usually miss. Be it the beautiful bridges of Pittsburgh or trying fajitas for the first time, my husband has really pushed me to take a step back and recognize how fortunate we are and how special everything is.

3) Rowing: I know my series on failing to reach a goal really speaks to the struggles I have gone through with injuries and ending a rowing career but the recent weekend in Dallas with a huge group of former teammates was AMAZING! I always said that rowers are the weirdest people on the face of the earth and therefore the best people to have as friends. Being surrounded by those ladies reminded me how precious and positive my ten years as a competitive rower was. Our group truly spoke to how a common goal can bring people together no matter how diverse they may seem. I am so grateful for a sport like rowing that allowed us all to lower our barriers, strive for greatness and become friends.

Keep an eye out for my paleo cherry chocolate layer cake recipe that I will be uploading this weekend. It may have taken me a month but I think I finally sorted out the icing!

Failing to Reach a Goal: Part Two: The Fall

Sorry for the delay with Part Two everyone.¬†The period after I walked away from rowing I was pretty depressed and couldn’t figure out how to approach my experiences and my feelings. To avoid doing so, I would do anything to not be alone thinking. Which in all honesty, often meant going out and in general not being my true self. I consider this part of my life as lost, so this post was a hard for me to breakdown internally and structure. I hope to represent the shift in my world that occurred and speak to the trouble I had understanding it all …

These ladies have been my friends since grade school and have been there through any high or low.
These ladies have been my friends since grade school and have been there through any high or low.

As you do when your life takes a detour, I called a friend of mine that had some experience in the athlete to civilian transition on my way home from my trainer’s office. I wanted, and needed, him to tell me it was going to be alright and that I was freaking out for absolutely no reason. He had been a football player his entire life, until two knee surgeries led him away from the field. At that moment I had no idea how true his words were when he said, “You are not going to know who you are for the next year. You are going to make choices you never thought you would make. It is going to be confusing and frustrating.”

People set big goals that they feel passionately about. No goal is set with the intention to quit or to walk away, they are set with the purpose of succeeding. Once you fail you need to begin a new journey and  it can take some time to figure out what that journey will be. During that halt in forward movement, you take a step back in order to understand the person you have become. For some its easy to evaluate and move forward, for me it was not. I felt like I was falling and at that time I was totally incapable of figuring out how identify myself. The way I had related myself within the world had changed and that had a huge impact on my relationships with myself and basically anyone that had contact with me during the fallout.

The strong reaction of your family and friends that is caused by your own failure can be surprising and sometimes painful.  Some will come out of the woodwork to support you, some to celebrate your failure, some will attempt to keep you in that state of nothingness and some will abandon you all together. The vulnerability and frustration of failing to reach a goal is hard for those around you to understand and makes their words and actions more powerful than ever before.

As I said, there were those¬†that helped me and those that said some pretty hurtful things to me during this time. But people¬†have no idea how powerful their words are, how they stick with you and how they have an impact on your relationships with others¬†and yourself. Your goals may not have been as important to them and it is usually only yourself that had limited your identity to that one facet of your life. So when you come to the end of a journey many may not understand why you can’t ‘just get over it.’ Your friends may be stoked that you have more time to spend with them¬†and your family might be happy to see you ‘settle down.’ They will likely not understand the feeling of loss that you feel.

When you fail, you wonder how many people had expected it, or worse how many people are happy. In my mind, I was no longer the friend, daughter, cousin, etc. that was training for the Olympics and that meant I was not as important as I once had been. Fuel for self-doubt came from casual questions of¬†what I ‘did’ or when someone I love once said “We always wondered when you were going to get over that dream. We knew you would. It’s time for you to move on and settle down.” Not only did I not completely trust my own judgement at this time but I felt as though I couldn’t even trust the well intended but sometimes misguided support of those around me.

Through the fall I stumbled and fell as I tried to piece together  my life, my values and what I wanted. The fog finally cleared when I realized two things. First, that goals are amazing, exciting and of course motivating. However, it does you no good to pin your entire identity to one facet of who your are as a person. My pinpoint focus on my goal had prevented me from pursuing development in any other aspect of my life. I needed to re-explore myself and diversify. Secondly, I realized that I needed to rely on myself, not only for support, but also to define my self-worth and what success meant for me.

This failure would not define me and I needed to write the blueprint for a multifaceted, fun and love filled life.

Even if they may not always understand me, my parents have always surrounded me with love. This was one of our last nights before I moved to New Zealand.
Even if they may not always understand me, my parents have always surrounded me with love. This was one of our last nights before I moved to New Zealand.

Failing to Reach A Goal: Part One: My Journey

A funny thing can happen when you spend a majority of your life focused on one major goal; you can lose yourself. At the end of it all, success or not, you do not know who you are, what your purpose is or where to go without that one major goal. It is confusing, crushing and freeing all at once. My goal had been to make a US Olympic Rowing Team.

While I don’t want this series of posts to purely be about my past endeavors, I do think providing the back story is appropriate. When I was 15 years old my friends and I decided we wanted to start a rowing team. I was a chubby (weighing in at about 235lbs) and unathletic kid that had tried every sport possible, desperate to find something I would spark with. I found that spark in a boat.

Fast forward about ten years and I had lost around 60lbs, had won some races, had made a Junior National Team, spent four years rowing for a less than supportive college coach, completed an undergraduate degree and was working full time while training 4-6 hours a day. I had been denied jobs because of my training, moved across the US multiple times to train with different coaches, rowed through multiple injuries (to prove to myself just how badly I wanted it) and made every single choice, no matter how small, throughout each day as if that would be the one thing between myself and making the Olympic team. There was no time, or energy, for personal development or to begin a career. For those ten years, my sole life’s purpose had been¬†to crawl, drag and inch myself closer to my goal.

After heading out for a little row in Canada. This lady has saved me from myself many times.
After heading out for a little row in Canada with one of my very best friends. This lady, has saved me from myself many times.

What stopped me in my tracked, and derailed it all, was one lunch time trip to my Austin apartment to take my dog out and grab a 10 min nap. On my way back to work I was side swiped and ended up going full force into a concrete barrier. My airbags did not deploy, my car should have been totaled and I did not have health insurance. I was rushed to the hospital repeating to every official looking person, “I am not hurt. I can’t be hurt. I have trials in a month”. I was pumped full of anti-anxiety meds, anti inflammatories, painkillers and muscle relaxers and when x-rays did not show anything I was kicked out into the world with no follow up.

With no one telling me to stop I kept going. I was back in my boat within a week and raced at the event the next month. I had done something right, placed well and was offered a spot training with an elite team in Washington D.C.. Life in the Capitol¬†was the same as usual, except it wasn’t. I couldn’t get a job, there was more pressure to preform, I was constantly told to lose weight and every time I rowed my arms and ¬†legs went numb and the pain made me see white. So the cycle began of training for 3 months and then taking a month off. I was continuing to get faster but I was inconsistent and couldn’t be depended on for team boats (my only hope of making a team).

Getting ready for races and cheesin for the camera.
Getting ready for races and cheesin for the camera.

One of the last times I was in a boat was trials for the women’s double. Leading up to the race I could tell my back/body were hating me but I had a great partner and the best chance I had had yet. I figured I would deal with it later and focused on the opportunity rather than the pain. The final was the race of my life, it was also my last. After the race I could not feel my legs and realized that something was truly wrong. I booked an MRI that week. Eight months later, two months into trying to come back to my passion, I re-injured my back lifting and found myself having a conversation with my trainer that no athlete wants to have.

I needed to re-prioritize my life. I was officially a civilian.

 

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