Olympics

Success!

Aloha! The rain is coming down on Maui on my last night here.  It is appropriate since I will be heading into the rain of the Pacific North West.  The cruel truth is that rain here is warm and tropical, in Seattle it is cold and brutal.  My trip has been a fantastic journey, travel and food and working out and meeting awesome people.  However, I am very excited to come home.  I miss my bed, my things, a closet, a room without spiders and geckos.  Though the gecko is a spiritual creature according to Hawaiian lore, I am ok with not sharing space as much as I do right now.  Tonight, I picked up the sheets (to check for creatures) then lifted my pillow only to find a baby gecko that wasn't in a very safe place.  I put him outside only to see another baby on the other side of the room.  It is like they are gremlins; multiplying with water after midnight.

I also miss my work.  I was in college when I decided that I wanted to become a rowing coach.  It was my sophomore year and I was participating in National Team Testing.  I was new to sports and barely called myself an athlete, but I was good and I knew that much.  I was also good at describing the rowing stroke to my teammates and I loved helping.  I, after all, was a peer counselor in High School and an RA in college.  At the time I decided to become a coach I had a rather socially challenged Head Coach that needed a lot of assisting.  I filled the role of translator when I could.  It was then that I realized coaching was an option.  I thought the thought and then put it away.  I still had to finish school.  After graduating and picking up a coaching job almost immediately I was enthralled by the Olympics.  It was 1996 and cycling was being shown quite a bit.  I knew that I needed to find another sport to do alongside rowing and cycling seemed to fit.  It looked like it was mentally and physically grueling (a requirement for me) and I liked the way it shaped the body (another requirement).  I also sent into the universe ad dream of being able to work out for a living at the same time I was helping others.  I thought I would have to become an Olympic athlete (and I worked on that) or be a professional athlete in order to do so.  Turns out I was wrong with the means by which but dead on with bringing my dream to fruition.  Working out for a living is doable and exciting and literally a dream come true.

Because I love what I do it is hard to pull myself away from it.  So taking vacation becomes a challenge.  I do need space away from the daily grind in order to gain some perspective, stay fresh and study up.  However, it is a joy to come back to what I absolutely love to do day in and day out.  The music, the people, the love.  I am lucky because I worked my ass off for years.  When I began this journey I made $5300 annually for my first collegiate coaching gig.  I got a raise the next year to $5700.  Loving what you do and doing what you love means you may have to wait for the financial reward, but it is worth it.  No amount of money would stop me from teaching/coaching and training.  I always ask myself this question:  If I were to win the lotto would I stop working.  The answer has never been 'no' when it comes to my work with motivation and health & well-being.  When you would do what you do for free you know you have struck it rich!  That is what I would call success.

What are your passions?  Are you living them?  Are you going after your dreams???  Why or why not?

xo

a

Ready All, Row!

"On the water, nobody can hear you scream."  ~Unknown Hiya,

When I was in college I began my rowing career.  I went to an introductory meeting after seeing a flyer.  I had been told by a sophomore that I could row without any prior experience.  She has done it and thought that it would be perfect for me after I told her that I was looking for a sport to do.  I knew that there would be something that would work for me though I was not a basketball, volley, or any other ball player.  I was tall and athletic but with no real direction to my athletic endeavors.  So, I joined the rowing team… the crew, and my career began.

By my sophomore year I had shown enough promise that I was really in a league of my own.  In the United States, at the time, in order to get noticed by the US Rowing National Team you needed to pull certain numbers on the erg (Concept II Indoor Rower).  Each month you were required to do an erg test (2000 meters during the sprint season and 5000 meters during the fall season).  Your coach would send in the scores and, fingers crossed, you might get the attention of a National Team coach.  I began sending scores in during my sophomore year.  I remember wanting coaching and not getting any (my head coach was pretty unfortunate in lots of ways).  I did my testing on my own that year.  I felt pretty alone in  it and after the summer I stopped sending my scores in and let the dream of making the team dwindle.

After I graduated I became a rowing coach.  It was fantastic.  I was so excited and ready to start molding champions.  I did just that.  I was wildly successful, especially in my early years.  I also kept rowing for myself.  One day I was approached by a coach who'd been training National Team Athlete Cindy Brooks.  She offered to coach me for free.  She said she saw potential and, if I was game, would train me.  YES!  Of course I would train and be coached!  Yippeeee!!!  I was pumped.  I didn't have a boat that was mine (I worked at Wesleyan and was paid $5300/year to coach the novices) but could use the Head Coach's boat to train in.  I had been rowing in it regularly anyway.  I would also be rowing in a double with Cindy and Cindy owned a few boats, so I was covered, for the most part.

I trained for some time and ultimately had to stop due to lack of support financially.  My numbers were great and always getting better, my dedication was unwavering, but I had to choose.  Make $ or lose $.  I was offered a coaching job at Rutgers University out of the blue.  I would be making more money than I had ever made at that time and, due to feeling overwhelmed with bills and barely evading eviction, I jumped at the offer and gave up the dream of competing on the National Level for my country.

Every time I watch the Olympics I think a little about my journey to train 4-6 hours every day.  Waking up and rowing for 3 hours, lifting for 2 or so and eating more calories daily than most people need to eat over several days.  I remember being told that I could have two out of three of these things: job-rowing-relationship, but not all three.  I had to pick.  I think about how important the ego is to get you to a point where you can compete on such a high level.  I think about love; loving something so much that you give yourself over to it completely.  I think about how lucky I am to know how that feels.

I hope you enjoy the Olympics for what it is, in my opinion:  a display of love-pure, true and unrelenting.

xo

a

"Real athletes row.  Everyone else just plays games."  ~Unknown