rowing

There Is More

Howdy! I rowed all four years in college.  It was an amazing time and I can honestly say that so much of my philosophies on life are based on my years as a competitive rower.  I learned about myself, what is possible or at least what was possible in the moments that existed then, about others, about stress, joy and love, and about perseverance.  I had never done team sports before college so I was new to competing in a structured environment so it took me a few months to get my feet underneath me.  When I did finally get a glimmer of the possibility I became the strongest female rower (as far as erg times) on both the varsity and novice teams.  I was on top and, because I am competitive, was determined to stay there.

I had a 3.5 years left as a college rower once I reached the top so I had to figure out how to handle the new rowers coming up in order to keep my seat and status as numero uno.  I worked out over the summers, I lifted with friends, I did the extra work that I needed to stay strong.  I worked on my mental toughness, I tested and sent scores into the US Rowing Team to stay motivated.  I also found motivation with the rowers around me.  During tests the top ergers would generally sit next to one another for motivation.  I would make sure that I was always a few seconds faster than the next fastest rower.  It was easy to pace off of someone and to just do enough to stay on top.  It worked and I wasn't topped until I was gone.

Most people compare themselves with others around them to see if they are cutting the mustard.  We are a competitive society after all.  Competition isn't in and of itself and issue, it is how we compete and what meaning we give to the results that end up being problematic.  So often I hear people saying that they eat better than the people they know, they work out more, they are smarter than, more helpful, and so on and so on.  I hear people in various positions saying that they are the best this or that.  You can believe that you are the best, or that you are better or whatever but you always need to be aware of the pool you are comparing yourself against.  If you are the fittest person at your job and you live in the United States, chances are that isn't so hard to do.  Most Americans are obese (40lbs overweight), so being the healthiest is rather simple.  Falling into this line of thinking can be tricky because you stop striving for your best and just look to being the best in comparison to those around you.  Your best is then limited by who you are competing against.  

Well, I get it, I did it and it wasn't until I graduated and began training on my own that I discovered true competition and true success.  When I began training in a single sculling boat I no longer had the team to compare myself to.  I was now a small fish in an ocean and the games were just beginning.  I realized that all I could ever use as a meter to base my success on was the person I was the day before; use the scores from yesterday, three days ago, last week or last month.  I was my competition, I was my motivation.  It wasn't until I realized this that I became great.  I began to challenge what I thought was possible by digging deeper within myself, by going farther than I had the day before, by understanding that there were no limits, really.  When I stopped competing I started winning.  

Everyday I try to push myself farther in some way or another.  I take praise from others as a sign of love and admiration but I don't let it go to my head, ever.  I never believe that I am at the top of my game.  If I believed that I would stop working harder, going farther, dreaming bigger.  I refuse to stop because I am ahead… I never believe that to be the case anyway.  I am always in the middle of the pack, working to see what I couldn't see before, working to be where I never was before.  

Instead of comparing yourself to others, ask yourself if you are working hard and doing your best in the moment.  Dream BIG.  Set your sights on something you think is unattainable and then steadily attain it.  Why not?  It isn't about anyone else, it is about yourself, your potential, your exploration of who you really are and can be.  It isn't about losing or winning it is about stepping outside of the hamster wheel and feeling the real freedom of success.  Going beyond what is expected, not letting others' ideas of what can be dictate your life and what you do.  Truly live your life to it's fullest regardless of the lives being lived around you.

xo

a

Number 1

Momentary Struggle

Hi there, I know many people who are struggling… just simply struggling.  It might be because of things that existed in their past or have never happened in real life or because of being in a place that they don't enjoy in this moment.  There are many reasons for their struggle if you were to dig into it, which I do as a career and path to healing… but ultimately it is a lack of being present that is at the core of the emotional turmoil they are suffering through.  

When I was a freshman in college I began my rowing career.  I embarked on, what was at that point, the hardest training of my physical, spiritual and emotional life.  I was pushed to places I didn't know existed within me.  I was afraid on a daily basis that I wouldn't make it through practice, that I could possibly perish because it would just be too much for me.  An hour before practice I would pace my dorm room and imagine all of the various things I would have to survive in practice.  Everyday, without fail, I would leave practice, alive, feeling like I was the most badass person on the planet for surviving the unthinkable!!  This practice of fear and relief, of going to the imaginary place and then being brought to the present moment and realizing it wasn't anything I thought it was, happened over and over and over.  

I not only experienced this in rowing, I experienced this fear in many areas of my life.  In relationships I would imagine that various things were going to happen and be emotionally devastated as if they had already happened, until I was proven wrong.  And I was proven wrong every time.  The emotional roller coaster of worrying about things, then things ending up better than my worry told me they would, took its toll.  By the end of my freshman year I decided that something had to give.  I wasn't planning on quitting crew, or life, so I was going to need to approach things differently.  

By the time I graduated I had been working on being in the present moment on a regular basis.  Then I began my post college training in rowing on an elite level.  This was a completely new world of intensity.  Nothing I had done resembled the length or the difficulty of the workouts I was now engaging in daily.  I had done a lot of preparation over four years to get to the point where I could function without too much fear around impending workouts, and I was now faced with testing out my progress.  I remember my first workout was a simple 3 hour steady state row.  Just go, for 3 hours.  See ya, in 3 hours!  After I finished that workout, and felt more than fine… I realized that I would have to control my mind in a way that was no longer half-assed.  I was going to have to just stop the thoughts of worry, concern, fear to enter.  I was going to survive, if nothing the years previous had shown me it was that I was always wrong about what I worried about.  None of the doomsday scenarios had happened and I was, in all honesty, exhausted with being a victim to my own mind.  So I stopped.  I practiced every day, every moment, being in my body, in my life, in my feelings.  I worked relentlessly on it.  I created dynamics in my relationships where I didn't allow what wasn't happening to take up too much space.  

That was a long time ago and I practice being in the moment without so much of a thought these days.  Every now and then I will notice myself drifting off into something that isn't true.  For clarification, things that aren't true are things that aren't happening now.  Literally.  Now you can have memories and you can have hopes, but truth, well the only truth is what I experience in the moment, everything else is interpretation… and to be strict, even this moment is an interpretation and skewed by my perspective.  So, though, I have and always do my work, there is a diligence that is necessary for mastery.  No matter how great you are at doing something, practice is always necessary to stay sharp and skilled.  

For those who are struggling any and everywhere, the true struggle is with yourself, your mind, your beliefs and your perspective.  You are the most challenging thing you will ever encounter.  The rest is cake.  You can choose to do the work or be done.  Good luck.   

xo

a