Saturday, September 08, 2012

On the Ropes

On the Ropes

There are just days like this.  For whatever reason, everything seems to happen that can shake ones confidence.  The wind is in your face, the heat beats down on you, your stomach rebels, fatigue is never ending, the brain won’t cooperate or the legs burn. The list goes on but there are times that make you wonder why are you doing this.  How on earth did you ever have success or will you ever experience success again.  There are just days like that.  Today was my day like this.  I was like a boxer on the ropes. Nothing I did could avoid the punches coming my way.  It made me really think, in boxing there really is only one winner. There isn’t second place or fourth place, so what keeps one in the ring when you are on the ropes?  There isn’t anyone whispering in your ear, “ it’s going to get better” or “ you can do this” or “ you are the best”, so why stay in the ring? 
I decided that at some point this has to be an inside job.  It has to be more than winning to want to continue to try to win. It has to be about knowing that around the proverbial corner the lesson in learned.  The vantage point will shed light on the next lesson.  The effort has to be about more that everyone else getting it because there are times that I won’t even get it.

Experience has shown me though, that right around the next corner can be the opening.   In the next minute the winds may change or the body will come around – or it won’t.  In either case, I better be doing it because I love it. It has to have more meaning that just getting the ride in or doing the race done.  It has to remind me that I am stronger than I think I am.  It has to remind me that I don’t quit or give up.  It has to be an experience I can fall back on when I am on the ropes in other areas of my life.  So for now – I’m still in the ring.
 And yes this is me with blond hair, in my second degree black belt test.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Drop by Drop - Empty the Cup

Drop by Drop 

It has been almost a year since I poured out my cup! 
I started the sport of triathlon in 2004. Right away I knew this was my “path”.  It is more than a hobby – it is my religion, meditation and therapy.  Right away I knew that I needed a teacher so I hired my first coach. He told me to expect my “highest highs and lowest lows” when I signed up for my first Ironman. “I am all in” was my thought.  In the process of doing my first three Ironman races, I had just that experience.  I learned what it felt like to win and I learned what it was like to face great disappointment.  There were times when I had to decide that I would “be all in” and do things that some think are extreme. I traveled across the country to find a surgeon to fix my spine when others told me to retire.  I just kept asking questions because I knew there was more. I had a legend in the sport tell me that it was time for me to learn to listen to my body.  I withdrew from what others told me and did just that.  I had some good experiences and made some gains.  Yet again, while I came close – I came up short.  When going it alone- sometimes its hard to see the forest for the trees. 
About a year ago, in the span of two weeks I experienced all new “highest highs” and “lowest lows”. I went from running my fastest Ironman marathon and missing the goal by 2:30 min but realizing I did have yet another level to competing again and coming up with less than stellar results and really questioning what else I could do.  Right then and there, I made up my mind to go to the one person that I knew would get me there because she had shared her “highest highs and lowest lows”.  I figured she’d at least give me the truth about what I was really doing.  I sent the email knowing that regardless of the outcome this was the last stone unturned in my journey.  Now sending an email to the best of the best and asking for help is a little nerve wrecking and once “send” is pressed there is no getting it back.  I had about 1 week to decide that if the response came I had better know what I was willing to do.  Right in the middle of Ruths Chris steak house – the email came and I was ready.
I had asked Hillary Biscay to take me under her wing.  I had presented her with all the challenges of spinal disease, a mom of 3 and a lot of ideas based on experience of what I could and was pretty sure I couldn’t do.  She had one question for me – what are you willing to do?  Without a doubt – I would empty my cup.  Whatever I knew about myself, I trusted that she knew more. She had experienced more, learned more and did more that I would have ever imagined at that point.  I was just going to trust.  Either way, I would grow and learn. 
It has been a year. There have been times that I have to weekly, daily, hourly – empty my cup.  I have learned that I have developed some ideas on what I ‘think” I can do rather that what I really can do.  I am reminded that the bar is constantly being raised and that is what I came here for.  I have learned that my body is telling me a new story – “I can do more”.  There is an art to listening.  Too often we listen through filters.  I had listened to my body through the filters of the doctors that told me I couldn’t do this, through those that told me I didn’t have what it took, through those that didn’t understand the dream.  By emptying my cup and trusting my coach, I now listen through new filters.  I listen through her filter of “why not”.  As of yet, I haven’t been able to come up with an answer that is acceptable, so I just show up. 
Everyone should have someone in their life that sees more in them than they see in themselves.  They should have someone that requires that the only requirement is that we believe that they believe.  That challenges us to empty our cup and sometimes “smash the damn thing”! Thanks Hillary

The Japanese master Nan-in gave audience to a professor of philosophy. Serving tea, Nan-in filled his visitor's cup, and kept pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he could restrain himself no longer: "Stop! The cup is over full, no more will go in." Nan-in said: "Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup."