Things that change you – Moments that define you
I’m talking about those things that come to pass, or those people that punctuate your life that literally change who you are as a human being…those profound and some not so profound instances that alter your course forever or for a little while. I kind of sketched out this blog in my head last night during an AMAZING guitar solo at the end of an AC/DC show – Random? Not really! It just sparked a memory that triggered a train of thought. A catalyst for a chain reaction so to speak! I LOVE music. I own a LOT of music. I remember the first time I heard AC/DC, it was around the age where kids become musically aware – probably 9-ish. I was out riding my Pink Angel bike (remember those?) down my windy cottage road, with a front basket full of My Little Ponies (I didn’t play with those anymore, but they kind of just lived in my bike), an old school canteen full of red Freshie, with my mini ghetto blaster playing Madonna’s “True Blue” when I spotted a discarded cassette case just off to the side of the road. It was AC/DC’s Back in Black. I popped it into my mini ghetto, pressed play and pedaled away. The song that was playing was “You Shook Me All Night Long” – I LOVED it. It was so, I don’t know, energizing! I ride home lightning fast on my single speed, no brakes bike on loose gravel, standing up to get over a few HUGE (ok I was 9) rolling hills. My legs felt like they were going to split in two, my heart was up in my throat, snot coming out of my strawberry red face..I rode so hard back to the cottage to share my discovery with my brother and parents (they weren’t thrilled with the song choice! haha). I felt so bad-ass with the music and how fast I was riding my bike, skidding my feet into our drive. Two things happened that day. 1) I fell in love with Rock-and-Roll 2) I fell in love with riding guts-out fast on my bike. It was a life altering moment, although I did not know it at the time. So yeah- that’s my tie-in to this blog…moving on! Here are a few pivotal moments in my life that have allowed me to end up where i am today:
That revelation got me thinking about other things and influences in my life that have come to pass that have led me to where I am now…at a crux of change. Let’s go back a little, shall we?
1) The day I turned down dessert. Sometime in the very early 80’s I was with my dad at his buddy’s place. We had been fishing. Someone offered me a piece of strawberry short cake. I was shy and said no even though I really wanted some. I woke up crying in the middle of the night wanting strawberry short cake. Lesson that day – Speak up, if you want something, say so! I regret my decision to this day 😉
2) When my Grandma took care of business. While staying with my grandmother (a retired RN, who spent her early nursing years as a field nurse during WW2), a delivery woman came to our door badly bitten by a guard dog delivering a parcel. I watched my grandma (arthritic and blind in one eye) jump right in and triage this woman. Like a pro she stopped the gushing blood coming out of her lacerated thigh, sterilized a sewing needle and sutured large chunks of hanging flesh and muscle back onto the woman’s leg. OK. WTF…my big hearted nanny got s#$% done. Lesson – sometimes you have to buck up and do what you can. It’s always better than doing nothing. She saved that woman’s leg that day. I’m a good person to have around in crisis, FYI!
3) My Aunt Anna completed Ironman KONA in the early 80’s before it was a thing to do, especially for a woman. She used to cycle from Brockville to Gananoque and come to lunch at my grandparents place and cycle home after. That seemed impossible to me. Lesson – It IS possible to do the impossible. Lesson – bikes are still really cool
4) Having had great youth sport coaches. Derek Swinnard, James Laird. Looked up to them then, look up to them now. Sport, teamwork and fitness have shaped every aspect of who I am today. Derek has been kicking some ALS ass since 1997 and is still going strong. Golfing, playing guitar…you name it. Lesson – We are only discovering some of the amazing things that fitness can affect in treating and living with chronic disease. James Laird is an amazing masters athlete – road cycling and cyclecross with many podium finishes in his pocket. Lesson – keep on keeping on! If you keep pushing the line, the line gets further and further away. How cool is that!
5) 6-weeks in Africa. Trip of a lifetime. I saw some of the most beautiful things and people I have ever and will ever see. I also saw and experienced some of the worst. Safari’s, Kilimanjaro, baby coffins, 6 countries …and profound sadness. I did not like who I was, who we were, and what we, as a race have done to people all over the world. I started to care a lot less about some things, and a lot more about other things. Lesson – we live in a bubble, people are idiots and we should all take a chill pill and learn more about the world. There are a whole bunch of little offshoots from this experience, including getting laid off from my first real job, breaking up with a long-term live in boyfriend and several other life changes made this a particularly vulnerable time for me. One full of change. Things really changed as a result of this period in my life. I learned to distinguish between good people doing bad things and bad people who do good things…but that the difference isn’t really all that important. It’s never really black and white.
6) Philly marathon. Immediately on my return from Africa, I was to run the philly marathon. I had not trained and certainly had not recovered from my 6-week trip. It was really hard, but I did it anyways. I knew I could scuff through half of it. The other half was a mystery. Lesson: Keep a baseline of fitness and you can do crazy things. No need to kill yourself training- there is a minimum amount of effort you can put out to have the maximum results. Bad lesson – yay, I can skip training all the time…which leads me to my next turning point. I needed a reason to train – I was no longer scared of not finishing. How about instructing?
7) Applying for a C.O.R.E cycling certification with Clair Cafaro. I LOVED indoor cycling with my Tri club. I loved how good I felt when I finally was able to push myself to the very end of my being on the bike. I wanted a reason to not skip workouts. That ended up being very selfish, but the day I got up on the bike to do my certification exam, my life changed. I knew being on the leading side of the room was where I needed to be. It was electric helping people break through and give it their all. I immediately decided to take my sporting experience and educational background to use and get my personal training certifications. First came bike, then came iron!
8) My first coaching season/my very first clients. We somehow found each other. Jerry, Malcolm, Anne, Jacqueline and Kerstin to name a few. Those early morning, 6am rides changed my life – getting to know you guys and growing into better athletes together. I had not expected to learn so much from you guys. Lesson: If you put yourself out there, new people and experiences come into your life – you think you know it all, but you really don’t. It’s just the beginning. I want you to know that you guys impacted my life in a real way and are a big part of the direction my life has gone. I can never thank you enough. So many amazing cyclists and friends have entered my space over the years that I would have never known otherwise. My life is richer because of you.
9) My running and fitness club at the Ottawa Mission. I found out that my heart was too big for the job. Barry, Chris, Vance, Adam and Trevor…I apologize for being yet another person to come into your lives to help you recover from addiction by adding an outlet for your frustrations. Your successes and relapses both brought be tears of joy and sadness. Where ever you are in this world, I hope you are well. Lesson: We are all human.
10) The day my dad died. After an 8-year battle with cancer it was over. I’ve never really had to say goodbye to someone that close. I never expected to feel relief that it was over. I miss him a lot. I literally woke up a different human being. I woke up older and maybe even a little apathetic. I care less about things and more about experiences, and how humans interact with each other. Lesson: Bad things happen to good people. Life is short. Projecting into the past or future has very little value. We only have now. Que sera sera.
11) The day I ruptured my Achilles tendon (and all other major injuries this body has endured). I have a curse. Whenever I train really REALLY hard to get somewhere, I take bigger risks for bigger payouts. Sometimes that leads to breakage. Missing university try-outs because of an ankle fracture, hurting my back running/cycling, rupturing my tendon playing basketball… All of these things have moved me in directions to try new things, have new experiences and learn to crawl my way back up from nothing. I’ve done this so many times…I’m even doing it now. I have come to learn that change suits me. Lesson: why be sad about what could have been when you can be excited about what can be? When I found myself injured and not in a position to train, it allowed me to open up to new horizons and possibilities – like owning and operating UpRise Fit!
12) Today – everything and everyone coming into my life are affecting me in a profound way. I can’t even describe how much all of you have enriched my life as a coach/person. You all teach me something new about the human condition each and every day. I can hardly wait for what the future holds. We’re in this together. There is no you and me, trainer and client. This ship is on it’s way! Who is on it, and who we will pick up along the way is part of the great adventure. Lesson: We attract the tribe that reflects our vibe – and that’s really cool!
I’m sure if you look back you will find some cornerstone’s in your life. Did a turn of events present you with an opportunity or lesson? Did you take them? Do you like where you are now? There are so many other little rivers this train of thought could have followed – we can save that for another day. Everything is temporary, and everything is an opportunity for change and learning.
Imagine if I never found that tape in the woods – where would I be now?