Competition

As the start of the Crossfit Games appears on the horizon I am thinking about competition and what it means to me. Like it or not we all compete all the time. We compete for the jobs we hold, for the parking space we search for, for the best seat in the restaurant. But we also compete for the affection of others, for the attention we desire, for the respect we deserve. Competition is a normal activity. So I think it is a good thing to hone those skills with physical competition but truly it becomes apparent that the measure of your character is not the competition but how you compete.

As children we are taught to respect the other team but as we get older that respect is often turned into aggressive dismissal, you don’t want to see them as someone else out trying to achieve the same thing as you but instead you become focused on beating them. When you put their defeat at the top of the priority list you create a shallow victory for yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I like to win. I like to out perform my competitor and I celebrate that performance in myself. The difference is I view my fellow athlete as someone who is going to help bring out the best not the worst in me. Their competition is going to help me push myself harder and in the end let the best athlete win. I will proudly cheer anyone who bests my efforts with their own because I know that if I put all that I had into my work then I can hold my head up just as high.

Stepping into any kind of competitive arena is nerve-wracking. Whether it is a chess championship or a boxing ring, you are taking yourself out of your comfort zone with the purpose of seeing how well you can do. In the years when I competed in Taekwondo tournaments I hated the waiting to get into the sparring ring. I wanted to feel the impact of my opponents attempt to score a point on me because then everything focused down into that single moment and may the best man win. It is a good thing to stand up to those butterflies in your stomach and instead of having them take control, you force them to fly in formation. You accept your nervousness but carry on.

In Crossfit we compete with ourselves all the time. We record the amount of weight we lift, how long it took us to complete a set of exercises and through all that we receive the support of the other athletes in the gym who are doing exactly the same thing. It doesn’t matter that I can lift more than someone else because there is always going to be someone who can do even more. What matters is that I do the best I can and then I turn around and encourage others to strive for their best. I love to workout with people who are better athletes than me, fortunately for me at our gym I’m practically surrounded by people like that. From the petite Lindsey who runs past like I’m going backwards to her muscular husband who gets better every workout while I feel my progress move at a snails pace.

What comes next is the willingness to compete; there is no failure, just failure to try. Signing up to compete in the Crossfit Open Games is a very simple means to measure yourself against your peer group. There is nothing to lose but there is a huge opportunity to win confidence in yourself. In the end you are competing against a scoreboard and when you complete your exercise you can look at your score and know that you did your best. And that is all you need to know.

 

 

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The Kind Word

No one chooses to have a black cloud come overhead. We are drawn to the light and to those people who seem to be surrounded by warmth. But bad weather hits us all sometimes. Without warning a storm can enter your life and leave you seeking shelter. That shelter can be any number of things, a need to make a change in your life, a resolution to a conflict or sometimes just a kind word.

I am lucky in that I seem able to move through life with very little bad weather crashing into me and when it does hit I’ve generally been able to deal with it on my own but not every time. When I received some sad news recently of the tragic early death of a very kind and gentle man who I had previously worked closely with at the newspaper I felt grief, anxiety, loss, and a slide into a dark funk. The blackness seemed to envelope me and I struggled to find my way back.

With my equilibrium off kilter I found it hard to bring out the good nature that I know lives in me. I was looking for shelter but didn’t know it. I made a comment on facebook, that source of social connectivity largely dedicated to the good times, and I had several comments made back to me that resonated within. Those words of concern and support came generously from people who didn’t know what was causing my downbeat post but recognized a need and reached out. A kind word, an unconditional declaration of support, an electronic hug, and shelter from the storm was offered to me. My metaphor about feeling apart from the team was turned around for me with positivity and notices of support that told me that I did in fact have ‘team mates’.

A note that it was okay for me to step back from leading and allow others to help was warmly received; it was generously presented to me that if I leaned someone would support me. I thank Daryn for that. I thank Amy for a hug that came from such a compassionate place at a perfect time.

Life is short but we do have the chance every day to help someone. It could be as simple as holding a door open, stopping at a crosswalk instead of racing through it, giving a compliment without expecting one in return, or offering a kind word.

I’ve enjoyed the support of friends and have been reminded what it can do for you. Now I want to make sure that I’m ready to extend that hand but more importantly, to be sensitive to those around me and recognize when that kind word is needed.

Pride

Pride

Sometimes pride comes to you in the strangest ways and just makes you want to explode with good feelings towards someone else. We have all felt the national pride when our athletes win big on the world stage or when someone you know is recognized for their achievements and you’re so happy that notice is finally given to them.

But that is not what has my heart soaring today. Tonight as I think back on the day’s events I struggle to express just how great I feel about everyone that came out and competed and also those who came to support all the amazing athletes at Pure Athletics for the King and Queen competition. What started with an idea I had for a fun afternoon with some back-to-back workouts for mixed couples to compete in grew into a full scale Crossfit event. My goal was simply to give something back, in the way of an event, to the incredible people at the gym that have welcomed me from the moment one year ago when I first showed up to workout and have now become close friends and people I love.

That the event grew into a competition where 36 athletes chose to put it all on the line to do the best they could is really no surprise because that is the calibre of the people training there. But to see the support from other athletes who weren’t competing, who came out and helped judge, took photographs, cheered and yelled and made it into something that was for the whole Crossfit community, that was amazing.

It was fantastic to see Jian and Kaitlyn win because they are both great athletes and to see Rich and Lindsey, Rob and Mandy, Gerry and Kristine all do so well and completely in the running for first place shows the level of athleticism at the gym. But to see the other competitors bring their full game, to try their absolute hardest was so impressive to witness. Every single one of them are heroes to me and I am beyond moved by their strength and character. When I watched them fall off the rower at the end of the final workout, exhausted but proud of their effort, it made my heart soar.

Ever pair will have their own story of how well their partner did but mine will resonate with me for a very long time because my partner, Roe, not only made the competition a real race (we tied for 5th place) but she did it with that same remarkable glow that makes her one of the truly special people I know. Having a partner who will support you and keeping going no matter how tired they are is a wonderful thing to share and when we were passing those crazy stuffed bunnies during the first workout and her abs were screaming, she was still smiling, she kept going, she didn’t quit. I am so proud of her and so honoured that she was my partner. I’ll never forget that.

There were so many outstanding partnerships on the floor today, Sharon doing this event with her son, Travis was such a wonderful thing to see. Dave and Christina out there showing that they are both strong competitors even with a 5 month old daughter. Ally and Chris working together through every exercise, so supportive of each other was a joy to witness. Pete and Phyllis showing up in full costume then kicking butt on the workouts, always smiling, always aglow with the love they share, made me feel special just to be there and see it.

Pride isn’t always about how great you are or feeling good about the recognition you receive, it’s just not always about you. Sometimes, when you are lucky, you get to be a part of something that makes you so proud of the people you know and of their achievements. I was l lucky enough today to feel proud of a huge number of people. Their efforts made me feel like a better person for just witnessing what they accomplished. I am joyful for that experience. I am delighted call them all friends and to feel the warmth of their successes. Today was a day that reminded me what pride felt like.

Old Friends

I went to a retirement party recently for an old friend. It was great to see him and share in this celebration of the next phase of his life. On the drive home I got thinking about how long it had been since I’d last seen him and how easy it is to let routines and life in general get in the way of maintaining those old friendships. I drew on my commitment for the New Year and decided that I would do better.

There is a wonderful comfort level with an old friend, you know where you stand, there is no pretense because they already know what you’re really like and accept you for it. Sometimes it seems more exciting to spend time with new friends and not pay attention to the old friends. After all with the new friends all your stories are fresh again, previous misdeeds are unknown, and that goes for both of you so it’s a clean slate to start filling in with new connections.

Those new friendships we make are important, some of them will grow and one day become old friends but I know I have to do a better job at looking after my old friendships. Those shared experiences are a part of who you are and shouldn’t be forgotten. I recognize that sometimes life will send you on a different path than your friends and you see less of them because your common interests and connections have lessened over time. Then I think you can just enjoy those memories and remain friendly but not necessarily connected. However, like a path that splits in the forest to go around an obstacle sometimes it will reconnect further along and so can an old friendship.

I try to be a good friend whenever I can. To be someone you can depend on, the person you know you can call anytime to ask for help, to care. I want to be that person. I know that the friendships I make bring out the best in me, help me grow and increase my capacity to love others.

It isn’t that hard to stay in touch if you realize the value, it is when we take things for granted that they can slip away from us.