Believe in yourself.

There are plenty of good reasons to believe in yourself but so many times in life the decision that gets made is the one that walks hand in hand with your self-doubt. The choice is always there to make but believing in yourself is probably going to be linked with some hard work, some risks, some potential embarrassment, or any other number of challenges.

As a young boy I didn’t have a lot of confidence but was lucky enough to have a good role model in my older brother. At sixteen he and I spent a summer riding our motorcycles across Canada and back. That trip showed me that it was possible to achieve big ambitions. I think of the things that followed that trip, living in London, going to Australia, meeting Helen and moving to the west coast. I learned that so much was possible when you believed in yourself.

One of the most dramatic demonstrations of the power of believing in yourself was the board breaking I did in my various belt testings in Taekwondo. Every time I faced a new technique and those boards I visualized myself breaking them and then I did it. When we moved up to concrete I was forced to dig deeper into myself than I ever had. The first time it didn’t go so well and I have the moment recorded on video. I set up a single 1.5 inch thick brick supported on two blocks and prepared to break it. I wound up over and over again, then at long last I swung my hand down. It didn’t break and the video shows me walking away holding my hand. It didn’t break because I didn’t believe it was possible. I was forced back to the beginning. I practiced my technique over and over again, I visualized, I convinced myself I could do it, and then one day I did it. As time went on pieces of 2 inch thick concrete were stacked on each other. I kept on believing and I kept breaking and finally I did what no one else in the dojo had done and broke through a stack of 10 blocks.

concrete break

 

 

 

 

 

 

The martial arts gave me confidence. I believed in myself and that belief was rewarded with successes. Later when I started doing Crossfit I was presented with a whole new set of challenges. Lifting weights, performing gymnastic movements on bars and rings, just being able to complete something in less time than a previous attempt, it all adds up to challenges that have to be faced.

Every day provides an opportunity to believe in yourself. When you do, you move forward even if it is only one tiny step, the size of the step doesn’t matter it’s the direction that does.  I think when you take those challenges and do your best you have a fresh chance to learn something new about yourself. When you give up without trying, you take a couple of steps backward. Better to try and not succeed than to be afraid of trying.

I competed recently in the Taranis Titan Challenge, a three-day Crossfit competition in Victoria. I was going in as an individual and at 59 I was by far the oldest of the 63 men competing. I went in with the goal of facing the challenge of the competition and to do my very best in an effort to not be last in any of the workouts I would be doing. It was not about beating someone else, it was about putting myself on notice that there was no turning back, there was only going forward. It was hard but I did all my events and was never last. Finishing 60th overall out of 63 was like a gold medal to me. I had believed in myself that I was capable of doing all the work and I was happy with my results.

Believing in yourself can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Do it and it will happen.believe profile

Life and Death on the Open Road

Life and Death on the Open Road

shadow

We’ve all seen them, the dead bodies at the side of the road. Deer, raccoons, skunks and other animals that zigged when they should have zagged, that made a fatal decision to run across the road at the exact instant when thousands of pounds of metal was rolling towards them at a speed they couldn’t comprehend. Their deaths are not recorded, no statistics added up and tallied, they’re just gone. One moment everything was fine and then nothing.

This morning I came as close as I’ve ever come in my life to that same crucial moment. Had I moved later I might not be writing this. Today was day 7, the last day of a fantastic road trip and I found myself on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. My buddy, Michael and I had just spent 6 days riding our motorcycles over some of the best roads we’d been on since we began making these annual trips 12 years ago. We rode everything from fast open highways to extremely tight, twisty technical riding through incredible roller coaster roads and then had plenty of gravel roads over hidden mountain passes and along forest services roads. It had been an amazing trip, riding hard all day, camping at night then getting up and doing it again the next day.

On the last day Michael needed to be back in Vancouver sooner than me so we parted ways early and I headed off for my own way back. Around 10:00 I was outside Raymond, Washington on a long open stretch of road and pulled over to look at my map. No cars in sight, I parked on the paved shoulder and put the bike on its side stand to have a moment to study. While looking at the map I noticed a white delivery truck in my rear view mirror approaching me. I continued what I was doing but kept tabs on the truck as it approached. With no other cars in sight, and plenty of room for it to go past I wasn’t concerned. Then I saw it was running along the white line marking the shoulder of the road and crossing over it.

Now everything happened in a moment. There was no time to get scared. I could see the tire as it moved out of its lane and skimmed the edge of the shoulder. I had no time to move but I could stand the bike up off the side stand and I leaned away from the road. Attached to the crash bar around my bike’s engine I had mounted folding highway pegs for this trip and they were pulled down, extending about four inches outside of the edge of the bike’s profile. As I leaned away from the road the truck roared past me and scraped the end of the highway peg. I couldn’t believe it had come that close. Another inch or two closer and it would’ve hit the peg and likely spun the bike throwing me into the side of the moving truck either killing me or certainly maiming me severely. I screamed ‘Fuck’ and then was speechless by what had just happened. Had I not leaned the bike away the truck would have likely hit me. I had zigged when I should have.

The truck barreled on down the road and I was left shaken but unharmed. I started the engine and followed the truck into Raymond and eventually into a parking lot where I stopped and got off the bike to confront the driver. I started yelling at the man who through his bad driving had come so close to hitting me. He had no idea but when I showed him the mark on the peg he was shocked and kept apologizing. He kept saying sorry and I kept yelling at him. In the end my anger ran its course, I couldn’t change what had happened, maybe I made him a more careful driver and saved someone else. He was an older, overweight man with a hound dog face who should have been a better driver.

I got back on my bike and left him. I rode down the highway and then pulled over. The adrenaline rush was over and I was feeling shaky and a bit overwhelmed by what had just happened. I couldn’t help myself but I felt I needed to reach out and send some messages. I felt I had to tell some people important to me that I loved them. Life is so very precious and it can disappear so quickly. I’ve crashed a motorcycle before, I’ve had dangerous falls skiing and done numerous questionable adventures but I’ve never come so close to being killed. I spent a lot of the rest of the ride home thinking about mortality and what an instance can do to suddenly take it all away.

When I was yelling at the driver I said ‘you almost took my life away’, and with the saddest, remorseful eyes he said nothing more but put his hand on my shoulder, trying with this gesture to convince me further of how sorry he was. It wasn’t malicious, it was dangerously bad driving but I knew he had not meant for it to happen.

peg

Those animals we see lying on the road never got any apology. I couldn’t stay mad at him. For whatever reason the two inches that would change my life were given back to me and I was spared. I know bad things happen all the time and it is sad but all I can do is believe today was my lucky day. I can never forget how very close I came and hopefully can find inspiration and purpose from my good fortune.

Life Throws Another Curve Ball

 

 

crossfit Open workout 13.2

 

Life never seems to send any easy pitches slow and smooth right to you. More often it’s the curve ball, the fastball, the change up pitch that leaves you swinging and missing then wondering what just happened.

Every time you step up to the plate you never know what is going to happen, and that is life. Every day you start fresh with pretty much equal chances to do well or screw up. In the end you just hope that over time your percentage is leaning towards the doing good side of the scoreboard.

Sometimes we are able to maintain some control over our destiny and other times outside factors weigh in bigger and stronger than we’d imagined, then suddenly we are adrift on a sea of chance.

On that rare day when everything is going smoothly and you feel like you are in control, its easy to be gracious and a good sport. After all things are working out, you are heading in the right direction and you can see your destination. On those days you can present a positive outlook to the world. On those days its easy. But then there are the other days.

I had made a goal for myself and thought it was attainable but in the end it slipped away leaving me shocked and disappointed. One year ago I competed in the World Crossfit Games for the first time. I was in the Masters Division of 55-59 year old men and had earned my spot on the competition floor by placing 15th against 450 men from around the world. I worked hard to get there and in the end a bad performance during the 4th workout saw me go from 10th place to 14th and out of the running to compete on the final day.

I came back from it committed to do better and trained hard for the year to be ready for the Open competition. One month ago it all began again and I faced the challenge head on. I fought my way through the five workouts with some ups and downs but never quitting, redoing some of the workouts and for the final one I ended up doing it three times over 5 days to try and improve my score. My score didn’t improve on my last attempt and I got the same 88 repetitions and had to hope it would be enough. I watched the results appear on the leaderboard for the Crossfit Games website and it looked like I was going to make it. While I slipped from 10th place to 13, to 17 and then when the deadline arrived I was tied for 19th place. I was thrilled. I would be going back to the Games.

But then the curve ball arrived. While I was celebrating at a barbecue with our wonderful Crossfit North Vancouver community and believing I’d made it life had other plans. Two hours later when I was at home having another look at the scoreboard, to my shock and dismay I saw my position had been knocked down by some later entries. I was now in 23rd position, which meant I was no longer top 20 and no longer going to compete in the World Games. I felt like the floor had opened up beneath me. On top of the disappointment I also felt some embarrassment over the congratulations I’d been accepting just shortly before. It sucked.

I sent some messages out to some friends and put a posting on facebook to get the word out. I was not going to be a Games athlete this year. Immediately the messages of support began to arrive. I was once again amazed at the caring community of CFNV and so grateful to be a part of it.

After my short pity party I got up the next day and took some of those kind messages to heart. Sure, I was not in the top 20 but I was 23rd out of a division of 800 men from around the world. I realized I still had plenty to be proud of and I had represented our gym to the best of my ability. I went back into the gym the next day positive and ready again to train hard.

Life threw me a nasty curve ball but even though it was a strike, it wasn’t a strike out. I have 11 months until the 2014 Open competition begins and when it comes around I’ll be better than I am today and will once again give 100 % and no matter what the results I’ll hold my head up because I will have tried.

Disappointment

Disappointment

disappointment

The word itself sounds sad to me. To disappoint, to be disappointed, to experience disappointment, none of it sounds good. But at the same time it is a fact of life. Every day cannot be perfect. Every goal won’t be reached on the first attempt. Every relationship will not go smoothly. We will all have disappointments in life, so better to understand them and figure out how you are going to deal with them.

There are times when I know that I have disappointed myself and later when I can look back and review what happened without the emotional upheaval that generally comes along with it, then I see that often my disappointment was a result of my own unrealistic expectations.

I think it is great to set the bar for yourself as high as you can. Don’t go for what you can already accomplish but extend yourself to new levels but then if you don’t reach them don’t beat yourself up about falling short. To me that is the biggest challenge. I have a tendency to put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best I can be and feel sometimes that constantly moving standard can be too much. I also know that there are some people who for whatever reason look up to me and I can feel the weight of their expectations too. Generally I welcome those expectations as they help push me to excel but sometimes, when I fall short, I feel I’ve not just disappointed myself but those people too.

Figuring out how to deal with these emotions is a huge challenge, and it is not always clear which is the right way to get yourself back on track.

Sometimes you can be disappointed by friends or family, they didn’t call, they didn’t seem to care, they were too busy with their own lives to have time for you. But are those expectations that you have placed on the relationship or real shortfalls? Were they simply being themselves and you wanted them to be more in a way that suited you better? There is room for both answers. But whether the let down is real or something you imposed on the relationship, it is you who has to deal with it. Hopefully with honesty and some caring on your part to try to better understand the situation rather than looking to place blame because it is not what you want it to be.

One of my fears and another pressure I know I put on myself is being afraid that I might disappoint someone I care about. Friendships and the people I love are extremely important to me and I place a high value on them. In doing so I strive to be the best I can be in those relationships. I want so badly to be able to be a positive part of these other peoples lives that I fear it is me who is undermining the relationship by building up expectations in myself and others. Sometimes you just need to relax and be yourself and not try too hard. Maybe that should be my next tattoo because Keep Going and Be Better are not the right approach for every single situation.

I was crushed by my own disappointment recently. It was after doing a workout for the Crossfit Open competition when I didn’t get as far as I’d hoped. It wasn’t just a workout that I could walk away from and say I’d do better next time because the stakes were high and the potential for my achieving my ultimate goal of making it to the Crossfit Games I felt was on the line. When it was over I vented on a friend, and I’m ashamed of that moment, and left the gym so angry and upset with myself for not doing what I knew I was capable of. I got to my car and I was shaking. I was pushing myself over the edge of reason and struggling with an emotional state. Fortunately I made a good decision and asked a friend to come out and talk to me. That conversation was exactly what I needed and I am so grateful that I had someone who I could lean on in that moment. That person I always want to be for others, the one who supplies the support and encouragement, I needed someone to do that for me and luckily I had it. In many ways it was a defining moment and I’m so grateful for the benefits of that friendship and the impact it had on me. The good news is I reflected on that conversation and my performance on the next day and then one day later came back and repeated the workout. This time my friend was right there coaching me through it and I did exactly what I needed to, I reached my goals and I lived up to my expectations. I don’t think I could have done it on my own.

My disappointment got in the way of what I was capable of but I was lucky and got a helping hand when I needed it most. We all get disappointed and we can all use a hand sometimes. I strive to be the one who offers that hand. I try to be sensitive to my family and friend’s moods and concerns so that I can be there for them.

Like most things in life it is how you deal with the hard stuff that says who you really are. One thing I have just learned is that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of trust, it is being willing to show your vulnerability and have faith that there are people in your life who care about you and will be there for you.

While it is rare for me to find myself needing the help I recognize it for the good thing it is because no matter how big your heart is you can’t always be giving it away, sometimes you need to let some come back in.

I believe in the power of love and friendship to drive away disappointment. I believe we are all capable of helping others when they fall short of their own goals and expectations. I believe that when you help someone you can both grow and the sharing of dealing with a disappointment can be a positive rather than a negative. Sometimes life can suck but I believe when you let someone in and accept some help then it won’t be so bad and you can find a new starting place to move forward. I believe.

 

 

Disappointment

Disappointment

Terry & Roe after completing the 1st workout of the King & Queen competition

The word itself sounds sad to me. To disappoint, to be disappointed, to experience disappointment, none of it sounds good. But at the same time it is a fact of life. Every day cannot be perfect. Every goal won’t be reached on the first attempt. Every relationship will not go smoothly. We will all have disappointments in life, so better to understand them and figure out how you are going to deal with them.

There are times when I know that I have disappointed myself and later when I can look back and review what happened without the emotional upheaval that generally comes along with it, then I see that often my disappointment was a result of my own unrealistic expectations.

I think it is great to set the bar for yourself as high as you can. Don’t go for what you can already accomplish but extend yourself to new levels but then if you don’t reach them don’t beat yourself up about falling short. To me that is the biggest challenge. I have a tendency to put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best I can be and feel sometimes that constantly moving standard can be too much. I also know that there are some people who for whatever reason look up to me and I can feel the weight of their expectations too. Generally I welcome those expectations as they help push me to excel but sometimes, when I fall short, I feel I’ve not just disappointed myself but those people too.

Figuring out how to deal with these emotions is a huge challenge, and it is not always clear which is the right way to get yourself back on track.

Sometimes you can be disappointed by friends or family, they didn’t call, they didn’t seem to care, they were too busy with their own lives to have time for you. But are those expectations that you have placed on the relationship or real shortfalls? Were they simply being themselves and you wanted them to be more in a way that suited you better? There is room for both answers. But whether the let down is real or something you imposed on the relationship, it is you who has to deal with it. Hopefully with honesty and some caring on your part to try to better understand the situation rather than looking to place blame because it is not what you want it to be.

One of my fears and another pressure I know I put on myself is being afraid that I might disappoint someone I care about. Friendships and the people I love are extremely important to me and I place a high value on them. In doing so I strive to be the best I can be in those relationships. I want so badly to be able to be a positive part of these other peoples lives that I fear it is me who is undermining the relationship by building up expectations in myself and others. Sometimes you just need to relax and be yourself and not try too hard. Maybe that should be my next tattoo because Keep Going and Be Better are not the right approach for every single situation.

I was crushed by my own disappointment recently. It was after doing a workout for the Crossfit Open competition when I didn’t get as far as I’d hoped. It wasn’t just a workout that I could walk away from and say I’d do better next time because the stakes were high and the potential for my achieving my ultimate goal of making it to the Crossfit Games I felt was on the line. When it was over I vented on a friend, and I’m ashamed of that moment, and left the gym so angry and upset with myself for not doing what I knew I was capable of. I got to my car and I was shaking. I was pushing myself over the edge of reason and struggling with an emotional state. Fortunately I made a good decision and asked a friend to come out and talk to me. That conversation was exactly what I needed and I am so grateful that I had someone who I could lean on in that moment. That person I always want to be for others, the one who supplies the support and encouragement, I needed someone to do that for me and luckily I had it. In many ways it was a defining moment and I’m so grateful for the benefits of that friendship and the impact it had on me. The good news is I reflected on that conversation and my performance on the next day and then one day later came back and repeated the workout. This time my friend was right there coaching me through it and I did exactly what I needed to, I reached my goals and I lived up to my expectations. I don’t think I could have done it on my own.

My disappointment got in the way of what I was capable of but I was lucky and got a helping hand when I needed it most. We all get disappointed and we can all use a hand sometimes. I strive to be the one who offers that hand. I try to be sensitive to my family and friend’s moods and concerns so that I can be there for them.

Like most things in life it is how you deal with the hard stuff that says who you really are. One thing I have just learned is that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of trust, it is being willing to show your vulnerability and have faith that there are people in your life who care about you and will be there for you.

While it is rare for me to find myself needing the help I recognize it for the good thing it is because no matter how big your heart is you can’t always be giving it away, sometimes you need to let some come back in.

I believe in the power of love and friendship to drive away disappointment. I believe we are all capable of helping others when they fall short of their own goals and expectations. I believe that when you help someone you can both grow and the sharing of dealing with a disappointment can be a positive rather than a negative. Sometimes life can suck but I believe when you let someone in and accept some help then it won’t be so bad and you can find a new starting place to move forward. I believe.

All you need is love

loveThe Beatles said it best and the chorus of that wonderful song still rings true. All you need is love. We are all individuals and by our nature isolated so it is no wonder that we seek out connections to other people.

Life brings us into contact with all kinds of different people. We start with our families and move out into the circles of friendships that form throughout your life. We are presented every day with the opportunity to improve our connection to those around us.

We all have some room in our hearts for a little more love. We will all enjoy a kind word, a warm smile, a pat on the back, a hug, a kiss. It makes us feel better. It makes you feel loved.

Knowing how you feel when you receive those warm expressions can be the trigger to recognizing that everyone benefits from them and maybe you can be moved to action and start to share some tenderness with those people you care for.

What we don’t always realize is how much we all have to give. Love is the ultimate sustainable resource, the more you give the more you create. Love is the stone that you can throw into life’s pond and the ripples never stop.

Once you begin to share your affection you realize that you didn’t deplete yourself by giving your feelings away, instead you will renew yourself with both an increase in your ability to care and your capacity for love.

Every day offers the chance to bring more love into the world. Instead of holding your affections inside why not pull the cork on that bottle and share it with those you care about.

Let your heart grow.

Valentines day, the holiday built on love, doesn’t have to be just about the love between a couple. Lets make Valentines day an opportunity to say I love you to everyone you care for. Tell your mother, tell your father, your brother, your sister, your children, your best friend, all your friends you care about, those people who are important to you. Tell them all. It doesn’t hurt, in fact it gets easier.

Sharing your love will open up your own emotions and will bring back more good feelings than you could possibly imagine

Just as I want to continue to push my own boundaries physically and artistically, I also want to expand emotionally. I want to be less afraid and more open.

I have thought about this a lot over the past year, facing the emotions inside and trying to let them come out. I have moved forward in my willingness to express how I feel towards my family and friends. I will admit it has been a journey, not so much for family as I have always been comfortable with saying I love you to them. But with friends it has been a gradual process. While I can recognize those sincere feelings I have that care for another person, for someone who knows I would be there for them and that I want to see only the best things happen in their lives, I also know I can be crossing a social barrier. I never want to make a friend feel uncomfortable or awkward as a result of my expression of caring.

There is always the chance to lead the way, to demonstrate with your actions how others can follow, to show how small acts of kindness can move the people you care about to open their hearts.

This Valentine Day open your heart to those people who are matter to you because you will also learn that you are important to them. Give your love without expectations and you will be surprised.

So the journey continues.

 

Bouncing Back

Sometimes life slams you into the boards and it’s a struggle to pick yourself up and get back in the game. There may be a personal set back or an unexpected roadblock appears in your journey towards a specific goal.

It doesn’t matter what has caused you to become derailed, but what does matter is how you get yourself back on track. When you find yourself sliding into that pity party where you wonder why you aren’t doing so well and how come everyone else seems so happy and successful and you’re not, then its time to redirect that energy so you can get back to a positive space.

I’m a really good cheerleader. I think sometimes I should have pom poms because I do know how to support others and I feel I am generally successful when I see someone who can use some encouragement and I’m able to help them feel good about themselves again. As a coach I can spot those signs in others and even myself when discouragement starts to take over, but as an athlete I am prone to the same worries and self-doubts that can get in the way of solid performance.

When that happens to me I know I have to challenge myself to face the next workout head on. I cannot take a break, or relax and have some extra rest time. I need to reignite my desire to do better and fan those competitive flames.

Today was one of those bounce back moments. Yesterday we had done a workout that had been a part of last years Crossfit open competition and while I set myself a good target I fell short of it and didn’t even match my previous score. I felt awful. I thought here I was, one year later and after all the consistent and focused training in that time I was showing no improvement, in fact, I was not as good as I was a year earlier. I went home dejected with my performance and the nasty little creature of self-doubt perched himself firmly on my shoulder where he could easily whisper his negative words in my ear. But if nothing else I am steadfast in my training schedule and tonight I was back in the gym to take on today’s workout. The warm-up was okay, then the conditioning work was very tiring so when it came time to get ready for the 3 rounds of 300M row, 7 double kettle bell push press with the 56lb kettle bells plus 14 ring rows, I was not sure if I’d do the full weight or go lighter. I picked up the heavy KBs and did a couple of reps and decided I had to do this workout as it was meant to be done, at the recommended weight.

Three, two, one …go! As to clock started I leapt into the workout, giving it every I had. I stayed focused and pushed to do it as fast as possible. 7:47 later I was finished. After I caught my breath I looked at the board showing all the times of the day. To my surprise I had recorded the best time of everyone in our gym today. I realized I had beaten Corey, who as one of the top athletes at Crossfit North Vancouver, is someone I am constantly in awe of and who I respect so much for his determination and athletic ability. On a day that had started with so much self-doubt I had pushed myself to be better and had been successful.

In one moment I had unseated that little shit from my shoulder had cleared the way for me to continue on my own journey of self-improvement.

Sometimes you need some kind words and some gentle encouragement to get you on track. Other times you just need to kick some butt.