She walked calmly into the ring with purposeful steps. And although there was usually a smile on her face in those minutes leading up to the opening bell, there was a fire in her eyes and an unmistakable intensity about her. Those surrounding her knew, her friendly mannerisms and gentle demeanour would soon be tucked away and quickly forgotten. As she stood there, directly diagonal to the opponent, her shoulders and body appeared relaxed but her gazed was filled with intention. She peered downward, three feet ahead of her onto what was often a blood stained canvas, intentionally disconnected from the competition. She knew to never become phased by her competitors appearance as she had learned many moons ago that in a boxing ring it was never wise to judge a book by it's cover. She wasn't from a broken home and there was no apparent enduring struggle that she battled, but even if it appeared from the outside there was nothing she needed to fight for, she was, unmistakably, a fighter.
The fire that fuelled so many of my endeavours lived inside me for a very long time. I'm unsure if it's something people are born with or if it's a learned behaviour, regardless, whether it was in school on a court, field or ring and whether or not I was ever the smartest, most athletic or talented (generally, I most certainly wasn't) what guided any success that came to me was my ability to push, focus and faithfully try to find whatever the best it was I had inside and to try to put it out into the world. This methodology took me to competitions across the globe, to wearing my country and provincial flag on my jersey in several sports, to degrees, deans lists and boardrooms and to accomplish more than I would have ever thought possible. If super powers are given out at birth, that, for a very long time, was mine.
But sometimes life can get heavy and somewhere along the way, as I entered further into 'adulthood', that fire began to fade. Not many of us can sail through life without taking some blows and everyone has battle wounds that may fade but are never completely forgotten. We all have a story that will break your heart (or has broken their own), and just like you, I have my own. But what I think, or rather, what I know, is one of the most amazing qualities about human beings is our ability to bounce back, to be resilient and to persevere in the most challenging of times or after the most debilitating of events.
So towards the end of one of those challenging life episodes and just when I almost gave in to the pressures that both society and through my own doing had created, someone reminded me of what it felt like to work towards something special, to be excited about a journey and to rediscover what it meant to 'carpe diem', a saying my father preached to me ever since I was a child. That small and simple reminder was enough to set the wheels in motion to slowly move me forward in a direction, I now know, was well worth heading in. It triggered the motivation to sign up for a marathon, set a goal to qualify for one of North America's most recognised races, and a few months later with the help of a downloaded running plan, my thoughts to entertain and keep me company, and building internal motivation, I accomplished my goal but above all, along the way, I was reminded of something far more important than qualifying for any race. I remembered how good it felt to work towards something special, to set a goal and feel purposeful in working towards it, the satisfaction gained in the weeds of work and perhaps most importantly, just how important it is to look after, and take care of, myself.
When I regained my confidence and as that fire was slowly refuelled I decided to stop sitting on a fence and to start making some decisions in my life. And just like that, with a step left and not right, before I knew it my life was heading in a completely different direction. Within six months my car was packed, house sold, new lease signed (on a place I hadn't even viewed), majority of my material possessions disbursed amongst friends and I was on the road to Canmore. A place where I didn't know a soul but had assumed by the surrounding spectacular mountains must, have a soul.
I was excited.
Here, in Canmore is where I've been continuously been reminded of what I remembered when I was training for that marathon and of that familiar feeling of nervous excitement as I stood in my corner peering across the ring at my opponent. For the first time in a long time I've challenged myself to do new things and to say yes more, rather than look for excuses as to why I can't or shouldn't do something. This approach has already led me to meet so many remarkable people, see amazing places, to reengage in the excitement of competition, and try things that I may never would have done if the spirit of the people in Canmore didn't reinforce and remind me how to fight again. The gentle demeanour remains, but the fighter has reentered the ring. Thanks Canmore friends.
|Canada (me) vs. Greece 54 kilos AIBA Prime Ministers World Tournament (2010)|
|Nimble Bear PACE Trail Running Race (April 2017) (with amazing people Houda n' Fitzy)|
|5 Peaks Trail Race Terwillegar (April 2017)|