Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A New View on Triathlons and So Much More

Rain is pitter-pattering on the roof of our RV as we snuggle into the final moments of calm before the storm.  It’s only 5 am and in a few short moments the coffee will be brewing and the camper will be alive with activity as everyone prepares for the anticipated day.  Sean gives me one last squeeze in our warm cocoon before hopping out of bed to begin his tediously prepared pre-race checklist.  Today is the day we trudged to Knoxville, TN for, and despite the pouring rain and ominous sky, the plan has not been foiled.  Sean and Pat will be tackling 70.3 miles of swimming, biking, and running on an increasingly treacherous course of rain, mud, chilly water, and wind.  I am participating in a relay, so only 6.2 miles of running is my responsibility.  It’s a family affair today as his mother, father, and future sister-in-law take on their own personal challenges.

Before this moment, as I have been attempting to learn and train for my first triathlon experience, I have only seen this as a physical test and a sport for athletes who need an outlet.  The concept of pushing your body to such a limit and devoting so much precious time to a seemingly arbitrary pursuit of physical training was so confusing to me.  But as nerves for all of us began to set in, I slowly realized it is so much more.  

We darted out of the camper so the boys could make their early preparation deadline before strapping on wet suits and swim caps to face the icy river.  As we stood with the first heat aside the river, rain dumping down on us, I felt a unique energy like never before.  And then as I watched my love march down to the dock below, leaping in the cold water with the other brave souls, it began to set in even more.  I watched them take off at the sound of the blaring horn, thrashing in the water with only the rumbling sound synchronized splashing below.  

Due to my relay position, I was not scheduled to run for hours.  I watched my team’s swimming leg and biking leg take off.  They bravely faced the conditions for the sake of our team.  As I watched the valiant competitors set off on their long wet bike ride, I spotted Sean.  Warmth rushed over me as I watched him saddle up on his steed and begin the next leg of his 56 mile journey.  I saw a stoic, centered, focused version of this man, further driving home the intensity of what we were out here to do.  Each triathlete trudging on appeared like soldiers as they pushed past the discomfort and darted by on their bikes.  

When it was finally my time to face the rain, I set off to run my run and finish; no more than that.  But as settled into my stride, a special energy took over me.  I reached mile three, shoes covered in mud and heavy with rain water from the deep puddles along the trail.  Halfway there.  A smile spread across my face as gratitude swept over me.  It was a heavy greatfulness that I could run with these people pushing themselves so hard.  It wasn’t a day of my own achievement, despite reaching a personal record.  It was oddly a day of reflection and deep appreciation for this type of commitment and pursuit.  This is much more than a test of physical strength and testing what your training yielded; it is a test of will.  It is a mental and emotional game and in the end the pursuer grows stronger in a profound way.  

I equate this struggle followed by growth with many moments in my travels.  This is my strongest reference to pushing myself to discomfort to achieve deep inner transformation. Now, as I dig my heels in for my own first full triathlon attempt, the training process is going to have so much more meaning.  Pushing through the pain doesn’t seem so torturous anymore knowing that the efforts will yield a massive high and so much more.  Suddenly I get it and it makes me wonder what else is out there that will bring this indescribable uplifting feeling of achievement and growth... The adventure continues.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Quiet Snow-Covered Thank You

As I stare out of my picture window to the heavily falling peaceful snow, I feel a strange sense of calm and appreciation.  Today was a strange day as this mid-April freak snowstorm surprised us all.  Today was also the day of my final interview of many with a company I have been pining after since I discovered their existence months ago.  As I sat speaking with each member, and ultimately the company's owner, I discovered that this truly is the job and the organization for me.  I have fretted and wallowed, been absolutely frustrated and hopeless in this seeming perpetual job search, but today I got the overwhelming feeling that it is almost over and somehow I have come out the other side in my best case scenario.  When my last "dream job" fell through I considered submitting to the road more traveled and pursuing a path that I once loathed.  But I wouldn't let myself give in.  How I've gotten here to this point is a mystery to me but surely no accident.  I've stuck to my instincts, my passion, and my dreams and low and behold, I am just hours away from hopefully reaching this career pinnacle.  It is an empowering feeling and a much needed sense of accomplishment.  So it is possible.  It is possible to shape life to fit your vision.  Even when I want to give up and make life more easy for myself, I just can't.  It will come together if you persevere and keep believing.  And even if the verdict is in tomorrow and I don't have this job, I know I tasted the dream and it is achievable.

I have gone through my fair share of hard days and self doubt, believing I would never find those illusive things that will bring me bliss.  But in the end I have continued on relentlessly without settling for second best.  Nine months ago I was without a home, lost and clueless about every facet of my future.  Now I have found the love of my life and this beautiful home in Colorado and a network of amazingly supportive people and hopefully the absolute perfectly matched job.  I gaze back out at the snow covered street under the hazy night sky and say a quiet thank you to this brilliantly mysterious and wonderful life.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Vicarious Adventures

It's been over three years since I embarked on my own epic adventure, uprooting from life as I knew it and changing my life by living abroad.  Now back to a more settled life, essentially moments away from pulling the trigger on a new career-oriented domestic commitment, I watch as my friends blast off one by one on their own big adventures in all different corners of the world.  Each destination represents a life voyage for these bold friends of mine.  It's been so incredible to watch as they contemplated, planned, and went for it, all beginning from an instinctive, yearning feeling.  I am so genuinely proud of each of you for not allowing the inevitable challenges deter you from your dreams.

One of you is on a physical challenge, out to face the forces of nature while becoming enlightened by a new way of living; another one of you is following your heart to be with your love on the other side of the world; some of you are off to educate and nurture the lives of people less fortune; and you two are itching a perpetual scratch to live among an entirely new culture together as a pair.  So I sit here, comfortable with my more "conventional" life in the States, and observe the journeys of you incredible seekers, out to face your deeper fears in order to follow a passionate quest, unique to each.  Good luck friends, and congratulations for taking the leap.  I wish it was possible to come visit each of you and share a piece of the experience.

I am learning that there is a time for living life in a mode of discomfort, yet constant excitement, and a time for nesting and learning other life lessons in a different way.  When I sat on my favorite beach in the Canaries at the end of my long sabbatical from convention, I knew it was time to close that chapter.  Another chapter with stories of international adventures and self discovery will open again for me, but for now I will humbly accept that this is not my time.  It is your time though, so when I am dying for that lifestyle and feeling once again, I will rely on living vicariously through you.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I've made some stark discoveries as I once again float in the limbo stages of unemployment.  The process of career trial and error is exposing my past utter naivety.  I spoke loudly about the simplicity and satisfaction of living to the beat of your own drum, carving a path that veres away from the highway of life that so many seem to take.  My belief at the time was that people choose to take the easy road when they choose convention and that I was somehow above this commonly selected avenue.  But as I've struggled with the challenges of scarcity due to relentlessly standing on my principals, I've discovered that my principals were admittedly narrow and limiting within themselves.  I had this distant idea that I was being nobel by flying about the fringe, but really I was also engaging some real avoidance tactics.  The rose colored glasses that I was unaware of having on my face have fallen off and now a part of me feels foolish for my blatant rebellion to conventional living.  My peers who stuck with their demanding jobs but walked home with a paycheck have earned resources that can be used as devices for freedom and flexibility that I no longer have.  These luxuries have run dry for me and now I am faced with the simple need for financial stability.  Our society has a way to it and the more I fight it, the more I seem to get left behind.  At one time in my life it took great courage to step away from this life of conventional living; now it takes courage to reenter it.  The principals I once stood on have not vanished, but they have changed.  I will never vanquish my feisty rebellious nature, nor do I desire that end.  But I do need to act with realistic reasoning and face my idealistic self head on.  Life is a constant journey full of winding roads and ever changing paths.  This process of merging onto the highway of conformity has been terribly uncomfortable and humbling, but what I am learning is that life does not have to be such a battle and so terribly defeating when it doesn't turn out like the dream.  And also, that dream changes forms as time goes by.  Life is very good for all intents and purposes.  It's time to swallow my pride, put on my big girl pants, and gracefully step into a new frontier.