Unconditional Acceptance

In lieu of Remembrance Day, I found myself doing my annual Nov. 11 traditions. Wearing a poppy, watching the Ottawa Ceremony, being silent for the two minutes of 11:11-11:13, walking along the local Memorial Way, and ultimately taking the time to appreciate two luxuries I have at many other people’s expense: Freedom and Peace.

As I was walking along Memorial Way, I found myself contemplating CBC’s WWI stories I had listened to. More specifically the bravery demonstrated by many people before me in the name of a peaceful world. Very shortly, I came to the realization I did not truly understand peace because I could not explain it.

Yes, I have learned the dictionary definitions of peace:

  1. Freedom from disturbance (tranquility), and
  2. A state or period in which there is no war or war is ended

But living in a world where there are still active wars taking place, how have I never asked myself, What makes a place peaceful? What is the foundation of peace? Its essence? How do I live a peaceful life? Do I live a peaceful life? I have seen the pop-culture with advocates for “World Peace” but what does it look like? How would I describe it? How do I implement it? What is the difference between inner-peace and world peace?

The questions were spilling out of me as I continued walking, and then two words came to mind: Unconditional Acceptance.

  1. Unconditional: Not subject to any conditions
  2. Acceptance: The process or fact of being received as good enough, or suitable.

My brain went a step further and combined these two words into one concept: Unconditional Acceptance: Meaning, the process of being received as good enough, without being subject to any conditions. Acceptance without judgement.

This was powerful. Mind blown. I understood this. A peaceful place, in my experience, is a place where any individual is free and welcome to be the truest version of oneself, without any conditions.

I was still walking as the mental fireworks continued. I retrospectively was remembering the first year I moved to Victoria for track. To say I was struggling with my transition in track and life at this point was an understatement, but there was one day in particular where I had a workout on my own and I had all 8 lanes at Centennial Stadium to myself. I had finished my warm up, walked in through the gates, and let our a huge sigh of relief as I stepped foot on the track. For the first time since I had arrived, I was finally in a familiar space. Just me and the track. No pressure, nobody watching, no judgement. Instead of tension, it felt comfortable, welcoming, and it felt like home. I realized this track didn’t care if I could make rent that month or if I missed a patch waxing my legs, or might throw up when I was done my work-out. It was a track! Whatever stress or judgements I felt that day at the track, I realized were 100% my own. Once I chose to let it go and accepted myself, I ran my times with ease, felt relaxed, and for the first time in Victoria, felt like my true self. I was in a place I now know as peaceful; a place of Unconditional Acceptance.

So what was the lesson? How does this help the reader?

In this reflection, I realized this place is always available to me, 24/7. And not only me, but anyone and everyone. Day or night, the track is always there, accepting whatever and whoever chooses to go to it. Further, this magic happens in a gymnasium, pool, court, mat, turf, field, runway, stage, etc. or wherever your sport takes place. Whether it is quiet moment alone, or a roaring stadium at a championship full of people, the stakes are the same. What are you willing to offer and give in that moment? Are you brave enough to take the opportunity to be your best self?

The beauty of it is you have the freedom of choice, of being accepted by yourself, and others, or not to. This is the luxury of sport. Choosing to experience and express gratitude at the opportunity to be you. The moment looms in those seconds before the gun goes off or the timer starts, but once it does, the choice is in your hands. The privilege to make this choice, I owe to living in a free country. For that I find myself extremely grateful.

Much love,

Adrea

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P.S.

Outside of my own thoughts and experiences, I am curious, where do other people feel Unconditional Acceptance? Or other places you feel free to be yourself? I’d love to hear your stories. Comment or send me a note!

Caught in the Hustle

 

Hustle:

(1) To have the courage, confidence, self-belief and self-determination to go out there and work it out until you find the opportunities you want in life.

(2) Work hard, usually towards the common goal of creating income.

– Urban Dictionary


As a runner, it is easy to get caught up in the hustle. Run fast. Win Races. Get Money.  This is the process. Typically once you no longer depend on this cycle, you are considered to have “made it.”

It sounds simple: Run Fast. This season in my hustle as an 800m runner, I let the measurable numbers cloud the healthy dialogue in my head. Steeper standards, cost of living, pacing money, World rankings, IAAF point scoring, number of likes and followers, race sections, lanes, contracts, race time, heart rate zone, dates, body weight, splits, ferritin levels. Unintentionally, I started focusing on these “measurables.” The numbers. I tried to know them. Understand them. Organize them. Control them.

The problem was, I reached a point where I thought the numbers defined me as an athlete. I was unsatisfied being referred to by my times instead of my name, so I made a plan to achieve the numbers I thought would earn an outsiders respect; to ultimately be known for me, Adrea. I was healthy, my season was rolling, I was ready. I was able to get to the halfway mark in the previously defined “hustle” because this year I had opportunity. I was accepted into meets. I ran PB times. I was on the start list next to some very talented names, had good weather, sections, and fast tracks.

The problem was I let myself fixate on the numbers. Despite my steady improvements, I thought about the numbers more. I wanted to look better on paper and feel like I could be taken seriously and competitively. I did not see, that people already were taking me seriously despite the mispronunciations of my name. More opportunity races arrived but this time I lost. I didn’t run to my capabilities. The result times reflected this. The frustrating part was I knew I had all of the pieces ready to fall into place and I couldn’t figure out why they weren’t. All I could see were the numbers, and they were not changing how I thought they would. I wasn’t understanding them and I didn’t want to admit some were out of my control.

Unfortunately it took me a series of races, and a number of failed attempts to identify what was going wrong. I continued to run slower, I felt homesick, I started having hamstring restrictions, and went to bed even more disappointed and frustrated. To top it off I overheard negative gossip suggesting I was lazy, I was hated, and I needed to prove myself. Hearing this, I felt hurt, and wasn’t able to just brush it off. I unintentionally made another mistake to wonder if the gossip was true.

But with the help of my brother, I caught myself. I recognized I was in a downward spiral. I tried to flip it, because I knew this is not what I wanted, nor was it who I am. I finally asked myself, what do I want? What does it look like? Getting out in nature and literally changing what I was seeing helped bring some clarity. But it did take me some time to genuinely answer. When I did, I realized I had lost sight of my Why. Why do I run?

As I reconnected to my Why, I found I had unintentionally replaced my Why with doubt. Doubt that came at the cost of my self-confidence for longer than I would like to admit. As I  continued unravelling the narrative, I had the aha! moment. I saw clearly that I had lost focus of my true goals to the hustle.

The final lesson? I realized the hustle is the process, not the goal.

So how did I realign my mindset to my goals?

1) I went back to my fall journal, and made time to consider my real goals and intentions. “Be the best version of myself – both on and off the track. “ and “Be and pursue greatness!”

2) Connect with my people. I am lucky to have such an amazing group of family, friends, and supporters who are always a short phone call away. Thank-you! You know who you are!

3) Understand the hustle is a changeable process. Remove what isn’t working. Confront the gossip with truth, and spend less energy on the “numbers”.  Do what you already know works, and trust. In most situations, it is important to remember people are normally, inherently good- not malicious.

4) Know that actions speak louder than words. Daydream the big goal, but more importantly DO something to achieve the big goal.

Final thoughts:

If you find yourself caught in the hustle, it’s okay. You most likely put yourself there, which means you also have the ability to take yourself out. In my situation, knowing your Why is a big help in shifting back into your best self. Other times taking the time to go back to your roots and grounding yourself is always helpful.

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Much love,

Adrea

 

 

 

 

 

 

#HappilyEvanAfter

When you grow up thinking your older cousin is your sister, all of a sudden, her wedding day becomes important to you too.

Once upon a time, when Megan and I were little girls jumping bales, hiking the valley, feeding calves, painting our (and Uncle Gerald’s) nails, playing Cheat, or choreographing our own dances, we made a deal. When we were old enough and were to be married, we would be there for each other as a bridesmaid. I distinctly remember being dressed up in a combination of old dance costumes and play clothes having this conversation in the toy room at my house. We used to joke about which Backstreet Boy we would marry, or if he would be from N’Sync, but the real question was, Nick or Aaron Carter? It wasn’t until my phone rang last September, that I started to recall the nostalgia of these memories.

I was at home when my phone lit up and I took the call from Megan. She had just said Yes! and was freshly engaged to Evan, her now, fiancé! Listening to her tell me this over the phone, I could feel my face start to hurt from smiling so much. I have never heard her sound so happy, and I’ll never know this, but I think she might have been on the verge of crying happy tears as I was talking to her. Considering I had just visited with her a week earlier and we had talked about our next phases of life, it almost seemed ironic she was calling to tell me this! When I said goodbye, so she could call the rest of the family, my heart felt full. I must have sat there smiling for a long time, because my Mom eventually walked by and asked, what I was grinning about.

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After hearing Megan sound this happy, I started thinking about the other times I heard her like that. Whether it was a successful water balloon fights, slip and slides, tobogganing off the creek banks, using the Gameboy on the drive into town, swims at Lovering Lake, putting in curlers in our hair at recitals, or peddle boating out to Two-Tree Point, I was suddenly flooded with endless memories we spent together. Once I started to settle back into reality, I realized how lucky I am to have seen and shared these, and many other moments with her. Now that we are both ladies, rather than little girls, I am also realizing Megan’s most recent happy moments are now shared with Evan. As I reflected on this, I thought I might feel a bit jealous, or perhaps a sense of replacement. The reality is, I felt neither. Instead I felt grateful.

Evan and Megan have been together for almost ten years. Within those ten years is where Megan and I began developing into our own adult selves. When we went to different cities for University, and eventually different cities again for our careers; we kept in touch, but were no longer dancing through everyday parts of each others life. Instead, Evan was there and able to give her that everyday love I always wanted her to continue having. During Megan and I’s time in different cities, I came to understand that Evan was the guy to make her laugh, bring her soup when she was sick, pick her up from the airport, and became a person who loves her as much I do. The best part is Evan became the guy I’ve watched Megan fall in love with. When I heard Megan and Evan were engaged, I felt my own sense of joy knowing they were about to take on the world, in love, and together.

As an athlete there are not a lot of fancy things I can currently afford to give as presents, however, I can try to explain how good it feels to know that my older sister has found her person. I know Megan and I will always be close, but the gratitude I feel knowing Evan gets to cherish the Megan I was privileged to grow up with is better than a good present. My biggest wish for Megan has always been that she finds someone who loves her as much as I do, and I’m glad she found it. For me I had an older sister to tell me what (not) to wear and inform me of the latest and cool trends. How to Krimp my hair, make a pair of ski pants look good, rock our gifted matching track suits, and the magic of coffee. I think it’s fair to say we helped shape one another as we prepared to make our mark in the world. Growing up side by side with Megan, I have seen and know how much love (and fire) Megan has towards life and those around her.

To Evan:

First, thank-you for thriving in her fire to see the love that is underneath it. For your sake, here are a few things I have learned: in an argument, she is right. Her only true competitor is Grandma Taylor. And if she really needs those shoes, the answer is, and always will be yes. But despite an attempt to prove her wrong (trust me, you won’t) Megan is beautiful, kind, caring, and the best older sister I could have asked for. Never undermine her stubbornness, and know it fuels her drive to support her family, and the one’s she loves. I’m sure you already know all of this, but in case you had any doubts, I still stand by the above statements.

Second, I know this wedding is important to you, but know it is important to me too, because even though I’m not an official sister, I feel like I am passing on the torch to you to be the one to love and take care of Megan in the everyday setting. Plus, once this is official, I think this means I get to add another brother to the family. Congratulations, and welcome to the family!

Finally, and most importantly Evan, thank-you for being the guy to sweep Megan off her feet, and bring her this much happiness. I am truly grateful for all that you do for her! Please know, I will always have a big spot for Megan in my heart, but now that you two are official, know that you have a big spot in my heart too. I can hardly believe the amazing things Megan Taylor has accomplished, but I am even more excited to see the amazing things Megan Peterson is going to do!

So to both, Megan and Evan, Congratulations!

I wish you both a lifetime of happiness!

I love you!

I can’t wait for the amazing future before you!

And I’m wishing you both #HappilyEvanAfter on your big day!

XOXO

 

Much love,

Adrea

evans grad

Throwback to Central Butte High School Graduation