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

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Summer Tour 2017

International Summer Tour 2017

Wrapping up the Europe tour in Leuven, Belgium!

My outdoor season and Europe trip both reach their end at the same time. Although I felt fit and wanted to continue racing, I knew I have been pushing my body a lot over the past few months and it was time for some rest and recovery. Not to mention, I haven’t been home since Christmas and am more than ready to see my family and friends.

With a long flight ahead of me, I knew I was about to have time to reflect on my second year as a middle distance athlete and be mindful of how the year went. This would be tricky because I felt like I had a lot of success, even though I didn’t meet most of my “Paper” goals I set out for myself this year. Leading into this year my Paper Goals were:

(1) Continue to train smart and healthy

(2) Represent Canada at the Jeux de Francophone Games

(3) Run standard, 2:01.65

(4) Make the Senior Canadian Nationals Women’s 800m Final

I will admit these were ambitious goals, but although lofty, they were within reason. For goal one, other than an early-season ankle roll, I managed to successfully train as I viewed smart and healthy. Unfortunately, going through the rest of these goals requires admitting I struggled with reaching the goals, and was unable to check off any more of them this year.

Number two goal analysis: I met the standards and the other criteria which made me believe I could be at the Francophone Games. As it ended up, so did a handful of other girls; however, they met the standard with a faster time than I did, and have rightfully proved to be better contestants. I whole-heartedly agree their selection is accurate over mine, and am truly happy to see their success at the Games this year. Although, a small part within me hurt and felt like I had let myself down by failing to reach this goal, I felt rejection in its fullest. As I reflect, by not making this team, I was able to pursue a full three week circuit in Europe and ended up gaining valuable lessons, experience, and two Personal Best’s. So goal #2 is two-fold. No I did not make the team I had planned on, but I still was able to gain a valuable set of international experience, raced PB fast, and learned how to move forward after rejection.

Number three goal analysis: Run fast. Gain financial security. Make it easy. These were the objectives and hopes feeding this goal. In contrast to the previous year, yes I did run significantly (and consistently) faster, but again, not as fast as I had set out. As much as gaining some financial security would have helped for the upcoming year, I now have a fire within, with something to prove, and a desire to run what I know I am capable of. Looking back, I managed to run a PB in every indoor and every outdoor event I ran over the year, therefore, I think it would be untrue to suggest I was not successful in improving my times.

Number four goal analysis. Make the national final. The trend continues, The final is comprised of top eight, and as it so happened, I ranked ninth out of the semi-finals. I missed this goal by one ranking, and less than one second. Bittersweet? Undoubtedly. The experience and opportunity to run tactfully in the most unpredictable and competitive Canadian race is invaluable to me. On the plus side I had an extra day to recover and prepare for Europe travel because the jet lag inevitably took its toll on me. One more stress-free day is probably a good thing before leading into international travels, plus it meant I was able to enjoy the rest of the races that weekend without worrying about my own race plans.

To wrap up the analysis of my “paper goals” in black and white, I can only say I managed to nail one of four. I do take ownership of this and realize it is now up to this year close a bigger gap in my up taking of future goals. Coming out of this season, I do feel very accomplished because I truly believe I gained more than I lost, both on and off the track. I have no idea what the future holds for me, but I do know I am excited to take some time off, and come back with a fierceness fully blazing. Even more, I am excited for my group Vic City Elite to emerge as a truly official training group, and the marks we will be able to leave together!

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Before I close the book on my review of the season, I think it is important to share some of the tourist moments I was able to experience during my time in Belgium!

Most of the highlights of this trip were spent in Leuven with fellow teammates. From forming a bicycle gang heading down to the track (or downtown), to cribbage games, to an inflatable pool for ice tubs, it was a true adventure! I feel obligated to share my one false stereotype about Belgium. The stereotype I had for Belgium, was their fame to Belgian chocolates and waffles. There was one morning (that was not correlated to any race days) I was invited to go for waffles. With the repeated hype I had heard on “Belgian Waffles” I was ready for an unforgettable monumental taste bud experience.

My mind was picturing golden, thick, fluffy waffles to come fresh off of a cast-iron grill, and be smothered in heaps of fresh, and assorted berries. Instead, I showed up to a corner, food vendor shack, had someone else order to share with, and then waited for the magic. Much to my surprise (and partial horror) there was no cast-iron, nor fresh fruit. Instead I learned it was deep-fried dough coated in cinnamon and sugar, with the classic European option to add a Nutella option. To go even more over the top, there was an option for waffles with gelato in them. When I looked down at my torn in half slice of waffle, I watched the steam rise while my heart sank. This doughnut looking waffle was by no means what I was expecting. Tasty? For a mini-doughnut from the local Fair level, yes, it was tasty. Did I think it was worth the Belgium hype? In my opinion, I am happy to say I tried it, but no, it did not meet the hype.

Why am I telling you this? As athletes we have the opportunity to travel and experience many different cultures and menus, however, a lot of the time we are unable to enjoy the food varieties due to our body’s needs for nutrient dense foods. In addition, it is usually not best to try new and foreign foods before a race or important training sessions, because there is no guarantee that your taste buds and digestive system will agree that this new food is “good.” To any athlete in Belgium that has a strict diet (or self-control for that matter), know that you are not missing out with the waffles! Instead, I recommend going to the farmers market and getting your hands on some fresh fruit and veggies. If you really have the chance, go for the raspberries in July. I have never tasted berries so sweet and fresh as I did in the Leuven Farmers Market!

One of the final highlights of Leuven was running into all the fellow middle-distance athletes that were also there. Typically as athletes we only see each other on race day or at the track for race prep. It was a nice change to run into the same people at the grocery store and share a laugh in every day life off without the intensity. Whether it was fellow Canadian athletes coming down to race prep for their IAAF  Worlds meet in London, or next door neighbours from New Zealand, it was great to be able to meet fellow athletes outside of the stress and focus of the typical race days. It’s always nice to share a dinner or host friends over, even if it means turning the beds into coaches to eat dinner off the desk as a table. What can I say? We had good food, and even better company to share it with. By repeatedly having good food and company, in my opinion it is safe to say Leuven met the European charm one would hope for.

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Bicycling downtown Leuven

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Race Prep at the Round Track in Leuven

Core o Clock

“Core-O’-Clock”

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Finishing a Race Prep

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Some American Friends

Needless to say it was an amazing Europe circuit, and I am grateful I had the opportunity to gain the experiences I have mentioned, and the numerous lessons I am still internalizing. Although it is always sad to leave a beautiful, and foreign place, The Wizard of Oz character Dorothy is still right because, “There’s no place like home.” My next stop of the International Summer Tour – 2017, leads me back to Canada, to my first home, with my best friend, Darah!

Stay tuned, because there is never a dull moment when we’re together!

Much love,

Adrea