What can I tell you guys . . . it's been an interesting week or so, with quite a few epiphanies popping into my ol' noggin' (epiphany, one of my favourite words . . . ep-iph-an-y, epiphany!!). Do you have those weeks? They seem a little crazy, a little "what the hell is going on," a tiny bit of this is good . . . but this over here is really frustrating!! Well, yep, it's been that kinda week, and I have been presented with a few opportunities for personal growth and I would like to share some of this with you through some pertinent themes I have been exploring these past few weeks with schools . . . so here we go . . .
The title of this blog post was the central theme of the talk I have been doing for students at Fairfield Prep, Wellington School and Woodbridge Comprehensive. So let's have a look at what I talked about . . .
are those events that happen everyday. They may seem insignificant at the time, but can end up being such an important moment in your life. The thing is, it isn't even about being aware they are life changing moments when they happen, but it's about acknowledging your past as having been a part of creating your present and then showing gratitude for that.
The moment I often talk about is the moment my brother introduced me to our swimming pool sans floaties. It was a scary moment, a little moment, a split second event that shaped my future - yet at the age of five I had no idea that this event would affect me so much.
Can you think back to such a moment in your own life? One that has so blatantly influenced and affected your future? How has it impacted your life?
In life we are constantly faced with decisions - what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, what time to leave the house, where to fill up the car, what to say, what to think, what to feel . . . . cause you may not realise it, but how we feel, think, and speak are decision processes that can affect us on either a negative or positive level. SO, decisions will usually be based around HOW you DECIDE to feel (or respond or action).
One of the BIGGEST decisions I ever had to make was entrenched in feelings of embarrassment, shame, and mortification - the event that caused this? Being disqualified from my first ever swimming race at a disabled competition . . . and not just ANY competition, but the STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS as well!!!
I was petrified, I was a shy 13 year old clinging desperately to a dream, a dream so big that many people usually don't even attempt to go for it. This dream? The 2000 Paralympic Games - so important! Right? My very first race was the 50m Breaststroke - a stroke that I am so rubbish at that I couldn't even do the kick properly. Up on the blocks I felt sick, and had to consciously try and hold back heaving into the pool. My toes were white as they gripped the edge of the block and my hands wouldn't stop shaking. The gun went - BANG!! - I dove in, glided, surfaced . . .
and started swimming front crawl . . .
about ten metres into the race I realised my error and quickly switched to breaststroke, but essentially the damage was done. As I finished the race I hoped upon hope that my error hadn't been noticed . . . but it had. As I got out of the pool an official walked up to me and informed me that I had been disqualified. I did what any 13 year old, painfully shy girl would do and burst into tears, mortified. My dad came running down from the stands and took me aside. We now come to decision time . . .
My dad said to me "right, you want to go home so we will, lets go pack your bag, pull you out of the other races, go home, I won't take you training tomorrow or the next day, or the day after that, forget about the Paralympics, move on from your dream . . . OR, we stay, learn from your mistake, swim in the next race, and that race after that, tomorrow I'll take you training, I'll take you to your next competition, and the one after that, and the one after that, keep going with your dream and succeed."
Well, I am sure you know which path I decided to take . . . (the three Paralympic Medals I have are a dead giveaway!) I decided to take my embarrassment and funnel it into a learning experience, what could i learn from that mistake, how can I step into the future knowing that it will never happen again, it will make me better!
AND then there is the rewards from those momentous events and difficult decisions. I know your expecting me to say the Paralympics was my reward, the medals, the records . . . they were amazing and definitely worth the pain, but my true reward, my most treasured prize was my self belief. Without the self belief in myself, in my abilities, in my 'gifts' I would not have won my medals . . . I don't even know if I would have made the Paralympics!!
This true realisation of absolute belief in my self came in the 400m Freestyle. Ranked 16th in the world I felt that my chances of a medal were low, but my home coach had been telling me for months, 'That 400m's in YOUR race, that is your race for a MEDAL!" He was right, he believed in my abilities, and I learnt to as well. When I had my silver medal hung around my neck it was the culmination of all the physical/mental/spiritual strength that had developed in the preceding seven years. All the lessons, moments, decisions, led to that point - MY BIG REWARD!
Do you have a dream? A goal? It can be something as big as the Paralympics, or it could be something as simple as being able to cook a meal better. Whatever it is it is valid and open to HUGE lessons, lessons that can affect all areas of your life. SO, as you journey on your path of life, keep your eyes open, be aware of each moment, each feeling, don't leap at decision making, take time to open your heart to possibility, and reap the rewards whatever they may be . . .
"Your Determination is Limitless"
- Elizabeth Wright