Don’t let your life be a series of “what if’s” make it a series of “what’s next”

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The Canadian flag being raised after the gold medal for Women’s 4×200 freestyle relay

There are always those reasons (excuses) that I can think of not to do something, but usually the reasons to do it far outweigh the excuses. So why is it that the excuses often win out? It is easier to play it safe, it’s easier to just stay in the routine and it usually requires less effort to do what I always do.

This past week was one of the most amazing weeks I’ve had in a long time. Was it out of routine? Yes. Did it take effort to make it work? Yes. Did I have to drive 5 hours each way? Yes. Were there other things that needed to get done this week? YES!

A year or two ago I heard that Windsor (my hometown) would be hosting the World 25m Swimming Championships. As soon as I heard about it I knew that I wanted to be part of it. Now this is where my plan / execute fails. I have good ideas about things that I want to do but then when it comes time to do them, the excuses come out – I have too much work, I need to go to see clients that week, it’s a long drive – and the idea doesn’t happen.

This time it wasn’t a fail. I went online 6 months ago and completed a volunteer application, I blocked the week in my calendar and I worked around it. I knew that this was important to me, so I figured it out.

You can’t outwit fate by standing on the sidelines placing little side bets about the outcome of life… if you don’t play, you can’t win.

It truly was an incredible week. The event itself was spectacular but being able to experience it  behind the scenes as a volunteer was amazing. My job for the first 3 nights was to put the bibs (the sticker with the finalist’s last name) on the athletes. I got to watch the best swimmers in the world minutes before they raced. I put a bib on Chad le Clos right before he set a world record, I’m not going to take all the credit for the WR. The first night I was a little (or a lot) star-struck. After that it was very interesting to become familiar with their personalities. Most of the athletes were quiet and focused. Some were smiling and talkative.

While getting to see the swimmers up close was the highlight for me, the venue was no less spectacular. The event was held at the WFCU, where the Windsor Spitfires play. That’s right – the pool is at a hockey arena. Per FINA (the global governing body for swimming) regulations a temporary pool has to be installed that is 25m long x 26m wide x 2m deep. A company flew in from Italy to construct it… in 10 days… on a hockey rink! It was amazing to see this pool.

I remember thinking on the first day – I am so happy that this is only the first day and I get to come back for the rest of the week to work and experience this. (My effort to live in the moment is working!) Throughout the week I saw many people from high school and my swimming days. I loved it. Most of them I hadn’t seen in over 2o years!

This was a once in a life time event. A world championship, my favourite sport, in my hometown. If I had let the excuses win, I would have missed it. The next bus is not coming in 15 minutes. It’s not coming again. I was sad to leave today but so happy that I was part of it. I hope this experience will help me in the future to really think about what’s important and to put the excuses aside.

Other volunteers that I met couldn’t believe that I came from out of town (500 kms away) to volunteer at this event. They’d be shocked to find out what I have planned next! Stay tuned…

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This was my “office” for one of my shifts!

We find delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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My nephews turned 9 in August. Deciding on a gift for them is a struggle for me. It’s not that they don’t want “stuff” but it seems like such a waste of money as they are excited about toys for about 5 minutes and then it goes in their toy room… which I’ve never actually seen them play in. So I decided to do something with them instead, an experience rather than more stuff.

This past weekend the three of us took a road trip. Niagara Falls was the first stop on Friday night and Pittsburg on Saturday. The “gift” was tickets to see the Pittsburg Penguins game. They loved the game but they found a gift in everything that we did.

Our room in Niagara overlooked the falls and at night the lights changed colours, there was a lot of excitement and many pictures taken! They ran into the hotel room to check it out and were excited by many things that I wouldn’t even think about.  The hair dryer (?), the fact that they could watch the Jays game FROM THE BED and the desk chair that spun around.

If we could all see the world through eyes of a child, we could see the magic in everything.

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Happy boy!
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There was a long wait at the border and I was getting impatient, perhaps yelling, and Andrew said to me “Tia, it’s ok, we’re not in a hurry”.  And he was right. We had all day to get to Pittsburg so why worry about how long the border crossing took.

They watched the signs and were anxious to cross the Pennsylvania state line as none of us had ever been to the state. We HAD to stop at the PA Welcome Centre. There was a fascination with the number of Ontario license plates we saw going to see the Jays play in Cleveland. They could NOT believe that people would drive that far for a game. It was totally lost on them that we were driving further than that for a regular season game.

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I think the highlight of the trip was when we walked to our room in the hotel in Pittsburg and there was a vending machine RIGHT ACROSS THE HALL! This was a hot topic of conversation and there was a great deal of time spent looking at the treats inside. Inside the room was AMAZING as we had a view of the PPG Arena, RIGHT FROM OUR ROOM.

Andrew came out of the bathroom before bed with a bloody kleenex announcing that he just pulled his tooth out. Did you know that if you are in the US the tooth fairy pays in US dollars?

The morning after the game there was a 6.6km Mario Lemieux run ( As Andrew pointed out multiple times – it’s 6.6kms because Mario’s number was 66). We could see the finish line from our window. These boys are no strangers to spectating at running races so they insisted that we go out and cheer on the runners (my heart almost burst!) So we did and they got to meet Iceburgh, the Penguins mascot.


Driving through Buffalo on the way home we got to see (from the highway) where the Buffalo Sabres play, which was SO AWESOME!

We spent a lot of time in the car and as we got close to home I asked them if they thought all of the time in the car was worth it. Alexander responded “You’re kidding right?”

I think this was more of a gift for me than it was for them ♥

Happiness is only real when it’s shared.

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Team 101 – True North Strong and Fast

Happiness is only real when it’s shared. This is what is written on the back of the medal that I received for the Ragnar Relay that I ran this past weekend. And I couldn’t agree more. A few years ago I had an idea that, at the time was just a dream. I have completed running events – 10K, half marathon, marathon but I needed an event that was different. I wanted to be a part of something. I didn’t know what it was but this idea kept coming back to me. Last summer I discovered Ragnar Relays. This was it! This was what I had been looking for.

Ragnar is a 200ish mile running relay. 12 runners in 2 vans each run 3 legs to complete this continuous race. As if that weren’t enough of a challenge, I chose Ragnar Adirondacks (that’s right – mountains!) As I told people about this, the common response was “Why?” or “Does this sound like fun to you?”. It did sound like fun to me, and it was. Only it was so much better that I had ever imagined.

As a swimmer and a runner I am not generally part of a team. My events are individual. Being part of this 12 runner team was incredible! Going into it I was concerned that the faster runners on the team would resent having me there, but that concern disappeared after the first leg. We were truly a team and we all played our part. Being the analytical person that I am, I created a spreadsheet with the time that each person would take based on their pace. We all used this tool and we watched as runner after runner beat their expected time. We all worked together to measure against our pace time. I was never compared to the speedy Boston Qualifiers. I was only compared to the pace that I had estimated.

My other concern was that most of the team members had never met one another and would they get along? As I sat at dinner after the race and watched conversations and interactions between people who had met only 60 hours earlier, I realized that bonds were created this weekend. We were part of a team and that brought us together, that and being in a van together for 25+ hours!

One of the funniest moments happened while we were at the start line. We were representing Canada in our red and white with the team name True North Strong and Fast. As we were having our picture taken in walked Team USA. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

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This event was so much more than a running race. The support, companionship, scenery and hilarious moments strongly outweighed the difficult runs, lack of sleep and smelly vans. And while it was a competition, the support among all the teams was amazing. Cheering for other runners and even supportive words during a “kill” (when you pass another team). Being polite Canadians we used the term “I’m sorry, eh” instead of kill (and we had a lot of them!).

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There is a term used within Ragnar to describe the feeling once the race is finished. I think most of our team is suffering from a “Ragnover”… I am still suffering 4 days later.

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Of the 277 teams that raced we placed 13th! 25 hours and 39 minutes. Can’t wait for the next one!

Find your inner wild ~ Ragnar

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Photo credits – Ryan Kovack

Today is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one!

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Grand Bend – July 2016

Today is the first day of school. I am not a student. I don’t have kids in school, but to me the first day back is a day for a fresh start. I have spent the past few months in “summer mode”.  It’s not that I didn’t do anything but there was a fair amount of time just being lazy – a little too much Netflix, days at the beach and quite a few long weekends eating and drinking too much. These are all good things and I thoroughly enjoyed the summer but there wasn’t much progress on moving toward my goals.

To be fair, my fitness goals remained my top priority. I knew that if I took a break from those, it would be a) too painful to start again (literally) and b) I wouldn’t be able to catch up or reach those goals. So I have been swimming, with the goal of 365 kms this year and running to train for the Ragnar Relay in a few weeks!

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about me feeling bad that I enjoyed the summer. It’s just time. Time to get back to routine, time to get back to my daily rituals, time to make progress on the other goals and dreams. The awesome thing is that I’m really excited to start doing things. As fun as it has been, I’ve had enough. In the past, once I started down the path of laziness it was hard to turn back. This year though I knew the free pass was for the summer only and so this morning I had no issue getting back to making progress on things. In fact I craved it!

Some people might argue that you should always be on, always be moving forward to reach your dreams. And maybe they’re right. But I think that the break helps. It is time to reflect, relax and then when it’s over, time to refocus. And there is a new energy which is even stronger than before the break. Do whatever works for you… just don’t stay in lazy mode too long!

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That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet ~ Emily Dickinson

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I spent the last few days visiting my Aunt and Uncle on Georgian Bay. It felt strange being there as I knew it would be my last visit. They sold their house and are moving at the end of the month. I was 5 years old when they bought the place and I have been up there almost every summer since.

As I was out in the water I was thinking about how much I have enjoyed being there over the years. I realized that this is one of those things that could easily be remembered as a great place where I longed to return, somewhere I wished I had spent more time. I am happy that I didn’t take it for granted, I didn’t say “I’ll just go up next year”. I went… every year!

One of my traditions while up on Champlain Road was to run to the convenience store and back. Some summers the store was open, other years it was closed. I never actually went in. It was 8kms there and back. Some summers it was a regular training run and other summers it was an incredibly painful experience but either way I always did it.

Do you think the new owner would mind if I just parked in the driveway and ran to the store and back… for old time’s sake?

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened ~ Dr. Seuss

I am definitely going to miss this place but it’s time for a new adventure! Where will I start make new memories next summer?

 

Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames ~ Rumi

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Find you tribe, love them hard. I love this quote. A lot of the work that we do in growth, either personal or professional, is internal. We are the driving force behind our own changes. This is true. However surrounding ourselves with amazing, inspiring people allows us to have even bigger growth. Watching others do great things makes us want to be great. People providing encouragement as we break boundaries gets us that much further. Knowing that people have our back and provide a judgement-free environment allows us to jump out of our comfort zone.

Who is your tribe? Who are the people that you surround yourself with? Do they encourage you to reach for the stars or do they tell you all the reasons why your ideas won’t work? Do the people that surround you want you to live a life of greatness?

We are all different. We all have our own dreams and goals. Each of our tribes are unique. If you are a runner, or want to start running – find your local running club. You will be encouraged to run further and faster. You will have accountability to show up. You will be inspired by those around you. If you are a mother and feel like your doing this alone – go find other mothers, join the PTA, meet parents in the school yard. You are not alone, you just need to go and find them. Whatever your thing is, there are people out there for you. (Hint – you’re not going to find your tribe while your watching Netflix on the couch).

For years I wanted to try open water swimming. But I didn’t do it because I didn’t know anything about it. (It’s really as simple as getting in the lake and swimming). So finally 4 years ago I “searched it up” as my nephew says and found a group in Oakville. There was an entire group of people who love open water swimming! And not only do they love it, they are amazing. Olympians, Ironmen (and women), swimmers who have done the English Channel, Lake Ontario and Catalina Island crossings and people who swim “naked” (without a wetsuit) despite the water temperature. Wow! Talk about finding a tribe to inspire me. These are the people that I want to be around. These are the people that are helping me to become a better open water swimmer, convincing me that I WILL become acclimatized to cold water and showing me that there are no limits. They are doing this for me. Had I just gone to the beach on my own and started swimming it would have been good. But having this tribe has pushed me to race, swim farther than I ever would have on my own and inspired me to get into 65F water without a wetsuit.

I have tribes for all different aspects of my life. The one common theme among all of them is that they all raise the bar, encourage, motivate, inspire and support me. I have had success in many areas of my life because of the people I surround myself with. I would love to list all of your names but there are too many. You know who you are! xo

Be around the light bringers, the magic makers, the world shifters, the game shakers. They challenge you, break you open, uplift and expand you. They don’t let you play small with your life. These heartbeats are your people. These people are your tribe.

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My tribe kayaked with me while I swam 4kms in this beautiful lake.

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate ~ Oprah Winfrey

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Cobourg Beach

It was my birthday last week. Some people, when they get to my age… you know, 29, ignore their birthday. They don’t want to make a big deal about it, they want to forget that they are a year older. I am the complete opposite!

It’s the one day a year that is MY day. I block my calendar and don’t go into the office. I plan the day to do the things I really want to do. I spend time with people I enjoy being with. I am going to be a year older whether I ignore it or not so why not celebrate it?

At a recent seminar we talked about celebrating everything. I love this idea. Why not? Why do we put away the good stuff for “special” occasions? Everyday is a gift, everyday is special so use the good stuff. Use the crystal glasses, eat the good cheese, drink the expensive wine, wear the fancy dress, use the “guest” towels, wear red lipstick, have dinner in the dining room. We put these things away and they collect dust. We rarely use them, yet they make us happy when we do. Think about it, what item do you not use because it’s the “good stuff”… what are you saving it for?

Celebrate we will because life is short but sweet for certain ~ Dave Matthews

Celebrating big things is easy, weddings, graduations, a new house. But celebrating the little things doesn’t come as naturally… it should. By taking a moment (or more) to celebrate little things, life becomes better. When you appreciate even the smallest accomplishment you will feel more fulfilled, you will have joy in your life and you will be more mindful of positive things. Life happens in small steps and if you are waiting to only celebrate the big things, there isn’t going to be a lot of celebration in your life. Any time you do something that you are proud of yourself for, celebrate it. Did you get up without hitting the snooze button, did you get through the day without a cigarette, did you finally sign up for that race. Whatever small thing you do today, celebrate it! You don’t need champagne and streamers to celebrate, although not a bad idea, you can make a toast at dinner, say a prayer or just take a moment to appreciate yourself and your accomplishment.

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My birthday at Cobourg Beach with my 2 favourite people!