Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Be Brave Enough to Be Willing to Fall

By Hannah

Ever since I can remember I have been far from graceful on my feet.  I have fallen and picked myself up more times than I can count. Because of that, one might think that I’m an expert, but I’m not.  My constant struggle with physical balance is both literal and a metaphor for so many other things in life. Each stumble, each fall is a reminder that life is uncertain and that me and my body are fallible.  Falling is scary and it can hurt, so being willing to fall is a hard thing to do.

Recently both my body and the universe have been throwing a lot at me and if I was afraid to fall I wouldn’t be able to move forward.  Trusting that my leg will swing through and catch me with my next step is not any different than believing that hard work, preparation and training will take you where you want to go. They both make perfect sense but they both seem very unlikely at random times. Despite the fear of falling, in order to get ahead you have to put yourself out there, even if it’s just one foot at a time or you may never know the strength you have.

Just about a month ago Team A.W.E. participated in an extraordinary event.  We were part of the TedxCrestmoorPark in Denver. The event was about community and breaking boundaries and we were given 15 minutes to speak. We were all comfortable speaking on our own in front of groups of various sizes; but this was a whole new ballgame.  We had to prepare and execute a speech as a team while making a positive impact on the people listening. Being relative perfectionists, in the days leading up to the speech we were unsure and we could have taken the easy route and done something we were more familiar with, but that’s not the kind of people we are. We were out of our comfort zones and at times it was difficult, frustrating, time consuming...


…and so WORTH IT!!

We were the final speakers of the night so we had listened to all the amazing stories of the strong people who spoke before us and knew we had big shoes to fill. 

We got up there, presented ourselves and our speech about as well as we could have, and in return we were given a standing ovation! It was unbelievable and beyond our expectations! We had taken a risk and put ourselves out there and it paid off!! We met many beautiful and motivated people, earned respect as speakers and individuals, renewed our spirits and opened doors to continue to grow as a team. 

Being brave enough to fall really meant that we were brave enough to succeed.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Be Brave Enough to be Surprised

By Carrie
So many hours, so many days and so much stress to make a plan work. As an athlete our training is all about a plan. We structure our goals around the training cycle. Whether it is for 4 weeks, 4 months or 4 years. There are specifics and minute details that prepare each one of us for the best success. As we know "Life is what happens while making plans." It does not matter how hard we try, there are things that we cannot control.
Many times I have tried to achieve a goal and felt defeated because it did not turn out like I expected.  My first thought is usually, "What could I have done differently to change the outcome"? On the opposite side of the coin there were times when I exceeded my expectations. I again ask "How could this happen to me"? There always seems to be questions about what and why things would happen.  In the past few weeks my life has changed. I aspire to be a ParaCyclist atop the podium. However, life seems to have its own plans for me. After the recent Track cycling Championships I felt like my dreams were rolling away. I did not perform to my expectations. I am not going to give up.  No question about it. Since the beginning of September I have started to coach a new swim team. The swimmers are from ages 5-18. By coaching them on a daily basis I have in turn been reminded of many fundamentals as an athlete. When a plan doesn't work, step back and break it down into pieces. The swimmers keep working hard despite the challenges. When you step back and can create a new path to reach the same goal, you dig a little deeper. You work harder and smarter.   After these past two months and my performance I am happy to be surprised. I am not broken or defeated. I am not changing my goal. I still strive to be the best. But I am happy to change my plan.
In the last few days it has been a whirlwind. Just as I begin to regain my plan I am hit with a strong wind of momentum. People have stepped into my life by happenstance. The genuine kindness, support and  assistance have reignited this fire. I never thought that I was without motivation or support.  I never assumed that this would happen. It wasn't a part of my plan.  But now, I am on a recreated path with a plan of action looking forward to being surprised with the outcome.   No doubts, no questions, Being brave enough to be surprised!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Brave Enough to Look Within

by Ryan

Last weekend I went to California for a swim meet. I came back to Colorado with a new American Record in my pocket, yet a lot of frustration about sprinting (which seemed to weigh much heavier than everything else in my luggage.)

I have never been known as much of a sprinter, before or after my accident. I have always struggled with being able to perform in such short spurts of time and energy. In high school it never seemed to add up to much of a problem because I would just swim something else; however, in the world of para-swimming there really isn't anything else.

My American Record was set in the 200 backstroke-- four times the distance that I am asked to sprint. My sprint events were terrible, but on some level I set myself up for that.

I am no stranger to self-deprecation, as am I no fool to placing blame on a weak performance. I know that sprinting is about confidence and courage and believing in yourself FAR more than it is about technique and training time and dedication to the actual sport. With all of that said, I know that it is, without a doubt, my fault that I can't sprint.

I can sprint in practice in beautiful strokes of confidence and poise. I can sprint with a smile and encouraging times. I just can't do it in a meet. This, I know, goes far deeper than just stroking, swimming, and sprinting...

For the past few months, I have begun challenging my athlete brain with the comforts of a sports psychologist. We have discussed many things that directly relate, and oddly don't relate to my performance in the water. Right now we are focusing on my sprint.

It's so scary and disappointing to acknowledge that I am the thing responsible for holding me back. It isn't my lack of motivation. It isn't my lack of desire. It isn't my willingness to train.

It is my own negativity and lack of confidence that stem much further than simply sport.

However, I am up for this challenge. I recognize that I am willing and wanting to repair my self-doubt and deprecating thoughts. All that I know is that I care enough to take this on. This challenge is far more difficult than any physical training and preparations I have ever known. It is unsettling and it is raw.

BUT for the first time, I'm brave enough, at last, to look within...