Monday, December 31, 2007
How To Make A Beautiful Life.
Make peace with who you are and where you are at this moment in time.
Listen to your heart.
If you can't hear what it's saying in this noisy world, MAKE TIME for yourself.
Enjoy your own company.
Let your mind wander among the stars.
Try. Take chances.
Make mistakes. Life can be messy and confusing at times, but it's also full of surprises.
The next rock in your path might be a stepping-stone.
When you don't have what you want, want what you have.
That's a well kept secret of contentment.
There aren't any shortcuts to tomorrow.
You have to make your own way.
To know where you're going is only part of it.
You need to know where you've been, too. And if you ever get lost, don't worry.
The people you love will find you.
Count on it.
Life isn't days and years. It's about what you do with time.
And all the goodness and grace that's inside you.
Make a beautiful life....
The kind of life you deserve.
Happy New Year and all the very best in 2008!
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Special Olympians are my favourite athletes in the world. I love how enthusiastic they are and how they do sport for the pure joy they get out of it. It really puts things into perspective. It's not about money. It's not about placing. It's not about winning...
It's about friendships, participation, physical fitness and being the best that you can be...
I think all athletes need to remember this sometimes. It is a privilege to do sport and something that should ultimately be enjoyable.
Check out their website. If you ever feel like you need some inspiration then become involved in one of the Special Olympics events happening near you!
Saturday, December 01, 2007
The COC announced an Olympic Reward Program.
Gold - $20,000
Silver - $15,000
Bronze - $10,000
I've heard many mixed reactions. Some say, "Fantastic". Others say, "That's not enough". I have even heard some mumble, "Why should Olympians get paid for their performance? Isn't it amateur sport?".
Personally, I was pleased when I heard the announcement. I wish that something like this would have been put in place before Athens...that would have been a nice little reward after 16 years of training!
One has to remember and emphasize that this is a REWARD program. None of us start sport in Canada because of the big bucks...and many of us never make the BIG money. Even when we are the best in the world. But one thing is true...we deserve it! Maybe that's a biased statement, but I truly believe that Olympians are some of the greatest ambassadors and role models a country can have. By introducing this program, I think it is taking a small step forward and saying, "we believe in you, we support you and we respect your hard work and determination".
For those haters out there, let me just say one thing. Many other industries have some sort of financial reward programs in place. If you are in oil and gas and you perform well, you get a few extra tens of thousands of dollars as a bonus. Sport should not be different. When one wins the Olympics, essentially they are THE BEST in the world at that time. No one else on the entire planet is better than them. So, do you think it's worthy to honour someone who is clearly defined as the best in their field? I sure do.
After Athens it was a little frustrating to hear of all the other athletes from other countries who were receiving cash rewards. Some even received instant pensions, houses...some were set up financially for the rest of their life. I sometimes wondered why we don't receive the same amount of recognition and reward in this country. Why is the value of an Olympic Medal different in different parts of the world?
When I was filming White Palms in Hungary in June 2005, Marian Dragulescu (he came second on floor in Athens) told me that he heard I got $500,000 for my Gold medal. I had to laugh! That would have been nice, but in all reality I didn't receive a penny. He couldn't understand that. He asked me, "Why do you do this then?". hehe. "Because I love it", I replied. He just stared at me like I was crazy! But it's true. My goal was to always go to the Olympics and win a Gold medal. Marian couldn't get his head around the fact that I just did gymnastics because it was my passion and not because it was going to set me up financially.
What winning a gold medal did do was it opened many doors of opportunity. I sometimes breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I will probably never work at a liquor store (although that staff discount could come in handy during the holidays!).
I do believe that eventually this reward needs to become something more significant and life changing. Say, $500,000, as Marian believed we received. Winning the Olympics is such a huge accomplishment and it has the power to inspire an entire nation. I believe that Olympians need to receive more recognition and rewards for representing their country to the highest of standards. It would be ideal if corporate Canada (maybe all of those wonderful Olympic partners who have tons of cash) would jump on board and contribute to the reward program. Then the athletes could share their stories with the corporations and different schools around the country and not have to worry about getting "real" jobs. For the years in between the games it could be a giant Olympic medallist blitz. Think of the impact this could have. Wowzers!
All in all, this is a step in the right direction. Now when a Canadian Olympic Champion comes home they will be able to put a dent in the debt that they and their families have accumulated over the years and years of training. Thanks to the COC's Athletes Commission for bringing this initiative to the table and for seeing it through to reality.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
It's a great opportunity for them to see the venue, be on the Olympic equipment and to get a feel for the environment.
I was invited by the Canadian Olympic Committee to go and to check it out, but I declined.
I want to walk into the Olympic venue and feel amazing! I want to be able to have my first experience in the venue as ultra positive, not as a gimp who is taking pictures and video taping.
I didn't go to the venues before Sydney 2000 or Athens 2004. I think I did alright.
I believe that our state of mind, our preparation and our confidence determines whether or not we can adapt to a situation. I am planning on being in the best shape of my life when I see the venue for the first time. I plan on being ready to deliver my best performances! I plan on feeling like I own that gym!
When it comes to adapting to new environments and situations, there is only one way to do it quickly. Be prepared. I can not reiterate that enough. When you are prepared, whether it be for a competition, a presentation, even a test, you can walk in and just adapt. I have experienced times in the past where I didn't feel as prepared as I should have and I started to panic and make excuses. "I can't do it because the equipment isn't good", "the lights are too bright", etc. I don't like that athlete. I don't want to be him and I will do everything in my power to avoid feeling unprepared.
I am in control of my preparation. My job is to do everything that I can possibly do on a daily basis to make sure that I come one step closer to feeling ready.
If the Olympics were next week then I wouldn't be able to compete. That's a scary thought. But the good news is that they aren't. I still have a little more than 8 months. I need to be diligent and I need to take initiative to make sure that I am prepared.
When I walk into the Olympic venue in August 2008, I will be at my best. I will be ready and I will have an advantage over everyone else...
I will be the most prepared. I will be positive. I will have the most trust and confidence in myself. I will deliver my best performance.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Today I swung for the first time in exactly 3 months. It felt...well, it felt weird.
I never realized the amount of stress and friction swinging on the highbar causes. My wrists and hands were killing me after a couple of turns.
I was extremely cautious when I was up on the bar. I was afraid of kicking too hard in the bottom of the swing and having massive pain in my knees. I was also afraid of falling and having no way of saving myself. If I was to accidentally fall off of the bar I would be screwed because I wouldn't be able to land on my feet. It would be literally impossible for me to absorb the landing. So, I just did simple giant swings and then I would break my swing and gently fly off the bar onto my back.
I never realized how hard this "getting back into gymnastics" process was going to be. Progress has been made, but I still feel so far away from my goal. I feel like a beginner. I remember how I did everything and how it felt, but when I got up onto the bar today I felt like I hadn't done it in a really long time...say, 3 months! I was seeing stars and my heart jumped into my throat a little bit the first few swings around. The adrenaline was pumpin' for sure.
Taking this step and finally getting the guts up to start swinging again did make me feel more like a gymnast though. I forgot how much I missed the whole ritual of putting on my wristbands, grips and chalking up to get ready for my turn. It also felt pretty amazing to experience that weightless feeling that I love.
I don't know why today was the day that I decided this needed to be done. I guess there has been a little voice inside of my head that has been telling me that it's time and I finally conceded to it. It's not that I didn't want to start swinging again, it's just that it had been so long and I was afraid that it might not feel right. I think that is my biggest fear right now. I am afraid that things are going to continue to be painful (not the kind that you can work through, but the kind that tells you that you are not ready) and this is just going to prolong the length of the process. It has already been long, I know it will be longer, but I don't want it to be impossibly long...you know what I'm saying...
I guess I have to start somewhere. Today was a step forward. I didn't crash. I didn't get hurt (except my poor hands!). I took initiative and pushed myself into doing something that I was afraid of.
That's a pretty productive day.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Every Canadian podium potential athlete was invited to the event and it was good times! There were swimmers, triathletes, kayakers, rowers, water polo players, synchro swimmers, divers, a fencer (Sherraine Schalm...one of the coolest fencers in the world!), shooters, archers, trampolinists, gymnasts, track and field athletes, softball players...so many sports were represented! The cool thing was that every athlete had demonstrated in the past year that they could place within the top 5 in the world. It was a pretty passionate and determined group to spend a weekend with!
Heading into the weekend, I didn't really know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised! We were very spoiled. We got to listen to some of Canada's best athlete speakers and take part in tons of fun and creative team building sessions.
The speakers list was stacked. Veronica Brenner (Silver in Aerials skiing in 2002), Marianne Limpert (1996 Olympic Silver Medallist in Swimming), Daniel Igali (2000 Olympic Gold in wrestling), Ron Maclean (CBC's Hockey Night in Canada) were just a few. All of them were outstanding, but there was one speaker who leaped out in my mind...and that was Sylvie Frechette. I don't know how many of you know her story, but it is one that is extremely captivating and almost inconceivable.
Here is how it begins:
5 days before the 1992 Olympic Games, Sylvie's fiance committed suicide.
Think about that for a minute.
I can't even imagine.
I don't know if I would have the strength to pull through something like that. But she did. She was courageous, determined and somehow found a reason to continue and chase her Olympic dream. She explained that she had worked for 18 years to have an opportunity to become an Olympic Champion. She was ready and there was nothing in the world that could take that chance away from her.
I was just enthralled and captivated when she spoke. I could feel every emotion that she explained. I could hear the sounds, feel the pain...I almost felt like I was in her head as she was explaining her thoughts. It was very moving.
And then, to add insult to injury, her story takes another dark turn when a judging error places her in second. Bastards!
Luckily, after 16 months and 9 days (who's counting eh??) she received the Olympic Gold Medal that she had rightfully earned in Barcelona. I felt like jumping up and down and cheering for her when she came to this part in the story!
The whole group of us did give her a simultaneous standing ovation when she was done! It went on for a long time and it was soooooo well deserved! Talk about inspirational!
We had a lot of team building and discussion sessions as well. We talked about preparing for all possible scenario's before, during and after the games and I feel like I gained some valuable tools.
During one of our team building sessions, we talked about what we want Team Canada to be projected as at the 2008 Games. Professional, Tenacious and Supportive were some of the key words that we came up with. I thought that this was an awesome exercise to do because we all agreed and committed to upholding our Canadian reputation! I really wanted one of the describing words to be simply, "Canadian". I don't know why it is, but that could truly be an adjective. Everyone knows what it means to be Canadian. If you are travelling and you have a maple leaf on your backpack then people automatically think of you as honest, kind, approachable and a good beer drinker! haha. But really, Canadianism is something everyone in Canada and I believe around the world understands and appreciates. What can I say? We are just good people! In fact, I have declared many of my nice American friends as honorary Canadians!
There were some pretty special moments that were had over the weekend. At one point there was a male wrestler and a female water polo player learning how to fence from Sherraine in the hallway as I taught some of the triathletes and water polo girls how to do handstands against the wall. At another point we were all hanging out together and one of the water polo girls was singing her heart out for us all to hear. It's moments like these that I believe are priceless...to me, moments like these carry so much underlying meaning about friendships, respect and interaction. I believe that in some odd way, something like this is the epitome of the human experience...at least the Olympic experience. Random people who are seamlessly connected because of their passion for sport and for their country. Pretty cool.
After the Excellence Series weekend, I feel that the fire inside of me, my desire to represent Canada and deliver another great performance in 2008, has some newly added fuel.
That's a great feeling!
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I am going to the Gold Medal Plates event in Vancouver tonight and the Calgary event tomorrow. Then I am off to Ottawa on Friday for the Beijing Olympic Excellence Series and heading to Edmonton for another Gold Medal Plates event on Tuesday. I am coming home for a day and then I am flying back to Ottawa for the final GMP event on Thursday. After all of this, I am going to stay with Kelly and Sue again for a week and a half and then I am attending the Special Olympics Festival on December 5th in Toronto.
It's going to be a hectic couple of weeks, but I should have some time to update soon.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Melissa had her convocation today. She got her BA in Sociology with a concentration in Criminology!
She's not only beautiful, but smart too!
I think that one of the most acquired skills gained through completing a University degree is the ability to read and write effectively! Melissa spent many hours writing late night papers and reading what I'm sure felt like endless chapters. But guess what?! No more! She's done. Movin' on...moving forward...and the next stop? Makin' some money! And then she's going to complete her masters degree in education!
I'm very proud of her! It was incredible to be there and watch her walk across the stage, knowing all the hard work that she put forth in order to earn that degree.
Congrats again Melissa!
Now let's celebrate! Champagne anyone?
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Melissa and I went out Halloweening over the weekend. It was good times.
I decided to be a hockey player and Melissa was my hot little "puck bunny". If you're wondering what a puck bunny is, I'll explain: It's the girl who goes to every game, all dressed up with tons of makeup, wearing the team jersey and hoping to score!
Yeah Hockey! jk. I think this is super funny because of more than the obvious reasons (I did look pretty bad ass with my black eye though...and it's kind of funny that Melissa is holding my 'hockey' stick in this picture...I guess she liked the black eye too! I'm such a manly man!)
I have a mixed opinion about hockey players. When I went to the National Sports School most of my classes were full of these hard working and talented souls! Just imagine how much fun it was for me, the male gymnast, to be in this environment. They thought that I pranced around the floor with a ribbon to a Celine Dion song. Not all of them, but many of them. I'm over it, but do you know what feels kind of great? I don't think any of them made it NHL. haha. Suckers!
I have met many NHLers whom I really respect and admire though. I wasn't exactly trying to portray an NHL star with my costume. I was trying to poke fun at the weekend warrior, the small town boy with big dreams, the one who is so manly and tough that he earns the respect of those around him...and if they don't respect him then he punches them out! Yes folks, I was the number one hockey player in ANY small town!
I do have a small beef about NHL hockey that I would like to share. The pay checks. Right after Athens I did a talk at the Calgary Booster Club's Sportsman of the Year Dinner. Ken King, President of the Calgary Flames and a buddy of mine, was at the dinner as well. This was around the time when hockey was struggling with the price caps and all of that BS. Anyway, when I opened my presentation I started talking about my start in sport as a hockey player at 5 years old. Then I talked about how gymnastics and hockey started to conflict when I was about 7 because of the overwhelming time commitments and about how my parents made me choose between the 2. I told the audience how I thought I picked the right sport...They nodded their approval. But then I hit them with this gem: "because if I was a hockey player then I wouldn't be able to pay my mortgage this year. Wah Wah!" It got a huge applause, even some cheers. It was one of my finer comedic moments!
Seriously though, I don't think the hockey guys truly understand how difficult it is financially for many amateur athletes. I can't imagine any of them agreeing to play for $18,000 a year (this is the paycheck to be a carded athlete in Canada...and many of us are doing our sport full-time). That is less than what many of them make in a week. But I guess they are hard done by when it comes to professional sport. I have heard of some salaries in soccer and basketball that are absolutely ridiculous. 25 million a year...I don't think I could even spend that much cash!
Halloween was sweet. I had my night as a rough and tough hockey phenom and it was fun while it lasted, but I've decided to retire from that game...one night was enough. And I even got the hottest puck bunny of them all! He shoots, he scores! haha. Plus, I don't have any time for hockey...I've got some important ribbon twirling to attend to!
Have a fun and safe Halloween!
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Now it's time to start the true rehabilitation process. First, I have to get my left leg straight. This is a daunting task because no matter how gentle you are, it just feels nasty when you move your leg past the point of comfort. Sad thing is, you have to push it because it's the only way that you can regain full range of motion. It almost feels like my knee cap needs to be injected with some WD40. Then, after it's straight, I need to do some serious strengthening! My skin is just dangling off and my muscles are goo. I desperately need some definition!
After my appointment, I walked out of the office with only one crutch and I was motorin' along! I could almost feel the breeze through my hair and the wind on my cheeks. haha. Actually, I was pretty slow because my left leg felt like it could give out at any time...plus, it was icy outside because it snowed the night before (Calgary weather sucks sometimes!).
I can not explain the amount of relief I get from this news. I feel more independent already. Freedom is a marvelous thing!
Now, I have to figure out what to do with the braces. I thought that I might have a burning party, but those things cost me 600 bucks!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
For those of you who don't know, Kelly was my coach from the time I was 6 until the Athens Olympic Games. We have a very close relationship and I consider him and his family a part of my family. His friendship is one of the most important friendships in my life and I call him often for advice and to keep him updated. It was awesome to soak up his optimism and have some time to catch up.
Kelly is now coaching at the Oakville Gymnastics Club and I had a chance to go into the gym and do a little workin' out. The amount that I can do is still pretty lame, but I did some good core and upper body conditioning. It felt awesome to move and to be inspired by my old coach.
One of the things that I admire so much about Kelly is his desire to produce good people ahead of good athletes. I might be a little biased here, but I think he is the best coach this country has to offer. He can take any kid and help them reach their full potential. He instills a love for gymnastics in the kids and believes above all else that gymnastics should be fun. I had to laugh when he told me a story about one of his girls who finally went for one of her skills and he gave her free time for a week! This is just the type of guy he is. Calm, relaxed, funny and passionate about gymnastics. He could probably teach a giant or back flip to anyone off the street, as long as they were willing to learn.
Kelly and Sue have a lot of really talented girls and the atmosphere that they create in the gym is phenomenal. It's productive, fun and ultra motivating!
Spending time with Kelly really uplifted my spirit. He was constantly thinking of every little thing that I could do to help myself heal faster. He asked me how far I could bend my left knee. I showed him how far and then he told me to do it 20,000 times! I gimped around the house as much as possible and hot tubbed in the backyard. Every day Kelly would remind me that I was going to heal fast and that everything would be OK.
It was so nice to have a change of environment. I feel like I am back on track. I am starting to believe that this comeback is possible again and I am excited about attacking it! I can only do so much, but I am realizing that it's up to me to take initiative and do it.
Thanks to the Manjak family for the great weekend. I feel revitalized and ready to get to work!
Friday, October 19, 2007
The event was the first of seven cities (I will be attending 5 events) and was held downtown Toronto at the beautiful Carlu.
Melissa and I flew out in the morning (7 am flights are a little harsh on the system) and arrived with just enough time to grab lunch and have a quick nap in prep for the festivities.
I had a great time. I saw tons of my Olympic buddies including Marnie McBean, Curt Harnett, Jenn Heil, Adam Van Koeverden, Simon Whitfield, Karen Cockburn, Alexandra Orlando, Paul Rosen, Lori-Ann Muenzer and Perdita Felicien to name a few. Everyone was in great spirits and the event raised tons of cash for the Own the Podium and Road to Excellence initiatives.
The food and wine at the event were very swanky. There was one bottle up for auction for $14,000. Seriously, who would spend 14 grand on a bottle of wine. That would be almost $500 a sip...are you kidding me. I like wine, but I don't think I could ever appreciate it that much. I would be thinking about the new car I could buy with that money! The food was interesting as well. There was one dish that was some sort of brain, another that was various parts of a caribou...no spring rolls and cheese balls here. It was very high class.
Jim Cuddy from Blue Rodeo and Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies were in attendance and they did an off the cuff duet to Blue Rodeo's song "Try".(this is Blue Rodeos Video)
This is one of my all time favourites! Actually, Blue Rodeo played a concert at the 2000 Olympics for all of the Canadian delegation and it was awesome. I think I drank a little bit too much beer (they had Coors Light and Molson Canadian brought in especially for the event...how could I resist!) to completely appreciate the moment, but from what I remember a good time was had by all!
For me, Steven and Jim's performance was definitely a highlight of the Toronto GMP event.
Of course, many of the conversations I had were about my injury and how everything was progressing. I must admit that having crutches and a brace is a great conversation starter. I told people that things were coming along slowly, but progress was being made. It's kind of funny how you try to assure everyone, and maybe yourself, that things are OK. Why is this? I should have told them that it was pissin' me off and I was ready to kill someone yesterday!
When I saw Marnie she came up to me and asked, "How's your f*$%ing knees?"
Haha! This is exactly what I needed. Honesty and humor. I loved it!
After the awesome time I had last night, my f*#$ing knees (and overall moral) are feeling much better!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Today, I am pissed off! I am sick of being optimistic. It feels like I am never going to heal and I am going to be forever remembering the way I used to be able to do things.
I don't feel like a gymnast. I feel like I have never done the sport before. I feel completely removed from it and from the day to day routine of training. I can't remember what it feels like to get ready for training. I can't remember what it feels like to lay in bed at night and have my head spinning with the possibilities the next day holds. My body is getting squishy. It's the furthest away from athletic that it has ever been. My calluses are gone. My legs are as skinny as Nicole Richie's. My stomach has lost the lean tone (I am embarrassed to take off my shirt). Trying to imagine doing a Def (a 1.5 twisting release move on high bar) is impossible. This isn't good.
I think that I was so positive for so long after this injury because I was in the best shape of my life when it happened. I could still visualize my routines so vividly when I was in Germany. Even after I hurt myself, I was still making plans for the things I wanted to add to my routines for the upcoming season. I could mentally feel myself doing gymnastics...even if I couldn't physically do it.
Now, my goals are starting to become blurry. I am uncertain of what I want. I'm scared because my brain is starting to play tricks on me. I keep asking myself the question: Do I want to struggle through this or do I want to just say screw it? The struggle seemed so appetizing before. I love a challenge. I love surprising myself and pushing myself to the limit. But now, that struggle seems like it is drowning me.
I have hit that 2 month wall and being positive is wearing thin.
I talked to Hap today and he said this is normal. He said that I should be upset...he was actually quite surprised that I made it this far without getting really mad!
Hap asked me if I trust people who lie to me. Of course I don't. I hate liars. He asked me why then would I trust myself if I felt pissed off, but tried to cover it up and pretend to be happy. Good question. I guess we sometimes need permission to be MAD!
It makes sense. It is a natural emotion, one that I don't experience too often, but one that is important to express because it helps you sort things out and deal with your issues.
Right now, I'm gonna deal. A good vent session is in order:
Do you know what makes my blood boil right now? It's everyone else not understanding how frickin' difficult this has been (no offence to anyone). Yes, I have made tons of progress. That is clearly evident by the single brace and the lack of wheelchair, but that doesn't mean that this is all happy. This is the most difficult and frustrating injury I have ever had to deal with...and right now feels like the lowest point. On the outside I look like I am moving forward, but on the inside I feel like an out of shape, weak has-been who is sick and tired of being lazy! I try to be diligent. I try to be as optimistic as possible. "I will heal fast. Everything is ahead of schedule. I am doing everything I can". You know what though, today I am feeling down and admitting to myself that this just plain ol' sucks.*That felt good!*
Seriously, who breaks both of their legs at the same time less than a year before the Olympics?
Today I just want to be mad that it happened. It's probably not the most respectable or envious attitude to have, but I am human and I need this.
I think a change of scenery and pace is desperately needed.
Luckily, Melissa and I are off to Toronto tomorrow for the Gold Medal Plates kick off event and a weekend with Kelly, Sue and their son Barrett.
I think this is just what I need to regain my positive perspective and optimism.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I am no longer completely dependant on everyone else!
I've got wheels and I know how to use them! Just don't tell the insurance company!
I got the clearance to drive a few days ago and I finally got the guts up to try it on my own. I don't know why I was worried, it's just always weird to drive when you haven't in a while. It's almost like I didn't trust myself.
As it turns out, the driving part is actually easy, it's the getting in and out of the car that is hard. You have to throw your crutches in, making sure that you are close enough to the drivers seat that you can shimmy around and sit in it with your legs hanging out the side. Then you have to carefully turn yourself a quarter turn and then you are in position to drive.
I never knew how much I took stepping into a car for granted.
I had to trade cars with my dad because I drive a 5 speed VW golf and he drives an automatic Saturn. Pushing the clutch in with my left foot was impossible.
To be able to get from A to B without having to have assistance is a very liberating feeling though. The only bad thing is the distance that I have to crutch to get into the University from the parking lot. Chaffing sucks. Thank goodness it isn't -30 and snowing though!
See you at the red lights,
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
After surgery, I woke up with two giant braces on my legs. I was able to partially weight-bear on the right, as the brace was set to allow a 30- to 90-degree range of motion. The left was locked in at 30 degrees. I think the first two weeks after surgery were the most difficult, because I couldn't do anything on my own and I was in quite a bit of pain.
During this time, I spent a lot of time doing nothing! It was a struggle to conjure up any motivation because it was a huge effort to do easy, everyday tasks. I had some time to catch up on my movies and read a few good books, though, so that was all right!
As for conditioning, I have spent a lot of time on the arm bike, but my main source of activity has been getting around in a wheelchair and using my crutches and walker! I have an amazing support team at the Sport Centre here in Calgary, and we are developing a good plan for my recovery. I am going to start some weight training and core conditioning and continue with physio.
KS: We did the surgery with the intention of being in top form for the Olympics. I might not compete until the late spring, but I will be healthy. I want to compete in my third Olympic Games, have the opportunity to defend my Olympic title and contribute great performances to the team. My goals are still the same; it's just going to be a more interesting journey!
"Production Values," "Shewfelt's Role Both Familiar and Foreign" - features on Shewfelt's co-starring role in the film "White Palms" (November 2006) "My Year After Athens" - Shewfelt memoirs (August/September 2005) 2004 Olympic Games Special Issue - includes Shewfelt (October 2004) "The Style of Kyle" - profile (November 2003) Quick Chat: Kyle Shewfelt - interview (November 2002) "IG Profile: Kyle Shewfelt" (January 2001)
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Sunday, October 07, 2007
I am going to spend this evening with my mom's side of the family (although my parents won't be there because they are going to Vegas! Lucky ducks!). I'm gonna pig out on turkey, mashed potatoes and pie and then probably feel sick because I ate too much, but that's what this day is all about. Eating more than you should and being thankful for everything you have in your life.
I am thankful for all of the amazing opportunities and friendships I have experienced.
Pretty broad and lame I know, but I'm not feeling very creative or sentimental today.
Now that that's said, I think it's time to eat!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Cassie Campbell spoke eloquently about her experiences in Hockey and about the importance of sport in the community. She also spoke about how sport creates role models and give kids passion and purpose. I thought that she did an amazing job.
This breakfast is always fun for the athletes because you get to catch up with old teammates and friends. It's also great because they pair a high-performance athlete with a grassroots athlete...something I would have loved to experience when I was growing up.
It's also great because it brings some political personalities into the sport environment. I don't know what it is, but being in a room with so many accomplished and aspiring athletes creates a huge amount of energy and excitement. I hope that all of the corporate and political guests could feel this electricity and will continue to support amateur sport in Calgary and beyond.
One suggestion for next year though; please have the breakfast start later than 7am...I finally had a good sleep (did I mention with only one brace!) and that 5:30 wake up came fast!
This photo is of my teammate, Nathan Gafuik, and I at the breakfast.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
One brace off, one to go!
I had a meeting with Dr.Mohtadi this morning and he said everything is progressing smoothly. I am now able to work up to full weight bearing on the right leg and I can feather weight bear on the left. I can't even begin to explain how relieved and hopeful this makes me. I needed this...more than I think I am willing to let on.
Being partially free feels amazing. I went into physio right after and was rippin' around, trying to do everything that I could that didn't hurt. Getting used to the crutches is going to be a fun task though. Chaffing is not a good thing.
It is incredible how uplifted my spirit is. I am already starting to plan how I am going to drive to gym. I think it will be a week or so still before I feel completely comfortable, but it's gonna be a great day when I can do my thing and get back into some sort of active routine. No more being lazy! Whoo Hoo. I am filled with optimism and ready to start this strengthening process!
There is one thing that kind of concerns me though. I can not for the life of me get my right leg fully straight. Maybe because it has been restricted from going straight for so long. It feels nasty when I go past a certain point. It feels like someone is pushing down as hard as they can on my knee cap and restricting those final degrees. Apparently this is very normal and can be overcome. I am not the biggest fan of this pain because it brings me right back to the day when I injured myself. It gives me that "hyper-extension" flashback. Barf. I don't ever want to do that again!
I can't wait to sleep tonight without the two braces clunking together!
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I have been sitting around for almost a month, patiently waiting for my legs to heal, trying to be totally positive and optimistic, but now I am finding myself going a little psycho.
Frustration and boredom have set in.
I am frustrated because I am sick of having to depend on everyone else. I can't go anywhere or do anything unless I have someone with me. The other people in my life also have obligations and commitments that they have to fulfill and I feel like I am making their lives more difficult. I consider myself an extremely independent person. If something in my life needs to get done, then I find a way to do it. My independence has been basically ripped away from me at this point. I kind of feel like I am 15 again...old enough to know what I feel like doing, but not capable enough to get myself there to do it! I also feel like an infant in some ways...Melissa is my bathing assistant (I honestly don't know how I would get out of the bath by myself, although I did figure out a way to get in. It took me about 5 minutes, but it was a monumental occasion!).
I need help getting a glass of water, making a meal, getting into bed. I can make a lovely mess, but I have to leave it there until someone can clean it up. My room is a disaster. Let's just say it is hard to be organized when you don't have any of your stuff from home.
That's another thing that is getting to me. I haven't lived at my parents house for almost 3 years and now I'm back. Don't get me wrong, my ma and pa have been AMAZING! They have made sure that all of my needs are taken care of before their own. I appreciate everything that they are doing (my dad even built me a sweet wheel chair ramp!)
(This is my brother, Scott, and I wheelin' down the ramp before I had surgery)
I am so grateful for their kindness and willingness to make this easier for me, but it feels a little like a step back when you have to live in your old room! The reason I am staying here is because they have a bungalow and it is much easier to navigate in a wheelchair. My house is a 2 storey and it's impossible to get around in this condition. I was slightly ambitious one day and Melissa and I tried to figure out how it would work at our home, but 2 minutes later, after I almost bailed down the stairs, we decided that living with my mom and dad would be much more practical.
Since my surgery, I feel like all I have done is recycle the same thoughts over and over again. Even as I am writing this, I feel completely brain dead...My creativity and ambition seem to lessen by the day. I think that when you have a lack of daily experiences then you just start to accept the same old. I feel challenged, but more physically than mentally. I believe that mental stimulation is a key factor to feeling balanced. I have watched so much TV in the past 2 weeks that I almost loathe it! Honestly, how can there be so many channels, but nothing on them? My mind is melting!
I know this is the way it needs to be during this very important time of healing. I know that I need to limit my activity and spend a lot of time simply doing nothing. I suck at this though. I hate wasting time and I hate being lazy. I am constantly on the go, trying to progress or make myself better in some sort of way. I feel like I always have to be doing 'something'.
Melissa made a great point though. She reminded me that by doing nothing, I am actually doing something. I am letting myself heal...and right now, that is the ultimate goal.
It's so funny how perspective and goals can change so much in a single moment. One month ago I was dreaming of nailing my routines at Worlds, now I am dreaming about just being able to walk...
I need to keep reminding myself that this will all be a distant memory soon enough.
Until then, I will try my best not to stare at the wall...
Friday, September 21, 2007
Haha. I think that's hilarious.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Susan set up a meeting with the renowned Dr.Aung one week after my surgery. I saw him on September 15th. Dr.Aung is an acupuncturist and a traditional Chinese medical practitioner and teacher. He is known as one of the best. Check out his website (http://www.aung.com/).
I found that he is very gentle and has this soothing calmness about him.
Our session was quick, but useful. He examined me and then did a bunch of different acupuncture points. He stuck 5 pins in each ear (you can see them covered in tape if you look really closely in the picture above) and then he did a couple of different points in my arms, hands and face.
He also told me that I have earth hands and that my soul is kind and gentle. Good to know!
My biggest concern going into the session was my tongue. In Chinese medicine, they say that the biggest resource is the tongue. Mine had turned white and was cracked down the middle. Everything I ate tasted like pepper! Dr.Aung said that the general anesthetic tends to have this affect and there was also a lot of acid in my stomach that was basically burning it's way up.
The day after our session, my tongue symptoms really improved...but man, did my ears kill!
Thanks again to Dr.Aung for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with me. I really appreciate it!
Thursday, September 13, 2007
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. There have been many highs and lows. Please check back often for some of that missing material.
We had a press conference yesterday at the U of C that was arranged by my agency, Agenda Sport Marketing, and the Canadian Sport Centre Calgary.
It was a hard day for me. Maybe because I have been trying to deal with all of this in my own little secluded world for the past few days and yesterday I finally had to face the true reality of the situation.
I am usually quite composed when speaking, but I was shaky and emotional yesterday. I was emotional because this is my life. This is going to affect me and everyone in my life for the next few months. This has the potential to affect my dream. This has already been a huge challenge.
I am trying to be positive though. I honestly believe that I will be back fast and I will come back stronger. This is going to push me to my absolute limit, but I am going to gain character because of it.
I will be in Beijing. I'm gonna be there!
I kind of feel like I have been in a dream world for the past few weeks, just waiting to wake up and be able to walk and go to the gym. Today I feel more alive...more clear that my mission for the next year is going to be tougher than I thought. I am ready to fight though...I am so ready!
This is an article that came out today after the PC. I thought that I would link it.
More to come...
Cheers (well, maybe in a few weeks when I am off the pain killers!),
Saturday, August 18, 2007
I have always been hugely inspired by and maybe a little envious of those who can wake up early and get an ambitious start on their day.
I have never been the type who likes waking up at the crack of dawn and going to the gym. This is maybe because our primary training has always been in the afternoon and morning training was just a wake up and warm up type of regime.
Not anymore though. Not for the past 2 months. Right after we received our draw for Worlds and learned that we would be competing in the 5th subdivision, first thing in the morning on the second day of men's qualification, we immediately changed our routine and started making the first training (8-10:30) the time when we do routines and get the bulk of our work done. I must say that I have adapted pretty well, but there are still the days when I feel a little sorry for myself and my body that I have to pound and swing just after the sun comes out!
I am proud of myself though because I have taken the high road and accepted (not like I had much of an option) the fact that I need to be energized and focused in the morning. I have been going to bed early (seriously, who goes to bed at 9pm?...me!) and I've been getting up ready to go. I have actually embraced the change, and I kind of like it now. I am able to get in to the gym, get my work done, leave and still have some time in the rest of the day to accomplish all of the other tasks that life throws my way. I guess that's the reward. When everyone else is just starting the grind, I am done with the hardest part of my day and I can just laugh at everyone else who still has major tasks to accomplish!
Maybe this draw was a blessing in disguise because it does cater to my work ethic. I am not one who likes to waste time and draw things out. I like to keep a fast pace and move from one event to another. "Get in, Get it done and get out!". That is one of the motto's I live by.
It's a pretty cool feeling when you have adopted a characteristic of a lifestyle you envy. For me, that is an early riser who embraces the day...even if everyone else is still in their cozy, warm beds catching up on sleep!
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I was visiting my sport psychologist, Dr.Hap Davis, and we were talking about how things are going with 3 weeks left until Worlds. I told him that I am feeling good, training has been going pretty well...but there is one thing that I feel is missing. I have been having a lot of random thoughts lately. Before I go up to the highbar (I almost put bar here, but then I read it back and it seemed like I'm a booze hound!) or step onto the floor, I have been thinking about a lot of random things rather than my actual performance. I don't know why I do this and I don't even really know what the thoughts are...all I know is that they have nothing to do with what I am about to do and it freaks me out a little bit!
It might be because I am ready and I am trying to distract myself from the routine so that I can just let it happen in a 'zoned' state, but I don't think that's it. It might be because I am so afraid sometimes of making a mistake that I just want to think of everything and anything possible that will distract me from this negative self talk. It could be because I have been doing gymnastics for 19 years of my life and sometimes it is just impossible to get into an adrenaline rushed and painfully focused state...who knows. I could go analyze it at so many levels and I probably wouldn't figure it out completely. I don't really want to either...I just want to be able to concentrate on my performance and feel present and confident while doing so.
Here was Hap's theory:
He asked me if I ever drive away from my house, but turn around a couple of blocks away to make sure I put the garage door down...I hate to admit it, but I do this at least once a week (If not embarrassingly more!). He asked me if I ever drive to the gym, start walking away from my car, but then stop and turn around and walk back to my car to make sure I locked the door. I do that! I really really do...I think I might have a bit of OCD, maybe more than a little! I always have that little voice in the back of my head saying, "did you do this?". That voice is so annoying and I think I would call it "Self Doubt".
Hap said that I am probably doing the same thing with my gymnastics. Doubting myself and my ability to do something when I want to. He actually said that after 19 years as an athlete, one has to start being really creative in their ways of self-doubt because everyone has it and many have already exhausted most "normal" forms. My creative way is to completely stop trusting myself, think totally random thoughts and to start questioning things that I have been doing fine for the past 10 years. Not cool.
So here is the challenge:
I have to make a conscious effort everyday to get out of my car, shut my door, point my keys at the door, say to myself, "I am locking the door", push the button, and walk away knowing and trusting that my door is indeed locked. How do I know it is locked? Because I consciously locked it. Sounds easy enough.
Here is the comparison:
I have to treat my performances or turns in the gym like my car door. Before I go I have to make a conscious effort to be focused. No random thoughts. I have to say something positive to myself like, "I am going to do a great routine". This will make me present and give me some clarity right before I go. I have to trust myself and my declaration. I have to know that when I say I am going to do something good then I am going to put forth a great effort to do it good.
I applied this theory today at the gym. Before each turn I thought to myself, "Lock the door". I pictured the feeling I have when I have consciously locked the door and the trust I get from doing it and knowing that I have done it.
I had an amazing training and I haven't felt so present and strong in a long time. I have to be honest though...I still need a little bit of work on the whole locking my real car door thing. It has become such a horrible habit for me to be thinking about a thousand different things at once and forgetting to focus on the task at hand. I promise I am working on it and one of these days soon I am going to get through an entire day knowing that my crap won't get stolen from my car!
No more opening doors...it's all about truly knowing they are shut and LOCKED!
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
I thought it would be appropriate to start this as the one year count down to the 2008 Beijing Olympics begins.
My goal is to share my thoughts and my journey as the games approach. I want this to be more than a "Gymnastics Journal". I want to keep everyone informed of what's going on in my world, but I also want to share some of the more intriguing views, insights and perceptions that I am continually gaining from life.
I hope you come by often. Enjoy!