Monday, December 31, 2007

How to Make A Beautiful Life

I think that this is my new favourite inspirational quote. It makes perfect sense. I found that it instantly calmed my mind and refreshed my soul. *big sigh of stress relief!*

How To Make A Beautiful Life.

Love yourself.
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.

Be happy.
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 Olympics Festival - Toronto - December 5th, 2007

Just got back from the Special Olympics Festival in Toronto. Good times.

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

$20,000 for Gold

I'm sure you've heard about the recent announcement. If not, let me break the news:

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.