Wednesday, May 28, 2008
This is something that I believe needs to become a reality. Athletes deserve to be recognized and the country deserves to be inspired!
Secondly, the CANFUND has an awesome fundraising campaign called "$8 for 08.08.08". The goal is to have 50,000 Canadians donate $8 to the Canadian Athletes Now Fund. Think about it, if 50,000 people donated only $8 that would be $400,000. WOW! Who can't afford 8 bucks? I just donated and I think you should too. Here's the link:
I have received the CANFUND numerous times and it is an amazing initiative that recognizes the importance of funding Canada's amateur athletes!
Now I want to know how many of you actually acted on this! Let me feel like I have some POWER!!! Soon, I will take over the world!!
Monday, May 26, 2008
Hard work leads to so many things. It leads to progress, increased confidence, improved strength and a sense of pride and accomplishment. But what I am finding lately is that hard work also leads to pain and exhaustion!
For the past couple of weeks, I have been coming home after training and struggling to keep my eyes open. My usual routine is to get home around 5 pm, have a visit with my best TV friend, Ellen, and make some dinner. Well, recently I have been adding a 20 minute nap session to that routine. It's all I can do to feel alive enough to cook. I hope Ellen doesn’t mind my absence for the short nap. I know, I know, I should really just dance, but it’s hard to bust a move at half effort.
The reason I am so tired is because I have been working hard. So hard that when I am not in training; I am in a constant state of pain and exhaustion.
Yesterday I went to my parents for dinner and I was unusually quiet at the table. I am usually blurting out stupid things and embarrassing my family (they always tell me to remember my "family dinner filter". I don't have one, I'm sorry!), but not yesterday. I was too tired to be a joker. Then, right after we were finished eating, I just had to lie down. So I did so right in front of the refrigerator in the middle of the kitchen floor. I planted myself there and didn't move. I couldn't move. It was 7pm and I was ready for bed!
Luckily my little cousin, Delaney, thought that it would be fun to crawl over her big cousin Kyle, which kept me awake for an extra little while. If I didn't have a rug rat digging her chubby legs into my chest then I would have been out for the count right there!
So here's my question: are pain and exhaustion rewards or punishments??
I believe that there are two types of pain and fatigue. There is the type that I had right after surgery...I'm pretty sure that was a punishment, if not for me then for those around me! haha. It was brutal and I never want to experience pain like that again. OUCH! Then there is the kind of pain and exhaustion that I am experiencing right now. I would have to say that this type has been well earned.
When you are an athlete and you NEED to close your eyes, your body is telling you that you have done well. When your brain says "sleep", it's actually telling you that you have put your full effort forward and you need to recover. When your body says, 'please don't move' or "holy crap, your back is broken", what it is actually telling you is that you've done well and you need some time to rest.
I try to recognize these feelings as rewards. But why oh why does a reward have to feel so awful sometimes?
I guess it's because success is a process. If a task provides instant gratification, then it's not worth doing. Rewards need to be earned. Sport is all about pushing yourself through the times that 'feel' like punishment. This is the factor that really leads to accomplishment of your goals.
The past few weeks have been pure hard work for me. I have been trying to approach each day knowing that I need to squeeze out every ounce of potential that it holds. I know that every day, and every turn for that matter, is going to make a difference. I guess I've always known this, but now I am facing a time line of 2 months and I seem to feel the urgency a little more than usual.
I am making up for a lot of lost time. I haven't had the luxury of doing routines for the past 9 months. In fact, I just started putting them together. What I have to do is to find a balance between reaching my maximum potential each day and going so hard that I end up killing myself and my body. There is a fine line between the two sides and I am trying hard to stay firmly on the edge of one (the maximum potential side of course!).
Right now is the time when I have to take 3 turns to my teammates 1. I have to practice extreme focus on each turn as well because I don't want to get hurt. I don't think I can handle another setback and so I am trying to protect myself while still pushing myself. This is an incredibly tiring time for me because I am giving everything I have when I am in the gym. I am not saving a bead of sweat or a millisecond of focus for when I am finished. My day is basically done when I walk out of the gym and get into my car (My mind and body are complete mush as I'm writing this actually...).
Even though I have been extremely exhausted as of late, I feel great about the way things are coming along. This hard work that I have been doing has already produced awesome results. The blinders are on and I'm on a mission. For those of you who know me, you know that this can be a very powerful thing!!!
I just hope that soon the rewards are a little less tiring and painful!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
This past weekend, the LONG weekend in fact (you know, the one I was whining about a couple of posts back) we had the option to have Saturday AND Sunday off. My wish to have some sort of long weekend came true, but surprisingly, I chose to forgo the 2 days off and spend some quality time in the gym!
The reason why this was such a monumental and heart warming occasion was because it really set the stage for my entire week. By making this choice I felt totally empowered. I felt content because I did the right thing.
Sure, having the weekend off and going camping would have been awesome, but it wouldn't have been a productive contribution to my mission. There will be plenty of time for relaxation later, but right now is the time where I need to be thinking, eating and breathing gymnastics.
Why is it that resisting temptation makes a person feel so powerful?
For me, I think it just adds fuel to my "motivation" fire. The more I decide to invest in the process, the more I feel I get in return. When I make an honest choice to go into the gym on an optional day off I feel like I am telling myself and the world that I really do care. That this is a priority and that I recognize it's importance.
Making good choices is a wonderful feeling and going in on Sunday was a super choice. The benefits of this decision have definitely been felt and appreciated by my mind, my body and my spirit. I feel a lot of strength and a lot of belief right now.
This has been an awesome week so far.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I had been dreading/anticipating this day since the injury occurred.
I knew the day would come. I knew I would have to be strong. I knew I would have to block out the past and focus completely on the present.
Yesterday I landed my first Arabian double pike on the real floor and it felt amazing.
This was a tremendous victory. Maybe more than anyone will ever know.
The last time I did this skill on the real floor was August 27th. It was the day I broke both of my legs and it was on a move very similar to this, hence the anxiety!
Overcoming the fear and facing the challenge made me feel like a hero. It really did.
I was so nervous before doing this skill. I didn't want to let the flashback of Germany and the loud thud of impact creep into my mind, but for a moment they did.
But this day was different. This day I felt like I was more powerful than that memory. I felt like I would be safe. I felt like it was time to pound that fear into the ground...literally. Die Fear, Die!
Now, over the course of the next two months, I am going to have to remove the mats and land this skill solidly on just the floor. But, after jumping over this initial hurdle, I think I'm going to be alright. Small victories have been the key to my progress and I'm gonna keep trying to have them every single day.
You've gotta love a breakthrough!
Monday, May 19, 2008
I finally decided that it was time to bust out 2 rotations. My confidence in my legs is growing fast. I feel strong and tight when I punch and the landing only has minimal pain. I think it's just the initial thud that is disheartening. The last time I heard a thud, my legs snapped. Thuds are not good.
Before I took my first turn of a full twisting double back I was super nervous. I didn't know if I would get lost in the air or what the impact on landing would feel like. My heart was pumping, I had that lump in my throat and I was trying to convince the courage to come out of my belly. I took some small, quick breaths and then went for it.
I was super cautious on the first one and so I landed and rolled back. Safety first. But this video below is of my third attempt and it looks pretty good. It was an exciting moment for me!
Now, for Olympics, I am going to have to add one more twist to this AND do it at the end of my routine. No problem. I just have to keep pushing myself and it will come. Not today, not tomorrow...probably not this month, but it will be there when I need it. I trust that.
Monday, May 12, 2008
I was thinking too much about Nationals. Too much about Olympics. Too much about the possibility that all of this hard work could end with me not quite making it.
I don't think this way too often. I try to believe that it will all work out in the end. I try to come into the gym with a plan and attack my work. This is the way I like to live life, but today...today was different. I had no love for flips.
I was fixated on the long weekend coming up. As I watched the news this morning and saw the forecast for Calgary (basically sunny and 22-25C all weekend) I got really down. I call it the "long weekend blues". Why you might ask? Why would I get sad when I think of a long weekend? Well, long weekends do not exist when you are preparing for the Olympic Games.
I get so jealous of those who are able to go camping and relax. I get jealous because I can't remember the last time I had this opportunity. 3 days off (eating and drinking the entire time most likely) is a death sentence when you are 14 weeks away from your biggest competition.
I know that I have made this choice and this is what I want to be doing, but I guess things are starting to become a bit monotonous ( same thing, 6 days a week can get old fast) and I am hearing all of the excitement in everyone's voices as they get ramped up for the May long.
I know I am doing something more constructive and so many people would kill to have the opportunities that I have, but sometimes, for a second (or a day!) I wish that I could just rid myself of this commitment and be completely and utterly spontaneous and irresponsible.
I know that I will look back on this post in a day or two and be over it, but I guess I just want to feel sorry for myself for a moment. Gymnastics always wins. It always has and it will continue to trump everything for atleast the next 3 months.
I guess I'm just scared that at the end of this I might look back and wish that I would have relaxed a little more and enjoyed the sunshine...
But, you know what? Come to think of it, September Long is always an option! Actually, I am making the commitment to that RIGHT NOW. I am going camping on September Long. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will keep me from roasting marshmallows, swimming in the river and hiking in the mountains on that weekend.
OK. Feel the Love, Kyle. Don't feel sorry for yourself. This is your choice. There are no more days to waste. Suck it up and be happy that you get to spend the weekend in the gym! Everyone else will come home hungover, tired and sun burnt and I will be strong, fit and further along!
I sometimes swear that I have psychological issues...I have asked Hap if I need to be prescribed something and then he writes me a prescription on his little pads. It always reads, "Breathe, Relax, Chill".
I'm breathing. I'm trying to relax and tonight I'm just gonna chill.
Tomorrow is another day. And I have to work double hard to make up for the pitiful day I had today.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
What an exciting weekend!
My brother Scott and his "soon to be" wife Michale (pronounced Michelle) are the proud new parents of my little nephew, Mason Phillip Shewfelt.
Everyone is super excited about the new addition to our family.
I can remember when they told me they were pregnant. It was when I was broken and living at my parents place. Scott, Michale and her son Caleb (well, their son, but hers...you know what I mean) were living there as well waiting to move into their new home. It was a little bit of a surprise, but a good surprise.
I have never seen my bro glow like the way he did today. It makes me want to cry just thinking about it because he has always been the tough guy. The one who doesn't show emotion. But today, something was different. He softened up instantly. You could see that he had experienced love in a way that he never had before. I asked him if he felt and instant connection with his new son and he said that as soon as Mason looked at him he was forever changed. How awesome is that?!
Congratulations Guys!!!!! I promise to be the coolest uncle ever!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Check out this vault. Not the best landing, but the speed and power are almost back to where they were pre-injury. I still feel like I am getting caught up a bit during the last couple of steps when my legs are going fast, but this feeling diminishes more and more each week.
This will be my biggest struggle.
I am trying to find ways to make this skill feel more comfortable. I need to do it. I need to go through the motions. But I also need to really protect myself from a bad landing. I just started to do this skill on the real floor last week. I put the huge porta pit in for my landing for maximum protection.
Watching this back, it doesn't look too good to me. But I have to keep in mind that this was the first day I did them on the real floor and it can only get better from here. My power is almost back to 100%. I do feel fast and quick as I tumble. I just need to be a little tighter on take off and be more confident on landing. I don't think I will be landing this on the real floor with no mats until well into July, but I'm OK with that. Before Athens, when I had my ankle injury, I didn't land my double double on the floor without a mat until podium training. I stuck it in competition. I need to believe that this can happen again!
This will be my second line. I have had to adjust and do the final element in a piked position because tucked just isn't working for me and the GIANT plate in my leg! I think piked looks much better though and it is something that will set me apart from the rest of my competitors. Being unique is good! It's just too bad that it isn't significantly rewarded anymore...
Below is my third line, but I am missing a twist in the third element. I am planning on doing a whip to 2.5 twist and punching into a 1.5 twist. Here, I am only doing a front half. This was a huge hurdle that I jumped over though. Being able to punch out of an element going forwards was a big fear of mine and I overcame it! I still don't feel 100% on this skill, but it gets smoother and more powerful every day.
Below is my fourth line. It is a front double twist, punch front layout and then a full twisting dive to prone. This is a signature skill for me and I have been using it in my routine since 2000 when I broke onto the scene! This line is pretty messy right now, but the fact that I can punch out of a double twist and then again out of a layout is a huge victory! I just have to keep doing more and it will get cleaner and cleaner!
1st Half of my routine...notice the awesome catch on the def! Uh huh, that's right!
My legs fly apart, but that is a little detail that will be fixed as I come closer to Beijing. Sometimes you just need to do a bunch and get confident with your release time. When I know I am going to catch before I even let go then I am able to focus more on my form.
This is the last half of my high bar routine. It's easy for me. I am trying to make every part as smooth and clean as possible. I am not going to have the highest start value on highbar, but I just want to be able to do a clean and consistent routine for the team. I want to be a guaranteed hit so that my teammates like Nathan, who have a way higher start value, can relax a bit and focus on nailing there routines...rather than just staying on so the team doesn't have to count a fall.
High bar is a tricky event. I would say that it is the event that plays the biggest mind games on a gymnast. You have to control the bar and not let it control you. But when it all comes down to it, it really is just a giant piece of steel that is 15 feet above the ground. The potential for disaster is so huge!!!
One of the things that I have a hard time getting my head around is how it can feel so simple and easy one day, but then feel impossible the very next one. Sometimes I can jump up and hit a routine without any warm up, but other days I have to take 5 turns just to feel like I am on planet Earth. As competition time comes closer, the good days outweigh the bad ones, but when one of those bad days occurs it is so frustrating!!!! Sometimes I just do simple elements because I know that I would probably smash my face on the bar if I tried a Def! The only thing is, the more you avoid your problem, the worse it gets. You eventually have to find a way to turn the bad days into good ones...and I'm still working on finding that solution. I've found something that has worked pretty well though. I try to apply this motto:
"I'm gonna smile through the bad days!".
Smiling can instantly change your mood. It's pretty hard to be angry and frustrated when you appear to be happy!
Confidence has also been an issue (surprise surprise). I completely trust my legs on the softer tumbling strip, but I sometimes second guess their strength when I get onto the real floor. The more I do, the better it seems to get though.
As you will be able to see in the video's, I am taking many precautions to ensure that I am going to be safe and that I am not putting myself in a situation where I am just asking to get hurt. I am using lots of mats and making sure that I'm warm and ready to go before I take a turn.
Focus is essential. I need to approach every turn with maximum focus and presence. This takes a lot of energy, but I need to make sure that every time I do something I am doing it with good intention. I don't have time to make mistakes. I don't have time to have something go wrong. I need to use my time very wisely!
Above, I am doing a 1.5 to front full to piked front (which is a timer for my 1 3/4 roll out. It took me a while to get the rhythm back and to trust my knees when I take off out of a twist into another twisting element. I was really freaked out that my knee was going to pop out if I landed a little crooked. It almost feels normal now! Phew!
In this video I am doing a whip into a 2.5 twist. The part that hurt the most on this element was the forward landing when I had a lot of momentum. The mat definitely helped to soften the impact. No matter how much it hurt though, I just kept on doing it. It got better every day and soon I started to feel like I would be able to punch out of the two and a half...
In this video I am doing a front handspring to double twist. Again, the mat is my best friend!
OK, so I am not enjoying writing this post at all...I have to admit that I have been very slow at getting these videos up. It is weird for me to write these posts because I feel like I am making up for lost time and playing a huge game of catch up. What I'm gonna do is just post all of my videos and start fresh from there.
Enjoy the progress!
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Get out your party hats and kazoo's...this one will go down in history!
I'm excited. I am going to have a great Birthday week. I am all booked up for some delicious dinners with friends and some mixin' and mingling at fun establishments all week long. I am going to have a little get together at my new place on Friday night (everyone has to bring a pillow or lawn chair because I don't have any furniture yet!) and I have named it the Potluck. Pilsner. Pivot. Pass Out. Brunch! That is short and creative for Dinner, Drinks, Dancing and celebrating all night long...and then eatin' some greasy breakfast to get rid of the headache! Every one has to do it once in a while just so you remember why you shouldn't do it all the time!
This will be one of my last hoorays before I eliminate hangovers from my pre-Olympic training regime. I am really looking forward to a good night out with tons of laughs and good times. I have been busting my tail and I think I deserve it.
I have a feeling that I will have a great training today. Training on your birthday is always a weird experience though. I get this sense that I need to have a great day so that my birthday will turn out good. Essentially, I want to start my new age off on a positive note! If I have a bad day then my whole year could be jeopardized! haha. Not really, but birthdays are all about smiling, being surrounded by friends and family and enjoying the day to its fullest. And that is all I want to do!
Cheers to being 26 and looking back on life with no regrets!!
Thursday, May 01, 2008
I've had a couple of 'heeby jeeby' experiences occur. Let me share.
Like I've said before, I am not a religious person, but I do believe in the power of thought. I also try to recognize situational energies (have you ever had someone who just gives you a bad vibe???) and see meaning in occurrences. By this I mean that I try to see the world for more than it appears to be on the surface.
I will give an example: a few weeks ago, my friend Helen, who was a badminton player at the 2004 Olympics, changed her status on facebook to "movin' to Ontario" or something along those lines. So I sent her a quick note saying that we should try to connect before she moves. Well, not even 2 days later, I was at a pub for lunch with some friends (Kate Richardson being one of them. For those of you who don't know Kate, she is Canada's greatest female gymnast ever and a great friend of mine and she was in Calgary for the weekend...) and who walks by??? Helen! I don't think this was a coincidence. What I think it meant was that both Helen and I are following the right paths.
Then, another old friend and high school classmate added me on facebook (I'm not one of those crazy facebookers, I only check it once or twice a day. I swear!). Well, a day after that we literally bumped (like one of those, "Oops, I'm sorry for crashing into you" bumps) into eachother at the U of C. Again, I don't think it was a coincidence. Just another confirmation that I am on the right path.
I think that attitude plays such a huge role in the happenings in our lives. Last Thursday, when mean Mr.Westhead wrote that garbage, I felt like the universe was hating me. Everything seemed difficult. I noticed all of the red lights that I got stopped at. I noticed my pain. I was in love with my suffering and I was pretty hideous overall. To top it all off, I had to park at the back of the parking lot and walk really far to the gym.
Well, just a couple of days ago, Monday I believe, I was in a great mood. Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows gallore. I made a decision that I was going to attack the day and be super positive and optimistic. Well, wouldn't you know it, when I pulled into the parking lot, it was jam packed, except for one empty spot in the first row! haha. That's what you call Karma baby. Karma. Oh yeah, I also won a free coffee on roll up the rim to win that day. Pretty special.
The way you approach situations is a choice. Your attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. You can feel sorry for yourself as long as you want, but it will not make things feel better. There comes a point in time when you have to decide that you want to feel good. I struggle with this. Sometimes it just feels like things are spinning out of control and no matter how hard I try to grasp onto some sense of control, there is always something keeping it out of reach.
Actually, I got a little anxious and almost panicky about 2 weeks ago when I was in RONA. I felt like the walls were closing in on me and I just had to B line it out of there. It was not a good feeling and I felt that way because I was letting everything that I couldn't control rent way too much space in my head (Kelly used to always say this!). After a breathing session (it's the only thing that works...) I decided that I needed to be proactive and start coming up with solutions and not excuses.
The thing that was pissing me off was the situation I have been experiencing with my hardwood. For those of you who haven't heard the intimate details of the never ending saga, I decided to hardwood my condo. Good idea, but bad choice on company! It has been a month today since I got possession of the place and it has taken them that long to NOT finish the job.
Listen to me, wah wah wah, my hardwood isn't done. I know, I know. If hardwood is my biggest problem then I don't have much to worry about. But no, it's not the hardwood that has been bothering me. It has been the lack of attention to detail, the broken promises, the invasion of my space and the impossibility of comfort. You can not feel settled in a new place when there is friggin saw dust and saws in your living room.
I am a planner. I like to think 10 steps ahead so that I can be prepared for the worst. Well, in this scenario, I did that. I got the wood in my place before I even got the keys. I tried to set it up so that the job would be done before I moved in. It really shouldn't take more than a week to install hardwood...but no, it didn't get done. And the situation and environment was starting to drive me wild...
I tried to be calm. I tried to not let it bother me. I tried to stay positive and encourage the guy to get it done. I tried, but it seemed like 20 minutes of work was enough for the day. Not cool. Finish the F**&ing JOB dude!!!!
I don't lose it often. I am pretty chill. Plus, I am little and I don't like controversy. But the thing is, I can only keep my cool for so long...
Today was my breaking point. I flipped out. I actually Yelled! And I said about 20 F bombs (I talk like a trucker sometimes). Man, did that feel good! There were times in the past 2 weeks where I thought that I was being harsh with them, but apparently I didn't get my point across.
Let's hope that today will be the second to last day that I have to see those idiots.
Never ever ever buy floors from "Floors R US". I should have known by the name, but I didn't trust my instincts!
Anyway, over the past 2 weeks since my little spaz attack in RONA, I decided that I wasn't able to control the workmanship, but I could control what I did each day to make myself feel less vulnerable. When the installer left crap all over my counters, I put it all in a box when I got home. When he left saw dust everywhere, I swept it into a nice pile by his saw. When I noticed something that didn't look right, I stuck an orange sticky note on it. These things made me feel like I had some sense of control over the situation.
Also, when I left for gym, As soon as I closed my door I tried not to talk about or think about my hardwood (that was very very difficult and I can't say I was totally successful all the time). If I did think about it, I would try to think of how nice it will look when it's done. It will look great ( I would love to say it DOES look great, but it WILL will have to do for now)!
So doing those little things helped me. I actually think that they helped my gymnastics. This process has been a huge distraction for me, but I am figuring out ways to turn off the world when I am in the gym and just focus on my task at hand. What happens at home gets left at the door when I walk into the gym. No excuses. No regrets.
I flipped out today because it's been a month and I am ready for them to be done. It's time. End of story. And I really hope that 'scary Kyle' worked and they get the job done tomorrow so that I can start filling my place with friends and wine. I need to have a housewarming party before I become a well-behaved and almost dry athlete...
Regardless of my flooring situation, it's been confirmed to me that I am on the right path!
Check back soon for video evidence!