Monday, November 26, 2012

SO Dance

Allie and I killed it on Friday night. Mostly Allie.
We also had a total blast.
Check out the photos and video below. Our Dance starts at 1:20 and Allie busts out some MUST SEE freestylin' moves at 4:37.
My heart grew 3 sizes in those 8 minutes.
I can't wait to dance with Allie again.

Allie and I

Allie, Blake McGrath and I

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chip Chop

For the past couple of months, Allie (my Special Olympics partner in crime) and I have been practicing hard for the S.O Dance competition coming up on November 23rd in Edmonton. We have decided to do a Chip Chop - a self-created combination of Cha Cha and Hip Hop. 
The process has been super fun and although I have plenty of experience with living room dance parties, I have never taken formal dance lessons before so this is totally new to me. Allie, on the other hand, is the queen of hip hop and regularly attends classes. Pft. She's kind of a rock star. She had never taken a ballroom lesson though so both of us are newbies to this genre.

I can't think of a better dance partner to share this experience with. Allie is uber talented and a very fast learner. She is full of life and energy. And, as she likes to say, she loves to bust out her swagga'. HA! We have really connected during this process and our lessons have become a highlight of my week. We're like two long lost buddies who are just hanging out and perfecting our dance moves. 

Allie possesses many special qualities, but the one that really stands out to me is her ability to see the greatness in everything. I have never left one of our practices feeling tired - I always feel alive and energized! Here's a sneak peak video of Allie and I busting out our Chip Chop. 

Special Olympics athletes are athletes of the very best kind. Every S.O. athlete I have ever encountered has been honest, hard working, courteous, generous and above all else, super positive. This positivity is insanely infectious and it leaves you smiling for the rest of your day!

Ian (or @docdance_) from Arthur Murray Studios here in Calgary has been an incredible instructor as well. He has definitely gone above and beyond! He taught us our first Cha Cha step, picked our music, choreographed our routine, tweets and facebook's the heck outta our experience and has been our biggest cheerleader along the way. Both Allie and I are extremely appreciative of the support and energy he's been putting towards this project. If you are reading this and you live in Calgary and you want to learn some new bad ass ballroom dance moves, I highly recommend you go to Arthur Murray and ask for Ian. 

I also wanted to put out a special ask. If you have the means and you care about Special Olympics, Allie, myself and all of the athletes at Special Olympics Alberta would greatly appreciate it if you could donate to the organization through Allie and I's fundraising page. Every dollar helps keep the programs running and as I'm sure Allie would tell you, they make a huge difference in the lives of those with a mental disability. 

One more week until the big S.O. Dance show. Wish us luck!

Chip chop,


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Running Forever

I have been reading 'Born To Run', a book that I recommend everyone reads, and it has been shedding some interesting light on the process of running. One of the principles that really sticks out in my mind is that the best ultra runners in the world mentally approach running differently than weekend warriors. For the ultra runners, it's about being in the moment during the process and not focusing so much on the end. It's about who they become while running the race rather than who they become once they cross the finish line.

I tried to apply this principle to my run last night and it worked brilliantly. I didn't set a pre-determined goal distance and time, I set the goal of thoroughly enjoying the wind against my cheeks, the pitter patter of my feet through the slushy snow and the increase of intensity in my breath as I ascended some epic hills.

I had some initial resistance at the beginning of my run because I am usually driven by the specific measurables. I want to run X amount of km's in X amount of time. Having the goal to focus on and to use as ammunition in pushing myself is usually what turns my crank. But yesterday, I committed to just being present and enjoying each step.

After a while (I don't know how far and I don't know for how long because I didn't press start on my Garmin - it was maybe 8km's in about 40 minutes), I did a body scan and realized that everything was feeling AMAZING! The best part, I was smiling from ear to ear. At that point, I felt like I could run forever.

I am the type of person who gets fixated on a goal and has the tendency to loose perspective. When I want something badly, I tend to narrow my focus, put my head down and grind through it until I figure out a way to get it done. This has benefitted me in the past and is a great technique for short term focus, but it can be pretty exhausting as well. I am starting to realize that it's equally important for me to take a step back and look at the big picture. I need to enjoy the process of life more rather than be obsessed with checking off tasks on the never ending list of things to do.

It's OK to lace up and to go for a run just because you feel like going for a run. You don't always have to be looking to improve. Finding the energy to conquer your previous time isn't accessible every single day and it's important to recognize the times in your life when you need to take that step back. Because at the end of the day, it isn't just about crossing the finish line, it's about who you become along the way…


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fabric of my gymnastic life

I've been holding on to a bin full of old competition and training shirts for the past who knows how long in hopes of one day making a t-shirt quilt. Finally, after years of procrastination, Kristin and I (along with countless hours of help from her Mom and Dad, Carol and Maurice, and sister, Amber), buckled down, made a plan and got it done.

First, we assessed the inventory. There were soooo many shirts to choose from and unfortunately many of them didn't make it off the cutting room floor. I picked my "must haves" and then we started to build a pattern on a piece of grid paper.  

Once we had the general puzzle mapped out, we started cutting and sewing…and adjusting. HA! T-shirts don't always end up being the size you thought you were cutting them. Sometimes the corners curl, sometimes the material magically shrinks or stretches after you've cut it. I was so nervous cutting the first shirt, but after it was sliced with a fabric cutter on a quilting board, there was no turning back. 

This project took eight solid sewing/cutting sessions. We even put in four or five hours of hardcore concentration on some occasions. Much like the years of gymnastics it took to earn these shirts, the process of building this quilt took patience, team work, flexibility, attention to detail and a plan.  

When I look at this quilt, every single square inch has meaning to me. If you look to the far right, there are two sets of thin black and white stripes that look like arrows. Those are the sleeves from my favourite training shirt - I wore it so often, it was covered in holes. In the bottom right corner, The CMIGC logo is from my very first Senior International competition in Taipei in 1999. The hand print part way down on the left hand side is from my White Palms movie shirt. Every Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cup Final and Commonwealth Games I competed at for Canada are represented here. There are also a few from my favourite summer camp, GymJam, and some miscellaneous memory provokers. 

We still have to put a border/backing on it and fill it with batting, but the foundation of my long awaited tshirt quilt is complete. I absolutely love it and can't think of a better way to preserve memories for a lifetime.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Writing while flipping

I realized something this morning: I feel compelled to write most when there is a perceived crisis in my life. If I look back at my personal journal (the pen and paper one…weird, I know) and all of my unpublished blogs, I always come to these outlets when I am trying to solve a problem or make something unforeseen make sense. It's my way of sorting things out, clearing the slate and uncluttering my mind so I can see a bit more clearly and start over with a new perspective.

I love to write. And the truth is, I haven't been writing much lately. There have been many things to share and to write about, I have just been in avoidance mode. I feel like I am in that awkward phase of flipping, twisting and turning after letting go of one trapeze. I am trying to create the next chapter in my career and life (the next bar to grab on to) and as I feel like I am flailing all over the place, not quite knowing what that next bar I'll catch looks like, I tend to retreat rather than share. And this morning I realized that maybe I should do the opposite.

So here I am. Stuck in transition. Trying to create the next thing. Sometimes wishing I could blink my eyes and have the next adventure right in front of me, screaming with purpose. It will come, I know. Panic and worry will not make it come faster. I need to patient. I need to be patient. I need to be patient.

Until things become more clear, I am setting a new goal: I will put more focus on enjoying the process of flipping in between.