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Posts Tagged ‘Inspiration’

Pursuing Dreams With Onelight

October 15, 2012 1 comment

It’s inspiring to watch someone realize a dream, more so when that person is your friend.

So I was excited to see Onelight‘s gig in Gastown on Saturday night, since the vocalist and keyboardist is Amy, a fellow mom I used to huddle beside while waiting to pick our children up from Kindergarten.

Back then, four years ago, when we chatted about how little we had accomplished while the kids were at school, my list went something like “I did laundry but didn’t get around to folding it”; and hers went, “I wrote music.”

I was amazed and humbled at the dichotomy between our answers. From then on, I invented more imaginative chores and threw in some volunteer work, but Amy’s answer remained steadfast. Making music was her dream.

Watching her up on stage, singing and playing keyboard and clearly in her element, was incredible. It was inspiration and hope and perseverance and courage all rolled into one moment. Aside from being a fantastic listening experience, it made me wonder what else I could accomplish during the day. It was a nudge towards grabbing life, like Amy has, and getting what you want from it.

The music of  Onelight, is far more layered and richer than I thought possible from the duo of Amy and her music partner, Hamish. It had a mystical quality to it, a cadence of thoughtfulness, and an unmistakeable originality. Two talented musicians intent on making their distinctive imprint on music for our listening pleasure.

As they embark on a tour of India, and Amy sails off into the wide world of music and the many opportunities her talents will bring, I will listen to her lyrical, lovely voice, fold my laundry, and then get on with pursuing my dreams.

Christine Fletcher: Modesty Is Everything to this Triathlete

May 9, 2011 6 comments

It’s Motivational Monday, and today I want to tell you about a friend of mine who is charming, thoughtful, intelligent and beautiful. She is passionate about life and throws herself hook line and sinker into her family, business, friendships, and her active life. Christine Fletcher also happens to be a professional triathlete, but she doesn’t exactly wear that on her sleeve.

I met her in my book club, a motley mix of incredible women (I look around the room and wonder how I sandbagged my way in), largely of the sporting persuasion. There is often talk of a race experience, training regiment, or an outdoor adventure. But not from Christine, who more often than not has won a race since our last meeting. We need to pry this information out of her, her modesty is legendary.

This is in stark contrast to myself, who wears my finisher medal for days while doing errands.

Her ability to train 3-4 hours a day, and be so accomplished and recognized in her sport, yet rarely mention this tidbit, is a feat unto itself.

Whereas I ponder the incredible act of will required to complete one Ironman triathlon (just to recap, an ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, followed by a full marathon, 26.2 miles), and then roll over for my afternoon nap, Christine has completed this distance nineteen times in races. Imagine the thousands of training miles she has logged to prepare herself.

I try, but frankly find it difficult to imagine.

If pressed, she will reveal an encyclopedic-like knowledge of anatomy, nutrition, sports-related injuries, and optimal training practices. Knowing her is like having a coach, sports medicine doctor and nutritionist at your fingertips. She is much more forthcoming and willing to share her knowledge, less so with her victories. In the past few months, her off-season, she won the Vancouver Diva on the Run 8 km race, and the Sigge’s 30 km Skate Ski race in Callaghan.

In the last couple of years she has focused on the Half Ironman distance, and success has been rolling her way, finishing on the podium frequently at major events. Last week she was named to the team representing Canada at the Elite Long Distance Triathlon World Championships that will be held in Nevada this fall.

“This sport is a stimulus for challenge. I believe the human body has a limitless potential if trained properly, and love to see how well I can hone this,” she says, when I ask her about her continual dedication to her sport.

A little story to illustrate her passion: I remember I was training for a race when my knee started hurting. To me, this meant I was injured, and I needed to halt my training until it passed. When I mentioned this to Christine, she asked me what I was doing about it. Confused, I said, well, nothing, I’m injured. I told her my symptoms, she diagnosed them instantly and sent me to a chiropractor. After a few sessions of active release therapy I was back on the road.

To many people, pain is a reason to stop. But for athletes like Christine, pain is simply a puzzle that needs to be solved. She just works harder until it’s fixed, whether the answer is massage, stretching, a nutritional change, physiotherapy, active release or rest.

Whereas I would take hundreds of training miles a week as license to eat freely and with abandon, Christine looks at nutrition as the cornerstone of a successful training program. She focuses on a balance diet of protein, carbohydrates, and fats by eating fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, with an emphasis on foods rich in antioxidants. She is a big believer in additives like Udo’s Oil for recovery and stamina, and sips on things like Vega shakes between workouts, an optimal combination of carbohydrates and hemp protein.

She is currently being coached by her long time training partner, friend, and hero, Jasper Blake, a Canadian icon in the triathlon world. He has been focusing on speed, intensity and strength, while integrating rest weeks into her program. As a result, she feels energetic and excited about her upcoming season, which kicks off this month and will culminate in the Ironman World Championship 70.3 in September, and now the Long Distance Triathlon World Championships in November. Both events will be held at Lake Las Vegas, Nevada.

On top of everything she does, she somehow makes time to blog about her race experiences. I particularly love this because it is here, in her blog, where I see the dedication and focus she has for her sport, more so than the odd occasion where we meet for lunch or drinks. She writes poetically about this object of her affection, beloved triathlons. It’s hard for readers not to be equally enamored, even from our armchairs.

Here’s to you, Christine, for motivating me to get out for my workout even when it’s raining, and for teaching us all that modesty is a beautiful thing.

When I Grow Up, I Want To Be Just Like My Daughter

May 2, 2011 7 comments

Sometimes the people who motivate me are at a great distance. They are on television or in history books, and I will never meet them.

But other people who motivate me are right under my nose. In fact, today’s case only comes up to my armpit, and I feed her and take care of her everyday. She’s nine. She’s my daughter.

She has a tendency to throw herself into everything she does with gusto, full throttle and heart first.

This daughter of mine has a tenacious grip on what she plans to be when she grows up. Since she was a wee thing, she has wanted to be a writer. And to this end she writes volumes of articles, stories and blogs. Her imaginary play revolves around her role as a reporter, and she walks around the house with a notepad and pen tucked into her shirt. When I clean up, I come across scraps of paper she has written on, and other evidences of her pretend articles.

How can I be a better writer, she would ask me, and I would reply, keep writing. And so she does. Day after day.

I was not as single minded as a child, wanting to be a veterinarian, a teacher, a doctor, a magician, depending on which way the wind blew. I keep expecting her whim to change, but she remains fixated on her goal.

Inevitably, the day came when she asked me, Mommy, weren’t you a writer? And I so eloquently stammered, ah, well, sort of but not really, um, a long time ago. She wouldn’t let me off the hook. Well, why don’t you write?

Why indeed.

I had always thought it would be my job as a parent to cheer my children on in whatever they pursued. It would be my job to instill in them a desire to persevere and work hard to achieve their goals. But quite the opposite has transpired. It is my child who motivates and teaches me.

Watching her diligently go about her work and play, I realized I needed to step it up. I needed to at least try to write. As Lyle Lovett once asked us, “What would you be if you didn’t even try? You have to try.” Taking a good hard look at myself as a role model, there wasn’t much to go on. I didn’t see in myself anything that could inspire her.

So now, everyday, I try hard to be like my daughter. In manageable chunks, I try to emulate her enthusiasm and dedication for writing. Her unfailing cheerfulness, generosity and kindness are other things to strive for, but I will attempt these another day. First things first.

When I grow up, I want to be just like my daughter.

A Charitable Force: Ruthie Shugarman

April 18, 2011 5 comments

Ruthie and her husband Danny at last years Ride to Conquer Cancer

It’s my first official Motivational Monday, and fittingly I am profiling someone who has actually been motivating me for a long time: my friend, Ruthie Shugarman.

She’s the kind of person who goes a mile a minute, but has all the time in the world for you. I’m not quite sure how she fits into the day all the things that she does – her efficiency meter works overtime, and I’m suspect that she squeezes thirty hours into each day, somehow.

Ruthie is passionate about a lot of things, among them her family, friends, real estate and charities. And now, thanks to the Ride to Conquer Cancer, she has a new passion and sport in cycling, and one more charity to add to her long list.  I’m not sure how she slots it all in, but like everything else she does in life, she has taken on the Ride to Conquer Cancer with energy and vigor, a force to be reckoned with.

The Ride is a two day cycling event that starts in Vancouver and ends in Seattle. Each participant is responsible for raising $2500 for the cause, with many riders exceeding these expectations. Last year Ruthie was part of Team Dexter, which raised $112 000.

I love Ruthie’s ability to turn negatives into positives. She became a realtor three years ago – after owning her own event planning business for thirteen years – because of her passion for the housing market. But just as she struck out on her own, the housing market took a drastic turn for the worse.

“It was actually a great time to be learning the ropes.” Properties weren’t moving as quickly so she could immerse herself in each transaction. Not only has she stuck with it, she was recently recognized as the third highest producer for individual sales in her company.

When times got tough, Ruthie got creative. During this down market, she had the idea of putting her event planning background to good use. She organized a clothing swap amongst her friends and clients (of which I am a huge fan, since not only is it fun, it seriously augments my wardrobe). Her plan was to host a social event that would benefit women at a time when money was tight, and at the same time introduce herself as a Realtor. Her clothing swaps have turned into a hugely successful biannual event, benefiting not only her clients and friends but also several local charities, such as Avalon Addiction Center, Covenant House, and Dress for Success.

Think about it: busy mother schlepping children to and fro, full time Realtor, decides to take up a new sport and a new cause.

Before joining the Ride, Ruthie didn’t own a bike, so getting suited up was no small endeavor. And then there is the small issue of the shoe clips.

“I was terrified to ride on the road at first,” she says, “ and only began clipping my feet in three weeks before the actual race.” But she was pleasantly surprised about how social the training was, frequently riding to Steveston, Deep Cove or Horseshoe Bay with groups of people. Stopping for coffee was an integral aspect of the rides, which suited her perfectly. Multitasking at its best.

The race itself she found inspirational. Survivors of cancer ride with yellow flags on their bikes, and several other riders have pictures of people they are riding for. “Seeing them is so moving, it doesn’t matter how painful things get out there, you are motivated by the cause.”

Ruthie is busy starting her training for the Ride to Conquer Cancer this June and has kicked off her fundraising campaign. Very appropriately, since April is daffodil month for the Canadian Cancer Society, a time to raise funds and awareness for the disease that impacts so many.

I am forever motivated by Ruthie’s ability to fit into an hour what I fit into an entire day. Her cup is full, yet she always finds room for more. Let’s help warriors like Ruthie in their fight to conquer cancer. Donate generously, and watch out for cyclists on our roads.

To donate to Ruthie’s fundraising efforts, please visit http://www.conquercancer.ca

Who Inspires You?

April 17, 2011 5 comments

I went into journalism thinking it would be a way of meeting and building up already fantastic people, and got out of it because in fact it was more about tearing them down. The things that sold newspapers was not what I wanted to write about, for the most part.

Real people and real stories can inspire me to move mountains. And it has always been thus. Long ago, whenever I happened upon a Shape magazine, I would flip to the success stories. Irregardless of the fact losing weight has never been a big priority, I love to read about these people who overcome personal hurdles and achieve their goal of a svelte silhouette and healthier lifestyle.

Since starting my blog, I have been introduced to interesting, dynamic, energetic people. They are bold in their mandates, incredibly hard-working, often see obstacles as opportunities, and motivate me like nothing else.

I’m planning on profiling one of these people a week. Mothers, fathers, bloggers, entrepreneurs and business people, they have achieved great things in life on the heels of their hard work. Inspired like I am by Twitter, I’m calling it Motivational Monday, my blogging answer to Thankful Thursday and Follow Friday.

Because in social media we like to spread the love and highlight the positive, I’m hoping these people will inspire you as well.

Anything is possible in 2011

January 3, 2011 8 comments
Happy New Year 2011

2011 just doesn’t have a nice a ring to it.  ‘2010’ sounded modern and hip, New Age and full of possibilities. 2011 in comparison packs extra syllables, making it a tad awkward and not as catchy.  It’s not even-steven and in fact, is a prime number.  You almost get the sense that this will make it an unremarkable year, a throwaway perhaps.  A year to be forgotten before it has even began.  Or maybe its oddities will make it a bang up, stand out, sensational year unlike any other.

I prefer the glass half full philosophy, so let’s go with that.  I am more excited about this new year than usual, but for no particular reason.  It is more like a feeling in my bones.

Making resolutions at the beginning of the new year has never been my thing; not because there is nothing to improve upon, as my husband would quickly attest, but I don’t like to set myself up for failure.  Besides, my imperfections are charming.

Yet lately, there is a phrase that is following me around everywhere: it is whispering in the wind, it is written on a bracelet I just bought, it’s on billboards, I could see it written in an airplane’s exhaust, and it was spelled on my kitchen counter when I spilled a package of rice today: Anything is possible.  I’m not sure from which direction it materialized, but these words won’t leave me alone.

the sky is the limit

Likely it’s a middle age thing; having reached it I realized I need to pick up the pace, as though I am at the 5km mark of my 10km race and I’m feeling great and on track for a personal best.  Or in the same vein that I pack a week’s worth of intentions into my last day of vacation.  Anything is possible.

Maybe it’s because my children are finally independent people, who can make their own beds and get themselves a glass of milk, freeing me to do other things, like tie my shoes, or think.  Anything is possible.

Or simply because the sun is now shining on our city and mountains, making them vibrant, after a month-long monsoon where gray was uniform and ever present.  Anything is possible.

In the past year I saw people I loved diagnosed with cancer, who proceeded to do battle with this sickening diagnosis and beat it.  Anything is possible.

Or could it be simply a change in mindset that I’m not afraid of failure anymore.  Anything is possible.

Perhaps I should just have another drink.  Anything is possible.

Whatever the cause or reason, this mantra is playing in my head like the annoying neighborhood dog that won’t stop barking.  As I look towards 2011, these words house hope of a brighter and more meaningful future.  There is comfort in the knowledge that if you have the courage to try something, only to fail, there is more to be learned from failing then never trying at all.  Anything is possible.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2011, where the sky is the limit, and the possibilities as numerous as the pine needles currently on my floor.