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On being a human

I am a human being, not a human doing. – Dr. Wayne Dyer

“What am I being right now?” the voice in my head wondered.

“Sitting. I am sitting,” I answered it.

“No, that is something that you are doing. What are you being?”

I looked around me, verb after verb describing what I was doing scrolling through my mind. Breathing. Looking. Thinking. “Um, happy? I’m being happy.”

“Ok, good start. What else?”

It was at this moment that I realized that there is no definitive answer. I am faced with a blank slate. This moment, and every other moment I can be whatever I want. I can be whatever I want!

Still looking around me, I felt like I was noticing my surroundings with brand new eyes. The sharp edges of the room, the quiet, warm, calm environment, my clothes tucked away in the closet, a room next door devoted to creating art, food in the fridge in the kitchen, my family and friends a phone call away…all of this and more flashed through my mind like a scene from a movie. I felt like I was physically struck by a joyous arrow. The gush of emotion was for once unfiltered and unresisted as it caught me planted squarely in the present moment. “I am being grateful,” I decided, through the buzz.

I believe my latest painting comes as a result of this experience, my first conscious act of being. The setting is dawn, my favourite time of day. The sky is awakening and the morning mist is still heavy among the trees. Just as I was, this wolf is planted firmly in the moment and is being.

On being

This is one of the first times I included any sort of landscape with my wolf, and I enjoyed using new techniques, particularly the use of salt in the foreground while the paint was drying. I think it gives the foreground a bit of unforced texture, detail, and depth of colour. Of course my favourite part was first sketching out, and then filling in the wolf!

This piece won’t be for sale for some time (I can’t stop staring at it), but it will definitely be available as a print soon. Check back in the coming weeks for details!

As I went through this past week in gratitude, I realized how much I think about my gratitude, and how much I talk about it to myself. This is great, but boring and lifeless. First comes being, then comes…behaving? And then, weaving in to form the backdrop of it all, there is the matter of what am I becoming??

I guess I have a lot of things to ponder.

How to tie your shoe in 0.8 seconds

Grab a shoe with laces, then check out my tutorial on really fast shoe tying! If you save 2 seconds per shoe, and you tie your shoes twice per day, you’ll save over 48 minutes each year!!! What are you going to do with all that free time?!?!

The fundraising campaign video that I mentioned can be found by following the “Donate” button in the making menu, or by clicking here: https://www.pursu.it/pursuit/campaign/98

More info on my Pursu.it campaign to come!

What’s your freedom?

 

A sincere thank you to everyone who is helping me to reach my freedom!

Thanks especially to London Life for their financial support and the opportunity to star in this awesome video! It was a blast, and I wish the two short minutes could have included the awesome footage with my longtime track coach Vickie Croley and strength coach Maria Mountain from Revolution Conditioning. I would not have had the breakout season that I had in the hurdles this summer if it weren’t for their help!

The race footage is from the London edition of the Great Lake League which was held on June 18. The fifth and final meet in the series is happening at TD Stadium tomorrow, with a full line up of events. I’m in my “recovery” season at the moment, so in lieu of racing I will be moving the hurdles around the track with the hurdle crew! Come on down to support some of London’s young track and field athletes.

Timon

Waiting for Timon

When I was younger my parents used to ask me what I thought about when I stood behind my blocks before a race. I never knew how to describe the quiet in my mind, my presence in the moment, the waiting…waiting to be released from thinking altogether, when I follow the starter’s commands and undergo the final preparations for launch.

I only recently became consciously aware that while my mind is quiet and I am anxiously waiting, I hear Timon’s voice. Yes, Timon the meerkat.

My sisters and I had a Lion King game for our Super Nintendo when we were kids. At the start of the very first level Timon would make a brief appearance, and we would enter the Pridelands as a young Simba. We would explore, pouncing on lizards and beetles, and get tossed about by monkeys. We would sneak through the forbidden elephants’ graveyard with our friend Nala, and get caught amidst a stampeding herd of wildebeests before fleeing to the jungle. We would eventually make our way back to the Pridelands to fight with Simba’s uncle Scar, to take our rightful place as king.

“It starts,” Timon would say solemnly, as if he and he alone knew the fate of the entire universe, and yet he was powerless to change it. The gears were set in motion and there was no stopping the sequence of events that were to follow.

This is how it feels when I’m standing behind my blocks – when race time finally arrives and everyone is satisfied with the position of their blocks. I can barely hear the official’s voice announcing the closure of the track, for Timon’s line fills my head, “it starts.” The gun hasn’t yet fired, but thinking is over, decision making is done. All the hard work is behind me and it is time to get lost in the moment and race.

Only, while Timon appears exasperated, I’ve never felt more powerful than I do in this moment. Yes, the gears are in motion but these moving gears were carefully constructed by none other than my team and I, and we are the ones setting the spring. We have run tests and made adjustments, and we are confident that the resulting well-oiled machine will execute the plan. I need only step out of my own way, and appreciate the magic!

If you’re in Ottawa this coming weekend, come on down to the Terry Fox Athletic Facility to take in some magical Provincial Championship action! Who knows, you might even hear a certain little meerkat…

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My, what a difference a year makes!

At this time last year I was devastated. My efforts in the heptathlon frustratingly yielded nothing but disappointment. At the 2013 Canadian Championships my emotions finally boiled over as I sat on the pole vault mats after a particularly upsetting jav competition. At the end of the season I looked at myself long and hard, and made a change.

Taking on the 400m hurdles has been an adventure. It is so exciting and rewarding to see my hard work and dedication paying off and things coming together. I still have a lot to work on, but I’m definitely moving in the right direction.

I went into the 2014 Canadian Championships with a PB of 57.98s in the 400mH, and I emerged with a silver medal and a new PB of 56.86s, dropping over a full second. The conditions were great and I was ready to go, physically and mentally. Interestingly the stride pattern I seem to have settled on (for the time being, anyway) is the same as the pattern I happened to adopt during my very first outdoor 400mH training session of the year, back in April!

Between being randomly selected to pee in a cup for CCES, Canada’s anti-doping agency – the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, and running over to the podium for the 400mH medal ceremony, I also managed to secure a bronze medal in the long jump that same afternoon, jumping 5.95m. Talk about a whirlwind of a day!

Time to hit the track to get ready for the Athletics Ontario provincial championships in Ottawa in a couple of weeks. I have faster to run yet!

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Gandalf

What I’m listening to: Gandalf – Into the Rising Sun

Last fall after a long season struggling with the heptathlon I was flying home from a lovely vacation and browsing through my options on the in-flight entertainment system. The movies and shows didn’t much appeal to me so I moved on to the music, where the long list of genres tied me up for a moment.

I am very intrigued by displays of organization, perhaps since I am most certainly not a naturally orderly person (I am working on it!). Some objects very clearly have a home in a certain box or on a shelf, but my problem lies in the many other objects – those that cross boundaries and have multiple purposes and characteristics. Too many things simply demand new categories altogether – and I only have so many boxes and shelves! Leave it to the jock/band nerd/science geek/art lover to have this conundrum. Seeing the list of musical genres on the plane got me thinking about the person who decides which songs belong in which category, and how in the heck they do the deciding. Some songs follow guidelines nearly perfectly, but what about the others??!

In any case, I selected the New Age genre, curious to see what kind of music would be categorized here. Among the long list of artists, Gandalf caught my eye. Half expecting to hear the Lord of the Rings’ wizard singing, I pushed play, leaned back, closed my eyes, and settled down for a listen.

The beautifully calm tones and gentle percussion set my mind along a gentle hike on some faraway mountain. I thought about track, and it’s role in my identity. I thought about what I wanted to accomplish and who I wanted to be. I thought about some of the great memories I just formed alongside lovely people in beautiful Barbados.

Out of nowhere I felt such intense emotion – hope, joy, love – and my eyes began to leak. I was weeping liquid happiness!! Finding my cheeks wet with tears made me even more emotional, and I just gave in and wallowed contentedly in my joy, like a hippo in mud. After some time I sat up a little and opened my eyes, my lashes soaked and a foolish grin on my lips. I scrolled back a little in the playlist, hoping to pinpoint where exactly this musical journey went so right. But alas we were landing and I was asked to remove my non-earbud style headphones.

The next day I listened to an online playlist of Gandalf’s songs while I worked and it wasn’t long before the weeping resumed. The moment when the instruments finally come together and align with the song’s theme just strikes a chord with me!

I’ve included the Gandalf Dreamweaver playlist below. My weep-song, Into the Rising Sun, is the first in the playlist with a short Part One followed by the more dramatic Part Two.

Have a listen (and maybe a weep?)!