Beyond Your Limits

I have been thinking a lot about pushing myself to the limit. Be it physical, mental or emotional. There seems to be no greater satisfaction than from those who are able to accomplish this feat.

Emotional limits, both positive and negative expression is not my favorite. I struggle with the pain of ending and heartbreak as do most of the humans I know. It is the hardest one for me to push.

I love pushing my mental limits, but being brain tired is the worst after emotional tired.

Yet there is something so completely satisfying about pushing your physical limits. It makes my mental juices flow and sends me to emotional heights that I am sure only George Clooney could equal.

This past month I have pushed my physical limits past the point I thought was my limit. I ran up Emily Murphy Hill 3 times, for the first time ever. She normally kills me after half way on the first time. Yet I conquered her. I ran in my first 10k race and set a personal time record. I was tired for 2 weeks but I knew it was because I left my guts out there on the road. I have set some pretty tough goals for myself this summer and I know the only way I will get there is by leaving pieces of me on the ground, in my books or on my sleeve. I will either be broken or exhilarated. Either way, pushing myself is my way of celebrating success.

A couple of years ago I never did anything that was hard. I never challenged myself through work, I never challenged myself through intellect, I never did anything physical that could test my limits. If it was hard, I avoided it and said no.

The Edmonton Tourist Project challenged me to say yes and try new things. I look back and don’t recognize that girl in the pictures. She looks different than I do now, but more importantly, her spirit was broken or harnessed by others. I said goodbye to her and the new and improved me is  – as my friend It’s Maevealous says – FIERCE. I love that word.

I am inspired by her intellect. She is knowledgeable in ways that humble me. She is insightful and brilliant, adventurous and fun. All things I wanted to be and now am achieving.

Through facebook I have become part of a running team WDW Radio Running Team for The Dream Team Project. I have met amazing athletes who are in different chapters of their book. I am just past the Introduction, while others are near their climax and some others are in their epilogue. Yet we all chEAR each other on and support through words, laughter and help. One of these athletes just became a 2 time IRONMAN. She is my hero. I am inspired by how she pushes herself to her physical limits and signs up for yet another IRONMAN because a teammate has decided to enter for the first time and so she will be there in full support. She is gracious enough to tell me her story, so look for that coming up soon.

Weeks ago I put my emotional struggles here on this page for all to read. The fat girl running faced bullies and went head to head with them. That blog post went near viral. Women all over the world read it to the tune of 15000 visits and countless shares. Local women came up to me and asked for my autograph. It was weird. But through that post I met a running mom who ran her first half marathon in Vancouver. She has inspired me to join Team in Training and pursue the San Francisco Marathon next year. I will be talking to her soon too about Team in Training and her exciting adventures about running in Vancouver with an injury!

And then there is my one of my dear best friends. She is a new friend but you know how some people just click? We did. Last year she entered a spin-a-thon event and cycled for 90 minutes. She had never pushed herself to do anything like that. Today she is riding 93km from Leduc to Camrose in the MS bike tour. I am so excited for her because I know she will never be the same after she feels what it is like to push yourself beyond limits. I am going to meet her at the finish line today. You don’t get a medal for this event, so I made her a giant chocolate chip cookie medal to hang around her neck – and then eat because I am sure she will be super hungry.

So when people ask me “how are you able to do that?” be it running, university, work, momming or reading a billion books for fun, I tell them because pushing yourself to limits is incredibly satisfying and it makes me

FIERCE

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Reaching for the Worthwhile

I belong to a fledgling book club – all women and lots of wine. We read books that challenge our comfort zone. We take turns choosing the book of the month and host the meeting in perspective homes. Last night was meeting number 2. I know 2 of the ladies quite well, one moderately well and the other two gals are new to my life. We come from different backgrounds, our children are at different ages and stages, our careers are massively different. Yet we all have 2 things in common:

  1. We love to read
  2. We strive for inner growth and change.

I have been reading 419 by Wil Ferguson. There was a single passage near the beginning of the book that made me catch my breath, the character had the task of compiling information for an obituary:

There were never entries for “memory,” or “regrets,” or even “love,” in the lowercase.
It was always “Education (post-secondary)” or “Awards (see also:Best Debut R&B Country CD by a Female Artist, Solo).” Indexes never seemed to get to the heart of the matter. There was never
a heading for hope or fear. Or dreams, recalled. Smiles, remembered. Anger. Beauty. Or even images that lingered, glimpses of something that had made an impression. A doorway. A window. A reflection on glass. The smell of rain. Never any of that. Just a tally of proper nouns and famous names. And why only one life? Why not the web of other lives that define us? What of their indexes”

This made me think. An obituary is typically a list of accomplishments. I remember reading the Toronto paper and remember thinking this people are success driven, there was very little about love and life and endless lists of job related activities and education. Compared to the obituaries I have read in the Edmonton Paper, it was incredibly different. Edmonton Obituaries are typically a laundry list of who died first and who has survived. It seems to be more of a disaster survival list rather than a compilation of words that describe the person. Rarely do you get a glimpse of the deceased’s passions, hobbies or loves. Ferguson makes the same observation. What are our beliefs and how do we define ourselves?

This topic came up in a round about way at Book Club. A few of us are attending a Belief Re-patterning workshop. From what I understand, we have a set of beliefs that we live by. Good/Bad/Indifferent. It is these beliefs that push us forward or hold us back. The point of all this is to discover what it is we truly belive and then taking steps to re-pattern our habits and thoughts to achieve goals.

The conversation then turned to what is it that we would like to change about ourselves. Good question, where do I start? Standing in the middle of me – I find it hard to see what I am, the real deep me. My friends see it. So then what is my belief and what I am striving for?

Then it hit me…after my friend hit me with it. I want to be accepted as I am and I want EVERYBODY to accept me. I want to be perceived as smart and have it all going on. I like being the star of the Robyn Show! Is it happening for me? No, not really. I see my self taking on tons in an effort to show – I have no idea who, perhaps the world, perhaps my mother – and get the recognition I crave. DING DING – Oprah calls this an “A HA” moment, I call it the lightbulb moment.

I see myself discounting rejection, in both my personal and professional life. If I change then maybe you won’t reject me. Sad isn’t it? In some ways it is very liberating. The point isn’t to dig up all the issues of my past, the point is to recognize the pattern and restructure it. One friend hopes this will be a miracle cure, when I see it as more hard work.

If my life is summed up by an obituary or a funeral what do I hope for? My friend wants a balance between family and work. I have a pretty good idea what I would like, the trick is achieving it. I don’t want to look back over my life and say “I should have taken that path”.

I want to look back and think my life was worthwhile.

Alone

I was sitting at the bank the other day, when a man somewhere around my age, perhaps on the closer side of 50, came in with his dad. He walked up to the desk and asked the receptionist if she knew his father and pointed to the elderly man on his right. The teller smiled with sad eyes and said,” yes, we all know George.” I could tell be the look of pity on her face that this man had some serious struggles with his father.

The two gentlemen took a seat beside me and the father kept saying “They stole my money”. The son sighed and said “dad, you are confusing the issues. There is no record of you purchasing a money order and why do you think you bought one? You have no need for a money order. These people are professionals, they are not out to steal money from their clients.” He leaned his arms forward on his knees and placed his head in his hands and just sighed. I could tell he wanted to be rescued. I wanted to place my hand on his shoulder and tell him it will all be okay. But that would be a lie.

It’s not going to be okay. That moment when the child becomes the caregiver is painful. I watch my aunts and my parents go through those same frustrations. I know one day it will be me and my siblings going through the same thing. I watch the stress levels of everyone rise, from the parents to their children. One can’t help feel it too. I worry about my parents and they worry about their children and their parents and I worry about my kids and it all becomes a vicious cycle.

I wonder about how it happens. That very moment where my grandparents went from being in charge, being strong, looking after my great grandparents, to relying on others to help them get through, needing someone to make choices for them. As a child, I was shielded from the struggles my grandparents had with my great grandparents. I remember my great grandma living at my grandma’s house. I remember when she went from looking after little details, cooking meals and being an active member of the household, to being cared for. Meals brought to her, medications lined up and eventually the decision to move her into a care facility. I don’t remember being aware of my grandparent’s struggle, their stress or agonizing over decisions about what to do. What likely had happened was my grandfather made the decisions for my grandma. He took care of her like that. He would rescue her and make her feel safe. I’m sure that is what she misses most about him. Because seriously, that’s all any girl wants. Women are capable of making decisions, being strong, holding it together, but that one person who can make them feel safe and protected is the ultimate.

When I looked at that man who was my age, I had a moment of clarity. Although I am removed from caring for my parents, I am in a different situation. I am still feeling that at this very moment. I want to be rescued, made to feel safe. I knew that son had wanted go back to the time where is dad was the protector and made everything safe. I long for a simple time where I could crawl up to couch and snuggle between my parents. I am lucky that I am not alone like that man in the bank. I have my family supports and the clarity of mind from both parents. I understand that everyone has the sense that the future is unknown. It makes it hard to plan for, but it is one of those leaps of faith that anyone who has a desire to do great things must take. It just happens to be my turn to face the unknown.

Fine, Fail and a Few other F words

Sitting in my silent kitchen this morning, I was looking out my window into the back yard. August 27th and my trees have not yet started turning yellow and orange…weird. It usually starts by my birthday (the famed Dead Elvis Day). Knowing that fall is around the corner I got that sick feeling in the pit of stomach.

Not one thing happened they way I had hoped it would.

I had great hopes for this summer and did all the things you are suppose to:

  1. Had a positive attitude
  2. Worked my ass off trying to make my dreams come true
  3. didn’t let grass grow under my feet

Yet failure was a word that kept creeping into my head. Sure I have a backup plan, but the point of this exercise was NOT TO NEED ONE!

A few friends of mine asked me how I am doing. My reply was “this summer has been a soul sucking experience. I feel like a failure.” The responses I received were similar “look at what you have done! I know you are not a failure.” Ya but it still feels like failing.

You see, I have set some pretty high goals for myself because I am not satisfied with fine. I wish I was but I am not. I look at people who plug along doing the same thing day after day and are perfectly happy with the status quo. I would sooner slit my wrists thanks.

I look a women  girls who play the girl card and get what I want. You smart women know what I mean, those girls who tantrum, plead helplessness, stand their ground and have men fall all over them doing their bidding. They make me sick. They are selfish, self righteous and scoop up all the fabulous things in the world because stupid people are blinded by their powers. That leaves women like me to do things the hard way. The sad news is, the girls will have karma down their backs and their world will unravel leaving them with a bitter taste in their mouth while they have destroyed all the good things in their wake and left a pile of hurt and anguish for people like me to clean up and nurture. I can see it coming and it ain’t pretty. Liars, schemers and playa’s is the world I am no longer interested in. Been there done that, own the t-shirt and the battle scars associated with it.

So if THAT is not an option to achieve my goals, then I guess I need to keep doing what I am doing. That sucks because I am tired of trying.

I am tired of trying.

I am not all about instant gratification. I understand the hard work involved to make goals happen. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING that feels better than achieving your goals. Not achieving them feels like failure, even when it’s not.

I havent reached the point where I have been told my goals are not achievable. I never will reach that point because the honest truth is, my goals ARE achievable, they are just long term. You have to make goals that are reachable. There is no point in making a goal that says “I will be the Queen of England.” That is impossible for me, but not so for other people. Why you ask? Because I am not willing to do the work involved to become Queen. That whole Royal Courtesan life is too incestuous for me. Do the work that is right for you.

I have done a pile of self-reflection and some of that was a pity party. When I need a pity party, table for one, I indulge in TV. I never watch TV, so I just lied. I did watch youtube via apple TV and watched it on the big screen in my living room instead of the iPad. Why? Because when I spend time with my future ex husband George, bigger is better. I have loved that man since Facts of Life and The Return of the Killer Tomatoes, I even liked him in his nipple suit in Batman.

I don’t like George for his good looks. I did at first, but then I saw interviews and read stuff and the nobel prize didn’t hurt either. I love him for his drive, risks and ability to do the right thing. He isn’t dazzled by stupid helpless girls. He likes to sleep with them sure, but then he moves on. Men don’t confuse sex with love. They know the difference. How can you love someone when they don’t share your passions, support your goals, and help you dissect a problem so you can find an answer? He does 2 out of 3 for me, and if he knew me, he would support my goals too – well he would in my fantasy.
Any man that stands before the Nobel Peace Prize contingent and say’s “I stand before you today as a failure” gets my vote as sexiest man alive. He set out to help people live and nothing changed from the time he started to the time he spoke to the Nobel Peace Prize UN contingent. Yet, that hasn’t stopped him from trying. The dude bought a ssatellite to take pictures of mass graves, deaths and injustices. If a country does that, it is spying. He does it and he is a guy with a lot of money. Although he admits to selling coffee and other stuff in Europe because it pays the bills. His movie career is mostly scale because he chooses films that have meaning and purpose.

Meaning and Purpose.

I told the fellow who hired me 8 years ago “I have to work to feed and cloth my family. If I have to work, then I want to do something that is meaningful and serves a purpose to society.” I think that is why he hired me.

Values.

The biggest reason I have set new goals is because of a clash of values. My values no longer line up with the work I do. That is not entirely true, some aspects are exactly the same, meaningful and purposeful. There are other aspects that clash and frustrate me. This has been my learning lesson. But I am 45, when do I get to stand up for my values and support them instead of being supportive of other’s values? This is where I struggle. This is why I search for new endeavors. This is why I fail, of feel like I am failing.

Then I heard George say this on Inside the Actors Studio, “You have to look at auditions like you are gambling with house money. You really want to nail the audition, you want the job. You don’t have the job to start, you try out, then you don’t get the job you never had. It wasn’t yours so why get upset about it.”

That was a lightbulb moment for me.

My sister said to me, the universe has big plans for you but it isn’t lined up yet. You still need to be patient and work towards your goal.

Both she and George are right. I want to be rescued, but the achievement of attaining the goal doesn’t feel as good as when you rescue yourself. Those girls who play the girl card are missing out, just like those boys who fall for their games.

So here is me, standing before you filled with anxiety about the coming year because I am not where I thought I would be by now. Time to turn on the Edmonton Tourist Show, be the person where fine isn’t acceptable, do my work with purpose and make some things happen for me as I reach my goal. THEN there will be some celebrating to do.

That is something that girl will never be able to experience.

 

 

The Learn to Drive Milestone

 

A rite of passage happened yesterday. It was a very exciting moment for me.

My son drove a car for the first time.

This was a big deal. I remember being 16 and my dad took me out in his Blue Dodge Diplomat to the church parking lot. He put the car in park, opened the car door and stepped around to the passenger side. I couldn’t wait to get into the drivers seat! My dad is a teacher by trade profession and is one of the best. He explained in very clear detail, my step by step procedure.

When you put the car in drive, it will move forward, so keep your foot on the brake.

As you slowly release the brake, the car will move forward.

Stomping on the brake will cause me to vomit.

Take your time, we have all the time in the world – we don’t have to rush.

And thus began my first driving lesson 1983 – an era before seatbelts.

 

Last night after dinner, I said to my 16 year old. “are you busy? Can you come out with me for a bit?”

He looked at me suspiciously, assessed the situation and agreed. I drove out of the city and to a country school about 10 minutes from my home. I figured this would be a good spot with no pedestrian or motor traffic. He looked at me and said, “Either this is a driving lesson or you are about to murder me and dump my body.”

Me-“Correct, I have a baseball bat in the trunk and a carpet to roll you up in.”

He laughed and climbed out of the car, went around to the driver’s side and waited until i was in the passenger seat before he got in. The first thing he did was put on his seat belt and complain about how weird it felt crossing over the other side of his body. I asked how he felt, the reply was “Nervous and a bit scared.”

Me- “We won’t be going of 10km and there will be no reversing the car today. Just slow on the straight away and turns.”

I gave him the same instructions my dad gave me. Calm and quiet, full of confidence I never felt. I forgot to mention the part about stomping on the brake will induce vomiting. Sure enough, I was thankful for the seatbelt as he tested the brakes. He drove in circles for about a half hour. He tried stopping various times and got the hang of not smashing my face into glass. He actually was a quick study. He pulled up to the fence and I inquired as to how he planned on moving the car since I said no reversing. He said he could either get out and have me do it, or he give it a try himself. I gave him the step by step instructions for reversing, this included how you turn the wheel in the opposite direction of where you want to go. I then heard the Doc Hudson reference from him. The quote from the movie

I’ll put it simple: if you’re going hard enough left, you’ll find yourself turning right.

Ummmm nooooooooooooo. But secretly was happy he used a Pixar reference. When he didn’t shoulder check I made splat sounds and told him that was puppies and babies he ran over. He laughed and put the car back up against the fence and did it again. This time he shoulder checked. About 10 more minutes, and I directed him to park near the gate. We traded places and I asked him how he felt now. His reply was one of confidence. “I don’t feel scared anymore. Just nervous because there is so much to remember.”

I drove down the country road and into Sherwood Park. I found the Dairy Queen where we planned to celebrate. He asked if this was the one his Grandpa took me too. “Nope, that one is an insurance company now”. We had blizzards to celebrate. He told me he hated the licence plate cover on my car. It says “I’d rather by in Walt Disney World.” I told him I hated the Datsun B210 I had to drive when I was a kid.

You never get to drive the cool car when you are young because it is too expensive. Once you can afford it, you look like a ridiculous old dude trying to recapture his youth. He laughed and agreed that bald guys are hilarious in a convertible. I rest my case. I reminded him to look at the cars the high school kids drive – if they are lucky. He laughed and said, “you’re right, they are all beaters or mommy vehicles.”

Now my boy is motivated to get a job. Insurance is expensive, now that he has a glimpse of the freedom of the future.

 

The Edmonton Tourist’s 2nd Blogiversary: 11 lessons learned

Tomorrow is my second blogiversary as The Edmonton Tourist. Unreal! I never thought I would get this far, I told myself I would but back then I wasn’t so great with follow through. I was very happy to make it through a year, yet very amazed with myself. I learned that given the right motivation or goal I could be quite driven.

Motivation is the wrong word. I no longer believe in motivation. It isn’t something that comes to you through divine intervention, it doesn’t come in a magic pill that lifts you up to get things done. Motivation comes in a form of achievement. Setting a goal, seeing the finish and figuring out the steps to get there is goal oriented, not motivation. At least in my circumstance, motivation has never been a factor. you want to do something or not, you want to achieve something or not. Motivation never helped me out for long and it abandoned me when the going got tough. Goals were always there. Figuring out how to achieve them was the key.

When I started this journey, I was miserable. I was deep in depression. My good blogging friend wrote a brilliant description about depression here. She eloquently explains the difference between sadness and depression. Depression is not sadness. It is dark, cloudy and soul sucking. Sadness is an emotion. huge difference. Depression is not an emotion, it is a state of being, like hunger or tired. Those are not emotions. there is a big difference.

I wanted to climb out of my depression and change my life. I was living in my imagination for a long time and decided it was time to make my imagination a reality for me. I knew I would need to take risks, try new things, say yes more often and no more often too. I needed to become a tourist in my own life.

I achieved that. Funnily enough, there are 11 major lessons I have learned through my Tourist Journey. All of them have leadership qualities like my Number 11 Hero.

1. I was always disappointed that I never finished my degree. I am 5 classes away from my undergraduate degree. I have the intention of getting my MBA in Leadership, but for now that is a distant goal, I am focusing on my first one for now. I have learned not to be afraid of hard work because I am smarter than I give myself credit for and I can figure out or research anything.

2. I never lived on my own, unattached long enough to experience serious solo travel. I experienced it several times of late. By solo I don’t mean just me and the road, I mean not being responsible for anyone but me. I traveled with my cousin, and I traveled with girlfriends. One of the best trips I ever had was with my sister, when we went to Seattle for the weekend. It was freeing. I took one child at a time on separate vacations. That gave me a chance to bond and laugh and really focus on them separately rather than a unit. This was invaluable. I learned to relax on holidays, not over plan and enjoy the moment. I needed the solo vacations to learn this.

3. I became a tourist in my own city and went to every festival I could. I discovered lots of them were crap, and a couple were brilliant. Now I just go to the ones I love and will continue to try out new festivals as they pop up. Edmonton is Festival City, every week – or there abouts – is another festival to attend. This week is my favorite festival of all time, The Fringe Festival. The largest Fringe in North America. I am doing some improv with my son (who is a improv comedian himself) and I will call my Gran to go to a drag show or two. I took her at the age of 84 to her very first drag show last year, because she is cool like that. Then she asked if we could go again, YA WE CAN! Drag is super fun and fabulous! I think I have to see “BitchSlap!” the Bette Davis and Joan Crawford saga. Darin Hagen is just simply wonderful and I am a huge fan. I learned that new adventures are in my own backyard. Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz was right.

4. I learned that I needed to make the outside me match the inside me. So I started the Just Me and Mo journey about weight-loss and fitness. This saw me swim long distances for 1.5 hours on Fridays and an hour the rest of the week. I trained for and completed a half marathon – 13.2 miles or 26.1 km. I did the last 7km with a stress fracture on my left foot. It took strength of mind to get to the finish. I now know mentally what I am capable of and yet I sense I haven’t even scratched the surface of my mental possibility. I belive there is more there, I just haven’t been tested hard enough yet. Running consistently will help me figure out that tidbit.

5. I learned that people are hugely disappointing. I cannot expect people to have it all together when I don’t even have it pulled together. I no longer expect things from people. If great stuff happens, terrific! If there is no follow through, oh well. I need to make my own fireworks and magic happen. I learned to be grateful for what it given and don’t expect more.

6. I learned there comes a time in everyones life where you need to take responsibility for your own life. This time should happen when you are 25 and your brain is fully developed. Sadly this never happens. It takes becoming a parent or growing up to figure this out. We all grow up at own rate. I know men who haven’t grown up yet and feel quite sad for them. They still blame their parents for the life they have. Here is what I know and have learned. Your parents love you and agonized over making the right decision because they know it can affect you for the rest of your life. They made the best decision they could with the skills and knowledge they had ( okay, there are parents out there who never grew up and yet still had kids. They made and continued to make poor choices. This is the exception to the rule.) You cannot make choices based them. You are not your Father/Mother/Grandmother etc, you are you. Their DNA does not make choices. DNA provides allergies, eye colour, height etc. These are factors that cannot be changed. Education, experience and choices + DNA make you the person you are. Suck it up and grow a pair. Quit blaming your Mom/Dad/Wife/Husband/EX-whatever because the choices you make are not right for you.

7. I learned that kindness will take you very far in life. Empathy, caring and kindness in general are the key to meaningful relationships. I use to be cranky. I often see glimpses of my dark angry side when someone annoys me, but instead of the knee jerk reaction, I am now quiet, contemplative and reflective. I try to stand in their shoes and figure out why they are reacting in that way. Seeing things from someone else’s perspective has been enlightening. I still feel frustration at choices people make that I think are wrong, but it is not my choice. I no longer judge and rant, I will say I disagree or we need to agree to disagree. On occasion I will be asked why, then I will say why. But if someone doesn’t ask my opinion, I won’t give it. I do here on my blog, because it is my forum. It isn’t a two way conversation until the comments roll out. Then you will notice I usually respond in kind. Everyone has an opinion. Force feeding someone your opinion is not going to change theirs, it will just have them think ill of you. So perhaps tolerance is the lesson learned here.

8. I have learned people are starved of kind words. If someone does something I think is fantastic, kind, loving cool or positive – I now will tell them. They may not know it, or ever hear they are doing great work. I tell them with words that are specific to the job well done. This has opened doors for me. It’s true! People remember the nice things or compliments that are genuine and will reciprocate in another fashion, like introductions to new possibilities. The new possibilities have been mind blowing awesome and have changed me life. It is true when you give of yourself, you receive ten fold. I can vouch for that.

9. I have learned that help is available if you ask for it. I always wanted to be independent and do it myself. I can’t always and failure hurts. So I now ask for help. I have learned that people LOVE to feel needed. Help can also be in the form of things. I have something and you don’t. I don’t need it so I give it to you. I don’t sell it. I wasn’t using it. You need it, you can have it. My mom is the master of this skill. She is the kindest, most generous person I know aside from my daughter. Kindness becomes a wonderful two way relationship.

10. I learned that everyone is going through varying degrees of struggle. You do not know what their journey is, so don’t assume theirs is harder/easier/insignificant compared to yours. Listening to others struggle has given me great insight. Truthfully, we are all the same. We all have fears, hopes, dreams, disappointments and tragedy in our lives. The point or lesson is how we deal with it and how we learn to benefit from it. Some of us figure it out, and some of us never do. But we are all the same.

11. I learned Failure is the best way to learn stuff and have it be meaningful. I needed inspiration yesterday. I texted my friend and said “Quick, I need something inspiring.” They texted me back  without asking why, “If your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough” then they sent “or this one ‘fall 7 times and get up 8′” This was what I needed to hear. I have had a summer of failure and disappointment. I fell 7 times and got up 8. If I fall again, I will get up 9. I will keep getting up until I reach my destination. I learned a valuable lesson every time I fell. I tucked it away and kept getting up, dusting myself off and moved forward because my dreams are so huge they are scary.

So there you have it. 11 things this tourist learned over 2 years. What I thought was going to be a short term movement has ended up being a lifelong journey. Learning doesnt end. In fact, the more you learn, you realize the less you know. I wonder what will happen next? All that matters is, I need to be aware and present when it does happen.

Find Your Greatness; Nike is right, it is in all of us

I love the Nike Find Your Greatness campaign. I have been searching for the Greatness Factor for quite some time now. I decided to check back on my humble beginnings for The Edmonton Tourist Project. Elvis and Other Really Old People was my very first post as a blogger. It’s good to know where you came from and where you are going. I was stuck and I needed momentum to push me forward so I came up with this concept:

I have decided to become a tourist in my own life.

I have been fortunate to have been able to travel the world with my family both as a child and an adult. There is something about traveling that allows you to explore and try things that you likely would never do at home. Ding Dong! Now you get it!!! I am throwing caution to the wind, taking the plunge, allowing my free spirit to stretch and run. AND it starts tomorrow on my 43rd birthday. My inspiration will be pulled from books I have read, people I have met in person and on facebook. But most importantly, the inspiration for my Edmonton Tourist Project, will be me.

This journey has really become more than risk taking. It’s finding out want I need and how to achieve it.

I have reached the next step or pinnacle of this journey. I need to leap with eyes open and take a giant risk that will change everything in my life. It has become more than finding the perfect job, or gaining the degree. It is more than mentoring or being a role model. It has become learning what my limitations are and moving past them. Believing in myself when no one else will. Why? Because I don’t let myself down. People are disappointing and I realize depending on them is not helping me find my direction. I have that fire or spirit that can move mountains with tenacity. I need to tap into that and do it myself.

I had a conversation with two important people in my life. One gave me a metaphor for rejection. For the record, I should be suicidal I have been rejected so often – I am not. I thought about what my friend said to me:

I understand how it feels to be rejected. Think about it this way:ever go fishing?

I used to go fishing almost every day when I was a kid. After work in the boatyard, I’d go fishing for snapper right off of our pier. I’d cast my line into the water and reel it slowly back in. I’d do it over and over again until one of them decided to take the bait. It usually took MANY casts before I scored a fish. To be honest – I never really got mad when I’d reel in my lure and I didn’t score one…I just needed to be patient. But when I caught one…THAT was fun.

So look at it this way: you’ve cast your line into the water a lot. You’re bound to snag a fish. OK – the big one spit the hook out and took off on you. No big deal. You’ll nail this one and celebrate!!!!

I am not sure if catching the next one will happen soon, but I have a contingency plan for that. A couple of people have said, “The right fit will find you”. I am not sure about that, I think I need to find it. Faith plays a big part in that. Faith is something I have lots of. I have faith in my ability, faith in myself and faith that things turn out the way they are suppose to.

The second person I talked to gave me an idea for a back up plan. It is about being more aggressive about my education and taking time away from other pursuits while I do this. Although I am not in the financial position to take a sabbatical, I do have options. This will be my fall back plan…and it might end up being quite lucrative in the process.

Since deciding on the back up plan, I have felt more relaxed and confident that I have in a while. I can go on vacation next week and be worry free. That is what makes for a fun and relaxing holiday.

Meanwhile, while I am away, I will be reposting some old blogs that most of you have never seen before – back in the day when I had 15 readers and 14 of them were my family. Now 864 of you follow me. I am stunned, humbled and most of thankful for your continued support in my project. I love hearing from you, the comments, emails and private messages keep rolling in. I know I have inspired you, just like you have inspired me.

Thank you for following my journey.

Wild about Fear

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Wild by Cheryl Strayed (Photo credit: bubbletea1)

June has been a bust when it comes to reading. I finished/completed/happydancedover the completion of my 3rd year, saw the A that was posted and breathed a sigh of relief! I am not quite finished because the project I was working on still needs to be forwarded to the powers at be at my office. I could say – whatever I have my mark – but I am not that person. Sooooooo my reading for fun mission has taken a back seat. I also needed time to digest the last book I read. Have you ever read a book and loved it so much you actually missed the characters? That was me this week. I took quotes and excerpts from the book and let them roll around my thoughts for a while. What excited me about this book is the fact that what the author achieved is no less great than my Edmonton Tourist Journey. We have both come to the same place in our lives where this is now my reality,

Perhaps by now I’d come far enough that I had the guts to be afraid. – Cheryl Strayed

I suspect I was too naive to be afraid when I started this whole process. Chin was up and I defiantly kept moving forward. I kept goal setting and achieving and moving along. Then suddenly I hit a wall. I was no longer fearless. I started looking at things differently. People in my life who would ignite a bomb and that would leave me with what I thought I needed to do, strike or douse the fire. When actually, all I needed was to stand still and feel the fear. Fear isn’t something that needs to be conquered. It needs to be faced. When people strike out, having that inner calm to face it, absorb it, take the parts that I need and learn from it is growth. Climbing over the fear ( which is an important step in the process) is no longer needed to get past it. Evolved is the word I like to use.

Things I use to fear:

  1. People thinking I’m stupid.  I am not but now it doesn’t bother me if you think I am. I use to engage in conflict to prove I am not less than smart. I am secure and comfortable enough in my own skin. People can judge all they wish too and I could care less. I will educate if you are misinformed, but that is not the same as raging. forcing an opinion on someone is not sharing ideas. I have no use for that type of bully in my life. So I no longer fear people thinking I am stupid. I am smart enough to not engage nor bait the trolls.
  2. Sweat. Sweat meant hot, stinky smelly and hard breathing. It meant lungs hurting and muscles crying. Now it means hard work, feeling great, focus and clarity. Working out has changed my life. I can no longer envision a world without it. Setting large fitness goals is scary but the single most satisfying challenge I have ever faced.
  3. Fail. I use to be afraid of trying something new and failing. I realize failing means something different to me than it use to. If I set a goal and cannot reach it, that just means it wasn’t the right goal, I need to think of a different path to get to that goal or learn about why I couldn’t reach that goal. To fail means to be educated.

It is good to fear things. Standing in the middle of your fear and taking the strength from it rather than taking the anxiety is the key. I love fear in a way I never thought possible. I stand in front of it, I look it in the eye and respect it. I have no doubt I will learn from it. It still makes me shake but I no longer run from it, I run with it. I am about to do the scariest thing in my life so far.

Perhaps by now I’d come far enough that I had the guts to be afraid. – Cheryl Strayed

I have come far enough to have the guts to be afraid.