Photo Copyright John Kelly

Monday, April 23, 2012

New Site!

Hello all! Thanks so much for following along on my athletic journey via my blog. I am switching this blog over to a new website on Wordpress. It is still very much in the works, but my blog is active there, and I would like to start directing traffic away from this site to the new one, so please visit and follow along at Thanks!! And happy adventuring! :)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Searching vs. Creating

I have been coming across some really amazing quotes lately. I haven't been looking for them; they just happen to come my way via social networks, in passing, etc., and also happen to be perfectly timed these days. It's like someone knew exactly how I was feeling and decided they wanted to send me a message about it.

Today, my friend and former editor at my college paper, Juan, posted a very simple, but profound message on one of his social networks. It read "Life isn't about finding yourself. It's about creating yourself." Now I know this is nothing revolutionary. You have probably heard it before, and I'm sure I have too. But today, it was just exactly what I needed to hear, and sparked a little fire inside. If nothing else, it got me thinking about how much I miss writing, and why I'm not writing more, and hey, here I am... doing just that! Guess you never know what will get you going on any given day.

Anyhow, I am stricken today with how extraordinarily true this statement is, especially in contrast with the much more commonly discussed concept of "finding oneself." Ultimately, we do not need to find ourselves. In life, we are not seeking to find our meaning; we are not exploring in search of ourselves. We are here, in our own bodies, living this very moment, and deciding what we will make of it -- what we will make of ourselves. We are shaping our identities everyday with our words, our actions, our reactions, our experiences, our discoveries and our interpretations. Our identities are not hiding in some dark corner waiting to be discovered. We decide what we want to make of ourselves, and we have the power and the choice to get out there and make it. In the end, really, we should all be who we want to be. Right?

I find this concept both inspiring and comforting today. While it is certainly not always as simple as deciding what we want to do and doing it, we really can decide who we want to be -- on the inside, where it counts -- and we can be that person everyday. We can choose to stay committed to our own beliefs, motivations, desires and principles. Or we can choose to be passive and let life steer us in a different direction. We can defer to the fact that we are merely looking to find ourselves, or we can declare who we are, and be who we want to be -- right now, at this very moment.

For me, one of the biggest challenges in life (and a reoccurring theme in any writing I do that pertains to my own experiences) is the desire to be many things at once. To be something, as in a writer, a coach, a teacher, an athlete, or whatever it may be, undoubtedly takes significant time and effort, merely by principal. I mean, after all, how could I call myself a writer if I wasn't putting in the time and energy to actually write? This is where the challenge lies for someone like me, who wants to be many things, each without compromise of another. But to be someone, as in to be ourselves, is determined not by these things that we become, but by how we create ourselves day in and day out. In essence, we are creating ourselves everyday, and every moment, based on the choices we make. Who are are, at the core, is all-encompassing. We are not defined by our careers, by our achievements or our attainments. We are defined by our actions, our reactions, our integrity, our pursuits, and ultimately the way that we see ourselves.

Thinking about this has actually got me -- the constant striver -- feeling quite satisfied. While I still feel that I have much to achieve, and still have many avenues of life yet to explore, I am quite content with the self I have created, and am creating. I admire my own goals, even if they are yet to be attained. I am fulfilled by my pursuits in themselves, because they are sincere. I am happy with the way I see myself now, and the self I'm continuing to work toward.

This has also got me thinking about why I have created myself the way I have, the pivotal role that athletics have played in that creation, and the irrepressible truth that this role will ultimately never diminish. Because in this sense of creation, an athlete is undeniably who I am, not just what I do -- and regardless of what I do. And that part of my identity has been the driving force behind so many other parts. And I am so grateful. I am grateful too that I can realize that I do have the power to determine just where that identity will take me, and what heights I will reach as an athlete. I am in control of my own destiny; we all are. We can choose at any damn moment what direction it is that we want to go in. I know what I want to accomplish as an athlete, and I know what it will take for me to get there. And it's not something I've got to find, or buy, or borrow. I'm the one who will create the reality I seek for myself.

Similarly, I have been searching relentlessly for the perfect platform that will allow me to write more; to write what I want to write; how I want to write; and in such a way that it does not diminish my other dreams, but illuminates them. This is quite a search, and ultimately, I do believe I will find the right "job." But for now, I can sit back and wait, and lament on how I miss writing, or I can do exactly what I want to right now, with my own platform. I can create that very opportunity I've been looking for. Only thing missing is the financial aspect, of course, but I guess that will have to wait... So here is a proclamation of sorts that I'm going to write more. Since, after all, I can! My platform is right here in front of me, and I'm going to use it.

I guess that with this good dose of self-empowerment (because, heck, we could all use some now and again), my point is that life is not meant for us to be stagnant, passive beings, waiting for things to come to us, searching for opportunities, or even our own identities. We are supposed to go out and get what we seek, create our own opportunities, and absolutely shape our own identities, each and everyday. If you have a dream, chase it down, with every ounce of desire. Who cares if it's practical? But you sure as hell had better want it. Otherwise, what are you doing? We don't always end up where we want to be, what we want to be, or doing what we want to do at a particular time. But ultimately, we can always chose who we want to be, and choose how we want to define ourselves. Because in the end, it really doesn't much matter how anyone else sees us, but if we aren't happy with what we see in ourselves, then we've got some work to do. Because it doesn't mean we couldnt find something in a game of hide-and-seek. It simply means the creation is not finished. Time to go back to the drawing board, set out on a new direction, and start again. I for one am going forward, but with my foot on the accelerator, and my head held high.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Making The Most of What You've Got

If you've ever been to the Sierra Nevadas in the winter -- particularly Truckee -- or even just heard of it, you know that it's a region infamous for one thing in particular: snow. Lots of snow. As in, storms that last for days and dump dozens of feet of the white stuff.

But this year? Basically zilch... at least so far. January has become June-uary, as the typically frigid, snow-filled days of skiing and sledding are now instead the mild, clear, even sunny days of riding and running.

Our way of life in this small mountain town has essentially been turned upside down. There's no Nordic skiing to be found, and the downhill resorts rely on their snow-making capabilities to keep the slopes functioning and occupied. In an 'ordinary' year, we'd be taking face shots of powder on the alpine slopes and logging dozens of kilometers on fresh, pristine Nordic tracks. We'd have completed several twistedly 'painful but pleasurable' Nordic races, pushing our limits further, and getting stronger, with each sound of the start gun.

I would have made my transition from skinny-wheeled bike to skinny skis, and gotten past the initial awkward phase of lacking coordination and balance, and heaving at the tops of the hills from inefficiency. I would just be getting into my skiing 'groove,' and getting more and more fired up to get out there, go hard and see what I can do. As a coach, I'd be pumping with adrenaline from the days of watching as the kids made the transformation of their own into skiing form, and began to shine brightly on the race course, finding a whole new level of digging deep.

Normally, I'd have fully embraced the spirit of winter's lazy days, cozying up by the fire, drinking hot chocolate, and baking up a storm. I'd be dressed in my warmest sweaters, down coats and hats, and Levi's paws would be worn from the cold days of backcountry skiing. My shoveling and car scraping skills would be nearly perfected, and the muscles built up. My boots would be water-stained and wearing down from trudging through the elements. Heck, we'd probably already be complaining about how sick of the snow we are.

I have never known anything else during winter months, in my whole life. Until now.

But as it stands, none of those things can be done. It's hard to even really acknowledge that it's winter, as there's no snow on the ground, a bright sun in the sky, and no Nordic skiing to speak of. But, by the calendar, it is. And with the lack of cooperation on Mother Nature's part to sync up with the date, as we're used to Her doing, frustration and disappointment are high. Sorrow and despair have even come in to play. And complaining has been ever-present.

I realize the implications of the lack of snow are significant in my mountain town, where entire livelihoods depend on this one season, and the snow itself. It is a total bummer that our winter has been non-existent, and undoubtedly not without consequence. As a ski coach, I am blatantly aware of this. However, as an athlete, I have learned the importance of being able to adapt.

Having no control over nature or the weather, there is literally nothing we can do about our snowless situation. Yes, we can spend thousands of dollars turning thousands of gallons of water into artificial snow where we have the capacity, but the buck stops there. As such, I've convinced myself that there is really no sense in complaining. Sure, we can waste away the day being stressed and disappointed and considering ourselves unlucky about what we don't have. Or, we can make the choice to make the most of what we do have, right now. I choose the latter.

So I'm not Nordic skiing as I normally would be. But there is plenty more to do; activities I can never say I've done before in January. In fact, in many ways, this winter is a blessing for me as a triathlete, and I really out to be soaking up this second lease on fall training. I've gotten in some amazing trail runs without having to seek out lower elevation, and probably gotten in more time on my mountain bike in the last few weeks than I did in the same time period at any point last fall. The riding has been incredible, and my legs are getting strong! Yes, there are a few icy patches here and there that you have to watch out for, but who cares? We're mountain biking in January, in Tahoe!

Not what we'd normally expect or desire, but come on, it's pretty darn sweet nonetheless. Who knows when we'll get to say that again. It sounds like snow is on the way this week, and all will be 'back to normal' here, but I for one am going to take full advantage of these last few days of snowlessness, as I'm happy to have done so far this "winter." And I'm going to be thankful that I'm already two months ahead of where I'd normally be in terms of my riding and running, despite being behind in my skiing. I'm going to be thankful that I've gotten in so many fun days on the trail with good friends, and been able to be outside, loving what I do, regardless of whether or not the calendar says I should be doing it. Life is never certain, and you won't always get what you want, so you might as well make the most of what you've got.

No snow and cold temps makes for fun ice escapades!

It also makes for beautiful trail runs. At the top of Lakeview with some of my girls.

And, of course, mountain biking. On the Flume trail in January -- a definite first!

Amazing day, beautiful views!

An icy Marlette Lake. Normally we'd be swimming here...