An Athlete State of Mind.

Athlete. Sportsperson. Active minded individual.

Elite. Grass roots. Beginner. It all counts. They are the special breads of humans, in my opinion. How do I know this? Because fortunately been surrounded by them for twenty years of my life. And have earned the honour of representing my country, in turn calling myself one of the above.

I am grateful sport chose me early on. I experienced the joy of playing multiple disciplines, for many years, multiple teams. Teaching me multiple life lessons, early on. For my parents, who drive me to countless practices, countless venues country-wide and multiple amounts of money, on supporting all of this. Supporting My Dream.

I’ve experienced some incredible, unforgettable highs From This sport. From the track. Moments you’d always dreamt of. Movie-moments.

Where it’s not necessarily the medal around your neck. But it’s the atmosphere. Its the feeling of pushing your body, to move the fastest it’s ever been, with every contraction. The ‘YES.’ Moments. Where every training session is being put to use, just to run that self satisfying 0.04 seconds faster your body has moved, than ever before. It’s the crowd’s roar.

Its the lights. It’s the architecture of the stadium. It’s the people volunteering their time to put on a race for you. The way a competitor quickly becomes a mate once the race is done. In the camaraderie of the hand- shake, post race. Picking one another rod the track with a pat on the back. Where you’re out of breath but you always, without fail, acknowledge your opponents that competed against you.

You thank the officials recording the event. And you quietly thank God. It’s the people you encounter, that you’ve never met, but they quietly acknowledge you. Your performance out there, with a simple nod or passing smile.

It’s the honour of the colours you’re wearing. Whether it be Club, state or national. It’s patriotism. Making someone out there proud. Making you proud.

It’s that feeling. I can’t put a finger on it…It’s the moments when you proved to yourself you could and you never stopped. Overcoming mental, physical and emotional hurdles in the process. The lost-for-words moments, when it all went your way. You simply can’t describe it. But you smile. Inside out. Grateful for the journey. Grateful for the people around you. The feeling of adrenaline, mixed with pure joy, mixed triumph and a whole lot of serotonin. The feeling that helped you fall in love with the sport. Just pure happy. The I’m ‘how bloody good is running,’ feeling.

I’ve also experienced the Lows. The moments when you didn’t think you could make it to the line. The moments when your body gave up on itself, before you got to be line. The moments of self doubt in pre-race nerves. The moment of pain, more than any physical injury pain. But pain in being told you’re not allowed to compete, due to injury. When you’d worked so hard to prove to yourself you could; your body simply said ‘no.’

The sacrifices. The people that just don’t get it and blame you, because they don’t understand your passion. They don’t understand your why Your way of life. That this isn’t a choice anymore – it’s a compulsion. The moments of ‘is it all really worth it?…’

But they’re all part of it. Positive and negative. The good comes with the bad. It allows you to work harder, for that brief little high. And it allows you to well and truly earn it!

The bouncing back part. The part that teaches resilience that cannot be taught in an office. Can only be taught on that ‘Oval Office,’ the track. The field. The pitch. The court.

I owe a lot to Sport. It has shaped the person who I am today. Introduced me to a whole new world, to some incredible people who have become family. Kept my physical body just as healthy as my emotional and physical body. It’s been an outlet that saved me from myself, in dark times. It’s given me goals, dreams behind my wildest imagination. And some of the happiest days of my memories.

There’s nothing like proving to yourself, that you are good enough. Exceed your own expectations, but adhering to the journey that you ultimately planned for yourself, for daring to dream in the first place.

I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to some incredible places, met some beautiful faces. And learned wherever there’s a track – there’s home, to me.

From The harsh winters of USA, Canada and England. To the overbearing humidity of training in Cambodia, Thailand, Fiji, The Cook Islands and behind; I’ve found my peace on that track. I it’s a place of ‘me’ time, my outlet. And a place I decide my future.

Most recently I was training in the United Kingdom for a period of about four weeks. It was winter there, when I didn’t have my coach. I didn’t have my squad bantering with me. Just myself, 3 degree icy winds, about seven layers of clothing, and an orange tartan stadium, layed before me. The same surface, as back home. But with a whole new set of obstacles and metaphorical hurdles.

Lungs tight, breathing painful. Hands frozen without gloves. Questioning one’s own sanity, rep after rep. And legs on fire! But this was part of it all. No excuses. I choose this, willingly. And continue to, no mater the country, no matter the conditions.

I decided a long time ago, my destiny. That I would prove to myself that I want to take myself to as far as I can physically go with this sport. I want to be an Olympian.

And it’s been eighteen bloody years, but I certainly haven’t given up yet! As a seven year old, watching our local legend. The phenomenal Cathy Freeman compete for our country. She not only competed, but she won the 400m, at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Witnessing that moment, is where it all started. The Passion, if you will.

I said to my little self, watching in awe. Eyes glued to that television screen. Her body in moving so swiftly. Her pain in her face, in digging deeper than ever before. Her humility in her triumph and success. I wanted that. I said there and then, I am going to do that with my life one day. And I will.

And of course it hasn’t been smooth sailing. I’ve had multiple injury, illness and misfortune. They’ve been multiple coaches, politics, those ups and downs. But it’s all been worth it. It’s part of the Journey To The Dream, as I’ve always called it.

I certainly haven’t been able to keep going this far, alone. I’ve had the most phenomenal team behind me. My family, supporting each and every one of my crazy dreams. In driving me and flying me around the country and in turn the world – to support my dreams. Financially supporting me, emotionally supporting me. And physically being there to support me, whenever they can. And never saying, never to my next step.

My partner, in all his support. His unconditional support, in every definition. Not only being there, cheering louder than any voice in the stadium and being proud of it. Mentally challenging me to push myself, past all my fears. Beyond my dreams. And never doubting me, my decisions or my big dreams. Not even for a second.

My friends in understanding why I have to miss that party, again. Can’t see them on competition weekends, or miss birthdays and anniversaries due to training.

And my coaches. These special people that see more potential in me than I see in myself and continue to push me, beyond my limitations. And all the glorious, countless, beautiful people. The behind the scenes people. The acquaintances, the family friends. But also the therapists, the doctors, the supporters and people that have invested in me, that believe in This Journey.

The track continues to, and will always be my light. I haven’t given up on that goal, since. Although it may have changed slightly. I am more determined. More willing. More hungry for my goal.

Because I chose to go to that level. The ‘one percenters,’ the extras. The above and beyond. Because that’s what all adds up. It’s going to that that all and much much more! The sessions that don’t make sense, everything hurts, your mind is fighting your body – but you do it anyway, because it brings you one step closer. One step ahead of the game.

I have a goal, not dream. Because a goal without a vision is a dream.

Never give in to expeditions set by someone else for your future. You are your own guiding light.

Chose to go to your level for your goal. And keep going; For your seven year old self.

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Airport Pleasantries

The Welcome:

You anticipate the alarm. Every hour jumping out of your skin, checking the clock. Again and again. Because you can’t be late.

This is THE day, circled on the calendar. Finally, THE day. The countdown is over.

You’ve waited 5 months for this. That’s 159 days. 3,600 hours since you’ve seen His face.

It’s 5am, but your make-up HAS to be perfect. You can’t possibly have a stray hair. Did you shave your legs?Is your hair perfectly straight? Will he notice this contour? Hurry up, dammit or you’ll be late!

The commute to the airport is a cocktail of emotion. Listening to happy songs. Feels songs. Gangsta rap songs.

I can hear my Heartbeat in my head. Traffic. Shit!

You speed. Gosh, I Hope there’s no cops. Can’t afford a fine.

The Airport car park nightmare..
Round and round and round.

Level after level!

Just give me a spot!

Got one!

Shit, can’t lose the ticket!

It’s time.

You sprint to the Arrivals gate. Literally sprint in thongs (like a true Aussie).
The plane is late.

He hasn’t contacted you.

So you wait.

The front of the line so you don’t miss him.

Watching every single person walking out of customs until you lock eyes with his.

You observe.

You heart racing.

Leg starting to shake with adrenaline.

You don’t want to miss this moment.

Ten minuets. Then fifteen. Twenty.

Damn, where is he?

Is something wrong?
You notice something magical about airport arrivals.

Everyone is waiting for their someone.

A loved one. A family member. A client. A business partner. A customer.

A long lost love.
Wave after wave of people.

People all looking to lock eyes with their own someone.

The person they’re anticipating.
Man. I need to wee!

Am I going to be sick?

Where the hell is he!

Why won’t my leg stop shaking.

You giggle.

It feels like I’ve been on the ‘Big Drop’ at Dreamworlds ten times over.
Then another wave of people.

Your heart drops.

It’s HIM!

Eeeeee!
He’s seen you! And you give each other THAT look.

My heart is so happy.

I’m shaking all over.
You rush over to see him. To feel him. To

Embrace him. To smell him!

But not quite yet…
People won’t move.

Move out of the f*%!ng way!

How can you Walk so slow!

I have road rage while walking.
I’m the middle of the walkway he drops his bags.

I wrap my Legs around his waist and burry my face in his chest.

He’s here! He’s really, Actually here! He’s home!

A rush of warmth encompasses your body and fills your chest. I’m sweating.

We kiss.

Kiss deeply.

In a room full of people, we are the only two that matter.

Time passes. Still kissing. Just holding one another.

We realise we are causing a scene.

And all is well in the world again.

You feel whole. You feel safe. Your heart is glad. And nothing else seems hard anymore. Nothing else matters.

We move out of the way. Our to the car. And can’t keep our hands off one another. We begin our lives together, once again!
Until the airport farewell.

The farewell:
The Farewell is something dark.

Like out of a cruel, bad ending to a chick flick where someone dies.

Something I dread every single time.

Because when ‘Home’ goes from a place, to a person.

When they’re not here, you don’t feel right.

Nothing makes sense.

You feel lost. Your puzzle piece is floating somewhere, in another land far away.
I’ve realised The Goodbye doesn’t seem as daunting each time over.

But it has a harsh way of hitting you all at once.

The car ride is normal, we sing. We reminisce. Until Google Maps tells you you’re 5 mins away and then that lump on your throat gets bigger and bigger. And you can’t hold the tears any longer.

Pulling into the departures gate.

‘Drop off only.’
Let’s make it quick so it doesn’t hurt so much. Like a band-aid.

But no.

Each time a little piece of me breaks.

Each time he flies away, or I fly away. My soul aches.
we embrace. And then when I think it’s our last hug. We embrace again. And again. don’t want to let him go.

His eyes don’t want to let me go.

I feel the lump in my throat.

And then my eyes are wet. My face is wet.

I burry my face in his chest.

His eyes reciprocate mine.

And we both sob. Just sob.

Sob for the fact we won’t wake up next to one another tomorrow.

Or for a few more tomorrows.
For the little insignificant life-moments – that you remember most.

That make it all Worth it.

The highs that amount to a greater joy, than any of the lows.

The moments that confirm, they are everything your world needs, wants and can’t live without.

The feeling you crave most of simple being in each other’s arms, presence. The same postcode!
But the goodbye, never gets easier.

It’s the ‘I’ll see you soon,” we hold close.

The last sob. The last kiss. The last look in their eyes. Through the pain, through the tears.

The look I remember most vividly in my Dreams, That let’s you know one day – it’ll all be okay.

One day it will all make sense.

It freaking sucks.

And hurts. Hurts real bad. Like no physical pain you have ever been exposed to. No wound comparable.

Long distance, is just mileage.
It doesn’t matter when the person you are farewelling, will be your favourite hello for the rest of your days.

I’ll hold onto The Promise in his eyes.

Until next time…

You are Enough. 

Even when you don’t think so. 

And you, absolutely matter! 

Firstly I ask you to please remember why you started. Remember why you continued. Remember why you are still here. Remember why you get out of bed everyday.

Every person’s ‘why‘ is going to be different. And every person’s why is beautiful. It’s the why I am here. It’s the vision in your mind when someone’s asked the younger version of yourself ‘what do you want to be when you grow up.’ It’s the why that I keep pushing, each day. To Keep making a better life for myself. A better future for myself, my family. And to make my people, happy. It’s the why that I want to keep going. Need to. Don’t let your younger self down. The dream isn’t dead, until you stop trying! 

It’s the why I keep putting myself out there, again and again. It’s the why I won’t settle for a mediocre life. That I won’t settle for anything that what I’m capable of living. This makes me strive to do Something passionate with my life. And why I strive to share a passionate life, with that someone else. And also why I will never give up on that someone.

It’s the why, that I come back to the track and the field each day. Knowing I can go one better than yesterday. It’s the why, that gets me through training sessions I train so hard I puke. It’s the why that makes me want to work hard now, so my family won’t have it so hard. It’s the why that makes me want to make something of myself, so I can use that to make a difference to someone in need’s life. To the greater world. 

It’s the why, that I am writing this. To encourage you. To please, no matter how hard it gets. No matter how bad you want to throw in the towel. Don’t stop doing what you’re doing. With whatever you’ve got. Right now.

You always have one more round left! Someone, somewhere is cheering for you. And someone you don’t even know believe’s in you. I believe in you

Don’t give up on your why.

Please, Don’t give up on yourself! 

Going the distance. 

A poem..

Have you ever been lucky enough to find that person. That you don’t need, but life’s better with, by far than without. The person, All the rom-com movies talk about. The, actual ”ONE”.

I found mine.

Unexpectedly. And spontaneously.

And it was easy.

The Dating. The commitment. The ups and downs. To sharing a house together. Sharing a life together.

The one person you can’t wait to tell everything to!

Who makes you laugh, like you’ve never cracked up – Nearly peed-your-pants kind of laugh.

The little things you’d normally get annoyed by. Don’t seem to bother you at all, with this one. 

But Annoying each other; that never gets old.

To hanging out and never getting sick of each other’s company.

To the point you actually miss them, even if you’ve only been a part a few hours.

The smiles. Oh, how he makes me smile! 

The conversations that are so deep, they make you understand yourself better. They make you understand your life better; the world

And you can so easily, see yourself creating a little Future together. A future full of hope and undoubtedly, a future full of love

But then oneday, your world suddenly changes. 

And everything you gotten used to, disappears. 

Long distance.

Some say ”it will never work…” To walk away. 

We thought it mightn’t work. But giving up on each other was never an option for me.

I knew It would be hard. 

But we chose. And We continue to choose. Each other. Again and again.

To wake up to an empty side of the bed, every morning, was kind of sad. Then the times when I checked my phone, hoping for that text. Or that call.

I may have broke down, crying at unexpected, embarrassing moments when I was reminded of something he said, a place we visited. A moment we created together. A song we danced along to. 

Or simply, just missing him. That one happens a lot. All days. Every day. 

But we are strong. 

We force a smile when we talk about Him; because nothing could describe to someone how you deeply, achingly, painfully miss him.

It would be easy to step back. 

Be we simply chose to love

With a promise that we’ll be back in each other’s arm’s soon enough.

By Far, the most emotionally testing, draining, lonely investment I have ever embarked upon. 

But I’ll all be worth it, when he’s back. 

When he’s truly home

It’ll be worth the tears, the trials, the struggles, the doubts, the self doubts.

Because sometimes distance makes everything clearer.It makes you realise; it’s worth it all. This is your person. There is no one on this planet like them. You crave them. You are theirs. 

That life is always going to be better with that person. And nothing is stronger than the love we have

So I’ll keep on, keeping on: chosing him. Choosing to love him everyday. 

Because the promise his eyes, gave mine. During the hardest goodbye of my life, said it all. That this is real, undoubtable, uncontrollable.. love.

And love is all you really, ever need.

Keep choosing love. 

Promising Internship or Free Labour

Having almost completed a Certificate IV in Screen and Media – Journalism, I have been busily applying for entry level journalism and presenting jobs as well as a few internships that would hopefully give me the contacts and skills to progress in the journalism industry.

On Monday I had a seemingly promising interview with the owner of a small Rugby League magazine. I won’t mention any names to remain respectful. My aim of this piece is not to ‘Name and Shame,’ but rather create awareness for other aspiring journalists who I wouldn’t want to wish a similar experience upon. 

The interview started like any other interview. I drove over an hour, to Sydney’s Southern suburbs, fighting traffic and rain. I was dressed to impress and felt confident about the experience I was about to embark upon. 

I arrived at the address, of a small shared office building and wandered to the room number I was given. After knocking several times on the opened door, not manned by a receptionist or anyone working in the crowded space of the room, stacked with magazines and sporting junk. I decided to yell out a friendly ‘hello’ before I tried to call the contact number I was given, to check I was at the right place.

Finally, a man walked out from a small room towards the back and greeted me. He didn’t open his hand to shake, or introduce himself. So I said I was Elana, here for the internship. Instead of shaking my open hand, he said ‘’yes yes come this way,’’ directing me to his office

The man was dressed in ripped jeans, a T-shirt and bare feet. This was surprising for the CEO, owner and editor of the illustrious up and coming magazine. He sat me down, on a couch which I was forced to slump into, as he appeared glaring down at me, from behind the screen of his computer on his large desk covered with papers. As I looked around the room I noticed family pictures, tribal art and quite a sufficient amount of magazine issues stacked messily in two large cupboards.

The interview started normally, like any other I had been to. The man asking me about myself, my studies, previous careers and what I hope to gain from this experience. But the manner he conducted himself after hearing my answers, was just plain rude. At this point, I felt somewhat put down. There was a clear power transfer he had established. Every answer to my question was replied with a sarcastic ‘’Why did you choose that,’’ ‘’At what gain was this choice,’’ and ‘’well you’re this age, you should have achieved this by now.’’

I was a little startled, by the sheer rudeness and insincerity of the man’s questions, I became a bit reserved for the remainder of the interview. But things got worse, as he compared my sporting career’s success to that of his ”promising Olympian daughter,” at a mere five year old. Myself, having being a professional athlete for eighteen years in comparison. 

He continued to speak about himself and his magazine in an obnoxious, hard-to-believe manner. Coupled with sweeping statements of the success of his past internees and the false promises he would make, if I too was successful in this position.

When I asked him simple questions about the duration of the internship and what field I would be placed in or what my responsibilities in this role, his answers there were also very vague. I was not convinced this man was going to be the golden ticket to kick-starting my successful journalism career. But me being the determined, persevering woman I am; I stupidly agreed to work for him following that interview. For what he said would be ‘an hour or so,’ that day to gain a grasp of my work ethic and see if I would be suited for his workplace.

An hour quickly turned into FIVE, without a break, without lunch and without gain. Other than the free labour of doing this man’s research, technical work and essentially publishing one of his magazines online for him. During this time, the man also left me alone in his office, while he ‘’quickly caught up with a mate over a coffee,’’ for a forty minute lunch break. And on his return interviewed another woman, for my positon in the same office I was working for him from. 

I’d had enough, this was becoming a joke and after personally having breakfast over 6 hours ago; I was starving.

I’m not the kind of woman who would let anyone walk over her, or take advantage of. I could see through this transparent type of personality. Whose success of his business could have been from stepping on other people’s toes; rather than good networking partnerships and hard work ethic that as I was first lead to believe.

This story is simply an example of young, smart female who was taken advantage of in the workplace. Although it was not nearly as bad as it could’ve been and fortunately I got out before I was made to do any more free work for this amateur operating business. It proves how quickly you can fall into the trap, while on the persevering path to success.

Here are some quick examples of a similar story, gone wrong:

journalism1journalism2

 

Of course, if this internship was a genuine, promising, inspiring career opportunity I would have stuck it out. But after being talked down to, blatantly insulted, given minimal direction and instructions for work and what was expected of me for that afternoon. And spending my day doing unpaid work for a business I thought I was only attending an interview for. I decided to let another person figure out if that path was right for them. My gut certainly told me it wasn’t right for me.

I want to remind you to not let anything to get in your way of what seems like a genuine and promising opportunity. But please remain wide-eyed, vigilant and true to your gut. Things aren’t always what they seem, but your success should never be brought – keep earning it. Keep working hard and never let anyone take advantage of you.