I love the expression, “fueled by beef”. Beef is such a great source of zinc, iron and protein. I remember eating beef as a child because it was what my dad liked and, consequently, what my mom cooked. Little did I know that it was also giving me the ability to develop strong muscles, move oxygen around my body most efficiently, and allow for my brain to develop to its fullest potential. Those are all things that I think about now as a parent—As a child, all I cared about was that it tasted great and gave me a lot of energy!
I spent my “formative” years training to be a competitive swimmer (with a little bit of running tossed in during high school). From the time that I was 13 to the time that I was 20, I spent 4+ hours a day in the pool. While I love to swim, this “fanaticism” as my mom called it, actually stemmed from my personal attempt to turn “Adversity into Opportunity”.
In 7th grade, I was diagnosed with scoliosis. I had a 28 degree curve in my spine from T12 to L4. While those words meant little to me, my world changed the day that I put on my back brace for the first time. I was an athlete. I loved sports. I was GOOD at sports. How was I going to play sports with a back brace on?
The first time that I tried to field a ball (I played 2nd base) with my new back brace on, I realized that I could not bend at the waist enough to get my glove on the ground. I had the same problem playing other sports—the brace restricted my movement so much that I lost my athletic agility. Not to mention the fact that in South Florida with temperatures often in the 80’s and 90’s, it is an understatement to say that it was a little bit warm playing sports with a plastic brace covering my entire torso.
I focused on swimming because I refused to give up on my love of athletics. Interestingly enough, when I was in the water, it was considered “neutral” time on my spine so I could take my brace off. That was the only time for almost 3 years that I did not wear my brace. As I took out my frustrations on the water, I found that I was a gifted swimmer. I got faster and faster, and my self-esteem got better and better. I got through those difficult years because I found a positive focus. I turned “Adversity into Opportunity”, and I will forever be grateful to both my parents and my swim coach for believing in me and steering me to the pool when my life got challenging and complicated.
While the beef that I ate as a young athlete “fueled” my body, the thousands of hours of athletic training “fueled” my mind and prepared me for a life devoted to caring for food animals. Today, I use the same focus and tenacity caring for my animals that I used working toward my goal of being a Junior National Swimmer and an All-American in the 100 yard backstroke. In the winter (when it is below zero outside) and I have to go out and care for my animals I remember back to what I learned training to be a winner in the pool—success takes dedication, personal responsibility, and the ability to keep moving forward even when it hurts.
Today I spend much more time in my cowboy boots than hanging around the pool deck. But, as you can see from this picture taken recently, I have found a way to blend together my love of swimming and a life as a cowgirl. How many swimming coaches do you know that are poolside in boots?!