Jules: Yesterday Coach Ray got up really early to support the swim team. He took us through our paces and I am pleased we are still hitting new personal bests. The Minister of Veteran Affairs breakfasted with us, engaging with everyone and listening to our personal stories through Invictus. We are all getting in last minute coaching tips and practice together for our team sports. I am looking forward to going with this group. They are very cool people and all have worked really hard to get here, frequently through pretty tough circumstances.
Coach Ray put some questions to the group this morning, that we can either think about or write to if we wish. I found them very difficult to answer so have spent some time writing what I think I have learned. They are a bit “raw” but honest.
How can I be thankful for the challenges that I’ve experienced? What did I learn from them?
I found this question very hard to answer. I think I misread this question and CoachRay is actually asking about the challenges, not the illness or injury. I am thankful for the “silver linings”, all the things I have learnt because of them. Life is a gift, not a promise. I know that we all fundamentally know this, but prioritising life carefully with attention to the really important stuff, is key. It sounds simple, but is, in reality, much harder to do. Before becoming ill, I had thought I had this down, but if I look at my life since I have been in remission, I find I now live more. I say what I think is important, especially to others, and I do the right things for me and my family, more than I ever did. I have learnt it is easy to get life out of balance and focus on the wrong things. I am far more aware of doing “the real stuff that matters”. I am very thankful for this life lesson, regardless of how it was learnt.
How is my life different today than it was a year ago? How can I be thankful for those changes?
My life is extremely different from a year ago. I am now more true to who I am. I know I am fitter, am constantly stepping out of my comfort zone, and saying yes to more, but these are almost secondary changes. I had become isolated and a bit withdrawn since being ill. I found many people just didn’t understand what life in remission looks like, and I wasn’t able to explain. But now I can, when needed, and I know I will get better at this. Invictus has allowed me to find my voice again. The support from my team mates, coaches and family and the sport have helped me find satisfaction and success. I think the only way to “really live” is to live purposefully, joyfully, and thankfully. Give back to others wherever you can.
What insights have I gained that I am grateful for?
I know how to better react to circumstances out of my control. I am still learning this every day, but now rather than struggle so very hard with this, mostly I am learning to manage. I am incredibly grateful for learning to “Live like you mean it”.
This also means having more fun.
I just made a quick “covert mission” into the Mess (Dining room) for hoovering more food, as we have trained twice today and I’m so hungry I can’t wait for dinner. I didn’t get caught, but now you know.
Nicki: An early morning start for some of us today as we headed to the pool for a swim season with Ray. Great to see that the team are coming along well – except for me. Yeah, nah. Not happening for me there. I have been suffering from a sinus infection and it does not like me having my head down, water up the nose or pressure around the head/eye region (swim cap and goggles) and dizzy getting onto the starting blocks. I tried to swim my little heart/lungs out but not looking good at the moment. I will keep training, try my best and do all that I can for the team, go Team NZ.
After a team breakfast with the Minister of Veteran Affairs and a quick photo shoot, it was off to our various sports training. Archery for me, out on the North Shore. Driven out there by Sister Jackie, as the rest of us took a step backwards and said ‘not me’ for driving. They even looked at me for a second, till I reminded them I was from Dunedin and we don’t have two lane round-abouts, as such there. Archery was great and we all practiced on the 18m distances, 60cm targets. Had to borrow a bow and arrows from the Club and after setting it up, we talked about the set up in Canada and the fact some aspects are still unclear, such as, if we as Novice Archers can use a stabiliser or not when shooting our ends? I practiced without a stabiliser, which I did not enjoy very much – but need to practice in the most difficult situation I might have to face. Interesting to see what happens in Canada. There was a very muddy field to cross before we could get to our shooting area but someone had the fore sight of packing plastic bags to tie around our shoes, to keep clean. Great Kiwi intuition here. They were a little slippery in the mud but got the job done. A positive day and more goals to aim for. In the evening we had a sponsors function to saying a big thank you to the people who helped us get here.
Coach Ray: Yesterday started off with a early swim session. As Jules is the Vice Captain of the team she had the responsibility to meet the Minister of Veteran’s Affairs, Hon David Bennett and so she started her session at 6am with the rest of the swim team arriving for their session at 6:30am. We did a series of sprints over both 33⅓ yards and 66⅔ yards utilising the strokes that they will be racing with in Toronto. All athletes did well, Jules set some PBs in both Breaststroke and Freestyle over both distances, so did Dan and Craig. Although Nicki is disappointed with her health, she still did amazing with what she managed to do despite her condition.
The remainder of the day for was sorting gear, some meetings and planning for tomorrow. After dinner we had a function for the sponsors to show our appreciation. Representatives from Fulton Hogan, Invacare, Attitude TV, RSA, as well as senior members of the Defence Force, joined us to watch the All Black’s whitewash South Africa. Tomorrow will be a busy day with all morning in the gym working with the rowing team.
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Heading Photo Credit courtesy of New Zealand Defence Force.