Continuing On


I think my brain is still in the process of gathering up the pieces, but I have to believe that I will get there eventually. Even if my heart and my brain aren’t there yet, I am too stubborn to stop trying.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~ Winston Churchill

1a. bottoms up kettlebell presses

10kg x 10 each, 10kg x 8 each

It’s highly satisfying to hit little PRs in the gym considering, or despite, the limitations I’ve been experiencing for the past couple of months.

2a. split squats-with safety bar and flat shoes

75 lbs x 12 each, 95 x 8 each, 115 x 7 each, 125 x 8 each, 125 x 8 each

2b. floor presses-moderate grip, no legs

45 lbs x 10

I didn’t have to do that many reps for the first set, but I had to fiddle with my leg positioning in order to find what would be the least bothersome to my back. Michael didn’t want any arching, but having my feet in the air and bracing is too painful on the back. Although I’ve been find with my knees bent and feet flat on the floor, today wasn’t super comfortable. What actually felt the best was to have my left leg bent and my right leg out straight on the floor. There was still a small arch in order to have some sort of good shoulder positioning, but I think it was small enough to not be a bother.

65 x 8, 90 x 8, 105 x 8, 105 x 6

I think these were all reasonably solid reps with decent speed.

3a. glute ham raises

x 10 just bodyweight

10kg kettlebell x 10

3b. single arm kb press while kneeling on a bench

10kg x 10 each x 2 sets

These felt a little tough, especially as each set wore on. I’m also not convinced the back liked these a whole lot, but it wasn’t too bad.

3c. single arm kettlebell row

16kg x 12 each x 2 sets

While the weight wasn’t overly challenging and I could have gone up on the second set, I think the better decision was to stay at the same weight rather than risk aggravating the back. There wasn’t significant pain during these, yet I could feel a bit of pressure in the back.

3d. ab wheel x 0

Despite having no troubles using the ab wheel earlier in this injured season, I just couldn’t do it this morning. I started to roll out but didn’t get too far.

hanging knee raises x 12, x 0

These were generally okay, except for the last rep. I’m not sure what I did…maybe lifted my knees too high or too fast or flexed my back a bit…I don’t know, but that last rep hurt. A fair bit. Tried for a second set and the very first attempted rep hurt, so I just hung out until my grip began to fail.

And just like that I had a decent training session, maybe one of the better ones I’ve had in the last week or two. Still so far from where I want to be, but focusing on what I can do is more productive than moping over what I can’t do.

Everything Changes

“When a woman feels her own strength, it’s empowering. She believes in herself and knows she can do more. It changes everything.” ~Kathrine Switzer

I just about burst into tears when I came across this quote yesterday. I absolutely adore this quote. Although I had never heard or seen it until yesterday, the truth within these words has resonated within my heart and soul for more than 3 years now. The journey from recreational runner to working with a personal trainer to powerlifter has provided me with the opportunity to feel my own strength, and that has most certainly been empowering. I have learned to believe in myself, to know that I can do more. My life has changed. In fact, everything has changed.

With this empowering comes incredible joy…and sometimes frustration. Once you know who you are and what you are capable of, then the appearance of setbacks and obstacles can at times weigh heavily on the emotions, the psyche, the self-confidence. The bigger the setback the greater the toll it takes.

I am no stranger to setbacks and obstacles over the course of this journey. I’ve had a stitch put in my finger a couple of weeks prior to my first powerlifting competition. I dropped a box on my neck three weeks before my first competition of 2016. I’ve had a disc issue which put an end to my goal of running a marathon and running at all. There have been little tweaks and aches from my shoulders all the way down to my toes. As much as those situations provided frustration, I think I handled them all with a decent measure of grace and positive attitude that I would get past them. I even felt the same way with this current back problem…back in February when it was still fresh and new.

But now it is almost mid-April and my back, in many ways, feels just as bad as it did back then. I am trying to maintain a positive attitude. I am doing everything that I am told to do by my chiropractor. There are bad days, not so bad days, and okay days. Just when I have a run of mostly okay days, the bad rears its ugly head and leaves me feeling like one floundering at sea. On the dark days my thoughts wander down dim rabbit holes of self-doubt and despair. Even though I know my strength and character, I must fight an internal battle against myself to believe it these days.

It’s easy enough to put a smile on my face and to say that I’m doing alright. The truth is that most people truly don’t want to know all that goes on within a person, and in many circumstances that is okay. There are instances when I don’t actually want to be honest about how I’m feeling, too. I don’t always want to be honest with my coach, when he asks about my back and how it is feeling and impacting my performance, but I also can’t actually hide the truth from him. Doing so would not help me in the long run, and he would see through me awfully quick. Still, he believes that I will overcome this, because I always do! If tears weren’t already tracking down my cheeks, my coach’s belief in me would unravel my fragile emotions.


“The most difficult thing is the decision to act; the rest is mere tenacity.” ~ Amelia Earhart

Are you a procrastinator? Sometimes I am. It has taken me at least 20 minutes to type this far, because I’ve been distracted both by situations out of my control and some completely of my choosing. I suspect that we’ve all been plagued by procrastination at one point or another, likely many times, and I think that is perfectly okay once in a while. The real problem arises when procrastination becomes our standard setting rather than a temporary delay. The more we delay doing, the more difficult it is to even begin. Society provides plenty of opportunity to postpone tasks that might be tedious, difficult, or menial. Society is a big fan of instant gratification, magic pills, and a lackadaisical attitude towards personal integrity.

I know how tough it can be to take the first step, to determine that change is worth the effort. I know what it feels like to have the desire to achieve a goal or make a change in my life only to remain stuck in the same rut I had always been in. I have felt the sting of failure more times than I can count. I know it isn’t easy, but I also know that it can be done! You can take that first step. You can make a change in your life regardless of whether it be big or small. Goals can be reached. I won’t promise that the task will be easy or without pitfalls; however, I can say that the benefits of striving for what lies ahead far outweigh the regrets that come on the heels of procrastination.

Unless you are a freak of nature, you simply will not lose weight by eating a boatload of fast food and sitting on your butt all day. For a long time I felt that losing weight and getting into shape was something for other people, people who were blessed with better genetics or will-power or athleticism. When I started this journey I wasn’t sure that I would get very far, because the vicious cycle of start-stall-quit was what I was most familiar with. Sometimes I feel as if there are some people who look at me as being on a high pedestal of perfection that they could never hope to reach for themselves. It quite often comes with statements like, “I don’t know how you can do that!” or “I could never do that!” or “I wish I could do what you do!”

It’s not easy to know what to say in the face of such statements. Part of me wants to say that they are completely capable, that they can do that and more if they only make the effort. But then I usually don’t say much of anything. I don’t want to come across as cold or uncaring, when the truth is that I am definitely not either of those things. I just don’t always know what to say or how to say it in the moment…the joys of being an introvert who needs to think before speaking. Perhaps Jane Doe cannot do everything that I have done or will yet do, but that doesn’t mean that Jane Doe cannot do amazing things for herself!

There has been a quote floating around that I quite like but have failed to write down in my little notebook of quotes, which loosely remembered says that you cannot compare your story to someone else’s because you both are not on the same chapter. My story isn’t finished and neither is yours. I don’t know where you are in your story; I only know my own. We each have to live our own lives, and yet, I can tell you that every journal begins with a single step and continues by the act of putting one foot in front of the other. Cliché? Of course, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true! The most difficult thing is deciding to act, truly act, not just the good intention that comes with wishful thinking, but honest-to-goodness action with purpose. Once you make the decision that you want to seriously act, then the rest falls into place by the act of continuing on in similar fashion. That’s called tenacity.

Perhaps great results are more about determination and tenacity than about ability or genetics. I happen to think so.

Do You Visualize?

The theme of visualization comes up quite frequently in conversations between my coach and I, and yesterday the subject was broached by someone else. As is often the case when I’m asked an unexpected question, I felt like a deer in the headlights and I stammered out some sort of response that felt inadequate. In typical Angela fashion, I spent the rest of the day thinking about the question and my weak response. While I was able to connect later with the one who posed the question, my brain was still chewing on the question as I lay in bed last night, which is where this blog post was born.

Do I use visualization? The short answer is yes, but I am a thinker which means that there is much more meat to my answer than simply yes. I don’t think I truly used visualization much before I began training three years ago. While I could day-dream about how I wanted to look or what I wanted to achieve, those imaginings were wisps of smoke that vanished with the slightest breeze. Those aren’t visualizations. To me, visualizing a dream or goal requires focus, belief, determination, and persistence.

In the weeks and months leading up to my first competition of this year, visualization was an integral part of my day-to-day life. I had a couple of big goals for that competition. Firstly, I wanted to deadlift more than 300 pounds, which would be at least double my bodyweight and, secondly, I wanted to break the World record for the deadlift in my age/weight class, which was 319 pounds. I had never pulled 300 pounds before, but I desperately wanted to achieve both of those goals. For the World record, I had this one chance, because this was my only opportunity to compete with this organization this year and I would enter a new age group in January. The goal seemed very big.

I have not always been confident in my deadlift. I will never forget my second competition, because I went into it with absolutely no confidence in my deadlift. In training leading up to that competition, my deadlifts sucked and I expected the struggle to continue on the platform. As my coach and I had to settle on attempts during the competition, he wanted to choose higher numbers, while I wanted to play it safe. My final deadlift turned out to be super easy. I should have trusted my coach, but I learned a lesson that day. That lesson really doesn’t have much to do with visualization, but I mention this story to show the difference in my outlook over the course of one year. In April 2015, I thought my deadlift was a weak link and would never improve. Leading up to May 2016, I was gunning for a World record, and I believed that I could do it.

Training has helped me learn to believe in myself and my abilities. Not perfectly. I still sometimes struggle with insecurities and doubts, but I do find that I must make the choice to believe in myself in those instances when I don’t feel up to the task. It isn’t always a natural instinct. I guess it is kind of like a muscle…you’ve got to keep using it or it atrophies. Visualization has played a big role in believing in myself. Visualization is more than just an image inside your head. It is actively thinking through the steps required to reach your goal. It is a form of discipline, a conscious decision to align your thoughts, feelings, attitude and body into a cohesive unit, because quite often we are rather messy inside and branching out in a multitude of directions.

With my big deadlift goal, I pictured myself going through the motions from the moment the judge called out, “The bar is loaded.” I saw myself striding to the bar with purpose, settling my feet into position, taking a breath and grabbing hold of the bar with my hands in proper position, breathing again and pushing my legs into the floor as the bar would rise until my body was fully erect and knees locked out. I could hear the judge give me the down command. I saw myself lower the bar under control. I saw the white lights. I could see myself break the World record. My visualization was so intense that I would frequently be emotionally affected by it. It didn’t matter if I was pouring coffee at work, out for a walk, or laying in bed, I would visualize my deadlift and I would feel the emotion of it as if it was actually happening. Adrenaline would course through my body. My hands would get a little shaky. My voice would choke and tears would sting my eyes.

Of course, visualization isn’t always going to be that intense and overwhelming, at least not in my experience. I think that the enormity of the goal resulted in such an extreme response, but most of my visualization takes place without the fanfare. In most cases, I just make sure that my head is in the right frame of mind for what I am trying to achieve. In terms of my training, I mentally go through the motions of the mechanics of the exercise and the little cues that my coach uses to help me. I picture myself doing the exercise properly, efficiently, and strongly, and I can feel the pride and joy that comes with such success.

I wish I could say that using visualization will always result in real success, but I can’t. I was unsuccessful in my attempt to break the World record. That’s disappointing and frustrating, because I feel like I had the ability. However, I did still deadlift more than 300 pounds, so that is success that I can sink my teeth into and be happy with. Visualization hasn’t made chin-ups any easier for me, and there are still days when I have a very hard time believing that chin-ups will ever get easier for me. As I am working on my little overhead squat goal, my biggest challenge is getting the bar overhead, and that process is fraught with landmines of doubt and frustration, because I am learning new skills that make me feel awkward and uncoordinated. In this situation, I need to be careful not to think too much, because over-thinking can get me into trouble. Visualization and over-thinking are not the same thing, I don’t think; however, that line may be thin at times.

Over-thinking, in my experience, often leads to mistakes and hesitation because we’re afraid of making a mistake. As I was learning stuff for my new job, I would begin to over-think, because I didn’t want to make a mistake and I doubted myself. It got to the point where I would have dreams at night about work and going through the motions of making drinks. There was no intent on my part to dream about work, and my thinking about work was merely stressing me out more. Visualization shouldn’t cause more stress, not in my opinion.

I think that the act of visualization is something that should become habitual and practically effortless. Ideally. It should be something so deeply ingrained in our behaviour that it is a natural part of who we are and what we do. I’m not sure if this example is the best, but I think it works. Way, way back when I was in grade 10, we had to take a typing class. Yes, as in typewriter! We were taught how to type properly with two hands and without looking at the keyboard. I distinctly remember being instructed to use every opportunity to visualize and practice no matter where we were by moving our fingers as if typing. And so, as I would watch television or listen to someone talking, my fingers would be moving as if striking keys. I’ll let you in on a secret…sometimes, to this very day, I will still catch myself “air typing” while listening to conversation. I may not be the fastest or best typer in the world, but I am comfortable on a keyboard. My hands know what they need to do, because they and my brain have been visualizing together for nearly three decades.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” ~ Socrates

Ordinary People

“There are men and women who make the world better just by being the kind of people they are. They have the gift of kindness or courage or loyalty or integrity. It really matters very little whether they are behind the wheel of a truck or running a business or bringing up a family. They teach the truth by living it.” ~James Garfield

I love words and quotes, and I have a small notebook in which I write down quotes that strike my fancy or give me cause to think. The quote above was written in my notebook this afternoon; I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment. I know people like this, and I appreciate them for who they are and the example they are to me.

There is a danger in writing a post like this one, because I am likely to forget to include someone who most definitely deserves the honour of being mentioned, and yet I cannot refrain from writing about such people for fear of forgetting. So, if I know you in real life and you feel that there is valid reason for you to be included in this list but do not see your name, have no fear! At some point in my day-to-day life, I do think of you and am thankful for your presence in my life. Forgive me for the frailty of my memory. Sometimes I can remember the most random and useless details, while forgetting the name of someone who sits in front of me at church nearly every week. In my defense, I’ve got a lot filed away inside my head and I cannot always access all of the file folders quickly enough.

I had a chiropractor appointment this afternoon. My chiropractor, Ben, is definitely on this list. He changed my opinion of chiropractors on my very first visit. He is young but an old soul. He loves adventure and the outdoors. He has a great sense of humour, and I like the fact that he gets my sense of humour, too. Ben is down-to-earth, honest and oozing integrity. I think he mocks me sometimes, and I likely deserve every bit of it, but I also know that his mocking is gentle and good-natured. Despite the mocking of my tendency to beat myself up, I know that Ben is proud of me and cheering me on. It is his fault that I was interviewed by Shaw TV. Ben is the kind of person that I would be honoured to know even if he wasn’t my chiropractor, but I am incredibly grateful to have him taking care of me, even when I beat myself up!

At one point this afternoon as I was mentally reviewing tomorrow’s agenda. First up is a training session, and my immediate mental response was, “I get to go to the gym tomorrow!” Did you catch the excitement in that thought? It was definitely there! In the three years that I have been training with Michael at Progressive Fitness, there has never once been a moment when I dragged myself to the gym reluctantly. Okay, so maybe the very first two days when I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I look forward to every training session, even on upper body days. The gym is a happy place for me. While I believe that I am at the point where training has become as much a part of my life as doing laundry, Michael has played a major role in helping me get to that point. I had no interest in going to a gym or having a personal trainer. I began with reluctance and fear. Michael has all of the wonderful character traits that a good trainer should have. He is positive, encouraging, engaging, motivating, kind and understanding, knowledgeable. He continues to learn. He pushes but not beyond capability or his belief in your ability. He leads by example, but isn’t afraid to admit that he isn’t perfect. He lives his passion. Michael has helped me become the best version of myself, and he has become a dear friend.

Michael’s wife, Tara, has also become a precious friend. She absolutely amazes me with her passions and talents and nature. With Tara, I feel like I can comfortably be myself and be completely accepted and loved. Tara loves. She is down-to-earth and real. Her laughter is loud and infectious. Her hugs are precious, and so are her emotions. Tara has a wealth of experiences and insights that make her a treasure to all who know her. She is passionate in her pursuits. I feel deeply honoured to be loved by Tara and her family; I love them all! I learn so much from her, and Tara inspires me.

My friend Karen is also amazing. She is a story-teller, a gift-giver, a lover of food, a vivacious laugher. We have been through a lot together over many years, and I cannot imagine my life without her in it. Karen also loves. She cares deeply for her family and friends, both of which are extensive. Karen is honest and real and loyal.

Gabe, the current president of the British Columbia Powerlifting Association, made an impression on me. He was the meet director for a competition in April 2015 that I attended, which was my second competition and my first with the BCPA. We were introduced to each other there, but our interaction was rather short. Then in August of that year, I attended a competition in Kamloops as a spectator. Gabe was there. He recognized me, remembered my name, and made a point of chatting with me. Now I am really good with faces. I might not remember the name, but I can recognize a face and the gears in my head will spin until I can place where and why I know the face. Still, it always takes me by surprise when someone remembers me. I don’t think I’m all that memorable really, to be honest. Gabe is genuine and warm and encouraging. He has been involved with three of the powerlifting competitions that I have done over the past 13 months, and he never fails to respond to me as if we’re great friends. He is passionate about powerlifting and for powerlifting, and his passion rubs off on others.

As much as it may sound strange, I also have to include a couple of my favourite baristas, because they likely would have made this list even if I wasn’t working at Starbucks now. In the two years since I began drinking coffee, I slowly became a frequenter of the Starbucks closest to home, and it truly is close to home being roughly two kilometres from my house. I would be amazed whenever the barista would remember my name or my order or both. All of the baristas at my Starbucks have been and are wonderful; however, at the risk of offending my current co-workers, there were two baristas who never failed to make my day when I was still just a customer. Lisa and Jared. They would greet me as if I was an old friend, even though I was just another customer to serve. Their natures, their examples encouraged me to believe that I could fit in on the other side of the counter. Lisa’s passion for coffee and Starbucks is amazing, and she is just as passionate about the people she works with and the people that come through the doors each day for coffee and connection. While I didn’t get to work with Jared for very long before he changed locations to further his career, I enjoyed learning from him and sharing a laugh or some banter. As I am becoming familiar with my co-workers, I am learning to appreciate their uniqueness and personal flare with the customers. Each one, in some way, inspires, encourages and challenges me to be better.

Well, this is getting rather wordy, and I could go on and on if given the chance. Instead, I’ll sign off with the knowledge that there are amazing people out there, and I am blessed to know just a few.

Lessons from Zorba

I love words, so I guess it is only natural that I also love books. Not only do I love the weight, texture, feel and smell of books, I do actually enjoy reading them, too! I thought I should clarify that, because some people are weird in that they like something but never do anything with that thing. Kind of like comic book collectors who amass a grand collection in plastic, sterile sleeves without ever opening the covers to read the pages. In a small way, I can appreciate that reluctance to misuse something considered precious, but I am also a practical person who doesn’t have the luxury of possessing treasures for the sake of merely owning them. I love my treasures by using them.

On the recommendation of my chiropractor, last week I picked up a copy of Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis. I am maybe a quarter of the way through it, but I am quite enjoying it. My chiropractor thought that I would be able to identify with the protagonist. Already I think I can see why he would say that, but I need to finish the book before finalizing those thoughts.

I frequently underline, highlight and write in interesting and thought-provoking non-fiction books (my own copies, of course); however, that isn’t something I usually do with fiction. The Shack might be the only time I have done so with a fiction book before Zorba. Two things stand out so far.

“The crow in question walked around at first properly, correctly, as a crow should. But one day it took it into its head to walk like a partridge, swaggering. From that time on the poor thing forgot its own method of walking, lost it, and now-can’t you see?-it moves by hopping on one foot.”

Did you catch that? Does it resonate within you the way it does within me? Here is my take on it…be yourself! Don’t try to impersonate someone else, thinking that they are better than you and therefore you need to be like them, because you are uniquely you and no one else can be you better. Trying to be something you are not is going to make your life miserable, and you might even forget who you really are along the way. Trust me, I know from experience.

“As I get older I become wilder, by God. Why do people sit there and keep telling me that old age tames a person, makes him lose his zest, stretch out his neck when he sees death and say, ‘Slaughter me, please, dear agha, so that I may become a saint’? As for me, as I get older I become wilder. I don’t quit. I want to eat up the whole wide world.”

I am not so old that I am thinking about death, but I am of an age, I think, that some might consider as being old enough to settle down, to lose my zest, to become tame and settled. This is not how I feel at 44 years of age, and I cannot imagine ever feeling that way at any age. Those who know me might well say that I am becoming wilder with age, and this is true. I do not want to quit. I do want to devour the whole wide world, or at least as much as I am able. My theme for 2016 is Alive. I want to live life to the fullest, to enjoy the opportunities before me, to love the people who are in my life, and to take all of that love and joy I have inside and radiate it outwards. That’s not a complicated task at all, and yet it is incredibly rewarding. Truly, I think it is simply living instead of merely existing. I’ve existed long enough; I want to live.

What I Do

“One of the most important things I’ve learned in life is to ignore most of what people say. I watch what they do instead.” ~Amanda Patterson

My coach came and cleaned out my kitchen yesterday afternoon. He was in need of a guinea pig in order to complete an assignment for a course that he is taking, and I resemble a guinea pig quite often. My kitchen probably wasn’t the most ideal one for the purpose of his assignment, because I have made many healthier changes to my kitchen over the past few years. I am not perfect though. My family isn’t always on board with the healthy changes that I have made, and my kids have varying degrees of pickiness which present a field of hidden landmines to navigate when cooking. Still, there were some things found in my cupboards of which I was slightly embarrassed by their discovery, mostly greatly expired items. It looks really bad when your coach asks you if you know what year it is as he is checking out the expiry date on a jar of applesauce!

I had forewarned my coach that there were Fruit Loops in my cupboard, and he already knew that I had a stash of chocolate. I was asked if I am tempted at all by these things in my cupboards, and my answer was a most definite no. I can state that with complete honesty. Do I miss enjoying those treats? Yes, at times I definitely do; however, missing them is not the same as being tempted to indulge. I am organized, detail-oriented, focused, probably somewhat OCD, and driven to reach my goals, and my current goals require me to go without those unhealthy but oh so delicious treats. There is a lot of chocolate in my cupboard, at least 7, 8 or more bars of dark chocolate, from the plain 85% to 70% and flavoured. I even have some salted caramel dark chocolates which were given to me at Christmas! With my love affair for salted caramel and chocolate, the fact that I still have these in my cupboard is a testament to my determination!

But my focus and determination doesn’t mean that I am never tempted. It may be quite easy, for me, to turn a blind eye to the goodies in my own kitchen or at my workplace, yet I am still human. Just a short while ago, I was out and about running an errand or two, when there in my field of vision was a McDonalds. Now I see this McDonalds all the time. It shares a parking lot with my place of work and is close to my Starbucks and a couple of grocery stores I often shop. I don’t recall the last time I had McDonalds, yet I suddenly found myself craving French fries. In a very bad way. I even began to justify in my mind how I could allow myself to indulge. I could just get a small sized portion. I would track it on my food log. After all, fries aren’t necessarily taboo for me right now; they just aren’t the best choice. I’ve carefully planned for consuming additional calories today in preparation for tomorrow’s deadlifts. See! I was tempted. I even had worked out a plan as to how to fit it into my errands. I’d get my few groceries, get my coffee, go through the drive-thru and then go home. All of these thoughts and manipulations occurred in just a handful of minutes. I was going to go for it.

Then I didn’t go for it. I knew that I could have. I knew that the world would not end and my goal would not shrivel up and die if I had a small serving of fries. My coach has told me that I could allow myself a few treats, accounting for them by adjusting my macros, and I know that I could do that quite easily. I choose not to, because I know how easy it would be for me to find more ways to justify less than stellar eating habits. If I fail to achieve my goal, I want that to be due to factors that I cannot control. It doesn’t matter how much weight I deadlift next month if I cannot make the necessary weight class. But even more than my desire to break that record, I decided against the fries, because I know that there are people watching me.

I’ve got a lot of people in my corner, cheering me on. They believe in me. Sometimes I don’t understand why they do, but I don’t want to let them down. As much as my kids may mock my healthy habits, my training, my powerlifting and my goals, I hold to the belief that they are always observing and learning from me, even when they would strongly deny it. I want to be a woman of integrity, even if that means that I don’t cheat myself by cheating on my “diet”. Sometimes achieving a big goal requires a lot of hard work, sacrifice and determination. Whether or not I reach my goals, I know that I am gaining just as much, if not more, from the process and the striving than I ever will from actually achieving the goal. I can say a lot of things (although being an introvert it is highly unlikely that I would), but what I do is ultimately of much greater importance.