If It Doesn't Break You, It Will Make You!

fsIf It Doesn't Break You, It Will Make You!
"Choosing Strength and Belief in Yourself, When It Seems Like the Odds are Against You."
"When you want to give up, just think of the people who would love to see you fail. Don't give them that pleasure" Trish Mangone-Kish
 I have been there, like I know many of you have as well.  The pain, tears, set backs, losses, relationships, stresses and overall life challenges and/or changes that occur that can take a HUGE toll on how we, as individuals, take the next step forward or backward with our life and what we want to do.  Each of us face the good, the bad and the ugly in our daily living, and some of us feel it, or have it happen more than others, but it is all about what we decide to do with these experiences that make us either stronger by grabbing life by the reins and living, or weaker by letting the experience get the best of us.
As humans, changes in life happen.  There is no way to avoid them.  Change can either be positive or not and how one chooses to accept that change will make the difference in their daily living. Change can have several positive aspects, which include:
~ new experiences/opportunities
~ new ideas and ways of thinking
~ new found personal strengths e.g., self confidence
Change can also have negative aspects, and various emotions 550546 447273601980732 447674836 nand feelings tied to it depending on life experience, situation and circumstances.  This can included:
~ fear of the unknown stress
~ anxiety 
~ depression 
~ anger
~ tiredness
~ lack of concentration
~ feeling overwhelmed
There are always going to be these situations that occur in life, because after all we are human and it would not be life if we were not faced with all of its realities. Sometimes the realities we face will hit too close to home, and those are the ones that will truly define who we are and what we are actually made of.  I am looking at the negative or sad experiences that we face with life, since those seem to be the ones that can make or break us.  Life has a funny way of almost testing us to see if we can overcome and move on, living in a positive state, while not forgetting what happened.  Everyone always says or tells you that "it happened for a reason".  This is true, but what was the reason or what were you to learn is never really clear until you are able to see it on your own and in your own time. No one is going to be able to tell you or show you why, you alone have to make that choice when ready to accept what happened.
With all of this being said, life's255537 10151017784846297 286247661 n ups and downs effects everyone and causes stress.  It drains you mentally, emotionally and can change you physically.  Individuals can fall into isolation and distance themselves from others, or they can take what happened and channel their emotions into something positive and challenging.  Like all individuals, athletes are human too.  They are faced with the realities of life and have to cope and deal as well, but what do athletes do if they compete or are thinking of competing? How do you cope and deal with, or work on the experience, and what do you do to either move on or not?  Even though change at times can be painful and difficult we can usually find something positive from the experience.
This idea came to me when I attended one of the Regional shows of the Ontario Physique Association a few weeks ago in Kitchener-Waterloo Ontario, on October 13 2012.  As I sat and watched the pre-judging, updating the show on behalf of the OPA to social media, I found myself in a moment of inspiration when legendary Tosca Reno, widow of the late Bob Kennedy stepped out on stage in the Open and Grand Masters Bikini classes.  Here was this woman - wife, mother, athlete and celebrity, who had just recently lost the love of her life a few short months prior to cancer, and here she was competing.  This was a moment like no other.  Instead of grieving in private, hiding out from the world, and not living life doing the things that she loved to do, Tosca faced the hardship, loss and pain head-on and put all of that energy into her love of competing and Bob's love for this industry.  Tosca stepped on that stage for not only herself, but Bob.  She dedicated her stage showing and prepping for the show to the memory of him.  This to me was strength.
Tosca is not one to shy away from living life and taking negative or sad life experiences and turning the situation around into something positive.  This is something she has done several times throughout her life.  She has shown time and time again t400473 10151018876226297 1555591670 nhat she is human and real. To say she is an inspiration to many women would be correct.  To be motivated by her and learn from her because she is like each one of us, is very true as well.  Tosca Reno has been able to reach out and touch many, women in particular, because she has had battles with her weight, personal struggles balancing her personal and work life, and numerous challenges throughout that have shaped her into who she is today.  Tosca knows what many are dealing with because she was once there. 
I know that many of us, athletes and competitors alike, have faced moments of struggle and hardship and have chosen to push through and not let the experience hold us back or define us.  For me, it was the end of something so meaningful and close to my heart that helped push me to step on stage and compete in bodybuilding for the first time.  I chose to take what happened and the emotions and channel all of it into proving it to myself that I can do this and make it, regardless of what happens.  Getting into this industry years later, and doing a photo shoot and taking on the many hats that I have, have all been questioned and challenged by people I thought were positives in my life.  That sense of loss or negativity that clouded me, I used as a way to work harder and show I belonged and that I knew what I was doing. Truth is, as many times that I wanted to give up and hide or turn away...the tears, stress and frustration...loss of sleep, self-doubt, negative self-talk, and insecurities, eventually all were what I used to push me through, to work harder, to prove to not only myself but the negative experiences that I could do this.  When the weight of the world felt like it was on my shoulders and the feeling of being all alone presented itself, as well as, the wanting to give up, walk away from it all because it would be easier to do than face the reality of what was happening or happened, I had to make a choice.
Does being able to do this make me better than anyone fitness-gym1else...no.  But what it does is show not only myself, but perhaps a few others that I chose to take, just like Tosca did, the life experience that caused life to change and build a strength to overcome and succeed. 
Each of us will face changes in our life, some for the good and some not, but it is all in how we as individuals choose to cope, deal and find that inner strength to succeed that is the real challenge.  We can either become a victim of our situation or a victor.  This industry and competing takes a large toll on all of us athletes physically, mentally and emotionally, yet we do it because we know the outcome of saying we did it is worth it in the end, the same goes for when we are faced with negative changes, challenges and setbacks...saying to yourself and showing others that you came out on top regardless shows true strength and belief in yourself.

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