Tagged: paralympics

Chance Encounters, Mindfulness, and Hippies

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Today’s post came¬†from a chance encounter I had walking home from work last¬†week. Chipotle and dry cleaning in hand, I was crossing the street in front of my place when I ran into a gentleman searching for a bookstore. As I gently broke the news¬†to him that there were no bookstores within walking distance (and wondered how on Earth I was still living in this intellectually-barren wasteland), we fell into a conversation about schools and careers and goals. Because Washington.

“Lost sidewalk man” was actually¬†Kenneth Wesson, noted brain researcher¬†and education consultant. Kenneth¬†being a neuroscientist¬†and me being in the veteran space, we organically hit¬†on¬†the topic of traumatic brain injury (TBI). I told him about Chris Clemens, a veteran I had worked with at the training center.

While deployed to Afghanistan in 2004, Chris sustained a traumatic brain injury when an RPG exploded in his camp. Still, that summer I watched Chris sprint, long jump, and train his way to the 2012 London Paralympic Games. Kenneth told me that adaptive sports are so effective at treating TBI because they non-surgically re-wire the brain.

That stuck with me. Non-surgically rewiring the brain.

Back in March, Rebecca Hiscott over at Mashable listed¬†eight ways technology had started to re-wire the human brain. In the 1950s, people dreamed in black and white. Our memory and attention spans are worse. Our visual skills and creativity are better. And “phantom vibration syndrome” is¬†a thing. A very annoying thing.

The point¬†that we can train the brain the same way we train the body. Often times what separates a gold and silver medalist is…mindfulness. (Knew that religion major would come in handy someday!) And I think it’s a lot like that in life. Mindfulness before that interview or date or hard conversation.

During Sochi, Mike Wise at the Washington Post profiled snowboarder & gold medalist Jamie Anderson:

Asked what helped her cope with the pressure before the night of the event, music, candles or meditation, Anderson said, ‚ÄúAll of the above.¬†.‚ÄČ.‚ÄČ.¬†Put on some meditation music, burn some sage. Got the candles going. Just trying to do a little bit of yoga.‚ÄĚ

Ommmm

After she was through centering a group of stressed-out reporters on Internet deadlines, it wasn’t clear whether she had just swept the slopestyle snowboarding events for the U.S. or was set to open a restorative wellness center with a noon Ashtanga class.

Either way: Tell your children to breathe. Be present. Don’t worry about sending them to institutions of higher learning; take a walk in the woods. Chill-ax, it’ll all work out.

Freaking hippie might just be on to something.

JAMIE ANDERSON AP

Fifty Posts and I’m Out!

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(Editor’s Note at the bottom!)

Greetings from the other side, peeps!¬†Yes, you may now refer to me as Mistress of Global Communication or you know, whatever’s clever. Graduation Day take two, and the start of a new phase. Once again God is laughing at my plans, but I’ve long since learned to laugh with Him. Good exercise for the belly just in time for summer.

To explain, I guess I assumed the other side of graduation would be filled with television, non-academic reading, revisited hobbies, and writing. And when I say writing, I mean an over-promised and under-delivered continuation of  the plucky little blog that could.

Well, turns out there’s no cable jack in my room; I’m exhibiting commitment issues with my books of choice; and I have yet to hop on that train all the way to Joy of Motion Dance Studio in Friendship Heights. No, instead I’m still Hulu-ing the hours away, developing an unhealthy interest in Broadway off-Broadway, and seriously thinking about buying a road bike. I’ve been on hiatus from the blog about a month too long, and as for the Games? Well I still love them. Always will. But there’s been a shift, and like all truly life-altering moments, it all started with a tweet.

A couple weeks ago I was lying in bed scrolling through my TL when I saw it: “New Asst. Manager Communications position open with U.S. Paralympics.” O_O!!! This was it! The dream job for which I was semi-qualified for was finally open!!!

I. Went. Nuts.

I favorited the tweet. I called my parents. I started mentally annotating the job description in my head. (Still in bed at this point, mind you.) Then I remembered, “Hey, wait a second…I have a job. I do? Yes! I do. I ¬†have a job. One that I like a lot! Right.”

Was I really ready to uproot my life and say peace to the team I’d come to love? Was I ready to break my word to my amazing boss (like really, who says that!) and leave before a year? And suddenly, not 15 minutes out from opening my eyes that morning, I was faced with one of those life dilemmas where you have to decide the type of person you’re going to be in this world. And I’ll be darned if I wasn’t still in bed about to be late for work.

Long story short, it took about two minutes to decide to stay put, but I had a longer conversation with my mom later on that evening about it. I said, “Mom, now just isn’t the time. I know I’m supposed to be here. And I love it. But my dream is still the Games. That’s been the dream for so long, and I just got swept up.” You know what she said?

“But Kimmie, you already had it.”

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Clearly, I have been remiss. As she explained her words, though, I found myself agreeing. I had lived my dream. This past summer at the training center. That was it. I wanted to work for the USOC. Check. I wanted to go to the Games again. Check. I wanted to be a part of it all. Check.

Peeps, I love the Games, and I always will, but I think it’s time for me to mark this mission accomplished and move on to some new goals. So yea, fifty posts and I’m out! I’ve decided it’s time for me to close this chapter of my life and start drafting a new dream. Is it too late to be an astronaut??

11/24/13: Guys, I’ve had more than a few hints and some deep thoughts about picking this blog back up. After all, it’s familiar and comfortable and Sochi is just around the corner. Taking a break from Good Times and Gold Medals has been challenging, but it’s given me time to revisit forgotten projects and dream some new dreams for my writing. For updates on all things Games, definitely check out Around the Rings. For all things Kim, follow me on Twitter @superkimtendo and stay tuned!

We got a million ways to get it!…Sled Sharks Pt. 2

I am a woman possessed. By my capstone project. It has bewitched me body and soul (Happy 200th birthday, Pride and Prejudice!) But seriously, guys, this project is turning out to be one of the coolest things I’ve done in this city. If you’re looking for something awesome to do in your city, find a club near you (http://findaclub.usparalympics.org/) and shoot them an SOS: “Save me from the relative average-ness of my existence! Here are some times that work for me…”

(Disclaimer: I’m about two weeks in to my capstone, and I haven’t been blogging as I should. Everything I say may or may not have actually happened…here we go.)

Last Sunday, I dragged my roommate with me to Kettler Capitals Iceplex to do some filming for the DC Sled Sharks as they faced off against the Baltimore Bennett Blazers. It was a tough game, and with the starting goalie out sick, the Sled Sharks still managed to put some points on the board, but the Blazers took the W.

It was an amazing experience to shoot it. My first attempt for the project, so I took one or two cues from the reporters that used to come to the OTC…aka I was frontin…hard. I was climbing on top of things, shooting from overhead angles, panning the scene. I was like the Rudy of amateur film. I had no idea what I was doing, but dang it, I had heart. Nowhere near as big as the Sled Sharks, though. On to the next, fellas! We got a million ways to get it!

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…Sled Sharks!

If you’ve been reading my blog this past year, then you’re probably well aware of my fan-girling for Paralympics and adaptive sport. You probably also know that I will be completing a capstone project with Para Sport DC at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in the spring. Pumped, pumped, pumped. You know why? Two words. Sled Sharks.

NRH is home to the DC Sled Sharks, a sled hockey team for disabled youngsters in the DC metro area. Every week these guys meet up for practice at Kettler Capital Ice, the official training rink of Washington Capitals. Same ice, same game, same rules. Only difference is instead of skates, the players are seated on specially-designed sleds with two hockey blades on the bottom. They use two wooden sticks with metal picks on the ends to push off the ice and control the puck.

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Coach Brian Dutton explained to WAMU: “We’ve had kids with Spina Bifida, amputees, conjoined twins — two players that were connected at the head — on two different sleds…Once you get out on the ice, [disabilities don’t] matter, it’s playing the game,” he says. “They love throwing big hits. Everything about hockey, these guys are into!”

Adaptive activities for youth are not just limited to sports either. The Boston Ballet runs an adaptive dance program with Children’s Hospital, Boston for children with Down Syndrome. The Dance Council of North Texas serves people of all ages in the Dallas area, including those challenged by¬†Parkinson’s,¬† severe autism, and difficulties from aging. As often happens with the Olympics, one of the most inspiring stories of adaptive dance came out of China during the Beijing Games. In 2008, an earthquake shook the Sichaun region of China, leaving nearly 70,000 people dead and thousands more trapped and hurt. After more than 70 hours, 11-year old Li Yue was saved from the rubble of her school, but in order to be freed, her leg had to be amputated. While her classmates succumbed to injuries, malnutrition, and lack of air all around her, dreams of dancing again kept Li encouraged and alive. Four months later with the help of therapy, trainers, and a spirit most of us could only dream of mustering, Li danced Ravel’s Bolero¬†at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games opening.

Stay tuned for my experience with the DC Sled Sharks and more in the spring!

Hope and Heroes in hard times

Back in June, I wrote a post more or less defending Lance Armstrong. I will be the first to tell you I was #TeamLance all day. Innocent until proven guilty and all that. Now that the 1,000-page truth has been published, a small part of me feels drawn to write a follow up piece. But honestly, what more is there to be said on the subject? Lance Armstrong’s integrity failed because he is human and flawed. But while his success turned out to be a lie, the causes he fought for are very real. The success of his foundation and the hope and help it gives are things we must keep sight of, even as the legend behind them fades away.

Still it’s hard not to believe in heroes.

Last Friday, I had a follow up meeting with the Director of the DC Paralympic Sport Club at the National Rehabilitation Hospital. Inklings of superstorm Sandy were in the air, but it was early and the direction not quite determined. As Joan led me through the hospital, however, she told me about hospital’s emergency plans. During a natural disaster, essential staff must remain at the hospital around the clock during a natural disaster. While everyone around them holes up at home with dry food and Netflix, the employees of the National Rehabilitation Hospital head to work asap, not quite sure when they will see their own homes again. Joan showed me the hallways where doctors, nurses, PTs and more set up cots and empty hospital beds. She told me how people still look exhausted regardless because no one can really sleep on a cot in a hospital hallway. She told me about how instead they plan all-night movie marathons and rec activities to distract the patients, especially the kids, as the storm rages around them. Everyone stays. Everyone helps.

This morning as I checked my Twitter feed, I was reminded of these sacrifices when I read about the evacuation of NYU Tisch Hospital after the backup generator failed.

“Four newborns were on respirators that were breathing for them, and when the power went out, each baby was carried down nine flights of stairs while a nurse manually squeezed a bag to deliver air to the baby’s lungs.”

As one hero falls, countless others rise, and I am reminded of why we must continue to believe in them. The athletes I met this summer, para and able-bodied. The team I work with now to combat veteran and military spouse unemployment in America. The nurses that carried sick babies down nine flights of darkened stairs to safety in the midst of a hurricane. All of this reminds me that there are heroes all around us, and when the time comes, within us. We’re all in this together, folks, and anyone who says otherwise, doesn’t see the shoulders upon which they stand.

“Settle” and other words I don’t believe in yet

There’s a Christian saying: “When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” Well, readers, sometimes when God ends an internship, somehow he assigns you a capstone.

Ever since I returned from the training center, I’ve been searching for a way back inside that world. Trying to build contacts, continue my internship here, volunteer with local sports orgs, you name it. All attempts ending in dead ends and unreturned emails. As frustrating as this was, I ended up exactly where I need to be this semester. Working with a great team of people doing great things for our nation’s active and retired military. It is a privilege and an honor to do this work, and I have already learned so much. But there’s a path that I’m on now. And mine, much like yours, is buffeted with setbacks and I am, we are, beset by doubt, fear, and complacency, but, people, we have to keep moving forward. I don’t know what’s at the end for any of us, but I’m young, fairly liberal, and entirely too idealistic. The word “settle” just isn’t in my vocabulary yet.

So last week, completely on faith, I sent a cold email to Paralympic Sport DC at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in DC selling myself as hard as I could to do my graduate capstone with their program. Fingers crossed, I prepared myself for the wait, bracing for a no or non-response. And then…I got a reply back the very next morning. Spoke with the Director the day after that. And this Friday, I’m meeting with her to discuss and hopefully create an amazing capstone. And the Dream continues…

The moral of the story is simple: Treat the word “settle” like an ex-boyfriend or the coffee-maker in the morning. Forget about it. Send that email. Make that phone call. Dust yourself off, and try again.

Check the artwork below by a guy named Gavin Aung Than. Sums up the philosophy of a great man, a great place, and a great future for you, if you’re brave enough to choose it.