And Now I’ll Do What’s Best for Me

Something amazing happens when your life is flipped upside down. You cry about it and you mourn, then one morning you wake up and you realize nothing is going to make it change but you alone can make it better. If you’ve read in blog posts from way back you will remember this. I’m a dweller. I literally suck the life out of issues and beat it over my brain a thousand times until I’m completely exhausted and burnt out from it. Some call it, “beating a dead horse?” As I’ve gotten older so many people have told me that I can’t do that; I can’t dwell. Unfortunately, the only way I learn is to do it so many times that I finally stop. You finally stop dwelling because quite frankly, you’re tired. This is the story of my tired. This is the story of the last three months when maybe I finally did a little growing and now, I’ll do what’s best for me.

I used to help lead a workshop for girls to help them develop leadership skills. Real leadership skills, not the “pump them full of feel-good mantras and tell them they’re beautiful” skills. I mean the ones where they can look in the mirror and attack the world by its balls and be who they were destined to be in it. A lot of what I learned from them was that they know that they can be who they are, they just do not feel they had the permission. Elementary school was about cultivating the learner and then middle school was about getting the work done and handing it in. Somewhere in that process they developed who they wanted to be but now there was no place to practice it and if there was, it was shunned because it was different. They were “uptight”, “high-strung”, “teachers pet”, “perfectionist”.  That is where we as mentors came in. We were the ones who said, “You’re right. It sucks. People suck. It’s going to suck. Things are going to hurt. They are going to hurt because one day who you are now will MATTER. You will not be the people who will get lost, you might get lonely (it’s lonely at the top) but you will not be lost. You know why? Because you matter to this. You matter to this group. This group will one day matter to the world.” This idea of being useful and this idea that eventually who we choose to be will add up is something I carried through in almost everything I did. Who my athletes are matters. Who they intend to be matters, but most importantly, who they intend to be when they’re challenged matters. Anyone can steer a ship when the water is smooth. Who can do it when it’s wavy?

That all sounds great, right? Well, it turns out I needed my advice more than any of those kids. Ever since I was a kid I had this idea of what success looked like. Money and a ceiling-less career. When I was in elementary I had good teachers but I also had teachers that brought out my worst fear: That I wasn’t good enough and I didn’t deserve to be. I swam in it and I let it drown me. The things I wasn’t good at I settled with. When I was in middle school I did better, but I was still drowning or I guess, barely keeping my head above water. Then I hit high school and I plummeted. If you don’t know me, I am a perfectionist. It doesn’t mean I get perfect grades or that I walk into school wearing a business suit and an apple for the teacher. It means that I am hard on myself when I am critiqued and that I refuse to do less than my best and I expect the same from those around me. So the years that I plummeted I didn’t understand myself, I did not understand how I could plummet because, up until then, things were perfect. Last October I became an Educational Assistant and very recently I have started teaching at an external learning centre. As you know, I want to be a middle school teacher. To me, the best education is experience and this is perfect. Although a substitute educational assistant, I get my fair dose of reality within classes. Now I am dealing with kids completely outside of the way I think. However, being a perfectionist, I try my best to float their boat. In the short time that I have been doing this I will say, at first I got into this because I thought I could do something for the kids. I realize now that they are doing far more for me. Every now and then I get a snippet of myself in some of them. There’s a perfectionist, a goof, a stoic-hearted, a compassionate, a stubborn, a relentless, an observer, a cautious one. In the moment I can’t stand it because they’re playing my game but then I shake my head and think “I should probably write an apology letter to some of my teachers. I  get it now. I was a little intense.” Being a teacher isn’t about teaching a kid stuff. It’s about raising a future doctor, lawyer, teacher, visionary. It’s showing the possibilities within the most complex and impossible of situations. It’s about taking the perfectionist and embracing her diligence and cultivating her creativity. It’s about taking the observer and encouraging some risk or taking the observer and making them a leader. Most important, it’s taking the defeated and saying, “No matter who you are, where you come from or what happened, you are worthy of this (an education) and you are the only one who can make that happen.” When I see it like that everything changes. The very idea of how I approach teaching or coaching changes. When you walk into work everyday the way you act, the things you feel, they become part of what THEY see. What an honour it is to be in someone’s mind like that. What a privilege it is to have them remember you when they grow up. At the learning centre we did training and we watched the way the fisherman at Pike Place Market in Seattle work.  They show up, they play, they make your day and they choose their attitude. The approach doesn’t eliminate hard days but it lets you sleep at night.

Growing up, sometimes being the way I was didn’t feel good. Sometimes it didn’t feel right because people made it seem like it was bad or unusual or you stood out. Of course, being an adolescent person you did whatever it took to be like everyone else. The friend I worked with in the girls leadership group always said, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” We preached that statement to the girls. Only now do I really realize the enormity of those words. With that alone it separates three types of people: The people who ignore you because they don’t value you, the people who notice you and find you too much, and the people who notice you and want to work with you. When you separate it like that isn’t it easy to see where you want to belong?

The movie scenes where the teacher is all inspiring and the class all of the sudden has this big life revelation that homework is cool and school is life…it’s not realistic. However the more I immerse myself in the culture of the fish market philosophy the more I think you always remember your teachers. You remember them because they mattered. So, elementary and middle school Ornmadee…now that you know what it’s like to be on the other end, you matter too. You always did.

Once when I was 11-years old, someone told me I wasn’t as smart as I looked. Now I’m 21 years old, and that statement makes me want to be a teacher. That person mattered because I couldn’t envision a better way to be useful in this world.

I’m ending my life revelation with what I always tried to push in any kid I coached. “I will keep telling you that you are strong, brave, courageous, worthy and important…until one day you finally realize it yourself.”





I have had the opportunity to go into elementary classrooms lately. As you know my goal is to become a middle school teacher. My interest in middle school stems from a lot of reasons:

  1. I have realized from being a coach that I have difficulty being “huggy” or “touchy-feely” or overall sympathetic to war wounds. Being in mainly elementary schools I have concluded that there is no good way for me to deal with, “I want a bandaid ‘cuz I scratched my finger on an eraser.”
  2. To add to point #1 I can deal with the emotional aspect of being a pre-teen. Many of the reasons are equally as stupid but the heart hurting versus the body hurting is something I can handle.
  3. I get it. Kids have stuff going on at that age and I feel the last thing they need is a teacher who can’t reach them through compelling lessons and stories that captivate them.

My list could go on an on but being in elementary school lately I discovered something that I didn’t know happened before. The discussion surrounding race.

Growing up I do not remember ever being talked to about race or ethnicity. The odd time our teachers would discuss our backgrounds and where we came from but it was often in passing. I grew up in a really diverse city and my school itself was insanely diverse. A few weeks ago I was talking to a substitute teacher in the staffroom one day and was told that, “Oh, they will definitely accept you as a teacher. Not to be blunt but they really look for teachers of colour and a different ethnicity.” It took me by surprise because up until that point I was pretty sure I was even in the race just like everybody else. However that moment made me more aware that, not everybody grows up with peers named Amin or Evgueni. A completely different time, different school, a teacher comes in and is marvelled at her craft project which she has completed with her students. She is teaching them about friendship and instructs them to draw a portrait of their friends. They can’t just draw a picture though, she wants them to be specific but she gives no more details. The kids rather than reaching for peach coloured crayons or brown crayons start mixing their colours, changing the pressure of the crayon, making actual skin tones that are not just “white or brown”. She explains to them that we as people are not defined by the colours of our skin or the places where we come from. It plays just a small role in who we really are. We are what we see ourselves as and by extension by what our friends see us as. She says, “You chose to be specific about their skin tone, not just categorizing them as white or black or brown. You have recognized that even lightly toned people have different tones from other lightly toned friends or people with dark skin have many different tones of dark.” She was excited to tell us this because she said she was sick and tired of hearing examples of just caucasian people and non-caucasian people. She wanted them to see that diversity exists within races themselves, including caucasian people. Brilliant.

Her message was inspiring especially since she managed to get this through to a bunch of Grade 2s. It reminded me of that staffroom encounter where I was told I would most likely be picked because they need “more people of your background”. In life, and in any position I get, I want to be chosen because I am exceptional at what I do. If I am not right for a position, do not give it to me. I want to be chosen because I am good enough not because I am a woman or of some ethnic background other than North American. The difference that I could make would be displayed by the materials and lessons I teach, not by the colourization of my skin. We need to teach about diversity that accepts it but not as prerequisites to what makes a person capable of completing a job. That teacher closed the portrait project by getting students to write character qualities of their friends on the backs of the pictures. There is only one side of that project that matters when it comes to friendship.






Another Coaching Post

Sometimes I feel like I could be both the genius and laughing stock of the coaching world. I’m always experimenting and my fall back is Orn the Coach who rules with an iron fist. So either you see me doing experiments or you see me with a crazed look in my eye. Today was an experiment day…actually, I’ve done this before but today I really tried to get myself to shut-up when I felt like I was being too, “coachy”. It’s not a bad thing to be “coachy”  but for the sake of this exercise it was. We’ve all heard them, the coaches who use their volume in their voice to exude a certain level of authority, like the ones on hockey benches yelling every single play by play. What they’re saying might not even need to be yelled but if they’re not yelling, it’s not effective in their eyes. I am such a coach at times. On good days I yell motivation, on not so good days, I’m yelling everything. Training athletes in a weight room has a certain amount of risk, weights can be dropped, people can bump into each other, it’s really not a great place for kids freshly let out of school, ready to conquer the world…only to be confined into a small room…again. So today’s experiment took some risk but had really good results.

When I went to the Sport Summit in June, I felt I represented a side of sport that came after the whole “get them into sport” phase. I did not really relate to Sport for Peace or even for Development but I was looking into ways on how to solve our own crisis, 70% of kids will drop out of competitive sport by 13. Many solutions included a ton of random games, something which I never did during my training although we did “fun” things. Why did we need to play all of those games? How is a competitive athlete to respond to partner push-ups? I feel it deeper. Not every athlete that goes into this sport is going to come out with a medal. For some coaches this is okay, for they have a goal to create winners and are paid to make winners. I think my strength came in the fact that I had very strong coaches who, no matter what development level, made sure you were there because you enjoyed it. You worked hard because you enjoyed it. We had an annual cardboard box derby, a ski camp, club movies, sleepovers, Olympic marathons…they were just events to me but as a coach mean something much different now. They were the alternative to those who wouldn’t get medals. Everyone who left the sport would at least leave with something.

Today I wrote the workout on the board. I put as much detail in to make it safe but left enough out to make them think. I too did the workout. I wasn’t answering questions, just showing them process. In an Orn setting, there is very little talking. Today was not an ideal Orn setting. But I did notice something. There was no talking while doing the exercise, just the in between. There has been a clear distinction made as to when it’s appropriate and when it’s not. I don’t have problem with that. Another thing, some people noticed the benefit of working alone versus working in a group. There was discussion on what a good weight would be for the number of reps needed. All questions asked amongst themselves. I have to sit back sometimes and remember that this isn’t boot camp or military training. I can expect them to fold their sheets perfectly or align their shoes by size but it’s not necessary. What’s necessary is they develop and understand how to train. This can’t be done by talking all the time or yelling or hovering or setting such strict guidelines there’s no room for individuality.

So how does this relate to the Summit? Varied programming is important but so is the delivery. I didn’t need to play workout games for them to have fun but they had fun testing themselves. Some exercises they did lazily, only to realize they definitely need to do them right. Trial and error can only happen when it’s permitted to happen. Coaches need to be willing to make changes in delivery. Coaches who can grow, will grow their athletes. Grow always.

On that note, I’d like to leave you with a pre-stretching spontaneous dance party.

“Dynamic Stretching”

My Grand Observations from Coaching

Remember, parents of athletes, your child has to share their coach with everyone. If you are going to be a part of a team, then you have to be a team player. There are great lessons in team work and even greater lessons in self-discipline and independence. Instead of trying to schedule every second of your child’s instruction, give this a try…leave them alone. See if they spend those free moments stretching, doing drills, watching technique or racing videos alone in their room or researching scholarship and grant opportunities.

If they don’t, if you guys, or us, their coaches are the ones that make everything happen for them instead of THEM making it happen, that’s a problem. They have to want it, dream it, genuinely have a passion for it or demand the certain things needed in the creation of an athlete. They have to develop inside and they have to be nurtured by the individual. A good coach sees when an athlete is hungry and they feed the athlete at just the right time. If parents are always hovering and shoving the food down the kids throat, they will never be starving, they will never even have a chance to know they are hungry. (food=sport)

I’m not pointing fingers here, I have just had a lot of chances to observe and notice and giving unasked for advice. In the end, find a club to call home. Trust the people you pay to coach your child. Let your child be an athlete. Let the coach be a coach, as it should be.

Post a little, Mean a lot

Perhaps the title of this post is more of an excuse than an actual, correct decree on how to write blogs. The truth is the more I scroll and scroll the more I realize how terrible I am to committing to written things. For example I have boxes of half-written journals that I purchased because they “looked nice” or the saucy quote on the front intrigued my feelings at the time. I am writing this blog post instead of sending out a training program because, well admittingly, I’ve exhausted my creative practice abilities this week. Hold on, I really should send it out…

Okay, I’m back. In the interest of keeping true to what I write about I should really re-title my blog to “Chronicles of a broke coach” because my mind tends to only wander in that direction these days. However I am also a true believer in my subtext in that I am blogging about my navigation through adult life, formerly teenage life. I am now 21. For those keeping up I started writing this blog when I was 17. I swear it was yesterday when I felt compelled to click the settings from private to public. Why I felt my life would be so interesting to everyone around me, I don’t know. What I can say about being newly 21 is that I have learned that being an adult is hard. Sometimes being an adult is like re-living High School Musical and sometimes it’s like re-living Mean Girls. It’s bipolar and changes daily. I’ve gathered 21 things I’ve learned about being an adult so far.

1. You spend a lot of time wondering if you’re wasting time or using time wisely.

Even the things you love to do. I think at those moments it’s wise to take a vacation. Only you can’t, because you love what you do too much to leave it.

2. Adults can act like children so maybe instead of spitting “Stop acting like a child!” to a child, we should really be saying “Stop acting like an adult!”

This means that I am completely questioning the phrase, “Grow up” because is that even a good thing?

3. Your life has stages.

You’re probably thinking I am incredibly out of the loop to just now be realizing this but maybe I was. I had my athlete life and now I have my coach life and I’m satisfied that one is over and the other is happening.

4. I think of my life in decades.

Now I’m 21. What are other 21-year olds doing? In ten years I’ll be 31. Will I be married? Will my student loans be paid off? When I’m 41 will I live in a bungalow or a mansion?

5. Crockpots are the zest of life.

I have thrown the most random assortment of foods in and a meal has come out.

6. I fall in love with soap opera characters more than I used to.

I never understood my mother’s obsession with Coronation Street until I started watching it…

7. You embrace an afternoon to snooze.

I never slept in and I never really napped. Although I still don’t sleep in yesterday I treated myself to a 4-hour nap and I believe it was vital to my survival of the day.

8. You take pride in affording a full tank of gas.

Perhaps this should be a list of things I’ve learned about being 21, not just an adult. I imagine that once you have a solid career full tanks will be the norm not just a bonus.

9. Don’t get phone bills sent to you as text messages. 

Text messages should be happy things, always.

10. $20 doesn’t go as far as it used to.

There were days when I felt rich after geting a nice clean bill, now, with expenses covered, anything over $100 should do.

11. Adults still like quotes and minion ones especially.

As a kid a quote was nice, as an adult it might as well be one of the Ten Commandments. These worldly adults take their minion’d life advice seriously.

12. You get less cool with age.

I was always the strict but fair, particular but cool coach. Now when I say things sometimes I feel like I’ve outdated myself as these children mock me with their eyes. I’m only 21.

13. It’s less about what you own and more about what you do.

It used to be Instagram pictures of your latest gadgets and clothes but now it’s about what you do with them. More specifically, it’s all up for judgement.

14. No more booking appointments after school…it’s all about those early starts because, let’s face it, you’ll have no energy at the end of the day.

For example I booked a 7:30am mechanic appointment in the city.

15. No matter how hard I’m trying I’m not pleasing everyone.

If anything this is the worst adult problem. When you’re a kid you blame it one naïveté. Now, no matter how good your intentions there’s always a problem. The success of your story has to do with whether you choose to ignore it.

16. People either expect a lot from you or nothing at at all.

Being 21 means you’re expected to make adult decisions without the experience. The result of your decisions are up very much up for judgement.

17. No matter what someone is always trying to one up you. 

This isn’t like athletics where someone is clearly better, sometimes it’s someone completely unqualified and you have to bite your tongue. In teenage life you could have probably gotten away with a smackdown.

18. You’ll either crumble with everyone’s expectations or rise up.

You have to set up your life and stand by it. For example the year I took a year off I was sort ashamed. No more time for self-pity.

19. Most older adults are just as perplexed by life as us 21-year olds.

I’ve learned there are just a ton of perplexing things no matter how old you are.

20. Being 20 was a youthful thing,

Everybody loves people turning 20.

21. 21 is pure adult.

It feels like everything matters now.   You’ve had 3 years of adult practice and now the jig is up. It’s less about what you don’t know and now more about what you do.

There. 21 things. I’m sure most of them are wrong and will change when I’m 30 but at 21 those are my thoughts.

My Life Changed After the Summit


(photo: Stephanie Matthews)

I’ve been wondering what to write and say about my Summit experience. I had something written in diary format until I realized writing fourteen days worth of my memories was absolutely no use to you. Then summer rolled around and I got back into the coaching routine where my outlook on life was basically a walking tumblr page and my enthusiasm for living was sickeningly tacky. This morning though and the past day have really motivated me to write. I have always been one of those people who assumed that my way was the best way, and although I still follow it rigorously I have inspiration in the smallest of places to change. My life changed after the summit, I learned how to be a better coach to my athletes and a better people builder. Before I could do that I had to learn how to step down and reflect. I cannot even believe I am saying that because for those 2-weeks, morning reflections bored the life out of me. But I find myself more than ever reflecting on things I do and say. It is a terrible habit because then I know what I have to change. I do not like change. So why did my life change and what did I learn? 3 things. 3 very important things.

1. The way you ask teaches you what you need to know.
I am naturally a nosey person, not because I am interested in this stored information but because I like to know who I am dealing with. So naturally I go right for the big questions, I want to know what you’ve done, whether you have a good family and whether you have big goals in life. One of the exercises we did was asking each other questions and vey quickly did I realize that it is terrible to answer these questions for people of whom I hardly know. My take away from this was I need to learn how to ask the right questions which will then guide me to what I must know that is important. I introduce to you, the Question Ball Icebreaker.


It is within this ball that I can find out if a child is treated well at home, cares about home, has aspirations and is serious, silly or alone.
1. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
2. Who is the first person you would call if you were stuck on an island?
3. What do you think you were born to do?
4. If you had to eat a worm, how would you cook it?
5. How did you meet your best friend?
They’re less threatening, slightly weird but loaded full of everything you need to know.
2. You could be it for one of them.
This one stuck with me. I learned it from Serena William’s former coach, Nick Bolliteiri. More specifically he said, “A coach is the jack of all trades. You’re a mother, father, transporter, sister, teacher, doctor, friend. A coach can change the personality of a young person forever.” I have always loved coaching more than I think anyone knows, I love it enough that I am willing to make a living off of it. Yet, before the Summit there were days I was happy to let it go. The kids I coached I adored but I knew they had everything, or at least I thought they did. Sitting listening to Mr. Bolliteiri I thought of all the signs I missed, all the things kids looked for through their behaviour, the things I condemned. I cannot be that someone for everyone but I can try harder than I ever did before.
3. I can choose to be the coach that I am or I can choose to be the coach that my athletes need me to be.
This one took some guts to spit out. I learned to put up a very hard wall that could not be broken down. This wall went up before I became a coach and stayed up. I am a naturally strict person, I do not like nonsense and if things are going to be done right, they will be done right the first time. I was always really hard on myself as a child both in school and sports. Breakdowns were a common occurrence and I think I transferred this over into believing that a child should always want to try to do their best. I came up with learning outcome #3 this morning when I realized how much I truly value change. For the first time in my coaching career I decided to take time. By this I mean there was no schedule, requirement or even objective, just a set of skills that would be learned when they were learned. Above this, I would let the athlete lead the way. I had to be silly and laugh, giggle and snort. I didn’t yell from my coach boat, I sat in my boat and worked as “training wheels”, holding on for dear life, hoping to God this morning would let me remain relatively dry. The efforts of this obscurity were not apparent until an hour later when I watched the product of silliness defy all odds and become a canoer within the span of a week. The proof was right there, yes, it will take several more hours of commitment, a lot more people reading and question asking, but if I can change the hat that I wear for each person imagine the difference it will make.


Perhaps what was even better than the things I learned were the people I met. I met people who coached for free, people who fought for kids to play sports, people who were the first in their families to go big, try heroes in their own fashion. I am so HUMBLED to have even been part of this group of amazing world-changers. When I look at my athletes I don’t just see potential or an extra paddler, I see a person. I see a person who, if paddling doesn’t work out, has potential to be the difference like the 36 other people I met in that tiny conference room on June 7, 2015. Our job as coaches, high performance or recreational is to create the goal and reach it, build the athlete and cultivate the person, give them something to go to and push off of. More importantly, remember to be silly, remember that sports are fought harder for by some people, it is our privilege. That is our role.


(photo: Stephanie Matthews)

If You Do What You’ve Always Done…

“If you do what you’ve always done, then you’ll get what you’ve always got.”

This was said to us today and it hit so many chords in my body. The first day here has been absolutely amazing, to be surrounded by so many people who believe in change the way you do, but will implement it in a different way than you will, goes to show that change is not a unique story but is not for the lazy or the close-minded. I never really comprehended the enormity of this camp until now. This is not a day camp or a feel-good opportunity. We are dealing with real issues here and they are so similar yet different for each of us. It is easy to say “Yes, make a change and change the world!” Yet it is hardly ever said that most people will stand by the statement but then watch you perish and stumble around trying to make it happen. Not everyone wants change the way you do and not everybody sees it. I am listening to stories of leaders who are getting kids to play street soccer just so they might have a chance at being spotted for the big leagues, or stories of leaders pushing their own siblings to be successful in the sports instead of them. We all share these stories of selflessness and it humbles me to know that there are people out there just as crazy as I am wanting to break down the financial barriers and the demographic barriers. Not everyone who enters sport will go to the Olympics but everyone will be changed by it.

The quote above speaks so loudly to me. The moment it left the facilitators mouth I recalled every moment someone was afraid to take a chance on me. I recalled the moment someone decided to take a chance on me. It landed me the position I have now and it has given me a new lease on life and what it means to be a coach, it quite literally breathed the life back into my passion. It has made me even more wanting of a job done right and has pushed me to always give my best every day that I can.

On to Day 2.

The Adventure of A Lifetime Awaits

4AM and I really have no idea how this will turn out. Apologies for the many, many spelling errors you might encounter.

I woke up this morning with a stomach that felt like it was going to turn inside out, for some reason I feel more nervous about this than I thought I would. I guess the major difference is that this trip is A) a big deal and B) completely out of my comfort zone and unrelated to paddling in all ways. Normally boarding a plane to Florida entails laying my feet up on a training partner or doing multiple Tim Horton’s runs with the coach. This time I am definitely alone, sitting here, blogging. What a weird feeling. The UN Summit for Sport Development and Social Impact is all words to me, I am pretty sure I have called it a thousand different things but one thing is certain: I have no idea what is going to happen. There are only so many times I can look through photos of previous events or scour the internet for videos on the activities, but they don’t do it justice for the two weeks of what is going to happen.

When I first found out about this opportunity the unbelievable excitement flowed through my veins. That same excitement still does, rest assured, but it is now equally bursting with anxiety and a bit of bittersweet. I would be stupid to not take this opportunity up, but am so grateful that I have something that is so hard saying goodbye to. A month in Florida with my team mates still did not feel long enough but now two weeks seems like an eternity. My perception of time is maturing and oh how I have realized how awesome we have to make each day we live. I will keep writing what I experience and soak it all up. This opportunity doesn’t just happen.

Will update again soon, Tim Horton’s opened up.

You Can Have It All, You Can Lose It Too

If I had to sum up the last year in a few words I would struggle for hours. I feel like I wrote a similar post like this a year ago too, and maybe even a year ago before that. It is true that your life is constantly revolving and changing and sometimes it will feel like you are constantly plummeting for what seems like forever. I had a lot of years like that. This post is just another one of those, “Thank god I survived” posts. Another milestone, another life event in the books.

If you had asked me when I was 12 what I would be doing at 20 I would say I would be attending the University of Guelph, studying Kinesiology to become a physiotherapist. I would be happy, I would be coaching. It was not a bad life plan. If not Guelph, my back up plan was Dalhousie and if not physiotherapy it would have been pedagogy. I would have never experienced depression, would have never had such highs and lows and would have been comfortable most of the time. Sitting here I realize that I would have loved that life too, and so would a lot of people. The cards I was dealt had me meeting a lot of people who would have liked this life and the courage to move away from the shore would have been long gone.

I will be the Canadian Ambassador at the United Nations and Right to Play Sport for Development and Peace Summit, Leadership Camp in Florida in a month. I just got the news yesterday, an all-inclusive, opportunity to meet with 30 other youth leaders from around the world. For 2-weeks we will be learning and working alongside leaders of sport and bringing our knowledge back home where we will attempt to make sport the universal language of youth, the most powerful form of opportunity and the best way to bring hope to the discouraged. Ask me at 12 if I would be doing this and I would not even know what that was.

So I am sitting at one of my jobs (a tiny little restaurant that I literally walked in and they had a job for me), it is a 4-hour shift which, during the day can feel like an eternity. It doesn’t. I am daydreaming and sitting on the sink thinking about how much I love the life I live. Three weeks ago I would have never said that. It is amazing how many bad things can happen to a person all at once but how quickly that can be overcome by good things with just a positive outlook and some hope. I read a quote that just fuelled so much more happiness into my day because I felt I was succeeding: “The real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money.” I have been there, I have lost all my money. Not a very unique story for a University student but I have always wondered how it is I feel the need to give despite having very little. I have been in trouble for it and it has made me angry but it’s just something I do. It all came full-circle the last few days. Anybody who has ever told me that I fixate and focus on the wrong things has been silenced. Those who have snickered at my efforts or told me “why bother” has been defeated. I am making my dreams come true at 20 and I want to bring young, ambitious youth with me and inspire them to do the same. The road to getting to your dreams is ugly and full of people who think you’re too much, too little, too bitchy, too soft. It is full of your greatest supporters letting you down, the most silent of warriors raising your spirit and those who are afraid to recognize greatness when they see it because they are too consumed with their own. If the world was perfect, Nelson Mandela would have been just an ordinary man, Aung San Suu Kyi would be a free woman, because greatness would not have been an exception but a routine. I have no interest in working alone, the dumbest thing a person could do is think they can do it all, and even worse, do it all by themselves. I see no future for the selfish or the conceited, but the saying that you cannot change a person is not true. You can change people, at the cost of your dignity, but it was never really about you in the first place. When you change people, you change the world, and I came into this world wanting to do that. I have partially succeeded. Learn from me, in two weeks I will probably have another meltdown, my life will probably be ugly again, but then hope will come from somewhere and maybe then you will realize that you can have it all but you can lose it too. So when I am old and wrinkly, what is the part I choose to remember?

I get to coach the sport I love, fight for something I am passionate for, go to school for something I want to be, be around people who raise me up and go to bed happy. If that is not a life then I do not know what is.