Sunday, December 30, 2012

Unconditional Love

I believe that each individual loves in a different way and that how we love is learned from the people we are surrounded by.  I for one feel lucky that I have some of the most caring people as parents.  I have watched my mom over the years take her vow to my father ‘in sickness and in health’ very seriously.  As my father struggled with continual medical problems stemming from a fall off a ladder and broken leg my mother was with him every step of the way.  She was with him through the 11 successive surgeries and the many complications that followed.  I have watched her love with no restriction and without question take it upon herself to nurse him back to health just as I am sure my father did when she was recovering from breast cancer years ago.

I again experienced this kind of love recently with my grandmother.  We moved my maternal grandmother to Chico after my grandfather passed about seven years ago.  She was never fond of the idea of moving, but we finally convinced her it was in her best interest.  At the time my siblings and I were not incredibly close with her.   We only saw her on rare visits, but fortunately we were able to get to know her once she moved closer to us.  My mother and my grandmother had somewhat of a strained relationship, but my mother did what she could to care for her mother as best she knew, once again with no hesitation.  Recently, she would spend her days going over to her mother’s house to help her with daily activities like eating and showering. 

I remember my father and my grandmother struggled to agree with each other when I was growing up.  They attempted to bond over the small things they had in common like drinking their black coffee and having similar political views.  I know they may have had their issues, but it was touching to watch my father doing all he could to fight for my grandmother, in her final days, to have the best medical care possible.  He never once stopped to think about the times they may not have seen eye to eye but instead showed his love by fighting for her to get everything she needed. 

Sometimes people can make it hard for us to love them and sometimes it is hard to understand how people show their love.  Each individual is different.  As we continue to go through my grandmothers personal affects we are shown the ways she loved us.  She kept nearly every letter any of us had ever written her and spent the few extra dollars she had donating to the Olympic Committee in support of my dreams. 

As I get older and continue to learn about myself and the people around me I feel fortunate that I learned how to love from my parents.  I can only hope that when put in similar situations I am able to love as unconditionally as they have. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

College didn't teach me everything

Over the years I have used my Exercise Biology degree from the University of California, Davis in various unorthodox ways. I use it daily in my bobsled training to get bigger, faster and stronger. Or at least this is how I justify the investment to my parents.  There are, however, many times I wonder about all the things I did not learn in college.  Some times I look around and wonder what the heck I am doing and what in the world would have prepared me for my life now.  Most would think I am talking about sliding down and icy mountain at 80 plus miles per hour on a daily basis, but what I am really talking about is the before, after and everything in between.

The behind the scenes work for a bobsled brakeman is definitely not glamorous.  We are responsible for much of the sled work and for transporting the sled to and from the track each day of training.  Never did I think my life would consist of driving a manual sled truck in the snowy French Alps. Or did I think that learning how to put chains on would be imperative in transporting sleds in the bobsled world. I often wonder if the snow chain course was in the UCD course manual next to the tractor driving class I always meant to take but never got the chance too.

Fortunately, I have a father that required his girls to first pass the "Azevedo driving test" before we were able to actually get our drivers license. This test included being fully proficient in driving a stick shift vehicle up and down the windy 20 mile road to Paradise, California which has been incredibly useful.  The test, however failed to include the snow and every detail that is involved with it.  Being from California this was never something that I have had to be familiar with, but in bobsled it is something that I constantly deal with.  Over the last 7 years I have been forced to learn the ins and outs of driving in the snow, but still every now and again the California driver in me comes out and we have to push the truck out of a snow bank…. 

When I move on with my life and am done with bobsled I am confident that I will be able to accomplish any thing life throws at me.  I have learned that it may be scary at first, but with practice and the willingness to learn anything is possible.  Heck, I may even be able to teach the snow chain 101 course at UCD. 
Believe it or not this was actually not my doing!  At least we all know how to push!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

You're only cheating yourself..

Recently there have been a number of international bobsled athletes testing positive for banned substances.  It is hard to ever envision how one can convince themselves that taking a performance enhancing drug is first physically safe and second fair to the rest of their competition that chooses to compete clean.  I guess the lure of competing at the Olympic Games somehow allows athletes to forget personal morals and to cheat.  I have heard the argument before that athletes feel that in certain sports all athletes use performance enhancing drugs and it is a matter of who has the better drugs.  To me, I don’t believe this to be a valid argument, but instead an excuse and an attempt to justify cheating.

A friend of mine once did a survey where she asked people would you rather win and Olympic gold medal on drugs knowing you would never be caught or have a million dollars given to you?  Surprisingly most people answered they would rather win a gold medal.  It was shocking the lengths that people were willing to go for an Olympic medal.  To me, an Olympic experience or even an Olympic medal is not worth living my life knowing that I have played unfairly or have cheated.  I want to win knowing that I did it 100 percent out of blood, sweat and tears.  Even if that day does not end up happening for me I know that I am going to leave this sport with my morals in tact.