Do -overs. Does your mind ever spin, loop, go over and over about something? Do you wish you could go back in time and change up what happened? Sometimes these mess-ups, accidents and failures are blessings in disguise. They lead us in a new direction. They humble us. They make us dig deeper. Using Pressure-Free mind tools can help you regain your focus and step out of the looping.
My senior year in high school, I had lofty goals for my track season. The year before, I was Concord (NH) High School’s top two-miler and one of the top sprinters. I was driven. And I was also a bit gullible and quite naive. After cross-country season, a magazine came out with an add for a new running shoe with a cross promotion. Bonnie Bell Etonics. Winter of 1979. Buy a pair of shoes, and get a free lip gloss. I fell for it. Up until that point, I was running in Nikes with a very straight last and excellent arch support. I didn’t know anything about lasts and arch supports until months after training in my new “cool” shoes wearing my strawberry lip gloss.
That Spring, our first meet was intra-squad. We had a large team with 26 distance runners. I ran a few races, and after the last one of the day, when I crossed the finish line, my knees buckled and I fell. They hurt, too. But I was the kind of girl that ran through the pain. The next morning, walking across the parking lot of the school, I fell again. And trying to go up all the stairs of old high school, my knees hurt so much, I had to cling to the bannister and pull myself up.
My mother brought me to a sports medicine physician with a specialty in podiatry. Apparently, my feet pronated, and the Etonics exaggerated my condition, causing damage to my patella under my knee cap – it was all rough and jagged. And it would take months, maybe a whole year to heal.
If you have ever been a student athlete and experienced an injury, you know how devastating it can be. For me, it was like going through withdrawal. I was used to running many miles every week. Now I could hardly walk. My hands and legs shook. I actually got mononucleosis at one point. Not only did I miss running, but I also missed my team. So I went to the coaches, Bill Luti (a legend in New England) and Bruce McMahon, and asked if I could apprentice and help out. I also spent time in the weight room (I remember being the only girl to hang out in there back then) and did straight leg lifts to build my quads as well as build my arms and shoulders.
I loved helping the coaches. I kept stats on all 25 distance runners – their times, their splits, their targets for each meet. I was full of spirit and gave pep talks, and helped keep people calm and focused before their events. Little did I know, all of the performance techniques I had used since I was small as a violinist, I was sharing with these athletes. Tools and tips I have taught hundreds of violin students and young athletes for decades. These weeks at the track were planting the seed for what would become the Pressure-Free Method thirty years later.
And something else amazing happened. Since my lofty goal of running cross-country for the University of Michigan was over, I was open to new experiences. The first week on campus, a student handed me a flyer and said, “You look like a rower. You should come to this meeting.” I went, and started out in the novice boat learning how to row. I grew up on Lake Winnipesaukee in the summer, and water sports were some of my favorites. Although I had never been in a racing shell, it felt completely natural. My coach, Lisa McFarlane, was from Princeton, and she had just come from teaching at Phillips Exeter in New Hampshire, my home state! Thanks to the weight-training I did, I was strong. And three weeks into learning how to row, I was asked to sub in the Varsity boat! I then earned the #4 seat Varsity, and for three years I rowed for Michigan.
When a door closes, a window always opens. And you can experience blessings in disguise.