Getting back on track with friends, ice cream and hoops

The coach’s voice was strong, decisive and calm. While instructing a high school boy in the finer points of basketball,  he offered short sentences of praise when his student successfully completed a particular move. When it wasn’t quite right? The coach described what the kid did, explained why it wasn’t a great choice and demonstrated a better low post move (which, by the way, almost always included a jump stop). At first the basketball tutorial provided a welcomed distraction from my own workout. I was doing laps on the track which circled the basketball court. The track was only about 200 meters long and the probability of boredom was extraordinarily high.

I had wanted to hang out at the gym on a recent visit to see my friends Corey and Marie. They were taking their 11-month old daughter to her first swim lesson and since I was in town, I wanted to be part of festivities. So I chose to do my run on the short, make-shift indoor track around the basketball court. The court shared a window wall with the pool, so each time around I could peer in at Baby Giada’s first foray into the water. And nothing quite puts a smile on your face (even through some huffing and puffing) as watching the joy of your friends playing with their daughter.

Back to the basketball tutorial. It stuck in my head for some reason. There are a million stories I could make up about the dynamic I saw between that coach and his student. The story which means the most to me goes like this: A coach who thoroughly understands not just basketball technique but how to relay that to younger players works patiently with and challenges a high school player who is eager to learn and absorb all he can about the game to get better.

Patience. Challenge. Learn. Improve.

Those were the thoughts that started going through my head as I kept running round and round the basketball court. In the past month I’ve been down and out in my training for a cumulative two weeks. One week served as a recovery week from a series of emotional life events which had me stressed to my limits. With my heart and head on the mend, I was ready to tackle a challenging week only to have my body invaded by the most horrible cold I’ve had in years, the kind which doesn’t just stop you in your tracks but shoves you back to last Tuesday. I had that nagging feeling I was falling behind. That I was off track.

Sometimes, it helps to eat Ben & Jerry's in 30 degree weather while sporting a newly purchased toque.

When feeling out of kilter what’s the best thing I could have done? I kept my focus on each day. Oh, that’s not an easy task. Because my mind likes to travel back in time and look for new ways to judge and blame myself. It also likes to project forward and tell me where there is potential danger and heartache. But the more I work at it, the easier it is for me to bring my mind back to the present. What is the opportunity in front of me? What can I do now? What do I want to do now?

As my body and soul would let me, I inched back into my regular training routine. I spent plenty of time around friends who loved me, laughed with me and supported whatever it was I felt was best for me — whether that was retail therapy, Ben & Jerry’s or running around an indoor track, getting  a reminder that life is about sharing our knowledge and expertise with others while remaining wide-eyed and curious about everything else.

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