Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Late Nights, Early Mornings

I always have a crazy sleep schedule. I guess its the result of being a night owl, and working a day job with a long commute. The Olympics are a special time where I manage to get less sleep even than my 5-6 hr usual, and yet some how have more energy and become more productive, while at the same time being completely obsessed with what is happening in the Olympics. 
  This morning as I arrived at work, and should have been exhausted, I discovered I was more awake and ready to go than usual. Strange since I got less than five hours of sleep last night between Olympic coverage and my dog barking me awake every hour.  Today I came home, tired from working and extra hour, cooked dinner, gave my dog a hair cut, and worked out. I feel great.  
  What can I say I am that rare breed that actually works harder and is inspired by the Olympics. I didn't think I was rare, but I listened to the news tonight go on and on about how workers are admittedly distracted by the Olympics and will therefore cost companies millions in losses because of productivity? 
  Really? Wow , that's news to me, because what happens when I start watching the Olympics is I start to believe all things are possible again, and I start to believe that hard work pays off and can get you places again. I would say my productivity tripled today if that is possible. Was I obsessed and distracted by the Olympics all day long? yes, I was.  But I also took that energy and put the Olympic spirit and challenge into my work and found it less boring and more invigorating than ever before.  Take that news broadcaster guy! Just because someone is distracted and into the Olympics doesn't necessarily mean they will work slower, or less hard or accomplish less. Perhaps they will accomplish more. 
  Next week I am on vacation from work. I planned that on purpose. I can just enjoy the games. I can't wait to sit down and watch some Olympics with my mom, its my favorite thing to do, and my earliest and fondest memories with my mom. That will make me very very happy indeed. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

She Did It!!!

This will be super short, because I am way behind on my Olympics watching, but Meilutyte did it!! She got the gold!!! I cried when I found out, and when I finally got to watch her swim (I was at work when it was on, so I had to watch it later) I was so super happy. And during the medal ceremony, as promised I sang Lietuva     Tevyne Musu- the Lithuanian national anthem- from memory, which I learned 7 years ago. It was a proud proud moment. Then I watched  Missy Franklins medal ceremony and sang The Star Spangled banner. I cried for both. It was a great thing. This overcomes my deep disapointment over the US Mens gymanstics team.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Aš myliu Meilutyte: Why I Want Lithuania to Get the Gold in the 100 M Breaststroke

 Because I lived for a year and  a half in Lithuania, and have a few friends there, and a tie to the culture and people, I have a very deep love for Lithuania. Most of you probably don't even know where that is. I usually say it like this: its north of Poland, south of Finland, west of Russia and east of Denmark. I hope that helps those who are unfamiliar with this small but beautifully green country.  
  Because of this when I watch the Olympics, I always keep a special eye out for a chance to see one of there athletes compete. Its not often that I get to. In the past two days, I have seen two of their swimmers do really really well. Tetinis is a men's swimming competitor. He did really well in his semi-final, but was last in the final. When I saw him take second in his semi-final heat at the Olympics, I was pretty stoked. 
  Then, It was time for the women's Breaststroke event. I like Rebecca Soni, and I really love Breeja Larson.  I want them to do well, and up until this morning ( I think, I have watched so much now I don't know when I saw it) I wanted them to go one and two- Gold and Silver.
 Then it was time for heat 4 of the women's 100m, it didn't even get full coverage, it was a blurb referred to after the fact, because no one expected anything from it. And then, and unknown 15 year old  from Lithuania not only won her heat, but had the fastest time of the heats. She cried, I cried, and I shouted Valio Lietuva!!  (Yay Lithuania!!)  And I hoped she would do it again in the semi-finals.  I just watched the NBC coverage of the semi-finals, where they slaughtered the pronunciation of Ruta Meilutyte's name. I cringed, but I watched on.   You can roughly pronounce her last name My-Lu-Tee-Ta  just so you know, although I must admit the Lithuanian word meile ( which means love and I believe is kind of the root of that name, pretty sure) is near impossible for most Americans to pronounce perfectly. I can get pretty close though, and if you say her name like I just phoneticed out, you wont be too far off.  
  Any way, so I just saw the semi-final, she swam even faster than her first time, proving it wasn't a fluke, proving she can do it, she can bring a gold  home, and be the first Lithuanian swimmer to bring home a gold under the Lithuania (and not soviet ) flag. That would mean a lot, and I would love it.  She set a personal best today, broke a European record, was near the world record pace for a bit,  and I will just cry if she can medal at all, but a gold, it would mean more than I could ever say. If I get to hear that Lithuanian national anthem play while she is on the podium getting a gold, I will sing the national anthem while its played, and that will make my year.  I love the two girls from the USA, if the Lithuanian can't do it, I hope they go one and two, But if she can, I would consider it a personal medal sweep for me if Lithuania got gold, and USA got silver and bronze, and I would be happy.    
   Aš myliu Meilutyte- I love Meilutyte.  Thank you so much for allowing me a moment to see Lithuanian greatness on American TV. With the Lithuanian-American Zagunis being USA's flag bearer this year, I think  its a sign of great things for the USA and Lithuania. May we all have an amazing Olympics!

My Maddness

So, My dog woke me up at 8 am this morning. I went to bed at 2 am after watching I have no idea what Olympic event online till I fell asleep last night.  But once I was up, I was up, no matter how tired I was. So I set it up, and I was watching two different events on my computer, and one even on the TV- yes I had three sports going at once. It was kind of crazy, but fun.  Through out the day I saw an amazing US archery team take the silver- they lost by one point, and so should have had gold.
  I watched swimming,  I was happy for lochte, what the heck happened to Phelps?  and I also got to watch two Lithuanians in rowing, an Lithuanian that did really well in swimming, and I saw a Lithuanian on the list of one of the mixed groups for men's gymnastics qualifier group 2. But they didn't show him. I did see a Latvian gymnast perform both on floor and the vault. I love men's gymnastics. I also saw from Bulgaria a six time Olympian, I believe he is 39, he has grey hair, and by gymnastics standards he is ancient, but he did amazing on the rings. Its great to see that kind of longevity, it was inspiring, I hope to see him again in the event final. I also saw the Irish gymnast- the first one for the Irish men to qualify for the Olympics in his own right. He didn't really do well today, but considering he was twice told in  his life that he would never walk again, I thought he was amazing. 
   But this is about my madness, and here it is. Half way through the day, I decided my dog should also compete in a mini Olympics, against, Himself.   So I set up some couch cushions and taught him to jump. he then competed in his own mini dog hurdles event.  Then we busted out the discus (Frisbee) and played with that, and then the tennis ball. I have a feeling my dog will like the Olympics. tomorrow we can do race walking when we go on our Sunday walk.  I even made  him wear one of my gold medals and a team USA Barret. We had fun.  
  one last note- i watched the 48 kg  women's weight lifting. Those ladies are smaller than me- shorter, and weigh less. It scares me to death when they lift that much weight (116 kg for the clean and jerk, and 90 some thing kg for the snatch), especially when the weights and their arms go backwards behind me. That really can't be good for you. Enjoying the games so far, hope you do to.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Everything Opening Ceremony

Well, Since moving from Utah to Washington, I now have to wait an additional two hours to watch the opening ceremonies, and I get to bed a  half hour later. BUT, It was worth it. 

  I  was really actually quite nervous for this Opening Ceremony, I didn't know what to expect and the spoiler I heard about the cauldron lighting made me things I was going to be very disappointed. The opposite is very much true. This Opening Ceremonies did not disappointed, it had everything.  Something old, something new, something borrowed, something BOND! ha ha.  but really, I mean it started out very historical, and with the singing from all the parts of the UK- very well chosen, agrarian then evolved into what reminded me of Sherlock  Holmes with  the industrial revolution. In between it all I felt I was watching one of my favorite period shows,  and the world war one bit and the salute- that was amazing, I cried. I have been watching Downton Abbey a lot lately, so yeah.  
  My friend Jas spotted Gilderoy Lockheart amongst the industrialists and we got super excited. Then the whole thing evolved again, technology, changing music, flashing images, all telling a very lovely and modern sort of love story. It even had a KISS!!!  we went on a journey through musical history,  we visited sick children, who read books and then had night mares, and JK Rowling read too!! then one of my favorite moments, Mary Poppins came and defeated Lord Voldemort.  
  How can one not love seeing a mini film about the Queen being taken to the Olympic Stadium by James Bond in a Helicopter and parachuting out? freaking AWESOME!!!  I love the queen that much more now.   And when you thought they couldn't get another random thing in, Mr Bean helps and orchestra play Chariots of Fire, and of course has a day dream where he trips someone to win.  I busted a gut right there. 
  Loads of music, history, culture. It was all amazing, and it was just about everything under the sun. Parts reminded me of the Cirque de Soliel  show LOVE.  
  That was the fastest parade of nations I have ever seen in the Olympics, and there were a lot of countries. Good job on the pace of that!!!    It was amazing for me to see the Lithuanians,  and to see team USA with Zigunis  as our flag bearer. Did not disappoint.   As always amazing outfits for the athletes. 
  I found it inspiring to have a team of independent athletes under the Olympic flag. For those with newly emerging nations, that was awesome.   and then the torch coming in on the boat, that was a lot like carrying on the Bond theme and an appropriate place for Beckham. I loved that they used the youth, the athletes of future  Olympics but that they tied it to the past by having the old Olympic heroes holding most of their torches. 
  I love  the Cauldron. How symbolic, every nation brought in their piece to the games, and then as each caught the Olympic flame the pieces joined together into one flame of hope, and inspiration. 

I have to admit, the Giant baby part was a bit odd, and I don't know that I quite loved the bicycle doves better than the real ones, but it was an interesting new thing to try. The fire works were amazing though, and I loved during the industrial part, the bit with the rings being forged and then coming together and showering sparks down!! amazing.  To end it all with Hey Jude and  Paul Mcarthy,  that was really great. I feel very very satisfied with all that, and I don't think I will soon forget it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Final Memories Before the Games Begin

Tomorrow  the games begin. Tomorrow I also have a friend getting married. Tomorrow should be a fun day. 

Today I listened to the BBC world news on my phone all day, and they talked about the Olympics almost all day. I mostly enjoyed it. However I do think they should have the moment of silence for the remembrance of the Athletes killed 40 years ago. To not commemorate it during the games is as much to make a political statement, if not more so, than to commemorate it. First and for most, 12 Olympians were killed during the Olympics 40 years ago, and that has forever changed the games. 

 The other thing I thought a lot about today was my experience as a volunteer during the 2002 games. I remember the day Salt Lake was chosen as the host city- I don't think many days have ever been so exciting and wonderful. I had a group of friends watching with me in my living room and I went crazy when Juan Antonio Samaranch  proclaimed that the 2002 games would be in "The city  of Salt Lake City".  I also will never forget my disappointment, shame and heart break when the Bid scandal came to light.  
  As the games approached and Mitt Romney took over, and indeed changed the course and helped save a sinking ship and  big mess of a games and with the rest of the 2002 team, turned the Games in to a success.  I remember when Romney came on board things got a bit more organized, security got way upped, and strict rules came into play to ensure there was no further misconduct in regards to taking bribes. That was good. 

 I volunteered in accreditation, and I got to make passes for VIPS, and IOC members, Media, and athletes. I got to meet a lot of really cool famous people working in that spot, Dick Button, Jim Mckay, Wayne Gretzky, Brooks and Dunn to name a few. It was an exciting time.  

There was one more scandal in 2002, a judging scandal in figure skating. That one was down to the ISU not SLOC  as sports governing bodies handle the sports regulations even during the games. So after one big let down from the bid, I got another one from MY SPORT.  But, they fixed the judging system, and now its so complex my coach has to explain it to me every time I skate.  Over all I am glad I volunteered, I am glad I took part, even though it wasn't perfect and didn't live up to my full expectations, most of my expectations were met and exceeded.
    However, I must admit, watching the games on a live feed, raw without the commentary was the beginning in my disappointment in commentary. 

One of my biggest memories from 2002 was the torch relay. I will never forget being bundled up in late fall in Ephraim Utah with my college roommates, waving flags and watching the torch pass us. I cried.  No matter how flawed the games may be, there is enough good in them, in their ideals, that they ought to be treasured, honored, we ought to try to live up to the ideals. 
  Today there was some debate about the place of nationalism in the games. Olympic ideals to call for people coming together from all over in peace, but history of the ancient games also brings the element of representing and honoring your nation (nation states as it were in ancient Greece). the march of athletes in opening ceremonies is by country, but closing ceremonies is traditionally everyone mixed together. This balance of national pride and team work and unity and togetherness with international peace and camaraderie i think is important. both things. 

Tomorrow the flame will be lit, the oath will be read, and the games will begin. I can't wait to see it. 

My favorite opening ceremonies are as follows:
Lillihammer 1994- a ski jumper jumped with the torch, the prince of Norway lit the cauldron
Salt Lake 2002- miracle on ice team lit the cauldron
Bejing 2008- those drummers were very inspiring
1996- Mohammad Ali lit the cauldron, and we all shed a tear
Barcelona 2002- an archer shot a flaming arrow and BOOM flame burst up. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Almost Time!!

So, I have less than two days now till the games officially begin. Already women's soccer has kicked off, with the North Koreans getting offended at a flag mix up, and England beating New Zealand.  I have three things I actually want to cover in the next day and a half but I am really tired, so I am just going to talk about 2008, because I can do that tired, and I can't do my 2002 experience tired. 
  2008 was all about Shawn Johnson, and Nastia Liuken doing great things,  Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps head to head and side by side in weird looking supper fast swimsuits,  Hutchenson and the US volleyball team, that won gold despite personal tragedy, It was about controversy over the Chinese gymnastics team, a Chines track star not running, it was about Russia ignoring the symbolic peace of the Olympics and invading Georgia, it was about pollution, and human rights. It was one of the coolest drum routines in opening ceremony history.  It had its great moments, its political moments, its athlete moments, and its sad moments. Over all, I think 2008 was a pretty good Olympics.   It was the beginning for BMX, and the end for baseball and softball. I have never seen a badminton game played at such speeds, nor a ping pong ball just disappear from my visual tracking abilities like I did at those games. 
  And in 1 day and like 14 hrs, new excitement begins. I am not much in the mood to look back today. I just want to know who is going to light the stinkin cauldron already!!! I hope its as good as the archer in 1992, Mohammad Ali in 1996, the Miracle on Ice team in 2002, the ski jumper/ prince combo in 1994.  I can't wait, good thing I don't have to wait long. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Date Mandi, Date Mandi, Date Mandi

Three days till the games begin. Today was a weird day. Well, I don't know, its been a weird year. I stayed home sick today because my stomach has been bothering me for the past week, and I was not feeling so great this morning. At 10:30 I decided to leave and get my dog out of the house because my landlord was coming over with an appraiser and a crazy Jack Russell doesn't always mix well with strangers.
  So, I took Nick over to a friends house who has a fully fenced yard and I supervised him while he ran in the rain. He hopped along like a cute little bunny but super fast, and I had a good chat with my friend.  Sometimes, being 30 and single really just sucks.  Right now , almost all my friends are getting married, and I am getting left behind again for the umpteenth time in my life. I never thought it would be harder to go through that old familiar cycle,  but this time I felt like I really had a family, and the ones that aren't married are either going away to school or talking of moving, so Its like graduating from high school all over again and I feel like I am in an alternate version of Ground Hogs day or something.  Any way, my friend and I talked about how its just harder to do this when you are in your 30's. 
 We talked about dating options, and well, there are guys I could date and just have fun with but I already know enough about them to know they aren't what I am looking for and all it would be is a fun distraction. And though a fun distraction would be nice, Something about hitting thirty just made it all seem so much more serious and something not just to play games with.  Fun is a good thing, but I am not looking for a life of endless fun, I want more than that.  
  Any way, my friends have been watching the youtube video called "Eat Randy" by Julian Smith. Its a hilarious 80's sounding song. Lately my name has been getting substituted in,  because my friend says my name just like they say Randy in the song.  I threatened to go by a different name tonight because constant threats of cannibalism are starting to get to me, serious or no. 
My friends decided instead to change the lyrics and write a parody. Its not done yet, but they changed it to "Date Mandi" I like this. can't wait to see what comes of it.  This blog is about honesty, so I'll be honest, I'm kind of tired of being a lone, and I am starting to feel lonely. I believe I have an opportunity to date someone and not be alone, but I already know that person, and I don't think he is right for me, and I know if I dated him I would feel like I was settling for less than I deserve, and I would still feel lonely. 
  So I will continue on my path of preparation and patience.I know there are guys out there that work for me, so far the timing has just been off. So I will wait for the right time. I just hope I don't have to wait too long. In the mean time, I have a couple more days till I can console myself with Men's Gymnastics, Swimming, and Track and field.  Tomorrow morning, I will try to tell you about my time volunteering with the 2002  Olympics. Tonight I wasn't in the mood, and I needed to talk about being single again. Sorry if this sounds whiny. I don't want pity, or lectures or anything, I just want to help with singles awareness. 

 Single people contribute a great deal to society, and are far less selfish and fun centered  I think than we are often painted. It comes down to  the "self marketing" that I talked about a year ago. We have to be very social and sacrifice sleep or we would never have a chance of meeting anyone. But often I feel like I am not treated as a fully grown up adult, or contributing member of society because I'm not married, I don't have kids, and I don't know what that feels like.  And that is a major reason of why I share a lot of what I do in this blog  I guess,  because I want people to understand that single people aren't always single because they are too picky, and too self centered and don't want to grow up. We mostly do, but we also don't want to settle for less than what we deserve, and I don't think that we should.  And what we deserve is to find someone we are compatible with and want to spend eternity with, not just someone to fill an empty spot.  

Honestly, I don't know how Sheri Dew and Barbara Thompson do it, how they have lasted so long at staying true to their values with the weight of being alone. It puts a lot of pressure on you to think that a "vacation" from your moral standards would fill that void. But I think maybe they are wise, and just know running out after temporary things can never fill that hole. I hope I don't have to wait so long, but if I do, I hope I have their moral fiber, courage, and resolve.  I am glad that they served in the General Relief Society presidencies, and I am so grateful  for their examples, and for their talks on womanhood, motherhood, and the importance of eternal families. I think, for me, their words meant more, because they know how to be great and keep being great, even when life doesn't go according to plan. Good night all, and good luck.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

5 Days, A Short Memory

So, its 3:30  in the AM, I just finished game nights with my friends, and its really hard to type a coherent sentence, and to spell.  Thank heaven for spell check. Any way, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share my two most simple and short Olympic memories. I am including a Winter Olympics in this one as well, they are sort of a package deal. 
      So, the only two Olympics I didn't watch every possible second of were the 2004  and 2006 games. 2000 I may have found forgettable, but 2004 and 2006 I didn't see much of anything to forget.  2004 was in Athens, and I watched on youtube earlier this month, the opening ceremonies. It looked like they were pretty special, and I was mildly sad I had missed them
  I say mildly sad, because it takes something really major important for me to miss an Olympics, and I missed two so that I could serve a mission  in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.  I entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT on August 11, 2004. The Olympics started on Friday August 13, 2004, two days later. 
  In an effort to help me with this dilemma, my mom was going to record the Olympics and let me watch when I got home. The recording didn't make it a year and a half, so I never saw it.  My mom made up for it though, because on  Aug 20, 2004  the Lithuanian men's basketball team beat the US men's basketball team. I was learning Lithuanian and about Lithuanian culture at the time, and I can tell you basketball is a big big deal in Lithuanian, and beating team USA, was a big deal. I was still in the USA at the time, but my mom got so excited about it for me, she sent me a news paper clipping. Pretty sure it was the only news paper clipping I got my whole Olympics. 
     It was something big and Olympic and related to my mission and I got to celebrate it in the MTC!!! And that is the 2004 Olympics for me.  Lithuania ended up in forth place just out of the Medals and USA got the bronze.    
       For the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, I was still on my mission. February 10-26th, 2006. I went home March 8th 2006. Again, I just missed it, but it was my choice, I could have gone home in January 2006. The really cool trade off is that some point in that two week window I was out with a few other missionaries from my district, in what we called a "Zone Blitz"  where we would split up into groups of two or three  and go knocking on doors to see if anyone was interested in our message. 
    It was the middle of a really cold winter for Lithuania, so we selected some apartments that were easier to get in doors for. It so happened on that night that we knocked on the door of a Lithuanian IOC member. He let us in and we chatted with him a little. He was "Working" watching the ski jumping, So we talked to him a little, but he was very focused on the games. We talked for a bout ten minutes, and I got to watch a little ski jumping as it was on in the background. Since he was working, I think the Elders were going to come back later, but it was pretty cool that I got to see five minutes of Olympics and meet and IOC member.  And that is all I have for 2004 and 2006. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

6 Days

 I have not been as good about blogging my way to the Olympics as I hoped. I blame the amounts of weddings and bridal showers I have had to attend.   That said, I have never had so much fun at bridal showers as this year. Yesterday I got to beat a pinata to bits while wearing a toilet paper wedding dress. What could be more fun than that? honestly?  
     When I set out with this goal, I had a few things in mind I definitely wanted to cover, memories of all the prior Summer Olympics, memories of opening ceremonies, my time as a volunteer with the 2002 games in Salt Lake, and some of the tragedies of the Olympics.  
  Due to recent events I am not ready to talk about the tragedies of the Games yet, so I will pick up with what I remember of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. 

This will be a short posting. I don't remember much of the Sydney games. I don't know why, they just didn't make a mark in my mind. I remember the Sydney Opera house being shown a lot, I remember Rulon Gardner beating the Russian guy at wrestling and it being compared to Rocky,  I remember Eric "the Eel" Moussambani, from Equatorial Guinea  making me cry. He set the record for the slowest time in his swimming event, but why I remember that is,  that though he was over a minute behind the rest of the field, it was a really great feat. He set a personal and national best time in that moment, and he had never seen an Olympic sized swimming pool. 
   He got into the Olympics on a wild card invite designed to help developing nations raise their level of athletic ability. It was a first for his country, and honestly, its what the Olympics are all about. I cried a lot in that moment.  There were a lot of great Olympians in the 2000 games, from Australia, and the Netherlands.  For me the 2000 games were the opposite of the 1996 games. Amazingly awesome host, mostly forgettable athletics. 
  I believe Marion Jones lost medals from this Olympics. Not really sure. See ,I know I watched every second of this that I could, and I know I missed very few moments, but I honestly have no personal memory or attachment without extensive research, and even then, what I remember is minimal. 
   If I were Australian or Dutch that would probably not be the case.  I know those athletes all worked very hard, and did accomplish great things, I just don't remember much of it. That is a very sad thing for me to admit, but there it is. I am usually very good at getting excited about the Olympics even if its not the USA that is being amazing. Somehow, I failed to do that in 2000.  I hope that the London Olympics are memorable and in a good way, because I don't want to remember any more tragedies and I don't want to have another forgettable Olympics. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I Stand All Amazed

Today,  like many days in my life, I really really didn't want to go to institute. But as I have learned from the past, that is the most important time for me to go to institute, so I went.

  I don't know why, but this past week or two, I just have struggled. I've felt alone and lost again, and just like my life was off balance. I hit that point again where I wanted to give up on things that were important to me, because I didn't see the point of my effort.

I went to institute tonight, and I heard exactly what I needed to hear, and now I understand a little better. God does love me, he knows me well, and he wants me to keep trying.  I saw the other day on Facebook  this : "FAIL: First Attempt In Learning" Sometimes I feel like I'm failing, and I just want to quit, but what I learned today at institute is that I need to keep trying, because God wants me to succeed and he will help me to do so, Its his grace that  not only makes my success possible, but helps me to become something I cannot on my own. I am learning, I may not learn as fast as I want to, but God has quite a lot of patience with me, much more than I have with myself. If you get a chance, read or watch this talk. It helped me to change my perspective and understand what is actually important.

Sometimes I am amazed at how God knows just what I need, and just when I need it, and how much he takes care of me. I feel very loved, and very much not alone right now. I know who has my back, and that makes me very happy.

here is the link to the talk, by Elder Brad Wilcox  July 12, 2012 BYU devotional on GRACE

8 days to opening cerimonies!

I am again blogging on my phone. After trying all week to get myself to blog when I get home from work, and failing, I have come to realize I am just too tired and its not going to happen.
  Ive had a hard time sleeping this week and have worked late alot, so I am exhausted. Thus, you may see a lot more phone blogging so I reach my daily blog goal.
  With my foot starting to heal, but not there yet Ive been working on some other goals too, working out daily again. I am now at a point I can handle a short, level ground slow walk at lunch.
I also decided since I still cant do my traditional work outs, which involved a lot of jumping, running, and standing qith weights, to re work my workout to a primarily legless one, in that my leg and ab stuff now involves a lot of bycicle crunches and similar.
  I am also working more on arm strenghth and starting to work on flexibility.
Making these adaptations reminds me of the great athletes of the paraolympics. I really havent watched much paraolympics, but what I have seen is pretty amazing.
This summer we will all have a chance to see one paraolympic athlete cross over, to just the Olympics.
There is a runner, nicknamed "the blade runner" who has qualified for the olympics in track. He doesnt have legs, he runs on medal blades.
Watch for him. And be ready for the controversy already brewing, are his blades, his not having legs, is this an advantage or a disadvantage, or is it as I propose both, and therefore neither, just different.
With added benifits, and added challenges, therefore in my opinion, fair. If it werent, every runner would chop off their legs and start running on blades.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My Thoughts For Today...

Today was a great day. I went to my new family ward and it felt like just where I was supposed to be.  A new couple just moved in that graduated from Utah State, where I graduated from 4 yrs ago. Instant Aggie friends!!! Love it!  
  Then a few of my singles friends came over and I made dinner and we played settlers of Katan. I love that game.
 This morning I reminded my self of a few things from the 1996 Olympics. Michael Johnson was an amazing runner, he wore golden shoes. Gail Devers was also awesome, and she had really long finger nails. In the 1996 Olympic men's marathon someone finished over an hour behind the field, and they waited and allowed him to finish, because it was the Olympic spirit to finish the race.  Vitali Scherbo of  Belarus competed after not really fully training  for the year before because  his wife had been in a coma and he refused to leave her side. He still pulled out a bronze. A gymnast from Italy nicknamed "Lord of the Rings" won the Gold in the men's individual rings competition, and on a sad note, there was a bombing during the 1996 Olympics. Two people died, and over 100 were injured.
   Everything I read on the games, called the games itself a bit of a mess, too corporate,  bad transportation, security issues.  But it deeply praised the athletes that saved those games. And that is why I remember 1996 fondly- The athletes were amazing, and most of them embodied the Olympic ideals of fair play, finishing the race, overcoming personal challenges and that sort of thing. 

That was when Gary Hall, and Amanda Beard started their Olympic Careers, I watched the US equestrian team medal, the us women's soccer team won the first Gold medal in that event, and Mohammad Ali lit the cauldron and got a  replacement gold medal. John Williams made an amazing Olympic sound track, Celine Dion sang Power of the Dream, and Gloria Estefan sang Reach. Great songs, great stories, great athletes to me overcame most of the negatives. The bombing, I will never forget, that is very sad and unfortunate, and totally not cool, but there was a really great security guard named Richard Jewell, who  spotted the bomb first and was able to get a lot of people out of the area to safety.  

I think that despite the judging scandals, Commercialism, and doping issues that come with every games, its important to remember what makes them worth watching any way. There are honest athletes - most of them, I would bet, who work hard and dedicate their whole lives to doing something great, something no one has done before, doing something to the best of their ability, for self, for nation, for love of the sport. That even though it isn't always so (Russia invaded Georgia during the 2008 games, for instance) its two weeks that the world is asked to be at peace with each other, and that usually does happen. Its a time for everyone to come together, and celebrate what is great about being human. I hope that we all remember that, and don't let that other stuff get in the way in these games. There will be problems, there always are, but if we let it, we can use the two weeks of the Olympic Games, then the Para Olympic games to see what is possible when we work and do our best

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Thunder Rolls and the Countdown Continues

 As  I sit watching a wake boarding competition this morning, my dog hides shaking and quivering behind me as if the very end of the world were upon us. This little thunderstorm has him more scared than the fourth of July. I think compared to what I heard growing up in Utah, this isn't very scary, but I still find it amusing to count seconds  and roughly count how many miles away the lightning is striking. I think if my dog could understand and do this, he would probably be a lot less scared. 
  I have a lot of count downs going on right now, count down till I go home to Utah to visit my family, count down till I need a new roommate, count down to half a dozen marriages, receptions, bridal showers, etc, and of course my count down to the London Olympics.  According to the two Apps on my phone- London 2012 fan app, and Team USA app  we have 12 days, 1 hr, 59 min, and 30 ish seconds, much less by the time you are actually reading this blog. 

My goal to blog my way to the Olympics everyday has, thus far, failed, but I am not giving up , I will keep trying to get there. Yesterday I discovered a new Youtube Channel to feed my mania,  the Team USA channel. My favorite feature so far on this channel is  "Gold Medal Moments' if you would like to cry, watch that channel. My favorite story on the channel, is Kerri Strug. 1992 was my first Olympics I remember, but 1996 was my favorite Summer Games of all time. Greatest Sound tracks, and of course- THE MAG SEVEN. We will never have a Magnificent Seven again, because they have cut team sizes down to five, but honestly, who could compete with that moment? 
          It was the Women's Gymnastics Team competition night.  No one had beat the Soviet Union/ Russia in the team competition since the 1950's, and the best the USA ever did was a bronze medal (In 1992, thank you very much Shannon Miller and the Gang).  I remember sitting with my mom in our living room, absolutely glued to the television as Team USA was Vaulting, and Dominque Moceanu did the unthinkable and sat down the landing on both of her vaults. At this point, things were tight in the competition,  we didn't know where things really were, it was close with Russia and Romania. We had another great vaulter up though- Kerri Strug. 
    At this point I could not sit down, and I think I was standing about a foot away from the TV. We could do this, we had to do this, we just had too!!! Kerri took off running towards the vault, hit the vault, flipped around as gymnasts do. It was looking great, just stick the landing, Kerri, just stick it!!  She did not stick it, she also fell. As she got up, we noticed a limp. 
 oh no, oh no, oh no!!!! no!! you can't be hurt, we need you you have to vault, you have to do this!!! the Russians will win again!!!
 I really didn't want Russia to win again.  It seemed impossible, but with Bella Karoli yelling "You can do it!" repeatedly in his strong Romanian accent, no one was going to argue with that. Kerri lined up and ran at it again. How the heck she ran like that on that ankle is beyond me. She hit the vault and it was amazing, and then How on earth will she land this!!!!!   She landed it, ON ONE FOOT, and she STUCK IT!!!! and then she hit the floor in the awkward horrible way that says, I did it, and now I am in such pain I want to die!      
  It was both wonderful and horrible to watch. No one likes seeing someone in that much pain, but its one of the things that I love the most about the Olympics, someone by sure determination accomplishing something amazing. It turns out Russia messed up and we didn't really need that vault to win, but I think the world needed that vault, to realize what amazing things humans can do when we set our mind to it.

 The US Women's Gymnastics team won its first ever team Gold that year, and US Women's gymnastics became a force to be reckoned with, not just the underdogs that we hopped would pull out a win or a medal here and there. We had a deep team, and every member of that team made it count.   The names  Shannon MillerDominique MoceanuDominique DawesKerri StrugAmy ChowAmanda Borden and Jaycie Phelps became forever engraved on my memory as true Olympians. 

  This year in London, its the men's turn. We have the Deepest men's gymnastics team since 1984,  if not ever. I expect this year we will have the fantastic five (they cut the team sizes to five members). We are expected at least to get a Silver. This should be our best team ever in a fully contested Olympics (the USSR did not compete in the 1984 Los Angeles games due to Cold war issues, just as we didn't compete in MockBa /Moscow in 1980). 
Learn these names, watch them, and be amazed Jake Dalton, Jonathan Horton, Danell Leyva, Sam Mikulak and John Orozco.   12 days people. LETS GET EXCITED!!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

1992, one of the most crucial years of my life

I am blogging via cell phone, so forgive me, but spelling and grammar are going to suffer. As I was riding on the bus this morning, I was thinking about the Silverdale fifth (YSA) ward, and how I will miss it, and how it was created twenty yeard ago, and should dissapear and become something new this year.
Then the thought hit me that my mission had a very important twenty year celebration this year, twenty years since LDS missionaries firs entered the country of latvia, my mission headquarters, and a place i loved and served in for three months.

  And then I did a bit of math in my head, and determined that I was ten years old twenty years ago. And when I was ten years old my mom and dad went out of town for a weekend and left me and my brother with my baptist aunt, who took us to her church for my cousins baptisim. There events unfolded that led to me questioning everything my parents had taught me about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and living prophets. For many months i questioned and wrestled with all I had been taught. Then one day I was talking to my younger brother who said, well if you want to know, read the book of mormon and pray about it. And I did, and gained a deep and living testimony that Joseph Smith was not a liar, he was a prophet of God, that the Book of Mormon was a correct book brought forth by the work of God, and that we did and do infact have living prophets today that recieve revelation and guidance from God to help direct us in our lives. 

  After a bit more thinking and calculating, I determined that all these things happened in 1992,  the last year that the summer and winter olympics were held in the same year. The first year that I gained a true and deep love of the games, of sport, of cultures, of languages and peoples. The first year the countries of my mission got to compete for their own country, the first and last year of the unified team, which, though the colapse of the soviet union in my opinion was most definately a good thing, i will admit i was sad that the unified team was a one time thing, and team mates would be split appart.

It was a big year for me, my mission became possible because of that year, a ward that introduced me to people that changed my life and became my family came about that year, and I started to become everything that I am today that year.

This year, is a year of change and a crossroads for me, but I am where I am today because of things that happened twenty years ago. It was while serving in latvia I met a companion from washington that persuaded me to move here. Where will we be twenty years from now? What will the new ysa multistake ward mean to someone then? I dont know, but every new begining comes from some other beginings end, and its going to be awesome I am sure. Happy twentieth anniversary, 1992.  Thanks for changing my life.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

And Our Lives Passed Away as it Were Like Unto a Dream...

This morning I sit on my deck with a calm breeze  rustling through the surrounding trees feeling extremely sentimental. This week as felt like  a closing ceremonies to many things in my life,  and today I am quite certain will be my last day attending the Silverdale YSA ward for church. Also, Yet again, most of my friends are getting married in coming months- many this month in fact. It seems once again like my life is passing away, just as Jacob said in the Book of Mormon- "like unto a dream"  skipping ahead to parts unforeseen.  

 I know a new and great adventure lies before me, and I am excited to see what life brings me, but I must allow myself a "Closing Ceremonies" moment or two to remember what I have learned from all this. That, for now, I will keep to myself.  But yesterday I had the opportunity to ride home from the temple with a friend who loves the Olympics as much as I do. Such people are difficult to find.  

 It reminded me that I was going to write you about when all this madness began. You know about the towel I got in 84', I know that I watched the 88' games with my mom, but I don't actually remember anything from those games, I was  only six at the time, so that makes sense. My first Olympics that I remember falling in absolute love with was the 1992 Olympics. Probably more the Summer games in Barcelona, Spain  but also the winter games in Albertville, France.  
  I still get goose bumps if you mention the names from either of those games, Bonnie Blair, Kristy Yamaguchi, Alberto Tomba, Dan Jansen, Madori Ito, from the Winter Games. Vitali Scherbo, Shannon Miller, Kim Zmeskel, The Dream Team (the original and only real dream team in my opinion), Tatyana Gutsu and the Unified team ( the team of most of the former Soviet Union that had just colapsed)  and the Lithuanian basketball team. Alexander Popov, and  Trent Dimas,  Poblo Morales, Matt Biondi, Jenny Thompson, Summer Saunders, Janet Evens. I could go on for hours, but I should stop there.

The most memorable Cauldron lighting for me, was also 1992, Spain when an Archer shot a flaming arrow at the cauldron to ignite it.  I loved when Ali lit it in 1996,because who he was and what it symbolized, but I have never forgotten that nameless archer and the flame that started that year in my heart.   1996 was another great Olympics and I will talk about that, I am sure, another time, but whether in our normal life or the Olympic games, after the closing ceremonies  we remember these things because the Power of the Dream that is our ability to become great  people, and gain greater abilities than our own in life.  Celine Dion sang a song at the 1996 Olympics that I think says it all for me. Please watch the attached video, and don't forget to "realize the power of the dream" in your life as it "passes away as it were like unto a dream"  Never forgetting the past you build on, but never forgetting to build the dreams and greatness of the present and future.

The Power Of The Dream lyrics
vs 1
Deep within each heart
There lies a magic spark
That lights the fire of our imagination
And since the dawn of man
The strength of just I can
Has brought together people of all nations
There's nothing ordinary in the living of each day
There's a special part every one of us will play

Feel the flame forever burn
Teaching lessons we must learn
To bring us closer to the power of the dream
As the world gives us its best
To stand apart from all the rest
It is the power of the dream that brings us here

Your mind will take you far
The rest is just pure heart
You'll find your fate is all your own creation
And every boy and girl
As they come into this world
They bring the gift of hope and inspiration

Feel the flame forever burn
Teaching lessons we must learn
To bring us closer to the power of the dream
The world unites in hope and peace
We pray that it will always be
It is the power of the dream that brings us here
vs 2
There's so much strength in all of us
Every woman child and man
It's the moment that you think you can't
You'll discover that you can

The power of the dream
Faith in things unseen
Courage to embrace your fear
No matter where you are
Reach for your own star
To realize the power of the dream
To realize the power of the dream

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Agony of Defeat

 For the past two days I have been at a Motorcycle riding class. My goals were to learn all the skills I needed to safely ride a motorcycle, and to pass all the tests and gain my endorsement. This morning as I left for day two, I was slightly sore from yesterday, and very nervous. I don't know why, I did really well yesterday, so I had no reason to be nervous. I prayed before I left, that I could ride to the best of my ability, and that I would be safe. 
As I got to class, I was still nervous. We got on our bikes, and they had me go first as we practiced tight maneuvers- U turns, s turns etc.  I did the U turn correctly on my first attempt, and did ok on the S turn, did one more turn and headed to the line to try on the other side. Suddenly when it was my turn to go, I got nervous. I didn't have my head in the right place- physically or mentally, so when i went to make the turn i was too wide and then I over corrected and looked down, and dumped the bike. I didn't get hurt, the bike didn't get hurt, it was a very controlled dump,  but  because yesterday I dumped the bike when i didn't have the kick stand fully engaged when I parked one time, it meant that my day, my class, my dream for now is over, and I had to leave the class. 

The instructor told me as I left, that he hoped I would take the class again, that I had showed incredible improvements from yesterday morning,  and that I really had done quite well, but due to insurance, a bike dump was a bike dump and if the bike hits the ground twice your out- no matter how or why. 

In a way, I think I am glad I will have a bit more time to work on this. My shoulder was sore from yesterday, and my left hand, and I would rather have exited safely than  not. I am still sad I didn't accomplish my goal, but I am glad I could go out with my head held high, that I actually did do well and I only didn't pass for stupid little mistakes. I will work on my arm strength and endurance, and on keeping my head up. I think my skating coach would agree on both those for my skating any way. 

But, With 21 days till the Olympic games begin, my experience was very reminiscent of the Olympic trials, and many Olympics themselves. Heck, Alicia Sacramone missed her beam entrance last Olympics, and had to live that down again all trials, and she had to wait for years for the chance to fix that error, and still didn't get that chance.  We all know she can get on to the beam without falling off, but for whatever reason, nerves likely, the time it was most important that she did, she didn't.  I could have made sure my kick stand was up, and I definitely could have made sure the bike didn't go down today, I could have, I knew what to do, and I proved on my first run that I knew how to do it, I just didn't when it counted.   

When I was a volunteer at the Salt Lake Olympics, I got to meet Jim McKay, the ABC sports caster that coined the phrase "the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat." Probably one of the best lines ever said, and a good man. Today, I think more than any other time in my life, in the span of less than five minutes, I experienced both, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.  Victory rocks, Defeat make me wanna cry.  But, its not the triumph, but the struggle, So Just like Alicia Sacramone got back up and tried again, just like countless others have done and will do, I am going to take a break, Practice on the scooters with my dad,  and then go take the class again, and next time, I am gonna pass it. BOOM! 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Trials 2012: The Year of The American Comeback Triumph?

I was so excited at the beginning of trials this year, because so many greats were coming back. For a moment it felt like back in the day when they first started letting the former Olympians that had gone pro come back. I remember for Figure Skating that was a big deal in 1994, in  Norway.  1994, went really well for a lot of people though- Torvil and Dean,  Katterina Witt, they all made their way back to the Olympics, Medal or no.  
  But, apart from one comeback that succeeded this year,  31 year old  Anthony Ervin,  there was varying shades of fail.  The media is arguing that Shawn Johnson was the smart one, just to drop out. I think for her that was smart, but I don't think that just because people failed, and things didn't  go well, that everyone should have taken that route.  Tonight I saw the last of the failed comebacks, Dara Torres. I was so sure she was going to make it too, but just a little too slow off the blocks. 

 One thing, I think that the press has forgotten in all this, is that the Olympics is not just about winning, about the triumphant, incredible, unbelievable, miraculous comeback, Its about giving your all, and doing your best. Are we forgetting how miraculous it is that most of these people were even at a high enough level to make the trials? I think we should rejoice in that. I applaud all the athletes that attempted to comeback for their effort. I think it was inspiring, Olympics or no. It should teach us all to try, to go for things, no matter what we think is in our way- age, knee surgery, whatever.  Nastia, and Dara I applaud your effort, and I think despite the short comings you both did some pretty great things this year. Amanda Beard and Janet Evans, I didn't see your races, but thanks for trying. It was nice to hope for you to succeed again, please never stop trying to be amazing.  

The trials are not the Olympics, but they are the warm up to the Olympics, so we should have the same spirit and attitude toward them in my opinion. Good sportsmanship, effort, heart, compassion, fair play. 

I once got a medal at a skating competition (ok so I have more than one medal, but this one was special) It said " Triumph is just UMPH added to TRY.  so despite the failures, I would say that all of these athletes had a Triumph in this trial, even if they fell short of their overall goal. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

To have fought well...

I just watch Nastia Liuken fall, again, off the bars the second night in a row. I have already blogged tonight, so I thought I was done, but I wanted to cry when I saw that. I wanted to cry hard. And she probably wanted to cry worse. But, she didn't give up, she got back up off the floor and got back on the bars and finished, and unlike yesterday stuck her landing. I know in skating they say the hardest jump is the one after a fall, so I am sure the hardest move in gymnastics is the one that  comes after a fall. It meant so much to me that she got back up, and that she stuck her landing. That to me is what the Olympic spirit is all about, Its what the trials should be all about. And I am more proud of Nastia Liuken and have more respect for her than ever before, because she didn't give up, throw in the towel and stomp off when she fell again. Even though it kind of looked in her face like a part of her really wanted to.  Good on ya.

Single Mindedness

As an athlete, Its often good to have that focus, single mindedness, paying absolute attention to your objective. Today I went to church, to a family ward, and I asked to have my records moved from the singles ward. This seems counter productive to me finding someone to date and marry, but I have felt that its time for me to learn a new skill, Family Mindedness. So thats what I am going to do.   Since its Sunday that is my religious blurb. At fast and testimony meeting today it occured to me how individually and personally God is aware of each of us, especially, Me. 

Now, On to the focus of my moment, Olympic trials. I just watched Dara Torres swim and amazing 50 m and make it into the final. I hope she makes it to the Olympics again, she is my hero and she has already done incredible things. Make it or not, She is amazing and inspiring. You know already this week we have seen failed comeback attempts of many former Olympians. Its not an easy feat to accomplish. Janet Evans failed, Amanda Beard failed. Thomas Finchum failed, and I am pretty sure I am about to watch Nastia Liuken fail. But  you know what, No matter how much the media says some of these people humiliated themselves with their comeback attempts, I disagree. Good on them for trying, for leaving nothing to question, No, hey if I would have tried, could I have done one more Olympics? Also they showed us how hard this really is, and sometimes thats good to realize.  Tomorrow will be Dara Torres final, I pray she makes it. Tomorrow will also be the tie breaker for the dead heat in running. This has been an exciting trials, I have no doubt that it will be an amazing Olympics. Commentating has been hit or miss, but tonight they were a little better.  for the next 27 days I will be sharing Olympic memories from the past, in preparation and lead up to the opening ceremonies. To all the athletes who have qualified, no matter how big or small your country, Good luck, and Cool runnings to you!