Archive for overcoming obstacles

Innovation and Visualization – Winning the Olympic Gold

562670_10151175355696995_1055361792_nCopy of GoldMedalRetouched

Dana’s shares her story about training and competing  for the 1988 Olympic Games!

Back when I was first training and competing in Taekwondo, I had discovered although I was stronger and faster than most of my competitors, I didn’t have the endurance.  And what good was it that I would win the first and second round in our full-contact fighting sport of Taekwondo, yet then lose in the third.  The truth of the matter is that I didn’t even have the mindset to persevere.  Once things got tough…my mind would overrule my body, and I would just quit!  And I knew that if I wanted to be an Olympic contender, I needed to change this!  So I decided to go train in upstate New York, with a famous coach, known for producing competitors with amazing stamina.  His athletes had that ‘indomitable spirit’ that I was lacking. 

During one of the first training sessions, we were doing a repetitious kicking drill which was designed to increase stamina.  Everyone had a partner holding a kicking paddle that we kicked as many times and as fast as we could.  At some point, when my endurance was failing, he came over and took the paddle from my partner and held it for me.  Each time I started to tire and slow down, he yelled at me to continue.  About the third time this happened, I snapped, and yelled back, “I’m TRYING!”  Well, he lowered the kicking pad, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Try…not good enough!”  “Everyone ‘try,’ not everyone ‘champion.’”  “Don’t ‘try!’”  “Just DO!”  And he raised the kicking paddle for me to continue with the drill.

The thing is…how do you ‘just DO,’ when you don’t know that you can DO?  How do you ‘do,’ when you don’t believe that you can do?”   Well, I learned the amazingly important answer to the first half of that puzzling question in another training session with that coach!

I learned this lesson during a long distance run.  One of the biggest elements to this coach’s training program was running. That was something I had been doing as little of as possible. I had discovered back in high school, that long distant running would make my heart start ‘racing’ 90 thousand miles and hour.  And then the racing heart would trigger an asthmatic reaction that would close off my lungs. But since I was there in New York to train and learn, and I was determined to improve, I went with the program as best as I could.

One of the runs he’d have us do was an extremely difficult one up and through a cemetery. It seemed impossible for me to do this run successfully, and on my last two efforts, I had been forced to stop and walk up the steepest hill. On this third attempt, despite my determination, I found myself laboring as usual as we began to climb the dreaded hill. About a quarter of the way up, with my breathing coming hard and fast, my heart started racing. A few beats later, the asthmatic reaction set in, and my desperate lungs began closing off further. Panic stricken, I came wheezing to a stop, bending over, trying desperately to get some air into my starved lungs. My coach, who’d been staying alongside me to encourage me, came up to me – I thought to help reassure me. Not!

To my surprise, he came up behind me, placed his hand on my back and started pushing me unceremoniously up the hill! Oh the indignity of it. He completely ignored the fact that I couldn’t even breathe, and that I was close to passing out or getting violently sick. “How insensitive!” “How unbelievable!” As I stumbled forward from the pressure of his hand, I became angry and started moving forward on my own. As I put one foot in front of the other, muttering angrily to myself, trying to pull away, he kept pace, with his hand resting on my back as a reminder that he was not going to let me stop. Fuming with anger and indignation, it was with surprise that I discovered I had reached the top of the hill, and that I hadn’t passed out. Although my breathing was still labored and wheezing, I discovered that, if I could just keep putting one foot in front of the other…I could keep going!

That revelation sounded off in my head like a trumpet from heaven. As my coach pulled ahead and let me continue on my own down the hill that thought pounded in my brain with each forward footstep. I realized that I had been thinking, “I can’t make it,” “I can’t do this.” “I’m going to pass out!” Yet, once I had taken my mind off of those negative thoughts, and focused on something else…I had discovered that, “Hey,”  “I could do it!”  “I could keep going.”  From that time on… every time I began to think, “I can’t,” and want to come screeching to a halt… I would force myself to keep taking just one more step…and I would replace my negative thoughts with positive ones!

Throughout my Olympic training I used what I had learned with that coach, as much as possible.  In theory, it was easy to replace the negative thoughts with positive affirmations.  I just substituted “I can’t,” with “I can.”  “I won’t,” with “I will!”  What made this difficult is that I found it much easier to slip backwards into what I already knew – those negative thoughts – than to convince myself of something that I couldn’t actually ‘picture’ in my mind.  It was really hard to stay positive, when one half of my brain was saying, “I can,” while the other half was saying, “What makes you think that!?”   And I knew that if I wanted to be an Olympic contender…I needed to get both of those halves working together as a whole!  I desperately needed to solve the second half of that question of how do you ‘just do,’ when you don’t truly ‘believe’ that you can do…before I entered that competition ring at the Olympics!

Our United States Taekwondo team arrived in Seoul, Korea two weeks before the Games, to do the final, most important training before our competition was to begin.  Unfortunately, I had sustained a back injury at the Olympic Team trials a month and a half beforehand.  And although I had tried all kinds of modern medicine, sports medicine, and holistic remedies, the injury had gotten progressively worse.  All of the doctors agreed, that the only thing that would help, was rest.  But, there was no way I could do that, and have a chance of winning!  By the time we arrived in Seoul, the pain was excruciating.

During our third practice in Seoul, we were doing a kicking drill where each of our teammates held a kicking pad at different heights, and one by one we would run the gauntlet of pads, kicking and screaming like banshees.  When it was my turn, I started out kicking ferociously.  “Hey…this was the Olympics…I was going to do this!”  I was doing fine, until I came to the very last high kick.  As my foot reached for that pad, a lightening bolt of pain shot through me and dropped me to my knees in tears and agony.  As my coach and teammates turned aside, I gingerly picked myself up, and limped off to the side.  It was obvious to all of us, that my Olympic dream was over before it even began!  I was devastated!

That night, I agonized over this dilemma.  This was the Olympics!  I couldn’t just give up!  I have sacrificed so much to be here!  Yet, what could I do?  If I didn’t train these two weeks, I knew that, even if I could compete I would feel unprepared…and I knew that ‘mental’ negativity would interfere with my determination.  Later that night, after hours of torturous twisting and turning in bed, I came up with a plan of action…or in-action as it turned out.  I would practice by visualizing the things that I needed to work on!

So that’s what I did.  For the remaining days before our competition, while everyone else practiced physically, I practiced mentally.  I would find a quiet place, sit, meditate and visualize my attacks, and my counters. I saw myself executing everything with perfect precision and timing.  I saw myself winning match after match!

As the morning of my competition dawned with my back rested enough to compete, I felt it in my spirit that I was ready for competition.  I felt good!  I felt confident!  Then…as I began warming up…that old fear of failure started creeping in again.  Who did I think I was?  What made me think that I was good enough to do this?  As we were called to enter the competition area, I frantically searched my brain for the answer to that question,

Suddenly realized that I had lots of reasons to think that I was good enough!  I had practiced physically, and I had practiced mentally!  I had the strength, the speed, the training and the endurance.  And that’s when it hit me, that I had the answer to the second part of that question of, “How do you just do, when you don’t believe you can do?”  You build your confidence and self-esteem through preparation!  And I WAS prepared.  I had done everything possible to be prepared for this exact moment!  I WAS good enough!  So I told myself, “Be not afraid,” and I took that final step into the competition ring!

When my first match was halfway over, I knew that although my body was not 100%, my positive mindset made up for it. As I faced my toughest opponent (Chinese Taipei) in the semi-finals, I knew in my heart, that I was good enough to win.  When my hand was raised after my final match to let everyone know I’d won the Olympic Gold, I smiled to myself, because I realized that I was, indeed, a winner.  I had faced my fears, and overcome the limitations of my mind!

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FINDING COURAGE WITHIN!

Dana...second from left...in the Orphanage

STARLIGHT STORY

(Age 5)

 Abandoned by our mother when I was three, my two brothers and myself were placed in an orphanage where we were raised for the next 11 years.  It was touch growing up…feeling lost, alone and unloved.

Yet eventually, my mother did finally get back in touch with us, and would occasionally write or call, with promises that she would come visit or come and take us out of there to live with her.  I remember the rare times when I would receive a letter during mail call, and I would gallop all around the dormitory, waving that letter high in the air.  And then there was the time that I actually got to talk with her on the telephone, and she said she’d be coming to get us the next day to go spend the summer with her. I was so excited, I couldn’t’ sleep all night long.

So the next morning I convinced my housemother to let me wait for her on the front steps.  Shortly after breakfast I sat down on the cold stone steps, waiting, watching, hoping.  As each car entered the long circular driveway, my heart would beat a little faster, and I would shield my eyes from the glare of the sun and try and make out who it was.  As each car left with their excited, laughing children…my heart would sink a little lower.  Finally the bell rang for lunch, and I pulled myself to my feet, and went off to the cafeteria.

“Perhaps later” I said to myself!  After lunch, my Housemother, told me that, “No one will be coming to pick you up,” and that I would remain at the home, once again during the long summer vacation.

It was late that afternoon, that I sat in the deep grass and clover on the playground, beneath a huge sweet smelling Magnolia tree.  I watched the few kids that were left, playing a game of Jump Rope.  And as I thought about that morning, the familiar pain of abandonment wrapped it’s tight hold around my heart, and a feeling of hopelessness spread through my soul.

The bell sounded for us to gather in our groups and head inside the building, so I quickly wiped my face and walked across the lawn towards the huge stone steps.   I walked up the steps with the other children, then paused for a moment before entering the doorway.  I turned around to take one last breath of the fresh sweet air before heading inside to the dark, musty smelling dormitories.

It was then that I noticed…there on the horizon in the twilight, just above the tree-line…a single star glittering brightly.  Quickly, I closed my eyes, crossed my fingers, and whispered to myself…“Starlight, star-bright, first star I see tonight.  I wish I may, I wish I might…have the wish I wish tonight.

And I made that wish…just before the hall monitor, smacked me on the backside with a ruler, and ushered me inside.  Later, in the quiet of the night, I held close to that star in my mind as the tears fell like rain down my cheeks.  Muffling my sobs in my pillow, I paused for a moment as a thought suddenly appeared in my mind.  It was three little words that I had heard in a Sunday school church sermon… “Be not afraid!”

Taking a deep breath…I thought about those three words and the light they held within, began to lend me their courage.  Quieting down…I dried my tears with the edge of the sheet, and finally fell asleep, dreaming of my wish on that star.

It was a wish that I repeated, year after year.  And it was a wish that always gave me a glimmer of hope…even in my darkest hour…for as a child, I believed in the power of wishes and stars and the three little words, “Be not afraid.”  And my wish was for love, a place to call home, and a happier tomorrow.

Hello!  “You can also visit my services as a Motivational Keynote Speaker listed on Thumbtack and get to know more about what I can do for YOU!”   

Cheers!

Dana

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Acting with Courage in the face of Stress! Dealing with Stress, Part III

When you are feeling the pressure and frozen in time…when it feels like you have no move left to make?

There is one rule to live by and but one path to take.

Just make a move, whether right or wrong, and you will see doors open a hundred miles long.

The biggest fallacy you see is that there is nothing to be done to change your circumstance.

Your secret to defeat the undefeatable is the law of inertia and it’s a wonder to behold.  How the smallest of movement can create your next championship gold.

For even if the step you take is true or false, this action creates a reaction and you will not feel that sense of loss.

You see the one thing I have truly learned is that the only thing worse than failure is being too afraid to even try.

So when you are thinking there is no hope and want to give in and die?

Take some small action and you will find, that whether you succeed or fail…you will feel like the biggest winner of all.

For nothing can take away that wonderful feeling deep inside of pride and satisfaction for having the courage to lift yourself back up every single time you fall.

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Stress! And How To Combat This. II

Listen with your heart!

When you are stuck in a quandary and cannot see the forest for the trees, it is wise to let an outside source help you with your needs.

Yet as much as you may want to…you cannot listen to someone when your mind is on overload and your heart is on empty.

So when you truly want to make a change that is beyond your ability, or even beyond your comprehension….

What do YOU think you need to do?

All you need to do is focus on what you CAN control, and let another help you with what you cannot.

The truth is simple you see. And it will set you free.

For an outside thought, a helpful hand or the clear insight into your soul can once again make your heart whole.

So take the advice of a friend, take that hand or the advice from your soul. Then listen and act. And once again, you will feel the freedom and joy your negative thoughts stole.

Now…how to act you ask? When you seem frozen in time? That is soon to come as I transcribe to paper my experiences on same and the certain knowledge of this in my mind.

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Stress! And how to combat this!

JUST BE!

When things get difficult and times get tough. Time stands still and we don’t communicate enough.

We often stick our heads in the sand…hoping that others will understand.

All the while, we stress and ponder…what can pull us up from these dark depths of mind and soul?

When the simple answer, all the while, is waiting there in our mind…to make us whole.

The answer is simple you see. For it is simply, ‘to be.’

Not to stress or ponder.

Not to give up or wander.

The answer to freedom and joy of the soul is a simple step away for us to behold.

Don’t waste your precious days on this earth, stressing about what you are or are not worth.

Never squander your limited time in search of the new or bold in an effort to release your soul.

Simply take this truth and to your heart hold….

That to free your mind and soul from the dark depths of despair?

You must first understand the simplicity of nature…that of the birds that fly in the sky, the plants that breathe, and the horse in the snow that prances.

You see? The simple truth to erasing the depths of despair?

Is that all you need to do is walk on air.

Yes, this can at first seem impossible. Yet the reality has been…many times through time and history…proven possible.

These things that bind your mind and constrict your soul…these dark circumstances and thought that harass your being?

They are absolutely nothing if you give them no meaning!

The power of your mind you see….is the simple gift to set yourself free.

For the power of the mind gives you the choice you often do not see. But in choosing this gift, you can learn how to ‘just be.’

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‘The Power of the Mind’ A True Story Of Dana On The Streets

THE POWER OF THE MIND…FREEZING – BEACH STORY

A real-life excerpt by Dana Hee

Heading back to my little shelter three miles from the grocery store, I tore the wrapping from the Hostess Twinkies and wolfed them down, licking the last of the sticky frosting from my fingertips.  Wiping my fingers on my jeans, I pulled the light windbreaker tighter around my lean torso, trying to get more warmth against the cold frost that covered the shadowy trees and grass of the perfectly manicured suburban lawns in the darkness of the night.  The sky was crystal clear, my breath filled the air with thin white smoke and each icy inhalation sent a chill deep into my lungs.

As I quickened my pace, I shivered uncontrollably against the cold wind as it picked up gusto.  The fall leaves rustled across the sidewalk and dropped from the almost barren tree limbs.  Fascinated with their frenetic journey as they brushed past my feet and slammed themselves against the sides of the houses and fence posts, I tried to lose myself in the mysteriousness of their dark journey.  Like me…they were like lost souls hurrying here…then there…hopeless, afraid, with no place to really go.

My jaw chattered like a Halloween skeleton and every muscle in my body tensed unbearably against the constant heavy trembling until it felt like I might snap in two.  I would’ve broken into a jog-trot to try and help my body warm up…but I was exhausted from lack of sleep, lack of nutrients, and the ravages of extreme emotional distress.  So as I forced myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other to close the distance to my little shelter, I tried to focus on something that might help me fight the coldness creeping into my limbs like a demon trying to take possession of my body.  Only, my mind was almost as numb as my body.

Shaking my hair free of my eyes, I looked upwards into the sky…hoping to see any kind of cloud cover.  None!  Looking upwards again, I saw the distant glowing of stars and I thought of how wonderful it would be if only it was one of those hot, August days on the beach in Santa Cruz with my girlfriend, Marylyn.  Losing myself in that thought…I recalled the last time we went there.  That day when we skipped out of school at lunch time…

Heck…it must’ve been over a 100 degrees out, and her ravaged, little VW bug almost overheated on the steep hill up the mountain as we headed out of the stifling heat of the valley and upwards into the balmy heat of the pines…and down towards the often cooling breeze of the ocean winds.  Only that day….there were no cooling breezes.  Windows down…no air condition, and the heat from the engine block filling the tiny space inside…the sweat dampened our hair began to drip down my torso as we fought the stop and go traffic to the parking lot, and then creeped round and round looking for one of the rare openings.  At last!

We found tiny opening and tumbled gratefully out of the unbearable heat of the car and began unloading our ice chest and chairs.  “Thank God for sandals!”  I thought to myself, as we picked up our supplies and trudged through the parking lot while the heat waves shimmered upwards from the burning tarmac.  Reaching the crowded boardwalk, we maneuvered through the suffocating throngs of people until we found an opening onto the long hot stretch of sand.  “Wow!”  “Not even a whisper of a wind!” Marylyn whined as the sweat now poured down both of our faces.

Navigating the sea of roasting bodies and damp beach towels…we finally found a space and set out the chairs and towels.  I plopped down onto the already hot towel, as Marylyn dropped into a chair, reached into the ice chest and handed me a dripping wet, frosted, ice cold beer.  Popping off the lid, I rolled the smooth coolness of the bottle against my forehead before taking a long refreshing swig.  “Ahhh….”  “Much better!”  We both said at the same time, and laughed at that cool, odd connection we always had with our line of thought.

Snapping back into the present…I realized I had almost reached the old orchard where the abandoned newspaper recycling bin awaited me with it’s protection from the wind and the subtle warmth of its half filled mattress of stacks of old un-used newspapers.  As I passed the last of the perfect little suburban houses with their perfect, laughing families watching TV and eating their perfect dinners…I looked with envy into the warmth of their houses…their soft lights glowing from un-curtained windows.

That’s when it hit me…that, I wasn’t cold any longer!  My body no longer shook.  My muscles had almost completely relaxed and my jaw was no longer clenched and chattering.  The astounding realization that my thoughts about the hot beach trip had triggered this unnatural warmth…hit me like a ton of bricks.  And I smiled to myself as I climbed through the small opening in my precious little shelter.

That was just my first experience of many, about the amazing power that we can create with just our thoughts!

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‘When POWER is a hindrance and not a help!

I have sometimes found that my ‘exuberance’ of life is sometimes mistaken as ‘ego,’ ‘Hollywood,’ or ‘falseness.’ What a shame. When the reality is that of a child of hopelessness finally finding the joy in living.

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