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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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"Don’t try." "Just Do!" An Olympic Gold Medal Athlete’s method of discovery in learning to meet adversity with empowerment!


“Training for 24th Olympiad”

As I began training and competing for the Olympics, I had one, seemingly, insurmountable hurdle, ‘Champions’ need to believe in themselves. The difference between a great athlete and a champion is all in that ‘I can’ attitude. Yet I had grown up thinking I wasn’t good enough, and never would be! Somehow I just had to find a way to change my thinking!

As I began training and competing in the sport of Taekwondo, I quickly discovered although I was stronger and faster than many of my competitors, I didn’t have the endurance. And what good was it that I would win the first and second round, 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! 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,’ but 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?” When you’re mind is saying, “Uh-uh…I don’t think so!” Well, I learned the amazingly important answer to the first half of that puzzling question in another training session with that coach!

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 an 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!

For the remainder of those days before the Olympics, I would use what I had learned in these two powerful lessons on overcoming the limitations of the mind, so that I could have that the possibility to create amazing results!

And just before entering that competition ring at the Seoul, Korea Olympics, I realized I had the answer to the second question of, “How do you ‘do,’ when you don’t believe that you can do?” And so, therefore, I WON that gold medal!

Just ask me! 🙂

Believe me, one moment in time can change your life forever. Whatever you have to do to achieve, “Don’t try!” “Just DO!”

cc danahee 2004

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