Fight the Good Fight. Your Way.

Journalist, author, motivational speaker and world-record-holding marathon swimmer Diana Nyad made five attempts to swim from Cuba to Florida.

She first tried at age 28 in 1975.

She failed.

She made four subsequent attempts in August 1978, August 2011, September 2011, and August 2012. She finally succeeded in making the historic crossing “sans” shark cage in August 2013 at age 64.

“Find a way,” she says in the TED talk below. “You have a dream and you have obstacles in front of you, as we all do. None of us ever get through this life without heartache, without turmoil, and if you believe and you have faith and you can get knocked down and get back up again and you believe in perseverance as a great human quality, you find your way.”

I too am tenacious. Determined. Doggedly so. Perhaps stupidly so.

One thing is certain: once I’ve got my eyes on the prize I’m not likely to give up, and my stick-with-it-ness has helped me achieve cool things (like becoming a triathlete at age 50), and taken me places (from the Great Wall of China to the Arctic Circle) I never would have dreamed possible.

In my experience, the hardest decisions in life are those that force us to choose between giving up or trying harder, washing our hands or taking responsibility, doing the “right thing’ or doing the easy thing.

These are tough choices. At first glance, giving up, washing our hands and doing the easy thing may appear more attractive. Clearly these choices are less troublesome and burdensome. But they are invariably less satisfying, less honourable, and less enriching as well.

Even in adversarial situations when the prospects of failing far outweigh those of success, my pit-bullish unwillingness to surrender serves me well – albeit not always bloodlessly!

“There’s always a chance,” I remind myself.

There’s a chance – slim though it may be when you’re outnumbered, outgunned, and outsmarted – that you will emerge victorious. Sheer determination sometimes carries the day. Not often. But enough to make the struggle worthwhile.

This is truth, not some hallucination like those Nyad experiences during her long distance swims.

God knows I’ve lost many times. And I’ve been lost many times. But I’ve also won. And I’ve also  been found.

AWR better to lick woundsI learn from my failures (much more than from my successes); I get up, dust myself off, shed some tears, heal my hurts, and keep going. I’d rather lick my wounds and be battle-scarred than kiss ass and compromise my values.

I don’t hold any world records. I’m not internationally renowned like Diana Nyad. And I don’t have a big expert team to support me. Mostly I just have myself and a merry band of international misfits, rabblerousers and amazing women to cheer me on.

But like Nyad, I’m unwilling (maybe even unable) to give up.

According to Wikipedia, Nyad describes marathon swimming (in her 1978 autobiography) as a battle for survival against a brutal foe—the sea—and the only victory possible is to “touch the other shore.”

You don’t have to be a marathon swimmer or famous or special to be courageous in life. You don’t have to be shot at to be brave.

We all fight our own daily battles (big and small) against our own brutal foes. The only victory possible is to find a way–our own way–to persevere, prevail and live another day.

Fight the good fight. Whichever way is your way.

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Catherine never complained

Catherine I am luckyMy cousin Catherine was born with a heart defect.

She began having (then-experimental) surgeries to correct it at the age of two. She had many such surgeries and spent countless days, weeks, sometimes even months in hospital. The number of times she might have died are too numerous to mention.

She never complained. She amazed everyone with her will to live.

In addition to the surgeries and hospital stays, she took all kinds of prescription drugs and faced multiple challenges throughout her childhood and early adolescence: attention deficits, learning issues, and limits on what she could and could not do.

She never complained. She made the most of life.

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25 Useful Things to Remember When You Screw Up

Pink golf ballI played in my first-ever golf tournament last week. My preferred (quelle surprise!) ball is pictured at left 😉

In golf, as in most sports, it’s important to follow the rules  when you compete. (Mostly.)

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it),  following the rules is not my strong suit (not in games, not in sports, and especially not in life generally).

That’s probably why I ended up breaking the rules and being disqualified In my maiden tourney. (So far I haven’t been disqualified from life, but who knows what lies ahead…)

Interestingly, I subsequently learned I needn’t have been disqualified from the tournament, having followed the proper corrective procedure after the initial infraction.

This rule-breaking experience reminded me of some random life lessons, which I thought worth sharing: Continue reading

Five Great Tips to Sleep When You Can’t

sleeping-woman-1935Ever wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep? Or maybe you just can’t get to sleep to begin with?

Me too. Lots.

Truth be told, I’ve never been a good sleeper. I toss and turn, ruminate, think about what I wish I’d done instead of what I did do, and plan on how I’ll do things differently next time around, and next time around I wonder why didn’t follow the plan I cooked up at 2:00 a.m. last time around.

It’s a vicious sleepless circle that’s been my own personal midnight merry-go-round since I was in my teens.

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10 Cool Lists of 10 Cool Things to Love

PINK heart 10It’s no secret that, besides this soon-to-be-amazing personal blog, I also run an already amazing (she writes none-too-modestly) website not surprisingly called AmazingWomenRock.com, which has, over the last five years, become my own fabulously random work of multimedia performance art as well as an online oasis of inspiration for women and men who love women (she shares even more modestly).

(Phew! Shorter sentences please Susan.)

ANYWAY, just for fun it (and because I don’t have the time or inclination right now to pen, or more accurately to type, something deep and meaningful, and also there may soon be enough deep and meaningful shit on this blog for us all to wade through or drown in, in which case, bring wine please, or not, in which case, again, bring wine; in fact, bring wine in any and all cases: a case of it should do nicely), I thought this list of 10 Cool Lists of 10 Cool Things to Love, drawn from the pages of AmazingWomenRock.com, would, you know, tide us over for the moment, before the flood, the onslaught, the TSUNAMI of blog posts I may, just MAY, one day get a round to writing/typing, which reminds me, the next one will be about that very thing – getting around to it. Or at least that’s the plan. At the moment. Until it changes. (<= Sentences like this one are good. Ones like the first one, not so much.)

Stay tuned.

In the meantime, whaddaya’ think of these?

  1. 10 Affirmations to Kickstart Yourself (See “around to it” above)
  2. 10 Rules For Amazing & Brilliant Women (See AmazingWomenRock.com)
  3. 10 Obscure Facts About Orgasm (See below the belt)
  4. 10 Lessons to Learn From A Dog’s Life (File under love, love, love)
  5. 10 Things Teachers Make (by Taylor Mali) (Awesome slam)
  6. 10 Top Tips for Living in Love (Useful)
  7. 10 Gems From Making My Facial Into a Fellini Movie (See “Susan is quirky.” Okay, Susan is a case. See above.)
  8. 10 Rules To Live By Every Single Day (Break some rules, but not these ones…)
  9. 10 Life Lessons I Learned From Being a Biker (Guest blog post from a biker babe friend)
  10. 10 Ways To Be A Good Wife (in 1954) (Whoa!)

Th th th th th that’s all for now folks!

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Frozen Bananas? Who Knew? (Day 10)

Frozen bananas

Frozen bananas

Yippee! We made it to Day 10 in Susan’s Last 10 Days in May Magic Bullet Muffin & Fat Back Buster UnDiet & Weight Release Thing)! (Actually, today is Day 11, but don’t tell anyone…)

It is excruciatingly hot in my corner of Quebec, or at least it is by Canadian standards : 31 C is OTT for us Canucks. Doesn’t hold a candle to Erbil, Iraq, though. That’s where my friend (and author) Carolyn Theriault is. She’s a sucker for punishment is Carolyn. Continue reading

Hot? Getchya Some Gazpacho (Day 9)

FB thumbs up iconIn the last 10 days, we’ve had rain, rain, SNOW, freezing cold, and everything in between.

But now that Facebook has turned around (in this statement), so has the weather.

Today (or rather yesterday, because I fell asleep at the keyboard when I was about to post this last night, and then decided to go to bed instead) was hot, hot, hot, and tomorrow is supposed to be sweltering, by Canadian standards anyway (and yes, it’s tomorrow already and it’s a humid scorcher). Continue reading