I'm sitting in a hotel in Waco, Texas, writing this while my family is conked out around me. If you told me two years ago that I would enter my first barefoot water ski competition at the age of 45 (I'm a day away from another birthday), I would have laughed. And it would have been one of those knee-slapping-you-are-so-darn-funny laughs.
Way back when I was a teen, one of my buddies was set to enter his first barefoot tournament. I was jealous. The two of us barefooted together and I wanted to be tagging along with him. As it happened, he and several of my friends ended up in a car accident and he never did get to compete.
Two years ago, I wasn't laughing-- I was crying on my 44th birthday. I was looking back with regrets-- wishing I had barefooted more when I had the younger years on my side. But life has a way of tossing people in our path, and a link to a Today Show segment lead me to Judy Myers. This "older gal" inspired me to get back on the water and learn to barefoot again. At 68, she's the oldest female competitive barefoot water skier. And it was Judy who planted the idea of entering barefoot tournaments into my head. And heck, if Judy can do it, well then, why not?
There were challenges along the way and one of the biggest challenges was how to finance the sport. But if there's one thing that I learned from "The Passion Test" by Janet and Chris Attwood was this: don't worry about the "how" of your passion, just identify the "what" and the how will take care of itself. So I got really clear on my vision: I wanted to ski in four tournaments, including the Nationals in Texas and to do that, I would need sponsors. And lo and behold, the sponsors appeared. Phonak, ZVRS, Chicago Tribune TribLocal, Oak Cove Resort, Mayor Roger Claar and the World Barefoot Center. At the Social Media Chicago event before the SOBCon, I met Connie Burke from General Motors who generously supplied us with a Chevy Traverse for the trip to the Nationals.
This week marks my fourth tournament, the Barefoot Nationals at the Barefoot Ski Ranch in Texas. And you can bet, tomorrow, at my 46th birthday, there won't be any crying.
In the past year, I've come across many folks who have told me, "I envy you living your dream. I wish I could do ________." There's always a "but" that follows that sentence. Sometimes there's a million reasons of why they can't after I ask them some questions. Kevin Hall , author of Aspire, taught me this: you have to be willing to suffer for what you love-- to sacrifice, to work, to devote time, to go through the unpleasant to get to the joy.
And then the question becomes, what are you willing to do to live your dream?