Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of making the US Olympic team. I wanted to walk into a giant stadium with all the best athletes in the world. While I'm still a little sad I never fulfilled my dream of racing in the Olympics, I am extremely thankful for the ten outstanding years I had in the sport of whitewater slalom kayaking. And racing in three World Championships and winning a Silver World Championship medal with two of my best friends are memories that more than make up for my disappointment in never getting to walk into that giant stadium.
Top five things I learned from racing:
- Life is not always fair, but fairness does not have to control your ability to be happy or your ability to succeed.
- When you win, you don't learn anything—you're too busy celebrating. It is in your moments of challenge and perseverance that you learn the most.
- Results do not define who you are—besides, they only count for one race, on one day.
- The hardest skill in the world is the ability to pat yourself on the back and be proud of yourself for trying as hard as you can.
- Just because you're favored to win the gold medal does not mean you will win it. Plenty of people have won gold medals who were not favored to win and usually these are the people who inspire us the most. The lesson here: It does NOT matter what other people think of you; critics have no idea what they are talking about. You alone control your ability to succeed.
After racing, I switched from carrying my boat on my shoulder and wearing flip-flops to tucking a newspaper under my arm and wearing fancy black heels. I quickly learned that business clothes were uncomfortable.
Top five things I learned while wearing fancy business clothes:
- Suits are expensive and I honestly don't understand why they are necessary. Why can't serious business be conducted in a basic cotton T-shirt, pair of shorts, and flip-flops, especially when it's 100 degrees outside?
- Work with people who care about you because you will work harder and enjoy it more when you work with nice people. I have been incredibly fortunate to have worked for and with some incredibly talented people.
- Work with people who work as hard as you do. Seriously—you'll become extremely frustrated working with lazy people.
- Bike to work if you can.
- Try not to drink coffee, but if you must, find three people you adore and walk to the coffee shop with them every day.
I married my best friend. It's the best feeling knowing that I married someone I love so much, and it's an even better feeling knowing how much he loves me in return. We have a two-year-old daredevil of a son, Wyatt and a one-month-old nugget of a son, Finnegan. We love both of them more than anything in the world. If Wyatt could have one supernatural power it would be the ability to fly. He loves jumping and always seems a little disappointed that gravity brings him back to the ground. If Finnegan could have one supernatural power...well he can't even hold his head up yet. In time we will know Finnegan's desires—check back later!
Top five things I learned from being a mom:
- As a parent, you have to relive your greatest fears and setbacks through your children—little beans you love more than anything else in the world. When I look down at my little blonde boys, I wonder if they have inherited my dyslexic mind. I wonder if they will suffer through years of school struggling with reading and spelling. Will they feel as stupid and worthless as I did? I want to hold them so tight and protect them from everything and anything that could possibly erase their pure smiles. But then I realize that these struggles shaped who I am today, and I like who I am today. I have to force myself to step back and let my sons experience hardships that will make them stronger—the hardest things I have ever had to do.
- I never thought I could love my husband more than on the day we were married. I was wrong. On the day we became parents my love for him grew tenfold. One of the greatest joys of my life has been raising my sons with the man I love.
- Patience and love—they go hand in hand. Without the ability to love my crazy two year old, I would never have the patience to handle him demanding ice cream for breakfast every single morning.
- I never thought it would be so much fun to read picture books every single day. I am learning so much from reading them.
- Cloth diapers are easy to use, really they are—try them!
One random night after I had changed out of my fancy business clothes I found myself writing, which was really odd for me at first—I never wrote! I'm dyslexic and even though I worked so hard to overcome this learning difference, words were still not my friends. But a girl named Agnes walked into my mind and had a story she needed to tell, so I wrote it down. I found myself shocked at how much I loved writing.
Top five things I learned while writing The Ancient Realm:
- Break the rules! In today's electronic world, the secret, exclusive, and gated society of the publishing world (Shhh . . . they have spies everywhere!) does not have to control your ability to let readers read your work. If you want readers to read your book, publish it!
- Believe in yourself. Believe in what you write.
- Read a lot. Personally, I hate reading. I really struggle at it. As a dyslexic a lot of times what I'm reading doesn't make sense and the words swim across the page. But I'm glad I've pushed myself to read, because great books have taken me on the best adventures and truly inspired me. And grudgingly, I will admit, reading has made me a better writer.
- Find a good friend who also writes and is willing to review your book a million times.
- If you can, hire an editor.
I've included three pictures of me. In one of them, you can see me doing old-school waterskiing tricks on my favorite lake in the world, Lake George. Another one shows me kayaking in one of the most beautiful settings in the world, the Colorado River. And the last picture is of my husband and me. As you can see, I love the water. If I could have one supernatural power, it would definitely be the ability to breathe under water.