About a thousand years ago I wanted to work in IT. Firms were paying people to do the training and I figured that IT was the best way to stay employed and earn a salary I could live on. The only problem was I had to sit a rigorous two hour exam to determine my capacity to be an IT person. Normally I love exams, in fact next to toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches, exams are my thing. However I failed the IT tests. It was gently explained to me that my aptitude and ability lay in three key areas: artistic, athletic, academic – computer coding was not on the list. I was bitterly disappointed. I liked the idea of a job that made me sound important and a salary that was above average and I had imagined myself driving a new Golf GTI in a smart outfit.
The universe had different plans for me and as life turned out, that exam was spot on in identifying the person I was as opposed to the person I tried to force myself to be.
I have always been a creative. I started life as an artist but writing was never far away. I married the creative side of my brain with the academic when I did a PhD in Creative Writing. It was probably one of the most difficult things I have ever done and I have since come to the conclusion that academia and the creative make for an uneasy alliance. Still, at least the PhD gave me the critical thinking and analytical skills to reach that conclusion and the writing ability to argue the point.
On the athletic front I was a long distance runner for 31 years. I competed in 26 marathons, 2 ultra-marathons and thousands of shorter distances over the years. I ran in the New South Wales and South African 15km championships and won several age categories at various distances.
Now you may think that creative writing, long distance running and academia have nothing in common but there is a link. Solitude and self-reflection are required for all three. It is what I learned on the long training runs on my own, about myself and about the world, that I bring to my career as a fitness trainer, coach and mentor. It’s what I learned fighting the demons during my PhD candidature that helped me understand how writing serves as a tool for healing and for interrogating your own life. Writing allows you to be your own personal psychiatrist. It’s what I learned during my nine years at university that gives me the skills to analyse problems and probe beneath the surface of things when seeking solutions. All of these skills help to ‘read’ people.
Teaching, training, advising, coaching are other ways in which the academic, the artistic and the athlete are wedded in my life. The role of mentor or coach seems to come easily to me. I don’t know why but I run with it. Perhaps it’s because I genuinely enjoy seeing people reach their goals and achieve things that they believed to be impossible. When I am not helping people, I renovate houses. I enjoy the process of transformation that comes from change and nurture.
I have trained people in the gym, coached them to run marathons and taught people creative writing at university. I currently teach Deep Water Running and Aqua classes, I am writing a book and researching setting up online creative writing classes to appear on this blog soon.
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