Uncertain times call for the regular measures.

 In Family, Motivation, Speed Skating, Sponsorship, Travel

In times of uncertainty.

Like my last blog said – Goodbye, Canada, and yup, here I am laying in bed in my house in Heerenveen, writing this now, trying to gather all my thoughts and somewhat organize them down on (virtual) paper. Been getting some solid solo riding time in lately, on my bike, and I always enjoy putting my phone on Airplane mode, to actually think about what I want to write about, but never can remember once I actually get to the current step.

So it’s been just over a month since I arrived, and as much as I wanted to document the day travel trip (which actually turned out feeling like 10 years in one day, length wise), I think writing it would give you more of a visual, if you will.

Sometimes there are obstacles that get in the way, to basically push you back; more like warning signs, and in which case, you should listen and back the F off. Yeah, I said the F word, deal with it. As I am well aware of red flags (had a lifetime of learning opportunities, and I don’t even jokingly say that right now), I am also aware of the other kinds of obstacles that may arise. In my current case, everything came at me, pretty hard, starting at the airport in Calgary. On a good day, I’d question my decision making if things started to crumble the way they did, but I knew that this was more of a “how badly do you want to break your comfort zone” kind of challenge. And naturally, challenge was accepted. 

I arrive at the airport with two suitcases and a bike box. Everything was planned prior to leaving; bike box was heavier because you’re always allowed more, and the two bags were just under the weight allowance. I even got there 4 hours early just to say goodbye to my loved ones. Imagine my excitement when I get to the front counter, only to have both ladies tell me I need to find a way to make 30 LBS disappear. I mean…there are only so many jackets I can wear, right? Assuming you saw that video I posted with 20 jerseys on while biking, you know I can handle wearing like 5 Canada goose jackets on a good day. 

In tricky situations, I still surprise myself at how calm I can remain. Maybe it’s because I had some recent practice at always taking the high road in my last relationship, or maybe it’s because it’s what we’re good at as athletes…but making 30LB vanish, was all under control within 8 minutes. I then proceeded to go to check-in counter, check all bags, only to be held back for another 30 minutes while they called Air Canada to MAKE SURE I WAS ALLOWED TO LEAVE! Seriously? Again, aged about 7.3 years in that moment. I was nervously sweating, trying to tell them that Germany was open and we were allowed to be there without quarantining. This could have all been avoided had my direct Calgary – Amsterdam flight not been cancelled and rescheduled 3 times through other cities. But, in times of uncertainty, you go with the flow and breathe. You also look at the things that go well; for example, having a layover in Toronto to see my family and baby shark, for an entire day! Count your blessings, or attract negativity – always your choice.

 

So 3 flights and 37 hours later, I arrived. My dutch bestie, Moniek, met me at the airport and dropped me off at the new place, where my new team mates were waiting for me with dinner. 

Fast forward to tonight; it’s actually been more of a bumpy ride than originally planned – but aren’t they all like that? Yes, I hopped over the pond, but this is something that is natural to me, and change doesn’t actually rank high on my list of things that get me out of my comfort zone. Not really sure there are any things out there that do – except when I cracked my skin suit and my thong was hanging out in front of a group of 18 year old’s. Yeah, no. Actually, I am also actively looking for sponsors to help with the costs of training, and I’m probably going to write something about that soon. That whole idea of seeking sponsors or asking people to help support me, makes me uncomfortable as I prefer working 3 jobs to pay for my expenses, but in this case it’s actually not do-able, whatsoever. We train twice a day and that leaves little to no time to show up anywhere else.

Routine is crucial. I’m the most spontaneous person I know, but in sport, routine is key – because consistency is what is going to win you those extra 2mm above all others. While training is priority, I am also focusing on launching my coaching business here for young adults and master skaters, to help them supplement their on-ice training. After all, I now do live in the greatest speed skating city of all time, and I love helping others through what I have learned so far as an Olympic athlete and human. Had to improvise and maximize things that I love, instead of settling.

Training is going very well; possibly the best I have ever felt. Our coaches are actually so cool, and my body is responding really well to this program. We had testing on the bike this past week, and I already improved from where I was this summer, so that is incredible. But I want more. Always. 

This blog is already overdue and overly extended..SORRY! 

The first thing I did after I arrived, was buy a coffee machine. Expected any less? Thought so. I don’t have a car yet, so I am commuting by bike, daily, whether it’s to the grocery store, training, downtown for coffees, or to go visit friends. Definitely enjoying this euro lifestyle more than anything in Canada….except Vancouver. Vancouver still has my heart. In more ways than one. Things here are just..cute. The houses are small and minimalistic, everyone rides bikes (you don’t actually see people walking, ever), food is affordable and straight out of people’s gardens, and the sushi is overpriced, but that is okay. Balance is key, haha.


I am grateful that we have ice, and that I have a team for the first time in YEARS. I am happy, I have amazing new friends (hi TESSA!) , and I don’t ever remember having this much fun on and off the ice. Ever. These are insane times, and there are people suffering, and going through things that some of us can’t even imagine. I have family members that I might not get to see ever again, because of travel restrictions due to Covid, which saddens me, but we can’t let external circumstances control what we have a grasp on. The Netherlands might undergo another lockdown, which just gives us more of an opportunity to get creative with the training we do, if we end up not being able to skate. 

Our world cup season was cancelled, and as frustrating as that might sound to you, I am actually quite excited to be able to work on the little things, in this extra time. The future is completely unknown, but I think this is a crucial time for everyone to prioritize what matters. COVID has been a blessing in disguise for me personally, as my life did not change much; I was training alone, in my bubble, yet it did rush a few other life decisions that I had been meaning to make since early January. From now on, moving forwards, there will be no more time for shitty people, relationships, friendships or people that just don’t belong in your circle. Pay attention to what you do, who you surround yourself with, what you do with your time, and how you maximize your happiness, because you are the only one that can make that happen. Sounds cheesy but just find what truly makes your heart happy, and just do that. In times of uncertainty, all you can do is focus on the now. The rest will come.

 

XOX

Stay safe.

Alex.

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