Frame of Mind

This is a long one and I don't apologize. I've got stories to tell today.

So the other day I did something very silly and embarrassing. Really, it was more than just one day, I had been mistaken all week long. Long story short, I misread my flight information, and so I got to hang out in Riga airport for 12 hours longer than anticipated. Grant and I even discussed how crazy it was that we thought we had booked the same flights, and yet his was in the evening and mine was early morning, and somehow I still missed it. Then I got to RIX just before 4am and noticed my flight was nowhere to be found on any airport screens. Not trying to make excuses, but here's the confirmation email info I was looking at:

Now tell me that isn't confusing? First of all, who puts a 0 before a PM time, and then secondly drops the pm to the next row? 

Now I could choose to be bitter and annoyed for the rest of the day, or I could look at the bright side of things and be thankful I made it to the airport just slightly ahead of the suggested 2 hours before my international flight. A big thank you as well to the staff of the Latvian tour event in Saulkrasti, who put on a great tournament, and went above and beyond in keeping Grant and I well taken care of, including the elaborate task of airport transportation at the crack of dawn, no matter how unnecessary it ended up being. The cherry on top is that now I have plenty of time (and the intro I've been struggling to come up with) to write about a blog topic that's been on my mind of late. Perspective

I always find it interesting (and often comical) to see how two different people will react to the same situation. A scenario that would make someone fly off the handle with rage, might make another laugh hysterically, or a make a third person feel sick to their stomach. There might be multiple reactions by the same person, or none at all, but everyone will look at it just a little differently, and the decisions they make based on how they've framed that event will be unique to each person. 

I have another fairly recent story to share about perspective, and it involves my family, so I hope they're ok with me putting this story out there (I'll clear it with them first so if you're reading this that means it was ok). Not looking for sympathy or encouragement, just using a personal story rather than a volleyball one to illustrate my point this time around.

A little over a month ago, my brother got married. The wedding was on our family's property, where my younger sister, her husband, and their (at the time) 2 week old baby had their home. The day before the wedding, preparations were in full swing and by some chaotic twist of fate, Camille's house caught fire while a few of us were inside. My older sister, Milou, was the first to notice the flames, took charge immediately (As eldest siblings do), and things could have been a lot worse if not for her quick action. Of all the people there helping with set up, no one was hurt or even had any smoke inhalation despite many of us being in and around the house when it caught. 

We saved what we could, (including the car from the garage thanks to quick thinking by Milou's husband Tom) and then could do nothing but watch as the Rockyview, Calgary, and Airdrie fire fighters did an impressive job of preventing the fire from spreading beyond the house even into the surrounding trees on a very windy afternoon, but the house itself didn't stand a chance. I could go into more detail about the fire, and all the possessions that were lost. But that's not what matters. That's my perspective. What matters is how everyone dealt with what had just taken place. It's one thing to react in the moment to something, everyone involved that day mainly wanted to make sure everyone else was safe, with a priority on Camille and the baby. But it's what followed that shows how our perspectives can completely turn a situation around.

Now needless to say, grief was present for some, but only about how others were feeling. My family is an empathetic bunch.
Dustin felt terrible for Camille, he thought that his wedding had burned my sister's house down.
Camille felt terrible for Dustin, She thought that her house burning down had ruined my brother's wedding.
Milou and I did our best to let them know that everyone is still ok, and possessions can be replaced.
This sentiment was embodied by Camille's husband, Brendon, who wasn't around at the start of the fire, but when he got there, his only thoughts were about his family. I still don't know if his lost belongings have even crossed his mind.
I think the point of the day that really pinpointed the shift in perspective came from a conversation I overheard between Maid of Honour and Bride to be: "Something terrible happens at every wedding. Well this was it. It can only get better from here" 
Within a short period, we were no longer the victims of a tragic accident, and were once again preparing for celebration.

By the end of the night, the property was wedding ready, essential supplies for the baby had been replaced (thanks to my gf, Emily), and even some new clothing for Camille, Brendon, and myself (I had coincidentally been doing laundry in the house at the time) would be donated by Lululemon.

The next day I left to play in Itapema

I can't speak for everyone's thoughts that evening, but as I reflected upon the events of the day, all I could think was how thankful I was. Thankful that everyone was ok. Thankful to have a family that supports each other through hardship, and friends that will jump to help us when we are in need. Thankful to Lululemon (and especially Michelle Davies), for the quick help in a tough situation. Thankful to my parents, for being a safety net, when tragedy strikes. And thankful to all the bridesmaids, groomsmen, their families, and all others involved that weekend for having the strength of mind to look beyond hardship, and towards happiness. Finally, thankful to my new brother in law (Nadyne's brother, does it work that way? Are we brother's now too?), Kalvin, who made sure we got Porta-potties for the next day, the best crappiest wedding gift of them all.

The wedding was wonderful. Dustin and Nadyne looked amazing, spoke passionately and eloquently  and everything went without a hitch. I think everyone's newfound perspective on life only made it that much more sentimental. The firefighters even came back the next day to let the bride and groom take some memorable wedding photos with the fire engine. Camille also wants me to let everyone know that the baby Khalil (aka lil Monster) and her dog Lenny are still happy and healthy. I hope the experiences had at this wedding will be remembered by all. The good and the bad. It's these moments that help mold our perspectives, and allow us adapt during future times of stress. 

Wedding photos courtesy of carleebphotography.canada

If I play a bad match, will I get upset and frustrated about what went wrong? or will I focus on what I can improve?
If I'm in school and worried about deadlines and tests, will I stress about what I haven't completed? Or put my mind power towards what I can get finished or what I can study next?
If I show up 14 hours too early for a flight, will I sulk and have a frustrating day? Or will I try to find something to occupy my time, like perhaps, a blog?

It's a fascinating thing how looking at something in a different light can completely change a mood or motivation. No one has the same upbringing or background as anyone else, so it's not always easy to do. If you can reframe a bad situation into an easier to digest thought process, though, it often makes a big difference. Perspective is a powerful thing.

Ben Jammin


Enjoy the Process

So I'm back to the old blog site, writing for Beach Major Series didn't pan out this season, but don't worry, that won't stop my word vomit from reaching the screen. Not sure if humans are even capable of reading lengthy articles these days with our attention spans dwindling the way they are. I'm already beyond 280 characters, so I could probably stop writing and no one would even notice. But I must be old fashioned because I still like to write them, even if they're just for me. And that's more than enough reason to keep doing so as far as I'm concerned.

The same can be said about most of life, for that matter. If it makes you happy, then it's worth doing, it's a very simple concept. So simple, that I've probably talked about it before, but I've written a lot of blogs now and senility (I'm almost 30 after all) is creeping in, so who knows. One of these days I'll go back and read them all again, but that's for another day. For today, I'm thinking about living that happiness life.

In theory, everyone should be happy all the time, no exceptions, but obviously that's not quite possible. If you make every decision based on immediate happiness, you'll have some good moments right away, but you're bound to go on an emotional roller coaster ride. On the other side of the coin, if you can only be happy once you hit a long term goal, then it could be quite the grind until you get there. Either way, there will be moments of happiness in your life, but once those moments have passed, then what? Then you start all over, and the hunt for the next happiness high is on.

There is no wrong way, that's not what I'm trying to say. Everyone can find those enjoyable moments in every kind of way, but in my opinion, the best way to make the happiness last from moment to moment, is to make the path that gets you there the most enjoyable part. Make any accolades the cherry on top, but let the process be the ice cream sundae (or sorbet, or whatever my lactose intolerant readers want to substitute). 

For me and blog writing, it's about putting my fingers on the keyboard and seeing where my words can take me. I don't go in with a plan, because I find it fascinating to see which direction my brain is flowing on any given day (it varies greatly between the dumbly humorous to the mildly inspirational), and that fascination brings me to repeat the process, regardless of whether the end product ends up being any good. Any kind words received after the fact are bonus.

In our modern age of information it's pretty easy to get caught up in chasing the cherry on top (I'm certainly guilty of it). It's so simple to put something out there with no thought behind it, specifically to for that feeling of instant gratification from a like or a thumbs up. But if you're willing to put in the time to share something you truly enjoyed creating, then it no longer matters how your followers react, because you've done it for the person who's opinion should matter the most. Your own.

And I'm not finished there. This doesn't have to end in cyberspace. In case you were worried I was going to go a whole blog without relating it to volleyball, then fear not! Here we go! Athletes always talk about being "Never satisfied", and again, that's one way to approach it. I'm a strong believer that there is no single right way to do anything. But what I will give you is a different mental angle to look at training and sport:
-It makes me happy to continue learning and improving at my sport.
-I really enjoy comparing my ability to learn and improve against opponents in competition.
-It thrills me to add a skill or technique to my game that other teams have yet to master.
-I'm excited each time I see my opponents improve, because it means that I get the opportunity to do the same.
-When I win, I look forward to how I can be even better the next time.
-When I lose, see above.
-When I play my sport, I am ALWAYS SATISFIED, because I love the process! The results and the praise are the cherry on top.

And if you don't enjoy it, then change it. The beauty of making the process the focal point of your happiness, is that there are so many ways to adjust, without having to alter the end goals. If you think training would be better in a warmer climate, go train in California (for example). Obviously, you should still keep your goals in mind when making alterations, however. Eating 5 Cheeseburgers a day might give you immediate pleasure, but it also might make your path a little less efficient. It's creating that perfect balance to make the best method for you where you'll find the most benefit as well as the most enjoyment. I prescribe to the Ben Saxton training regimen, feel free to emulate it, but it likely won't be as effective until you've made the tweaks that fit you.

Enjoying the process makes me happy. Whatever I do, I try to bring the same attitude, be it blogging, beach volleyball, relationships, snow sculpting, making pizza, eating pizza, the list goes on and on. No matter what I do, I want to do it well, and the best way for me to keep motivated, is to be just as interested in the ice cream sundae, as the cherry on top. 

Ben Jammin

PS: The Ft. Lauderdale Major Series event happens this week, and Grant and I are excited about it. It's a great venue, the Beach Major Series tournaments are always the highest quality. Hope to see many of you there!


Come out and Play!

I haven't blogged on this page in a while, thanks to this last year's arrangement with Swatch Major Series, and possibly for the future season as well, but only time will tell. And by now you may have heard of some changes on the horizon in terms of team composition, but that's not why I'm writing right now. Today this blog is being used for promotion purposes, for an event that's very near and dear to me as a founding member of the West Coast Beach Volleyball Society:
The 2nd Annual Play with the Pros.

First, a quick description of the event:
Basically it's meant as a tournament for anyone (truly anyone) who happens to be in the vicinity of Vancouver on December 2nd and is interested in beach volleyball. Teams of 4 will play off against each other as they would in any other rec tournament but with the added bonus of getting a different pro player on their team for each match. The selection of Pros ranges from the studs of the local Kits Beach tours to Canadian and American Olympians (Including the myth, the legend, April Ross). Another bonus from last year's event is that this time around each team is guaranteed a minimum of 8 matches, so you'll get your money's worth. The details in full, including how to register, can be found at https://www.wecobevo.com/2nd-annual-play-with-the-pros
Just try to do so before November 10th, because that's the early bird cut-off and it gets a little pricier from there, plus you may be eligible for early bird surprises.... just saying.

Now if your excuse for not playing with the pros is "I'm not good enough", then you don't know what the event is all about. The funny thing is, this is the most common comment from everyone we've asked to play, including the pros oddly enough, who would all still be awesome with their eyes closed (go ahead, test me). The fact of the matter is, this beach event is not about being good, it's about enjoying the game from top to bottom, and about supporting the growth of the sport in the west coast of Canada.

It's a rare opportunity, where someone can be discovering the sport for the first time alongside a full time player who lives and breathes volleyball. Where a super fan can share the court with their hero. Where a local volleyball junkie can get their fix with or against an international contender.

The basis of the event is not to exploit those who "aren't good enough", it's to encourage everyone to want to get better by highlighting the most fun parts of the game - being active, getting dirty, and flailing your limbs at a little round object. New players will see that those with just a bit more experience aren't so far away and might be encouraged to join an Urban Rec league or similar. Mid level or youth athletes might look at the local pros and find incentive to compete next season on the KBVA or KWVC or the Vancouver Open. Most important of all, in my mind, is that anyone at all might see the passion and enjoyment that the highest level pros bring to the court when they play, and it will inspire them to make beach volleyball a bigger part of their lifestyle. And that's just one way that Play with the Pros can help to grow the game.

The charitable aspect is another reason to want to participate. All proceeds from the tournament as well as the silent auction (available to all who attend), will go towards the development of the sport in Western Canada. The mission of West Coast Beach Volleyball Society is to develop a training hub on the west coast to give all athletes in our very large country a chance, and an incentive, to keep playing the sport beyond the recreational level. It would give those athletes in the west with a massive drive the chance to pursue the highest level of beach volleyball without needing and equally massive bank account.

So that's my spiel, hopefully I've convinced you to be a part of our big night. If you're unable to play but still want to be involved, we are still accepting auction item donations. Donate over $300 worth and you can be featured on the website, so please feel free to reach out to us if you have something to offer. Maybe I'll donate 1 blog post to the auction, to see if my musings have become worth a little something, Start the bidding at 1 beverage.

See you December 2nd?
Ben Jammin