When I was in grade nine I ran track.
Never a natural athlete, I was always more the little engine that could than a contender for greatness; but one thing I have always had going for me is my determination - and in grade nine I set my slightly chubby 5'4" sights on becoming a track star.
I never looked back.
Sometimes people ask me how I get so much accomplished or marvel because everything appears to come easy - but, truly, nothing could be further from the truth.
Behind any person with a modicum of success is a trail of heartache, determination, and hard work.
It only looks easy after the fact.
And I believe my character began to be built running track and field in grade eight and nine.
First, because I never should have made the team, and second, because when I did - as my track coach Mrs. Tulley put it - "That girl ran on guts."
If there was ever a secret to life that I would want to convey, it is that one.
Some people have talent. Some people have looks. Some people seem to "have it all" - but it is the person who chooses to believe in herself at all costs and do the necessary work to get to where she knows she belongs who will live a life of success.
There will be failure and disappointment, but the key is not be afraid of it because hardship is triumph's launching pad.
There are so many gifts in failure and if we are willing to examine them, dust ourselves off, and get back into the race, the other side of disappointment is almost always something breathtaking.
1982: Final track meet of the year, grade nine.
I am running a 1500 meter against Debbie Anderson; a 5'11 gazelle who has never lost to anyone.
But here's the thing about determination.
It moves mountains.
And ever so often gives a chubby little girl who had no business being a track star a moment in the sun; because I won that race that day.
By a country mile.
I went in knowing there were other athletes more talented than I was, but I didn't let it deter me.
Instead I chose the path of the runner.
I didn't look to my side or behind to gauge my competition because this would surely slow me down.
I chose, instead, to look straight ahead and stay focused on the goal.
I see those qualities in Rob and Russell who have returned to this season of Survivor Redemption Island for another round.
Neither has the physical attributes or "Godlike qualities" one might associate with a true champion, yet both have triumphed many times over because of their determination and will.
I was so excited by this, and by the new season that I decided to turn this evening into something special for the PB and I.
I wanted to feature finger foods that we could eat and enjoy while watching our favourite determined heroes take the stage.
We had Dry Garlic Pork with Crispy Shrimp Spring Rolls and both were delicious!
Even more exciting, both were my original recipes - I am having so much fun contemplating food and flavour, and trying to figure out how dishes come together.
Like the pork getting crispy in the pan...
And my beautiful spring rolls becoming real...
For the Printable recipes for each of these dishes, click the following links:
Dry Garlic Pork
Crispy Shrimp Spring rolls
No matter where you are in life, there is always the choice and the opportunity to set your personal bar higher because it is in the risks you take that the greatest gifts can be found.