Turning Obstacles into Opportunities

By Di Westaway

I’ve been setting big hairy audacious goals since before I knew what they were.

When I was 12 years old, I decided I wanted to become the Australian National Gymnastics champion. 

It wasn’t easy. This was at a time when women didn’t really do sport. I became a reject at school because I had my hair cut short and my afternoons were spent tumbling at the local YMCA.

When the other girls were gossiping around the chalk bowl, I’d jump up on the bars and take extra turns. I was obsessed. I worked harder than everyone else and it paid off – I won all the competitions. But it was terrible for my social life.

After ‘stealing’ someone else’s turn one too many times, the coach banned me from the gym. It was shattering. I curled up in the foetal position in bed and cried for days.

I felt really sad and sorry for myself – I thought I had problems.

I had to train on my own, in my back yard, in the icy Canberra winter.

I had a wog dad who was the same age as my mum’s dad, which was so embarrassing. He was a war refugee who’d escaped from behind the iron curtain in Czechoslovakia, leaving behind his first wife and child who were too scared to leave their communist controlled village. At 43, he married my mum, a gorgeous blond 21 year old Queenslander, a country girl who was always in trouble for climbing to the top of things as a kid. 

But even more embarrassing was that my mum was a Christian Scientist. I grew up believing we can all do miracles, including healing the sick. I grew up with food and exercise as my only medicine.

We never went to the doctor. My mum believes that you fix everything by praying. She believes that just like Jesus, we can all heal. She believes we can cure disease, relationship problems, injuries and even cancer, by praying.

She even prays when the cat gets lost.

As a kid, that made me an outsider. I spent my childhood fidgeting through Sunday school, going upside down in the back yard, and climbing trees in the orchard to get my sugar fix … because lollies were banned. 

These challenges and obstacles were life changing. They taught me to turn obstacles into opportunities. I now realise that everything that made me an outsider was really crucial to my success.

With my mums help, I left home at 15 to find a gymnastics coach who could help me achieve my goal.  I left Canberra and went to boarding school in America.

Just after I returned, aged 16, I won the Australian Gymnastics Title.

That taught me how to achieve big hairy audacious goals. It taught me that if I follow dreams, and that the rest will fall into place. It taught me that the people who matter will be there, even when you feel completely alone.

These lessons have brought me to where I am today, living my dream of transforming lives through Trek Training, Wild Adventures and Coastrek. 

I'm so glad you're here too. 

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