Interview with Barbara Berezowski

Hi everybody.  Welcome to the PerformHappy podcast.  We have a special guest today, Olympian Barbara Berezowski.  She was a two-time Canadian figure skating champion and she competed at the 1976 winter Olympics.  She was a five-time member of the Canadian World Team and a world professional ice dance champion.

Currently she is known as the Champion Mindset Mentor, who is inspiring others to live a champion life with positivity, joy, and clarity of purpose, which is everything I love about people, but the fact that you’ve also climbed the mountain to Olympic status and reached amazing goals, I’m so grateful to have you here today. Barbara.

Barbara:
Wonderful. Thank you. I’m so honored that you invited me.

Rebecca: 
Yes, of course.

Would you tell us a little bit about kind of what that means? What do you do today using the champion mindset that you cultivated as an ice dancer?

Barbara: 
Well, what I do today is inspire and empower women of all ages.  Right now,  I’m focusing on women in the mid 50 range.  I’m finding that we are all so hard on ourselves and we’re thinking that at the age of 50, “Life is over.  I didn’t do what I wanted to do,” and I really want to empower women to know life is just beginning.  You have a lot more living to do, and I think they just need encouragement and someone to tell them, “Yeah, you can do it.  It’s not silly.  It’s very important to give back to whatever you can give back in life.”

Rebecca: 
Wonderful.  Just before we went on and started recording, I was mentioning this concept of being too old, like, “Oh well that ship has sailed.  It’s too late and I’m too old to do that,” and it’s interesting, you, of course, hear that a lot from the women that you help empower, but I think it’s amazing how much I hear that working with 12, 13, 14-year-olds.  I mean, all day, it’s that idea of, “Oh, I’m too old.  It’s too late.  I can’t have my dream.”

Barbara:
Yeah, that’s absolutely the case.  And it’s the same thing in I think all sorts of sports. I know in figure skating that’s also very prevalent and I can’t believe how hard young girls can be.  They have this image in their head of what they’re supposed to be instead of trying to blossom and shine and give o themselves what they truly are.  If they would just flip the coin a bit and think about their assets instead of what they think is wrong with them, then they can make it a lot easier for themselves.

Rebecca:
Isn’t that true?  Sports like figure skating and gymnastics are very perfection oriented.  We don’t aim for a 9.9 in gymnastics.  We aim for a 10.   You don’t go out to skate an okay program, you want to keep it clean.  You want to hit your jumps, and you want to hit your program.  How did that affect you?  Did you ever come up against that perfectionism bug when you were competing?

Barbara:
I have to say yes, but we also learned that you always strive to be perfect.  It’s part of having a mindset of a champion, but along with that, there is some realism that you have to remember that no one is perfect and it’s better to go out there and do your personal best.  Somebody’s idea of perfection can be very different than the person sitting beside them, so you would never be able to please everyone, but if you stay within yourself, know what your power is and strive to do the best you can at all times, then you have to be satisfied with what you’re doing.  Hopefully the judges will give you the marks to reward that, but at the end of the day, even if they don’t, that’s okay.  You’ve given your best, you know it was your best shot and you can live with that.

Rebecca;
Yes.  I wish I could just bottle that and be like, “Here you go.  Just you do you, you focus on you.  Be present, do one skill at a time, and it’s going to be wonderful.  And if it’s not perfect, you learn and then off you go and you try again.”

And it seems so simple, but some people have a really hard time switching off that kind of inherent, habitual negativity.  Do you have any tips for somebody, and this could be moms, I know a lot of moms who are trying to be positive, they’re trying to get their kid to be positive, but then they’re saying, “This competition is always a disaster,” and, “Oh, we’re running late again.  Oh my gosh, your coach,” and the moms tend to do it as much as the kids.  Do you have any tips for either of them on how to stop that bad habit?

Barbara: 
Well, I think the most important tip for the athlete and for the parents and for the coach is to live in a world of positivity.  Nothing can be gained by somebody being negative and tearing something apart.  Even if they’re not consciously trying to do that, if they’re not very careful with their words, it can be taken in a whole different light.  So be positive about everything.  “Okay, you didn’t do what you’re supposed to do, but you did it the best you can today.”  That is much better than saying, “What was that?”  You know, you need positive reinforcement at all times, and I was lucky enough in my career to have that.  I had wonderful coaches.  I wish I had experts like you to guide me because I think what you’re doing is fabulous for these athletes.  But we learned just through talking with other athletes, other coaches, sharing information, and then it was really developing your own mind to make sure that you are on the straight and narrow and you are not going to be taken off that road until you reached your goal.

Rebecca: 
Now did you always know you’re going to be an Olympian?  Was that always something you set your sights on?

Barbara:
No.  I mean, I was lucky.  I was an ice dancer.  For those that aren’t really familiar with figure skating, ice dancing was never an Olympic event.  It was always every four years for any Olympics, and they were held at the same time.  Summer had summer games, winter head games, and it was within the same year.  Then everyone had to wait four years for the next one to come along, so that was different.  But, I remember on the world team, we had just finished competing in the national championships and we took the world team picture and we were all excited.  This was my first or second year on the world team, and then they said, “Okay, can everyone come over here except the ice dancers because we’re going to take the Olympic team picture now.”

My heart was broken, but that was the way it was.  It wasn’t an event.  And then four years later, it was 1976, and we were the Canadian champions at that time, and it was the first time ever that they were going to have ice dancing in the Olympics.  So we were the very first Canadian Ice Dance Champions to compete at the Winter Olympic Games.  So no, I didn’t have that in my mind.  What was in my mind was to become the champion of the country, so Canadian Champion.  So I achieved that, and to be on the world team, and I achieved that.  And funny enough, ever since I was eight-years-old and my mom took me to see Ice Follies, which was a professional ice snow, that’s what my goal was on.  I wanted to be a star in the ice show.  That’s what drove me all those years and getting to the Olympics was phenomenal, but it was icing on the cake for me.

Rebecca:
Oh my gosh.  And you were a professional ice dancer in the shows!  So you got that dream as well.

Barbara: 
Yes, yes.  And it was the very same show.  Well, I was with Toller Cranston show for two years and then I got a chance to skate with Ice Follies, and that ice follies was the same company that I had gone to when I was eight-years-old.

Rebecca:
What an experience to skate out and be a part of it.  Now I’m sure it wasn’t just smooth sailing, that you set your goal and then you worked hard and then you got it.  There must’ve been some setbacks along the way.  Was there ever a moment where it got hard?

Barbara: 
There were very, very intense moments.  There was heartbreak.  There was trying something over and over again and as every athlete knows, you have to fall 10 times before you can land something once.  Then you think you’ve got it and you go out and you fall another 10 times and you think you’ve got it.  So it’s a constant up and down, waves coming in and out.  It’s a real way of teaching yourself to be patient and to have perseverance because you know, nothing comes easy and yes, it was all glamorous to get to the top, but you’re right, on the way to the top, there’s a lot of work that goes into and a lot of early mornings.  I’m not a winter person, and being out on the ice rink at five o’clock in the morning, freezing was not my cup of tea, but I knew I had to do that.  It was just a necessary thing that I had to do to get to where I was going to go.  So I did it.

Rebeca: 
Were there any moments where you thought, “Maybe this isn’t for me, maybe I can’t do it.  Maybe I should give up.”

Barbara:
Not once I became an ice dancer, no.  I started skating at about seven or eight years old and I was a single skater, and by the time I got to about 12, 13, which is the age group you’re working with, I had growth spurts.  I grew like six and a half inches in one summer, and I thought, “Okay, that’s it.”  I couldn’t do anything.  I was klutzy, clumsy, I was just all arms and legs.  And I thought, “I’ll never reach my dream because I can’t do anything right,” but again, with constant reinforcement and perseverance, you just learn to get through that.  And then, when I started ice dancing, which is what my goal was to be an ice dancer, it all fell into place, and I knew I was in the place where I was supposed to be and I found my home.   Yeah, there were hardships along the way, but I was more settled and I never doubted myself and I never had that thought again that this isn’t for me.  I knew right away that was for me, it was just getting over that hump at 12 and 13 years old, just getting over that little mountain. And then once you can do that, you’re okay.  You’re golden.

Rebecca: 
Oh my gosh.  You’re speaking a story that I’ve heard many, many times.  That growth spurt where, it was effortless for so many years and you’re just getting better, getting better, getting better, and all of a sudden, “Where are my jumps and where is my talent?  I’ve lost my talent.  I’ve peaked.  I’m too old!”  It’s amazing how the negativity springs up from a situation like that, and you know you say was how did you put it and just live in the realm of the power of positivity or whatever you mentioned.

So for that 12-year-old who just had her growth spurt and she is struggling with her jumps, how does she find the realm of positivity when it just feels so far away?

Barbara:
A lot of it is patience, like I said – patience and perseverance.  It’s really important not to be too hard on yourself and that’s easier said than done.  This is when the parents and coaches come in.  If you have that positive reinforcement at all times, no matter what the circumstance, you tend to start thinking that way about everything and you start believing, “Yes, I will get through this.  Yes, I will get through this,” and eventually you do.  But it does take time, and if you understand that and you give it the room that it needs it, we all settle for you.

But I know what you mean.  So many times people give up because they think it’s too hard.  Well, you’re in the sport because you have talent, and it’s important to just stay focused and keep at it because, with anything, somebody has to work an awful lot and put in a lot of years of experience before they can get their designation.  Let’s say in school, before you get your degree, you’ve got to put in the time and an athlete is no different and you have to understand that nothing comes easy.  You will be paid tenfold when you do reach the other side.  So it’s just being patient and going for it and believing in yourself.  Even if you go out and fall 10 times, believe that the next time you try, you’re going to land it, and that’s the only way to get through it.

Rebecca:
Yes.  Yes.  It makes me think of a girl who’s strategy was get up and pretend you nailed it and just keep going, and that made a huge shift for her.  She would fall and she’d be upset and then she was like, “You know what?  I’m just going to pretend I made it and it was so good,” and then she started getting more resilient and her programs got better.  Yes, that fall happened, but the whole rest of the program didn’t fall apart.

Barbara: 
Exactly, exactly.  That is part of a positive mindset.  There’s so much good that you have, just don’t focus on that one bad thing that happened.  And you just made me think of something we used to do.  If we did a silly trip on the ice or something, we would just strike a pose and say, “I meant to do that.”

Rebecca: 
Yes!  Gymnasts, they have these optional routines and the judge never really knows what the routine is.  So you fall and make it really beautiful or you wobble and you make it amazing.  I had a girl I used to coach and she was so good at that.  We’d be like, “Honey, they knew it was a wobble, but man was that pretty.

Now I know that you work with coming out of the darkness after loss and so you lost, you lost someone very close to you.  How were you able to come to the other side of that with such positivity?  I know that’s something that can be very hard for people.

Barbara:
It’s a very difficult situation.  My husband passed away suddenly of a heart attack very unexpectedly and I had two young boys to raise on my own.  That was the darkest time of my life and first and foremost, I credit my children for getting me through that because I guess this is where the athlete mindset came in.  I focused on them.  I thought, “You know, they have such a hardship losing their dad that I’m going to make it as easy as I can for them to transition into a life without a father.”  So that’s what I did, and I guess because of the determination that you sort of cultivate as an athlete, that’s what helped me through it.

There were times where they were very low and I was very upset, but we were taught not to show those emotions in public, and that’s what I did.  However, it’s good to just to let those emotions out, and I had a release.  I had really, really good friends and they would let me cry and scream and do whatever I had to to get it out of me.  But I think the most important thing is to know exactly what I’m preaching, to know that yes, it’s a very difficult time.  I will never forget it, but we will get through this with strength and with patience and with perseverance, we will get through this.  And the main thing that helped me through it was I focused on the positive.  I focused on the happy times rather than the actual event of what happened because there were so many happy memories in our lives.  To this day we still share stories about that and my kids just love that because it just brings warm feelings to your heart, and after a certain time, it’s much easier to do.  But that’s really how we did it.  We stuck together as a family.  We supported each other and we always tried to be positive, which sounds really silly in a dark situation like that, but it really did work.

Barbara:
Yeah.  Two really important things I think that athletes can take away from that. I know many elite athletes who go and have a cry in the shower at the end of a tough practice because it’s hard and it requires determination.  Sometimes it’s just “put one foot in front of the other” and slog through it because it’s not one of those winning days that feels amazing.  It’s just one of those days that you cross off the calendar and you turn the page and move on.

But it’s so important to have that outlet where you can feel because otherwise, you push it down and then it comes up in these weird ways, like lashing out at people or even pain and injury I’ve seen happen when people aren’t really bottling things up.  And Did you learn that from sport to, to, to talk about what was going on or was it more bottled up for you?

Barbara:
I have to say it was.  I mean, you spend so many years of your life in your sport that it’s hard not to look at life without having that come through you in some way and reflecting back on it.  It was the training I had in sport to help me through a situation like that.

I understand what you’re saying about not showing emotion and doing it in private and I’m glad to hear you say other athletes do that because I wasn’t really sure if they did or not.  You always have a game face, and I was really good at that.  I would never let them see me sweat, even though I was shaking in my boots, I was not going to let him see me sweat.  And I don’t know what it’s like in gymnastics, but in figure skating, there’s a know whole different ballgame going on in the dressing room.  Do you have that with gymnastics where athletes and competitors with one another are playing head games and trying to psych each other out?

Rebecca: 
Not as much, what I hear from skating is it is dramatic.  It is so dramatic.  All of the rink politics, and everybody’s actually watching you, and everybody’s judging you and everybody’s talking about you.  How do you keep your blinders on in an environment like that?

Barbara: 
Believe in yourself.  Believe in yourself.  And I think that’s probably why my belief in myself became so strong because I grew up in that environment.  We’d be in the dressing room and, and you would have a Russian skater in full costume during your practice session, dancing around the dressing room, right in front of your nose trying to psych you out.  And I made a game of it.  I just smiled sweetly, but I knew that if he only knew how tough I was, he wouldn’t be doing that.  It never broke my shell.  And that’s a real important thing to have in place, too.

Rebecca: 
That’s such a great example.  There’s basically a technique I teach where I have people take their biggest distraction and turn it into their focus reminder, so every time you see that, every time you see her, you remember, “This is what I’m going to focus on.  I’m going to focus on my shoulder, I’m going to focus on my take off, I’m going to focus on…” and you see them and you can be grateful. They’re like, “Oh, thank you for reminding me.  Thank you.”

It sounds like you have a lot of gratitude for those tough times because it taught you perseverance.  It taught you that it’s not over till it’s over and we, and there’s always a silver lining and without that you, you might not be the person that you are today.

Barbara: 
Well, thank you for that.  I think yes, that does teach us a lot.  Also, I found myself in situations where I’m very hopeful about something coming up roses and people are looking at me going, “That plant is dead,” and I say, “Well, no, I can see shoots,” like being positive and looking for something good in everything. And everyone there, even if it’s a tiny little twinkle in somebody’s eye, everybody’s got it.  It’s just pulling it out of people and people that can do that.  I’m recognized for being inspirational and that to me is the biggest compliment because I love doing that.  It’s natural.

Rebecca:
Ah, I love that.  Well, I have this theory that many people who go into helping professions tend to have had their own struggles.  Like the wounded healer concept, that one who’s been wounded wants to heal.  For me it was, I had fear in gymnastics, so I want to help the fearful 13, 14, 15-year-olds get through it.  So that made me curious – was there ever a time where the negativity became an issue to the point where you had to develop the muscle to get through it?  Was there a negative streak or moment that brought this out of you, so to speak?

Barbara: 
The only thing that comes to mind when you say that is the year we were defending Canadian national title.  Our event is done over a three day period.  So there’s compulsory component and then an original set pattern component, and then a final event.  In figure skating, as you may be aware, if you are a champion going into a national championship, it’s almost in the cards you’re going to win.  Although, no, it’s not.  I mean, if you don’t put it out there, you’re not going to win.

Anyway, we skated the first night, the first event, we did a really, really good job and the marks came up, and we were dumbfounded.  We were in second place and everyone in the building just went silent.  They didn’t know what to say because we didn’t understand.  And I was devastated.  I thought, what more can I do?

And then the second day came along, we said, “Okay, we’ll just keep on rocking it, do what we do best, and it’ll all play out in the end.”  The second day came and exactly the same thing happened.  We were in second place and we couldn’t believe what was happening.  Then on the third day, which is the final event, we went out there and we just said to each other, “It doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter.  We know where the best and we’re going to show them where the best, and it doesn’t matter if they still want to have us in second place, doesn’t matter.”

We went up there, we skated the performance of our life.  The place went crazy.  We had a standing ovation.  It was awesome and I really didn’t care what was going to happen with the marks.  I really didn’t.  Well, lo and behold, we got all the high marks and we ended up winning our title again for the second time.  Now, what I was getting at in the beginning was, what was devastating to me was that the final event at the banquet, one of the judges came up to us and said, “Well, there was never a doubt in your mind that you weren’t going to win, was there?”  I said, “Excuse me!  You put us through all that and you think that there wasn’t a doubt in our mind that we weren’t going to win?”  And she said, “Well, the second place team were thinking about quitting skating and we wanted to give them some encouragement to stay in the sport.  We thought the best way to do that is to lift their spirits by showing them that they can get very close to the top.”  So that was my lowest point to think that we were just pawns at the mercy of these people holding a pen and paper and writing down marks.

I really had to go back and, and think about why I was in this sport, what I wanted out of the sport, and where I was going to go with this sport.  I came to the conclusion where, again, none of that mattered.  It was all about the love that I had for what I was doing, and I knew that the people in the audience enjoyed what I was doing, and that was reflected in there standing ovations for us.  And that was the biggest reward for me.  So I kept going and I never looked back.

And luckily that never happened again, but it was a real eye opener and I think I really had to pull down deep inside and find that inner strength I had.  But I’m proud of myself.

Rebecca:
And then the Olympics happened!

Barbara:
And then the Olympics happened.

Rebecca:
It’s a good thing you didn’t call it quits, huh?

Barbara:
Exactly, exactly,

Rebecca: 
Wow.  And there always are those walls, I feel like, where it’s like, “Is this going to be the end?  Is this going to be as good as it gets?”  And then you have that tenacity and you’re like, “Nope, this is not the end.  I’m not gonna let somebody, I’m not gonna let somebody else’s head game mess this up for me because I do it for me.  I don’t do it for the judges.”  That’s usually the turning point.  I think that gets people positive again.  I’ve noticed this.

Barbara: 
And do you find that with 12 and 13-year-olds that that’s something that they have to learn that will help them progress?  That they really have to do it for themselves and not anyone else?  Because I think that is the important message here.  You know, listen to your heart and you’re doing it because you’re doing it for the right thing.

Rebecca:
That makes me think of a girl I worked with who was a singer and she was phenomenally talented, she was wonderful.   This wonderful girl just couldn’t see her value and she was endlessly negative and so hard on herself and such a perfectionist and really believed, “If I don’t do this well, I will not be okay.  I will not get what I want out of this life,” and I hear this a lot.  These girls who are 12 to 15 and 16 were going, “If I mess this up, I’m messing up my life.”  It’s like there’s so much at stake and their minds.

Then she had this moment, this singer where she realized, “I’m just going to do it for me.”  She actually just did an experiment.  She went and sang and she went, “I am going to sing for me and I don’t care what those judges think,” and she has never been more confident.  She made a mistake and it didn’t rattle her.  She had joy, and all of the negativity that had been completely overcoming her mind just disappeared.

Barbara: 
That’s fabulous.  And that’s why I’m such a warrior when it comes to my message of positivity.  When you think about it, when a baby’s born, they are filled with  positive energy.  We are all filled with positive energy when we’re young.  you never see a baby born that has a bad attitude.  They look at every little thing with amazing, amazing excitement and they look forward to everything and everything is happy.  Somewhere along the line in life, we start having little pieces of that going away from us, and that’s when people have to really realize they need to protect their own positive energy because that is you.  That is what you’re made of.

If you can remain focused and keep that positivity about everything in life, then as you grow into an adult, you have more of that to shine and you have more of that to give out to other people as well.  That’s a much lighter feeling, and negative thoughts and negativity, that just brings you down.  That’s why you stay away from those energy drainers that are negative.  “It’s okay, I’m happy, I’m positive.  You are not going to ruin my day,” and that’s what you have to protect. That’s what you have to focus on and that’s what’s going to propel you forward.

Rebecca: 
I just said the other day, “I wish everybody in the world looks at me the way my baby looks at me or the way that my dog looks at me.”  And what if I looked at the world in the same way she looks at me with this awe and wonder and happiness and gratitude, that’s just totally unconditional.

Barbara: 
That’s awesome.  That’s the key right there.  Think of it as a child.  I mean, they look at things a whole lot different than we do.  We would go outside and play skipping rope, hopscotch, whatever, way back then and everything was fun.  Now if it starts raining, it’s, “I’m not going outside, it’s raining.”  We used to love running in puddles.  What happened?

Rebecca: 
Well, something that comes up a lot is coaches being negative.  Especially with high-level skaters and high-level gymnasts, there’s often this acceptance that coaches can be mean if they are former Olympians or they have coached Olympians or they’ve taken people to that ultimate level of competition. Therefore it’s acceptable for them to be awful to you.  And these kids, their spirits are just getting crushed and it’s hard to stay confident.  What do you recommend for the kid who’s got the phenomenal coach who can take you where you want to go but just isn’t kind?  How do you keep your bubble of happiness around you in an environment like that?

Barbara:
Walk away.  I mean it’s easier said than done because if you’re in a city where there’s one really good coach, you’ve got to go to that coach because you only get better if you train with other athletes around you that are better than you and with the coach that knows a lot more than you do, obviously to teach you.  But nowadays I think it’s very different.  You can speak up.  I don’t think it’s disrespectful if it’s done in the right way.  You can speak up if you are with someone that is coaching you that puts you down.  Say something about it.  It’s not acceptable anymore.  I mean, I’ve seen it.  I’ve seen coaches do crazy things with athletes coming up, but luckily for me, that never happened.

I think I was with one during a summer.  Case in point, he’d say, I had to go out and try to do a double axel.  I’d try and I didn’t do it.  And he started doing that, being very stern and saying things that were making me very upset.  The more I would try, the more he would say that.  It got to the point where in my head, I’m not a rebel, but I guess I was strong enough to say, “Okay, you’re going to treat me like that, there’s no way I’m going to land it.  I’m not even going to try to land it.”  So for the rest of my lesson, I didn’t land one on purpose because of the way he was treating me.  I do much better with positive reinforcement, and I really do believe that there are so many people out there that would do the same thing.  I don’t think there’s anyone out there that wants someone to beat down on them in order to teach them.  So yeah, I would speak up.

Rebecca: 
Yes.  And especially in that age group that we’ve been talking about, it’s maybe the scariest thing to go to a person of authority who is behaving in a way that adults should never behave and to say, “Excuse me, that hurt my feelings.  I don’t know about this.  This doesn’t seem to be working.  Can we try this?”

Roleplaying can be really useful.  Role playing with a parent, role playing with a friend.  What would you say?  I do that often with clients.  I say, “Okay, if you were to have a conversation with this person, what would you say?”  They’re like, “Oh, blah, blah, blah, blah,” and eventually they can work out.  “Well, this is my truth,” and if you can’t share your truth and be safe, get the heck out of there.

Barbara:
Yeah, exactly.  Exactly.  No one deserves that and no one has the right to treat other people that way.

Rebecca:
And when all else fails you, you go back to your universe of positivity and maybe you land it to spite him or you don’t, but you do it on purpose, then it doesn’t affect your confidence because you’re like, “I’m doing this because I want to do it.  I’m not doing that for you.”  The environment can play a really big role I’ve noticed.

Barbara:
That’s a hard one.  As I said, if that’s the only coach in town, somone’s got to step in.  But I think it’s easier now.  People are more aware of what’s proper and what’s not proper.  I’m hoping that that’s progressed as well with everything else in society.  There are things that are acceptable and there are things that are not going to be accepted anymore.  Is there a lot of that in the world of sports still?

Rebecca: 
Oh, there’s way too much.  That’s part of my personal mission is to change the culture, to teach kids to speak up and stand in their strength and not feel like their goal and dream will be ripped away from them for being honest.  It’s those change makers, those kids who are willing to get out of their comfort zone and really stand up for positivity, they’re going to go places, they’re going to change the world.  I love talking to Olympians who have since moved on and had other things go on in their life because sport is really only such a little bit of your life.

Barbara:
Well you don’t think that when you’re in it, right?  When you’re in it, it’s like years and years and years and years, but you’re right.  When you are out of the sport, then you look back, when you reflect on everything you’ve been through, it’s then that you realize everything in sport teaches you to excel in anything you put your mind to.  I say that to my boys at all times.  They were both in baseball and hockey and all thatm and they even recognize that fact now that I am this way because I’ve been on a team and I know how to work as a team and I know how to help other people up and I know how to take care of my own headspace. You don’t learn that if you’re not in sports.  It’s a really valuable tool.

Rebecca:
Especially today where everything is so instant gratification.  You want to know something, you Google it.  You want to fix something, you want to buy something, you buy it.  How do you stay in the reality of, good things take hard work, good things take investment and then those highs, when you get your championship, you make the team, you get that big win, it’s so valuable because of all the blood, sweat and tears that’s, that’s built you up to get there.

Now, Barbara, if you could talk to let’s say 12-year-old you and give a tip or a suggestion or something that would help you along the way, what’s something you would recommend?

Barbara:
Well, thinking back to when I was 12, 13, 18, 25, I wish I had someone say to me, “Here is a journal and I want you to write down something every day, every week.  It can be an emotion that you felt during your training, what happened afterward, how you dealt with it,” because then you can go back in time and look through and say, “Oh yeah, I experienced something like that before.  What did I do that is important?”  But more than that, I was thinking to have a journal throughout my life as an athlete, because when it came time for me to write my book, I had to pull all this information out of this old brain and that wasn’t easy to do.  I haven’t remembered every detail and there are so many things that happened.  Had I had a journal and wrote things down, I would have that all that info right in front of me to pull from, all my information to write my book.

So for anybody listening that is going through sports now, I would suggest that you start doing that.  You write down your thoughts, your wishes, your dreams, your goals, put down your progress.  If you had a funny event happened that day, write it down.  If you were in a new city competing and you saw something special, write it down because it will be such a gift later on in life when you grow and you want to look back on what your life experiences were.  It’s all there written down for you in your own words and there’s nothing more valuable than that.

So that’s what I would’ve done and I really regret that.  I would suggest everyone start now because you can’t buy anything like that in the store.  You’ve got to get it from up here.

Rebecca: 
And then when that 14, 15-year-old is over their slump, they can go, “Oh gosh. Yeah, I remember that.  That felt like it would never end.  And it did.”

Barbara:
And you know what else, a by-product of that’s positive, is by going through that and seeing it and realizing how they got through it, they can help somebody else, pay it forward.

Rebecca: 
That is the whole premise for my online community, the PerformHappy community.  It’s all about athletes who are struggling with fear and anxiety who are at varying levels of getting through it and getting their confidence back.  It’s amazing to see the new kid pop in ask, “What do I do?”  And the other kids are like, “Oh honey, you’re gonna get through it.  Don’t even worry.”  That is so much more powerful than me saying it because these girls are just three months out of it.

So I always like to ask guests, what are your tips to perform happy?  What can you say to the kid out there who is chasing that dream that might seem a little impossible, but they’re really chasing it.  How can they stay happy during the process?

Barbara:
Awesome.  That’s a really good question, and once again, I would say just go deep within themselves.  Know that they are a good person, they have a lot to offer this world.  I strongly believe that everyone is a champion, not necessarily only athletes.  Everyone is a champion because all the life experiences you’ve gone through to this very moment in time on this day is you and I are sitting here.

Everything I’ve gone through has made me who I am today, and everything that you’ve gone through has made you who you are today, and that’s such a gift.  So whether you’re five years old, 10 years old, 15 years old, you have a toolbox within.  You have all these tools that you’ve accumulated over the years and all of the experiences that you’ve done, and you need to be in a place that is very settled and grounded and be happy with yourself because you are a gift to the world.

If you start looking at things that way, I think your personal value goes up. You start to realize, “Okay, I’m a good person.  I know I can offer a lot.  So here, let me show you what I can do,” and that’s how you can be the happiest is when you have the ability to shine, even if it’s for a moment, somebody wants to see you, somebody wants to hear you, and you be there to do that or the biggest, then you’re serving others, and that’s the key to everything in life.

Rebecca:
Absolutely.  I 100% agree.  Oh, Barbara, you are such a breath of fresh air. And I’m so inspired because I love how you keep it so simple.  You’re like, how to be happy?  Be happy.  How to be positive, be positive.  Just let it be that simple. Must it be any more complicated?

Barbara:
People over complicate things.

Rebecca: 
People will say, “Tell me exactly how and what are the steps and what are the, what are the phases?”  And it’s like, “Well, you just look for the seedling. Look forward.

Barbara:
Now you know what?  You make the decision and you do it.  You do it in your own way.  There’s no secret sauce.  There is no formula like you have to do this, this, and this can be positive.  But if you handle the basics – appreciate, have gratitude, serve others, and happiness is just a byproduct of all that.  It’s just you’re in a good place, and I don’t want anyone to forget that, especially athletes.  I mean, no matter what age, just do your thing and shine.  I wrote a book called Win at Life and Positively Sparkle and it’s more about because you are who you are and you have so much to give, you can’t help but sparkle, and I want everyone to do that.  You sparkle!  You’ve been amazing to talk to.

Rebecca: 
You sparkle, too!  Okay, well everybody go read Barbara’s book.  Go sparkle.  And how do we find you if anybody wants to learn more about you or, or watch what you’re up to, how do people find you?

Barbara:
You can find me on Instagram @barbberezowski, the champion mindset mentor. I’m working on a website right now, so that’ll be coming up, but I’ll be promoting that on my Instagram story.  That’s the most important part, just go on Instagram or Facebook – Barb Berezowski.  I’m here.

Rebecca: 
Barbara has the best nuggets of sparkle that you can keep in your feed.  I love following here and I recommend everyone do the same.

Barbara:
I think what you’re doing is phenomenal.  It’s so necessary.  I wish we had it when we competed when I was younger.  I mean, you are a godsend, so I hope everyone does appreciate what you’re doing.

Rebecca: 
Oh, thank you so much, Barbara.  Thank you for being a part of the show.

Barbara: 
My pleasure.

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