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Transitions: Life, Lemonade and Triathlon

By Scott Simpson

February 1, 2010

In triathlon racing there is a transition zone; an area where athletes transform / change from swimmers to cyclists and then from cyclists to runners. The goal of the athlete is to get through the transitions, T1 and T2, as quickly as possible. It is free time you can gain over your competitors.

In life we go through many transitions, some of our own making and we eagerly seek, like choosing to pursue higher education or to change careers. While other transitions are forced upon us: mourning the loss of family or friend, or being laid off from your job, being diagnosed with a serious illness. Regardless of where the locus of control lies that initiates the transition, either internal or external, adaptation to the new situation is fundamental for success. It seems it's always about Darwin's theory.

I write of this because today is the last day of my college program and marks the first day of my transition from full time student working only part time to a full time job seeker. This transition period is a time for me to integrate my previous experience and knowledge with my newly acquired skills and insight. Most crucially in my opinion, is that my personal values are also addressed in my work. My challenge, shared by many no doubt, is constructing a career -- and life -- that incorporates all these aspects to satisfaction. Essentially, I believe we seek to lead an authentic life: one of our own creation.

For me this includes not having to hide my HIV+ status. Why? Quite simply, if I am hiding my status I am giving it more power over my life. It is acquiescing to the pressure of stigma, of discrimination, and of AIDSphobia. It is giving in to fear. Been there, done that, ain't goin' back and nobody can make me. Life is far too short. By being public about being HIV+ I will keep the locus of control -- the power -- internal.

Instead, during this transition period, I am going to set about constructing reality from a dream. A future where I turn the tables on my personal battle with HIV. I will make lemonade from the lemon. I will use my HIV+ status to raise awareness and funds, to breakdown discrimination and stigma, and to facilitate personal growth in others and in myself. I will effect change. And I will do it through the power of the spoken word, through motivational speaking.

My mantra as I embark on this new transition, this new life path? The only reason to give a speech is to change the world.

To contact Scott, click here.

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: John G. (Milwaukee) Thu., Feb. 4, 2010 at 6:52 pm EST
Scott,

Good luck on your current transition. I hope it is not as rocky as mine. But we do have triathlons in common.

Shortly after competing in a sprint triathlon in 2003, I was hospitalized with severe diarrhea and dehydration. I had progressed very quickly from HIV- to full blown AIDS.

I went from triathlete to not being able to walk around the block. At 52 years old, I felt like I was 80. For the next year, I was hit with a series of personal difficulties. I was in the middle of a messy divorce. My dad died of lung cancer. A failed relationship. A major job change.

Between 2003 and 2008, I gained 50 pounds, and had difficulty climbing the stairs at home. I became very depressed.

After resolving as many other issues as I could, (and adding a regime of anti-depressants) I decided to see if I could get back in shape. I am a bit OCD about my training. An hour of cardio almost every day, plus weights.

I am now more fit than I was before I got sick. I weigh 165. In July, I competed in another triathlon, finishing way faster than I ever dreamed possible. Third in my age group (so what if there were only four finishers in the 55-60 group!)

I'm now looking forward to another tri this summer, and the half marathon at the gay games. Exercise keeps me optimistic, and focused.

It would be great to connect to some other pos triathletes...maybe meet up for a race.

Good luck with all of your transitions.

John

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HIV+ Triathlete: Til I Drop


Scott Simpson

Scott Simpson

Scott Simpson is an HIV+ triathlete, student and inspirational speaker avoiding real work so he can find more time to train and learn. A former party boy, Scott has gone from the fictional national drinking team to the real Canadian national triathlon team and is current provincial long course champion in his age group. Scott is also founder of, and inspiration for, the Race for Dignity, which is both an annual spinathon in Toronto and annual school campus events coordinated by Dignitas Youth chapters. Cumulatively, they have raised almost a million dollars for the medical humanitarian NGO Dignitas International, contributing to over 11,000 people living with HIV/AIDS gaining access to ARVs in Malawi. Scott is currently training for Ironman Louisville 2010.


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