by Kate Forno, Australia
My Involvement with sport started at a very early age and has continued for the last 52 years. That involvement has encompassed all levels of sport.
I started at the age of eight with swimming lessons, then competitive swimming, then gymnastics to improve my turns – I liked it, so I competed in that too until injury (ankles and neck) forced my retirement. Then there was ballroom dancing (in my day, what every young lady should know), but once again I felt the need to compete.
All the while swimming remained my greatest love. Then at 13 – just when I’d made my first state team – I had to give up the competition side of the sport: I’d lost hearing in my left ear for six months due to boils exploding and bursting the ear drum. I still attended club night, as I’d made many friends there, and in order to stay connected with them I took on the duties of handicapper and filled in wherever I was needed. Because I missed competing so much my mother introduced me to the sport of tenpin bowling, which was quite new to Australia in 1965.
So for the next eleven years this became my sport of choice; I represented my state and country and won a scholarship to the US to compete on the professional circuit, which I graciously declined in order to marry my husband Glenn, whom I’d met while competing. But my true love was always swimming and I remained involved at the administrative level up until May 2012.
I’ve held many positions over the years, including Queensland Selector, Queensland Record Steward, Brisbane Record Steward, Asthma Swimming Coordinator for South East Queensland and every official position from timekeeper to inspector of turns and recorder.
In all that time it never once crossed my mind that I competed to prove something to myself and others, i.e., that I was just as good as a man. At swimming I’d been the only girl in a male training lane – I fooled myself into thinking that was because I worked better with the boys and didn’t talk as much (I’m a definite chatterbox). Tenpin bowling was the same; I was always the only girl in a male team, or if I played singles I aimed at bettering the male scores and not the other females. It was only when I started to question why I was involved in something that quite often left me feeling drained and frustrated, that I truly saw what had motivated me for all those years.
I’d always thought that I only became competitive when someone angered me with their bragging or derision of a fellow competitor, and I’d held true to all the false ideals of sport (brotherhood, sportsmanship and equality). In fact, in my arrogance I’d thought myself better than my fellow competitors and stepped that competitiveness up a gear when challenged.
Seven years ago I started attending Universal Medicine workshops and courses and listened to Serge Benhayon speak on the separation and comparison sport caused between individuals. However, I knew that for me there were still things I needed to do within the sport of swimming before I walked away.
I’d stayed within the sport after I became a student of Universal Medicine. I felt the need to re-do, this time with love, all that I had done before. I knew too that sport was never about true brotherhood, but all about separation. It is soul-destroying for all who compete, yet we are not ready to see the separation that sport causes. We still need to learn to swim, surf, run, etc., but we need to learn to do it in a loving way that supports our bodies – and in a way that makes it fun for everyone and acknowledges that it’s fine to just be you, no matter what the skill level.
Over the ensuing six and half years I have spoken often to Serge Benhayon, Miranda Benhayon and Simone Benhayon on the things within the sport that were troubling me. The advice they gave was always supportive and never judgmental, and they always left me with something to ponder on. They knew that the decisions were mine and mine alone, and presented the potential for me to make choices that were right for me and my body. By not imposing, and allowing me the free will to decide when the time was right for me to make those decisions, they allowed me to not only grow as a person but to have a better understanding of why I’d made the decision I had, and how those decisions had impacted on the other people in my life. I saw that particularly as a young mother I’d needed the recognition and acceptance that the sport had provided. I’d been able to use my organisational and clerical/computer skills to fill a gap at a time when computerising records was in its infancy. For a time I’d been able to fill the emptiness I was feeling in my everyday life with the illusion that I was contributing to the betterment of sport as a whole, but I soon came to realise that for every step forward I made, I also took three steps backwards, and the frustration and sadness that came with this was affecting me in ways I’d never even considered.
I’d be so tired at the end of a swim meet that I’d often fall asleep in the car on the way home, leaving my husband to gently wake me when we arrived. My lower back and shoulders would always be sore, and I’d find it hard to get to sleep that night and then get up the next morning and go to work. I’d always have so much going around in my head that I felt needed to be corrected that I’d mull it over for days afterwards. I’d just be getting my energy levels back to normal when it was time for another meet… and so the cycle would begin again.
The administration side of things was getting harder and harder, with the parent body imposing more and more restrictions on the everyday running of the association, none of which were, in my view, beneficial to the membership. All this was no longer sustainable for me or my body. So I decided that I would honour my commitment and finish the year as record steward and resign from all other committees on which I was serving. In May 2012 I packed up all my records, copied whatever information was stored on my desktop and burnt it to disks, cleaned out my uniform cupboard and replaced the uniforms with coats and jackets – thus freeing up much needed space in my crowded wardrobe – and walked away.
I found that my energy improved, my jaw released the tension it had been holding on to, my shoulders felt lighter as if a great burden had been lifted, the nagging, cramping pain in my lower right lung ceased to ache and my peak flow readings improved, thus allowing me to cut back my asthma medication to just a couple of puffs from my Ventolin inhaler first thing in the morning instead of the twice daily nebulisers I’d previously been taking. To be pain-free and on minimal medication was something I’d given up hoping for. I’ve gone from six to eight nebulisers a day, to two nebulisers… and now, just the Ventolin inhaler and the nebuliser if required. I still take my preventive medication and visit my G.P. and Respiratory Physician regularly.
The Olympics came and went, and I didn’t get up extra early to watch the finals or tape the heats while I was at work for later viewing. If I happened to have some time free, I watched what I felt to, but didn’t feel the need to attach to the outcome.
I still get emails and phone calls concerning the sport and its administrators but I’m now able to look at what is being presented without any attachment, and I no longer feel the need to don my warrior’s shield and armour to fend off the onslaughts that would normally ensue.
I’ve found I enjoy my daily walk with my friend and my husband and we talk about all the things we enjoy doing together, rather that whatever new drama needs our attention. From now on, exercise will be my time to enjoy the world around me and to appreciate the fellowship of those I choose to walk beside.
Without the loving support of Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine I would never have been able to come to the decision I made. I would have continued to abuse myself and my body as I strove to gain acceptance for myself. From Serge I learnt that acceptance is something I have to give to myself before I can give it to others, and that acceptance is never judgmental and always considers the impact my actions will have on another before I perform them. In his gentle, non-imposing way, Serge has given me the tools I needed to become the Kate I truly am.