Humans Are Amazing

“I met Lotte at a Bondi Beach cafe. I was sixty two. I’d moved to Bondi two years earlier. I love Bondi. I’d moved from an area where everyone was a bit posh. It was a boring area no street fights or drunks or drugs. But nice views of the harbour. Six months after that first Bondi meeting with Lotte, we became inseparable. It was the first time that either of us had been in this situation. She came for coaching because her life wasn’t going well. I just told her to piss off, that nothing was wrong with her, to go away and get her shit together. I wasn’t harsh. I was just honest. She was making bad choices. Good choices were obvious. No need for me to fix what wasn’t broken. She left happier, I walked away thinking she was a good person. Nothing else from either of us. I texted her a few times to “see how she was going” and there were positive changes. After six months we met again for a coffee to follow up. It was nice to see her change. We walked on the coastal walk from Bronte to Bondi. Maybe then we fell in love. Some weeks later Lotte offered to give me a swim lesson as a thank you for my help. I accepted but the pool wouldn’t let us in because you are not allowed to coach people in pools. So we just chatted and Lotte was so insightful watching people swim and almost psychoanalysing them from their swim stroke. I was amazed. Then I went to Perth for work and sent the first hint that I would be interested in something more than coffee. She responded even though she was up in the Whitsundays diving with a guy. She said she was bored. When we both got back to Sydney Lotte invited me bush walking in the Blue Mountains and we had the best day. Even though she was a little younger, actually a lot younger, 34 years younger, younger than my youngest daughter) Lotte taught me so much. I remember she used to talk about people who came into her cafe and she would really understand the heart of people just from their behaviour toward their friends or children. Lotte has a golden heart and she thinks that’s normal. So she’s shocked when people are cruel or mean to each other. After dating for a few months, we decided to move in together. That move was accelerated because her flat mate got the shits with us laughing and enjoying life. We got an apartment right in the same Bondi building I lived in already. Then we set about making a home. It was good. But there were many tough times. Negotiating the difference in our ages was one of those tough things. Lotte was still attached to people from her past that I considered toxic toward her. I rode a racing bike for fun and so we took my bike and went to Noosa for a holiday to visit some old friends of mine. We rented Lotte a race bike. She cried and cried. One time she even got off and walked. She hated the traffic and it was too fast going down hills for her. Being Dutch she’d ridden 20km a day to and from school in all miserable Dutch weather on a heavy old bike. So she was strong but not skilled at any speed. After a few days she didn’t cry as much. So, i found a great bike course out of town without much traffic. It was the triathlon course. Anyway, the rest is history. We were riding up this fucking long hard hill and she was talking while I was puffing, and between breaths i managed to say sarcastically, “if you want to ride ahead, I’ll catch up at the top.” That was the last I saw of her until the top. She blew me away. Then down the other side she was screaming with joy. It was the real beginning of our relationship. Both of us agreed that with this bike power and her 20 year long international swim career, she’d make an amazing triathlete. Humans are amazing. Six months later Lotte raced in her first International Triathlon in Dutch uniform. She trained her butt off, found a coach, we bought a powerful bike and her new career began. Press were interested in her sudden rise to fame and we travelled all over the world to events. Lotte started to get enough points from racing to declare her ambition to be in the Tokyo Olympics and that became her dream goal. Relationships are built on dream goals. If there’s no dream goal, relationships are really hard work. Usually people make babies to create dream goals but that doesn’t work. I already had my dream goal and now Lotte had hers. My birthday came around and we celebrated at home. My brother rang and congratulated me for being 65. Lotte said, no, he’s 62, and suddenly I aged another three years in one night. It was my bad. I just never added it up and seriously thought I was 62. And it was hard enough telling her family about our age difference with me at 62, now suddenly, somehow , 62 seemed way younger better than 65. The shock lasted a few days. We stayed in Holland for three months while Lotte raced and I worked remote. We didn’t have our own house so her parents were around. I am older than her dad. We went to training and racing all the time. But we were too committed to our dreams to make that relationship work living with her parents. Disagreements became bigger as I defended Lotte as her father started to treat her badly. I’m just not into that sort of ignorance, A billionaire friend lent us his magic apartment and then her father was far away where he needed to be. It seems to be all or nothing with some people. Opinionated people are clever but hard work. Either everything is perfect, and you’re living the way they want, or everything is horrible. Back at triathlon, at one point Lotte’s foot became sore. Then, during a race on cobblestones in Antwerp, it became so painful she hobbled to the finish. I rushed her to hospital back in Netherlands and the sport doctor for the Dutch Triathlon Team took one look and knew she had a serious stress fracture. She was out of racing. We decided to come home. Using a wheel chair in airports is so cool. You get through everything priority. But the reality was Lotte’s dream goal was in serious doubt. Human’s are amazing. The emotional roller coaster Lotte went through over the next eight weeks wearing a special boot, and going to physio every day, she held on by a silk thread to her dream. I encouraged her to write and read. She was amazing. Then, back to swimming, step by step back to bike and finally the AlterG “Anti-Gravity” Treadmill. For the first weeks when Lotte lost her dream goal she just wasn’t the same. And some people said “I told you so.” Human’s are amazing on the dark side too” they love to be right or superior, even to those we say we love. But because I’m a life coach, that downer lasted only a week or so. Maybe that was selfish of me because I know that without her dream goal, life with a partner twice her age might suddenly look different. With that, she rebuilt her dream board and was able to grab that thread and not let go. My work has thrived since I’ve met Lotte. I learn so much from being so involved in the micro management a professional athlete. How disciplined they must live to stay on track. Lotte now has a Partner Visa for Australia and soon her PR will come so Australia will be her second home. Over these three years we’ve grown stronger.  There’ve been so many more challenges we’ve faced, but our dream goals are clear and therefore so are we. Right now, I have a blood clot in a minor vein in my leg all the way down it. I’m taking blood thinners to get rid of it. Stories abound about people dropping dead with a blood clot like this that goes to their heart. So, it’s made us even more mindful of how we value our time. But I am not worried. My time isn’t up. Most important however, is that I and my leg do not want to be Lotte’s highest priority. Getting through Covid, healing her knee injury, increasing her run speed, getting a sponsor to help her race and compete for a place at Tokyo 2021. Those must come first and in that, love is fantastic and easy to share. Irrespective of our age gap. Human’s are amazing. I admire my clients and everyone who finds and lives or even is searching for their dream-goal. It’s the mark of integrity and self-respect that makes relationships hum beautifully.  Both of us got married (not on paper) by putting our dream goals together. If one of us ever gave up on ourselves, we’d be divorced. Human’s are amazing. So different. We can eat until we are huge and die from it. We can be all different and all suffering from different things. But we are all the same in so many ways. And in those same things, age doesn’t matter. We are the same people, but I am almost sixty (or more) and Lotte 36. We’ve lived through so much. We’ve poured our hearts out getting Lotte to the Olympics and for me to build the “change the world one heart at a time” motif. We don’t spend all our time in the bedroom.  We spent our time living, talking, exploring. We talk about triathlon, triathlon, triathlon, training and my writing, connection and podcasts. Our mental health is beautiful. We talk about who we were back before we met, and how much we’ve grown as people and as partners. At the end of the journey we might decide to move on or start a different life together. We’re in a different season now. We’re kinder to each other. We know how to name things. And how to have difficult conversations. It’s not like back then. When we used to walk down the street a meter apart because Lotte didn’t like the stares from judging people. And now it’s irrelevant. There are more important things to focus on. Triathlon, Olympics, Hearts, Minds and Souls”

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