IN THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS…NEVER QUIT DREAMING The Story of Ambler

Say hello to Ambler(facebook) as she explains her journey of transformation and how turning 40 was the happiest year of her life. 

I turned 40 in May 2008. I had already lost 90 lbs at that point and had 10 lbs more to go. In June, on a Sunday, I ran my first triathlon. On Monday I had a colonoscopy and on Wednesday I stepped on the Ice for the first time in my life. Welcome to 40.

Chicago Portrait Photographer
My motto is never pass up an opportunity!! 

 

Where did you grow up? I grew up in a condo in a suburb on the South side of Toledo, Ohio. My dad was a Longshoreman. He left really early in the morning for work, would be home by 3 o’clock and then it was naptime. Dinner was on the table by 5 and the game shows went on the TV, so the typical middle class blue-collar family life.

 

  

 

As a kid what did you dream about becoming when you grew up? A Marine Biologist. From the time I was about 4 years and I saw my first whale. That continued until college when I flunked Biology and I realized that was not for me.  College wasn’t a total bust as it was my undergrad degree in writing that lead me into Hockey.   

 

 

Did your parents encourage you to be creative? My mom and dad were of the mindset of you go to school, you work hard, get married, buy your house and have your kids. They were pretty traditional. 


At this point in your life, are you happy where you are at? I can honestly say that the year I turned 40 by far was has been the happiest year of my life. It’s when I lost weight, started playing hockey and gained a ton of friends.

 



If there is one significant thing in your life right now you could change, what would it be? I wouldn’t change anything, because if I did, I wouldn’t be who I am today. 

 

 

Can you share one of your most vivid childhood memories? This was when I was in maybe 2nd or 3rd grade.  I was outside with my friends playing in the cornfield behind my house and lost track of time. I had no idea that my mom had been calling me for dinner. I finally realized it was getting dark, so I ran back home. I get in the house and my dad is there. He says, “You are in so much trouble right now. Go and wash your hands for dinner.” As I am washing my hands, I am shaking and I’m thinking to myself,  ‘I am in so much trouble right now.” As I walk out of the bathroom, I hear my dad say to my mom, “What are you talking about? She’s in the bathroom washing her hands.” I just realized my dad totally covered for me. When I got to the table for dinner, he looked at me and said, “Now you have to eat your mashed potatoes.” The thing is, he loved mashed potatoes. We had them with every meal and I wasn’t a real big fan. So that night, I ate my mashed potatoes. 

 

What accomplishment are you most proud of? I started playing hockey at the age of 40 and just a year later I was coaching. I met so many other adults in the same situation I’d been in when I first started I thought I had an opportunity to help people avoid what I’d experienced  – wanting to play, but not really have a place to go. So I started an instructional league with 11 people 5 years ago and now almost 500 people have been through my program. 

 

What has been the biggest obstacle you came across getting into hockey? The lack of coaching for adults with no hockey experience. When I joined my first hockey clinic, I was on the ice with about 40 people, all men. The entire time, all the coach says to me is “skate faster.” I don’t know how to stop. I don’t know how to turn or to do anything on skates and all he kept saying to me was skate faster. I kept running into the boards, or falling down, everyone laughing at me. It was humiliating. I spent the next week going to open skate in order to teach myself how to stop. All along I had this fantasy in my head of snowing the coach at the next clinic. So the next week, I get to the hockey clinic and there are about 10 people there and a new coach. The first thing he does is teaches us how to stop. That’s when I thought to myself this is ridiculous and in that moment I know what kind of hockey coach I’d want to be. Now that I have my instructional league, the very first thing I ask is who doesn’t know how to stop. We teach them to stop before going on to anything else. 

 

What has been the biggest change in your life after finding your happy place? Probably getting divorced. About 2 years after I started playing, I guess I changed too much. The ironic thing is our relationship was all about taking chances and growing together. We would always jump at new opportunities, but this time I jumped and he didn’t. That led to my husband and I growing apart. It was a very successful 23-year relationship, but it got to the point where he didn’t recognize the person he fell in love with anymore and he had to move on. We were ok with that. He needed to be where he was happy and I needed to be where I was happy and this is where I am happy. 

 

Do you have any advice for those people struggling with the dreaded 9 to 5? Well I don’t have a dreaded 9 to 5. I love to teach. I teach where other people don’t want to teach on the South Side of Chicago. I teach 7th grade science, social studies and reading. Don’t get me wrong, it has its bad days. There are days that I feel like I didn’t do anything meaningful, but those days are out-weighed by the good days. Hockey is a part time job for me, but is such a huge part of my life. Since it’s only a part time job, so many people ask me why I put so much time into it. Well the reason is, when I see the smiles on the faces of players that go through my program, it gives such a intrinsic satisfaction knowing that I had something to do with that. I have also met so many amazing people. Some have become my dearest friends and I would not have that if I didn’t start this program. It is a passion and if you do something that you are passionate about, the time is always worth it. 

 

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self? My motto is never pass up an opportunity!!  You’re going to do what you’re going to do and it will all work out in the end. If something comes your way, you figure out how to make it work. I read something recently that said something like “people like to say ‘I can’t.’ But its not that they can’t, its just that they don’t really want to.”  

 

Thanks for sharing Ambler and I hope this shows everyone that its never to late to live the life you deserve. More of my work can be view  at www.shawnkinney.com