Faith Ireland has been a Justice of the Washington Supreme Court for six years. Before that she was a King County Superior Court Judge for fifteen years. She graduated one of two women in her class from Willamette Law School and was a trial lawyer for thirteen years.

Justice Ireland is a late-blooming athlete. She took up skiing at 30 - for which she is grateful because that's how she met her husband.

She took up competitive powerlifting at age 57! She is two-time Women's National Powerlifting Champion for her age and weight class and holds numerous records. She won a bronze in international bench press competition in the Czech Republic in 2003. She will be a member of the USA Powerlifting Masters World team competing in India in October 2004.

We hope you are inspired by her story!

By Faith Ireland




HAVE YOU EVER HAD A TIME WHEN EVERYTHING WENT AS RIGHT AS COULD BE AND AS WRONG AS COULD BE -- ALL IN THE SAME YEAR? A terrific thing happened to me in 1983 when I turned 40. I was appointed by the Governor to fill a vacancy on the King County Superior Court. This was a great honor for me, because at the time there were only a handful of women judges in this state. But, two weeks later while campaigning for election, I was hit and run rear-ended in the middle of downtown Seattle. So, I learned first-hand what it was like to be a crime victim. I also suffered a sever neck and back injury. Of course I didn't take off work and I was sure it would be resolved within a month or so. But, then two weeks later something wonderful happened. My husband and I found out I was pregnant with our first child. Our whole family was elated. Being pregnant limited what I could do for the back pain, because I put the baby first. But then, less than four weeks before I was to deliver, I lost the baby. It was devastating. After losing the baby, I still had all the neck and back pain and an unwanted extra thirty pounds that I just couldn't seem to lose.

Have you ever suffered with chronic pain? Something that lasted months or years? If so, then you know what I went through. I tried everything - physical therapy, pain medications, even "far out" stuff - like acupuncture, and bio-feedback. Nothing really worked. By the time I was 55, I had suffered with pounding headaches, neck, back and sciatic pain for 15 years. I felt old, tired, and fat. Oh yes, and I had a healthy dose of self-pity.

Then one day I heard a juror talk in court about how he overcame his back pain. He said he overcame it with weight lifting. I thought to myself - "yea. I tried that and it didn't work." But then he said something else - He said that he did not take his doctor's advice - which was to work up to the point of pain. Instead he worked through the pain and kept going. My doctor had told me the same thing and I wondered if that is why I did not get results. I decided to give it a try - and was referred to a gym where there was a physical therapist on site. But I was warned that this gym was a magnet for powerlifters. I said "That's OK. I'll stay out of their way!"

I started with the big rubber balls and the exercise bands. Then I worked up to the three-pound weights. In the beginning I felt very awkward among all those hard bodies. And it did hurt - at first - even a calf press hurt my neck and back. But like the juror - I just kept going. Sometimes I would be so exhausted after trial that I would have to bargain with myself to even make it to the gym. But I persisted. After about two months I noticed that when I would be driving home after my work-out all of a sudden I would be smiling for no reason as I drove down the road. I didn't know what that was - but if you are an athlete you probably do. Endorphins. That pleasurable feeling of joy that just comes upon you - some call it "runner's high." Those endorphins made the self-bargains a lot easier to drive after a hard day on the bench. And the persistence paid off. After about two years I could work out completely pain free.

One day in the fall of 1999 I was working out with my trainer Willie Austin, a former world champion powerlifter, now a coach and motivational trainer for youth and adults. He had an appointment with a woman who was getting ready for a powerlifting contest. Since I was there at the same time, he asked me to come into the power lifting room and work out with them. He had me do the same things as her only with lighter weights. I had never done a squat, bench or deadlift before. After we were done - he decided I should be in the meet too. Now this was the person who had made me well - so I just said yes! That's how I became a competitive power lifter at the age of 57 .

It transformed my life. It was a fountain of youth . I lost 30 pounds and so long as I stay in the gym, I have no pain. In addition to being a fountain of youth it has become my magic carpet . Powerlifting has taken me to Argentina, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and in October, India as a member of the USA Powerlifting Masters World Team.

If you'd like to have your life transformed. Take a minute right now. What was the most important thing you learned growing up? After you identify that thing, think about whether you have ever experienced a life transformation, whether through fitness or in some other way? Think back, when did it happen for you? Take a minute and describe that transformation and what it meant to you.

Now ask yourself was there any connection between that transformation experience you had and some lesson that you learned growing up. For me the lesson I grew up with was "work hard and skillfully and never give up." Working hard and skillfully and persistence in the gym is what allowed me to transform my life through weight lifting.

I like being a fitness evangelist because people understand that if a busy judge could overcome a serious back injury and become a competitive power lifter in her late fifties - then for sure: IT'S NEVER TOO LATE AND YOU'RE NEVER TOO BUSY!

In this life - STUFF HAPPENS! I'm sure everyone has had a year like my fortieth - where the best and worst happened. There's no answer to "Why Me" other than: stuff happens. It's what we do when stuff happens that makes the difference between a life of misery and self-pity, or a life transformed.

What is the key to transformation? It's tapping into your most deeply held values.

There are three steps in this process: Step 1: Find your most cherished values. One way I find out about people's most cherished values is by asking that question about the most important lesson you learned - there is usually a transforming value in it.

If you haven't experienced a transformation, or can't readily identify your most cherished values- tomorrow spend three minutes thinking about and writing down your cherished values. If they don't come readily to mind - just ask yourself that question and let your subconscious work on it for 24 hours. Come back and spend three minutes the next day. Feel free to change the list until you are satisfied that you've identified your most cherished personal values.

Step 2: Once you have identified your most cherished values ask yourself, "Am I living by these values?" If so it's very likely your life is already transformed. Just keep it up!

If not, Step 3: Start living your most cherished values. Your life will be transformed. Living your most cherished values free you. You will feel free, authentic and fulfilled in all you do.

Stuff Happens - but its never too late and you're never too busy.
Live your cherished values. Your life will be transformed with Power and Grace.

Faith Ireland - Seattle, Washington
Washington Supreme Court Judge,
Wife and Athlete!


For more on faith Ireland check out these news paper articles.


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