SISU: July Hyannis Life Article

July’s article from Hyannis Life magazine, a little late to post!  Good luck to Team Big Nick and all those running the Falmouth Road Race this weekend!


Early mornings, long days, late nights…  Business commitments, family commitments, personal commitments… Time constraint, money constraints, health constraints…  Yes, life can be hard.  We all deal with a host of issues on a daily basis, and it’s easy for even the most levelheaded person to get overwhelmed.  But this is life- and instead of dreading the day-to-day grind, we’re called to find ways to embrace, overcome, and ENJOY each moment we have here- even if sometimes it seems that life can overwhelm us.

The Finnish culture has a word, “sisu,” that roughly translates to “strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.”  It is not that one with the quality of sisu does not experience failure, but it is rather that they press on despite setbacks or odds that are seemingly not in their favor.  Sisu means having guts.  We can strive for sisu everywhere- in the gym, at work, at school, and in life as a whole.

Life requires all of us to have a certain level of sisu when things get tough, which they inevitably will.  In our gym we recently discussed sisu and how it plays into our workouts.   There are days you don’t want to train- so sore or tired that the thought of even going to the gym seems exhausting.  Or maybe Veteran’s Beach or Sandy Neck is calling your name- you feel like there’s simply no way to get your workout in on a day as beautiful as this on Cape Cod!  But we must remember sisu- the concept bringing us back to reality, reminding us that we must not only persevere, but thrive.  Other days getting to the gym is easy, but once there while in the midst of your training session it all seems too hard.  It’s too heavy, you’re too slow, the miles seem endless.  Sisu.  Have guts, press on.

The concept of sisu is easy to see in the gym or on the playing field when athletes work through tough days and tackle their workouts with determination, blood, sweat, and tears.  But there are certain people who, whether they know it or not, live this ideal out and inspire us with their remarkable ability to not only overcome adversity, but show amazing strength and goodness throughout their struggles.  They remind us that most of the problems we deal with are small, and that no matter how big the struggle we can be courageous and positive in the face of even the worst situations.

On Cape Cod a shining example of a man who lives with sisu- having strength, determination, will and purpose despite adversity, is Yarmouth Deputy Chief of Police Steven Xiarhos.  This July 23rd marks four years since Officer Xiarhos’ son, Nick, was killed in Afghanistan.  This type of unthinkable sadness is something no father should have to endure, yet Officer Xiarhos has chosen to honor his son by living his life fully and passionately, helping others in need, and honoring all those who have lost their lives in service.  Led by Officer Xiarhos Team Big Nick participates in charity races, bike rides, and countless other events.  In all of this Steve lives his life with purpose, pressing on relentlessly, showing us an unconquerable human spirit, and letting Nick’s memory be one that leaves a legacy.

Many have been touched by Steve through his involvement in the YPD Blue 5K, Big Nick’s Ride for the Fallen, the First Responder Appreciation Freedom Ride, and the Marine Corps Honor Run.  The list goes on and on, with many of the events being physical in nature.  Officer Xiarhos truly understand how lucky we are to be alive and well, and that it is not something to be taken for granted.  He reminds us that using our bodies physically can be a way to honor those who no longer can.

Officer Xiarhos is a father who has chosen to show such extreme strength, will, determination, and love despite adversity.  He lives his life fully, passionately, and selflessly.  He realizes how short life can be, and that we must live each second to the fullest, always putting others first.  Officer Steven Xiarhos shows Yarmouth, Hyannis, and all of Cape Cod how to press on, making the world a stronger and better place by his life.

Let’s take his example and bring it to the world.  When you get overwhelmed and life seems to be too tough, keep things in perspective and remember Officer Xiarhos and the idea of sisu- be strong, press on, and make your corner of the world a better place.

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