Believe Your Own BullShit

We humans are experts at perpetuating our own patterns. For better or for worse. Usually against our own benefit…

So much so that often we don’t even believe ourselves when our true selves are trying to lead us onto a better path.

Unsurprisingly, only two lessons back into riding on a more dedicated level then I have in years and I’m finding philosophical life lessons being thrown at me left and right.

Coming back into the game after a few years off, riding a much different style of horse then what I’ve worked with before, I’m being confronted with all my old baggage.

While I’m not covered in as much rust as I thought I would be, old habits are dying hard. It’s like a Pandora’s box of baggage has been opened and needs to be organized and hung out to dry.

Warming up today the words that floated to me from the eyes on the ground suggested that I am riding like I’m riding a young horse. Supportive, encouraging, trying to lead the way and being overly accommodating. I was presented with an amazing analogy for my go to leadership style. Teacher all the way- lead by example and empower. This style works sometimes for me- but not all the time, and actually as of late- rarely. The words that followed next smacked me in the head with another relatable flow of logic. You need to tell and direct, not suggest and expect.

I’ve seen in the last while that my greatest strength and weakness is seeing the absolute best in those around me. Empath to the core- I can see you’re greatest potential before I even know you’re last name… and that often gets in the way of really being helpful in leadership/teaching/management.

I’m now riding a horse that has the power and ability to do whatever I ask. Tell him the plan and he will get it done. However, suggest an idea and expect him to collaborate on a plan? Not very effective with his archetype. He really is a mirror for many of the other situations I’ve approached with my habitual way of wanting others to empower themselves through situations (be them personal, relationship, or professional).

When I was directed to quit letting him decide where we were going and tell him what we were doing and how we were doing, something clicked.

Through all my confidence and leadership ability- I do indeed have a tendency to defer decision making. I personally learn through experience, and want every else to learn about themselves in a similar way. In a past relationship I did exactly what I was doing during this ride.. deferred direction to the other, assuming growth would occur from them having to figure things out and allowing myself to follow in their process. While growth certainly did happen, a lot of unnecessary time was spent being “dragged around” so to speak.

Unsurprisingly, the theme of power has come up frequently in meditations lately. It seems that a voice within me and situations around me keep telling me that I have some work to do around believing in my power, speaking that power, and becoming that power. Power– so many of us attribute it negatively. Is it though? When used towards our higher purpose and used to navigate ourselves and others towards a fulfilling destination?

I’ve sacrificed the idea of power and replaced it with the ideal of service in many contexts, especially in close personal relationships. I learned a lot. And I’m grateful for those lessons. Yet, I also experienced so much anger and frustration at that sacrifice. Was I truly serving anyone for the greater good? Or just playing nice and hoping.. hoping for the ‘right’ outcome, not even truly knowing what outcome that should be. I needed to experience that anger and frustration to learn what standing my ground meant. Where I thought it might mean losing something I valued, it really only demonstrates what is actually of value. Speaking from a place of inner power/value/purpose takes out the unnecessary and clears the path for the next step. What gets lost becomes less valuable and powerful then you once thought it was, and what remains is what is worth cultivating.

In my businesses- I can forge ahead and get so far ahead of myself and the team that I come off as intimidating, and I’ve often slowed my own process by getting caught up in wondering why nobody else sees my vision– instead of just directing and explaining the steps to accomplish that vision to the others involved. As I get more clear in my direction and communication- I’m seeing what I want to see happen in those around me. They become empowered, they communicate, they inspire and push harder towards the direction I lay out. There’s no equality, only motivated collaboration and new growth as a result.

I can motivate, inspire, and direct others… but if I take my leg off right at the moment where the next navigation is needed, less then optimal results come through. In reality it’s just miscommunication, confusion, and stutter steps.

Similarly, if I am too accommodating in my direction and collaboration, we don’t get anywhere. One party is happy to plod along and the other is aimlessly encouraging. There’s no connection.

My favourite line from this morning’s philosophical ride through a jump course/life was “believe your own bullshit”.

When you think you’re right, but doubt your correctness and don’t follow through with a direction/intention/cue.. it creates the same results as above. You’re bullshit, or your gut, or your inner thought- is almost ALWAYS right. Believe it. Even if you think it’s bullshit. Ride through it. Don’t play nice and let him (the horse)/life/another person lead.. you’re right. Direct the situation, even if it feels like you’re full of it.

Riding has always been a mirror for me. Just as yoga, meditation, and other things are as well. Riding doubles as having a physical, 1300lb, living breathing mirror to nail home it’s point. Returning now has unveiled many insecurities, blocks, and patterns in my psyche for review.

As I drove out to the barn this morning I was washed over with gratitude. For my mother who always sacrificed where she could to make my riding dreams a reality. The coaches I’ve been blessed with all the way through, all with their own philosophical roles in my growth and development in the saddle, and out. My high school principle who allowed me to use my spares in senior year to go to the barn and train. The profs who let me persist in being the “horse girl” and do any project possible focused to the equestrian. The opportunity to ride this horse I’m on now. The riders who participated in my early projects and those who came on as clients as I grew my understanding of changing how we develop athletes in this sport so many of us are addicted to.

Leaving the barn after the lesson I was blasted with reflections on situations gone by. How I played nice and hoped that the person or group involved would learn, choose themselves and see the collective vision– usually sacrificing myself in the process– where I could have stood my ground and navigated with some gumption instead. Sure, maybe the outcomes wouldn’t have changed. I obviously needed to experience all these events in the sequence they’ve occurred to get to where I am now… and boy, am I soaking up each and every experience.

We have the amazing ability to create our own realities. In this day and age, almost nothing is impossible. How many of us actually take initiative and choose to navigate towards the reality we want? How many of us can sit with our own bullshit and see the possibilities that lie within it?

Put your leg on, sit tall, and ride on through. The power is there, you just have to direct it.

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So here we are.

“So here we are, in our rags, walking down a road we’ve never seen before with the mark of our wild nature glowing through us. It is fair to say that conjunctio is insisting on a revision of the old you. Conjunctio is not something that goes out and gets. It is something that occurs because hard, hard work is being done.” CPE, Women Who Run With Wolves

I wrote last about exhaustion and faith. Of clarity through the fog.

Conjunctio- a theme that appeared in my morning read of Clarissa Pinkola Estes “Women Who Run With Wolves”, is a term coming from the practice of alchemy meaning a higher transformative union of unlike substances. A process of conjunction and pressure of dissimilar elements inhabiting the same space where insight and knowing are made. The part of the book she brings this up in is after the description of the “devil” aspect of our psyche, where a dual nature is symbolized within the psyche. A nature that both badgers us for something and heals us simultaneously. A process where something is lost or transmuted into the combination becoming more.

My dreams a few nights in a row now have been frequented with images of my time in New Zealand. Mostly periods of time spent in contemplation. Which, looking back, was a large theme of the trip (after coming face to face with myself for the first extended period of time distraction free). Long bus rides, long walks, long walks fronting for escapes from a reality I didn’t like. Time to mull over my emotion (at the time, I’m not sure I realized this is what I was doing) and time to prepare myself for the negativity I was keeping myself in during that brief period. Monotonous days made monotonous only due to the fact I was running from the truth I was feeling so strongly within. And, after this period, snapshot style images floating through my subconscious dream-state of even longer times of sitting with my surroundings (internally and externally), digesting, observing.

Through the last couple weeks I’ve been hit with many realizations.

The things I used to describe my ideal life by have become truths of my everyday ventures.

Last weekend I ended a week of clients with a day spent at a sporting event promoting my business while offering services and medical coverage to athletes. This day filled with being thrown right back into the field and having a line of up of sweaty, battle-worn athletes that needed everything I had all day was like reliving the reasons that drew me into this career in the first place. I took a short break away from this event to teach a class under the RideWell heading- where another group of dedicated athletes encompassed the other portion of why I love what I do. Teaching, educating, empowering those who are ready and looking for what I can offer.

After all that I hopped on a plane and flew to a city quickly feeling like a second home, Calgary. Here I spent 3 days enveloped in new professional and personal focuses. From old connections to new, the whole time I spent there I was continually surrounded by the calmness that I described in my last blog. A faith so strong that it’s next to impossible to imagine things not working out or aligning just right.

Indeed, through conversations had while in Calgary- it came to light that things I’d been saying for years, or had in the back of my mind as “eventuals” were seemingly already occurring or about to. Needless to say, it is not hard for me to find and create opportunity out West.

A life lived in many facets has always sat well with me. It’s what I’ve looked towards. Endless opportunity.

Since beginning a slow return to riding myself I’ve noticed a shift back into what I think of as “athlete mind”. Something that can be a trickster for us who work with athletes, but a trait that sets many apart on their journeys nonetheless.

As thing seem to align West, the little irritations or blocks I’ve noticed home in Winnipeg seem to be more.. synchronistic. In that, as I trust and direct my energy towards what feels right, everything else seems to solve itself. The practice I’ve built here is becoming more observably more then just myself. The idea of me creating a self-sustaining (to an extent) opportunity for clients and practitioners to thrive within while I pursue endless other ideas is all of a sudden much more realistic and timely.

RideWell (new venture) is heading West to networking at Spruce Meadows this summer. Integrative is moving into new, open space with a strong team within it. Making it logical for me to let it grow into the vision I’ve set for it, while I create avenues leading away (and back to) the original brand.

The idea of my equestrian focused practice expanding to a larger market all of a sudden is pushed into gear as I put some vested energy into opening the door I shoved my foot into West of MB.

Did I think these motivations and ideas would be brought to light so soon in my career because of a sporadic decision to fly to another province for a date? Absolutely not, but would it be me if there wasn’t a hint of wild adventure along the way?

Energy flows where attention goes, and lately I’ve had to stop and contemplate the strange way my motivation has moved and drawn me towards what I’ve always said I wanted.

Unsurprisingly the theme of my meditation this morning, and the tarot card I drew for myself was a card of contemplation.

Imagery wise, seven pentacles (symbol of material possessions, career, etc) aligned in a diagonal row- with symmetrical lines forming square points at each circled pentacle. An orderly, curious image- all at once.

The last few years I’ve seen myself move away from a intrinsically hyper-motivated athlete mind to a “go with the flow, let go, recovery” state. Partially due to injury and illness, and shifts in focus. It’s nonetheless been a beneficial state.. and now, things are moving back to operating for high performance (this doesn’t exclude periods of the above recovery minded state). The win being whatever the f I want it to be in the short and long term.

It often takes a minute of stepping back, counting the things lining up and the possibilities behind each, taking in the larger perspective to really note what is more valuable: wandering along or a intentional direction.

When I look back on the last two years I see a intentional direction with a unintentional lack of long view purpose.

In the last 6months I’ve seen that purpose align and clarify.

In the last 3months I’ve become confident in that purpose and noticed other doors open.

Behind each door is more reflection, more contemplation, more energy to direct.

As I observe that process I am noting that I’ve only begun to tap into my potential, and the potential of my ideas. I am so much more then what I am right now, and I have already proven that in looking behind at the chapters I’ve written.

The fascinating thing about creating a business (or two+) out of your dreams and ideas is that it is a tangible measure of your personal development and commitment to your purpose.

Every step forward comes with the acknowledgement of a reflection shining back at me from some other aspect of my life. A person, a memory, a emotion I can’t quite place, a connection or disconnection that’s stuck with me. More then ever I’m aware of inconspicuous guides surrounding me. Often in the form of fellow humans entering (and exiting) my life as if right on cue.

This is all a reminder of staying focused, but not too focused on it all. Often the most subtle, only seen in the peripheral (or hindsight) are the things with the strongest meaning.

“The psyche of woman must constantly sow, train, and harvest new energy in order to replace what has been worn out.. there is constant living, constant death dealing, constant replacement of ideas, images, energies…” -CPE, Women Who Run With Wolves

A period of contemplation, indeed. The soil is fertilized and ready for spring, now which seeds to plant and how to nurture the growth?

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Eyes Up, Shoulders Back

“You must not fail to explore anything that interests you. Any skill you want to master should be learned. Any subject that arouses curiousity should be examined. Every insecurity should be overcome. Every question should be answered. If you do not do this, then you cannot freely experience life. Every one of your uncertainties will be an obstacle.. Initially it will seem as if there is no connection between your time meditating and the outer things in your life. After all, the masters themselves constantly stress the difference between the spiritual and the social. But eventually, you will reach a point where the quiescence of contemplation and the active ness of living are integrated..” — The Daily Tao, “Integration”

I’ve circled around to some old insecurities lately.

Since I wrote last so much as happened, and yet I feel like it’s all circled back to where it started a few months ago, a few years ago.

If you look closely you can notice themes in your life. They all revolve around similar bread crumb trails- which lead back to insecurities, questions, uncertainties we had at one point. You continue being faced with the same problem, question or archetype- even after you thought you’ve clarified it ten times over.

I’ve spent a lot of time lately meditating on how much a small business, or any business at its roots, depends on the development of it’s proprietor. As my ventures grow and opportunities come and are unpacked- I routinely have to go within and unpack different layers of myself, and experiences that I once thought had nothing to do with running a business.

It’s true, though. You listen to the successes of the day and they all say the same things. Once, not that long ago, they were living off ramen, broke, unsure of where to turn, with nothing but raw passion and a vision for some form of creation. Usually with the greater good in mind, and nothing else to back them up, they went for it. Lack of money be damned. Money flows where intention goes, similar to energy goes where intention flows- or whatever. Money is energy and energy follows thoughts. Along the way they were forced to work on themselves, face doubts and crippling fear, build authenticity, and as their business grew so did they as individuals. The collective effort of experiencing life and developing a vision formed mad success in wherever they chose to have success.

You hear a lot of the opposite too, sure. Those who gave into the doubt, got sucked into profit over passion and lost their way, etc.. those who return to something more stable, safer- and pay for their security with regret, sickness, chronic stress or mild resentment ongoing.

I was smacked in the face with some of my own insecurities recently. I spent weeks debating the decision to send out a status asking about availability of horses for part board. WEEKS. My hesitation came from the fact that every single year around this time of year I feel the need to be riding again. The last couple years I’ve pursued that feeling lightly and found those in need of someone to spend extra time on their horses. It lasts a few months and then I get distracted with the rest of my life and feign phrases like “it’s just not a priority right now” and move on.

I finally just made myself put the post up, and within an hour had at least ten offers from fellow riders offering connections with horses or horses close to them for part board. The difference this time is that I chose a route that required commitment in the form of money and time with coaches. I know this works for me as its exactly the same thing I did a year ago when I hired a personal trainer for myself. I also know what a game changer last years self enforced commitment has turned out to be.

I rode for the first time on Saturday and I am still depressingly sore in places any rider who has taken time off knows. Muscles groups that seem to come alive only in the saddle were re-engaged and.. yes, I am horrifically out of shape compared to where I used to be. A strong foundation exists, currently covered in a few years of silt.

You know what came up during my brief trial ride this weekend? The same damn things that have come up over and over again in the last few months as a manager and business owner/entrepreneur. Fear. Anger at the fear. Loneliness.

The same things I left the sport with a few years back. Fear of falling. More than that. Fear of letting go. I was asked if I wanted to pop over a couple jumps on this horse, who in all honesty was already the most advanced and well-trained/anatomically gifted horse I’d ridden to date (and who frankly was already babysitting my rusty ass)- the first voice in my head was “don’t do that, you’re not ready.. you haven’t jumped in years and what if you mess up and get hurt”. That voice was immediately followed by a sickening frustration, and then shortly after followed by a second long panic attack- THEN finally resulted in resolve. A voice calmly stating “If you don’t jump over that tiny ass jump today, you’ll never commit to this long term.”. So I rode over a few jumps, until I literally couldn’t control the muscles in my legs anymore, and jelly-fished myself off the horse afterwards feeling like I’d just made it to Base Camp again.

There’s never going to be an end to the mountains in your life. The discomfort. The emotions. The insecurities. The horse. The jump. The fear of the first fence. There’s always going to be an equivalent. The panic arising when things aren’t what they appear or don’t progress how you predict. The exhaustion and the solitude. The fear that doesn’t go away after the first fence- the fear that just gets stifled eventually by resolve.

I realized in that second that my goals, especially in the equestrian parts of my business, but also in all my other ventures, were riding (pun not intended)- to a certain extent- on this moment. Just as they were riding on my completion of the trek to Base Camp. There’s nobody holding me accountable, but my choices around how to confront (or how to avoid) the insecurities within myself do unequivocally impact where I go next. When I really sit with myself and ask if there is a right or wrong direction to go, I know the answer is simultaneously that there isn’t a right or wrong direction, but there is always a direction that feels true.

I rebranded/launched the equestrian specific portion of my business this winter as RideWell Performance, and I set lofty goals for RideWell/myself. Which I know I’ll accomplish.  Integrative Movement is growing and opportunities continue to find me. They find me because I am open for them. What I’ve realized in the last year is that not all opportunities are as shiny and necessary as they initially seem. Where last year was a year of saying yes to everything, this year’s theme has become negotiating, sitting, waiting, and examining all sides. This is most definitely why I am so tired mentally, emotionally, and spiritually lately.

From where I sit today, and in the last few months.. I am exhausted.

I’m exhausted in new ways- ways that are similar to how I often felt in University. New experiences, shifts in relationships, people coming and going from my life- people taking on new roles in my life, people taking up mental energy even when they don’t physically hold presence anymore- ghosts that reside in my head and still offer valuable advice and words of affirmation (Read: I’m losing it but in a good way, it’s fine). None of it is ever negative, and everything continues to align just as it needs to for whatever comes next. My faith and resolve has never been stronger, and I’m.. exhausted, often lonely, yet always grateful.

I know that many people, especially those working hard to be true to what they know inside themselves, feel these things. If someone like me who has been blessed enough to have more support, opportunity, and resources then many could even imagine can feel lost, exhausted, beaten down, lonely- alongside the inspiration, resolve, and gratitude- then I know without a doubt others are experiencing the same thing in all different walks of life. And so it seems pithy to remark on how exhausted I am while sitting in the apartment I can afford, eating the meals I have the resources to create, sore from being lucky enough to ride a large expensive animal for recreation, mulling over parts of the businesses I brought to life… but I am remarking on it because I know I need to read, hear and see other’s stories- and wish more people would openly speak of this part of figuring it all out and pushing for more.

It’s human, and it’s universal- with varying contexts.

As usual I’ve rambled onwards over the thousand word mark- but I think what I am trying to get across is that through all the exhaustion I am tied even more signifcantly to the (often blind) faith that pulls me onwards. What other choice is there? Once you follow your heart, mind, soul towards a vision that clarifies why you’re really here (even if you haven’t reached the clarity part)- there isn’t another choice but carrying on. Life just keeps coming at you anyway. Wherever at in your experience, keep experiencing it (note the change in this blog’s domain name ;)).

I’ve seen enough proof in the power of having faith in one’s own power, vision, and path (or direct faith in the Universe, or God, etc etc). You’re where you are for a reason. The fears and insecurities that keep popping up for you are valid in their own way, and they have something for you to reflect on every time they do come up. Give them a voice, recognize them, but don’t surrender all your power to them. Let them help you realize your own power in new ways.

That turned cheesier then I wanted to.. but here’s to getting back on the literal horse again!

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For You

I skied in the mountains for the first time in my life this past week.

While I’ve skied once before as a teenager on some lowly prairie hills, skiing is a fairly new skill for me.

Luckily, I had a professional ski coach in my party of travelers (this was an after retreat week to a series of national level board of director meetings) to get us novices set up. The first instructions he gave me on technique were essentially the same goals you would set for good hunter riding technique. A sport I was competitive in for a large section of my life. It got suddenly easier to coordinate after that skill transfer took place!

As I was going down the slopes I noticed fear.

It crept in with every new feeling under my skies.

The more it crept in the faster I seemed to go and the more I lost control. The faster it all came at me and the more unbalanced I felt. Which made it even more of a “shit shit shit” moment.

Until I listened to the little voice saying “chill the f out” (my intuition only continues to get blunter).

The last few years have brought me so many moments where the “simple” act of letting go of something (emotion, fear, people, history, expectation) has brought the pace back into control, clarity to my path, and coordination into actions.

Connecting the dots this week made me think of all the people I meet so stuck in fear.

Pain, depression, health problems, regrets, negative stress… all can be related back to fear (scientifically, for real).

Fear is engrained in our dna. We depended on it for survival, but now fear has taken on whole new meaning. No longer do we use it to spur the fight or flight response- we LIVE in a constant fight or flight state which creates paralysis.

Human nature is linked with shared fears.

Fear of being left behind.

Fear of not being loved.

Fear of the unknown.

Fear of what haunts us.

Fear of losing control.

Fear of FEELING, of discomfort, of pain.

That statement encompasses physical, mental, and emotional progress for so many people.

At this point in health we KNOW that emotional and mental states directly impact our physical states.

I used to be ultra competitive. When I was riding competitively my life revolves around pushing to be better physically and mentally. This went along with being a university student too. Life was constant motion. Intense exercise was therapy, riding was grounding, and school was terrifying in a good way. Working during this period was survival and sacrifices to my time and energy were the ingredients.

I had a chronic back injury that became so engrained in my competitive state it was anxiety inducing to not have it around when I was competing for a while.

After I graduated and had sold my competition horse (weird correlation in these couple years) I entered a awkward in between phase. My motivation behind intense exercise had disappeared and my mental drive turned towards finding new ways to survive in a way that didn’t drain me.

I found it. I started a business around it, and began building.

A different kind of stress.

Now survival wasn’t about structured sacrifice (work this schedule, complete these courses, intern at this location for x amount of hours), rather- it was a new level of pouring everything into my ideas with the complete understanding that I may receive nothing in return.

I understand now why many small businesses fail in the early stages.

Skills are one thing but having the resilience and blind faith to keep going with absolutely no guarantees of success is a whole new level of looking fear in the eyes.

Mid way through Uni I had a concussion that taught me depression and anxiety in a whole new way.

That experience showed me that giving name to our worst nightmares makes having a conversation with them easier.

Then you add in messy relationships, sacrificed social life, and an already rocky phase of life..

I broke my leg, I got so sick I was bedridden for a month and unable to handle any stress for a year after. I had to learn to be still.

I went through the pain of heartbreak on so many different levels with one person again and again.. and in that continued to go deeper into my fear of not being good enough, my deep desire to see others live their truths, and the realization that no matter what you do within yourself or for others it will not matter to anyone else until they’ve done the same for themselves.

In the end it’s all a mirror, and sometimes that reflection won’t change no matter how hard you look at it.

And that realization and act of release does not under any circumstances devalue the significant feelings you once had, and have for the history.

If anything, it honors all of it.

Remember with gratitude and send love to the pain inside yourself and in others.

(Absolutely no coincidence here that my broken leg and nerve damage healed at the same pace my emotional scars healed).

My motivation got stronger but in an entirely different way. I learned to let go of so many things and in those acts of letting go I had to let go of a specific way of pushing myself.

It wasn’t enough or functionally anymore to push harder and harder. I would get sick. Burn out. And my mom got sick of me calling her in hysterics bi-weekly.

I look at how I used to be obliging. To myself and with other’s expectations of me. Whatever was asked I would do it and do it competitively. It worked for that phase of my life.

Now… now I am motivated by potential but not by others and often not even by my own intrinsic words- not in the same way, anyway.

I’m more rebellious now. More apt to set impossibly high standards of others just to see if they will make the effort to reach for them. More likely to do the opposite of what someone says I “should” do. I did a complete sideways leap and had to learn how to get myself motivated differently.

I’m still competitive but my strategy has changed drastically.

I still work harder mentally and physically but I’ve gotten efficient with my energy.

I outsource to others to assist with pushing, healing, organizing, and brainstorming.

I am secure within my value, but in that realization I know that I can’t do it alone.

You can ask for help and not have to rely on others.

Where I used to pull from physically discomfort to ground me- I draw on all spectrums of uncomfortable now to learn from.

Fear doesn’t scare me anymore.

But I am grateful for experiencing paralysis due to fear, when it has.

I look at others telling themselves and everyone who will listen how they can’t do something they’ve always dreamed of doing and wonder if they ever think “what if..”.

That’s how it starts, isn’t it. A questioning of something terrifying.

Looking a little longer into that dark shadowed staircase of a “can’t” or “its always been this way” or “the doctor told me..” or “nothing has ever worked to change xyz problem, so I just have to live with it”.

It’s the examination of all those times your gut says.. is this right?

It’s the test that comes when you love yourself enough to walk away from something or someone that you love just as much.

It’s the realization that things happen for you, not to you.. (Ed Mylett quote that should become everyone’s mantra).

That everything in this world wants you to succeed and whatever you want to succeed at- but requires you to open up and run head first into finding that out for yourself. (Read: The Alchemist, no it’s not just fiction- it is truth).

As a movement specialist- I understand how valuable it is to be aware. There are times to push harder, times to let go, and times to remember how to breathe.

As a human just as much a wandering soul as we all are- I see now how it’s less about expectations and reactions, and much more about stepping back, sideways, and forwards to get a clearer perspective and taking what you need from any given situation and finding value to move onto the next.

The rest will sort itself out if your intentions TO YOURSELF are authentic.

If you don’t know where to start, start by reading books of any sort, spending time outside of your routine (go to the woods if you sit in an office all day, walk around the city if you spend all day in the woods), and spending time with people who challenge you to be better. Those you admire so much you almost want to run away from them. That TERRIFIED feeling is telling you something. Do not ever be afraid of yourself.

Intuition is only developed by listening without judgement, and inquiring honestly internally about everything.

I am far from fearless (nor do I ever want to be), but I am willing. The answer to how I do it?

I just do.

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Retreat

It’s the season for retreating for many of us.

This time of year I am systemically faced with the culmination of the year’s deeper meaning.

Most years a lot of things bubble up to the surface around November and December- leaving me a little raw and cracked open come the end of the year.

I stopped viewing this as a negative thing a few years ago, because with that rawness and openness has come endlessly valuable insights — among many internal “you have got to be f****** me”– and growth (of course).

I started to write this blog a few weeks ago. I titled it “Inhale”, as all I was doing as November rolled out and December rolled in was desperately trying to maintain a livable blood pressure through deep breathing. Every where I turned personally and professionally a fire needed stifling.

On the last day of reckoning I was driving to my rural clinic and as often happens I was transported in my minds eye to a moment or two I’ve had on one of my travel expeditions.

This time I travelled to a cliff’s edge deep in the Himalayas of Nepal. On the way to basecamp. As I was in this reality driving through the frozen prairies, I was remembering taking deep inhales and long exhales on the side of a mountain watching the mists lift and the sun peak through as Mt. Everest flirted with us through the clouds. I remember moments like this vividly from this trek. Every emotion was raw, clear, and aggressively intense. There were multiple times I found myself standing, gasping for air, looking out on that scene while waves of emotions at their purest form rushed over me. Emotions I wasn’t even sure how to define coming through with every deep breath. Simultaneous to this was the inhale of fresh, untouched air and the scenery very few people get to experience opening up before me.

You want to experience going from pure joy to deep sorrow in a matter of seconds- travelling through your darkest thoughts right back into your happiest memories in a span of a few minutes? Try a trek in altitudes above 3000masl. It’s a great way to get mental whiplash.

As undesirable as that may sound, in this relived moment it was extremely peaceful. The thing about getting to know all your emotions at their deepest points is that you also get to know the deepest serenity.

It’s a level of discomfort that has helped me with all the hugely uncomfortable parts of learning. Of failing, of getting back up, of learning humbleness and of practicing the art of being and honouring yourself. There’s vivid points where I’ve caught myself feeling like my world is ending, only to stop and think— wait.. nope this is actually just the learning process.. it’s supposed to be this uncomfortable. F***.

I knew early on 2017 was to be a year of learning. Collecting, reviewing, gathering and sorting. There has been so many moments where a tiny voice has said “just.. wait”, “hold that thought”, or said nothing at all except a small shrug suggesting “yeah go ahead act on that thought- you need this lesson to smack you in the face, clearly”. It seems almost too symbolic that near the end of the year I’ve gone through major, dramatic and seemingly sudden shifts to emerge into a new calm- almost fresh feeling start- almost a full 360 but with a new sheen from a year ago.

There’s been moments the last few weeks where I’ve been rushing to and fro, only to be halted in my tracks (literally) because a whiff of nature, a gust of wind, or a thought so vivid and clear makes me take notice. I stood in front of my apartment building last week like a lunatic deep inhaling the smell of the spruce trees on the walk way. In the moment they smelled like another world. In a world of chaos, the calm reached out and grabbed me- just for a moment. A reminder to stop, to inhale, to exhale. Then, it let go and set me back into the spiral I had been living in.

Lately, those moments of calm are more frequent. The path has become clearer again, and my purpose on it even moreso.

It’s like multiple days from my latest trip in Spain- basking in the sun getting day tipsy in full holiday mode with the strongest feeling that it’s all going to be fine, wandering historic streets and feeling reassured that many have felt whatever they’ve felt before you (and they’ve survived), or watching the sun set over the ocean in San Sebastián drinking cocktails— feeling gratitude for the people who have come and gone in your life, and the lessons they’ve cued for you.

In the aftermath of everything shifting and settling again I’ve seen a mission statement and foundation for my business come forth. Ideas and visions and questions I have been mulling over and collecting information for all year have seemingly come to obvious conclusions. I feel like I am ready to stand tall and speak my dialogue, on a foundation of values I’ve found through a year or two of shedding, collecting and inquiring on many different levels.

I’ve found myself in the last couple days peering back on previous chapters with bittersweet gratitude.. the highs and the lows all had sweet and tough moments. Sometimes extremely heart warming and often extremely challenging emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Being the kinaesthetic learner that I am, it makes sense that I’ve chosen the last couple years to explore the world, physically challenge myself, and delve deeper and deeper through uncomfortable experiences into my own psyche.. to come to where I stand now, a little more knowledgeable and a little more comfortable being uncomfortable.. or at least, knowing that it’s all just moments passing by.

While I expect that the coming New Year is going to bring on whole new exciting themes, challenges, and developments… as always, it’s a new adventure to live through. More stories to tell, and more memories to ponder.

Stay tuned… and I wish you all a restorative holiday season- and hope you find some time to retreat back to yourself as we close out 2017. It’s the season for guilt-free napping- take advantage!

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The sun and the sky

Every time someone asked how my week was going this week the only word I had that came to mind was “testing.. it’s been a testing week.”

Was it the new moon? Maybe.

From challenging (albeit normal) bumps in the new business road, long work days, dreary weather, and unexpected fallouts from old support systems- you name it, I probably got it.

Spoiler alert.. the sun still came up in the morning.

Through one of these numerous kicks in the ass from the Universe the last week or so I had, of course, some enlightenment.. and as it often does with me it came in the form of what felt like a stab in the chest reaction to a peers decision making process followed by interpretive dreaming on my part.

^^?? Don’t worry about it.

In my dream I dreamt of mirrors.

In the dreams I woke up surrounded by old comforts but in those old comforts I was faced with reflections that simply were staring me in my face.

I was followed and watched by a transient but related being- with dark, tidal blue eyes that never lost direct contact with my gaze. Still, calm, but undoubtably probing eyes. The being changed forms. Sometimes directly myself, sometimes others from my life’s stories taking different meaning, but yet- the same meaning- every shift in shape.

Through this restless sleep I wandered through (symbolically) a chamber of mirrors, each one simply stating that any answers I was searching for, any change I wanted, was right there. The handbook was mine for the reading. Any analysis, complaint, drama, fallout, burnout I was having was a direct reflection of my own decisions. The only change that I could expect was the shift I made for myself- I woke feeling that I had flipped every comment or concern I’d had about others or situations back on myself.

It was not complicated. It was just plain and simple obvious statements from the abyss.

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” CS Lewis.

Over a period of days some of the raw burn out and emotions preceding it settled. I woke this morning to a rising sun, blinding me in the midst of a clear, calm, gentle morning.

Opportunities and ideas came flooding in all day long, unexpectedly, as I embraced the reassurance that everything was going to be.

It will be what it is going to be.

The comforting ability to sit in the calm, quiet, blindingly sunny moment I was in came rushing back.

Do you ever do that? Get so tied up in the past, the future, the endless expectations and reliance on other people’s pasts, futures, and expectations that you forget that all that ever is is only here for a moment at a time?

Staring at the reflections in that dreams wasn’t stressful, hurtful, or unsettling. IN that moment it was exactly what it was. An observation. A small enlightenment. Nothing more, nothing less.

A chance to sit in the still of myself and be still enough to see something staring back out of the waters within.

Wishful Thinking or Panic?

The policies on how we manage low back pain are changing. A new revision to international guidelines in low back pain management will be leading GPs in a new direction when it comes to the initial treatment of a very common condition. Here is the link to the article explaining the revision.

To summarize, the new recommendations point docs towards utilizing movement prescription, yoga, meditation, physical therapies, and psychological therapies INSTEAD or, at least before, using pain medications, or more invasive procedures (like surgery/injections) are commonly prescribed.

This is in response to the growing body of evidence suggesting that pain medications are ineffective in the treatment of low back pain, and the existing, staggering, body of evidence supporting exercise prescription in majority of today’s chronic conditions.

Without delving too far into the complexities of pain management and chronic pain.. it’s safe to say it takes more then either a pharmaceutical or a conservative therapy to be the end all be all. Humans and pain have a long, complicated relationship and it takes a multi-factorial approach to really get to the “cure”.

My initial thoughts reading this article were “YES, FINALLY”.

This is obviously a soap box I stand on daily as an Athletic Therapist and Kinesiologist. I see daily the positive effects of movement prescription and lifestyle change guidance in my clients, and in my peers clients. This isn’t news to us. We also regularly see the negative effects of old school pain management protocols (medications, bedrest, surgeries). More often then not, actually in majority of cases, these old methods only lead to minimal symptom relief and decreased quality of life overall.

One of the issues raised on the new suggestions was the increased burden on the patients to now seek out and pay for unsubsidized services such as psychological consults, therapies, and classes- whereas with medication prescription majority of costs are covered by healthcare.

I get that. I really do.. but I do feel as though it’s a very narrow minded thought.

If we look at the big picture statistics are showing that the pain medications that “don’t cost” the patient anything are not effective. Which means they remain bedridden with pain, dysfunctional, and are at a higher risk for other health conditions. All of this of course costs our economy big bucks- and likely the patient is paying for those medications in other ways. Whether that be in seeking out other therapy regardless of the medications, losing time at work due to persisting symptoms, or spending money on other costly “quick fix” routines in an attempt to mitigate their pain.

Here’s the other issue we run into from the health care viewpoint.. Patients want the easy way, and as a result- Doctors often don’t have the time or energy (or sometimes ability/information) to educate them as to WHY the “easy way” actually isn’t going to serve them long term. I think every practitioner alive comes across a number of patients who drop out of programs, refuse to do their exercises, and/or are not mentally ready to work through the pain or the reasons behind the pain. It’s human nature to want a quick fix- unfortunately when pain arrives often it’s because of layers upon layers of quick fixes or blissful ignorance of a problem that has been brewing for a longer period of time.

How do we help the shift in our systems?

I attended a conference not too long ago where this was a large part of the weekend discussions.

How do we create a more multidisciplinary approach to health, and build relationships between practitioners- largely in an attempt to help the policy makers make shifts to support public access to effective treatment of chronic diseases?

In Canada, we spend upwards of $83 billion a year on healthcare expenses related to inactivity. $37Billion is spent on sick day costs alone, and $6billion a year on pain management prescriptions.

Low Back Pain is in the top two reasons why we go to see the doctor in North American Culture.

Physical Inactivity is linked to 25 of our top chronic diseases and morbidities in Canada- and prescribing movement is statistically and proven as the most effective modality and treatment for all those diseases (along with nutrition and habit change, of course).

This is an issue that is not going to go away with a quick fix.

Creating change starts first with simplifying systems. Both for the primary care practitioners doling out advice and guidance, as well as the patients coming in with a complaint.

Humans trust systems. Even if they complain about the systems, they follow the systems.

It’s becoming clear that the systems we have in place are not the systems that support our overall wellbeing.

It needs to be easy for a physician to send a patient to a trusted, knowledgable resource. When that patient arrives at that resource it needs to be an environment that establishes a system for them, and an atmosphere that supports their process.

In an ideal world we would just flip the system on it’s head. Subsidize practitioner services that support long term health change, tax junk foods and lower costs of locally produced nutritionally dense food, create living spaces and work spaces that make movement the most obvious choice, and build policy in all realms around positive choices, not expensive reactions.

Vs shooting down the systems with the stress and worry of short term growing pains before they have a chance to evolve…

Maybe these short term issues of public expense will create opportunity for the rest of these long term changes to happen. Is that wishful thinking?

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Powerful

“You don’t even know how powerful you are yet”

A friend told me that, earlier this year.

They were right.

This whole year I’ve been in a power struggle with my own being.

I started the year on the fumes of a year full of a “let go” theme. I rolled into the New Year set on shedding and grooming my self care. And in that new routine practice I found a voice that had been waiting.. waiting for a chance to speak.

That voice came out with friends, in self talk, with clients, in my business, and in networking.

It scared me. Often.

Then I noticed.. it only was scary when I tried to hold it in, or didn’t trust it.

The more I got comfortable with speaking the truth pouring out from within- the less terrifying it became. As I learned how to express tact with honesty I saw how my words created power for others.. empowered their own inner dialogue to shift.

In that process I began sensing efficacy in that inner fire. The inner power.

I realized that for so long I associated power with ego, and ego was something I’d worked so hard on releasing attachements to.

But.. are power and ego the same thing?

Not essentially, no.

“You haven’t realized how powerful you are”.. no.. I haven’t. But- I’m learning to experience power and not judge it for inspiring ego. Ego comes with being human- but observing it as part of our being enables it to let go of it’s hold on us.

So I continued to let go, to allow a flow to occur. Things, people, places- they come, they go, they call, they don’t call. It all ebbs and flows.

The pace of our lives sometimes carries us and sometimes we have to exercise control to gain perspective.

Where I sit now I sit in extreme accord with the voice that resides within and the fire that creates action. However I also am at peace with sometimes sitting and letting that voice mature.

My recent trip to Spain was the first travel experience where I honestly didn’t feel the need to reflect, examine, or exercise personal growth tactics.

I just was.

I came home with ideas and thoughts and progressions that I”ve been able to enact with new energy and a stronger voice then before.

I’ve had meetings and experiences since that have caused me to question everything about my experience so far, and how I want to use that experience to create new endeavours and what my purpose is.

I’ve seen love change forms in my life only to strengthen in it’s diversity. Expectations shift from set in stone to malleable elements serving equally those involved. Realities shift from what and who we are taught to be to understanding who we truly are, deep down, and exploring the purpose we all arrive with. Allowing that purpose to take on varying forms.

My life as it stands is wonderful and I look on it every day with newfound gratitude. For the opportunities and the power that resides within me- to give back, to create change, to build the reality I want to exist within.

True unhappiness or unsettledness stems in ignorance of self, distrust in the inner voice.

We learn to listen to that voice through experiencing the smallest moments life brings to us. A client planking for the first time in their two year history with you- and rocking it. A group fitness class that shows enthusiasm for the changes they are ready to make. Listening to an inspiring person in your life speak and feeling blessed to have them in your life. Seeing a friend break through their own internal struggles and let light into their being again.

All these small things are why we are here, and they are only found once we let go enough to let them shine through.

 

(Thank you to Jenaya Larisse Photography for the wonderful portrait 💖)  

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The Dogma of Progress

For a while now I’ve been feeling “blah” about the idea of progress. 
^ that’s not usually me. 
I go to talks, workshops, read books, travel- and feel as though I am on a plateau. Quite content to be where I was and not too interested (nor feeling the need to) push, dig, or unpack anything in my being. 
With my business consistently moving forwards, my thoughts evened out and a steady feeling of who I am in this moment.. developmental work has just seemed redundant. 
I noted quite a few times on my recent trip to Spain, mostly during the cycling up the northern coast past, that normally trips like this where I’m pushed physically open the door for me to do some emotional nd mental processing- but- there was nothing there to sift thru. 
I was hit over the head with the realization about a week into this three week excursion that I felt through some of the heartbreak the past two years sneezed into my life and had reached an equilibrium of love and gratitude for those who have remained, exited, and entered my life to varying degrees. The things that had happened to spur so much growth and reflection weren’t actually still happening to me at any level. I was.. I am free of those patterns and lessons right now. 

It hasn’t been until now- near the end of my time in Spain that I feel the drive for the next coming back. The drive to go to go a bit deeper and sit with what I find, to write, to delve into ideas as they race past, to write things down so I can organize the myriad of thoughts and ideas happening all at once, the inquisitiveness that’s being spurred by being in a part of the world that is passionate in their culture and steadfast in their ways (the Basque people and culture literally are so old in terms of history their exact roots cannot be traced… and as I write this the Catalan culture here is rallying for and against seperation from Spain and the rest of Spain is putting a stern foot on that idea- a argument that is decades long and not leaving soon, but reaching a boiling point not miles from where I sit). 

I spent a few days really looking at what motivates me- and how my motivations have shifted lately. I’ve gone from intrinsically driven for some reasons, to extrinsically in other ways. As I get more comfortable not relying on that motivation to define who I am- I see the subtle shifts and flows it takes on.  

The way we are as humans is so drastically different and similar across all cultures. 
How we express our fears and our ideas, how we learn and view history. What a time to live in- and what a time to reflect on what history has to teach us. 
I’ve developed an openness in the last couple years. Openness to myself, with others, and to everything offered. That adopted way of life has forced me to look at the most human flaws each of us have and accept what those flaws and fears mean to me as I am in this moment. It’s a constant look in the reflection coming back at me from my relationships, interactions, and situations I enter into consciously and unconsciously. 
It’s changed how I speak, how I advise, and how I observe. 
It allowed me to accept the plateau I stood on as a time to just be, and to let go of the need for more. 
Life, the people in it, and our stories innately have to have a push pull nature. Situations, people, and thoughts come in and out to pull us, push us, and boomerang us forwards or backwards depending on where we need to look. But even in a momentum based path there are moments of still and moments of pause. Even in our natural breathing process there is a slight pause between inhaling and exhaling. Nature itself creates necessary still points. 
It was my time to allow for pause. For stillness. For the reflection to remain constant for a bit. For the view from the plateau to be a constant sound of crashing waves in the fog- knowing the ebb and flow exists but unable to see past the condensation. To find comfort in the blindness.
I recognize the privileged lifestyle I lead to be able to explore the world, build my dream job, and divert such energy to reflections and pursuits of progress. The more I sit with the things that occur around me and within me the more I see the importance of seeing this world we live in and the cultures we all are apart of as one United experience.  
The fears we all have are the same. 
The insecurities we share are human nature. 
The reactions we emote are choices but human choices we all make. 
The exits stage left and the emergence of new people to experience are imperative to our growth as individuals, communities, and humanity. 
Open curiosity and knowing the time for passive observations are what allow us to see eye to eye, even if we don’t agree. 
No matter what you believe guides us, or doesn’t guide us- the themes in our perceived realities remain. 
Long before we were here and long after the same trends will occur, and I believe that we all will repeat lessons over and over until we get them on local and global levels- only to receive more lessons to piece through. 
The lesson lately has been accept every moment as it is and shed what no longer serves you. For me lately that has been the need to always find more in the darkness. It was important for me to dive into some dark places within for a long time- but I’ve served that purpose for now. I had to become okay with shades of grey again, and now I am beginning to see another sunrise on the horizon. The weather moves onwards no matter how we choose to prepare for it. 
Love, from Spain! 

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This is 25

 

25.

Human— emotional, in tune with light and dark, learning (often apprehensively) the power within.

This growing up thing is just one ever evolving process and I am truly, deeply fascinated by each and every experience.

I was surrounded by love today, my birthday. Texts, posts, time spent, phone calls- from patients, friends, colleagues, networks, and loved ones.

I ended today on the phone with a friend teary because I was a mix of grateful and overwhelmed by everything I have in my life, yet still feeling like I wasn’t complete.

I began this new year having tarot cards read, and was told I needed to be okay diving into the darkness inside me- for there I would find the way to become the teacher and healer I am meant to be.

^^ seriously.

At the time I was experiencing a darkness. An angst. Coming through 24 I spent so much time observing my own thoughts, emotions, and reactions. I was living in my emotions every day, and I needed to do that to really understand the observations I was making.

It’s okay to be in pain and it’s okay to be stuck in an emotional vortex. It’s also okay to step out of that vortex when you’ve had enough. We create the lessons we need for ourselves.

I turned 24 descending from Base Camp 1 in the Himalayas, and the year leading up to that had been an emotionally charged roller coster of self realization.

What did diving into my darkness mean? Did it mean to get meaner? Did it mean to let anger out? I did that, on one particularly rough day in the Himalayas… Or, did becoming comfortable in my darkness really just mean to truly, and fully, listen to my gut. More then I’d already discovered how to do.

This summer I was told by numerous people that I had a inner power and a purpose far bigger then I had yet to realize- simultaneous to when I was beginning to feel that bubbling within myself, but was too fearful of it to really stare at it for too long.

Power.. doesn’t that equate Ego? And isn’t that something I’d just spent months of reflection teasing out of my reactions? Or is that my Fear talking?

My early twenties have taught me that only the expectations I set have any relation to my own reactions. This past year alone has already shown me how much work I have to do when it comes to communicating and translating other’s words, reactions, and interactions with me.

 

My intuition speaks clear enough to support me when nobody around me understands how I’m feeling or the decisions I make, and the right people always stay in my orbit.

I’ve been given opportunities to let go, experience all emotions, and have accepted the art of observing those emotions on a daily basis. I live a privileged life where I can experience this process and still experience support and safety.

I’ve seen how giving yourself to others, no matter how much you love them and see their potential, is only possible if you yourself are grounded in you’re own power.

I’ve observed how inner power and efficacy differ greatly from ego, and how ego fogs intuition while inner efficacy only amplifies intuition.

My inner dialogue has never been so reflective.

I’ve seen the beauty in being human, flawed, and the value in our darkness.

 

I’ve spent my early twenties observing how the things we expect, the norms we uphold, and the standards we set create unwritten rules humans play along to. And those rules keep humans confined to limitations we create for ourselves in a desire for safety and security, out of fear of ourselves. A fear that speaks through our ego.

I’ve been let down so many times by expectation alone. Something I set up and expected another human, a flawed being with their own sets of internal rules and notions, to follow through on.

Sometimes I expected those things without even thorough communication to that other being, just solely on what society has suggested.

Sometimes I’ve set expectations of myself and watched myself not even live up to my own rules.

I can get irrationally angry at my cats for stealing my contact lens cases EVERY night even though I’m the one that leaves them on the counter each morning. I can be disappointed in someone I’ve given opportunity when they don’t see the same opportunity, and still recognize that they aren’t standing at the same viewpoint as I am nor do they have any obligation to feel what I’m feeling. I can want someone else to live up to every ideal I set for them in my mind, and know simultaneously that isn’t productive to anyone’s reality.

I can get frustrated when people don’t see my point of view or support a choice I’m making, while simultaneously knowing that they aren’t required to share my perspective nor do they know what my gut is saying to me, specifically. I can feel hurt when someone points out my flaws… only to realize they are helping me to improve and the emotional response I had confirms the lesson to be learned.

I can love those who have hurt me, and I can be frustrated when other people don’t understand that deep feeling- yet know deep down feeling this is experiencing the fundamental nature of being a conscious human. And in that experience it becomes clear why having a relationship with the dark and the light is so important. We can’t ever only live on one side of our nature– if we appreciate authenticity, anyway. Each person that comes into our lives, stays, or leaves, is a reflection of our relationship to ourselves. We all experience the same damn things, in different ways and at different times.

Illnesses and pain form from blockages, stress, and untruths we live. If we can’t spend time with whatever our minds, bodies, and souls present to us, light, dark, grey, or blinding… then we create our own pain.

I’ve felt the beauty in thinking you’re losing someone, or feeling the expectation to shed someone, only to have them stay in your life and continue growing alongside you in their own way. Only to realize that this feeling is only possible because you let go of all expectations of what “should” be, and just grew accustomed to what is.

I’ve come to see that life is so much more then forcing stability, finding a routine and holding on for dear life. In this world with no actual rule book and absolutely no guide book, all we have is what’s within us- and only when we start really listening to that inner guidance does that need for normal become less rigid.

Turning 25 I feel unbelievably grateful for every experience, person, disappointment, achievement, opportunity taken and missed, depression, dark spot, highlight, heartbreak, and moment of synchronicity experienced.

Here, now, I see that to be human is to every once in a while feel needy, want attention, seek out vices, and feed insecurities. To be human is also to let fears and insecurities take the microphone once in a while and speak. The true beauty in this is when we let those things do their thing, only to look around and let tears come to our eyes when we see that everything we will ever need will always be surrounding us, as long as we remain open and observant enough to catch on and continue learning.

Thank you to everyone who has joined me on this wild ride, briefly or all the way through. I am so looking forward to whatever is on it’s way.