Category Archives: Travel

Pegs and Holes: Thoughts from the not so beaten path

I’ve been thinking quite a lot lately about systems.

The systems we create, rely on, and get stuck within.

As a business owner I have (somewhat unwittingly) created and bought into systems for efficiency and growth. As a society we innately reside within systems for the same reason. Efficiency, social construct, and organization of the masses.

Every single one of us is required to live within numerous systems, and abide by systems that have been predetermined. Think insurance policies, healthcare, government constructs, etc. We also have numerous self-created systems that most of us aren’t aware of.. how we react to pain, our process around relationships, and our systems behind day to day decision making.

In the start-up of my businesses I quickly realized problems within existing systems and set out to create solutions. That is largely how businesses start.. as a solution to a problem the masses have within existing systems. What I quickly realized, working with health related fields, is that there are copious amounts of systems that create more problems then good.. both on a global scale, and a local/individual scale.

More then once a day I think to myself (or, lately say out loud), “but.. why does it HAVE to be that way?”. Majority of us take comfort in systems. It’s easy to follow a set out pathway. It doesn’t require much thought, and generally it just makes intuitive- forward moving sense. BUT. Is the comfortable option always the best? If you’ve read any of my material, you’ll know my answer to that..

Current example.. in ongoing discussions with an insurance company we direct bill through who’s policy is to have exclusive provider numbers for each staff at each separate location.. and now requires me to send in individual direct deposit forms for each staff at each location. I have four therapists that we bill to them for, all of which work at each location intermittently, so now I am sending in the same form with the exact same information on it (the only different info would be the name of each provider), eight separate times… No big deal- just annoying and seemingly unnecessary if one could think just a micro-metre outside of the box they’d been placed in. I suppose in a round about way, systems and policies like this are just an attempt at job creation?

That is quite an inane example, but it did fit into the thought theme I’ve been on.

I’m not an in the box systems creator. Obviously. So much of my career so far has been about looking outside the box, thinking laterally, and finding effective and sustainable solutions for everyone involved. Often this happens unwittingly, just because I see a system that doesn’t serve whatever it was designed to serve any longer- and can’t force myself to not question it..

How many times in a day do you get caught in a pattern because that’s just the way something has always been done, even though there are likely ten different options to accomplishing the same task.. perhaps even more efficiently?

Let’s bring system thought into the perspective of our health.

Systems are a type A term for habits. A series of mental processes we follow until it becomes an automatic process carved into our neurology. Routines, for good or for bad, that we rely on to exist.

The system I see most frequently is one surrounding pain (mental or physical).

No matter what the issue physically or mentally we all seek out the system we see as the most efficient. We find resources/pills/remedies to alleviate the symptoms, and often begin to just normalize those symptoms as a part of life, and move along our merry way.

Yet, time after time, I see people follow this pattern down a road until decades later they stop and think.. is this making any sense? I haven’t corrected the problem, I’ve only masked it. I’m still uncomfortable, and this seemed convenient but now looking back.. it hasn’t been convenient at all as now nothing has changed and I’m still not healthy.

This same analogy can be transferred to humans and their careers/family/relationship goals. We have been raised in systems and conditioned to think there in a linear path to follow. Find a career, sustain your lifestyle, find a person, follow point A to B to C to D..

I’ve always had an inner question mark surrounding this. I haven’t always known where I was headed, but I also have rarely seen a need to know. Where others have pressured and found safety in formulating a plan to makes sense given the paths they were told were the “right” paths, I’ve felt claustrophobic. In times where I have found comfort in routine and “normal” systems.. it’s rarely been lasting before a questions comes up, or a different way becomes obvious.

 

There has been a lot of value placed on routines.Maybe it’s the number of times I’ve been lost traveling in foreign countries, or in my home city.. and been forced to figure out new systems to get to where I need to be without (but sometimes still) panicking. Maybe it’s my rebellious nature, but I find routine in flowing with what feels right in the moment. That is certainly not for everyone. With each personality comes a different way of operating, and what’s healthy and useful for one, may not serve the next. As a health care provider, this is an invaluable lesson to learn- though the formation of any successful system when it comes to our wellbeing will always come down to figuring out how to effectively help someone listen to their inner workings and react accordingly. A system can both assist in that awareness building process for some, or come as a result of asking inward questions.

The generation I exist in is a hybrid of one’s past. With some of my peers staying comfortable in trust for systems they were raised in, and many of us having been raised in systems that clearly were broken.. we have started asking the “but, why?” question- and more often then not just pursuing our own path and working to create better options for a society that is full of faulty systems.

When I work with clients now, I feel a need to constantly challenge their inner workings. Usually if they’ve found their way to me it’s because they have experienced a broken system externally or within themselves- and knowingly or not need a shift. I’ve found that working with clients on this deeper level to help them rebuild their systems for themselves is what truly feeds my fire.

So- the next time you find yourself frustrated by a system.. in work, life, and love.. ask yourself a why. Does it HAVE to follow the linear system you have been told the situation must follow.. or is there a way to step off that track and create a different path?

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Realization

“We all wait for a mirror to show us who we are, to validate us. When we hear something about ourselves that we have never heard before, it feels like a blessing, and it gives power.”

For months I’ve been receiving reflections, projections, and deflections from those in my life. Reminding me who I am, who I was, who I am becoming. I learned to not take them personally, just to grow from them where I could and leave the rest for the individuals to figure out for themselves. I grew strong in retaining the lessons necessary and expressing gratitude for all of it… yet all of a sudden, a new phase of less reflections and more observations as to what I’m doing, who I’m becoming, and where I’m headed are coming at me. Not in a way that is negative- just in a way that is factual- I’m hearing people describe me and having to adjust who I think I am and where I think I stand (in good ways). The first few times it happened, I accept with gratitude and move along assuming I am at the level I’ve always associated at.. However, a new wave of realization has hit me. I’m not at that level anymore. I, myself, without really quite noticing it fully, have grown up and forgotten to take note of the new stage of things being hurled at me at brand new velocities.

I’ve written before about a sense of power that is new to me. In the last few months I’ve been challenged and pushed in new ways, mostly in relation to my businesses and professional practice. It’s provided a stark reflection on how much operating and developing professionally as a therapist as well as a owner/operator is a mirror of my own personal development.

The last big shift I had was about realizing my values and what I envisioned my professional endeavours to stand for. Figuring out my whys and letting that lead me towards a how.

Figuring out how to shift cultures and grow communities, how to take myself out of my brands and grow them for a larger vision, using my strengths and weaknesses as the toolbox- one of many key parts of the puzzle.

I feel suddenly like I am stepping into a new world, one that I’ve created by putting so much gosh darn belief into it happening that it now exists. In real time. And I’m not the only one seeing it. It’s REAL.

I’ve also written and reflected lots lately on faith. With the acknowledgment of internal power came a newfound solidity in my faith.

Never in my life have I believed as much as I do as of late that things are conspiring in my favour. The more I frame in gratitude (because of course things are not always rosy, but if you reflect long enough they always have a takeaway), the more all I see is opportunity and what once were my wildest dreams becoming fast approaching reality.

Recently I have been aware of little snippets and pieces of my day that feel like small words of direction or guidance. Sometimes it’s in the form of an actual conversation. Often it’s a gut feeling (that I know now never to ignore). People are surfacing to offer the precisely needed words, tools, or presence and I’m all of a sudden seeing community blossoming around the intentions I’ve put out there.

Integrative Movement transitioned into two new expansions this spring. One was one that spoke to me on a new level. The other expansion was one that challenged me to shift my thinking and acknowledge some old anxieties and fears before the clarity came forwards.

One was easy and seamless, the other required me to dig deeper mentally to reap some rewards I had sowed seeds for years ago (unknowingly at the time of course!).

Both transitions, had they become possibilities even 6months earlier then when they did, would not have been ones the business, nor myself, were ready for. The timing in which they did occur, even though it meant months for me of mental exhaustion, faith testing, and peering into what I truly saw for all my projects longer term- was essentially ideal. I realized this as I was scraping latex paint off a vinyl desk installed into the wall of one of the new spaces. I, as a business owner and professional, was not ready for this until right in that moment.

It dawned on me recently that I am no longer building a small start up style company, but that I am all of a sudden adulting and beginning to be a semblance of owner/operators/entrepreneurs that I’ve always looked up to. Yes, I have all of a sudden realized that I am making real shit happen and I’m not just an amateur fooling around with ideas and big talk anymore.

It’s a little mind blowing to sit back and realize that, not going to lie. I’ve had a few stark moments of sitting with myself, totally washed over with gratitude and realization of what is here and what is coming towards me quicker then I could ever have guessed, absolutely flabbergasted.

As I write this now, I am sitting overlooking downtown Calgary- 12hrs away from my first vendor show during a Spruce Meadows tournament. RideWell Performance is slowly but surely expanding across the nation, as I had dreamed it would a few years ago (before I even had a name for it). Within 6months of dedicated effort, my rebranded branch off equestrian focused practice is gaining real traction. The simple fact of building a network and a client base in Calgary, a city I’ve always wanted to spend time in routinely, is all of a sudden very, very real.

As I’ve shifted through some transitions of my own the last few months, I’ve come to realize that there are very few limitations on what I can do. On what anyone can do. I’ve always been a bit hesitant to use the words “hustle” and “grind” to describe what I do for my businesses or my visions- because, in all honesty, a lot of the time I feel like I operate at a minimal level compared to what I could be doing.

That statement isn’t meant to be self-deprecating, rather, I just know that when I get real motivated and energized about an idea I do the bulk of the work immediately (I joke that I can launch an idea in 2min flat, but it’s not really a joke.. RideWell was rebranded and launched in a couple hours (website, media outlets, and network initiation) because I was impatient with some slower transitions Integrative was moving through so needed to distract myself..) and then work with what comes out of the cultivation.

Hustling and grinding, to me, imply a forced effort. Even in some of the most exhausted, burnt out moments I’ve had with any of my chosen endeavours- I don’t feel like I’m having to force effort. Things become intensely simple and easy when they are fulfilling the why, or purpose, behind the overall vision.

Driving out to Calgary yesterday, from Winnipeg, I smiled almost the entire 13hrs. I was being hit with memories of all the times I’ve thought to myself “why not do it this way”, or “why isn’t anyone doing this”, or “I can’t imagine doing things any other way”. In the past, I’ve been hit with fear.. surrounding financial commitments, time commitments, and the pure insanity that comes with just following the beat of your own drum sometimes (often). I’ve said before that being an entrepreneur, business owner, lateral thinker, whatever is about accepting the unknown, embracing the fact that money as a concept is designed to ebb and flow (mostly ebb when you’re building), and understanding that just because not many people understand how or why you do what you do doesn’t make you the crazy one.

This life is designed to be lived with purpose. If you haven’t found yours yet.. start asking questions around why you do certain things. Be open to the tiny little suggestions the Universe gives you. Notice subtleties in how you feel around daily routines and tasks. Tap into what you’ve always seen beauty in. Follow it. Even if the directions don’t make any sense… they will eventually.. and the scenic route always has treasures you’re grateful for (whether in hindsight or in the moment).

Stay tuned for more from my adventures out West!

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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Chapter 2016 

“The tranquility that comes when you stop caring what they say. Or think, or do. Only what you do. (Is this fair? Is this the right thing to do?)…. Not to be distracted by their darkness. To run straight for the finish line, unswerving.” -Marcus Aurelius.

I had one of those moments the other day. Those existential crisis moments, laying in my bathtub, mostly submerged- escaping the clanking of my pipes and finding the questions deep in my mind.

I’d just read my tuition bill. For one online course, they wanted $750. It made me ask the hard stuff- like: why didn’t I just take this class in high school? Surely there’s another option… Do I need to pursue this? I’d probably be content without this pursuit, wouldn’t I? And this lead to the deeper questions of: What is my purpose? What am I doing with my life? And, Does any of this really matter?

We all need those moments every once in a while, right?

2016 came to a close and 2017 came in. My past year has been a year full of soul searching and following my gut instinct. 

Someone pointed out to me at one point this year that it seemed like I was running constantly away from home. I didn’t disagree- and for quite a while I definitely viewed it as trying desperately to get away from the familiar pattern here, the inescapables and the constants. Now, as 2016 ended, I have realized that there’s comfort and security in the same olds. The connections that don’t change, but grow with whatever distance or variances put into them. Evolution happens with adaptability, everything is a constant ebb and flow. You can’t control it, so let your soul ride the waves. Yes- I realize I sound like a hippy. 

Everywhere I followed my gut, I found some new revelation, a release and a epiphany and a development. My “second brain” as science now calls it took me first to a new apartment, on my own for the first time, all of 11 blocks from where I had been living. It lead me out of the cocoon I’d kept myself in all winter, and helped me to break free first of the comfort zone I’d gotten stuck in.

Then my gut and I fought a little as I had to go to Calgary for my second national exam, but we came back to an agreement when I flew to Virginia for the remainder of June. Virginia brought me tough conversations (over wine, of course), and new bonds. While basking in the humidity of the south I took my first breath free from the restrictions I was finally starting to see in my home life. I lived with the chronic pain of another and saw life from different eyes- I did yoga on the beach and I visited haunted houses. I searched for a MSc. that fit what I wanted, and then realized I had no idea what I really wanted academically. I hiked, and I visited some of the oldest places in America. I walked for 12hrs around DC and had a staring contest with Lincoln.

Then, I flew home. I came back a little more centered. I came home, feeling like I’d also left home. I came home, feeling like I needed to leave again. 

Shortly after Virginia, after a few hustled weeks of work at home, I few to California, to a conference that was screaming my name. My gut pushed for this, and I listened (my credit card and my gut are not the best of friends…..yet……). I filled my brain with new ideas and inspiration, I walked on the beach, and I did yoga on the coast with my Airbnb host. I took myself on the subway to Hollywood, did a 8hr hike in the desert (without enough electrolytes), stood on top of the Hollywood Sign, got mad heat stroke, wandered around hollywood very sweaty and dehydrated, went to a wax museum and found a ride home with a Winnipeg producer who was on the same bus tour as me (yes, I took a ride from a stranger.. no, I did not get kidnapped or murdered). I flew home full of inspiration, but with more questions sitting on the surface. The linear lifestyle and social constructs I’d been raised were breaking down, the more I listened to my gut instincts, the more choices and textbook philosophies started to not line up. Things took on different perspectives, emotions different light, and relationships different tunes. Everything was both beginning to not make sense, but make perfect sense. And so I came home and waited. I came home feeling like I needed to wait and see what was next, for the first time in a long time, instead of making something happen. I came home with patience. I came home to my exam results- I was officially a certified Athletic Therapist.

Shortly after returning from California I was presented with an opportunity that fit exactly what I was waiting for.

Nepal. Trekking through the Himalayas. Everest.

With 3weeks notice I took off to Nepal. There I found new appreciation for being with what is. It was what many may call an unintended spirit quest. I reached points of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that only opened and broke down barriers in my sub-conscious. I had necessary conversations with parts of my soul in my dreams every night. I delved so deep within that when I came home again I was serene. Tranquil. I had reached a point where this reality didn’t effect me anymore. It didn’t cause stress, nor did it influence my emotions. I had found my centre and it held strong. The mountain reflected what I needed to see and feel within myself. It flushed my whole being and left me raw, renewed. I came home solidified in my own being, and thus lost the need to be influenced by anything other then my own intuition.

The serenity and the tranquility that I found after wandering through the Himalayas, literally breathless, has never really left. Although it’s faded, it is there when I need it and I know exactly how to find it. The day to day ins and outs of being a twenty something, running a couple businesses, and figuring out life and what I want out of it and need to take from this reality are still there. However, the sense of meditative perception has taken over. The small things that can turn into big stressors have ceased to exist. There is, and there isn’t. People come and people go, as do emotions. The ability to sit and observe all these things, without judgement of whatever comes up inside me- that is the biggest lesson taken from 2016. I followed my soul wherever it wandered, and because of that I am so much closer, and comfortable within it.

A few months after Nepal I took a brief trip to Toronto for some meetings and had a spotlight put on a new path. Another mountain, perhaps, to reflect a new lesson to be learned. This new possibility has influenced many decisions made near the end of 2016, and lead to many of these existential moments where I float and let myself sink back to my soul centre. What is this life for, who do I want to be, and how do I want to accomplish that.

Purpose is something a lot of us struggle with. I’ve come to realize that finding your purpose can’t be forced. It’s not a series of actions you can complete to eventually come to a conclusion of “yes, this is what I’m meant to be doing”. It’s more of learning to trust your curiosities and your questions. It’s following your gut when it tells you yes or no or maybe. It’s biding your time and taking opportunities. It’s having patience and insane drive all at once. It’s not something you need to find, it’s something you have to let find you- and then not be afraid to let it take you someplace else. This life, this reality, is not linear- so why try and find a straight line?

The chapter of 2016 was absolutely riveting. As always, I do not know what’s in store for 2017- but I am greatly anticipating writing it!


 
 

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“Sit with the pain; be with the pain” Hindsight Blog: The Descent

I jolted awake at 2am,at  5200masl, and noticed I had drooled blood all over my sweater (lululemon took a beating on this trek). Had my lip split? Was I coughing up blood in my sleep? Did I have a pulmonary edema as a result of altitude sickness?

With no other symptoms, my hypochondriac brain was mildly too tired to overreact and frankly well past caring- I let myself drift back off to the oxygen deprived sleep I’d come from. Living in the alternate reality of the Diamox dreams. What was I going to do about it anyway?

The rest of my group trekked to Kalapathar that day, starting at 4:30am. I was too sick and too tired to bother- knowing that the point of the hike was to see a panoramic sunrise view of the Everest range, and it was dead cloudy anyway. By the time they got back around 9am, I had only been awake for an hour, but seen the Everest range from the bathroom window. My body said no, and my mind followed suit. The stories of hallucination from my trekking mates were entertaining, but I was happy I continued hallucinating within my dreams that morning instead!


After breakfast that day we began our descent. Our head guide was very anxious to get us down to lower altitudes, as every single one of us was starting to suffer- including himself. I only remember pieces of this day, but I do recall this being where I really started feeling extremes of emotion and pain. Also where I began using the “Om Mani Padme Hum” mantra in my head. Compassion for inner and outer struggles, compassion for the journey- “the jewel within the lotus”, the light in the dark, the blessing from the curse. Moving slowly down from over 5000 back to around 4000 was physically challenging in a whole new way. Descending was always difficult in that it’s hard impact on all your joints- but now, after 10 days of trekking, every joint was a little bit louder. And, descending we were- but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any hills to climb. We stopped briefly in Lombouche for lunch (4500), but most of us had lost all appetite. I think I fell asleep at the table for a while. Then we carried on down to a small tea house a few hours down. I am currently calling this place “Yak House” because A) I can’t remember most of this day, B) I misdated my journal and skipped this day, and C) it was where we saw our first yak on the way up.


We spent the night here, and it was here where we experienced the first bathrooms we refused to use (we being Lisa and I), and instead used one of the many surrounding boulders. I believe it was this day that I began listening to music for the first time while trekking. The first day I did this on the descent I couldn’t stop smiling. This was likely a combination of increased oxygen to my brain and a good playlist.

The next morning we carried on towards Tengboche. The hardest part of this day was the incline up to the monastery which was about 30-45min. Again, more oxygen and music kept me pumping all the way up. Before we joined a worship with the resident monks, we had a few hours off in which we got to each lunch and I TOOK MY FIRST SHOWER IN 7 DAYS!!!!!! Finally, I started to feel human again. I also had my first “steak” here- which was basically ground meat in the shape of a steak.. Regardless.. protein and iron.. two things I was definitely craving.


That afternoon we joined in on a worship in the monastery. Since it was a Saturday, they did a 2hr long meditation. This was very different from any meditation or worship I’ve experienced. Complete with chanting, horns, drums, and silences (usually ended with startling blares from the numerous horns). During the periods I was able to meditate I transitioned between flashbacks to a conflict I’d had a year or so prior to this, moments of pure calmness, and moments of unsettledness. Flashing back to memories of feeling isolated, alone, scared- but also calm. A conflict that had never really been resolved within myself or the other person within it. Then during periods of the loud music I saw colours.. red, yellow flashes. Warm, but chaotic. It was a very cyclical process, and I can’t say that I came out of it feeling peaceful or settled- rather quite the opposite.

We were now sitting at just over 3200masl, a much nicer altitude then what we’d become accustomed to. That night I dreamt I was being circled and chased by a darkness. It was always watching, always waiting to attack- completely out of my control. I woke up periodically shivering, even though it wasn’t cold.

Over the next few days I would learn that I was not the only one to experience that dream at that monastery.

The next morning I woke up with an anger I hadn’t ever experienced. I couldn’t spend any time in the guest house, and as soon as breakfast had ended I took myself outside to pace. I felt suffocated and a deep need to get away from everyone and the monastery.


As soon as the group started our descent to Namche that day, I had my ear phones in and didn’t talk to anyone for the next 3 hr trek. As much as some parts of this trek are hazy, the pure rage I felt this day is still clear as day. I don’t know where it came from, but I do understand it was something I probably needed to let go of. Since my return home there’s been some interesting revelations and emotional adjustments that I can only explain with the rage I felt on this day, and the calm I felt after letting it out.

We spent a few hours back in Namche, shopping and what not, before continuing our way down to our final tea house on the long trek. It was here I tried some Nepal home brew- which tasted like watered down Kool-Aid and Antifreeze (really, still confused about that). At this point everyone was a strong mix of unbelievably fatigued, but also so excited to be pretty much done. We had a celebration that night, complete with dancing.


The next day, the last trekking day, we returned to Lukla. This was our first day of constant rain, and our “waterproof” gear failed every test. So did the zippers on my backpack a few days prior. So, completely soaked and entirely empty- we landed at the tea house where we started it all. When my football coaches saw the picture of me below- they stated “holy sh** we’ve never seen you look that exhausted before…”. They knew me in University as an AT student. Everest you win!


That night Lisa and I taught the Australian in our group, Noah, how to line dance in a shady “Irish Pub” underneath a “Starbucks” in Lukla. The trekking was done, but the adventure was FAR from over!

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“I can’t do this” (hindsight blog #2)

And so we left Pheriche and headed to Lombouche.

Within 20 min of trekking I was far behind the group.

I woke up with a worsening chest cold. While the views that morning were unbelievably, the air beautifully crisp- I felt like I was walking into quicksand with every step. The first hour or so of today’s short trek were on the flats- through small fresh glacial creeks, and on winding trails full of mountain shrubs and flowers. With the mist above and some sun peaking through. Even on these flats I was struggling to get enough air into my wheezing lungs.

We hiked through the flats, up and across a rushing glacial river (probably the sketchiest crossing yet), and then up and up to Lombouche which sits around 4900m. At about the 4700m mark I began experiencing the throbbing altitude headache many had already experienced on the trek. When I sat down in the lodge in Lombouche and had my vitals taken, my starting O2 levels sat at 56%. Luckily they rose to a comfortable 76% within the hour. That probably explained the headache.

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While the rest of the group did a 100m+ acclimatization hike that afternoon, I sat it out and fell asleep with my legs resting up a wall. I had finished the morning’s hike with a very sore chest, very swollen legs (besides the compression socks I was wearing), and numb feet. It was all I could do to stay somewhat lucid at this point. You think you’ve experienced full physical, and mental exhaustion- until you reach this point. Then you find a whole new level.

Reading through my journal entries at this point some of them don’t even form complete thought processes or sentences. I don’t remember much of anything above 5000masl. I remember exhaustion, I remember coughing, I remember everything being completely depleted, I remember losing all interest in the menu items available (white starch after white starch after white starch) and at one point realizing I hadn’t had any protein in days- ordering eggs- and immediately never wanting to see another fried egg ever again.

From Lombouche we continued up to Gorakschep (5180masl). Positive memories at this point are few and far between. I didn’t want to talk to anyone in my group, I came into the village about half hour behind the rest- back to my 5 steps at a time mentality but completely void of emotions. Somewhere around the 5000masl mark while trekking I started crying, and it felt like all emotions and cycling thought processes left me. Poured out of my heart like the glacial rivers we’d been following the whole 10 days. I cried behind my sunglasses as I became empty- and then I cried because I realized how badly I wanted to quit. The scenery, the mountains, THE mountain, the sherpas, the tourists, the monuments- I didn’t want to be in it anymore. I wanted to be done. The diamox dreams filled me with sadness and anger the night before- and I’d woken up sobbing two mornings in a row. Those altitude laden dreams were all related, all lucid, and all too real. They helped me resolve many things, and let go of emotional baggage- but boy could they be harsh.

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When we arrived at Gorakshep we had a lunch break and then continued to Base Camp. The goal. Before setting off, in our two hour break, I honestly contemplated throwing in the towel. It was 10:30am where I was, and 2am home in MB. I’d been connectionless for about 7 days, and decided to use some cell service to source out some motivation. Texting a few close friends and my mom- hoping someone would bring my mental game back into focus. Thankfully I received one text right away (“HOLY S***- You have to keep going!!!”) from a friend I knew would be awake. And some reverse psychology from my mother (“If you’re sick, you should stop- you can always go back again and finish later”) That was enough to get me going for another few hours (my brain knew enough at this point to know that I didn’t want to have to start this whole journey over again out of principle).

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We trudged along towards EBC (5350masl). Over the frozen, sandy lake bed and then over rock trails (literally- the actual trail had been washed out by that year’s monsoon and no longer really existed. In the picture above you can see one of our guides pointing at where we should place our feet on certain rocks. We got to the rocky plain that was base camp- took pictures- and I sat on a large boulder overlooking the glacier for a while. Literally with no thoughts. I just sat. I was empty. I’d made it- but at this point, I didn’t care. I was just happy to be sitting still and breathing.

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Next post I’ll begin reliving the descent- because believe me, this trek only was starting to get interesting!

“But is it homesickness, or just moving forward sickness” (the hindsight blogs #1)

Namche to Pheriche (3500m-4220m). I thought getting to Namche was hard on the second day. Then I became accustomed to a rhythm of swear words for the next few days as we climbed up to Pheriche, our next acclimatization stop. Within this few days we stopped in Phortse, a farming village nestled into the side of a “hill”. It was here we saw our first glimpses of the mountains at about 5am.

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Hiking to Pheriche we had our first mostly clear day, and since Dingboche (our original planned stop) was still closed for the monsoon season we took a detour to Pheriche where we witnessed the whole village collecting and drying grass for the winter season. I think this is where I started getting my first bouts of homesickness. At this point I’d been having vivid, enlightening dreams every single night (maybe due to the altitude and the diamox), and every morning was awaking to a new variation of an old emotion.

Pheriche was about 2 days away from base camp for us. We spent two nights in that village, and while I’d tried to maintain a solid regimen of my garlic soup daily- I began to absolutely never want to see garlic soup ever again here. So I switched to veggie soup with noodles, a brilliant, refreshing change…. and woke up to a chest infection the day we set out again towards the mountain. However at this point, I found myself recognizing some of the homesickness and straight up wifi withdrawal, with a dash of having to let emotions go one by one. I would discover this in the next couple days as the trek continued to absolutely kick my ass.

On our first morning in Pheriche we did an acclimatization hike to 4600masl. Well, I did 4600masl, the rest of my group went up to 4800masl. The guide decided I should just hang out around 4600masl and I wasn’t about to argue that. So we sat for about 40min overlooking a valley, Dingboche, and a monastery across the valley on an opposite “hill” while the group trekked up and then back to where we were. From here moving forwards I was heavily dosing myself with electrolytes, extra strength ibuprofen, and diamox to manage the altitude and the seven day mark of trekking 8-10hrs/day on minimal nutrition (#firstworldproblem). On average during the walking hours my heart rate was hovering between 160-190bpm.

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On our last night in Pheriche, the Sherpa woman who ran the teahouse stood in the centre of the room by the fireplace while we chatted and finished dinner, counting and saying prayers of gratitude over her mala beads. I couldn’t help but notice what a calm energy filled the room after she finished.

Just as I was getting comfortable at 4200masl, onwards and upwards we went. The hike from Pheriche to our next stop in Lombouche broke down a few more mental and emotional barriers for me.. but more on that later…

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#%!?%#! Mountain… 

Day 2 here in Namche Bazzar as we acclimatize to our new altitude of 3400m. Tomorrow we hike up to 3800m.. So today we did a quick morning 2.5hr (and according to our guides “simple”) acclimatizing hike up to that altitude here above the village. 

Simple. Yeah. Right. 

We literally hiked into a cloud. 

Like- mist, cloud floating everywhere, only seeing 10ft in front of you while trekking up hill right after breakfast for 2hrs. 


I definitely regretted the “pancake with honey” I ate for breakfast. Eggs and toast from now on. Or garlic soup. 

At about the hour point my head began to talk me out of the whole thing. My legs kept moving (bless them) but as I looked up every 5 steps into the abyss, occasionally being passed by a Sherpa carrying 50lbs on their backs and running up the rocks in sandals (this is NOT and exaggeration), with my lungs acting like a fish out of water- I literally came up with about 100 new curse words. Most of them cursing the mountains them self, the altitude, and my guides for keeping the slow and steady pace going. 

Our pace? Jam jam slow (jam = go), 15min walking and 1 min rest. Not. Enough. Rest. For. This. Prairie. Dwelling. Canadian. 

My don’t bring the mountain your sadness mantra was thrown in in between the curse combinations I created. Zen with a dash of attitude- that’s the way we’ll be rolling for the next few days as we only climb higher and higher. 


We reached the top- and what I can only imagine would have been phenomenal views behind the cloud. Nonetheless pretty damn amazing. 

After a quick tea we began the descent- which you’d think would be quite pleasant after the #%?!~%# way up. And it was on the lungs, for sure, I didn’t even notice my breathing. I did notice the balls of my feet though. Luckily my legs are still feeling very strong, but it was about and hour of hard landings on uneven stone trails for my wimp feet. 

Finally. Finally we reached Namche again, after some great views above the city. On the way down I got a bit of a headache and a few mood swings- but after eating some delicious garlic soup, sipping some milk coffee and resting I felt back to normal again. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Namche, found a money exhchange that would finally take a MasterCard (running low on cash and NO ATMs or money stores take MC for some reason- only Visa),and worked on our bartering game. I found myself a cozy vest and some pashminas and was successful with my bartering! As I type this I’m lounging with a few others in my group in the common area of our tea house debating whether or not I want to pay for a hot shower or tough out a cold one. This is likely our last chance for any sort of shower for the next 5 days. 

Soon we’ll have dinner and a debrief of tomorrow. We move up to 3800m tomorrow, over 6hrs vs the 2hrs we did today so I’m crossing my fingers for less steep inclines. Although I’m learning when they say “gradual incline” here it IS NOT the gradual incline most expect. It is usually curse word inducing. 

Until next time (who knows when- wifi gets less and less from now on)! 

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Don’t bring your sadness to the mountain…

Otherwise the mountain will not let you pass. 

Those were the words our guide started with on day 1. 

It was my mantra by day 3. Today we trekked 8hrs from Phading to Naamche- most of which was a steady incline. Just after lunch we passed the 3000m above sea level point and at this point we also began the bulk of our 800m incline. It was also the point my lungs said wtf. 

While I have been lucky and suffered next to no major altitude sickness symptoms- breathing is SO HARD. Especially doing rocky, make shift trails. I literally was repeating “don’t bring your problems to the mountain” the whole climb today. And taking breaks every 30 steps to do some deep breathing. If you’re wondering what it feels like to breath here (and come from the prairies where you reside at 50m above sea).. It’s like tying a scarf over your face, and then 3 plastic bags, and then running a marathon. 

Not exaggerating. 

The rest of my body? Feels amazing. Seriously. My muscles didn’t really fatigue, probably because my brain was so focused on getting oxygen in it didn’t have time to notice. If I put my hands on my ribs I could feel them expanding and exhaling to their absolute maximum- something not many of us experience ever. Truly amazing and truly uncomfortable all at once. 

There are so many moments where I am hit with a sudden realization of where I am and what I’m doing. Like walking over a swinging bridge over a rushing river, 6stories (at least) in the air surrounded by mountains. Prayer flags tied everywhere and the clouds at eye level. 

This is real and this is where I am. Unbelievable. I’ll write more tomorrow- we stay in Naamche for two nights to acclimatize (thank god). Now I eat some more garlic soup, momos and tea before bed! 

Between Serenity and Rage

What a weekend in Long Beach!

The title, which has not much to do with this post, is stolen from a line at the summit this weekend.. One of the final presenters- Brian Nguyen- an ATC in the NFL, and then for celebrities like Mark Wahlberg- he hit home with his talk on the chaos and the calm of our industry (fitness and health). After a presentation built around the ups and downs and his own coming to terms with his vulnerabilities- his close athletes dying on field, his bond with his niece, his choices to leave jobs and personal epiphanies when it came to work and life. He used a scene from the X-men to show that sometimes the best moments and best abilities come from that place just before chaos, but not close to calm.

This was one of many challenging seminars- ranging in focus from clinical tools and research, cutting edge methods, workouts (holy moly Todd Durkin), hands on practice,  business focused lectures, and motivational kicks in the ass from the top in the industry. The conference turned into so much more then just a fitness summit. It challenged me in every realm: physically, mentally, and emotionally. I went into the conference with a urge to know more about business practice, finances, and some extra motivation- and I came out with them all..not even expecting to find them at this event. I am still a little sore from the combo of Pete Twist’s and Liebenson’s fascial patterning work and Todd Durkin’s workout, and my hike on Monday.

Now I’m home for another week or so, before flying to South Asia.

All of a sudden things are moving and shifting so quickly.

That’s they way fall happens though, isn’t it. One day you’re lazing about, floating through summer- and the next the Universe shifts you into high gear and turns on the productivity centre in your brain.

California was amazing. I learned so much at Perform Better, more then I can justify with words. My clinical practice shifted and will be shifting so much in the next few months as I try out the new ideas I was privy to in Long Beach. I’m sure the patients and clients I’ve already thrown these new things were only mildly thrown off by my Wednesday morning enthusiasm.

On my day off in Cali I ventured into Hollywood and did a 6.5mi hike in the Hollywood hills. Starting at the Wonder View Trail I hiked the peaks to the wisdom tree, then across the peaks to the Hollywood Sign, and then down, up, and around Mt. Lee to the Griffeth Observatory. I was pretty done by the time I finished, with temperatures ranging around 30C- I noticed some mild sun-stroke symptoms the next day. Majority of my hike I was thinking “I’m sure glad Everest won’t be this hot”. Needless to say I survived!



The interesting thing for me, as always, with all the bouncing around I’ve done this summer, is how I can leave in one headspace and return in another. This time I did kind of a roundabout with my head space. As usual I didn’t really want to get on the plane home, but this time it was because I knew I had some hard work to do with my arrival here.

Most of the summer I’ve floated ideas about where I want to be. I vetted moving to Calgary, moving to the states, moving to Ontario, before finally getting the gut feeling I needed to stay put for a bit longer. There’s still things I need to learn and process here. And, Winnipeg is really a good base for someone like me who spontaneously hops on planes. For now. Upon making that decision I found a second location (besides my rural spot) in the city to begin taking clients at. This is exciting and an amazing opportunity to take my business to the next level. Another decision that hit home as I flew over Denver the second time. If I’m staying here I have some work to do. I am ready, deep down I am ready, to do some serious building on my professional life. Freelance writing opportunities have come along too with the new location (more here later)- and my professional realm is expanding quickly. This isn’t where the hard work is for me (other then getting on top of proper invoicing schedules.. this is not a strong point!). The work for me lays in my 20-something brain. It has been bubbling away under the surface and isn’t quite ready for the fall to hit yet. It’s enjoying the summer holidays.

Yesterday, after two long days simultaneously recovering from the Cali hangover/sunstroke/jetlag, I got home and started cleaning.

If you know me, you know I don’t clean.

I re-arranged my entire apartment, cleaned out my closet, folded clothes, and organized. I set up a new administrative program, and I creeped myself on facebook for approximately 5 hours.

Seriously.

The creeping wasn’t really planned (is it ever?). But, it served a huge unexpected purpose. It was like someone sweeping out the gutters of my brain. As I flipped through different pictures from the last few years- I relived the moments hidden behind them. The parts of the memory that nobody else knows, the perceptions I had at the time, and the person I was then. I can honestly say year to year that I look like a different person each time.What reflections did I have here? Well, for one- I’m super jealous of 2013/2014 me’s physique.. paleo body was on fleek (is that what kids say now?). Secondly, I saw the toll certain things took- no matter the smiles. I also saw how much I’ve grown, and evolved. Sometimes looking at yourself as a different person allows you to straight talk to yourself as if you were actually another, hard hitting, honest person looking from the outside in. That’s something we all need sometimes.

Last night was the first semi-dreamless night I’ve had in a while. I dream a lot lately- sometimes about realistic things, sometimes about flying bears on bikes. The realistic things hit closer to home- and reflect the inner workings of my head- though, not always in a way that brings closure for my conscious brain. They make me think. I can’t say I woke with mountains of energy this morning- but I woke in a state of calm that only comes after some emotional sweeping.

As I prep mentally and physically for Nepal (9 days!), the physical challenges I’m facing seem less intimidating. Even my bum leg has shaped up. When it comes to mentally I feel confident about the endurance challenges- but have a intrigue over what emotional hurdles will come up. As I’ve found with travelling, I’m hit with the unexpected emotional regurgitations (usually the ones that I plan to “forget” to pack on my way out the door). They always find a way into the suitcase, though, don’t they. This is part of the reason I feel so drawn to this trek- because there’s no escaping anything internal on the side of Everest. I’m only beginning to get used to the feeling of mixed apprehension, optimism, avoidance, grief, and enlightenment that I’m sure is only going to get stronger. Yes, it would seem I need to literally climb a mountain to figure the mole hills out in my head.

But hey- I wrote tonight! And I wrote almost every day in California. This is progress for someone who has been fairly blocked writing wise for a year or so. Yay me!