Shedding

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do –
determined to save
the only life you could save.

– Mary Oliver, The Journey.

I’ve sat down numerous times over the winter to attempt to put into words what existence feels like lately. Every time I do sit down, I find it almost impossible to depict sensations with words. More than that, I do not feel inspired to attempt that description- as somethings just get lost when we begin to translate.

It feels lately as if I am shedding off layers of myself that no longer fit. Day by day, sometimes hour by hour, I find that things I used to define myself by are no longer suitable for me to even hear about. Things I used to be driven towards no longer fit where I am drawn towards on my journey. Yet, I can see clearly (as clearly as one ever can) where the previous motivations came from and a reconciliation process with myself seems to be taking place.

Reconciliation is an interesting term to use when writing about one’s own journey. It implies previous conflict. Much of the last year and a bit for me was knowingly or unknowingly spent in inner conflict. Looking back in hindsight much of this conflict came from a source of martyrdom of myself towards mostly inner causes I created to soothe the same conflict. A vicious cycle that was more of a bandaid than a foundational correction.

The conflict started with a brooding over my professional career. I felt trapped in an industry that was only scraping the surface of people’s healing needs, and a deep desire to do more but not quite knowing where to turn. I became frustrated by those seeking my services to be used as a bandaid for the deeper rooted issues they were dealing with (mentally, emotionally, and physically) but out of a need for survival I felt I had no other option but to continue treating them- all while hoping that the 1% of clients I had come to me wanting to dive deeper would keep growing in numbers and frequency.

This conflict lead to burn out, and in an attempt to bandaid burn out I decided to stop taking more clients and focus more on management and business development. Believing, I think, that if I built it better, I could help more people. My hands deteriorated and I physically felt incapable of helping others heal with my hands, and my heart and mind was exhausted by continuing to outpour energy into healing others. Turning my path towards management felt like a way to rehab my ability to heal, while still serving others.

In management I saw more cracks in the system my profession existed in and began to crave an out from all of it- yet the pull to serve those working in my business and be boss lady extraordinaire kept me in survival mode, bringing me to another burn out point.

Somewhere along this path I realized that I had built a living, breathing replica of a business to fill a void left by hurts in my past. I saw that I had created a toxic relationship with my business and in my attempts to give all I had to that creation I had lost myself almost entirely. I had no answer to who I was without the business, and that fear hit me to the core.

The fear stemmed from a realization that I wanted to be more than a worker bee in a system that wasn’t serving myself or others in the slightest. The quotes “if you want to change the system, you can’t abide by the system” and “be the change” rang in my ears.

I began making conscious shifts towards the purpose driven work I idealized, and the lifestyle that felt more aligned. As I became conscious of how possible the way I truly wanted to be living was- these shifts became less and less optional. Things shifted, often more suddenly than I expected. I entered many states of transformation- metamorphosis became the metaphor for my existence. In many instances it felt as odd and isolating as the self-digestion a caterpillar must go through in order to become it’s next state.

Interesting things happen when you become self-aware during this phase.

Relationships change. You notice your resistance to things, for better or worse. Guilt, fear, unworthiness, conditions placed on love that you’ve lived with for years are brought to the surface, and releasing it brings up questions as to why you’ve been so comfortable framing it as servitude or “what I deserve”, companionship, “what it takes”, ambition, and endless need for achievement for this long. Discomfort and pain, whether physical or otherwise, becomes similar to the part of a nature hike you have to trek through in order to get to the good views. It becomes relative, and necessary, to your transformation.

The biggest thing I have noticed during this process is that I have become my own non-negotiable.

My business model changed as a result of this. The way in which I was choosing to carry all the burdens of the entity that I’d built, and carry other’s slack as well, shifted as my desire to support myself shifted. In turn I got to see who among the team I had built was there to support the overall vision wholly, not just along for the ride.

The scary thing here was/is the change in my personal investment into what once received 110% of my attention and energy. As my relationship towards my creation changed dramatically over the year I saw the same patterns that had once kept me in a toxic romantic relationship play out in my leadership style and in how I built my career.

Even typing this today, as some of the changes I’ve made to my business operations take effect and I see the rubble beginning to form into a much healthier foundation I sit in a place of vast unknown. I have shed more than a few skins over the past months, and have yet to completely fill my new one with understanding. While my connection to self has been revitalized in ways I’d never imagined, I feel as though I am shedding yet another version.

Change for us humans is inherently difficult. Creating or moving towards something different than what we’ve known breeds a new kind of fear and insecurity in our system. I see this daily with clients dealing with pain, lifestyle habits, and dysfunction in their lives.

Fear and insecurity keep us believing that our survival needs and comfort will disappear if we make the change that we are being called to make (or need to make). The idea of things being different (even if for the better) equals the risk of losing what you have (even if what you have no longer serves) and this, to us at a biological level, becomes a very unsafe perception of reality. It if feels unsafe, even our bodies will revolt. We are primed for survival, always, and this will tell us that any change is dangerous at a primal level. This creates the turmoil of our human consciousness.

When a snake sheds it’s skin, it’s eyes appear to cloud over as the skin sheds to make it look as though it is in a trance. This is how I’ve felt over the last few months. Entranced by transition, a reconciliation of the past into fertilizer for the future while rooting into the present moment. Somehow I don’t believe that a snake experiences anxiety and fear as it sheds to become anew. I also don’t believe that a caterpillar sees any other option than to move through it’s metamorphosis and into it’s next version.

My style of practice with my clients has become alike to the attitude I take with myself lately. The only way out is through. Our choice, if we are going to move forwards, has to be to breathe and step onwards- even if it feels like we are falling into the unknown. It is easy to be doubtful in times of growth. What could be our strength can easily become our insecurity if we aren’t aware. Trust in the process and know that your eyes will be cleared of transition soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ch 2018: Metamorphosis

This year could be a full book, to be honest.

When I think back to the decade that was 2018, the image of a specific tarot card comes to mind.

The four of swords; with the lamb sitting calmly underneath the threatening points- it implies an attitude of mental stillness and mindfulness amongst oncoming potential threats. It demonstrates a process of integration, allowing the process to occur from a place of internal stillness. Four is a number that symbolizes structure and stability, and the illumination at the lamb’s forehead implies concentration and inward focus. This image shows the power to be found in monitoring your internal landscape, vs letting thoughts and attitudes run amuck.

My last few posts have been rife with words of transformation, faith, and process. I’ve spent countless time this year roaming into different versions of self, different places, and bringing all sorts of new into my life while examining (and more often then not, shedding) the old.

I began the year feeling pulled west. I found many excuses to roam there, and spent a portion of almost every month in Alberta. Alongside this I stumbled into my first few experiences with conscious connected breathwork which in many ways cracked open a door (perhaps the analogy of a rabbit hole is more suited here) to a path I could not have seen coming. That is often how life works though, no? You wander along and then eventually glance back at where you came from and think.. “how did any of that lead me to here?”.

My alice in wonderland-esque year flipped my focus inwards very quickly. If you’ve been reading along the way, you’ll have read many a story about burn out. Through a combination of the breathwork I was introduced with, and subsequently began my facilitator training in, journeys west and renewing connections close to my soul (in the form of people (new and existing), relationships (new and existing), career moves, and time spent digging deep), I built a tool box around the obstacles and challenges that came up throughout the year.

There were three key themes and lessons for me this year (there were so many more, but today is not the day I write my novel..):

1. TRUST (even when you are more full of doubt then ever before)

Let’s be real clear. I took so many leaps of faith off so many cliffs this year. I chose to launch RideWell Performance (a rebrand of an existing equestrian focused branch of IM) early in the year and in a spontaneous Alberta inspired decision chose to take it to Spruce Meadows and set a goal of building a client base outside of my home province. Then I chose to expand Integrative Movement in about four different directions pretty much simultaneously. I did all this with no guarantee of financing or income, an existing pile of debt, at the same time I was taking a big step back from taking on more clients myself (read: burning the f out).

While this was going on, in my personal side of life, I began to notice drastic transitions in core relationships with myself and others in my life. At one (many) point(s) I felt completely alienated from many in my life, and found myself developing very new support systems for myself throughout the year. In a big, BIG way.. 2018 was all about developing ways to support myself. Internally, most definitely. There were many periods during this year that external support in the form of finances, stereotypical realms of security, health, and perceived peer support (*I ALWAYS have phenomenal people holding me up, but there were times where my perception was telling me otherwise) were not there. I was left to my own devices support wise (perception-ally, anyway).. and in a big way had to rely on the faith and trust I had that I was moving in the right direction.

As I moved through the summer I hit many month ends where every single thing was questioned. Why was I so insistent on making these business moves? Why was I being so stubborn? What was I running from..to? Where was I going? Was I making the right moves? Are there right moves? What if this all gets worse? Can it get worse? Will I make rent this month? Am I racking up too much debt for no reason? Do I even want to be a business owner? Why why why..

As I came into the last quarter of the year, many of those questions were answered. I realized that the way I had been existing for many years in survival mode was a consequence of how many of us had been raised to think. Success = financial security. Financial security = steady income, paying bills, etc etc. Not having a regular pay cheque, taking relative risks by investing in self and in business = super effing scary and unorthodox. Do you know what else I realized? It was ALL OKAY. The months of barely (or not quite) having enough to pay my rent, scrounging to make things work financially within the business due to stalled invoice payments (cue rant about insurance companies payment systems and the health care system in general) TAUGHT ME how to manage my money (whether flowing or not). As I rolled into fall and cash flow got a bit more flowey business wise I all of a sudden had all these new ways of organizing and planning. The things I once feared (like, legit gave me MAJOR anxiety) like budgeting, saving, looking at my balances routinely, making payments, etc etc got SO scary and stressful during a few months that I had literally no choice but to face my fears head on and figure out a system that was going to work when the going was thin. As the going got more going, all of a sudden the systems were creating a much less anxiety inducing experience. Survival mode taught me how to thrive. The key in this was trusting that another day was coming, and believing in what I was doing.

The thing about starting and running a business is that it WILL shine a light on all of your inner workings. It will ask you WHY you’re investing. You will be tested on your faith and your values multiple times a day in so many ways. It won’t be until small moments when you least expect it that you’re reminded and humbled by the beauty and purpose behind what you’re doing. You won’t be able to predict these moments, and they will knock you down in the best way possible. I’ve seen more of these moments this year, as rough as the waves hit, then ever before. It just takes a second for faith to win over doubt, and CHOOSING to live in a state of abundance vs a state of lack (or in a scarcity mindset) not only brings more of these moments into your awareness, it drives you onwards in hope (not in fear). 

Trusting, experiencing gratitude, and not getting lost in a moment of doubt (aka not turning a moment of doubt into days or months of doubt). Then, having the patience for a planted seed to sprout and grow. Rome really was not built in a day, you guys, I can attest to this! 

Trust also came up for me personally as I moved in and out of my own identity journey. I learned to trust in my gut and intuition when it told me to find nature, when it asked me to breathe, when it guided me to move. These things above anything else saved me from the crushing fears and anxieties that I was was facing in my professional life. I remember at one point physically, mentally and emotionally being so worn down by my professional life. My hands were in agony 24/7, I would feel the urge to vomit whenever a client, staff, or peer mentioned anything to do with my business (good or bad), and I had anxiety I’d never noticed before. By listening and trusting my bodies messages and stepping into myself (and out of parts of myself).. I gained invaluable insight and revived my direction professionally (and personally). I figured out a new way to support myself. Unconditionally. 

Not only do you need to TRUST in yourself (even when you don’t have answers.. trusting that you WILL move forwards or at the very least turn inwards to listen and recover), you also need to trust in the process and have patience for the process. We always get what we need.. leading to my next theme..

2. LISTEN (and FLOW)

I spent many hours in my car this year. Driving to and from Alberta, and all around each province visiting clients and exploring. Majority of this time was with myself.

The conversations, epiphanies, and places I found within myself on these #soloroadtripadventures built up my ability to listen, and flow in a whole new way.

I noticed it usually took me about 4-6hrs of a long drive to drop into a quiet state of being. This provided excellent contrast to the chaos I was existing in on a daily basis. Here’s thing thing I noticed… though I never considered myself a person who had anxiety, was stressed on a regular basis, or carried undue tension in my body.. in these moments on contrast and time spent with myself, I realized (in a very loud HOLY SHIT) moment, how MUCH anxiety and stress were under the surface. They stayed unnoticeable to me because they were a baseline state. They had become my NORMAL.

Upon this realization I was catapulted down an even deeper rabbit hole. Once I became aware of one little bit of stress and anxiety in my system, I was smacked over the head with HOW MUCH was actually stuck in there. It made me question everything. If there was this much stuck and I was only just beginning my professional life.. what was I going to be like in 3, 5, 10 years? I already felt sick, and imagining the future outlooks? Not good. This contrast also brought me to the realization that I didn’t want my professional life to be my entire life.

Shocking. I know.

From there I had to go down the rabbit hole of.. if you don’t want this to take up all your time, what ELSE do you want to do with your adult life? Oh boy. We had some major re-organizing to do.

And here is about where I began to realize that I was indeed a person who experienced stress and anxiety, and in listening to them more closely- I had all the answers I needed.

Hindsight is of course 20/20 and now I am seeing that all the seeds I planted along the year(s) are beginning to poke out of the dark earth.

As I listened I heard a new version of me whispering. Then speaking directly. Things needed upgrading to serve new me. Things like my communication style, how I express my feelings, and how I relate to those around me. This also included my relationship with the reception of unconditional love, which was a lovely little theme through the year. I had wrapped positives around conditions in so many aspects of how I received it was making it more stressful to receive anything supportive in all areas of life. In order to support myself and receive support from others – a total rewiring of my attitude in this department was necessary. We all need a little revamp once in a while! Here lies the value of listening and allowing your inner flow to guide you!

3. STRUCTURE = FREEDOM (discipline does not have to mean boring, anxiety inducing existence…what?!)

In re-dedicating myself to a regular yoga/meditation/breathwork practice I not only began to trust everything (especially myself) again, I also built a structure into my life that has resulted in freedom.

The level of extreme burn out I hit at the end of September, the experiences and guidance I received in my first facilitator training intensive at the end of September (could not have been better timing) led me to a complete restructure (or maybe just the first conscious structure) of my schedule.

Because of the realizations around the amount of anxiety and stress I inherently experience, some healthy routines needed to be established. And you know what? The more I TRUSTED these new habits, the more they worked. All of a sudden I found myself with spare time (HOURS), getting more accomplished, and a much stronger attitude of gratitude.

Routines/Structure/Discipline.. these things usually made me feel anxious and claustrophobic. Now they simply allow me to be me, to listen, to sit and watch and experience immense gratitude for all the things happening in my days.

It so easy to skip over the little good things in life and see only the hardships, “bad” things, and the tough things. How many of us walk around expecting something to go wrong, complaining about other people, and feeling in a state of lack (of energy, money, time, ability, whatever)? I’ve experienced moments this year where all the things that could be lacking were lacking, and yet- in these moments I’ve also seen and experienced some of the most heart warming and humbling things. What we HAVE does not need to determine our experience, and our experience is entirely created on how we CHOOSE to view things.

Simple thing. Removing the word BUT from all communication (written and verbal). Replacing it with AND.

Another simple thing. Spending 2-10min each day sitting in thought around things you are grateful for. Big or small. All of a sudden you’ll start noticing MORE in your life, instead of LESS.

I trust and listen to my inner voice now, and know that sometimes time is better spent hibernating, resting, or taking some time to myself over trying to push through and be productive. When we utilize time that is meant to be spent in recovery mode, we are way more capable of utilizing and structuring times when we are productive. Work smarter, not harder applies.

I also learned that by having structures (like prioritizing pre-scheduled yoga 4-6 times/week, personal training sessions, riding time, self care (acupuncture, massage/bodywork), meditation/breathwork and therapy check ins in my schedule over work requirements and client requirements) in place I was much more equipped to handle bad days/weeks. By sticking to these structure and treating myself with integrity and respect- I didn’t lose any productivity by having “bad” days. Those bad days were reframed into days where I needed to check out in order to be more productive at a different time.

Listening to ME and all my inner workings taught me about who I am. It allowed me to structure around who I would like to progress TOWARDS, while still remaining open to whoever she is. Structure allows for freedom to evolve, it isn’t a dictatorship scenario. It supports process, instead of clouding process.

For all the times I wasn’t sure I was going to make it this year, I did. I also gained insight into the power found in accepting each moment without restriction.

I am ending the year absolutely full of gratitude and amazement at the journey that’s unfolded. I’ve seen things I could never have even wondered about, and have been opened to whole new worlds and opportunities- just by being intentionally open to the process.

Fav authors this year? Paulo Coehlo (everything by him, for real), Clarissa Pinkola Estes (Women Who Run With Wolves), and Bill Plotkin (SoulCraft).

I will leave you, and 2018, with a poem I read in the wilderness. It happened upon me in a moment of pure gratitude for the cocoon I had found myself in, and the person I was becoming- in the world we currently live in. I hope gratitude finds you all in this new year!

The Wolf’s Eyelash

If you don’t go out in the woods, nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.

“Don’t go out in the woods, don’t go out,” they said.

“Why not?  Why should I not go out in the woods tonight?” she asked.

“A big wolf lives there who eats humans such as you.  Don’t go out in the woods, don’t go out.  We mean it.”

Naturally, she went out.  She went out in the woods anyway, and of course she met the wolf, just as they had warned her.

“See, we told you,” they crowed.

“This is my life, not a fairy tale, you dolts,” she said.  “I have to go to the woods, and I have to meet the wolf, or else my life will never begin.”

But, the wolf she encountered was in a trap, in a trap this wolf’s leg was in.

“Help me, oh help me! Aieeeee, aieeee, aieeee!” cried the wolf.  “Help me, oh help me!” he cried, “and I shall reward you justly.” For this is the way of wolves in tales of this kind.

“How do I know you won’t harm me?” she asked – it was her job to ask questions.  “How do I know you will not kill me and leave me lying in my bones?”

“Wrong question,” said this wolf.  “You’ll just have to take my word for it.”  And the wolf began to cry and wail once again and more.  “Oh, aieee!  Aieeee!  Aieeee!  There’s only one question worth asking fair maiden, wooooooooor aieeeee th’ sooooooool?”

“Oh you wolf, I will take a chance.  Alright, here!”  And she sprang the trap and the wolf drew out its paw and this she bound with herbs and grasses.

“Ah, thank you kind maiden, thank you,” sighed the wolf.  And because she had read too many of the wrong kind of tales, she cried, “Go ahead and kill me now, and let us get this over with.”

But no, this did not come to pass.  Instead this wolf put his paw upon her arm.  “I’m a wolf from another time and place,”  said he.  And plucking a lash from his eye, gave it to her and said, “Use this, and be wise.  From now on you will know who is good and not so good; just look through my eyes and you will see clearly.  For letting me live, I bid you live in a manner as never before.  Remember, there’s only one question worth asking fair maiden, wooooooooor aieeeee th’ soooooooool?”

And so she went back to her village, happy to still have her life.  And this time as they said, “Just stay here and be my bride,” or “Do as I tell you,”  or “Say as I want you to say, and remain as unwritten upon as the day you came,” she held up the wolf’s eyelash and peered through and saw their motives as she had not seen them before.  And the next time the butcher weighed the meat she looked through her wolf’s eyelash and saw that he weighed his thumb too.  And she looked at her suitor who said “I am so good for you,” and saw that her suitor was so good for exactly nothing.  And in this way and more, she was saved, from not all, but from many, misfortunes.

But more so, in this new seeing, not only did she see the sly and cruel, she began to grow immense in heart, for she looked at each person and weighed them anew through this gift from the wolf she had rescued.  And she saw those who were truly kind and went near to them, she found her mate and stayed all the days of her life, she discerned the brave and came close to them, she apprehended the faithful and joined with them, she saw bewilderment under anger and hastened to soothe it, she saw love in the eyes of the shy and reached out to them, she saw suffering in the stiff-lipped and courted their laughter, she saw need in the man with no words and spoke for him, she saw faith deep in the woman who said she had none, and rekindled hers from her own.  She saw all things with her lash of wolf, all things true, and all things false, all things turning against life and all things turning toward life, all things seen only through the eyes of that which weighs the heart with heart, and not with mind alone.

This is how she learned that it is true what they say, that the wolf is the wisest of all.  If you listen closely, the wolf in its howling is always asking the most important question – not where is the next food, not where is the next fight, not where is the next dance? – but the most important question in order to see into and behind, to weigh the value of all that lives, woooooooor aieeeee th’ sooooooool?  wooooooooor aieeeee th’ soooooooool?  Where is the soul?  Where is the soul?

Go out in the woods, go out.  If you don’t go out in the woods, nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.  Go out in the woods, go out.  Go out in the woods, go out.  Go out in the woods, go out.

(Estes, Ph.D.,  Clarissa Pinkola.  Women Who Run With the Wolves:  Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype. New York:  Ballantine, 1992.  Print.)

Hats + Existential Philosophy

“As Carl Jung repeatedly declared, our goal is wholeness, not perfection. People living soulcentrically are not untroubled or unchallenged. They are not beyond experiencing times of confusion, mistakes, and tragedies. They have by no means healed all their wounds. They are simply on a path to wholeness, to becoming fully human- with all the inevitable defects and distresses inherent in any human story and with all the promise held by our uniquely human imagination.”
― Bill Plotkin

“While archetypes may emanate through us for short periods of time, in what we call numinous experience, no woman can emanate an archetype continuously. Only the archetype itself can withstand such projections such as ever-able, all giving, eternally energetic. We may try to emulate these, but they are ideals, not achievable by humans, and not meant to be. Yet the trap requires that women exhaust themselves trying to achieve these unrealistic levels. To avoid the trap, one has to learn to say ‘Halt’ and ‘Stop the music,’ and of course mean it.”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estes

The last month or so has been one wild ride. Hitting a wall of extreme burn out (and simultaneously realize I have been existing in a baseline burn out for years) basically sums up my September (if you didn’t guess by the last darker then average post). After expansions in all directions through the summer, September brought me being out of my home province for 3/4 weeks of the month. At the end of the month I was privileged to attend my level 1/4 facilitator training intensive with Numa Somatics – which was absolutely transformative on a few levels.

Numa Somatics in a nutshell is a type of breathwork and psycho-somatic healing facilitation that came onto my radar in the Spring. As I journeyed through a few group/individual breathwork sessions over the course of the summer- I began to see major shifts in myself, and my curiosity grew.. leading to my enrollment in the facilitator training.

Rolling into 5 days straight of intensive training in this breathwork and style of facilitation both allowed me the space to shed the loads I’d been carrying around for months (and arguably years), and regain my willingness and inspiration around the grander scheme of things personally and professionally.

One of the big things I’ve been wrestling with lately is separating myself, or maybe a better wording would be teasing myself out of, from the brands/businesses I’ve built. Where I began the year wanting to delve into management work more, I’m ending it realizing that the parts I love deeply about my work is all the other stuff. The people, the healing, and the education. The drive to let go of the thing I innately love, and pursuing a more stereotypical measure of “success” optics in management was in some ways an attempt to prove myself.. and demonstrate impatience. What I thought would alleviate the burn out I linked back to client work, actually made the burn out worse. As I examined it’s roots through trial and error, it only began to shift as I delegated more, and was able to clear my head enough to work with clients on a level I thrive at more.

This professional balance is more of a spectrum, I think, but the question that began coming up more frequently for me was “who are you outside of management and client work?”. The more was asked to disassociate from either end of my professional spectrum, the more I found myself in an abyss of hats I’ve worn with dedication, but that I’ve always taken off to try a new hat on.

One of the realizations I had during this intensive training was that the growth of my business had been a coping mechanism from the process I went through around my last relationship/break-up and the year of 2016 that was just.. a year. The fuel I used to jetpack IM and RW forwards in their inaugural years no longer matches system- and as I’ve outgrown my energy source the relationship between myself and my professional vision became a bit toxic (hilariously this is the same way I felt as I began to separate myself from my last relationship). Along with this realization came the immediate release of the feeling I’d been struggling with for a few weeks at that point: feeling physically ill anyone someone brought up my business creations, or expressed admiration as to how well I was doing professionally.

To be freed of things that I’d been holding onto unconsciously all of a sudden shone a light on the path forwards. Much of that path focused on simply being present each day, and refocusing inwards in more ways.

The past few weeks/months I’ve come back to the feeling I had between 3700masl-5500masl during the Everest Base Camp trek (another addition to the year that was 2016). I wanted to quit. Desperately, wholly, and frustratingly. A day away from the peak of the trek I almost did call it quits. Physically, mentally, emotionally I was depleted. However, a voice somewhere deep inside kept repeating “you need to finish this to remind yourself to persevere later in life”.

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One of those things I come back to, routinely lately, where I’m faced with things arguably much less daunting then Mt Everest, and I have quite literally no excuse not to carry onwards.

I came into fall seeking balance. I am sinking into fall with the knowing that balance cannot be found through desperation. As I sit in each moment I’ve been overwhelmed with reconnection to the community around me, the opportunity surrounding me, and most of all, a new connection to self.

The instructor of the breath work course and I came to the discussion of the age old question “who am I” in a conversation after the level 1 training had wrapped. While the different tangents of that question came up, I couldn’t help but think that maybe it was less about figuring out a direct answer to that question and more about letting go of the various hats I’ve jammed on in an attempt to summarize myself over the years. It’s not that who I am hasn’t been defined by the hats I’ve worn, it certainly have, and I like all those hats. However, who I am is also likely a dynamic state. It would be impossible to describe the essence of me with one outfit, phrase, or descriptor.. And desperately looking for an answer to that question through more endeavors or relationships wouldn’t solve the deeper feeling and question either. If anything this approach just continues to muddy the water with newly styled hats.

The more I’ve committed to no right answer to the feelings emerging and the changes happening, the more I’ve felt freed and able to let go. If the process I realized I needed was letting go, similarly to finding balance, neither is accomplished by a fixated approach. Reconnecting with the basics (like cooking, taking care of myself, spending time with myself and in my body) and prioritizing my schedule around things like yoga, meditation, riding, and time at home has, in just a few weeks, in combination with the breathwork, entirely revitalized how I feel about my work and how I’m able to apply myself.

On a larger perspective, it’s simply given me the opportunity to reconnect myself. Each day. With whomever is present. If building a business comes down to consistency, persistence, and a solid foundation of values.. building a life is not much difference. I’m feeling lately as though I’m just beginning to step into a new phase, one of tossing old hats, of a larger perspective, balance, and right now.. the basics.

Wild Goose Chase

A wild goose chase is defined as a “foolish and hopeless pursuit of something unattainable”.

This is not the path I’ve chosen.

If you follow my channels at all, you’ll likely have noticed I am all over the map lately (lol, lately..). It’s been fascinating to me to observe people’s reaction to this gypsy lifestyle I appear to have adopted.

Many don’t question it at all.. having experienced who I am and seen the unshakeable faith I have in where I’m headed. Others approach it cautiously, seeming to wonder if I’ve A) lost my mind or B) become addicted to the not so wild goose chase that can be self discovery and/or C) am running from something. The latter usually seem to come from a place of fear.. “how are you going to put down roots?” “are you making any money?” “how can you be effective if you’re so busy all the time?”.

Within this year I’ve ventured across western Canada numerous times. At first for seemingly standard board meetings, then back for a cautious venture into possibility, then more dedicated efforts into what could be, and now well within the realm of “shit, this is happening”.

Somewhere along the way I have lost the thought process of “this is for the next five years, but not right now”- and gained the sense for when and what fits, and when something does not or isn’t timed right. This, while seemingly a developed skill, is simplified when you permit connection to that inexplainable voice/sense/instinct inside.

Through these ventures I’ve gained roots not to physical places or things, but deep into my own being. Through travels all over the world I’ve been able to observe my self, and now I can grow from roots being put down deep within. I’ve been able to see and understand where I’ve been, why I do what I do on whole new levels, and walk with an even more steadfast purpose towards where I’m going no matter what the physical location or “practicalities” are.

The beauty of this is learning the absolute power of synchronicity. What I used to contempt-fully view as having patience, I now know is just the art of letting things unfold as they always will. The secret to this art is truly understanding and valuing the gut instinct that resides in each of us. The trust and conversation that is necessary for one’s path to unfold gloriously is not a natural skill for many, unfortunately, but luckily an available skill for all to develop.

In this existence I find it next to impossible to ignore the voice and nudges from within. Some view this as a impulsivity and a immaturity. Some understand to some level. Some admire. Some live vicariously through it. This isn’t meant to be written as a lecture- just an observation on what I’m observing through this phase of growth and personal study. I know I’m on my right path, and part of that path is sharing the information I experience.

It’s not rocket science at this point in time to note that many of the aches, pains, and complaints I deal with in my line of work with clients stem from voices not heard within over time. Part of the reason I’ve taken the steps to grow a national client base is that the more I consult all kinds of people, the more I see a deficit in who we allow ourselves to be.

Take a recent conversation for example. This past week I spent at the Ag in Motion event just outside of Saskatoon, as a consultant and columnist for GrainNews on the topic of Fit to Farm. At this large scale event my job was to hang out at the publication’s booth and chat with readers of my columns. On the last day, a kind and lovely farmer approached me regarding a new symptom of not being able to lift his foot properly. Long story short we deduced the problem to a longstanding issue in his back, which was highly correctable with some effort (as most things are).

After chatting for quite a while and consulting with him – he commented “well, I’m just an all over mess anyway- there’s probably no way I’ll ever be completely well again!”. (this isn’t an unusual comment for me to hear). I found myself calmly yet sternly affirming to him that there was no doubt in my mind, as a health professional, that he had a high potential of being exactly as functional as he wanted to be.. and that that was up to him.

I was a little shocked at the bluntness of my external reaction- yet I’m also kind of over sugar coating people’s opinions of themselves.

Thankfully- his reaction made it worth it. It was something he clearly did not expect to hear, yet was clearly extremely thankful to hear. “Thank you for telling me that.. I DO want to be healthy and it means SO much to me that you think it is possible”.

How often do we downplay our possibility? How often do the words in our heads or those coming out of our mouths affirm our possibility of success/happiness/health/ambition (or the opposite?).

What I’ve noticed in these few months of testing the possibility of what I want, can, and will do… is how powerful intention is. We design our realities, and the framework we have to work with is the thoughts and awareness we hold for ourselves in each moment. If you look at the authentic leaders and success stories of our day and age, you will see a trend. Purpose, self-discovery within that purpose, self-worth cultivated through faith and lessons directly from attempt and failure on repeat.

Through a constant examination of fears, negative thoughts, how my expression (words that exit my mouth and float through my brain) directly (seriously) impact my reality I’ve begun noticing the constant signage and suggestion from within and all around us. As I pay attention there synchronicity that fills my life with the “right” people, opportunity, and the precisely correct tests and challenges for me to go through.

Replace the worry that comes with the unknowns with faith that if you listen, observe, and choose your intentions for yourself wisely that the lesson and subsequent next steps do indeed become quite obvious. You can’t escape your pain? What are you holding onto that’s chaining you to the chronic message from your body? Stuck in the negative? What are you saying and thinking that puts your energy in the deficit? Wondering why things never work out? Is there a voice asking you, begging you to listen.. trying to remind you of something you authentically wanted but haven’t pursued? Every. Damn. Interaction. Has. A. Question. And. A. Answer. If. You. Listen. And. Observe.

 

10 things I’ve learned in 3 years

About 3 years ago I started marketing my skills to a population I was familiar with. 

Within a few months I was running a small, client focused business. Starting with weekly fitness classes advertised to one specific group, and then a research project based on the same group. I found my first few regular clients- who have stuck by my side to this day. Then came doing workshops and seminars- a handy asset to working with niche populations. 

A year later I began marketing my practice as a Kinesiologist and Movement specialist, and soon after that branched from my niche market into my first location in a rural gym setting as the clinician. Then, not long after that, I certified as an Athletic Therapist and continued to run my rural practice and mobile based business. Last fall I found my first city location and cut down my mobile practice to settle into a set location. 

I messed up my first window decal. I was so tired a few times I napped on my table in between clients. I still spend almost as much time travelling to new rural contracts as I did when I was a purely mobile based business- just a little smarter now with my scheduling (most of the time). It took me 6 months to build a steady client base in the first location, and now at almost the same in my city spot I am building a steady base here. Within the first 6 months I was also lucky enough to take on my first associate,  a fellow AT to fill the empty space while I’m bouncing between locations. 

I knew early in my University career that I would be better of being self-employed. I already had a strong sense of what I wanted, and where I wanted to go (although, that has changed over and over again through the first few years already). The idea of taking my own risks and building my own successes never scared me, however I did learn much more then I thought I needed to know way back as a 2nd year. 

Approaching my 3rd year working for myself, I am proud that my own business is now my main source of income. This Spring will be the first spring I am my own contractor, having phased out my part time positions and only kept the contracts that allow me to do me, and build Integrative. 

The last few months I’ve been reflecting on my purpose and my visions- and with that has come some enlightening memories and lessons from the first few years in business. So, in no particular order… here’s some of the things I’ve epiphanied on.. 

Quadruple Check your Marketing Materials

I mentioned earlier how I messed up my first window decal. Before that, I messed up my first big order of business cards. Seriously- there is possibly no more humbling experience then excitedly opening your latest vista print order and realizing you’ve made a typo, ordered the clear backdrop instead of the white on (when your logo has a white square behind it), or put the wrong credentials in the wrong place. Check it once, sleep on it, check it 40 more times.. then press check out. 

Treat people honestly and with integrity

And they’ll be your clients forever. This seems super obvious, right? Unfortunately in the health care professions I’ve seen and been hearing from clients that it’s a rarity. And I’ll admit, sometimes it’s not easy either. Health care professionals are hugely prone to burn out, and we are human. However- does this make it okay to write of a patient because of a first impression, or forget to listen to their whole story and perspective just becuase we think we’ve heard it all? Not really. I’ve had clients in the last few years that frustrate me, throw me under the bus, or give me a certain impression right off the bat. Ultimately, it’s not your job to babysit clients… and sometimes you’ll get blamed for that. But you know what? 9/10 within a few sessions of dedicating an effort to hearing them out, giving them every chance, and guiding them towards what they’re really trying to express- the whole picture changes. No matter what business you’re in, or what kind of clients you’re dealing with… often giving them a few chances to really open up to what they need from you is hugely beneficial for them and for your business. For that 1/10 clients that wasn’t happy, caused an issue, or wrote off the plan… well, they were great learning experiences.. and just a part of this thing we call humanity. Roll with them, and you never know.. they sometimes show back up at your doorstep. I’ve had clients that expressed interest years ago, and are now just making the decisions for themselves to come see what I can offer them. Something they definitely won’t do if you also wrote them off. 

It’s okay to take a day off…

Adding to the above point… sometimes we DO get burnt out, or have a day where we just are not up to dealing with our day. Someone asked me not too long ago if I ever take days off. The answer was yes, but I don’t schedule them (except for Sundays.. step back from my Sundays!). Guaranteed if I schedule set days off those will be the day I get the most booking requests, or have a board meeting scheduled. I’ve noticed that days off come naturally. Either the weather makes it impossible to drive to clients, all my clients go on vacation seemingly simultaneously, or my body tells me I need a day. Listening to what is presented to you is HUGE, and nobody will blame you if you cancel on them with good reason once in a while. For someone who works generally 60hr weeks over 6 days, majority of the year… I have yet to have anyone write me off because I called off a day or two here and there unexpetedly. I love what I do, but in order to do what I do well- I HAVE to make sure I’m at my best. I am also quite blessed with great clients who make my day to day work an inspiring time. Rarely do I actually WANT to take a day off from that! 

Never. Stop. Learning. 

Yes, conferences are pricey and textbooks are boring, and there is always too much to read when it comes to articles, social media, and other professionals’ work. HOWEVER… when I start getting stale or bored with my treatment plans, or fall into a rut.. they only thing that drags me out is new material. I come back from workshops completely and utterly fascinated by what I do again, and refreshed. For a week or so I talk way too fast and regurgitate so much information into client’s ears they usually leave wide eyed and terrified.. but I have fun. It’s a great burn out prevention method… and an easy way to feed a travel addiction, with business write-offs 😉 

Triple check your schedules and review your day the night before

My intern calls it the “classic Kathlyn” when I text her that I’m running late or have completely reworked my day last minute. I’ve been doing this since high school, booking myself silly and then wondering why I have days where I am running non stop and never on time for anything. I definitely still do this- I genuinely think it’s just part of my charm, apparently. I have learned that if I review my numerous schedules the night before, and remind myself what my motivations are for the next day. I also make sure I’m syncing my schedules every few days. Slowly but surely I’m less and less late for things… slowly.. but surely.. 

It’s okay to not have an answer, and it’s okay to not be cookie cutter.

There’s been so many times in the last few years that I’ve just not had a clear answer, or needed to go research, or had to explain something that I was still trying to understand myself. This is one things I’ve really come to appreciate from my University program.. they not only taught us thoroughly on the theory, but on having confidence in our explanation (even if we were internally freaking out). It’s okay not to know. And, it’s okay to be saying something different from what someone else has said. In the health care world, every specialist is likely going to say something different. If my decision doesn’t match theirs, it doesn’t mean that either one of us are wrong.. therapy, rehabilitation is all about trial and error sometimes. While balancing a patient’s mental state and keeping everyone involved motivated. There is absolutely no cookie cutter approach to this.. and that is perfectly fine with me. It wouldn’t be pretty blasais otherwise, no? 

Learn to decipher when it’s the pain talking, and when it’s your client’s real personality. 

I’ve begun working with more and more patients with chronic pain. The first few sessions with these patients is always a battle of “I’m pretty sure they hate me” running across my mind. I’ve realized that they probably don’t have a huge opinion on me as an individual. They’re coming to me in a place of frustration, exhaustion, and chronic levels of pain. They have bigger fish to fry. They’re short speaking style, closed off personality, and questioning is more then likely a defence against what they’ve already experienced within the system and through their injury or condition. My only job is to try and change they’re perception of the pain, and treat them as a fellow human being. It’s not my place to take anything personally, as a professional- only to listen to their reactions and adapt my treatment plan to best suit their state. They come around, they always do- some in less time then others. Some even without quick changes in their symptoms will appreciate your effort and care more then anything, and this usually is the key in unlocking the doors they’ve closed off against people trying to help. 

It’s okay to charge for what you love to do. 

This one is a constant internal battle. Probably my biggest insecurity is asking people to pay me. Or telling people pricing. I truly love what I do, seeing patients improve is usually my greatest reward (cheesy, shuddup). However, I also have aspirations and travel plans, and bills, and rent, and expenses like food and hydro to pay. Oh, and a car. And an affinity for Starbucks. I’ve also recognized that 95% of clients value my work and want to pay me for it. They don’t hesitate to pay for the service they’ve booked. If anything I’m always the one making it an awkward exchange. If you take pride in what you do- show it by pricing yourself accordingly. One thing I wish they taught us more in University was how to price our services accordingly to their value, and the standards in the province. Underpricing leads to undervalue, while over pricing gets missed in the market. It’s a fine balance. 

Connect Connect Connect!

We live in an age of word of mouth. Whether it’s shares on social medial, tagging, or regular face to face meetings.. other people’s opinion of what we do business wise is uber important to success (yes I said uber). This isn’t something that’s taught very often. I think it should be. About 15% of my current client base found me over social medial, another 30% or so found me through events and educational workshops.. the rest found me from word of mouth referencing. Every percent counts when you’re building, so don’t take for granted the power of a good social media presence, a solid networking plan, and impressing every client in some way. Being able to network comes from a place of having a sense of your purpose. Having drive and having a deep seated passion for what you do, and where what you do can take you. Big or small. People love people like that. People you want to network with, anyway. Learn how to sell yourself, and exude confidence in what you have to offer on any front- while remaining humble. Tough at first, especially for someone more prone to the intervertebral side of the spectrum- but once you learn it it’s like riding a bike. 

Stay professional, especially when people surprise you

As with anything there will be haters. There will be those mimicking and those trying to intimidate. There will be personal things coming into business ordeals. Humans will be humans. I’ve learned to take a neutral approach to everything. Rarely is something directed at you actually about you…. so why be effected by it? We’re all a reflection off the people we interact with, after all, so how they react or act is generally them expressing their own issues- not attacking yours. Beware of these people, but don’t engage. Engaging feeds a fire that is better left to simmer on it’s own. You do you, boo. 

 I think the biggest lesson that’s come out of all these little ones is that staying true to myself, and what I value as my purpose, has to come above all other things. Doing my job when I’m not in top form doesn’t do anyone good. Not only do I lack energy and intuition with my clients, they don’t draw the same value from my side of the deal. It’s okay to step back and rejuvenate once in a while, and it’s even more important to do regular maintenance on yourself to prevent burn out on ongoing fatigue. Self care is a huge enhancement to your business! 

Living and learning, everyday. I’m still completely enamoured by my career and excited to see what’s coming in the next few years. Every year comes with new exciting developments (every week, sometimes!).