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.)

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?

(Non)Judgement

Sitting looking over the downtown Calgary cityscape late this morning, reading Gloria Steinem’s “My Life on the Road” – I was routinely interrupted by thoughts of what felt like passive self judgement passing through my mind.

“You should be working on something”

“Go outside and move”

“Come up with some ideas”

?

^^ Yes, that last one was word for word a thought that crossed my mind. Which then made me stop and laugh- as if my mind stating “come up with some ideas” was going to help me “come up with some ideas”. Ideas for what? Where was this pressure coming from? Why MUST I be doing something on my first (albeit scheduled) day off.

I’ve often stopped and thought to myself while working with training clients to think “it might actually be harder for this person if I asked them to pause and do nothing for a few minutes (or, the horror, a full 45-an hour) instead of pushing them physically”.

The last few days I’ve been networking away at Spruce Meadows and around Calgary, with the next few days bringing me to other areas Alberta. My first venture into out of province work for one of my businesses, RideWell Performance, and taking steps for myself to get uncomfortable again with networking, branding, and see how far I can go with my dreams. Rebranding RideWell over the winter was essentially an attempt to keep my brain busy while my other business, Integrative Movement, went through some expansions that required patience. Now, here in Calgary, with some free time and the bulk of the immediate work for now done, I sit scouring my brain for things to do.

My response to those thoughts? A conscious amusement and then a two hour nap.

Thankfully, it wasn’t hard for me to balance those judgement-like thoughts with things like “the knowledge you’re absorbing from this book is going to serve you later on”, “this rest will mean more energy for the rest of the week”, “you absolutely need a day like today to catch up after the last few weeks”, “my body says this is right and I know to listen to that”.

It’s been observed many times that entrepreneurs, sole proprietors, and business owners are always hustling. I mentioned last post about how I’ve come to cringe at being labelled a “hustler” or as someone who is “always on the grind”. I understand most people mean those labels as a positive thing, and are often incredulous when they hear about what entrepreneurs do routinely to chase down their goals.. but it also skews the optics of success towards burn out levels of time management. It also makes it difficult for, especially younger, self-starters to internally justify rest days, days to be human, and days to just chill t f out.

Was I doing nothing today? Absolutely not. I was reading, learning, and resting. It’s become absolutely crystal clear to me that business development and success largely depends, if not solely depends, on it’s leaders and teams personal development.

What makes or breaks brands in today’s world is the culture that surrounds them, and the association it’s customers makes between the people within the business and their goals.

I’ve had business owners and high level managers as clients both in terms of therapy and training- and while they have a higher tolerance for stress (positive and negative), they often struggle to monitor their inner dialogue around self care and compassion- and this feeds into their decisions around business and people management. It’s easy to look from the outside in and say “if you don’t take care of yourself, how are you going to help others” but when you’re that person trying to do it all and be it all, the pressure can seem more then logic.

I think many of us have already learned the hard way that burning out, getting sick, or just getting discouraged by fatigue and pressure is REAL and is a real dream crusher. I’ve experienced more scary level moments of “why am I doing this” leading towards “I do not want to be doing this anymore” in the last couple years. Luckily for me, I have figured out a way to change my scenery up (both physically and mentally) when this happens to keep me obscenely passionate about what I do. Moments like this have forced me to be creative and pursue lateral thinking for all my ventures and the people within them. It’s why I’m in Calgary now, and it’s why some expansions have happened. However if I had followed the alternate route down a more negative burn out road- I might not be where I am now.

We’ve been conditioned as a society to always be on the go- to always be pushing for more. To the point where we’ve seen the birth of industries based around scheduled and invested in down time (think meditation classes, certain styles of yoga, spas, etc etc). These are not bad things- but why can’t we accept for ourselves a simple quiet day to develop in others ways, instead of what is perceived as “the hustle”.

The great Thomas Plummer said it well:

“What made you successful is often the very thing that prevents you from staying successful.”. Hard, endless pursuit of more needs to be contrasted with recovery, rest, and time spent inwards. Without that, you may find you lose the purpose behind what you think you want.

We do not HAVE to do anything. Not in the societies most of us live in, with the afforded comforts we’ve been given. There is ALWAYS a choice and choices do not have to be concrete. Doing or thinking something because it’s always been perceived to be the way things are, or because others around you are seemingly doing the same thing is not a reason to hold the same expectation for yourselves.. and, more then likely, those perceptions aren’t the entire reality. We all generally think and go through similar things- and rarely do you find judgment for taking care of yourself if you are honestly doing just that.

What does self-care and non-judgement towards yourself look like?

Believe Your Own BullShit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here we are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eyes Up, Shoulders Back

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

I’ve circled around to some old insecurities lately.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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