Contentment: A Contrast

I missed my New Years post this year. The truth is I wasn’t quite sure how to write it. This year has brought more evolutions than one shift in calendar years can reflect. I suppose that it reflects the turning of a century more than ever.

Last I wrote I spoke to creating space for things to unfold. Space was created across the board and my awareness was heightened to all areas where I was off kilter. I often feel as though one speaking to their own maturity discredits that maturity- however I have felt new stability and maturity enter into all my reactions, decisions and consistencies since allowing space to simply be.

In the fall of 2019 we booked a trip to New Zealand for which we depart in a few weeks. About a decade ago, a ticket booked to New Zealand started this blog. The contrast I am finding between who I was on that first trip in 2011 to New Zealand, a totally unprepared 19year old, to who I am now is ripe with metaphors.

This upcoming holiday is already vastly different in almost every way to the working gap year I ventured on in 2011. At 19 I departed shortly after my birthday in September to New Zealand where I landed into a groom job at a “renowned” show jumping farm just outside of Auckland. The plan I had formed was to spend nine months working on this farm in what I assumed would be my dream job. Laugh out loud.

What really happened was a blurred six months of extreme and very tough self discovery. I lasted two months at what can only be referred to as the “job” (more like volunteer experience, that made me realize I was better suited to self employment, experienced Auckland during the rugby world up (and got lost/wandered the city until 4am), got sick too many times, experienced the rodeo circuit, got sick some more, shaved my head for moneyI desperately needed, became the bald girl, exercised steeplechase horses, hiked a glacier, somewhere between these two events developed a cyst in the area around my tail bone, ignored pain, developed infection, ended my trip with septic shock and a five day excursion in the Dunedin hospital fighting off surgery before flying home.

It was a tough trip and a huge growth point. On that trip, for all the scary/lonely/difficult moments I also experienced support from unexpected places, the magic that is NZ, and enough reflective material for a life time. I changed my career path on that trip and that led me into the AT program at UWinnipeg, which was the launch point for my career as it is now. I learned how to take care of myself on that trip. I learned the cause and effect of ignoring my body on that trip. I experienced life beyond superficiality in appearance and began to figure out how to set my standards for how others treated me.

Life is different now.

I wrote in my journal on Jan 1, 2020: “If 2019 was the year that burned things down to ask, 2020 is the year the phoenix rises”.

2019 felt to me like a slow burn of everything I had held onto to create who I thought I was.  I was aware I was going through a major shift – and how things manifested never felt incorrect though it often surprised me.

I began to consciously choose things that fertilized evolution, and let die the things that no longer served. I became aware of coping mechanisms that had served me once perhaps, but no longer had a progressive purpose. Things like my relationship to food, my relationship to money, my expression of truth in various situations, and my relationship to motivation all shifted.

As evident in my last post on creating space, I chose “doing less” much more consciously than I chose “doing more”. In the years that followed my last adventure to NZ I had always chosen “more”. I filled my life to the brim with education, relationships, jobs, businesses, ambition. Over those years my motivation changed. My ability to push through died. Burn out became normal. Toxic relationships prevailed and my ability to effectively lead, express and maintain balance fizzled. And then.. I just couldn’t any more. My body wouldn’t allow it and anxiety woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me things had to change.

My rebrand in the fall was my conscious expression of choosing myself again. Redirecting my efforts towards my true expression, professionally and personally, and creating space for that evolution to organically occur instead of attempting to force it.

In the last month or so I’ve experienced a rebirth of all those things I had to let go of. I reframed my relationship to food and to money. I left space where shadows told me to fill it. I expressed what my intuition called for me to express on my professional forums and let myself be guided in how I approach treating others. I stayed present in my awareness for my reactions in all sorts of situations and in that space created I began to heal myself on numerous levels of my being.

And now… I feel well enough to add more back in. I crave riding again. I crave going to the gym to push myself again. I truly can and want to do more once again, in a way I don’t think I’ve felt since the beginning of the decade.

All of this is a testament to the power of rest. To leaning in to fatigue and exhaustion instead of rallying against those signals. We so often treat calls from our body as inconveniences and yet when we allow our body to guide us, with patience, we find it’s the only true way to heal ourselves.

When we first booked this upcoming excursion to NZ I struggled with negative flashbacks for a few weeks. Visions of pain, mistreatment, near death experiences clouded my excitement. My tailbone hurt for a week after we booked the tickets, the same way it hurts every March around the same time of year it hurt originally. Those who say our body doesn’t remember are lost in a world of ignorance.

Yet, in space and time those visions of resentment became rallying excitement. How lucky am I to return to a place that holds such magic, memories, and luxury at a time in my life where I can create a whole new experience?

“You cannot erase memories but you can let go of the heavy energy that is attached to them” – Yung Pueblo

If I were to write a letter to that nineteen year old experiencing life at the beginning of this decade the words would encourage her to continue walking through the world with her eyes wide open.

If I were to write to the fiery, ambitious twenty something that scorched her way through competitive riding and university life the words would remind her to listen to her body and not use exercise as her only outlet for stress. That burnout takes more patience than she’ll have, and that the body will get the rest it needs one way or another.

If I were to write to a future version of me I would write in a way that would remind her to exercise expressions of gratitude no matter her circumstance, and remind her that she has a tendency to underestimate her power to create exactly the reality she wants. Her contentment comes from creating space to enjoy each moment, from balance, not from trying to create more moments.

Life is good. My relationships to material aspects in my life, to my SO, to my body, and to my work are ritualized by gratitude and presence. Contentment fills space created.

Stay tuned for NZ adventures round two 😉

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Space, Wide Open

I used to have this dream when I was on the cusp of falling asleep. I was floating through the world and as I drifted my size would change. I would shift from shrinking so much that everything around me seemed so massive to expanding in such a way that I was taking up huge chunks of space, compressing everything around me. There were no emotions attached to the dream, though I remember feeling slight anxiety about the transitory nature of my matter.
Life for me lately has been fully encompassed by creating space.
For the first time in a very long time (ever?) I am truly being called towards stillness in created space.
Filling space has never been a problem for me. Whether it’s with ambitious projects, eating, exercise, businesses, sports, volunteer work, travel or social endeavors- I am an expert at filling time and space. These are things I’ve been shedding. Replacing the narrative of “I should therefore I will” with “I choose to because I desire to” as guidance has unveiled how much my nature escapes the present moment with directive space filling.
And so, we sit in empty spaces and resist the urge to fill them.
There is an interesting paradox for me forming between my tendency to fill space energetically and otherwise with busy-ness, as well as my lean towards using food as another filler. It’s been a year of imbalances coming to the forefront. The year started with a stark wake up call when my body went on revolt. Symptoms including extreme hormonal imbalance symptoms, weight gain, and a loss of the freedoms I used to have with my movement and metabolism. What had likely began as adrenal fatigue years ago went full scale, roping in my thyroid and hormones too. All this on top of facing the shedding of the brand I spent my early career years building and growing, and working through transitions in my personal life.
What I’ve noticed now after dedicating time to rebalancing is that while my symptoms have largely cleared up, what I am left with is about 40 extra pounds on my body from where I started. It seems even my body is more comfortable with filling space than it is with allowing voids to be happy places too. This, in itself, has created it’s own wave to ride along the journey.
It’s brought to my attention that I’ve always had body issues, as many women do. As I clear out space internally and externally I am left with rampant anxiety and judgement on self, two things I haven’t really ever had to face. The validation offered to me via sports, competitive riding success, entrepreneurship and management early on in adult life kept my energy focused elsewhere. I am now being asked to redefine my relationships with aesthetics, femininity, my physical presence, and myself. I am lucky enough to be on this portion of the journey with a unbelievably sound partnership.. contrast to experiences in the past that were a part of my subconscious scheme to fill space with other’s chaos so I did not have to experience my own chaos.
In a recent breathwork session I had a vision of myself, my body, becoming the unsaid things between adults of my childhood. Things I’d absorbed unknowingly as an innocent. Things that I perceived made me guilty by default.
Space does not tell us to fill it. Rather, we find ways to fill and organize it for our own entitlement. Filling space brings many of us comfort, as wide open space remind how insignificant our human worries can be. Our bodies are a direct representation of our relation to space and to ourselves. The unconscious will shift our outwards flesh into whatever form it needs to feel safe. How many of us walk around entirely unaware of this fascinating process?
As I always do, I’ve settled into this awareness. There is a poetry to sitting with everything that swirls around a liberated space. Some days I find emptiness with a peacefulness alongside it. Other days I am insatiable with the need to fill space. The rest I am content to just observe. Adding a layer onto this I’ve begun (on ND’s orders) experimenting with intermittent fasting. It’s surprised me how easy it is to fall into this routine. It’s brought purpose and logic to feeling open, and an awareness to how much I’ve filled space just for the sake of feeling full in the past. It feels less like a challenge and more like an awakening. As if a connected piece of me is being shaken out of a slumber and rising up to the surface again; having been sheltered from the storm and the metamorphosis by a well crafted armor.
Our bodies do know best, after all, as much as we like to think otherwise.
The most fascinating part of all this to me is how much more drawn I am to creative work. Painting, writing, intuitive movement have all been calling me more and more. I find it difficult to stay within a “status quo” lifestyle and instead find myself exploring and enjoying the quietness of slow days. It’s as though I am slowly detoxing the hustle and grind energy from my body; allowing myself to expand and contract in a more synonymous flow with the ebb and flow of nature.
My new workspace and freedom to expand into my own evolution has provided a wonderful canvas for my professional life. Space in my schedule no longer brings anxiety. Instead it brings time to rest, play, create or simply be. I do not know exactly what comes next and the internal voice affirms that this is okay. I can continue writing this chapter without plotting the next, for now. I can simply exist –  no permission needed- with the love that surrounds me, the creativity that fills me and the wide open spaces I am creating for myself.
Is that not what we are here to do? Simply being; existing in the wide open spaces we find ourselves in with no more than a witnessing of how we fill those spaces.

Closure + Balance

The never ending quest.
The last time I wrote about my personal journey I spoke about the concept of living at ease. This theme has become the theme of my summer. What started as a shift into realizing that it was safe and okay to NOT choose the harder road (yes, this actually took convincing) has become my personal mantra.
To say I’ve been going through a complete reconstruction of my immediate reality would be a truth.
Last month I jumped off the cliff I’d been standing on for a few months too long and closed my main business, Integrative Movement. It was one of the most freeing days of my life. This larger scale practice had been eating me up.
I’d been feeling trapped inside of that frame and had already tried a few ways to remodel and reshape it to fit who I was becoming, but nothing seemed quite right and the bindings only were getting tighter. IM had become synonymous with ME and I’d been revamping myself for a while already.. IM wasn’t keeping up. A year ago this decision seemed like the worst possible outcome.. I truly believed that it would be giving up, letting myself and others down. The key turn around there was the realization that in worrying about letting others down, I was indeed letting myself down.
Slowly I began to see all the ways in which me holding onto something that no longer fit was actually stunting my growth in other directions that were calling to me. RideWell was beginning to explode in all the good ways with calls coming from all over western Canada, and my personal practice within IM was also flourishing- though I was struggling to keep up with these positive demands due to struggling to meet the demands of management, supporting others and keeping the business itself afloat- while still trying to have a personal life and enjoy life in general.
All this alongside personal health transitions. I’ve been out of balance in some way health wise it seems for years, specifically since having Mono in my last year of University. That followed by what seemed like a never ending burn out cycle I finally seemed to step out of this year- only to be met with what is likely the after effects of all those years of imbalances.. hormonal imbalances and evident adrenal fatigue. In a matter of a few months this spring my body began to show me all the ways it’d been neglected. Weight gain, thyroid imbalance, hormonal imbalance symptoms, volatile cycles combined with anxiety and depression. Seemingly out of nowhere (but really had been building for a few years, likely).
So, I jumped off the damn cliff.
I was ready to evolve into the newest version of myself- and that meant letting go of previous versions. That also meant confronting head on body image issues, imbalances within myself and accepting all of it as part of me, too.
My landing was quite soft. Creativity flowed and I rebranding my practice into Evoke which fits nicely around my current version of self, with room to grow and evolve, too. RideWell clients continued to expand and I had the mental space and energy to expand with them. While I had some temper tantrums (and still do) around my health and ever changing body- I also have welcomed a new form of acceptance, too. The last few weeks I’ve been feeling quite balanced and content- so much so I actually had to quell some shadowy uprising of fear around that content-ness.
The decision around closing out one part of my professional life to focus in and expand into others was affirmed in many, many ways. I found and signed a lease on a beautiful new workspace that embodies where I currently am at. Supportive relationships were highlighted and my health has begun to improve in noticeable ways.
All the signs have been pointing towards learning the lesson of supporting oneself and enjoying oneself in this life that we have to do so with. Hilariously, the moments where I notice anxiety or stress creeping in is when I try to plan out the next steps. I’ve reached the capstone of my last five year map- and I haven’t quite figured out the details of my next map. I’m being guided right now to accept that unknown and let the map form itself for a while- enjoy the present moment.
Perhaps that is the only map I need.
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