Tag Archives: love

For You

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

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

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

As I was going down the slopes I noticed fear.

It crept in with every new feeling under my skies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Human nature is linked with shared fears.

Fear of being left behind.

Fear of not being loved.

Fear of the unknown.

Fear of what haunts us.

Fear of losing control.

Fear of FEELING, of discomfort, of pain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A different kind of stress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If anything, it honors all of it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fear doesn’t scare me anymore.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I just do.

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Without thinking

I had one of those lessons today where things went from amazing to stressful in about 30 seconds.

Maybe stressful isn’t the right word. Challenging? Thought provoking?

Riding is a sport where things can change pretty quick. As most sports are. However, this sport adds in the wild card of being seated on a 1200lb creature with a mind of it’s own, pointing it at a fence and saying lets get there and over it while keeping a steady pace, leaving from the exact right spot, and making a tight turn afterwards. As a rider you have to  be able to react in a hundred different ways over a span of a few strides between jumps. You have to keep that balance between aiding your horse enough, but not so much that signals get mixed.

I’ve written about the role of trust before. The last time I wrote about it I was exercising steeplechasers in Napier, NZ.

Every muscle in my body is sore and tired, and I’m way past the point of exhaustion. But I’m still saying yes to another ride out and smiling as the horse races up the hill on the way to the work out trail. In this kind if situation you have to be able to build the trust quickly. You don’t have months or years to build a relationship. You have seconds, maybe minutes, to trust the horse you’re on and establish a confidence.

Click here for more from that post.. 

Over the course of this competition season, Willard will be moving into the jumper ring more. This has been a long time goal for me, and I’m very excited for the new challenge.

I’ve been working with M&C for a few years now, and have very high trust in their abilities as coaches. Tonight was one of those nights where things may not have gone as well if that trust wasn’t there. Lots of new challenges are being thrown my way this year, both within the sport and outside, and while I take them all on as best I can- I would not be able to do it alone. Will is a fantastic horse, with loads of potential- but right now he is still in that excitable spring thoroughbred phase that I’m pretty sure most horses that got 6 months off are in right now. You ask him to do a roll-back to a tiny oxer and he assumes we are in the jump off of the CN International. Drama queen.

Through the exercises I worked on tonight with M&C, the issue of trust kept floating through my mind. For some reason there was a small communication issue at times between Will and I. Where he wanted to rush towards jump, I was saying hold on. Where he was saying lets make this turn tighter, I was saying lets go out one stride more. Where I was saying relax, he was saying “this is so exciting!!!!!!!!!!!”. These are all little things. In no way was any of this a disaster. Just a little less graceful then it could have been. However, it took a lot of trust between me and my coaches, and me and myself to not get overwhelmed and frustrated. I had to keep reminding myself that I knew what I was doing. To stay calm, be patient. If I’m not confident in my abilities as a rider, what right do I have to ask my horse to do what he’s doing? The trust I have in M&C was also a huge part in being able to remind myself that I was okay. I knew all along that they would never ask me to do something that they didn’t think I could do. Knowing that helped keep me confident that things were going to be okay.

As athletes we do so many things without thinking. We’ve done these things so many times that our brains run on autopilot. Not to say its easy- having the ability to not only do these things without thinking about them and also the confidence and trust in the other factors like the unpredictable animal you’re on, yourself, and that person telling you to point that animal at, and jump over, an object it is traditionally supposed to stay on one side of.. is not an easy thing to do all the time. But, imagine if we as riders had to consciously think about every thing we do on course? Riding up to a jump would go something like this…

…shoulders back, hips forward, eyes up, inside leg/hand with slight pressure to control bend, outside leg/hand slight pressure for speed, balancing horse, slight squeeze on outside rein before jump, both legs positioned approximately at girth line, heels down, flex in elbows, appropriate contact on horses mouth, keeping pace steady, finding the right distance, using leg pressure to keep that distance, waiting for horse to jump to you, hands follow horses mouth over jump, shoulders still back, slightly closed hip angle, eyes looking towards next jump, middle of arc opening hips bringing shoulders up and back preparing to land, legs maintaining pressure at girth line, bringing hands out of release (all while maintaining steady contact on reins), open shoulders, balance horse, slight squeeze with fingers on inside, steady contact on outside, looking for line to next jump still, turning and balancing with legs and hands, maintaining steady pace, present horse to next jump, repeat…

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That’s all happening in about 5 seconds. I guarantee I’ve missed about a hundred other tiny things. These are habits that are automatic for us, made that way by years of practice. Experiences good and bad teaching us that even though all common sense says you are crazy, find a saner hobby, this is what we love doing- and while that is bound to come with some doubt occasionally, trust is what gets you trough. Some of those things we still may think about- but for the most part, I know for me anyway, my head is pretty quiet while I’m riding a course. Quiet of those thoughts anyway. At times, like tonight, I am reminding myself that I have trust in my horse, my coaches, and myself. That is the only thought I need to get the job done. Everything else follows.

“Just do what you do best.”

I don’t know if any of that made any sense. So good luck figuring that out, I’m too exhausted from that 90 minutes of course work to make much sense of anything right now.

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Just in time

I’ve broken my record for length between posts, I think. Which must mean my life is finally getting back on track (insanely busy)!

It’s been just over a month now since “the surgery”, and I’m finally almost back to normal. I’m done dressing changes, and although there is still some healing needing to be done- I’m pretty much able to forget about it and just let it happen. Which is good, because that means I can ride! Yesterday was my first real ride back since surgery, and I haven’t been that happy in a long time! Willard has been moved to McMullans for the week as we’re planning on going to Fall Harvest this weekend. Yes, a show right after a month off- an excellent plan, isn’t it? Any other year I might not have felt comfortable doing this, but this year I have complete faith in my horse and our ability that this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. And here is where I need to say a HUGE thank you to my friend and fellow rider Laura Clark, who rides at Bluebear and also hails from Carman. She has been coming and hacking Willard for me over the past month and after riding him tonight in the ring I was so happy to find he was moving beautifully and so willing to do lateral work. Like I never got off! I knew he would be in good  hands with her. So, Laura if you read this, thank you thank you thank you!  It’s great to know my horse is in relative condition even when I’ve been unable to ride for a while.

I rode for about an hour and a half yesterday, and an hour today- I just couldn’t bring myself to get off. Even though my body has gotten a little too used to the easy life. I’ve been slowly trying to add things to my schedule, like work outs and now riding, plus work- and soon school again. 2 months ago it was easy to do all of those things in one day and still have energy at the end of the day. Now, it’s a little more challenging. I’m still trying to find the energy I used to have. I’m sure it will come back, I’m not really giving it a choice. Hopefully over the next couple weeks, as my schedule starts to pick up again I will feel back to normal. School is only a couple weeks away!!! I can’t believe how excited I am! Before I started this post I had my nose stuck in one of my texts already. Wonder how long this will last? Haha

My class schedule is pretty full. Actually, it is completely full. I have 10 courses, my 5 for the fall are: Nutrition, Biomechanics, Data Analysis, Anatomy and Physiology, and Scientific Principles of Fitness and Conditioning. Following those, with my AP running all year, are: Intro Kinesiology, Research Methods, Prevention and Care of Injuries, and Psych in Sport and Life. It’s definitely going to be a challenging year, to say the least. To add onto my school schedule, I plan on riding and working as well. Although fall has some of my tougher courses, I think it will be the easier term, schedule wise as most days all my classes are in the afternoons- so I’ll have most mornings and evenings free to work and ride and study. The winter term things get a little crazier with courses spanning from late morning to evening classes plus a Saturday class- which means I’ll be in school 6 days a week. Unfortunately this was the only way I could schedule things so I got into all my classes and labs, so it will have to do! The past week or so has been a flurry of me organizing text books, gym memberships, locker rentals, and everything in between. Thankfully most of that is done now and I can focus on Fall Harvest, and then finish moving things to the city and settle in there. As much as I’ve been pretty stressed lately, it’s all for the right reasons and I’m very excited to face the challenges that come up this year in school. I proved to myself in Anatomy this spring that I can get decent grades if I work hard at it, so I hope I can continue proving that to myself in the future. That B was definitely not easy for me, but it was such an accomplishment when I got it! I still stop and wonder sometimes why I chose this path. What is someone who has always drifted towards arts and never did well in sciences doing in a Bachelor of Science degree in one of the most challenging specialities?! At the same time, I can’t see myself doing anything else. And the more I talk to other people in the profession, the more I fall in love with it.

That’s all I’ve got for now, I’m exhausted! Here are a couple pictures from my ride on Sunday- and I hope I write again soon! There will definitely be a Fall Harvest update!

MS River Rouge cruise!

Roomies!

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