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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Shedding

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

– Mary Oliver, The Journey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ch 2018: Metamorphosis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. LISTEN (and FLOW)

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

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

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

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

Shocking. I know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wolf’s Eyelash

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

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

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

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

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

“See, we told you,” they crowed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wild Goose Chase

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

This is not the path I’ve chosen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

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!

Powerful

“You don’t even know how powerful you are yet”

A friend told me that, earlier this year.

They were right.

This whole year I’ve been in a power struggle with my own being.

I started the year on the fumes of a year full of a “let go” theme. I rolled into the New Year set on shedding and grooming my self care. And in that new routine practice I found a voice that had been waiting.. waiting for a chance to speak.

That voice came out with friends, in self talk, with clients, in my business, and in networking.

It scared me. Often.

Then I noticed.. it only was scary when I tried to hold it in, or didn’t trust it.

The more I got comfortable with speaking the truth pouring out from within- the less terrifying it became. As I learned how to express tact with honesty I saw how my words created power for others.. empowered their own inner dialogue to shift.

In that process I began sensing efficacy in that inner fire. The inner power.

I realized that for so long I associated power with ego, and ego was something I’d worked so hard on releasing attachements to.

But.. are power and ego the same thing?

Not essentially, no.

“You haven’t realized how powerful you are”.. no.. I haven’t. But- I’m learning to experience power and not judge it for inspiring ego. Ego comes with being human- but observing it as part of our being enables it to let go of it’s hold on us.

So I continued to let go, to allow a flow to occur. Things, people, places- they come, they go, they call, they don’t call. It all ebbs and flows.

The pace of our lives sometimes carries us and sometimes we have to exercise control to gain perspective.

Where I sit now I sit in extreme accord with the voice that resides within and the fire that creates action. However I also am at peace with sometimes sitting and letting that voice mature.

My recent trip to Spain was the first travel experience where I honestly didn’t feel the need to reflect, examine, or exercise personal growth tactics.

I just was.

I came home with ideas and thoughts and progressions that I”ve been able to enact with new energy and a stronger voice then before.

I’ve had meetings and experiences since that have caused me to question everything about my experience so far, and how I want to use that experience to create new endeavours and what my purpose is.

I’ve seen love change forms in my life only to strengthen in it’s diversity. Expectations shift from set in stone to malleable elements serving equally those involved. Realities shift from what and who we are taught to be to understanding who we truly are, deep down, and exploring the purpose we all arrive with. Allowing that purpose to take on varying forms.

My life as it stands is wonderful and I look on it every day with newfound gratitude. For the opportunities and the power that resides within me- to give back, to create change, to build the reality I want to exist within.

True unhappiness or unsettledness stems in ignorance of self, distrust in the inner voice.

We learn to listen to that voice through experiencing the smallest moments life brings to us. A client planking for the first time in their two year history with you- and rocking it. A group fitness class that shows enthusiasm for the changes they are ready to make. Listening to an inspiring person in your life speak and feeling blessed to have them in your life. Seeing a friend break through their own internal struggles and let light into their being again.

All these small things are why we are here, and they are only found once we let go enough to let them shine through.

 

(Thank you to Jenaya Larisse Photography for the wonderful portrait 💖)  

The Dogma of Progress

For a while now I’ve been feeling “blah” about the idea of progress. 
^ that’s not usually me. 
I go to talks, workshops, read books, travel- and feel as though I am on a plateau. Quite content to be where I was and not too interested (nor feeling the need to) push, dig, or unpack anything in my being. 
With my business consistently moving forwards, my thoughts evened out and a steady feeling of who I am in this moment.. developmental work has just seemed redundant. 
I noted quite a few times on my recent trip to Spain, mostly during the cycling up the northern coast past, that normally trips like this where I’m pushed physically open the door for me to do some emotional nd mental processing- but- there was nothing there to sift thru. 
I was hit over the head with the realization about a week into this three week excursion that I felt through some of the heartbreak the past two years sneezed into my life and had reached an equilibrium of love and gratitude for those who have remained, exited, and entered my life to varying degrees. The things that had happened to spur so much growth and reflection weren’t actually still happening to me at any level. I was.. I am free of those patterns and lessons right now. 

It hasn’t been until now- near the end of my time in Spain that I feel the drive for the next coming back. The drive to go to go a bit deeper and sit with what I find, to write, to delve into ideas as they race past, to write things down so I can organize the myriad of thoughts and ideas happening all at once, the inquisitiveness that’s being spurred by being in a part of the world that is passionate in their culture and steadfast in their ways (the Basque people and culture literally are so old in terms of history their exact roots cannot be traced… and as I write this the Catalan culture here is rallying for and against seperation from Spain and the rest of Spain is putting a stern foot on that idea- a argument that is decades long and not leaving soon, but reaching a boiling point not miles from where I sit). 

I spent a few days really looking at what motivates me- and how my motivations have shifted lately. I’ve gone from intrinsically driven for some reasons, to extrinsically in other ways. As I get more comfortable not relying on that motivation to define who I am- I see the subtle shifts and flows it takes on.  

The way we are as humans is so drastically different and similar across all cultures. 
How we express our fears and our ideas, how we learn and view history. What a time to live in- and what a time to reflect on what history has to teach us. 
I’ve developed an openness in the last couple years. Openness to myself, with others, and to everything offered. That adopted way of life has forced me to look at the most human flaws each of us have and accept what those flaws and fears mean to me as I am in this moment. It’s a constant look in the reflection coming back at me from my relationships, interactions, and situations I enter into consciously and unconsciously. 
It’s changed how I speak, how I advise, and how I observe. 
It allowed me to accept the plateau I stood on as a time to just be, and to let go of the need for more. 
Life, the people in it, and our stories innately have to have a push pull nature. Situations, people, and thoughts come in and out to pull us, push us, and boomerang us forwards or backwards depending on where we need to look. But even in a momentum based path there are moments of still and moments of pause. Even in our natural breathing process there is a slight pause between inhaling and exhaling. Nature itself creates necessary still points. 
It was my time to allow for pause. For stillness. For the reflection to remain constant for a bit. For the view from the plateau to be a constant sound of crashing waves in the fog- knowing the ebb and flow exists but unable to see past the condensation. To find comfort in the blindness.
I recognize the privileged lifestyle I lead to be able to explore the world, build my dream job, and divert such energy to reflections and pursuits of progress. The more I sit with the things that occur around me and within me the more I see the importance of seeing this world we live in and the cultures we all are apart of as one United experience.  
The fears we all have are the same. 
The insecurities we share are human nature. 
The reactions we emote are choices but human choices we all make. 
The exits stage left and the emergence of new people to experience are imperative to our growth as individuals, communities, and humanity. 
Open curiosity and knowing the time for passive observations are what allow us to see eye to eye, even if we don’t agree. 
No matter what you believe guides us, or doesn’t guide us- the themes in our perceived realities remain. 
Long before we were here and long after the same trends will occur, and I believe that we all will repeat lessons over and over until we get them on local and global levels- only to receive more lessons to piece through. 
The lesson lately has been accept every moment as it is and shed what no longer serves you. For me lately that has been the need to always find more in the darkness. It was important for me to dive into some dark places within for a long time- but I’ve served that purpose for now. I had to become okay with shades of grey again, and now I am beginning to see another sunrise on the horizon. The weather moves onwards no matter how we choose to prepare for it. 
Love, from Spain! 

My reset button is dysfunctional

My how the time is flying.

It’s been a while since I wrote last, and while things have been moving along quick as can be- not much has really changed. I’m still pretty worn out from the past few months, and the last few weeks have been a mad balance between trying to hit reset, and keeping up with myself. I know, contradicting pattern.

Shortly after I wrote last I took an entire three days off of EVERYTHING school related and headed out to Brandon for the Royal Fair. This annual trip is always something I look forward to, and this year I had a teammate and a client competing and got to see them both excel in their respective classes! It was such a nice feeling to physically drive away from the nagging study notes, exam and work schedules for a weekend- sleeping boyfriend in the passenger seat, and passes for the fair ready to go. A big part of me needed the break, and the rejuvenation of seeing a sport I love at a high level.  Some highlights included the numerous visits to the petting zoo and barns with my RMWF rookie beau, spending some quality time with my teammates and friends Lauren and Megg, dancing at the barn bar (leg for sure did not appreciate this, but my head sure did), and eating some disgustingly classic fair food!

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Go Megg Go!

Go Megg Go!

After that weekend I felt a little less burnt out and a little more motivated to keep up with life in general. I came home from the weekend and had to stop at the barn on the way home to get on my horse for the first ride of the year (and my first ride on him since my accident). I can’t begin to tell you how fun that little hack was! Will felt like he’d never been put out to the snow banks for 6 months, and I felt like a new rider. Fair always does this for me, it revives my passion for the sport and reminds me of how deeply rooted my goals are as an athlete. In the week that followed some of that motivation remained, thankfully- as I needed it!

Monday began with a 5:30am shift at MORfit, followed by my first shift returning to Horse Connection as a instructor, and a job interview right after that- then riding both Will and Felix in the evening. I was full of energy, and ready to pick up my study routine (with two exams at the end of the week) for Tuesday, but the Universe intervened and after waking up Tuesday morning with the worst version of the Keystone Centre Cold I’ve ever had. I made it through marking practical exams that morning for the class I was TA-ing for this term (being on that side of the marking table is super fun!) just fine, but by the time I got to MORfit for my evening shift I had also developed food poisoning and ended up both having to leave work (and experience downtown intersection hurling into a plastic bag) to curl up into a ball of discomfort for the rest of the evening. My personal paramedic came to my rescue once again that night and showed up on my door step (with ambulance and partner in tow) to drop off some ginger ale and gravol for me (which wouldn’t stay down anyway). This left me with a day to study for Thursday’s final, and then part of a day to study for Friday’s. Thankfully I still had some motivation in the tank.

Wednesday was all speed studying (and work), and Thursday morning gave me some time to review before my exam. Although I usually avoid cramming as a strategy, this time it worked out great for me with Thursdays exam going by with no hiccups. Other then being that one student in the room who had constant sniffles and sneezes (sorry everybody…). By this point I was running low on energy and motivation, but kept it together for the remainder of the week and got to end off with a lovely ride outside in the crisp air and chat with teammate Megg, who was fresh off a competition week at fair.

While I was supposed to cover football camps this weekend (5:30am-9am), I called in sick as I was legitimately still pretty ill and wanted to catch up on some sleep. Since then I’ve really lost my motivation again for anything involving school work, and been trying to do my best to revive my brain again- to little success. I took today off of next to everything, except for a quick ride on my horse and my regular evening shift.

My leg progress has not really changed too much in the past weeks. Somedays it feels great, other days it feels not so great. I may have a mild case of recovery blues. It really is a day to day thing, but riding doesn’t seem to bug it too much and for that I am grateful. My fear around riding has began to decrease, and I have to give credit to all those around me supporting me every step of the way with this. My teammates Lauren and Megg are the first to 1) relate to everything I’m going through, 2) listen to my ranting and 3) do everything they can to help me out. I’m sure my horse sensed a little bit of hesitation in me and has yet to throw anything my way that would push me over the edge. Many of the conversations had in the barn with Lauren and Megg have solidified that we’re all working towards a common goal and often feel exactly the same way about where we’re at. The frustrations that come with the sport are not ones that are easy to handle alone, so it’s nice to have that network.

With 4 more exams looming, I seem to have taken a very.. uh.. relaxed (I just don’t care anymore) approach. I have little desire to keep up to my schedule at the moment, and have been attempting to scale back on less important commitments so that I can maintain the more important ones with some energy. It does seem at this point that whatever I do to try and “reset” myself, I only end up right back where I was within a few days. I’m constantly reminding myself that I’m doing all these things because I love what I do, even when I’d much rather be at home sleeping or reading a book that doesn’t involve too much science. I’m very ready for exams to be done, and to enjoy a week of no thinking before my spring semester starts.

The realisation that I am pretty much done the second last year of my undergrad is quite motivating. I’m accomplishing long term goals I set years ago left right a centre, and setting new ones that seemed so distant not that long ago. It’s a cool feeling, but also a little bit scary. There’s days where I feel very grown up and ready to take on new things, and even more days where I’m a little bit intimidated by the chunk of life I’m biting off. For right now my focus is getting through the next couple weeks, and maybe even setting up a jumping lesson to push my riding confidence to the next level- and rewarding myself for finishing up a long semester and year.

Here’s hoping the burn out feeling eases off soon!

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Walk before you run, breathe before you freak out, and when in doubt-write it out!

New WCB caseworker: “So, I was only informed of your job with Horse Connection and your job at the U of W.. what else do you do? Are you a student?”

Me: “I am a full time student, as well as I have another job at MORfit…”
WCB: “What? You have 3 jobs and you’re in school.. full time?”
Me: “Yes..?”
WCB: “Oh.. my god. Sorry.. but how do you do that?”
Me: “Well, it’s safe to say I’m pretty burnt out at the moment..”
WCB: “I can only imagine.. you’re officially the busiest person I’ve ever talked to…”
My week has been filled with classmates, coworkers, and friends telling me I look tired, and asking what’s wrong. So, I guess it’s been a long week? It’s only Wednesday? This post may be a bit of a frustration rant- bear with me.
With the end of term fast approaching, a bum leg, and a million things on the go- I guess this burnt out feeling was inevitable. Today I took a me day, after struggling through the morning rehab/training session and class- and being questioned a billion times as to what was wrong and why I wasn’t my usual motivated self- I went home and crashed into a nap (still in my jacket and shoes..). I’m starting to feel more refreshed now, and am actually accomplishing some school work for once.
This injury is starting to catch up to me, all that optimism I had early on is fading as rehab seems endless and my burnt out brain loses motivation for pretty much everything. Having experienced burn out before, I can at least deal with it somewhat productively- however this time I do have the extra challenge of physical hinderance as well and dealing with fear and anxiety as they come up in relation to the gradual return to my sport. Because my chosen sport is a little less familiar with my ATs and doctors- I am somewhat lonely on that front. I am lucky to have great supports from my teammates Megg and Lauren, as well as from others in my life- but the only person who can really get me over this hump is me.
A few weeks of an average of 14hr days has definitely left me ready for a break. Normally that break for me would come in the form of going for a run on my favourite route, or taking my horse out for a long hack. Two things that I can’t really do. Once because physically I won’t be there for a while yet, and the other because mentally I am far from that point as well- also, the weather sucks. My subconscious is really just doing it’s job; after all- why would my brain want me to step back into a situation that recently damaged significant aspects of my body? I’ve talked to many other athletes who have gone through the same experiences, and it’s nice to know I’m not losing it. Also interesting to learn first hand about yet another aspect of athletic therapy, a side of it we don’t often hear too much about. It’s not easy to deal with fear of something that is a major part of your life. 
In baby step form, I have been on a horse twice this week- with the help of some awesome people. Shakka sported me around on the weekend, and recreated many fearful situations for me as he was a tad fresh (thankfully his fresh is slow motion compared to most horses). I was on for about half an hour, 15 minutes of which I felt great for before anxiety started in, and when M came to watch, leaving the arena door open behind him- I was at the point where I had to stop. That was too much of a recreation of my accident for my head to handle at this point. I got on again Monday night, and Shakka was much less spunky and we had a great hack for another half an hour. This time I was only mildly anxious the entire time. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe, and that the saddle was once a safe place for me. Nervousness is a very unfamiliar feeling for me in the saddle. One that I hope doesn’t become familiar.
While this year has brought many lessons in patience, and prioritising- right now both those things are difficult. I am very frustrated and impatient with my recovery at this point, which isn’t horribly positive. To be in the tack, looking a small jumps set up around the arena and imagining myself schooling over them in the future is terrifying. Yes, I know that won’t last forever- but it certainly makes the next few months seem very daunting. I have never experienced a level of demotivation I’ve felt towards pre-season conditioning and rehab like this before- which in itself is interesting and provides me with a challenge. Often the only thing that gets me to a rehab session is pure obstinance towards the parts of me that are saying “why bother” or “this is going to suck, and be exhausting, and might make you hurt more.. maybe you should just take another day off”. I’m thinking those things all the time- and they are feeding into the fear of riding. Right now, before I get in the tack, and while I”m in the tack- there is a voice telling me that at any moment I could be thrown, be injured longer, be in more pain.  The same voice is telling me to walk away from this danger- wait longer before trying- avoid the risk. Take it easy in rehab, don’t push yourself to stay fit as much as possible, take it easy.
That voice isn’t me, really..  And unfortunately arguing with that voice is only adding to my already hectic schedule.
No wonder I zombie napped for an hour and a half today!
What I do know is that if I listened to that voice’s suggestions and took more time, stopped pushing myself to do things that seem hard or horribly intimidating, is that I honestly don’t know if I could get myself back into it after more time. If after 7 weeks the fear built to this level, what would 14 wks be like to deal with? What about a whole season? Yes, I did consider just taking a season off. However, I quickly realised that in all honesty I couldn’t afford to. Even though I do always stress about being able to financially afford to compete and train like I do.. in this sense I mean afford in a long term sense. My passion within the sport of riding has roots in almost every aspect of my life. Educationally, riding has driven me to pursue extra research, ask deeper questions, and set higher goals. Career wise, it’s given me an arena to voice my ideas and put them into action, building my own client base and giving me a chance to develop long term goals. My involvement, and all the ups and downs I’ve had within riding has given me so many skills and set me up for many opportunities that otherwise I may not have been privy to. To say that after 15 years of hard work, sweat, blood, and so many tears that I’m done because of one scary injury? That isn’t okay with me, and it’s that thought process that is keeping my inner argument going.
Fear is a two sided coin for me right now. There is the fear of returning, but also the fear of never going back. Would my life be easier if I took out the expensive hobby and time commitment riding is? Probably, yes. However, easier is almost never better. I would be taking out a piece of who I am, and losing a piece of who I want to be. Riding may take a back seat in the future due to other life goals, as it has and does already during the school year, that is a decision to make if and when. I’ve always been open to the idea of letting goals evolve and change- but letting a decision like that be made because of fear isn’t okay with me, and it doesn’t represent who I am. I also truly believe that if it was something I truly wanted to take a break from, I wouldn’t be having as much of a inner struggle with it. I am so grateful for that struggle, and for the people in my life who aren’t afraid to push me and question me when they see me working through this.
Today I got on a treadmill for the first time and was told to walk- I was immediately frustrated because all I wanted to do was run. A few days ago I got on a horse and was terrified I would never shake this uneasy feeling in future rides.
I am happy for that frustration, it means that I WANTED to run. I’m thankful for that terror- as it means I was thinking of FUTURE rides. As tired as I am- I’m tired because I’m trying.
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