Living at Ease


We live in a culture rife with dis-ease. I think it’s safe to say many of us exist day to day without even considering “ease” as a part of life.

I found myself surrounded this evening by people seemingly living in ease-ful states. After a hike down to the river brought a lovely sunset while sitting on a rock by the river bank, I was surrounded by others enjoying a peaceful Sunday evening. As I drove back to my Airbnb, I was struck (not literally) by couples strolling down the sidewalks, dog walkers ambling along, and kids playing.

A few of the kids playing brought up a memory of what it was like to be a kid- with no notion of schedules or places to be, other than the exact moment one is in.

When do we lose that presence? The ability to simply be, without the pressing urgency of feeling like we should be somewhere, doing something, and we are so very late.

I should preface that these realizations and epiphanies came after a week of profound learning and personal work during a Facilitator training for Integrated Breathwork. This deep training that I am over a year into involves psychosomatic techniques and body centered psycho-therapies that allow one to tap into roots and core experiences that have formed the habits we abide by. I’ve also been blessed with doing this training in one of my favourite places in the world, with the opportunity to escape into the mountains to process each evening- taking some much needed and deserved time to reconnect with myself, away from the distractions of everyday life.

Many of my personal sessions brought themes around boundaries (or lack there of- with a questionable reasoning as to why they were not to be trusted, but nonetheless valid roots related to deep and historic experiencing), my relationships to support (or aversion of- again, logically questionable mechanisms that originated largely to how I felt about boundaries at a core level, and in the end a deep reconnection to a part of myself I haven’t felt in a long time (my connection to my left feminine energy/receptive nature and how worthy she is of a voice and an opinion in collaboration with my right dominant, expressive masculine energy half) – with the realization that I am ready for things to be easy, and that I deserve to live in ease.

I preface with that not to discredit the relativity to all our lives in what I am writing about; rather to highlight the point that realizing the accessibility of ease in our daily lives.

As we experience life we pick up many defense mechanisms that served to protect us from the perceptions around experiences that create what we know as trauma. The layers of these defenses run deep and form the patterning of our lives. They also, more often than not, have a timeframe in which they go from being useful protection mechanisms to long held patterns that bring “dis-ease” into our lives.

Dis-ease can be many things. Often in manifests as pain (emotional or physical), chronic health conditions, sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, ptsd, etc. The stress that pursues trauma in our systems eats away at us even through hardening layers of defense. Depending on the circumstance, imagining an easeful life may seem next to impossible.

It’s a vicious cycle all of us are likely to experience on some level throughout life, if not over and over again in various ways.

In the world we live in, trauma, anxiety, mindfulness, collective support, disease and epidemic are catchwords. It’s not new knowledge that our society is dealing with a lot at the moment, with things not likely to change anytime soon. Yet- from my experience working with individuals and groups on tapping into the wisdom each of us holds inside these bodies we so often forget we exist within, the more we can do to listen and support ourselves- the better the collective experience will become.

Perhaps it starts with a recognition that ease is not so far off as we assume it to be.

If there is one thing I’ve had imprinted on me it’s that no condition or experience is permanent, and alongside that.. no pain point or stress response is unworthy of being given a voice. There is hope for us all as soon as we become curious about what our bodies have to tell us, and what life might look like if we gave ourselves even the smallest chance to heal what once caused pain and scarring.

Where does this start? How do we even begin looking objectively at pains that have created identifying ways of being?

I believe it starts with the inkling that the answers we’ve been given aren’t the end all be all. That there is more, and that maybe if we are aware of just one small crack in the reality we’ve been told is the only option- we can squeeze into a rabbit hole that offers us something more (sometimes requiring we source the bravery to step into said rabbit hole, and persist even when the darkness seems all encompassing..). I can speak to the fact that there is always another obvious step to take, after that first step. I can’t tell you it’s comfortable, or even logical, all the time- yet I can say that the body knows and guides with grace once we open the door and loosen our expectations.

Wherever you are on your journey towards re-discovering ease, thank you.

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Pegs and Holes: Thoughts from the not so beaten path

I’ve been thinking quite a lot lately about systems.

The systems we create, rely on, and get stuck within.

As a business owner I have (somewhat unwittingly) created and bought into systems for efficiency and growth. As a society we innately reside within systems for the same reason. Efficiency, social construct, and organization of the masses.

Every single one of us is required to live within numerous systems, and abide by systems that have been predetermined. Think insurance policies, healthcare, government constructs, etc. We also have numerous self-created systems that most of us aren’t aware of.. how we react to pain, our process around relationships, and our systems behind day to day decision making.

In the start-up of my businesses I quickly realized problems within existing systems and set out to create solutions. That is largely how businesses start.. as a solution to a problem the masses have within existing systems. What I quickly realized, working with health related fields, is that there are copious amounts of systems that create more problems then good.. both on a global scale, and a local/individual scale.

More then once a day I think to myself (or, lately say out loud), “but.. why does it HAVE to be that way?”. Majority of us take comfort in systems. It’s easy to follow a set out pathway. It doesn’t require much thought, and generally it just makes intuitive- forward moving sense. BUT. Is the comfortable option always the best? If you’ve read any of my material, you’ll know my answer to that..

Current example.. in ongoing discussions with an insurance company we direct bill through who’s policy is to have exclusive provider numbers for each staff at each separate location.. and now requires me to send in individual direct deposit forms for each staff at each location. I have four therapists that we bill to them for, all of which work at each location intermittently, so now I am sending in the same form with the exact same information on it (the only different info would be the name of each provider), eight separate times… No big deal- just annoying and seemingly unnecessary if one could think just a micro-metre outside of the box they’d been placed in. I suppose in a round about way, systems and policies like this are just an attempt at job creation?

That is quite an inane example, but it did fit into the thought theme I’ve been on.

I’m not an in the box systems creator. Obviously. So much of my career so far has been about looking outside the box, thinking laterally, and finding effective and sustainable solutions for everyone involved. Often this happens unwittingly, just because I see a system that doesn’t serve whatever it was designed to serve any longer- and can’t force myself to not question it..

How many times in a day do you get caught in a pattern because that’s just the way something has always been done, even though there are likely ten different options to accomplishing the same task.. perhaps even more efficiently?

Let’s bring system thought into the perspective of our health.

Systems are a type A term for habits. A series of mental processes we follow until it becomes an automatic process carved into our neurology. Routines, for good or for bad, that we rely on to exist.

The system I see most frequently is one surrounding pain (mental or physical).

No matter what the issue physically or mentally we all seek out the system we see as the most efficient. We find resources/pills/remedies to alleviate the symptoms, and often begin to just normalize those symptoms as a part of life, and move along our merry way.

Yet, time after time, I see people follow this pattern down a road until decades later they stop and think.. is this making any sense? I haven’t corrected the problem, I’ve only masked it. I’m still uncomfortable, and this seemed convenient but now looking back.. it hasn’t been convenient at all as now nothing has changed and I’m still not healthy.

This same analogy can be transferred to humans and their careers/family/relationship goals. We have been raised in systems and conditioned to think there in a linear path to follow. Find a career, sustain your lifestyle, find a person, follow point A to B to C to D..

I’ve always had an inner question mark surrounding this. I haven’t always known where I was headed, but I also have rarely seen a need to know. Where others have pressured and found safety in formulating a plan to makes sense given the paths they were told were the “right” paths, I’ve felt claustrophobic. In times where I have found comfort in routine and “normal” systems.. it’s rarely been lasting before a questions comes up, or a different way becomes obvious.

 

There has been a lot of value placed on routines.Maybe it’s the number of times I’ve been lost traveling in foreign countries, or in my home city.. and been forced to figure out new systems to get to where I need to be without (but sometimes still) panicking. Maybe it’s my rebellious nature, but I find routine in flowing with what feels right in the moment. That is certainly not for everyone. With each personality comes a different way of operating, and what’s healthy and useful for one, may not serve the next. As a health care provider, this is an invaluable lesson to learn- though the formation of any successful system when it comes to our wellbeing will always come down to figuring out how to effectively help someone listen to their inner workings and react accordingly. A system can both assist in that awareness building process for some, or come as a result of asking inward questions.

The generation I exist in is a hybrid of one’s past. With some of my peers staying comfortable in trust for systems they were raised in, and many of us having been raised in systems that clearly were broken.. we have started asking the “but, why?” question- and more often then not just pursuing our own path and working to create better options for a society that is full of faulty systems.

When I work with clients now, I feel a need to constantly challenge their inner workings. Usually if they’ve found their way to me it’s because they have experienced a broken system externally or within themselves- and knowingly or not need a shift. I’ve found that working with clients on this deeper level to help them rebuild their systems for themselves is what truly feeds my fire.

So- the next time you find yourself frustrated by a system.. in work, life, and love.. ask yourself a why. Does it HAVE to follow the linear system you have been told the situation must follow.. or is there a way to step off that track and create a different path?

Find that rhythm

“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.” -Nick Caraway, The Great Gatsby.

That variety of life. Do you ever look around at what you fill your life with and wonder how you’re lucky enough to be where you are? I do. Sometimes I have to pause and breathe- taking in everything that surrounds me. As you will have picked up by now if you read my posts even on a semi-regular basis, my days could use a few extra hours in them majority of the time. I’m surrounded by amazing people who inspire me, support me, and keep me on this planet. Sometimes all the different shoes I fill can cloud my focus. I can get lost in it all, forget to slow down and take that breath.

This weekend thankfully I had a few different opportunities to do just that. With my first show of the season coming up next weekend, as well as a midterm, I am so glad this weekend turned out the way it did. Whether it was sitting on the floor of the gym or in an Olive Garden over Sangria (technically not supposed to have alcohol yet- but seriously, a little Sangria never hurt anyone), or anything else in between- I got the chance to just slow everything down for a little while.

A phrase often used by C in our lessons is “find that rhythm and stick to it”. Put into a riding context, finding your rhythm or pace is imperative to getting around a course, or doing anything really. You definitely notice when you aren’t on it. I’ve had rides where I can’t find that rhythm if my life depended on it. But when you find it, things happen for you. You see distances, you make lines, that single oxer on the diagonal is amazing. I’ve been translating that to my daily life lately. Sticking to “that rhythm” is how I make my schedules aline. My different lives, and the goals that go along within each of them, instead of colliding and crashing into each other- they work around one another and often even compliment each other.

Sometimes, like the past week, I fall off that rhythm and get a little lost in everything. There was less “enchantment” to life and more just flat out exhausting. It’s like getting into a combination at an awkward distance and then getting stuck in the middle because you lose your momentum. It’s not a good feel. Re-organization, a deep breath, and “riding positive” (man, m&c are full of philosophical quotes) are what is needed to get through that combo successfully. That’s exactly what I’ve been able to do the past few days.

Something about this upcoming show in Brandon is a little bit nerve wracking for me (besides it being the first show of the year). I have a lot going on right now. It’s really not surprising my focus isn’t always where it needs to be. Between two.. three jobs, completely reworking my eating habits (which is still amazing, btw), spring courses, and training myself and my horse for competition… things can get jumbled sometimes. Some of the weird feeling about next weekend is probably because it’s the first show in a long time that I’m going into with no chronic injuries to speak of. Those ongoing issues almost became a comfort zone for me, even though they were far from comfortable. When something is with you for that long, it becomes a habit and part of who you are. While I’m very excited that I have been able to move past that pain, it’s a little weird not having it still. And of course, there is the fear that it will come back. I don’t write about this often because its a scary thing for me sometimes, and I have struggled with it and worked on it for a long time. However, it’s also something that I’ve gotten through, learned from, and improved from. I’m in the best shape of my life, and never been more able to handle whatever life throws at me. I’ve always said that life begins when you step out of your comfort zone. This is just another piece of that comfort zone I’m stepping away from, onto better things.

The other new thing for me is heading over to jumper land. It’s not exactly new, I’ve been there before. But it feels different this time. Maybe because I’m more prepared than I’ve ever been. And it’s one step closer to some big goals of mine. Things are starting to happen for me, hard work is paying off. It’s exciting, and it’s terrifying. Finding that rhythm with my horse isn’t as elusive as it used to be- and I have much more confidence in myself as a rider to know that even if things don’t go perfect- I can fix them. I can get out of that combination. A little leg, positivity, and a lot of determination is all it takes.

Up until this weekend I was having a hard time visualizing myself riding around a course and something not going wrong. My focus just wasn’t there yet. Then, this morning, while hacking Willard as a rain storm pelted the tin roof above us, things started to clear up for me. All I could hear was the rain, all I could feel was the rhythm of my horse underneath me. No conscious thoughts, other than knowing that this is my rhythm. This is where I need to be right now. Things clicked back into place somewhere in those moments. I’m back on a rhythm. Thank all the things. Not being on a “rhythm” is frankly exhausting, and a lot more work than it should be.

Had enough philosophical musings? Okay. Well here is a quick update on Week 4 of my diet! It’s been good! I had a few days where I wasn’t feeling amazing, but I think that was because I overdid it on the fibre side of things- which can cause some GIT discomfort. I’ve been feeling much better the past few days and more back to my normal. I made some amazing meals over the past week, as well as some cookies. I’m interested to find out how this new eating style holds up over a weekend of competition. I’m really, really hoping that it goes well and I have just as much energy as I have had while eating this way and that carries over to my riding. That would be amazing! It will definitely take planning. But that is something I am getting very good at.

This upcoming weekend will be a good trial run on many fronts. I am hoping for good results in all aspects, but it’s one of those things you just have to take as it comes. No sense worrying about it until something happens worth worrying about. Although at this point I’m wondering if we should do some anti-rain dances. That might be something to think about.

As usual, here are some photos of my delicious food creations (and one just for fun selfie)!

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Hummus, anyone?

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Breakfast “pasta”

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COOKIES! I love cookies!

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Look at how much my hair is growing!!!

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