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 đź’–)  

Without thinking

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for more from that post.. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Just do what you do best.”

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

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Carrot at the end of the stick

“You’ve got that ‘march glaze’ about your eyes.. its that time of year for you students”

Yep.

Talk to any student right now and they’ll either give you a zombie-like reply and/or mumble something about “only 3 weeks left.. so close”. I know pretty much all my peers, as well as myself, are pretty much over the whole classes, assignment, school idea.

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Totally burned more calories on my run then are in this dish…. Totally.

It carries over to other things as well- like running. Tonight, for instance, the only reason I convinced myself that doing my run was a good idea was by bribing myself with cake and ice cream. Productive? No, not really. But, hey, it worked. And it was better than sitting on the couch and eating cake anyway. Right?

But in all seriousness- I’ve been working really hard at keeping my motivation levels up. 2 weeks ago now I started a self-designed “pre-show season bootcamp”, which I have been sticking to as best I can. I’ve been putting all the fitness programming knowledge I’ve learnt this year into action (anybody want a trainer?), and feeling the results. In a good way! Since I’ve made so much progress with my back and hip issues- much thanks to the great AT/Chiro that helped me get on this track, Dr. Notley – I want to go into this season as best prepared as I can to not back track. There is definitely some fear there that it will all kick up again as soon as I start riding full time- but I’m trying to keep my thoughts trained on the fact that I’m in great shape and stronger then I’ve ever been. And if it does, then I know how to work through it. Anybody who has had a lingering injury will know how tough that can be sometimes. If you’re interested in seeing some of my workout plans, I post them all on my Fitness Log, so feel free to take a look!

It’s been a pretty quiet few weeks for me, school wise. Well. Relatively speaking of course. It’s kind of the quiet before the storm. The storm being finals. The quiet being me still running around 6 days a week not knowing what I’m doing half the time. But hey, I’ll take it. The last big project I worked on and finished (B), was a group presentation on “Norms in Athletic Therapy” for psych skills in sport and life. Past being frustrated with my fellow group members for most of it (apparently none of them had really done a presentation or public speaking before…(thank you 4H)), it was a pretty fun project. Instead of sticking to boring classic research for our references- we decided to interview two practicing ATs from the community and use their answers to support our points. Norms was a pretty tough concept for us to present- and there were definitely aspects we lost marks on because of that. Norms are the things you do in life, but don’t think about really.. ever. For an AT it would be something like showing up before a practice, having a certain set of personality characteristics (naturally or taught), or being the type of person people are comfortable talking to. Its things that aren’t in the code of conduct, but things that are often past down through peers or teachers you have along the way. What norms do you have in your career, or daily life? In groups/organizations you are a part of?

The next big paper I’m writing is on (hopefully anyway, proposing the idea to my prof tomorrow) the Canadian Eq. Team and the Tiffany Foster situation at the olympics- mainly on how Eric Lamaze and the other members of the team reacted relating to the topic of “leadership” in sport. Should be a pretty interesting topic, I think!

In health news I’ve finally got a date with a specialist… unfortunately not for another month or so- which I guess isn’t bad for wait time. I’ve also started looking into seeing a naturopathic doctor- so here’s where I ask you lovely readers- does anyone know of good names in Winnipeg?

As I alluded to in the opening paragraphs- I’m in the homestretch for the semester. What’s my “carrot at the end of the stick”? Besides cake.. it’s getting on my horse and starting spring training! Everyday I get through is one day close to riding season. Assuming I can get my saddle on the white buffalo…

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Do what you love. Find it. Do it well. If you don’t know how to do it, learn. Know that it will rough you up a few times, and occasionally bring you to tears. Do it anyway, to the best of your ability. You’ll have no other choice. There is no end- only the journey. It will be a long one- but know this: You will be forever changed.

Some thoughts on Lance…

If you follow sport news, you’ll be sick of the Lance Armstrong story by now. I know I am. It’s been a big topic that many of my class discussions are based around the past week or so- and many people are raising interesting points.

Maybe it’s my over-forgiving nature- but I still think he has shoes to fill as a role model in sport and in humanity. Yes, he did many wrongs in his career. Whether or not they were decisions made in an attempt to be the best in a sport where at his level of competition, doping was a norm- I think at this point all that is in the past and he has a choice to make. The publicity he has now is bigger than ever, and he will either choose to fade away after all this is done and the media moves on- or use this chance to do something positive for the sport with his image and experiences?

“I didn’t invent the culture.. but I didn’t change it either. And that’s my mistake”

As a leader in the sport, and a role model- whether or not he expected his teammates to follow his lead, in group situations it takes a pretty ballsy team member to stand up to the leader- but were they ever denied their own right to choose?

“I was the leader of the team, therefore I set the example”

Athletes at every level make sacrifices to achieve goals in sport. So much of sport is calculating risk. We give up time, money, relationships, other opportunities, etc, because something inside us creates an insatiable drive to reach the next level. One of the ideas proposed in one of my lectures was what if doping is just another sacrifice. In a sense, it is just taking that drive one step farther. What if it was viewed as okay, regardless of the negative side effects to the human body. For some athletes, this is a logical path to achieving goals in sport. Doing whatever it takes. As Lance has stated in his Oprah interview, it didn’t feel like cheating at the time. He viewed it as a level playing field- knowing that many of his peers were also doping. He made the choice that he thought was what needed to be done. How he handled that choice throughout his career and the people who got caught in the crossfire is debatably awful, even he admits- but he stuck by that decision. I don’t view doping as a logical or ethical way to achieve a goal, in any context, but regardless of personal opinions, what if doping was regulated? If it was viewed as acceptable. A new way to see what the human body could do? This was another question posed to my Intro Kin class. In this hypothetical situation, how many athletes would be doping? A lot. Surprisingly, and this is really awesome, majority of the athletes in the lecture said that they wouldn’t feel as though they were true athletes anymore- if this were the case. Sport is about pushing the human body to new limits, busting your ass to reach a goal. It was argued that we could push the body to amazing feats with enhancement drugs and doping- so wouldn’t that be a new level of epic in sport? Countered by many of us by.. but if it’s not real… is it really that great? It turns all sport into somewhat of an act, and doesn’t that defeat the point? Would any of us, as athletes, feel accomplishment and pride in this context?

I believe Lance has a huge chance to change the face of his sport. I think he already has. He has lost the respect he held as a elite athlete, stripped of wins, but will he work to regain that respect in another way? He’s been a leader in sport his entire career- will he maintain that characteristic and use it to make some right out of his wrongs? His sport, the world he lived in, is being exposed as a pretty ugly place. He has a chance now to help rebuild that image- as it will need repairing if it is to survive in the ever changing, very public, media corrupt world of elite athletics.

This is a man who admittedly abused his power as a leader in sport. As a role model to millions of people all over the world. What will he do with it now? So many people have lost their belief in what he stood for and they have every right to be disappointed, but if he really thought his intentions were right in the moment- regardless of what we know now, is there not still some inspiration to be found there? I think many people would find that if they were put in a similar situation, their stories would play out similar to this one. As an athlete I would hope that if I was placed in his world I would make different choices, but I have no idea what it is to be at that level in that particular sport, or any sport. It’s a completely different world, that few- if any- truly understand. Nobody can predict what choices they will make in a given situation. It’s inevitable that we will make the wrong choice, or a choice that feels right, but in hindsight wasn’t. I really think it’s what we do with the results, where we go from the mistakes, that decides who we are. I’m sure I’m one of few followers of this story that still has respect for Lance Armstrong. Even if he is only coming clean after being forced to by mountains of evidence. He has a lot of work to do to even begin to rebuild the trust he has broken. That is undeniable.

I hope for his sake, and for sport, that he does do the work. I hope that he can become a role model again, for the integrity of sport, for the people that once found him inspiring. I also hope that the public will be open minded about whatever else is to come of this. We all have something to learn from his story, from his mistakes, and in turn from our own mistakes.

The Student Games

A thought popped into my head today while I was trying to decide between the $1.89/lb apples that I wanted, and the $.99/lb ones on sale that looked half as good (I picked the cheap, bruised ones), and again when I was watering down my cranberry juice (that I got on sale)) as to make it last longer,  that students lead quite interesting lives.  And as my roommate just pointed out, in between mouthfuls of carrot, that her supper is just that. A carrot. “With dirt on it”.

“University doesn’t test your knowledge and the amount you have learned, it tests your stamina, study skills and sanity. What will you give up to keep up?”

That quote makes it sound like we live in the Hunger Games trilogy.

It’s not all that bad. Usually. Most of the time.. Actually, we do tend to be hungry a lot… But it definitely is an acquired lifestyle, between study sessions turned into tv show marathons, screaming “I don’t waaaaannnt to studddddyyyy”, flash cards, notes, bus passes, cramming information into your head (even if you don’t understand any of it), debating which subject needs your attention most based on the due date and complexity of the assignment, writing blog posts, yelling at printers, and Facebook.

“I’m going to get a cupcake, and then I’m going to study….. I’m probably not going to study…. yes I am…maybe…” – Christine

Every year we enter into our respective schools, quickly spend all our funds on books, of which 50% of which are actually used in classwatch our care for personal appearance dissapate, wish we were at Hogwarts, procrastinate, somehow get through midterm season- relax, panic, write finals and finish final projects, anxiously await marks, and repeat. Public naps happen often. There are rooms at our school where every person inside them is napping. It’s like that scene from Inception where all you can hear are people sleep breathing.

I’ve had friends who aren’t in school ask me what movie I want to go see, and I’ll have absolutely no idea what is playing, or what has played for the past few months. The outside world doesn’t exist to a University student, especially from 2nd year onwards, and for those having more then 4 classes. We get our news from Facebook, our ideas from Pinterest, and as a result lose a lot of sleep on news and ideas. 

Grocery shopping is put off too long, at the same time as cleaning the fridge is put off. I think there is still left overs in our fridge from the first week of school- which I am now afraid to touch. There a numerous empty granola bar boxes in the cupboard, which I still reach into every morning hoping that there is one in there. We learned quickly that IF we buy fresh vegetables, putting them in the crisper drawer is NOT the best idea. Because they get forgotten about. Then, 4 weeks later, we are left with a very unspeakable things that are not crisp, or fresh. Whether or not you are a vegetarian, sometimes that is what you’re diet turns into. Let’s face it. Meat is expensive, not always on sale, and time consuming to cook. Sidekicks are a fancy meal, because they are the closet thing to a complete meal you’ll be eating all week. Whenever I do find myself relaxing into thinking I have free time, it is quickly overcome by a fear that I’ve forgotten something. In lieu of having a can opener, I’ve been know to try desperately to open a can of soup with a screw driver (it doesn’t work, by the way). I’ve also been known to bribe myself through papers by making the deal of one paragraph, 5 minutes of nap time. Sometimes that same bribe gets me through 3 hr lectures. Listen for 5 minutes, sleep for 5.

If you want me to go somewhere, mention free food, and I’ll fit it into my schedule.

We live in a world where skipping class is reasonable for two reasons- being extremely sleep deprived, or staying home to do homework for said class. No matter how excited you get over a great midterm mark, beware, because the higher the class average, the harder the final will be. Do not try and communicate with a student who is pre, mid, or post- midterm or any other exam. Never underestimate our ability to write a 15 page research paper the night before it’s due, and still somehow get a decent mark. It IS possible.

I’ve found that school and travelling (my kind of travelling anyway) have a lot in common. The views are certainly less spectacular, depending on how you define spectacular, but there is a the similar money and food scarceness, and a equal amount of dirty laundry.

I start somewhere around the 3rd phase..

However, there is not as much panic, while travelling, as there is as a student when you forget your pencil case at home and you have 3 lectures and a lab to get through on no writing utensils, protractors, calculators, or rulers. There is, though, a great deal of wondering what you’re doing, where you’re going, and various other universal questions, in both areas of life.

I can go from feeling like I’ll never be out of school, ever ever ever, to holy sh** I’m already half done a degree in 2 seconds flat. Same amount of time about that it takes me to open and close the fridge in the morning and see that I have no juice to water down, therefore I’m stuck with just tap water.

As students we learn what each prof wants to see from us, and how to adapt to their varying personalities. Know which classes to come wide awake for, and well rested, and which ones are okay to maybe nod off for a few minutes in the middle (they do exist). Mix those two up though, and you won’t know what hit you come exam time. Some like to fool you into thinking they teach an easy class, and then test you on everything they said, posted, and thought.

**Holds up text book full of post it book marks* “Look at it, isn’t it pretty?? It’s like a rainbow”

“Christine, study.”

Somehow, no matter how hard we will ourselves, we cannot help procrastination. Sometimes we procrastinate in ways that indirectly could possible sort of maybe relate to our studies. Grey’s Anatomy episodes taught me some stuff about Anatomy.. It has anatomy in the title anyway. And I’ve also convinced myself that gym time is equal to study time. But by some miracle, we make it through. We don’t melt into the puddle we would rather be come exam time, usually, anyway, and our brains sometimes help us out with exams, but even when they leave us as blank as the answer sheet- we come up with something and live to write another paper. Then, by who knows what cause, we come back for another semester. The will to make something of our lives is greater then the will of Facebook. In the long run. Procrastination does eventually lead to getting things done. In the most stressful way possible, but they do get finished. Being a student would be just too easy otherwise. And, those hard earned marks wouldn’t feel as good if we did the work and had no stress going along with it. Right now I’m wondering how I managed to write 1300 words this quickly, when it takes me a week to do the same for something much more important.

 

It’s an vicious cycle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Flash In Time

I’ve always held the belief that we learn from every experience. From every person we meet; coaches, friends, family, teachers, to every sight we see; a busy cross walk, a sunrise, rush hour. Sometimes it takes some tough love from the universe for things to sink in. Sometimes it takes years to find what we didn’t know we needed.

For athletes, there is always one coach they will say taught them the most- or a fellow teammate or opponent.  Something that stuck with them- good or bad, bad or worse- the experience leaves a mark that becomes a part of who we are. For equestrian athletes, there is lessons learnt from each horse we ride- and always the few extra special ones that stick with us.

I’ve personally had many different coaches, teachers, horses, and experiences-good and bad- that have left their mark on me. I can’t honestly say one has shown me more than another, or that one holds more value, because that would be going against what I stated earlier. But certainly there are more experiences that come to mind at different points in life.

The phrase “tough love” definitely comes to mind when I think of many experiences I had with one of my most memorable equine teachers, Flash. I can’t count the amount of tears this horse made me cry. She was frustrating, and heart breakingly stubborn, all while being talented, beautiful, and full of heart. From day one she made it clear that if things were going to go well, it was because she decided they would. She was a complete jigsaw, until you figured her out- cracked her hard exterior- and knew how to read her. If you were patient, she’d give you clues. Weeks of frustration, and then she’d give you an inch. Any of you who have rode or worked with a “chestnut mare”, you’ll know exactly the feeling I’m trying to get across. She taught me how to be a better loser, and as a result a better winner. She showed me that things are probably not always going to work out exactly to plan, and that that’s okay, because sometimes what you really need is a step in another direction anyway. She taught me how to laugh at myself; horses keep you humble- afterall. She gave me a determination that has gotten me through things that could have easily brought me down. It wasn’t always a case of getting off in a better mood with her, but, I always ended up with a different perspective. Because of her I ended up on the path that brought me my current mount, Willard, who has turned out to be a wonderful partnership as well. And the right one for where I’m at.

With the year I’ve had, it would be easy to look back on the years Flash and I were abusing trail class patterns and say that was nothing compared to this. But it’s really just a statement of how much I’ve grown from those experiences, and been able to handle the new ones. There were competitions with her where she would have me in tears from the halter classes until the last class of the day. And yet we kept going into the ring, both stubborn enough to keep pushing each other, and at the end of the day our bond was even stronger then before.

It was through her that I proved to myself that even when things don’t work out, even when nothing goes right- pushing through that brings you strength to deal with anything. Through this horse I began using the phrase “If I can do this, I can do anything” when things got rough, as they have and as they will. Nothing easy is worth having. Sometimes the best memories are made during the toughest times. It does nothing to compare yourself to others, because even the best have bad days. Be humble, be determined, and open your heart to everything you can. Everybody, everything, everyday has something to teach you.

RIP Flash, and thanks for all the tough love you gave me.