Tag Archives: wellness

For You

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

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

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

As I was going down the slopes I noticed fear.

It crept in with every new feeling under my skies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Human nature is linked with shared fears.

Fear of being left behind.

Fear of not being loved.

Fear of the unknown.

Fear of what haunts us.

Fear of losing control.

Fear of FEELING, of discomfort, of pain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A different kind of stress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If anything, it honors all of it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fear doesn’t scare me anymore.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I just do.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Retreat

It’s the season for retreating for many of us.

This time of year I am systemically faced with the culmination of the year’s deeper meaning.

Most years a lot of things bubble up to the surface around November and December- leaving me a little raw and cracked open come the end of the year.

I stopped viewing this as a negative thing a few years ago, because with that rawness and openness has come endlessly valuable insights — among many internal “you have got to be f****** me”– and growth (of course).

I started to write this blog a few weeks ago. I titled it “Inhale”, as all I was doing as November rolled out and December rolled in was desperately trying to maintain a livable blood pressure through deep breathing. Every where I turned personally and professionally a fire needed stifling.

On the last day of reckoning I was driving to my rural clinic and as often happens I was transported in my minds eye to a moment or two I’ve had on one of my travel expeditions.

This time I travelled to a cliff’s edge deep in the Himalayas of Nepal. On the way to basecamp. As I was in this reality driving through the frozen prairies, I was remembering taking deep inhales and long exhales on the side of a mountain watching the mists lift and the sun peak through as Mt. Everest flirted with us through the clouds. I remember moments like this vividly from this trek. Every emotion was raw, clear, and aggressively intense. There were multiple times I found myself standing, gasping for air, looking out on that scene while waves of emotions at their purest form rushed over me. Emotions I wasn’t even sure how to define coming through with every deep breath. Simultaneous to this was the inhale of fresh, untouched air and the scenery very few people get to experience opening up before me.

You want to experience going from pure joy to deep sorrow in a matter of seconds- travelling through your darkest thoughts right back into your happiest memories in a span of a few minutes? Try a trek in altitudes above 3000masl. It’s a great way to get mental whiplash.

As undesirable as that may sound, in this relived moment it was extremely peaceful. The thing about getting to know all your emotions at their deepest points is that you also get to know the deepest serenity.

It’s a level of discomfort that has helped me with all the hugely uncomfortable parts of learning. Of failing, of getting back up, of learning humbleness and of practicing the art of being and honouring yourself. There’s vivid points where I’ve caught myself feeling like my world is ending, only to stop and think— wait.. nope this is actually just the learning process.. it’s supposed to be this uncomfortable. F***.

I knew early on 2017 was to be a year of learning. Collecting, reviewing, gathering and sorting. There has been so many moments where a tiny voice has said “just.. wait”, “hold that thought”, or said nothing at all except a small shrug suggesting “yeah go ahead act on that thought- you need this lesson to smack you in the face, clearly”. It seems almost too symbolic that near the end of the year I’ve gone through major, dramatic and seemingly sudden shifts to emerge into a new calm- almost fresh feeling start- almost a full 360 but with a new sheen from a year ago.

There’s been moments the last few weeks where I’ve been rushing to and fro, only to be halted in my tracks (literally) because a whiff of nature, a gust of wind, or a thought so vivid and clear makes me take notice. I stood in front of my apartment building last week like a lunatic deep inhaling the smell of the spruce trees on the walk way. In the moment they smelled like another world. In a world of chaos, the calm reached out and grabbed me- just for a moment. A reminder to stop, to inhale, to exhale. Then, it let go and set me back into the spiral I had been living in.

Lately, those moments of calm are more frequent. The path has become clearer again, and my purpose on it even moreso.

It’s like multiple days from my latest trip in Spain- basking in the sun getting day tipsy in full holiday mode with the strongest feeling that it’s all going to be fine, wandering historic streets and feeling reassured that many have felt whatever they’ve felt before you (and they’ve survived), or watching the sun set over the ocean in San Sebastián drinking cocktails— feeling gratitude for the people who have come and gone in your life, and the lessons they’ve cued for you.

In the aftermath of everything shifting and settling again I’ve seen a mission statement and foundation for my business come forth. Ideas and visions and questions I have been mulling over and collecting information for all year have seemingly come to obvious conclusions. I feel like I am ready to stand tall and speak my dialogue, on a foundation of values I’ve found through a year or two of shedding, collecting and inquiring on many different levels.

I’ve found myself in the last couple days peering back on previous chapters with bittersweet gratitude.. the highs and the lows all had sweet and tough moments. Sometimes extremely heart warming and often extremely challenging emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Being the kinaesthetic learner that I am, it makes sense that I’ve chosen the last couple years to explore the world, physically challenge myself, and delve deeper and deeper through uncomfortable experiences into my own psyche.. to come to where I stand now, a little more knowledgeable and a little more comfortable being uncomfortable.. or at least, knowing that it’s all just moments passing by.

While I expect that the coming New Year is going to bring on whole new exciting themes, challenges, and developments… as always, it’s a new adventure to live through. More stories to tell, and more memories to ponder.

Stay tuned… and I wish you all a restorative holiday season- and hope you find some time to retreat back to yourself as we close out 2017. It’s the season for guilt-free napping- take advantage!

Tagged , , , , ,

Indian Food for Breakfast

I found myself in the mountains last week on a much needed vacation. I realized how therapeutic the mountains have been to me in the last year. I’ve found myself there twice, first last year around this time in need of an emotional reset.. and now this time around in need of a total recharge.

Both time, I got what I needed.

I haven’t written as much as I used to. Not necessarily because of a lack of inspiration, but mostly because of a decrease in the need to write out my thoughts. I realize now how much this blog has been a kind of therapy for me.. and will continue to be in the coming years.. but also how much the last year has seen me develop other releases and ways of organizing myself.

We left for BC, my significant other and I, both of us quite burnt out- even if we didn’t fully realize it, from our respective falls. For me I’d had a year of preparing for my CATA exams (results still pending), figuring out my next steps, and constantly working on my business and promoting myself. No, it wasn’t 10 courses/term and multiple exams and practicals.. but it is a new territory for me.. this life outside of student life. A week away was exactly what I needed.. and it couldn’t have been better.

We drove through the night and arrived at our destination at a ripe 5am (we aren’t the best at getting up early to leave early).. and had a lovely sleep in to wake up to some gorgeous weather and a mountain view from our rented condo. From there we spent the week rotating between visiting close by hot springs, breweries, hiking, and watching movies on the couch. Rising each morning to a beautiful combination of coffee, local organic eggnog (so good), and a bit of whisky (best combo imaginable). It was amazing to just be able to turn off from the rest of the world, not worry about alarms or wearing a watch, not having any reason to check our phones or emails.. a whole week of just being in the moment and not worrying about the rest of the world. Something the both of us needed!

     
 Coming home and back to reality was something we both procrastinated on.. starting the 16hr drive late on our last day, stopping for a night outside of Calgary at a friends, and then re-starting the now 13hr drive late the next day.. then making a extended stop at Costco, we found ourselves driving through SK at 1am, both exhausted, grumpy, and sick of being in the car. So.. on the hunt for a motel we went. After a whole week of no worries, I started to notice now, in this moment of pure exhaustion and annoyance at having to return to real life, how fatigue can effect our ability to make choices about how we want to react to a scenario. After bickering about something around Moosejaw, we both ended up laughing and breaking the mood.. realizing we were choosing to be annoyed and didn’t have to choose that.

We ended up finding a motel in Indian Head, SK.. a town where there really isn’t much. Somehow they were open at 2am when we rolled in and gave us a key to a room. Typical of a small town highway motel, the heat wasn’t turned on in the room and the window was broken and covered with cardboard. When it’s -15 out… even turning the heater on, there wasn’t much hope of this room warming up. So we trundled back to the desk/bar/restaurant and got another room.. this one with a intact window, but no heat again. So turning on the small heater in the room we left for a nightcap at the desk/bar/restaurant to let the room warm. After a long chat with the bartender/owner (one of a family from India), we headed back to the much craved bed. Only to find the heater in the room really not doing much heating.

Not having any better options, imagining we were camping in the late fall, 10 degree weather, we had a few hours of sleep. That morning, we decided to try the Indian restaurant within the motel.. owned and ran by the Indian family. After a lengthly talk with the bartender (the brother) about how they prepared the food, and how it was the best in the greater area.. how could we not? We weren’t disappointed.. and as we sat there eating breakfast, again leaving late on our still 5hr drive home.. I felt a small bit of anxiety creep up over how we still had a long drive, and I was tired, and real life was coming back upon us… then.. mid bit of butter chicken at 9am in the middle of SK in a trucker motel.. I chose to let that anxiety go and enjoy the moment I was in.

That simple act of letting a emotion float across my consciousness, observe it, and let it pass is an ability it took me years to develop. It’s more accessible in some moments then in others, but what I noticed in this particular instance was how much easier it has been becoming for me as of late. A skill I think I’m going to use quite a bit in the coming year. I’m predicting this year to be a year of unpredictables, and am grateful to have begun developing how to live in the moment and enjoy the here and now as much as possible.

  
Happy Holidays everyone!

 

Tagged , , ,

What kind of fuel are you using?

How much time and effort do you spend picking out your horses’ feed? Planning out their nutrition, making sure what they’re eating is going to give them the most benefit. If you’re like most riders/horse owners.. probably quite a bit. It’s important stuff, these animals do great things for you- and they rely on you to make good choices when it comes to care.

Next question. How much time and effort do you spend picking out what you’re going to eat? Are you as picky with what goes onto your plate as you are with what goes onto your four legged friend’s? If yes, then kudos! If you’re reading this and realizing that the amount of time and effort differs between the two- I hope I’m inspiring a positive thought process. I am by no mean passing judgement.

I should also mention that I am not a registered dietician, or nutritionist- and will not shove advice directly related to what you eat personally down your throat. Ever. It’s not what I believe. I do, however, believe in the power of the right foods. My exercise physiology professor started off a lecture the other day with this statement:

“95% of what you eat, your body absorbs..”

While this isn’t a new fact, it was a phrase that got me thinking. 95% is a lot! In the past year I’ve completely changed how I eat; at first only because I had two doctors telling me it was a good idea, if I didn’t want diagnostic surgeries- and then continued on because I just felt so damn good all the time. I truly saw how much better I was functioning.. physically, athletically (in and out of the saddle), mentally, and academically. The extra effort was more then worth the benefits!

We live in an society full of fad diets, weight loss tips, and people telling you their way is the best way. I live and breath evidence based practice at work and at school- and am skeptical of any claim I hear unless there is recreatable, realistic, and legitimate research behind it. Much of the research I’ve been reading lately is starting to catch onto the fact that the way we eat as a society in general is causing a myriad of health problems.

“Nutrition is not a mathematical equation in which two plus two is four. The food we put in our mouths doesn’t control our nutrition…not entirely. What our bodies do with that food does.” -T.Collins, Whole. 

The body is an amazing machine that will absorb what it needs, when it needs it, from what you give it. However, if you don’t provide it with the option of the things it needs, it has to compensate by using less ideal substitutes from the options available. Each individual body needs different things, and functions it’s best on it’s own special kind of “fuel”. While I can’t say what’s best for you, I can say that no body will be it’s best version on processed, refined, “fast” foods.

You wouldn’t knowingly feed your equine partner(s) something that would give them less energy, cause inflammation within their body, decrease their immune function, or put them at higher risk for a variety of health problems- would you? That’s precisely why you think about what you are filling their feed tub with. Likely you want to give them a type of “fuel” that helps them function at their best.

What kind of “fuel” do you fill your own tank with? Have you made changes recently to that intake and noticed differences? How do you think spending just as much time planning your own nutrition might improve your daily life, in and out of the saddle?

Think about it.

Tagged , , ,