Love

Love.

What does love mean to you?

My description of what love looks like has changed over the years as I’ve grown and lived my life.

My perception of what love looked like in my family of origin was skewed. I grew up believing love was conditional on outcomes. If I got enough As at school and finished first enough times ski racing somehow I’d be enough and would be told I was loved.

Love was sexualized in my home growing up and so I did what I knew to get love which led me down a very dark path. I have this alter ego, a seductress of sorts who shows up when she needs attention and love.

In recovery I learned there was a different way to love. My beautiful, sweet home group, who became my family by choice, loved me into the parts of myself I couldn’t and still struggle with. They see me with eyes of love and remind me of who I am when I most need it.

Thanks to them and the work I’ve done to recover the parts of myself I was meant to be, I’ve slowly and sometimes painfully, discovered what healthy love looks and feels like.

As I’ve been so beautifully reminded over and over again in these past weeks of social distancing, while listening to hours upon hours of program speakers sharing their experience, strength and hope through online conferences and workshops: I am a child of God.

I’ll say it again: I am a child of God.

Born perfect. With no need to be anything else but the fullest expression of myself.

That is certainly not a notion I grew up with.

It is a profound and life changing realization. The constant striving, the need to keep learning and working on myself can ease. Instead I can find that space between that need and who I am. A grace of sorts. Love for who I am exactly in this moment.

Because as program so beautifully reminds me: I am right where I am meant to be. In this moment, exactly as I am.

It’s another one of those penny drop moments where something just clicks into place and life as I know it is again forever changed.

Last night I had the opportunity to spend time with a man I love. It’s been challenging outside of program to be friends with men and not dip into the waters of sex. I have yet to master this ability.

I met this amazing human in the midst of my disease fifteen years ago and I somehow knew to draw firm lines around him. He and I were to be friends and nothing more. We lost sight of each other while I was in relationship and as my Higher Power would have it our paths crossed again afterwards.

I was so shattered after my relationship fell apart. I lost the only home I had known for 16 years, my former stepdaughter and my ex. I moved and started over. There weren’t many pieces of my old life left and nothing felt remotely familiar. Fortunately I had found recovery by then and had my people to lean on.

Within two months of this huge change, he came back into my life again to remind me of our friendship and love.

We picked up right back where we’d left off and after a while we started dating. I was a shadow of who I am now, broken and full of pain. Still enmeshed with my ex in a trauma bond. I fell into the comfort of his arms only to realize I had attracted another variation of an unavailable man. He is very good at what he does and keeps himself incredibly busy.

What did I do? I broke his heart.

A long weekend where he was working a gig, I went off to Calabogie to watch the National Wake Boarding Championships. The event was cancelled part way through due to thunderstorms on the lake. I stopped in a town on the way home and met a man I fell head over heels in love with. I’m still at a loss for words to describe what happened.

It was like something out of the movies. We met at an ice cream shop and sat for hours talking while the place closed. Neither of us wanting to leave this moment. It didn’t matter than he was in an unhappy relationship. Old me didn’t care.

You see I was a master at fixing men or so I thought. Instead I’ve learned in recovery to keep the focus on me, to deal with my own pain and allow others the dignity of their choices.

I hurt my beloved friend. I broke his heart because unbeknownst to me he had fallen in love with me.

The pain wasn’t over, as men rarely leave their partners so I in turn, had my heart broken. That was the level of chaos I caused and can still cause if I’m not careful.

Here I sit almost five years since those events and I have tears streaming down my face at the level of love this man still has for me. I don’t need to be anything other than who I am when I show up with him. There is no striving, no need for perfection, we can just sit and be. Together.

That’s exactly what we did last night for hours. Talking, listening to music, laughing till my throat was hoarse. He held me and we talked some more, and I marveled at the way he loves me.

He touches me with reverence, asks for permission and holds space with no expectations of sex. He reminds me I am beautiful and all I feel is love. Just being in that moment with him is such a gift.

As tears keep falling, I am reminded that God loves me and wants me to be happy. I am a child of God and worthy of safe, sweet beautiful love.

We all are.

What a gift.

From the darkness to the light, yet again

I feel as though I have come through yet another tunnel. From darkness to light. This pattern has repeated itself over and over again throughout my life since I was sexually assaulted.

I’ve come to live with these highs and lows in my life in the past 25 years. I’m happy to say that the lows and highs don’t last as long anymore and are not quite as devastating. I attribute this progress to the work I’ve done in recovery.

Mid January another low hit. I can see what the cause was, a program member opting out of a significant service commitment at the district level of my program where I am the chair. I was also able to observe that I had been in a high prior to that event happening. I’ve learned in program that I have choices, as do others. It’s okay to change our minds and do what is best for us.

I had gotten emotionally involved with this person. The connection was instant, heady and obsessive. When he entered the door of another 12 step program I was able to step back, love him into his decision and draw a boundary of friendship for us.

I felt very much alone in carrying his decision. I didn’t reach out to the committee I sit with. Instead I sat with his choice and anxiety spiked as to what we were going to have to do to fill his position. It’s important to note it had taken months to get him approved from other committee members.

Anxiety is what happens when my head isn’t where my feet are. Fully grounded in the present. Instead I go whooshing into the dark recesses of my mind and take it on myself. I am a failure and I can’t do this job. Old limiting beliefs stemming from my family of origin.

I saw my counselor, reasoned things out with two people who had served in my role and a trusted friend. I came to the committee with an amends for my behavior, you see, instead of stepping back and allowing them the space to hold a group conscience, I dominated. I wanted my friend to be voted into the position.

I’ve learned a valuable lesson. My role is one of facilitating. I don’t have a vote at the table and therefore I need to step back, allow the members the space to share and reason things out with each other followed by a vote. The vote needed to be done by ballot, something I didn’t do.

I allowed my ego, selfishness and power to rule the show. Not what program is about. I was humbled in making an amends to the committee members. I cried and apologized for not putting principles above personalities. It’s my modus operandi to cut and run when things go sideways. Instead I told the committee that I would see them through till June. I am finishing the previous chair’s three year service term.

Service positions are like pouring miracle grow on our defects of character. In this space and time of social distancing, I’ve been able to see how much I love service and the work I do for our program. Service has saved my life. I started six months into the program because a wise elder saw I needed something to hold onto. Here I am seven years later growing in service. First as my group representative, then as chair of our outreach arm and now as chair of our beloved district.

I’ve been listening to almost 70 hours of speakers and workshops offered online through the incredible crew behind Al-Anon Without Borders. Weekend Round Ups have been fantastic and the workshops on such topics as forgiveness, discovering choices and the values and principles behind the steps have been enlightening to say the least.

I felt like my recovery was stagnating before mid March, I’ve grown so much in these past few weeks. I’m leaning in and working on my recovery. It’s been intense and has helped shift so many pieces for me.

This feels like the biggest wellness retreat of my life. Anchored by early morning walks in the forest, sessions on my yoga mat and staying connected through many online program meetings. It’s cracked me open, given me the space and time to really stop and look at what more I want to accomplish.

I’m realigning and dreaming bigger.

Stay tuned. I can’t wait!

My impact statement

I’m part of a class action lawsuit against the Department of National Defense for sexual misconduct. The class action has been won and it is now time for me to write a victim impact statement.

I despise the word victim.

I am not a victim. It’s the last word I want to be described as or who I want to be.

I’ve been reading other victim impact statements of women who have been raped to get a sense of what is necessary to write.

It has been beyond horrific to read these stories. I truly have no words to describe the experience. The process has elicited some strong reactions on my part. I’ve opened Pandora’s box again and all these dark swirls of energy are around me filled with pain, memories and emotions.

It’s funny how the mind works. I found myself minimizing my experience compared to brutal rapes where the women were hospitalized. When I was reading the impacts the rapes had on their lives I again minimized my experience. Counting myself fortunate to not have suffered as much.

Then reality set in.

My life has been deeply affected by what happened to me 25 years ago.

My career in the military was over before it even began. I have suffered financially in that I have been unable to hold down jobs for any length of time. I don’t handle stress well, it’s like circuitry in my brain has been fried.

My interactions with people have changed. It’s challenging for me to trust. It goes without saying that my romantic relationships with men have been deeply affected.

It’s a miracle that I was able to finish my studies and go on to complete another degree and a subsequent graduate degree. I remember having to drop courses over and over because I couldn’t handle the pressure.

My body changed after that night. I packed on weight. It became a form of protection, a barrier to keep men away. I’d gain and lose 30 pounds. I still struggle with maintaining a consistent weight.

I shoved that experience in a box and buried it deep. Sure I was fortunate to speak to a psychologist after it had happened but the healing didn’t happen then.

It took years before I was able to see the pattern of that single night and the havoc it has wrought on my life. I slept with countless men in a misguided attempt to take back my power. I didn’t want a relationship. I was an island surrounded by a wall in the middle of the ocean.

I thought that if I could get my fix enough I wouldn’t have to feel the pain. I was caught in a negative feedback loop of feeling horrible and going right back out to do it again. I abandoned myself over and over again and played Russian roulette with my life. I didn’t care about myself or anyone else.

I lost myself in relationships because I had no sense of who I was. Now I did grow up in a family with alcohol and abuse so you learn to be whatever you need to be in order to stay safe. A born people pleaser, I became whoever it was you wanted me to be.

I spent years in and out of psychologists offices until I hit an addictions center and went for counselling and group therapy. It took a while and more destruction before I found recovery seven years ago. I’ve been able to continue my healing journey thanks to my Higher Power, program and my sponsor for which I am so very grateful.

The words of a dear friend of mine from program came to me yesterday as I sat in the pain: “If God brought you to it, he’ll get you through it.”

They say to look for the evidence of God, a Higher Power, the Universe whatever it is you chose to call it in your life. Looking back, He’s had his hand in all of it.

My best friend reminded me yesterday of my strength. She said I was one of the strongest people she’s ever met. It’s what others see in me as well. It helps to be reminded of this when I’m in the midst of feeling my feelings and releasing them.

I know I’m strong enough to do this. To write a statement. To do the steps necessary to present my case. No more hiding. It’s time to shine the light on this darkness for those who need to see it and to let go. I leave the outcome in my Higher Power’s hands. Whatever happens will be meant to be.

I needed to write this post before I write my statement.

Wish me luck.

Seven years

A little over two weeks ago I celebrated seven years in recovery.

That’s a big milestone. I don’t usually talk about the number of years I’ve been in the rooms because I believe what’s important is how I work my program. Growing up in my family of origin I was measured by my output and success so I choose to no longer let the number of years in recovery define me because invariably I will feel like I’m not measuring up.

In program I’ve learned I am right where I need to be. So here I am. A member called it my re birthday and I like the sound of that because I feel like I have been reborn into a better version of myself.

I remember that night walking into the room of my home group. I was broken. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I was in a walking cast, I’d severed my Achilles tendon. The Universe was really trying to get my attention by all means necessary. I was trying to make a six year relationship work with another adult child. Needless to say, everything I had tried wasn’t working.

I’ll forever be grateful to my former partner who drove me to my first meeting. He stipulated that it was the only meeting he’d be driving me to and that I needed to find a ride moving forward which I did. In program I’ve learned to look for the evidence of a Higher Power in my life. A newcomer drove me to my meetings until my walking cast came off. I never saw him afterwards; I’m very grateful for his part in my recovery.

It’s important to mention a dear friend who is in another twelve step program was also instrumental in getting me into the rooms. I’m not sure what I would have done without her during that dark time. She is still a blessed presence in my life and somehow still manages to say exactly what I need to hear all these years later.

Seven years.

In that time I went through a few sponsors, until I found the one I am with now. It’s fascinating to note that I met my sponsor at my very first Al-Anon day where she was the main speaker. I sat at her table and she took me under her wing. That’s one of the many things I love about her. Make no mistake, she’s also a black belt sponsor and kicks my ass with love when needed.

My first sponsor taught me a lot and was there for me in a way no one had been until then. I lost everything in my previous life: the man I loved, my step daughter, the home I’d had for 14 years. I lay in my bed in my new house wanting to die. I was grieving my previous life, was financially destitute and jobless. She set up a 30 day check in. I was to email or call her for 30 days. She helped me get back on my feet. She taught me about the five love languages and would frequently ask me where I wanted to put my life energy but most importantly she listened and loved me unconditionally.

The sponsor I have now came into my life when I had a really bad slip. I had spent all kinds of money I didn’t have, had packed on weight and slept around again. I had to face my parents and the shame made me want to die all over again. She got me into a family of origin program that is housed with a treatment facility up north. It was transformative and as scared as I was to go, I didn’t want to leave once my time there was over.

Seven years.

Service is an integral part of my recovery and program. I started into service very early on. A wise member saw I needed something to hold onto, she suggested the position six months in to my recovery. My home group needed a Group Representative as the previous one had not finished her three year term. I loved that role the most out of all the service positions I’ve held since. I held that role for four years, had I been told I was signing up for that length of time I would have said no. Al-Anon is a gentle program and I was able to lean on members with more time in for help. It’s an instrumental position in that it’s a link of information to the district and keeps the group informed and active in district events and affairs.

From there I went on to serve as Alternate District Representative because I had caught the bug and couldn’t see myself not doing service. I became Chair of Al-Anon Information Services which is essentially our outreach arm. Again there was no one in the role so I stepped up. They take care of sharing our program to the public through a website, phone answering service and other means. It met my idealistic need to make a difference in the lives of others.

I wasn’t able to complete my three year term as my District Representative stepped down. In our service manual it says the alternate assumes the role of the District Representative if they are unable to do so. In program I’ve learned there are no musts and I always have a choice. I stepped up and what a ride it’s been since.

This service position has taught me a lot. It’s brought up my defects of character and poked at the limiting beliefs I learned in my family of origin of not being good enough. That’s the point of service. There is no safer place to learn about ourselves and how to work with others in healthy ways than in the rooms.

Seven years and I’m grateful for all of it.

It hasn’t been an easy or linear path by any stretch. I’ve had a lot of slips but I now have tools to deal with life on life’s terms. I have a family by choice who have taught me how to love myself by loving me unconditionally just as I am without having to strive for more. Because of them I know I am not alone.

I’ve learned what true freedom from carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders for so many years feels like. I now do my best to keep my side of the street clean so I can keep feeling that way. I now know what true happiness and serenity feel like.

I’m still working on myself but I’ve accepted I am right where I need to be. I still have scary lows where I think I won’t recover but I invariably come out of them stronger having learned yet another lesson. I still struggle with complete self acceptance and self love and that’s okay. Program has taught me to go easy on myself.

I know I wouldn’t still be here if it weren’t for my Higher Power, my sponsor, my family by choice and this wonderful program. I’ll be in recovery for life. I’m so grateful for all of it and so I keep coming back, one step at a time.

Happy seventh re birthday to me.

Realizations

I went out for drinks the other night with a dear old friend. A great guy I used to date years ago. Things didn’t work out between us because he wasn’t ready and so we stayed friends. He’s a stand up guy.

As I sat there laughing my ass off, I realized THIS is what it’s supposed to feel like with someone you like. He was his usual amazing self and listened intently while I updated him on my life.

He attentively sat and brainstormed with me about my plans for the New Year and my life. It was evident in that simple act that he genuinely cared about me and my well being.

Now let’s compare and contrast this experience to the one I’m having with the guy I’m supposed to be dating. I say supposed to because I haven’t seen him in two weeks or spoken to him in a week. As a friend so aptly put it, that’s not dating. I’m not sure what it is.

The guy I’m involved with is not ready by any stretch. In fact he’s a landmine because if you expect anything more you’ll get yourself hurt.

To add insult to injury, we’d had a discussion about not seeing other people. I went and had a look at his profile last night on the dating site I met him on, only to notice he’s updated it. What’s that about?

I’ve asked him the hard questions about what to expect from him. His lack of interest since speaks volumes and when I asked him about his absence he said he’d been preoccupied. Right.

So I’m moving on. As much as I see potential, I will not date another man for theirs. Been there, done that.

On this winter’s solstice, I’m setting my intentions and refuse to settle for less. We’ll see what the Universe brings.

Expectations

Expectations.

We all have them don’t we? Aren’t they part and parcel of our lives?

I’ve recently started seeing someone. I’m hopeful. The man is grounded, calm and solid. I’ve been waiting a very long time for someone like him to come around.

All of a sudden these expectations crop up. I’d like him to text me good morning and good night. I keep telling myself that these gestures are a given and that I shouldn’t have to ask him to do so. And there you have it: expectations.

The man has an awful lot on his plate. He’s in a bitter custody battle with his ex wife for his kids, he has yet to be officially divorced, and to top it all off his mom is in a home with dementia dying of cancer. Really? Could anything else be added to his already heavy load?

The last thing he needs is me adding to his already too full plate. Instead I try and be a good sounding board, not his therapist but a safe place for him to vent. At the same time, I want him to be able to have fun with me, to forget his troubles for a while.

What a hot mess his life is. I seriously thought long and hard about getting involved with him knowing my codependent nature and need to help.

It was my manager at work who told me to give him a second chance. That I could stay safely in my little cocoon or I could take a risk and jump and see what happens.

Relationships bring out our stuff like nothing else does. I’m curious to see where this takes me.

In the meantime, I’ll try not to let my expectations trip me up.

Attraction

How do you explain attraction?

I believe most would say attraction isn’t something that’s logically explained. It’s chemistry, something that operates on a baser level.

I think we are hardwired when it comes to attraction. I’ve been wary of whom I’m attracted to because it seems like the unavailable man pattern keeps replaying over and over again despite my best efforts.

I’m so over it.

Recently my forays back into the dating world have yielded unavailable characters once again.

The poster child for unavailable men was part of my world for a brief period in the form of a soccer coach from France 10 years younger than me. Now this match wasn’t meant to be a long term one, it was strictly supposed to be physical except we never ended up meeting.

He was in town for vacation but got called back home because his mother went into a coma. Dramatic isn’t it? Only in my world it seems.

We stayed in touch and texted back and forth over a month before he ended things. I knew nothing would come of our relationship for obvious reasons. Namely him being in France.

Despite knowing this, I was still upset over our split. Attracted to unavailable men remember?

The next subject who appeared was a friend from a former life I hadn’t spoken to in over a year and a half. He reached out and I waited a few weeks before responding. We met over drinks and the sparks started flying.

I genuinely like this man. It took me by surprise when he wondered how I’d be like to kiss midway through our conversation. It’s important to note that he was at the tail end of a relationship that can be best described as being on life support.

We got involved and a few days later he broke things off with his ex. I was given mixed messages during that first week. We saw each other almost every day. A week in and it was my turn to be told that he’s not the man for me. Again I was upset.

How does this happen?

The whole situation reels of codependency. It takes one to know one right?

I was told a few days ago that he’s been hooking up with his ex since they split. This happened while we were seeing a lot of each other. I was devastated and hurt.

I ended up forgiving him but my trust has been shattered. It’s not something I come by easily. More than anything, I hate that he felt he didn’t deserve better than being a doormat while he was in a relationship with this person. I also hate that she took him for granted and treated him so poorly.

As I stated to him last night they are both getting something out of the relationship they still have with each other.

The more important question is what am I getting out of my relationship with him?

I enjoy his company. We are incredible mirrors for each other in many ways. I love him and I know that feeling is reciprocated. He pushes me to be a better version of myself. Something I’ve always wanted in a partner.

I can identify with his codependency. His ex still doesn’t know I exist which bothers me tremendously. His not wanting to hurt her is his excuse.

Yet he’s hurt me not once, but twice already in a matter of a few weeks. How is that fair?

One of my most important values is honesty. How does this situation align with that? It doesn’t does it?

At the moment I’m left with more questions than answers. I’m not sure what the future holds but I know I’ll live into the answer.

From the darkness to the light

I feel as though I am coming out of a fog.

I’ve been living through several weeks of darkness. I’ve survived yet another trough. Anxiety hit towards the end of July and it took a solid month to feel better.

I’ve lived through these ups and downs since I was raped. The pattern emerged after the event. As though something got rewired in my brain.

I love the highs. I went through three months of them after I found out my mom wasn’t well. Little sleep, super productive, Natalie full of life. It’s amazing what I can accomplish during these periods.

The lows are horrible. I want to die. I have a hard time getting out of bed, showering, feeding myself and feel as though I am barely surviving. When anxiety takes hold, it paralyzes me. I feel frozen, stuck in a block of ice, unable to think clearly or make decisions. It’s an awful feeling, one I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

The good news is since I began recovery over six years ago, the lows don’t last as long for which I am grateful.

I sat down with my counselor a few weeks ago and he posited that my parents’ actions are at the root of my highs and lows. So far, as I look back over the last year, his theory lines up. It’s better than to be diagnosed as manic depressive isn’t it?

The next time a dreaded low happens, I’m to journal and evaluate how I feel on a score of 1 to 10. Not a magical cure by any stretch.

For now I’m counting my blessings that I’ve survived yet another trough. That my sponsor seems to have magical abilities and knows when I go through these periods. I’ll get a text from her out of the blue asking me if I’m hiding. That I can pick up the phone and speak with her or another dear program friend and somehow hear exactly what it is I need to feel better.

The last time my sponsor and I spoke she said I didn’t trust my Higher Power enough. That if I kept thinking this way I’d die. The truth isn’t easy, neither is my sponsor’s job. I know she’s right.

This stinking thinking is one of the demons I fight in recovery and in my life. It keeps showing up again and again, trying to get the better of me. It scares me. It scares my friends. It’s scary.

I’m not sure what I have to do to overcome the feelings that come with the thinking. They threaten to drown me.

I pray a lot when the darkness appears, I ask my Higher Power to take it away, to bring me back to the light. I invariably cry when I make this ask.

Just for today is one of my program slogans. It seems appropriate right now. Just for today I am safe, loved and okay. Just for today I choose to be grateful and happy, to see the good in my life. Just for today I am living.

Love

Someone once shared with me that they were in love with the idea of being in love. It was a penny drop moment for me. Where something profound clicks into place that helps make sense of a bigger picture.

Love.

Our families of origin mold us in our first impressions of love. It is said that we are fully formed by the age of three years old. When born we are giant sponges that suck up every vibration around us for three years and lock them into place.

That theory left me feeling unsettled. I don’t remember those years. I know that despite everything, I was wanted and loved.

This realization happened recently while pouring over family photo albums with my parents. There I was, cute as a button, in matching outfits with color coordinated ribbons in my hair. My mum was good with a sewing machine and made a lot of my clothes.

It was a reversal to what I had believed for most of my life. My mum and I have not had the easiest relationship until recently. I’m certain she was jealous of the relationship I had with my dad and made sure my life was difficult because it. That’s putting it nicely.

Anyone who uses physical, emotional and verbal abuse with their kids has had the very same thing happen to them. I’m grateful to my 12 step program for helping me heal this huge piece.

Love.

The Five Love Languages is a book by Gary Chapman and a tool a sponsor put forth. My main love language is words of affirmation and secondary is physical touch. The others are acts of service, quality time and receiving gifts.

For the longest time I struggled with my parents because they are acts of service people whereas I wanted them to tell me I was loved. I taught my dad how to hug me and tell him I love him often. I can tell it’s not something he’s comfortable with, the hugs or the I love yous but I keep doing it anyway. Along with many acts of service when my parents visit. I feed them delicious food and love them that way.

My mum recently avowed she was not good at hugging to which I responded mum you can keep practicing with me. Isn’t that beautiful? My mum and I now chat at length on the phone and say we love each other at the end of our calls. Huge shift.

Love.

I looked for it in all the wrong places growing up. Truly. All. The. Wrong. Places.

I was a teenager and hooking up with older ski and diving instructors after quitting ski racing. A wild child at sixteen. I settled down at military college and had the best boyfriends, knowing full well I had to be careful. Women are scrutinized and labeled quickly and their reputation always precedes them.

After I was raped at 21, everything changed. I wanted to take my power back and so if things weren’t working in a relationship, I’d go elsewhere to get my needs met. That pattern came out in full force at 25.

I’d left the military and it took me a solid year to figure out who I was after seven years in. A student by day, I had an alter ego at night. I was a bar fly on weekends and had a 100% batting average with the guys I’d pick to take home. Not that we ever went to my place, rarely did that happen.

I’d get what I needed and move on. Lavalife was my playground. I’d go for coffee, lunch and dinner dates. I was completely addicted to the high. I was the queen of first dates. I didn’t need the commitment of a second date, I was too busy having fun. I was a grad student, smart, fit and gorgeous. Needless to say I was popular.

Love.

Then I met the man I had an affair with for four years. He changed my life. I felt alone, different and certainly not a part of. I had all this trauma I didn’t know what to do with and had yet to find recovery.

He knew everything about me, he was present in a way my dad never was. Of course, there were daddy issues but he was this lighthouse in a stormy sea. I went to him with everything and he taught me so much. He gave me complete control over the relationship. It was a heady affair and a very hard one to end.

I was free to date other men during our affair. No wonder a relationship with anyone else never worked. He was my drug of choice. I was so busy hating him and blaming him so I wouldn’t have to look at my part.

I’ve learned in program that when you point a finger at someone there are three fingers pointing back at you. I was able to finally end the relationship with the help of an addictions counselor after two years of group therapy and private counselling over ten years ago.

My counselor used to say you are both getting something out of this. I didn’t know what it was it was until I asked him recently after years of no contact. He said I made him happy.

It hit me then, I was very much in love with him. It was a profound moment and with it came the emotion I didn’t want to feel. Anger is easy, it’s the sadness and grief that are hard.

I’ve made peace with all of it and let it go.

He’s a part of my life. Someone who will always be there. I treasure the relationship we have even though I’ve closed that chapter between us.

Love.

Not a simple emotion by any stretch.

I say I love you often because it’s what I most needed to hear. Life is precious and short. I want the people I love to know I love them.

Love.

A word that appears often in my vocabulary. Something I want to be remembered by. I lived fully and loved well.

Love.

What does it mean to you?

Families

Families.

I believe we are spiritual beings living a human existence. Born into families to live out an iteration of our lives.

My family has been through hell and back. The family disease of alcoholism has had the greatest impact on the primary codependent: my mum.

Alcoholism is a progressive disease. Cunning, baffling and powerful. It ruins lives, not just for the person afflicted but by those around them.

I’m a big fan of Louise Hay. Your body speaks your mind. When I run through the physical symptoms in her book You can Heal your Life all I see is the wreckage of alcoholism on my mum.

These past few months have been no different. My mum started experiencing psychotic breaks twelve years ago brought on by major depression.

The first instance happened on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. My mum started looking for her passport and wanted to run away from my dad. In a boat in the middle of the ocean.

None of us knew. Secrets. Another hallmark of the disease. Until my mum appeared on my doorstep six years ago in the midst of a psychotic break.

It wasn’t until my dad showed up and mentioned the first incident that the dots started connecting.

Depression’s probable cause according to Louise Hay is anger you feel you do not have a right to have. Hopelessness. The affirmation: I now go beyond other people’s fears and limitations. I create my life.

This time mum traveled from the Bahamas to my brother’s place in British Columbia and another episode unleashed itself. Lack of sleep seems to trigger them but let’s face it the root cause is 50 years of living with active alcoholism.

It’s fascinating to watch what happens during these episodes. My brother has a foreign student living with him. My mum was reading a book on the concentration camps. All of a sudden the Austrian student was out to kill her and she wanted to run.

My dad’s career was crisis management. He certainly got a lot of training in my family. He managed my mum. His love for her is beautiful to watch in these moments.

Mistakes were made in her treatment from the outset, from trying CBD and melatonin to help her sleep to listening to the ER doctor prescribe a different course of medications.

My mum showed up on my doorstep broken. The first thing she did was throw herself into my arms and cry. I held her and rocked her. I asked her if she’d be willing to seek counselling.

I see a counselor and will do for the rest of my life. Progressive, cunning, baffling and powerful are the characteristics of addiction. There’s no way I’m straying from my 12 step program, sponsor or counselling.

I watched for 10 days as nothing changed. My dad saw his doctor and he spent some time with my mum. Adjusted her medications. Meanwhile my mum was suffering.

I watched as the mum I always wanted growing up showed up. Broken, vulnerable, feeling her feelings. I watched as my dad cared for her and loved her.

Once they got to their summer residence in Prince Edward Island she was admitted to hospital. She spent 39 days in a mental health unit. On Mother’s Day she told me she wanted to check out and she was tired of supporting the family.

My mum and I have been like oil and water for most of our lives. If anything, we are honest with each other. She speaks her truth with me.

My sponsor advised me to go be with my mum otherwise I would have regrets. She said to sit and hold my mum’s hand, to tell her I love her and to ask her what she wants.

Life prepared me for this moment. Strong. Grounded and rooted in program. I had to put aside all the pain, resentments and crap and be there for my mum. The healing that came out of the whole experience was tremendous.

I used my tools. I prayed. I worked my steps. I stayed in constant contact with my sponsor and my tribe. I responded and tried really hard not to react. I educated every single health professional I came into contact with in the mental health unit on the family disease of alcoholism. I felt my feelings and let them go. I made amends to both my mum and dad.

When I asked if there was anything I could do to make things right as part of my amends, my mum’s one wish was that we be closer. My dad said that by showing up and being there for my mum I had made things right.

Things got worse before they got better. My mum slipped into catatonia. She refused to eat, take her medications, or take my calls. She wanted to die. Who could blame her?

The conversations we had during that time were powerful . We walked down the path of death together. I get wanting to die, I’ve been there. It helps me to look at what part of me wants to die when my brain goes there. I’ve lived through suicide and deaths.

My dad exercised his power of attorney and we went ahead with electro convulsive treatments. Small seizures lasting less than a minute are given under anesthesia. They cause memory loss. Her short term memory of that time is gone which is both a blessing and a curse.

The good news is that it worked. My mum came back, she showed up brighter with every call.

Shortly after her eighth treatment she was released. All I felt was sadness. During the time she was in hospital she was safe and being looked after. My mum has gone back into the vortex of 50 years of codependency and is living with active drinking. I am powerless over all of it.

My tribe keeps telling me to be the light. To make good on her desire for us to be closer. I pray every single day that my parents find recovery. They have their own higher powers and I’m not one of them.

All of this has taught me how precious and short life is. That life matters. I feel as though I’ve wasted so much time lost in the grips of my own demons. Program teaches me I am right where I need to be. Live and let live. I keep coming back to the live part.

What does it look and feel like to live fully?

For me it means being of service. Giving back what has so freely been given to me both in program and in my life. Using my gifts for the better. Living moments with intention. Being grateful for program and my recovery and the beauty all around me. Helping others.

I’ve been always been the person to ask myself how I can be of service and make the world a better place. This is me living into the answer.

One step, one moment at a time.

Ease

I can’t believe it’s been six months since I’ve written. It feels like the longest hiatus from here.

Normally I start my year with a word that encapsulates my intention for the year. I’ve been meaning to write for a while now and the word ease popped into my head this morning.

Ease.

I want ease in my relationship with myself and others, with my family and friends, and with my job, coworkers and finances.

I started what I thought was a temporary job in retail in January close to home. I needed the money while I waited for the results of a federal government job I had applied for last summer.

It’s fair to say I was depressed the last three months of 2018. I had blown a job I loved taking on too much, freaking out and having anxiety rear its head. I was tired of starting over. Of self sabotaging every great opportunity that came my way.

I wanted to die. My cat kept me alive because I could not bear the thought of leaving her. I felt like a great failure yet again. I was tired of starting over again and didn’t have the energy or wherewithal to do so yet again.

Who is responsible for burning the two great career opportunities of 2018 to the ground? I am as my sponsor reminded me. Brutal truth but much needed.

The self hate and self sabotage needed to stop. My higher power has a funny sense of humor, because during that time he brought me two sponsees. Women new to the 12 step program I belong to and who needed a guide to walk the path for a while.

I could not sit in my pit of despair if I was going to be a good example to these women and shine a light along the way now could I?

So I picked myself up and dusted myself off and walked the path with them. One decided another 12 step program was a better fit for her. I’m happy for her now but at the time a few of my character defects rose to the surface. I am challenged by letting go, I take things too personally and am very good at beating myself up. I did all those really well but again needed to focus on the one sponsee I had left.

The beauty of this program is that it’s amazing for personal growth if you do the step work, show up to meetings, and listen to others share their experience, strength and hope. I do a lot of service work within the business of the program and that helps me grow in a safe environment in learning to work in healthy ways with other members.

The sponsee that chose me to be her sponsor is a mirror of me. She reminds me very much of who I was before I found recovery. Like attracts like. She overthinks, and can’t identify her needs or her feelings. I’m so happy to say she’s made progress. She brings an eagerness and willingness to the work that inspires me and is super keen.

You have to walk the steps with a sponsee so that’s exactly what we did together starting in January. We met every week before our meeting. She went up north to a treatment center for codependency, something I did three years ago now.

A rift began between us at the beginning of May when she stopped showing up for our designated time before meetings. Life happened as it often does and I got resentful. They say expectations lead to premeditated resentments.

I have four expectations for my sponsees: attend regular meetings and find a home group, do the step work, do service work and be willing.

Simple, right? Not so much it seems.

Again my defects of character reared their head. I would spell out what I expected forgetting that she is so new and hurt that she’ll agree to anything to get what she wants. She didn’t listen to me with regards to not dating for a year after ending a relationship with an alcoholic in February. She had invested a significant amount of money in a dating service and wanted a return on her investment.

In program one of the things we learn is that we have choices and will live into the consequences of those choices. I didn’t heed the same advice my sponsor gave me after coming back from treatment. Instead I disappeared into the vortex of my former relationship for three months. I did make amends to both my ex and my former step daughter which was my intention and saw clear as day the writing on the wall that things would never work between us for which I’m grateful.

I have to allow my sponsee the dignity of making her own choices and learning from them. I became controlling and upset once she told me she would no longer be able to make our weekly appointment and meeting. I tried to micro manage her and ask when she was going to a meeting and having a program friend be there to greet her. That blew up in my face and she lashed out via text to which I responded with my expectations and told her to find and read the pamphlet on sponsorhip and look at her part.

She wanted someone to go through steps four and five with. Well it doesn’t work that way. They are called the 12 steps for a reason.

We are sitting down together this weekend to discuss things. She feels our relationship has come to an end but she’s a runner and is afraid. I keep praying that my Higher Power will speak through me and deliver the message she needs to hear.

I am grateful for a program that allows me to live my life with ease and grace. I can’t say it happens all the time but I have more and more moments of serenity which means I am growing.

It also takes me less time to move through my feelings and not be a prisoner to them. Ease and grace step by step.

 

 

 

Loss

The year is coming to an end and has been marked heavily by loss.

Death.

A very dear friend of mine ascended at the end of November. He was my rock before finding recovery. I found out about his passing on Facebook and was devastated because I had no idea he was sick.

He was a holistic practitioner and my saving grace for a number of years. He changed my life. His biggest lesson was teaching me I had a choice to be happy or sad. To go into my woundology as he called it or to stay in the now.

I don’t know how many times I saw him over the years but I always left him feeling put back together somehow. Jim I am going to miss you so much. I am so grateful for your presence in my life.

In the last few weeks another death. A dear family friend this time, a mother figure from my childhood. I’ll be attending the funeral in a week and will shed more tears for a life lost too soon.

I also made a misguided attempt at bridging the silence with my former partner by trying to be friends. Only to be told a few weeks later that he wanted no part of me in his life. More loss. I’m grateful I got to see my former step daughter for the first time in a few years.

I sit here contemplating 2019 and hoping it brings better things than 2018 did. It has not been an easy year by any stretch. I’ve lost jobs I love and have had to start over again.

I’m not sure what the lesson in all this is other than impermanence and that life is short.

I’m determined to make 2019 a better year.

Pain

Pain.

Not a comfortable topic by any stretch. Yet right where I’m at.

This post has been percolating for weeks. A combination of fear and pain kept me from writing it. Fear because the last thing I want to do is hurt my family. Pain because I’m not sure I want to acknowledge the reality of the words as they hit this page.

I went away for a week back east to PEI at the beginning of August. My parents have a summer residence there in a place that is beyond beautiful and on the ocean.

I thought long and hard before going. The last time I had been in one of my parent’s homes was six years ago and it was hard.

I figured I had a solid five years of recovery under my belt and felt strong in my program enough to visit. I certainly got checked within a day of my arrival. The visit felt like the Olympics of recovery.

I went primarily to spend time with my beautiful nephew and godson who is ten years old. Five days in his presence after not seeing him in three years for a few hours felt like an unexpected gift.

One of the reasons I also went was because one of my best friends, who was instrumental in getting me into recovery was going to be staying in the campground across from my parents’ place. I had not seen her in six years, the last time I went to the island with my former family.

I was in the ocean on the first day and was struck by how much it felt like home for me. My parents didn’t use geographical relocation as a coping mechanism growing up. We lived in two places in my younger years.

PEI was the vein that ran through my childhood and teenage years. It was the place we had some of the best times as a family. It is very much sacred ground for me.

I will not go into the details but what amazes me is how I expect every single time walking into these places that somehow this time it’ll magically be different. It’s not.

It’s worse. Whether through a combination of the family disease of alcoholism progressing in my parents or because I can see everything so clearly now. I am not far enough into my recovery where it doesn’t hurt me. It knocks me over and breaks my heart every single time.

I sit here with tears streaming down my face because there is nothing I can do to help my parents. I have to detach with love. They have their own Higher Powers and I’m not one of them.

I spoke about wanting to live and let live in my last post. Well I got much more than I bargained for in the five days I spent with my parents.

I now understand how freedom became my single most important value because the level of control in their home is crazy. It was shocking. It took everything I had to keep it together and to remove myself when things got too difficult.

I know I walked my program to the best of my ability while I was there. I did my best to stay humble and kind as my sponsor constantly reminds me. I was in constant contact with my sponsor and my best friend. They kept me sane, loved me and helped me see things from a different perspective.

No one triggers us more than our family does. I’ve learned that getting triggered means there’s an opportunity for growth for me. I sometimes wonder at what cost.

There has been further fallout from my trip back east. My brother and I are now officially estranged. It has been a one sided relationship for years with me putting all the energy into maintaining contact.

Again, I will not go into the details other than to say I do not regret any single one of my actions around my nephew. He was the bright light in all of this. My brother and his partner have done an incredible job raising a remarkable human. I truly enjoyed getting to know him.

I have been experiencing what can only be described as grief. It’s like the dream of what I hoped for my family is gone and it breaks my heart.

So I sit with the pain. I allow it to move through me because I have learned to honor my emotions. I know this too shall pass but right now I’m in the thick of it and it truly hurts.

I try and look at things from a place of gratitude. I wrote down all the things I was grateful for from this trip.

I keep praying for my family and for the acceptance to let go.

This work is not for the faint of heart and that is certainly proving to be true in this moment.

 

 

Live

It’s again been a while since I’ve written.

It’s fair to say I’ve been grieving. I burnt down a job and a work family I loved. I have an incredible capacity for success as well as strong self sabotaging mechanisms.

It’s been a little over three months. I’m on the other side now: happy, joyous and free. It’s looking back now that I see that there was a bigger plan all along. That the Universe had a lesson I needed to learn.

I’m in a better place now because of it all.

I had to go through the shit storm of sadness, anger at myself and anxiety to get to this place of feeling grounded, happy and alive.

One of the slogans of my 12 step program is Live and let live. Growing up with active addiction there’s very little you can control as you are a kid affected by the disease. There’s a lot of fear and uncertainty and so control and structure become ways of coping.

I was powerless over the drinking, although I was unaware it was an issue until much later in life, so I channeled all my energy and efforts into what I could focus on: ski racing and school. I had a lot of natural talent, was highly disciplined and a hard worker. It proved to be a winning combination.

My dad was actively involved in my ski racing career. First as a coach, despite my having a coach most of the time. He lived his dreams vicariously through me I believe. I may be wrong, however, he was also the master strategist behind me.

Ski racing is a big investment and commitment for families in terms of money and time. You live at the hill on weekends. He became a technical delegate so he could be present for me. Since I was a consistent podium finisher, he would coach me and tell me for example, to ease off on my second run because I had a lead and all I needed to do was finish. Or the reverse, that I was close behind the person who had finished first, and I was to watch for these tricky sections. He was so involved and I love him for it.

I would not have gone as far as I had without my dad. Someone challenged that thinking with the possibility that I may have gone even further had I been fueled by my own steam. It was what it was and I’m a sport psychology coach now because of it. Again the Universe had a bigger plan for me.

I’ve been through these patterns of hiding and living vicariously for most of my life. Before recovery, I would hit the wall after what I affectionately call my power phase, unable to sustain the candle burning so brightly. The longest I’ve gone is six weeks of pure drive, creativity and action with very little sleep. Fully standing in my power only to crash and hide in bed, not want to shower or eat much.

Can you see the addiction pattern? It’s alive and well in me. Shake my family tree and a bunch of people with substance abuse problems fall out. It’s in my DNA as well.

Relationships, spending and food are the big three.

I sat in my counselor’s office this week and said I was done with being a victim and sitting on my pity potty as my sponsor affectionately calls it.

I have all these gifts, skills and talents. Enough time has been spent in the dark place. It’s time to stay in the light. It’s unrealistic to think I’d be able to stay in that place all the time, however, I fully intend to do the work required in my recovery to unearth and turn into smoke these self sabotaging patterns born of self hate. Enough.

I sit here with a smile on my face and a deep sense of knowing that good things are coming my way. I’m in a job I love. This opportunity would not be possible had the door on my previous job closed.

I have hope again. I’m dreaming about the future I want and I believe with all that I am that it is possible and that I do deserve happiness, stability and peace.

Live. I’m now living the first part of the slogan Live and let live and it feels so freaking good.

 

 

 

 

Abandonment

How do you deal with abandonment?

Does it affect you or are you immune?

I experienced it again on the weekend. I have ventured back into the dating game and the object of my interest went quiet all day for no apparent reason after things got all hot and heavy the day before.

Unfortunately, it again threw me for a loop.

I get so triggered by the feeling, perceived or real. There is no legitimate excuse to disappear on someone after texting back and forth for most of the day before. A text takes seconds. Really?

Sigh, my stuff I know.

It does not seem to matter how many times this happens, the result is still the same: I go into a tailspin.

I question everything that previously happened, lose my grip on reality and freak out. Full on drama. I reach out to friends and try and rationalize things because I cannot see clearly.

It’s exhausting and despite my best intentions, this happens every single time.

Abandonment run deeps in my family of origin. I was abandoned over and over again and then I repeated the same pattern with men. It’s a vicious cycle.

I eventually heard from the guy. He had not gotten cold feet but was merely busy with his daughters. Real life.

I’m not sure what the answer is. I’m aware when it happens and that I’m getting triggered. I have a hard time accepting that it’s happening and generally spring into action from that space which is never good.

Honoring the feelings when they come up and nurturing myself through the discomfort seem like better options next time.

The path between the head and the heart

The longest journey you will ever take is the 18 inches from your head to your heart. -Andrew Bennett

I remember hearing a version of this quote when I first began recovery work. I was so stuck in my head back then. Banging around in my brain all the time.

I was taught not to feel growing up. Emotions weren’t okay, there was no support for them. It was a very lonely place.

I took that learning well into my adult years, cutting myself off from my emotions. Robot-like with no way of processing feelings.

When I was finally told to feel in recovery it was like a dam breaking. Spontaneous boughts of tears. I had to process it all: the pain, sadness, anger and shame of my life thus far. No easy or small task.

It was a process. It still is. I had to go through weeks of anger and sadness, dredging everything up and exposing it to the light so the emotions could burn off.

I’m a better person now for all of it.

Even now as I continue my recovery journey and do talk therapy, spontaneous bursts of emotion come up. I had a rough week last week, teary and sad for most of it.

Instead of repressing my emotions, I now allow and honor them. Better out than in.

The path between the head and the heart may be a long one but it is the most valuable of them all.

 

 

Self-love

You’d look so much better if you would just lose 20 pounds. That bathing suit is doing nothing to hide your rolls. Your cellulite is gross.

Think of all the women in your life that you love the most. Your mom, your sister, your daughter, your best friend. Can you imagine saying these things to them? Can you imagine how you would feel if you heard someone else say it to them? Heartbroken.

If we would never say these things to the people we love then how is it okay to say them to ourselves?

We only hate parts of ourselves because we’ve been taught to believe that they’re unattractive and that we need to fix them, so let’s try flipping the script.

The next time you look at yourself in the mirror, instead of pointing out all the things you hate about yourself, start telling yourself how much you love them. Embrace those imperfections as perfection, because they’re part of you, and baby, that’s nothing that deserves to be hidden.

Our society does not do much to make us feel better about ourselves. Instead, we feel worse because of unattainable standards of beauty and perfection. Other than a Kellog ad with a body positive message empowering women to embrace all their curves, I’ve yet to see the rest of the beauty industry following suit.

Imagine how we would be if we loved and accepted ourselves fully. The world would be a very different place. There would be much less negativity and conflict and a whole lot more love.

Is self-love such a radical concept?

Try it today. Love yourself. Be grateful for every part of you that makes you uniquely you. Love on those spaces that need extra attention and be good to yourself.

What do you have to lose?

Gratitude

I have just wrapped up two sessions locally with the ski racing club at Camp Fortune. It’s the fourth winter I’ve worked with them which is pretty great.

The first session with the kids is always an information dump. I share all the tools of my trade and get the kids to think about how they will apply them.

The second session has me evaluating their implementation. I was so proud of the kids. They were each using between three to five tools in their pre-race programs such as breathing, happy place, imagery and hero pose.

I got to see the rituals they have with their parents, the words they say to themselves to get into the zone and find out the music they listen to before their races.

All in all, the sessions have been a success from my perspective. Hopefully their new tools result in good things on their end.

I truly believe in the value of what I do, not just in sport but the greater positive impact on the lives of the kids too.

 

 

Male privilege unfortunately still exists

A few days ago I ran into a former work colleague I worked with a couple of years ago. Seeing him again left me feeling uneasy.

Our last interaction outside of work had been on a ski hill on a beautiful spring day and it had left me feeling dirty. He greeted me with a hug and proceeded to grab my bottom with both hands and make a comment about how great it was. I could smell alcohol on his breath.

The behaviour was so shockingly out of character for him I was left speechless and didn’t say anything. I still went up on the lifts with him and other friends, careful to maintain a distance.

Why did I stay silent? Why did I not use my voice and call him out on his unacceptable behaviour? Furthermore, why did I keep interacting with him after what he had done?

I lost my voice, because under the circumstances, it is an easy thing to do. When I look back at my past I can see where I stayed quiet time and again, it has now obviously become a pattern.

Had bumping into each other recently and saying hello been the extent of our interaction, I may have let all of this go. However he said he still had my number and would call; I jokingly said not to bother.

He’s since called twice and texted me, leaving me feeling highly uncomfortable. Do I respond and say something or ignore him and delete his texts? I ended up doing the latter.

What’s even more upsetting is my reaching out to my former partner who knows him saying I’d wish the guy in question would just lose my number and leave me alone.

His response was shocking and left me feeling very upset.

He told me to get over it. I responded saying he obviously does not understand what it’s like to be sexually objectified. That what he did was assault and it was not okay.

He asked me if I had dealt with things directly at the time the incident had happened. I was even more flabbergasted. I responded saying do most women? He accused me of evading the question. I then proceeded to tell him we were not going to have this conversation.

I was stunned. How could he have blinders on like that? He was so wrapped up in his male privilege that he could not see how wrong on so many levels this whole thing was.

How is this kind of behaviour and male privilege still a thing today? What would you do?

 

 

 

New beginnings

I met a great guy yesterday.

After a year of not dating, which was a self imposed choice, I got really clear on what I was looking for in a relationship.

The man I met yesterday fits the criteria. We had a great time together. Time flew by and I didn’t want things to end.

It got intense pretty fast which seems to be par for the course with me.

I went to bed last night happy with butterflies at the thought of seeing him again.

Unfortunately, I had a horrible nightmare which is most likely related to having met him. I woke up and burst into tears.

This morning I still felt haunted, like the nightmare still had its wispy fingers around me. I was teary for most of the day and upset.

I told the guy I met about what happened and it has caused all kinds of crappy blow back.

My first thought upon waking this morning is we need to slow things down. Take our time getting to know each other. You know, the normal process that most people seem to be able to do but I seem to whiz right through.

We’re seeing each other tomorrow night. I’m really looking forward to seeing him again, I can’t wait.

I’m sitting here feeling uneasy with things. We texted back and forth today about it all which sucks. I really would have preferred to have the conversation in person or over the phone.

Given my history, this stuff is to be expected. I do have abandonment and worth issues which I’m really working hard on in counselling. Relationships trigger our stuff like nothing else. It’s where my recovery program hits the road and is put to the test.

I know I have a tendency to overthink. I just need to relax, go with the flow and enjoy myself. Easier said than done sometimes.

I really should have gone skiing and been in my happy place today.

 

 

 

Intention for the year

I’ve been remiss in writing lately but have been meaning to get this post out.

Every year I choose a word to set an intention for the year.

This year a friend suggested my theme. It’s all about letting go for me this year.

This piece which I love describes my intentions well, it was written by Rev. Safire Rose

She Let Go.

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of fear. She let go of the judgements.

She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.

She let go of the committee of indecision within her.

She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go. She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go….She didn’t research the scriptures.

She just let go.

She let go of all the memories that held her back.

She let go of all the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.

She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.

She didn’t journal about it.

She didn’t write the projected date in her day-timer.

She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.

She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.

She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.

She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.

She didn’t do a five step spiritual mind treatment.

She didn’t call the prayer line.

She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.

There was no applause or congratulations.

No one thanked her or praised her.

No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle.

It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.

It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.

A small smile came over her face.

A light breeze blew through her.

And the sun and moon shone forevermore.

Here’s to giving ourselves the gift of letting go.

I intend to reread this as much as I need to this year and apply it to my life.

Thanks Wayne xo

 

Loss and meaning

This post has been brewing for a month since one of my clients lost a friend ski racing.

Death is not something we connect to ski racing usually, horrible falls and bad injuries certainly but not death.

Since the beginning of the season two ski racers have died.

It’s a horrible statement to make.

David Poisson, a member of the French ski racing team died in Nakiska in early season training in November when he caught an edge, crashed through safety netting and hit a tree. He was 35 years old.

In early December, my client was racing a downhill in the Nor-Am Cup in Lake Louise when I got texts about a teammate being involved in a bad crash.

17 year old Max Burkhart went off course into safety netting and was airlifted to hospital. He later died of his injuries.

Somehow death is not something I ever thought I’d have to deal with in my practice. I remember taking a moment and praying before calling my client. Asking for guidance to say the right words that would give her some measure of comfort. All I could do was listen and be there for her.

She was heart broken and wanted to go home.

Max’s death hit me hard. I’m still not sure why.

I attract the clients I work with for a reason. Her parents wanted her to stick it out for the rest of the race series and be with her teammates. To get back on the horse. It’s probably what my parents would have wanted too.

My client just wanted to go home so I stood by her and advocated for her.

Someone I did my graduate studies with said it was great I got to be the person I needed for my clients when I was their age.

It was a big realization for me.

I’m grateful for the relationships I have with my clients. I grow because of them. I know they learn from me as well.

I’m glad I was able to support my client through a really tough time no kid should have to go through.

Rest in peace Max. My heart goes out to his family, friends and the ski community who knew and loved him. I hope they find peace.

Fear again

I’ve written on this topic many times here.

I was chatting with a new client this weekend and fear came up yet again.

It wasn’t till after the call was done and I had time to think, that I realized how applicable to my own life the words I imparted to her were.

This young client had an exceptional ski racing season two years ago. Last winter she felt the pressure of her own expectations take over and became focused on results instead of trusting herself to ski the way she can.

That’s a big statement coming from a 14 year old.

Great insight isn’t it? She did well in training but come race day she couldn’t seem to put things together. The good news is this is a common challenge and the tools I gave her will help her tremendously this winter.

Her being scared came up at least three times during our conversation. She wasn’t comfortable with speed and going fast. Gates coming at her rapidly in slalom unnerved her as did laying down solid slalom runs.

We talked about fear. She expressed how irrational it was to be afraid of gates coming at her face. I normalized her experience and said all humans have that natural reaction and that her confidence will come with mileage in the gates. Exposure to gates coming at your face is the only way she’s going to move through this fear.

Speed and going fast is a fear that presents itself naturally. I freaking loved speed but I’m sure my first few runs on those big fast skis were unsettling. Again, I normalized things for her and encouraged her to use her body as a tool to combat her fear. Instead of getting in the back seat and being hesitant, to charge and throw her body forward.

Our bodies can alter our feelings. Taking an athletic stance and what I like to call a hero pose of hands on hips, breathing and really feeling that confidence flow are so empowering. It’s another tool I gave her to use, one I think will have a big impact on her.

We talked about the importance of positive thinking. It’s impossible to be all rainbows, puppy dogs and unicorns all the time but instead being aware of your mindset. What are you saying to yourself?

When I do group workshops I poll the kids about their mindset. Is it 50-50 positive and negative, 70% positive, 30% negative or the reverse? It’s fascinating to see where kids lie in the spectrum and it gives me an indication of where they need to focus.

The first step in shifting mindset is awareness of what you’re actually saying to yourself. Questioning the veracity of your perception and then shifting it towards a more positive outcome.

When a negative mindset pattern has been operating for a while, it’ll take a tremendous amount of attention, energy and work to affect change. Like I tell my clients, it’s taken you a while to walk into the woods, it’ll take a while for you to walk out. Patience and gentleness are key.

What struck me afterwards was how this call applies to my own life.

I just recently started a new job and I love it. I get to write and help people with my words. I feel part of a family in the team I work with.

You’d think I’d be happy right? I was, briefly. Then self-protective, survival mechanisms took over and I drove myself into a state of anxiety so bad I could barely breathe. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Is that productive thinking? Hell no.

Did I go there? Me? Someone who teaches positive psychology for a living? Yup.

Fortunately my people are close by. It only takes a phone call or a text and I’ve got someone telling me what I need to hear and bringing me back to the here and now. Reminding me to breathe, to slow my thoughts down and to question the veracity of what I’m feeling.

Feelings are not facts my friends.

I love what I do. I’m good at it and I’ve had messages from the people I work with of just that, yet I don’t trust myself to shine.

In times like these, it helps me to look at things from another perspective. What would I say to one of my clients if they were feeling this way?

I’d remind them to breathe. I’d tell them they are safe and okay. I’d ask them to list the things they like about themselves and focus on their strengths. I’d ask them to draw the lessons they needed from their past experiences and not let their past dictate their present.

Those are exactly the words I’ve been saying to myself when that four letter word called fear crawls into my brain space.

Fear means false evidence appearing real or face everything and rise.

It goes to show how powerful our minds are. It’s so important to guard our mindsets. They create the world we live in.

Healing

This piece I came across inspired me to write this post.

They asked her,

“What is the key to saving the world?”

She answered,

“You. You are they key. Heal yourself, know yourself, make yourself whole and free. Release all limits so that your love can flow unconditionally for yourself, and the world, this will open the heaven of your heart completely and it will guide you without fail.” Yung Pueblo, you are the answer

I feel as though I have been on this path for a while now. I am challenged by loving myself. I have an auto immune disorder because I am so hard on myself and my body is literally attacking itself. That simple statement makes me sad.

Your thoughts have tremendous power. They cause feelings which can cause health or dis ease. It’s important to be mindful.

I teach positive psychology for a reason, because it’s what I most need to learn and apply to my own life.

I tell my clients I am no goddess on a mountain top and have it all figured out. I am a work in progress. Imperfectly perfect. Human. I do believe we are spiritual beings living a human existence and it is our paths that makes the difference.

I grew up in a family with addiction. My father has a disease. My family is sick as well. All of us have been affected by the family disease of alcoholism which goes back generations.

My brother is an addict. My father is an alcoholic. My mother is a co dependent. I am an adult child of an alcoholic and a co dependent in recovery.

My family denies there is a problem and I am the only one in recovery.

My drugs of choice since I have been a kid have been numbing and escaping.

I did this through many things good and not so great: reading, school, sport, the military, relationships, alcohol, spending and sex.

Now being full bent on succeeding in school, sport and life are great, however, there is a shadow side to everything, especially when it comes to addiction.

After I was raped in the military and my career ended it took me a year to reintegrate back into civilian life. When you have a lot done for you, coming back to the real world takes time.

My addictive behaviors came out in the form of sex. You see, I wanted to have power over men after it was taken from me without my consent. They could have my body for a brief amount of time but they couldn’t have my heart or my mind. I played Russian roulette with my life. I didn’t care. Maybe it was being in my twenties that made me feel invincible or stupid.

When I share my story in the rooms of program, I share this part because it shows the presence of a Higher Power watching over me. The situations I put myself in, consumed with a need to fill the void, should have left me for dead.

I had an abortion because of my actions. I was a married man’s mistress for four years. Yet I never, not once, picked up a sexually transmitted infection or was sexually assaulted again. In my self-harm, to a certain degree, I was kept safe.

The damage I did to myself, however, is another story.

I abandoned myself over and over again to countless people. I felt abandoned as a child. I grew up in a family not feeling loved. Love was conditional in my house on being the perfect daughter. A hero child. I thought if I was a good enough, excelled in school and in ski racing then I’d be told I was loved. That never happened.

I’ve come to understand through recovery and therapy that my parents are human and the way they show me love is through acts of service. Seldom words of praise, touch, gifts or quality time.

As a kid I felt abandoned and questioned my worth.

That little girl is still there inside me. She’s growing up through program.

I am an adult child which means I grew up uber responsible only to become incredibly irresponsible. The disease of alcoholism is a progressive one which means that I need to keep coming back to meetings, working my program, connecting with my sponsor and helping others. Otherwise I get worse. Fast.

The 12 step program I belong to is the key to my freedom and my life.

Freedom from self seeking, self sabotaging and self hatred.

My program makes me a better human. Make no mistake, I am a good person regardless of what I did to myself and others, however, I can safely say I am a better one now.

The program gives me tools to live my life on a day to day basis. It’s the cheapest therapy in town.

My program is an anonymous one. It’s that way so we can feel safe sharing our experience, strength and hope and lifting one another up.

My sponsor keeps me real. I want what she has and I am willing to do the work it takes to get it. She tells me I have grown so much in the past year.  I believe her.

A newcomer to our program asked me to be her sponsor this week.

That’s huge. What an honor. She wants what I have. I’m blown away.

Our program teaches us that to keep it we have to give it away. I guess my time has come to play a bigger role and in so doing I know I’ll grow too.

Let the healing continue and with it, let more love and more freedom come.

Discipline

Discipline. What does that word mean to you?

It’s been over nine months since I went to a yoga class. My beloved teacher of many years moved on and I stayed home on Tuesday nights because I didn’t know the new teacher, because it was winter and therefore cold and dark. Winter went and spring came and still no Tuesday night yin class. Spring turned into summer, still no class.

I do have a home practice and a dedicated space for yoga and meditation. Does that mean I sit my butt down on my mat every morning? Um no.

Last week I made a commitment to myself to show up every morning on my mat. Yoga has saved my life over and over again. I’m not being dramatic here. I know it’s what I need to be a better version of myself, to be more grounded, peaceful and present.

Fall is like a New Year’s for me. It’s back to school, a start of new endeavors, the beginning of the last quarter and a time to hustle. A re commitment to discipline.

I started my business seven years ago after my best friend died suddenly. His death was a giant celestial kick in the pants for me. As I grieved for him, I realized life is short. Too short to not be doing what I love and is my calling. Thanks James.

I had done everything else but sports psychology since I had graduated seven years before he passed and I was miserable. The expression trying to fit a square peg in a round hole comes to mind.

It’s been a roller coaster in my business since then unfortunately. I’m not a systems person, I’m a creative so I sought out thought leaders who could teach me what I needed to know. Christine Kane was a creative who put systems into place to develop a very successful business. I read her weekly blog posts and resonated with everything she said.

Then I crossed paths with Lisa Larter at a women’s networking event. At the time, she ran a cell phone shop and was pretty savvy when it came to business and those hand held devices.

It took me three years to fully engage with her. I was so ready to grow and change.

The year I started following her systems I made the most money I ever made in my business.

I believe a great part of that success was intention. I remember sitting on the beach in the Bahamas and thinking about how many clients I wanted to work with over the winter. I felt good about ten. I thought maybe 15 but that didn’t feel right. That winter I ended up with 12 clients. That’s the power of intention setting.

I did fully commit to my passion that winter and didn’t realize till sometime later that the Universe delivered exactly what I asked for.

Discipline means showing up every week and writing a blog post because that’s what I’ve committed myself to.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write this morning. Lisa’s newsletter on the topic of resistance came in and I was inspired. I am the poster child for resistance. I procrastinate starting and finishing projects. Systems are my saving grace.

In my first blog post of the year I said I wanted to write a book. Has the book been written? No. Why? Because I didn’t set up a system to write it nor did I have the discipline to follow through on it. I’ve always known I’ve had a book in me. Just do it were my words for this year. Did I do it? No. Will I? Yes.

The same can be said for a website. Do I have one? No. Do I have the resources to create one? My dad, who is my biggest supporter, has graciously offered to pay, however, I’d have to put in the sweat equity. Has it been done? No. Why? Again because I don’t have a system or the discipline to sit down and create one.

Clearly I am truly my own worst enemy.

When I spoke to my dad a few weeks ago about contacting ski racing clubs this winter, I actually said: “what do I have to offer?” Woo. Really Natalie?

There’s a reason I teach what I most need to learn. What kid would not benefit from my knowledge and tools to help them build better confidence in sport and life?

Sometimes I need to give myself a shake and be my own best friend. I’m pretty awesome and I love helping kids be better people. Period. If they get better results in sport as a result? Great. If they become better humans because I had an impact. Holy.

That’s my sweet spot.

I’m sitting here smiling because I know I will yet again have an impact on young lives on a larger scale this winter and I truly cannot wait.

Here’s to intention, systems and the discipline to follow through. Just do it.

 

 

Truth

It’s been a while since I’ve written.

This blog is where I come to reflect, where I am fully myself and share my life experiences in the hopes of helping others whether it be at a personal, spiritual or professional level.

My silence here has been a product of going inward. I started seeing a counselor in June at a friend’s gentle suggestion. I was in a self sabotaging pattern again and my friend was able to see that I needed help. There’s a reason I do sports psychology, I often teach what I most need to learn.

In speaking with my counselor about my pattern of self sabotaging at a personal and professional level, a bigger issue emerged. Something that happened a very long time ago. It’s a part of my history, I had no idea how much it was influencing my present and robbing me of my future. My counselor believes it’s the linchpin to the pattern.

It’s not something I speak of. Unless I’m in the safety of the rooms of my program. It takes a tremendous amount of courage for me to speak of it here, however, I am on a path of truth, of bringing to light what happened and taking a stand.

Twenty two years ago I was raped while I was in the military.

He was a sexual predator who stalked me for two years before it happened. He would knock on my door at night when he knew I was alone. That feeling of fear, of holding my breath and going still, of freezing and wanting to disappear has stayed with me since. I can never forget it.

One night he came and knocked, I was in a deep sleep and woke up and opened the door. I don’t remember much of what happened. He didn’t physically overpower me because I would have fought back but the next thing I knew I was floating above my body. I remember crying in the shower afterwards. That’s all I remember. I don’t remember what he said to me or what happened.

I know there’s a reason why I don’t remember. Possibly because I don’t want to. I’ve thought about doing regression therapy and going back. I know my mind is strong and is obviously protecting me.

In the military the culture is one of silence. As a woman in the military, you had to be so careful. I protected my reputation fiercely. Had I said something, I would have been labelled. So I stayed quiet.

I remember going to the base hospital to get the morning after pill and being sick afterwards in my room alone. I remember telling the doctor what happened and being shuffled off to therapy where I was told that I was indeed raped.

Then I buried it. Because I couldn’t do anything about it. The worse part is he still came knocking. I had to go a trusted mentor and ask him to make it stop repeatedly. I never spoke of what happened. The reason it stopped is because he graduated and moved on.

So here I sit twenty two years later. A fresh diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder because of what happened and a life that has definitely been a struggle. The event ended my career in the military before it even really began.

He’s still in the military. He’s also a published author. I can’t imagine how many other women he’s done this to because that’s his nature.

This is no longer about him. It’s about me.

I’m a runner, I’ve run from most things in my life. It was and still is my coping mechanism of choice. I learned to take a stand in my last relationship. That was the gift my former partner gave me.

I am going to take a stand now and report what happened all those years ago.

I want my side of the street to be clean. I want to take my power back. I lost something that night that I will never be able to get back. It has affected my whole life. My relationships with men, my personal and professional lives. Everything has been tainted by this incident.

I will find my voice and speak my truth.

I have an amazing support team around me. I know I’m going to be alright. I also know it’s going to be a long drawn out process. I have no expectations of what will happen. The most important part is telling my story. I will let the Universe take care of the rest so I can finally let it go.

 

Parents and their role in supporting their athletes

Last night I had the opportunity to speak to a group of parents whose kids ski race.

They had a half hour to ask me questions on sports psychology. I found the questions that came up to be good ones so I’m sharing the highlights here.

Athletes your parents love you. They want to see you do well and are concerned about the best way of doing just that. I had question after question on the subject.

How do I best support my kid? How do I help my kid recover from a not so great performance? How do I help my kid deal with their emotions? How do I help my kid prepare for race day? And on it went.

From my perspective, it was really nice to see.

I felt a lot of pressure from my parents, it would have been nice to have better communication with them. Had that been present, my demise might have been mitigated.

My answers to their questions were about being present. Helping their kid re frame their results. Letting their kids come to them and how best to support them.

I spent some time educating them on some of the tools I teach to the athletes I work with.

I spoke at length about the importance and value of the mental game. If sports programs gave as much weight and importance to the mental aspects as they did the physical and technical ones, things would change for the better.

Athletes would be better equipped to deal with wins, setbacks, and injury. They would come back stronger and faster after an injury. They would be able to quickly recover from a less than desired performance. They’d handle their emotions better and not get swept up in the roller coaster of moods. They would cope with life better.

I love what I do. Helping parents be better supports for their athletes is just part of the work I do. It brings me great joy to see the kind of interaction I saw last night.

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day.

A happy day for many. A day fraught with tension for some.

A reminder for me of what I don’t have: children.

At my age, with no significant other in sight, it’s pretty safe to say it most likely won’t happen. That doesn’t make it easy to see the bombardment on social media of happy Mother’s Day pictures of my friends with their children.

I didn’t have a sad day. On the contrary, I kept myself busy putting my garden in.

I’m grateful for all that I have in my life: my family, my friends, my home and my sweet fur baby. Focusing on what I can be grateful for helps.

Sending love and light to all those who had a challenging Mother’s Day for all sorts of reasons. This too shall pass.

Shock

An acquaintance of mine has died. I met her through an online business group organized by my business coach. She was my age.

Her death has shocked me. She leaves a family and young children behind. A life taken too soon. My heart goes out to all who loved her. I wish I had met her.

Her death is a reminder. A reminder for me to live.

I don’t feel I do a very good job at living. I’m trapped in fear and not doing what I love full time unfortunately. What’s worse is I’m not sure how to change that fact.

So I sit here thinking of her. She apparently left a sparkle wherever she went. I’m sure she’s sparkling brightly in another realm. I wish her and her family peace.

 

 

Heart break and healing

This blog originally started as a dating blog. It morphed into a relationship blog and is now mostly a blog on my personal life and my adventures in sports psychology.

I haven’t spoken of the relationship I was in, in some shape or form, for eight years in a long time. I’ve kept that part of my life private after exposing some of it here with not so great results.

I’m choosing to talk about it today because it’s been affecting me and has caused my silence here. We are no longer together, nor do we have any contact anymore, however, the night before Valentine’s Day a call from him sent me into a tail spin that lasted for two weeks.

I made the decision back in November that we couldn’t be friends anymore because I wasn’t strong enough not to be affected by him or to slide right back into a relationship and lose myself again as I’ve done time and again over the years.

I grew up in alcoholism and one of the side effects resulted in me being a very good codependent. I’m in recovery now and am learning to be my own person through program.

It’s easy for me to turn myself inside out to please a man. I’m a great chameleon, I’ll be whatever you want or need me to be. I’ll throw myself under the bus to make you happy. Whatever activities I enjoy will slowly disappear and I’ll stop seeing my friends. It’ll be all about you and I to the exclusion of everything else. I’ll look to you to make me happy. Not very healthy is it? Well that was me.

I’m happy to say I’ve changed but it’s still very easy for me to slip into old ways of thinking and behaving. I’ll be in program for the rest of my life as a result. It’s the only way for me to be the best version of myself.

Eight years. Eight. Years.

It’s a long time to be with someone as a partner or friend. We raised his daughter together. Being her step mom is the single best thing I’ve ever done with my life and I’m so very grateful for the opportunity.

I tell a brief version of our story in the rooms of my program when I am asked to speak. It goes something like this. We were both adult children of alcoholics and neither one of us were in program at the time. We both had trust and commitment issues and it was drama all the time. We tried so hard to make it work. I grew up with a mom who stood by my dad no matter what so that’s what I did.

So many people tried to reason with us, including our families, to try and make us see the light but we were stubbornly trying to make something work that just couldn’t.

I was watching a series on Netflix last night. One of the characters said something about a love so intense yet bringing out the worse in each other. I teared up because that was us. Love was never the issue between us, we were.

I thought I had grieved when things ended between us in November. I went around in an unconscious miserable coma for weeks. I’d go to work. Come home, cry, go to bed and start all over the next day. Then all of a sudden the fog lifted and I started feeling moments of happiness and peace.

Then after three months of silence, I got a three minute phone call from him inviting me on a ski trip. As soon as I hung up, I burst into tears and called my sponsor. I cried for three days. The depth of my emotion scared me. I had no idea where all this sadness was coming from. Turns out I wasn’t done grieving.

I turned to old coping mechanisms and became a little hermit. I hid in bed and did what I needed to get by. I did make it out to program meetings but I was a shell of my former self. It took time but I’m happy to say I’m back.

I’ve come to realize an eight year relationship isn’t something I’m going to get over quickly. It’s going to take time to heal and that’s alright. Program has taught me I am right where I need to be. Dating other men in the interim isn’t the solution either. It’s a good codependent idea but not a very viable one. Besides which, until I’ve sorted myself out, what good am I to anyone else?

So I sit here with a smile on my face, knowing I’m doing better emotionally and that lightness always comes after darkness.

 

 

F.E.A.R.

I’ve spoken on this topic on this blog before.

This blog post has been percolating in my mind for some time and today I came face to face with a very sad human fear response.

I have my blood taken on a regular basis for health reasons. Today as I was chatting with the person behind the counter at the clinic a mother and young daughter came in. The daughter was crying. It was their second attempt today to get her blood taken.

I immediately went into coach mode, explained what I did and told the mom that I had tools that could help. They were ushered quickly into the room were blood samples are taken. I asked the mom to tell her daughter to take deep breaths. She said if she needed my help she’d come get me and left it at that.

I chatted some more with the person behind the desk and finally went into the treatment room because a colleague came to get her. They were having problems with the girl.

I again went into coaching mode and got down in front of the girl who was very upset and crying sitting on her grandfather in the chair to give blood. I explained what I did and introduced myself. I normalized the situation by explaining that it was okay for her to be afraid.

I got her to calm down somewhat by closing her eyes and breathing. Big deep belly breaths through her nose with her hand on her belly. Then I asked her to go to her happy place in her mind.

It turned out it was Dairy Queen which was awesome. I asked her what her favorite flavor of ice cream was. She said chocolate, “good choice” I said. I asked her to think about going there with the people she loved in her family. She was almost there, she lifted up her sleeve and as the technician got ready she went back into her head and panicked.

Poor kid. No amount of cajoling, rationalizing or threatening from staff or her mom would help.

One of the staff suggested I go ahead and get my blood taken and the girl could watch. I asked her what her biggest fear was. Was it the needle? The blood? I encouraged her and told her she was almost there when I had coached her. She couldn’t give me an answer.

I said I didn’t like needles either and was in often to get my blood taken and looked away.

We tried using music and a phone to distract her, she would have none of it.

Poor peanut. She had bad stomach cramping and was getting a battery of blood tests done to determine what was going on. The technician asked if the pain of her cramps was bad. The girl replied in the affirmative and the technician tried to explain that it would be like a pin prick and she would feel very little in comparison.

I felt sorry for the family. They would have to try again and it would get worse in the girl’s mind.

I did what I could, but unfortunately I was not able to get her to calm down enough to have her blood taken. A lot of mental training is required to get to that chair, there is just so much that can be done in a crisis. The poor mom had no idea as this was the first time they were getting her blood taken.

I spelled fear intentionally in the title. I have spoken about the acronyms here before. False evidence appearing real or face everything and rise. I wish I had more time with the girl to get her through this experience.

There is nothing I can do now to help but send that family love and light.

Take care sweet Laurie.

 

 

 

 

Accidents are indeed, no accident

The Universe has checked me twice in the span of a month. Two separate incidents have resulted in injury.

The first happened over a month ago when my rented hot water heater gave up the ghost. The plumbers arrived unexpectedly, I was hustling to get dressed and put my glasses on and missed the top step of the stairs and hit the landing hard.

I still can’t sit without pain. A little research online has told me it’s no longer a bruise at this point but a fracture. I’m looking at a two to three month recovery period. Sometimes ignorance and denial are truly bliss.

The second incident happened on my very first run on my first day skiing this season. I wasn’t solid on my edges, went over a pitch and found myself in the backseat. A 360 degree turn on snow ensued while still attached to skis. It is to be noted here that I skied for six hours after this happened with no pain. Got to love adrenaline right?

My knee is not happy with me. I decided to test it further, went skiing a week later despite pain and am now dealing with the fallout of that less than wise decision.

So here I sit, literally in pain, pondering the messages the Universe is trying to get through my obviously thick skull.

As a firm believer in the law of attraction, I went to my trusty Louise Hay book You Can Heal Your Life and did some research. It was a humbling moment let me tell you.

In Hay’s words:”Accidents are no accident. Like everything else in our lives, we create them. It’s not that we necessarily say, “I want to have an accident,” but we do have the mental thought patterns that can attract an accident to us.”

“Accidents are expressions of anger. They indicate built up frustration resulting from not feeling the freedom to speak up for one’s self. Accidents also indicate rebellion against authority. We get so mad we want to hit people, instead, we get hit.”

“When we are angry at ourselves, when we feel guilty, when we feel the need for punishment, an accident is a marvelous way of taking care of that.”

“It seems as though an accident is not our fault, that we are helpless victims of a quirk of fate. An accident allows us to turn to others for sympathy and attention. We get our wounds bathed and attended to. We often get bed rest and we get pain.”

“Where this pain occurs in the body gives us a clue as to which area of life we feel guilty about. The degree of physical damage lets us know how severely we felt we needed to be punished and how long the sentence should be.”

Well that’s a lot to swallow isn’t it?

As I thought back to what I was thinking before I fell when the plumbers arrived, I realized I was angry that the gas company hadn’t given me a heads up as to when they would arrive. The buttocks represent power or in this case, a loss of power. A fracture represents rebelling against authority. Makes perfect sense now doesn’t it?

The knees represent bending and pride, ego and stubbornness. According to Hay: “Often when moving forward, we are fearful of bending, and we become inflexible. This stiffens the joints. We want to move forward, but we do not want to change our ways. This is why knees take so long to heal; our ego is involved. The knees take a long time because we get our pride and our self-righteousness involved.”

“The next time you have a knee problem, ask yourself where you are being self-righteous, where you are refusing to bend. Drop the stubbornness and let go. Life is flow, life is movement; and to be comfortable, we must be flexible and move with it. A willow tree bends and sways and flows with the wind and is always graceful and at ease with life.”

I love that metaphor of the willow tree, funnily enough it’s always been my favorite tree.

Again looking back to my first run of my first day skiing, I was rushing to get to the hill. I was supposed to be meeting a friend and wanted to get there for first tracks because that’s when the best skiing happens on freshly groomed runs.

I was frustrated because I made a stop at the garage on my way up to the hill to get my car checked. That proved to be a waste of time. I was already running late so my stop compounded things. I texted my friend and because signal at the hill is dubious at the best of times and let’s face it, we are busy skiing, there was no response.

The result? Frustration at not getting the outcome I wanted. I certainly was refusing to bend and flow with life wasn’t I? I wanted things on my terms. What happens? Poof! The Universe checks me.

I sit here with a smile on my face because it all makes perfect sense now. I’m not looking forward to the recovery time of both injuries and I’m crawling out of my skin not being able to ski and be in my happy place but I get it. I am right where I am meant to be, whether I like it or not.

It’s a good thing Louise Hay gives affirmations for all these happenings. I can focus on those and move myself forward one breath and one ice pack at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silence

Silence.

How does silence sit with you? Are you comfortable with it or in need of noise?

I use silence in my sports psychology practice intentionally. Silence tells me a lot.

It is said that non verbal communication accounts for 80% of communication between people. Watching people’s body language is therefore rich in information. Does the person fidget or do they stay still? Is their body language open or closed? Do their eyes wander or stay fixed on mine? What eye patterns are happening? All this information is feedback for me and helps me get a clearer picture of my client.

A lot of the work I do is done remotely. I then have to pay attention and really listen well. What words are they using? Are they visual, auditory or kinesthetic learners? Is their language pattern a positive or negative one? All this information gives me feedback to do my job well.

Silence.

On a personal level, I have become comfortable with silence. I never used to be.

I always had music going, singing and engaged in whatever task I was doing. Even in college I used classical music as a backdrop to help me focus while doing homework.

I processed emotions through music, I still do. I will listen to a song on repeat, over and over and sing till whatever is in me has worked itself out. Music is my therapy in a lot of ways.

Yesterday I had planned to participate in a day of silence at my yoga studio, however, the Universe had other plans for me in the form of unexpected car repairs this week. Instead, I spent a day of silence inside my home. I didn’t do yoga or meditate all day but I did practice a lot of much needed self care.

The energy in the universe right now is calling us to go inside and reflect. To be still, present to ourselves and align with Source and our core. A lot of past emotions are bubbling up to the surface. They require our attention and loving care. Processing of them needs to happen to release them and allow wisdom to come in and guide us.

So yesterday I sat with my emotions swirling around me. In the past, I would have done anything to avoid them, afraid of their intensity and of getting lost in them. For years growing up I was given the message that it wasn’t ok to feel. You can imagine what that looked like when the damn finally burst.

It took many more years for me to come to terms with being a big feeler. I’m a sensitive. I sense energy and have become somewhat adept at managing my own. When I’m not doing well, tired or run down I become a bubble girl. Safely enclosed in my own little orb. I won’t put myself in situations where I have to deal with the outside world and I carefully curate what I allow in.

That’s exactly where I was yesterday. I sat with myself and allowed whatever memory and its attached emotion to come. It’s not easy let me tell you. I went for a long walk in the woods and processed some more. At times the emotion brought me to my knees. I honored whatever feelings came up, allowed myself to process them and release them. It was good for my soul. I came back feeling better than when I went in.

I skied with a friend last night. Night skiing is not my thing. It’s dark and cold. For someone who has a hard time warming up it’s not pleasant but because my motto for this year is just do it, I went anyway.

Skiing has always been one of my happy places. I’ve processed a lot on the hill throughout my life. Last night was no exception. I live alone, tend to over think things and rattle around in my big brain. Being around someone safe whose company I enjoy was just what I needed last night. Thank you.

Silence.

I’m now going to practice what I preach and sit on my mat.

 

 

 

 

 

My words for 2017

It’s a brand new sparkly year. Every year I pick a word to live my year by thus setting an intention. This year was no exception, as I reflected on the past year, three little words popped into my head.

Just do it.

Props to Nike for coming up with such a great branding motto. These words came into my life in mid June last year.

2016 has been one hell of a year from a personal perspective. I believe through the toughest challenges, there is always growth. If I look for the silver linings, I see tremendous personal growth. A shedding of a skin of sorts and a stepping into power. A shiny new me.

For many years, this former high performance athlete who used to fly down hills clad in nothing but a lycra suit at speeds most cars travel on highways was fearless.

As life went on, fear or as I like to call it, false evidence appearing real or if you prefer face everything and rise started creeping in. Now healthy fear is a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, it keeps us safe, however, I’m talking about the itty bitty shitty committee taking over and ruling my life.

For someone who does positive psychology my head is not a safe neighborhood to walk alone in at times. It is said that we teach what we most need to learn. That’s proven to be accurate time and time again. I’ll be speaking with a client and this nugget of wisdom will pop out of my mouth and it’ll resonate with me as something I need to apply to my own life.

I’ll laugh and thank the Universe for the gift.

Just do it.

What does that mean for me?

It means to hustle in my business. To consistently take steps to move the needle forward. It means playing a bigger game. To pick up where I left off writing the book I have in me. It means allowing my light to shine consistently. To stay present and not hide. To live the dream that chose me.

I am a sports psychology coach who works with amateur athletes to build confidence for life through sport. It’s an incredible gift and honor to walk the path with my clients. I’m grateful that this dream chose me.  I intend to honor the gift and the light that I bring to this world.

In the words of Prince Ea: “You cannot go back and make a brand new beginning but you can start now and make a brand new ending.”

Bring on 2017. It’s going to be amazing.

 

 

 

From darkness to light

It’s the end of the year, winter solstice has passed. We are moving from darkness to light.

This period of time for me is always a reflective one.

As I look back on this year in my life I see a lot of ups and downs. Challenges, lessons learned and success too. So it is on this journey of life.

My challenges this year on a personal level were great. Through them I grew by leaps and bounds. I did the work I needed to do on me and continue to do so. The silver lining is growth. I may not always see it but I can tell in the way I approach situations and respond differently.

I’ve learned that feelings are just that: feelings. I don’t have to lose myself in them. I can feel the feeling and let it go. I’m learning to honor myself and where I’m at. I’m going to be alright no matter what happens. I’ve got this. I trust myself.

As someone who grew up in a high functioning and performing family I’m learning to be comfortable with where I’m at because I know I am right where I am meant to be. It can be challenging at times but the gap between where I am and what I want needs to be manageable. Baby steps.

I’m learning to be mindful of the committee in my head. I teach positive psychology and when I take a moment to notice what’s going on in there it can be alarming at times. I go back to breath. I breathe and slow things down. Breath is connected to thought, thought is connected to feeling and feeling is connected to action. Awareness, acceptance and action. That’s the key to positive change for me.

What you focus on expands. I’m reminding myself that I need to make sure I am focusing on the positive. Life is easier then. Thoughts become things, choose the good ones.

I’m learning to be mindful and to stay in the present. How often am I in the past or flying forward into the future? A lot. Present. Moment by moment, breath by breath. Live and let live. Enjoy this life. Live it fully. Soak in its juices. Be.

I tend to be fairly serious by nature. A thinker. Learning to lighten up, laugh and have fun and surround myself with positive people helps. A lot.

I’m learning to go with the flow. That’s a big one. Control has been a big part of my family of origin. Planning, taking action and moving forward. I know how to do that. Going with the flow is whole other kettle of fish. Again it comes back to breathing, relaxing and trusting that I am right where I need to be even though I may think otherwise.

Thanks for the fruitful year Universe. It’s been challenging at times, however, the growth has been extraordinary. There are many blessings to be grateful for.

I’m reflecting on what my word for 2017 will be. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does a Christmas craft market have to do with sports psychology?

So what does a Christmas craft show have to do with sports psychology exactly?

I love watching human behavior. I was at a Christmas craft show this week. Being a social creature, I interacted with a lot of the vendors. What was interesting was watching different vendors interact with the public.

There were those who were gregarious and welcoming. Others who were quieter and more self-effacing.

Furniture has a huge impact on social interactions. Think about it. If  someone is sitting behind a counter, there is an automatic barrier between that person and potential customers. I saw all kinds of interactions while at the craft show and one thing is for sure, it’s really important to engage with your customers.

If you are selling anything other than food, which seems to produce easy sales once you have samples. How else are you going to engage that potential customer?

I noticed the crowd effect happen many times. At any booth where there were lots of people, sales were brisk. Why? Because people are social animals. If a booth is busy, people are curious as to what is being sold and want in on the action.

I had a positive sales experience with a booth whose owner was one of the most outgoing and chatty people at the show. Some would say pushy. But you know what? He was selling. He rarely stopped talking about his products and I was charmed by his gregariousness. The result: brisk sales.

I went to another booth and the owner was demure, self-effacing and not very present. She was a paper artist. I was interested in some of her pieces and asked whether she had a promotion if I was to buy more than one piece. She seemed taken aback by the question and quickly said no. My response? I walked away. She lost a sale.

As an artist myself and someone who often has to educate and persuade clients of the value of my services, I would not let a client walk away.

It’s really that simple: do you want to sell? Then let’s make a deal.

As humans we connect and buy from people we like, know and trust. As a vendor at a craft show, you don’t have very long to engage with a customer and make a sale. You have to capitalize on every opportunity to interact with people, to establish rapport and to educate them on your product. It really is that simple.

I had a great time at the craft show, as a matter of fact, I went back a second day for more.

How does this relate to sports psychology?

Simple. It’s about mindset. As an athlete do you have growth mindset or a fixed mindset? Are you open to learning, engaging and being successful? Are you willing to build on success?

Sales and athletic performances are not so different are they?

 

 

Fear of failure

This topic is a big one for me.

Fear of failure can easily rule me. It prevents me from beginning and finishing projects. It’s a great tool for self-sabotage. It can keep me stuck. It has many times.

Are fear of failure and perfectionism the same thing? I’m not sure but I do believe they are on the same spectrum.

They can be different responses to the same internal struggle.The worst thing about fear of failure is that it keeps us from trying.From chasing dreams and taking risks.From being vulnerable. From living. It shrinks the world we live in to a comfortable, predictable, fearful experience.

My business coach always says to take imperfect action. Done is better than perfect. Words of wisdom.

I think it all comes down to baby steps. It’s hard to break the bonds of the fear of failure but I believe in action. Keep going even when you don’t want to. Action helps get us unstuck. It keeps us moving forward.

Babe Ruth once said: “never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” It’s a powerful metaphor for life. Fear of failure will keep you from experiencing life to the fullest. Don’t let it.

 

 

 

Suffering

Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements sit in front of me.

The second agreement is not to take anything personally.

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say or do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. Finally, when you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

I have been suffering. Tremendously.

What do you do when a parent, a loved one, someone you’re supposed to trust volleys words at you that hurt and cause pain? How do you recover from something like that?

I am not thick skinned. I am a sensitive. A big empath with a big heart.

Right now my heart is hurting. I know the suffering is self-induced but I can’t get the words out of my head.

Today I was listening to a documentary. The final words of the piece hit me like a giant wave. It was about being a good person despite bad circumstances. It was about forgiveness and hope.

It was all I could to hold myself while the tears came. Wave after wave of pain, crashing through me. I cried like a dam broke. There is this fear that comes with that level of emotion: “What if I won’t be able to stop?”

Counselors in the past have assured me that I’ll come through it. That my body will allow what is necessary to come up and out.

I’m still emoting.

I started a meditation class a week ago. I walked out of the class knowing there was no way I could come back. At least not right now. The teacher spoke of suffering, of Buddhist principles of non attachment. It was too much. I felt worse. I just could not handle that level of truth in this moment.

I am working one of the toughest steps of my program right now. I am writing on resentments. I get physically ill sometimes from the writing. My levels of frustration, perfection and rejection at the words I am writing come out full bore and manifest in my body. I get headaches that develop into migraines. Nausea and feeling like I’m going to throw up.

I know it’s better out than in but it’s like a Pandora’s Box. All these things that I’ve kept hidden are coming out and I’m shocked at how emotional I get despite so much time passing since the events happened.

I pray for the courage and the strength to pick up the pen and write every day. To see the words appear on paper, to get them out of my head and heart and to allow them to occupy space on a blank page.

One of my readings today spoke about the presumption of being good enough, worthy enough and lovable enough. That I am exactly the right kind of person, in the right place, at the right time.

I never grew up with that message. In fact, it was just the opposite.

It’s up to me to learn it, to voice it and live it.

 

 

 

 

Recovery

Where to begin?

This is the most honest, soul bearing post I have yet to write.

My parents have come and gone on their annual visit. For most, this is likely a happy event. Not so much for me.

You see I grew up in alcoholism.

In a high functioning family, very driven and accomplished. From the outside everything looked good. On the inside, not so much.

I knew from a very young age that something was very wrong.

I won’t go into details here but suffice it to say that it’s a miracle I’m still here. What I have been through and then later in life, done to myself is horrific, painful and sad.

I’m a grateful member of Al-Anon. It’s a 12 step program for families and friends of alcoholics. I’ll be in recovery for the rest of my life because I know how dangerous it is to stray away from the fold, my program and my sponsor.

I had a slip this winter. I went back to old coping mechanisms and come spring realized the power of my self-destruction. I rarely do things in half measures. It’s a hallmark of this dis-ease.

I’m picking up the pieces now yet again.

I thought when I had walked through the doors of Al-Anon three years ago that I had hit rock bottom. Little did I know that I would be hitting several more rock bottoms. The fellowship and my program saw me through all these moments.

I’m there once again. I’m slowly coming out of it.

I’m heading off to a treatment program for codependency and family of origin issues. I’ve been in therapy in some shape or form for a large part of my life and from a very young age.

I believe in the healing power of therapy and especially group therapy. There’s something magical that happens when strangers come together and listen to each other’s stories and pain. There’s validation that I’m not crazy. That I’m simply a spiritual being living a human existence. As we all are.

There’s a letting go. A normalization happens. Secrets come out. Monsters fade away. Light is shed on the most painful topics of this very human existence we all share.

There is laughter and tears. Joy and pain. Exhilaration and suffering.

This is a great big gift and a reminder to place the focus on me and my healing.

I’d like to say that the visit I had with my parents was a good one. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. There were a lot of good parts, however, there were some truly awful pieces that have left me gutted and gasping for air.

The level of denial, manipulation, control and abuse in my family is staggering.

I feel like a martian because I’m the only one in recovery.

I have yet to find the gratitude that others in the fellowship have for the disease of alcoholism because all I can see is what it’s taken from my family and my life.

I hate the disease. I’ve been ripped open again by it and I despise it. I hate the toll it’s taken on my parents, my brother and our estranged family.

My friends see courage and strength when they look at me. Right now I’m a mess as I type these words. All I can do is breathe.

All I can do is go back to basics and practice self-care. Sleep has been elusive again and I know that doesn’t help whatsoever. It makes things so much worse.

I’m trying really hard not to isolate and hide. I’m bumping up my meetings, making sure I get exercise, eat well and get out. I connect with my sponsors and touch stones and I am working the snot out of my program right now.

It’s all I can do until this heaviness lifts and lightness comes back.

I was reminded in readings today to act as if, to stick to a routine until it becomes more comfortable and normal again. Whatever normal is.

It’s huge to share this piece of me so publicly. This dis-ease has impacted every facet of my life and my business.

It is my greatest hope that as I progress through the step work that things somehow become easier. That there are less roller coaster rides, huge highs and devastating lows. Less darkness and much, much more light.

In sharing this story, I hope to impact others’ lives in some small way.

I hesitate to push the publish button.

Please be kind.

Thank you.

 

 

Grounding

How do you stay grounded when everything is swirling around you?

Lately it feels as though my life has been upended.

Everything I know has shifted. It’s a time of huge transformation in all facets of my life.

Of letting go of the old and having faith that what is coming will be amazing. It so will. I can feel it.

Where is the safest spot in a tornado? At its very center, that is where the calm lies.

It takes courage, strength and faith to believe that I will come through this completely transformed. I KNOW I will.

It’s MY time. To live the life I have always wanted. To be of service to as many as I can through my gifts in sports psychology.

No more hiding. No more playing small. No more dimming my light. NO MORE.

I have a vision. I have peeps who love me, keep me grounded and cheer me on. I have faith in a force greater than me that will manifest all my heart’s desires. I believe.

I have manifested plenty in my life. The power of intention is huge. Where your breath goes, your focus goes. What you focus on expands. Make it intentional, amazing and big.

I am so mindful of my word lately. Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements have come back into my life at the right time.

The first agreement is to be impeccable with your Word. “Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.”

I have been challenged by that agreement repeatedly lately about the words I say to myself. The itty bitty shitty committee is fierce lately. Shut up ego. Enough.

When this happens, I return to breath and breathe. Deep belly breaths and as many as it takes to come back to center and to me.

My return to a stronger yoga practice helps, meditation helps, walks help. Returning to breath in the midst of a tornado helps. Repeating to myself I am safe, I am love and I am peace.

It’s a challenge to stay grounded amidst whirling dervishes and transformation. Self-care is key.

Step by step, moment to moment and breath to breath.

Breathe. All will be well.

 

 

 

Rest

Rest.

I’ve written of rest here before.

A client has come back to work with me. Her results are just not there.

This ski racer does well in training but can’t pull it together on race day. The good news story is this is a common occurrence.

As I spoke to her, the true story came out. I attract clients who often mirror what is going on in my own life or past life.

Turns out this kid is tired.

Her story is very similar to mine. Lots of pressure to succeed and a ticking time bomb.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever spoken of my story here. Well here it is:

I grew up in the Gatineau hills near a ski resort. My dad was a ski instructor, so my mum would bring the kids to the hill to spend time together as a family.

My mum taught us how to ski. I remember falling over so many times with her on the t bar. Getting my tongue stuck on the chairlift going up the hill. So many happy memories.

Once we were big enough, my dad took over. I was enrolled in the Nancy Greene program and started racing. I was a sociable kid stopping to say hi to people who were cheering me on.

I have spoken of my father and his influence on my ski racing career on this blog before. I was coached by my dad. He was the technical delegate at most of my races as I got older. He was the force behind me. Analyzing results and coaching me into the space I needed to deliver top performances.

Dad would tell me to back off and finish my second run when I had a commanding lead. I was a consistent podium finisher with my talent, drive and his support.

My father worked for the public service and passed up promotions so he could move us to Quebec City to access better coaching and a bigger pool.

The first year I arrived, I was on fire. I had finished in the top three in my region and had won a conditioning camp and a ski camp because of my results. After those camps, I headed to another ski camp with my new team.

I had the best coach of my life that year. Thank you Michel Paquette for your unwavering support and understanding. Things started to shift for me that year. I asked my coach to tell my parents not to watch my training runs. The pressure was building.

I used to race and beat Melanie Turgeon who went on to make the National Ski team. That was the talent I had. I worked tirelessly. We built a start gate in the back yard so I could practice my starts because I was still in the gate when I kicked back and the timer started.

I would come home after school, put my ski gear on and practice my starts in the dark back light from the light coming from the house. Driven? Yes. Determined? Yes. Hungry? Yes.

I did very well that year, podium finishing again. Then I shifted age categories and ended up with a punitive coach I could not relate to.

Things began to unravel quickly. Negative reinforcement was used by my parents to get me to work out. The sport that was my whole life began to shift.

It unraveled further when one day in economics class I burst into tears. I was a pressure cooker. Fortunately, my school had a psychologist but she wasn’t me. There were two options: to keep racing or to quit.

I chose to quit. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I packed up my trophies and medals on the shelf my father had built and stored them in the basement.

I do what I do today because of that story. Ski racing was my life. It was my passion but it became too much for one kid to handle.

Now I help amateur athletes like the ski racer I mentioned because I don’t want them to go through the pain, heartache and suffering I did.

My ski racer is at this choice point. All the resources money can buy. She is US Ski Team material the day she decides she wants it.

Coaches have said she is done. Her coach is very emotional and puts pressure on her. Her mom is advocating for her. It is HER talent.

She’s tired and needs a break from skiing while staying strong this summer with a conditioning plan.

I’ll be her vault, her safe space, a person to talk to who fully understands what she is going through.

I’ve got you kid.

It is YOUR talent. What you choose to do with it is up to you. Either way, I will support you.

 

 

Pain

Pain.

How does it manifest in your body?

A long time client had a bad fall ski racing. Here is her list of injuries: dislocated shoulder, fractured humerus, pulled ligament off the bone. Sprained medial collateral ligament and a bad bone contusion.

Thankfully there will be no surgery. In two weeks, once the swelling diminishes, she’ll start physiotherapy.

I’ll be with her every step of the way.

We are working on healing imagery together, visualizing herself healthy and whole.

Your body speaks your mind. It’ll make you pay attention if you’re not. The good news is you can also heal your life.

Pay attention to what your body is saying to you. There are reasons behind everything. Louise Hay has done ground breaking work in this area. I highly recommend checking her out.

No one is immune to imbalances. Take care of yourselves. Listen to your bodies. Pay attention. Love yourself into the parts that need compassion. Your body will shift and so will you.

 

 

Gratitude

I woke up feeling grateful Easter Sunday.

Despite having a cold, I’m still healthy.

I have a roof over my head, running water, food. The basics are covered.

I looked a little deeper and realized my heart was full.

I had done sports psychology sessions with ski clubs again this winter and continued on with my private clients.

I also worked at the ski hill doing something I love. I met some great people at the shop and I had fun. Being a social animal I enjoy interacting with customers and am good at it. I became shop mom to the kids working at the shop, plying them with muffins and other baked goods.

It’s a rare occurrence for me to find work I truly enjoy outside of sports psychology but I was in my happy place at the hill with all the skiing I could manage. A blessing.

As I looked out the window at the blue sky and the sun shining, I had this profound sense of contentment and peace. Life is good.

Even though my beloved ski season is drawing to a close in a few short weeks and I have to seek employment elsewhere, I’m happy with a job well done. Truly.

A former client has just come back to work with me which makes my heart sing.

Spring is unfolding and with it the promise of growth, renewal and change.

I’m looking forward to seeing what comes.

Happy Easter with your loved ones.

 

 

 

 

Rest

Rest.

An important factor in any athlete’s life.

One of my clients was disagnosed with mono earlier this winter. His family is very A type, no rest for the weary. He’s still playing tennis and wondering why he’s not getting better.

There is no remedy for mono except rest. I know, I’ve been there.

I sometimes wonder what it’s going to take for this athlete to slow down because the Universe sure is giving him a message.

Unfortunately there is very little I can do when it comes to situations like this. I can speak to the athlete and his parents but ultimately the decision to stop is up to them.

This client has played through injury and now this.

Rest is part an athlete’s life. It’s just as important as training.

Please make it a priority before it forces you to.

 

Coaches

Coaches.

They have such a huge impact on athletes don’t they?

The impact can be positive or negative.

For the most part I come across good coaches but every once in a while I scratch my head in equal parts wonder and horror.

One of my clients had a guest coach run practice lately. I’ve been working on confidence with this client for months. In one session this coach ripped her to shreds. Seriously.

I couldn’t believe it. I had to question the validity and accuracy of the coach’s comments. To remind my client of her strengths and tools. She came around eventually.

It’s hopefully a blip now but it had a negative impact on her.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there’s a great coach from one of the ski racing clubs I’m working with this winter. His kids love him, he’s well respected in both the coaching community and with parents. His athletes benefit by his presence and guidance. All good things.

I have my own coaching story.

My family moved to access better coaching when I was ski racing. I went from having the best coach of my career to the very worst coach ever at what was a crucial point in my path. He was punitive, negative and I could not relate to him whatsoever. He was partially responsible for my decision to end my ski racing career. I often wonder what would have happened had I kept my great coach.

Coaches matter. Good coaching matters.

I always tell athletes to make sure they ask for what they need from their coaches. Coaches want to see their charges do well. For the most part, they care. They are not, however, mind readers so make sure to communicate what you need from your coach.

A heartfelt thanks to all the coaches who had a part in shaping my ski racing and had a positive impact on my life.

 

Presence

Presence.

Presence is my word for 2016.

Presence means showing up fully as much as possible. Not hiding from my light.

Marianne Wilkinson’s words float through my head:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves: who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually who are you not to be?

You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

As we let our own light shine, we give people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence liberates others.”

I am often challenged by letting my light shine consistently. Doing so is my intention for the New Year.

No more hiding, sabotaging or allowing fear to run my life. I know fear will show up but I won’t allow it to dictate my actions. To sabotage my success.

I want to be fully present in 2016. To take strong action in my sports psychology business and in turn help more kids be more confident in sport and life.

To a more fully present 2016.

What’s your intention? What do you want to manifest? Dream and make it happen.

 

 

Breathing

It’s the end of the year. A time to reflect on all that has come to pass, find the lessons and set intentions for the new year.

What are your intentions? What do you want to manifest this year?

Take a moment to reflect. To be grateful and to dream.

In looking over the past year I can say that loss has featured prominently. I had to say goodbye to my beloved cat of many years. I had to say goodbye to a new love before anything could really come of it.

I’m still bruised and hurting from that last one.

That’s where breathing comes in.

When a song plays and stops me in my tracks and the tears come all I can do is breathe. When a memory surfaces and causes tears to flow all I can do again is breathe. When life gets to be too much and I can’t seem to take another step all I can do is breathe.

Breath. It slows everything down doesn’t it? It brings us back to ourselves. It grounds us and keeps us here in the present.

I have a lot to be grateful for in the past year. In the coming days I will sit with all this and set my intentions for 2016.

I urge you to do the same. What does the new year hold for you?

Set your intentions and watch them come to life.

May the new year bring you the desires of your heart.

 

 

 

 

Shinrin-yoku

In the next few posts I’ll be exploring some cultural concepts that are new to me and I’m guessing most of you.

Shinrin-Yoku is a Japanese term that means “forest bathing”.

The idea being that spending time in the forest and natural areas is good preventative medicine since it lowers stress.

Having grown up in the Gatineau Hills, I can sincerely say I’m a huge fan of shinrin-yoku. The forest is the place I go to get grounded and centered and come back to myself.

I’ve healed many a sad, broken heart in the forest.

I guess I can be called a tree hugger. Nothing grounds me quite like hugging a tree.

If you haven’t done it before, give it a try. You’ll feel the difference instantly.

Get out and enjoy some shinrin-yoku, your heart will thank you for it.

 

 

 

Wabi sabi

Wabi sabi is the Japanese idea of embracing the imperfect, of celebrating the worn, the cracked, the patinaed, both as a decorative concept and a spiritual one – it’s an acceptance of the toll that life takes on us all.

We are all wabi sabi aren’t we? No one is perfect. There is no such thing.

If we can learn to love ourselves as we are, for all our chips and cracks, patinas, and crooked lines. To embrace ourselves just the way we are and cherish the differences instead of trying to make them disappear.

Let’s try and embrace wabi sabi over this holiday season which can at times be a bit crazy. Understand that life happens while you’re making other plans and enjoy what happens instead.

Wabi sabi is a work in progress for me. It’ll come.

Merry Christmas everyone. Wishing you happiness, peace and wabi sabi.

 

 

 

 

Resurfacing

It’s been two months since I’ve written.

I don’t know about you but I’ve felt my absence on this platform. Two months is a long time to go missing and be absent. In sharing where I’ve been, I hope my honesty helps others.

Ever since college I’ve gone through periods of highs and lows. The highs are awesome and super productive. The lows are terrible and wracked with anxiety and fear.

That’s where I’ve been, going through yet another low. They tend not to last as long as the highs and somehow I manage to pull myself out.

It’s funny because I’ve recently taken on a new client. She’s an amazing kid but she is plagued with confidence and anxiety. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

That’s how the Universe shows up for me. This time it’s planted a client in front of me that reminds me of me. I get the incredible gift of helping her and for that I am truly grateful.

Because in helping her I am helping myself.

In listening to her describe her anxiety it sounds like my story. I too feel like something is wrong and like whatever it is won’t ever go away. Like her, I feel it most often while I’m lying in bed.

That’s where I share my tools with her and hopefully remember them when the anxiety I feel hits me.

I remember to breathe. Big, deep belly breaths. As many of them as I can manage. I’ll often use a YouTube meditation to help ease the anxiety and take my mind off things. I’ll try and go to my happy place.

Another secret revealed. Just because I do sports psychology and teach positive living tools doesn’t mean I have it all figured out and am immune to life’s challenges.

I have my share of them, the important thing is to come out on the other side as quickly as possible with my resiliency intact.

It’s my greatest hope for you too.