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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love

Five weeks ago I met a man who changed my life.

We fell in love on the spot, the stuff movies are made of, even though I didn’t know it at the time.

I wasn’t looking for once, I was dating someone else. He was also in a relationship.

You can’t explain attraction can you? We were magnets for each other.

As much as I tried to understand, to resist and deny, my heart shifted.

After six years of trying to make a relationship work, this just was. We were tied from the day we met.

He doesn’t live in the same city as I do and so for four and a half weeks I didn’t see him. I can’t begin to explain or describe the ache I felt.

We texted and spoke daily for a while. Then he asked for silence as he couldn’t be in two relationships at once.

All the while, being the eternal optimist that I am, I banked on the best outcome.

The best outcome has come to pass. He is going to go do the work he needs to do on himself. To learn to like, accept and love himself. Whatever we were is over.

I am a change agent, It’s what I do. I shift people. I shifted him.

What I didn’t expect is for him to shift me.

Thank you for loving me. For helping me see that love is possible. For cracking open my heart and bringing in light.

My heart is shattered. I am gutted. I’ve forgotten what pain like this feels like.

Even in this thick blanket of fog that surrounds me and pain so deep I don’t know what do when the waves hit but allow it, I know something is being worked out in me. Healing is happening on a grand scale.

I will come out on the other side of this with insights and lessons learned like I always do.

Be well love. Thank you.

Compassion

Compassion.

What does it mean to you?

Lately I’ve been challenged by finding compassion. Compassion for myself, my cat and those around me.

I grew up on a ski hill. Call it nature and nurture I turned into a ski racer. A decent one at that. Along the way I developed something called perfection.

Ski racing is a sport where hundreths of a second make the difference. Where I constantly sought to improve my strength, technique and tactics. It’s a sport where your mettle is tested.

I flew down hills faster than most people drive, constantly seeking speed and a winning line. I was a consistent podium finisher. Always pushing myself to be stronger, faster and smoother.

I lived for speed and for flying down courses with gates coming at you as fast as possible. Always seeking to shave time and to win.

Ski racing was my life and my job. I had teammates, some I liked, others I tolerated. On race day all that fell away. It was time. Time to put all the training I’d done along with mental preparation and make it happen.

Sometimes it did. Sometimes it didn’t. Always I learned. I watched my competition’s lines. I ran the course in my mind and in my body countless times. When the starter counted down I was like a tiger, ready to fly. To lay it all down and give it my all.

That drive is still in me. The passion too. I constantly seek to learn, to better myself and to be the best me I can be.

Sometimes compassion is lost in the process. This hardness appears. The itty bitty shitty committee activates. Sometimes I can pull myself out, sometimes I can’t. I call it the swamp. That icky place where fear, anxiety, sadness and negativity lie.

I coach my clients on how to pull themselves out of that space. To reach for a branch. To grasp at something positive to draw themselves out.

I tell my clients there is no such thing as perfection. It’s something we create to punish ourselves. To keep ourselves stuck. It’s a terrible weight to carry.

I teach them there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. I ask them to highlight what went well and what was challenging. Then I ask them to draw lessons they can take with them the next time they are faced with an experience.

In the end, I am teaching them compassion. Compassion for being human. We are spiritual beings living a human existence. I fundamentally believe that.

My clients give me the opportunity to reflect on the words that come out of my mouth. The chance to apply those lessons to my own life. They give me just as much as I hopefully give them.

I love what I do. I value the trust parents and my clients put in me. It is the greatest gift to be able to work with young humans who never cease to amaze me. It’s my juice.

Heart full.

New year, new shift

Well it’s again been a while since I’ve written.

My absence can be explained, in part, by the fact I went back to work. In true Natalie fashion, I went big and did not go home. The Universe blessed me with two wonderful job opportunities within days of each other. I enjoyed both so I went from working in my business from home to working six days a week.

Whoah! Big adjustment.

I love retail. Sales has got to be the toughest job but so rewarding because you get to make people happy. I was fortunate enough to find a job with Twiss and Weber, a fantastic local duo who design and create their own line. They are cutting edge and showcase a lot of local Canadian made designers. Their motto is “Take command of your own style.” They do it with flair. I believe in their dream and am honored to be a part of their team. Their style can be characterized by what would Joan Jett wear to a job interview?

The other job is in communications for a huge financial management transformation project. A complex, multi-year, billion dollar initiative to transform the way the government of Canada conducts its business by bringing value to Canadians and better informed decisions benefitting everyone.

Wonderful opportunities.

I went full speed ahead for two months and hit the wall in December. I had a wisdom tooth removed, hopefully I did not lose wisdom with it. All kidding aside, I realized how much I had on my plate when I stopped. I started clearing, bit by bit I removed items and the Universe helped. My retail boss gave me a seasonal break to focus on my contract and skiing after I missed the busiest Saturday of the year right before Christmas.

Part of my new shift is to honor my commitments. It was my partner who helped me see that being alone on a sales floor after surgery was probably not a good idea and a liability. Shortly thereafter I was removed from the schedule. I panicked. Oh no! I’m being let go. The itty bitty shitty committee took over once again. Instead of walking away with my tail between my legs I went to see my boss and asked what was going on. I think I asked her at least three times if I was being fired. This has happened in the past you see.

Prior to these events I found out on Friday the 13th I wasn’t going to get renewed in January due to lack of funding. Old Natalie would have again slinked away. I fought. Hard.

I went to the top of the food chain and plead my case. They needed to capitalize on their investment and I was just starting to get my legs under me. Meanwhile I leveraged every other contact I had within the organization. I busted my butt to be renewed. A first for me in any governement contract I’ve ever done. Ever.

So here I sit. I’ve shifted. In both my professional life and my personal one but that’s a topic for next time.

How about you? Have you experienced shifts lately? What were the outcomes? I’d love to hear from you so weigh in the comments below.

All my best to a healthy, peaceful and successful year ahead. Keep shifting!

My first hike post-injury

On the weekend I had the great opportunity to hike up a service road at Mont Ste Marie.

All in all nothing to think twice about right? Well not if you’d severed an achilles on the very same hill 6 months ago.

I left my partner saying: “I’ll be back in a half hour!”

The hike started in hot humid weather, summer has finally arrived in our neck of the woods. Nature provides a source of solace for me and I took lots of pictures of wild flowers along the way. I got caught up in the hike, feeling very grateful to be in the position to do so.

Soon the adventure became almost a spiritual pilgrimage of sorts. I thought I was headed to the scene of the accident but somehow got turned around. The place I was looking for happened to be at the very beginning of a run on the other hill.

Once I’d realized I was on a another, longer trail, I went a ways more and found a connecting trail to the run. I hiked up about 200 more meters in muddy terrain and thigh high grass and stopped, sweaty, hot and thirsty. I figured I wasn’t very far, however, for once common sense won out.

I didn’t need to revisit the scene of an accident that has changed my life in a significant way and whose lessons I am still discovering. The act of hiking itself, pushing past discomfort, reveling in my body’s strength and ability and my journey up the mountain so far had been more than worth my effort.

So I turned around and came back. I must admit I did try to run down, it’s usually easier but my achilles won’t allow me that movement very gracefully yet. A gentle reminder of the work I have yet to do on my path to recovery.

Lessons learned

I found this post saved in my drafts from the end of January and thought it was worth hauling out, dusting off and publishing with a new ending.

I spent a week during the holidays teaching sports psychology to ski racers from U10s to U18s.  It was a great week; I really enjoy imparting knowledge to young people.

There were definite highlights.

Such as when I asked the younger groups what their happy place was.  I got varied responses such as candyland, my bed, and most endearingly in my mom’s arms.  Awww.

I was also asked the question in return from my under 12 group which I thought really endearing and replied being there with them teaching them some important mental tools.

On a sad note, I’ve just found out my achilles is torn and I’m out for the ski season.  I had a nasty skiing injury at the end of December.  I don’t often fall but when I do, I go down in spectacular fasion. This time I hit a nasty compression I never saw and face planted, bending my partner’s skis and knocking the wind out of myself.  I knew I was in trouble when I couldn’t walk and my leg really hurt.

So I saw my doctor when I got back from holidays and started physiotherapy.  Within a week the physiotherapist sent me to see a doctor to get an ultrasound and a referral to see an orthopedic surgeon.  So here I am now, diagnosis in hand, with a very heavy heart.

Words cannot describe the loss of my ski season.  I don’t expect those who didn’t grow up immersed in skiing to understand.  To me the loss is crushing. 

I’ve written here before about how profound my attachment to skiing is.  How being on the hill is one of the few things that makes my heart sing.  Skiing allows me to get grounded and come back to myself.  I have healed broken hearts and bad days simply by putting my skis on and doing what I love most.

So here I sit 4 months later and I cannot begin to tell you the impact this injury has had on my life.  A friend of mine who sustained an injury that kept her for immobilized for a year shared some wisdom with me.  Injuries have a way of shaking up our lives and highlighting things in a unique way.

There are moments I still feel shell shocked and days were I feel hope.  This injury has literally and figuratively forced me to stand on my own two feet. It has left no part of my life unaffected. I am in the midst of massive change, one which I hope leaves me feeling a little more whole, peaceful and happy on the other end.

Stay tuned.