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.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.