Be Here Now

I have the t-shirt, take the courses and read the books and still from time to time a friendly reminder is required to be present. It’s incredible the thoughts and conversations and realizations had when we make some space. What the heck does that even mean you ask? Well, being present is being just that, living in the here and now, not worrying about what “COULD” happen or reliving the pain of the past. Accepting the situation for what it is, and just being in it.

Every circumstance you find yourself in offers another opportunity for presence. Contrary to suffering, knowing that what is here today is gone tomorrow, peace can be found. I talked about the impermanence of everything last time, and this still rings true if you step back and think about it. Think about a time you wanted to last forever, or perhaps the opposite, a time you wanted to be over immediately both situations, were in fact, temporary.

Expert, I’m not as I said above reminders are needed, especially when in the thick-of-it, but once that perspective comes to mind, the suffering eases. We can’t wish situations away, but we can be in them, to explore what we must, allow it to pass and let it go. The more we try to squeeze and cling to the memories or try to shove them deep down we suffer more and more, but as we learn to accept that everything is temporary, we free ourselves from the pain.

Personally, the struggle has been the lack of focus or “goal” to work towards, one that felt more significant, more extreme than an Ironman triathlon because well, once you’ve gone big, you can’t go back right? But how do we define significant? Why does it need to be something that pulverizes the body? Why can’t it be from a place of compassion and self-love? A dear friend shared her thoughts that living with the goal of a healthy self (for life) is way bigger than an Ironman could ever be and she’s right. You want to talk for the long haul, well that’s it isn’t it? Sure we can have checkpoints and milestones to stay on track and keep things interesting, but that’s #lifegoals, not just #yeargoals.

Digging up blog posts from eight years ago, the desire for motivation was real; it was what will “force me” to get my ass in shape and so began the chapters of ridiculous, huge ass goals. While there has been plenty of both joy and suffering in all shapes and forms since then, I’m glad to be on the other side of that now while I appreciate the experiences, learned a ton and had some serious personal growth there is much joy in knowing I’m putting it behind me. I’m exciting for the new adventures that await, the challenges and joys of navigating what now defines the “significant” goals I want to achieve in this life.

But for now, I’ll be here, riding the post-op waves, allowing myself to heal and rest. The last eight years I’ve kicked my ass physically, mentally and emotionally, so it’s about time for some downtime. Today marks half-way there, and as they say, the only way out is through.

Letting go

It’s autumn here in Ontario, a season that teaches just how beautiful change is and that everything is temporary. Let me say that again. Everything is temporary. Everything. Your current job, or schooling, the place you call home, the pain and joy you experience, the very life you are living, it’s ALL temporary. An exciting realization while it can bring peace and comfort it can also provoke fear and anxiety as you try to cling to moments, memories “good” or “bad.”

Last week, we had some rather active weather, the winds of change were howling through the day and night clearing away the old ways of thinking and living. I see my current situation as a massive catalyst for the new women emerging, one who is putting the last four years of pain, misery, depression, restrictions, defiance, combativeness, and desperation behind her. Ok, it wasn’t all negative, but much of it was as with each setback whether instigated by a lack of reasonable judgment or lousy luck beat me down more and more.

Thankfully, during this time I never stopped flipping rocks. What I realize now, laying here writing this out, that’s my thing; I don’t give up. I push on regardless of the size of the mountain in front of me, and the last time I checked, BOLGERS DON’T QUIT! That was my mindset in racing, and sure as hell has been in trying to find a way to live a joy-filled life the last few years and now I’m on the other side of it all.

So where is all this coming from you may be asking at this point? Well, on Tuesday, October 30th Dr. Dwyer and I met at Women’s College Hospital for our third rendezvous where he repaired the right hip labral tear, a souvenir from my Ironman triathlon days. During the 2.5 hour procedure, the labrum, responsible for keeping the hip joint snug and secure, was sewn back together (very technical medical terms here) along with some work to reshape the big ball at the top of the femur bone in my leg (it’s called the femoral head). Shaving down this area allows the bone to move around in the joint more freely as the socket part of the joint where the femoral head fits into, was overgrown (and slighted tilted). They needed to make some space.

I barely recall any details from the recovery room, except where the lovely anesthesiologist gave me some VERY good painkillers and that I told him the nerve-block they gave me pre-operatively was a lie. No post op pics this time folks, cause that pain was NO joke! An hour later, the nurses in the post-op daycare hopped me up on more pain meds, we saw my surgeon again, and they sent us on our way. We got home that afternoon, and I resurfaced sometime Friday, feeling somewhat like a human again. Fast track to today, post op day 13 and recovery is coming along nicely. Two weeks in now and I’ve got the hang of crutches, they’re my best friend for the next four weeks, and I assume a few more following that, once I get to put weight on my foot again.

For now, I’m here watching Netflix, reading or listening to an audiobook and just letting my body do what it needs to do; heal. This long time coming for this, and I plan to do everything in power to provide the best conditions possible for my body to work its magic. On that note, very happy to say that today is the last day of the #gameready recovery system. It’s a unit that comes with looks like half a pair of men’s hockey shorts (it’s a giant wrap) that ices and compresses my leg and hip reducing pain, swelling and speeding up the recovery period. It’s a great tool, and thankful to have had it.

As the days continue, I’m going to remind myself as I mentioned earlier, this is temporary. Every day that passes is another day done in recovery, and before I know it, physio begins, and I get to start building back my strength and put this even farther behind me. Full disclosure, technically this post was started last week but had to cut the keyboard time short due to discomfort. Back at it today but wrapping this up soon for the same reasons.

Besides some physical pain, there have been a few moments; they weren’t dark or sad, but emotional. Perhaps because it has been such a long road and a very steep hill to climb, but as my husband said, I get to put it in high gear and enjoy the downslope now. And he’s right. So with that, my spirits are high as I continue to ride the recovery waves.



Where’s Your Head At?

During a brief conversation on Instagram today I was reminded it had been some time since I was here last. With that, it was time to sit back and appreciate the experiences over the last few months.

Before I get into the details of the months past, I’ll address the title of this post. I’ve had this track in my head off and on for weeks now. While I loved it when it dropped back in 2001, it has a different meaning now. When I sing it in my head, it’s like a reminder to come back to now, and enjoy the present moment. Give it a listen and let me know what you think.

My goals for 2018 were to focus including more Health, Wealth and Happiness throughout the year; so far, so good!

Health
I’ve recommitted to my gluten and dairy free diet, and I do this to reduce inflammation in the body. Spending a week or so cheating with gluten (and making some less than stellar decisions in activity) had a noticeable impact so getting back on the wagon has been easy while establishing a health focus diet.

Strength training has been improving with a recent uptake on consistency and appropriate intensity. And although my goal is to have a ton of fun, there have been days I benched myself because my body pulled rank and said: “I don’t think so.”

Wealth
Well, regarding learning and personal growth, I hit the jackpot! Much has transpired as I completed the Fundamentals of Mindfulness and Mindful Meditation through the U of T, I finished the 50 Hours Mediation Teacher Training and became Reiki Level III certified.

Tending to the veggie patch has been rewarding, fulfilling and humbling. The tiniest of critters can and WILL decimate your crops if you don’t catch them quick enough. So far, there were looping caterpillars and moth larvae to contend with, and of course the heat waves but there has been much bounty we’ve enjoyed as well. The garden is still producing, and plants which had a rough start are taking hold and growing some veggies. Expansion plans are in the works for next season as we learn to pickle cucumbers and consider what else we want to try growing and canning.

Happiness
Hmm, happiness. Looking back at my aspirations for the year, I’d have to say mission accomplished! Much joy and happiness filled the past few months. There have been incredible sunsets and full moons enjoyed with friends, and sharing sunrises on the beach with dad. Past hurts have fallen away, cause really, who needs to carry all the crap from yesterday? Visits with family members I’ve not seen in a while and peaceful afternoons reading on the deck. And bikes, can I tell you how much fun I’ve had on my bike? I wish there had been more, but wow it was awesome. From shredding the trails with a huge group of women, some first timers to being a newbie myself ripping up the track on a BMX bike at a ladies only night. (seriously this is fun, go and try it if you can!). Spending a day at Habitat’s Halton location was incredibly rewarding and exciting learning how to use power tools, building walls and ultimately helping a family have a home!

I continue to find my way in this life, figuring out what speaks to my soul, makes my spidey senses tingle and what screams fun and fear at the same time. Sitting back reminiscing and savoring the memories provides an opportunity for gratitude for all that has transpired. Sure throughout there have been struggles, as everyone has, but it’s up to me to decide what I focus on and wish to remember.

My hope for this post is that you too, take a moment to sit back and appreciate all the good things that came your way this summer. And, if you feel you wish more were there to recall, I invite you to consider how you might welcome more Health, Wealth and Happiness into your life.




When opportunity knocks

There’s a yearning at times to write even though I don’t have a specific topic in mind. Sometimes its a practice of processing my thoughts, releasing some trapped herstories, some old hurts. And sometimes it’s just to make some sense of what’s happening in this magical ride called Life.

I have this feeling like something is releasing, a bit of a restlessness stirring and I sit here at the laptop waiting for something to happen. The act of my fingers walking over the keys somehow seem to help. We walk through life at times with all our energy focused on specific points, but when we stop and pause to look back, this is where the magic happens.

Stop. Look up and see the words we’ve written, the life we have lived. At this time, I look back to my thoughts earlier in the year, reflections about what this year meant to me and what the focus was. Health, wealth and happiness.

Will you answer when Opportunity knocks?

Much has transpired since then, and life is beginning to look a lot different. I took what felt like a big bold step and left my previous place of employment, leaving a place I called my second home for nearly eight years. A place where I knew A LOT, was respected and trusted by many to get the job done. The one people came to when they needed help, or had an issue, and I walked away. A new opportunity, one that brings MUCH life change my way knocked at the door, and I answered.

Change is scary, to move from what we know, what is comfortable what is reliable to something that is everything but, is nerve-racking but oh so worth it. Change is possible and simple (yet quite challenging). Deciding what you want is the first step, the second step is seeing the opportunity presented in front of you and not allowing fear to stop you in your tracks or hold you back from the life you could be living. The third step is believing and trusting that everything works out in the end as it’s meant to be and remembering that everything is temporary.

Everything is temporary. How comforting those words are; remember this when you’re savoring a joyous occasion or when you’re in the dark place, or when things feel like they will never change. Everything. Is. Temporary. When we remember this, we can make the tough call; we can make the scary move, we can experience the hurt and pain because we know, it won’t last.

Life is a different ride when we let go and stop resisting the impermanence and enjoy the moment for what it is. A moment, an experience, a lesson to take with you for next time.

Live fully, love hard and laugh out loud!

#BellLetsTalk

Today is #BellLetsTalk day, so let’s talk!

It’s been two and half weeks that I’ve been battling a low back issue, I won’t bore you with the details, but it’s been an up and down episode. And today was an emotional day. Today, was a “tears on the treatment table” kind of day, and it’s wasn’t because of the muscle spasm during the acupuncture. It was because of this irritating pattern that keeps repeating, two weeks of activity and bam, something stupid happens, and it’s back on the bench for 2-4 weeks. Enough is enough already! So yeah, I had a little cry, I let go of some frustration that bubbled up, and now it’s about moving through the situation at hand with mindful intention.

Ok, sure, mindful intention what the heck is she talking about you’re thinking. Well, it’s about stepping back from the situation and not allowing the suffering to be all-consuming. It’s allowing myself to feel the pain, letting myself the feel the frustration about the situation and working my way through it. It’s about seeing what there is to learn from the time on the bench, realizing this is an opportunity for gratitude and appreciation.

Hmm, so this trying pattern keeps popping up, what does it have to teach me?

Ha, so much for mindful intention, back to #BellLetsTalk day. This reason why I shared a little about what’s been going on with me, is for others to know it’s okay. It’s okay to have a day that feels more down than up that there may be a time in your life where you have many of these days, maybe weeks or months. You are not alone, many of us go through situations that are difficult, scary, dark and feel as though they will never end. I hope for you they do. Please have some compassion for yourself; please allow yourself to feel the pain so that you can move through the pain, not keeping it bottled up within stealing your joy. Because you, me and everyone else deserves to experience joy.

Below is a part of a loving-kindness mediation you can try to practice, it may help you find some peace dealing with whatever is on your plate. You can start with yourself, or if you so choose start with those you love or even those who cause you pain and practice this mediation to find some peace.

Calm the mind/heart and find the center of your being. Generate warm, gentle, loving feelings for yourself:
May I be safe from harm.
May I be happy just as I am.
May I be peaceful with whatever is happening.
May I be healthy and strong.
May I care for myself in this ever-changing world graciously, joyously.
May you find peace, may you find happiness, may you find calm.

Feel free to find more info here:

Loving-Kindness Meditation

Health, Wealth & Happiness

I haven’t posted anything since the inspiring evening shared with Taryn and the other local BIM ambassadors nearly a year ago. While the changes over the last year have been subtle externally, they have been deep internally.

At the start of 2017 post-op physio was ongoing for the right knee arthroscopic surgery done in November. The realization of taking my foot off the gas and allowing time for my body to heal and recover from not only the two surgeries but the years of endurance sports was more than ok; it’s necessary. For the rest of the year, I spent much of my time focused on work, my day job. It’s challenging, our new initiatives are exciting, but if I allow it, it’s all-consuming. By the time December rolled around I was burnt out.

While away on vacation I had some time to reflect on the past 12 months and made some decisions about how 2018 was going to roll.
Rather than setting unrealistic or restrictive goals, you know the ones people tend to make focusing on things like “losing ten pounds” the realization of more not less came over me; it was time for a different approach.

Ok great, so what does this mean you ask? The objective is to spend more time having fun and making different choices focusing instead on health, wealth and happiness.

Health
I will plan my exercise time as any other appointment, waking early some days to get in a spin before work or packing my yoga bag and going to a class in the evening. It means, I’m going to participate in activities I enjoy, find challenging and are FUN! And I’ll get more rest and more restorative downtime.

It means that I’ll include more fresh fruits and vegetables in my diet along with more alternative protein sources like soy, tofu, and seafood and I’ll drink my herbal tea and water.

Health also means listening to my body, mind, and soul and doing what feels right for me. It may mean taking a warm bath, stretching, going for a hike with a friend or choosing to say no to something that doesn’t resonate with me physically, spiritually or mentally. And realizing these feelings can change day by day, and that’s ok.

Wealth
To focus on wealth can mean different things to different people. For 2018 it means I’ll spend more time learning and growing taking classes that interest me, listening to more audiobooks and taking a crack at planting my first vegetable garden. It also means looking at my relationships, nurturing existing ones and expanding my social circles.

Living where I do, there is also a focus on wealth from a financial standpoint, and this includes making wise choices when it comes to the dollars I earn and receive and being open to new possibilities and opportunities.

Happiness
Happiness is where gratitude comes in because, without it, we can’t ever be happy. Quite often, people seek happiness externally; they’ll “be happy when x, y, and z happen” rather than taking stock of all the fantastic and beautiful things they already have and being thankful for it all. Even finding some gratitude for the pain and suffering, you’ve endured can have an immense effect on your overall happiness. Speaking first hand as I’ve had my fair share of pain in this life, I know, 100% that I am all the better for it. Sure, at times, it sucked but working my way through it all has provided so many lessons and opportunities for growth that there is no way I can deny I’m a different person than before.

Ok so besides being thankful for pain, there are other things I can do to cultivate more happiness in my life. So, with a goal to achieve more happiness this means having more gratitude, taking part in more meditation, having more quiet contemplation and more love. Love for it all, the good, the bad and the ugly and more love for myself included.

My hope for you this year, is that you too will look for ways to focus on more, rather than on less. May you find peace, love, and happiness.

Happy New Year.



Race to Embrace

This weekend meeting Taryn Brumfitt, the founder of the Body Image Movement was surreal, amazing and inspiring. Walking into the hotel room I didn’t know what to expect. I was meeting the woman I’ve seen in the documentary, in photos, and in Facebook live videos and many, many #theellenshow dance training videos. She is an amazing, kind, fun loving woman, and who you see online and who she is in person.

You might be wondering why I was in Taryn’s hotel room, well I’m proud to say that I’m a Body Image Movement Global Ambassador (BIMGA for short) and a few local BIMGAs jumped at the chance to join Taryn for the Canadian Girls Night In Online release of Embrace. As ambassadors, we give an hour of our time each week sharing the message of the Body Image Movement and trying to help spread the word about #Embrace (You can watch the trailer here.) and sharing the body image movement with as many people as possible.

Throughout the evening as we welcomed people from all over the country we enjoyed pizza, conversations around body image and laughs, lots and lots of laughs. Taryn was so excited to share the new campaign, Race to Embrace to help raised awareness of the film. While in New York just days before she was standing in Times Square, bombarded with billboards of the new major motion picture releases and needed a way to help spread the word about Embrace. And so grew the idea of the #embraceitforward campaign.

The Body Image Movement is providing people with $10 to download the film, and if they love it as much as we did, then they would pass along $10 to someone else to cover their cost of the downland. You know, it’s like an batton in the relay race to embrace. You can download your #embracebatton here.

https://bodyimagemovement.com/race-to-embrace/

When 1 Million people download Embrace, it will not only change their lives, and the lives of those around them, but it will enable the Body Image Movement to help provide a free study guide and body image education in every school in North America! This is the global change we have all been waiting for, and now the waiting has ended! We can all do our part to help as many people as possible allow themselves to stop, breath and embrace.

It’s our life, and our bodies are the only vessel we have to enjoy all the amazingness the world has to offer. I’m one that had struggled for most of my life with body image issues and finding the movement when I did was life changing. It doesn’t happen overnight, but every day gets a little easier. It’s about appreciating our body for the vehicle of awesomeness that it is!

Are ready to #embraceitfoward?



Until Now

I don’t know what I feel right now. I keep waiting for this big revelation, but on the surface, it seems like nothing is happening. That’s why a seat at the keyboard is needed, to take some time to reflect and appreciate the journey.

I had another knee surgery last week, with procedures similar to the previous work done on the left knee in June. The feelings this time are different, there is a calmness compared to the days that followed last time. Perhaps it’s because the fear of the unknown is gone, the fear of what’s to come is no longer a fear but more curiosity.

Wednesday was the first trip out of the house, heading back downtown for a post-op follow up. Before this visit, plans were starting to form for a return to activity, ok honestly, even before surgery next season plans for exercising and training were already brewing. Bouncing between what 2017 would hold, post-operative care and rehab and what the long term picture looked like kept my mind busy, but I’m used to this.

For the past three years, there have been appointments after appointments after appointments. I’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of money treating my knees and then torn hip so to have my knees top of mind and feelings of being held back became the norm. And my question to the doctor about “what do I do now for the long term” seemed necessary. He teased me a little a first, as we have a good rapport, but in seriousness he suggested we give it three months and go from there.

I looked away. What!? Go from there? See you in three months, let’s see? What about patella replacements? What about shots of PRP or stem cells? Go from there? I looked back to him and said “Wait, so you’re saying after three years of worrying about my knees, I can stop now? I felt my eyes start to well up, but I forced back any more emotion.

Until now.

tears of joy and relief

For anyone who knows me, really knows me I’m a bit of a steam engine flying down the tracks full steam ahead with no intentions of stopping, let alone backing up. Can you relate to this? So focused on the goal, the finish line the next “whatever” you fail to realize the depth of your accomplishments along the way? You maybe aren’t willing to stop, slow down or even backtrack when necessary? Because taking that step back is not progress right?

Steam locomotive.Hand drawn illustration.
Full Steam Ahead!.

But wait, that’s what surgery and recovery are about. You have to take some steps backward to move forward! I’ve been so focused on the long term and so focus on “what do I need to do next” I hadn’t stopped realize or appreciate that what I’ve been doing were the right things. In my mind, I was just the train flying down the tracks with the final destination in sight ignoring the time spent getting maintenance done or acknowledging the tank was getting refilled.

Until Now.

Rubber stamp with word appreciate inside vector illustration
Appreciate the journey.



Check Up from the Neck Up

The World Health Organization recognizes today, October 10th, as World Mental Health Day. As per their website, “The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.”

Well, I consider myself and everyone else a stakeholder when it comes to mental health as it affects us all. Mental health is no less important than physical health and when one is not well, nor is the other.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, “Mental health means striking a balance in all aspects of your life: social, physical, spiritual, economic and mental. Reaching a balance is a learning process. At times, you may tip the balance too much in one direction and have to find your footing again. Your personal balance will be unique, and your challenge will be to stay mentally healthy by keeping that balance.”

In Canada, it also happens to be Thanksgiving today. What a special day where we can celebrate, have gratitude and give thanks for so much including our mental health.

How we handle and cope with stress and illness ties in too. It’s no secret that, the last few years I experienced ups and downs, and the downs took me to low places. Deep, dark, scary places. I was in such a dark place; I was scared I would never be able to climb out. But I did.

How we think and feel about ourselves directly affects our mental health.

How I managed to climb out of that darkness was unique to me as I am to the next. It took a lot of hard work and courage not to quit and keep looking for a way out. Eventually, the pieces came together, and I saw the faintest flicker. As I continued to seek out different sources of support, the flicker grew brighter and brighter, and before I knew it, I was out of the dark and standing in the light again.

A Healthy You = A Healthy Body, A Healthy Spirit And A Healthy Mind.
A Healthy You = A Healthy Body, A Healthy Spirit And A Healthy Mind.

A couple of months ago, during the first few weeks of recovery from my knee surgery, I felt myself slipping back into that dark place and it scared me. I didn’t ever want to return there. No one wants to go back after finding their way out, and that’s what was happening.

What this experience taught me was that my mental health is as important as my physical health and should be taken care of daily. How we achieve good mental health, I believe in a lot of ways, is the same as ensuring good physical health. Eating a balanced diet, getting some regular exercise, getting adequate sleep and finding joy in our day can go a long way. For me, it’s learning to keep things in perspective, being able to let go, and asking for some help when it’s needed.

When October 10 is known for something other than World Mental Health day, that will be a great day! When that happens, it will because we will have ended the stigma and mental health will be talked about as regularly as we talk about physical health, and we won’t need to have a day dedicated to raising awareness.

To celebrate both Thanksgiving and World Mental Health day, I prepared a large batch of my anti-inflammatory shake and pre-cooked a few osteoarthritis friendly meals after attending a hot yoga class led by my favourite instructor.

So, what did you do today for your mental health?

Perfect day for a cup of "nourish the soul" tea.
Perfect day for a cup of “nourish the soul” tea.



Being a “good” patient

It takes more than patience to be a good patient.

The below was my post on ratemds.com regarding experiences with my orthopedic surgeon, as this journey is not over yet. And it’s up to me in how I deal with the emotions that come along for the ride…

Green two-way street sign pointing to Fix It or Live With It, te

I saw Dr. Dwyer for a second opinion regarding my knees. Before going in, the online reviews had to be read, getting a lay of the land from those who had ventured ahead of me. While it seemed like Dr. Dwyer was harsh during the initial visit (as some others commented about) NOTHING, he said was incorrect or out of line.

He’s honest, and he asks that you be honest with yourself.

Some people, myself included aren’t always ready to accept or hear that level of honesty. Believe me; I get it. We are there at the mercy of the surgeons or other healthcare professionals while we are in a broken state. “Broken” in all senses of the word. Our bodies, sprites, and hearts are broken and in pain, and we just want to be able to do again the things we love. Surgeons or any healthcare practitioner, don’t have it easy when it comes to giving patients potentially devastating news. No one wants to hear the hard truths. Ever.

So, next time you have a conversation with any medical professional regarding your situation before you go online and write a scathing review or storm out never to return again, let it sit for a few days, maybe even weeks. Try to keep an open mind and allow the information they provide to soak in. Also if you can, try to see it from their perspective; remember we went to them for help, it doesn’t mean you have to like what they say. But you have to be willing to listen and hear it.

Having my husband there, someone at a distance from the situation who could listen to both sides and provide yet another perspective was invaluable.

I’ve since had surgery, and I’m happy to say recovery is going well. So well, in fact, the other knee is already scheduled. If you should happen to require the services of an orthopedic surgeon, you couldn’t be in better hands than with Dr. Dwyer and his assistant Angela.