10 Things I Learned from Mudd, Sweat and Tears

10569091_683737828367384_2151992638281765404_n1. Don’t ignore the obvious.

Seriously, this sounds like it should be, well, obvious, but it so wasn’t for me. Mount Washington Alpine Resort. Mount – meaning mountain (should’ve been my first inclination that there might, just might, be an incline). Alpine – just in case I missed the “Mount” in the location name. Seemingly redundant but apparently I missed both… 1200ft of elevation gain in the first 3km and sucking wind from the oxygen difference between my sea level training and the race course and this was hammered home. Lesson learned. Next…

2. My negative committee that resides in my head CAN be silenced, and fairly easily actually. A mountain and mud and fatigue are all that are required. Who would’ve thought.

3. Self doubt isn’t as strong as self confidence.

When I dropped a laptop on my foot less than 12 hours before aforementioned race, breaking a toe, bruising my foot and leaving it bleeding, it wasn’t my self doubt that was the first voice in my head. It was the voice that said loud and clear “no big deal, you got this. we’ll just do it with a broken toe, no big deal. now get some ice. and tape.” This was a surprise to me, a welcome surprise.

4. “Team” isn’t a four lettered word.

Okay, well, actually, it is. But that’s not what I mean. I signed up as a solo race competitor for a race that is well known as a TEAM event. Why? Because I am superwoman. Not really, but I act like it sometimes. Thinking I can do everything alone and that I don’t need help. Ever. Simple lesson, I am wrong. I cannot, really cannot, boost my own ass over a 10 ft vertical wall that has no hand holds. I needed someone to help. Which brings me to…

5. Accepting help is not admitting weakness.

Ooh, tough one for me and I’m still cringing when I type this to be honest. At a point near the end of the race, on an obstacle of climbing over bales of hay, a Team member (me and another solo racer were “adopted”) offered me a hand. The first words out of my mouth were “no, I’m okay” followed quickly by “yes, thanks” when I realized I didn’t have to do it alone. Sniffle, tears…

6. Mind over matter really works.

I was shocked when, thinking back, I realized that not once – at all – did I ever say to myself “I can’t”. The internal mantra wasn’t self defeating, it was empowering. The whole time. It was physically one of the most demanding things I’ve ever done. But mentally and emotionally – I was going to do this, no matter what. And that was what carried me through, not my limping run on injuries and dead tired arms. It was will and spirit.

7. Stop to smell the roses.

Halfway up the initial climb; panting and silent, heads down and just going and one of my adopted Team mates says loudly “Just look at that view”. We all stop and steady ourselves… breath coming in and out hard… swaying slightly as we balance on the steep incline on loose rocks and dirt… and we look. And it’s beautiful. An expanse of clouds and mountain and a little lake (which we later pulled ourselves across on ropes, we didn’t know that then though). A moment of peace and quiet and admiration for where we were and just how amazing this experience was (and how flipping high up we were!). Another racer went blazing past us with a quip that it was a race and what were we doing… his loss. He may have finished ahead of us but we got that moment.

8. Laughter makes everything easier – or at least more tolerable.

During said ascent and one of the adorably perky Team mates suddenly breaks into the Lego song “Everything is Awesome!”. A moment of giggles and silly exactly when it was most needed. I’ll always be thankful that I can find laughter.

9.Mud is fluid and can get in places it should never be.

This is self explanatory and ‘nuff said, eeeeew.

10. I can do anything.

I just needed a reminder, and this was it.

On to the next challenge now. With giggles and knowledge that nothing is out of reach. And that a race course with the word “Mount” in it’s location WILL have hills. 🙂

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Freedom from fear

I want to be free. A simple thought and one that overwhelmed me today. Not just that though…an accompanying thought instantly flashed that what I want is to be free of the fears that bind me.

  

The irony is that I’m not a fearful person… I’ve worked hard in my life to live my life not guided or limited by my fears. A childhood of debilitating shyness – shyness that impacted my actions to the point of anxiety and terror at new situations and people – bringing me to a decision in my early twenties to make a conscious choice to do things in spite of my fears…many times because of my fears. My choice of career at the time -personal trainer and fitness instructor- was one that truly terrified me to even consider. Which was part of the reason I did it. I was tired of being ruled by my fears. Tired of not doing what I wanted because of my fears.

 

Each fear I found I conquered and left in the dust. Scared of heights… Zip lining in whistler turned that into a thirst for more,  more adventure, more that I was frightened of but would not only do, but love.

It’s not that I’m not still afraid and scared ,  but it doesn’t stop me. Feel the fear and do it anyways.

 

So my shock today when I had that thought that I want to feel free … And that I don’t feel that….because I’m afraid. It was as if my Self just simply shone a light on something I haven’t seen in the past couple of years…

 

The deeply internalized fear that has been so buried that the surprise hit me hard today.

 

A fear of feeling. If I allow myself to feel good and to have joy and love and passion then that means that I also am opening myself up to the potential to feel the pain of loss and the hurt of emptiness.

 

I lost my son and that pain sparked a fear beyond any that I could process. The fear that I would ever feel that pain again.

A fear so big that I wasn’t even aware it was there…affecting my actions and my choices these past 2 years.

A fear that fights with my nature and my Self on the most basic of levels.

 

My nature, my core Self is one of connection with others and my Self. Sincere, genuine and intimate connection. This fear of feeling pain has been, and is, causing a struggle and fight that is tearing me apart.

As the haze of the initial grief burns off leaving me finally starting to move forward I’m able to see clearer.

Able to see that in some altered rationale in my mind this fear has a hold that I don’t want it to have.

That the fear of feeling pain has translated to a course of action that has brought me where I am now. A constant dance of drawing near and pushing away. My core, my Self, yearns for that connection and wants to embrace what I need and want. My fear has caused me to pull back every time anyone gets close enough that I feel that connection. So a dance ensues… With the fear , unknown and without my awareness until now, adeptly carrying me expertly away from the click… Because the most assured way to not be hurt by loss is to not have anything to lose.

 

So here I sit today and I ponder and I confront… And a conscious decision is made and this fear, like all the others, will fall as well…because I want to be free… And that means free of this fear.

It means letting people in and not pushing them away or pulling myself back. It means that the fear that has stopped me from intimacy … The fear that I’ll feel… Has to be faced and overcome.

The freedom starts now even, before actions. With awareness and intentions that will fuel and drive actions.

 

My body, my vessel

I learned something this weekend. I learned that I can not only love myself but I can be thankful to my body. This is a pretty important thing for me to learn.

Early last week, as I was getting ready for this past weekend’s race, http://muddsweatandtears.com/ , I pulled a calf muscle. This, after still dealing with an ongoing issue of a hamstring tear from 2 months ago and to say I was feeling frustrated would be an understatement. I am blessed to work in an environment that I have, at my disposal, physiotherapy, massage and acupuncture so I worked with them all to try to get my leg in some sort of shape to just make it through the race. By Friday, my calf was functional for walking but I knew it was going to be a really rough go for the Saturday morning race. Not a big deal though… I have a great pain tolerance and routinely work through injuries and such.

Friday night in the hotel room; 12 hours before the race… my nerves are on, I’m worried and scared a bit… and the unthinkable happens… while putting away my laptop, it slips and falls on my foot. Cutting my toe and breaking it. Bruising and swelling comes up instantly and the pain is searing. Not once do I even think I won’t race though. For the first time in a very long time, I connect. I breath and I talk to my body. Really talk… and not with hate or anger or disdain like I usually do.

My attitude with my body has always been one of me against my body. Out for a run and a muscle starts to go… do I stop or slow and make sure to not injure it? Not on your life… I push on, all the while berating my body for being weak and for betraying me when I need it. I have spent my life starving it, hating it, cutting it and purposely hurting it… why? Because at the root of it all… this body houses someone that I don’t like and, at times, hate. Harsh words, and an even harsher reality when I realized that this weekend.

As I stood there Friday night and stared at my swelling and swiftly bruising toe I silently told my body that it was ok. That we would deal with this, together. That I knew that we could handle it and that it wouldn’t stop us. Something shifted. I don’t know if it’s for good but it’s a start.For the first time in a long time, I treated my body with kindness and compassion.

The next morning as I got ready to shower and get ready, I was alone and quiet in the bathroom and I took some time to actually talk to my body… it sounds odd but I haven’t done that for a long time… not in a connecting way. It wasn’t a pep talk or a “let’s go get er done” sort of thing. It was an intimate and simple few moments of acknowledging what it has done for me and thanking it. Of expressing that I know the demands and the unthanked expectations that I place on it… and letting it know that, deep down, I honour it and do love it. I saw my body in the mirror for the first time in a long time as a part of me that isn’t something to be judged or tolerated or demandingly ordered about, but as a part of me that needs love and acceptance and acknowledgement.

I saw a body that may not look like the “ideal” but that is strong and capable and always, always, always rises to the demands I ask of it – to it’s best ability. Never giving up or giving half best. A body that carried and birthed and nursed my 4 children. A body that has the scars and stretch marks that tell the stories of my life. A body that has carried me through the experiences that have made me who I am today and will be there as I experience what will shape who I am tomorrow. A body that deserves so much more love than I have given it. A body that is, simply, my vessel for this life and all that I have and will ever experience.The home to my spirit and the harbour that my Self resides in.

And something amazing came out of this weekend. A lesson that is still a work in progress, but a lesson that is clearer than before at least. As I ran and climbed and crawled and battered myself through the race – it was as one with my body, not once did I think about whether I was 10 pounds lighter or if my thighs were “too big” or my breasts “too small”… not once did I criticize my body… I ran that race and actually consciously thanked my body as I did… taking time to stop and say to myself how great I was doing and how strong I was – and how proud of myself that I was – how proud of my body that I was that it was doing what I asked and needed of it, like it always did. How as I pushed it, it came through…time and again, even when it was injured and sore and more exhausted than I can remember it being in a long long time. And I loved myself, body and spirit. And it felt good.

As the days pass from Saturday and the race, I’m reminded that it is very much a work in progress and the old habits are still there and the disconnect is still present… but… to have had that taste of what it feels like and how I can be with my body, I know that it’s not only possible, it’s going to be more and more like that.

To be able to have joy and abundance in my life, physically,  is too important to miss because of an inability to love myself.

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha

my creations

sketches and paintings are never my medium

pretty lines and designs have never been released from my hands

 

so I write instead

from my fingertips flows the imagery that I see in my minds eye

conveyed and created by my words

visions, pictures and beauty born through letters

letters linked seductively together to give rise to the sublime

that I can never forge any other way

 

passion…love…lust… incited and expressed

anger and rage hurled outward, sadness and despair seeping

apathy settling and spreading as it chooses

a melodic calm that can be found in the depths radiates

manifestations of all that is inside…all that begs to see the light of day

 

all brought to life with words…phrases…

snapshots captured and released

to be embraced, ingested and felt

internalized or set free after the encounter

A matter of choice

We all have choices. That’s the simplicity of it. The ease and the difficulty. In a lot of ways, it would be easier if we didn’t have choices; if it wasn’t actually up to us. We wouldn’t have to take responsibility for our actions in our lives. We could always fall back on the surety that someone or something was the one to blame for where we were in life, for what happened to us or for how we felt. For a lot of people, they live like that; like they don’t have a choice… like some external force beyond their control is running the show for them.

 

It’s easier to be the victim of someone or something else. Some elusive “other” who has just decried what and how your life will be. Yet the irony is that it’s a choice to believe that. To make the choice to embrace that declaration of helplessness and lack of control.It creates a situation that places a person at the point of being able to blame someone, anyone, other than themselves , for their life… For their happiness or lack of it… For their pain and hurt… For them being unable to change. Because if it’s not up to them, then they just simply can’t help but be how they are. It’s easier to remain somewhere you don’t want to be than it is to change. So we create stories and reasons for the “why”… I would do this or that but… I was raised this way so I can’t be different. I was told this so I can’t believe otherwise. I’ll fail, so I won’t try.

 

The sadness is that the people who appear to refuse to make their own choices, have in fact, made the most profound choice. The choice to relinquish independent control. The choice to place their path in the hands of everything but themselves. Because to accept that it’s in their control, they then have to accept that they are responsible for their unhappiness. And for so many, it’s easier to blame and just keep going. At least then, it’s not their fault. At least then, there’s always a reason – outside of their own personal responsibility – for where and how they are in their life.

 

We can, truly, choose to be happy or unhappy. To create and bring to fruition what we want, or not. To change, or not. It has been said a million times and it’s one of the most basic truths… the only thing stopping you, is you.

 

A matter of trust

An interesting aspect of trust in relationships is how sometimes, it changes dynamics in unexpected ways.

 

When one person in a relationship has actions or behaviours that causes the other person (or persons as the case may be) to lose trust that’s understood. We try not to blame or accuse or find fault for why things are how they are… but the facts usually are such that a breakdown in trust in a relationships comes down to one person and that person’s actions.

 

Now that can be actions that are obvious and physical, such as cheating or hiding activities that are knowingly outside of the realm of accepted and agreed upon boundaries within the relationship. Or, it can be hiding emotions or feelings from a partner that results in a breakdown in communication that can result in one partner being unable to trust the other. Not being able to trust that answers to questions about feelings are honest and true sets the stage for a level of distrust that can kill a relationship… and that, rather than the physical, is the aspect that I am trying to examine right now.

 

For me, communication and sharing is paramount in a connection with a partner. If I am being given incorrect or watered down information on how my partner is feeling or experiencing emotions, then I can’t accurately make decisions or base actions for “us” or even for myself within a relationship. Regardless of the reason, the end result is the same. Distrust from me that what I am receiving is the truth. It’s like a pilot trying to navigate after being given a wrong map. The pilot is set-up from the start to be behind the eight ball and is going to have a hell of a ride.

 

When I have made it clear to my partner that I want, need and must have openness and honesty in communication of feelings and emotions; whether they are pleasant or not… I mean that. I can’t impress enough that I would rather hear something that hurts me than not hear it and be “sheltered” – only to dig it out eventually and then have to deal with the hurt AND the deception. It’s that deception that will chip away at the trust and the connection. I am a big girl and I can handle whatever gets tossed my way. That doesn’t mean I won’t feel and be hurt, but I can take it. It’s not that I can’t take lies, I won’t. And lies by omission are still lies.

 

Then there’s another bent to this… one that’s not as cut and dried…one that’s much harder to navigate because the edges of the boundary are vague and fluid.

 

There’s the aspect of deception that occurs when the person that is not sharing is not sharing because they, themselves, just simply don’t know what their feelings are. They aren’t necessarily hiding how they feel or lying about how they feel. They very simply, don’t know. Someone who, when you ask how they feel about a major,important issue that is going on, is unable to answer and gives you an “I don’t know”. Someone who isn’t purposely deceptive or vague but who lacks the self-connectedness to even be able to access their own feelings and emotions to either deal with them or share them. How do you deal with that? You can’t fault them for deception when they don’t even know what they feel in order to hide it. Or they have a vague feeling but can’t express it. What do you do? Do you continue on in the relationship, knowing that it’s up to you to pull out the information and that, at best, you *might* scratch the surface.

 

Now here’s another scenario… You’re involved with someone who displays all the earmarks of the aforementioned inability to access or share their own feelings because they explain they just “don’t know” how they feel when asked. Yet, almost every time that an hours (or days) long discussion ensues because of the importance of an issue; you are faced with an admission that they did in fact “know”, they just knowingly hid it from you and deceived you in order to spare your feelings or because they didn’t want to face the bad feelings they have. It comes to light eventually, all the time, that the initial “I don’t know” is always a smoke screen. Not done with malice or to manipulate, but because of a deep seated aversion to them actually feeling what they feel. What then? This is different than the simple aspect of “you can’t fault someone for not knowing” and brings it back to “they’re lying and hiding”… even though the reasons aren’t classically “bad”.

 

What happens is that you lose trust. Everytime that you see altered behaviour that could indicate an “issue” and you ask, you don’t believe what you’re told. Why? Because the history has shown that, if you push the conversation, you’ll eventually get the “real” answer and it won’t be the same as the first “It’s all good, I’m fine”. They express that the real problem now is that you don’t trust them. That they *are* trying and that you just need to trust them…

 

So you’re faced with a couple of options. One is simple… you communicate that – as has been discussed – honesty and openness is wanted, needed and not optional. You make sure that they know that, from this point on, you will trust that what they tell you is what they are feeling. Period.

And you trust… and follow that up with actions. Trust that when you see something and call the person on it and ask how they are and they say “I’m fine” … you will simply trust that answer and take it as truth. You will then base your following actions on that being truth – because they know that that is what is agreed upon. An example… “Hey sweetie, how do you feel about me doing xy and z?”  The answer you get verbally is “That’s great, I’m fine with it”… even though the tone and body language says they’re not.. you reply with “great” and go ahead and do it. You discussed it, they said it was all good… they have expressed that they know the issues they have with sharing feelings and they know the importance and they have said they will be honest and that you need to trust them… so you do.

At this point, some may argue that you *knew* they weren’t ok with it by their body language etc and should have pressed it. But, and here’s the but, you both agreed that you would trust and take them at their word. You can’t rebuild broken trust if you don’t take that step. Sure, someone may get hurt. That’s the risk. The partner may come back, guns blazing a couple of days later (or the same night) saying that you *knew* they weren’t ok… or they may never share that and bottle it up and the relationship implodes weeks or months later as time after time the same thing happens. that’s the chance you take.

 

So I said a couple of options and that was one. The other option is you don’t trust… you spend every day questioning and second guessing their feelings and what they’re sharing with you and whether they even know what they’re feeling well enough to communicate it to you – and to themselves. You get to the point that your communication is so muddled in distrust that you are accusing them of lies and deception inside your own head and it starts to eat away at how you feel. You lose the ability to trust and can’t find it again. You feel that they are moving along blissfully happy that they can just be as vague and hidden as they want and get away with zero responsibility since it’s just “how they are” and you’ve accepted it. You see a pattern in yourself evolving – one that is leaving you as a suspicious and distrustful person… and that’s not who you are.. or who you want to become.

So it comes to a decision to be made and it’s not an easy one. Trust or not. In the end, it comes down to that very simply.