Student Therapist Thoughts: The things you don’t learn in class

Arnheim’s Principles of Athletic Training list communication, stamina, empathy, sense of humour, intellectual curiosity, and ethics as the qualities necessary for an AT. What isn’t listed? The ability to self-motivate after a 14-16hr work day. All the multi-tasking. Being an educator, first-responder, student, personal trainer, counsellor, life coach, strength coach, nutrition advisor, substitute mother, and clinician all in the same day (sometimes all in the same hour). Self-promotion (most graduates are not walking into a job), and an excellent time manager (which includes keeping yourself sane).

As a intern, almost graduate, and someone who is attempting to set up their own business in a niche market that has been, for the most part, untouched by athletic therapy thus far.. these are all skills I’m developing on the fly. It’s not uncommon for me to hear from the clinicians I work under things like “you know what you don’t get taught in class..”, followed by any number of skills such as dealing with difficult patients, or insurance companies, or technicalities of charting or running a clinic. The skills and qualities I listed above often are seen as a given requirement, or a make it or break it set of abilities for young students or therapists. Many find that by the 3rd or 4th year of their studies, they aren’t cut out for the demands of this profession. Like any career, the ones who take a vested interest in personal development for the sake of their profession are usually the ones who thrive… and have fun while doing it.

In the clinic, working my way through the internship hours, I’ve found many things that are not even touched during lecture time. Including the silliest of things like getting cervical hot packs into the corresponding insulators, not getting adhesive IFC/TENS pads stuck to yourself while trying to apply to a patient, and not getting ultrasound gel everywhere. In the field, what they don’t teach you is that real live injuries don’t present themselves like the ones in your exam do (that goes for clinic too, actually), not every coach or parent will be convinced by your education, knowing how to interact with teenage athletes, the glamour of glove sweat, knowing how to layer appropriately so you will stay warm and be able to assess, tape, and stabilize too, and no matter how much you tell yourself you won’t lose your penlight.. you will always lose your penlight somewhere in the depths of your fanny pack.

All those things and more are things you learn when you step out into interning at various placements. You pick up little things here and there from the different therapists you work with (and all you upcoming students out there.. work with as many as you can!), and the different teams and events you frequent. You’ll learn that when you’re covering different events the sense the moment when athletes realize who you are and why you’re there (its usually signalled by the sudden onset of EVERYONE wanting ice, tape, a bandaid, or an ache assessed- most common with ages 17 and under). You’ll also learn how to manage burn out (in both yourself and your patients/athletes- often simultaneously), eating a half way balanced diet between time commitments, and how to carry a med bag, crutches, a coffee, and sometimes a table all in one trip.

When it comes to setting up your own image and stepping out into uncharted waters.. everything is fair game. Picking the brains of your mentors is the closest thing to a text book. Even then, figuring out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to getting your brand out there is touch and go. When you’re already promoting and part of a newish aspect of the health care system, working your way into a sport that is just beginning to integrate the skills you bring adds an extra challenge. What I’ve learned so far is that word of mouth is the best marketing. One happy client leads to another. Knowing  how to promote yourself online, and present yourself in person are key. Even more important is knowing how to sound like you know what you’re talking about even when you feel like your brain has melted. These things go for any young professional in any business. I see so many people around my age out there rocking their own ideas and making things happen for themselves, and I see just as many stuck doing other things. Kudos to all those out there doing what they do and loving it. Even with all the unknowns, learning curves, and long days.. I wouldn’t change it for the world!

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Intention and the questions no-one can answer

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I have this vague memory of driving to the city with my mom when I was 5 or 6 (ish). Being a typical kid of that age, I was asking non-stop questions, and when given an answer.. my response would be “but.. why?”. Whatever answer I got wasn’t enough to satisfy the questions I had in my head.

I’ve been feeling a lot like that kid lately. Though, my questions aren’t as black and white.

Last week I wrote about working on being at peace with things. One of those things is accepting that sometimes (quite a bit of the time) there won’t be answers for the questions I have. As someone who is fairly open with my personal dilemmas, whether it be via blogging or long discussions with those close to me.. it’s clear that more often the not, nobody else can answer or solve certain things for me. I’m rarely happy with the answers I get, anyway. The discussion can offer great insight and further opportunity for reflection, yes, but it won’t bring a clear cut set of directions or a guide to the next step. There isn’t a handbook for growing up, another fact both twenty-something me and mature, young professional me are equally upset about.

What does give answers?

Time.

Following gut feelings. Trusting intuition.

Reflection.

That’s what I’ve come up with so far, anyway.

What I’ve noticed is that life seems to put us where we need to be, if we are able to pay attention to it’s directions. Whether those places make sense or not at first, time and reflection allow for the reasoning and answers to become a little clearer. The directions for the next step are those subtle little gut feelings. The intuition is developed via those gut and heart guidances. It’s the learning to listen with patience that’s the hardest part.

I struggled at first when I began my University career and began falling in love with my profession with how I would have room in my life for two all-consuming passions. My sport and my career. I had two deep down feelings: I would have to give up one to be successful at the other, or I would have to find a way to make them both work. It took years for the answer to become clear. Answers I didn’t even know were answers until now.. where I am living the dreams of my past self.

As cheesy as it sounds, setting an intention on what you want in your life, and then going about your daily life- making effective and conscious choices that are best for you at whatever stage you’re at- can lead to you being where you wanted to be all along.

In a different example.. I spent a lot of years complaining and making criticisms on the way my sport (and many sports) are run. Yesterday I was voted onto the board of directors for my provincial association. My intentions (roundabout) for change and evolution in the equestrian sport came about in a way I didn’t necessarily predict, but in a way that I have a feeling will give me some interesting opportunities.

Choices. Change. Letting time pass and having patience. These things come a long with fear, frustration, disappointment.. but also knowledge, gratitude, joy. You can’t have one without the other. Positives cannot exist without the negatives.

Nobody can say what the future will bring. Nobody can answers the questions of your deepest desires and hopes. You can set your intentions in motion. You can reflect on what you’ve been dealt. You can decide how you’re going to learn and wait for the next clue. However you’re doing, don’t be blind to the choices in your control and the doors opening toward opportunity.

Philosophical post complete. Now for a quick weekly update.

As noted above, I am officially a part of the Board of Directors for MHJA. I will be running for the chair of athletic development, for which I am already brainstorming ideas for. February is here and I have a busy month of writing up my research and submitting it for a national writing award, putting together presentations for the seminars and clinics coming up quick in March, and a few other articles on the go as well. I’ve hit a great rhythm in my internships and in my personal life. I have at least two evenings off a week with which I actually take off. I even read a novel this week, between work and school.. “A Scientific Romance” by Ronald Wright (definitely a  must read!). This is probably the most sane I’ve been during a winter semester.. ever. At least I figured it out before I finished my degree, right?

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Making peace with the twenty-something’s brain

Being a twenty something is interesting.. that is the summary of this post. I’m starting to think that this may become a theme for this blog… how to deal with your twenty-something brain.

I’ve been trying to write this blog for a few days now, and while the words come to light during the night when I refuse to get out of bed to write them down, when I actually sit down- all those witty, thoughtful words disappear.

Pro-tip: best way to break writers block is to ramble about writers block for a few paragraphs.

When I say being a twenty something is interesting, it’s a big understatement. In the last couple years, I heard many people talk about how horrible the early twenties were for them. A time of mental unrest, insecurity, and bad decisions. They really didn’t make it sound appealing. I always listened and nodded, trying to relate.. but in all reality- until lately- I hadn’t really found truth in their words. Granted many say the same about their teenage years, and I quite liked most of my teens (minus the tilta-whirl like brain chemistry and emotions I now realise I wasn’t immune to).

Lately I’ve noticed an odd awareness of my brain somewhat reverting back to being a teenager’s brain (normal, for my age category). Thankfully without the insecurities, or as much angst. Quite often I find myself observing my mood, and monitoring my actions from an almost “outside looking in” perspective. With that awareness I’ve tried not to interfere too much with what the twenty something brain goes through. I mean really, how much could I interfere anyway. This, I guess, is what I’m getting at with the title “making peace”.

We all have an inner dialogue; the angel and the devil sitting on our shoulder. For me it’s not really a angel and a devil.. it’s a mature, young professional vs twenty-something brain. It’s a tie game, for the most part lately. Which is probably why when visiting with a friend I hadn’t seen in quite a while, I replied “amazing!” to being asked about work/school and “…greaaaat/you don’t want to know” to being asked about my personal life. The last month as been a big period of enlightenment for the mature, professional brain as the twenty-something brain insisted on being freed a little. Nothing wrong with that.. just a different pace then we’re used to. Normally the one to be content to stay in on weekends.. I’ve found myself as the life of the party a few more times then usual. And in all fairness, both sides have had a fair amount to process lately. For the most part they work quite well in tandem, with one usually shaking it’s head at the other in the background.

Do I sound like a crazy person yet?

At this time last year, I had all my goals and dreams lined up nice a pretty- and was 110% focused on me. Life happened, and while my goals and dreams stayed the same.. some new ones popped up, and nothing was as organised in my head anymore. (I say organised in my head because on the outside nothing about my lifestyle appears organised.. ever.). I was happy, don’t get me wrong. I’ve learned the hard way too many times that life is going to try to make plan A, B, and C impossible.. so taking it as it comes and adapting is always the best option.

So when life happened again, and I had to readjust my organisation, I now find myself back to a really similar place to where I was a year ago before broken bones and relationship brain. It’s a really good place. Again, not that I wasn’t happy in some of the places I found myself last year.. they were just different places, and different paths. As much as my heart is still a little upside-down about some things.. I’m loving where I’m finding myself right now. Now that I’m back in that place, I’m realising that though I’m standing where I stood a year ago, I’m so much farther ahead. I know me better. I know people better. And I dare say I understand the Universe a little better too. Funny what a little emotional turmoil can do for a person. And kind of ironic that I had my identity stolen (legitimately) during all of this!

It took me some time to make peace with the upheaval my brain has been experiencing the last little while. And I’m still working on it more days then not. The awareness I’ve developed of my thoughts is a amazing tool. Being able to experience a feeling, and simultaneously coach yourself through it is fascinating. It doesn’t make the feeling any less present, but at least I’m getting some entertainment out of it this way. I like to think of it as being a friend to myself. And really, when you think about it, if you can’t be a peace (or at least work on being at peace) with you’re own mind… life is going to be a true struggle when crap hits the ventilation system.

So thats a long ramble on the twenty something brain. The seemingly mature, professional brain has been on top of the world lately. This week I submitted my first article as a contributor to Heels Down magazine (look for it in their March issue), and was booked to present another biomechanics seminar for this spring (Dressage Winnipeg) to go along with the other clinic I’m doing (Western Dressage Assoc.). I bounced from covering a elementary level track meet to covering the Scotties Provincial Curling Championships (front row seats to watch Jennifer Jones for a few days). My research has been giving me great results, and the participants are all very happy. I got my training specific site up and going, and signed up/was nominated to take on a board position with the Hunter Jumper Assoc., to focus on Athlete Development. This week kind of kicked ass in that sense! Which was nice, especially on those days/nights when my brain takes time to process some of the other aspects of my personal life that it’s still working through. I have all these great things to lean on. And if there’s one thing I do well, it’s throwing myself into the thick of it.

To all you readers who are going “oh my gosh.. she’s taking on too much again..”, have no fear! I’m staying true to scheduling “me time” and am very aware of NOT over scheduling myself.

My weekly yoga class provides me with the atmosphere to reflect on my week, and offer gratitude to both my body and my mind.. and keeps me focused on achieving my goal of a free-stand by May. Wouldn’t be a hobby with me if there wasn’t some sort of inner competition.Today I accomplished my first wall assisted hand stand in a long time.

I make sure I get into the gym 3-4 times a week, and I am pretty good at getting some time to write and reflect, or just read throughout the week too. As much as my twenty-something brain gets me a little more, lets say, ‘social’ on the weekends, (and leaves me with some VERY entertaining stories).. I think I’m finding a fairly healthy balance between all my selves. It’s all part of the human experience, right?

As always, living and learning one day at a time.

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The missing piece in rider performance

Katmah:

I’m in the process of writing a not-training related post as well, but for all you riding/training folk that subscribe.. here is the first post on my NEW SITE that is dedicated to focused posts on rider biomechanics, health, and conditioning. Subscribe to that one if that’s what you want to read about… Stick to my regular site if you enjoy reading about my weekly shenanigans in life. Or do both! :)

Originally posted on Katmah Training:

What defines an athlete? A unlimited dedication to the betterment of themselves and their sport is the first thing that comes to my mind.

The equestrian athlete is no exception. Through all levels of the sport, countless hours of schooling, grooming, and monitoring the horse’s nutrition, conditioning, and movements are normal requirements of any rider with competitive goals. Lessons and clinics are attended with the goal of improving equitation, position, and ability on the horse.

And, like any other athlete, equestrians run into aches and pains. Whether it be from a nasty fall, or a long competition. A recent research article by Kraft and his colleagues in 2014 stated that 88% of equestrians across the dressage, eventing, and show-jumping disciplines experienced some form of chronic low back pain. Even more troubling then that statistic is their introductory statement that implied equestrian athletes accepted chronic pain, especially back pain, as a part…

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Back Into It

I couldn’t help but think today as I shuffled down the main campus hall in slippers, my hand-knitted rainbow socks, lulus, and my UWinnipeg Kin shirt that I must look absolutely ridiculous to every other person here. Then I remembered how little I cared.

Reading through the statuses of my fellow students who are also done with Kinesiology/AT courses and are stuck doing random arts courses to complete our degree.. it’s easy to see that we are supremely over our humanity choices, and it’s only a week into the term. This week I found myself getting to school early just so I could hang out in the Kin department chatting with familiar faces, before heading to Indigenous Spirituality and then Women in Pre-Modern Europe. Needless to say.. I miss science. But more-so my kin family..

The first week back for me began with me forgetting half my clinic outfit for my first day in a new clinic, a somewhat frustrating student association meeting, having my bank account forged, having the university try and tell me I was in the wrong final practical course, and almost forgetting a months worth of hockey games (don’t ask how that’s possible). On a more upbeat note, I got back to work with some research clients, who are all showing fantastic results, and was encouraged by a prof to revise and submit a writing piece based on one of my term papers (two actually) and my case studies to a national award. Which means I can’t write in detail too much about it on here until after I submit all the official stuff.. (#excuses). That’s my next big project! My schedule is a little more under control now that I have less course work to do. I’m working in two different clinics on two different days, and on campus for courses and teaching two other days. That leaves me an entire day open in the middle of the week. My first instinct was to find another clinic or take an extra shift… but after a week has passed and realizing that my weekends are usually busier then my weekdays now, I’ve realized that I am going to need every minute of that day “off” to fit in administrative things, research things, writing things, and general just keeping my life organized things. See.. I am learning from all those years of burn out…

I’ve began scheduling a little more me-time into the weeks. With time for the gym slotted into my schedule, at least one yoga class a week, and time to cook like I should.. so far 2015 has been a well oiled machine. For the most part. I’m starting to feel healthy again, after sliding into a few (more then a few) months of not working out and not eating amazingly near the end of 2014. I also have a clearer vision of where I want to take myself this year. For the immediate future my main projects are planning the grad celebrations for the Faculty/KSA, continuing to progress my research clientele.. most of them are half way through my programming, and writing an article on posture… oh and doing my humanities readings of course (sigh). My evenings are usually busy with hockey games, work, or teaching and weekends fill up quick with clients and basketball games to cover, but I’ve kept my schedule open for my favourite yoga class and a little extra sleep if needed. I need to get on studying for my Strength and Conditioning Specialist exam too (CSCS), which is coming up in February.

I’m not sure why but I’ve been feeling more and more at home in the city lately. Last year I escaped to the country as much as possible. Maybe it’s the cold weather, and there being not much to do outside of the city. Either way, it’s nice to be content with where I am and spending time with the close friends I have around me. Being 5 minutes away from work, 10 minutes away from yoga, walking distance from coffee shops, and having access to three free gyms all within 10 minutes of my apartment is pretty handy. I even cleaned my room and completely re-organized it last week. Who am I?? Since returning to school and getting back into a healthy routine.. somewhat not surprisingly my bum leg has been feeling pretty much like a normal one. Minus the severe lack of balance during yoga classes, but even that has been coming along quite nicely. I even regained sensation to the parts of my leg that had nerve damage just before New Years.. sensation I hadn’t had in 10months! That was an exciting day!

Now I feel like I’m just starting to ramble.. Long post short, January has been refreshing so far! Lets hope I can keep the clear head and organization going!

Re: 2014… An open letter to myself

I usually do a Top 10 of the year to bring in the New Year, but this year I thought I’d do something a little different. In place of a list, here is a letter written to myself on the past 12 months. 

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Dec 31, 2014

As 2014 comes to an end, you are reliving countless moments from the year past. Most of them good, some of them not so much. 2014 began for you with fate halting you in your tracks (quite literally), with a broken leg and a ambulance ride (this post has more detail). You probably won’t ever forget that night.

The year continued as your leg healed and your eyes were opened to new things and new experiences. 2014 was a busy year for you, in almost all areas. You began work on your own brand with Katmah Training, starting out with a strength and conditioning class for riders- and, now at the end of the year, you find yourself promoting biomechanics and position assessments, booking group clinics for riders on biomechanics, and working on your own research project. Not a bad progression. As spring came and your leg continued to mend- you had to deal with some fear around getting back in the saddle. By refusing to let fear control your season, you pushed through and got yourself through one of the toughest competition seasons of your life which brought true meaning to the saying “sweat, blood and tears”- and even made the transition from hunter land in the the jumper ring (why you chose to do this while recovering from a broken leg and nerve damage is still up for question).. all the while having great support from your teammates and now close friends M and L, your coaches, parents and boyfriend. As the show season ended, and your fear became less- you faced another hurdle when you made the decision to sell your long-time teammate Will (see When you know, you know for more on this). This meant letting go of yet another fear and letting yourself let go of the belief that taking a break from the sport meant giving it up forever, or that it made you any less of an athlete. Again- the support you had from those close to you was outstanding. Without these people- what you did this year probably wouldn’t have been possible. One of 2014’s biggest marks was likely showing you how much you appreciate the people in your life.

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Academically, you faced the most challenging year yet. However, you surprised yourself with your dedication to your studies and the profession of athletic therapy. You realized you’ve found your calling, and you began to see your own potential. You took on a leadership role in your student association, and a few teaching assistant roles. Early in the year you even applied to go to Mayo Clinic in Rochester for their AT-student internship, but fate had it that you were meant to stick around home this year. Instead you began your own research and focused your in class work towards the equestrian sport. In the field you spent the spring covering the MB Winter Games (click here for more on that experience), and football. Summer brought working at the Winnipeg Folk Fest, the Morris Stampede, and then more football, basketball and hockey in the fall. You were the main therapist with your football team this year, and got to see a truck load of injuries. Unfortunate for the kids, but excellent for your confidence levels in the field (this and this are good reads on how your football seasons went. )! You even got published again by CATA with your post Meet Your Athletic Therapist. As an executive of the student association, you were also lucky to attend the first annual Gupta Faculty of Kinesiology and Applied Health Fundraising Gala. This event inspired you and kept you in love with the ever growing profession of kinesiology in Canada. The passion of those involved in it is slowly but surely making it a well-respected part of the health care system.

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Other then being swamped by football, you were also working in the clinic(s), manning the student association, teaching, and taking the four final AT courses, and then hockey. While the entire year had it’s ups and downs, the fall took a lot out of you. While the summer made you feel like you were living a double life, being both the athlete and the therapist, the fall flew by until sh** it the fan for about 2 months straight. This is usually how you experience burn out, and you’re finally starting to understand the pattern. First your car got broken into (and all of your ID and medical supplies stolen). Then you got some marks back that demonstrated a clear case of burn out, and your leg began acting up more then necessary. Then your car got towed (you hoped it’d been stolen). Following this, and numerous breakdowns, you headed into final exams while simultaneously facing the end of your first major relationship. Oh, and then your car broke down and completely died. Ya think the universe was sending clear enough message? This post gives a longer summary. Here, again, you got a front seat view of how much support you have within your different circles. M and L, your riding teammates, didn’t just stop being your friends when you left the sport- they stepped up in a big way for you this fall and winter. Your parents were endlessly supportive, as well as all your friends and colleagues at school. Even through closing the chapter on your relationship, J remained a big support and friend for you too.

When you look back at 2014, it’s easy to see that it was a year of learning (as every year is) for you. Learning took place in new areas. You were forced to deal with many emotions and feelings you either hadn’t given time for (love), or had locked away (fear). You proved your ambition within your career, and that is paying off looking into the new year. Before the year ended, your research took off and you began to form your own biomechanics program for riders. While it’s in the early stages, it will come in handy for the few clinics and talks you’ve been booked for early in 2015. It was very much a year of growing pains, in pretty much every aspect of your life- whether it be sport, career, or personal life. After getting through December full of exams and focusing on your research before taking some time off around Christmas, you road-tripped out to Lake Louise with your cousins. You definitely couldn’t afford this excursion- but your head thanks you for it. It was a great way to hit reset and bring in the New Year.

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As the clock nears midnight, you’re sitting in the Fairmont Chateau watching rich people in velvet suit jackets get progressively more confident on the dance floor (it’s as entertaining as it sounds). You have a fresh mindset on many things, and are looking forward to 2015 as a exciting year for you. Right now you have plans to work the Scotties tournament, the National Badminton Championships, and are starting in a few new clinics. You will continue with hockey, now with a younger student shadowing you, be a teaching assistant in two new classes, continue your own research, and come spring return to you beloved football team. You are done course work now, with just two humanities left to finish- which means your schedule is much more flexible and coordinated to your AT life. You will return to MORFit, after a month off, continue running your own business, and tutoring. With a little more wisdom when it comes to scheduling (we think) you will get back into the gym and yoga on a regular basis, because you know it’s what you need– that time for you– to stay sane and keep the Universe off your back. Since you aren’t riding competitively anymore, you need to find other ways to keep your body moving and your mind settled. Hopefully you’ll make it to this years CATA conference in Halifax, and surely you’ll find some new adventures to fill your summer with. This will be the first summer without a heavy training and competition schedule to keep you busy- but also the summer before you challenge the national certification exams.  After reflecting on 2014, you’re grateful for all the things it’s shown you- and are welcoming 2015 with a smile!

For future reference- practice gratitude everyday, it’s one of the things that kept you going through the low points of 2014.

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Thoughts on life and love from a twenty-something.

Without getting too personal, I’ve had some thoughts lately that I need to write out. Tis the season for me to get all introspective and stuff.

Love comes in many forms. Love can be a noun, adjective and a verb. Love of something or another is what makes the world go round. Money, power, things, a person, a hobby or profession.. Every person runs into it in some form.
Love, at it’s best and at it’s worst, requires a healthy balance of almost every other emotion. When that balance is disturbed, love is usually what carries us through. It becomes the undertone behind what we do for both ourselves and for others, even if the decisions we make don’t bring clarity at first. In love lies the power to drive people crazy, but at the same time it provides us, if we look hard enough, with a mirror in which we face ourselves in a way we never saw before.
Every love is different, and every love has it’s own path.
Whether we fight it or let it encompass our being- this emotion will take us through highs and lows, sometimes being the cause and sometimes being the saving grace. When it comes to this between two people, it requires unending compromise and compassion. Romance and love are often two different things, and a relationship cannot survive on the expectation of another fulfilling ideals. Sometimes just because you love someone for all that they are: good, bad, and ugly, it also means understanding that they might not be ready to do the same. This fulfils loves requirement of patience and acceptance for others, but also yourself. There isn’t a perfect love, relationship, or person. Each time around there will be flaws, compromises, and straight up hard work.
Leo Tolstoy once said, “what counts in making a happy relationship is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility..”.
I have never been a believer in the kind of fairy tale love we grow up watching on screens and reading about in stories. The notion of love at first sight wasn’t even a sensible notion to me, until I had my own experience of a instant connection that luckily got the chance to develop into something more. While I’ve loved and love many things, I’m young when it comes to the all devouring love for another person. When I say this year has been an education in adult life, that is no understatement. As a 20-something I’m surrounded by relationships ending, soaring, and friends beginning the next stages of their life as either newly engaged, married, expecting, graduating, travelling, or starting their careers. Having merged from the single indefinitely-career focused young person end of the spectrum to now somewhere in the middle, I’ve grown a new understanding for where I see my life in the next few years. I’ve grown as a person in love, and because of that I’ve gained insight into many new things.
When I was 20ish, I read Meg Jay’s “The Defining Decade”. It’s focused around experiences and clients she has had who find themselves in their late 20s or early 30s dissatisfied with what they did with the first decade of their adult life. I remember reading the book and thinking I didn’t want to waste my time here. This is sometimes a hard philosophy to follow when most of society tells me “you’re only 22..you have time to think about all that stuff when you’re older”. This may be why most people assume I’m years older then I am, I’m choosing to figure out a lot of things now instead of letting time go by. I re-read parts of this book and always find new advice from it’s pages. I may only be 22, but I’m learning to find a balance between accomplishing everything I want to and having fun and learning along the way.
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Driving in White Out Conditions

The usual driving condition for those of us living on the cold, wide-open, wind blown prairies during the winter months.. could it be a metaphor for life?

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In the last few weeks I’ve found myself feeling emotions I don’t know if I have felt much before, going through a few personal stressors that both surprised me but then didn’t. I’ve found myself at the funeral of a long time mentor and former coach, dealing with a new up cropping of feelings and re-instillation of the fear I thought I was making progress on with riding, and finding myself lost within a myriad of personal relationship stress. This lead to a week or so of not eating properly, and the gains I’d made on rehabbing my ever persistent leg and nerve injuries back slide as I wasn’t about to slip down the overtraining slope on zero nutrition (plus side.. lost some weight?). Most recently having finally thought I was getting myself picked up and well on my way to being done this semester (only two exams and one paper to go) to have my car hit what may be it’s final bump, and finding myself driving through white-out conditions in a car that’s not mine (dad if you’re reading this from your warm location.. I’m borrowing your car) pondering what the last few weeks have dragged me through and wondering what could possibly come next.

While over the last few weeks my go-to answer to the question “how’s it going” has been a very simple “oh.. it’s going”. Somedays profs would find me sitting in my office literally banging my head against my desk.. and unfortunately for them dare to ask how I was. His only response to the half hour long rant he got was “how are you not an insane person by now? You always seem so calm and collected.” Thankfully, my profs and mentors are all unbelievably compassionate and understanding human beings.. and every day I’m grateful for what they’ve done, said, and taught me over the last few years.. especially this year. There’s been a lot of rough days in the last few months for me.. hence the “it’s going” response.. but, the more I go through, the easier it is for me to just adapt and move on from all those little personal stressors. Time rolls on.

I’ve always liked driving through winter storms. Maybe it’s because I was raised doing it, but if we get a little more deep- maybe it’s the feeling of not being able to see where you’re headed.. but having to trust you’re on the right path anyway.

When I began this semester, just shy of turning twenty-two, I foresaw what was likely going to be the most challenging academic year yet. What I didn’t see was non-stop challenges from  every other aspect of my life in between the demanding school life.

I feel like I’m coming out of this semester with more then just 4yrs of education in kinesiology. I’m coming out of it with a better understanding of who I am, and who I want to be.

While at the funeral last week, I expected to feel sad.. and finally snap out of the shock I’d been feeling at her death the week leading up to the funeral. Instead, I found myself, once again, feeling inspired by the life she had lead. From having a successful career in more then one area, chasing her dreams relentlessly and achieving whatever she set out to achieve, having a loving marriage and family, and travelling to her heart’s content. She lead the life I see and dream of for myself. She wasn’t slowed down, or if she was not for long, by all the bumps and bruises life can bring.. and she was always smiling. You could tell by her passion and enthusiasm that she was fulfilled in every way, and had passion for everything that she did (and she did pretty much everything). I grew up with women and men like her in my life. People who have gone through hardships, but have chased their chosen paths without being held back. I left the funeral both still in shock, but mostly grateful to have known her- and to be blessed with her inspiration even now that she isn’t humanly here. I was also overwhelmed with the people I have surrounding me now. All filled with their own passions, stuck with their own challenges, and moving down their own paths. While we all have different reasons for doing what we do on this earth- we all face many of the same challenges, fears, and “white out conditions” if you will.

Things are not always going to go smoothly. Actually, I’ve come to learn that if they seem to be going smoothly.. you must be doing something wrong. Life is full of challenges, big and small, and different for each person. Growing up and figuring those things out and learning how you react to stress is sometimes the hardest part. But being able to follow that path even when it’s completely blown over and visability is crap.. that’s sometimes where you just gotta trust in your belief, your support systems, and keep your head up.

As weird as it is, the last two months started out as having an effect on my marks. Big time. But even though exam season came with a whole new wave of the Universe laughing at me… I was able to just throw myself into full AT mode as it has been the one constant for me this year. Studying, writing, working with clients (exciting research has happened here.. I’ll really write a post on this like I’ve been promising soon!!!), even doing practical exams.. it’s become my happy place. That and spending time with my spectacular friends and family. Yes I rant a lot.. but it’s times like these when having dreams that are becoming a reality keeps you going. Everything falls into place.. just not always at the same time.

The same prof that found me banging my head against the desk a few days ago just walked by as I was finishing this post and tentatively asked how I was doing.. and when I told him “I’m doing okay, you know, I’ve decided that I’m letting all the stress go and just gonna roll with whatever happens next”. He kind of chuckled and said, you know.. we should have you teaching classes at that skill- you are unbelievably good at it!

So as I finish my final week of my last full-on semester.. I find myself blasting Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” (don’t judge me) and realizing that being stressed is overrated when you have been doing it for months.. all I can do is control the controllables, and mainly.. my reaction to what I cannot control.

 

 

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Uphill climb

I can’t lie to you, oh faithful readers. The last month or so has been rough. As optimistic as I was about champing it through this final overloaded semester and managing to avoid burnout- I didn’t make it. As usual, I naively strolled right into a massive crash and burn, and just like every time before- the Universe rubbed it in my face in almost every way possible.

The first signs were pretty obvious. My still recovering leg was acting up constantly, and during a few weeks in october I was still in a battle with WCB to receive more treatment (which I finally did get). I re-started rehab, but stepping back into that place (mentally) even though it’s what I do for other people on a daily basis– kind of brought back frustration for the injury, and for the time it’s taking to heal. I consciously know that nerve damage can take a long time to heal… but my subconscious I think is still resentful towards the fear towards my sport, the struggle I had all summer with riding, and the pain I still often feel on a daily basis. The fact that I’ve let this injury take me from an athletic, motivated person to a unmotivated on-a-break athlete who frequents the gym to train others.. but not herself.. hit me hard in October.. and was just another stressor. Then…Getting two midterm assignment marks back that were WAY below my expectations. An exam where I mixed up two words, which lost me 8 marks on the major long answer question (on a topic I know backwards and forwards), and a paper where upon rereading it, I realised that I didn’t even make sense through most of it (and fully deserved the mark I received). I reacted to this in the most usual way, by sobbing uncontrollably on the phone to my guy while sitting in a parking lot outside of work.

The next sign was partly just the universe being a jerk, but mostly my fault. Since moving downtown (like super downtown), I’ve been lucky. Unfortunately, since my brain stopped working through most of October, the weekend following the initial signs of burnout lead me to forget my wallet, passport, chequebooks, and medical supplies in my car while it was parked on a street a few blocks away from my building overnight. I had specifically planned this weekend where I was stuck in the city covering football and basketball to be a weekend where I could try and counter the effects of burn out I could feel coming on. Saturday was going to be a girls night, and Sunday would be a clean and finish unpacking and take a break from stressing about school day. Saturday went just fine, after spending the day with my mom, covering a basketball game, and then making pizza with the girls. At about 2am I realised I’d forgotten all those items in my car 3 streets away, but decided to exercise street smarts and not walk by myself through downtown to retrieve them. Forgetting about it in the morning, I went out to get into my car to drive out to the barn for some saddle therapy on Megg’s horse.. only to find my lock pried open and ALL of those above listed items gone. Serves me right, I know. And so, the weekend began and ended with me sobbing uncontrollably on the phone with J.

This is how burn out works. You neglect the little things. The little things you miss pile up and form a few big things- which send you over the edge.

The Universe continued to throw things in my face.

A few days after all of this, I woke up to my entire car being gone. My first thought was (honestly) “It’s been stolen… thank god.”. Turns out it’d just been towed. The sign saying “street work, tow away zone” was at the end of the block, and I didn’t see it. Since I still didn’t have any ID, or credit cards..  my loving father bailed me out of that one.

So, within a week, Life showed me that my balancing act was no longer working. I realised that if I was going to get through this term in one piece, it was time to reorganise my priorities- seeing as having all my commitments as a priority was only causing my blood pressure to spike and my emotions to run high. I’m pretty sure both my mom and J were getting sick of listening to me lose my mind too.

What have I done to fix it?

It’s hard to cut off from most of my commitments, but what I have done is start taking away things that are important, but not as important as kicking the rest of this semester’s ass. First to go has been work. While I probably won’t be able to get rid of my remaining November shifts, I’ve requested that I have December off- definitely the two weeks of exams. Football ended right as burn out was at it’s highest, so that freed up 3 hrs every day where I’ve been able to put time into either school work, cooking, or catching up on sleep or brain rest. This has been immensely helpful! I’ve also tried to move as mush as I can to earlier in the day.. so I’m not working our out and about until 10pm every night. Also a huge difference.

I’ve also made the conscious decision to get myself back into shape, regardless of the frustration stemming from my leg. I’ve been motivated and back in the gym (as well as rehab as needed for the leg) training myself 3-4x a week for a few weeks now.. and while I’m sore almost all the time- it feels good to be back into that mindset. Yes it adds something to my already stupid schedule.. but it’s something that makes me feel whole, and to me that has to be a priority. I feel I’ve been tested a lot lately by the universe.. with getting questioned almost daily as to if I am still riding, and then having to explain why I’ve taken a step away from the sport I’ve been so committed to. The first few times I got asked these questions it caused doubt and fear to arise- but after taking time to think about it, I recognised that I’m happy doing what I’m doing, and that is more important then worrying about my future in the sport that will wait for me. It definitely wasn’t an easy decision, but I know in my heart it was the right one.

For now my biggest goal is getting through the remaining couple weeks of this semester without any more major break downs. I’ve done it before, I will do it again. Soon I’ll be done course work and another giant step closer to my career. Since I’ve made these little changes, the Universe seems to be slowly getting back on my side. My balancing act is once again getting better- all I had to do was take a few things out of my hands, and juggle some other things around. A prof the other day commented on me looking tired, to which I replied that I was trying to cut back on my commitments.. but wasn’t doing so well. His response was: “No.. you are a person who needs to be involved in everything. It’s what makes you tick. Be patient, you’ll do alright”.

2 more weeks, 3 more papers, 1 more presentation, and 4 more exams.

See you on the other side!

PS: I’ll write an update on all my more uplifting moments soon- I’ve been kept busy with KSA milestones, personal research, and new teams even while being burnt out! Stay tuned for more on that!

The KSA execs (girl power!) at the inaugural Gupta Faculty of Kinesiology and Applied Health Fundraising dinner.

The KSA execs (girl power!) at the inaugural Gupta Faculty of Kinesiology and Applied Health Fundraising dinner.

 

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The tale of a cursed AT.. School post #3 (or 4?)

Long time no post. Football took off like a rocket and had me running for the last month or so. Injuries galore!! My poor rookie team took a beating this season, and their first and last playoff game was no piece of cake.

About three weeks ago in a game we used every single splint we had, and one kid we thought fractured his already casted hand… again. After that game I had a week or so of absolutely nothing, which was odd. Turns out it was just the calm before the storm. My next week started with an ambulance call for c-spine at practice. I had been driving away from the tail-end of practice when I saw a kid go down and not get up before I drove away. So I backed back into my parking spot and headed over where a coach had been and left him sitting in the field alone. He was sitting up and had his helmet off when I got to him so I began chatting with him. His helmet had been slammed into the back of his neck when he was forced into extension in a tackle. All his pain was around C3-4. No neurological symptoms or referred pain, and good strength in the extremities. At this point in time I was sitting on the field with him, one hand on his head half stabilizing c-spine, while trying to get a coach’s attention (they were on the far side of the field and not listening). So finally I just told the kid to stay as still as he could and went and consulted with the coaches. My only option really was to call an ambulance as I didn’t want to just send the kid home, but was pretty sure he was just bruised too. So, thats what we did. In a weird, unorganized way, I got the kid to my table, got his equipment off and had him laying down while I had one of my injured kids run around and get my phone from my car (which was full of laundry… awkward), and called an ambulance. The coach called the mom while I stabilized, dealt with the fire fighters (who were cute but clueless), and then finally the paramedics. Luckily I ended up knowing one of the EMTs, as the other one who didn’t know me tried to boot me out of the boarding process at c-spine.. the paramedic I knew stuck up for me and I ended up getting to lead the boarding process! The kid ended up being just fine and was back into play a week later.

Our final game brought two more splint and referrals, plus many runs onto the field. A friend of mine who is a photographer came and took quite a few trainer shots- which was pretty fun!

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My most embarrasing moment EVER occured in this game when I got a player off the field with a possible tib/fib fx and was beginning my assessement by taking off his cleat and sock (super carefully as this kid was losing his mind with pain). I finally get everything off and ask him to wiggle his toes.. and he sits up and looks at me and says.. Sure, I can do that. this foot feels fine.. it’s the other one.

-_-

Of course the entire team, plus Nikki, plus the doctor were all standing there. After this it all went smoothly until I was trying to tput together a new splint… Those things are not as easy as the old ones we use for practice! Not much of a “speed” splint.

I also had a pretty sweet dislocated thumb.. The athlete was generous enough to let me take a picture of it!

**I’ll post later pic later…my phone is dying!**

After all this I had a couple days off, where I had all of my stuff stolen (stupid downtown), and then got to attend my first hockey game with a new team no fanny pack (I felt naked). There was no such thing as an easing in peirod as within 3 minutes I was out on the ice for the other team. As the ref escorted me the players surrounding the kid down kept yelling “his leg is broken, it’s his femur!!!”. All I could think was “there is no flipping way this kid broke his femur.”. Granted, I am under some sort of curse currently, that would still be a stretch. So I get to him, and he’s freaking out. He slid knee first into the boards and was now having severe pain mid-proximal thigh. He had very limited will to move, and after talking to him for a couple minutes and palpating what I could I called the “team doc” out onto the ice. This is a parent who told me all his credentials about 4 times upon meeting me. Anyway, he came out and agreed that it was unlikely it was broken but maybe x-rays were a good idea anyway. I love when the doc agrees with me! So we got him off the ice and into a change-room and an ambulance was called. I thne left the doc and parents with him and went back to my bench where I got to deal with a VMO strain, a puck to the thumb, and a likely trap strain. Apparently this is the most injuries they’ve had in one game ever. Usually this amount is spread over 6 games. Cursed, I tell you!

So now I have a couple weeks to unwind, as they don’t play until November again.. and football is done (I miss it already..). What do I plan on doing? Catching up on all the school work I’ve neglected, replace all the things I had stolen (all my ID and personal info, my business cards, my medical equipment…sigh), and maybe even taking a couple mental health days to get rid of this “curse” I’m apparently under.

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