Monthly Archives: January 2015

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

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! 🙂

Integrative Movement & 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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