Category Archives: Twenty-Something

Delegation

There was a moment when I was a 3rd ish year AT student, working at a provincial level multi-sport event. An athlete went down in the middle of the competition mat and in my head I thought “wow that was a good ankle sprain!”- then milliseconds later realized that everyone was looking at me.. and then realized that I was now in charge of the situation as the medic on site. 
I feel like that’s been me all the time lately. Constant realizations that I’m the on in control and I have to make the call.. that everyone is looking at me. 

My life is moving fast. 
I feel as though I’m in a collecting mode- learning as fast as I can in order to perform to the tasks I’m confronted with daily. I also feel like I’m speaking with a voice I haven’t heard before. In many moments in between collecting- I am also throwing myself into the waves and figuring out how to swim- asking of others and expecting more then I ever thought I would at this point in my life. 
This spring I took on management of two new locations for my business, collaborating with another business. I took on 4 new staff, and took on a provincial board of director role alongside my national board role with the Kinesiology Alliance. I got accepted as a presenter at a major yoga and wellness festival for this fall, and decided to co-host a retreat with another therapist in August. Some of these things are no brainers, some are decidedly moves outside my comfort zone, and some are asking me to grow personally in ways I didn’t expect them to. 

I’ve been working hard to find a balance between the all action all the time end of the spectrum and the hold back and take in your surroundings end. 

I went into the career I chose because it allowed me to teach, enable, empower, work in health, and work with humans. It was a career that offered endless directions to follow, and I’ve been lucky enough in my short time to follow many directions simultaneously. 

Transitioning from a solo therapist running my own gig to a business owner, manager, and leadership role for team of great therapists, staff and multiple locations happened quicker then expected. The learning curve has been steep and strong, however- rarely do I have a bad (negative) day. 
One of the themes of the lessons I’m having to teach myself lately is delegation. Not only delegating better to myself and getting things done- but also having to step into a management role where there are no set guidelines, expectations, or rule books. Nor any previous training! 
Simultaneous to this I’ve seen my own patient caseload grow, with many cases that force me to go back to the research and learn everything I can. 
I realized in not too long that I needed to delegate, but I was holding back from delegating because of an internal fear that delegating meant losing control. 
From that stemmed the realization that in order to continue growing, I had to let go and that delegating didn’t mean I was losing any control- it only meant I had to expand my skill set to appropriately delegate, and that letting go (so to speak) of those delegatable tasks in my head meant I would have more space for new and exciting things to start blossoming. 
There’s been many moments that have forced me to do some introspection. 

Is what I’m asking someone clear, and effective? Am I expecting them to read my mind? 
Where is this patient coming from- am I staring too close to the picture, or am I not communicating the plan clear enough?
Am I running faster then my feet can keep up to? 
Do I want to succeed in the system or do I want to be someone who pushes the system towards better things? 
Where do I want to go? 
Many of the questions involving peers, associates, or staff were answered by taking the time to reflect on my communication and leadership style. I noticed that instead of delegating tasks or thoughts- I was instead expecting them to think the same way I think, and have the same motivations I have. Which- in all reality- is not why I brought them onto my team. 
From here I had to step back even further and break down what I wanted from them, expected, and build strategy in my communicating on how to influence them towards the same way of thinking. The response I got back from these small changes reminded me that I hired good people, and that leadership is more then just delegating and setting expectations… I did say I went into this because I love teaching, no?
When it came to intimidation over different patient cases- I had to go back again to how I was interviewing and communicating with them. Similar to with my staff, I noticed that I was setting expectations and holding a high standard to those expectations in my own head- without clearly recognizing the patient’s standpoint. When I took some time and played with changing my communications, asking different questions, and taking a little more stand in how I educated and to an extent, delegated plans of attack- things shifted again in my own growth. 
Biggest of all I’ve become much more comfortable (although still working on it) giving criticism. I personally deeply value the effective of constructive criticism or direct discussion on how I’m doing something- yet providing that to others in a leadership setting has been something I’ve had to work on. 
This fast change in how I observe and process information has created a desire for more and more pressure within myself to continue evolving- while at the same time I’ve come up against a few walls I don’t feel ready to climb yet. Not ready in the sense of e experience/know-how– while keeping the perspective that sometimes in order to get over a hurdle you just have to jump. As I delve more into the psyche of others, and creating change- the more I am confronted with loneliness. 
Not in the sense that I feel I need companionship- but in the sense that while I can see many others’ perspectives, I often feel as though I’m the only one that works and processes on the topics and levels I’m currently on. For this reason I’ve been very grateful for the few leadership groups I’ve joined- for there is where I’ve found likeminded leaders to jive with. 
This has enabled me new inspiration and much needed mentors. I still had and will have more moments where I sat in a Costco parking lot crying because I’d spent two weeks in my own thought bubble over one problem I was trying to solve and was finally coming out of it to realize and maniac texting your best friend. Nor did it change the time I talked for hours on end so fast to a friend that they could hardly get a word in- just because it was the first time I’d had social exposure outside of clients in weeks. Or when you realize you’ve become the friend who is always busy so you as a rule get forgotten about when it comes to plans. All entrepreneurs go through these things- and this isn’t meant to be a pity party- but all these moments are forcing new epiphanies and growth- so I am above all else grateful. 
I’ve learned that all those little moments where you simultaneously feel so worn out, but finally feel a release from your own mind spiral are par for the course when you’re constantly pushing for more.. out of yourself, others, and society. 
I’m at a point in my career where the impatience for more is driving me nuts, but the best option is sitting up, half halting, and waiting for the best take off distance. 
If there’s anything I’ve retained from my riding career it’s that jumping ahead never ends well. There’s a certain beauty in pausing and staying on pace until the right spot comes up. This is also the best way to train your eye. There is a time and a place for seizing every opportunity, and there is a time and a place for taking in the whole picture. 
I’m somewhere in between those two moments right now. 

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Forecast

Letting things go is hard. Until, you do. I had a good childhood. I was never left without, and I was always surrounded by people who loved me. I had a childhood that doesn’t stand out, so much so that until recently I even haven’t had a lot of stand out memories. I used to always joke that I’ve repressed them. I had little things.. collecting caterpillars in pink rubber boots, pretty dresses I got to wear to church on Sundays, the stale, dusty smell of the old living room couch in the sun, snail shells in the river mud, frogs singing me to sleep in the spring and summer, leaves and straw bales in the fall, the red swing set. 
The last year or so, I’ve begun to get more. No coincidence this comes with the house my parents built being sold. I haven’t lived there in years, with frequent visits after my parents divorced becoming less as I grew up and had my own schedule to maintain. Me and that house have always been close, but at a distance. The oppressive energy that surrounds the place was both a familiar comfort, and a luminous being. Yet, it was still the house my parents built. It is still the house parts of me grew up in, and parts of me stayed in. The house has a personality of it’s own, and I both relished being with it and held apprehension about the ghosts I danced with there. 

A big part of me always envisioned living there as an adult one day, taking back the house and filling in the blanks I thought I missed from my childhood. My inner child still lives in those walls. Deep down I’ve known that that house isn’t for me, it’s a memory but not a future. The ghosts within it aren’t meant to haunt me anymore. But we hold on to what we’re familiar with, right? 

I heard the frogs tonight. They were deafening. As I drove away for likely one of the last times. All of a sudden all those years came flooding in. The good, the bad, the unresolved. I felt the childish innocence of running through the trees by the river finding glass bottles washed ashore, snails, caterpillars, crunching leaves, old horse shoes from the old farm yard. I remembered the childish fear I had of the basement, the spiders, and the curiosity of the space underneath the raised deck. The terror of the bees that hung out in the gardens along the walkways. The confusion I felt when my parents told me we’d be separating as a family, confusion mostly at the sadness I was feeling- I wasn’t exactly clear on the situation but I remember knowing that it was appropriate to cry, maybe more because I was picking up on the adult’s feelings. I remembered when I tried to scream louder then my parents, and I remembered summer nights spent snuggled between them both on the deck watching thunder storms roll past. 

In a span of 10minutes, with those frogs, I let all those different memories and emotions run through my body. And as a good friend told me once, I let it go. I took a recording of the frogs and took some pictures in my minds eye, and let go. I drove to my home, my new apartment that I picked for myself and have found my next story in. It was a piece of the processing I hadn’t yet done. It started after the initial shock and anger that the house was being sold, and was put on hold while I accepted that initial fact. Now, my inner child had to move out. My resentment to the hold the property had on me needed to turn into something more productive. It’s a part of me wherever I go, and fighting yourself isn’t progressive..is it? 

The last three months on almost every level have been about letting go of everything except the present. Reacting only to the forecast of the day- not to the forecasts of yesterday or tomorrow. What good does it do to dress for the weather that’s already passed, or that isn’t here yet? Dressing for warmer weather ahead does us no good if it’s still cool outside. A quote by TS Eliot has stuck in my head many days lately: “We must remember that at every meeting we are meeting a stranger.”..I think that applies to ourselves just as much as it does with others, and another by Osho: “An alive person has to be unpredictable. What is going to happen in the next moment cannot be forecast.”, along side the words love and gratitude. I’ve found myself sending love and gratitude towards any negative thought, or worry, or desire my monkey mind comes up with. Whether it’s a person, a memory, a fear, or a straight up thankfulness for an experience. A funny thing has happened with this practice. I get what I wish returned. Love, and gratitude. People and experiences step in where I didn’t even know I was needing a filler or a boost- and this only perpetuates the love and gratitude. 

Because of this- the flood of memories and grieving like process seem like a natural step forwards. Just a fascinating storm passing on a humid summer night sitting cozy between love, and gratitude.  

10 things I’ve learned in 3 years

About 3 years ago I started marketing my skills to a population I was familiar with. 

Within a few months I was running a small, client focused business. Starting with weekly fitness classes advertised to one specific group, and then a research project based on the same group. I found my first few regular clients- who have stuck by my side to this day. Then came doing workshops and seminars- a handy asset to working with niche populations. 

A year later I began marketing my practice as a Kinesiologist and Movement specialist, and soon after that branched from my niche market into my first location in a rural gym setting as the clinician. Then, not long after that, I certified as an Athletic Therapist and continued to run my rural practice and mobile based business. Last fall I found my first city location and cut down my mobile practice to settle into a set location. 

I messed up my first window decal. I was so tired a few times I napped on my table in between clients. I still spend almost as much time travelling to new rural contracts as I did when I was a purely mobile based business- just a little smarter now with my scheduling (most of the time). It took me 6 months to build a steady client base in the first location, and now at almost the same in my city spot I am building a steady base here. Within the first 6 months I was also lucky enough to take on my first associate,  a fellow AT to fill the empty space while I’m bouncing between locations. 

I knew early in my University career that I would be better of being self-employed. I already had a strong sense of what I wanted, and where I wanted to go (although, that has changed over and over again through the first few years already). The idea of taking my own risks and building my own successes never scared me, however I did learn much more then I thought I needed to know way back as a 2nd year. 

Approaching my 3rd year working for myself, I am proud that my own business is now my main source of income. This Spring will be the first spring I am my own contractor, having phased out my part time positions and only kept the contracts that allow me to do me, and build Integrative. 

The last few months I’ve been reflecting on my purpose and my visions- and with that has come some enlightening memories and lessons from the first few years in business. So, in no particular order… here’s some of the things I’ve epiphanied on.. 

Quadruple Check your Marketing Materials

I mentioned earlier how I messed up my first window decal. Before that, I messed up my first big order of business cards. Seriously- there is possibly no more humbling experience then excitedly opening your latest vista print order and realizing you’ve made a typo, ordered the clear backdrop instead of the white on (when your logo has a white square behind it), or put the wrong credentials in the wrong place. Check it once, sleep on it, check it 40 more times.. then press check out. 

Treat people honestly and with integrity

And they’ll be your clients forever. This seems super obvious, right? Unfortunately in the health care professions I’ve seen and been hearing from clients that it’s a rarity. And I’ll admit, sometimes it’s not easy either. Health care professionals are hugely prone to burn out, and we are human. However- does this make it okay to write of a patient because of a first impression, or forget to listen to their whole story and perspective just becuase we think we’ve heard it all? Not really. I’ve had clients in the last few years that frustrate me, throw me under the bus, or give me a certain impression right off the bat. Ultimately, it’s not your job to babysit clients… and sometimes you’ll get blamed for that. But you know what? 9/10 within a few sessions of dedicating an effort to hearing them out, giving them every chance, and guiding them towards what they’re really trying to express- the whole picture changes. No matter what business you’re in, or what kind of clients you’re dealing with… often giving them a few chances to really open up to what they need from you is hugely beneficial for them and for your business. For that 1/10 clients that wasn’t happy, caused an issue, or wrote off the plan… well, they were great learning experiences.. and just a part of this thing we call humanity. Roll with them, and you never know.. they sometimes show back up at your doorstep. I’ve had clients that expressed interest years ago, and are now just making the decisions for themselves to come see what I can offer them. Something they definitely won’t do if you also wrote them off. 

It’s okay to take a day off…

Adding to the above point… sometimes we DO get burnt out, or have a day where we just are not up to dealing with our day. Someone asked me not too long ago if I ever take days off. The answer was yes, but I don’t schedule them (except for Sundays.. step back from my Sundays!). Guaranteed if I schedule set days off those will be the day I get the most booking requests, or have a board meeting scheduled. I’ve noticed that days off come naturally. Either the weather makes it impossible to drive to clients, all my clients go on vacation seemingly simultaneously, or my body tells me I need a day. Listening to what is presented to you is HUGE, and nobody will blame you if you cancel on them with good reason once in a while. For someone who works generally 60hr weeks over 6 days, majority of the year… I have yet to have anyone write me off because I called off a day or two here and there unexpetedly. I love what I do, but in order to do what I do well- I HAVE to make sure I’m at my best. I am also quite blessed with great clients who make my day to day work an inspiring time. Rarely do I actually WANT to take a day off from that! 

Never. Stop. Learning. 

Yes, conferences are pricey and textbooks are boring, and there is always too much to read when it comes to articles, social media, and other professionals’ work. HOWEVER… when I start getting stale or bored with my treatment plans, or fall into a rut.. they only thing that drags me out is new material. I come back from workshops completely and utterly fascinated by what I do again, and refreshed. For a week or so I talk way too fast and regurgitate so much information into client’s ears they usually leave wide eyed and terrified.. but I have fun. It’s a great burn out prevention method… and an easy way to feed a travel addiction, with business write-offs ūüėČ 

Triple check your schedules and review your day the night before

My intern calls it the “classic Kathlyn” when I text her that I’m running late or have completely reworked my day last minute. I’ve been doing this since high school, booking myself silly and then wondering why I have days where I am running non stop and never on time for anything. I definitely still do this- I genuinely think it’s just part of my charm, apparently. I have learned that if I review my numerous schedules the night before, and remind myself what my motivations are for the next day. I also make sure I’m syncing my schedules every few days. Slowly but surely I’m less and less late for things… slowly.. but surely.. 

It’s okay to not have an answer, and it’s okay to not be cookie cutter.

There’s been so many times in the last few years that I’ve just not had a clear answer, or needed to go research, or had to explain something that I was still trying to understand myself. This is one things I’ve really come to appreciate from my University program.. they not only taught us thoroughly on the theory, but on having confidence in our explanation (even if we were internally freaking out). It’s okay not to know. And, it’s okay to be saying something different from what someone else has said. In the health care world, every specialist is likely going to say something different. If my decision doesn’t match theirs, it doesn’t mean that either one of us are wrong.. therapy, rehabilitation is all about trial and error sometimes. While balancing a patient’s mental state and keeping everyone involved motivated. There is absolutely no cookie cutter approach to this.. and that is perfectly fine with me. It wouldn’t be pretty blasais otherwise, no? 

Learn to decipher when it’s the pain talking, and when it’s your client’s real personality. 

I’ve begun working with more and more patients with chronic pain. The first few sessions with these patients is always a battle of “I’m pretty sure they hate me” running across my mind. I’ve realized that they probably don’t have a huge opinion on me as an individual. They’re coming to me in a place of frustration, exhaustion, and chronic levels of pain. They have bigger fish to fry. They’re short speaking style, closed off personality, and questioning is more then likely a defence against what they’ve already experienced within the system and through their injury or condition. My only job is to try and change they’re perception of the pain, and treat them as a fellow human being. It’s not my place to take anything personally, as a professional- only to listen to their reactions and adapt my treatment plan to best suit their state. They come around, they always do- some in less time then others. Some even without quick changes in their symptoms will appreciate your effort and care more then anything, and this usually is the key in unlocking the doors they’ve closed off against people trying to help. 

It’s okay to charge for what you love to do. 

This one is a constant internal battle. Probably my biggest insecurity is asking people to pay me. Or telling people pricing. I truly love what I do, seeing patients improve is usually my greatest reward (cheesy, shuddup). However, I also have aspirations and travel plans, and bills, and rent, and expenses like food and hydro to pay. Oh, and a car. And an affinity for Starbucks. I’ve also recognized that 95% of clients value my work and want to pay me for it. They don’t hesitate to pay for the service they’ve booked. If anything I’m always the one making it an awkward exchange. If you take pride in what you do- show it by pricing yourself accordingly. One thing I wish they taught us more in University was how to price our services accordingly to their value, and the standards in the province. Underpricing leads to undervalue, while over pricing gets missed in the market. It’s a fine balance. 

Connect Connect Connect!

We live in an age of word of mouth. Whether it’s shares on social medial, tagging, or regular face to face meetings.. other people’s opinion of what we do business wise is uber important to success (yes I said uber). This isn’t something that’s taught very often. I think it should be. About 15% of my current client base found me over social medial, another 30% or so found me through events and educational workshops.. the rest found me from word of mouth referencing. Every percent counts when you’re building, so don’t take for granted the power of a good social media presence, a solid networking plan, and impressing every client in some way. Being able to network comes from a place of having a sense of your purpose. Having drive and having a deep seated passion for what you do, and where what you do can take you. Big or small. People love people like that. People you want to network with, anyway. Learn how to sell yourself, and exude confidence in what you have to offer on any front- while remaining humble. Tough at first, especially for someone more prone to the intervertebral side of the spectrum- but once you learn it it’s like riding a bike. 

Stay professional, especially when people surprise you

As with anything there will be haters. There will be those mimicking and those trying to intimidate. There will be personal things coming into business ordeals. Humans will be humans. I’ve learned to take a neutral approach to everything. Rarely is something directed at you actually about you…. so why be effected by it? We’re all a reflection off the people we interact with, after all, so how they react or act is generally them expressing their own issues- not attacking yours. Beware of these people, but don’t engage. Engaging feeds a fire that is better left to simmer on it’s own. You do you, boo. 

 I think the biggest lesson that’s come out of all these little ones is that staying true to myself, and what I value as my purpose, has to come above all other things. Doing my job when I’m not in top form doesn’t do anyone good. Not only do I lack energy and intuition with my clients, they don’t draw the same value from my side of the deal. It’s okay to step back and rejuvenate once in a while, and it’s even more important to do regular maintenance on yourself to prevent burn out on ongoing fatigue. Self care is a huge enhancement to your business! 

Living and learning, everyday. I’m still completely enamoured by my career and excited to see what’s coming in the next few years. Every year comes with new exciting developments (every week, sometimes!).


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Chapter 2016 

“The tranquility that comes when you stop caring what they say. Or think, or do. Only what you do. (Is this fair? Is this the right thing to do?)…. Not to be distracted by their darkness. To run straight for the finish line, unswerving.” -Marcus Aurelius.

I had one of those moments the other day. Those existential crisis moments, laying in my bathtub, mostly submerged- escaping the clanking of my pipes and finding the questions deep in my mind.

I’d just read my tuition bill. For one online course, they wanted $750. It made me ask the hard stuff- like: why didn’t I just take this class in high school? Surely there’s another option… Do I need to pursue this? I’d probably be content without this pursuit, wouldn’t I? And this lead to the deeper questions of: What is my purpose? What am I doing with my life? And, Does any of this really matter?

We all need those moments every once in a while, right?

2016 came to a close and 2017 came in. My past year has been a year full of soul searching and following my gut instinct. 

Someone pointed out to me at one point this year that it seemed like I was running constantly away from home. I didn’t disagree- and for quite a while I definitely viewed it as trying desperately to get away from the familiar pattern here, the inescapables and the constants. Now, as 2016 ended, I have realized that there’s comfort and security in the same olds. The connections that don’t change, but grow with whatever distance or variances put into them. Evolution happens with adaptability, everything is a constant ebb and flow. You can’t control it, so let your soul ride the waves. Yes- I realize I sound like a hippy. 

Everywhere I followed my gut, I found some new revelation, a release and a epiphany and a development. My “second brain” as science now calls it took me first to a new apartment, on my own for the first time, all of 11 blocks from where I had been living. It lead me out of the cocoon I’d kept myself in all winter, and helped me to break free first of the comfort zone I’d gotten stuck in.

Then my gut and I fought a little as I had to go to Calgary for my second national exam, but we came back to an agreement when I flew to Virginia for the remainder of June. Virginia brought me tough conversations (over wine, of course), and new bonds. While basking in the humidity of the south I took my first breath free from the restrictions I was finally starting to see in my home life. I lived with the chronic pain of another and saw life from different eyes- I did yoga on the beach and I visited haunted houses. I searched for a MSc. that fit what I wanted, and then realized I had no idea what I really wanted academically. I hiked, and I visited some of the oldest places in America. I walked for 12hrs around DC and had a staring contest with Lincoln.

Then, I flew home. I came back a little more centered. I came home, feeling like I’d also left home. I came home, feeling like I needed to leave again. 

Shortly after Virginia, after a few hustled weeks of work at home, I few to California, to a conference that was screaming my name. My gut pushed for this, and I listened (my credit card and my gut are not the best of friends…..yet……). I filled my brain with new ideas and inspiration, I walked on the beach, and I did yoga on the coast with my Airbnb host. I took myself on the subway to Hollywood, did a 8hr hike in the desert (without enough electrolytes), stood on top of the Hollywood Sign, got mad heat stroke, wandered around hollywood very sweaty and dehydrated, went to a wax museum and found a ride home with a Winnipeg producer who was on the same bus tour as me (yes, I took a ride from a stranger.. no, I did not get kidnapped or murdered). I flew home full of inspiration, but with more questions sitting on the surface. The linear lifestyle and social constructs I’d been raised were breaking down, the more I listened to my gut instincts, the more choices and textbook philosophies started to not line up. Things took on different perspectives, emotions different light, and relationships different tunes. Everything was both beginning to not make sense, but make perfect sense. And so I came home and waited. I came home feeling like I needed to wait and see what was next, for the first time in a long time, instead of making something happen. I came home with patience. I came home to my exam results- I was officially a certified Athletic Therapist.

Shortly after returning from California I was presented with an opportunity that fit exactly what I was waiting for.

Nepal. Trekking through the Himalayas. Everest.

With 3weeks notice I took off to Nepal. There I found new appreciation for being with what is. It was what many may call an unintended spirit quest. I reached points of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that only opened and broke down barriers in my sub-conscious. I had necessary conversations with parts of my soul in my dreams every night. I delved so deep within that when I came home again I was serene. Tranquil. I had reached a point where this reality didn’t effect me anymore. It didn’t cause stress, nor did it influence my emotions. I had found my centre and it held strong. The mountain reflected what I needed to see and feel within myself. It flushed my whole being and left me raw, renewed. I came home solidified in my own being, and thus lost the need to be influenced by anything other then my own intuition.

The serenity and the tranquility that I found after wandering through the Himalayas, literally breathless, has never really left. Although it’s faded, it is there when I need it and I know exactly how to find it. The day to day ins and outs of being a twenty something, running a couple businesses, and figuring out life and what I want out of it and need to take from this reality are still there. However, the sense of meditative perception has taken over. The small things that can turn into big stressors have ceased to exist. There is, and there isn’t. People come and people go, as do emotions. The ability to sit and observe all these things, without judgement of whatever comes up inside me- that is the biggest lesson taken from 2016. I followed my soul wherever it wandered, and because of that I am so much closer, and comfortable within it.

A few months after Nepal I took a brief trip to Toronto for some meetings and had a spotlight put on a new path. Another mountain, perhaps, to reflect a new lesson to be learned. This new possibility has influenced many decisions made near the end of 2016, and lead to many of these existential moments where I float and let myself sink back to my soul centre. What is this life for, who do I want to be, and how do I want to accomplish that.

Purpose is something a lot of us struggle with. I’ve come to realize that finding your purpose can’t be forced. It’s not a series of actions you can complete to eventually come to a conclusion of “yes, this is what I’m meant to be doing”. It’s more of learning to trust your curiosities and your questions. It’s following your gut when it tells you yes or no or maybe. It’s biding your time and taking opportunities. It’s having patience and insane drive all at once. It’s not something you need to find, it’s something you have to let find you- and then not be afraid to let it take you someplace else. This life, this reality, is not linear- so why try and find a straight line?

The chapter of 2016 was absolutely riveting. As always, I do not know what’s in store for 2017- but I am greatly anticipating writing it!


 
 

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“Sit with the pain; be with the pain” Hindsight Blog: The Descent

I jolted awake at 2am,at  5200masl, and noticed I had drooled blood all over my sweater (lululemon took a beating on this trek). Had my lip split? Was I coughing up blood in my sleep? Did I have a pulmonary edema as a result of altitude sickness?

With no other symptoms,¬†my hypochondriac brain was mildly too tired to overreact¬†and frankly well past caring- I let myself drift back off to the oxygen deprived sleep I’d come from. Living in the alternate reality of the Diamox dreams. What was I going to do about it anyway?

The rest of my group trekked to Kalapathar that day, starting at 4:30am. I was too sick and too tired to bother- knowing that the point of the hike was to see a panoramic sunrise view of the Everest range, and it was dead cloudy anyway. By the time they got back around 9am, I had only been awake for an hour, but seen the Everest range from the bathroom window. My body said no, and my mind followed suit. The stories of hallucination from my trekking mates were entertaining, but I was happy I continued hallucinating within my dreams that morning instead!


After breakfast that day we began our descent. Our head guide was very anxious to get us down to lower altitudes, as every single one of us was starting to suffer- including himself. I only remember pieces of this day, but I do recall this being where I really started feeling extremes of emotion and pain. Also where I began using the “Om Mani Padme Hum” mantra in my head. Compassion for inner and outer struggles, compassion for the journey- “the jewel within the lotus”, the light in the dark, the blessing from the curse. Moving slowly down from over 5000 back to around 4000 was physically challenging in a whole new way. Descending was always difficult in that it’s hard impact on all your joints- but now, after 10 days of trekking, every joint was a little bit louder. And, descending we were- but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any hills to climb. We stopped briefly in Lombouche for lunch (4500), but most of us had lost all appetite. I think I fell asleep at the table for a while. Then we carried on down to a small tea house a few hours down. I am currently calling this place “Yak House” because A) I can’t remember most of this day, B) I misdated my journal and skipped this day, and C) it was where we saw our first yak on the way up.


We spent the night here, and it was here where we experienced the first bathrooms we refused to use (we being Lisa and I), and instead used one of the many surrounding boulders. I believe it was this day that I began listening to music for the first time while trekking. The first day I did this on the descent I couldn’t stop smiling. This was likely a combination of increased oxygen to my brain and a good playlist.

The next morning we carried on towards Tengboche. The hardest part of this day was the incline up to the monastery which was about 30-45min. Again, more oxygen and music kept me pumping all the way up. Before we joined a worship with the resident monks, we had a few hours off in which we got to each lunch and I TOOK MY FIRST SHOWER IN 7 DAYS!!!!!! Finally, I started to feel human again. I also had my first “steak” here- which was basically ground meat in the shape of a steak.. Regardless.. protein and iron.. two things I was definitely craving.


That afternoon we joined in on a worship in the monastery. Since it was a Saturday, they did a 2hr long meditation. This was very different from any meditation or worship I’ve experienced. Complete with chanting, horns, drums, and silences (usually ended with startling blares from the numerous horns). During the periods I was able to meditate I transitioned between flashbacks to a conflict I’d had a year or so prior to this, moments of pure calmness, and moments of unsettledness. Flashing back to memories of feeling isolated, alone, scared- but also calm. A conflict that had never really been resolved within myself or the other person within it. Then during periods of the loud music I saw colours.. red, yellow flashes. Warm, but chaotic. It was a very cyclical process, and I can’t say that I came out of it feeling peaceful or settled- rather quite the opposite.

We were now sitting at just over 3200masl, a much nicer altitude then what we’d become accustomed to. That night I dreamt I was being circled and chased by a darkness. It was always watching, always waiting to attack- completely out of my control. I woke up periodically shivering, even though it wasn’t cold.

Over the next few days I would learn that I was not the only one to experience that dream at that monastery.

The next morning I woke up with an anger I hadn’t ever experienced. I couldn’t spend any time in the guest house, and as soon as breakfast had ended I took myself outside to pace. I felt suffocated and a deep need to get away from everyone and the monastery.


As soon as the group started our descent to Namche that day, I had my ear phones in and didn’t talk to anyone for the next 3 hr trek. As much as some parts of this trek are hazy, the pure rage I felt this day is still clear as day. I don’t know where it came from, but I do understand it was something I probably needed to let go of. Since my return home there’s been some interesting revelations and emotional adjustments that I can only explain with the rage I felt on this day, and the calm I felt after letting it out.

We spent a few hours back in Namche, shopping and what not, before continuing our way down to our final tea house on the long trek. It was here I tried some Nepal home brew- which tasted like watered down Kool-Aid and Antifreeze (really, still confused about that). At this point everyone was a strong mix of unbelievably fatigued, but also so excited to be pretty much done. We had a celebration that night, complete with dancing.


The next day, the last trekking day, we returned to Lukla. This was our first day of constant rain, and our “waterproof” gear failed every test. So did the zippers on my backpack a few days prior. So, completely soaked and entirely empty- we landed at the tea house where we started it all. When my football coaches saw the picture of me below- they stated “holy sh** we’ve never seen you look that exhausted before…”. They knew me in University as an AT student. Everest you win!


That night Lisa and I taught the Australian in our group, Noah, how to line dance in a shady “Irish Pub” underneath a “Starbucks” in Lukla. The trekking was done, but the adventure was FAR from over!

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“I can’t do this” (hindsight blog #2)

And so we left Pheriche and headed to Lombouche.

Within 20 min of trekking I was far behind the group.

I woke up with a worsening chest cold. While the views that morning were unbelievably, the air beautifully crisp- I felt like I was walking into quicksand with every step. The first hour or so of today’s short trek were on the flats- through small fresh glacial creeks, and on winding trails full of mountain shrubs and flowers. With the mist above and some sun peaking through. Even on these flats I was struggling to get enough air into my wheezing lungs.

We hiked through the flats, up and across a rushing glacial river (probably the sketchiest crossing yet), and then up and up to Lombouche which sits around 4900m. At about the 4700m mark I began experiencing the throbbing altitude headache many had already experienced on the trek. When I sat down in the lodge in Lombouche and had my vitals taken, my starting O2 levels sat at 56%. Luckily they rose to a comfortable 76% within the hour. That probably explained the headache.

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While the rest of the group did a 100m+ acclimatization hike that afternoon, I sat it out and fell asleep with my legs resting up a wall. I had finished the morning’s hike with a very sore chest, very swollen legs (besides the compression socks I was wearing), and numb feet. It was all I could do to stay somewhat lucid at this point. You think you’ve experienced full physical, and mental exhaustion- until you reach this point. Then you find a whole new level.

Reading through my journal entries at this point some of them don’t even form complete thought processes or sentences. I don’t remember much of anything above 5000masl. I remember exhaustion, I remember coughing, I remember everything being completely depleted, I remember losing all interest in the menu items available (white starch after white starch after white starch) and at one point realizing I hadn’t had any protein in days- ordering eggs- and immediately never wanting to see another fried egg ever again.

From Lombouche we continued up to Gorakschep (5180masl). Positive memories at this point are few and far between. I didn’t want to talk to anyone in my group, I came into the village about half hour behind the rest- back to my 5 steps at a time mentality but completely void of emotions. Somewhere around the 5000masl mark while trekking I started crying, and it felt like all emotions and cycling thought processes left me. Poured out of my heart like the glacial rivers we’d been following the whole 10 days. I cried behind my sunglasses as I became empty- and then I cried because I realized how badly I wanted to quit. The scenery, the mountains, THE mountain, the sherpas, the tourists, the monuments- I didn’t want to be in it anymore. I wanted to be done. The diamox dreams filled me with sadness and anger the night before- and I’d woken up sobbing two mornings in a row. Those altitude laden dreams were all related, all lucid, and all too real. They helped me resolve many things, and let go of emotional baggage- but boy could they be harsh.

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When we arrived at Gorakshep we had a lunch break and then continued to Base Camp. The goal. Before setting off, in our two hour break, I honestly contemplated throwing in the towel. It was 10:30am where I was, and 2am home in MB. I’d been connectionless for about 7 days, and decided to use some cell service to source out some motivation. Texting a few close friends and my mom- hoping someone would bring my mental game back into focus. Thankfully I received one text right away (“HOLY S***- You have to keep going!!!”) from a friend I knew would be awake. And some reverse psychology from my mother (“If you’re sick, you should stop- you can always go back again and finish later”) That was enough to get me going for another few hours (my brain knew enough at this point to know that I didn’t want to have to start this whole journey over again out of principle).

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We trudged along towards EBC (5350masl). Over the frozen, sandy lake bed and then over rock trails (literally- the actual trail had been washed out by that year’s monsoon and no longer really existed. In the picture above you can see one of our guides pointing at where we should place our feet on certain rocks. We got to the rocky plain that was base camp- took pictures- and I sat on a large boulder overlooking the glacier for a while. Literally with no thoughts. I just sat. I was empty. I’d made it- but at this point, I didn’t care. I was just happy to be sitting still and breathing.

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Next post I’ll begin reliving the descent- because believe me, this trek only was starting to get interesting!

“But is it homesickness, or just moving forward sickness” (the hindsight blogs #1)

Namche to Pheriche (3500m-4220m). I thought getting to Namche was hard on the second day. Then I became accustomed to a rhythm of swear words for the next few days as we climbed up to Pheriche, our next acclimatization stop. Within this few days we stopped in Phortse, a farming village nestled into the side of a “hill”. It was here we saw our first glimpses of the mountains at about 5am.

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Hiking to Pheriche we had our first mostly clear day, and since Dingboche (our original planned stop) was still closed for the monsoon season we took a detour to Pheriche where we witnessed the whole village collecting and drying grass for the winter season. I think this is where I started getting my first bouts of homesickness. At this point I’d been having vivid, enlightening dreams every single night (maybe due to the altitude and the diamox), and every morning was awaking to a new variation of an old emotion.

Pheriche was about 2 days away from base camp for us. We spent two nights in that village, and while I’d tried to maintain a solid regimen of my garlic soup daily- I began to absolutely never want to see garlic soup ever again here. So I switched to veggie soup with noodles, a brilliant, refreshing change…. and woke up to a chest infection the day we set out again towards the mountain. However at this point, I found myself recognizing some of the homesickness and straight up wifi withdrawal, with a dash of having to let emotions go one by one. I would discover this in the next couple days as the trek¬†continued to absolutely kick my ass.

On our first morning in Pheriche we did an acclimatization hike to 4600masl. Well, I did 4600masl, the rest of my group went up to 4800masl. The guide decided I should just hang out around 4600masl and I wasn’t about to argue that. So we sat for about 40min overlooking a valley, Dingboche, and a monastery across the valley on an opposite “hill” while the group trekked up and then back to where we were. From here moving forwards I was heavily dosing myself with electrolytes, extra strength ibuprofen, and diamox to manage the altitude and the seven day mark of trekking 8-10hrs/day on minimal nutrition (#firstworldproblem). On average during the walking hours my heart rate was hovering between 160-190bpm.

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On our last night in Pheriche, the Sherpa woman who ran the teahouse stood in the centre of the room by the fireplace while we chatted and finished dinner, counting and saying prayers of gratitude over her mala beads. I couldn’t help but notice what a calm energy filled the room after she finished.

Just as I was getting comfortable at 4200masl, onwards and upwards we went. The hike from Pheriche to our next stop in Lombouche broke down a few more mental and emotional barriers for me.. but more on that later…

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#%!?%#! Mountain…¬†

Day 2 here in Namche Bazzar as we acclimatize to our new altitude of 3400m. Tomorrow we hike up to 3800m.. So today we did a quick morning 2.5hr (and according to our guides “simple”) acclimatizing hike up to that altitude here above the village. 

Simple. Yeah. Right. 

We literally hiked into a cloud. 

Like- mist, cloud floating everywhere, only seeing 10ft in front of you while trekking up hill right after breakfast for 2hrs. 


I definitely regretted the “pancake with honey” I ate for breakfast. Eggs and toast from now on. Or garlic soup. 

At about the hour point my head began to talk me out of the whole thing. My legs kept moving (bless them) but as I looked up every 5 steps into the abyss, occasionally being passed by a Sherpa carrying 50lbs on their backs and running up the rocks in sandals (this is NOT and exaggeration), with my lungs acting like a fish out of water- I literally came up with about 100 new curse words. Most of them cursing the mountains them self, the altitude, and my guides for keeping the slow and steady pace going. 

Our pace? Jam jam slow (jam = go), 15min walking and 1 min rest. Not. Enough. Rest. For. This. Prairie. Dwelling. Canadian. 

My don’t bring the mountain your sadness mantra was thrown in in between the curse combinations I created. Zen with a dash of attitude- that’s the way we’ll be rolling for the next few days as we only climb higher and higher. 


We reached the top- and what I can only imagine would have been phenomenal views behind the cloud. Nonetheless pretty damn amazing. 

After a quick tea we began the descent- which you’d think would be quite pleasant after the #%?!~%# way up. And it was on the lungs, for sure, I didn’t even notice my breathing. I did notice the balls of my feet though. Luckily my legs are still feeling very strong, but it was about and hour of hard landings on uneven stone trails for my wimp feet. 

Finally. Finally we reached Namche again, after some great views above the city. On the way down I got a bit of a headache and a few mood swings- but after eating some delicious garlic soup, sipping some milk coffee and resting I felt back to normal again. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Namche, found a money exhchange that would finally take a MasterCard (running low on cash and NO ATMs or money stores take MC for some reason- only Visa),and worked on our bartering game. I found myself a cozy vest and some pashminas and was successful with my bartering! As I type this I’m lounging with a few others in my group in the common area of our tea house debating whether or not I want to pay for a hot shower or tough out a cold one. This is likely our last chance for any sort of shower for the next 5 days. 

Soon we’ll have dinner and a debrief of tomorrow. We move up to 3800m tomorrow, over 6hrs vs the 2hrs we did today so I’m crossing my fingers for less steep inclines. Although I’m learning when they say “gradual incline” here it IS NOT the gradual incline most expect. It is usually curse word inducing. 

Until next time (who knows when- wifi gets less and less from now on)! 

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Don’t bring your sadness to the mountain…

Otherwise the mountain will not let you pass. 

Those were the words our guide started with on day 1. 

It was my mantra by day 3. Today we trekked 8hrs from Phading to Naamche- most of which was a steady incline. Just after lunch we passed the 3000m above sea level point and at this point we also began the bulk of our 800m incline. It was also the point my lungs said wtf. 

While I have been lucky and suffered next to no major altitude sickness symptoms- breathing is SO HARD. Especially doing rocky, make shift trails. I literally was repeating “don’t bring your problems to the mountain” the whole climb today. And taking breaks every 30 steps to do some deep breathing. If you’re wondering what it feels like to breath here (and come from the prairies where you reside at 50m above sea).. It’s like tying a scarf over your face, and then 3 plastic bags, and then running a marathon. 

Not exaggerating. 

The rest of my body? Feels amazing. Seriously. My muscles didn’t really fatigue, probably because my brain was so focused on getting oxygen in it didn’t have time to notice. If I put my hands on my ribs I could feel them expanding and exhaling to their absolute maximum- something not many of us experience ever. Truly amazing and truly uncomfortable all at once. 

There are so many moments where I am hit with a sudden realization of where I am and what I’m doing. Like walking over a swinging bridge over a rushing river, 6stories (at least) in the air surrounded by mountains. Prayer flags tied everywhere and the clouds at eye level. 

This is real and this is where I am. Unbelievable. I’ll write more tomorrow- we stay in Naamche for two nights to acclimatize (thank god). Now I eat some more garlic soup, momos and tea before bed! 

Between Serenity and Rage

What a weekend in Long Beach!

The title, which has not much to do with this post, is stolen from a line at the summit this weekend.. One of the final presenters- Brian Nguyen- an ATC in the NFL, and then for celebrities like Mark Wahlberg- he hit home with his talk on the chaos and the calm of our industry (fitness and health). After a presentation built around the ups and downs and his own coming to terms with his vulnerabilities- his close athletes dying on field, his bond with his niece, his choices to leave jobs and personal epiphanies when it came to work and life. He used a scene from the X-men to show that sometimes the best moments and best abilities come from that place just before chaos, but not close to calm.

This was one of many challenging seminars- ranging in focus from clinical tools and research, cutting edge methods, workouts (holy moly Todd Durkin), hands on practice, ¬†business focused lectures, and motivational kicks in the ass from the top in the industry. The conference turned into so much more then just a fitness summit. It challenged me in every realm: physically, mentally, and emotionally. I went into the conference with a urge to know more about business practice, finances, and some extra motivation- and I came out with them all..not even expecting to find them at this event. I am still a little sore from the combo of Pete Twist’s and Liebenson’s fascial patterning work and Todd Durkin’s workout, and my hike on Monday.

Now I’m home for another week or so, before flying to South Asia.

All of a sudden things are moving and shifting so quickly.

That’s they way fall happens though, isn’t it. One day you’re lazing about, floating through summer- and the next the Universe shifts you into high gear and turns on the productivity centre in your brain.

California was amazing. I learned so much at Perform Better, more then I can justify with words. My clinical practice shifted and will be shifting so much in the next few months as I try out the new ideas I was privy to in Long Beach. I’m sure the patients and clients I’ve already thrown these new things were only mildly thrown off by my Wednesday morning enthusiasm.

On my day off in Cali I ventured into Hollywood and did a 6.5mi hike in the Hollywood hills. Starting at the Wonder View Trail I hiked the peaks to the wisdom tree, then across the peaks to the Hollywood Sign, and then down, up, and around Mt. Lee to the Griffeth Observatory. I was pretty done by the time I finished, with temperatures ranging around 30C- I noticed some mild sun-stroke symptoms the next day. Majority of my hike I was thinking “I’m sure glad Everest won’t be this hot”. Needless to say I survived!



The interesting thing for me, as always, with all the bouncing around I’ve done this summer, is how I can leave in one headspace and return in another. This time I did kind of a roundabout with my head space. As usual I didn’t really want to get on the plane home, but this time it was because I knew I had some hard work to do with my arrival here.

Most of the summer I’ve floated ideas about where I want to be. I vetted moving to Calgary, moving to the states, moving to Ontario, before finally getting the gut feeling I needed to stay put for a bit longer. There’s still things I need to learn and process here. And, Winnipeg is really a good base for someone like me who spontaneously hops on planes. For now. Upon making that decision I found a second location (besides my rural spot) in the city to begin taking clients at. This is exciting and an amazing opportunity to take my business to the next level. Another decision that hit home as I flew over Denver the second time. If I’m staying here I have some work to do. I am ready, deep down I am ready, to do some serious building on my professional life. Freelance writing opportunities have come along too with the new location (more here later)- and my professional realm is expanding quickly. This isn’t where the hard work is for me (other then getting on top of proper invoicing schedules.. this is not a strong point!). The work for me lays in my 20-something brain. It has been bubbling away under the surface and isn’t quite ready for the fall to hit yet. It’s enjoying the summer holidays.

Yesterday, after two long days simultaneously recovering from the Cali hangover/sunstroke/jetlag, I got home and started cleaning.

If you know me, you know I don’t clean.

I re-arranged my entire apartment, cleaned out my closet, folded clothes, and organized. I set up a new administrative program, and I creeped myself on facebook for approximately 5 hours.

Seriously.

The creeping wasn’t really planned (is it ever?). But, it served a huge unexpected purpose. It was like someone sweeping out the gutters of my brain. As I flipped through different pictures from the last few years- I relived the moments hidden behind them. The parts of the memory that nobody else knows, the perceptions I had at the time, and the person I was then. I can honestly say year to year that I look like a different person each time.What reflections did I have here? Well, for one- I’m super jealous of 2013/2014 me’s¬†physique.. paleo body was on fleek (is that what kids say now?). Secondly, I saw the toll certain things took- no matter the smiles. I also saw how much I’ve grown, and evolved. Sometimes looking at yourself as a different person allows you to straight talk to yourself as if you were actually another, hard hitting, honest person looking from the outside in. That’s something we all need sometimes.

Last night was the first semi-dreamless night I’ve had in a while. I dream a lot lately- sometimes about realistic things, sometimes about flying bears on bikes. The realistic things hit closer to home- and reflect the inner workings of my head- though, not always in a way that brings closure for my conscious brain. They make me think. I can’t say I woke with mountains¬†of energy this morning- but I woke in a state of calm¬†that only comes after some emotional sweeping.

As I prep mentally and physically for Nepal (9 days!), the physical challenges I’m facing seem less intimidating. Even my bum leg has shaped up. When it comes to mentally I feel confident about the endurance challenges- but have a intrigue over what emotional hurdles will come up. As I’ve found with travelling, I’m hit with the unexpected emotional regurgitations (usually the ones that I plan to “forget” to pack on my way out the door). They always find a way into the suitcase, though, don’t they. This is part of the reason I feel so drawn to this trek- because there’s no escaping anything internal on the side of Everest. I’m only beginning to get used to the feeling of mixed apprehension, optimism, avoidance, grief, and enlightenment that I’m sure is only going to get stronger. Yes, it would seem I need to literally climb a mountain to figure the mole hills out in my head.

But hey- I wrote tonight! And I wrote almost every day in California. This is progress for someone who has been fairly blocked writing wise for a year or so. Yay me!