Riding Forward

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Me, at last year’s starting line for the 2016 Ride to Conquer Cancer

On June 10th, I will approach the start line of the 10th annual Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. Back in October, I wrote a piece for the Huffington Post Blogs as part of World Mental Health Day detailing why it means so much to me to participate in the Ride, and highlighting my journey with health anxiety. All of that still remains true, but I feel my journey hasn’t quite taken the path I envisioned seven months ago.

Let me explain…

For TEALPOWER, the team on which I Ride, this year has been a success! We’ve made so many strides raising cervical cancer awareness.

On May 25th, we held our second annual event – “TEALPOWER Presents: Heart to HeART”. The night was centred around an art battle, where three different artists created paintings in real time. We raised $27,000 for cervical cancer research, with proceeds going to Team TEALPOWER’s 2017 Ride to Conquer Cancer campaign, benefiting Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

Those of us on the TEALPOWER committee knew Alison Salinas, TEALPOWER’S late Co-Founder in some shape or form. Most of the group knew her as their best friend, their sister, or the love of their life. We all want TEALPOWER to succeed because Alison believed in it, and we believed in her. It’s not often nowadays that you can get so many people to commit so fully to something. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our lives and push things aside. We held ourselves accountable on weekly calls, meetings, and set deadlines preparing for our fundraiser.  A successful event would mean all of us would reach our Ride fundraising goals. TEALPOWER would grow, and new people would hear our message.

With this year’s Ride around the corner it’s been a time of reflection for me. Part of this winter hasn’t been what I wanted. I thought I got off to a good start with my “January Goals“. I wanted to be completely anxiety free. I thought I could lose about 15lbs in the span of three months, and get off my anti-depressants with very few withdrawal symptoms. I wanted to be “perfect”. Instead, the “perfect Tesla” I had in my head drove me downwards at times. I got down on myself when I wasn’t losing weight “fast enough”. I struggled a lot with my health anxiety this winter. I’ve probably diagnosed myself with about 10 different ailments since 2017 began. At times, it’s taken over my emotions and it’s been tough to re-focus my attention.

After last year’s Ride, I felt amazing. I was so deeply proud of myself, and my team. The entire weekend reminded me how important it is to believe in yourself. I soaked in every second. Living in the moment is the only way to truly keep my anxiety at bay. My hope was that I would carry that confidence all year, and feel like a million dollars leading into this year.

Instead, I beat myself up. I told myself I wasn’t training enough, that I wouldn’t be good enough. Even though it isn’t a race, I didn’t want to be the slowest one on the team because in my mind I would be dragging us down. And this is what I do. I tear myself down, expect the worst. Anxiety doesn’t let you have nice things. You don’t spend time, sitting back and really appreciating accomplishments. Instead, your mind will criticize, and nit pick. The smallest detail will become the biggest flaw. I’ll see a photo of myself in my helmet and think “I look terrible wearing that”.

I have two ways of looking at how my winter/spring went. I could regard it as a total failure, and go into the Ride feeling horrible. My mindset going in would drag me down, and inevitably I would become a self-fulling prophecy. Or, I can look at things differently. I could say to myself “you did a lot of positive things, and you continue to work on yourself”. I can remind myself how I’ve trained a lot more this year, specifically on my bike, and that no one cares how quickly or slowly I finish the Ride. We are a team, after all. By re-framing how I look back on the start of 2017, I can change how I will approach the moments before kick-off. Being nicer to myself, and forgiving myself will allow me to be the best Tesla for Team Tealpower that I can be.

Anxiety and mental illness shouldn’t get to take my big accomplishments away from me.

I am so thankful I have a wonderful group of Riders to call my teammates. They will give me hope, and lift my spirits – often without even realizing it. By completing this, I will once again tell myself that I am strong, worthy, and capable.

I can do this. 

To donate to my 2017 Ride to Conquer Cancer journey, please click here

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Walk On

Taken on Thanksgiving Monday, while on my bike
Taken on Thanksgiving Monday, while on my bike

I know summer is awesome. Patios. Beaches. Sunshine. But Fall has its own set of perks. For one, I am obsessed with scarves. I love finally being able to bust out my collection. (I really do have a problem). So with the changing of another season comes another time for me to pause and change gears – it’s time for my Fall 2015 Music entry!

Songs of Fall 2015

There’s still been a stready stream of new albums and singles that I’ve been eating up. Here are some of the songs in heavy rotation for me right now:

  • “Loud Places” by Jamie xx (feat. Romy)
  • “2 Heads” by Coleman Hell
  • “Molotov Girls” by The Zolas
  • “Monument” by Mutemath
  • “Timothy” by Tallest Man on Earth
  • “Story of an Immigrant” by Civil Twilight
  • “Careless” by Alex Winston
  • “High” by Zella Day
  • “I’m Not Coming Back” by Husky
  • “First” by Cold War Kids

Albums of Fall 2015

Some of these albums came out earlier this year (or last year) but they’re looking like strong candidates for some heavy listening this season:

  • “Every Open Eye” by CHVRCHES (This might be Top 5 album for me this year)
  • “Chaotic Neutral” by Matthew Good (He does an amazing Kate Bush cover on this album)
  • “Currents” by Tame Impala
  • “Pagans in Vegas” by Metric
  • “This Is All Yours” by Alt – J
  • “Brutal Romantic” by Brooke Fraser
  • “Hold My Home” by Cold War Kids
  • “Roses” by Coeur de Pirate (my parents got me into this one)
  • “How Does It Feel” by MS MR

General Ramblings

Once again, it’s shaping up to be a fantastic year for live music. I actually just came off my first big-time pop concert. I’ve worked big shows when I was an usher at the ACC, but for the first time I attended a major tour. I was in attendance for Taylor Swift! It was actually great to be at a show and experiencing something so big as a fan.

For me, one of the best parts about Fall is going for walks and taking in all of the colours. And for me, the two essentials I have with me when going for one of those walks is usually a warm beverage, and my iPod. Everything is enhanced with a great soundtrack behind it. And mental health bonus, I can’t have anxious thoughts when I am too busy enjoying the scenery and singing along (in my head) to my favourite artists. So sorry in advance, I will take a lot of pictures this season and post them on social media. I love taking photos, and I love sharing them. But don’t let your social media habits ruin your enjoyment of the outdoors this time of year. Make sure you take the time to absorb what’s all around you, before snapping a quick pic. Soon enough, we’ll be bundled up inside wishing for patio season to return, so enjoy it while you can.

UPDATE on “One for the Ladies” and My Cervix

I received my biopsy results, and unfortunately I will have to go ahead with the LEEP procedure. I do in fact have pre-cancerous cells on my cervix. Definitely not the result I hoped for. But for me, it’s important to remember that all of this is exactly why I go for a pap smear. This is a good thing that they’ve found. And what’s also good for me to focus on is that for once, I didn’t sit in fear of the test results. I actually felt POSITIVE about them. This is so unique for me. And now that I have the confirmation that I am pre-cancerous, I still am more upset about the inconvenience of the procedure than anything. These are huge steps forwards for me. So ladies, if I can get through this, you can too. No matter how scared I am of the future, I am going to keep going ahead with these appointments and following up. Early prevention is key.

Thanks for reading as always. Check the social media bar along the side to follow me on Twitter and Instagram.