12 Days of 2018

DSCF1928
Tofino, BC

2018 has been an incredibly unique year, filled with experiences I never thought I’d ever encounter – both positive and negative. I haven’t blogged much over the past year, mainly because I’ve often struggled with the right words to detail what I am feeling. I also have often felt as is my words don’t matter, because I know so many other people close to me going through much worse obstacles. It’s hard for me to really articulate my own feelings when in comparison they feel meaningless to others.

Honestly, I also became really self-conscious about my blogging. I started it as a way to just get my anxiety out, and use it as a tool in my journey to easing my fears. It was also inspiring to receive messages from so many friends and colleagues saying “I understand you, I am going through the same thing, let’s help each other”. I never started doing it for the attention, or to cry “woe is me”. But I started to convince myself that everyone was judging me for writing. That people resented my blog, and saw it as the musings of someone complaining about their “first world problems”. I let the stigma of being open with my illness get to me.

And when I stopped writing, I noticed I got into my own head more this year. I let things fester more. So, in 2019 I am not entirely sure if I’ll continue writing publicly or what I’ll be doing, but I know I need to do more in 2019 in order to find the right key to getting my anxiety under control.

Anyways! Back to the matter at hand – my 12 Days of 2018. In what has become an annual tradition, I like to take some time and reflect on the days – big and small – that have had an impact on my life. It’s often a helpful reminder that things aren’t always bad, and that even though another year has flown by, a lot has happened.

Merry Christmas everyone – and stay tuned for the upcoming rankings of my year in concerts!

DSCF0154
Blyde Canyon, South Africa

March 15th 2018

Let’s get this one out of the way shall we? This was a horrible day. It’ll unfortunately stick with me for the rest of my life. It was the day we were robbed at gunpoint in Johannesburg. I don’t want to re-hash the exact details of what happened. It’s not what’s important here. The aftermath is. We continued on with our trip with the goal of finishing out the remaining three weeks we had planned in South Africa. However, about 48 hours after the robbery, the levels of anxiety and fear I was feeling were unlike anything I had ever experienced. I was terrified. I honestly believed that if we remained in that country we weren’t going to make it out alive. In the end, we cut the trip short and came home early. I had hoped that once we got home I’d return to “normal”. But that wasn’t the case. I spent the next couple of weeks at home cycling between anger, jealously, resentment, and found myself unable to make the simplest of decisions. Nothing felt right. I was incredibly angry that this happened to us. We also felt embarrassed and ashamed that we chose to come home. It felt like we were a bunch of cowardly losers. I have to say it took me a long time to start losing a lot of these emotions, and even then they still come up. I still have a hard time seeing everyone’s vacation photos on social media. I hate that this day is a moment in my life. I mourn the loss of the memories we didn’t get to make. Honestly, I could continue to ramble on about the after effects this day has had. Despite all the negative “side-effects”, I will say, nothing has made me more grateful for the country I live in and the city I live in than being exposed to such desperate conditions. Canadians have it very good. We should never forget that and always keep fighting to make it better.

DSCF0822
Nambiti Game Reserve, South Africa

March 18th 2018

The trip to South Africa wasn’t a complete waste, and it did provide me with one of the most epic moments of my life. On this morning, the day after we decided to come home early, we were on our final game drive as part of our stay at a safari lodge. (Side note – the staff at our lodge were some of the kindest souls I’ve ever met. They were so helpful and supportive of our situation, and truly opened their hearts to us. I could write an entire blog post about them alone). We were staying on a HUGE nature reserve, home to the African Big 5 and a whole host of other animals. It was incredible. But on this morning, as the sun was rising, we stumbled upon a pride of lions. The park is so big that often the game rangers “lose” sight of animals for weeks at a time. We later learned the rangers had been looking for the lions for the past several weeks to no avail. But then, finally on that morning we were the lucky jeep! It was so overwhelming to see these incredible creatures in the flesh that I started to cry. I took it as a hopeful sign that things were going to be OK, and to remember that there is beauty all around us. It was also just really freaking cool.

April 14th 2018

A simple day on my calendar, but no less memorable. There was a huge snowstorm in Toronto on this day. My good friend Sarah & I were still determined to hang out, so we went to a local bar to watch the Raptors first playoff game. We had a great time, and it was one of the first times I remember just laughing, having fun, and not thinking about our recent trauma. Then sadly, I received some sad news about my co-worker Steve Hudson. Steve lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on this day. Another one of life’s reminders to be thankful for each day and each moment you can spend with friends and loved ones. You truly don’t know what’s around the corner, and Steve’s short battle with cancer was a stark reminder of that.

May 17th 2018

I’m incredibly lucky to be surrounded by a strong group of women, and on this night we had just about all of us in one place as we went for dinner at a tiki bar! It’s tough to get us all in one place sometimes. Some of my friends are young moms, another friend is battling cancer, and the rest of us are just overworked with jobs and social obligations. But it’s wonderful for me to get us all together so we can appreciate having each other. Thanks ladies for all you do in my life!

July 20th 2018

This was really an entire weekend – Sean & I spent the weekend up in Huntsville with a group of friends. What makes this weekend so memorable for me is that it was a carefree weekend (well, relatively, up until a rogue football caused some trouble, and a floating peacock escaped), with a group of people that have embraced me. I’m always really honoured that Sean’s friends have welcomed me so much (more on that later), and I’m really thankful to call all of them friends. I’m so glad we put the wheels in motion to make this weekend happen. It was a good reminder of why it’s important to get plugging away to actually make plans happen – versus always lamenting about all the things we didn’t do. It’s one of the positives that South Africa reminded me – if you have the chance to do something, DO IT. Don’t sit around and wait for it to happen, make it happen.

August 27th 2018

On this day I had the chance to do something rare in life – which is complete a full circle. There’s part of my backstory that I don’t talk about much. Before I was born my parents lived briefly in Nanaimo, British Columbia. And before me, they had another daughter. April Dawn was my mom’s first child, and by all accounts was an angel on earth. She loved horses. And it was April who made the final call to move to Nanaimo form Welland after she says she was visited by an angel who told her it would be the best time of her life. The angel was right, my sister loved BC. But then tragically, in February 1983, my sister was crossing the road to visit her beloved horses when she was struck and ultimately killed by an impaired driver. She was only 7. My parents immediately left Nanaimo, and haven’t been back since. I was born two years later. On August 27th I closed that circle and went back to pay tribute to April. Sean & I left flowers alongside heartfelt letters. I finally saw with my own eyes the neighbourhood they lived in, the school she went to, and got to experience what it would have been like to cross the ferry from Vancouver. It’s a moment I am so thankful for, and a memory I will cherish with me always.

And PS… don’t ever drive impaired.

ferry
From the ferry ride to Vancouver Island

August 28th 2018

After stopping in Nanaimo, Sean & I drove onto Tofino. And, WOW. I truly left a piece of my heart in Tofino. What an incredible place. The best part of Tofino, though, was learning to surf! It was such a huge challenge, and I loved every second of it. I had so many doubts about being able to surf (what if I re-damaged my nerves, what if I drowned, etc), that I am so happy I put all of them to rest and just fully enjoyed the moment. I can see why so many people adopt a nomadic lifestyle in order to make surfing such a big part of their lives. It was incredibly addicting, and I hope our next trip together includes some more ocean time! It was another good reminder that it’s important to challenge yourself, set new goals, and try something that makes you a little uncomfortable – because the results may surprise you.

September 8th 2018

One thing I discovered this year is RuPaul’s Drag Race. I cannot recommend this show enough. Not only is it the perfect show to binge watch when you want a good laugh, I actually find it’s taught me a lot about myself. Drag is all about challenging perceptions and rules. Growing up, I was never confident in myself. I often cycle through phases where I hate my clothes, my hair, my appearance, etc. I’ll admit that I keep my makeup pretty simple mainly because I feel like a fraud when I wear it. I honestly believe that people will look at me wearing lipstick and think “what a loser, she looks so terrible. She’s trying way too hard to fit in and be cool”. It’s a holdover from my teenaged years when I really felt down on myself. But, I love makeup. I love seeing how it can transform you, and be something fun to play around with. I don’t really think of makeup as something I “have” to do. I think of it as something where I can play around with my features and make myself stand out from the crowd. So, on September 8th I met up with two friends, MC & Vicky, to attend the RuPaul Drag Race Werk the World show, and damnit, I curled my hair and put lipstick on. I did it to challenge myself, to make myself feel worthy of dressing up. If I don’t challenge my insecurities, then they win. And like Mama Ru says, “If you don’t love yourself how in the hell you gonna love anybody else, can I get an amen?”

thanksgiving
Crystal Beach

October 6th 2018

Thanksgiving in Niagara is one of my favourite times of the year. we had a lot of wonderful memories visiting my family this year, but it felt most fitting to include Thanksgiving to this list, since after all, it’s the holiday meant to make you most appreciative for all you’ve been blessed with. I’m very lucky to have a supportive family. And as a side bonus, we got to celebrate my cousin’s engagement!

October 21st 2018

I think this day makes the list every year, but once again completing the Scotiabank Waterfront 5km race was especially satisfying this year. It’s been a long road in the recovery process with my ulnar nerve injury. I haven’t run much at all over the course of this year, as having my elbows bent for any prolonged period often causes pain and numbness. But, I woke up early on a Sunday morning and found myself running one of my best times in several years. I broke the sub-30 minute mark again for my finish time, and I was completely thrilled. It proved to myself that I am making progress and am slowly getting back into fighting shape.

November 2nd 2018

I alluded to this earlier, but I am always so incredibly thankful that Sean’s friends have embraced me like they have. And on this night I had the honour of being part of our friend Val’s bachelorette party. It really meant a lot to me to be invited and included, and to share this experience with everyone. And of course, it was an incredibly fun night filled with some pretty lasting memories (even with a minor detour at the end of the night).

November 3rd 2018

The night after Val’s epic bachelorette party, Sean & I had a rare night out. Normally our weekends are filled with running errands, other social obligations, or just taking a chance to relax at home.  But earlier in the year Sean had surprised me with tickets to Come From Away, the musical about the town of Gander, Newfoundland in the wake of the September 11th attacks. So we made it into a date night, complete with a delicious meal at one of our favorite restaurants beforehand. Not only was it special to spend a night out just the two of us (I am an incredibly lucky girl to have Sean in my life), but the show itself was an absolute joy to watch. I wholeheartedly loved it from start to finish, even crying several times throughout the show. I don’t get out to live theatre performances as often as I should, and normally I don’t like musicals, but this was a special experience. I’m so thankful Sean finally listened to my constant chatter about this show, and treated us to a lovely night out.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

Merry Christmas everyone! Take care of yourselves in 2019

Advertisements

12 Days of 2017

20171002_084356
Jasper, Alberta views

It’s been awhile since I last blogged. Truth be told, it’s not for lack of trying. I have 10 entries sitting in my drafts. The real roadblock to actually finishing something has been my own hesitations. I began to convince myself that everyone was judging me for having this blog, and that it serves no real purpose. But I forgot that at the end of the day, I do this because it helps me. It gives me something to do when I am feeling sad, or anxious. It gives me a task instead of going in circles. If someone reads it, and finds it helpful, that’s a bonus. If someone reads it and thinks I am a loser, or an idiot – well then, so be it!

But I didn’t want to finish the year without looking back, and doing one of my favourite reflection exercises – and that’s picking the 12 days that impacted me in 2017. (And as usual, they’re in no particular order).

June 10, 2017

Day One of the Ride to Conquer Cancer. I trained so hard for this year’s event, and my hard work paid off. My goal had been to ride with the lead TEALPOWER riders for as much of the distance as possible, and I did! I was so scared I’d be the last person to catch up to the group, and would hold everyone back. Instead, I proved to myself that I did work hard enough, and am strong.

The downside… it came at a price. I badly injured my ulnar nerve (aka the funny bone nerve) and have not been on my bike since crossing the finish line in Niagara Falls on June 11th. It’s been months of being in pain and discomfort nearly every day. I also haven’t been able to lift weights and my running has been very limited. In fact my last run was over a month ago. Any time my pain flares up, I have to scale everything back and let my nerves rest.

This has been the source of a lot of anxiety and upset for me since. It’s been so frustrating being unable to do some of the things I love to do, including many of the things I also use to combat my anxiety such as knitting and exercising. I’ve been trying so hard to think positive but all too often it becomes easier to just think I’ll be in pain forever – or worse – that this is a sign of something more serious.

I’ve struggled a lot too with social media. I find it very difficult to see so many of my friends being active, and achieving new goals at the gym. I’ve often felt like a failure for still not being healed. I feel like others are judging me for NOT exercising or getting in better shape. But like all the doctors and physiotherapists have told me – nerve injuries take time and are incredibly stubborn. I just have to keep waiting.

But would I go back and do the Ride all over again? You bet. It’s always a life affirming weekend, that teaches me so much about the power of the human body. Plus, I get to share some laughs and memories with an incredible group of Riders. So cross your fingers I can clip into my pedals again in 2018.

20170611_163245

June 16, 2017

Who doesn’t love a good wedding? My Aunt Serena married her partner Jo, making her an official part of our family! It was just another wonderful night with my family, getting to let loose and celebrate a wonderful partnership. I truly cherish and appreciate these times I get to spend with my family. Because we’re all so busy, and spread out across the Golden Horseshoe, it’s also not often anymore that we get the whole gang together. Like at Christmas, I love being able to get everyone in one place, so once again it reminds me how lucky I am to have such a wonderful, loving and open family.

20171001_112449
The one and only Lake Louise

September 29, 2017

Sean & I went to Calgary, and on this day, I saw the Rocky Mountains up close for the first time in my entire life. Any time I spent in the mountains was spent in awe. It was breathtaking, humbling, and overwhelming all at once. When we hiked through Grassi Lakes, I just couldn’t get over the sheer size of the Rockies. Nothing puts your anxiety into perspective quite like realizing how small you are in the world. It was a strange feeling at times, being surrounded by the mountains. But I loved every second of it. It reminded me how much I love adventure, and exploring. It showed me the importance of getting out, and experiencing new areas of this beautiful country I am lucky enough to call home. Being outdoors, always gives me so much peace of mind. It’s the way I reconnect to my spiritual side as well. Seeing so much natural beauty convinces me that there is so much more to this world that we will never understand.

And… I even went several days in a row without any nerve pain! Bonus!

I really hope one day we can go back. Not to mention, we have some incredible friends who live out West, who were kind enough to open their homes to us. I am always happy when I get to see Sean reconnecting with his childhood friends, and spending time with people he cares about.

February 14, 2017 

The start of another BFF vacation! This time I temporarily joined the Myner Household, and became one of 15 members of our Mexico squad! MC’s family were so welcoming to me, and never made me feel like a 5th (or 15th) wheel. I never felt as if I was “crashing” their family party, and not a full member of the team. And as usual, I am very thankful I have such a great BFF, who I get to travel with. Not all friends travel well, and somehow we’ve figured it out! MC and I also both discovered that snorkeling is an excellent therapy for anxiety! It is the perfect way to be mindful! You’re focused on your breathing, swimming AND staring at fish! You don’t have time to be scared! We both agreed all future trips must involve snorkels.

March 9, 2017 

On this night, a group of George Brown Marketing students put together a media panel. My group was discussing the changing state of affairs in sports broadcasting. I was so humbled to be asked to be part of the panel, and also incredibly excited!

One of the things that inspired me to get into sports broadcasting, was some advice I heard during a sports media panel when I was at Ryerson over a decade ago. A female producer was asked if she ever felt that she was treated differently for being a woman in a man’s industry. Her answer was surprising. She said that she actually found that being a female helped her stand out. She wasn’t just another “Mike” or “Andrew” in the newsroom. People noticed when she did good work, and when she showed off her sports expertise. She took the situation, and used it all to her advantage. With those words, I saw the power in re-framing a perceived detriment to a become advantage. I was so thrilled to have the chance to maybe inspire other kids to stick with sports media, and especially my fellow females. It was also fun getting to network with media personalities, and hear what young students think about the current state of media. I really hope I get to do more of these talks in the future.

December 10, 2017 

Toronto FC finally won the MLS Cup, and I was lucky enough to be in the stands for it! After being a fan of this team through so many difficult years, and watching them come SO CLOSE last year, I really didn’t know whether they’d be successful this year. It’s moments like these, too, that also remind me why I work in sports, and love it. I am so lucky to be involved in so much at my job. Sports have given me the chance to meet so many new people, challenge myself, and make new friends. I wouldn’t trade my line of work for any other area of the media business.

20170520_161316
Hadn’t showered in like two days, but it was worth it

May 19, 2017

Years ago, if you had asked me what my Bucket List would contain – somewhere on it I would have had Algonquin Park listed on it. This year, thanks to Sean & his friend Chris, I was finally able to cross that off! We portaged into Lake Louisa via Rock Lake. Carrying all of our supplies was no joke, but so rewarding once we arrived at camp.

I camped a lot as a kid, but it was always car camping. This was my first time where I was off the grid. It was a little scary. I was definitely terrified of a bear attacking us at night, and didn’t sleep well at all. And even though it was May, it was still quite chilly in the Park. I think I wore about 5 layers at all times during the entire weekend. But I’d do it all over again in a second. I love everything about camping. You have the fresh air, the peace & quiet, campfires, hiking, and for the first time in my life I canoed! I really hope we get an opportunity to go back, I miss the beauty of Algonquin so much already.

Also, the best part of the weekend was being completely shut off from social media and our cell phones. With no service, there was no temptation to scroll mindlessly through Instagram or Twitter. Instead, I opened my eyes and absorbed every inch of scenery around me.

Not to mention, camping is another great cure for anxiety. You don’t have time during the day to be scared because you are just too busy! When you camp, everything is an ordeal. Want a cup of tea? Time to find the kettle, collect some water, start a small fire for the burner, wait forever for the water to boil, well you get the idea! There’s always something to be done, and it requires your focus. If I tried to even start worrying about something random while chopping wood, well I probably would have needed to be airlifted out of the park. It’s a great way to remind myself that being mindful and focusing on what’s right in front of me, is the best way to keep my anxiety from taking over.

20170520_161031
Beautiful Algonquin (Lake Louisa)

August 26, 2017 

I can honestly say this was an unremarkable day by most standards. We didn’t do anything fancy. But it was one of the rare nights this summer that Sean & I just got to sit, and relax on our balcony. We enjoyed a warm summer evening, listening to new music, and enjoying the view of the city. To me, it was the perfect way to spend a night together. The summer was such a busy one this year, so I am thankful we got a little downtime together. As I usually find each year, it’s often the little moments that can stand out the most.

March 25, 2017

I know, I know. A little lame to put my own birthday party on this list, but I’m doing it anyways. With my confidence issues, it’s very easy for me to convince myself that I am not worthy of my friends. I can sometimes feel like I am just not good enough for them, and that one day, they’ll all realize this and stop hanging out with me. But on this night, they all reminded me that I am loved, and appreciated by so many different people. And we also discovered that ax throwing is the best way to spend a birthday party!

May 7, 2017/October 22, 2017

This is really a 2-for-1 since both of these dates were road races I completed this year. And both times I went into them with a lot of doubt. For the Goodlife 10km in May, I did not feel ready. I had been focusing on cycling, and didn’t train properly. My original goal had been in under an hour, but I adjusted my expectations. I was embarrassed with myself, and thought I was a failure. I thought that people would see my finish time and think “what a loser, she does all that training and still can’t run 10km in under an hour?” It was the same for the Scotiabank 5km in October. I knew I wouldn’t finish in under 30 minutes, and feared I’d barely get in under 45 minutes. For Scotiabank, it was my nerve injury. I had run only a handful of times before the race.

But with both races, I exceeded my expectations. I have to keep reminding myself that my finish time isn’t always important – and that often setting such high expectations of myself when I am not 100% isn’t going to do my confidence any favours. Instead, I need to remember that I still achieved it, and still attempted it. That’s all I can really ask of myself.

20170507_104208

November 30, 2017

Sadly, like 2016, in 2017 I said goodbye to another grandparent. This time it was my Grandmother on my father’s side. It was a bittersweet day for a number of reasons. I wasn’t terribly close to my Grandmother, but I always knew she was proud of me, and loved me. But she was a bit of a mystery to me. Her and my grandfather moved from Welland to Elmira before I was born, and she remained there even after my grandfather passed away of a heart attack in 1982. It was at her funeral I learned the extent of her “other life”. What broke my heart was just seeing how many people she impacted throughout her life. I was sad for those who loved her dearly, and now had to say goodbye. I was also sad because, as with all deaths, it’s that final realization that you’ll never get that time back with that person. I will now never have the chance to know my grandmother better, and that saddens me. But, I am trying to see this as an excellent reminder not to let me anxiety hold me back, and live life fully.

July 29, 2017 

We actually made a big decision that will impact 2018 more than it did in 2017 – we officially booked our plane tickets to South Africa! We’re heading there in just a few months, with our good friends Peter & Giles. The trip has been in the works for a long time, but to actually put a real date on our departure, was a big moment. We’ll be gone for nearly a month, so it’s definitely the biggest travel undertaking I’ve ever experienced! (Oh… and that night we went on to enjoy a fun BBQ hosted by our friends Alan & Amanda)

———-

And that’s 2017 in a nutshell! It was another incredible year, and one that truly felt like it went by too fast. I really hope time slows down a little in 2018, so I can stop and enjoy the little moments a little more.

I don’t have many new resolutions for this year, but it’s much of the same as last – stop beating myself up over the things I cannot control, and don’t let my anxiety stop me from experiencing new and memorable things.

Have a great holiday season everyone, and stay tuned for the Top Live Bands of 2017!

The Things We Leave Behind

I’ve been trying to write a new blog post for about a month now. I have about three half finished posts, just sitting in my Drafts. I thought as we all reel from the news of Gord Downie, and grapple with one more amazing person about to be lost to cancer, that perhaps this was the post I needed to finish, and share with you all. 

IMG_1393

Late in April, I said goodbye to my “Granny”. She was a fierce woman, and a personality that my family will miss dearly. It was my first time losing an immediate family member. I’ve been very fortunate. I am very uncomfortable with death, and am so grateful that up until now, I’ve only had to go to a handful of funerals and memorials. I know others have not been so lucky.

But one absolutely positive thing to come out of the heartbreak of losing Granny is that death gives perspective. It forces you to pause, and reflect. You suddenly become acutely aware of your place in the universe, and what you’ll leave behind.

As we cleaned out my grandmother’s things from the nursing home, my cousin spoke about how you just leave “stuff” behind, and what matters is the memories that your loved ones have of you. Of course we always see quotes that like when we scroll across our social media news feeds, but until you’re there, cleaning out the home of a dead loved one, that message really doesn’t sink in. The clothes I worry about on a day to day basis, will eventually just get donated or turned to rags. No one will remember that I accidentally wore a stained shirt one day to work. Certainly no one cares at this moment that when I first moved to Toronto I really had no idea what the word “style” really meant. It’s also true of the items we fill our homes with.

So from those little “ah-ha” moments during that time, I am trying to get back to loving myself more, and forgiving myself. I say this all too often, but I waste so much time being hard on myself. There’s so much I can’t control. But I have such a hard time dealing with that. I need to be in control. I’m impatient. I’m a perfectionist. I also have a pretty good memory, and I remember what I looked like when I was in better shape. It’s hard to forget that. I don’t feel proud of my body right now. So I need to work on getting that back.

Aside from the feelings associated with my body, dealing with a death always triggers a lot of deeper anxiety for me. I have a real problem with death. It terrifies me. I have so many fears. I have days where I am convinced of the Afterlife and that something awaits, but then others I think that can’t be possible, and that there really isn’t anything beyond this life. My mind starts to think “how can there be heaven if we have so much suffering? What is the point of creating a world where depending on where you live you might have a great life, or a really, really horrible one?”, and it goes on and on.

But really, I am just scared to say goodbye to the people I love and care about. My family means the world to me, and I can’t bear to think of saying goodbye to everyone. Change doesn’t allow me to be in control. When suddenly that one person won’t be at Christmas Dinner anymore, I get so anxious thinking about how different things will be. How will I cope without certain people? I suppose you could call it the world’s worst case of “FOMO” as well. I get sick thinking about all the things I could miss out on one day, especially if I die young.

granny
My Granny & I 

So how do you become more comfortable with the idea of death? For me, the only way would be knowing with 1000000% certainty that an Afterlife exists, and that YES you get reunited with everyone. That’s the controlling nature in me, the anxiety that needs ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY. But that doesn’t exist in life. Maybe what losing Granny has also taught me is that in addition to spending time working on my mental health, I need to work on my spiritual health. Because the day will come when I will have an even more devastating death to mourn, and I want to make sure I can get through.

And then, with some of the roots of my anxiety laid bare, we return to the original point of this post. Only the memories are what matter. The relationships you forge – whether it’s family, friends, animal companions, whatever, that is what transcends everything else. I can’t take six pack abs with me to the Afterlife, and certainly they won’t be on display at a memorial. (Seriously, have you ever seen anyone’s ACTUAL body at a funeral? Another reason I should stop worrying about what my stomach looks like). Sure, you can be remembered for being an active, athletic person, but is that why people truly love you? Is it the only reason they’ll always be there for you? Odds are, no.

So with that being said, it’s about doing what all of those internet quotes tell you to do: “Live. Laugh. Love”. With doing that, hopefully I can find peace and eventually accept that one day, everything will be out of my control.

Thank you, as always, for reading and of course, share any advice you may have for myself or others. 

 

 

 

 

Moving on From Yesterday

IMG_2444

Note: I’ve had this entry sitting in my Drafts folder for weeks. I’ve struggled so much with how to express my sadness at various things over the past month. And after yesterday, that feeling has intensified. What do I say to those who lost their job? How do I comfort those who lost Alison? What can I really say that makes any sort of difference? Here I am, alive and employed. What right do I have to be blogging about being sad when there are people hurting so much more than I am. All I can say is, this is what I know to do in a time of pain. And what I also know I can do is be there. My blog, to me, is a way of sharing my own struggles to maybe find comfort in others who understand. Friends we need each other more now than ever. Don’t be scared to reach out for help. I am here, I am always here, and will do my best to help. 

For now with this entry, I’ve modified it to deal with the layoffs at TSN and the death of a beautiful person. 

Another running season has come to a close for me. This year I took part in four races. Starting out this year I wasn’t sure what I would do. A busy year was ahead, and I was so burned out from my half marathon last Fall that I was certain I’d be satisfied just running 5km races. This seemed to really cement itself after a difficult 10km race on Mother’s Day. My cousin and I raced on a hot, humid morning on a course that was actually a lot more grueling than expected. (My body was not ready to run hills in the heat in early May). But I did it, and although I didn’t meet my goal, I still was happy with my finish time considering the circumstances.

Then came the “busy year”. Between weddings, trips, going out with friends, and everything in between, the weight gain came. Yes, that anger I had at the beginning of July is still kicking around. I went out and bought new pants. I replaced shirts. I did all the things I didn’t want to do. But then I started to kick myself in the rear and get moving. I’m back into some old habits. But it still is hard to resist that extra snack, or another pint of beer, or a glass of wine with dinner. (And really, I firmly believe life is too short to resist those things all the time. If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, it won’t be because I had a second pint two weeks ago).

And this is where my recent turning point comes in. There have been some horrible things happening over the past month. Many good friends, and coworkers lost their jobs at TSN yesterday – my mentor among them. Good people all across the company who did nothing but work hard for something they believed in. My friend Alyson Fisher lost her father on Thanksgiving in a tragic accident. And most heartbreaking of all, Alison Salinas lost her battle with cervical cancer last night. She was young, beautiful, and one of the most inspirational people I have ever met. And all of that got me thinking. My anxiety loves a good existential crisis after all, especially one that involves death. Anxiety has taken so much from me. Depression has taken it’s fair share too. These two illnesses just steal from you, constantly. And it’s really not new to me, but when you suffer from mental illness it can all too easy to forget your life lessons. But these illnesses don’t HAVE to steal these things from me. I can be treated. I can be cured. It takes a lot of work, and takes patience and strength, but it can happen. And it has happened for me, even if it’s small baby steps. But there are so many people out there that can’t be cured, or have even more difficult battles than I do, and I shouldn’t be sitting here terrified of my own body. I fear death because of the finality of it. That’s it, it’s over. Done. So ironically, I spend so much of my time on this earth frozen in fear. Or even worse, I waste countless hours being mean and abusive to myself. I look at myself in the mirror with disgust. I look at pictures from even just a couple years ago and think of how much better I used to look. I punish myself for things I cannot control. Take for example, my abnormal cervix. Internally, I have been beating myself up over it, even though there is zero evidence that shows that it’s ALL MY FAULT.

I’m at a point where I need to shut myself up. And I am still on my own, so maybe this is a time where I need to acknowledge that I need to find a new therapist. That I need that unbiased voice reassuring me, and guiding me. It helps go a long way towards challenging my skewed beliefs about life, death, and what I need to fear. But maybe more importantly than shutting up my anxiety, is forgiving myself. And that is so difficult to do. I need to say to myself, “Tesla, it’s OK.” I hear other people say this to me, but until I truly internalize it, it’s not going to stick. Anxiety loves to push it’s way to the front and say “NO – PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEEE”. If anxiety had an Instagram account it would be full of duck face selfies.

My obessive thinking gets me caught in these traps. I start with “wow, I really hate my body right now” Then I move to feelings of guilt “well, I should just be thankful I have this body” and then it moves to “ohmygod I’m such a horrible person for thinking my problems are so bad when others have it so much worse” and onto “all this time I’ve wasted, what an idiot”. It’s all negative, and it’s all bad for me. I need to get back to reassuring myself, encouraging myself, and most importantly loving myself. Because there will be a day where I truly will regret not taking advantage of these running legs.

Guilt. I have so many friends who are hurting, and who are fighting battles of their own. Two friends out West are going through an incredible one – Benji & Lisa Husband (whose story you can read on this blog: Take Part of Me). Benji donated a portion of his liver to save the life of his wife, Lisa. I met these two on the Kraft Celebration Tour in 2012. They were part of that life changing trip across Canada that had me realizing I deserved more out of life. They have a special place in my heart for that reason. So how do I sit here and justify typing up a whole blog about my own problems when they have major surgery to worry about and recover from?! It all feels so selfish, and narcissistic for me to even be continuing with a blog when others have such bigger problems. And so I begin to feel horribly for having my anxiety, for wasting parts of my life, and for hitting the “publish” button. But, really, I don’t know what else to do. And I know I need to be easier on myself, and forgive myself more. I need to write to help myself heal, and I’ve truly had a hard time writing this entry. So friends, please don’t think I am trying to make my life seem so much harder, or that my problems are bigger than yours. I am trying to empathize with you the best way I know how, to let you know that you aren’t alone with your struggles, and hardships. Mine might be on a smaller scale, or a totally different animal, but I want to show you my suffering so I can support you and help you by showing you, in some small way, I might understand that feeling of your thoughts trying to explode our of your mind.

So how does running tie into all of this? Well, as I approached the Scotiabank Waterfront 5km race on October 18th I found myself wishing I had signed up for another half marathon. 5km just didn’t feel the same with this event. The runner’s expo left me feeling like I wasn’t truly worthy to be there. That what I was doing wasn’t an accomplishment. I know that isn’t true (In fact, a couple years ago a stranger got a little bit angry with me when I said I was “just” doing the 5km and reminded me that 5km is still a big deal and a lot farther than many people will ever run in their lifetime). The itch to do a long distance race was back, and so was my motivation to run. So I’ve bought a new pair of shoes, and have full intentions of putting down another 21km on the streets of Toronto. But more importantly, it’s given me something to focus on other than just trying to lose weight.

In addition to another half marathon I am also going to take part in the Ride To Conquer Cancer. I’ve joined Team #tealpower, a team inspired by Alison Salinas. This ride now means so much more. It’s again my way of trying to turn my feeling of helplessness and guilt into something that can incite real progress in the search for a cure for cancer. It’s also another key step in my fight against my anxiety – if my body can handle this bike ride, it must be in pretty good shape. And I am enjoy to enjoy this body and put it to good use.

With these goals ahead, and even more happy things to come in my personal life in the coming months, I am hoping this is it. That this is truly when I come out of the shadows. The darkness of winter is about to be upon me, so I had better find my way before I get too lost. But for the next little while, I will allow myself to be sad, to mourn. Heartbreak doesn’t heal quickly. And let’s all be there for each other. Love can truly conquer all, and our love and support for one another will never be so important as it is right now. I am here for all of you. Let’s stay on the path together.

Thank you for reading, and always keep sharing.