Reflection has always been one of my most favorite pass times. It allows us the space to…well… reflect, but to take time to truly peel away and dissect the layers of armor we build up to protect and keep us strong. Many would ask… why would you want to peel away the layers that make us strong? Does that not seem counter intuitive? Strength is not determined by the armor in-which we wear’ it is determined by “the why” we made the decision to wear the armor in the first place – our vulnerabilities, our fears.


Last week I wanted to run the Scotiabank Half Marathon in honor of the memory of my mom. For the past couple years I have run a marathon to support her strength, to bring awareness to treatable and preventable diseases like addiction, substance abuse, mental illness (depression, bi-polar) and suicide. Last year I ran the San Francisco Marathon, supporting the CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association), and designed Salon Conversation workshops to bring together like minded peeps who wanted to explore the landscape and generate new ideas on how to engage with youth and adults on this vast scope of breaking stigma and understanding the disease. 

The Scotiabank Half marathon partnered with the Blue Wave Foundation, a local organization/charity that is focused on youth and teens and spreading the word about suicide prevention through great events, as well as telling the founders story of their own loss. This year, after a 67km ultra for CARE Canada and the 15 month goal of walking a minimum of 6km per day (average was 10km), my body is quite bluntly – broken. After a semi-torn hamstring tendon, and shin splints, I decided to pull out of the race. Let me be bold and say – this is not defeat.


“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quite voice inside you at the end of the day that says; I will try again tomorrow.”Mary Anne Radmacher

This is what I mean by embracing our vulnerabilities – they show us, not only how strong we are – but how much stronger we can be. Admitting that sometimes the most important thing we can do, is to do nothing and recover, let the body embrace the state of present being – is okay, because the next time we choose to run (metaphorically can relate to all things in life) we will be stronger for it. As long as we maintain our focus, our values and ethos towards our goal.

July is always a very hard month for me, and no matter how much I “mask” it – it affects me greatly. Losing someone so close to you, watching them slip away is an agonizing process. One, that if you are not careful can take you down into a deep abyss. When mom was diagnosed with manic depression and then bi polar I (like many others) I thought “crazy genes” … mentally ill? But as a mind-body coach, I know that a disease isn’t just mental or physical – it’s just a disease, like any other – like cancer, which my mom had when I was six. I had to reflect and re learn – that “health” and well-being does not have a dichotomy between the physical and the psychological – it is all affected. 

Right now I am reading a book called “Body, Breath, & Consciousness: A Somatics Anthropology of Articles on Family Systems, Self-Psychology, The Bodynamics Model of Somatic Development Psychology, Shock Trauma and Breath Work,”~ it’s purpose…. to peel away our fears, our attachments to past self defeating experiences, and sourcing out happiness and joy by understanding the mind-body connection. This is what somatic anthropology and mind-body practioners call “control and resignation. Much like our muscular states our psyche works a bit the same. “For instance… “I need to hold onto this, to keep control of it (a pattern of thought that holds many of us back from letting go of fears).. the hypo-response reflects a resignation that says, “attempting to do this is too exhausting; i give up.” The body (and mind) flow between a triad of states – over-activity, under-activity and neutrality. Present empirical findings indicate that these physical states generally correspond to psychological ones.Every part of the body may be said to also be part of the mind.” – Levine 1976

What I have found over the process of “running” these long feats, spreading the awareness behind the events – is that I am stronger when I speak up about my vulnerabilities and share the stories of my past – so that others can benefit and be inspired to share theirs.

This leads me into my next quest – my next grand adventure – and for all of you who hold the idea of living a life stigma free, supporting the amazing work of orgs like Blue Wave and CMHA, and making the landscape of mental health positive – then I ask you to join me. 

From July 1 – 31, I will be raising my voice against the stigma of mental health, addiction and suicide. It can be treated. It can be prevented and it can be done through empathetic learning, compassion and sharing our mutual stories of loss and triumph – strength and vulnerability. 

On July 29th I am pledging to run 57km – the age my mom passed which just so happens to be the exact distance between my home and where we spread her ashes – Whytecliff park. It will be a beautiful day, and anyone who wishes to come out and join, we will wear blue and run in the memory of those we have lost, so that many more can be saved. 


Join me 🙂



I am what you would call a freelance do’gooder of all things bucketlist and philanthropically inclined. (a) Movement & Performance Coach (a) Social Crusader (a) Wannabe Superhero (a) Athlete (a) Advocate for Play (a) Compassion Junkie (a) Womens and Youth Activist (a) runner'of a' muck (a) Chief Fascia Facilitator (Yoga Teacher and MyoFascia Enthusiast) So, here it is, my BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) TO RAISE $1 MILLION DOLLARS before the age of 35! This is no small 'feet' to take on... A 10 year passion project; by which I harness the power behind the sports philanthropy movement by using my own middle of the pack talent - RUNNING! I am the founder of RUN4ACAUSE, and my goal is simple ~ to combine advocacy with sport and the foundation is to bring awareness to the power behind education, the power of our youth and women's economic empowerment worldwide! This blog is an ongoing Story Telling Series of my RUN4ACAUSE, where I aim to showcase the direct impact WE can make by empowering our youth to transform their world; by mobilizing them to engage in cultural exchange, gain a global perspective, and create and lead social change through the art of sport, and by the power of one voice. Imagine the possibilities! I hope this blog leaves you empowered, inspired and MOVED - so why don't you join me and RUN4ACAUSE!
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  1. Marlene Cassells says:

    Hello I am so happy to come across your blog! Please see the email I just sent to Canadian Mental Health:
    I am writing to you with an idea I have to further raise awareness for Blue Wave.
    Firstly let me introduce myself, my name is Marlene Cassells and I am a BC resident living in Sooke on Vancouver Island. I have a wonderful life with my husband Lee and our three children. My daughter is 15, my middle son is almost 12 and the youngest son is 4. I work fulltime at an insurance adjusting firm (admin) however I make time for my one and only real passion, running. I am an avid runner with numerous 10km races, ½ marathons and one marathon under my belt. This year (Jan 11th) I will be turning 40 and unlike most years where I choose to quietly acknowledge my birthday, I am celebrating!

    Along with celebrating my birthday, I have chosen to do something important in my 40th year. I will be running 40 races this year and I would like to do them all with the Blue Wave Foundation up front and center as the reason for my races. My husband Lee Cassells has worked with Canadian Mental Health and is a current board member for the CMHA Victoria Branch. He has worked with Ride Don’t Hide Org. raising awareness for mental illness and is currently working with CMHA BC & Women in Wellness Events with iCare Auctions along with running a few online charity auctions for CMHA. It was Lee that brought Blue Wave to my attention. Why I first chose to do this is because of my own children however the driving force me to do this now is for all our children. I am a strong believer of the village mentality and the saying that it takes a village to raise a strong child. If we don’t start looking past our front door and reaching out then nothing can ever change. I am willing to put the idea of ‘it takes just one person to make a difference’, to the test.

    In the past year a dear cousin of mine took her own life and no one in her family had any idea of what was going on. Being that my cultural background is Indian, the notion of suicide is quite often glorified. As a teen my cousin had no support other than her parents but their answer was arranged marriage. After battling with depression and eventually taking her own life, her suicide was depicted as the ultimate sacrifice which is the case in most Bollywood movies. Cultural obstacles are real and play a major role in how our teens deal with life.

    My daughter went to school with Amanda Todd and after long talks with my daughter over Amanda’s death, I came to realize that she knew of many teens her age that were battling depression. She had friends that were cutting themselves daily and this was normal. She had friends that were sexually active at an extremely young age just to feel wanted, and this was normal. The list of what my daughter thought was ‘normal’ went on and on. It’s quite clear that the growing pains that some teens go through have far surpassed the guidance abilities of parents. Teens need a forum like Blue Wave!

    So, I am in the process of starting up a facebook page, blog, YOUTUBE clip and website. I will be asking for any donations to forward to Blue Wave directly, but most importantly the notion of raising awareness for your foundation is my main reason for doing this. I am urging my kids to join me in some of my races but regardless of them running in them, they will be at every one of the races with signs, cheering on my efforts for Blue Wave. All I am asking for from Blue Wave are some brochures and if possible a few t-shirts for me to run in. There is some urgency to your reply since my first race is on January 13, 2013 8km Harriers Pioneer Race in Saanichton, Victoria. I will also be launching my website fairly soon and I would like to do this with your confirmation of acknowledgement. I have mapped out all 40 races for the year and I would be happy to forward the list to you.

    I look forward to hearing back from you soon.


    Marlene Cassells

    I would love to connect with you since some of my 40 races are in Vancouver!

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