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 🙂