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August 24, 2015

Husband Jamie and I took the kids wilderness camping at Algonquin Park a few weekends ago; it was their first time, and they loved it.

Gorgeous weather as we set out. What's not to love?

Gorgeous weather as we set out. What’s not to love?

When camping, one has a singular purpose: to survive.  There’s no luxury to camping in the wilderness, save for a decadent square of dark chocolate at the end of the evening, or a luxuriously dry pair of socks when your body is damp to the bone.

We pushed on, canoed until our arms and shoulders ached, carried our canoes and packs on our tired backs, found a place to rest, set up camp and made food to fuel us.  We slept when it darkened.  Then we woke up and did it again.  In between, we swam and laughed, interacted with each other (without the distraction of electronic devices), made up stories, sang songs, and observed the wonder of nature.  It was amazing.

Yes, the pack IS as heavy as it looks.

Yes, the pack IS as heavy as it looks.

The rhythm of camping and portaging is simple, satisfying.  I felt better about myself camping (dirty, calloused and aching) than usual, and I didn’t touch a phone or look into a mirror in over 72 hours.

That’s not an accident.

I was able to really feel my body on our trip. I felt the strength in my legs and back as I hefted my 65-pound pack (and added Little One’s pack to it as well, when she tired).  I felt my hunger rise up as we finished setting up tents: a natural reminder to eat for fuel rather than out of habit or boredom.  And I sank into sleep each night, sardined in with Middle and Oldest, I felt heavy and worked, and grateful to be lying down, and even though a thermarest is hardly a plush mattress, I slept like the dead.

If only life were so simple, I thought as we travelled – a clear purpose, a drive and need to succeed.

Reflecting on life in my journal.

Reflecting on life in my journal.

But life is so many shades of camping – not quite urgent, or so much more so, not quite survival, but living “to the fullest” – whatever that means.

Everything in nature does its best to adapt.  Not like humans, who try and shape the world around us to fit our own needs.  In nature, even an acorn blown by mistake to the edge of a cliff will grow sideways and thrive as it reaches for the sun.

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We need to learn to grow sideways.

 

In this way, the simplicity of the wild is so much more advanced than our technologically brilliant society; we, in the acorn’s position, would look for a better, more advantageous spot to grow, and though we may grow straighter, taller, we would miss out on that amazing view. Not to mention, we would miss finding out what we are made of.

I thought about that acorn, and survival, a lot on our trip.  Obviously we were close enough to civilization that most emergencies could be easily rectified.  But most of our creature comforts were taken away: no couch to laze on. No phone to surf Facebook.  No coffee maker, no takeout, nothing quick. If I wanted a meal I had to work for it. If I wanted to be entertained I had to use my imagination.

Little One hams it up in the tent.

Little One hams it up in the tent.

There was no passivity, no boredom.  Only a deep sense of appreciation for the skills and strength I possess, my family, and all the beauty nature has to offer.

And now that we’re home, and continuing our journey here, I’m more than content with some wine, some good conversation, and a sunset.  More rolling with the punches, less trying to shape the world to my whims.

I want to see the view from the side of the cliff.

 

About the Author: Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

July 22, 2015

Got my red belt in karate this weekend. My first coloured belt; I’m no longer the lowest on the totem pole! My gi has pizzazz now: and I’m proud fit to burst.

Celebrate!

Celebrate!

So often, in the dojo and out in the world, I see people brushing off their achievements.

“Yeah, I just ran a 10k, but it’s not like it’s a marathon or anything.”

“I did just work for 5 years to lose that weight, but it’s no big deal; I really shouldn’t have been fat in the first place.”

“I got my red belt, but it’s just red – I have a long way to go before my black belt.”

Seriously. Can we cut out the false modesty?

Seriously.

Seriously. Cut it out.

Achieving things makes me happy and fulfilled.  As it should.  I work deliberately to get things done. I’m not the kind of person to whom things come naturally.

My fitness level? Worked my ass off (literally) to get here. I still work extremely hard; if I didn’t, I would be much weaker and flabbier.  My pear-shaped body likes to be softer; I was never the skinny kid, and I never will be able to just eat whatever and not gain weight.

So I take pride in completed workouts in which I did my best.

My business? I went through a lot of change and learning to open it.  Then a lot more to transition it to something I truly believed in.  It’s been tough – rewarding, but really tough.  Some days it stresses me out, and other days I revel in the smoothness of operations. But it’s never easy.

So I take pride in the new things I learn and the firm decisions I make.

And now, my red belt. In March, I had never done karate before. 4 months later and I’m committed to weekly (or more) classes in the dojo, and practice with Sensei Jamie outside of that. You’ll often find me brushing my teeth in shiko dachi, a wide-legged stance.  I have to repeat movements about a million times before I’m even serviceable at them (choreography of any kind is not my friend). I love every minute of each comfort-zone-pushing class.

karate red belt

It’s NOT just a red belt! It’s the culmination of my hard work so far. 🙂

So you’d better believe I’m not brushing these successes off.  You shouldn’t brush yours off, either!

Little triumphs can make the difference between a fulfilled life and an unfulfilled one.  If I work hard, I celebrate. I don’t need to win a gold medal in the Olympics to be proud of myself.

It’s not, contrary to popular opinion, arrogant or overconfident to celebrate your achievements, rather it’s a necessary component of living a happy life.

Did you exercise today? Pat yourself on the back.  Did you check any items off your to-do list? High five! Notice I didn’t ask you if you’ve hit your goal weight or completed your to-do list; those are bigger celebrations.  The little ones count too, though, and should be recognized.

Whether it’s a belt in karate, getting my shopping done, eating well today, or something else, I’m going to continue to live deliberately, working towards and celebrating the milestones, whether they are big or small.

Life’s too short: celebrate every bit of this journey.

 

About the Author: Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

June 18, 2015

In April I had the opportunity to speak at a Women’s Business Network breakfast, and I spoke about a topic that I deem extremely important.  Read on to find out how to start listening to the language of your body.

Your body is great.  I’ve said this before in another blog post, and I mean it.

Listening to the language your body speaks enables you to give it what it needs.  When you respect your body’s needs, you can nourish it in the right ways, and be healthier, more functional, and overall happier with life.

Too often we ignore the little signals our bodies give us.  Headache?  Just pop a pill.  Tired?  Just one more hour on the computer.  Stiff?  Ignore the discomfort, it’ll eventually go away, right?

Nope.  The body has the amazing ability to speak to you louder and louder until you get the message.  Eventually, it will make you pay attention, even if it has to shut you down with extreme pain or limitation.
outoforderWhen learning to listen, it’s vital that we deem ourselves important enough.  If we don’t, we’ll never understand our body’s language because that would mean we’d have to listen!  Many people get by on “good enough” but is that really okay?  Would “good enough” be an adequate health status for our children?  Our significant others?  No way!  Would you drive a vehicle every day that was only “good enough?”  Probably not.

And yet we “drive” our bodies around in that state all too often.  You are important.  Make sure you know that.  Because “good enough” within our own selves does not lead to greatness in our family lives, our relationships, or our businesses.

So how do I know what my body has to say?  Here are the steps to follow:

Tune In.dog-food-meditating-dog-medium-18624

What is your body saying?  Start simple.  How is your temperature right now?  I ask my clients this before every massage, and it tunes them in right away.  Too warm? Sweaty?  Chilly under a vent?  Just perfect?  Take a second and tune in to what your body feels about temperature.

Then, move on to discomfort.  Start from your head and work down to your toes.  Are you uncomfortable anywhere?  Are you extra aware of one side of your neck versus the other?  Are you sitting in a way that’s making your back hurt?  Are your knees creaky?  Discomfort and pain are often ignored because we feel we don’t have the time for them.  However, to paraphrase an oft-used quote, Those who think they have no time to deal with discomfort will sooner or later have to find time to deal with injury.

Once you have tuned in to your body’s sensations like cold/hot, hunger/satisfaction, or discomfort/pain, you’re on the right track.  Sensations are important because they connect you to what your body needs right now.

 

For use elsewhere.00_01_35_02.Still021

Honest assessments to get to the root of the issue.

Assess.  Why am I feeling this way?  It’s important that you assess without judging too much (it’s hard, I know).  Judging can lead to runaway emotions and turn small problems into big ones.

For example: The sensation of being too hot can lead to annoyance – I hate having these hot flashes! Stupid body!  Instead of judging, ASSESS: do you notice that they happen more often when you’re stressed?  More often in the morning? Can you see a pattern?  If you can, you’re closer to understanding your body’s language, and it can help with your emotional response.

The sensation of pain or discomfort can lead to anxiety – what’s wrong with me? Is this serious? Is it just a headache or something worse? Instead of judging, ASSESS: Why is my head hurting?  Am I dehydrated?  Have I been staring at this screen too long?  Did I sleep funny?  Asking simple questions can sometimes reassure you when it comes to pain.

 

takeaction

“Action always beats intention”

Take Action:  Now that you’ve discerned what your body is trying to tell you (or you’re on track), you need to take action.  It’s important not to tell your body to “shut up.”  Eventually, your body will make you listen, even if it has to shut you down in the process.

If you don’t know what action to take, that’s okay.  Asking for help is perfectly fine.  My colleagues and I help people learn to interpret their body’s language every day.  It’s a process of trial and error.  But you have to take some action, or nothing will happen at all.

If, while practicing, frustration creeps in, remember that’s normal.  We all want instant gratification:  I want my body to just be good! I want there to be no pain or discomfort!

Well I want my business to make a million dollars this year, and I want my kids to pick up their clothes without me asking a million times… but it doesn’t just happen!

You have to learn how to ask if you want results.  Learning to speak back to your body is as important as listening to it speak to you.  We’re not going to live healthy into our eighties by eating crappy food and being sedentary.  When we eat crappy food, we’re telling our bodies “Here, this is your fuel.”  When we exercise, we’re telling our bodies, “Get used to this; adapt; be stronger.”  By comparison, if you tell your body, “this computer posture is normal” eight hours a day, your body will adapt to that!

Remember that you are speaking to your body as much as it is speaking to you.  You can get help learning to listen to your body’s language, but for the most part, it just takes practice and perseverance, and an intuition that I know we all have (we are women after all!).

To recap: In order to be better at listening to the language of your body, first, TUNE IN to the physical sensations and the emotions that your body is presenting to you.  Tune in often.  Scan your body often.

Second, ASSESS why your body is speaking to you.  Why am I feeling this way?  If you can’t figure it out, ask for help.

And third, TAKE ACTION when your body speaks to you.  Take action in a timely manner, and use intuition as your guide.

Remember: even though it might not always feel like it, your body is great.  It’s great.  And it’s talking to you.  Make sure you listen.

Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen