I was born with a propensity to push. To push boundaries, to push limits, patience, rules, and to push back on being trying to control what I think or do. I don’t really know why I’m like this or where it comes from but my parents tell me that I’ve had a ‘fire in the belly’ for as long as they can remember. It’s my best friend and my worst enemy. My psychologist husband has a field day with my ‘fire’ and independent spirit but it’s just how I’m built. I have trouble sitting still. It’s not just an urge to push myself physically, it also manifests as a strong need to understand why I feel a certain way. When it comes to my injuries and illnesses, I call it my investigative health hustle – the urge to get to the bottom of why I feel...[bloated, Lymey, brain foggy, hip achy], or whatever my symptom du jour is. This health hustle mentality led me to Dr. Minkoff and LifeWorks Wellness Center and is also the reason why I refused to accept advice from my regular GP that I needed a year of very strong antibiotics and to stop training. I’ll try most alternative therapies if there’s some biological plausibility behind them and they’re grounded in medical science. For example, I recently learned that a fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) had shown promising results for people with disrupted gut microbiota or have had historically hard to treat digestive problems. After doing my own research, I flew to the UK and underwent a 12-day intensive treatment at the Taymount Clinic and feel noticeably better because of it. It’s less about whether this will be the ‘answer’ and more about my unrelenting drive to try things that might help. I will not give up. It’s not just my athletic career that’s at stake, it’s my emotional wellbeing. How I use my symptoms and the emotional roller coaster they send me on is a huge part of my coping.
"And though the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me, shine until tomorrow, let it be." ~ Paul McCartney/John Lennon
But -- and this is a huge but – there comes a time when I just need to calm the f*** down. This is the part I struggle with the most. I’m a horizon seeker. Always looking ahead to see what’s next or to think about what I plan to do in the future. But this means I often neglect the present. I don’t take enough time to just be in the moment. Even if my symptoms are flaring up, there comes a time when the ‘inner peace’ is reached by just living more in the moment. Some call it mindfulness, some call it gratefulness, some call it ‘letting shit go.’ I’m getting more and more signs in my life that this a great way to start living. Heck, even my fab new bike sponsor is called Liv. Get a clue, Paterson! I’ll never stop racing about and using my hustle muscle but I am training myself to just let stuff go. To breathe. To look around for things to be happy and grateful for. To recognize that my experience of life doesn’t need to be defined by a head full of overwhelming thoughts and feelings. I’ve started to learn meditation. I’ve started to be aware of what I’m thinking without acting on it. The science of learning to let stuff go is certainly compelling. It lowers stress, boosts immune function, lowers blood pressure, and it does wonders for those around you who have become so accustomed to dealing with my whirlwind. If only I had listened to the Beatles, “Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.