Through Strife, There is Life

Childhood is a time for dreams, for play, for understanding family values, learning morally and academically, socializing, exploring and just being a kid. I was a kid with all of the above and more. The ‘more’ was not always about the frivolity of childhood but has brought me to an amazing place in life.

When we are little people we learn from those around us, take in experiences and through repetition these become a part of us. They become the fibres of the fabric of our being, but don’t yet define us. We are vulnerable and so open that we can easily take on behaviours and a persona. As we get older, we can get caught up in these experiences and they can become stumbling blocks or may assist in our belief or disbelief in ourselves and our abilities.

When I was young, I saw many behaviours, actions, reactions from those around me that were “regular” to me at the time. There were many times of unknowing, uncertainty and experiences that a child should not have to bear. Growing up with mental unwellness, addiction, abandonment, feelings of not belonging or being loved were part of mine.

My father’s addictions were to narcotics, alcohol, nicotine, pain pills and self- sabotage. His inability to keep a job, to blame others, to not facing his problems, his running away and then coming back was a regular occurrence.

My mother who was pregnant with my sister at 18 and me at 19 years old, was fighting her demons and medicating with Valium and nicotine, leading a very unhealthy life of sadness, anxiety, phobias and fear.

These adults were my role models, my caregivers, my DNA. They were both so very bright, intelligent, witty and talented individuals. Sometimes very fun to be around, sometimes very frightening. They both had the potential to live healthy lives, but disease, mental instability and circumstances took them down different paths.

As I grew older, I knew that there were many parts of my family life that were not so healthy. I could see the good through the fog though, and had the realization that everyone had their own journey and did the best they could with what they had and from what they knew. They may have not been able to offer me the security of a stable home, but they gave me love in their way. They gave me family members who truly loved me and my sister, who supplied us with experiences every child deserves.

The times of family, playing, school, sports, reading books, sharing times with friends, brownies, Sunday School with friends, birthday parties and more are ingrained in my soul. I treasure these moments and remember them vividly.

I truly have not burned the many other not so memorable images in my mind. These images that were troubling, scary, more adult than I should have known, are there but distant. These times were experiences that have made me who I am and are where I came from. They have allowed me to share and love deeper, in my own way, and to work harder than I can ever have imagined.

I survived these times and took charge as a survivor, a warrior, to make it through childhood and the tough teenage years. I learned that you needed to work hard to have. To have freedom, money, but mostly a sense of purpose and belonging.

I searched for a sense of community in whatever way I could with people, be it strangers, who had similarities that I could share, learn and grow from and with.

One of these communities, and a big piece to my strength and resiliency has been fitness. As a child, I loved to move, play, ride, run, swing a bat. The little support I had to play team sports or to register for other activities didn’t allow me the opportunities as a kid, but I still searched them out wherever I could and found that positive place that movement took me to. In my late teens, I found exercise again after spending my high school years not loving exercise. There was no turning back. This was the catalyst to so much more. From movement comes a better way of life as a whole. I yearned to learn how to cook, to shop for food, to know my body and what made it tick. The feelings I got from moving and eating well produced so much good in my mind/body/soul, that I become a health advocate for myself and later for my partner and then children.

I became a fitness leader, a mentor, a supervisor, a good cook, a health afficianado, along with raising 4 children! There were times along the way that I cried hard and long. I needed this time to vent and reflect, but all through this I looked at things with the glass half full. I didn’t put blame on my past, my parents. I realized that they had their issues, and I knew their issues were not mine. My journey was going to be better, different. I wanted this. I had my share of panic attacks and anxiety. Have seen many practitioners seeking solace and a quiet mind. I sought holistic help, counselling and much more from reading self-help books. I needed to share my story often, with no fear of judgement and no holding back. I am honest to a fault and an open book.

I truly feel that through strife there is life, there is hope, there is purpose. I feel strongly that I have become a human of potential, one who aims to inspire others, to share the love of health and one who CARES for others deeply!

Adulthood is also a time for dreams, playing like a kid, growing as a human, learning from others. I embrace my past that I have grown so wholeheartedly from. I feel ever so passionately that moving my body daily, caring for myself and others allows me the strength to live a full and truly happy life. I will keep sharing my story, my passions, my world. I will definitely cry, sometimes like a baby, but it is definitely worth it.