Live the Life You Love
I grew up with my younger brother Mike in a small town in northern BC, Canada. Raised in the home that our dad built with his own hands, our amazing and loving parents, Jim and Joy, gave us every opportunity imaginable. I was a carefree tomboy who wore grass-stained blue jeans and pink velcro-strap running shoes. At age six, I decided I was going to be a movie star and professional baseball player. Anything was possible!
At eight years old, I entered a school-wide speaking contest where I spoke about my childhood passion—baseball. I learned how to intonate my voice, when to look up at the audience, and practiced my talk over and over. I won the contest. I felt important and valued, but what I made it mean was that I had to win in order to be happy. And in order to win, I had to ‘get things right’ and be ‘perfect’ first.
Because of this, in my teenage years, I had exceedingly high expectations of myself. Unable to live up to my self-imposed ideal of perfection, I rarely felt good enough. I began to focus my attention on how I appeared to others—something I thought I could control. I became obsessed with looking good. Was I thin enough? Pretty enough? I decided I wasn’t. In grade ten, I started smoking and even failed my Physical Education class.
Later in high school, I was introduced to road cycling. Fascinated with the raw physical challenge of the sport, I started training in earnest. With the glimmerings of self-confidence brewing, I quit smoking and improved my grades so I could go to university.
My Life as a Professional Athlete
In my late twenties, I raced my first marathon. To my surprise, I won the race, which reinforced my childhood experience of feeling valuable and important through winning.
I kept training, and within ten months was racing marathons for Team Canada.
Pushing my body too hard, not eating enough or getting adequate rest, while driving myself towards bigger and better results, I developed a hip injury, which forced me into rehabilitation. I began cycling again and Ironman distance triathlon attracted my attention. What would be possible if I learned to swim and put my cycling and long-distance running skills together?
In summer of 2008, in Penticton, BC, I raced my first Ironman distance triathlon as an amateur—and won. In 2009, I quit my teaching job, moved, sold my home and became a professional triathlete.
The Car Accident and 2-Year Recovery
One year later, on November 21, 2010, an oncoming van crossed the center line on a BC highway, smashed into my car and nearly killed me. Waking up from a coma in the Intensive Care Unit, surgeons told me that I would never race again and that I might not ever walk again.
I didn’t believe them. I committed to moving my body as soon as I could, and it responded with each passing day. Within two months, I was back in the pool swimming a few lengths, as medical professionals shook their heads in disbelief.
The physical healing that occurred throughout the next two years made an “impossible comeback” possible.
In August 2012, I raced Ironman Canada in the elite division and came in third place. I had healed my physical body through fitness, but mentally and emotionally I was in turmoil. This was partially from the trauma of the accident, but mostly due to the inadequacies I’d felt since my teenage years, and the pressure I’d put myself under as I attempted to hide it from others. Forcing my body to do things it no longer wanted to do, I was increasingly unfulfilled and depressed.
During this same period, A Second Chance: The Janelle Morrison Story, a film documenting my recovery was released. Ironically, although I had been given a second chance at life—I was totally missing it.
Even so, I continued to race professionally for two more years, where all that mattered, according to the demanding voice in my head, were finish lines and results. I thought that eventually I would find fulfillment with another first-place finish. Although deep down I knew this was a never-ending game, I didn’t know how to change it. Under my tough exterior image, I was frustrated, sad and lonely.
In 2014, on my 37th birthday, I completed my last race in Las Vegas.
My Next Challenge
During the following months, I began to do things I’d never done before. I practiced yoga. I breathed with awareness. I ran without a watch. I studied shamanism, reconnecting to myself and nature. Gently and progressively, through giving myself permission to rest, relax and “be”, I discovered that I was more than the relentless voice in my head that rarely had anything nice to say to me! I learned to embrace that voice as part of my human experience and discovered that it was my choice to believe it—or not.
I became a certified Kundalini Yoga teacher on Vancouver Island, where I now live, and the love I had begun discovering on the inside started to manifest on the outside.
I want to make what I’ve discovered for myself available to other people.
I’m inspired seeing others choosing health, vitality and aliveness over habitual stress and ongoing tension. It’s deeply fulfilling for me when people discover for themselves that this life experience is their creation and they belong in the driver’s seat.
It lights me up to see people connect with their greatness, without ceiling or constraint, as they take charge of their vitality with a clear mindset and powerful commitment to what’s most important to them.
I love when people stop living lives that don’t fulfill or inspire them! Instead, they align with their core values, create new habits that work for them, prioritize their self-care, and gently let the demanding voice in their head be, to make room for what’s possible.
Anything is possible. xo