Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Own Your Strong with CBCF and Mudderella – I am!

I’m a big fan of CBCF. I have a good reason to be.

Our family was lucky – blessed. We dodged a bullet. Judy Caldwell had surgery and radiation therapy. She was the picture of health six months after her diagnosis. We were shaken, but our feet were on firmer ground. A lot of families would heave sign of relief and move on, maybe donate some money. My mom, for lack of a better phrase, got pissed off. She was done with the whole concept of cancer. She had seen the chasm yawning in front of innumerable women and decided that instead of running away, she was going to go get a shovel and start filling that hole in, with whatever she could find. Ultimately, she founded the BC/Yukon Region of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and built an organization to raise money, fund research, promote awareness and advocate for breast cancer patients and all people facing breast cancer. In short, Judy Caldwell rode her wave of anger and took action.

Karolina Turek Photography.
The lessons I’ve learned from my mom cover every facet of my life: how I work, how I parent, how I treat people, how I treat myself and how I treat my body and spirit.

Me, I’m Chelsea, Judy’s daughter. It’s a title that means the world to me, just like she does. I’m a 41 year old lawyer with a busy practice, a gorgeous husband and a 22 month old son. I also have a lot of really good makeup, because that whole situation, while rewarding, can really take it out of me.

When my mother told me Mudderella had chosen CBCF as a charity partner, I was thrilled, and not just because it meant that I had an excellent reason to take a weekend with my husband in Whistler. My mom and I exercise all the time. When I was pregnant, we both went to the gym every day. I wanted to keep that bump as healthy as possible. She wanted to be healthy and strong to make sure she could tote the bump stretching my pants out around on one arm. She was working out because she had asked herself an important question – what do I want the next 10 years my life to look like? Do I want to be strong? Confident? Flexible? Happy?

It’s a good question. Easy to answer. Tough to follow through on.

Before and during my pregnancy, I didn’t think about working out much. I did five miles on the bike the day before my son was born (I’m pretty sure everyone in the gym was waiting for me to go into labour. I looked ready to pop). It’s what I do to calm down. It’s where I focus and recover from the day.

After I delivered my son, I really did wonder whether everything would return to its former state. Thanks to my habits, and a baby that loved the running stroller, I had a very easy recovery and bounced back well. My jeans fit. Even the scary ones. Still, I didn’t look the same.  My husband told me I looked great, but I still felt different. I think that on some level I thought that if I worked out hard enough, I could reverse time and become a 23 year old again.  I could work out enough that sleep deprivation didn’t matter. My logic is not like your earth logic, and I refuse to be limited! Gravity and time? Who needs them?

I realized that my attitude had to change before my brain exploded. At 41, I needed to accept that I wasn’t magically aging in reverse. And that aging didn’t matter (not that much, I mean, I’m not giving up sunscreen or moisturizer). Aside from freezing myself (can’t, too much Trader Joe’s flat bread in the freezer), my face and body were going to change. I had to start thinking about what my body could do, not what it looked like. I’m not going to be a swimsuit model any time soon – and thank God, because I hate fake tans and false eyelashes. I took my son to the park and the playground. I saw how much joy sang through his little body as he learned and gained strength. I showed him how to climb and run and jump. I thought about what I wanted to feel – that natural high that comes with play. Adults don’t get a lot of chance to play. We get stuck in working out for our health, to manage our stress, to fit into our scary jeans. I wanted something different. That’s where the mud comes in. Running an obstacle course is fun.

Mudderella is a chance to play and jump and run without fear. We can have some fun getting to the finish line.

I think about how we go through the day, looking for approval and trying to succeed. So much of our self-worth is actually a reflection of what we see mirrored in the eyes around us. I’ve felt that, being a human/woman, for years. Absent some serious deprogramming, that isn’t going away. But, even when the mirror is not your friend, when all your kid wants is another exhausting, loud adventure, when there is one more expletive deleted thing to take care of, there is something that I own. I own what my body can do. That’s the result of the time I put in. Nobody gave me that. I built that for myself, one nasty horrible gut wrenching burpee at a time. Everyone’s body is different. Everyone’s achievements are different. No matter what they are, they belong to you.

I own my strength. I build it every day. I build it for me, for my son and my husband. For my whole family. When you own your strong, you can lend your strength to everyone around you. Like my mom did and still does.

So, I own my strong. Do you?

Chelsea Caldwell
Mother, wife, daughter and Mudderella

Visit – it’s not too late to register for Mudderella Whistler on Saturday, September 26. As a CBCF supporter you receive $30 of your ticket price, when you use code “CharityPartner100CBCF” at checkout.

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