Based on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada, Sparkles and Dirt is a blog by Louise Brunet. Her posts explore the beauty and the struggles we all encounter and how we can, just maybe, show up for all of it with compassion and grace.

Turning Up The Fire

Turning Up The Fire

Today I’m meeting with a group of women for the first class of a new women’s fitness training that I’m offering.

 Many of the women I’ve spoken to are nervous to begin the class and unsure of how difficult the workout will be. Will they be able to do it? Will it be too much? Will they be the slowest/weakest/oldest/least coordinated/most beginner woman there?

 This is a normal concern. We all do it when we head into an unknown situation.


 What they will find is that they can all complete the training. They will be able to do it because it’s about what serves each woman best – not about keeping up with anyone or comparing to anyone.

 It’s not about killing yourself and ending in a heap on the floor at the end of a class. It’s about building up. Making stronger. Feeling great. (because a strong body feels A-MA-ZING!)

 Years ago I joined a triathlon team while I was attending a university in Montreal. It was a way to take breaks from the loads of work I had to do. I enjoy sports so it was a perfect strategy to manage the stress of my program and get my body moving. (The rest of the time I was sitting in class or at a computer.)

 I was intrigued with the idea of a triathlon. I had been a competitive swimmer growing up so I was feeling good about the swim part of the ‘tri’, I biked often enough so that was ok too, but the running had me worried. I wasn’t a runner despite wanting badly to be one. Running was drudgery. Hard, awful work. Nothing about running ever felt good to me. Heck nothing about running felt any less than horrible to me.

 I was the slowest runner on the team by far. The team met for group runs on Mount-Royal and I was convinced I would get lost on the mountain as everyone pulled away and disappeared ahead of me, time and time again.

 I trudged on anyway and would eventually catch up to the group. I’d find them running in a circle waiting for me. Of course as soon as I caught them they bolted off again, leaving me panting by myself on the trail again. (We didn’t have cell phones back then)

 I competed in my first triathlon race that year.

 The swim went well, the bike was fine, but the run almost did me in. My legs felt like dead weights on the run. Dead weights dragging through wet concrete. But I completed the race and felt elated! (after a good nap anyway)

 After my first year with the team my coach confided that she had not expected me to make it through the year. I was caught completely by surprise by her comment – the thought of giving up had never even crossed my mind! I loved the people on the team and loved the challenge that a three-sport race involved.

 Maybe I didn’t quit because I like sports; maybe because I wasn’t comparing myself to anyone else; maybe because I loved the camaraderie of the team. And likely all of the above.

 The women in the fitness class today will work hard and sweat through the training. I also expect we will all laugh together at times.

Strong women having fun at a obstacle race event.

 Getting stronger, working together, having fun.  

 That combination inspires me. Over the years I’ve seen it light a fire in people and I sure hope it inspires this group each week.  

 Women are strong by nature. Our culture mostly tells us to be quiet, stay small and stick to the script, but when we bust out of that all kinds of great things happen.

 When our body gets strong, our fire burns brighter. Physical strength builds confidence and inherently ratchets up motivation. (Don’t ever get in the way of a woman whose fire is raging. She will move mountains to reach her goal.)

When we come together, we become unshakable champions for each other. There’s power in rising up together. The ingredients may be squats and push-ups but the recipe is power and possibility.

 Note: After years of wanting to love running and dragging myself through runs of all kinds I can now say I love to run. It took a lot of persistence and ultimately some solid strength training and working with a coach. But now I love to lace up my shoes and head out on a trail or a road, and run. I’m still slow, but I don’t care ;)

 Many thanks and heaps of gratitude to Suzan Ballmer of Breakaway Athletic Coaching - - for inspiring me (and getting the team to run in a circle while I caught up) and coaching me all those years.

Speaking Truth To Power

Speaking Truth To Power

Placing a Call to the Universe, part 1

Placing a Call to the Universe, part 1