The power of feminine collective support or how we all need to find our Susie.
I have never been a sporty person.
I hated sports at school, I was terrible at it and I certainly didn't see my parents, who didn’t exercise themselves, encourage me in that direction. They didn’t exercise at all and it was never part of their culture or habits.
I was an absolute embarrassment at school, I was petrified of the ball, had awful vertigo on the bars and hid to chat with my girlfriends about life every time the teacher’s back was turned.
Sure, I gained lots of medals there when it came to emotional championships and navigating people’s lives but the rest was a big waste of time.
There was only one place I kind of enjoyed (read because it came easy) was running.
As an adult I realized how much I had missed and I can remember so many instances of my life where I felt absolutely useless and embarrassed in front of my friends who knew how to do so many things.
I would avoid gatherings that involved physical exercise or would always choose to exercise my talking skills (I can talk for Canada and win gold there for sure 🥇) but would refuse to participate to anything else for fear of being embarrassed.
Funnily enough, this was particularly true when I moved to Canada where sports is such a big part of people's lives. Everyone around me was SO good at SO many things.
I became really aware that I needed to change something but always had a good reason not to. I chose the easy way. (Yes, taking dancing classes is like doing sports, isn’t it ???).
🧘🏻♀️I love yoga, and although life changing in many ways for me, it apparently doesn’t count…
🎾 I tried tennis which I enjoyed, but then had children.
⛷Tried skiing but cried on the lifts next to a 5 year old because I have HORRIBLE vertigo. She held my hand on the way out and patted me on the back, do you know how embarrassing that is??
🚴🏼♀️ Tried cycling which was OK but then I lived in a city where it was minus 30 half of the year so forget it.
🏈 Didn’t try anything with a heavier ball than a tennis ball. Because you know, a girl has to have boundaries…
Needless to say, that this is one thing I made sure of when I had my own children and cheered and pushed them to explore many different sports as well as compete.
Then I met Susie.
An alien in my world when it came to sports. The type of woman I had NEVER met before.
If you take me on the sports level and imagine a polar opposite, you have Susie. She had it all, did it all, was competitive as hell, and was amazing at it.
She was an athlete, worked out every day, coached others and was always keen on doing more, better, harder. Sports was and still is her happy place.
Like I said, an alien in my world. An alien that fascinated me and pushed all the fear buttons at the same time.
She was part of my league of extraordinary women, a league of women with whom I journeyed into motherhood and overcame everything that comes with it.
We had hard conversations together, funny ones, emotional ones and throughout the years we supported each other. We all breastfed, cried, drank, laughed, napped together and still do.
So with Susie, we shared a lot over the years, but sports was something we DID NOT DO together.
Now try spending years with someone who talks about this with passion, with emotion and who can make you laugh every time she shares a story about sporting disasters or wins.
You do not come out it unscathed. You start being curious and you build trust.
3 kids later, my body, our bodies, have taken a hit. Actually, only ours, not hers. Of course…
We are all suddenly aware that gravity and age is hitting us, that we need to care for each other’s bodies and I am starting to seriously realize that I need to change my narrative more than ever.
How can I encourage my kids to exercise and not do it myself? How can I love myself if I don’t care for the vehicule that transports it all?
So one day, she said to us all : “I can help with that. I will organize a workout in my basement every week and we will train together. Whoever wants to come, comes. Those who don’t are losers.”
I froze. Memories of utter embarrassment were coming right back and all the silly fears of the past.
I remember looking at my shoes in my cupboard before heading there, running shoes I had bought 15 years before and never used. I didn’t even own a decent outfit…
But I showed up with 2 other of the girls and we did it.
We sweated together, she pushed us, encouraged us, blasted Taylor Swift and I did it.
And much to my surprise, I actually enjoyed it. 😳😳😳
At the end of the 45 minutes, she looked at us and made us promise to come back twice the following week. TWICE. Because that’s what winners do.
Trust me, you can’t say no to that woman.
Then, as I was leaving, she whispered :
“Two things. You need to ditch those fucking vintage shoes and get a decent pair. Things have evolved since the 90s, you know…. And two, you did amazing today.”
So I came back every week and looked forward to every minute of it.
For the first time, I felt incredible, capable, strong and supported.
It didn’t matter that I couldn’t do 5 push-ups. It mattered that I showed up and tried.
She was encouraging, tough and loving at the same time, funny as always but more importantly she made me believe in my physical capabilities.
That I could do it, like anyone else, and I deserved to love my body and care for it.
She made us laugh about ourselves all the way through, while making us feel proud to just be there.
A year later, I went on doing other things. I left Montreal, moved to a place where I could exercise all year long. Who would have thought that could be so important ???
I started running and reached 12 km. I participated in a race for the first time in my life in my mid40s.
And every time I wanted to give up, I thought about her. About what she taught me, about showing up and being the best version of myself.
Every time I try a new sport, I think about her. Every time I struggle with embarrassment, I think about her and go for it.
Susie and ladies from the League are still in my life. She remains MY MENTOR when it comes to sports. Someone I look up to and a woman who has given me tools I was missing, to be better and overcome my fears.
Because sports is not just how she lives, IT’S HOW SHE GIVES BACK. It’s how she loves, how she cares, how she empowers others.
We all need a Susie in our lives for every fear we have and every silly thing that holds us back.
And as women, this is the only way we can thrive, elevate and empower each other.
We have to do it together, by being there for each other.
So let’s be each other’s Susie’s.
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