Recently there’s been something of a movement concerning athletes and personal wellness. Usually if we grouped those things together we’d be talking about fitness, and what it takes to be as healthy physically as a professional athlete. In this case though it’s actually more about mental health and medical care. The last year has seen numerous incredible athletes either speaking out directly or otherwise letting us know that they too can suffer from mental health issues or serious maladies. And knowing that such seemingly immortal people have these struggles can be comforting, and can also motivate you to address any similar issues that may be troubling you.
These are some of the athletes who have spoke out.
In May of this year, NBA star Kevin Love wrote a piece for The Players’ Tribune in which he started off by opening up about a panic attack. In the same piece he touched on problems with our concept of masculinity, discussed how he used to think mental health was “somebody else’s problem,” and ultimately posit that mental health is “an everyone thing.” It was a fascinating article that generated a lot of attention and, frankly, a very brave step forward for someone in Love’s position. The article demonstrated a person who’s struggled opening up when many of his peers may never have done so, and we can say now that it sparked a fairly broad discussion about mental health in professional athletes - which, in turn, will hopefully allow many others who emulate these figures to feel more comfortable discussing their own struggles in this area.
It’s hard to imagine a figure less in need of help than Michael Phelps, at least on the outside. Phelps is a young man with historic accomplishments already behind him and a world of opportunity at his fingertips. He’s won 23 Olympic gold medals (an all-time record), and it’s said that his prowess in the pool is matched by his skills at the poker table, which is a place that rewards confidence to some degree. Phelps seems to have it all, and we, the people of the world, have essentially never seen him fail or even struggle. And this made it all the more impactful when he, like Love, opened up about his struggle with mental health and launched his own campaign of sorts to assist with Talkspace - a program that provides online therapy to people struggling with depression and other issues.
Serena Williams’s place in this discussion is a little bit different. The greatest player in WTP history quite clearly supports all people’s rights not just to health but to wellness, and it’s evidenced in many of the things she does and says. However, her own health issues resulting from the birth of her first daughter have shed a light on a different aspect of wellness. As an article at Vox put it rather bluntly but correctly, black women are often dismissed or ignored by physicians, and Williams highlighted this fact by diagnosing her own embolism after her pregnancy. By opening up about what has to have been a traumatic time for her, Williams has essentially made the world aware of this problem, as well as the value of advocating for your own health and wellness in general.
Brandon Marshall was a star NFL wide receiver for years, and deserves a lot of credit for being one of the first modern athletes to speak up about mental health, a few years ago now. He opened up about his own struggles with Borderline Personality Disorder a few years ago, and has since spoken with NFL owners about the importance of recognizing mental illness and even joined Love in penning his own Players’ Tribune piece. While Marshall is still an active football player, he’s a man who has clearly made it a personal mission to help those who may struggle with mental illness and not know where to turn.
This was a guest blog post, and mindbodysoul-food.com has approved to publish this article.
I leave in four days with feelings of pure exhaustion, excitement and confusion. Life is Seattle is getting so expensive, I have no choice but to consistently work in order to sustain a simple life in this city. And that is no easy task for myself and many other females who earn "Middle America" peasant salaries amidst a tech-dominant world.
I planned this trip in early September and with only six weeks to train, I have had no aches or pains, no blisters, a little bit of soreness at first, but now I am not even getting sore. I am "addicted" to carrying that bag, or that load on my back. Even with my bag loaded, I walk to the grocery store to add another 6-8 pounds to my bag - there is absolutely zero affect on my back or my legs.
During some walks, I feel God speak to me that this is not a physical journey, but an emotional and spiritual journey into my mind, body and soul.
Walking around Seattle in fall is stunning. Flowers still bloom while the trees change color. The foliage encourages the blossoming of the true color of my soul. As I watch the leaves fall, it is the time and a sign to let go. Let go of the things that no longer serve me.
âBut with every footstep around this city I recognize the natural death and rebirth process. While God chooses every leaf that falls off a tree, I notice figs still bloom on a tree. Part of human existence includes letting go, and rebuilding up. Our human bodies are no different than nature where we have this synergy between anabolism and catabolism.
Ever since living in Germany, I've become more fascinated with the forest. Naturally attracted to water, I've transitioned from the light and airy sun-worshipping beaches and entered the depths of my ancient soul amidst archaic trees.
The thing is, I am actually doing good and fine in my life right. Im exhausted from work, but that is okay. Once I booked this trip, I found much peace in my life. My attitude changed and my outlook on life became brighter. I processed my divorced and in the spring I was ready to move forward with my life. I am very accepting of people and their life choices and lifestyle.
âI understand that people enter our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When my ex-husband told me on October 18, 2017 that he wanted a divorce, my entire reality shifted. I just got back from a trip in Germany and for some reason during that trip I hit the upmost pivotal gratitude for that man and my marriage. I was ready for the next thing, which I thought would be to have a child. There was miscommunication on that very important topic.
As he told me this, I started saying, "No. No. No. You need to believe in me." While we both started crying, I had a psychic vision of a hand holding a rolled-up diploma in the air with graduation hats flying into the air. My intuition doesn't hear things much, but I had a voice inside my head say, "You got it. You graduated. You learned your lesson." My laptop died and for 17 days I sat in silence, realizing how intellectual and work-orientated we were, and partly my fault, didn't tap much into the emotional world. I looked in the mirror and expressed all of my faults and admitted everything I did wrong or took for granted.
Completely crushed, I knew it was me fighting against God or our soul's contract. I was on a sinking ship and I looked him in the eyes and told him that I am going to fight for him. And I did that. I wrote several novel-like letters. One 17 pages, a 33-page hand written book on our memories together, and another 7 page plea expressing how I changed.
None of it worked. I went home for Thanksgiving and cried at the lake near my parent's home. I sat on a log in the forest wanting to die. I googled every Christian prayer to save a marriage. And each time I did these things, our connection became more disconnected. He started dating someone. He cut me off social media. He cut my family off social media. He completely detached his life from any memories of 10 years together. He told me that everyday I treated him good, with kindness and respect. On some deeper subconscious, intuitive level he told me that he chose me, but I didn't choose him.
âI accepted my fate. Being the one left behind, especially blind sided can really fuck you up unless you have enough grounding and acceptance in life. It is very easy as a woman to deny a man's feelings or needs. Men are strong on the exterior, but inside sometimes I feel they are more sensitive and emotional than women. Inside every man is a little boy.
I needed to get out but I couldn't as I had to scramble to figure out my job situation. In January, I earned just under $2,000 and my rent is just under $1600. I almost impulsively moved to Chicago or Philadelphia, in hopes of starting a new life, and in the future, finding a more traditional man.
I processed, I grieved, I forgave. I realized I am just another example of a tragic love story in this world of human existence.
I needed to do something for myself, which is why the St. James has been chosen, but at the right time.
Actually, I am over my divorce, but what I am still attached to is the fear of not finding a life partner or someone who treats me well. My ex was a romantic man, and I took that for granted at times. Never again will I do that. But on the flip side, that man also took me for granted, for which I shut down emotionally. We were both selfless, selfish, loving, caring and ignorant to each other. We were both suffering in flighty Seattle after living in Germany where loyalty, honesty and integrity were a large part of their culture. The main issue was not communicating feelings in order to protect each other's emotions.
Divorce ignited all these fears in college and wounds of being absolutely shitted on and used by men. Men are logical. Most women are moral. It is very easy to take advantage of spiritually-based women who can be naive.
I've been the weekend girlfriend. I've been the friend with benefits. I've been used emotionally. I've been lied to. I've been used for the adventurous experience. Women can be horrible people too, but after conversations with my beta male friends. It's the nice people who always get shitted on - man or woman.
But through the turmoil of my confidence and soul being flushed down the toilet, I rediscovered a deeper connection to self love. My life is best operated with balance. I like how I balance the material and the spiritual world. I like how I appreciate a balance between arts, science and athletics. I like that I am straightforward. I like that I am modest, but also creative and free spirited. I like how I am a cheerleader, encouraging my partner to become the man he wants to be, balancing healthy degrees of freedom. I love myself. I love my flaws. I love my strengths.
Maybe my soul is too vintage for this modern day world. During my divorce, I had a swarm of Christians enter my life. They helped me. They encouraged me. They told me this is not happening to you, but for you. I was on the verge of re-identifying with my Christian roots and this push further helped me. My father is dating a devout Christian woman. She told me it'll be okay, that you can't see the future, but God has a plan for you.
My 2018 has been nothing but breadcrumbs and false hopes all while getting beaten over the head by men. The lies. The emotional manipulation. The flakiness. I needed a break. I lost my marriage. I've lost my mind with the corruption of the divorce court where I believe in equality for both partners. I've lost important freelance work. I fractured my toe. I've been ghosted. I can't seem to get a full-time job in one of the most prosperous cities. I haven't even mildly dated, only meeting people naturally, to find out these guys either had girlfriends, open relationships or used me for emotional support while they get sexual pleasures from whatever dark shit they dabble in with multiple pleasures. I've always been suspicious of the tech industry and the programming that happens in these men's brains have completely destroyed their reality of what women want. Women don't want to be texted like a bar slut and they don't want be treated like a real world porn star. Even my gay Italian friend said straight men are "dumb," and don't realize women don't want to be texted this dirty stuff (in the initial stages).
Modern men today are cowards, and part of this is socially engineered. Women respect strong and honest men. They ghost as they are too afraid to hurt someone's feelings. They are too selfish to be upfront about what they are looking for and will lie and manipulate to get you into the sack, or boast about your beauty behind their girlfriend's back. They can't ask a woman out on a date as they fear rejection. That is just part of being a man. If you want to date a feminine woman you have to take the lead.
All of my friends told me to download a dating app and get laid. I felt I had healthy coping mechanisms of rediscovering myself through counseling, rock climbing and various types of yoga. Somehow my mind is stronger than my body and I can resist all forms of temptations.
Work has taken over our souls and relationships are either of convenience or whatever can fit into our work week. Many men in this city have like 4-6 side options figuring out who will be the winner. I've counseled sex addicts and they have dreams of epic sex parties or being choked during sex. I can't understand this mentality, but I do not judge it. Throughout my spiritual experience I believe darkness warps people's minds causing them to become further lost souls. I believe God sends those people to me for me to give them an ounce of light in their life.
My brain operates on purity, innocence and depth. I dream of fairy-tale-like romance like a nice dance around the Christmas tree to classical music. Or having a picnic on a nice summer's day while reading poetry from some 1922 vintage book. I also enjoy the non-refined frolics of life like drinking beer and watching sports.
I feel I have no relevance to life today. And on this walk, I want to let go of that belief. I believe there are people like me in this world. We are the minority, but through God's will, we will find each other. Whatever happens on this journey is meant for me, but it is a reset button. A button coming a year in, and although I wanted to do this 7 months ago, somehow timing always works best in life when it's meant to be.
Although I start my journey in one week, the real journey started over a year ago.
At the ripe age of 33, I have realized how much passion I have for cooking. This passion ignited while living in Germany between 29 to 30, kickstarting my "hausfrau" domestic qualities. My life in Germany is an experience I will never forget, just like I'll never forget working at the vegan cafe in college.
Over Labor Day weekend, I catered the You Are Enough Yoga Retreat with my yoga friend Colleen on Bowen Island, Canada. Cooking is hard work, but to me it didn't feel like work. Passions rarely feel an ordinary day job. The long days of cooking and cleaning from 6am to 9pm was rewarding yet fulfilling to my soul.
To me, cooking is therapeutic. It's a union between the head, the heart and the soul. What you think about in your head, flows through your heart and created through your hands. It is a form of giving and love. And I loved every moment of creating and concocting new and old recipes at the retreat.
This peach pie is one of the easiest desserts to make. It's quick. It's easy. It's sweet and semi spicy with the ginger snap crust. At the retreat, I used a muffin pan to make tiny pies and retested the recipe in a 9-inch pie pan. Both methods work. The nine-inch pie pan requires a longer baking time to solidify the center of the pie. Upon cooling and refrigerating the center thickens.
I experimented with various levels of sugar. I think we use too much sugar in modern day desserts. I have used anywhere between 1/4 - 1/2 cup, but remember there is sugar in the ginger snap crust. I use sugar moderately, but adjust as you'd like.
Vegan & Gluten Free Peach Pie with a Ginger Snap Crust
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: Varies (see below)
Makes: One 9-inch Pie or approx. 15 muffin sized pies
1 8-oz bag of Ginger Snaps (gluten free)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
5 ripe peaches
1/3 cup cane sugar (1/4 cup for less | 1/2 cup for sweeter)
4 tbsp. corn starch
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon (optional or use 1/2 tsp for more peach flavor)
Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
Blend the ginger snaps in a food processor until a "flour-like" texture. Mix the ginger snap flour with the melted coconut oil in a bowl. Spray or grease a pie or muffin pan. For the muffin pan, I used parchment paper. Press and pack the crust into the pan.
Next, puree the pie ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour the pie mixture on top of the ginger snap crust. Bake for 32-45 minutes. For the muffins, the baking time is about half.
The longer the pie backs, the more firm the center gets. However, if you want a softer texture bake until firm but not gelatinous in the center.
Elizabeth Rae Kovar M.A. is Author of her memoir, Finding Om and is a Fitness Trainer, Yogi, Reiki Master, Presenter and Lover of Life. To view her portfolio please visit www.elizabethkovar.com