Friday, October 30, 2015

Open Heart, Open Mind - Clara Hughes

You can find me glued to the television during national and world sports coverage - especially the Olympics. I remember watching Clara Hughes race over many Olympics - she is a six time Olympian with six medals to her credit - in two sports - speed skating and cycling. She has numerous other accolades and victories.

But what you don't see on television is what's going on behind the scenes, what it takes for an athlete to rise to this level, the obstacles they've met, the obstacles overcome and who they are besides being a public figure and athlete.

Clara Hughes' newly released memoir, Open Heart, Open Mind, lays all of that bare. Hughes' father was a verbally abusive alcoholic, Clara drank, did drugs and skipped school. When she did start to channel her energy into competitive sport she landed with a coach who was results driven, caring little about her mental health. Hughes has suffered from depression for most of her life. In 2010, she put her own struggles in the public eye when she became the national spokesperson for the Bell Let's Talk mental health initiative - "A wide-reaching, multi-year program designed to break the silence around mental illness and support mental health all across Canada."

I am always appreciative of reading someone's memoir - the bravery in sharing your life with the public. Hughes shares both professional and personal. I was fascinated by the behind the scenes look at a professional athlete's training and performance. Clara's athletic accomplishments are extraordinary. But it is her personal triumphs that are outstanding. Hughes has taken that same energy and drive that she used in sports, applied it to her mental well being and advocating for others through numerous projects, such as Right to Play.

The title? Hughes participated in a Squamish First Nations brushing-off ceremony in 2010....

...."Another elder addressed each of us in turn, opening our hearts to the energy of the flame and brushing away negativity. He told us, I cannot heal you of your pain. Only you can heal yourself with your open heart and your open mind."

Wise words. Great read. Amazing and inspiring woman. Read an excerpt of Open Heart, Open Mind.

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