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How to Keep Your Head Above Water:
Treading Water Through the Hard Times

Keeping your head above water is all about the right mindset. I like to say that I have my PhD in Play, and someone even asked me where I got my PhD once. My PhD is from the University of Life. Just learning how to play and change my perspective from hard work to delight made a huge difference in my training and racing.

World-class triathlete and Women's Quest founder Colleen Cannon

On my long bike rides, I would take awesome snacks and we would all stop on top of a mountain and eat them. Or we would do the “tour de donut” and buy a dozen donuts and eat them throughout the 100 mile ride. Or when I lived in San Diego, we would map out our adventure rides for the day and have fun. With running, playing just came naturally, I ran on trails, I found new trails, I made trails, and normally at the end of runs we jumped into ice water in the river, streams, or lakes. Playing is easy when the sky is blue out and things are good!

As an athlete, there was never a dull moment. Well, in life there is also never a dull moment! You just have to switch your mindset. Learning, exploring, and becoming more of who you are is fun. So even therapy is fun! It is all about your mindset.

Right now there are lots of things happening that are destroying the earth — the floods, the fires, the smoke, the hurricanes — and these are not much fun. It takes moment by moment check ins to stay on track. I try to say the affirmation: “Everything is working out for me.” I try to see the highest potential and keep moving. Julian of Norwich said: “All is well and all will always be well.” So in the heat of it all, when we are evacuating from fires (I have done it now 7 times), I try to tune into that mantra. This is also why meditating is so important, so I have a practice of centering along with playing. But to me, meditating and my sitting practice is High Play, and it ignites my soul spark.

But the real time to invite this energy into your life is when you feel doubtful and depressed — to keep your head above water and breath and laugh and change your perspective. Wayne Dwyer said: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.” For me, the only way I can keep my head above water is to believe that things are unfolding just as they should be and to have hope in the world and in human nature. Playing makes us laugh and take life a little less seriously. And when you feel good, you attract more things to feel good about. Playing helps interrupt negative thoughts — every moment is a chance to flip the switch. 

Women dancing on the beach in Hawaii

We are at a time when we have got to dig deep, and remember our tools: laughing, smiling, qigong and grounding, crying and releasing, walking barefoot, hugging trees or being in nature, gardening or talking to our plant friends, spending time with with pets, helping out the elderly, or helping out anything and everyone that comes your way. Staying away from copious time on social media, watching the sun rise and set, getting outside to move for at least an hour a day, not sitting for too long. When you’re treading water and trying to keep your head above water, keep this toolkit close and play.