The Power to Choose

 Shannon LeLievre – Co-Lead Worth Living Run Ambassadors & WL Event Planner

Shannon is an event planner and teacher who focuses on creating event experiences for fitness and health-related businesses. A graduate of the University of Ottawa, she has a degree in Human Kinetics and a Bachelor of Education which allows her to combine her passion for fitness and health education as she inspires others to pursue an active lifestyle. Her website showcases her event history and features a blog addressing hot topics in the fitness and health industry. Shannon is an avid runner and  has launched a podcast called Run For Your Life with a Phoenix-based blogger, Melissa Kahn, which shares stories about the power of running and fitness in maintaining mental health.

The Power to Choose

I’m a 40 year old mother of two little kids so driving by myself is a luxury, and aside from putting on a one-woman show for passing drivers, it’s also my time to think. On my drive this evening, I couldn’t help but think about a post I saw on Facebook earlier today which mourned the loss of another first responder. As the sun set behind me, I kept wondering why did I escape the darkness and he didn’t?

I’m a former military spouse so the struggle our veterans and first responders face is always on my mind and today’s news hit me in the gut. I’m also a teacher and a mother, so when I saw a Twitter account dedicated to encouraging a 15 year old who has survived eight attempts on her life, I felt like screaming in frustration! Why are we failing these people who don’t hesitate to serve us? How can we make a difference and help young people who are unable to see that tomorrow will bring a brighter day?

As I drove along, singing to my carefully curated playlist of uplifting songs, I realized that maybe the only way to help them is to keep helping myself.

I won my fight over the darkness but it’s a daily battle not to let myself sink. Tragic stories in the news threaten to knock me off course but decades of cognitive behavioural therapy and reading and listening to podcasts and surrounding myself with motivational people have taught me that although I didn’t choose depression or anxiety, I can choose to heal. I get to choose to find health and happiness.

There is so much power in having the opportunity to choose the direction your life is going in. Talking to my doctor back in 2000 and telling her I was struggling was a choice. Joining the Worth Living team was a choice. Sharing my story and writing this blog post are choices. I find healing in every word that hits the page and if my words can help even one person make a different choice, then maybe I don’t need to scream in frustration anymore.

Why did I escape the darkness? I don’t really have an answer for that and I doubt I ever will. I accept that we will lose more first responders, and veterans, and teenagers to the battle we fight too silently. We need to make noise. We need to scream out our stories of victory and of happiness. We need to scream out that we’ve been there too and no human on earth is ever alone in the challenges they face.

I choose to not read those news stories because I know my sense of peace depends on not knowing the details. I choose to run and exercise because I know my heart and head depend on it. I choose to see the kindness in the world while the darkness looms. I choose to live because I’ve decided that life is worth living.

If you are not sure you can choose to face tomorrow, choose to trust me when I tell you that there is hope. There is healing. There is health. There is happiness.



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