Ep #11: The power of facing reality and focusing on fundamentals with Reg Levesque (Dad)

In this heartfelt conversation, Anna and her Dad discuss how losing his mother at the age of 10 shaped his view of problem solving, and how that was passed down to Anna as strategy for facing discomfort. 

They talk about the importance of focusing on fundamentals when breaking down problems, what it’s like to feel more vulnerable as you age, the power of family having your back, and how every person must find their own unique strategy for navigating the discomfort zone.

In this episode you’ll gain insights into:

  • Anna’s early challenges facing her discomfort zone, and how her Dad coached her through them. 
  • How her Dad’s coping mechanism became a strength for Anna in navigating discomfort.
  • How showing up for yourself and for each other can change your life’s path.
  • Growth and learning are lifelong.
About Reg

Reg Levesque was born and was raised in a working class community in Northern Ontario, Canada.

When his high school guidance counselor told him that didn’t have the smarts to go to college, Reg committed himself to his studies and was accepted to Carleton University in Ottawa where he graduated with a degree in psychology. To help pay for college he worked in the gold mines near his hometown. Reg attended law school at Osgood Hall,  practiced law for 10 years and was a criminal court judge for over 30 years.

Since retiring in 2013 he spends his time volunteering for meals on wheels,  serving on, and fundraising for the local hospital foundation, supporting local LGBTQ+ causes, considering  philosophical questions and gardening. He’s been very active in outdoors and competitive sports all of his  life including  hockey, track and field, skiing, long distance running, and swimming. He always enjoyed the training more than the competition, and views sports and recreation as an investment in health, longevity and being at peace with the universe.

He and his wife Eva have raised 4 kids, have 2 grandkids and have been married for 52 years. Most importantly to me, Reg is my Dad, and he has been an important influence for me in having the courage to step into my discomfort zone. 

Anna
Reg Levesque was born and raised in a working class community in Northern Ontario, Canada. When his high school guidance counselor told him that he didn’t have the smarts to go to college, Reg committed himself to his studies and was accepted to Carleton University in Ottawa, where he graduated with a degree in psychology. To help pay for college, he worked in the gold mines near his hometown. Reg attended law school at Osgoode Hall, practiced law for 10 years and was a criminal court judge for over 30 years. Since retiring in 2013, he spends his time volunteering for Meals on Wheels, serving on and fundraising for the local hospital foundation, supporting local LGBTQ plus causes, considering philosophical questions and gardening. He’s been very active in outdoors and competitive sports all of his life, including hockey, track and field, skiing, long distance running and swimming. He always enjoyed the training more than the competition and views sports and recreation as an investment in health, longevity and being at peace with the universe. He and his wife, Eva have raised four kids, have two grandkids and have been married for 52 years. Most importantly to me, Reg is my dad and he has been an important influence for me in having the courage to step into my discomfort zone. Thanks for being here, Dad.

Reginald Levesque
You’re welcome.

Anna
So to get started, I want to ask you, what does your discomfort zone feel like in your body for you? How do you know when you’re in your discomfort zone?

Reginald Levesque
Well, I think there are several things going on all at the same time. There’s a realization that it’s going to be challenging. There’s a kind of a sense of vulnerability that takes place. There’s a realization that there’s a potential for failure. There’s some doubt that takes place.

You know, there’s a sense that you wonder how steep the learning curve is going to be. And there’s trepidation about the length of time that it’s going to take for the level of increased performance is going to take. And lastly, there’s probably also trepidation about not knowing whether the necessary focus on details will be present. I think all those things really are taking place all at the same time.

Anna
Yeah, you mentioned a feeling of vulnerability, which I think is across the board, all of humans. We experience that when we step into our discomfort zone. And I know you’ve expressed to me in the last few years, especially, that vulnerability for you has increased as you have aged. The feeling I feel like I’ve heard you say that you now experience discomfort in experiences that in the past you probably wouldn’t have felt as uncomfortable or vulnerable.

Reginald Levesque
Yeah, I think with age there’s an appreciation of diminishing physical skills that you had acquired. And there is a sense of that entails a sense of vulnerability, particularly in the context where you realize that any moments of personal danger, particularly with respect to your family or family members, whether you would be able to handle that. As a younger person, you have a sense of, I can handle this and I can protect my family. As you get older, that feeling is not so much present anymore, or at least it diminishes. Yeah.

Anna
Yeah, and even because you’ve traveled quite a bit in your life, you’ve done, you know, skiing has always been a love, alpine skiing, and I’m going to touch on that a bit more because I have stories about that. It’s something that we’ve shared throughout my life is the love of skiing and you’ve traveled all over the world. And when you came out to, when we were in British Columbia two winters ago, you came out to visit us.

I remember you expressing that even flying, you know, flying on your own feels more vulnerable than now that you’re in your late seventies than it did in the past. So how do you, what’s your strategy when you feel like you’re stepping into your discomfort zone or you feel you’re feeling more vulnerable? What is your strategy to, it’s not about overcoming it, it’s about working through it. So what’s your strategy to work through it?

Reginald Levesque
Yeah, I think the process.

is not to…

focus on overcoming the discomfort. I think the process that’s required is to slow yourself down and go down to fundamentals focus on details that are required to accomplish the ultimate task. You know taking the plane with my grandchildren and having to organize all of the ski equipment and uh, getting ourselves to the airport and having to deal with last minute glitches and things like that, you’re required to not allow yourself to, or allow your racing mind to take place and just to focus on the small details that end up with the resolution of the matter.

Anna
Yeah, by small details, do you mean like, okay, I need to, you know, we need to get to the counter. We need to give our passports. We need to check in and then sit down, you know, like then what’s the next step? Yeah.

Reginald Levesque
Yeah, it’s like I read it. Right, so when we were at the Vancouver airport coming back, there was a glitch with respect to all of our luggage. So…

We were fortunate to identify a person that could help us and the line up was like very long, which impacted on the potential of not getting to our flight. And the attendant that we approached was extremely helpful. And she, we explained the situation to her. And with respect to the…luggage issue and she volunteered to open a station and processed us, the whole group of us that were potentially going to not make our flight. But it’s just the idea that there’s no point in panicking when you see the long line up and you end up with a luggage problem because some of the kids had…
too much luggage, et cetera, et cetera. So in any event, it all got resolved, but it got resolved by focusing on, let’s find someone that can be helpful to guide us through the process. That’s about, yeah.

Anna
Hmm. One of my earliest memories of stepping into my discomfort zone was when you taught me how to ride a 10 speed bike. And I remember crying. I was very dramatic as a child, because I had a lot of, I didn’t have a lot of confidence. I remember crying and being like, I can’t do it. I’m not gonna be able to do it. And I remember you

this is my recollection, you were like, you’re gonna do it, get over here, get on the bike. And you stood with me and you guided, you helped me, but you were not going to let me get out of it. You weren’t gonna let me get out of stepping into my discomfort zone. Was that a strategy or was that just like you were, that’s just the way you grew up and so that’s the way it was gonna happen.

Reginald Levesque
I think they’re a little bit of both.

Reginald Levesque
Just the way I was brought up in the sense that there are certain things in your life that takes place that you have to overcome. In my case, I lost my mother when I was very young. So in those days, there was no counseling available. You were on your own and you had to overcome that period and develop your own strategies because nobody else is going to help you through this. So you become very, very self-reliant. And when you have to problem solve and you have to be self-reliant, there is no way out. You have to go straight ahead. There’s no…

I suppose you could always give up and not do anything about it and stay in the same spot, but I think that you’re probably, or in my case I should say, it’s innate. I move forward. So having that in my baggage, so to speak, when you were having difficulty.

learning how to ride a bike for the first time. And by the way, that was, this is my first memory of something that I had to overcome on my own is how to ride a bike for the first time. My father wasn’t there, my buddies were there, but you know, you keep on falling, keep on, you have to get up and you don’t want to fail in front of your buddies kind of thing. And so

Get on the bike, you know, put your rear end on in the seat and you have to place your feet on the pedals at a proper position. Don’t worry about falling, I’ll hold the back of the seat. But at one point I’m gonna let go and be aware of that. So you need to, you know, pedal to create momentum to go forward. And that just, I guess the point is the process is to…concentrate and focus in the moment on the details that are required to perform that task.

Anna
Yeah, what’s funny about that, I didn’t realize that, you know, you’ve never told me that riding a bike for the first time for yourself was a big discomfort that you had to get over. So that’s really interesting to hear. And what is cool is that once I started, you know, I was crying and like, I don’t want to do it, I can’t do it. And then as soon as you…

let go and I was doing it myself. Then I like loved biking. I loved biking. I wanted to bike to school. I loved cycling. And the same thing when I remember we went alpine skiing. I remember for the first time you said, oh yeah, it’s a small hill. It’s a great place to learn. I remember distinctly getting to the hill, which was a small, I mean, it was maybe like 500 vertical or 600 vertical. It was…

And I remember looking up being like, that is a small hill. What? You know, and then of course learning. And then you decided to put me into the ski racing program. And again, I remember being terrified. And I was crying. And I can’t do it. And no one’s going to like me. And I’m not good enough. And I was really upset. And you just said, you’re doing it. You dropped me off. And you went away. And there I was in the ski program and after the first day, again, I loved it. I loved it and I ski raced for many years. I firmly believe that without the experiences of you pushing me, not holding me accountable to doing something that I was scared of, I wouldn’t have ever started whitewater kayaking or have the career I have now or even have this podcast be talking about discomfort zone. So I really appreciate that. And was there ever a time where you were like, oh, maybe I should just give up or let them maybe it’s too much for them or I mean for me.

Reginald Levesque
Uh, no. Um, it has to be done incrementally. You don’t become a high performance athlete or a high performance individual in whatever, uh, career or life choice that you make without having focusing on fundamentals practicing. You know, it just doesn’t come instantaneously. You know, you’re speaking about alpine skiing. We used to have at that ski hill what they call standard races on Sundays and the adults would participate in the standard races and I was struggling. I would get a bronze medal from time to time but then I decided you know, maybe I should hone my skills a little bit. So I went into the racing program for adults. Well, that was an eye-opener. And the same thing happens is that you start realizing where you can improve your performance, but it takes a lot of practice. And if you give up, you’ll never attain your target or your goals.

Reginald Levesque
It’s a matter of stepping incrementally towards that goal. You know, he’s talking about riding a bike for the first time. I still remember, and it’s etched in your mind as an individual, I finally got myself going by myself going down a hill along a cement wall and of course was pretty wobbly and I ended up scraping my leg all the way down that wall. But you never give up, right? So get back on the bike and bike home.

Anna
Yeah, well, I think what I’ve heard you say earlier in this, when you were talking and also, throughout my life having conversations with you about when you did lose your mother when you were so young, that it really like, you had to problem solve. You felt alone, like, okay. And I remember you telling me a story about your dad coming in and he was just into the bathroom with you and he was just… beside himself, of course, so upset. And you had a moment where, or this is how I remember you saying, where you were like, okay, I’ve got to deal with this. Like I’m, I’ve got to carry on and handle this because seeing your dad so beside himself, so you just lost your mother, your dad is grieving. And so I think for you, it sounds like…stepping into your discomfort zone, having the ability to problem solve and get through fear is a survival strategy.

Reginald Levesque
Yeah, that particular incident where my father came into the room and announced that my Mom had died overnight his strategy with respect to the grieving process was that, okay, well, I’m going to live my life in the place of my dead wife. So I’m going to live for her as a memory. And he was verbalizing that to me. And I was only 10 years old at the time, but it didn’t make much sense to me at the time. I thought, well, we can’t do that. That doesn’t make any sense as a child’s logic, I suppose. So I found myself uh, thinking, uh, okay, so I don’t know how I’m going to deal with this, but I, I have to deal with it in my own way. I can’t deal with it in my, the way my dad was proposing. Uh, yeah, so that stayed with me pretty much, uh, all of my life in the sense that you have each individual when faced with problem solving issues, have to develop their own process. There’s not one process that applies to everybody. So the process for me was, I’m on my own, I have to deal with this by myself. In the child’s mind, how do I deal with that? In a way, you see this in the movies.

A child will secretly go into the parent, the dead parent’s closet and smell the scent of the person, the deceased person’s clothing as a method by which to hold on to the person that the person is not really gone, the person is just momentarily gone and I can still smell the scent of that person. But after a while you don’t smell the scent anymore and the person is really gone. So there that becomes an issue of facing reality. So it’s everyone, I shouldn’t say everyone.

My process was I have to deal with it.

I have some support from my grandparents that were nearby and some family support, but there’s always drama in families that you have to deal with as well as a child. All of that said, the process is individual and you start analyzing things depending on your age as to what factors are at play and you have to deal with the factors that are applied.

Anna
Yeah, I find it interesting because some, listening to you, some folks would say that it’s not healthy to have that as a young person, to be like, I’m on my own. And yet, because of that, you were able to raise me in a way where that was at the forefront of, okay, hard things are going to happen. You’ve got to learn to find your own strategy. And for me, it was through sport, right? So pushing me through sport when I was upset, not give… And some folks would say that as parents, and I’m not a parent, so I can’t comment, but I’ve heard, you know, I’ve seen that point to that, you know, maybe parents shouldn’t push their kids so much, which I think there’s some truth to that. Of course, there’s a limit to everything. And at the same time, because you experienced what you experienced as a kid, you brought that into your parenting. And even though it was, it ended up being a positive for me, even though in the moment it was upsetting and you made me do it, you could have easily been like, okay, if you don’t really want to do it, it’s okay, don’t worry about it. But then I probably would have always been able to find an out with you, and I never would have discovered the joy of cycling, I never would have discovered the joy of skiing, which I still to this day love. And so to your point, everyone has to find their own strategy, and there’s no right or wrong.

And from the outside, someone can say what they say or judge. And I do, as you mentioned, there was no counseling back then. There was not a lot of emotional intelligence. You know, when you were a kid and you lost your mom, and I’m grateful that there is a lot more of that now. And we can have even this conversation about vulnerability and discomfort on a podcast. And it’s, you know, it’s comfortable. It’s…not taboo, you know, and at the same time, I think that there’s always something to be grateful for.

Reginald Levesque
Well, there are two aspects of what you just said. I was left with two very, very important features that I insisted on and one of them was the first one was family. Family is extremely important. It’s a place of refuge. It’s a place where when, it’s a place where you learn life skills and also a place where when things don’t go the right way, you’re always welcome to come back and to, as a place of rest and refuge to go on later on. So that’s for one. For two, you know you’re talking about the bike in this game. I would have never insisted on you learning how to bike had you not verbalized an interest in it initially.

I was not the kind of parent where it would say, you’re going to do this no matter what. You’re going to learn how to do this, and you’re going to learn how to do that. No, if the child, in your case, developed interest in cycling, that’s fine. I’ll help you do that. But you’re not going to…

I wouldn’t allow you to find excuses not to succeed. It was important that once you developed an interest that you would find a strategy to succeed in arriving at your goal. And the same thing, the skiing part was something totally different. It was, it was, I couldn’t get you and your sisters off the TV on Saturday morning cartoons. And I couldn’t believe that I tried every strategy and nothing was working. So finally I decided, okay, that’s it. There’s gonna be no TV on Saturdays. You guys are going to learn how to ski, you’re going to have some activity that we all do together as a family. And there, that’s how we’re gonna deal with the issue of watching TV all day long on Saturday. That’s not going to happen. And eating Froot Loops. So that’s how the skiing part started. And we would spend Saturday and Sunday at the ski hill. As a family, you were and your sisters were in a racing program.

Anna
And eating fruit loops.

Reginald Levesque
I was in the racing program. We just, that was a great period of family, building family legends, I guess, or history. Maybe not legends, history.

Anna
Mm-hmm. Yeah, what I liked about skiing was that once we got to the ski hill, it was a very, I mean, it’s a controlled environment, especially the size of that ski hill. It was a small, you know, family-owned ski hill in the Laurentians in Quebec. And we would, like, we could go off on our own. The kids were often, like, we didn’t see you, the parents, until like at lunch, of course.

Reginald Levesque
Yeah.

Anna
And then at the end of the day, even when, I mean, we were in the race program, but even on days, maybe where we had a day off or something, I always felt like we could just go and do our thing, uh, you know, within a safe container of, because other parents were there too. So everyone was kind of, it was very community oriented, which was nice.

Reginald Levesque
Yep. Very good.

Anna
Have you, throughout your life, have you faced doubter? Well, I know, let me start over.

So I like to ask folks about how you handle doubters. And to me, it’s always been an inspiring family story of when your school guidance counselor told your stepmom, my grandmother, that you should just get ready for the workforce because you’re not gonna go anywhere else. And they kind of painted it in a negative light at that time, like you’re not smart enough to do anything but work in the mines or whatever. And then how that really lit a fire under you to prove them wrong. And so what did that come naturally? Was that something like was that something that you’ve always had like a desire to prove people wrong? Where did that come from?

Reginald Levesque
Perhaps I should say that.

The staff at the small school that I was attending, the teachers, were somewhat dismissive of my academic skills. I wasn’t that interested in academics at that time in any event because I was really
the potential of developing a hockey career. And there was a potential there. You know, we had scouts from Montreal Canadians come and watch us play. We qualified for the Northern Ontario Championships, and we were within one goal of making the provincials.

So the concentration was not on academics. There was one prof that I connected with, he was the English, I went to a Francophone school, so the English teacher was one of those very passionate persons that loved teaching, really showed in the classroom. And…

He was a piano player and was trained classically. And I love, I don’t know why, I think it’s probably because of my father. He loved classical music and radio was on Sunday afternoons. So long story short, there was one individual who was encouraging, but the others were not. So I had… marks were not very good, so the comments were made that I shouldn’t pursue an academic career. And I had pretty much… they had pretty much convinced me. And I’ll come back to my dad on this one. So…

You know, you’re in grade 12, you don’t know what you’re going to do next. People are saying, oh, you shouldn’t think about going to university. So I had decided, well, maybe I’ll go long distance truck ride. Maybe that’s kind of interesting because my mind was always searching. I have a very curious mind. I like to describe myself as a lifelong learner. So one day my dad said, so what are you going to do next year? Meaning what school are you going to next year? I said, well, I think I’m going to go along Hall. The distance driving. What? He said to me.

We were at the dining room table. He said, I never asked you anything in your life. I want you to do something for me. So you’re going to go to university for one year.

And all I’m asking you is one year, and you’re gonna do your best during that year. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, and that’s fine. So I agreed. I managed to get into the University, Carleton University was the newest days it was, known as the last chance university because my marks were not very good because I spent a lot of hours on the ice trying to hone my skills. And so I did. And I still remember the first, my first class was what they call Humanities 101. It was basically a survey course on philosophy.

And so I got there early because I didn’t know what to expect. And I’m the first one there. So I sit in the front row. People start coming in and they’re all dressed to the, you know, college prep stuff. And I’m in my jeans and t-shirt. So I decide, ah, this is not the right place for me. So I get up to walk out.

But there’s something that stopped me when I got to the door and turned around and I went back to my place. Well the prof started and I never looked back. That prof was telling us that we were going to read parts of Aristotle and Plato and go through the philosophers of the ages. And I never looked back. I was just, just got, and then I went, psychology 101, well, like psychology 101 was like, wow. And that’s how I ended up graduating in psychology. It was just, the interest was sparked. And then from there same process, you know, what are you going to do next year when you graduate? By that time I went from a C minus in the first year, that’s not good, and graduated with an A average, we had an A plus minus system at that time, and I applied to law school.

I was so naive at the time, applied to the best law school in the country, and lo and behold they accepted me. I never thought of applying to any other law school. It just, I don’t know, I don’t know what went through my mind at the time, but I was lucky enough to get in. And yeah, that’s how it… So has it always been with me? Well in a sense, yes. But…

My father was also instrumental. Right? He was, he saw something in me that required a little bit of a push. Right. And, and that’s the rest is what happened.

Anna
Yeah, it’s beautiful and what’s really present for me is the importance of having people in my life, in our lives who are willing to push us, who are willing to see the potential and hold us accountable to what we say we want to do. And yeah, not let us find, like you said, find excuses to not succeed.

It’s so important to have those people in our lives. And I’m very grateful. I’m very grateful that I’ve had that in my family and in the way you raised me. So I’m very grateful. Don’t take it for granted at all. Okay, do you have any questions for me?

Reginald Levesque
Well, having said all of that, you know, the most, basically what I was saying is…

Problem solving starts with focusing on basically slowing yourself down and concentrating on what needs to be done in the moment. So finding your way. What is the process that will allow you to be in the moment? And so what is your process that you developed over time?

Anna
For being in the moment. Yeah, my process for being in the moment is my turning to my breath and taking in a deep inhalation and a deep exhalation. And I’ve done a lot of yoga training and meditation training. And so mindfulness, I was just in a yoga and meditation workshop this past weekend and the definition of mindfulness, according to John Kabat-Zinn, who is a famous meditation mindfulness teacher. His definition of mindfulness is paying attention on purpose without judgment. That’s part of it at least. I like that. Paying attention to what’s happening without judgment and how I do that is bring my attention to my breath. To me, tracking my body is really important too. If I’m nervous or something’s stressing me out, I’ll feel my feet on the ground or in my shoes, feel my breath, just do a little body scan. And then I focus my vision is really important. So either looking, like making eye contact with the person I’m with or…

If I’m skiing or kayaking, looking where I want to go helps me, that’s my strategy for coming into the present moment. Or at least it’s one strategy. It’s the one that comes to mind right now.

Reginald Levesque
Yeah, it’s coming down to the fundamentals, right? Because you slow yourself down, being aware of your body, being aware of what the situation is all about. I was speaking to a good friend of mine, a scientist pointing out that I don’t know what it is about me but when something happens on the sudden I automatically go into a slow motion mode I see things in the slow motion fashion and this happens in a split second so then you’re looking around to see what factors need to be dealt with, you identify the one that solves it, and you go knowing that you have to concentrate on the skills required to pursue that solution. So it’s all a split second process, but on once in a while you don’t get, you become, you start realizing that things are overwhelming, your mind is racing. So how do you get to the point where you slow yourself down in order to be in the moment? Slow system, so you’re saying, you know, your breath, be aware of your body. That’s, and yeah, for sure, the breath is something that really centers you.

But interestingly, he is telling me that 90%… There are studies that indicate that 90% of the time, you go into a slow motion mode, that’s a survival instinct that we developed over, along, through evolution. And they call it the reptilian mind. That takes over.

And so I thought that I had developed this great capability, but it turns out that everybody else hasn’t.

Anna
Hehehehe

Anna
Yes, it’s true. And we have, our brains are definitely wired, right, a certain way. And we can also, there’s lots of studies that show how the breath and meditation can really help us get out of our default network, which is like mind wandering, which eventually can…tend to turn negative if we let it go to, if we’re always daydreaming and letting our mind wander, and we’re never practicing, okay, dad, you gotta stop that rustling.

Reginald Levesque
So yeah, I just want to make a comment here that Eric Onsena, Formula One driver, reputed to be the best, unbelievable skills. They were asking him, when you’re on the track and your speed is at…or just surpasses 300 kilometers an hour. How do you deal with all of the information that’s coming to you? And he said…some two things that are super interesting. One of them was, I see things in slow motion. Nothing is happening fast. Everything is slow in my mind. And the other one that’s, and this is a spirituality thing, he said that when he is moving at that level, he can, it is the closest to God that you can possibly be was his interesting observation on his part.

Anna
I’m gonna talk about this because it’s come up twice now in my mind as you were talking. I was kayaking on a not super hard, but hard enough river and in West Virginia, this was years ago. And it had recently flooded and it had come down and we were following a friend of ours who knows the river really well and we turned a corner, a blind corner, and there was a rock that had shifted and it was just a little rock and I hit it and it sent me into a rock that overhangs like this. So water is flowing in. So for those of you listening, it’s a rock where water is flowing under the rock, which is called an overhang rock. I didn’t know if it was an undercut. An undercut is when the water continues to flow under it, right? And that’s a really bad situation. It’s definitely life-threatening if you go under an undercut because there’s no outflow. And so I went in, I got pushed in, and I leaned the wrong way, and my head went underwater and I was stuck up against this rock. And I didn’t know at the time I was stable.

And I was stable. And so in kayaking, if you’re stuck and you’re stable, it’s a good thing to pause, but my head was underwater. And I remember sitting there for, it was a matter of seconds thinking, okay, I’m stable, but I can’t breathe. And I have two choices. I can pull my skirt and see what happens. If I’m in an undercut, like this is it or I can just stay here, which means, you know, the people, I knew people were not close enough to me to get to me fast enough. And everything did slow down. I remember just being there like, okay, here are my choices. And then it was like slow motion, even though I’m sure it didn’t happen in slow motion, took my feet out, my knees out of the thigh braces, was ready, reached forward and I pulled the skirt and I pulled myself out of my boat and I got a breath. Like my head came above the water and then I felt myself getting pulled towards the rock underneath and I was like, okay, this is it. Like, I don’t know what’s gonna happen. And luckily it was an overhang. So the water went under the rock, but then flowed out like off to the side and you know, swam.

I swam to shore, people helped me get my equipment. And I was on a big adrenaline high, like the whole rest of the way and all day when you come, that was one of, I haven’t had, that was probably my most closest to potentially drowning that I’ve ever come in kayaking. But it was what, it did strike me that everything did slow down.

And I got very focused on, okay, here are my choices. And you know, you’ve got to take some type of action, especially when you can’t breathe and you do your best. And I’m grateful it worked out.

Reginald Levesque
Yeah. Good. Well, we’re right in the moment. Ha ha ha.

Anna
Yeah, not my favorite moment, but one that is sticking with me.

Reginald Levesque
I just, I was watching this dad taking this child, this young son, who is about, I’d say around 10 years old. This is on YouTube, down the couloir in Courchevel. I did not go down that couloir, but I got to that bottom part of the couloir at one point.

and he’s taking this child down. It’s a 90, it’s a 85 degree pitch extremely dangerous and but he had that child Going first of all getting to the point where you go into the cool wall, that’s a super dangerous Peek it drop off on both sides But he had the child concentrate on the detail and not been looking at right or left Just concentrate on the detail You’re gonna go over this hump go slide down on the other side, they’re going to come up, you have to turn to the left, be ready to turn to the left. And he’s talking to him through the whole thing. So as they’re going down this 85 degree pitch that is going on forever in powder, powder-ish kind of conditions, he’s telling the child, okay now.

You’re going to turn left and when you get to that hump, you have to turn right. And you’re just telling him. So the child was concentrating on the slightest of detail that the dad was pointing out there. And he finally got through the whole thing. But what was super cool was when he got down to where the couloir goes into a regular run, the child, the dad said, and the little boy, all he was interested in was finding jumps all the way down the rest of the run, which was, I just thought that was so super cool, but it makes the point, he had that child concentrate on the moment of each curve, and that’s how they dealt with it. Yeah. Okay, I’m sorry, I distracted a little bit.

Anna
When listening to you talk just now reminded me of another, another really important thing that you didn’t let me get out of when I was a kid that I’m so grateful for is when you sent me to French elementary school because we grew up in, I grew up, you still live in a bilingual community. Your background is bilingual.

You grew up speaking both French and English. And, you know, mom is an American whose main language is English, so we speak English at home. And when I went to French school, I was bullied by… So that’s the tension where I grew up, is the language tension of French versus English, English versus French. And…

I was bullied because we spoke English at home, or that’s one of the reasons I was bullied. And I remember coming home crying, like crying, like, send me to English school, send me to English school. I don’t want to be in French school. And you were very clear, you are going to learn French. You’re going to stay in French school. And again, it taught me that even though I was uncomfortable and suffering, that I was

In the end, when I went to university, I went to university here in the States, and I placed out of French, and then I took, started taking Spanish classes, and I studied abroad in Chile and South America. I worked in Mexico as a RAF guide, you know, with call, you know, with the folks, with local folks. I could speak the language, I could communicate.

And now knowing three languages is so awesome to be able to connect, communicate with folks from different cultures. And I mean, there’s a lot more I could say about the whole bullying aspect, but I think that, again, you pushing me through discomfort, even when I was suffering emotionally has been really beneficial for me.

Reginald Levesque
Yep. One of the important aspects of that is that you also knew that we had your back, right? It was going to be challenging.

Anna
Yes.

Reginald Levesque
There’s this, what I was talking about earlier, there’s a sense of vulnerability, et cetera, et cetera. But in the end, we’ve got your back, so the family is here for you. You were able to work through it, as did your other siblings. Yeah.

Anna (
Yeah. So thanks for that, Dad.

Reginald Levesque
It’s also beneficial to have a working knowledge and appreciation of the two cultures. And you went on to do that in the third culture. That’s fantastic.

Anna
Yeah, yeah, it’s really been a really meaningful contribution to my life. So thanks, Dad. Ready for rapid fire questions?

Reginald Levesque
You’re welcome.

Anna
So the rapid fire questions are meant to be short answers. And the first one is, what is a morning ritual that sets you up for success?

Reginald Levesque
Okay, so when I get up in the morning, before I get up in the morning, there are three things that are super important to me and I decide on what I’m going to do with respect to the three. The human person is a combination of three factors the mind, the body, and spirituality. So I decide that day when I get up what I’m going to do with respect to each one of those three. And I pursue that. So I just give myself one goal per category.

Anna
What is your non-negotiable self-care practice?

Reginald Levesque
I think I go back to my first answer. I think that’s non-negotiable. Yeah.

Anna
Got it. What is a favorite motivational book or talk that you love?

Reginald Levesque
Okay, so I think the most influential book came from you actually. Uh, yeah, the four agreements. I think the four agreements are extremely, um.

Anna
Oh.

Reginald Levesque
helpful in dealing with any life issues. Yeah, yeah.

Anna
Yeah, that’s a great book.

What do people get wrong about you?

Reginald Levesque
I’m not sure that they get anything wrong. It’s pretty much an open book. Possibly, there may be just one aspect, I don’t think that they would realize how down to earth I am. I don’t know if it’s because of my profession or what I did for a living. Not sure why. I don’t think, I don’t appreciate that.

Anna
Throughout the course of your life, have you felt like the underdog or the favorite to win?

Reginald Levesque
Ah, the favorite to win.

Anna
Cool. Okay, hard moves in easy water, meaning doing things in a low consequence environment first to build your skill or flooding, meaning just throw your hat over the fence, jump in right into the fire. What’s your preference?

Reginald Levesque
all my preference is the first one yeah hard modes in easy water first because otherwise you may not and not turn out too well if you just throw your hat in hope for the best

Anna
hard moves in easy water.

Anna
Okay. One word that describes your comfort zone.

Reginald Levesque
Oh, my comfort zone, it would be boring. My comfort zone is boring. Yeah.

Anna
Okay, got it. Okay, freedom through discipline or I do what I want.

Reginald Levesque
All freedom through discipline. Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Anna
In one word, what do you hope your legacy will be?

Reginald Levesque
Passion.

Anna
Awesome.

Reginald Levesque
Yeah, passion for everything that you do. Yeah.

Anna
Great. Is there anything else you want to tell our listeners?

Reginald Levesque
Not really, just to concentrate on the basic concept of slowing down.

Developing, not slowing down, but developing your process to get into the moment, to deal with what needs to be dealt with.

And it’s not one process that fits everyone. You develop your own.

Anna
Yeah, what I hear you saying is find your own process for stepping into and through discomfort. Yeah, love it. Thanks for being here, dad. Thanks for taking the time. I really appreciate everything you’ve contributed to my life and I’m so grateful that you held me accountable over and over again and supported me in doing hard things throughout my life.

Reginald Levesque
Exactly.

Anna
So appreciate you, love you.

Reginald Levesque (01:01:05.354)
Love you. Thank you. Thank you for being my daughter.

Anna
I didn’t have a choice. Hehehe.

Reginald Levesque
Okay, have a good day.