Silken Laumann’s life centres around the fulfillment of human potential. Whether in the world of sport, where she achieved the honour of being the fastest female rower in the world, her work as a child advocate and founder of Silken’s Active Kids’ Movement, or as a speaker, a writer, or a champion of physical activity, Silken Laumann has made her life work reaching her own potential and helping others reach theirs.
Four-time Olympian Silken Laumann is one of Canada’s most inspirational leaders, a best-selling author and a highly recognizable and beloved Canadian athlete. As the reigning world champion rower, Silken fought back from a devastating training accident to win a bronze medal in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona – a moment that endeared her forever to Canadian sports fans. Silken was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of fame in 1998, having won 3 Olympic medals and four World Championships. She is also the 2-time winner of the Canadian Female Athlete of the Year award and recipient of the Lou Marsh award in 1991 as Canada’s top athlete. Although her competitive rowing career ended in 1999, her ability to inspire others continues.
Silken is a member of the International Board of Directors for Right to Play, an international development agency dedicated to reintroducing play into the lives of children in disadvantaged areas around the world. Silken has joined GoodLife Kids Foundation as their GoodLife Kids Champion; a private Canadian foundation that envisions a Canada where all kids have the opportunity to benefit from an active life. Through her work with children, Silken was awarded with the 2003 National Child Day Award. In 2006 Silken published the best seller, Child’s Play, an inspirational and simple guide to reconnecting with our kids through play.
Silken is a dynamic inspirational speaker who encourages her audiences to understand the power of our thoughts and intentions, stay connected to our passions and control our own destiny while still being receptive to the unexpected and magical.
Silken lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada with her partner and their four children.
First there was the tin can he found in the neighbours' recycling bin. I am sure it was something yummy, but the 10 stitches in his mouth couldn't have been worth it. Multiple times he has disappeared into small crevices in walls. Last month we lost him for a couple days when he wandered into the crawl space and got locked in.
Each one of our stories is important. When we find the courage to have real conversations about our inner worlds, we have the potential of helping another through their struggles. When we reveal our humanity and imperfections, it connects us to one another and create an opening for meaningful, authentic conversations about how we are doing. To have them know and understand they are not alone. I am a mother of four, a wife, an Olympic athlete, a writer, a speaker, a changemaker. I am also someone who has experienced mental illness. I hope that we have the imagination to define one another in our complexity.
Once we begin to understand how important breath is to our well being, how we stop breathing when we are stressed, how we breathe fast when we are excited or scared, how we exhale longer when we become relaxed -- once we begin to notice, we can use our breath to influence our mental and physical states.
Kindness matters, I know this, I coach this, I speak about the power of kindness, and yet -- in my primary relationship (you know, that relationship with my husband), being kind seems to be in a wrestling match with being right. Being right just feels so good. It is a lustful emotion, an instinctual one, a need that can be sort of addiction.
I know this disorder has many causes, but the agony of starving oneself, the self loathing that comes with it, I wouldn't wish on anyone. Eating disorders are also difficult for families, who may feel powerless to stop it. Like any form of mental illness, intervention is key, getting professional help early and not playing down the severity of the behaviour.
Until we can see ourselves in the mentally ill we will not stand up and fight for better care, increased awareness, and greater funding. As long as we stand to one side and not recognize that we are all vulnerable, that mental illness can happen to any one of us.
The biggest complaint I hear from teenagers is that we don't take them seriously. The teens of Attawapiskat have made a list of what they have in their community, their community and social assets if you will. Things like a gym, a Healing Lodge, and a school. They have also made another list: 'What we need.' Notice the list was not titled what we want. Need. These children need a Fitness Centre; it was the first thing on their list. The second was a Track and Field facility. More Sports, a Youth Camp and a clean Swimming Pool. We need to listen now, and give them what they need before it's too late.
I think competition is good for us, and is critical to helping us find performances that we didn't know we had. Sometimes I feel we have become so sensitive about not leaving anybody feeling left out that we have all but obliterated competition in our schools, and to a large degree in our workplaces. Nobody gets recognized, and actually nobody feels special.
I felt like I was daring myself to cross some arbitrary line in the sand, and once I did, there would be no turning back. Canadians' perceptions of who I was, and certainly their knowledge of my life story, would be forever altered. Even if only a few dozen people heard my story, it felt big to share personally and publicly.
I used to think of a New Years' Resolution as one big promise that you made for yourself. The problem was, it never worked for me. I never kept that one big promise. I find by writing lists of my past and future accomplishments, I put myself in the mindset that is more realistic in my life.
I can feel the shift happening in our family, the shift from it being all about us being together and caring about one another, to Christmas being about caring for others as well. I think this most accurately reflects the true spirit of Christmas, whether we are Christian or not.
Everybody is given the same 24 hours in a day. Today I spent four of those hours walking, running, sometimes limping with the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay. He has done more in one short lifetime than generations of people have done in many. Not only has he raised millions and millions of dollars for spinal cord research, he has championed accessibility around the globe.
I am reading a book right now called Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney. My partner David thinks this is hilarious, since I am, apparently, the most willful person he has ever met. Rathe...
I think we should blow up the current school system and start over. Due to cutbacks, my son did not have art in his entire middle school education -- a fact I find unacceptable, but not remarkable. When do we as parents say enough is enough?