Sunday, November 07, 2010

Sunday mornings

When I was training for my first half marathon over a year and a half ago, I dreaded the early morning Sunday run. I whined and complained how could it be POSSIBLE that I rise early and head out to face over 10kms?

I used to do some of the long runs on  my own in the afternoon, just so I could get a bit of a lie in on the token day of rest.

I was thinking of those times this morning, as I eagerly woke at 730 to grab a quick breakfast of salad (great way to start the day: ruffage but doesn't fill you up to the point you can't go and exercise right away) and a hot water and lemon before I set off to meet my friend A to the P and head out on our 30km Sunday morning bike ride.

It's a little tradition the two of us started, mostly because she has to work at 11:30, so the only time she could do it was bright and early.

We head down the Shell Road path towards the water, chatting away and catching up about our weeks. We managed through the woods just before the waterside, exchanges stories and elevating our heart rates. Then, it's all along the water, past the running groups that I used to wonder how I could ever be a part of, the dogs and their owners, other cyclists - some casual like us, some hard core.

And amidst all the chatter and gabbing, we suddenly descend on the little sea side spot of Steveston, where we express how shocked we are at that we got there in what seemed like such a short time.

There are a couple of good coffee shops to choose from - the token Starbucks, the west coast chain Blenz - but last week we settled on Waves - a chain or not I'm not sure, but it's view and direct patio sunlight made it this week's destination.

And there, we grab a tea, a bit of snack - a muffin, a crossiant, or something chocolately sticky and gooey - and just continue to chitty chat about .. well .. we manage to fill enough time to warm our bones, rest our legs and gear up to head back towards where we started: near her work and near my house.

A to the P goes home at the end of December and I suppose it's just dawning on me that I won't have someone to motivate me to get to the top of the trail at 8am.

It's also helped as a solid reminder of how much one changes over the course of one's life, becoming the type of person that does rise early on a Sunday, who does take better care of herself and who, for a fleeting moment, can connect with somone almost a decade in age difference and simply cherish, while brief, the time spent on a Sunday morning.




Thursday, September 09, 2010

A Moment


We only had two weeks in Thailand during our six month trek through Asia and Russia, which in hindsight was certainly not enough time but at least a put-together tourist place like these islands made it easy for us to relax.


Anyone who has been to Thailand will tell you of ‘must go’ places; specific islands that your trip will be lost without. But in reality, as with all destinations, each island has its own magic, similar to each other in the same fantastical ways and yet special and unique enough to help create a very personal experience.

We spent three nights on Koh Tao during our short trip, at the suggestion of a friend, who later revealed to me that this moment I shared with this man and his fishing rod, is one she was privileged to experience as well.

It’s easy to get caught up in the tourist flow of a place, especially Thailand. Everywhere you look, there is something for YOU. Scuba diving lessons, ENGLISH breakfast, cheap room rates, FREE Internet with purchase of coffee. It seems as though this little piece of paradise is one big tourist resort, without the matching staff uniforms and the front lobby.

But these places are peoples’ homes, where they live, where they grew up, where their culture developed and you’re actually being let into a space that is being so graciously shared.

Our view from our hut was out onto the water. If I fell off the balcony, I’d only have to bump off a few rocks to be swimming. Every early evening, we sat out on the balcony, watching the day turn into night and relaxing before heading out for dinner and drinks on the beach.

On the first evening, as I turned to my left, he was there. Doing what it appeared he did every day: trying his hand at some dusk fishing.

This window into his world is a moment that cannot be read in a history book or discussed in a world issues class. You won’t find this in a travel brochure or even on a guided tour.

These are the moments world explorers live for. A chance at connection. The opportunity of discovery.

This is what gets us back on the road again.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Everything IS bigger in Dallas

I spent the month of August in Dallas (potentially not the BEST month to visit Texas, however..) for work and did manage to learn a few things about the lovely, wonderful people of that grand state .. or at least the Dallas area.


1. You will be called Ma’am.

Street art

As a Canadian, I’m used to politeness but there is something significantly special about the way the people in Texas converse with each other and people they’ve just met. Their every word appears to just drip with southern kindness topped off with a lovely smile and “you have a nice day now you hear and come back real soon.”

2. You better enjoy meats. And large potatoes. And very large amounts of food.

Lunch?
The portion sizes are always a shock for us Canadians but I’ve got family in northern States and I’m not certain that I’ve ever seen as much food presented as a one-person meal as I’ve ever seen in my life. The BBQ’ed anything was to die for and the steaks were thicker than my head. Oh and did I mention the MEXICAN FOOD. I think I was so spoiled I’ll never be able to eat nachos north of the Texas border again.
Yummmmmmmmmmmmm

3. It gets REEEEEEEAAAAAAAAL hot.

Certainly all Texans would probably agree that August is not the most ideal month to visit their fine State. And I suppose if I’m honest, I probably would not have chosen to head down there on holiday during temperatures of 45 degrees Celcius but, I was lucky enough to get to see a new place while working and I’d never pass up the opportunity to explore a new part of the world. The upside? A/C is everywhere.

Sunrise view from my room


I never thought I’d get to Texas but after spending three weeks with the fine folks down there, I’m sure glad I did, thank you ma’am.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Making the most of it

Being somewhere means you have an opportunity to experience something.

That means, if you are on a beach in Mexico, you have as many margaritas as you can and eat as much tortilla as humanly possible. If you’re hiking the Mournes in Northern Ireland, you make sure to stop when the sun comes out to admire a rare view. And if you’re at home, where you live, where you work, where you don’t necessarily think of yourself on vacation, you find the things that make the place where you are incredibly special and you make sure you soak in all of those places.

I’ve heard it called a ‘staycation’, which I like, though I would go further than that and say this is more a state of mind. Sure, it’s easier to explore when you have multiple days off in a row but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience at least some form of discovery each day.



I am lucky that I do have the hours in my day to make this possible. I don’t commute as I have a home office and I don’t have children that need me. Both of these things make it easier but in no way make it exclusive to childless-home-working individuals. It’s a mind shift.

Whenever I have free time, I try to make sure I’m doing something that allows me to soak in the culture in which I inhabit. In Canada, this is obviously easier as I AM actually Canadian so I kinda know the drill but at the same time, the lifestyle In BC in completely different to my 20s-lifestyle in Toronto and also completely different to my growing-up lifestyle in small town Ontario. So, you see, it’s easy for me to feel like I’m part of a new culture because really, I am.

Me, after a 2nd time conquering the Grouse Grind

The summer has provided the perfect opportunity for me to channel my outside persona. I have spent hours on my bike, in a place that appears to be really made for cyclists. The weather has been perfect, between 25-30 degrees Celsius for the last three months. I could probably count on my hands the number of days that it rained or was cloudy.

And so off I went, exploring Richmond, chucking my bike on the Canada Line and wandering around Vancouver, picking up fresh fish at markets, stopping by beaches along the hot and sweaty bike routes, sunning and ocean dipping away frustrations. I had the perfect July filled with exploration. (I was in Texas in August for work: another post to follow)
Bike break on English Bay
View of Stanley Park from the Burrard Street bridge

After a relaxing swim on Third Beach

Steveston Harbour
D taking a break from studying to relax on Spanish Bay

View of Granville Island from the city side

And it got to the point, that even when my holidays (staycation) came at the end of August, I felt like I had already done a great deal of exploring and discovering already, that I had incorporated my love of travel into my every day.

Take in the moments of discovery in your everyday, and, in that way, you’re experiencing the thrill of travelling, without having to leave your own home.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Reading and Roaming

I've been taking an accidental holiday from updating this blog, due mostly to the fact that I've been busy with work, travel and most importantly, spending as much time outside as possible.

But I have been thinking a lot about this space and how it needs to grow with me and where I'm at in my life now. I'm beginning to see ways in which my current-future travel experiences will eventually intersect with the world of words.

Recently I've been gabbing with some fantastically talented indivduals who are soon to be part of an exciting collaboration that sprung from the genius mind of Sean Cranbury of Books on the Radio.

And it got me thinking, mostly about the way I read books set in places I've actually been to and the way I read books set in places I've yet to go. I've been mulling this over and over in my brain about how experience changes perceptions and how this affects you as a reader.

When I am travelling, I'm living in the moment. Taking it all in. Trying to soak up every smell, every texture, every element in a place to really try to contain the experience in the now. I never envisioned what would happen next. How my opinions would change because of the moments I have in places. How my perception would be forever altered, not simply about the destination, but also about every other aspect of my life and even every new place I would visit.

And I certainly didn't expect to read books differently. So, that's what I'm currently exploring. How our bonds with books, characters, authors, story lines are influenced and forever changed when we journey to the places that we expect to escape to as a reader.

We'll see how it turns out. And, if nothing else, it's going to get me reading a whole lot more.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

It's All Gravy

Last week, I was wandering through a bookstore, soaking in all the wonderful-ness that comes with wandering around a store filled with stories, I was hit with a bit of inspiration.

I've certainly been at a cross roads before. Certainly had the opportunity to make a choice one way or the other way. And for many years, my perfectionist self consistently want to make sure I was doing things the RIGHT way.

Whether it's age or experiences or the west coast air, I think I've slowly come to the realization that in essence, it doesn't really matter which path you take as long as you're always moving forward.

I tweeted "Accept that your life could go in many directions, all fulfiling, and you will fear less about making mistakes...".

And since today I emerged from a bit of virus hell (sorry all those who may have had to come along the ride with me) I was reminded of this tweet and it made me think about it all over again.

I could be a travel writer. I could be a publicist for a book company. I could keep tech writing. I could go back to school and become a doctor, a lawyer, a diplomat. I could become a mother. I could go live on an island, off the grid. I could go back to being a journalist. I could cover wars.

But I'm pretty sure, I can't do them all. And I'm pretty sure that each day seems to bring new feelings, emotions, new instincts about where this path is taking me.

And while this may seem obvious to all of those reading or perhaps I've stated this before just in a way I wasn't fully understanding it or for that matter, it may be so simplistic that you can even fathom how I WOULDN'T understand it but really, what matters is that I am just still going. Still doing. Still being.

I guess I just really feel ready to be ok with not doing everything on the list that I thought someday I would do. That I'm ok with taking more risks, that maybe put in even different places then I expected. That I'm ok with the decisions I'm making because I know I'm instinctively making them for a reason.

And so all the good things that happen along the road? All the bad things? All the things? Well, they're really just added bonuses. Because the life bit comes in the CHOOSING. The rest of it is just gravy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Planes Buses and Planes again

I've been having an extrordinarily amazing time in Ontario and Chicago visiting the two cutest new little people you could ever meet.

Every day I am prouder of each of my sisters in what they have accomplished as women and as mothers. For all you mothers out there, it take a whole whack load of strength and patience to do what you do and after watching it first hand I understand even less how you have the will to do it. You all rock my world.

It has been hard to be away from D. I mostly try to forget that I'm not seeing him every day or experiencing the excruciating minutia alongside him but I do take comfort in the fact that distance does make the heart (and the libido!) grow stronger and that I'll be with him again in a few short days.


I suppose that brings a bittersweetness to the fact that I will be saying goodbye to a lot of little and big people before I journey home. I feel lucky to have been here for so long and think the length of the stay was just right.

It amazes me to think how big everyone will be when I get back. But, there's always Skype.


All in all a fantastic way to spend June. I think I might do this every year ...


Well minus the trip to the emergency room for an infected tooth .. but that's a story for another day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Another Welcome and the Best Birthday Gift Ever

For the second time in a week, my vibrating phone has woken me.

Those of you who know me, know that I like my sleep and I'm not a great one to wake up. And yes, stop drooling that on Saturdays and Sundays and MY BIRTHDAY I am probably still sleeping at 9am. The perks of being childless and not training for a half marathon.

So when the vibration started this morning, this the day of my 34th birthday, I was seriously hoping someone had just done the math wrong with timezones and would quickly hang up.

Then I looked who it was. "Mom" flashed back at me. Mom. Can you ever not answer the phone when your mom is calling?

It was for my birthday wishes, I figured, and yes also figured she hadn't got the math right.

Until, well, until she had other great news.

Other great news???? WHAT???

My sister H had gone into labour 7 hours earlier and I was going to have a niece born on my birthday.

Now that was news worth waking up for.

We giddily spoke about our excitement and then signed off as I started my birthday with the best news I could have imagined. Within 20 minutes, I got another call to say my sister H had welcomed her little girl into the world. I was so glad I spent over an hour on the phone with her the day before just chatting and now, she's a mother of two.

Welcome to the world HJD. You are the first granddaughter to join our growing family and have a lot of older boys to take care of you when you turn 16. And I can't imagine a better birthday gift.

Can't wait to meet you. And spoil you.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Welcome to the World LDC

My lovely sister C went into labour in the wee hour of Saturday morning, 2 hours before she was headed into the hospital to have labour induced.

Nature works in mysterious ways.

The expansion of our family tickles me to no end. What was more touching and inspiring was seeing pictures of her 2 and a half year old meet his little brother for the first time.

Since I am also 2 and half years older then my sister, the momentousness of this moment is not lost on me.

There was a time when my mother, sat on a hospital bed and introduced me to someone that solidfied that I would never be alone again.

And I saw that moment today in that picture of my sister introducing her new little boy, LDC, born just before 10am EST on Saturday morning, to her first born MGC, who couldn't stop saying 'I want to hold him'.

You're a lucky little boy, LDC. I can't wait to meet you.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Confession Monday #3

This process of revealing is becoming a cathartic way to get the week started right. It's almost like letting a truth out about yourself and watching it float away like a balloon.


If it weren't for D, I would be a hoarder. Hands. Down.

As previously stated, I've got a little addiction to reality TV. And when I was watching one of the most recent episodes of people who have their homes stacked with stuff, I had an uncomfortable revelation.

The 'patient' ie hoarder who we are exploiting as we peer into her life began explaining to the doctor why she did not want to throw a stuffed animal she had gotten for her 13 year old son when he was 2 away.

(paraphrased)

Patient: This toy brings back good memories
Doctor: So, is there another way to honour those memories than keeping the stuffed toy?
P: Well, when I look at it, it reminds me of all the times that were good when he was little.
D: You'll still have those times.
P: Yes but I have a bad memory and I might forget them. This toy helps me remember.

*blink* *blink* *blink*

I think if D was in the room he would have enthusiastically started pointing his finger directly at me shouting "SEE? SEE??? SEEEEEEEEEEE??" in an effort to demonstrate that keeping things because you have a bad memory and you don't want to forget is NOT a good reason to KEEP SOMETHING.



It probably didn't help that I was nodding in agreement before I realized that I potentially had something in common with this woman who's 3 bedroom home has to eat dinner in the small space she has cleared away in her living room.

And it got me thinking - perhaps too much? - am I a hoarder? Even a little bit of one? Because, that totally sounded like a logical reason to me.I mean, I'VE SAID THAT BEFORE about items I need to keep. And hey, LOOK AT HER HOUSE. Is that where I'll get to??


Over the years, we have packed up things and stored them places (Thanks D's parents!) and returned to try to clear things away. I always start the process of going through those boxes and deciding what to keep and what to throw away with energy and enthusiasm. Knowing that I will be freeing space in a box for new memories or even just giving someone their garage back.

But having D stand beside me with a garbage bag waiting for me to throw things in it always raised my tension level just a little bit. We would banter back and forth, me usually explaining why I needed it, him explaining why I didn't, until eventually, I would get to a point where I was to frustrated to argue and throw it all away.

Then there was the moping phase, where I would be angry that it had been thrown out and I felt forced to get rid of precious mementos that I didn't want to. That I didn't know existed. That I was keeping for that moment of "oh, I remember this" to then only place it back in the box filled with other items that I may one day want to pull out and 'remember' something by.

And it was through watching this episode that I became aware of the possibility that perhaps my attachment to little movie stubs and theatre programs may not actually be all that, well healthy.

So there, I've said it. I've thrown it out there. I may actually be someone who keeps too much stuff and could potentially end up under a pile of it all if I don't keep it in check. And I suppose moving every couple of years will certainly help to curb my collection.

And the silver lining? Well, the fact that reality TV got a purpose. Ha. So. There. Time NOT wasted.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

How the Bike brought me Back

D and I recently purchased a couple of used bikes to take advantage of the glorious weather that appears to happen year round this end of the country.



I was always a big bike rider when I was younger - I suppose one should use the word 'cyclist' but that sounds a little too advanced for what I'm talking about. Cyclists probably have strategy and stamina and lots of bike bling. Me? I just used to get on my bike and go.

During my pre-teens I had the bestest friend ever. L.C.

Looking back at those years, L.C and I were inseperable. I was so lucky during that period of my life to have someone who was such a dedicated friend. She made me laugh, always had my back (can you say bullies??) and generally just made my life better.

We used to spend weekends listening to 60s music, playing cards and going for bike rides. And we used to relish swearing in her house. Her mom is a fantastically creative person, a piano teacher and someone who didn't let words really affect her. We could SWEAR in her house. Like THE F WORD. And when you're 12, that's a big deal.

Our bike ride distances started to become a bit of a challenge. We would pack up food and snacks and head out to what appeared to be far away places  In small town Ontario, you could easily find yourself in the countryside without going too far, but for us, it was the ultimate adventure.

Yesterday made me miss L.C. We drifted apart in high school, with different interests and all the politics involved in being a teenager. I don't know that I handled it well, was probably more evil then necessary and adult-me looks back and cringes on the way teenage-me handled the dissolution of our friendship.

The biking helped me remember the enjoyable times. I was almost transported back to those days of biking around with L.C. The feeling of independence, of being all grown up, of setting off on an adventure together without supervision.


Views of the mountains yesterday certainly brought me back to reality. And made me reflect of course over all of the things that have changed since those summertime carefree days of youth bike riding.

We don't often stop enough to assess what we have and how far we've come. There isn't time in a day filled up with work and groceries and laundry and sleep. And if you have children, you know your list is longer.

But I'm glad I've found the vehicle (literally) that can help me get to that place. A place of calm reflection. Of remembrance. Of celebration. And of the realisation that the more things change, the more they DO stay the same.

My life choices have given me such opportunity for adventure. For a journey. For a path of discovery.

Most importantly, I'm still lucky to have my best friend to ride by my side.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Bragging rights

And then there was 2.

That's right, the woman who decided to be a goalie in high school because she HATED RUNNING has now two lovely half marathon medals to her name.



That's me, people. Yes, it really is. And you know what? I have to keep looking at this picture to remind myself that it WAS me, it IS me and I am a half marathon runner.

It's an intensely humbling and emotionally indescribable feeling to train for, run in and complete a run of that distance.

When I set out to do this originally, it was for myself. It was to give myself a challenge. It was because it was something I didn't think I could do.

We had just gotten home after being away for over 6 years I was eager to try something that living a nomadic lifestyle does not really allow you to do. Training for a long distance run seems liked one of those things.

It was with the encouragement of some good friends that I decided to train for my first 10km.

After another couple of 10kms, it was time for the next step.

I stalked the Scotiabank Marathon website for weeks before finally just entering and clicking 'register'. And then it was done.

The Running Room clinic helped me learn how to run, how to train, what type of runner I was and was going to be.

And I completed that first half with such pride, exhilaration and a LOT of adrenaline.

I wrote earlier about the second time around here, how it felt different. How it felt like I was training to do the same thing again and yet it was going to be something completely different.

Sunday proved me right (and you know how much I like to be right). It was different, in so many ways.

It rained the entire time. And it was totally fine. Because in that moment, the only thing you are focused on is doing what you did in training. Pacing yourself for specific KMs, watching the clock to find out when to drink water, when to suck back some energy gels, when you'll get that 1 min break for every 10 min.

I started late. And I didn't care. Because I knew, all that mattered to me was my chip time. So there weren't enough porta potties - so WHAT? I knew what was going to happen, I would just start late, like the hundreds of others stuck in the line, and then I'd not worry about the race time anyway because my chip would define where I really ended up in the race.

There was a big ass hill in the middle of it. I'm talking BIG ... ASS. Prospect Point in Stanley Park is not for the faint of heart, even if you're walking. So guess what Internet, that's just what I did - I WALKED most of it. Because I knew, that at 13km, I had a long way to get to 21km and there was no point in wearing my legs out over an hour before I was set to finish the race.

It made me a half marathon runner. After I finished the first one, I knew technically I was a half marathon runner. I had completed a distance that not many, although a good number of people have achieved. For me, it was the second one that made it all that  more real. It was no longer this challenge I set for myself. It was now just a reality. Not only am I a runner, but I am a long distance runner.

And that's sometimes hard to get my head around. Because 10 years ago, I smoked ate McDonalds and mostly didn't really care about physical exercise. Maybe it's because I was in my 20s or maybe it's because I just wasn't a runner then. Which is what makes it all the more surreal to write that I am.

And probably, if you are a runner, you may not actually think this is a big deal, because you've been stating that you ARE a runner for a long time. But I do know that we have it in common.

That feeling you get when your not quite sure you can go on, when the next 4km seem like an eternity, when you wonder why you decided to do this in the first place and when each step becomes like a marathon itself. When you start to second guess whether this was the right choice.

And then comes that second chance. The person shouting your name on the sidelines. The water station. The turn in the road. Maybe even the finish line. And you realised you made it. Your there. You did it.

And you're just as surprised and excited as everyone else is to watch you cross it. Because even though you knew you would get there, even though you were confident your training was going to get you through, you still lived through those moments that made you realise this was a feat. This was a challenge. And whether it was your 2nd time or you 222nd time, there's always going to be a point where you wonder if you can.

And then you do. And you can't stop smiling for the rest of the day.

Start running. It will change your life.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Confession Monday #2

I had envisioned that I would have written something between the two Monday confessions however with a project wrapping up at work and my half marathon prep, I simply just did not get back to this lovely page until today.

And so, in its second installment, I bring you my confession Monday

I use a Neti pot to clear out my sinuses and survive allergy season.

This isn't necessarily a very evil aspect about  myself, but I guess more revealing and um perhaps a bit embarrassingly personal?

For those of you who do not know what  Neti pot is, you are probably wondering why this may be something a bit embarrassing to admit. Here I'll show you:



I love in this video how she says it's not that bad. Define BAD.

I mean, no there isn't any stinging and yes the 'return' liquid is clear as well but essentially using water to flush out your sinuses is about as, well, awkward as it sounds.

But so is flossing but that doesn't mean you don't do it right?

And since my allergies this year have been paining me worse than plugging my nose and rubbing acid in my eyes, I was pretty much up for anything that didn't make me feel like the guy on the Reactine commercial - you know the one that points out saying JUST ALLERGIES is about as accurate as say it's JUST LABOUR.



(At this stage I suppose it's obvious to point out that I have actually tried many drugs to make the symptoms go away, Aerius being the only one that works however I still need to Neti pot myself in combination with a daily tab.)

And so, over the past couple of weeks before I go to bed I pour an entire plastic blue tea pot's worth of water (mixed with the special saline solution) through my two nostrils.

And you know what? I can breathe again. My eyes are not redder than my Canada t-shirt.

And I actually dare any of you who have not tried to TRY IT and then try to NOT do it and see what happens. Because the result in my experience is a little similar to going on a diet or denying yourself something for 30 days - all you do is think about how much BETTER it would be if you JUST could have that ONE THING ...

...a Neti pot clean out.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Confession Mondays

I decided I need to purge a bit of all that is evil about myself.

*blink* *blink*

Okay, so MAYBE a bit melodramatic, but I thought it might be fun to throw out a confession about myself every Monday so that everyone else who is struggling with Monday can feel just a little better about themselves.

See? Aren't I nice? Taking one for the team on Mondays.

So, quick and dirty, here it goes.

Since buying the upgraded HD cable package, I watch WAY too much TLC.

Cake Boss. Yes to the Dress. Little People Big World. 300 kids and Counting. Geckos that can't Climb.

If D is studying, I am sneaking some shows about people's lives. And there are SOOO MANY of these shows. They even branch out from TLC - the National Geographic channel is constantly playing Dog Whisperer. I knew I was also in trouble on the weekend when I was giddy about another show on the NG channel (cause that's what you call it when you watch it more than 5 hours a week) called Dog Rescue Ink or something like that.

IMAGINE A WORLD WHERE YOU CAN COMBINE TATOOED MEN SAVING ANIMALS??? IS THERE ANYTHING MORE TV WORTHY??

So, I'm not sure if this helping or hurting my current mindstate. I will say the fascinating characters often spark some creative juices .. who wouldn't be intrigued by little chocolatiers? cause you know THEY'RE LITTLE and that makes it all the more, oh I don't know EXPLOITABLE!!

Oh yes, the exploitable bit..I would say A&E is king of that game. Hoarders? Horaders Super Duper? Hoarders Extreme? INTERVENTION? "Here is some programming that lets you into the most intimate moment of someone's life ... when its ALL crashing down for them. And....ACTION!"

But I lap it up people. D has taken to making fun of the amount of reality I'm allowing into my life.

So I confess it. I'm becoming a reality junkie. And I'm still not quite sure how I feel about that. Maybe I should go see Stacy and Clinton to see if it's something to do with the sweatpants I wear at my desk every day.

Until next Monday, I hope that made you feel better.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Debut Post of the Fantabulous Flashback Fridays

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I decided that I needed to really give myself a bit of inspiration and structure to get this blog back on its feet.

I have more time, now that I'm not commuting and don't really know anyone so don't really do anything (did I just make myself sound pathetic?) and so I may as well take this opportunity to get as many stories down as I can before I forget that they even happened.

But of course, I have also given myself a safety net so that I will not forget what happened.

This, ladies and gents, is a box which D has come to refer to as 'the box we continue to move around with'. I, on the other hand, have a very different name for this box  - it's the Scrapbooking Box.


Yes, that's right, it's the box that holds ALL of the things that one day I will put into a scrapbook and no longer have the box for. And it's a subtle reminder that if not for D, I would probably have many more of these boxes and need to call the experts at A&E's Hoarders Disaster Extraordinaire or whatever it's called to come and dig me out of.

But, luckily, I have someone who keeps my gathering of things in check and I only happen to have this ONE box. It's big, I know, I get it. But it is currently housing EVERY memento we own from all of our 6+ years of travelling.

And so, I've decided each week, to randomly pull out a piece of said future-scrapbook-material, and try to write down here what this piece means to me and why it should go into the scrapbook. In the end, these pieces may just remind me of stories along the way, but either way, it will make me feel just a little bit that it was ALL worthwhile that we've lugged this thing around a few countries and continents, allowing it to grown in size with each departure.


So, here it goes:




Item: A brochure from Versailles
First thought: Our camera battery that day
Scrapbook worthy?: Probably contains the only pictures we actually have of the magnificent palace.


Paris was actually our last continental European stop before our first trip back to Canada from Europe. So, while I'd like to say that the battery dying was due to 'beginners folly" I do have to admit that actually we had managed to visit over 10 other countries and countless cities by the time we reached the city of romance.

It was quite cold in France at that time of year - November - and we had our layers of clothing: scarves and fleece jackets. I can remember wishing just a little bit that we didn't look so backpacker-esque arriving at what was once the home of the leader of France. Perhaps it was a couple of days into our Paris visit and I was already feeling self conscious about the elegantly but simply put together French women, who could have thrown on even my layered attire and looked ready  for a night on the town.


It was so massive, the palace and I get that I'm stating the obvious. But all that kept going through my mind was that this space was once built for ONE family. One guy. And that he spent all of his country's money to get it.

We had seen a lot of artwork and opulence before we arrived at the palace in other cities and so it was getting to the point where although visiting historic spots was still enjoyable, it was getting more and more difficult to be phased by their extraordinary-ness.


And then came the Hall of Mirrors. And its 12.3 height width. And its 73 meter length. And its 10.5 meter width. And I was stunned.

Everything shimmered and shone, sparkled off each other. The mirrors made the hall look even bigger than it was. The cathedral style ceiling seems to extend forever. And the crystal chandeliers had the sun hitting them st so, twinkling and cascading  the light from one end of the room to the other.

I took out the camera and clicked this picture: 

 and then my camera made a beeping noise and out...it ...went.

My first thought was OH MY GOD NOW WHAT? 

Because we had managed to travel over the course of 14 months, on and off, through country after country, train after train, hostel after hostel and NEVER ONCE did my battery die.

And so, after a few moments of panic an ahhh-this-sucks-ing I realised that I had nothing left to do but just observe. View. Explore. See.

I was forced to take myself from behind the little lens (is it still considered a lens if it's a point and shoot??) and simply just soak it in.

Even almost 7 years later, I can remember weaving in and out of every room in that large palace. I remember the gardens, the steps, the intricate tiling, the extravagant artwork, the enormous rooms, the gigantic furniture. It's still vivid in my mind.


Thanks mostly to a brochure we saved, tucked away in a box, that  helped to bring back all those vivid images back to my mind.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fantabulous Flashback Fridays update

I noticed that it's been over a month since I decided to take a few trips down memory lane and write about some of our travels.

I haven't been slacking, although I suppose it may seem that way since I have yet to post anything Flackback-ish.

A few weeks ago, when I started to compile my first post, I was led down a worm hole of frustrating discovery: we had somehow misplaced multiple travel pictures. I say multiple, I'm talking MONTHS of collection - MISSING.

I leave it to you all to picture just how WELL I took this discovery and leave it at that.

And so I was a little blocked creatively and got sidetracked with running and visitors and general lazy-ness but can now report was was once lost is now found.

D's lovely parents came to stay with us for a couple of days and in addition to some much needed familiar faces, they also brought a couple of CDs that appeared to be travel snaps.

Praise be to the sky - they were!! - and now all is right with the world. Because between me and you, I take pictures because I have a horrible memory, and sometimes, I need reminding that I ACTUALLY did some things. And that's exactly what happened, when I had a look at the CD's contents and discovered HEYYY, I didn't just dream I had a really cute hat from Prague, I DID BUY IT AND WEAR IT AND eventually, LOSE IT along the way.

So, my travel writing mojo is back. And I hope to be able to expand on that first post I wrote, now that I've found all those France pictures that will need to accompany it.

Check back Friday ... or before.... you never know...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Who am I again?

This morning, I set my alarm for earlier than I would to get up for work. That's right. On the 'day of rest' I set my alarm to make me stop resting earlier.

And last night, I sipped caffeine free tea and popped myself into bed at 10pm. Same time as if I was getting up for a hard days work.

One of my biggest fears in life is that I would never stop loving smoking. That I would always like it and therefore always smoke because my mantra is to do what I love to do (within reason, people).

And just as my hate-on for smoking surprised me, so has my desire to get up early.

I don't get up early. And I say this in the Tom Hanks-League of their Own-"There's no crying in baseball" voice.

And yet, guess what? I do.

Not only do I get up early, but I throw on some fitness gear, fill up my running belt bottles and head out to conquer the road, 1km at a time.

This morning met me with glorious sunshine, so much so that I didn't need all the layers I had piled on earlier in the morning when it was just dawn. And my call to NOT bring my sunglasses? Ah ya - bad call.

Training has been a whole different beast this time around. Initially, I was nervous about whether I could do it. I decided to train on my own this time, choosing to let my tunes be my motivation. Last week, I realized I was getting bored with myself.

And so, with a Running Room nearby, I decided to join the rest of the real runners and get my long run in, first thing in the morning.

Which brings us to the early rise. Last 1/2 marathon training, I dreaded trying to get up early to run. And today? Well, it seemed the like the most natural thing to do first thing in the morning - run for 2 and half hours.

It was a tough slog, but a glorious one, filled with feet thumping and mountain staring, idle chatter and re-hydrating..

So the best part about this self imposed wake up call? It wasn't hard to roll out of bed and it didn't seem out of the ordinary - at all.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Another Mountain Shot Attempt

I'm not really sure I can describe the awesome-ness that is seeing mountains towering behind a beautiful cityscape and after once again this weekend taking the camera out, I'm not sure that I'll ever get to SHOW it either.

I'm sure one of you savvy picture taking peeps could probably enlighten me on how to pull the mountains out of this shot and make them 'pop' in the way that it makes my readers feel like they're RIGHT THERE with me.

But then, perhaps that is more Mother Nature's point - you actually have to BE there. Because as hard as I try, I can never get those mountains to look as spectacularly LARGE in a picture as they do when I stare at them. I mean, they're awe-inspiring. I just can't stop staring at them.

And so, spent another weekend saying, "Oh my god will you LOOK at those mountains?", so much so that D finally huffed as I was midway through the sentence for the 2034th time and said YES YES  I SEE THEM and I've been hearing about YOU seeing them ALL FRIKIN DAY.

I just can't help myself. I just...really...can't.

I mean, maybe when you come from a flat, mostly landlocked (I get it, we have the Great Lakes but hey, I'm talking ocean side here) province, you can't help but just be in awe of those big white capped monsters.

I hope I never take that view for granted. And well, I guess everyone around me hopes that I will get to a place where I don't have to mention them with every breath. Surely some where in the middle? Perhaps I'll compromise and meet it somewhere in the middle...

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Positive Energy

I have had quite a few people surrounding me - online and offline - who are in need of a whack of positive energy. I figured I'd throw it out to the Internet-verse to see if I could muster up as much as I possibly could to help them along the paths that they are currently facing.

I've been going through a bit of a transition myself lately, one that I'm quite familiar with and one that is not all that great to weed through but always leaves me feeling much stronger as I get out the other side.

I've talked about the 3 month hump before - the strange period that seems to hit after I've lived somewhere for 3 months where I feel just at a bit of a loss - missing those things I left behind, perhaps eager to discover more about the place I am currently and the general sense of uncertainty, unknown, insecurity.

I find it painfully hard, mostly because I AM a very confident, outgoing person and feeling hesitant makes me irritable.

I think it also stems from coming from a large family, 1 of 4 siblings, growing up with lots of busyness and things going on around you. Loss of a comfortable, familiar social network is hard even if building and discovering one in a new surrounding is incredibly rewarding.

I have also been sinking a bit into myself, becoming reflective, examining all that exists in the layers of experiences I've had over the past few years.

This is not always a good thing but it's a necssary thing. And now that I feel a bit more on the other side of it, I realized that it was simply just a means to an end. A section of a mostly colourful and fantastical road that feels all encompassing and a little bit frightening.

Each time I face it, I learn more about myself. And that is what I cherish about adversity - large or small - there is always a hindsight sense that you would be less if you had not faced it.

And so I'm taking my positive energy and throwing it back to the universe for those who need it and returning the favour of all the positive-energy-sucking I did in the last couple of weeks.

Thanks. I needed it. And hopefully, it will be there for you when you need it to.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Discovery

I've been practicing yoga on and off now for about 7 years. And when I say 'on and off' I basically mean once a week at a gym during those times when I HAD a gym membership and as well as the occasional at home attempt which usually led to me asleep on the floor (according to D).

And so, when I discovered there was yoga at D's school and that it was FIVE CANADIAN DOLLARS a class, I decided it was well worth my time and money to sign up.

The best part was that rate also included a drop in rate. So, literally I would buy up a bunch of tokens to use at my leisure and not feel tied into going every week at a certain time. Because guess what? They're even MORE flexible - the classes are on 3 different days during the week, at different times. And lets face it, it's a FIVE MINUTE walk from my house.

I expected to stretch my muscles out a bit, help build some strength for my half marathon (support me here!!) and just generally have an excuse to get out of the house.

What I didn't expect was the healing of a very tiny body part that has been ailing me for over 3 years now.



Some of you may remember that I broke my foot while living in Korea. If you don't remember, it's probably because it wasn't even a cool story, although I should have just made something up but there were too many English speaking witnesses to blow that out of the water.

And since that break, I would say my foot was mediocre at best. Certainly over the course of 3 years it managed to heal somewhat - I DID run a half marathon on it so obviously it wasn't THAT out of sorts. But there was always something just not right. Just not exactly .. well .. healed.

Whenever I would exercise, it would always just ache a little bit afterwards, especially if I hadn't exercised in awhile. It was almost like the muscles would forget how to work. 

And it wasn't just my foot that was suffering. During the peak of my training, I was icing my knee every day. And just the ONE knee, the one that clearly was somehow compensating for that niggling little metatarsal that just didn't want to fully get back to normal.

So, I knew something with my foot had to be fixed. And I went to reflexology, massage therapists even just asked my doctor what the heck to do. Nothing seemed to really work.

Until one day in yoga. The teacher - who is amazingly focused and meticulously observant - looked down at my right foot as we were preparing our mountain pose and asked me to adjust it, ever so slightly INWARDS.

It was literally a quarter of an inch. A shift so tiny, I would not have seen it. And in an instant my mind was blown. Suddenly, my foot felt hot and tingly, like there were 100 different parts that had not been used in ..well..over 3 years. 

I just stared out for the rest of class in amazement at the sensation in my right foot. It was like a good morning stretch, an awakening of an asleep limb even the ache of a tired muscle. But I could at least FEEL it. And for the first time in over 3 years, I really felt the achy foot was finally going to be a thing of the past.

I excitedly told the yoga teacher that she, in an instant, had literally changed my life. And, as she backed away slowly, she cautioned me to 'be patient with that muscle'. Be patient with myself.

And so, over the course of about 3 weeks, I have seen a dramatic change. I started just standing on my right foot, engaging all those muscles that had been discovered again. I could feel it getting stronger, just the way you do with weight training a particular muscle. I just knew THIS was going to finally be the change that would make the difference.

I can now run without icing my knee. I can now wiggle my toes and feel the same flexibility as I do in my left foot. I can walk over the course of a full day and not feel the tired ache and pain in what D had begun to refer to as my 'old lady foot'. 

I am a new person with this foot. 

And I learned, once again, it's never to late to change the situation, to make it different, to find a way to just ever so slightly shift perspective.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Whadabaoucha?

In honour of St. Patrick's Day, I thought I would walk myself down memory lane from the first time we spent the holiday in Europe.We were living in Leeds and took off for a long weekend, not to Dublin, but to Belfast.

We had no idea that the 4 days we spent there would inspire us to want to move there.

Regardless of the political and religious undertones of the holiday and the city we spent it in, it became more for us our next beginning.

We stayed in a youth hostel right near the city centre area. We even got our own beds:

We were taken up the coast by my lovely cousins:


Saw beautiful scenery

Including the Giant's Causeway
Found a cute little pub (that quite quickly became on of our locals after we arrived)
Joined the crowds outside city hall
And of course, waved an Irish flag

And in all of this, somewhere amongst the revelry and finding of old relatives, we decided this would be a great place to continue our adventure abroad.

In the years that followed, I spent many a St. Paddy's day NOT working and drinking with friends at pubs, a bit  more lowkey then our first year in Belfast but all the same, just as social.

And so today, D and I will attempt to find a few folks who would like to be social with us today over a couple of of pints of Guinness. Hoping that conversation and great craic will be had.

Happy Happy to all.

Monday, March 15, 2010

What I'm learning the second time around

Training for a half marathon? Challenging.

Training for your SECOND half marathon? Harder then you thought.

I can't deny it - some strange section of my brain was taking for granted the fact that since I had already run a half marathon, the training for the SECOND half marathon was going to be a breeze.

Needless to say, I've been humbled - er well that part of my brain that was being so cocky has been humbled.

And even saying it or writing it down makes it so so obviously true that I'm wondering how that part of my brain actually got control of my thoughts anyway - how were all the other smarter brain cells not strong enough to overpower them? What? Too much red wine you say? Ok well when you put it like that...

Regardless, I'm all caught up now - yes, it IS actually just as hard, if not harder to 'get back on the horse' so to speak and go out there and train for something.

After a dismal 14km 2 weeks ago, I was a bit nervous about the 16km this past Saturday. But this, people, is clearly what my the smug part of my brain needed - a little reminder that IF THIS WAS EASY people would be running half marathons to work.

And as I was treking along this Saturday - with bit more focus, a little more fear and a lot more hydration - my thoughts suddenly went out to people who do sporty things for a living - or even not a living, but lets say ohh I dunno THOSE OLYMPIANS WHO WERE JUST IN TOWN.

I couldn't imagine training your whole life to attend your first Olympics. The rush, the buzz, the exhilaration of being there. All of these potentially in the back of your mind when you go there the first time.

The second? Well, you're expected to perform. And think about the language we used when we talk about the Olympians that have already won medals in previous competitions when they appear to be fading a bit the second time around, what's happened to them?, what's wrong with them?, they appear to be blowing it big time.

I am in no way shape or form comparing my amazing 'athletic prowess' (insert guffaw here) to an Olympian. I get the massive gap between their skill and my skill.

It's simply that I've been given a little insight into how much more difficult it is to try and do something the second time, especially if you have little portions of your brain that need a swift kick off some sort of neuro-pedestal.

My training is back on track, thanks to some proper preparation on Friday for a Saturday run. And I don't know that I'll be taking for granted the fact that I'm working towards doing something a second time.

Actually, the opposite. I feel that crossing the finish line for this half will be just as rewarding as the first. And, that's something I wasn't sure I'd get to feel again. So hey, sometimes the hardest lessons to learn come with the best rewards.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Fantabulous Flashback Fridays

I'm not sure I'm going to run out and patent that but I am going to get myself writing here a bit more regularly.

Good friends of mine are headed off on a 3 month trek around Asia and combine that with D's desire for me to GO THROUGH THAT SCRAPBOOKING BOX that I have forced him to move around the world and you get me wanting to write about travel again.

Since I'm not currently in a position to GO travelling, I thought I would venture back in time, piece by piece, through some of the stories - good and bad - that have happened to the two of us along the way.

And in the process, I might actually get to DOING something with all of those momentos that doesn't involve resealing them in ziplock baggies.

Stay tuned .... 

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Fresh Space = Fresh Start

After being happily swallowed up by the Olympics over the past 2 weeks, I'm getting myself back to normal here in our new home.

There had been some anticipation and 'wait until after the Olympics' type actions here since we arrived in January. Now that we've lived through that spectacular chapter, it's time to get down to the business of really digging into some of the things I've been wanting to do for a couple of years now.

Running


I've commited myself to another half marathon here in Vancouver at the beginning of May. I'm hoping for a personal best and am continuing to raise funds for a great cause - you can read more about it here:

http://www.canadahelps.org/GivingPages/GivingPage.aspx?gpID=6777

The weather has helped with my training immensely - as have the yoga and spin classes I'm able to attend. The serotonin is doing wonders for my mind and the physical aspects are allowing me to fit into my pants again.

Reading


I've started to keep two books on the go - one fiction and one non. I find that if I carve out some time right after dinner before I settle in for a couple of hours of TV, I can get through a good chunk of my non fiction and then save my fiction for just before bedtime.

Writing



Working from home has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me, especially because you tend to set up a specific work space if you're going to be there all day. It's done wonders for my creativity as well. I'm finding I can chunk out my time - work at my desk, personal at my desk - over the course of 10 hours in a day. The window view helps me regroup. And of course, the flowers always make me feel sunny.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Pride

I have been in many countries around the world and in every one of them, I wore a bag that had a Canadian flag on my backpack. Each new place I would visit would make me more proud than the last to be a Canadian.

It wasn't that there was anything wrong with the places or the people I was visiting, just that you realise you are who you are because of where you're from and it makes you feel even stronger about where you're from.

I don't know if it's because I'm here in the city of the Olympics or because age and travel have made me realise even more how great this country is or even if it is the nostalgia that comes with remembering the young girl who used to pump her fists at the end of a lap 'pracitcing' winning a gold medal or if in fact, it is all these reasons, but I have never felt prouder to be Canadian.

There is a sea of red everywhere you turn. Gloves. Hats. T-shirts. Sweatshirts. Painted chests. You name it. All red.

There are outburst of 'Go Canada Go' and impromptu singing of the national anthem. There are people of all ages cheering in the streets, high fiving each other, fist pumping and whooping it up.

And apologizing. Lots and lots of bumping into each other. Lots of "Oh I'm sorry". Lots and lots.

There is massive support. Not just for the Canadian events.You can see on the TV that all of the stands at all the events are usually full, whether its Finland against Norway or Canada versus the U.S.

We have always been a people who are very proud but we do it in a non-confrontational-i'm-sorry sort of way. It's when you hear other new organisations around the world praising the games, the organizers, the fans, the athletes that you really feel your heart bursting with pride.

I am proud of all our successes. The Own the Podium program seems to have shifted the way we think about the Olympics. It's no longer 'we tried our best' it's 'we're here to win'.

But what I'm most proud of is how we are hosting the world. It's cliche and sounds completely overdone but in plain in simple terms that's what we're doing. We are showing the world what Canada is all about. It's not just 'eh' and moose, Mounties and the McKenzie brothers.

It is atheletes with exceptional composure, ability and class. It is people who will cheer for the underdog, point a lost person in the right direction or even simply share a smile across a crowded sky train.


There are only 4 days left of these amazing games. I've been so lucky to share this with a few special people.

Perhaps that's what has made it so special and go by so quickly. I'm looking forward to heading back into the city streets one more time this weekend to soak up the atmosphere. I will be sad when it's over but realise how special it has been that I was part of this extraordinary world event.

My Olympic lesson? No matter how far I go or what country I live in, I will always be Canadian and always be proud to be one. Always.