Liebster Award

liebster

To top off my best blogging month ever,  a couple of days ago Jim at HealthWealthLife101 nominated me for a Liebster Award.  I did a little research on this award just to understand it a bit better and this is what I found out.

The Liebster Award: The Official Rules

So, not being a person who typically breaks the rules, I am going to do my best to comply.

Firstly, I would like to thank Jim for nominating me.  It’s was very kind of him so please go check out his blog.  HealthWealthLife101

Second,  I will answer Jim’s questions.

  1. How long have you been blogging? – one year
  2. Do you have other blogs that you would like to share? – nope
  3. What state or country do you live? – Vancouver, B.C., Canada
  4. What do you sometimes dream about? – Finding My Thing
  5. Do you collect anything as a hobby? – no. well……no
  6. What you blog about, is it your passion? – mostly it’s about other people’s passions
  7. Do you feel like you are a good friend? – I am an awesome friend
  8. Do you use any other social media tools? – Twitter, Facebook and Instragram
  9. Do you enjoy what you do? – I love my life
  10. Do you do a lot of traveling, and if so where have you been? – no, but I hope to
  11. Do you recently take the Blogging 101 course? – no I have not

Now I need to nominate six bloggers.

Writing For Myself

Jennifer’s Journal

Peonies and Petulance

Positively Unbroken

Edwina’s Episodes

And finally, ask them some questions.

1. What state or country do you live in?

2. What is the best thing about where you live?

3. What is your passion?

4. How do you relax?

5. Vanilla or chocolate?

6. Favorite vacation spot?

7. Favorite band?

8. Why do you blog?

9. What was the last book you read?

10. Weirdest thing you have ever eaten?

Done!

TBT – A Place of My Own

In the second installment of my Throw Back Thursday endeavor I chose a picture of my son sitting on the stairs in the townhouse we lived in for five years. It’s not the only picture of that time, or of that place, but somehow it always takes me back there.

everett on the stairs

When my son was three months old, I left my husband. I lived with my parents for six months but the reality was that I needed to start over and that meant finding my own place. With the help of a real estate agent I looked at, what seemed like, hundreds of apartments and condos on the North Shore of Vancouver. I loved this place as soon as I walked in. It was roomy and bright and just felt good. My son did not have such a great first impression. As we were leaving I had sat him down on the first step going up from the foyer. I was standing in front of him while I put my shoes on but somehow he worked his way around my legs and fell head first onto the tiled entryway floor. He cried non stop for the next hour. I bought it anyway.

When we first moved in I had very little of anything. I had borrowed a crib and a change table from my sister. I had a mattress and a side table in my bedroom. The kitchen had a folding table, four folding chairs and a high chair. The living/dining room had a cardboard box with a borrowed black and white TV on top of it. A few weeks after I moved in my brother bought me a love seat for the living room. So basically I had a lot of empty space. With a nine month old boy just starting to pull up and walk it was actually great. Lots of play space and room for building block cities and hot wheels race tracks. Great when he was there. Empty and lonely when he was not.

Part of the reason that I chose this townhouse was how close it was to everything that I would need. I could walk to stores, restaurants and a great park just down the street. That first year was made so much better with green space to enjoy a couple of blocks away. On the weekends I would put my son in the stroller at nap time and he would have a nice long sleep while I got some much-needed exercise exploring the neighborhood. The townhouse also had a great patio off the living room that my son could crawl out onto and not get into any trouble. We planted flowers in a big half barrel that year and spent lots of time chasing each other around it and enjoying the sun.

Every wall in the townhouse was white when I first moved in. Boring yes, but also a blank canvas. Coming out of a very controlling relationship, I can remember how great it was to be able to decide on whatever I wanted to do with this blank canvas. I could put up any artwork I wanted to and paint walls any colour I wanted. Freedom. Exhilarating, heady freedom. I couldn’t afford a lot but I bought what I liked and hung it wherever I wanted to. Some of the art was even hung a bit crooked. I loved it. And I didn’t have to ask anybody what they thought. A very new concept for me. And I bought fresh flowers every week. Just because I wanted to.

It was a difficult time for sure but after a few months I met someone and eventually he helped my son and I fill up all the empty space in the townhouse. I no longer needed to buy flowers to cheer myself up and welcomed a second opinion on where to hang the artwork. The Best Thing in Life is new beginnings.

Pumpkin Patch

Run Lisa Run

ultra running 3

More and more I am finding that road running is hurting my aging body. The repetitive pounding on pavement is tough on my muscles and, despite some fabulous new runners, my hips and knees are often crying by the end of a 10km run. So I’ve been turning to trail running lately and I have really been enjoying it. Why am I surprised? I think it has something to do with my dislike of running up steep hills. A couple of weeks ago a friend and I ran a 20km trail run with about 1200 ft of elevation gain. It felt great and I patted myself on the back many times. Could I run that again? Could I run that five times over? Not likely. My friend Lisa can and does. She runs ultra marathons.

An ultra marathon race is defined as anything longer than a 26.2 mile marathon. The most common distance are 50km and 100km but people do 50 and 100 mile races as well. The races that Lisa participates in are trail ultra marathons. Run on paths and trails in the mountains. Factors to consider are elevation, inclement weather and, I would imagine, wildlife. You may even start or finish in the dark (or both) depending on the time of year and your speed. Trail running is a different beast altogether from road running. Your pace is way slower (and you just need to accept that) and with roots, rock and creeks to get over you need to pay attention to where you are putting your feet. And it’s dirty. Muddy dirt usually. Or hot and dusty. Sounds like fun. Right?

Ultra Running 1

I would think it takes a certain type of person to run an ultra race. In general, ultra runners are a well-educated group of people. Focused, organized and definitely type A. And yes, in my eyes, just a little bit crazy. So much of this type of running is mental. Lisa was having a particularly hard time on a recent race and was almost ready to drop out. Her running partner asked her if she was okay. She said yes. “Then get your head out of your ass”. She did just that and finished the race. The community that supports these runners is also incredibly genuine and inclusive. One of the men that Lisa often competes with finished this particular race two hours ahead of her. Yet, there he was as she crossed the finish line cheering her on and congratulating her on a great race.

So when she runs a 100km Lisa is out on the trail for approximately 15-16 hours. I was curious to find out how she fueled for one of these adventures. She said that the races typically provide aid stations that supply, among other things, electrolyte drinks, cola and potato chips. What? These are elite athletes and they are scarfing down junk food every 15km. Yup. Think about it. What are you losing when you sweat that much? Salt and lots of it. And the cola? Well a little sugar and caffeine never hurts, but it can also provide a welcome change from water and electrolyte drinks. Lisa carries Vega gels, stinger waffles and Cliff packs but readily admits to not always eating enough during a race. Sometimes she doesn’t feel she needs it, sometimes her stomach is upset and sometimes she just forgets. I was tempted to ask the inevitable question of how do you relieve yourself, but really, does anybody need to now that?

But really what I did need to know from Lisa was this. You have a full-time job, a husband and young daughter and you spend roughly twelve hours a week running plus cross training sessions. Where do you find the time? I feel that perhaps this is the downside of what she does. She admits that the lifestyle is not always conducive to a balanced relationship with her husband and daughter. They support her and are incredibly proud of her accomplishments, but something has to give when you are spending that amount of time dedicated to a hobby. If you are going to do this you need to do it 100% or it just isn’t worth doing. Also, her social life revolves around running. “If you’re not into running and craft beer there’s a pretty good chance that we won’t be friends.” She does have a dog. Spencer. But apparently he is the worst trail dog ever. Why? “He’s so slow”.

Lisa has run twenty three 50km races.  Last Spring she ran the Miwok 100 and next month she will run the Zion 100. She tries to pick races that are held in places that would be cool to visit and that have activities for the whole family. For her, trail running is about adventure and exploration by foot.  While I am super proud of my 20km trail running achievement, The Best Thing in Life is having something to work toward. Oh who am I kidding. Never. Going. To. Happen.

ultra skeleton

A Shoebox Full of Memories

Venice 2

I have a shoebox of pictures that has been sitting in a corner of my bedroom for many months. Today I picked it up and looked through it. Pictures from when I was a baby, a toddler and a school kid. Pictures of me and my friends from high school, college and my early twenties. Pictures of my wedding and my kids. What will I do with this shoebox of memories? I will use it as the inspiration for Throw Back Thursdays. Each week (hopefully) I will pick a picture and try to recreate the story behind that picture or pictures. Wish me luck.

The picture I chose today is of me at age twenty in St. Mark’s Square in Venice. This was about two and a half months into a four-month adventure in Europe with my friend Kathryn. We had taken the overnight train the night before from Florence and were spending the day wandering around the city. The pigeons in St Mark’s were ridiculous. They were, at times, a little frightening. If you stopped feeding them they would follow you around pecking at your feet and reminding you that they were there. Just in case you hadn’t noticed the few thousand of them lurking around. Every once in a while something would startle them and they would all rise and fly around for a few seconds. The noise from their wings was deafening.

At lunch time we found a little cafe with tables and chairs outside on one of the canals. We thought we had ordered sandwiches and two glasses of wine that we could afford but the waiter brought out a bottle and plopped it on the table. Even though we protested in our best Italian we ended up blowing the whole day’s budget on a bottle of red wine that was so delicious that in the end we didn’t care how much it cost. Guess we would be eating crackers for dinner. The sun was shining and we had no cares, other than the fact we would be eating crackers for dinner. The waiters were no doubt having a good laugh at our expense. They probably hadn’t thought about the fact that they wouldn’t be getting a good tip. If they got one at all.

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the tiny streets and looking into the stores. The carnival masks, that were everywhere, were beautiful but kind of creepy at the same time. Brilliant colours and dramatic shapes covered in bright ribbons and jewels. Crimson lips and smoky eyes seemed to be watching you from the stores walls. I could picture some of them on a tall man with a long black cape and hood skulking around corners and sweeping unsuspecting young girls into dark corners. Venice, for me, was one of those cities that I found exciting and scary. It felt mysterious and just a little dark. Not a place I would want to be late at night yet I imagined they have some great parties.

At the end of a long day we took the ferry back to our hostel. Kate fished the bottle of Amaretto we had bought in Florence the day before out of her backpack and we sat on her bunk, toasted Venice and ate crackers. The next day we would take the train to Vienna and our adventure would continue.  The Best Thing in Life is remembering days like this and smiling a little.

Have Courage and Be Kind

cinderella

Okay so I stole my title from the moral tag line in the new Cinderella movie, but if the shoe fits. Ya, I guess I stole that part too. It’s just so happens that at a time when my seven-year old daughter is having some seven-year old girl issue, we went to see this movie and it couldn’t have been better timing. In Cinderella she must deal with her wicked stepmother and step sisters, who, let’s be honest, are as close to a group of seven-year old girls as you are going to get. Cinderella is told by her dying mother to have courage and be kind. For the most part she succeeds, but there is only so far you can push a princess before she starts to push back. So how do you teach your princess to “be kind” without losing that fighting spirit in them that we love so much?

This is not a blog about bullying because I am not picking a side with anybody. Young girls are, well, mean for lack of a better word. And believe me I am including my little darling in that group. One minute they are best friends and the next they are mortal enemies not to be invited to birthday parties. Ever. Strong personalities are emerging, interests are changing and some are maturing faster than others. Why does being seven have to be so hard? And why can’t they listen when we try to help them understand? Is it because their minds just can’t process that what they are saying may be hurtful? Because it seems like we, as parents, say the same thing over and over again and they nod their sweet heads and say “I know” and then they walk out the door and do the exact same thing again. It’s like banging you head against a brick wall. It’s a pretty pink brick wall, but it hurts just the same.

ballerinas pushing

In trying to help them, the natural instinct may be to say something like “you don’t need a friend like that anyway” or “just go play with somebody else” or perhaps “I hope you told her you don’t want to be her friend either”. You know you’ve wanted to. Right? It’s just not that simple though. They really WANT to still be friends with the girl who they are disagreeing with. They are just frustrated and maybe even hurt or angry with them but they perhaps lack the cognitive skill to know how to deal with those feelings in a grown up way. I think it’s pretty safe to say that as an adult woman I have had the exact same feelings. Imagine you are having drinks with the girls one night and a friend interrupts your funny story about what you did on the weekend. You know you should politely wait until she is done with her story and then continue yours but what you really want to do is scream “Don’t interrupt me bitch I’m talking right now”.

So with your little princess do you step in and guide them through the rough patch or do you back off and just let them deal with it in their own way? I know that no matter what I do it is going to happen. At seven and at seventeen. But nobody wants their daughter to be “that girl”. You want them to be the girl who has her own opinions and stands up for herself in a kind and respectful way. Is it just a matter of time? If I keep repeating the “be kind” mantra will it one day sink in and take root or is there more I could and should be doing? Nobody said parenting was easy but crap this is really hard and as a mother and a woman it is hard to take the emotion out and just approach it in a reasonable manner. If anybody out there has any pearls of wisdom to send me please send them my way.

For the most part I take comfort in knowing that I am not alone in is. I have friends who have raised confident, mature young adults and friends who are still in the thick of it, like me. We may struggle on a daily basis with the task of teaching our girls to “have courage and be kind” but really, would we have it any other way? My daughter continues to be full of Piss and Vinegar and that is on of The Best Things in Life.

A Year in Review

Today marks exactly twelve months since my first post.  That post is now my touch stone for when I question myself or need some focus.  Finding My Thing has made for an interesting year and when I went back and looked at all of my posts, I am astonished at just how much I have written.  I actually had forgotten a few of them.  So I have decided to remind myself, and you, of a few of them.  It’s really just shameless self promotion but I’m trying to make it sound deep and introspective.  Is it working?  So take a look, click on the links and let me know your favorites.

yoga drawing

My First Yoga class was my second ever post and it still cracks me up to think about that class.  My friend Randi continues to help me understand yoga and I am so grateful for that.   The drawback is that I now don’t need to go and see my friend Wendy quite so much for massage.  A big part of finding my thing has been reconnecting with friends like Rob and finding out about their passions.  I hope in some small way I have given back to them what they have given to me.  Aimee’s cakes are continuing to amaze me and Sarina’s commitment to soccer for women is going strong.  Jane’s struggle with Brain Injury continues but Making Pastry with her was good for both of us.

vans

My family has been the subject of a few blogs and my son actually wrote one of the most read pieces I have ever posted.  Surviving Seventeen and In Response to Surviving Seventeen started a great dialogue and now months later I have realized that I am indeed very similar to my now Eighteen Year Old son.  My seven year old is still full of Piss and Vinegar and we often bond over our Addiction to Organization.  My husband (bless his heart) supports me and regularly acts as my editor.  In Finally Learning What Love Is you can find out how our love started and has lasted fourteen years through ups and downs.  Oh, and don’t forget to call Call Your Mom.

fifty cake

Really though, it has been all about me.  LOL.  Okay not in that way, but in a good way.  In the year that I turned Fifty I have put my Darkest Times behind me and have learnt to relax.  I’ve looked at my relationships with Friends.  I’ve talked about my Regrets.  I’ve made Marathon Decisions and ended up Happy?  I’m still running but rethinking spending 33 Hours in a Van again.  I am now Sugar Free (well, only if you don’t count wine) and have never felt better.  I have questioned my motives and direction but then a friend made me realize that I will Find My Way. 

Thank you for reading and commenting.  Here to another year of adventure.

cropped-small-blog-photo.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Oh My God I’m An 18 Year Old Boy!

Me and Everett June 2104

In my ongoing search for my “thing” in life I have come to a startling realization. I am way more like my eighteen year old son than I ever thought. Last June he graduated from high school and has spent the past nine months working. He has three jobs right now, all in different fields. He got all three jobs on his own and has been incredibly responsible in keeping track of his schedule and being on time. Mostly. He is not sure, however, of his next steps. He has looked at some university programs but isn’t 100% committed. I left my job a year ago and have spent the last twelve months keeping track of my traveling husband and my active seven-year old. Oh, and writing this blog. Where are the next few years going to take me? I don’t really know, but I do feel a need to find something to set my sights on.

So, how are we alike?

1. We both feel, deep down, that we have some unique, creative thing to offer the world but we just don’t know what it is or how to get it out there. While writing this blog has been great and I continue to enjoy the process and the opportunity it has given me to reconnect with old friends, I can’t help but feel unsure of where I am heading with it. My son had thought that he might pursue a career in video game design and animation. He took a number of courses in high school and looked at continuing that into college. As its turns out, it is really more of an interest than something he felt he wanted do as a career. I think that this was largely because he is not a strong drawer. Being creative means being judged subjectively and we are both wary of that.

2.  We both gravitate towards things that offer us instant (or close to it) gratification. Probably why I never went back to school. I have, for many years, berated my poor son on his ability to sit at the computer for hours playing video games. Not the shoot ’em up kind but the multi player on-line battles like Defense of the Ancients. (go look it up) When I asked him why he loves them so much he said it was because they gave him instant gratification. Honestly, I rolled my eyes and sighed but I am now slightly embarrassed to say that I get it. I think that I too look for things in my life that give me regular reinforcement and encouraging pats on the back. I think it’s why I enjoy running so much. I can do it and instantly know exactly how far and fast I have gone. If we can’t see the goal we lose sight of the meaning.

3.  We are social but not social butterflies. I love a good party and feel that friends are an immensely important part of anybody’s life. I am also quite comfortable being alone and have been known to pass on social invitations in favor of my jammies. While my jammies are comfortable and all, I have been burnt and some times I use them as an excuse to close myself off a bit. My son has never had a large circle of friends and I often felt that he needed to be more assertive in going out and creating relationships. Now I see that he is also okay being on his own. In the past few months, through his new jobs, he has developed some friendships which is great. But I also see him holding back a bit. Not wanting to dive in too deep. Just in case.

4.  We are more than willing to work hard so long as what we need to do is clearly mapped out in front of us. Or organized. Love a well-organized project. You tell me what to do and I will work my ass off until it is done. Conversely, If I don’t have a set plan I tend to wander off and end up being unproductive. The past year has shown me that in spades. If I am being 100% honest with this I need to say that for my part,this is probably due to a of lack of confidence. In high school if my son had a project assigned to him he tended to leave it until the last-minute and then panic. Not because he didn’t want to do the work but because he often didn’t know how to get started. He is, however, happily holding down three jobs with not one complaint. In fact he has never been happier to be told what to do and get paid for it.

As I read this back to myself some things become clearer while other are still unresolved. Have I managed to make it to fifty without ever really growing up? How can I expect him to know where he is going when I don’t? Have I done enough to foster a feeling of confidence in my son?

How can I move past what is holding me back and in turn show him the way?

The Best Thing in Life is that learning never ends.

It’s a Beautiful Day in The Neighborhood

As I headed out on my morning run the words of the iconic Mr Rogers echoed in my head. It was a beautiful day in my neighborhood. The sun was shining and it was cool. Perfect day for a run. It wasn’t just that though. As I ran on the streets and trails I passed people out enjoying the good weather. Without fail I was greeted with a smile and/or a good morning. The older gentlemen engrossed in their own conversation, the mom chasing her toddler on his run bike, the couple with their dog and the elderly lady with her walker coming home from the market. Everyone friendly, warm and inclusive. So how is it that this friendly and open neighborhood is embroiled in controversy over the proposal of a recovery house for addicts being built in the area?

The reason most of us chose this area to live in is because it has such a community feeling to it. Great schools, rec centers, soccer fields, skating rinks, pools, beaches, a ski hill and locally owned businesses all within a half hour from downtown. Residents take pride in the homes and gardens and are often heard bragging about the lifestyle we enjoy. Sure, it rains a great deal out this way, but you do get used to it. Oh, did I mention the two golf courses where you can often see bears, deer and coyotes sharing space with the golfers. Deep Coves charm is a huge draw for not only locals but day trippers too. Ever had a Honeys Donut after a hike to Quarry Rock? There is no denying that it is a great place to live and raise a family but really it’s the people who live here that make it a community.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though. Tragedy has struck our area many times in the past few years. Young and old have lost loved ones and struggled with unimaginable events and without question the people who live around them have rallied and supported them. Last year a young boy died tragically in the park close to my house. The school that he had attended and the neighbors did everything needed to support the single mother. Raising money, arranging meals and helping out with the sibling left behind. Nobody thought twice about helping her out. Less tragic events have also brought out the best in our community. A friend of mine got separated from her dog while biking on the trails of Mt Seymour. Within hours word had spread on social media and anybody heading onto the mountain was looking for Skya. Doing what they could to help out somebody they didn’t even know. Fortunately the smart puppy had already headed home to Lynn Valley.

I like to think it’s pretty safe to say that we embrace a widely diverse group of people in the Mt Seymour area. Young and old. I can’t go a mile without seeing a new mom out with her baby. Probably heading to the drop in baby check at Parkgate Rec Centre. A few years ago a new Seniors housing apartment was built and that has brought a whole new population segment to the area. The residence of the Tsleil-Waututh nation comprise a good portion of this community and their traditions and influences are everywhere. My daughter goes to school with kids from Japan, China, Korea, Venezuela, Mexico, England and Scotland. Our kids never question where somebody is from or why they speak a different language. They are all just fellow students. I love the outdoors and take full advantage of all this area has to offer. Bikers, hikers and runners share the trails. But if you don’t like mud and steep hills we won’t judge you.

I personally know alcoholics and recovering drug addicts that live in our area. You probably do to. You’ve probably met them. They live in your neighborhood. Your kids go to school with their kids. You just don’t know that because these people are trying to heal and publicizing their struggles isn’t something they find helpful. Most of them have used a facility like the one proposed for our area at some time in their journey. So why is that we can’t open our hearts for these people who only want to improve their lives? Why can’t we be inclusive of them the way we are inclusive of so many others?