Changing Paths Mid Steam…..Successfully

split river

In a perfect world I would have had a cool exciting career for a number of years, married, had kids and then recreated myself with a new fabulous career that would allow me to be creative, work from home and set my own hours.  Sounds pretty sweet doesn’t it?  My friend Lisa has done just that.  Not sure if I should hate her or be ridiculously inspired?  Maybe both?  Oh, and did I mention she’s a super nice person?  Kind of makes it hard to hate her.

When I first met her, Lisa and I both worked for a local sports and entertainment company.  She did public relations for the hockey team that the company owned and I worked in the finance department.  Looking back, her job was way cooler than mine. The building we worked in was brand new and they had just acquired an NBA team.  Concerts, hockey games, basketball games. Lots of young, single people working in a dynamic environment.  Any job there was fun really, but Lisa’s job involved dealing with the team, players and the media.  Hard work but really cool.

So fast forward a few years and we end up living in the same neighborhood.  Married to men we met while working for the sports company and with kids fairly close in age.  We would run into each other at the skating rink, swimming pool and local parks fairly regularly.  A couple of years ago it came up in conversation that Lisa and her husband had built a new house and that Lisa had designed it herself.  Top to bottom.  Yes, they are still happily married.

After her kids were both in school she looked at going back to work but her field had changed so much it would have meant practically starting over.  Public relation no longer involved typing up media releases and booking pressers.  Social media had revolutionized the way her former job was done.  So she figured that if she was going to go back to school, she may as well do something she loved.  She started taking course in Interior Design.  I was really impressed that she had gone back to school and was pursuing her passion.  Yes, impressed and jealous too.

So a few months ago. when I decided to renovate my kids bathroom she was the first person I called.

Being a complete renovation rookie I decided to start small and have Lisa help me find my style.  I went into the process not really knowing what to expect from her or myself.  Would we butt heads?  Would she laugh at my choices in lighting?  Would my kids bathroom end up looking like a mix of Disney and video game design?  You just never know these things until you get right into it.

All I can say is, thank god for her.  There were so many little things that I never would have thought of and so many poor decision I would have made it if weren’t for her.  The shape of the toilet, the shade of paint for the walls, towel hooks instead of a towel rod.  The list goes on.  Although the overall look came from me, Lisa took the time to help me with details that made such a big difference.  I believe that is the mark of good designer.  Somebody who can take your vision and make it a reality without over stepping.  Oh, and somebody who knows how to deal with contractors and suppliers in a no bullshit kind of way.

It was a great way to get introduced to home renovations.  My kids have a fabulous new bathroom and now I am ready to tackle my master bathroom.

But really, it has shown me much more than how to create a beautiful space and spend thousands of dollars.  It’s shown me that you can teach an old dog new tricks.  (Lisa, this on no way implies that you, or I, are old dogs). It’s shown me that some of the Best Things in Life can come out of following your passion at any point in your life.

A Different Approach – “Tales of the Momside”

Roche Trail

It was the fourth time that night that she had woken up.  Sweating and burning like a furnace had just been switched on inside her.  She threw the covers off and waited until it was over.  Waited until she could feel the chill creep back into her.  Once it did, she pulled the covers back over her and tried to get back to sleep. God damn hot flushes.  One good nights sleep.  Was that too much to ask for?  Of course, the second glass of wine she had at dinner last night wasn’t helping.

A few hours later, standing in the cold at the trail head, she hoped her bad nights sleep wouldn’t affect her run.  She could just get back into the truck and text her friend and running partner a lame excuse.

I feel sick.

The school called.

The cat is sick.

Really? The cat is sick?  That is the lamest excuse ever for not going for a run.  Too late.  Her friend pulled her truck into the spot beside hers and jumped out.


As ready as she could be to run up the side of a mountain.

They chatted for the first ten minutes or so but then the trail got steep and breathing became the priority.  One day, she hoped, this would get easier.

At some point the trail leveled off a bit and their conversation started up again.  As it did on most days, the topic turned to seven-year old girls and schools yard disagreements.  Raising spirited girls was a tough job and they both needed all the help they could get.

“Why are girls so mean?”  I asked.

“I don’t know if they’re mean or if they just don’t understand how their words can hurt people?”  Her friend countered.

She told her how she had taken her daughter her lunch yesterday and seen her daughter’s friend Katy crying on the playground.

“I asked her what was wrong and she told me that Liv and Gail had told her she couldn’t play with them.”

Her friend smirked because she had heard this all many times.

“I know right.  So this is how my conversation with her went.”


“Why can’t Katy play with you ?”

“It’s not my fault?”

“I didn’t say it was your fault I just asked why she can’t play with you and Gail?”

“We want to make fairy houses and she didn’t want to.”

“Yes I do”. Katy adds wiping her drippy nose.

She had told her daughter that a good friend needs to remember two things.  Be kind and treat your friends like you would want them to treat you.

“How would you feel if Katy and Gail said that you couldn’t play with them?”


Her friend nodded in agreement and sympathy.

“But you know what?  I bet you anything you have the same conversation next week too.” She said.

“Ya, I know.  But I had to try.”

It’s a conversation they have had many times.  Different names.  Different scenarios.  But the same general idea.  All of this seemed much easier eleven years ago when she had been raising a boy.

Just as she thought her legs might give out the trail dipped briefly.  But then they rounded a corner and faced another uphill stretch.  No wonder they called this trail Old Buck.

“Is Don away this week?”

“Yup. And next week too.  James?”

“Leaving tomorrow until Friday.”

Another shared challenge in their lives.  Husbands who travelled for work.  They joked about finally getting the bed to themselves again when they went away but the reality was that they couldn’t wait for the days when they came home.  Having another adult in the house evened up the numbers.

“Ugh thank god.”

They had reached the top of the climb.  She pulled up and let out a huge breath as they approached the junction for the next trail.

Now came her favorite part. Running down.  If her friend had an advantage on the uphill, this was her time to lead.  Maybe it was her low centre of gravity.  She could fly down the trail with a huge smile on her face.  It made the slog up the hill almost worth it.

Sometimes the mountain trails are like life.  The familiar ones are often easy to navigate and even welcoming.  The unknown ones can be difficult and may even seem intimidating.

“So what’s up for the rest of the day?”

“Hot lunch volunteering.  Liv’s got dance after school.  Hey can you email me the recipe for that apple salad dressing?”

The rest of the run was spent alternating between quiet periods punctuated with laboured breathing on the uphills and catching their breath on the downhills. All the time catching up on neighborhood gossip and laughing at parenting fails.

An hour and a half later they were back at the parking lot and both admitted to feeling better.  Both women knew the power of not only a good workout but the power of good company.  The past couple of years had been stressful for both of them and they had come to rely on physical exertion to solve the problems of the world.  Okay, maybe not the whole world, but their world for sure.

To be continued.

snowy trail

33 Hours In A Van – Re-posted from a year ago

ragnar start

It’s 7:30 am and twelve moms are arriving in two vans at Peace Arch State Park in Blaine, Washington. The plan is to race with 500 other teams on a 200 mile course from Blaine to Whidbey Island, Washington. Each team member will run three legs over the course of about 33 hours. Some legs are easy and some are hard. Some will be run in the heat of the day and others in the dead of night. We are all excited and nervous at the same time. Am I ready? Can I do this? Too late now. The announcer is calling our team. We line up to see our first runner go. Five, four, three, two, one…..race!

Lisa starts us off with a 10 km leg while van two heads back to the hotel. They won’t start running until 1:45 this afternoon. They may get a bit more sleep but I don’t imagine waiting around for five hours does anything for the nerves. At least we, van one, are off and running; literally. The temperature isn’t bad for the first two or three legs but by the time I run at 11:40am the sun is full on and it’s hot in Ferndale. As I start my 10 km run through the small town, I can’t see any other runners and no vans have passed me for a while. I start to panic and my heart rate goes up. What if I missed my turn. I don’t see any signs. Crap. Finally a van passes me with writing all over the windows. Okay, I’m going the right way. Head down keep running. Where the hell is that “one mile to go” sign? Once I’m done there’s one more runner and we are done our first legs. Time to eat and rest.

ragnar 1

After a much needed meal at the Train Wreck pub in Burlington (how appropriate) we get out our sleeping bags and find some shade at the high school designated for our exchange with the other van. All over the schools lawn teams are sleeping, fueling or just chilling. Team spirit is alive and well in these events. Some go all out with costumes and themes. We see two team members dressed as sumo wrestlers preparing to meet their runner. The “butt girls” as we have named them, are all running with plastics bare butts around their waists. These runs are hard enough as it is, why make it harder? Another team is dressed as the cast of Star Wars. Storm Trooper and all. We are Team Reruns Eh. We proudly represent Canada in our red and white maple leaf t-shirts with some embellishments provided by Sharon. We can easily identifiy Emily by her sparkly tutu. We wonder how van 2 is doing? It’s hot and they have some serious elevation to run.

At about 6:30pm our second legs start. It will be dark soon so we all make sure we have our night gear. Reflective vest, butt flasher and head lamp. My second leg starts at about 9:30pm. It’s pitch black as I ran up the hill and around the corner in a light rain. I hear bull frogs croaking in the ditches and imagine some backwoods crazy jumping out and pulling me into the woods. It weird what goes through your head when you’re running alone in the dark. All the runners I had seen during the previous leg have suddenly disappeared. Did I smell that bad? Slowly they start coming up behind me. One at a time they pass me. Good job. Good job. They each say as they motor past me. I was probably at about 13km and I needed to walk for a bit and stretch my calves. A guy comes up behind me and says “Don’t stop.” Under my breath I say “Asshole.” Two seconds later another guy passes me and says “You’re doing great. Keep it up”. As he catches up to the asshole who has just passed me he chastises him for being negative. My faith in runners is re-established.

So we are done with our second legs and it’s time to get some rest. We drive to Oak Harbour and find some space in the gym to lay out our sleeping bags. It’s 1:15am. Within minutes we were all asleep. Okay, maybe not everybody as Donna made the unfortunate choice to lay down beside somebody who snored; loudly. In what seemed like about 10 minutes it’s time to get up. it’s 4:30 am.  At this point the only thing keeping us going is the fact that we know this will be our last leg. When this one is done we were finished. It’s cool and threatening to rain. The last runner for van 2 is coming in. They have had a brutal night. Three of their head lamps died, Leanna had to give another team her flashlight as their headlamp died too and didn’t have a back up and Rosa tripped and gashed her knee. They are still smiling though.

ragnar 2

At this point you can tell that runners are tired. Stiff legs and lack of sleep is catching up with everybody. My final 8km leg is along a beautiful shady road with views of the water. I could have just stopped and headed down to the beach. No, really I could have, that’s how tired I was. Somehow, though, we all manage to cut a few minutes off our projected times and arrive in Coupeville ahead of schedule. Chris, van 2’s first runner, is fueled with a good breakfast and ready to go. They have gotten some rest and are also looking forward to their last legs. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that you have accomplished so much in really, a very short time. As Jen said on Saturday night when it was all over, it’s a leap of faith to get into a van with 5 women who you may or may not even know and push yourself to do things you probably have never done.

At about 3:45 pm as we all run across the finish line together,  I think to myself, The Best Thing in Life is spending 33 hours in a van, finishing a race with 11 other crazy women and having memories and friendships that will last forever. It is a leap of faith that I will most likely take again…..but not for a couple of years.

ragnar 3

Just Do It

just do it

Three simple words that Nike has used for years to inspire.  But sometimes even the great and powerful Nike can’t make you “just do it”.  Quite often, the even more powerful foe, procrastination, wins the battle.

How many of you out there have something that you need to get done and well, you just aren’t doing it?  I’m gonna go with about 97% of you.  Maybe more.  And if you are one of the 3% that are doing everything.  Call me.  We need to talk.

I had a small task I needed to get done a few weeks ago.  Nobody else would be effected if I didn’t do it.  Nobody would even know if I didn’t do it.  But I knew that I needed to get it done….for my own good.  Yet, it sat there on my To Do list for days.  Taunting me and laughing at me each morning.  I could have just crossed it off and moved on.  But I didn’t.

I did it.  Eventually.  And once it was done it felt so good.  I actually felt good about two seconds after I started doing it because I knew then that it was going to get done. And it only took me about half an hour.  Half an hour.  So why did it take me so long to get it done?

According to Psychology Today the underlying reasons most people procrastinate is fear of failure, fear of success or perfectionism.  Fear of success?  Pretty sure that I think I can cross the last two off.  But I knew that nobody else would see or judge what I did.  How could I fail if that was the case.  Yes, the mind is a strange and powerful force that can make you do things without you even knowing.

The funny thing is that I see my son and my husband doing it too and it drives me crazy.

“Why haven’t you booked your drivers test yet?”

“Dunno. Busy.”

Busy?  Doing what?  Now me, I’m really busy.  I could be busy all day long.  There’s laundry and cleaning the cat’s box and sorting my sock drawer.  (No really, that actually is something I need to do). The fact of the matter is none of us are so busy that we can’t do that thing that needs to get done.  Typically it’s something that we know will help us.  Be it financially, emotionally or spiritually.  But yet we put it off in favor of a menial task that has no consequence.

Is there a solution to this dilemma?  Other than Nike’s?  A way to put aside the fear of whatever it may be that is holding us back?  If there is, I really need to know what it is because once I completed my small task……I realized that it had led me to an even bigger task.  And now I’m not getting that done either.

The Best Thing in Life is just getting it done.

PS. I’ve been meaning to write this for a while now but well, you know.

TBT – Whidbey Island

Whidbey Island

My kids were 14 and 3 in this photo.  It was close to sunset and they were enjoying the warm July weather on Whidbey Island.  Dave Mackie Park at the south end of the island to be exact. My son was skimboarding and my daughter was just splashing and rolling in the sand.  You know, because there was a small spot on her that wasn’t yet fully en-grained with sand.

About 5 second after this my son jumped out of the water screaming and grabbing at his shorts.  I assumed he had been stung by a jelly fish or nipped by a grouchy crab.  Nope.  He had forgotten to take his phone out of the pocket of his shorts and it was now thoroughly soaked with salt water and sand.  Lesson learned.

There’s something about the light at that time of day that I love.  It typically means, to me, that you have been outside (at the beach) all day.  You have sand in your hair.  The smell of Coppertone still lingers on your skin even though your skin is maybe a little tight from too much sun.  Every muscle in your body is relaxed and fully exhausted.  You can almost taste the cold glass of wine that is waiting for you in the fridge at home and are almost guaranteed that the kids will be asleep at (or before) bedtime.  What’s the saying?  Life is good!

This particular week we spent with my husband’s family.  His grandparents had flown out from Eastern Tennessee, his mom came from Virginia and his sister and her family came from Dallas. We had rented a house with a great yard and a hot tub close to the beach.  What more could you want?  Except maybe a couple more rooms.

We all got to do some stuff we wanted to do.  I got to go for long runs on the country roads in the morning and sleep on the beach in the afternoon.  My husband and son got to tour the Boeing Factory and take in a game at Safeco Field.   My daughter and nephew got to go to beach every day and fly kites with Grandma.  Grandma got to go to the beach every day and fly kites with her grandkids.  My sister and brother-in-law had an opportunity to experience the Pacific Northwest in all its glory.  Everybody was happy.

liv and joey

In a couple of weeks we will be packing up the truck and heading to San Diego to do it all again.  My husband’s grandparents won’t be there this time.  My son may or may not come.  (Things like this aren’t quite as fun when you are almost 19.)  My daughter and nephew, however, will once again enjoy the beach every day.  My mother in law organizes these weeks to bring the family together from all over North America.  Even though it’s only every few years it connects all of us with common memories.

The Best Things in the World is coming together as a family….once every 5 years.