January 26, 2017

At the age of fifty two I by no means believe that I am invincible. I was, however, a bit shocked when I headed out for my regular run today and had to stop one mile in because I was in excruciating pain.

Never in my thirty years of running have I limped home from a run.

After my run two days ago my right hip started to give me some trouble. By trouble I mean stiffness, pain and general acheiness. Nothing I couldn’t handle. Nothing I hadn’t felt before. The next day was better and I thought I was in the clear.

How then, could today have gone so wrong?

Could it be that thirty years of pounding the pavement have finally caught up with me? No, I tell myself, that just can’t be true. I’ll stretch, roll on it, I’ll rest….I’ll hope.

The Best Thing in Life is hope…..because right now that’s all I got.

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TBT – Motorcycle

motorcycle

Yup, that’s me.  Don’t believe me?  Can’t say that I blame you.  It’s a far cry from the slightly greying, conservative bob cut that I am currently sporting.  My wardrobe now is a tad more conservative too.  Jeans, white crew neck tshirt and vans are more my speed these days.

I think this picture was taken in the mid ’90s which would put me at about 30 years old.  I’m basing that on the jacket I’m wearing and the hairstyle I’m sporting.  Definitely pre-kids.

So why did I pick this picture for Throw Back Thursday?  I’m not sure.  Could I be missing some “wild” in my life?  Not really.  Do I have a deep seeded desire to own a hog?  Definitely not.  It’s more likely that I am just wishing I could still hop onto a motorcycle without bones creaking and muscles spasming.

The picture was taken outside of a restaurant on Granville Island in Vancouver.  I can’t remember the event but there were a bunch of us out for dinner.  If any of my friends are reading this and remember this night please refresh my memory.  Right, that’s another thing I’m starting to miss.  The ability to recall events, names and faces.

Look, I’m not “old” but I’m not a spring chicken either.

This picture is just a little reminder for me that The Best Things in Life are memories caught on film to be looked at years later.

 

 

Conundrum

kids shoes

I have two kids. My son is nineteen and my daughter is eight. Yes, you counted right, that’s an eleven year gap.  No, it was not a happy mistake.  Early in our marriage my husband and I made a decision not to have any more kids.  But life changes and feelings change and we both knew our family wasn’t quite complete yet.

More often than not when I tell people about the age difference they say,  “Wow, really? That’s quite a gap. Is it difficult?”

It actually hasn’t been all that difficult.  My son was pretty close to being self sufficient by the time my daughter was born.  Well, as self sufficient as an eleven year old can be.  The first couple of years were a bit challenging but once he was in high school things got easier.  The hardest single thing has been planning vacations.  How many things do teenagers and toddlers both want to do?  Not very many.

But for me, the most problematic thing is that it creates a bit of a time warp.

time warp

The friends I made when my son was little are still very much in my life.  Over the years we’ve been through so many things with our now young adults.  Without activities to bring us together our connections are now more about us, than our kids.  Many of these friends are now starting to think about retiring.  Not next year, but maybe in the next five or ten years?

Their kids are in university or working and some are already empty nesters if their kids have chosen to go to school back east or in the US.  No more early morning soccer practices, no need for babysitters, no late night pick ups from parties.  They have more free time and less day to day responsibility.  They can travel or even take up a hobby.  They have moved into the next stage or their lives and it’s pretty sweet.

My daughter is eight and the friends that I have made in these past few years are who I spend most of my time with.  Hanging out at the dance studio (for hours), commiserating over school yard politics at the park or escaping to the pub occasionally after bed time.

These friends are still in the small children stage of life and considerable work is still involved on a daily basis.  Some are new home owners or starting new businesses with their future stretching out ahead of them.  Job opportunities and career changes are still top of mind options.  The concept of retiring is a distant goal. Most are still planning their fortieth birthdays.  (My fortieth was…..a while ago).

The fact is I feel a bit torn?  No, that’s not right.  I think confused would be a better word for it.  In some ways it is contributing to my ambiguity on Finding my Thing.

Half of me feels should I SHOULD be getting ready for the next next chapter of my life.  Investing, getting my shit together.  You know, getting organized for getting older.  And enjoying the fruit of many years of parental labour.  The other half of me feels like I’m still a Spring chicken whose got loads of time to do anything BUT worry about RRSPs.

To be honest, I’m  not sure what The Best Thing in Life is about this conundrum.  Maybe it’s simply the fact that I got to use the word conundrum.

Julia

cala lillies

There’s a lady that lives down the street from us.  Her name is Julia.

Julia is from Europe and I’m guessing she is in her late 80s maybe even early 90s.  She has the best garden in the area.  I have serious flower envy of her Cala lilies.  Every year they bloom like crazy in her garden on the corner of Apex and Garibaldi.

Occasionally I see her daughter visiting her, but typically it’s just her and her husband working in the garden or enjoying the sun and a cup of coffee on the front porch.

Every Sunday I see her walking to the Catholic Church up the street.  Plain black dress, kitten heels and a black shawl.  The dress is a bit dated but she carries herself so well that it still looks stylish.  And seriously, who wears kitten heels in their eighties?  And walks to church?

In my mind I have imaged that she is some glamorous European movie star that has exiled herself to North Vancouver.  Like Greta Grabo.

One day last summer I was driving my daughter and a friend to dance.  As we passed Julia’s house I noticed that she was, as usual, working in her garden.  All of a sudden my daughter’s  friend screams  “there’s a bear in that ladies garage”.  I asked her if she was sure and quickly pulled a u-turn to take a look.  Sure enough. A large black bear was sitting in the middle of her garage chowing down on the contents of her overturned garbage can.  I stopped the car and jumped out to warn Julia.  The conversation went something like this.

“Julia there’s a bear in your garage.”

“What?”  (she’s a little hard of hearing)

“There’s a BEAR in your garage.”

“No there isn’t.”

“Yes there is.”

“Where?”

“In your garage.”

Still shaking her head, she walked around the side of the house.  Two seconds later she’s walking back towards me.

“There’s a bear in my garage.”

“Yes Julia, I know.”

She ran around to the side of the house and proceeded to grab a shovel and chase the bear down the street.  Ten minutes later she was back out tending to her flowers again.  Smiling and happy.  Not a care in the world.

Today I drove past Julia’s house and she was out power washing the driveway.  I thought for a moment that it was her husband since she was wearing a plaid jacket and black toque.  But no, it was her.  It made me think.  What will I be doing when I’m that age?  Will I be as active, stylish and happy as Julia?

God I hope so.

The Best Thing in Life is having a movie star down the street to be my role model.

The Wallet

wallet

I bought this wallet over twenty years ago.  I had just started my first real job and on my way home from my first day I stopped at a mall downtown.  There was a little stationery/gift store there called Perks.  I can’t remember why I bought a wallet.  I think, maybe, I just felt really good about what was happening in my life and wanted to get myself a little present.

This wallet has been with me ever since.  We have been through a lot together.

It was with me on the day that I was eight months pregnant and my car was totaled on the Second Narrows Bridge.  It got left in the console when the ambulance came to take me to the hospital.  It was still there five days later when I went to look at what was left of my car at the wreckers.  A month later I had it with me when I checked into the hospital and gave birth to my son.

It was with me on the bus trip to Seattle when I met my current husband.  I used it at Nordstrom that day to buy a great pair of shoes and later at FX McCrorys for drinks.  I remember pulling it out to buy a beer at the basketball game that night and being told to put it away.  Was he trying to get me drunk?

It hasn’t always been with me.  I’ve lost it more times than I can count.  The most common culprit is leaving it in the shopping cart at the grocery store.  In earlier years it was usually a bar or restaurant.  I seem to remember leaving it sitting in a park bench once while in a post natal haze.  Or was it post divorce haze?

What’s in my wallet?  Surprisingly, thirty dollars.  I rarely cash cash anymore but today I do.  The requisite credit cards, debit cards,  health care cards and drivers license.  A Starbucks card that I don’t use anymore.  My library card number written on a slip of paper sinD&E in Whistlerce I lost my card and can’t be bothered to get a new one.

Stamps.  A picture I took of my husband and son in Whistler years ago.  A drawing my son did when he was seven.  Oh and a Pinkberry frequent buyer card. Everett Face 2

 

 

Lastly, a small piece of paper with this quote written on it.

“There are three Cs in life.  Choice, Chance and Change.  You must make a Choice to take a Chance or your life will never Change.”

The stitching on the ends of the wallet is a bit frayed but the leather is strangely unmarked and the insides are still in great shape.

I guess in a way I am a bit like this wallet.  Pretty well made.  Seen some good times and some bad.  Sometimes full and sometimes empty.  Perhaps a little dated.  Or should I say classic?  Yet still holding it all together.

Over the years I have thought about making a change.  But I always ended up staying with my tried and true friend.  I’m loyal that way.

The Best Thing in Life is a really good wallet.

Support Parkinson’s Disease

This September I will join 14,000 Canadians who take part in the Parkinson SuperWalk. It will be my second year participating in this great event.  Want to join me in the 10KM run?  No? How about supporting me with a donation?

Donate Here

I will be running for the third time to support my mom.  This is her story.

As I creep past fifty I’m starting to think a bit more about aging. Frankly, I think I’ve aged pretty well (give or take a few crows feet). When I do think about aging, I tend to look to my parents. My mom and dad are 84 and 87 years old respectively. My dad has never let anything slow him down. Ever. My mom has slowed down a lot. She hasn’t had a choice. She has Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system with the most common symptoms being motor related. Shaking, rigidity, slowness and difficult walking. She is fighting it every step of the way but inevitably the disease progresses and life has to change.

She was diagnosed about 16 years ago, but honestly, it hasn’t been until the last two or three years that it has seriously affected her day to day life. At the beginning, the only noticeable symptom was a slight tremor in her left hand. When she originally told us I didn’t know much about the disease. All I could picture was Michael J. Fox, who I had seen interviewed on TV, who sometimes couldn’t control the tremors in his body, jerked violently and occasionally found it difficult to get a full sentence out. I was a bit freaked out. Fortunately, her symptoms were nothing like that. For a long time, to look at her, you wouldn’t even know she was sick. For many years she has been able to carry on with no noticeable changes to her life.

m&d wedding

Lately, though, I’ve noticed things have changed. A few month ago she was involved in a small car accident. My mom is no stranger to hitting things in her car but it has been mostly light poles and parking lot walls. There wasn’t much damage, nobody was hurt, but it was very obviously her fault. It was raining and there was a lot of traffic around. Her reactions are just not what they used to be. Fortunately, I happened to be driving by at the time and was able to help her with calling a tow truck and dealing with the other driver. She was a bit shaken and I’m pretty sure having me there was a huge help. Her biggest worry? ICBC might force her to take a road test. Losing her license would mean losing her freedom.

In the last three months she has needed to change from using a cane to using a walker. It may not seem like a big change to you and me, but to her it has been a huge adjustment. There have been a few falls leaving her bruised and sore so it really needed to be done. She had been using the cane to stand with both hands in front of her and her feet wide apart. Like a precarious tripod. We have always teased my mom that she was a bit like a weeble. You know, they wobble but they don’t fall down. Yes, it was kind of mean but she knew we were only joking and really she knew it was true. Mom wasn’t the most stable person to start with.

mom skiing

My mom was always active when we were younger. As a family we hiked, camped and skied a lot. Fitness wasn’t really a priority in the 70’s but I remember mom going to a fitness class at the local Y when I was little. Now she has a Life Call necklace that she wears all the time. It alerts a call board of she falls over. I know that she gets scared sometimes. She’s gotten better at asking for help. She’s come to the realization that there are some things she just can’t do. The biggest thing she now knows is that she can’t push herself. She has to make sure she is well rested to avoid the risk of injury.

So here I sit. An active fifty year old, with some extra time on my hands. For too many years I have THOUGHT about getting involved in the Parkinson’s Society. Work, kids, life…….excuses really. No more. My mission again this Fall is to find a way to give some time and energy to help people with Parkinson’s. To try and find a way to help people with Parkinson’s that maybe haven’t been as fortune as my mom. And who knows, maybe they will find a way to ease my mom’s symptoms too. The Best Thing in Life is being able to make a difference in something that matters to you, personally.

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.

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Today I Am Fifty

fifty cake

When I was in my twenties I looked forward to birthdays every year. I have always looked young for my age and starting out in my career I never felt that people took me seriously because they thought I was younger than I was. I secretly hoped that some day I would actually look older. I know, a bit weird. So now I AM older ( not necessarily old) and I’m asking myself, as are other people oddly enough, how does it feel? Really it feels like just another day, but that doesn’t make for a very good blog post does it? So, as I sit in my cozy kitchen on this rainy October day and reflect, I have come to some realizations about what it feels like, and means to me, to be fifty.

Over the summer my husband and I were having dinner with some friends, one of whom had recently turned fifty. He told us about the party he had thrown for himself earlier in the year. It was a wild one from the sounds of it. A packed house party with loud music, lots of drinking and the mandatory requirement for any really good party, a visit from the police in the early morning hours. Sounded like one of the parties we had been to in our high school days. The next day he felt like hell, but it was all worth it for him. I am apparently not a party animal because just the thought of doing this makes me tired. I am a social person but I have never been a night owl (ask my college room mate) and am perfectly happy to be in my pajamas by 9:00pm most nights. My husband makes fun of me, but it makes me happy.

For others friends, the big 50 has been marked with a once in a lifetime trip, completing a marathon or overcoming a lifelong fear. When I quit my job last February I decided that this was the year I would train for a marathon. I even wrote a post about it. It took me about two months to decide that it wasn’t going to happen. It took me another month to come to terms with that and be okay with my decision. Now don’t get me wrong, I admire the people who have done these things immensely. I’ve just finally realized that it’s not who I am. I have always thought I needed to show people that I had accomplished some feat in order for them to be proud of me. Why it has taken me fifty years to realize this is not true, I am not sure. I still struggle a bit with who I am supposed to be, but I am getting closer to being happy just being me and realizing that I may not have a “mission” or a “thing”. I may just be…..me.

The past eighteen years of my life has been a bit of a roller coaster. Divorce and single parenthood at thirty three. I remember people asking me how I got through leaving my first husband with a three month old baby. You do what you have to do and you get up every day and move forward. When I did re marry, a few years later, my husband’s work took him 3000 miles away for four years. For anybody who hasn’t had one, long distance relationships/marriages really suck. Then at forty two another baby. Totally planned but nonetheless a challenge. I feel like it has only been in the past two years that things have finally felt settled down. I read a great quote the other day from, of all people, Nancy Reagan. “Women are like tea bags. You don’t know how strong they are until you put them in hot water”. It’s a good thing I like tea.

I’ve made some changes in my life over the past few months. I quit a job that I didn’t really like and am now able to be more present for my family. I overhauled the way that I eat and now physically feel better than I have in years. I have determine that killing myself trying to run up a mountain really has no benefit and have come to embrace yoga. I have come to terms with my relationship with my siblings and parents and am learning more about myself because of it. These things have made a huge difference in my life and I can say without a doubt that I am happier now than I have been in a very long time. I’m healthy, I have awesome friends, a loving, supportive husband and two great kids. Today, the Best Thing in Life is turning fifty.

I Made A New Friend Today

group of friends

“I made a new friend today.” A normal thing for a seven year old to come home and say, but what about a fifty year old? As we get a little older it isn’t as easy to meet new people and really connect. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all be as open and carefree as a seven year old? This summer I spent a week in the Okanagan with my daughter. Each day we would go to the lake and set up our chairs. She would look around, find somebody close to her size (smaller or bigger didn’t seem to matter) and go and play with them. Sometimes it worked out and the day was spent with her new best friend swimming and building sand castles. Occasionally, it didn’t work out and she would move on to the next small person. So easy and so unassuming.

A few years ago I was having dinner with a group of old friends. Our conversation turned to a women we had all met at a party a few weeks before. She seemed nice and one of us suggested we invite her to our next dinner. At this point one of my girlfriends said “Sure invite her, but I’m not interviewing for any new friends right now”. I didn’t think much of it at the time and we all laughed at her, but it has sort of stuck with me over the years. When you make a statement like that, don’t you close yourself off to so many new experiences, opinions and well, joys? Who’s to say that the person you met at the event you went to last night isn’t going to be your best friend in the next few years and bring a new perspective to your life. New ideas, fresh outlooks and perhaps even another new friend. Sure, they could be a total nut job, but wouldn’t it be better to find out first before you block them on Facebook?

I feel that the best thing to do at this stage in my life when starting a new friendship is to not have too high of an expectation. I know that may sound a bit cynical, but hear me out. I do not expect to have coffee with you every week. I do not expect to chat with you on the phone every day. I do not expect birthdays present or even a card. I don’t expect any of those things from friends I have known for years, or are particularly close to, so why would I expect them of some body I just met? I’m pretty low maintenance when it comes to friendships. My friends have pissed me off many times over the years and I’m pretty sure I’ve done the same, but you get over it. In a solid friendship there is no judgment and there is no “Did I offend you”? Of course you did, but that’s okay, we’ll move on.

I met two great women this summer. In my opinion, both are strong, independent women with big hearts. I could see being friends with both of them; for completely different reasons. I also got to know some women who I didn’t know very well, a little better. All of this happened very naturally and easily. Again, there is no expectation that we will swap spit or have slumber parties anytime soon, but could I call them if I needed a friendly chat or some support? Absolutely. How do you know if the person you meet is potential friend material? It’s one thing to be able to carry on a conversation with somebody, but to feel like you could spend the day just hanging out and talking means that you have shared values and interests.

Maybe that’s why it is so easy for our kids to make new friends. They are without judgement. They see only a person who likes what they like and can build a mean sandcastle. The Best Thing in Life would be to open ourselves up like a seven year old and make some new friends. At any age.

A Shaky World

mom b&w

As I creep closer to fifty I’m starting to think a bit more about aging. Frankly, I think I’ve aged pretty well (give or take a few crows feet). When I do think about aging, I tend to look to my parents. My mom and dad are 82 and 85 years old respectively. My dad has never let anything slow him down. Ever. My mom has slowed down a lot. She hasn’t had a choice. She has Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system with the most common symptoms being motor related. Shaking, rigidity, slowness and difficult walking. She is fighting it every step of the way but inevitably the disease progresses and life has to change.

She was diagnosed about 15 years ago, but honestly, it hasn’t been until the last two or three years that it has seriously affected her day to day life. At the beginning, the only noticeable symptom was a slight tremor in her left hand. When she originally told us I didn’t know much about the disease. All I could picture was Michael J. Fox, who I had seen interviewed on TV, who sometimes couldn’t control the tremors in his body, jerked violently and occasionally found it difficult to get a full sentence out. I was a bit freaked out. Fortunately, her symptoms were nothing like that. For a long time, to look at her, you wouldn’t even know she was sick. For many years she has been able to carry on with no noticeable changes to her life.

m&d wedding

Lately, though, I’ve noticed things have changed. A few month ago she was involved in a small car accident. My mom is no stranger to hitting things in her car but it has been mostly light poles and parking lot walls. There wasn’t much damage, nobody was hurt, but it was very obviously her fault. It was raining and there was a lot of traffic around. Her reactions are just not what they used to be. Fortunately, I happened to be driving by at the time and was able to help her with calling a tow truck and dealing with the other driver. She was a bit shaken and I’m pretty sure having me there was a huge help. Her biggest worry? ICBC might force her to take a road test. Losing her license would mean losing her freedom.

In the last three months she has needed to change from using a cane to using a walker. It may not seem like a big change to you and me, but to her it has been a huge adjustment. There have been a few falls leaving her bruised and sore so it really needed to be done. She had been using the cane to stand with both hands in front of her and her feet wide apart. Like a precarious tripod. We have always teased my mom that she was a bit like a weeble. You know, they wobble but they don’t fall down. Yes, it was kind of mean but she knew we were only joking and really she knew it was true. Mom wasn’t the most stable person to start with.

mom skiing

My mom was always active when we were younger. As a family we hiked, camped and skied a lot. Fitness wasn’t really a priority in the 70’s but I remember mom going to a fitness class at the local Y when I was little. Now she has a Life Call necklace that she wears all the time. It alerts a call board of she falls over. I know that she gets scared sometimes. She’s gotten better at asking for help. She’s come to the realization that there are some things she just can’t do. The biggest thing she now knows is that she can’t push herself. She has to make sure she is well rested to avoid the risk of injury.

So here I sit. An active, almost fifty year old, with some extra time on my hands (given that the current teacher’s strike ends soon). For too many years I have THOUGHT about getting involved in the Parkinson’s Society. Work, kids, life…….excuses really. No more. My mission for this Fall is to find a way to give some time and energy to help people with Parkinson’s. To try and find a way to help people with Parkinson’s that maybe haven’t been as fortune as my mom. And who knows, maybe they will find a way to ease my mom’s symptoms too. The Best Thing in Life is being able to make a difference in something that matters to you, personally.