January 18, 2017

To work or not to work. For moms it’s a decade old question that never truly gets answered. It never gets answered because everybody’s answer is different.

I’m not working right now so I have time to be outside running and being active. Good for me.

Because I’m not working I’m not making an income and contributing to my household financially. Bad for me.

My friend is working right now so she has very little time to be active and get in shape. Bad for her.

She is working right now so she is making a financial contribution and feels good about that. Good for her.

I like to work and do feel a bit useless when I’m not working. Deciding what to make for dinner doesn’t really challenge me. But I also love having the time to spend quality time with my family and having some time to myself does make me a happier mommy.

It’s a classic grass is always greener scenario. The Best Thing in Life is that I have a choice. For now.

January 9, 2017

Sometimes you need to compromise in life.

A very wise woman once told me that it’s totally acceptable to take a day and just recharge. Sometimes our bodies and minds need a break. Life can get pretty crazy and if you don’t take some downtime your health an suffer. Thank you JoAnn.

This is contrary to how I was raised. I was taught, through observation mostly, that an idle day was a wasted day. The only reason to be at home and not accomplishing something was illness. And it better be a serious illness. The kind that keeps you in bed. Thanks Dad.

So today I compromised.

Dad, you would be proud of what I achieved this morning.

Jo Ann, you would applaud my slothness this afternoon.

The Upside of Technology

technology

Technology is an amazing thing.  It’s a bit ridiculous really, when you think about how far we have come in the past ten to twenty years.  We’ve gone from huge main frames to pcs to laptops to smart phones to iPads to Google Glasses in what feels like the blink of an eye.  Technology has truly changed the way we live our lives.

It does, however, sometimes get a bad rap.

For example, many feel that the increase in screen time has numbed the minds of our young.  I read an article recently comparing screen time to heroin for young children.  I personally believe that if a balance can be found with physical activity and a creative outlet, that it can’t hurt.  Don’t get me wrong, it can suck our little ones in and hold on tight if not managed properly, pulling them into a massive black hole.

Then there is the issue of distracted driving.  Not an problem until a few years ago, but now a growing concern.  The number of fatalities from distracted driving has now surpassed that of impaired driving in Canada.  Yet people still do it. I see it every single day.  Young, old, male and female.  And I know they now better because when they see me glaring at them in their cars at the stop light, they quickly put their phones away.  Ya, I do that.

But today I saw the undeniable upside of technology.  I arranged for my 83 year old mother to Skype with her twin brother who lives in England.  Neither my mom or my uncle have been able to fly for a number of years and as such have not seen each other in a long time.  Being twins they have always had a close relationship and despite regular phone calls my mom felt a bit disconnected from him.

So a Skype call was arranged.  In my mom’s eyes I performed a miracle, but in all honesty all it took was a few emails and the installation of a new app on my iPad.

The looks on their faces as they realized that they could see each another and talk to each other while sitting in their kitchens was beyond priceless.

“Your face looks fatter.”  My mom said not so tactfully.

“You’ve lost weight.  You look more like our mother now.”  He replied.

They talked about my uncles new great grandson and how his wife was doing in the facility she now lived in.  Nothing earth shattering, but you could see, and hear, that they were beyond thrilled to be on the call.  I think my mom wanted to reach out and touch the screen a few times just to make sure that it was real.  That it really was her brother on the screen and not just a mirage.

She kept saying.  “I can’t believe I can see you so clearly.”

Roughly five thousand miles away and eight hours time difference, but to them, they might as well have been in the same room. Today I saw how technology could simply make my mom’s day.  That is The Best Thing in Life and we should never take it for granted.

 

The Yin and the Yang of Aimee Cakes

paris cake

The weekend before we met for coffee, my friend Aimee had done a MOMAR race. For the uninformed, MOMAR stands for mind over mountain adventure race. Kayaking, running, x-country biking, more running and more biking over 50 kilometers and a ridiculous amount of elevation. Despite not feeling great the week prior to the race, Aimee was the first solo female to cross the finish line in just over 6 1/2 hours. “I got lucky”. (Somehow, I find that hard to believe.) The week before that she had created the MOST beautiful, delicate, pink Paris themed cake for my seven year old’s birthday party. (see above) I was curious to find out how a life with two boys under the age of five, adventure racing and cake decorating all came together.

I first met Aimee about three years ago when I did a 200 mile relay race in Oregon. We were in the same van and I couldn’t have asked for a better team mate. Happy, easy going and willing to sleep in a field in the middle of nowhere. Now, I’m not stereotyping cake makers (okay, maybe I am) but if you had a vision in your head of a cake decorator, it may involve an apron, flowers and tea. None of that is Aimee. She is more likely to have just come back from a trail run or bike and may even have some mud in her hair. Yet, there she is making her own fondant and creating unique and delicious cakes. “I’m a Gemini so I’ve always felt a sense of yin and yang in my life”. Over the years she has realized that she needs to balance her love of physical activity with something creative. So she started Aimee Cakes.

Her cake decorating days began at about fourteen when she would bake cakes (from boxes she admits) and decorate them with butter icing and flowers. Her cakes have certainly evolved. Looking back at the cake she decorated for her sister’s wedding she thinks it looked “pretty” but lacked a certain something. Today she whips up cakes and cupcake for birthdays, weddings and special events on a regular basis. The cakes she loves the most are the ones that tell a story. The cake pictured below was for a birthday party and includes the birthday girls love of dogs, the ocean, crab, beer and stand up paddleboarding.

deep cove cake

After competing in triathlons for a few years Aimee was looking for a change in her physical challenges. An opportunity came up for her to compete in a MOMAR race in central BC. It didn’t go that well and she finished a six hour race in ten hours. Somehow she didn’t really care and was hooked on the sport. In her early years of adventure racing she did a nine day 800 kilometer endurance race. It was during that race that she first experienced the need to push through when times got tough. Yes, I would say that sleeping for two hours in a bug infested field and then having to portage a canoe up a mountain requires a bit of mental and physical push. Maybe that’s just me.

aimee on her bike

So, similarities between adventure racing and cake decorating? You wouldn’t really think so, but surprisingly there are quite a few. For both activities there’s the challenge of not always knowing what is around the corner. The fun of having something thrown at you and having to figure out how to best tackle it. Creating a replica of the Eiffel Tower can be just as difficult as a sabotage trail half way through a race. In adventure racing, things don’t always go the way you plan. Conditions can change and throw you off course. The same is true for cakes. Something you think will look awesome suddenly doesn’t work and you have to start over again. Additionally, getting too excited can cause mistakes and time. In a race it can be the difference between winning and not finishing. In cake making it can mean a cake that stays upright or a cake that falls over. In both cases it’s not over until it’s over and Aimee knows how to push through and get to the finish line every time.

Aimee’s approach to life (which she credits her husband with) is pretty simple. Have a vision, work hard, be intense, relax when you need to and enjoy your accomplishments. Right now, her yin and her yang appear to be in perfect balance and she is enjoying life to the fullest. Down the road she would like to take Aimee Cakes to another level and there is no doubt in my mind that she will do just that. The Best Things in Life for Aimee? Playing with her amazingly cute little boys, getting out for a trail run or bike with her dog and creating stories with her cakes.

birthday cake

Finding my Thing

I recently left my job. I had worked for the same company for eleven years and while I liked the company and the people, I didn’t really like my job. Sales was never really some thing I was good at or aspired to get better at. My oldest child is graduating from high school this year and getting ready for college (fingers crossed), my youngest is navigating the grade one playground and exploring every activity we will allow her and my husband travels a lot. And I mean a lot. So when the opportunity presented itself I decided that this was just the right thing for me to do at this point in my life.

I had been thinking about what I would do with my time now that I am a lady of leisure. I’m almost fifty and with the kids in school I have a few hours every day to fill. While running and yoga will be high on my daily list of things to do, I feel that having another focus might be a good idea. So I thought that I would join the thousands of others out there and create a blog. Only problem is I wasn’t sure what to write about.

I don’t really have a “thing”. I’ve often wondered what my “passion” is. Never found my “niche”. Getting the picture?  I do, however, have an abundance of friends who do have a thing. From high school friends to mom friends to family acquaintance; I seem to know a lot of people who do really cool things. If ever I need advice, products or just a connection to another friend I know exactly where to go. The majority of these people have managed to create a business from their passions and are thriving in life. Whether creative or practical they are doing what they love with amazing dedication.

So where does that leave me? It leaves me with a wealth of stories and connections for great people and cool jobs, hobbies and passions. So here’s what I’m thinking. I’m going to spend the next few months ( maybe years) exploring those connections and those people. This may involve lengthy conversations over coffee or on the running trails or may even involve some wine. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to find out how they knew what their thing was and where it’s taken them. Maybe they didn’t know right away and have some cool back story about the day they discovered it. Then I’m going to share it with you.

I’m also going to try and discover what my “thing” may be by exploring all that life has to offer.  New experiences with family and friends are definitely in my future and, of course, will be well documented right here.

Here’s to discovering what the best things in life are.

Susan

P.S. I would love your feedback and comments.