Monday, March 19, 2018

Me Day

For 3 hours today I was in a far away land.

I needed no passport.

I tossed my fitbit in a basket and crept between the covers on a warm bed, tuned into the nature sounds being piped through the speakers and surrendered to the expert hands of a magician / masseuse. 

Ahhhhh yes  - the de-stress, seaweed wrap massage and aromatherapy treatment I got as a birthday present was joyfully redeemed today at the aptly named Nurture Day Spa. 

Followed by a pedicure with a view of the harbour during which I chatted with the owner of the spa who with her husband opted for the simpler life and dropped into Ucluelet 15 years ago.  It was very tempting to let my mind drift to similar possibilities for Allan and I.

All too soon Allan returned to extract me from my happy place and we did a little drive around Ucluelet and then "home" for lunch.  

A nap crossed our minds at the same time the sun decided to peep through the clouds so we opted to make the most of that (seeing snow in the forecast for Friday - WHAT??).

We drove the 30km to Tofino and payed our homage to the Roy Henry Vickers Gallery  and then wandered around town poking in and out of cool and wacky shops as we did.  Allan is on the search for some first nations carving knives for a first nations mask carving course he is taking.  We popped into a thrift store but found nothing.... well, not nothing, as it turns out.

No knives were to be had but the shopkeeper directed Allan to Chesterman Beach a little ways down the road and gave some vague directions to a Carving Shed on the beach where "George" would be carving and may have some info.

We hopped into the truck and away to Chesterman we went as the sun broke through the clouds although the little breeze that popped us was pretty chilly.  We started to walk along the beach looking for "George" and his shed.  We walked the whole beach and found nothing but beautiful homes with enviable waterfront views, plenty of dogs for Spanner to meet, and a few brave surfers. 

As we headed back to the car I suggested we take one last look in the opposite direction - in the small amount of beach on that side.... and lo and behold... we found the most amazing place. 

And "George". 

A carving shed, with wood and tools and art and so much history.  A sand and sawdust floor, colourful characters sitting around chatting.  We were warmly welcomed and we chatted for a while.  No knives, no great carving oracle with amazing wisdom....but a shed that could tell some incredible stories if it could.

It was so very cool. 

A brief stop at the cottage to change and then off to the famed Norwoods for dinner - a reservation obtained many weeks ago. 

It was sublime - a warm spinach salad I shall dream off ..... I can't even talk about the chocolate bombe with sour cream ice cream and the whiskey foam... 

How this day was just as magnificent as yesterday blows my mind.

Off to the hot tub under the stars with the sea lions barking half heartedly in the distance. 

I love Spring Break.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Bacon and eggs, wine and cheese, coffee and cream

There are some things that are just better if they are together...


me and Spring Break

forests and the sea

and how lucky am I these all came together today.  

We started our day at 5am which was only made memorable by the conversation and antics of the St.Patrick's Day revellers stumbling home.

A quiet ferry ride under grey clouds gave way to sun in Victoria where our beloved girl and Mr Joel were waiting for us at a funky brunch spot close to Oak Bay.  SO lovely to visit with them and catch up.  Oh how we miss that sweet, sassy, smart, beautiful girl.  

A walk on the beach with the kids and Spanner and then we headed north through showers and sun and 4 hours later, after the epic winding road, we arrived (tires still inflated - yay) at the edge of Canada.  

In sunshine and without a breath of wind - miraculous for this part of the west coast of Vancouver Island. 

And we knew we were lucky.

We hastily moved into our charming cottage on the edge of a cove - all cedar and light and trees and a hot tub.... perfect for a week of restoration.

But we put on the walking shoes and leashed up the hound and hit the trails.

The sound of the ocean was enough for this weary self but the late afternoon light through the wind beaten forest, the haunting whistle and clang of the bouys in the ocean, the sun on our faces 
the spouting, huge, crazy spouting of ....WHALES just off the coast line!  

We walked the wild pacific trail for a few km and were amazed and humbled and grateful around every corner.  

I couldn't wipe the smile off my face.

This is beautiful country even in the mist and rain that usually lives here but on this glorious sunny warm spring day - it was heart-stopping, soul-filling.  

A walk back to the cottage,  appy's (of course) and steak dinner and a puppy snoring, exhausted, and soon into the hot tub as the tide turns below us and the stars populate the clear sky. 

And then to sleep deeply

I am not sure I would rather be any other place in the world right now. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

52 weeks

Today marks my 52 straight week at the gym.

One year of moving forward in my fitness.

Many months of finding a new community.

Surprises and challenges and frustrations and triumphs.

But I'll admit I am not as skinny as I thought 52 weeks at the gym would produce.  And I'd be lying if that wasn't a tad disappointing.  

There IS change though. 

The jeans may not be 4 sizes smaller but what is in the jeans is a whole lot different. 

I have traded much fat for muscle - some of it in surprising places.  There are less inches in some important places. 

But I am also coming to the realisation that 52 weeks in a gym cannot erase a life lived with some challenges - like 3 major abdominal surgeries that cut through the belly muscle wall, some artificial mesh in there that stops muscles moving as they should, and more scar tissue than muscle in my arm that was fractured in 5 places and was more metal than bone for a few years. 

And yet.

I am fitter, I hurt less often, my cardio is way better (arguably with two grandparents who had heart attacks this is most important) and I am so.much.stronger.  
Before Workout

I am learning to appreciate this body of mine for what it is overcoming and what it IS doing rather than what it is NOT able to do...yet.

I have the word "Ohana" tattooed on my wrist. Every night and every morning I see that word as I go to sleep and as I wake up.  It's a reminder of my tribe, my people and as I am settling in for the night I often run through all their names - family, friends, list is blessedly loooong. 

After workout stunned look

So as I reach this milestone today and celebrate, what is perhaps most precious is that my "Ohana" has grown this year to include a Dojo full of interesting and inspiring people in my community - each with their own story and journey who show up to work out under the expertise and care of an exceptional coaching team.

Isn't that really what it's all about in the end - the relationships we get to have with people as we walk through this messy and delightful thing called life. 

I am so very grateful for my personal cheerleaders this year - Allan,Lindsay, David, Mom, Emily, Kristen, Jenn, Helen, #TeamMPT .... they celebrated all my tiny achievements and kept me motivated.  

Here's to the next 52 weeks (unlikely to be consecutive) and some big goals I have for myself... the biggest of which are patience at my pace, courage to stretch into new fitness challenges and kindness to a body that has served me well.


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Showing Up

I took a long walk on the dyke as this sunny but cold day ended.  

I find solo walks very contemplative and my heart and mind were very full today as the rays of sun glinted off the leftover snow as I walked along the dyke - greeting friends, listening to the dusk bird chorus and breathing in the fresh breeze.

I was preoccupied with the unpredictability of life - the good and the bad, the magical and the sorrowful, the joyful and the challenging.  All the moments, big and small that we are all experiencing as we live these lives we have been given. 

I think to live wholeheartedly we are to embrace all the moments.

So much easier said than done. 

Perhaps the perspective of middle age allows me to start to rail less against the hard things, the desperately sad and unjust things and to accept them for what they have to teach me, show me about myself and others.

I wish I could say I did this with good grace all the time.... but alas. 

I didn't give anything up for Lent this year.

Instead I decided to redouble my efforts to show kindness.

I decided to show up more for my family and friends and for those in the ever expanding circles out from there - even when it's awkward or hard or when I doubt myself.  A message, a what's app, a text, a note,  an email, a walk, lunch, a coffee, ice cream- touching base, checking in, connecting.  Not to solve anyone's problems but to just show up and say "hello".

We need each other friends to keep on going, to see ourselves more clearly, to not drown in loneliness, to be brave together in a world that seems completely unpredictable most of the time. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

One Little Word - 2018 Edition

This is it - February 1, the start of my new year, and my choice of word to be guided by in 2018 took until midway through my workout last night to show up.

Amazing what one thinks of while doing lateral lunges.

So here it is.... 

Lucky the last two years words were COURAGE and BRAVE if I am to tackle TRUTH

I don't know that I have a fully formed idea of what it is about TRUTH that compels me to be a student of it in 2018 but I do know that it is a deeply held value of mine.  It is a precious thing and so easily distorted and obscured. 

These are days of "fake news" and "#Metoo" and the death of net neutrality and algorithms that determine my newsfeed and internet searches.

Has the truth ever been more elusive?

My perpetual quest to be a person of integrity means I strive to both speak and live the truth as I understand it.  And isn't that just the thing.... as I see it, as I understand it... We live in an age of relativism having rejected absolutism for the dangerous and arrogant places it drives us to.

But this relativism leaves truth in murky water, on shaky ground.  I am all for considering multiple perspectives but I am also all for calling BS.  Nicely, of course. 

So I will try to seek truth, speak truth and live truth.  I will call out lies when encountered and falsehood when I am sure of it.  

But I suspect the hardest thing will be accepting the truth...about myself.  

I am still so enslaved to the negative voices in my head, so addicted to comparison and so unable to see myself as others do.   I try to outrun those thoughts and messages I send myself but I am determined to face myself, the truth of my heart and mind and body (ugh body too?) and show up in my life and in the lives of those I love and know and lead and walk through life alongside.

I will speak truth kindly when I need to
I will shout truth loudly if convicted to 
I will listen to truth (even about myself) when it is spoken to me

(PS - One Small Word had its genesis HERE and it is my 8th year of doing it - for some of my past one little word's click HERE for 2011 - 2015)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Well I never...

I should have known.

I should have known that a "quick" trip back to South Africa to see Allan's family would not be "quick".

I also should have known it was high season to travel there being the dead of winter  - but that is clearly the best time for viewing game in the game reserves - and Europe descends.

I should also have known our beloved children would think poorly of not being invited to join us. Me assuming they would be too consumed with working to pay for University...or something. 

And so this usually over-planned Mama finds her "quick" trip to see family has turned into a Byres4 odyssey to Cape Town, our home town, a game reserve/lodge, and.......the cherry on the top.... 5 days in Paris for just Allan and I on our way home.
Cape Town with Table Mountain in the background
I am actually speechless.  

It happened so quickly and the best travel agent in the world got us incredible deals.  The children fly home before us to get themselves ready for 2nd and 4th year studies and we follow a week or so later.  

An overseas family vacation - well.I.never.  

I really never thought that would happen again.

And I am more than delighted.  Not only to have them to travel with but so moved by their deep connections to their family there and the country itself.  Lindsay in particular left part of her heart there last time and has longed to return.  
Durban - 80kms from our home town
It will be a different experience being the opposite season to our last visit but our primary objective is our family and to have some time cozied up with them will be such a gift.  Not to be taken for granted given the time and expense of getting there and back but equally not to be missed for those reasons either.

All our flights are book
Fingers crossed
ed and now we start the fun planning of where to stay and what to do. Relatively short planning time for me given last time I had a whole year to prepare and now I only have 6 months..... I think I can do it though!

Life is sometimes so unexpectedly hard or challenging and then sometimes life is so unexpectedly joyful and exciting.  

I am learning to lean into ALL the moments with my whole heart. 

Tonight I'll go to bed dreaming of the sounds of the African bush, the crash of the Indian ocean, the chatter of cousins and the smell of Paris boulangeries.  

Lucky girl. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

I need help.....

I have learned a lot from my 41 weeks at the gym.  

And not necessarily the things you might think of:

  • I learned one must carefully consider ones nutritional intake (aka lunch) and coffee when one is working out at 4pm or 5pm.  Too much intake is  a problem.  Too little -  also a problem.
  • You don't have to stand in front of the mirror when lifting weights - just move over a little
  • A bad pair of socks can ruin a workout.
  • The length of your t-shirt is critical until your jelly belly turns into a washboard (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ..... I hear it's possible ha ha ha ha)
  • I look like an idiot in a headband (as it slowly moves up my head as I do my lunges and squats until I have a hair mound of crazy proportions on the top of my head) so I let my sweaty locks fall in my face and use my towel liberally.
  • Laces that don't stay done up - SO annoying
  • Fingerless gloves are not sexy but they sure save your hands when you are lifting weights.
  • My fear of being chased is activated when we have to run ladders to warm up - my heart is beating from fear rather than exertion.  I have to stop myself turning around and screaming "LEAVE ME ALONE" at the person "chasing" me.
  • Workout clothes cannot be worn twice and so I need 4 sets a week. For a non-shopper this has been ..... problematic. 
  • As inches depart ones bottom and (less so sadly ) ones waist the pants they be in constant need of pulling up. One can see this as additional arm exercise if one wants to but at a certain point it becomes tedious and shopping is again necessary. UGH.

But I have met my nemesis.  

I have come to a point on this fitness journey that has me foundationally flummoxed. 

I have finally decided that I need a sports bra. 

People...... I did not know such torture existed.  

While I fully (and I mean FULLY) understand the need to tame the bosom during burpees, how, in the actual heck, is one supposed to get into and out of a medium to firm strength sports bra without a) breaking into a sweat b) straining several muscles c) trying to use ones lungs d) swearing?

I am at a loss  - after far too long in a change room where other shoppers must have thought I was wrestling a gorilla. 

At one point I was so tangled I almost had a panic attack at the thought of having to summon help to free me from the blessed bra. 

I now stare at it as I am getting ready to workout and wonder just how much I actually need it. 

And tonight when I wrestled it off I stomped on it which was ungracious - it having prevented two black eyes and back strain and all.

The internet tells me I am not alone but I am not so sure - I see all those other ladies effortlessly wearing fancy sports bras and still breathing normally? 

The only silver lining is now that I am so focused on trying to keep air in my lungs  while working out that I hardly feel the burn in my abs and quads.