I will remember you

IMG_1854As you read this, you should have these two songs in your mind: the Village People’s YMCA, and Sarah McLachlan’s I Will Remember You. There are a lot more that make up my YMCA soundtrack, but these two are key for this post.

Last night, I taught my very last YMCA fitness class for at least the next few years.

I’m not sure why I didn’t write about the closure of my beloved South Park Y in the spring. Maybe it’s because by the time the big sad last day arrived, I was exhausted by three months of ramping up to the tearful farewell.

Anyone who belongs to the Y knows it’s not just a gym. It’s a community. It’s a friend. It’s been a constant in my life for 12 years…and that’s a mere blink compared to the many who’ve been members for 20, 30, 40 or more years.

The Y helped me survive the loss of a brother and a marriage. When I didn’t feel I could go home, the Y was my home, my safe place. I don’t know what I would have done without it through those difficult times. Everyone at the Y seems to have a story like this.

It’s also been an outlet for the side of me that loves moving to music. I had the pleasure of goofing around to good tunes in my aerobics and aquafit classes, motivating people to work hard while having a ball. There were theme classes and treats for most holidays. I once taught the Halloween class in a floor-length blue sequined dress with devil tail and horns, complete with the Mitch Ryder song.

I didn’t mind that the building was old. As one of my participants said, it was a mutt, but it was our mutt. So while we look forward to a shiny new facility, we miss our old friend, and wish it didn’t have to be demolished to make way for the new.

IMG_1768What do you do when you have to say goodbye? You celebrate the good times. So we made a big hooplah of our last days. We had a pool party for the aquafitters. We had a huge aerobics class in the gym with current and former instructors.

I stashed my old bathing suit above a ceiling tile in the locker room so it would go down with the ship, and pilfered a loose piece of wood from the gym floor. A pile of us were in the building just before closing. I held back the tears right up until the last 10 minutes when the lifeguards presented me with a sign for the women’s locker room with their signatures on the back.

We woke up the next morning feeling a bit lost without our old friend. I at least had a summer of teaching my regular Monday night class in a new space at the Community Y. One auqafit instructor has secured a class in a different pool where our gang can still connect. I have a new place for my own workout but still haven’t managed to create a new routine there. I don’t feel like I belong.

The final blow came yesterday as I learned that the Community Y needs its space back for its basketball program. I understand – kids in that community need all the benefits of the basketball program far more than we more privileged folks need our aerobics class.

Management wasn’t able to secure any other space for us, and while we might be able to get instructors and participants back together through a different organization come January, we have nothing for now. So last night, I taught my very last YMCA fitness class for at least a few years.

IMG_1844Maybe there’s a silver lining. My achilles is acting up, so a few months of forced rest from jumping around and lots of aquafit instead (as a participant) may be just what the physiotherapist ordered.

I will keep my chin up. I’ll soldier on and get my spirit, mind and body aligned.

But right now, I feel like I’ve lost my best friend all over again.



Hungover noodles

That’s a great title for a blog post, isn’t it? I can’t take credit. It’s the name of a Jamie Oliver recipe I made last night.

Not that I was hungover then. Or now. In fact, I’ve only been hungover once in my entire life. Even in my youth, I just never understood how others found it fun to drink like fishes and then pay for it the next day.

hungover noodlesAnyway, whatever you want to call it, these hungover noodles make a quick tasty dinner.

A couple of translations for those of us who aren’t Brits…Chinese cabbage is bok choy, and mangetout is sugar or snow peas. And a few substitutions: I used linguine instead of egg noodles because that’s what I had on hand, bottled garlic and ginger because it was faster, and sweet chili sauce because it’s not too hot for my delicate palate. Also, I scaled it back for one person with no problem.

This recipe is from the Save with Jamie cookbook. I actually enjoy reading Jamie’s cookbooks so I’ve bought a couple on sale, and received this one from my brother last Christmas.

But as a general rule, I try to resist buying cookbooks because there are more recipes online than I could cook in a lifetime, and I use Evernote as an excellent mobile recipe filing system. So you can really Save with Jamie by simply searching for his recipes online, you’ll find all kinds of tasty.




Opportunity cost of mini meatloaf

I’ve never been so fired up about math in all my life.

In fact, I’ve always hated and struggled with math. Homework routinely ended in tears when I was a kid. I knew just enough to figure out the pre-calculus mark that would be pounded in harsh black typewriter ink onto the first report card of my Grade 12 year. I recall a classmate asking if it should have read 92. Alas, 29 was correct.

It didn’t get any better in university, although I was able to avoid more of it. Stats and economics were the only required courses in my undergrad that seriously involved math. I squeaked by in both.

And now, here I am, diving head first into algebra, graphs and complicated sounding things like production possibility curves, opportunity cost, and elasticity. And that’s only two weeks into the first of two economics courses in my Master of Public Administration degree.

It’s terrifying. I mean really terrifying. My biggest fear is failure, and tackling this subject puts me in great danger of having that fear spectacularly realized.

But at the same time, I feel like it’s high time I get over this particular fear. That’s the attitude I decided to set for myself as this course loomed before me.

So that’s nice, I’ve got a good attitude. But here’s the amazing thing: this math, this economics – it’s constantly on my mind. If you were to stick electrodes all over my head, you’d see a brain lit up like a Christmas tree, working, struggling, stretching, growing.

I may be a fish out of water, but I’m a very determined fish and also very curious. So much so that, even though I’d planned to take tonight off and start at it again tomorrow with fresh eyes, I found myself going back over course materials and doing some algebra and graphing refreshers on the Kahn Academy website that I’d recently signed up for.

Interestingly, as my brain buzzes with the sparks and flashes of a-hah moments when I get it and steam comes out of my ears when I don’t, a link to a blog post from the Kahn Academy founder plopped into my inbox today. In essence, it said that failure is good because it’s only when our brains struggle that they grow.

Yes, I actually brought myself to type those words. Failure is good.

This is a major breakthrough, folks. If you knew me, you’d understand that this is really big news. Other arguments in favour of that statement, like Einstein failing umpteen times before making game-changer discoveries, never really sank in. Logically, they make sense, but they weren’t able to penetrate my fear.

But this one…maybe it just hit at precisely the right moment for me to finally buy it.

Not that I plan on failing this course. Oh no. I’ll fail umpteen times at practice questions all in preparation for successfully finding my way to the minimum required B+ average, at least.

turkey meatloafIn order to do that, I spent Labour Day stocking my freezer with homemade meals because now that school’s back in, I can’t afford the opportunity cost to my studies of cooking mini-turkey meatloaves.

You see? I’m learning!


ps – How to make mini meatloaves? Just take your favourite meatloaf recipe and make it in a muffin tin. Easy peasy.