Nonniversary

Today is my nonniversary. The non-anniversary of my wedding day.

*sigh*

lilacsBut the other day as I was walking along thinking about this approaching date, I got whiffs of lilacs on the warm breeze and had this thought:

This is so much better than that.

Pushing through all the mess of extracting myself from a marriage I never should have gotten into is so much better than having stayed in a place where I didn’t belong. A place where I was losing my sense of self.

Today, I may not know exactly where I’m going, but I am intact. No part of me is slipping away.

This is so much better than that.

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Back at ‘er

Went to the gym tonight for the first time in two weeks. I’d only planned to walk the track as a warm up before doing weights. But when Bat Out of Hell came on my iPod, I just couldn’t help myself. I ran about a kilometre, sprinting the last 50 metres.

I had a little frustration to let out. I’d been training for my first half Blue Nose Marathon, doing it oh so carefully with a case of high hamstring tendonitis. (If there is an itis to be had, I will have it. I seem to be prone.)

About a month ago, I was up to 17 km and feeling pretty good. The hamstrings were talking to me but not getting worse…in fact, I think the problem was very gradually getting better.

Then blam – the old IT band tightened up and started rubbing against the knee. If you’ve had this problem, you’ll know the pain is quite severe. I headed back to physio, hoping we could calm it down enough that I could do the race.

A week before the event, I had to admit that I’m human and fragile. There was no patching me up to get through the race. Heartbroken, I deferred my registration until next year. IMG_20150517_081533

I’d fundraised for Nourish Nova Scotia with my office team and it didn’t seem right to have asked people for money then not participate at all. So I made a sign and headed out to cheer on my team mates, friends, and thousands of strangers.

I’ll admit, I got a little choked up when I saw the finish line that I wouldn’t be crossing. When a goal oriented person is stopped dead in her tracks, well…it’s a tough pill to swallow, I can tell you. IMG_20150517_081523

But I rolled out my sign and hollered myself hoarse for everyone. And it was the best medicine in the world. It felt great to give that tiny bit of support to all the runners and walkers. It felt great to participate in a different way.

I really didn’t expect the response I got from the runners to my sign, though. Lots of people said thanks, that they liked the sign, gave thumbs up. Some people took pictures, and I’ve never seen so much Twitter action. One woman who’d just finished running up that bugger of a hill on North Street ran straight to me with tears in her eyes and squeezed my hand. I hugged her and told her to giv’er. And she did.

I chose my message for the masses because it seems to me that a lot of people run to change something about themselves. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I wanted to remind everyone that they are already beautiful just as they are, that they are beautiful in their efforts and determination and sweat, that they are beautiful inside and out. Their beauty may evolve but it’s always there.

Whether they make the changes they set out to or not, I’m certain they all make this important change: now, because they tried, they nose they can do it.

And next year, so will I.

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Now you are here in the light in you

If you’ve been following this little blog of mine, you’ll know that as I’ve been going through difficult life stuff, some lightbulbs have been turning on over my head.

Things like failure is good and you are what you give power to. They’re things that I’d known on the surface for a long time but hadn’t managed to internalize. They’d never hit home until recently.

I had another really big bright lightbulb this week. I’m talking football stadium floodlight wattage here.

It came through a poem my late brother had written. After he died, I sifted through his journals and was taken by the poetry I never knew he wrote. It looked like he wrote it quickly and he rarely made edits. It seemed like the words just flowed out perfectly in the moment, without hesitation.

One poem in particular struck me:

Now you are here in the light in you

Since I’ve been going to yoga regularly again, my mind has been pulling up pieces of this poem. The connection I made between the two is the reference to light because the first English translation of namaste that I learned is: “The light within me recognizes the light within you.” So the other night, I hauled out the poem and that’s when the lightbulb started glowing.

I went to bed thinking of this poem, marvelling at how much more meaning it holds with all I’ve been trying to work through. My train of thought started with, yes, I can see the light out there, the goal, some form of happiness in the future.

Then it occurred to me that I don’t quite know what that light is. I’ve been fixated on wanting a family and trading this condo for a house again. But a house may not be financially in the cards if I also want other things like vacations. And a baby isn’t going to happen naturally. When I think about whether to adopt, I find myself waffling. So what is it that I really want?

Then came a big revelation. I don’t know what the light is but I have to go towards it anyway. 

That was quickly followed by a burst of laughter as I realized I was telling myself to go towards the light. Don’t worry folks, I’m not checking out anytime soon.

Then the deeper meaning settled in with the closing line of the poem: “Now you are here in the light in you.” While we’re all journeying forward in life, we’re also on a journey inward to find happiness in the present moment.

7 MPA stonesIt’s hard for a goal-oriented person to accept not knowing exactly what the future goal is and all the steps to get there. It’s also hard not to dwell on things that brought happiness in the past but are no longer within reach. But this giant bright lightbulb over my head is now seeping into my heart and I’m finally embracing the present.

Here’s a tiny first step: After every course and exam for for my masters degree, I find a stone to mark the progress. Yesterday, I picked a seventh stone to add to the collection on my windowsill. Even though I don’t like where I’m living right now, I picked a stone from my condo building property…something I would have most decidedly not done a year ago.

This is where I am now, and I am finding my light here.

Namaste.

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Birthday weekend

IMG_00000149My cat and I share today as our birthday. How weird and wonderful is that? It’s 44 years for me, and seven for my black bear, Moe. Of course, it also would have been seven for his jolly, tuxedo-wearing brother, Joe. We still miss him so much. The birthday weekend started out with some well deserved sloth on Friday night. Moe and I curled up for some old episodes of Frasier and laughed our heads off. OK, I did. Moe just chased mice in his sleep on my lap. We had a good sleep in on Saturday, then cozied over coffee and breakfast. I got the housecleaning done – the vacuum being the low point of the weekend for Moe – and headed out to buy a new TV. Yay! running shoesNext stop was the gym where I ran 11 km – the furthest I’ve ever run. I’ve done the 10 km race in the Blue Nose Marathon several times, and this year, I’m training for the half. I’ve been hampered by high hamstring tendonitis but I think I’ve hit my stride with one long training run per week, increasing the distance by 2 km per week, and keeping limber with yoga, aerobics, water jogging, and walking through the rest of week. So far, so good! 11081209_10153768478330663_9158455327660808308_nOn the way home, I stopped at Flip Burger to celebrate the run and Halifax Burger Week with my usual…cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, pickle and garlic mayo. Moe got a small taste of local beef patty and curled up on my lap for another couple of episodes of Frasier. We had a delicious sleep and woke to glorious sun streaming in the windows this morning. After coffee and breakfast – tuna for Moe, bagel with light Laughing Cow cheese and pear for me – I rolled out my yoga mat in a sun spot. I don’t normally practice at home; I prefer the guidance of a class. But today, as I looked out the window at fresh beautiful snow on the trees (not resenting it in the least, even though we’re officially a week into spring), I found myself saying to the world, “Thank you for having me. Namaste.” IMG_20150329_121625Then I went sledding. Seriously. I love spending time with my friends and their adorable monkeys. And you couldn’t ask for a more perfect day for sledding. Fresh, fluffy snow, sun, and temperatures above zero. I think I actually got a mild sunburn on my face. Home for a cat nap, then off to the gym again for deep water aquafit. I love a good water workout, plus it’s great for loosening up legs that are remembering yesterday’s run. I made my legs practice good running form while also giving them a break by making my arms do more of the work. Home to a dinner of tossed salad and salmon cakes. Yes, Moe got some salmon, too. It was a great fish day for him. Topped it all off with a steaming mug of Baileys hot chocolate. And now, I’m feeling pleasantly well spent and ready for bed. Tomorrow, we’ll wake up and find out what the next year brings. a ps – The TV is still in the box!

Power Run

Well hello there. Long time, no blog. Not sure why, to tell you the truth. So let’s get back at it.

running shoesI went for an awesome run tonight. A nice 9km in the sunshine. Right on track for my training for the Blue Nose half marathon in May.

Now, if you know where I live, you’ll know running outdoors is a challenge these days. Nova Scotia and neighbouring provinces have been walloped by storm after storm this winter. One of them involved wildly fluctuating temperatures, so it turned on a dime from downpour to flash freeze. Pavement disappeared under inches of ice. Slushy footsteps frozen on sidewalks made walking treacherous. I wasn’t about to risk almost certain injury by running on that.

In fact, I never thought I’d run in winter at all. Which is funny because I like cool weather for running. My ideal seasons are early spring and mid to late fall. Somewhere around 8 degrees celsius is perfect. Double digits quickly become too warm for me.

But I’ve always watched winter runners in all their cold weather gear, pounding through frigid messes, and thought they looked so uncomfortable. I imagined how cold their feet must be in running shoes that provide little protection in a slush puddle.

Path bravely forged by one of my neighbours from the back door...the only door of the building that could be opened.

Path from the back door bravely forged by one of my neighbours. This was the only door of the building that could be opened until I dug out a 30′ trench from the parking lot to liberate the front door.

And yet there I was tonight, on the first day of spring – hah! – happily trotting through tunnels created by the bobcat snow-clearing machines after the latest storm dumped about 90 cm on Halifax. The bobcats leave a couple of inches of snow but it was certainly passable with caution. The few times I felt the unexpected ick of ice cold water through my shoes, it quickly went away thanks to wool socks.

As I trotted along to Enid, I remembered times spent with my best friend Nat in her dorm room in university listening to the Gordon CD. I smiled and thought, “If only my 21-year-old self could see me now.” I’d like to think she’d avoid some of my mistakes, and also find some of my newer joys earlier.

Ah, that’s not how life works, is it. But here is one little nugget of wisdom about how it does work. A nugget I have known in theory for some time but only just internalized this winter: You are what you give power to.

You can’t swing a shovel around here without hearing someone gripe about the lousy winter. But not me. I’m not caught up in the negativity, and it’s really not hard to resist.

Another snowstorm? Excellent day to make cookies, get some school work done, and nap with the cat! Need to shovel again? Great exercise in the fresh air followed by well-earned hot chocolate with Bailey’s! Another storm coming tomorrow? Do this weekend’s training run early, then foam roller with Netflix while the storm rages!

There are far worse things than some snow, boys and girls. We are Canadian. Embrace our natural habitat. Give power to the joys of hunkering down safe and cozy during the storm. Give power to gratitude that you have good health and a warm coat to do what you gotta do outdoors. I guarantee it’ll lift the weight right off your shovel.

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ps – If you’re looking for a food connection, there isn’t really one. All I’ve got for you is this: I had an awesome nosh of spaghetti and meatballs after my run tonight. I made the meatballs during the last storm.

Single

The man behind me at the checkout didn’t mean to sting me with his words.

He saw the flour, icing sugar, chocolate, eggs and milk I was unloading from my basket and said, “Doing some baking this afternoon, eh?”

IMG_20141117_105822“Yes,” I replied. “Chocolate cake with chocolate orange buttercream frosting.”

I left out the part about it being a cake to mark my divorce becoming final.

“Oh, you’ve got a lucky family,” he said.

Ouch.

To have a family of my own was the whole point of getting married. All my life, I believed I was supposed to be a mother. But this mess has taken up five precious years, bringing me to the point where the odds are stacked, towering against me having a child naturally.

So as I mark this day, it’s not the relationship that I’m mourning. I don’t really care that I’m officially single again. What hurts is the emptiness of not having a family, the thought of what my life will look like 20 and 30 and 40 years from now with no kids or grandkids, and the fear of becoming hardened and unable to be happy for others who have the one thing I’ve always wanted.

I know I’m not the only person in the world who unwillingly faces childlessness. I know there are other options, but my gut hasn’t yet produced a knowing feeling on the direction I should take. I know I shouldn’t make any big decisions until the dust settles and I’ve regained my confidence. Right now, all I can do is try to swim through the bog of hurt.

Ok. I’ve said my piece. I’ve had a good cry. Who wants cake?

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Legislation and pickled tomatoes

For the third night in a week, I find myself with arriving home with my civil servant hat still on, and it stays on as I monitor the proceedings in the legislature.

I won’t get into the details of the legislation being considered, except to say it’s been contentious and both sides of the House are fillibustering. I’m monitoring somewhat to track what they’re all saying. At this point, however, it’s getting fairly repetitive so I’m following mainly to know where we are in the process.

IMG_20141113_212509Most civil servants and media will tell you that monitoring debate in the legislature can be a bit like watching paint dry. Even when you’re invested in the subject matter, even when you have respect for the process and the members, it’s not scintillating most of the time. They get riled up or giddy sometimes, which can be entertaining. But often their voices slip into a drone that I joke would be a good cure for insomnia.

In fact, they did lull me to sleep last night. They were debating until midnight and I was running out of steam. So at 10 p.m., I curled up in bed with the laptop and the cat, and it wasn’t long before I was dozing. Over the next two hours, I woke each time the voice changed, when a new member stood to speak. This morning, I had a good chuckle at myself when I woke saying to the cat, “OK, time to get up, Mr. Speaker.” (The cat’s name is not Mr. Speaker. Not even close.)

Tonight, I’m back at it again. But tonight, I came home not only with my civil servant hat on, but also a plan for something to do while keeping an ear on the debate. Pickling tomatoes. I didn’t get much bounty from my tomato plants, and what I got didn’t have time to ripen. So, into the vinegar they went while the debate raged….well, ok, droned on.

IMG_20141113_222147I leave you with this thought. They say there are two things you don’t want to see being made: sausages and legislation. I disagree. Legislation can be slow and plodding, it can take many twists and turns, it may not look the same coming out as it did going in….hence the sausage analogy.

But this is democracy in action, folks. It may not be perfect, but it’s the best we’ve got. And I do believe that everyone involved only wants what’s best for the people they serve. So I’ll take my legislation and pickled tomatoes, thanks very much. And take pride in playing a teeny tiny part in the democtratic process.

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One year

One year ago right now, I was sitting in a car with mercifully well behaved Moe and Joe, technically homeless for 4 hours, waiting for real estate closings to finish up.

I was up and about for a couple of hours this morning before I remembered that today is that anniversary…a big milestone in the difficult journey of the past few years. Closing day for the sale of our house — the house that was supposed to be filled up with all my dreams — and closing day on the purchase of this condo that still doesn’t feel like home.

I’m not where I want to be in my personal life, I’m not where I want to be in my professional life. I’m still mourning Joe’s death in January and the loss of my dreams that went out the window as this marriage fell apart. I still fear that my self-confidence is eroded, that I can’t trust myself to make good life decisions.

When I need to escape, my happy place is imagining being back in my little west end house, my pride and joy, never having sold it, never having gone down the wrong path. Back in that adorable house where on a day like today, I’d be raking leaves then coming in for hot tea and cookies, and cuddles with my cats.

But I can’t go back there. And I’m so very far from where I want to be.

So when I looked up from my laptop and remembered that it’s been a year since that big milestone, I was surprised to find a tiny soupçon of a grin at the corner of my mouth. A tiny upward pull of cheek muscle.

Because there have been good things in the past year, too. For all of this, I am truly thankful because all of this helps me carry on:

Cats make me smile every day.

Cats made me smile every day.

Winter wonderland.

I still pulled off Christmas.

Fun with two of my favourite monkeys.

I had lots of fun with two of my favourite monkeys, and their awesome parents.

I have the best friends in the world who've made me laugh and let me cry.

I have the best friends in the world who’ve made me laugh and let me cry.

I got to spend my birthday here with those awesome friends.

I got to spend my birthday here with those awesome friends.

Bonds with YMCA friends got stronger.

Bonds with YMCA friends got stronger.

Steady progress continued on my masters degree.

Steady progress continued on my masters degree.

I had fun cycling in the Maggies with friends old and new.

I had fun cycling in the Maggies with friends old and new.

There were lattes alone and with bestest friends at the market.

There were lattes alone and with bestest friends at the market.

I was treated to several kayak outings, and got more comfortable than ever on the water.

I was treated to several kayak outings, and got more comfortable than ever on the water.

There some kayak and crustacean antics.

There were some kayak and crustacean antics.

I've had lots of delicious cat naps, with cats.

I had lots of delicious cat naps…that is to say, naps with cats.

I've enjoyed the great outdoors in this beautiful province.

I’ve enjoyed the great outdoors in this beautiful province.

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.

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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.

Enjoy!

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