Thursday, June 23, 2011

Up, Up and Away - The Mini Vacation With FIREWORKS!!!

I'm way past due for a vacation.  May was supposed to be the month but absolutely everything interfered, so fall it is.  That means it's time for a mini-vacation, something I wrote about in January.  This is my favourite one, although more expensive than I would like it to be.  I'm heading off to Aberdeen, South Dakota, to spend the 4th of July with relatives.  Family, food, laughter, exploring the old farm, driving the big tractor and lots of explosives are all in the plans.

Although I was born in Canandaigua, New York, I spent my childhood from age 3-11 in Mitchell, South Dakota - the home of the Corn Palace (yeah - as cheesy as it sounds).  My mum had family that farmed outside of Aberdeen and every holiday and at least once over the summer, we piled in the car and headed out to spend time with the relatives.  These are some of my favourite memories and looking back it's was like being in a Normal Rockwell picture.  We tried to climb the slippery haystacks, played on the hay bales, got itchy hanging out in the grain bins in the quonset, laughed, ate and just generally enjoyed being around extended family.  I particularly remember one summer when the older kids went into the loft in the barn and created a crawl through covered maze out of hay bales.  Even though I was slightly claustrophobic, I was too proud to admit I was scared and bravely crawled into the dark, dusty tunnel only to panic at the first dead end I hit.  I screamed non-stop until they finally located me and pulled me out.

Too clean and bright - mine was dark, dusty and covered. :)
When we moved to Sacramento, California, I really missed those great family times.  We managed to go back once when I was in high school and that was it.  The year after I married and moved to Canada, I took Glen back for the 4th of July and he had an amazing time.  Then twice while the kids were growing up we managed to take them for a visit.  We don't have much family here, so it was an eye opener for my kids to be in such a big crowd of family.  As they grew, driving the 3-wheeler out into the fields was added to the list of activities, something they didn't have when I was growing up.  Each time, to save money, we drove around the clock to get there.  It's a long 2-1/2 days with stops or 30 hours of straight driving.  You get to cross Washington, Idaho, MONTANAAAAAAAAA... (it takes forever to cross this state) and then half of South Dakota.  Really not much to see outside of some great scenery.


We did make one stop each time, a place I remembered from childhood.  Lemmon, South Dakota is a small town whose claim to fame is the "Petrified Forest."  Totally cheesy structures built out of pieces of petrified wood in their park.  It's a gas.  They did have a nice old fashion museum next to it, though.  I remember the look on my kids faces when they saw it - priceless.

One of my uncles teaching me to drive the tractor.
Finally Glen and I took our first holiday without the kids.  We drove to Aberdeen to celebrate the 4th and then headed on for some alone time.  It turned into a huge cousin reunion.  I don't think there was a meal that didn't have 30 of us at it.  I still kick myself that my kids did not make it to this one - but they had job commitments that wouldn't let them get away.  So in 2010 I decided to drop the bucks and fly us back.  Not a cheap proposition, but well worth it.  We didn't have to face the gruelling drive and 2 of my 3 kids were able to come with us.  It was a much smaller group, but amazing fun.  Both of my uncles live in town now and lease out the farm land, but we were still able to wander around, explore the old machinery rusting away and the tractor was still there to take out for a drive.  Unfortunately the 3-wheeler had bit the dust.  We also walked in fields of waving grain and corn and saw a multitude of bird life.  But the hands-down favourite activity was the fireworks.  Something you just can't do here.

A trunk full of excitement!
Growing up, this was always a heavily supervised activity with only a couple allowed to set off the fireworks.  I remember one year we were out on the farm and it had been very dry.  The grass was brittle.  Farmers are always prepared with hoses and buckets of water, but when one fell over and shot through the dry grass everyone just laughed, then there was the pregnant pause before they all rushed over to check for sparks.  In 2009 at the cousin reunion, it was a free for all with parents supervising their kids and I remember thinking how I wished mine were here to have the opportunity.  There were about 15 of us sitting and watching when a mega roman candle fell over.  We all laughed as it shot 2 away from us into the trees, then snorted again when it spun sideways and fired one at the of the older kids...BUT then it spun again and fired one at US!  We all leapt up and it went right through my Aunt Shirley's legs and took out a side window on the house.


When I took 2 of the kids back in 2010, it was a smaller group.  My kids enjoyed the attention of extended family and when it came time for fireworks, they were the main event.  This time we went to a small recreational lake outside of Aberdeen where one of my cousins lives.  The launching platform was the dock.  Smart move!  While Glen and the kids set off fireworks, we could see similar displays all around the lake.  It was both beautiful and inspiring.  I do realize the dangers of fireworks, but also know the other side.  When handled properly, it is one of those moment in life that is really special and I am glad my kids have the opportunity to explore it.
My grandfather's tractor rusting in the fields

As we get ready to head back for this year's celebration, I realize it may be the last for awhile and life will change.  So I will cherish each moment I am there. It is something many do not get to experience and it brings home the fact that in many ways, I live a privileged life.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Coming Out Story #6 - Joserra Z.


Joserra Z. was born in a small town in Mexico, but his parent's divorce and mother's remarriage when he was only 5 took him to Mexico City.  He bonded quickly with his step father and remembers a happy childhood filled with family, friends, travel, birthday parties and big holiday dinners.  Looking back, there are memories of being a bit eccentric - wearing costumes for days, enjoying time alone reading and the constant memory of being told by many people that he was "...An old man in a kid's body."

The earliest memory that hinted at Joserra's sexual orientation was when he was only 5.  He remembers, "My brother used to be a big fan of Vanilla Ice - something he denies now.  I remember he asked, 'Do you think he is hot?' and I answered, 'Yes!' - But he was asking my sister who was right behind me." During puberty he made an effort to do the “normal” thing by having girlfriends, but definitely never felt sexually attracted to them. Things changed at the age of 13. He was dating a girl who played soccer and was immersed in the drama club, when lightening struck.

Joserra became very close with a guy who was dating a mutual girlfriend.and the attraction was overwhelming. "When I touched him I felt like I was going to faint. Butterflies flew in my stomach and I heard music in my head. That was only when we hugged good-bye. Imagine when we kissed for the first time!"  What started out as experimentation became serious when he realized he was in love. "Only at that moment did the word homosexual come into my head."  He was 15.

Coming out to teachers, friends and their parents quickly followed.  Some were surprised, but most were not.  Joserra was fortunate to receive acceptance and was allowed to bring his boyfriends to parties. Heavily immersed in theatre, he won the role of Danny in the high school production of Grease.  Everybody knew he was gay, so it was only a matter of time before his family began to ask questions and honesty was the only possible response.  Joserra remembers, "They said they needed time to think about it.  10 months later they told me they were okay with it.  I was equal to my brother and sister, so my friends and boyfriends had a place in the house, etc.  And that was it."  Years later his mother shared that it took time for them to realize his sexual orientation had nothing to do with the way they had raised him.


After graduation, Joserra went on to film school - an artistic environment that is very accepting - and now works as a writer for TV and theatre.  He lives with a straight room mate and shares, "I have never been called a name to my face.  A lot of people have probably insulted me, but it had nothing to do with the fact I'm gay - it comes more from when I've been a jerk."

In closing I want to share Joserra's answers to a couple of questions.

1. What are the positives and negatives since coming out?  -  "For me being gay has been a really positive experience.  When I have a new job I assume that everybody knows it and that has always worked for me. The challenges I have faced in my life have never been linked to my sexuality."

2. Any advice for those still struggling in secrecy?  -  "There is something about coming out that earns you the respect of the people...that's why you should do it."

3.  Do you consider yourself part of a minority in any other way? - "In my circle of gay friends, I am the only atheist.  I think that's really funny."

For anyone who would like to be a part of this series, please email me at justbusiness1@gmail.com. 

Links for those who are interested - 
LGBT - www.qmunity.ca
Out in Schools - www.outinschools.com
PFLAG Canada - www.pflagcanada.ca
Check Him Out - www.checkhimout.ca

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pam Jackson - Street Cat Designs


Part of my responsibilities as editor of Vancouver Fashion eZine is to attend events.  I have to admit, getting dressed up and out the door to drive downtown after working all day is not easy.  Inertia sets in.  But once there, it becomes exciting as there are always new and interesting people to meet.  One who has become very special to me is Pam Jackson, the talented jewellery designer behind Street Cat Designs.  She is the mentor who encouraged me to start this blog and I will forever be grateful.  What surprised me most when I sat down to write this is I can't find ONE SINGLE PICTURE of the two of us together, something I have to remedy immediately.

Pam (left) with friend Bob at a LuvNGrace event

Jackson was born and raised in Lytton where, "If you weren't careful, it could suck the soul right out of you."  Her grandmother was an early influence, teaching her to knit and crochet at the tender age of 5, "...thank-you Gramma for your patience..I wish you could see what I've done with it..."  She also created Barbie dresses and spent time with her friends teaching them to sew, but as she grew older began to spend more and more time alone reading.  During her teen years, Jackson began to rebel against the small town mentality.  Even though a straight A student, her artist soul was crying out for more.  An undercurrent not discovered until years later was that she was bi-polar - a ticking time bomb for an adolescent.  She remembers, "After many unfortunate incidents that had no explanation, my parents became exhausted and asked me to leave home."  She was only 16.  While most of that ensuing time living on the streets has been forgotten, what she does remember is purchasing coloured wooden bead, making earrings and selling them back to the store.


It was while dealing with the death of  a friend years later that Jackson began to create jewellery in earnest.  "I was getting ready for work and got a phone call that my dearest friend had tried to commit suicide, but had not passed yet.  She was at VGH in the ICU and they didn't know how long she would hang on for. My sister and daughter immediately came over for support and took me out to lunch. Afterwards, I remember getting off the bus in front of Country Beads.  I had been crying and everything was a blur, but the window of the bead store was this beautiful riot of colour - the brightest spot of my day. The memory of the brilliance drew me back and I started beading."  Not only was it relaxing, but there was a healing effect to be found in the process of creation


Books, tutorials, articles, magazines, advice from other jewellers and trial and error were Jackon's teachers.  It took 2-3 years before her pieces began to sell.  The first time out was a fundraiser.  "It was a fashion show and artisan market called 'An Artful Life'.  I couldn't believe the interest in my work; it was a crazy, beautiful feeling.  People were swarming my table and buying.  That gave me the courage to apply to Portobello West Market, and I GOT IN!  My work has evolved since then, but my aesthetic is still there."  At that first market she was approached by Shelley Klassan of Blushing Boutique about carrying the line. That boutique became the first of many and Street Cat Designs can now be found at Blushing Boutique, House of Jewels, Jeweliette, Just Jewellery, Oh Kuol, Phresh Spa, Portobello West Market, Pure Something and Ric Yuenn.


Street Cat Designs is elegant, but subtle.  Viewed from across the room you see beautiful jewellery.  When you get up close and personal with the line, the quality of the materials and strong techniques used to craft each piece brings an even greater appreciation.  There is a lot of small detailing.  When I popped by Jackson's house to watch her work, what surprised me was that she makes most of the individual elements.  Even the earring wires are made by hand.  I asked her to show me, and it was obvious that she had it down to a science.  A piece of wire, a hand tool, and in seconds she had a perfectly shaped, identical set finished.  It was also inspiring to watch the AAA grade gemstones and real pearls being chosen for a new piece - no glass or quartz here - along with various gauges of sterling silver and 14 K gold wire.  Different colours and shapes are strewn randomly on the worktop and she intuitively groups the shapes and colours into combinations that inspire her.


Only a few tools are used - 3 different types of pliers, a pair of wire cutters and 2 different hammers.  From there the process of creation takes over as Jackson intuitively bends and hammers various wires, attaches the gemstones and pearls and adds hand-made earring hoops or purchased chain.   Describing the process, she shares, "My work is all cold connections, so there is no casting of metal or soldering.  I use wire wrapping. Some of the techniques I use date back to the ancient Vikings. I have perfected them so my jewellery looks refined and elegant.  The look of each piece has to be impeccable, it has to be durable enough to last for years and be classic in design, not a fad."


A couple new tools were added to Jackson's repertoire a few years ago - a pair of knitting needles and a crochet hook. There was an elderly lady online who was making chained flower brooches and the idea arose of making a wire chain with a crochet hook.  "The base filigree stamps were just coming out in earrings and from a far they looked like a crochet circle, so I tried it and it worked!  The rest is history. After that I learned a technique called Viking Knit which makes the most beautiful woven chains."  Knitting and crocheting wire creates lacy, ethereal pieces that have wide appeal, but are particularly popular in the bridal market.  Custom designs for weddings have become a growing area for Street Cat Designs, creating the new challenge of keeping up with boutique orders while addressing the needs of the clients needing unique pieces.

I had Jackson answer a few specific questions -
1.  Favourite part?  Buying the pretty gemstones and finishing a beautiful piece that someone will love.
2.  Least favourite?  Small details like filing the ends of earring wires and attaching clasps to chains.
3.  Inspiration?  People, her garden and the design essence of a garment, but top of the list is the jumble of beautiful gemstones on her work space.
4. Favourite colours?  Currently pinks, greens, turquoise and neon blue.
5.  Favourite piece?  "I loved making each and every piece I've done. I love doing it all, BUT the most fun are the ones that incorporate layers of hand made components."
6.  The difference between a designer and a hobbyist?  The materials and the techniques.  An artist works with the finest quality materials and the best hands-on techniques available.


Jackson hopes to have Street Cat Designs grow to provide a comfortable living upon her husband's retirement and to create an opportunity for them to travel widely, but for now she is happy making jewellery people love.  Her final words of wisdom for those starting out are actually words that apply to us all, " Never stop learning.  Be true to yourself and don't follow fads, because fads are just that.  You want your jewellery to be everlasting."

For more information on Street Cat Designs, you can visit the website at www.streetcatdesigns.net.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

RIP-SCREAM - The Sound of Beauty

Bikini Line, French, Brazilian and Sphinx - if those names don't bring a small shudder, then you've never had the experience.  They are just a few of the terms used to describe different types of waxing for a woman's privates - everything from just the edges to naked as a new born front to back (yes - even the derriere). 

Men and women alike have seemed to develop a fascination with being hairless in the last decade that sends them in droves to undergo this procedure, despite the discomfort. I find it fascinating.

This whole article came about when I was trying to wind down late at night - flipping the TV channels in desperation for something soothing and mindless to help me relax. I was suddenly stopped by the sight of 2 women encouraging another into a small salon room and closing the door behind her as they grinned like Cheshire cats. What was awaiting her?  Her very first waxing session. 

I am not sure whether they chose to leave her a small patch or stripped her bare from front to back, but the sounds of RIP-SCREAM came rolling through the door as the 2 ladies laughed and joked. She hobbled out of the room with a smile on her face, so survived.  But the yelling that came through the door prior made it clear this had been painful.  I quickly moved on to another station.















Going through discomfort for the sake of beauty is nothing new.  There was foot binding to create the "Perfect Lotus" - a 3 inch foot creating through the practice of Foot Binding, the removal of lower ribs to create a more wasp shaped figure and a friend of mine even met an elderly lady in a museum who had the little toe removed from both feet so that she could fit the narrow pointed shoes fashionable at the turn of the century. So a little pain to remove unwanted hair is actually very small in comparison.  It just surprises me that in this day and age, people want to experience that discomfort.

I have to admit, other than a few home waxing strips to take care of stray hairs, I have avoided the process like the plague.  If I could do it once and it would take care of unwanted hair permanently, I would. Somehow going back every 6-8 weeks just doesn't instill a sense of anticipation.  I did learn a few things from my home trials.

1.  NEVER start it if you can't finish it.  RIP-SCREAM is the only way it's coming off.  There is no gentle alternative if you chicken out.  You'll be walking around with it stuck to your face for a long time.

2. NEVER apply the wax until you know which direction to pull.  There actually is a right way to do this.  If you pull the wrong way it won't work right and you'll have to do it all over again (or abandon your efforts).

3.  NEVER be faint of heart.  Whether you do it yourself or wisely leave it to a professional, it's an all or nothing go-for-it moment.

4.  NEVER wax before an event.  My very first attempt was a small amount of hair on my lip that I thought I would try taking off at home.  My lip reacted by swelling up slightly and turning red.  Fortunately it passed quickly, but it was a close call.


Waxing for women has a wide variety of targets.  Legs and bikini waxing probably top the charts, but other areas include eyebrows, chin, upper lip, arms and underarms.  Bikini waxing has become so popular that they even have new fun options - Landing Strip, Mohawk, Martini Glass, Bermuda Triangle, Postage Stamp and Heart Attack. 

Long gone is the aesthetic where men fantasized about the colour of a woman's pubic hair.  Now I can only assume they wonder if she has any and if so what shape it is trimmed into.  I personally find the naked-as-a-bluejay look a bit creepy - sort of like going back to being a pre-adolescent.  However, I really wouldn't want to see massive amounts of hair exploding out of ultra small thong bikinis we see nowadays either.


With the advent of the exposed six-pack, men have also embraced the hairless look.  In previous times, you weren't manly if you didn't have some chest hair and the need to shave.  Teenage boys desperately awaited the growth of those first few strands and proudly flaunted them on arrival. No longer.  Pity the man who has a massive amount of chest and back hair.  It won't be easy or pleasant. 

While these areas are probably the first choice for men, they also do arms, legs, underarms, feet, hands and even their own form of the Brazilian that includes the testicles! Now that has to be one serious OUCH!  It has often been stated that if men had to bear the children. the human race would die away as they couldn't handle the pain of labour. I would say any man who can handle a full Male Brazilian could probably prove the naysayers wrong.

There are other options:  going natural or old fashioned shaving at one end to permanent hair removal at the other end (laser if your hair is dark in colour or electrolysis). The in 2015 we saw a new trend of bleaching then dying the underarm hair a neon color. Who knows if this will actually catch on.

If you chose to wax, be aware it us not recommended if you have a contagious skin condition, have thin or fragile skin or are using steroid medication or Roaccutane. Wax should also not be applied in areas with raised moles, skin tags, abrasions, bites, broken skin, bruises or varicose veins.  And most importantly don't forget to make sure the spa you go to has excellent hygiene.

So to wax or not to wax?  That is the question. Only you know the answer.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Crockpost Western Omelette Casserole

First of all - I want to make VERY clear to anyone reading this that this recipe is here for those who have to feed a crowd of visitors (of perhaps a group of friends up skiing that need a quick breakfast).  This uses frozen hash browns and definitely falls in the category of the casserole - not gourmet in the least.  That said - I think it has possibilities given a really creative mind.

I still have a full house and a busy schedule, so always looking for a recipe that can sit in the crockpot all night or all day.  This one can do either.  I actually served it for dinner one day when I wasn't going to get home until the last minute.  In my web search there was real controversy surrounding this recipe - loved it or hated it.  I did find those who hated it often started with, "Well, I substituted.....",  and then made adjustments in areas that affected the composition of the recipe.  It didn't work. Also - it`s not gourmet food, so you have to know your crowd.  I also looked at the positive feedback and the one that caught my eye was to use it as a base for breakfast (or lunch or dinner) burritos.  Now this can cover a multitude of average-ness as you get to add salsa, cheese, olives, etc., and wrap it in a warm tortilla.  So this was the direction I took.  

I did make a couple of substitutions, but nothing that changed the basic structure of the dish.  I prefer a red, orange or yellow pepper - green just doesn't do it for me even though it is traditional.  I also suspected this dish might be a bit on the bland side so went with a good quality aged, sharp cheddar.  It was a good choice as in the end I still think it needed a little more zip from somewhere.  Next time I will definitely add some chopped jalepenos and a few other herbs such as cilantro to perk it up.  Then serve it with your favourite burritos fixings - extra cheese, black olives, a variety of salsas (peach might be good here), lettuce, chopped tomatos and more.  Make sure the tortillas are warm first as well.  Add a great big fruit salad and you have an assemble your own breakfast, lunch or dinner that can be prepared 10 hours ahead of time and will feed a large group.

Crockpost Western Omelette Casserole

Ingredients:
32 ounces hash browns, frozen
1 pound ham, extra lean, cooked and cubed (or prosciutto, chorizo, bacon, etc. - but may not need 1  pound - a little prosciutto in particular goes a little goes a long way.)
1 medium onion diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced (I would use red, yellow or orange - less bitter)
1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded (Needs more flavour so I would use sharp cheddar)
12 eggs
1 cup milk, skim
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper, or to taste

Directions:
You will need a LARGE crockpot to make this and I would suggest you spray it with Pam first.  Place a layer of frozen potatoes on the bottom of the crockpot, followed by a layer of ham, then onions, green peppers and cheese.  Repeat the layering process two or three times, ending with a layer of cheese.

Beat the eggs, milk and salt & pepper together. Pour over the mixture inside the crockpot, cover and turn on low. Cook for 10-12 hours, overnight, and enjoy for breakfast or brunch the next day.  You can also assemble this in the morning for a super easy dinner for a crowd.  As it's serve yourself, you can turn the crockpot to the warm setting and just leave it all out so everyone can eat whenever they are ready.

I know this is simple food, but I promise the next recipe will be more deluxe. Sometimes in life you just need a quantity of food to feed a crowd with little effort and this fills the bill.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"What Could They Be Thinking?" - Tips on Track Courtesy

I have so many more important stories to share on my blog, but for some reason this keeps pushing itself to the fore front.  The "What Could They Be Thinking?" part comes after the first 2 paragraphs.

As mentioned in my May 2011 blog, "To Jog or Not to Jog", I have decided to give jogging one last try.  Everyone I know continues to tell me once you get over the hump, the endorphins rock. While I have no intention of doing any distance running, I found a 6 week NOVICE program to train for a 5K.  I stretched this way out to make it really safe for me.  I did Day 1 for 2 weeks. Now I'm doing Day 2 for 2 weeks and so on.  Still waiting for the endorphins promised.  I know, "They're in the mail!"

 First a quick update - Day 1 was run 1 minute/walk 1 minute ten times - a total of 20 minutes.  After 2 weeks I still was not great but moved onto Day 2 - run 2 minutes/walk 4 minutes for 30 minutes.  I actually found this a lot more comfortable pace.  I have 1 more week at this before I move onto Day 3.  The one issue I have is that my left calf has a muscle buried on the inside and underneath (not the back) that keeps tightening up.  As a former dancer, there aren't many muscles I can't find a way to stretch, so this has proved annoying.  Fortunately the rest of the body is responding fine.


Now for the "What Could They Be Thinking?" part  - I am really fortunate where I live to have a proper track oval with a rubber surface.  This helps avoid some of the issues that arise from running on concrete. Add in a new pair of quality shoes, good technique and stretching before and after and you have the best recipe for a positive experience.  However, no one mentioned the recreational idiots using the track!

There are 8 lanes on the local track and it is clearly lined and numbered.  The first thing you notice is the direction. The lane numbers are meant to be read one way, the way you are supposed to run.  When you have a large mix of people using the track it is important that we all move the same direction.  The number of times I have experienced people moving the wrong way is amazing.  Hands down my favourite is the people who have their small kids on the EXPENSIVE track on their bikes and let them ride any direction they like - often the wrong way around to meet their parents coming.  Then there are those who use part of the track to get from point A to point B by using the track lanes, again the wrong way.  Another one that surprised me the other day were some sprinters in training.  They would sprint when the lanes were open and they walk back to the start right in the middle lanes where runners were jogging, totally oblivious to the chaos they were creating.  Why not move to the outside lanes at least.


Next is lane usage.  There is a protocol just like on the street.  Of course, just like cars, there are those who don't get it.  Unfortunately, the ones who read this most likely are the ones who already get it - the ones that don't will continue to be oblivious.  Let's start with the inside lanes.  They really are meant to be used by serious runners.  These people might be looking at distance training or timing individual laps, but what they do is move a lot faster for a lot longer than the rest of us.  They shouldn't have to jump around walkers, slow joggers and kids.  I keep seeing recreational walkers out for the evening using this lane for a stroll and it's crazy.  The middle lanes accommodate those who are jogging at a slower pace or power walkers keeping a brisk pace.  Outside lanes are for the evening strollers.  You are there because you are not trying to do anything but have a walk in the fresh air and to be honest, you really don't need a professional quality track to do that.


Another gripe is the oblivious lane changers.  Many times now I'm doing my best to get around the track and a newly arrived walker comes in from the outside and drifts across several lanes until they settle in one.  I'm not a great jogger as it is, and swerving is definitely not my specialty.  I try to give a short "HEY" to warn them, but unfortunately many have on their headphones.  In the same category are the group walkers.  Usually slow, usually older, and happily drifting along spread 2-3 lanes wide; talking, blocking traffic and shifting in front of people unexpectedly.

Last but not least is something that bothers me that doesn't have to do with running.  If you are fortunate enough to have a professional track in your area like the one above, DO NOT walk in hard-soled dress shoes or let your kids use their bikes, skate boards,etc., on it.  It's a privilege paid out of property tax dollars and when mis-used, the cost can be enormous.

So 2 more runs at Day 2 and then I head into Day 3.  I really hope the endorphins start kicking in soon, but at least I noticed that my last run was finally getting a little more relaxed and my speed was very slightly increased.  That said, I still look like a total novice slowly plodding around the track.  Maybe I just need some cool new running clothes to inspire me!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Life Detours

Today has turned out to be one that may possibly define where the next year of my life heads, so I am feeling thoughtful.  When you are very young, you live from moment to moment.  You don't even realize it when a change in directions happen.  In my 20's I found life changes exhilarating and embraced them with gusto.  About every 4 years I needed to change jobs and geographic locations to keep myself motivated.  Now as I grow older, some of these detours are not as welcome as they can define even my quality and length of life.  So today's column is about detours.

"The key to change...is to let go of fear." - Rosanne Cash

Life detours can come in many forms - an unexpected pregnancy, being let go from a job, the sometimes difficult search for a new one, the need to move to a new location, an accident that limits mobility, a long-term or life-threatening illness, the loss of a child or one born with a disability, an opportunity that requires you to take a chance, an economic downturn that defines your financial status and the list goes on. Each of these creates stress and force us to re-evaluate our life and what is important.  They can also cause a change in relationship and/or economic status.  Unfortunately this may be a given for most people in the future.  The last article I read said the most successful people in the future will be able to re-train quickly and will experience at least 4 different careers in their lifetime.  There are also studies out there that the current generation - for the first time ever - will have shorter life-spans than their parents.  Stress, too much processed and fast food and exposure to preservatives and pollutants are thought to be at least partly to blame.


As I have been around a few years now, I find in my list of friends people who have experienced most of the circumstances above.  None of them chose to be there and all of them found it life-changing.  Suddenly the comfortable road they were travelling on disappeared and they were left drifting at sea.  Eventually most find personal growth and a life lesson to be shared, but none said it was easy.  As you age, there are specific things to be faced that no one prepared me for.

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." - Maria Robinson

1.  The loss of friends and family is tougher than you think.   Glen's father passed away in his 90's and all his friends were gone.  He did not find it easy to make friends when he was younger and impossible to accomplish when he was older and less mobile.  It proved to be very lonely for him at times.  I learnt from my mum that with the shrinking family sizes, it is very important as you age to continue to add friends that are younger.   The age you begin to lose people was also shocking.  It began for me while I still had young kids at home.  Worse yet was the first time someone I know lost a child.  I think I was a little crazy for the next bit worrying about my own kids.

2.  The loss of a job within 10 years of retirement is a huge issue, especially for men.  I have known 3 now that were down-sized at this crucial time and all took years to find another position.  It also broke up 1 marriage. 

Loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature's delight.” Marcus Aurel

3.  The limitations that come with aging can be insidious. A number of seniors I know have told me if their doctor says one more time, "Well, you ARE getting older!"  when then talk about a symptom, they'll lose it. Suddenly you can't walk as far and you get injured easily.  A genetic factor appears or an old injury comes back to haunt you.  You also have to face your mortality.  Diet, exercise, and lifestyle all start to really matter.  As you get older, the risk for many things goes up and you never know when your number will be up - it could be 40 or 100. 

4.  The mind starts to process slower.  I remember my mum at 87 was trying to participate in a family game and stated afterwards that everyone was just playing too fast.  She would think what her play should be, take her turn and then everyone else would play instantly and it would be her turn again.  Same with conversations - they would change subjects too quickly for her to follow.

I have no intention of ending on a negative note.  Every down side has an upside and that can come in many ways.  Most who go through challenges experience personal growth and a re-focus of what is important in their lives.  Learning to value the family and friends they have; enjoying the challenge of a new career or time off to focus on personal issues; valuing each moment as it is; and even experiencing an unexpected new direction in life can be rewarding if embraced.   Each and every challenge life throws at us can open the door on a wonderful and new adventure.  So no matter how scary one moment is by itself, it's important to remember it's just one part of a much larger journey.  While it might close one door, it can open an unexpected path to new experiences and possibilities.

Ghandi Qhotes -

"A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do. Nothing else.

"If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning."