Sunday, February 7, 2016

Farewell to Facebook (for February anyway)

I’ve been so busy lately, I haven’t had time to write a post about my word for 2016, which I finally decided a few weeks ago would be “farewell”.

Farewell as in "so long" to the things, activities and relationships that no longer serve a positive purpose in my life. And farewell as in “good wishes on the journey” to the people I expect to see less often, and to myself as I put my 2016 intentions into action.

Reviewing my priorities for 2015, I was glad to realize I'd made good progress in respect to many of them. I didn’t read a book a week but finished 27 in all – which was a big improvement over the previous year. I also dealt with a fair bit of clutter – though the job’s a long way from done. I wasn’t able to "run more" due to injury and illness but certainly "trained smarter", which included taking time off to recover when I needed to.

I made the most progress in respect to diet, thanks largely to Husband who did a wonderful job of ensuring we ate more fruits and veggies and reduced grains, cheese and sugars. I also made good progress on putting “first things first” – prioritizing the things that really matter to me over the things others think should matter.

My intentions for 2016 aren't very different from those I set for 2015.

READ EVEN MORE! – I’ve loved reading more and have especially enjoyed books suggested by Husband. Our tastes are somewhat different but he challenges me read stuff I wouldn’t read otherwise and I’ve liked the books he recommended more than I thought I would.

EAT EVEN BETTER – We’ve made good progress increasing our intake of fruit, veggies and nuts and reducing the grains, legumes, cheeses and sugars in our diet but we’re keen to do more. The older we get, the more important it is to fuel our bodies well. We’re also experimenting with intermittent fasting to enhance brain health. More on that when we have a better sense of whether or not it’s working.

RUN MORE – My training plans for 2015 were frustrated by nagging hip flexor issues. Now that those are resolved, I hope to return to training in earnest for another marathon. I’m off to a somewhat slow start but there's still time to prepare for at least one 42.2k this year. My first choice is the Calgary Marathon since it would be a good excuse to visit family and friends who live there but that might change if the winter turns nasty. I won't attempt a spring marathon unless I'm sure I'm ready for it. (Fortunately, this weekend was terrific for running so I did an 8k with Husband on Saturday and a 14k run with my buddy David at Second Peninsula today. As you can probably tell from the photo at the top of the post and this one, the scenery was awful and we had a terrible time. ;-) )

CROSS-TRAIN MORE – This is really about training smarter. Since New Year’s, I’ve been doing more stretching and yoga to increase flexibility and core strength but I know I'd benefit from other activities like swimming, snowshoeing and weight training too. 

MINIMIZE MY STUFF – I made great progress banishing the clutter at home and at the office 2015 but I'll need cull even more stuff when and if the country house sells. In preparation, I plan to continue disposing of possessions and – just as importantly – accumulate as little new stuff as possible. One day, I'd like to get the point where we could live comfortably in a tiny, environmentally sustainable house.

FIRST THINGS FIRST – Once again, this is my most important intention. I still spend far too much time on things that, in the big picture, don’t matter very much, and Facebook tops the list. Given that, I'm taking a Facebook vacation for the month of February and plan to minimize the time I spend on it for the rest of 2016. Though I confess I'm experiencing some withdrawal, I'm not missing it as much as I thought I would - in part because family and friends already spend less time on Facebook than they used to. 

"First things first" applies to more than just Facebook. One of the things I've struggled with in recent months is finding the time and energy to maintain all our social connections. On the one hand, I'm grateful for our large extended families and the many friends Husband and I have made over the years. On the other, it's difficult and tiring to nurture so many relationships. Like it or not, we need to make tough choices and say a quiet "fare thee well" to some of them. Hopefully, we can manage it without hurt feelings.

So what about you? What are your intentions for 2016? How are you doing so far? Are you training for anything special? What are you running plans for 2016?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Once upon a winter weekend

Last  weekend was a busy one. We hosted our wonderful neighbours for a mid-winter night's supper on Friday night. The weather was perfect, with snow softly falling throughout the evening.  Husband outdid himself, cooking up a wonderful feast, and the company couldn't have been better. We enjoyed it thoroughly. 

The views as we headed for the country for a visit with my parents and aunt on Saturday were spectacular. En route to my parents' place, we popped up the hill to deliver leftover brownies to my sister and her family. The scenery near their house was so lovely I asked husband to stop a couple of times so I could take pictures. (The colours in the photo above are different because I took it through the car windshield.)

To our delight, we managed to see our beautiful nieces in passing! Though fighting colds, they were outside enjoying the day and waited patiently while I snapped a few pics. What can I say? Taking photos of these two faces never gets old.

Dinner with my parents and my aunt was terrific too. My parents are generous hosts and, at 90 years old, Aunt Marg is sharp as a tac and full of fun so we thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

Even with all the visiting, I managed a 13km run on Sunday. It wasn't pretty after being sick with flu for a couple of weeks but at least I got 'er done. And running amidst such beauty, warmed by happy memories of time with family and friends, I had nothing much to complain about.

Happy running and writing, friends!

Saturday, January 23, 2016


One of the few blogs I follow religiously is Shut Up and Run. It's funny, irreverent and - most importantly - wonderfully inspiring. However discouraged I feel about running, Beth makes me want to lace up my shoes and get out the door.

This morning, I finally got round to reading her most recent post, which is based on a blog prompt entitled "Currently". I just googled "blog prompts" and found heaps of links. How did I not know blog prompts existed? Fantastic. I'll definitely be checking some out the next time I've got writer's block.

That's not my trouble today actually. Today, I have at least three posts waiting to be splatted out of my head into the blogophere - but Beth's invitation to write a response to her prompt has proven irresistible so here goes...

Time and place
Saturday, 10:19 am, sitting in bed at the country house. I haven't made it up yet because Husband keeps bringing me cups of coffee. And, anyway, I've got a nasty cold so it makes sense to lay low until I shake it.

Not cooking at the moment, but hoping to be well enough to make a couple of pots of chili tomorrow. The plan is to freeze them for a neighbourhood supper we're hosting Friday evening. We're expecting 20+ people so we've put together a casual menu with plenty of variety so that everyone will be able to find something to eat.  At this point, it includes two kinds of chili (veggie and chicken), meatballs, veggies and dips, cheese, bread, brownies, and cream puffs.

The monster storm that may or may not hit tonight and tomorrow. As of yesterday, we thought it would miss NS altogether but it now seems we'll get winged at least.  Fingers crossed that's the worst of it.

A nasty chest cold - complete with snotty nose, chest congestion, plugged ears, and achy muscles. Not nice at all but, given that I feel better than I did yesterday, I suppose I'll survive.

Working on
Various job-related challenges. When I woke up for my middle-of-the-night pee, I was surprised to discover my subconscious was still working on them. Generally I leave my job at the office but that's been harder to do lately. It's not the actual tasks that are difficult. It's managing all the relationship stuff that goes along with them.

Besides my favourite blogs, I've got four books in progress. I'm still rereading Older, Faster, Stronger and making my way through Misbehaving in fits and starts. I started Lawrence Hill's latest, The Illegal, last weekend (great so far!) but took a short break to read Hemingway's A Moveable Feast because Husband borrowed it from the library and it needs to be returned soon. I've never read much Hemingway but I must say I'm enjoying it - mostly because it's about his life in Paris with his first wife Hadley. I read a fictionalized account of their marriage a few years back (The Paris Wife) and the contrast between the two is fascinating.

Listening to
Husband taking a shower. I've gotten out of the habit of listening to music all the time. My inner introvert prefers to minimize sensory inputs so I can focus on what I'm doing. If I were listening to music right now, it would likely be a folksy Canadian singer/songwriter.

The bread I can smell baking downstairs. Husband makes no-knead artisan bread most weekends which tastes unbelievably good warm out of the oven.

Donald Trump. Seriously? The guy's a dangerous, bullying idiot. What are people thinking? I saw a link to a film about his activities in Scotland called "You've been Trumped" that I'll definitely be watching later this weekend.

An excuse to lollygag in bed this morning. Most Saturday mornings I'm up and out the door for a run as soon as I can manage it. Being too sick to run but not sick enough to keep me from reading and writing is perfect. Also loving this video of a 500+ voice choir in Toronto singing a stunning version of "Space Oddity" as a tribute to David Bowie, my daily commute on the ferry (see photo at the top of this post) and this lamp, which I bought on impulse last weekend because it made me think of Paris and smile.

A visit with my baby sister's daughters. They were supposed to spend last Saturday with us but the older one came down with stomach flu so we rescheduled for this weekend and had to postpone again because of my cold. Hopefully, everyone will be well enough to get together one weekend soon. We've got a bunch of fun stuff planned and I'm determined to spend as much time as I can with them while they still think it's fun to come to our place. It won't be long before they're teenagers with no interest in hanging out with us oldsters. Here's a favourite pic from a couple of years back. Who wouldn't want to spend time with these two?

Aside from videos on Facebook, not much. We haven't had cable TV for years and don't miss it enough to sign up for Netflix. Occasionally - maybe once or twice a year - we download a movie via iTunes or pick something up at the library but mostly we prefer to read and/or surf the net.

Normally, I'd say I don't use my blog to promote anything - in the commercial sense anyway. However, recently a friend asked me if I'd write a community theatre review, which I was happy to do. You can read it by clicking on "Theatre Reviews" tab at the top of the page. Interestingly, I was contacted by a rival community theatre a few days after I posted it and asked to write a review of their next show. Who knows? Maybe I'll become an accidental theatre critic.

Mirrors. It finally hit me a few weeks ago that I'm actually getting old. Not older. Old. And I've been avoiding mirrors ever since. I complained for ages about the fact I was still having periods every month (I know, I know, TMI), insisting that I just wanted them over with once and for all. But now that they're finally coming more erratically and it's clear menopause is just around the corner, I find myself surprisingly sad and a little panicked. More on all that in some future "painfully personal post".

What about you, dear reader? What are you up to currently?  I'd love to read about it if you feel like sharing a link in the comments below.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Running lessons: Contemplating my intentions for 2016

My running year got off to a rocky start last weekend.

On Saturday, I headed out for what I intended to be an 18k run but ran out of steam after 10k and called Husband to come pick me up.  It wasn't that it was especially cold or slippery. In fact conditions on the roads and sidewalks were quite good as I headed upriver to Cookville Bridge. The scenery was nice too, with plenty of fresh snow under bright blue skies.

The trouble started when I reached the bridge and began my journey back along the Centennial Trail. I discovered ATVs had been there before me, creating deep tracks through the heavy snow that had fallen the week before. The tracks were too narrow to run in comfortably, and the frozen treadmarks at the bottom of them made running treacherous. After just a couple of kilometres, my energy and enthusiasm for completing the run evaporated.

Happily, the 8k Husband and I tackled together on Sunday went much better. Temperatures were comfortable and we were able to avoid the trail for the most part. I pushed the pace a little in the first 5k so the last 3k felt harder than they needed to - the downside of running "naked" (i.e. without a device to measure our speed) - but it was a good run all the same.

We spent most of the rest of the weekend hanging out by the fire, reading and discussing our intentions for the coming year. Inspired by a friend, and recognizing that real life tends to interfere with the best laid plans, I've decided to formulate "intentions" rather than "resolutions" this year. The idea is to focus on the things that matter most to me, while avoiding the negative self-talk that often accompanies failed resolutions.

For inspiration, I reread the last two chapters of "Older, Faster, Stronger" by Margaret Webb.  The book provides plenty of evidence that "masters" athletes with good training and nutrition can be faster and stronger, and continue training longer than most people think - even into their 70s, 80s and 90s. Scientists, who have only recently begun studying older runners, have discovered our bodies have much more capacity to heal and regenerate than they previously thought. Given how discouraged I've felt about my running lately, it was exactly what I needed to read.  I haven't yet settled on running goals for 2016, but I'm determined not to capitulate to "common sense" notions that I ought to run less now that I'm in my mid-50s. It ain't necessarily so.

I spent another good chunk of the weekend hanging out with Nemmie, who's become a total glutton for belly rubs lately, which is odd given how independent she's always been. Even now, she's quick to make it clear that she doesn't want to be picked up or confined in any way. On the other hand, she happily spends hours sprawled on her back on the floor, the bed, or "her" chair sleeping and being petted. What a goof!

We planned to take our Christmas tree down before heading back to the city Monday morning but couldn't quite bring ourselves to do it. We especially enjoyed the tree this year because it was decorated with tin ornaments given to us by Husband's sister, Maryanne, who passed away last winter. She and Husband's parents (who died a few months before and after Maryanne) all loved birds so we placed a few silver bird ornaments amongst the branches, and adorned the top with St. Nicholas carrying a bird house. The ornaments were a lovely way to keep Ma, Pa and Maryanne front and centre throughout the season, which was sad but oddly comforting as well.

I'm having another busy week at work so haven't yet had a chance to finalize my New Year's intentions, but I think my word for the year may be "goodbye". More on that in my next post.

Until then, happy running and writing, friends!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Post-Christmas running update

Out for a pre-Christmas run
I did it! I survived another Christmas. The past month was a whirlwind because I was busy with work, holiday preparations, knitting projects, and of course various social commitments. When Christmas finally arrived, I came down with a cold (as usual) and had to spend the next few days recovering enough to go back to work yesterday. (Is it any wonder I dread the season?)

On the upside, we had lots of great running weather in December. Don't get me wrong, there were some cold, rainy, windy days to be sure. But there were also plenty of days like this:

And this:

And this:

The high point was a spectacular run with my buddy Dave along the trails at Gaff Point. I'd never been there before and, though we had to navigate a long stretch of stony beach to reach the trail and I twisted my ankle on the way back, it was totally worth it.

The trail was challenging and fun, the weather was fantastic and the company was second to none.  I look forward to running there again next spring - hopefully when the tide's out far enough to travel over sand from Hirtle's Beach to the point.

I hoped to run every day over the Christmas long weekend but, because I was sick, only managed to get out three times - well, two really. Husband and I did a relaxed 5k Christmas morning and I tackled a slow 17k on Boxing Day. On Monday, we attempted another 5k but turned towards home after 2k because I felt too sick to run any further in the nasty, cold wind.

Looking ahead to the New Year, I'd like to do more running and writing than I did in 2015. How much will depend on how life unfolds. Husband and I are still hoping to sell our two houses so we can consolidate to living in one full-time - preferably in the country but nearer the city. Needless to say, if that plan comes together, we'll be busy with real estate transactions in 2016.

Whatever happens, I'm determined to be philosophical about running outside this winter. After all, I've trained for marathons in plenty of cold, tough conditions - here in Nova Scotia and in Ottawa - so there's no reason to think I can't do it again. All I need is the right goal, the right gear and - most importantly - the right attitude.

I haven't settled on which races I'll do yet. Any suggestions? I'm thinking maybe Calgary in the spring and PEI in the fall - or Fredericton in the spring and Okanagan in the fall. Whichever races I select, I want to focus on training well and enjoying the journey. Running has brought me so much joy and fitness in the past 13 years. I'm determined to keep at it so that hopefully I'll be as healthy and strong as Maia when I'm 95.

Happy running and writing friends!