Sunday, August 28, 2011

Magical summer days

Crescent Beach
We’ve had a cool and rainy summer here on the east coast of Canada.  As a result, I haven’t spent nearly as much time outdoors as I usually do this time of year – aside from when I’m running, of course.  And it’s a shame because there’s something truly magical about warm summer days.

For example, last week was a little frantic because I was “acting” for my boss who was on vacation while preparing to go on two weeks’ vacation myself. One especially harried day, in dire need of sustenance, I slipped out to pick up a sandwich.  Emerging from the sandwich shop still distracted by thoughts of work, I was abruptly struck by the fact that the day, which had started out cool and foggy, had become an idyllic summer day – warm and sunny with just enough breeze to make it comfortable. Though intending to head straight back to the office, I allowed myself to be drawn to the square in front of City Hall by the sounds of a quartet playing a noontime concert and plopped myself down in a shady spot to eat. The quartet, a talented group of young jazz musicians, played a selection of its own autobiographically, often hilariously titled compositions. The concert was enjoyable enough, but the magical part was watching a group of three and four year old children dancing – their tiny bodies moving in effortless interpretation of music that was – to my ear at least – almost entirely without rhythm, their faces earnest as they turned occasionally to watch the players.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

RIP, Jack Layton

‎"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton

In life, he inspired a new energy and passion for politics amongst the young.  Here's hoping his untimely passing encourages many more of us to take up the torch and work towards positive change in the world. 

Tributes in Toronto

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Running Lessons: Not all addictions are bad for you


- noun
  1. the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.
Distance runners are often heard to quip that “not all addictions are bad for you”.  Indeed, Nike has built more than one advertising campaign around the notion. (For example, see this video on YouTube.)  And I have to say I agree with that sentiment for the most part. 

Lately, however, I’ve been wondering about my running addiction and whether it’s altogether a good thing. The truth is I have been pushing myself pretty hard these past six months or so. And then there was that little matter of finishing a marathon in June when common sense probably should have persuaded me not to. 

I was discussing this with my very wise friend, Brent, a couple of weeks ago when we ran together in Ottawa. Brent’s own running addiction is a serious one so it’s a matter to which he’s given some thought. Perhaps, he suggested, one thing to consider is whether one is running “away from” or “towards” something. 

I’ve been pondering that question ever since.  How would I characterize my running?

Sky painting 2

I took this shot en route to work early one morning this week. Gotta love that sky. I can't believe I ever thought clouds were white.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Running Lessons: Road trips and fresh perspectives

Husband and I did a road trip earlier this month to attend a friend's marriage celebration in Bracebridge, Ontario. We drove from Ottawa to Bracebridge one day and back the next (5 hours each way) so we didn't have a lot of time there, but neither of us regretted the trip for a minute.

It was great being able to join in the celebration and the weather and scenery were beautiful both days. Our route took us through picturesque villages like Wilno, where we stopped for lunch at the Polish Heritage Park and visited the local farm market.

It also took us through the stunningly beautiful Algonquin Provincial Park. Though we didn't stop for a hike or a paddle as we've done in the past, we thoroughly enjoyed the views through the car window.

Another high point of the trip was staying at the charming Spirit Bear B&;B where we were welcomed by this little guy named Eddie.

Eddie's caregivers, Terry and Eva, were wonderful hosts, their home (a former church) was beautifully decorated, our room (complete with rocking chair) was comfortable and well-appointed, and breakfast was delicious. I'd highly recommend Spirit Bear B&B to anyone planning a stay in Bracebridge.

Other than the party itself, the best part of the trip for me was going for a run on Sunday morning before breakfast. I've always thought running was the ideal way to explore a new place and this run didn't disappoint.  Upon leaving the B&B, I first ran through a lovely neighbourhood characterized by century homes with beautiful gardens, then did a little window shopping along main street and ended up on a trail that followed the river's edge past some of the town's oldest historic buildings and into a lovely park. Along the way, I exchanged cheery hellos with the many other runners and walkers out enjoying the warm, sunny morning. By the time I returned to the B&B, I'd fallen a little in love with Bracebridge and felt completely relaxed - like I didn't have a care in the world.

I suppose that's the real value of road trips for me. Seeing new places, meeting new people, and experiencing new things opens me up so that I can take a fresh look at my life and relax into the present moment.  I'll have to remember that the next time I'm tempted to suggest we stay home rather than striking out on some new adventure.