Gauntlet thrown

We in the ‘Blog Squad’ shuffled the cards this week and each chose to answer one of the questions put forth to other squad writers in last week’s round robin. Jen got assigned this one and when I read it I was all “ooh! ooh! I have an answer for that one!”

The question is:

Who would you like to see attempt an ironman and why?

I didn’t have to think long about this one, the answer popped into my brain immediately:

My brother, Alex.

You see, Alex is a cyclist through and through. He works in the bike industry. He’s actually a pretty good runner. I think he knows how to swim, sort of.

You'd barely need to buy any gear.
You’d barely need to buy any gear.

He is also the first to line up and mock me for my triathlon tendencies.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I, too, mock myself for my triathlon tendencies. And I even poke fun at the sport in general. However, having been in the sport for too many years now, I feel like I have earned the right at this self-deprecation because I have toed the line at many a race and have actually completed an Ironman.

He, however, has not. Not even a sprint.

Therefore, I firmly believe that in order to keep making fun of me, he needs to earn this privilege. Once completed, I am going to give him free rein to say whatever he wants.

So, what say you, Alexandre?

Pick a race. I’ll even give you a head start.

Read the rest of the round robin questions in the coming days:

Erin, Jen, Liz, Caitlin, Elizabeth Laurel and Hailey.

Let’s talk.

I will never forget the day that I knew I needed to ask for help.

My life, as I knew it, was crumbling around me. My mother was dying. My marriage was falling apart. I didn’t know which way was up and was barely going through the motions. I was faking it in almost every aspect of my life. I was pretending I was fine.

I so clearly wasn’t fine. I was down to 100 pounds. I wasn’t sleeping. I couldn’t eat. I was barely present, I couldn’t focus and was operating in a fog, seized by anxiety.

I was scared, sad, and I felt almost paralyzed. Of course, I had a few close friends in whom I confided (to a degree), but those nights, alone at 3:00am, when my mind was spinning, it was a dark and ugly place to be.

My whole life, I’d always tried to power through the emotional stuff, driven by the motto of “this too shall pass.” Stiff upper lip, and all that, right?

But that day, as I sat at my desk unable to type because my hands were shaking so hard, operating on 3 hours sleep, I knew then that this had to stop. I called my doctor, and walked through her door 15 minutes later.

She knew immediately upon seeing me that I needed help. She was gentle but firm. She asked me what I felt were prying but necessary questions. She drew me out, listened to my halting speech, and by doing so gave me that tiny little bit of confidence, that little push I needed to take those first steps towards getting help and getting well. I needed someone to take control, to give me a plan, to confirm that no, I wasn’t losing it completely.

‘Cause it sure as hell felt like I was.

Fast forward to today.

I am healthy, mentally AND physically. I am SO much better.

I’ve learned to read the signs of when things are starting to slide. I know when to ask for help, and from whom. My treatment is, and will always be, ongoing. I don’t feel shame in this; rather, there’s a sense of power that comes with knowing that I was brave enough to take this on.

Today, in Canada, it’s #Bellletstalk day. The goal of this campaign is to invite others to join the conversation and end the stigma around mental health.

By sharing my story, I hope that in some way, you know it’s ok to share yours.

img_0933

The Squad asked, and I answered

This week, on a very special episode of the Blog Squad…

Just kidding!

We thought we’d change it up a little. If you’ve been reading these past few weeks, you’ll know that we’ve been tackling the same topics. This week we are doing a round robin of questions for each other, challenging ourselves to get outside the box a little.

So, Caitlin asked me:

When did you first start to think of yourself as an athlete, and why?

I read this question a few days ago and have had ample time to write and think of the answer. And yet it took me a long time to organize these thoughts into a somewhat cohesive post.

The truth is, I really don’t know. In fact, I don’t even know that I do!

I’m not that introspective and have spent little to no time self-identifying as anything, really. It’s not something I have considered. I’m more someone who is governed by tangibles and measurable objectives, and this felt like something that I couldn’t quite define. And honestly, no one has ever asked me this question.

If I were to identify as anything, it would be as a mother above all else. This is the role I assume 100% of the time, whether I am physically with my children or not. Everything else, love it or hate it, must be secondary.

img_7691

As I pondered this further over the last few days (ironically, whilst at a training camp), I really had to wonder if I did consider myself an athlete. I looked up the definition:

ath·lete
ˈaTHˌlēt/
noun
 
  1. a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.
    synonyms: sportsman, sportswoman, sportsperson; More

     
    1. BRITISH
      a person who is skilled in competitive track and field events (athletics).

      (To confirm: the British definition definitely does not apply to me!)

    I don’t know. It doesn’t really seem to fit. I’m pretty proficient, I guess? But does that make an athlete, specifically? I mean, I love junk food! I am lazy! But then again, I own so much active wear

    Isn't this a benefit of being an "athlete"?
    Isn’t this a benefit of being an “athlete”?

    I thought about it some more. I’m sporty, yes. But I don’t like team sports. I can’t catch a ball to save my life. I’m outdoorsy, but I hate being cold and I’m scared of bears. I’m athletIC, but does this make me an athleTE?

    I turned it around – as I often do – to the kids. How do they identify me as, besides Mom (obviously)?

    I called them via FaceTime from the airport on my way home from training camp (hello?! Athletes go to training camps!!) I asked: if you were to call me something, besides Mum and “event worker person”, what would it be?

    The answers were, in order: “biker” “runner” “Ironman person.”

    (Please note, swimmer never comes up. They know me well).

    img_0826

    Huh. Maybe I am an athlete after all. Maybe?

    Why I am so sceptical about this? What is it that’s stopping me from calling myself an athlete? This is going to require a little more thought. Maybe I should should own it, go with it, try it on for size.

    So Caitlin, to answer your question: Today, I will start identifying as an athlete. Because as it turns out, all signs point in that direction.

    fullsizerender
    Because athletes run in sideways rain, right?

    The rest of our round robin team can be found here. The Squad, as we call ourselves, are Erin, Jen, Liz, Caitlin, Elizabeth Laurel and Hailey.

    Enjoy!

     

On time “management”

This week, our merry band of bloggers (Erin, Jen, Liz, Caitlin, Elizabeth and Laurel) has decided that the topic we’ll tackle is time management.

*blink… blink*

I’ve been thinking about what to write since the idea first got lobbed this way and, well, I got nothin’. Seriously. Nothing. No tips, no tricks, no hacks. 

I often get asked “how do you do it all”? This is in no way a brag/humblebrag/pat on the back. It’s a fact.

The simple answer is: I just do. And I just don’t.

Let’s take yesterday as a fine example of my time management skills. I mean, I have 4 calendars between my desk and the kitchen (so basically, 8 feet apart). None of them are synced. The irony of this post is not lost on me, by the way. It still rings true some days.

fullsizerender-7

I got up at 5:34AM. Why?! Beats me. That’s when my little brain woke up. Coffee, emails, news then all of a sudden everything is on fast-forward for 90 minutes as the minions get up/eat/fight/pack for school/forget stuff to bring to school. Then time slows down again for a few minutes. I distractedly get ready for work and a quick trip to the city. I pretend to myself that I’ll use the drive to catch up on all these calls and leave myself voice memos when in reality I’ll sing along to bad 90s music, look at the view and daydream.

So far, so good, right?

fullsizerender-8

Except stuff runs long, I get delayed and low and behold I’m now back to fast-forward mode trying to make it home in time for school pick up (newsflash: I don’t), and I’m now late for a conference call and ask for a 7 minute grace period (7? What?) I know deep down that today’s scheduled workout won’t happen and I’ll get the dreaded red Training Peaks box. I park the car and realize that once again, I forgot the recycling.

Pressing pause on this riveting narrative to point out that I am in no way complaining. This is my life!  Is it how I envisioned it? Nope. Is is easy? Not always. Would I change it? Probably not. I’ve got a damn good life.

Fly in the door, yell “did anyone let the dog out! I have a call! Yes, you can watch TV!” as I’m looking for earphones, tripping over backpacks and trying to remember the agenda for this call.

Oh yeah, that’s right. I have a rule about no TV during the week. Oh well! Exceptions to every rule, right? I ignore the hot chocolate spilled on the counter and the floor, jump on the call.

fullsizerender-5

The call goes long. My mind is wandering and I’m wondering if I’ll get my workout in after all. Stand up and lunge at the desk. Crane my neck back to see if kids are still alive (they are). Put the call on mute, feed the dog, wipe up the hot chocolate. The call ends.

We eat dinner together (this is one thing I won’t negotiate on, ever. No one eats in front of the TV. We sit down together every single night). Leftovers, because I’m tired and now a little frantic. I text Liz and ask what’s the earliest acceptable bedtime for an adult. She says 7.

The kids go to bed, they’re tired, too. Time slows back down. I cast around at the baskets of laundry, the messy house. I take care of some of it, but halfway through emptying the dishwasher, I stop. I don’t want to do this anymore. It can wait.

fullsizerender-6

I crawl into bed with Kobe, ostensibly to read. I read about 3 pages and fall asleep in my clothes. I’m awake again… at 5:34am. This is a cycle I might need to break, I think to myself as I smell the coffee already brewed downstairs (#winning #oldschool)

And here we are again.

So you see? Life gets done, it happens. Mostly. I’m healthy. They’re healthy. The important stuff happens. There’s collateral damage daily. Some days I’m a to-do list ninja. Others, like yesterday, I’m a sitcom Mom and the to-do list gets transferred in its entirety to the next day. And it’s alright, I got this. I’m learning not to be so hard on myself, consistently.

That’s my one and only time hack.

A few minutes of peace and cold.
A few minutes of peace and cold.

 

 

UNresolutions

I blinked and 2017 is here and in full swing. If we still wrote cheques, I’d be scribbling out the 6 for the 7 till about July. Oh, just me? Ok. Carry on.

Anyhow. Along with these lovely ladies (you can meet them here: Erin, Jen, Liz, Caitlin, Elizabeth and Laurel), I’m sharing with you how I think I can make this year work in my favour. This is also about as existential as I get.

img_0496

Herewith, 7 things I hope to achieve before 2018 is banging down the door.

Consistency

I’m very much a gal who likes routine and for things to go as smoothly as they can. When I’m consistent with what I’m doing, I do it better and I enjoy it more. Doesn’t matter if it’s training, eating well or folding laundry (let’s face it: folding laundry for 4 people once a month is a task no one needs to take on). I’m aiming for consistent consistency this year. Also? My little people depend on it.

img_7385

Frienship

I love my friends. And I also really miss my friends. Parenthood/life can kick your ass that way. So I’m going to try to make a point of reconnecting with old friends I haven’t seen or talked to in a while. I’ll write the damn email. Pick up the phone. Make plans. Stick to them. Surround myself better. When I look at photos of me with my friends, I have a huge, all tooth grin. So that’s a good indicator right there.

Time

A few weeks back, I wrote about being not that busy. And while it’s still mostly true, I still need to slow down. There’s no reason to sprint from one thing to the next, is there? We don’t fare well when I turn everything into a timed event in this house. So I’m gifting myself with permission to take a little time, and to slow down (caveat: not at races, please and thank you).

img_7662

Say yes. And say no

It doesn’t hurt to put yourself out there and say “YES”… when you’re feeling it. Because it’s also perfectly acceptable to say “NO” and not have to apologize for it.

New places?

Along those lines, I want to check out new places, try new things. Doesn’t have to be crazy. That new coffee shop I’ve been meaning to try will do just fine.

I need to go here.
I need to go here.

Screen time

We have a rule in the house about no TV (for kids) during the week. It’s time I tried to stick to the rule… a little. I mean, I love me some Netflix. And I’m not into depriving myself… but there’s no harm in reading for an extra hour instead of watching a weird documentary about someone who sews sweaters out of dental floss.

Fuuuuuuun

I’m going to have fun. Want to join me? I’ll say yes. I promise.

Still smiling
Still smiling

When Mama gets a man cold

I spent the first day of 2017 in bed with what can only be described as a Man Cold. Feverish, sniffly, tired, general malaise. What a way to kick off the year! I felt sorry for myself and thus relied on the kids to take care of themselves (foreshadowing: the kitchen is something else this morning).

Anyway. As I lay there is some kind of fever delirium, I mentally went through the various stages of Mama’s Man Cold (MMC).

Sidebar: I came up with a gazillion ideas as I lay there in a fog. None of which I can remember today. 

Step 1. The Inkling

December 31 started off like any other day. A bit tired, maybe. That’s not all that unusual. But as the day wore on, I knew. That feeling at the back of your throat… the deepening fatigue… uh oh.

By the time we were expected at friends for NYE, I was clutching a box of tissues and celebrating with peppermint tea. Woo.

Step 2. Denial

Me at 8:30pm: “If I just take this Nyquil and go to bed early, I’ll be right as rain in the morning.”

Total fallacy.

Step 3. Resistance

We had big plans to ski fresh tracks on New Years Day. We were going to kick of 2017 with bacon and a full day of skiing. Up dark and early, I told myself I was ok. I packed my Tylenol and a box of tissues. I got this, right?

img_0419

By 10am, I feebly told the kids we were going home. Mama couldn’t hack it. Also, my eyes were watering so badly I couldn’t see #safetyfirst.

Step 4. Acceptance

Fine. I’m sick. Once home, I crawled into bed and let the kids fend for themselves. One of those days when you lie in bed floating in and out of sleep, but still with an ear towards what is happening in the rest of the house (are they fighting? eating? breaking things?) I don’t venture downstairs, knowing I’m better off in bed and that they are ok. Somewhat.

img_0441

Step 5. Recruitment

The dog never leaves my side, and a few times the kids check on me. Actually, it’s more like they can’t figure out what’s going on. They are wary: they stand at the door and wonder why I’m just a lump in bed: “Are you going to get up… at all?” They can’t seem to get used to the idea that I’m not hovering nearby. Eventually, they come close enough to sit on the bed with me. Anja makes me toast. I have helpers.

img_0442

I sleep for 14 hours.

Step 6. Recovery

Mama’s version of the man cold cannot extend past 24hours. The house and children may not survive. I get up, get dressed and face the day, still clutching my box of tissues.

On the bright side, at least I got my annual MMC over with early this year.

 

2016: Facts, favourites and fails

I love a good challenge. Tell me do something, I likely will shrug and be non-committal. Challenge me to do the exact same thing? Well, it’s on. Also, I left it to the last possible day, because I like to live life on the edge.

A few of us decided to recap 2016 and share it (hence, the challenge). I’ve been trying to come up with 16 distinct events to write about for 2016… and it would appear my brain has taken 2016 and smushed it all into one big memory. Nevertheless, I’ll try to break it down. In no particular order. With the assistance of photos. Like that book report you try to write for the book you didn’t really read.

16. Mistakes

I made a lot of mistakes in 2016. And in 2015. And 2014… you get the drift. I suspect I’ll make many more in 2017 – but the beauty is that I like to think that I learn a little something from these mistakes. And I try not to make the same one twice. We’ll call this one a #fact.

15. Friendships

They make my world go ’round. From the day-to-day folks who keep me sane, to those I’ve forged with like-minded people from afar, I hope that 2017 will build on 2016. Total #favourite.

14. Challenges

I’m not afraid of setting myself up for failure; it feels like I do it on a daily basis! But the older I get, the more willing I am to try. So 2016 was filled with challenges big and small, some of which I accomplished, many (many!) of which I failed. I could call this a #fail but that’s ok because I’ll just keep up on 2017.

13. Texas

Mysteriously, I started and ended the triathlon race season in Texas. It wasn’t planned that way. I learned a lot from those trips – from racing semi-unprepared, to travelling solo, to setting goals. I’m really excited to see what 2017 brings for racing. From joining Coeur Sports, to more travel to new places, it’s looking good so far. We’ll call this a #favourite/#fail (only because I didn’t quite hit the benchmarks I’d set myself. That’s what 2017 is for).

12. Invictus

A last-minute invite to work on one of the most inspiring projects ever. I learned a lot. I got to work with old friends and make new ones. I cracked under pressure but pulled it together. I met some ginger guy that everyone knows? I didn’t sleep much. I laughed really, really, really hard. A most definite #favourite.

11. Home

Home looks and feels different these days. As parents, we finally chose to live apart and, lo and behold, the kids have adapted (as I was told repeatedly that they would). I could say something trite like “that’s a post for another day”, but it’s not, because it’s really no one’s business. When I hear things like “the kids come from a broken home”, I can tell you that you are wrong: it’s not broken. It’s fixed in a way that works for us. It’s neither a #favourite nor a #fail, it’s a #fact and a work in progress.

img_7886

10. Kona

I witnessed the triathlon Super Bowl first hand (and also from the back of a motorcycle). It was an eye-opener for sure and I’ll be back, maybe as early as 2017! I just need someone I like to qualify so that I can go cheer/support/heckle #favourite.

9. Werk Werk Werk Werk Werk

I got a few new jobs this year. Some small, some dauntingly big. All I can say is that I love what I do and I am extremely lucky to be surrounded by people willing to take a chance on me #favourite.

8. La Belle Province

My favourite trip of the year was the one that took the kids and I back to Québec. Friend time, family time. A lot of time saying “Kids! This is where I used to *blahblahblah*”. It was pretty perfect #favourite.

7. Will

He’s 10 now. Beats me how that happened. I put a lot of pressure on that kid as the eldest (I’ll work on that). Most of the time, he steps up. He’s a normal, happy kid who still manages to surprise me. And dammit, he’s almost as tall as me #favourite.

6. Rory

My little Linus. He’s coming into his own as the kid who is both gentle and emotional but also? Doesn’t give a f#$%. Prototypical middle child. And the only one who doesn’t need to be reminded eleventy billion times to do something #favourite

5. Anja

My shadow. My girly tomboy. Life isn’t easy with 2 older brothers. She sails through, knocking on doors to find someone to play with. Fearless and funny, she only stops talking when she’s asleep #favourite

4. Adventures

I love that I don’t need much to call it an adventure. Weekend in city, lounging on Liz’s couch and riding bikes? Adventure. Hike in the rain with kids? Adventure. Putting up tents in some crazy prairie storm in Saskatoon? Adventure. I hope 2017 is FILLED with adventure #favourite

3. The world

As the kids get older, a lot of our conversations revolve around what we hear on the news, see on the TV, influence us from the outside. It’s fascinating and also a little terrifying (#trump!) But as I watch them absorb it all, I hope that their curiosity is piqued by things beyond their immediate borders. I can only hope that 2017 brings… hope #fact #fail #favourite

2. My health

I made an effort in 2016 to take better care of myself. It’s a never ending roller coaster, really. But the bottom line is, I am hella healthy. Can I do better? Obviously. Will I try? Yes. Will I fail? Probably. Will that stop me? No #fact.

img_9340-1

1. All of it

I struggled to come up with 16 distinct “bests” of 2016. My life isn’t full of crazy highs and brutal lows. It’s up and down, for sure. But isn’t everyones? As I look back on 2016, I can see that I am surrounded by friends who love me (and keep me in line), kids who challenge me (and most days, love me), I live a life that is, quite frankly, luxurious by most standards. 2016 was really hard is some ways, really easy and fun in others.

Just like I think 2017 will be.

img_8821