A Look Back


2014-02-18 17.24.09

Today I read a few of my past blogs.

I had posted about the Sun Run earlier today.  I had commented on my appearance a year ago.  How I knew – deep down – that something wasn’t right.

I then I checked out my entry post for May 9th, 2013.

There were two entries that day.  The day began with me on a high.  I was still coming off of running the 1/2 Marathon and was recovering.

And I was so damned focused before, during and after that race.

When I began training I was shooting for optimal health.  That was the challenge and I was committed.  It was a challenge to myself, my well being.  Nothing more.

And when things started to go sideways, well I just pushed through.

I am dogged in my determination. I know that.  The hope of who and what I would be at the finish line was very different from the reality of the situation.

Deer Lake Morning Fog Oct 19 135

Training requires commitment and dedication.

I learned an awful lot about myself in the fifteen week period that I trained and I am certain that ever body does.

You learn your strengths, your weakness’, your endurance, your faith…

Most of all you learn about humility, about suffering, and of perseverance..

Going into this, I saw myself attaining a super healthy body, mind, etc.  I saw an uber buff woman kickin’ it and on a mission to challenge herself to be her very best.

What I was at the finish line a year ago was a woman who had, despite a life threatening illness, finished this thing.  And don’t let the looks fool you.  She was always at her best.

I was a woman who recognized  her vulnerabitly, her humanity and her existence and prayed that it would be extended.  I understood so completely the gift of life and my appreciation for it evolved that much more.

And perhaps the training I did for the 1/2 Marathon prepared me for what was to follow.

Just four days later the words that were uttered sent me into a tailspin whether I want to admit it or not.

“You’ve got cancer.” was uttered.

And I inhaled…

And do you know that I will be doing on May 9th, 2014?

Mama’s going to be boarding a boat…a big, fucking ship…the Star Princess in fact…and we are going to sail to San Francisco.

I’m heading down the coast with some school friends.  A little more than that though.  All of them mean so much to me.

Cheryl was my first friend,,,ever.

Arlene and I connected in high school.  Her mother turned me onto coffee.  How it should be made…how it should taste.  Damn! You could smell the coffee brewing a block away!

Marie and I, while we were aware of each in high school, we really connected and bonded just a few years ago.

Sharon put the trip together and I hope that over the next few years I become more acquainted with her free spirit.

So in two weeks from today…Bon Voyage will have been uttered…and we will be heading out to sea.

No Gilligan’s Island reruns for this crew!

And I need this.  Good God, I need this so much.

I just want to let the mind wander, let go, have fun and not worry.

No more ‘What if’s…?”

No more surprises.  Just let me create the things I see for my future.

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And there I was at the finish line but really I was at the beginning…


I have been reflective as of late thinking about all that I have managed to do in a relatively short period of time.  Despite the health issues that have come up, despite the emotional house cleaning that was necessary (and man, was my emotional closet ever a mess!), I have really toughed it out and pushed through.

When I started this blog no one had ever really read any of my writings before.  I had been expressing myself via the pen for the majority of my life.  This had been my voice for a very long time.  What I could not say verbally could be found bleeding onto the page.

I started this blog the day after having heart surgery.  Those of you who have been with me close to two years now may recall that I spoke of this in the beginning.

Yesterday I read back a few of my posts.  They are interesting as they capture my mindset at a particular moment in time.  Somehow I navigated into some more emotional revelations and then into this whole cancer thing.  As I have said early this week, I feel as though my life is righting itself and yet, as chemotherapy looms around the corner, I wonder how long this sense will remain.  I hope it sticks around for a bit.  Think I am going to need it.

I went back to my first post today.  A hopeful woman was sitting on her sofa that day tapping out her imaginings. Here is the opening statement from that post.

‘What I hope to share with everyone who decides to share in this experience with me is the sense of renewal and the excitement of the road ahead.  And I have no idea what that looks like but the idea of it is exhilarating none the less. 

The Power of One…that connection…how many people do you come into contact on any given day?  What energy are you parlaying to them?  Are you reaching out for that endearing sense of human contact or are you drawing back from it?  It is amazing if you stop and think how many people you actually interact with on any given day and even more exciting is what you can perhaps share with them. 

Think about it.  We will never be in the exact same place at the exact same time in the course of this world turning ever again.  This moment will never come again. There will always be variables that have shifted even if you were standing in the exact same place 24 hours later the energy and the light source coming to us will have shifted. And while we are hurtling through space at 600 miles per hour on this planet that is wobbling its way around the sun, we have this source of energy that just permeates our very being…ours to accept or reject.  We are never still, though we feel we are and there is never true silence in terms of the definition we have provided. Also, we are never alone.

Very recently I have begun to discover this energy and for me it is magic. I will provide a definition shortly but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, not just yet.  Right now I am feeling quite giddy and excited and wanting to share all of this….I want to reach out and connect with everyone and everything…and this seems as likely a place to start as any.’

There you have it.  It was at this time that I was accepting myself as a writer and not just someone who loved to write.  The book that was I was just beginning to piece together is now complete soon to be published.

I have run several more races since this blog started including a 1/2 Marathon.  I have continued to reconcile my past leaving the pain of it where it belongs but taking the lessons learned and allowing them to feed and nurture the soul.

I have put posts up that have been extremely emotional.  In all this time I have only removed one as I felt it was far too vulnerable and raw.  Those that subscribe to my blog would have received it.  Perhaps that was a time when I was having a hiccup in terms of behaviour and allowing emotional reflexes to throw me off.

I continue to try to make sense of things that are at times completely irrational.  Perhaps I should just let them be.  And I continue to grow and evolve.  I work to be a kinder and gentler being each day.  I work to be guided by my heart and not my head.

And regardless of the ailments and illnesses that I have been afflicted with I continue to work through them.  And yes, there are times when being the ‘strong’ individual I am is less than appealing.  I would like to have someone who could at times take this burden, even if it is for just a little while, from me.  Just let me cry it out, you know?

It is never a question of saying that it’s ‘not fair’.  Life doesn’t work that way.  Just gotta roll with it.  You’ve all heard it.  If life gives you lemons, best you learn how to make damn good lemonade.

I went back to the beginning to see if I am still on track with the original idea of this blog.  Yes, I am.  The idea was to share in my journey and I have done that.

And this is where I am with just a few days before the next assault on my body begins.  I have reconciled the need and prepared to meet the effects.  Have a great weekend everyone and thanks again for checking in from time to time.

Namaste.

Milestones


 

writers block

Since December 7th, 2011 when I began this blog, I have talked a lot, yes?

This post will mark the 300th time I have ponied up to ramble about whatever happens to be between the posts at any given time.  The goings on in the grey matter and the rest of this body o’ mine have been common threads throughout.  At times I have been poetic, at times funny and yes, a little strange as well.

The time that has passed as been 487 days since beginning this little project of mine.  I have posted an entry on average of 62% or thereabouts during this time frame.

I have never really figured out how to market my blog all that effectively but I am grateful to those of you who have followed along and found hopefully some benefit to my admissions.  I have always been as forthright, upfront and honest with whatever it is I decide to address.  And this has been an interesting process for me as well.  I see the highs and lows that I have worked through, the different mindsets that I have entertained.

I have never been ‘Freshly Pressed’.  I have never won a ‘blog award‘.  That is not why I began this and it has no appeal, though I do wonder about the ‘Freshly Pressed’ choices and how they are made.  What I have learned, however, is that blogging is big business.  I was talking with a woman who went to a Writer’s Forum where men and women expected no less than 15,000 hits on their blog per month.  Anything below that and they are not happy.  I suppose too what I found interesting is that someone commanding so much traffic can indeed have sponsors who pay to run ads on these sites.

From what the woman told me, they were all business.

I don’t know why I found that so surprising but I did.  If you were to ask me who has such a blog I could not tell you.  Though I have been to and read blogs and that have a high volume of traffic.  They have several links such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Linkedin, etc.

Anyone following my blog knows I am currently trying to wrap my head around the Twitter thing.  I have an account, but I don’t go there much.  Last time I entered what I called ‘Sleep Tweets’ because that was where they evolved.  I have two followers.  I am still a little tongue-tied when it comes to Twitter.  And is it just me or do people, famous ones at that, tend to say really silly things on this forum.  Things that they perhaps wish they could take back?

Still blogging is an interesting medium.  And I suppose learning how to market a product will come in time.  I have been researching self-publishing with the assistance and direction of members in my writing group.  I have a lot to learn.  Considering no one had ever read any of my work up to February of 2011, I think I have learned a thing or two.

And so I will continue.

As far as how I am feeling this day.  Better than yesterday.  Oh, I will shake all of this off and move on.  At the moment I am watching an eagle circle up above downtown Vancouver.  We have a few nests about.  The seagulls always chase them.  I guess the eagles will take their the gull’s eggs and such.  They are magnificent birds.

So this is the 300th.  Yay!

Thanks for listening.

 

In Training (Day 73)…..Body Talk


body image“Don’t panic.  Just rest.”

That was the message that followed me into the sleep realm last night.  My rather manic sensibilities have been running roughshod over me this past week.

The fact that I have missed what I consider vital training with my running I am equating with the feeling that I need to write test and have inadvertently fallen behind in my studies.

When I was younger and such occurrences took place I would stay up all night studying.  I would try to cram as much information into this grey abyss (a.k.a. brain) of mine.  By the time I got into my class and sat down for the test it was evident that I was coming in for a crash landing.  I am not one to learn by simply reading.  I cannot memorize the words, numbers, equations or phrases that are on the page.

I am and always have been a visual learner.  Even with mathematics I need to see a visual of what is missing or what it is we are seeking.  It took me many years to understand this about self.  That I could study and study some more only to have the information slip through into the sea of neurons unable to be accessed unless I could find that visual trigger that would resurrect the information and provide the bridge.

I think that is what I loved about reading books.  A good book provides such splendid visual effects for me.  We recently talked about this at one of my writing groups.  As a writer, do you want to provide exact detail as to one of your character’s appearances?  I think not.  Just give me the basics then let me visualize how I see them.  We then described some of the characters we had been reading about and it was interesting how differently each of us saw the characters that we were reading about.  Of course they had the dark hair or eyes. But some of us saw the person as tall and willowy, and others earthy and plain.

It is always interesting and of course I am deviating completely from today’s topic but then I tend to do that.

For a quick recap as I may well have lost you at ‘hello’ , I am equating my training for a 1/2 marathon with studying for a major exam and examining the parallels that exist between these two events and how I am finding myself responding much in the way I would have to a test back in the day.

Makes about as much sense as a mud puddle, yes?  Good!  You are with me then!

The thing was to listen to my body.  If it wants to rest, let it.  Nobody can function on high energy all the time.  The body is much like the tides.  There is an ebb and flow.  Right now the tide is out for me but it’s coming back in.  I just can’t rush it else it will be too much and just as quickly as the tide comes in it will sweep back out.  So a lesson has been learned.

Last week I think I did way too much in terms of exercise having been sick the week before.  I doubled up a couple of days hitting the gym in the morning, running in the evening and doing Yoga in the evening.  So while I was feeling the strength return, I was expending it as quickly as it could accumulate.  By the time last  Sunday came about I had no reserves left in the wellness and energy department and the body shut down.

So this week I will let the body heal and take it a bit slower.  Yes, I will workout but no doubling up.  Yes, I will run but I will really take it easy.  Movement is the key factor.  If I must do walk / run then I will.  I have my first race this weekend and it is an 8 km race.  I need to respect the distance regardless and prepare accordingly.

If I don’t then just as what happened with those tests of long ago, I will flat line.

The body is talking to me all the time and I need to listen better.

Enjoy your day people.  Thanks again for stopping by.

Body Talk

In Training (Day 44)….The Learning Curve


Sometime I wonder how I arrive at certain conclusions when in hind sight they seemingly have no rationale at all.  I have been rather obsessed as of late with my consumption of  proteins, carbs, etc.  I have been trying to nail down what works for me.  Nothing is more uncomfortable whilst in the middle of a run and having the sudden urge to use a bathroom.  I have been a bit preoccupied by this factor.

Indeed I have been fiddling with my diet trying to ensure that these needs are attended to prior to a run.  I am becoming much more successful in this.  On Sunday I made the mistake of not eating anything prior to the run.  In my head it was a recovery week (just 50 minutes), so no problem.  Five minutes into the run and on an empty stomach, fatigue set in amazingly fast. Realization kicked in just as quickly.  I berated myself for once again taking a rather nonchalant attitude toward this run.  Just because it was only a 50 minute run should not be cause for me to take it any less seriously and that I can somehow get away with not preparing properly for the run.

So lesson learned.  I ran with Tracy who is coming off of an injury and she was running much slower than usual.  She typically out runs me quite easily and even did so yesterday as well as I just didn’t have the energy to maintain the slow pace we were running at.  It was a walk / run for this girl and a new appreciation for the science of this thing we know as running.  I shouldn’t be getting bent out of shape over having to use a bathroom during my run.   The run routes that Lara puts together for us always have facilities along the way so I know I am not alone in finding myself with such a dilemma from time to time.

I won’t head out for a run again without the proper fueling.  Tracy also reminded me of a sports psychologist that Lara brought in a few years back who talked about having a bad run.  Every run is very different.  Last Friday for example, I had a fabulous run.  Sunday could well have been a good one had I prepared myself but I did not.  Hence, not the enjoyable outing I had first anticipated.  We train not only for the good runs but for the bad ones as well, he had explained to us.

When we have a not so good run, mentally we are prepared for it.  I was talking a week ago to a fellow in our group Duane who did his first marathon back in October or November 2012.  It was the Fall Classic here in Vancouver and I am not 100% certain on the date.  He was telling me that at 33 KM he hit the proverbial wall.  The last 11 KM were brutal.  Not only did he have the extreme fatigue and jelly like and lead weight limbs but he experienced the nausea as well.  Still, he finished the race.  And he is still out there running.  There really is a huge psychological component that accompanies running.

I think that is one of the biggest draws from me.  I learn something about self at the completion of each run, be it good or bad.  They are not really ‘bad’ runs either.  I use this term loosely for lack of a better description.  Let’s just say at times when I am running I feel like a well oiled machine and other times I feel like the tin man.

This was a very social weekend for me as well.  I was connecting with people from school pretty much the entire weekend.  One thing I realize is that by just attending the same school we share a connection.  We grew up during a very tumultuous time as well.  And I have a far greater appreciation now for where I came from and how it has helped to shape the person I am becoming.

We never stop learning.  It is an ongoing process.  One that at times is exciting and exhilarating in the revelations being disclosed and at other times painful.  And what do I aspire to be?

Kinder.  Gentler.  Non-judgmental.  Loving.  Human.

With that…I will close this post and toddle off to work.  Enjoy your day.

The Learning Curve & Technology


I had a discussion with co-workers today regarding the state of education.  Last week on my morning trek after the gym to enjoy my first coffee of the day, I got into a conversation with a couple of regulars that I see quite often.  Richard is a retired school teacher.  I mentioned an ad that I saw on TV promoting the latest iPad or something along those lines where a young woman looks at the camera smiling and says, “I learned how to type before I learned how to read.”

The statement doesn’t make much in the way of sense, now does it?  How can you type if you don’t know what words you are creating?  If you are telling me that you simply knew how to bang away on the keys, okay.  That does not mean you necessarily know how to type.  Understanding the language and typing go hand in hand I would think.

In any case Richard informed me that in Calgary,  Alberta he had heard that they were looking at removing the courses for Elementary students to learn conventional hand writing skills and spelling.  All of this is now readily available via the internet and computer programs.  Why teach the conventional method?

This saddened me to some degree.  Having gone to school and learned the traditional way and then being introduced to the computer age as well as having a daughter who was attending school as computers were first being introduced,  I really believe we need to offer our students all options.  Being a writer, one of the things I love is writing long hand.  I get caught up in it.  The flow of thought erupting onto the page, the creative process forming new thoughts, new ideas and new angles.  The story blossoming in the grey matter and being transferred rapidly to the page.

One co-worker, who is an architect, said it is much the same with drawing.  There is a connect to the creative process that just does not happen when sitting at a keyboard.  I can say with all honesty that I am transported to a very different mind frame when I am writing long hand.

So my question is just because we have the technology to tell a child if their spelling is correct or not and the use of hand writing seems somehow archaic, should we not still provide them with these skills?  If all electrical power ceased to exist, then what?  When a child is learning these skills their brain is developing certain cognitive reasoning abilities.  Neuro pathways are forming and a deeper understanding of the language is evolving.

We now have serious issues regarding plagiarism and cheating on essays and exams on the university level.  There are actually companies out there that will in fact do the student’s paper for them, at a cost of course.  But what is the cost of  handing out degrees to young people who have not earned them.  And they are going out into the workplace to do what with it?

When I was younger there was something extremely gratifying once the teacher gave us a book report to do, or a project to work on. Going up to the local library to do research is something I really looked forward to.  I used to love using the encyclopaedia, of using reference materials that were listed.  The process of developing a report into a cohesive piece of  literature that addressed the topic at hand was something that gave me an inordinate amount of skills.  I learned how to do research, how to take notes, how to give structure to the piece of work I was developing and how to manage time, etc.  And we were graded on all of these factors as well.

Now everything is available at the touch of a button.  No need to think through your timeline for this.  No thought about presentation as templates are available freely for just about everything.  No worries about neat handwriting as everything is typed into a word document then printed off.  No need to check spelling as we have spelling and grammar check built into our program.  If we want to add graphics to the cover page we can download any number of ready-made graphics, or if we are savvy enough, we can create our own.

I’m not saying that having this technology is a bad thing.  I just feel that students should be provided with all the tools that are available and handwriting and spelling in the conventional manner I believe is a skill everyone should be taught.  One of my co-workers told me about her seven-year old daughter who is learning to ‘surf the net’ at school as it is now as part of the curriculum.

Perhaps I am being a little old-fashioned, but I know the benefits of technology as well as conventional education and not giving all of this to the next generation somehow seems like a rip-off to me.  There is something that is almost magical that happens when I am writing longhand and I am in the zone.  The creative process is stimulated in a way that does not occur in the same manner when I am sitting at my keyboard.

I do hope these methods will continue to be afforded to students and that the creative process will continue to evolve and flourish in them.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Aftermath


I was thinking on the drive in today how when I was in school I hated math.  I was terrible at it.  It scared me to some degree.  I could not wrap my head around it.  I, by all accounts, am someone who learns ‘visually’.  What that means is that just reading it in a textbook doesn’t quite work with me.  Regardless of what it is that I am reading I need to be able to visualize the end result and this was pretty difficult to do with a math textbook.

So it stands to reason then, that I grew up and became an accountant.  Huh?

Yes, that is precisely what I did.  Numbers are actually quite visually stimulating.  It just depends on how you look at them.  While doing math problems you can actually become a bit of a detective per se.  Always trying to find the missing component or developing budgets that are actually realistic and plausible.  Sounds a bit mundane I am sure.  And while this is my current profession, I do believe I have few more professions up my sleeve.

When I first decided upon studying in this field, it was purely from a practical standpoint.  I was a single mother and I needed to find a profession that was in demand.  Computers were just coming into the workplace at that time and they were still very intimidating to me on a certain level.  Accounting, I reasoned, would allow me to work in any industry.  So I began my one year program and I worked extremely hard at it.  We took a few computer programs and at that time you pretty much had to learn formulas that were a mile long on programs such as Lotus 1-2-3 (which was the precursor to Excel).  If I thought that math had been a challenge this was shaping up to be a doozy.  We took a computer programming class and funny thing is that I really began to understand the computer in all its complexity at that time.  It is after all, fueled by humans.  I actually did quite well in programming and then came Algebra.  My biggest fear in all the courses I would be tackling.

I had an absolutely fabulous teacher.  He wrote out every component of Algerbra across the blackboard.  This to me was much like looking at Greek or trying to decipher Hieroglyphics.

With every component of Algerbra on the blackboard he explained quite simply each components roll.  Then he removed one of the components and smiled at us.

“Your job is simply to find what is missing.  Get to know what each component stands for and how they compliment each other and then when the problem is presented, you are simply looking for the missing piece.”

A light went off in the old grey matter.  I had this visual form taking place.  I could, in fact, give each component its own identity in my head and work from that and that is precisely what I did.  And I passed with flying colours.  The other thing that I was beginning to understand is that we all learn differently, some more so than others and that is one of the keys to succeeding academically.  Understanding how you learn then utilizing that to its fullest.

Unfortunately many educators and institutions take on a rather linear approach to education.  They have a set methodology and if you don’t conform to this you will not be very successful or you will find success much more difficult.  During the formative years of education many schools work to have the child streamlined into a certain mindset of how to study.  There should be ways of discovering how a child learns and I am sure there are.  It is also true that many of the methods used, such as long division ( as an example), are truly redundant and serve little purpose other than to just confuse a child even further and it makes rather boring and tedious as well.  Math classes are often the times when you will hear a child groan in dismay at the thought of a test coming up.

Actually, if I were teaching math today, I would make it extremely fun.  I would make it a hunt.  I would expose children to the visual aspect of mathematics that has served me so well,  and continues to do so.  I am actually incredibly good at my job.  Excel is a fun program that assists me in finding out virtually anything.  I never went to school for Excel.  This was self taught.  If  I wanted to find out how to do something, or whether or not the program could do something, I simply sought out an online tutorial.

Education should stimulate and encourage free thinking and curiosity.  Education should encourage debate.  Education should be fun and it should be made clear that learning is an ongoing process throughout our lifetime.  Educators should be providing the tools to assist the student in developing deductive reasoning, in discerning fact from fiction, implementation and cause and effect.

I don’t necessarily think that computers need to be used in early childhood education.  A child needs to develop certain skills without the use of this tool.  And that is all a computer is really.  Just a tool.  Yet we now seem to live vicariously through it.  I am watching a generation that now communicates 75% of the time through this technology.  They seem to be losing the capability of conversing with each other in conversation.  They seem to be losing those skills.  Do they know how to write by hand?

I watch young people in a cafe and they are sitting at a booth and they all have their Blackberry’s and iPhones and they are texting each other.  They are not talking to one another.  Occasionally they will and they will laugh and giggle.  Then back to it they go.

I have watched young couples in a restaurant with devices in hand periodically exchanging a word.  Why I wonder, do they bother to come out to a restaurant?

In any case, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.  I do hope we can get back to the lost arts of communication.  We are, at the end of the day, only human after all.

 

Enjoy your day everyone.