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Monday, December 14, 2015

Annual Catch-up

It's been almost a year since my last post, which should say something about the way life has been going lately. Breakneck speed mixed with bouts of freedom, revelations, and tons of change.I've interwoven some photos here from Life this year.

Traditional Medicine training- field school.

Noel and I hit a really tough spot last winter just as I was starting to really get into running. We've been through the gamut and after some amazing therapy (individual) and honest, nothing-to-lose talk, compromises, and recommittments, we are stronger than ever in a REAL way. I'm sitting next to him right now and am feeling blessed to have him in my life.

Doing the Duck Dance at the 2015 Indigenous Studies program Social.
My messy living room.
I stopped running in the spring when my Achilles became too strained to withstand a short run. RICE'ing it doesn't help. I never completed my No BS Run Club half marathon and feel like a failure. But I know I'm not, I'm just like every other person who became enchanted with running in the honeymoon phase but didn't make it a sustainable part of my life. Now I'm dealing with some really intense chronic pain, major fibromyalgia flare ups, and two injured knees (more on that in a bit) that has me really rethinking what exercise looks like, and has proven to me how important movement is to a healthy body. I'm starting physio as soon as exams are over.
The Aunts.

My favourite tree on my running route- I imagine I'm passing under a dinosaur.
  "Exams?", you say? Yes. Exams. After finishing my Chartered Herbalist diploma in June (yay!) and my first year of Traditional Medicine training (double yay!) I decided to try out other avenues of edumacation. So I enrolled at McMaster University for a summer Anthropology class and fell in love. I researched and fought hard to get my financial life in alignment with full time school, and on September 8th I left a full time working life for full time school. It's been the hardest transition of my life outside of, well, the last hardest transition in my life. Pick one, they've all been hard. There are no easy transitions, usually. But then, if they were easy, they'd be kind of boring, innit?

Emmadog at Dundas Valley.

 Amidst the beginning of school, on Day 2 actually, life took an unexpected turn. I hurt my knee at school, bad enough to have to go to the hospital (hence the two injured knees) and Noel raced home on his bike to pick up our car and drive to the bus stop to come get me. On his way there he felt sort of odd, arm tingling, chest-tighteningly odd. Heart attack odd. Basically, Noel stole my knee thunder with a mild myocardial infarction. He was a trooper through the whole ordeal, and is now on the road to better health with no need for surgery, thankfully. 


It's now December and I'm in the throes of writing exams. I'm pretty much procrastinating by writing this post, but what the hell? It's been almost a year and I can't leave this blog empty for an entire year! I know no one reads this, it's mostly my own accountability to myself and sort of a fun expression to get out my thinkythoughts, so I don't feel bad. Sometimes it's nice to see who I was a year or two ago and see how much I've changed, what's important in life at that moment, and how things evolve.

Emmadog cursing me for my impulse purchase. She's totally giving me #slightsideeye
Where I spent most of my spring, summer, and fall this year. My favourite back yard.
The Aunts visiting Noel in the Cardic unit.
My life for the past 3.5 months.
Light painting at Turkey in the Woods.
Epic bonfire at TITW.
I have a few hopes for 2016. 

Hope #1: I recently decided to reduce my courseload to part time and take another full time job, mainly because I love my home and don't want to lose it. That, and I am totally BROKE and need to make more than nothing, which is what I'm making right now. I shouldn't say that, I do get funding through my band (Oneida, SixNay all the way!) and it's super helpful, but it's not enough to pay the bills. I just accepted a position with a cancer hospital as their first ever Aboriginal Community Outreach coordinator. It pays well, has benefits, and most importantly- they want to support my education, so I can still move towards that end. It's an important decision for me. This is the only position I would have said yes to- mainly because it deals with cancer and ethnic disparities in health. I hope that the work I do prevents what happened to my mother and my family to some other family.
My favourite tiny store in Vermont- the East Warren Community Market, just down the road from our old place.
 Hope #2: When I lived in the Red Light District in downtown Hamilton I became familiar with several Ladies of the Night. I saw them come and go, do the Crack Dance on the corner for more hours than anyone should have to work, and disappear altogether to an unknown, uncertain, and most likely dangerous future. I want to give back to these women. They may be damaged, they may be shells of themselves, but they deserve love and compassion, just like every other human being. It's so easy to write them off, slut-shame them, and believe that we're somehow better than them. My hope is to bring them a small spark of peace and gratitude. I'm enrolling to volunteer to being clean needles, water, condoms, and food to these women, and to be armed with compassion and resources for safe space and respite.
FUNdy Bay summer vaycay.
Hope #3: I'm 40 years old and have thought about the idea of children for, well, pretty much my entire life. I had 3 miscarriages with my ex and decided that was enough and that I would stay childless by choice. Since we split up I have thought about the potential for Noel and I to raise a family, but he's been snipped, so I sort of gave up on it again. I finally have a job that offers benefits, IVF included, and we're seriously considering it. Or adoption. I want to try IVF first, but we might end up adopting anyway. My hope is that by the end of 2016 I have made a decision and followed through on making it happen (or not).

Shrooms (or something!)
Emmadog being all Continental in Old Quebec City.
Magoose- those LIPS!
I played with purple a lot this year.

That's about it. I've procrastinated long enough. Happy solstice, happy Christmas, happy Hannukah, and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Yep, That's Pretty Much What It Looked Like.

This is definitely a winter running Don't.
It's -18C out there right now, which results to about -1F. A Polar Vortex (stop being dirty) has descended upon us in Southern Ontario. -1F equates to something I like to call "PFC": Pretty Fucking Cold. This has led to a deeply uncomfortable quandry, something I've always resisted, like going to the dentist, or hugging my ex mother in law: running in snow. What I've learned is it's best approached these things head on and as fast as possible, like ripping off a bandaid. I know, I know,  I keep going on about running lately, but it's definitely the one thing I'm most consistent with in my life right now, aside from being consistently inconsistent. So, I give you: Running in PFC Weather.

I've never run in weather this cold before, and used to judge anyone I saw traipsing along the darkened deep-winter city streets, be it alone or in packs, as deeply disturbed individuals (or, packs of crazy people running the streets in search of havoc to wreak). Nicole and Ryan, my running coaches for my 13.1 program, offered us a great group call last week during which we lamented the cold, making up all sorts of challenges and barriers to get out of it. They bravely and confidently volleyed each one with Awesome Solutions. Too icy? Wear Yax Trax! Too windy? Remember your balaclava! Snow too deep? There's always the treadmill! What I got out of it was: YOU CAN'T GET OUT OF IT, SO DON'T BOTHER TRYING. I didn't shell out cash and sign up for this to get out of it, so Monday morning I suited up in waaaay too many layers and stood bravely at the door, firmly believing that once opened, the wind and snow would suck me right outside.

Yep, that's pretty much what it looked like.
5 minutes into it I realized I was dressed way too warm. Lesson 1 from Coach Ryan: dress like it's 15 degrees warmer than it actually is. I guess because I never run in 15 degree weather I wasn't sure what that looked like, but now I know!

Some other winter running tips:

  1. Where to run: Run on the street as it's most likely plowed, unlike the inconsistently shoveled sidewalks of your lazy neighbors.
  2. There Will Be Snot: There is a hand signal that runners give to one another while out there on any day under 5 degrees Farenheit. It looks somewhat like doing a snot rocket. Or maybe that was just because that dude in the park forgot his tissues. Remember your tissues! (Now that I think of it, what was he running from, anyway?)
  3. Wicked! Wear wicking layers, like soft merino wool and synthetics, covered by a warm wind breaking shell.
  4. Dry Them Bitches Up: Your running shoes may get wet and slushy, freezing your feet into blocks of soggy ice. Be warned! You may feel compelled to dry your shoes over a heater, or a crackling fire, or a forced-air vent, but apparently that will fuck your shit up, so just crumple up some newspaper and put it right in the foot holes. That'll dry them bitches up.
I'm sure I'll learn more as the winter goes on, but for now, them's the tips. Maybe by the end of the season, after I've expended all my expendable income on new running gear, I'll do a fancy graphic-against-a-white-background thing and offer something of real value. I mainly wrote this post to use the new meme generator I found and to somehow involve my very favorite scene from National Lampoon's Summer Vacation. In my defense, it was crazy,

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Out with the old, in with the new.
I alluded to this in my last post, but I will say it out loud and proud right now: I'm riding the Crazy Train, and it's 13.1 miles of fucked up track. What that cryptic statement translates to is: I'm on week 4 of a 24 week training program which will culminate in my weary ass collectively running 13.1 miles with many other passengers on said Crazy Train- better known as a Half Marathon. Why, you may ask, would I put myself through the rigours of 6 workouts a week, for 24 weeks, only to run along side several other folks who are crazy enough to push themselves to collectively run from point A to point B thirteen point one miles away with absolutely no promise of a bag of fifties waiting for them at the end?

Well, for lots of reasons, none of which are exciting or new. Personal demons, personal challenges, the proverbial Bucket List. Yada yada yada. Deeper Into the World, right? Basically, I feel called to do this, so here I am, a month into Doing It. I didn't wait for any special time, didn't wait for the New Year, I'm doing it one small step at a time. I've been learning a lot about making small forward progress.

I think this will be the year of coming to terms with the Non Exciting Not So New Gently Used and Unspecial Life- and being OK with that. It's the year that I run along side many others, all running towards a somewhat meaningless goal of a finish line, all for our own reasons. Something in me feels that if I can even get through this training that I've won. Every time I complete a workout, fuck, every time I even break through the brick wall of apathy and get out of my head enough to get out there I. HAVE. WON.

There's all this talk in the group that I'm training with (with the awesome Nicole Antoinette of a Life Less Bullshit, many thanks to Portia) about music or no music? Music, for me, pushes me further. It constantly repeats in my ear to keep going, own that shit, be in my Self in that moment and celebrate the vibrant, dynamic, fluidity of my 39 year old body. Music is my own little cheering section and I've broken through many an obstacle because of the right mix. I, for one, will be listening to music (in a safe way) for most of my runs. I don't really care about etiquette or how it might affect my performance as an athlete- for me, music gets It done.

Lately I've been using Podrunner mixes along with a celebration song at the end to reward myself for completing my workouts. My Celebration Song has always been just for me, and I let myself choose whatever the hell I want to hear in that moment. Since I've been doing this training I keep coming back to the same song to celebrate with: Michael Jackson's "You Can't Win" from the Super Soul musical The Wiz. I know the movie was kind of a bust, but it's been embedded in my life since I was a child and the music was catchy and fun. This song, mixed with the endorphin high of a good run, and the projection of my personal story onto it's lyrics, is a cocktail so strong that it aligns all the planets of my being, opening the fifth dimension of Don't Fuck With Me I'm A Glowing Ray of Light and Power. Hearing that song at the culmination of a workout gets me so pumped up that I'm dancing like a fool down the street saying Fuck Yes! to life, ready for any mountain lion or ninja hiding in the bushes to challenge me. They would most certainly would run from my sheer force of EndorphineFunkCelebration.

It might sound strange that a song about not winning would loft my spirits so much. Well, I identify with Scarecrow at this moment. Meta picture: Scarecrow, the representation of apathy, restrained by his own insecurity, slowly breaks away from his shackles of fear. He's forced to sing, by the Crows (his demons, addictions, Inner Critics) the same old song, over and over, until it becomes a mantra that holds no meaning, like words that lose all meaning once repeated over and over. It's at that moment that he starts to beak free. The lyrics are not his words, they're an anthem to a state of being that he is waking up from. He's hovering on the edge, he's reached the precipice, and is just about to realize that he can win. My mother would tell me I'm thinking too much, that sometimes a Werewolf in London is literally just that, but I like the story I made up better.

You can't win
You can't break even
And you can't get out of the game
People keep sayin'
Things are gonna change
But they look just like
You're stayin' the same
You get in
way over your head
And you only got yourself to blame
You can't win Child
You can't break even
And you can't get out of the game
You can't win
The world keeps movin'
And you're standin' far behind
People keep sayin'
Things'll get better
(Just to ease your state of mind)
(So you lean back, and you smoke that smoke)
(And you drink your glass of wine)
Say you can't win, Child
You can't break even
And you can't get out of the game
You can't win, you can't win no way
If your story stays the same
(You ain't winnin'),
No, no,
(But it's nice to see you)
(I'm awfully glad you came)
(Better cool it 'cause
It ain't about losin')
And the world has got no shame
You can't win, Child
You can't break even
You can't get out of the game
You can't win
You can't break even
Ain't the way it's supposed to be
(You'll be spendin'),
No, no
(Your little bit of money)
While someone else rides for free
(Learn your lesson), ooh,
(Refuel your mind)
(Before some turkey blows out your flame)
You can't win, Child
You can't break even
You can't get out of the game