What keeps you going?

Since it’s Thanksgiving, I wanted to do one of those “What are you thankful for?” posts. But, in light of recent world events, I want to pose a different question.

It feels like the state of our world has gone downhill in the last few years. Many factors contributed to our current state, and we are hearing more and more about violent conflict, terrorism, and tragedy. Events like these have been happening throughout history, but with advances in technology, they are presented to us more readily, faster, and in greater detail.

Recently, I have felt an overwhelming heaviness due to the negativity going on in the world. While being aware of what’s going on in the world is a good thing, being obsessed and consumed by it’s negativity is not. Thus, I have decided to focus my attention on my immediate surroundings, family, and friends. I know I cannot shut out the world completely, so I’ve been turning to things that have helped me in the past when I’ve needed to get through tough times.

A night out with friends
I admit it — I’m not a social butterfly by any means, but I have been getting better! I still don’t initiate plans, but thankfully I have friends that are always ready to extend an invitation out for supper or a fun activity so I don’t have to. Having a drink and wisecracking with a group of friends is one of my favourite things to do!

The promise of a good meal
If dinner plans are at one of my favourite restaurants, or it’s Christmas dinner at my folks’ place, I’m instantly put into a good mood. Take for instance this past Saturday. We had family photos scheduled before we were to meet up with my immediate family for dinner at Firestone. About 45 minutes into the photo session, my daughter was getting increasingly moody and uncooperative with being directed this way and that for poses. I got through it because I knew there was a spiced rum and Coke and pumpkin cheesecake waiting for me on the other side!

Vacation plans
There is nothing like getting out of Dodge every now and then. I love this city, but getting out and taking in different scenery is quite liberating. If we’re heading somewhere far, I enjoy researching and planning the sights we’ll visit and places to eat — and sometimes we just wing it when we get there.

Music
Throughout my life, music has been the main thing I would turn to if I was feeling angry, upset, or depressed. It really does soothe my soul. If I find a song that really makes me feel good, I put it on repeat until I can’t stand it anymore. I remember one day hearing Maps by Maroon 5 and enjoying how uplifted it made me feel. I ended up playing it over and over so much that I took my earbuds with me to bed so I could fall asleep listening to it. Currently, the song that is getting me through all the negativity in the world is Everything is Alright by The Glorious Sons, particularly the lyrics, “Everything is alright, if only for the night. I forgot what it feels like.” It reminds me of nights when I’m out with friends just goofing around and having a good time.

What gets you through the tough times?

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Life Lately #2

It’s time for another dose of randomness!

Life Lately posts are just a quick and easy way for me to let you know what I’ve been up to lately. Feel free to do this on your own blog if you like the idea!

1. Our daughter turned four yesterday! This year, we decided to just have close family for her party with pizza, ice cream cake, and presents because next year she will have all of her little kindergarten friends attending and chaos will ensue! I wanted to enjoy one nice, somewhat quiet party before then. This year’s theme was Paw Patrol, specifically Chase, the police dog.

A birthday braid for the birthday girl!

2. This Saturday, we are scheduled to have a family photo session with our friend and incredibly talented photographer, Tanya Plonka. Tanya has been our photographer ever since we got engaged and she has always made us look fabulous! But one thing that has not been fabulous is the planning and coordinating of our outfits for the photos. Fashion ensembles do not come easily to me, and trying to get everyone to fit into our chosen colour scheme has been a huge headache. Luckily, I was able to borrow some coloured jeans for my daughter from a friend, and I found a sweater for myself that I had to order online using two-day shipping. Once we are all looking our best and the photos have been snapped, I think my stress level will finally go down.

3. After Thanksgiving, my husband and I are heading to Vancouver for a weekend to visit some friends. The last time I was in Vancouver was for Expo ’86 when I was just three years old, so I don’t remember much. My husband and his friend, Travis, have done most of the planning for our trip, but I trust that they know what they are doing. My husband has been to Vancouver more recently than I have, so it should be a fun, albeit quick, 72 hours.

4. Recently, I proposed an idea to my friend, Erin, where we would go on a caffeine bender trying out the pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, and McDonald’s to see which one is the best. It was then that she informed me she hates pumpkin spice. Ouch! My heart! (Hee hee hee!) Ever since then, if I find something pumpkin spice flavoured, I feel it necessary to text her a photo or mention it to her just so she can reply with the green pukey emoji. I have a good laugh. #sorrynotsorry ;)

They do exist!

5. I make it a rule not to talk politics on this blog because, quite frankly, I couldn’t hold up one end of a political conversation to save my life. But I did want to comment on one part of the election in particular — campaign signs you find on the side of the road. We are in Lethbridge, so naturally it gets windy from time to time (or all the time). You would think this would be taken into consideration when choosing the design of your sign. Signs that are high off the ground and held up by a metal frame don’t seem to stand up as well as signs that are anchored as low to the ground as possible with wooden stakes. That’s just my two cents.

That’s all I have for today. Hope you have a great week!

I’m a runner, not a racer

I’m going to preface this post by saying that I hate exercise — it is not fun. Yes, some of you will say that it can be fun if you find something you enjoy, to which I will agree. I played on a basketball team in grade 6, played doubles girls badminton in junior high and high school, and I just spent the last four years performing various dances on stage. All of these were very enjoyable.

Once a woman hits her thirties (i.e. me), her metabolism decides to stop chugging as efficiently as it once did and she has to work harder at keeping unwanted weight away. This is where I am at the moment. Almost mid-thirties and my metabolism has noticeably decreased. Nowadays, when I want to exercise, I want to get it over and done with and I don’t feel like leaving the house to do it.

This is where our lovely treadmill comes in.

We bought a used treadmill from one of my co-workers a couple years ago, and I’ve done a good job at ensuring it gets used as a treadmill and not a place to store things. In the beginning, I mostly walked on it while watching Netflix until my FitBit vibrated when I reached 10,000 steps. I noticed my stamina increasing during this time, but eventually I started to get bored.

Then I got this crazy idea! What if I actually tried to run on the treadmill?

I had participated in the Learn to Run program at Runner’s Soul one fall and actually enjoyed the walk/run intervals — though I think I only stuck through it for about the first four weeks of the eight week program. I think my excuse for quitting was that it was starting to get cold out. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that was it. I’m a wuss.

But in remembering my enjoyment of the program, I searched for a similar program, found Couch to 5K, and downloaded an app of the same name. I started, stalled, and stopped a few times, but this summer I actually stuck through it for the entire eight weeks and finished the program — huffing and puffing — in early August.

Then I got an even crazier idea! What if I signed up for a 5k run?

I didn’t sign up for one right away. I thought I should try to maybe increase my pace a little bit before I dive in completely and pay the registration fee. I downloaded a pacing app and kept up with my runs three times a week — for about two weeks. Then I started to not enjoy running.

“Why am I doing this?” I asked myself. “Why do I want to do a 5k run?” I wasn’t interested in the t-shirt, the medal, or breaking a personal best. The more I questioned it, the more I realized that my reasons for wanting to race were quite arbitrary — I had finished the app, so the next natural step was to sign up for a 5k, right? Is that what I wanted to do or was it just something I felt I was supposed to do?

In the end, I never did sign up for that race, and I haven’t stepped on my treadmill much since then except for a few days here and there to reach 10,000 steps. I do want to get back on it and run again, though. But I want to do it for the right reasons, and I don’t feel like I’m quite there yet. I definitely feel like my stamina has decreased and my “running muscles” have withered a little bit. One day I will get back there and enjoy it again, but that time is not now.

So as not to leave this post on a somewhat sad note, I did want to share a running playlist that helped me push through when I thought I couldn’t keep going (I’m looking at you, 35-minute run intervals!)

Let me know if you listen to any of these during your runs or if you see a song you’ll be adding to your workout playlist. I’ll also indicate which Couch to 5k interval (run/walk) the song is good for.

  • Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand (walk)
  • Footsteps by Pop Evil (walk)
  • Runnin’ Wild by Airbourne (run)
  • Roots by Imagine Dragons (run)
  • Ready to Go by Republica (run)
  • I Wonder by Tom Cochrane (run)
  • Whistleblower by The Arkells (run)
  • What You Waiting For? by Gwen Stefani (run)
  • Saving Grace by Tom Petty (run)
  • I Feel Free by Belinda Carlisle (run)
  • Mess Around by Cage the Elephant (run)
  • Square Hammer by Ghost B.C. (run)
  • Doom and Gloom by The Rolling Stones (run)
  • Stayin’ Alive by The Bee Gees (walk)
  • Unapologetic Bitch by Madonna (walk)

 

Growing up on the north side

Over the years, the north side has gotten a bad rap and been the butt of many jokes. Some say it is the wrong side of the tracks or that it is the ghetto of Lethbridge. It also smells.

But, as with many things, one bad apple spoils the bunch. The north side of the city really is not as bad as people make it out to be. How do I know? I spent about 22 years of my life living there and have fond memories of that time. So, gather around, children, and I’ll tell you a little bit about growing up on the north side.

You’re not helping, Cartman!

I grew up in the St. Edwards neighbourhood, which was the Uplands of its day in the early 70s. My dad, along with the help of my grandfathers, built the house I grew up in. As it was being built, my older brother (who was just a young boy at the time) would play in the playground behind our house, and grassland  was all that you could see north of it.

During my elementary school years, I would play with the boys who lived in the house across the street. Their dad owned a tree trimming business (which he still runs to this day), and I remember that their porch lights were never on for Halloween. We would ride our bikes on their driveway or jump on the trampoline in their back yard, but once the street lights came on, I had go inside.

I walked to school since it was only a few blocks away. Sometimes I would walk with my friend, Michele, who lived on the next street over. I remember singing Deep, Deep Trouble from The Simpsons Sing the Blues album a lot during these walks — I usually overtook the singing because I knew all the lyrics by heart and probably wanted to show off. We would meet up with Cordell and Sally at the corner of St. Basil and 13th Avenue and walk the rest of the way together, but split up once we hit the school grounds.

I liked to go on long bike rides to the various corners of the north side. I’d plan my routes using a LA Transit bus map we had laying around the house. I would visit school playgrounds and parks that I had never been to before, or I would look up a friend’s address using the telephone book and plan my route that way. On Sunday evenings in the summer, my parents and I would ride our bikes on the old bike path that started at the corner of Stafford Drive and 26th Avenue, headed east towards the industrial park, south along 28th Street, and then west on 5th Avenue until we hit 23rd Street. Once we entered the residential area north of 5th Avenue, we’d try to “get lost”, which meant I would try to navigate us through a bunch of right and left turns while knowing full well we were heading in the correct direction back home — I still enjoyed the idea of it.

But a lot of my childhood was spent in that very same park my brother played in during the construction of our house. It looks a lot different than it did when I young, but when I visit it now either alone or with my daughter, I feel a comforting sense of home. I used to climb the trees at the north end of the sandbox (which I apparently never told my mother about until recently), and remember tearing a hole in a pair of jeans when I snagged a branch on the way down. If I saw other kids playing in the park from our kitchen window, I would quickly get dressed and rush out to see if I could be included in the fun. My favourite thing was going on the swings and trying to swing high enough to kick the leaves on the nearby tree. I really had to stretch my leg out when I neared the top, but I’m pretty sure I touched them a few times.

I will admit one thing, though. The north side does smell — occasionally! The origin of the smell is often debated, but growing up I was told it was from the distilleries in the industrial park being cleaned, so I just went with that and avoided being outside when the smell was particularly strong. If you’ve heard something different, or you know for certain the exact origin of the smell, inquiring minds would like to know.

Fall 2017 Lethbridge Tweet-Up

Have you ever met someone in person that you knew online? Better yet, did you meet them at a Tweet-Up?

A Tweet-Up is an organized event for a group of Twitter users, and this past Friday, I along with some fellow tweeps organized one for Lethbridge! We all met at the Telegraph Tap House downtown for some drinks, appetizers, and great conversation.

Can I say that it was a hoot? Because puns are funny, right?

I’m no stranger to organized meet-ups with people I know online. Back in the day (about 2001/2002), I met people I knew in a Lethbridge community I created on LiveJournal. I planned meet-ups at the old Esquires location on the west side since the majority of the community attended the University of Lethbridge, and while some of the meet-ups were spent joking about how awkward the gathering was, the more we did them the more comfortable we became with each other. Today, I’m still friends with this group and I’m so glad we met when we did because we got through our young adult years together, which were awkward in their own way.

I think I’ve also mentioned before how I met a woman who lives in Edmonton through an official Buffy the Vampire Slayer message board. Again, another awkward meeting at first, but I ended up travelling to Edmonton on a yearly basis to hang out with her. Years later, she was a bridesmaid at my wedding and I attended hers.

Friday night’s #YQLTweetUp just ignited my love for meet-ups all over again! Somehow, I overcome my shyness and make jokes when awkward moments happen. And you know that you’ve thrown a good Tweet-Up when people stick around after the event has ended and head to another establishment for an after party (which I hope to attend next time!)

So, if you’ve always wanted to meet someone you know online, a group meet-up is definitely the way to go for both safety and comfort reasons. If you attend a Tweet-Up, you will make new friends and have a whole new bunch of interesting people to follow.

If you are interested in attending the next Lethbridge Tweet-Up, tweet me at @lethview and I’ll add you to our invitation list!