Saving/Spending/Charity

I need to throw in a plug for the remarkable people that my children are becoming.  Every once in a while, I turn up the sap on this blog and make some of you cry on the GO train.  Today might be one of those days.

Let’s start with a little back-story…..

Since my children were very small, we’ve piggy-backed an idea from my sister-in-law in regards to their money and finances.  We use a three-jar system; one jar for “savings,” one jar for “spending,” and one jar for “charity.”  Any money that comes into my kid’s hands, everything from birthdays or shovelling neighbour’s snow or the quarters that Grandma and Grandpa hide around the house when they come for a visit, gets divided into three equal parts and put into their jars.

The “savings” jar gets taken into the bank a couple of times per year and they see their bank balance grow.  The “spending” jar can be used for whatever their hearts desire, from Beyblades to Pokemon, video-games to candy.  And although I encourage them to think long term and “save up” for a special purchase, they are young enough that the spending jar rarely gets above $15.  The third jar, arguably the most important, is the “charity” jar.  They know that this is the jar that we use to help others, and it’s another tool that we, as parents, are utilizing to try to grow our children into compassionate, caring adults.  This weekend showed me that it’s working.

We were watching the news coverage of Hurricane Florence.  I have a close friend who lives in North Carolina, so Florence has been at the top of my mind for awhile now.  As we watched, I was texting with my friend, and was relieved to hear that she was safe and relatively unaffected.  My kids sat there watching the devastation on TV, whispering to each other on the couch before heading upstairs conspiratorially.  They came down with their charity jars in hand: “Mom, we want to give our charity money to the people affected by the Hurricane,” they said.

In years past, we’ve donated to whatever cause is closest to our hearts.  My husband and I have a “charity jar” too, and a few times a year, depending on the circumstances of our world, we give it out accordingly, usually pooling the kid’s charity money in with ours.  We’ve given to friends fallen on hard times, needy families at Christmas, natural disasters, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Food Bank, and most recently, to the Humboldt Broncos tragedy.  We always talk about this giving with our kids, putting our money where our mouths are, and my son has taken to asking if we can bring our “charity” money whenever we go to BlueJays games so that he can pass it out to those in need along the PATH system.  So when they came downstairs with their jars, my heart swelled with pride; $86 is headed down to the Hurricane Florence rescue efforts, but there’s been far more than $86 worth of lessons learned.

Good job, my babies.

Be kind.  Always.

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“Because I can.”

I checked off a bucket list item on Labour Day Monday morning.  I swam with the Triathlon Club of Burlington (TCoB), in their annual Pier to Pier swim.  This swim is 2.8km, across Lake Ontario, from the Burlington lift bridge pier to Burlington’s downtown pier.

Usually on Labour Day Monday, you can find me in my happy place, along the Lake Ontario shoreline, on a long solo run to clear my mind and get myself mentally prepped for the upcoming school year.  With a teacher husband and two school-aged children, Labour Day is like my New Year; a fresh start, new goals, big dreams.  And every year, I’ve noticed the TCoB crew climbing out of the water with big smiles and high fives, and sunshine on a glassy lake only adds to the appeal.  Always up for a challenge, I wanted in on the fun, so a little over a week ago, I signed myself up.

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2.8km looks really far from this finish-line vantage point; that red circle is the lighthouse where we jumped in.

IMG_9438My husband thought I was crazy; 2.8km and I haven’t swum a stroke in almost a decade.  In fact, I’ve never even put on a wetsuit before, and I didn’t have time to test my borrowed suit out before yesterday’s event, so it was a jump-in-and-hope-for-the-best situation.  But, I used to be a lifeguard, and a decade ago I did a handful of triathlons, including a 1.9km swim in my 2007 half-Ironman.  So while I haven’t swum in many years, I hoped my previous experience, swim technique, and fitness could carry me through.

Monday morning at 7:15am, two of my girlfriends met me at home, and the three of us trekked down to the pier.  They were rookies too, although one is a regular lap-swimmer and one had just come off a great triathlon season.   They gave me tips on getting into my wetsuit (a workout in itself!), BodyGlide advice, and how to loop my zipper string.  I was woefully underprepared, and felt like I should personally introduce myself to the kayak support boats.  Deep down though, I knew that sheer determination (stubbornness?) would get me across the water.

It did.

I finished in 58:36, just under the one-hour mark that my obsessive Google calculations of “open water swim times” told me I could do.  And while I don’t plan on adding swim training to my schedule, I truly enjoyed the experience.  I enjoyed the nerves, the challenge, the friends and family, the sunshine, the sense of accomplishment, and the gratitude that I am physically able to do things like this.

“Why would you want to do that?” someone asked me.  “Because I can.” And oh how I love a challenge.

In fact, this just may become a new tradition.

 


Consistency.

A key to health is consistency.

Consistency in diet.  Consistency in exercise.  Consistency in sleep.  Consistency in self-care.  I could go on…..

A few months ago, I had a new patient come in.  He had Googled “sports doctor” and wound up at Burlington Sports & Spine Clinic.  He was in his late 40s, worked long hours at an office job, and had a downtown Toronto commute.  He spent nearly twelve hours per day sitting at a desk, in a car, or on the GO train.  He was a high school athlete, played University intramurals, and participated in adult sports leagues through his late twenties and early thirties, but he’d put the brakes on his activity levels over the last fifteen years, as the demands of children, work, and life began to build.

Let’s take a minute to think about what his body is capable of these days.  Is it reasonable to think that after fifteen years of sitting twelve hours per day, eating take-out lunches, and making no attempt to build strength or mobility, that his body might start to break down?  Is it reasonable to think that his healing rates might be lower?  That his heart’s efficiency has decreased?  That the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in his body have become accustomed to lack of movement?  I think so.

But he didn’t.

You see, he’d run a 5K the day prior; it was a fundraiser event that he participated in with his work colleagues, and when he came to see me, he could barely walk due to knee pain.

I explained to him what’s involved in an overuse injury.  We talked about tissue tolerance, what happens when physical demands exceed the body’s capacity, and how he’d simply done too much, too soon.  I drew diagrams, I used analogies, and I’d like to think I’ve become quite good throughout my career at explaining injuries to patients.

His response: “I know this is bad, but I’ll pay you extra if you can fix this today.  I don’t want to have to come back.”

Ahhhhh, the quick fix.  Fifteen years of neglecting his body and he wants to be “fixed” in half an hour.  Here’s the reality: I can very likely get you feeling better, faster.  But I can’t undo what you do the other 23.5 hours of the day, for years on end.

Here comes the cliche:

If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

Consistency.

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