Thank you for September.

We’re approaching Thanksgiving, so this post is about giving thanks.  More specifically, it’s about giving thanks to my team at work, who do such a great job and who I’m so grateful to have.

We have had a crazy month at Burlington Sports & Spine Clinic.  As you may know, our clinic is a part of the Complete Concussion Management national network of clinics, and as such, baseline concussion testing has become a big part of what we do.  For the last several years, that’s meant that we schedule a couple of September weekends dedicated to conducting pre-season baseline tests of hockey teams.  This year, that meant three full two-day weekends, and well over 400 baseline tests performed.  We collect valuable data on each player to compare against, should the player become concussed in-season, and this allows us to make safer, more reliable return-to-play decisions.  It’s a great program, and we’re happy to be involved with it, but the logistics are demanding, and that’s where the thanks comes in.  Thank you to Emilia, who kept this ship sailing with late Friday nights and long days on Sundays.  Thank you to Dave, who organized and planned and made this all happen.  Thank you to Amber, Kristy, Mike, Damian, and Britnie, who keep the clinic running smoothly while all this “extra” takes place every September.

A big part of my job, and one of the things I enjoy the most, is talking with my patients.  And what I hear again and again, are work stories that make people happy versus work stories that make people unhappy.  Work is a big part of many of our lives, and I’m ever so thankful that I’ve found a crew to make workdays fun.  They say that you’re the sum of the five people that you spend the most time with, and in September, I was the sum of the people at Burlington Sports & Spine.  Thank you for that.

I won’t bore you with the details of the other side of my life in September: the teacher/football coach husband, the back-to-school rush of two young kids, the puppy, and let’s throw a half marathon in there (bad idea), but I will say I’m thankful for it all.  I’m thankful for the choices I’ve made to get me to this point in life, the opportunities I’ve been given, and the luck that’s come my way.

And as I look towards October, I’m thankful for an under-scheduled Thanksgiving weekend and for the chance to restore some balance and take a breath.

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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.