Make the trade.

We all have our happy places.  Mine is most definitely alongside Lake Ontario in downtown Burlington.  More specifically, I love a glassy lake, running shoes on my feet, and the solace and peace of an early morning.  I got that two days ago, and my runner’s high is still holding strong more than 48 hours later.

But my happy place comes at a price.  You see, to access this place, you must make a trade for sleep.

This is an internal dilemma that I wage with myself most Sunday mornings.  It’s still dark, life has been busy, I’m too tired, my legs need rest.  All of these things come to mind when my alarm beeps at 6:00am and my duvet is seemingly always at its coziest.  But more often than not, the thought of my reward pulls me from slumber.  This is my prize:


This view greets me less than 2km from my front door.  And on a warm Summer morning, the excuses fade away as soon as my feet touch my bedroom floor.  I know that the fleeting moment of choosing to get up is the hardest part of an early morning workout and the adrenaline waiting at the finish line is well worth the temporary fatigue.  I got the glassy lake I love and a deserted lakefront walkway and I was back home soon after my children woke up, ready to join in on a day of family time.

The end game of all this is that I’m planning to run in the Road2Hope half marathon in Hamilton on November 6th.  I have many friends and patients also running this race, and it’s the last local race weekend of the season, making it the perfect choice for slowly building my mileage back up.  I live my best life when I set personal goals, and my early-morning-run motivation dips miserably low if I do not have a specific race on the horizon.  So I had 14km on my training schedule and managed to sneak out without my four-year-old running buddy tagging along.  I stopped en route to take the above picture to share with my kids, as I often do.  I usually see some pretty interesting things… skunks, swans, and even a naked man on a bicycle.  True story (but no picture).

But the best part of my happy place is the effect it has on me.  The peace.  The gratitude.  The overwhelming contentment.

I hope you’ve got a happy place too.  And I hope that you go there often.  Even if you have to make a trade to make it happen.

Choose the trade.  Choose happy.

A Happy Life

I’m still trying to figure out the nuances of me.  I know that sounds strange.

But in fact, just the other day, I discovered that I can focus much better in complete silence.  It’s not that I didn’t already know this about myself; after all, I spent eight years of post-Secondary education in quiet libraries, but I’ve just recently learned to articulate this fact.  No wonder my study days in Mt. Pleasant’s Second Cup required earplugs.  How unusual that I never noticed this quiet=focus effect on myself.

I’m emotional.  I’m sensitive.  I see colours when I read words, especially people’s names.  I am a homebody.  I love to travel, often, but for short periods of time.  I have a semi-photographic memory, especially for the written word.  I am interested in real estate and architecture.  I have a spatial mind.  I communicate best through writing.  I only like camping if someone else is doing the work.  I love yoga and spirituality and self-reflection.  I need fresh air and an elevated heart rate daily.

These are all revelations that I’ve had in my adult life.  I’m 36 years old and I’m still figuring out me.  And the reason I’m telling you this?

  1. My blog is an extension of my professional self.  The doctor-patient relationship is built on trust and this outlet is how you can get to know me. (This is Me.)
  2. These revelations have affected my parenting, and hey, I like to write about parenting.

How has it affected my parenting, you ask?  Well, thank you for asking, you’re playing along nicely.  You see, as a teen I often overheard people talk about “figuring out who they are” and I didn’t quite understand what that meant.  I heard people talk about “figuring out who they are” at University, “figuring out who they are” through travel, “figuring out who they are” through sport.  I did all of those things, and yet I still couldn’t define myself, my role, my reason.  These revelations seem to have come to me later in life than most of my peers, or perhaps I’m just late in learning the vocabulary associated with soul-searching and self-contemplation.

As such, lately I’ve been talking to my children about “who they are.”  We’ve been chatting about things they like, things they don’t, things that are/aren’t important to them, and their hopes and dreams.  I’ve been trying to give them the verbiage of introspection, to open up their childhood minds to the language of what characterizes them, and makes them proud to be unique and special.  To be themselves, whomever those selves may be.

For now, my job is to give them opportunities to learn.  I see each exposure to something new as a chance for personal growth.  That’s why we spend our Summers traipsing around Southern Ontario and our Winters at every event within an hour’s drive.  We go to see monster trucks and rodeos and conservation areas and waterfalls and baseball games and theatres and ceramic studios and Teen Tour Band concerts and beaches and outdoor rinks.  We show them the world and try to help them figure out their role in this wonderful community of life.

I posted this on my Facebook Page a few days ago: “I really think a happy life is about balancing all of your favourite things.  Lower the stressors you have control over and prioritize the things that you love.”  And how are they to know the things that they love if I don’t give them the tools to discover that?

“Happiness results from the possession or attainment of what one considers good.”

And it seems to me that if you figure out your good, you will figure out your happy.



For Mark Freeman

We went to a friend’s 40th birthday party on Saturday night.  He’s a Phys Ed teacher, and it was a costume party- the theme being Phys Ed wear through the ages.  You can imagine the hysterical possibilities.

“Why don’t you ever blog about me?” he asked me.  “Not even a shout-out?”

“You got a shout-out when the Burlington flood happened,” I responded (you can read that here).

“Yah, but that wasn’t about me, that was about the flood,” he said.

Fair point.

So to you, Mark Freeman, I dedicate this entire blog post.  Happy birthday my friend.  Allow me to get sappy:

Mark and his wife Jacquie have become wonderful friends of ours over the last ten years.  They are the kind of people who you can count on.  The kind of people who come through when it really matters.  The kind of people who offer to help you move, who pop by unannounced for an afternoon visit, who bring you fuzzy pajamas and cozy slippers when you’re strugging the most (true story).

We love you, Mark Freeman, and we hope you had a great birthday party.  Wishing you many, many more years of health and happiness!

Now how’s that for a shout-out?!