This has tipped my balance

My mama guilt has been running high as of late, pun intended.  You see, for the past three months, I’ve been focused on a lofty running goal: the Around the Bay 30K, a Southern Ontario pinnacle event in distance-running.  I’ve done the full 30km race only twice; once in 2004, with the youthful abilities of speed and recovery on my side, and once in 2008, as an under-trained newlywed, happy to be running alongside my husband.  Since then, running has been bumped down my priority list.

But now, two kids and a decade later, it’s been bumped back up.

My kids are a bit older, and we’re beyond the all-consuming baby/toddler stage, so I’ve had the time to rekindle my love affair with my sport.  For the last year, that’s meant mostly solo miles, with the highlight of one run per week with my dear Michaela.  Our ultimate goal is the 2019 New York City Marathon, but I felt my mid-week motivation waning as the cold weather and dark mornings descended upon us in the late Fall of 2017.  When my wheels came off in June last year, I knew things had to change if my New York dream was to come true.  So, in November, I joined a new training group, thanks to the advice of my friend Sarah.  And it’s been a game-changer.

This group does their long runs on Sunday mornings.  Although this is nothing new for me, the difference is that my long run used to hover around 15km, but for the past three months it’s been almost twice that.  More milage means more time required, and my quick-run-while-my-children sleep Sundays have been put aside for the last number of weeks; this has tipped my balance.

Balance is a fine line that I tiptoe along, often trading sleep for other priorities.  I’m sure many of you are in the same boat.   And so, with minimal family disruption, the bonus being other like-minded people who think it’s normal to get up before 5:00, my alarm clock rings at 4:45am on Tuesdays and Thursdays; my run is done and I’m back home before the rest of my house wakes.  The same can be said for my 6am 10k on Saturday mornings.  But as my Sunday group long runs have progressed in distance, I’ve had to rally my village.  My husband has been on his own for breakfast duty and hockey practices, for transporting kids and mobilizing sleepy children into cold vehicles.  My father-in-law has helped juggle back-to-back practices for two kids on two ends of the city and my neighbour has stepped in to carpool when other plans fell through.  The village for my children has become the village for me. It-Takes-a-Village-to-Raise-a-Child-6001

But there’s guilt.

Guilt at missing kid’s activities.  Guilt at putting it all on my husband’s shoulders.  Guilt at asking for help.  Guilt at doing something that’s all for me.

But there’s also joy.

Joy at doing something I love.  Joy at running times that seemed impossible only months ago.  Joy that my children see me value my health and my fitness and myself.

Joy that I didn’t quit when it GOT DAMN HARD.

Bring on the taper, let’s chase more joy.

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This is my heart rate data from my last long run in this training cycle (33km).  Most of it was done in the pre-dawn darkness of Sunday morning.


Little Girls and Big Cities

I am finding that raising a little girl is different than raising a little boy.  I am finding that raising kids in a city is different than raising kids in a small town.  And I am discovering both of these things fast and furiously as I venture into the realm of two school-aged children.

Let’s talk about the gender factor first.  My four-year-old daughter is now coming home from Junior Kindergarten using phrases like “best friend,” “she said she didn’t want to play with me,” and “hurt my feelings.”  These are all phrases that her brother, three years older, has never spoken.  She feels things deeply, she notices friendship nuances, she’s finding her way amongst her peers.

And the big-city versus small-town element, well, this is something that I’ve written about before.  I’m a small town girl, and I was raised in a town of 250 people until I was ten years old and we moved to a town of 2000 people.  Everyone knew everyone, for the good or the bad, so it seems unnatural to me to send my children into a classroom, knowing few other families, and having them talk about kids that I’ve never met.

Now, to be fair, we moved into this neighbourhood less than two years ago; we’re still finding our way and meeting people as we go.  But I suspect that this not-knowing-everyone is simply a side effect of city living, even though my kids attend a school of just 300 students, small by city standards.  So, while there are more and more familiar faces at pick-up and drop-off, and more and more hellos at the playground gate, the fact remains that I want to know my children’s friends and their families.

I was chatting about these things with a friend; this friend lives in a different neighbourhood and has children that are older than mine.  She’s been down this road before, and like the good friend she is, she sent her parenting wisdom down the motherhood pipeline: she suggested that I host a friend party for my daughter.  Now, why oh why, I hadn’t come up with this simple solution on my own accord is one of the reasons I often preach that “The World Needs More Girlfriends.”  Girlfriends help and support, and help and support she did.

A friend party it would be.

We printed off eleven invitations, one for each girl in her class, and asked her teacher to put them into the children’s backpacks.  “We’d like to get to know you,” the invites said, “please join us on Sunday afternoon.”  So, this past weekend I had six little girls running around my basement, laughing and playing and building their friendships.  And I had six families in my kitchen, meeting and talking and building their community.

This friend party was for her, but as it turned out, it was also for me.  You see, she’s nurturing relationships with girls that she’ll go to school with for the next decade and beyond (girls like this and this), and I’m nurturing relationships to build my small town within my big city.

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Passion

I talk (write) a lot about passion.  I’m an emotional person, so I think it stands to reason that I have many passions for many things.  That’s always been the essence of my blog; passion.  Authenticity.  Genuineness.  Transparency.

When I started this blog in May 2012 (234 posts ago!) my reasoning was that I wanted patients to learn about the real me.  As a chiropractor, my profession is very much based on trust, and I want my patient base to understand who I am as a person, which will hopefully help them to understand who I am as a practitioner.  I think I’ve done that.  I’ve bared my soul here, week upon week, Tuesday upon Tuesday, draft upon draft, post upon post.  My audience has grown exponentially, and I now have several hundred of you following along weekly, liking (or not liking), sharing, discussing, and helping to spread my words through the tangled mess of the internet.  WordPress, the host of this site, regularly sends me readership data, and many Tuesdays I get a notification that says “your stats are booming.”  These alerts are satisfying, because they mean that I’m engaging my audience and making people think.  And the fact that you’re thinking about topics that come from my passion is the whole point.

But I’ve decided to take a step back.

You see, I’m noticing that words are becoming harder for me to find.  My posts are not writing themselves, in my dreams and on my runs and on my yoga mat, as they once did.  I feel like my passion on this blog is being diluted and that defeats my entire purpose.  My purpose here is passion.

So my posts are going to shift slightly, ever so slightly, to maintain that high degree of passion that’s so very important to me.  This isn’t meant to be just another blog, not just another health-tips site, not just another social media tool.  Not to me, anyway.  This is meant to be me, online.  I’m not here to drum up business, I’m not here to grow my Facebook Page, I’m not here to grab page views and link clicks.  I’ve built this online platform as much for me as I have for you, and so I must keep my standards high.  I want to be proud of each and every post and make my honesty and authenticity and yes, passion, glaringly apparent through your screens.  “I love your blogs,” someone said to me this weekend, and I hope she meant “I love your passion,” because that’s my end-game.

For now, instead of a new post every Tuesday, you’re going to get one every second Tuesday.  Not a big shift, perhaps, but a big shift for me, and a recognition that taking a small step back doesn’t mean failure or quitting, labels I’d previously imposed upon myself; it simply means adaptability and not-going-to-settle and hopefully, excellence.

Today you get post #235.  I hope you like it, and I hope you understand my reasoning.  Thank you for your support thus far, and I plan to keep writing with passion well into the years ahead.

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***And if you’ve missed some of my passion over the years, here are my favourites:

Come With Me.

She was there.

Make the trade.

Blizzards and Accomplishments

What they Wish they Would’ve Done

April, May, June

The Search for Skinny

Break the Silence

Sarah Happened

I am a Chiropractor.