Sunday, June 15, 2014

Randoms on Father's Day

My dad was a Beatles fanatic.
He was an extremely gifted piano player and had a collection of sheet music (where is that? I have to ask my mom).
He loved James Bond and Dirty Harry movies. And horror movies.
His ultimate indictment of a man  was to describe him as a "jerk". Truly. He didn't swear, but jerk was the  closest he came to a complete dismissal.
He liked to sleep on a lawn chair  in the backyard on weekend afternoons. He actually did that alot the last summer of his life, 2010, every day, after his radiation if there was time.
He liked to grill food on the bbq (classic Dad thing to like, right?) Hot dogs were his favourite.
He walked every day to stay in shape.

It's been an extremely bizarre day for many reasons, one of which is that  today I  had  to learn a lesson about family and how suddenly things can change in life (it's a lesson I've learned before but apparently need constant refreshers on).
I had to learn about the 'best  laid  plans' (again) today and understand that even perfectly lovely pre-summer June days have surprises in store for us, and people's behaviour will always surprise you.
That there is benevolence all around and  even  amongst the thieves and charlatans of this world, there is a high ratio of  wonderful helpers--doctors, police, ambulance drivers.
That you'll rise to the occasion when called to, you really will.
You think you won't but you will.

I'm home now, I  just picked up a coffee, it's another endlessly long June day, filled with daylight, that makes me wonder  how we as Canadians endure our long dark winters. For me it's not the cold--it's the dark. Especially when contrasted with this overdose of light we experience and the burst of energy that comes along with it.

So that's Sunday. I promised an update and I did it. I also ran this morning,  a slow  amble with a couple of hills thrown in there, just to see if I could do it (I could).

I sweated and  smiled and felt myself inch  toward that recovery a little more with each step.

For now I'm sitting in my light-filled apartment, leafing through photo albums marvelling at how fast time has gone.

A reminder to cherish each moment, even the tough ones.

Saturday, June 14, 2014


"Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it."
~ Bill Cosby

"The medals don't mean anything and the glory doesn't last. It's all about your happiness."
~ Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Well I did it. I ran a half-marathon.
It was gruelling, it was emotional (reading Ben Bruce's account of his amazing marathon win at the San Diego Rock-n-Roll--he underlined this--running long distances is emotional. You are IN your head, with no way out), it was enlightening (how does anyone run a full marathon? I have a new respect), and it was an accomplishment.
Spirit reigned, my mantras left me, and all in all, as accomplishments go, this one was up there with my college graduation, like "me? I did this?"
Confession: I started this blog post over a week ago, when I was still fresh off the 'high' of it all, and then, of course "real life" interferes, intertwines, dictates.
This blog has been buzzing in my head lately, I've been thinking about my writing (or complete lack thereof) alot.
It goes hand-in-hand with my running, I have to say.
The word I keep thinking about is

Writing was (has been, is) here for me at a time in my life when things were hard, life was roller-coasting, and I needed an outlet. So too, running. And now, after the goal being reached, for running, of finishing the half, I find myself needing to recover. And this blog has seen recovery too. It witnessed me witness my father's cancer. It saw me through my grief, not only of his death (three years ago yesterday, more about that in a mintue) but also through losing my aunt. Yesterday also marked three years since I've heard her voice, either, another kind of death, feeling just as permanent.

The last 13-odd days since the half, I've run only in fits and starts. 3 km runs, when I was accustomed to 12. And I can barely get through the 3's. Just like this blog--in 2011 I had one of my most prolific years of writing (and running) and of course that was due to the grief--focussing my thoughts, sharpening my time, razoring my priorities.

Nowadays work owns the joint. The joint being my life. Family takes up the other nothing-percent. My long-distance marriange included in that. Reading, keeping up with friends and getting through a training program during the coldest winter/spring in years dominated the rest.

But still, my neglected writing nags me.

Lately, post-race, as I go for tiny little jogs (one morning this week I was up and out by 6:46am and as I ran a short 2-mile distance in a cloud/sun mix, I completely zoned out I was so tired).
So to replace my long runs, I've been reading about running and all things that surround it, care of Runner's World--my friend H. turned me on to this columnist--Kristin Armstrong, writer of Mile Markers, about all things life-and-running-related. Namely, how running colours your life and helps the hard days get easier and the easy days soar, and also how running (just like writing) likes to kick your ass when you least expect it, likes to keep you guessing, working, practicing--knowing that getting rusty is just one missed run, one unfinished blog-post away.

So here I am.

Back to training. In writing and in running. It takes discipline, something I've poured so much into with my professional life I don't have much left over.  It takes practice. Knowing that if you don't run that track or climb that hill or jot in that journal, you will fall off the wagon very quickly. Your fitness will suffer, your prowess will disappear.

So I'm committing. To writing, to running, to using this summer as a time not to slack off, but to re-commit myself to being disciplined, even if it just means that 2 miles at 6:46 am or a blog post after I get home from work detailing what I had for dinner.

For the present moment, here's a snapshot of life today;
Yesterday was the three-year anniversary of my dad's death, the 13th of June, this year Friday the 13th. Last night it was also a full moon, and I spent the evening at a work event that should have been dull but ended up fun. It was a cancer benefit, and during the speeches I dug my fingers into my palm to keep from crying. Tomorrow is Father's day, and I haven't quite decided how I'm spending it yet.
Somehow, alone might be right.
I ran today. I also went into the office and cleaned my work space. No one will believe what my office now looks like come Monday morning (I can scarcely believe it myself).
I grocery-shopped. I'm planning on making a nice dinner for myself.  I am sitting at my desk in the bright June evening light having a glass of Canadian wine. I'm wearing summer pajamas.
I'm by myself, having had no time alone, to reflect, on a weekend, in a number of months (I was on vacation for two weeks in May and it does not even seem possible I haven't talked about going to New York City for the second time and how it seemed like a different place from the fog I was in in 2010. Truly unbelievable).

So yes. Life goes on. Life is short. Life is long. Life is good. Life is hard. Life is all those things, it is this paradox of watching it race by and at the same time holding on to the moments, that arrive and drift away in the same breath.

I leave you with this scene from my half-marathon, around the 12 km mark (well before 18 km, where a snapshot in time would find me weeping with exhaustion, twin blisters on the insides of my feet making me want to scream). But at 12 km, there was a young musician, playing a classical instrument (my memory of this instrument is dim--I want to say saxophone? Cello?) and as I approached, iPod cranking out the playlist, I could still hear the strains of his playing--I paused my iPod to hear it.
Beatles, of course.
Hi Dad.
I miss you.
So much.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Happy Mid-New Year

For many reasons, I love the date of June 1st.
I love leaving winter/spring behind.
It's an auspicious date for many reasons, more of which I will talk about in the follow up to
this little post, my first since March (the shame..the shame).
Let me say this;
the above photo was taken on my condo rooftop yesterday, on June 1st, just a few short
hours after I finished my first half-marathon, which was a goal I set for myself back in 2012, before
I learned the true definition of the word "migraine".
Anyway, the half and its lead-up deserves its own post, its own details, and I'll get into that later.
For now, let me say I'm tired, but I'm happy, and this is my favourite photo ever taken of
Mike and I. Because I look just that.
Tired, and happy.
(*taken with a timer setting on Mike's camera).