Mindful Running


I crawled into bed last night and my muscles complained. I am starting to feel like I am 100.

I am not 100, I am 45. I cannot remember a time in recent memory (since I started this mo journey Jan,’11) that some muscle wasn’t upset about something I did. Secretly, I really like this feeling. I like when my belly aches from planks or swimming, I like when my legs burn from running. I like how tired I am at night.

At some point this week I reached the half way point of the C25k training program. So yesterday I ran the very first route I did  day one. I am not the person who will run the same route day in and day out. I need to switch it up. I do this for a couple of reason.

  1. Because running the same route is too boring for words. I am not running with music because I like to get out of my head, be mindful of what I am doing and I use it as a meditation. I have spent far too much of my life imagining and daydreaming about something else, this has been a fantastic experience of learning to run and I have not missed one painful, dreadful, wonderful moment. I need variety, different things to look at and new experiences. Apparently new experiences makes you smarter and Lord knows I could benefit from being smarter.
  2. Switching up the camber is a injury preventive strategy. My knee has reached the point where I do not even think about it when I run. I do not need to create a new injury in the process. Even when I run the same route for a week, I will head out in alternate directions for each run. Meaning I run a loop. One day I start on the right and go west, the the next day I run left and go east. I think this has really helped because I cannot avoid hills this way. Sure I want to, but I get to it eventually.

So, I reached the mid-way point of my training. I ran the original path I did on my first day. The first day of the C25k was 45 seconds of running and 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes with 5 minutes on either end of walking to warm up and cool down. Between you and me, this was hard. I had the stamina and conditioning from swimming but the muscles were different. I was really concerned about running for 20 minutes because that day was going to happen soonish. I am a goal nazi. I have crazy intense focus when I set a goal. So even when I didn’t feel up to running, I did it anyway. I have set my 5k race goal for the first week of December. I gave myself lots of time because I want to have lots of practice and conditioning for my first 5k race. I want to feel like it isn’t hard. I also knew I needed time just in case my knee complained mightily. So here I am half way.

Yesterday I re-ran my first path. I live on the prairies and in the burbs. I love the big sky. My neighborhood, which is great for my kids, is DULL as dishwater for running enthusiasts. There is a running trail/dogrun/power-line corridor the flows north to south behind the local school. It takes you into the creek and up over the bank to the other burbish neighborhoods. I ran this.

I did it at first because it was asphalt, and that is better than concrete for my joints. If I am honest, it is also because there is no traffic and no one could see me. The first day I ran/walked less than a kilometer. I didn’t quite make it to pass the walkway to Kitlitz park. The first couple of weeks I didn’t get very far. Even the 5 minute warm up wasn’t that far from my house. I never quite made it into the park and had to start running on the road when my beeper went off.

Yesterday I did the same route. This time my warm up got me into the park and near the bottom of the incline to join the main path. I ran south for 5 minutes walked one then ran 8 minutes. I more than tripled my distance for the “out” portion. The sun was hot for September and I was running at 5:00pm heat peak. Keep in mind this is EDMONTON so the air was cool-ish but the sun was intense. I loved the long shadows that provided shade. This time of day tons of women were out. This struck me because in the morning I only see men run. Never any women. Apparently us girls are too busy getting families ready to start the day and wait until after work to run or walk the pooches. I also was keenly aware of the smell of fall. The leaves are turning and there is a distinct smell that goes with that. I had a friend who thought it smelled of gym socks, but rotting leaves is a warm musty smell that I love. I saw berries on the path and a middle aged dude sitting in the shade talking on the phone. I assumed it was a secret clandestined phone call. I had long passed my original turn around point and forgot to take note of it, but soon I was reaching the crest of the hill that would lead me down into the creek. At the top of the crest, I remembered the gravel turn off that I used to get extra miles in when I was training for the half marathon when I walked. I then looked to my left and saw the flood waters had subsided from the spring when I came through here and had to walk through 4 inches of water and soaked my shoes. The downhill portion was laid out in front of me and I checked my timer, I was only 2 minutes into my 8 minute run. WOW! I knew I was getting faster. The midway point of the hill brought me to the crosswalk. I scanned the road ready to pause my timer in case I had to wait for traffic. No such luck. I had to keep running because the road was free from traffic. I ran across the sidewalk and onto the cross walk. I was immediately struck by the resistance of the concrete. I didn’t suspect I would notice it, but it was noticeably harder.

Once I crossed the road, I was trying to decided should I turn right and follow the creek or just run over the bridge at the bottom of the path. The hill was getting steeper and i knew I would have to run back up. Just before I reached the point where I would need to decide, my running app voice said “half way”. I replied out loud, “OKAY!” and I pulled a U-ie on the path and started to make my way up the steep hill. A gal who was running behind me, one of those gazelles with a beautiful stride (ONE DAY THAT WILL BE ME!) smiles and said “GREAT JOB!” Thanks running gazelle! I looked at my timer and it was 3:55 into my 8 minute run. So up I climbed and scanned the road once again for traffic. This hill nonsense is stupid and I felt the burn of my calves and my heels and ankles swore at me a bit. Too bad so sad and I kept climbing. I was counting out power-lines and figured the 3rd set should be about right for stopping. I set my sights on the third set and then changed my focus once again. I was thinking about that cute pup who didn’t listen and wanted to keep playing. I looked at the blue sky and thought about how beautiful it is in the fall but not as beautiful as a winter sky. Then I was checking out the berries on the bushes and thought there wasn’t very many. Maybe it will be a mild winter! WOHOO! I then realized I was running past the third tower of my count off. WOW! I am faster! I checked my phone and I has another 42 seconds to go. So I ran.

By the time the beep went off and running app voice said “Walk”, I was nearly at the point of my very first turnaround on my very first day. I walked the 2 minutes and then was told to run again. I had 5 minutes left. I ran all the way to the walkway the would lead me home. I needed a 5 minute cool down still. I walked along my street home. By the time I reached my front porch running app voice said “workout complete”. Never had I gone this far or completed so close to home. I was pretty proud and happy. I stopped on my porch to stretch out. The running stretches I have read about and remember from my basketball days are good for a start, but I always finish up with some yoga poses. Those feel heavenly.

I looked ahead to my next running plan on my app and saw it was run 8 walk 1 run 10. That is for Sunday’s long run. It’s not really a long run. Last year my Sundays were filled with walks that were about 14-18kms, so this doesn’t seem like a big deal in terms of distance. But muscle endurance is a different thing. I then thought about my plan for running my first half marathon. It might sound odd that I have a plan for a half when I haven’t even run a 5km yet, but I am a planner. I plan to run 10 and 1s. Run 10 minutes walk 1 minute. I also told myself that there is no shame in walking if I have to.

My plan this year will get me to become a comfortable runner for a 10km. I will then become comfortable at running a regular 10k. Then the distance training will begin. It’s hard not to get ahead of myself. But I can clearly see the 1/2 marathon medal being place around my neck. I will earn it because I will have ran it in less time than I walked the original one.

I can’t WAIT! Roll on Sunday, I need to feel what a 10 minute run feels like because it is all part of my plan.

 

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Greatness

"Greatness"
“Greatness” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been feeling frustrated and caged as of late. I am finding patience as I learn to do less while recovering from a respitory ailment. The lack of Oxygen has been an issue creating barrier. From loading the dishwasher to walking up stairs, breathing is difficult. Then there is the is factor of the summer is half over. I have been in the mist of enjoying 64 Days of Awesome and trying something fun every day. I have 32 days left. Not one part of my summer has gone as planned. Funny how that works out. Making plans and then you are thrown a curveball.

I have been sitting anxiously waiting for my phone to ring and all I hear is crickets… It is enough to suck me back into the dark vortex of depression again. Can’t let that happen. I do believe there is a reason for everything, I just need to let it happen as it may, I’ve done all the work I can. Now I wait and see and keep moving forward with life.

This morning feels like a day I had a very long time ago. My parents left for vacation without me. They went to Jamaica and left me with my Grandma. That summer was hot during the day and raining at night. The air was cool in the morning while we ate breakfast on the patio. My Grandpa engaged me in a conversation about career choices. He said “Robbie, you’re a smart kiddo. Pick something that will use your brains every day so you don’t have to work hard.”

I now understand that he meant physical labour. But as I reflect on what he said, I know there was more to it than those simple words. The trick is finding what you are meant to do, then attacking it with vigor using the brains I was blessed with. It becomes a mental game. Just like last summer when I completed my first half marathon. It was 90% mental and 10% muscle memory. I trained hard, my body knew what to do. If I let the focus of the goal lose power, I wouldn’t have had a hope in finishing. I used my brains to see me through to the finish. The mental power of tenacity and determination. I suspect I will need that mental toughness to get me through another year until I complete my degree. I am nearly there and want to kick it up a notch to complete the task sooner than expected. It has become obvious to me that to advance forward, I need that paper. It’s not just the paper the degree is written on. Apparently I could buy one for $500, according to DGreezRus. That does not teach me about struggle, elevating the level of my performance and facing fear.

I need to find the something people are looking for when filling a position that is entirely foreign to my work experience. Changing a career path halfway through your life is difficult. It is like looking at the brass ring that is just slightly out of reach as you spin round on the merry-go-round. I know I can do it. I know I will be great at it. I know I need to find the person who is willing to give me a chance. I promise I will not disappoint.

It is unfortunate society demands children decide their own career fate. I had no idea at the age of 18 what I wanted to be. I heard people telling me what I should do and what I would be good at. It never really was my passion. 27 years later, I think I have found my passion. It includes writing, planning, communicating and forward thinking. It requires reflection of self and job. It requires structure and deadlines, stress and laughter. It requires me to think before I act and not drift through on autopilot because it is simple and mundane.

Until that moment, I will strive to make it happen and have my everyday become what I envision. I will have my days filled with my passion so I can conquer the mundane.

And talk to Jude Law about narrating my life along the way…

From Daydreamer to Daydoer, The Edmonton Tourist Project

November 11, 2010 047
November 11, 2010 047 (Photo credit: matt44053)

I am nearing my 2 year anniversary of the Edmonton Tourist Project. The purpose of this project was to take risks, climb out of my depression and experience  no regrets. Looking back it boggles my mind what I different person I use to be. I had a resigned nature and attitude about things. I have spent countless hours reading about other people’s journeys. I have become an active member in the blog community, so much so – there are many bloggers who I have never met, yet I count as friends. I have learned there is no destination as long as you are still traveling. Making a conscious effort to be a tourist in my own life has opened up possibilities that I had never seen before.

November 11, 2010 (again with the 11 thing)I was Freshly Pressed. All that means was the choosers here at Word Press saw my post and thought it was funny enough to place on the front cover of the WordPress Blog Site. I received close to 2000 hits that day, 50 subscribers in a single day and hundreds of comments. It was a real Rock Star moment. Looking back, that moment was fairly significant for a couple of reasons.

  1. It convinced me that I can do the impossible – or what I perceived as impossible
  2. It made connections with people I never would have otherwise known, and in return I have learned great lessons and made spectacular friends. Not just blog friends, but actual human beings who I can look in the eye and touch their hands.
  3. It taught me that everything and everyone has a story that should be told. It is from stories that I learn great things from.

I remember November 11th ever well. It was a stat holiday here so I was having a long lay-in that morning. Snuggled up and daydreaming. (I was a great daydreamer – I am a great daydoer now) when at 8:00AM my emails start going crazy. My first one was from Chef – She was from Edmonton too only now lived in Texas. I found it odd that she stumbled onto my blog.  Since then, we have commented back and forth and I even won a contest she hosted! The list of commenters grew. Then another Edmonton commenter found me.

Her name was Audrey. She was blogging from Edmonton and was struggling with the day to day problems of cancer. She was determined not to be angry but to embrace every moment she had left. She spent spare moments in nature photographing the beautiful river valley, she took art classes at the Art Gallery and she spent quality time with friends and family. Her journey was more than a day to day struggle. I learned that you don’t get moments back. She inspired me to take risks with people. Tell them the good things I think about them as they pop into my head. This has not always been welcomed, but I have no regrets about it. It doesn’t always turn out the way I hope, I get rejected in friendship – but they go away knowing I like and care about them. Some people just aren’t ready for someone to think highly of them. Sad – but true. Audrey embraced the Edmonton Tourist Spirit, always thinking of the next risk and how it would effect those around her. Kindness and compassion enveloped her.

Audrey passed over yesterday morning at 9:38 am surrounded by those she loved and who loved her back. We all should be so lucky. This is an excerpt of her final post:

Thank you to everyone for your support and caring.

 

I started the blog as a record of my journey for my family but it has become much larger than that, it became a helping tool for those in a similar journey. I am grateful if I have been helpful in anyway. I leave you with the encouragement for you and your loved ones to visit your family doctor regularly. Know that you are your own advocate, and don’t accept no as an answer.

 

I don’t know where I would be without my family. The love and support they have shown me has made my journey so much easier than I know it could have been. I am not sure I would have lived this long without them. They accepted my bumps and challenges along the way. They responded quickly to my needs and they gave me meaning to the term unconditional love. I wish I had another 40 years to return to them.

 

I love you all, take care of yourselves and each other.

 

See you in the funny papers.

 

Love Audrey

Thank you for the life lessons Audrey. I shall miss you.

 

You want to WHAT?

 

Dear Mommy DaVinchy, Mommy Einstein, and MommyMythBusters,

I feel your pain.

English: An afterburner glows on an F-15 Eagle...
English: An afterburner glows on an F-15 Eagle engine following a repair during an engine test run November 10, 2010, at the Florida Air National Guard base in Jacksonville International Airport, Fla. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just spent 30 minutes in discussion the 16 year old talking about strapping jet engines to his back and creating a series of controlled explosions to have him move 20km/hr with wheels strapped to his feet. He has created the plan, done the physics and discussed the “fun factor”. Before he sourced his materials he wanted approval for his project.

After listening to his argument for Pro Jet Packs – I said no. Listing the reasons as to how it would effect me.

  1.   Being a minor, I am responsible for his well being. I did mention once he turns 21, has a job and an engineering degree – I’m cool with it.
  2.  I do not currently have the time to to be engaged in regular meetings with a social worker from Family Support services due to my lack of judgement of letting my son play with rocket fuel.
  3. I have better things to do than sit in emergency waiting for details of fractures, comas, burns and lobotomies.
  4. Financial implications. Alberta Health does offer support for stupid acts of awesome, however they do not offer a pharmaceuticals plan. I would need Extra coverage from Blue Cross and I am currently not in the position to gain coverage for above and beyond the reasonable amount required by the average citizen.
  5. I have no desire to be on Dr. Phil explaining the reasoning behind not being a parent.

You see, I have a big opinion about parenting. I shall share this public service announcement with you:

If you choose to have children and KEEP them, then you must accept ownership. Part of this ownership is to be a PARENT not a friend, pal or buddy to your child. That is not to say it is not okay to enjoy them in a friend capacity, however – get your own PEER group for extensive sharing, exuberant activities and so forth. Being the parent requires the ADULT (you) to make JUDGEMENT CALLS on the activities the minor in your care wishes to make. This includes things that are life altering (wear a helmet when you ride your bike) and remember SAFETY FIRST. It is advisable and acceptable to say NO on occasion and you do not need to give an explanation. You are the PARENT. Do not worry if your offspring is going to hate you, THEY ALWAYS DO! They hate you because you are too strict, or they hate you because you are too lenient. You can’t win – so take my advice and do the right thing. JUST SAY NO! I do however, find it helpful to explain your reasoning as to how you came to this conclusion. It is important for emerging critical thinkers to understand all the steps involved in planning.

For example:

OffSpring – it would be cool to put on a cape and jump off a 3 story building.

Mom – No it wouldn’t and here is why…

Do not be afraid of NO. Practice it in front of the mirror. Say it out loud. Get use to hearing yourself say it. Then practice it on others, not just your child. It is OKAY to say no.

If you cannot think of a good explanation as to WHY they should not do something, then one of two things is happening.

  1. Their request is reasonable
  2. You do not have the know-how to understand consequences. If this is the case, then by all means allow your offspring to attempt this outrageous request. Darwin called it survival of the fittest. Natural selection by elimination has been done by nature for years. This is how humans keep the gene pool strong and healthy.

My 16 year old ended the conversation with “Well, now I know where the line is”

Damn straight Offspring, but don’t get too comfortable, it is my prerogative to have that line be flexible and move as I as fit. After all, I AM THE PARENT!

 

Why do I go to work everyday?

I hate my job.

It is only Wednesday and I have more emotional overload in 2 days than most people have in a lifetime. The stuff I dealt with today alone would make well adjusted grown men cry.

Last year I hated my job too. Last year I suffered from mental stress. This year is emotional stress. What is the difference you ask?

Mental stress keeps you thinking until your brain is numb. It has you repeating yourself endlessly like a broken record to no avail. It makes you sleep for ever.

Emotional stress keeps you awake at night worrying that little ones are okay. You fear for their health and safety. You try to plan a way to keep them with you so they are safe. Your heart gets broken on a daily basis. You cry in the bath tub and in the car on the way to work. You get angry and smash your head against the wall because you think you are crazy.

I sat in the chair tonight and my daughter said, If you hate your job so much, why do you do it?

Me – Sometimes you do a job because the little souls need someone to care and love them so they won’t be alone in the world. But I did see a job posting for Assistant Manager at Dollarama and thought about it seriously for 2 seconds.

I was at my Life Coach’s office today after work. We talked about emotional intelligence. Over a year ago I wrote about wanting to be emotionally intelligent. I have achieved that goal. I wish I never did. That is not true, I wish I was surrounded by emotional intelligences. I am to some degree – no offence friends and family! – but I am also surrounded by emotional sluts. You know the kind, connect to the one you are with rather than who is right for you.

It is no secret I connect better with children than I do adults. I see it, feel it and experience it on a daily basis. Ask Liam. He is a stranger kid I met on the playground the other day. It was obvious to me that he had some special needs. Talking to him briefly I could tell he had sensory processing disorder, a cognitive delay and fluency issues. I walked past him to sit on the bench, smiled and made EYE CONTACT. He smiled back.

I forget how the exchange started but within 5 minutes I had connected with him so well, he thought I use to be his teacher and kept saying “Remember when…” I would play along because A) everyone wants to feel like someone remembers them because that means they are IMPORTANT enough to be REMEMBERED and B) none of his peers would engage him in conversation, he was a loner or more to the point, lonely.

I see him occasionally now around the school and fields and he always waves. I have made a new connection, for life I suppose if I continue to keep running into him. I can connect with every child in my classroom. Some stronger than others, but all of them just the same. Every single one of them knows they are important to me and I care. I cannot say the same for the adults in my life.

Part of it is my fault. I do not connect with adults because I protect myself. I am sick to death of being hurt. Apparently this has to do with me not forgiving myself for something in a particular relationship. Fair enough, I can see that. I connect very strongly with emotional sluts. Then they break my heart. It is a pattern I repeat because I need to feel punished. Isn’t THAT interesting? Emotional sluts, I recognize them at 50 paces. I connect with them. Have them need me. Then I need them, and because they are emotional sluts – I get left. It sucks. I pick them KNOWING it won’t last, yet I engage in the emotional exchange. I haven’t done this in a long while. I recognize it for what it is and keep a distance. That sad part is, I am still connected to those emotional sluts of my past and feel loss. They are no longer connected to me, they have moved along to the next one.

My next goal is to connect with adults who are emotionally intelligent. I know who you are, you are well adjusted, stable, goal oriented and do not rely on others to boost you into the next realm. I have quite a few of you in my life, you have just kept me at arms length while I figure this out. You are smart enough not to get caught up in the drama of an emotional slut.

Oh Edmonton Tourist, you are such a different person then you were August 15th, 2010 when you started this journey. We are getting there one step at a time.

Death by Sushi

Eye death
Eye death (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

There have been two times in my life when I welcomed death and she snubbed me.

The first time was I was in labor with my first born. I don’t recall my surroundings other than bells were going off and a ton of people suddenly appeared. I feel into my pillow and thought to myself – I’m okay with dying. Then I looked over at my husband and he was worried. Then I thought, oh hell – I can’t very well leave him alone at a time like this.

I pulled through.

The second time was yesterday. I had sushi for lunch. within 10 minutes I was sick, within two hours my joints were swollen, my breathing was comprimised and I was covered in hives. I was in so much pain I thought, I’m okay with dying.

I am no a wimp when it comes to pain and sickness. I go to work with pnemonia, I walked 7km on a broken foot, I have even had a hangnail and survived. I was totally cool with dying. This poisoning business has taken a lot out of me. I am exhausted and afraid to eat. The not eating part is good and bad. I hope to lose a gazillion pounds because of this, but I know I will never get my strength back unless I do. Fresh food has me a bit scared.

All I want is peanut butter toast. I did live on that in high school. I was a non eater in those days. Give me a snickers bar and a glass bottle of coke and I was set for days. I would pack a peanut butter sandwich and an apple. It is still one of my favorite lunches. The best part was, I didn’t starve to death. I am pretty sure I am not starving to death now. I am super dehydrated and very sleepy. I spent my day drinking water and sleeping. I watched a movie and slept some more.

What this experience has done for me was reflect on who is important to me. I contacted everyone who I thought should know. ChatterBox even came in my room to creep on me to see if I was still breathing. I had no idea. I was out. Thinking about the list of people may me think about my small circle and how important they are to me. I also realized I am not all that important in the grand scheme of things. Life will continue whether I am here or not. The thing is, I would be so ticked off if I had expired yesterday. I still have goals to meet.

I was goofing around with some cards I have and chose a single card to meditate on. I use these cards for focus during my yoga practice or quiet contemplation. Usually a card that pops up is about creativity or joy. The message is often about seeking a creative outlet for expression of self or it is telling me not to take on too much and slow down to enjoy the view. Yesterdays card was one that has never shown itself to me. The card is Victory. The message’s essence was whatever you have been working on will succeed. I was surprised to hear that message. I never thought I wouldn’t succeed. I am tenacious enough to plow through to get what I want even if I need to find it in unusual places. I seen the brass ring and my eyes don’t leave it until it is in my hand. Sure this is obsessive or overly focused, but some of the greatest success stories are not because opportunity fell into their lap. These people worked for it. I am working for it. I expect my education dream to be fulfilled in a years time. Possibly a year and a half because I need to take some time off to rejuvenate my mind and make me hungry again for learning. I am tired and resent having to write with managerial focus when the sun is shining and the farmer’s markets and parks are calling to me. I also expect to have a new career within the next two years. I hope it will be much sooner, but I am willing to wait. I am not that person who is waiting for the opportunity to fall into my lap, I am keeping a watchful eye and listen carefully to signs.

Today is a big day in my world. My ED announced her retirement and the new replacement will be introduced to the Board today. The rest of us will find out on Monday. I look at this with mix feelings. I am ready for change but hesitant to discover how the change will affect me. At any rate, I am ready. A newish friend of mine asked me yesterday what my plan was to do with my degree once the business of school and homework was done. I said I want to be Emperor of the World complete with cape, awesome silver boots and minions. If that fails, I want to be an integral part of a non-profit agency. Not front line but management. Eventually I want to run the agency. Not necessarily the one I am in, but AN agency. I figure it is a great shield to the world being an ED for non-profit when I am trying to rule the world. It is a perfect plan and no one will suspect it. I will gain the trust of loyal minions and have access to an office secret lair. My son is savvy enough to build me all the technical gadgets I would need, like sharks with lasers on their heads or a volcano that erupts with a push of a button.

So either my near death experience has made me delusional or very self-aware. Either way, I’m glad I didn’t die by sushi – it is a pitiful way for the emperor of the world to die. I’m think more along the lines of death by a Q gadget or squeezed to death by Doc Oct. Either way, I will make a splash because I am reaching for the brass ring.

I am a cry baby

cry IMG_9246
OMG I love him…I don’t know him but just look at him!!!Photo credit: migasun)

I was out visiting last night and consumed 3 shots of espresso. Probably not the smartest thing I have ever done. I was wide awake until close to two. Up again at six thirty. Am I tired? YOU BETCHA! Am I emotional? I cried openly in class today…you tell me.

Caffeine gives me energy – false energy – but I feel pumped none the less. I washed floors, I got things in order for a trip I’m taking and I checked my class assignments. My head blew off. I did very well and suddenly felt like my impending holiday would be super relaxing and fun….then I couldn’t sleep and my act fell apart. I no longer felt in control of my situation…that sucks.

The nice thing about being awake all night is I could email with my friend Bokkie in South Africa. She is taking Early Childhood Courses and that is my field so I helped out a bit. I laid in the dark letting my mind go places it shouldn’t. I was doing so great with the emotional thing…this was just a bump in the road. I needed to let it wash over me.

In the morning I needed coffee like you wouldn’t believe…yes the irony was not lost on me. My niece and favorite barista was on duty this morning and she makes a damn fine latte. It helped tremendously. I did crave chocolate all day – but resisted. I am in control except for the crying part….

I need to clarify one thing. The group of students I have this year is likely the best group I have ever had. I mean EVER! I have been doing this since 1988. 24 years of this kookiness and THIS IS THE BEST CLASS EVER! I heart them! They are 4 and 5 and will be fantastic humans. Of course they are a work in progress and are not perfect. For example, the gal I consider to be the kindest with the most potential turns out to be a playdough hoarder with a mean streak. It wasn’t pretty. I caught her at it and declared my disappointment. To her credit she felt remorse – not a usual response from 4 and 5 year olds. Then….the sobs started. She cried like I ripped her heart out of her chest with my bare hands. I am a softy when it comes to broken hearts, so I wrapped my arms around her and let her cry it out. Wr eventually moved to the couch because she was so distraught. 45 minutes later, we were finally able to reach a point where we could calmly discuss the situation, make up and be friends. Her biggest worry was she let me down. I know that feeling. Disappointing my dad was the worst! It stuck with me forever, I can still see the look in his eyes…ug… Yes I cried a bit when she told me that. Only because I was sleep deprived…I am not a baby – you are. No, YOU ARE.

Anyways…

The afternoon brought another heart braking incident. I am getting too old for this.

The final event shattered me. My favorite – yes I have a favorite. All teachers do, they just won’t admit it. Fairness above all else. Anyway, we were doing pet shop yoga poses and my favorite was touching the girl’s hair who was next to him. He doesn’t speak – ever. He has a couple of words he can use when it’s require, but he can communicate with gestures, kindness and expression. Did I mention he was my favorite? He has a HUGE crush on this little girl. She is kind and sweet and always has a smile for him. It was her turn to pick a partner, he held up his hand and she walked right by him and picked a girl. I watched his heart break right before my eyes. I think I could hear it too. The deadness in his eyes was obvious. I cried and covered my face to shield me from the naked pain on his little face. I wanted to run up to him and say, “It’s okay – I love you!!!!” Of course I know from experience that when the one you love doesn’t love you back, there is nothing more painful in the whole world. You want to die right then and there. You can actually feel your heart ripping from the inside of your chest and feel it scrape around your chest cavity and end up in your digestive track where the bile eats away at it until you bleed internally and die. Then all that is left is a soulless life form wandering around until that magical day when all is better once again. Of course you think it will never happen and you beg and plead with the love of your life to take you back in that pathetic embarrassing way that makes you cringe every time you look back on it.

I could see it all in his face. He stood in line, tried not to cry and became emotionless. Four years old and suffered his first major heart break. His soulless life form drifted to the snack table where he could not eat. Food tasted like sawdust in his mouth. The agony of the situation was SHE sat at his snack table. She was across from his little body, not talking because she too is unable to speak much – only she speaks another language – English is not easy yet for her. She communicates by smiling and lighting up the world – but HE couldn’t look at her, the pain was too raw. I didn’t blame him. I understood. The best thing I could do for him was take him away to a place he had never played before. He was able to move on and smile once again.

Obviously this was a sad and painful day. I look forward to next year with the hope that this is my last year in the classroom. I love my kids but chances are I will never have a year like this one again. With my luck it will be like last years group and that is enough for me to work at Tim Horton’s and serve donuts. Clearly the caffeine has done damage to my heart and soul. I need a proper sleep and become cold hearted again and resist the sweetness that can envelop me.

It’s days like this one when I wonder how am I going to make it? The pain is too deep to let it go. I think of that little face with the broken heart visible in his eyes and I hurt like it just happened to me. Oh to be 3 again and be self centered an unaware of others. being 4 is too complicated. Being 44 isn’t much better.

Bring on the happy place, a full nights sleep and a dole whip…and maybe Tarzan walking around in his loin cloth…its all good.

The broken heart is on the mend thanks to my strength of character

I had my heart broken today. One thing made it better. My kiddies running off the bus, running up to me and hugging me because they hadn’t seen me since Friday. I heart them. I have 9 weeks left with them and they are already fully formed butterflies waiting to take off. Luckily for me, I get to keep them until the end of June then I set them free.

Today a friend of mine questioned my character. They know me very well and made an assumption about me that I found shocking, hurtful and by the end of the day it manifested into anger and rage. I was sad for a while, now I am just annoyed. Do they know how I feel? You betcha! I am that girl who now will say “I am offended and here is why”. Did I get a reply back? Sort of…I received an email about a different topic. WTF? I didn’t reply back. I said what I had to, and as one of my students always says “Game Over”. Oh wait, I am not playing games. Maybe that is the problem. When they first met me I was not myself. I had not begun the Edmonton Tourist Journey yet. I was still trying to figure myself out. I just knew I was a work in progress and I wasn’t entirely truthful about myself, mostly because I did not really know who I was then. When I look back I wonder how I was able to wake up everyday and go to work. It remains a mystery to me.

2 years later ( 20 months to be exact) I have gain tremendous personal growth. I have worked incredibly hard to be who I am today and if they can’t see it, to bad so sad. Today I am creating a handy pocket guide to The Edmonton Tourist’s Character. You may use this reference if you are needing to predict how I may react to a certain situation, how trust worthy you think I might be, this may be the guide for you. If you don’t give a rats ass, that’s fine too. I know who I am and where I am going and I don’t need anyone’s approval, or permission to write or say what I need to. Being a Tourist in my own life has taught me more about life than you could ever imagine. Compassion, empathy and respect are just a few things I possess.  These are Character Traits that I have always had, they were just covered under dust and junk, or you never took the time to get to know me. Please feel free to challenge them or comment on them. I take my strength of character very seriously.

The Edmonton Tourist’s Handy pocket Guide to Her Character Traits

  1. ALERT – this is the opposite of unaware.Most days I lean closest to Alert. I am aware of tiny details that you may not notice, I see and hear things in the classroom that some people miss. I listen to everything you say and hold onto it. I can put those things together into a completed puzzle to understand you better. I have always had this trait.
  2. ANALYTICAL – I will ask why and investigate until I understand. If it isn’t logical I cannot wrap my head around it. It may seem that I cannot let things go. I can, but only after I understand the whole store. It may take me months of getting all the information I need, but when I do I have a pretty amazing piece of work. This is why I am an honor student.
  3. ATTENTIVENESS – What you say is important to me. I will admit to not paying attention when my brain is full or tired. But you will be informed if I am not able to give you my full attention. I am learning to balance this. I use to think I needed to solve everyone’s problems. I  learned that lesson the hard way, interfering where I had no business. It’s hard to know what the right thing to do is. I am sure I will mess up again, but know it comes from a place of caring – not vindictive.
  4. AVAILABILITY – I use to be self-centered. I was a teenager. I think that is normal. I make myself to available to some people and not available enough to others. I have learned to protect myself and put a wall up to shield me from the self-centeredness of others. Every now and then I meet someone who causes me to let my guard down and I make myself available, I don’t say no. I always end up hurting by giving too much. They never seem to feel the same way.  It sucks but I’d rather be available then self-centered everyday of the week.
  5. BOLDNESS – I like to think of it as confident, but who are we kidding…I am bold. Again, I never use to be. It is because I have learned to be my own advocate. If you won’t stand up for yourself and your dear hearts – who will? With my children I become a mother bear, with my family I will fight to the death, with friends who are family, the same applies. I am confident in my abilities because I am no longer afraid to fail. Failing is life’s greatest lesson. I will say something that may make me look like a fool in the end – but I would rather try, than fail by never giving it a shot.
  6. COMPASSION – I have to work to feed my family. If I have to work anyway, I might as well be doing something that is for the good of society. I will never be rich in wallet, but I fall asleep every night knowing I made a difference to someone that day. It is important to me to heal the hurt of others. This may annoy you, but this is who I am. If you hurt, I want to help.
  7. COOPERATION – Working together to accomplish that which cannot be done alone. I just learned this. I can’t do it alone, You know something else? Neither can you. If we work together, we can move mountains.
  8. COURAGE – There is no point in hiding or staying stagnant. Courage will move you to new heights and new places. Fear will only hold you back. If the very worst thing that can happen is someone will say no, what have you got to lose? I also learned that NO can open doors that were better than yes. It’s all good.
  9. COURTESY – This is very Canadian of me, but kind and polite is so important. A smile and a thank you go a very long way. It never hurts to be polite. I teach my children the same thing my dad taught me,you  don’t have to like the person, but you must be polite.
  10. CREATIVITY – Thinking outside the box opens new doors and expands horizons. Being open to different and looking at things in new ways is a way to a new perspective.
  11. DEPENDABILITY- if you say you are going to do it, then do it. Be reliable, be faithful, be loyal, be accountable. If you can’t, say so. That is part of being dependable. Dependable doesn’t have to mean yes.
  12. ENTHUSIASM – Going into a project with this trait makes it easier on yourself and easier on your co-workers. Enthusiasm lifts spirits and brings joy.
  13. FAITH – I expect the best out of people, yes I get disappointed – like today – without faith no one has anywhere to aspire to. It’s hard to work past judgement and just accept faith. I love to believe in everything wonderful.
  14. FORGIVENESS – this one is hard. I use to hold a grudge for ever. I learned no one cared or noticed and it just hurt me in the end. My anger didn’t matter to anyone but me. I let it go and now I look, act and feel younger. I have become indifferent to situations that I can’t control. Forgiveness is more important for you than for others. Forgiveness is like Sorry – it doesn’t end pain, but it gives you a place to start from.
  15. GENEROSITY – I come from a very long line of generous people. If someone needs it more than me, they should have it. I can mostly give of time as I do not have money. I do give things as often as I can
  16. GRATEFULNESS – to be grateful is life changing. The more grateful you are for something, the more you receive. It doesn’t make sense, it just is – it goes along with faith. I decided to be grateful for the friends in my life, and it came back to me ten-fold.
  17. RESPECTFULNESS – I respect other’s privacy. I do not need to be told to keep an embarrassing secret. I understand without saying our conversations are private. I ask questions because I care, not to blab to the world. Besides, no one is all that interested unless they care too.

It’s a long list, I stopped at R so you can tell me the Character Traits YOU are most proud of.

Insecure, Incapable and Inferior

I am stuck and not sure how to move forward. I read this quote the other day,

It takes the same amount of energy to wish for something as it does to plan for it.

Eleanore Roosevelt

She was a smart cookie.

The outside me feels pretty darn good, nice nails, goodish hair, slimmer clothes, good stamina and great skin. I couldn’t say that a year and a half ago. I have made great Edmonton Tourist style progress and feel quite proud of what I have accomplished thus far. Lately, the inside me is just not feeling it.

I found out some information that would have made a HUGE difference to my life if I knew about it one year ago. And ya, I am a bit angry and bitter about it. So what do I do with this information now? The reasonable answer is to accept it, move forward and peaceably. However, it makes me feel insecure, incapable and inferior, ESPECIALLY inferior and that annoys me. I have a decent amount of self confidence on a normal day, lately…not so much.

This is affecting my day to day living and I need to snap out of it except:

  • Work feels weird, like I should be walking on egg shells or I’m outathere! Not by my choosing but it feels different like I am doing something wrong and no one will tell me. The crazy thing is, I work with people who have no problem telling me if I am doing something wrong, so maybe it is just perception on my part.
  • Friendships feel weird, like I am walking into a conversation about me and everyone stops talking. It’s not really happening like that…but it has that weird feeling.
  • University feels weird. I get my assignments, do them, get my marks back and I feel like I didn’t earn them. They are great marks but it feels weird. I have a major project due asap and I have re-done it 7 times. SEVEN TIMES! I am NOT that person who re-does stuff!! I do things once and hand it in, I will proof read it, miss a ton of stuff like Capitalization, get marked down for thatand still get a brilliant mark…but it feels weird.

It could be because what I WANT and what I HAVE just don’t measure up yet. I can SEE where I want to be and I am a good year away from being there. It was suggested to me to write down my goals and make a plan to get there. The goal I have, it is the plan that is difficult because so much of it is reliant on other people and their pieces that need to fall into place. It’s like waiting for rope drop at Disneyland. Time ticks away and I am anxious to start now!!!

I guess I need to write my plan. First of all, come hell or high water I NEED to get my 8th version of my project done, hand it in without over thinking it and wait for feedback. I feel like Mozart and his death requiem, how he couldn’t get it just right and it was killing him. Dramatic…absolutly, but you know how it is when something hangs over your head and you HAVE to get it done? Well that is this project. I have had a couple of set backs and -HOLD THE PHONE – I just had an epiphany. I know why I am having a hard time with this project! It just dawned on me. The person who I need to ultimately hand it in to announced her retirement and I am devastated. Extreme…absolutly, but for those who know her understand. Wow, I am crying just thinking about this being the reason. If anyone says you can’t work out problems by writing, they are liars. Writing is cathartic – well for me anyways.

Earlier today, I received an email at just the right time in my life. (I haven’t heard from my bestie in a while, the odd text message now and then. They just got back from a fabulous trip and I felt left out which is RIDICULOUS but true. It adds to the Insecure, Incapable and Inferior complex I am suffering from lately.) Anyways… I read this email. I was nominated for another blogger award. I understand that these are chain mail yadda yadda yadda, but she wrote THIS about me:

5.  The Edmonton Tourist.  The first thing I like about this blog is its premise — the idea of being a tourist in your life, taking more risks, being more aware and more stimulated and more curious, just like we are when we’re in a strange place or strange circumstances.  I love her dry humor and constant ability to reach for the silver lining, without being self-righteous about it.  E.T. has the kind of presence and poise about her — and her writing — that I suspect would draw me to her as a friend were we to ever meet.

Wow wow wow… I really needed to hear that today. Thank you so much That Precarious Gait! I am touched beyond words and I feel the same 🙂

So to end this post with a silver lining, I must list the women I am thankful for in my life. They have made a HUGE differnce for me over the past few days:

Barbie Arm, Chicken Hawk, Crayonmelterhoarder, Chatterbox, Life Coach and 1/2Marathon Coach. You ladies have the unique ability to know at just the right moment when I need some girly love and hugs. xoxo me