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Why Tuesday?

The Girlfriend's Guide to Health will be updated every Tuesday.... Stay tuned dear readers and let me rock your world.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Half Assed Iron Man

Promises made and promises lost my sisters. On this day of all Tuesdays, I’ve been thinking a lot about the paths we take in life and how one moment indeed can define us as much as a thousand of them.

Last week I was scheduled to race the Penticton Challenge. Physically I was strong and (somewhat) ready. I had trained for months with my fabulous coach (shout out K.B.) whose arms are indeed as perfect as her soul.

But as the race day drew near, I just “did not have it”. Something in me could not get into the idea that this triathlon would be mine. Sure, I could just go and do the race- but really? You can’t “phone in” a Half Iron man distance triathlon. After swimming for 1.9km, you cycle 90km and then run 21.1km.

This would be the second time I totally lost my mind in an endeavour of this nature. Last year I did my first Half Iron Man triathlon and finished in last place. Make no mistake- it was awesome. If you don’t believe me…. Read this.


But this year something had shifted. I was ready for the race’s physical challenge but mentally my mind was elsewhere. Perhaps it was because this year’s race calendar had been full? Perhaps I had been working a bit too hard?  Perhaps I just did not have “it”…. You know, the Mojo, the charm, the spell that usually takes over a few weeks before a race and BAM you are hooked and good to go.

I am not sure what it was last week that made me change my triathlon mind, but I did. And so I decided a week before my race to just NOT do it.

I should preface this by saying this behaviour is not in my character. I am not a person who backs down easily from any challenge. In life there are those of us who run into the burning building and those of us who run out. I would count myself the former.

Be it work or play, sport or shoe sale- I am someone who definitely shows up.

And so it was a bit out of character for me to BACK DOWN on this, the Penticton challenge.

Mentally how would I cope with the idea that for the first time in my relatively young racing life, I had walked away from a challenge?

On a practical note, what would I do this weekend? Here I was locked and loaded with endurance to spare and nowhere to put it?

The practical solution came easy.

Vancouver has many a race every weekend. Could I compensate for my Half assed Iron man with a three-day event that would make up the distance?

Certainly. Could I “mix and match” a series of races and come up with the 70.3 miles of swim, bike run without ever leaving the Vancouver lower mainland?

Done.

This past weekend Vancouver was hosting the Lululemon Sewheeze half marathon.  I bought an entry bib (or shall I say and entry bracelet?) from some lovely girlfriend on Facebook and spent 4 hours in line on Friday morning at the Seawheeze pop up store in search of the perfect racing outfit.

Do not judge my sisters… I was grieving the loss of my triathlon and trying to shop my was through my decision. Retail therapy is genius.

And so on Saturday morning, I suited up with 10,000 other sisters… believe me there were maybe 100 men in this race- Seawheeze is an estrogen fest to run for glory.

The race was a glorious one and I must admit- indeed it erased any doubt in my mind regarding my triathlon misgivings.

I had a good run (not a great one) and my medal matches my outfit. This cannot be wrong in any universe.

ON Sunday, legs a bit weary, I strapped on my cycling shoes and Bella (my bike) and I raced the demons away in Coquitlam at the Mountain Equipment Co-Op Century ride. Nothing chases away the devil like a 100km ride through the rolling hills of the Lower Mainland.

That is until 4 hours into the ride you find yourself walking up said hills with your bike because the 20% grade is meant for someone with greater stuff than I. By greater stuff I mean a motorbike or a drug doping scandal.

For some reason, the race organizers thought that a few very steep hills would add to the challenge. Make no mistake- I can bike a hill. Just last week, I cycled up Cypress Mountain.  I am not adverse to hills- I don’t; speed up them but I can do them (with a bit of Bitching and moaning to power me through). But a 17% grade hill followed by a 20% grade hill in the middle of the race is really the devils work.

There I was, in the middle of nowhere pushing my bike up a hill in bike cleats- this was the equivalent of walking in heels… to Whistler.

No fingers pointed- I signed up for this course….

I should say that as I write this, the memory of pushing my bike up a hill with bike shoes on is quickly fading. .

The scenery was epic.

My first half of the ride was glorious. My legs were stiff but I was ready. But 30km in- I lost touch with a pack and wound up riding the remaining race alone. “No, matter,” I told myself- “I ride alone all the time”.

The problem with riding alone on the country roads of Coquitlam was that MEC in their infinite wisdom had failed to mark the course clearly. Getting lost on a back road in British Columbia indeed tests the soul as much as it tests the legs. 

And so I spent 20km wandering through Coquitlam looking for race markers wondering whether a cab would drive out this far to get me.

It was indeed somewhere around the 70km mark that I faced my own HEART OF DARKNESS.

You see, I backed out of the Half Iron Man because I did not have the mental will for such a race. There I was with a half marathon run on my legs and 70km of bike riding behind me lost in Coquitlam with no cell phone coverage and somehow I found my way home.

I called my fabulous coach (who had likely finished the race an hour or so before) and asked for directions. Graciously- she let me rant and then talked me home. With new directions in tow- I made it safely across the finish line 90 minutes later- 120km on my bike’s odometer. This was a century PLUS ride and I had found my way.

I awoke Monday morning with a plan to swim 1.9km in order to complete my own personal triathlon. There was no need.

For some reason I had banished the doubt. I had washed away the urge to perform and had risen to my own occasion.

No evidence this week- but I learned a lot, my sisters about what it really means to be an athlete. As someone who always is a little slower than the pack- I often wonder if I am making the same mark as the others in the race.

But this weekend with a half marathon race and a century ride- I learned that in life- sometimes we do readjust our expectations and the world indeed accommodates. Sometimes a moment on a country rode is more significant than 8 hours of racing for glory.

Because in life as in any sport- it’s not how you start…. It’s not even how you finish…. It’s WHO YOU ARE along the way that makes the rubber hit the road.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Show and Tell...

I have spent the last few months watching more than a few You-Tube videos. No, get your heads out of the gutter- not the dirty kind. Just the generic “stupid human tricks” that seem to be posted quite a bit on the site.

In fact I would maintain that You Tube is our species version of “Grown-Up SHOW AND TELL”.

Do you remember the real SHOW AND TELL? We all had one experience or another. Typically it was in kindergarten or Grade 1. We were five or six years old. We stood in front of classrooms all over this great nation with a rock from a camping trip or a caterpillar gripping to life (and leaf) in a jam jar. We proudly announced to the class the origin of the unusual sea pebble or the lifecycle of a butterfly as we knew it.

But years gone by and we’ve passed the age when you can stand before a group of your peers and “show em what you’ve got”. This is where the internet comes in….

Yes my dear girlfriends, well over a year of blogging later and I now fully realize that the internet is our species SHOW AND TELL.

Want to share with friends about your latest meal? Why not Twitter that you “ate duck two ways at a great restaurant just last night”. Want friends and family to know what little Jessica looked like after eating her first bite of peas? Just video tape it and blast her little green face into cyber space for all to see and enjoy.

Isn’t FACEBOOK, the very defintion of grown up SHOW AND TELL gone wild? I know more about the people I went to highschool with NOW than I did when we were in Highschool!

Make no mistake, I am a huge fan of the whole SHOW AND TELL thing we’ve got going on as a culture. I think it is a true revelation. Hell this is entertainment at its finest. I loved SHOW AND TELL back as a six year old and I sure as hell love it even more now that we’ve moved beyond the flora and the fauna….

But I can’t help but notice that the internet has become quite feline these days. What I mean by this is that there are a hell of a lot of cats out in cybersapce lately. Haven’t you noticed my dear girlfriends? We seem to be pushing the whole “CAT AGENDA” quite a bit. Whether it’s the Freaky cat videos on You Tube (where the little kitten is being filmed making a rather human gesture) or the cat versus larger animal videos (cat v. alligator, cat v. polar bear) that have gone viral.

In fact I would argue that cat video emails have replaced Viagra emails as the new number one topic of cyber spam.

So what is it with cat owners and their exhibitionist needs?

According to a study presented this past year at the International Stroke Conference in New Orleans owning a cat could reduce your risk of a heart attack by nearly one third.

The finding was the main result of a 10 year study of more than 4,000 Americans by researchers at the University of Minnesota's Stroke Institute in Minneapolis.

The study was based on data extracted from people aged 30 to 75, from the second National Health and Nutrition Examination Study. Participants were recruited from 1976-1980 and followed over a 10 year period. Of the 4,435 Americans in the study, 2,435 of the participants were current or former cat owners, while the remaining 2,000 had never had a cat.

Using the main outcome as death from all causes, including stroke and heart events, the researchers found that over a 10 year follow up period, cat owners showed a 30 per cent lower risk of death from heart attack compared to non cat owners.


I’m not suggesting we all go out and buy a kitten… I am personally allergic and have always been more of a dog person. In fact, I have never been particularly fond of cats.

Apart from the fact that every cat I meet prompts me to have an Asthma attack, I am not what you would call, a “CAT PERSON”.

I find them too “stand offish”. After a long day at work, I want a pet that greet me at the door and is so excited to see me that, hell, it could easily pee on the floor given the chance.

A cat does not do that. A cat is the kind of animal that can be left alone with enough food and water for days on end and still survive. While I admire that kind of independence, it is not something I am looking for in a household pet.

But we can’t ignore the science once again. Cat people live longer than those who are feline free. The science of why there are so many cats on the internet? Simply put…because their owners have nine lives….

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Naked Truth


Truth be told, I did not grow up in a naked house. Make no mistake there was a healthy regard for one's physical self... the standard self esteem was "dished out" over one's physical form. We walked around in pajamas or underwear just as much as the next family, but there was a standard uniform of undergarments used at any given time. Ever a fan of outfits, you can imagine that this "bare clothing minimum" suited (no pun intended) me fine. In fact I assumed the rest of the world followed similar "Behind Clothes Doors Policy" That was until I met the "Naked Girl".

My latest locker room experience is so common place that it is merely a prototype, if you will. It stands as an example of all previous and future encounters. It is not fiction. It happens to me all the time and I am not alone.

There I was at the Aquatic Centre in Vancouver. I had just finished a fabulous 1500 metre swim and walked into the women's changing room to shower, change and do what any normal woman does after a swim... You know... lather, rinse, repeat. There are two change rooms for women at the Aquatic Centre. There is the "common" change room which is like any public pool changing room. Then there is the "Adults Only" change room which is for women who do not want to change in front of 4 year old boys staring in fascination at their girlie bits. I, ever a fan of elitism, always chose the latter. The "Adults Only" change room, as it happens was closed for cleaning. The "Adults Only" change room has separate private showers, each with a curtain. Such is not the case in the "common" change rooms.

In my experience women fall into one of three categories of naked locker room behaviour. You have the "Naked Girl" who really is the subject of this article. On the other end of the spectrum you have the "Under the Towel Girl" who essentially uses her towel as a shield from the outside world unless she is changing in a bathroom stall with the door closed (no judgement here- just an observation). And then you have everything in between. As far as locker room nudity goes, I would classify myself as a middle of the road naked person. I shower, change and leave. Should you find yourself in a locker room next to me, you may see parts of me naked, however, you WILL NOT be able to draw me nude from memory.

I can not say the same for some of my locker room sisters. For there in the "common" shower room was what I could only describe as a cross between a shampoo advertisement and a burlesque show. I recently read that a women's fitness establishment in the US banned nudity in its locker rooms in order to provide women with body image issues with a nonthreatening atmosphere. I must admit, I thought (and still do think) this was ridiculous. I'm all for women having nonthreatening atmospheres but to ask our fellow sisters to change with the "over the bra, under the towel" trick from the safety of a locker room is yet another example of how common sense is the greatest example of literary irony in existence today.

As for the scene in the public shower of the "common" locker room, there she was in all of her splendor, lathering up like a peep show professional, the latest and greatest "Naked Girl". I will spare you the details, but it is safe to say that I am not being a prude when I say that a woman does not need to scrub herself that thoroughly unless she has just been to a nuclear reactor spill. This was a chlorinated pool, not Chernobyl. Having spent a full five minutes in a perverted after school special in the showers, I ventured into the changing rooms only to discover three women standing (I kid you not) full frontal on the benches and putting on lotion. These were three separate women, not three friends. The weather called for naked and I was in the middle of a vagina hailstorm.

I will end it there. As it stands, I blame the the "common" change rooms but in retrospect this was not my first encounter with the inevitable "Naked Girl" who parades around the locker room either chatting on her cell phone or doing her taxes in all her natural glory. We have all seen her. She comes in various shapes and sizes and inevitably her locker is always the one next to ours. "Naked Girl" always engages in conversation, always posing the challenge of where to look when you talk to her and ONLY uses her towel to dry her feet. She makes the even most self assured woman feel a little shy.

I have searched the medical literature to secure some scientific basis for my claim that this woman really should put some clothes on, but I have come up empty. There is little data on the lack of sanitation of the situation.

I did come upon some interesting articles about STD transmission in male locker rooms but this was as a result of sexual activities in said locker rooms. Incidentally, gyms in New York are required by law to enforce the state sanitary code against sex on their premises, often post signs notifying exercisers that "inappropriate behavior" is not permitted.

As for the Girls Gone Wild- locker room edition which we have all encountered, there is little to find, scientifically. However, I believe it was Charles Darwin who said "where science ends, faith begins".

And so, my cyber sisters, let us evolve as Darwin intended us to- save the sexy scrub show for the privacy of your own bathroom or the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Ever a fan of self expression- it really is something that one should do in the comfort of one's own home or peep show window. In the spirit of sisterhood and in the name of all locker rooms everywhere, ladies, I pray that we may strive to find a tiled public changing room where naked women everywhere can co-exist. Where we shall be judged not by the size of our waist to hip ratio but by the name on our gym bag; not by the quality of our breast augmentation, but by the quality of our $75 Bumble and Bumble conditioner. And let us say, Amen.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

So sorry sweet sisters for the day of silence. Am on holidays this week and well, I just can't get my shit together. Promise to post later in the week.... stay tuned. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

So sorry sweet sisters for the day of silence. Am on holidays this week and well, I just can't get my shit together. Promise to post later in the week.... stay tuned. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Heaven on Wheels

Heads up sweet sisters- I will state the obvious. I am indeed in love with my bike. This has been a great love for some time but I feel it needs to be restated here and now.

The burst of emotion comes from the fact that last week I had a bike fit that changed my life (god bless you dear Matt) and now, riding my bike feels like sitting on a couch.
I should say that for the previous month or so I was not so happy with my dear Bella. Yes, every bike should have a name- and mine is Bella…. If you fell this is nutty- please hold your tongue. Silence is golden and shine on immediately.

But Bella and I worked out our issues as I spent almost 3 hours at a physiotherapist/bike fitter 10 days ago. Now Bella is perfection.

My love for Bella also stems from the fact that as I write this- I am watching the final stages of the ultimate bike race…. The Tour de France.

Yes, my girlfriends, I have spent the last 21 days watching men with 1% body fat ride through France and England for glory and greatness and the pursuit of a yellow jersey. The Tour de France ended on Sunday and there I was in my living room watching the “boys on the bikes” ride around Paris on the last leg of the race. Sweat streamed down their faces as tears flowed across mine.

Yes, I was crying. I should say that watching certain sporting events of an International scale makes me get a little “wellie”. I am dry eyed during any commercial football, hockey or baseball match. Put me in front of any Olympic event and I lose my emotional shit, so to speak. Yes, I am fine at the world series but I am reduced to sobs at Olympic curling. It makes no sense.

So there I was sobbing with joy as the boys from Astana Cycling drank champagne on their bikes going 45km/h riding into Paris on the last leg of the 3000 km stage race.

And it dawned on me that in those moments I identified with these men on wheels. You see I too am a cyclist. No, I can not hit speeds of 50km/h while riding up the side of a mountain and yes I would pass any drug test you gave me- but somehow- these boys on the bikes and I were one in those moments as my television tuned to the Australian broadcast of the Tour and my heart tuned to the spinning of the wheels.

I should say that I’ve been watching the Tour for about the last 4 years now. At first I was in it for “The Bike Porn”. I saw the Tour de France as a giant high speed shopping experience where I could check out the latest bikes, outfits and accessories and see how everything looked. I really did not know any of the key players, nor did I understand the rules of the game, so to speak. I was a “commercial observer”; looking at bikes, their paint jobs and seeing which cycling kit was indeed the most stylish.

But about 3 years ago, I learned about the history of this grand bike race. I learned that there is a point system within the race and that there are indeed “mini races” within the race itself. There are prizes for best young rider, best climber and most aggressive rider. I learned that the Tour has a rich history that goes beyond a set of fabulous gears and a good paint job. I learned about the role of each member of a cycling team- the sprinters, the climbers and the “work horses”.

And then, I fell in love with the Tour.

And so for the last 3 weeks I’ve spent most evenings watching the previous day’s race (thank you PVR). I would come home from my own day on my bicycle and turn on the Tour, make dinner, do paperwork, laundry, dishes…. All with the whir of the wheels and the Australian commentator’s voice in the background. 

It was quit meditative, relaxing if you will.

Here I was a girl in Canada cheering for a bunch of International men in Europe
And then it hit me- cycling really is a sport that ignites a primordial connection in us all.

As anyone knows- cycling has seen its fair share of controversy. The sport has been tainted with doping scandals that have questioned the legitimacy of the riders’ abilities.

I have mixed feelings about all of it. Yes, doping IS cheating. But as a scientist- I know full well that even with the best drugs on board riding through the French Alps at 50 km/h is no small feat. Make no mistake- I’m not a fan of doping but I don’t think it cancels out all of the hard work and training that goes in to making a world class rider.

I do believe despite the controversy in cycling that there is a purity of the sport. A bike brings out the best in all of us.

The health benefits of cycling are pretty impressive. As someone who commutes to work every day- the ride indeed takes less time than the drive. A recent study out of Stanford University took almost 100 sedentary insomniacs and asked them to ride a bicycle for 20-30 minutes every other day. The result was that their time to fall asleep was reduced by half and their time asleep increased by an hour. This could be because riding outside exposes you to sunlight- which may prime your circadian rhythms further.

Let’s not ignore the fact that exercise of any kind improves memory, cardiovascular fitness and reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

King’s College London compared over 2,400 identical twins and found those who did the equivalent of just three 45-minute rides a week were nine years ‘biologically younger’ even after discounting other influences, such as body mass index (BMI) and smoking.

And then there is that primordial connection that riding a bike brings.

A bike was our first real gift. As a kid all you wanted for your birthday or for Christmas was a bike. The person who bought you your first bike was one of the most important people in your lives. And once you had your bike- it was your first real sense of freedom.

You pain stakingly learned to ride a bike under the watchful guidance of someone who loved you. Learning to ride a bike takes patience an perseverance; two skills that would serve you well for the rest of your life.

Your bike was your ticket to the world beyond your neighbourhood. Your bike was your first real item that you owned. You locked your bike up at night to protect YOUR property. Your bike belonged to you. My sweaters were once my sisters- my baseball glove was once hers as well.

But my perfect pink Schwinn with the banana seat and handle bar streamers was MINE. ALL MINE. Every bike I have owned since must measure up to that frame of reference.

And when I learned to ride her without the training wheels and without my father’s supervising eye- I knew I had arrived.

And so here I sit many years later with 3 (yes, I have a cycling abuse problem) bicycles parked safely downstairs in our bike room. Back from a ride and a visit to my youth, to my sense of freedom- to my happy place.

I am watching the boys on the bikes make their last laps through the cobblestone streets of Paris and a part of me knows that they too feel the connection to the little boy with training wheels and that first sense of freedom.


And as the tears stream down my face I am reminded that some of the best things in the life- health and otherwise can happen on the seat of a bike.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Good Clothes Open All Doors


Happy Tuesday dear sisters. As I write this blog I am sitting in my latest new outfit. Yes, my sisters- may I say that I have made a rather fabulous fashion purchase.


No this was not a perfect pair of strappy sandals and no I did not invest in a new summer fabulous of any kind. Instead I  found my self in my ultimate new power suit….. my new wetsuit.


Oh sweet sisters- have you been in a wetsuit? If not… allow me to talk you through this fashion experience.


A wetsuit is basically a suit made of neoprene coated in rubber. It’s basically a body condom lined in scuba material. On the good side? It is the ultimate set of spanx. A wetsuit sucks “everything in” in all the right places. My wetsuit makes me feel like a superhero. In my wetsuit- I AM Wonderwoman. In my wetsuit I am a size 6 supermodel and I piss awesome.


This is of coarse all possible ONCE I am IN my wetsuit. Getting into my wetsuit is indeed the down side of it all.


Have you ever tried on a wetsuit? In short… it’s a bitch to get on. You know that scene where you are putting on a pair of control top pantyhose that are easily a size too small? You struggle and you suck it in and you bounce around on one leg and before you know it- you manage to put all of your wiggly bits into the right place.


Let me paint the scene. There I am in my fabulous new bathing suit that I will wear to my triathlon as I hold my wetsuit in front of me. It is a black rubber full length suit with just the right amount  of blue accents on the arms and legs. My wetsuit is beautiful black and laying there it looks like it might be the promise of perfection for my race this weekend.


And then I try and put this rubber suit on. And that is where the beauty ends.


Putting on my wetsuit is indeed a work out in itself. I stick my feet intro the rubber holes that are the legs of this suit. I then spend the next 5 minutes wrestling with this rubber suit as it fight its way onto my thighs. I feel as though I am wrestling a very large animal wrapped in rubber bungee cords. And the large rubber animal is my lower torso. I am sweating now. I muster a grunt- more for effect than anything. After much effort I have managed to put this rubber suit over my hips and thighs. And now I pull the suit up over my chest and torso and slide my arms into it.


By this time my body temperature is easily three degrees higher. I am now sweating but I am zipped in. I turn to look at my reflection in the mirror and yes…. Despite the sweat over my face and the fact that I look like I’ve just ran a few kilometers- I am in this suit and I am ready for my magical moment.


This morning I engaged in this very ritual at the beach at Kitsilano. My goal was to swim 2km in Kits pool in my wetsuit and then to take a turn in the ocean.


My plan was to get my “ocean legs” wet- to play in the ocean until I was really and truly comfortable there. You see my girlfriends- I have a 2km ocean swim ahead of me on Sunday and I am…well… a bit unsettled by the idea of an ocean swim.


 It’s the whole idea of putting your face in the water and seeing nothing but green. IN a pool you can see the bottom. In the ocean the view looks like pea soup. It can be a bit unsettling. If I am truly being honest- the first time I did it.... it scared the shit out of me.



It's like staring into space and having an existential crisis all at the same time. I think it's about feeling alone in the world.... that primordial sense of isolation that human beings find so alienating. Yes, I am being philosophical. To bring it down a notch? It feels like you are 6 years old and afraid of the dark. Instead "the dark" is the ocean and you are by yourself in it. You put your face in and can't see a thing. If you do see something it might be a shark..... okay, I'm being dramatic and a chicken shit. But hey, go with it.



And so I needed to rid myself of this irrational fear. My plan was to put a song in my head and may face in the water and not come up until the fear had washed away.


There I was on a beautiful day off frolicking in the Pacific in my new wetsuit. I put my underwater MP3 on and listened to Vampire Weekend as I pretended I was one part Wonderwoman- one part mermaid. Thirty minutes later- it worked. There I was jumping and swimming and diving up and under to some fabulous tunes on a fabulous day in a fabulous new wetsuit. And I was anything but afraid.


Swimming in a wetsuit is indeed an interesting experience. There you are encased in rubber and I must say that breathing is a bit more laboured than in a regular bathing suit. It feels a bit “compressed” if you will.  This, however, gets better with experience. Ten minutes into my wetsuit swim and I was much better at the breathing/rubber combination.


With all of these adjustments, one must ask a sister- why even put on the wetsuit?


Turns out- there is an advantage to swimming in a rubber suit when swimming in the ocean.


Firstly there is the warmth factor.

When a swimmer is submerged in water- the water flows into the suit settling between the rubber and the body. The swimmers own body temperature will warm the water and therefore warm the swimmer. As you swim- the body warms up and warms the water further. Again this warms the body further. And so a wetsuit is the perfect way to keep you warm when you are in the Pacific Ocean in the pursuit of a dream.


Then there is the concept that a wetsuit improves your buoyancy and therefore improves you speed. Think of it like a boat driving on the water. The more you are able to stay on the surface- the faster it will be.


According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 1991, wetsuits indeed improve performance in both short and long distance swims. The study looked at 16 elite athletes swimming both in and out of wetsuits at 400m and 1500m distances.

While wearing a wetsuits the swimmers were able to reduce their speeds by 14 seconds on average for the 400metres and 35 seconds for the 1500 metres.


The interesting thing was that the effect was most pronounced for the thinner swimmers. The theory was that heavier swimmers were already more buoyant and had an added advantage.

And so this Sunday, my girlfriends I will frolic in the Pacific and swim for glory in my fabulous rubber suit. I will be warm thanks to the mechanic of it all and I may even pee shamelessly in the suit if I want to. Who knows if my time will be better with the suit than without…. As with most things, my girlfriends- I’m in it for the fashion statement more than anything else. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

In Case of Emergency

Last week I took my dogs to the vet. Yes, I am ONE OF THOSE people. I will not defend my love for my furry monsters; only to say that yes, I know they are dogs and no I would not give them chemo if they were diagnosed with cancer. I love my puppies. They are fuzzy and cute but I am well aware that they are DOGS.

That being said, I somehow find it completely acceptable to spend 45 dollars to have their nails clipped. In my defense, sweet sisters… my older dog Lola has black nails. Have you ever cut a dog’s nails that are black? This poses a problem because the anatomy of a dog’s nail is such that there is what is called a “quick” that is essentially a tube of flesh that run inside the nail that houses the blood vessels and nerves. If you cut the nail too short you will cut the quick.

If your dog has white nails- the quick is easy to see. Black nails? It’s totally a guessing game. In fact I would argue that of all the advancements we’ve made in science and technology today- you’d think there would be some way to cut a black dog’s nails without fear and the threat of a massacre. Cutting a black dog’s nails is still pretty much a crapshoot. If indeed you cut the quick of an adorable black long hair Chihuahua who only wants to lick your face and you are indeed a monster.

And so, I leave this to my vet’s technician. I pay 45 dollars for a professional to take one for the team and my dog Lola, still loves me shamelessly. As for the technician? Lola fucking hates her. 

But I digress. There I was in the vet’s office when I saw the most unusual advertisement. There are THUNDER JACKETS for dogs. In general many animals are petrified of thunder. We’ve all heard the stories of dogs hiding under meds and owners during thunderstorms. My dogs are completely oblivious. I don’t know why but I do know that most dogs are petrified of thunder.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association in 2001 a survey of 69 cases of “Thunderstorm Phobia” shows that it is indeed most prevalent in herding dogs (41 of the 69 cases). More than 25% exhibited features before one year of age. Methods to control such phobia include giving the dogs a mild sedative or wrapping them in a tight fitting jacket, blanket or shirt.

And thus the THUNDERJACKET was born. Apparently this jacket makes the dog feel safe. And don’t we all just want to feel safe?

It turns out you can buy said jacket online (or at my vet’s office) and sure enough the dog gets the fashion equivalent of an Ativan.

I left the office thinking about this concept as I made my way home with freshly manicured pups in tow.

A piece of clothing that you put on and sure enough…. It provides you with a sense of safety.

We all have said fashion items in some for or another, don’t we? Sure there is the obvious:

Safety goggles
Sun Glasses
Bike Helmets
Rain boots
Winter Boots
Gloves
Hats
Mittens

There’s the obvious protective gear out here for any occasion.

But what about the items we wear to protect the most important parts of our beings?

Bill Cunningham the famous fashion photographer once said,

“FASHION IS THE ARMOUR YOU WEAR AGAINST THE WORLD”

Too true MR. Cunningham, too true.

I got home from my vets office and gave Lola and Ruby a treat for their effort. (Yes, I reward my dogs with food- I am a terrible parent. But rest assured I reward myself with shoes)

I went upstairs to my closet and looked around. There hanging were numerous “Thunder jackets” of my own; pieces of clothing, outfits I had bought over the years with no real occasion to wear them other than that in a pinch- they made me feel safe.

Just last week I bought a ball gown on sale (80% off sweet sisters- it practically bought me) that is perfection. It is a serious ball gown- silk taffeta with muticoloured bats on it. I have absolutely nowhere to wear this thing. But I brought it home, put it on and immediately started doing my paperwork in it.

Three weeks ago after a grueling workday, I cycled home, changed out of my bike gear and put on a cocktail dress to do laundry.

I watch the Oscars every year in full evening attire. I wash a bad day away not with a glass of wine but by putting on a perfect pair of strappy sandals. Right now I am wearing Charlotte Olympia’s Lobster shoes and my pajamas.

These are my metaphorical THUNDER JACKETS…. My armour against the world, my fashionable port in a world full of storms.

Isn’t that what a girl needs sometimes? Some sort of place in her every day life where she feels safe? When we were kids it was a safety blanket…. Now it’s Manolo Blahnik?

I suspect this sounds ridiculous to some but indeed these iconic pieces in my closet soothe the soul. Each has a story and a purpose. Some are art and just pretty to look at- others remind of the place and the time and the feeling that I had when I wore them.

Perhaps I’m shallow, perhaps I’m superficial or maybe I’m a fashion prophet. Maybe I am on to something? Maybe like those herding dogs a percentage of us need a “Thunder jacket” of some kind to get us through the day.

Judge as you will my sisters…. But before you do, might I suggest you get yourself just one perfect ball gown- one perfect piece of clothing with no rhyme or reason. Something pretty and impractical- frivolous but fabulous. Maybe you already have? Buy it or get it out of storage and put it on after a perfectly shitty day….

And go do the laundry.


Fashion is indeed the armour we wear against the world my sisters…. And it’s often a war out there. So thunder jacket or not, you had best, dress accordingly.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Canadian Virtue?

As I write this- Today is Canada day. As your read this it will not be Canada day. No sweet sisters- I could not get my shit together in time to post on a Tuesday, despite the fact that it was a 4-day weekend. Yes, I am training for a dreaded Half Iron Man and yes I am using this as an excuse to shirk certain responsibilities.

The importance of a CANADA DAY post rests in the point that Canadians indeed posses certain iconic traits that I must discuss here.

Patience.

Canadians are a patient people. We are a country that waits our turn. Walk down a street in any major city in Canada during rush hour and you will see people lining up at bus stops. There they are- a row of orderly Canadians waiting their turn to board the bus. 

I am a very proud Canuck. I love my country fiercely. Like any great relationship I am easy to point out its flaws as a nation and easy to forgive some of them. As someone who loves here country I relish in the fact that I bear a good deal of Canadian traits.

I apologize profusely. I am sorry for most of my existence. I voice my apologies easily and often. Last week I bumped into our living room furniture and found myself asking for forgiveness from an ottoman.

I am polite. Please and Thank you are a part of my everyday vernacular. Canadians are known for their polite way of going about their day. We are especially polite in a foreign country…. Our mothers would be furious with any other behaviour.

Not only do I pride myself on spelling COLOUR,  BEHAVIOUR and HONOUR, I love the metric system and easily can convert celicius to Fahrenheit without a calculator.

And although my religion is not Hockey, I am a fan of socialized medicine. When the maple leaf hits the flag, this is my country though and through. Saints or sinners, Good or bad, I’ll stand on guard – not blindly but with an ever cautious questioning eye in the true spirit of a country born of polite conflict.

Yes, I am Canadian though and through. Born on the prairies, I’ve lived east (if you consider Ontario really east) and west.

But, I am not a patient woman. This is not a new revelation but I have noticed lately with 40 long passed that I’m willing to admit certain things about myself with more pride than shame.

This dawns on me as I write this- the day after Canada day. Just this morning I stood in line behind a woman who took 4 minutes to order her coffee. Yes she was a tourist fresh off a cruise ship but who has the time to wait 240 seconds for someone to decide between a “grande latte” and a “regular cappuccino”. Isn’t the difference just FOAM?

I shared this helpful information with her only to realize that my input was not speeding the process along but indeed impairing her ability to make a decision.

“Is the coffee good here?” she asked.

Ever the Canadian my polite side kicked in.

“My favourite”, (notice the spelling?) I said.

“What should I get?” she asked eyes, like a baby deer, pleading with me for some certainty? Her accent was British of some sort- and I felt compelled given our Commonwealth and all to help her out…

“Get a grande latte and be done with it. Tomorrow you can try the cappuccino.”

And there you have it. She ordered the latte and the day moved on. I should tell you that I was pleased with my act of coffee compassion. But I was not. When it comes to Java, I lack patience. I believe that my coffee place should have one line up reserved especially for me. I am this way with driving a car as well. This is perhaps why I do not own a car.

Until the city installs a new road just for me to drive on… I’m holding out on the whole automobile purchase. Perhaps this is why I ride my bike? Indeed I see the bike lane as my OWN?

Patience has never been my virtue. As a child I ate dessert first, as an adult I open birthday gifts in July and I was born in February.

Ironically in my work I am a very patient woman. But at home…. There is no delaying the 8 year old in my brain who wants it all right now.

According to Susan Cain, author of QUIET, I am less patient because I am an extrovert (shocker).

Patience can be taught. The art of slow contemplation of tasks and ideas can be innate or a learned skill.

There is a class at Harvard University, which teaches this very principle. The answer lies in teaching methods that stress patience, critical thinking, and a delayed response based on deep and meaningful contemplation.

Jennifer Roberts a humanities professor at Harvard teaches her students to contemplate and shift the pace and tempo of learning to wards work that requires you to slow down in order to pick up the knowledge.

In medicine and study I am patient. In life I am not. Could it be that there is a concept called situational patience? Could it be that in matters of the head I am slow and contemplative but when it comes to daily tasks, the world best move the hell out of the way so as to allow me to GET ‘ER DONE?

Who knows?

I am happy to resolve the issue by saying I have situational patience. This does not make me less of a patriot. I still apologize the furniture and am polite to a fault even when it means my coffee must wait.


But as for waiting in line at a bus stop? Screw it… I’d rather take my bike.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

To the Class of 2014

This year would have been my 25th high school reunion. No sweet sisters- there was no repeat of a prom or a party in honour of the two and half decades sine my spiral perm days. Instead I passed the time and it simply passed.

I’ve thought a lot about what has happened since my own graduation. This is in part spurred on by my nephew’s recent graduation from high school. I’ve thought about what I have learned since those days of youth and what I have become.

Last week I walked by a group of graduates dressed to the nines in front of the Vancouver Art gallery. There they were full of youth and promise in prom dresses that spoke more of a Miss Universe era than a high school grad. But no matter, for I have learned that when an 18-year-old girl has a fashion vision for her you just smile and get out of the way. Nothing will stop her from making her style dreams a reality.

And so as I walked passed them I could not help but comment,
“Ladies, You look beautiful”.
They looked up from their smart phones and smiled. “Thanks”, said a brunette in orange chiffon with a bodice made entirely of rhinestones. Sister had it going on and she needed someone to let her know that although orange chiffon and rhinestones might have been a bit too mature for an 18 year old, she was still getting an “A” from me for effort.

My high school grad dress was indeed a recycled garment. I had worn it the previous August for my sisters wedding. It was royal blue taffeta with rouching for days. It had a puffy skirt and puffy sleeves with rhinestones. It was a seamstress’s tribute to the 1980’s if ever there was. I was madly in love with that dress as I was with the 3 pounds of rhinestones I wore dangling from my ears. My hair, of course was a spiral perm.

I took my friends Ian to my prom. My boyfriend at the time was living in Montreal and could not come in for the event. Ian was a lovely substitute, save for the fact that he got bored half way through the dinner and went to the hotel bar to drink. I did not care. I was with my girlfriends and when you are 18 in 1989 in Winnipeg and in love with a boy in Montreal, rhinestones are indeed a girl’s best friend.

I smile when I look back at my 18-year-old self. What would I say to her if we met in some weird parallel universe of today? Do any of us know what lessons we’d impart on the younger versions of ourselves? Please. Here I go my sisters….. Waxing philosophical. This is what happens when perimenopause hits…. You reminisce a dream sequence and get lost in the theoretical.

Well… if I must…..

I blame it on the girls in the orange chiffon and the fact that every time I open a paper or the interweb, I am faced with another commencement address from everyone from Condelesa Rice to Louis CK letting the future generation know who to be and how.

If I’m honest? I’m kinda worried for this next generation. They are indeed raised by a generation pretty close to my own and hell… we were pretty fucked up. So to fully face my fears and for the sake of some random teenager on the street in Vancouver bold enough to mix orange chiffon with crystals and bling, I thought I take a moment to write my own commencement address to the class of 2014.

Dear Class of 2014, do I say Yo? What is the greeting these days? You see apparently I am old but when you don’t have children around you- you tend to lose your sense of relative age and somehow you think you are indeed still 22. That is until you find yourself looking in a People magazine and you don’t recognize half the celebrities any longer…. But I digress… Ahem

My dear class of 2014.

I know I should give you some serious life lessons…. The kind I would have liked to have been given when I was your age… but here’s the thing- When I was 18 I really did not want too much advice from someone older than me. It was not until I hit 30 that I realized I could have benefitted from some serious advanced warnings.

So my first piece of advice for you oh generation to come is to listen up. It’s not that you don’t know everything and its not that you are less intelligent than a generation before you it’s just that most of you have not screwed up enough to learn anything of meaning.

And let’s be clear- it’s our mistakes that teach us everything. So here’ my next piece of advice to you oh class of 2014- fell free to screw up…. Just don’t do it to badly and never more than once at the same thing. What I mean by this is that success tends to blind us. We pat ourselves on the back- post our pleasures on Facebook and move on. We relish in our victories so much so that we forget to have a lesson- we forget to debrief.

Make no mistake- failure is a bitch. Believe me- I’ve done it a few times…. This week, let alone this lifetime- and it stings like a blister in a new pair of sandals on a hot summer day.

But failure is where you find out who you really are. When you have fallen down with the world above and the only decision that remains is to get up and go home or to just get up…. You find out what you are made of- you see the potential in your own self.

Oh Class of 2014- makes some mistakes. You likely are doing this very thing right now- but instead of just making a mistake- forgive yourself for the mistake, learn from it and move on.

Remember when “being wrong” threw into a tantrum of sorts? Maybe you were eight years old or maybe it was last week- but remember how a mistake would drop you into a shame spiral and self loathing? You’d call yourself names or emotionally beat yourself up just because of the error at hand?

No? Well, aren’t you special.

Most of us make mistakes and it takes us on an emotional down spiral. We chastise ourselves, we bate, and we go over the mistake in our head and let it weaken our sense of self. But what if we took the mistake as a valuable lesson and mentally “debriefed”- wouldn’t we learn more?

According to my medical hero, Dr. Atul Gawande, there are indeed two kinds of mistakes.

Mistakes of ignorance are where we lack the knowledge to make the right decision and to do the right thing.

Mistakes of ineptitude are where we indeed have the knowledge but fail to apply it properly.

Indeed both kinds of mistakes have much to teach us. One teaches us the information itself, the other a lesson in application.

Do we curse the heavens each time we fail? No.

Make a mistake. Don’t do it often and don’t be careless, but ask yourself was it because I did not know or was it because I failed to apply what I know to a situation.

In my mind- that’s how you grow as a person.

There you have it my class of 2014. Go forth into the world and make it a better place. But don’t be afraid to screw things up on your road to redemption- you might wind up smarter than the sweet sisters before you.



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

When The Rubber Hits the Road


Yes, I am a runner. Fast or slow, long and steady…. I am a runner.  May be I’m in it for the shoes, maybe I’m in it for the health benefits… hell maybe I just run from brunch. But indeed, I am a runner.

It has dawned on me in this year of running that indeed there is a rhythm to the sport of lacing up ones shoes and pounding pavement or trails or treadmill or a flat surface of any kind in the pursuit of…. The pursuit.

So this past Saturday there I was with my last long run before my taper in preparation for my next race.  

Yes, my sisters- in just 5 short days, I will run the Scotiabank Half Marathon. This is not my first 21.1 km race. I’ve been running for about 7 years now. My first half marathon was in 2007 and I’ve been running them ever since.

I do love a good half. It’s just the right distance to allow me to eat brunch without guilt while still allowing me to walk upright the following morning.

And so it dawned on me somewhere along my recent 20 or so km run that indeed there are stages to a run.

Humans love to keep track don’t we? We love to record the passage of time and the stages of life. We have stages of  growth, we have stages of life and yes, even in death we have stages of grief. Indeed, one such girlfriend, Elizabeth Kubler Ross even documented such stages of grief in her world renowned work ON DEATH AND DYING.

As an aside- the book is a fabulous piece of work. I would argue it has become an iconic reference in our grief nomenclature.

So I could not help but wonder if the lessons from Kubler Ross could be applied to  other stages in life…. Perhaps the stages of running?

Let’s be clear my sisters- I am in no way poking fun at grief in general or a personal grief in particular. I myself have had my fair share enough to know that once in a  while a good laugh is mandatory. If you find the comparison between stages of grief and the following offensive, please accept my heart felt apologies in advance and feel free to boycott my blog for at least, shall we say, the next calendar year?

But if you are a runner or indeed you dare to try it, might I say in advance (and I’m not over-reaching) that I think you may identify with my following little rant.

THE FIVE STAGES OF RUN

STAGE 1: DENIAL
Denial usually begins the night before the run. Maybe you are eating a little too many carbohydrates, maybe not.  But somewhere along the way you think to yourself…. 20km? No big deal. If you are training for an even longer distance you lull yourself into a false sense of security of some kind. There’s no way running 38km is a bad idea? I’ll be able to handle it. This kind of blind disconnect continues into the next morning and perhaps even well into the first five or six kilometers of your run. I suspect its how a mother feels when giving birth to her fourth child. As the kid is ripping through her body with no apologies and no morphine she thinks…. There is no freakin way this is going to hurt that much.

STAGE 2: ANGER
Anger in running typically manifests itself in what I like to call ATHLETIC TOURETTE’S SYNDROME. This is where I swear profusely somewhere around 12 kilometres into the run and usually while on an incline. Anger is your brain’s way of bitch slapping your body for even thinking that 3 hours or more of exercise was anything but a shitty idea. Anger can also be directed at the skinny sister in front of you who is indeed the size of your left thigh and is running (and chatting) without a care in the world. She typically has a perfect ponytail that sways back and forth, rhythmically mocking you while your hip begins to throb.

Rest assured anger can indeed be a useful stage in running. It often propels you faster on your run and is a creative outlet for all those explatives you wanted to say in your everyday life but could not. When else in your life can the rubber meet the road while you scream MOTHERFUNSHOUSE for all to hear?

Fortunately, anger tends to pass as the run progresses. It must. Runners are a pretty happy group. If anger does not pass you will likely give up running all together and take up golf. Why golf you ask? Golfing by its nature is a very angry sport.

STAGE 3: BARGAINING:
Ah, the runner loves to bargain. Half way throught he run you make deals with the road and with yourself.
“I’ll run to the next bridge and then I’m done”
“I’ll eat another energy gel and then I’ll run for another 45 minutes”
“I’ll walk for 60 seconds until I can feel my left foot and then I’ll start to run again”

As for me? I bargain with retail rewards. If I finish this marathon I will buy myself a new pair of shoes. How extravagant these shoes are directly correlates to the amount of suffering I am currently feeling in this race or training run.  In short? I trade my pain for something pretty. I bargain back and forth in my brain on how much I will run and nothing is for nothing. Yes, it is juvenile. But both my body and my shoe closet have benefitted for some time.

 Bargainers often bargain well before the run…. If I eat this chocolate torte, I will run that 10km race…. Bargainers are everywhere and they do indeed drive the sport.

STAGE 4: DEPRESSION
Most people would think running is a great cure for one’s mood. In fact in many large scale randomized trials exercise has been shown to be an excellent treatment for depression. Here’s the thing…. Somewhere after the first hour of a three hour run you realize that you are only 1/3 of the way through. Heads up? That’s where the sadness begins. Some of us cry, some of us look at our watches and wonder why is it our body can’t go any faster. Some of us just settle in to the sadness and get ready for the next stage. Which is of course….

STAGE 5:ACCEPTANCE
Yes, my sisters…. Here it is. This is where you sit back and resign yourself to the fact that you are indeed a lunatic. I say sit back only figuratively of course begin stage 5 usually comes somewhere near the end of your run and by this point you can no longer feel your hips. Sitting down is not an option. Why? Not because of the will of a woman but because you physically can no longer sit down. And so like any good girlfriend with the will of a woman you just keep on running.

There you have it my sweet sisters. We are full into running season. The Sun Run is past, the Vancouver Marathon down. My eye is towards London 2015 and my love for Boston swells as that city continues to be Boston Strong.

On this that note I leave you with the five stages of running that all of us go through in the pursuit of our own physical excellence as we strive to push the limits of human abilities.

As for me? I continue to push my own boundaries of fitness when the rubber meets the road. Should I fail to meet my own limits? I will always have my shoe closet to remind of the real pursuits of excellence.


Have a great week my sisters. Run safe and run strong.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mind over Matter

Happy and healthy Tuesday sweet sisters.  Ever wondered about Tuesday? Such an uninspired day of the week. Monday is the GROAN day, Wednesday the HUMP day, Thursday is almost Friday and Friday is indeed just that. The weekend is where the magic happens…. But poor Tuesday; stuck between a GROAN and a HUMP. Perhaps that’s why I chose it. Ever a fan of the underdog in life…. I picked Tuesday as my GGTH glory day and made it happen.

But I digress.

This past week I spent 5 days in Boston. To be precise it was Cambridge, Massachusetts but apparently Bostoners don’t really make the distinction.

I was there for a Harvard Review Course (oooh, Harvard) and let me just say… if the course is anything like the University, It has its reputation for a reason. This review course indeed blew my mind. The quality of the instructors and the presentations were a lesson in themselves; never mind that the material was fabulous.

Yes, dear sisters- last week I went to Harvard and came back smarter and refreshed.  No, I did not buy a t-shirt and technically speaking the course was not even held on campus (it was at a hotel in Cambridge). But man oh man…. My cortex was schooled and I liked it.

There I sat for 6 or so hours a day for 4 straight days taking it all in. I was rejuvenated intellectually in a way I could not have imagined. Was it the quality of the instruction? Was it the subject matter? Perhaps to both but I could not help but wonder if my enthusiasm for learning was borne purely out of my….. Well, my enthusiasm for learning.

Should that surprise me?

After all I was a pretty good student once upon a time.

In high school, I liked learning. I studied and got good grades. In university and in medical school I enjoyed filling my brain with information. I relished in finding out how things worked and what I thought about them.

Even now I find myself trying to invest mentally in new things….

Last year I set a goal to read the Sunday New York Times every week. I make it a point to choose at least 2 articles per section (even business, which quite frankly does nothing for me) and learn something new about the world. ON the reading front I read at least one fiction and one non-fiction book per month (well, I listen to them on tape while running or riding- but you can’t penalize a girl for not being able to sit still).

I find the whole process of exposing yourself to information more than just “reading for fun”. It’s opening up your brain and letting in the light. Think about it for a moment, after university the only time we really get formally exposed to new information is if we take a course or go back to school. How do you ensure that your brain cells are keeping up with the times?

Let’s face it, dear sisters- we can’t rely on the internet for all the information that’s fit to print. Sure the interweb is full of ideas but often most of us use the Internet as a function in our lives to observe and connect rather than to absorb and comprehend.

And so this brings me to my weekend in Boston.

There I sat in one classroom after another taking it all in. It began with a fresher on Neruoanatomy and ended with lectures on Exercise physiology. Through it all I remembered how much I loved learning; how much I missed using my brain in a purely selfish form- all for the betterment of me.

Here’s the thing… I use my brain a lot in a day. I’m sure most of us do…. But usually it’s to solve problems (mine and those of others) and to navigate the world around me.

I think this kind of “goal oriented intellect” can have a draining effect on one’s cerebral cortex. Sometimes shouldn’t you just stop and fill up the intellectual tank?

There is evidence in the literature that as we age our intellect starts to decline.

According to and article in the New York Times and research in the field, as we age- our cognitive function declines. But indeed there are ways to slow down or even delay the process. Margie E. Lachman, a psychologist at Brandeis University who specializes in aging states,

“Education seems to be an elixir that can bring us a healthy body and mind throughout adulthood and even a longer life,”

Lachman’s group has even conducted one of the largest longitudinal studies on aging and the brain.

The Midlife in the United States, or Midus. Examines the cognitive progression of Americans born in the baby boom and onward. More than 7,000 people 25 to 74 years old were drafted to participate so that middle-agers could be compared with those younger and older.

As it turns out, one essential element of mental fitness has already been identified. For those in midlife and beyond, a college degree appears to slow the brain’s aging process by up to a decade. This applied to people who went to university in their 20’s as well as those who did not and then went back to school later in life.

In other words- it did not matter WHEN you got a post-secondary education but that you DID.

This makes sense. We know that learning forms new pathways in the brain. WE know that certain formative learning does this even more so. It’s like planting a garden…. If your memory and intellect are a vegetable garden (there’s a pun in there somewhere) then formal education works to lay out the plots and till the soil and build new soil beds and well…. I’m not a gardener but you get the idea.

I could not help but wonder if the same could be applied to continuing education courses later in life.

My beloved mother is 74 years of age and takes a political science course at the University of Manitoba. She is always more interesting to talk with the day of her course…. (No disrespect Mama- you area fascinating woman at all times…. But you really are a bit more intellectually “jazzed” on the days that you’ve been schooled)

And so I wondered if indeed my week in Boston had done the same thing for me…. I had a pretty decent vegetable garden between my ears but had the crops been overworked and underserviced over the past few years?

Did a week in Boston sitting in a classroom entranced and enthused by some of the best educators in the world been just enough to shed a little light and plant new seeds of fantastic?

Who knows…? Perhaps it was just a week away that did it and a different change of scene. But I’m certain there was something more.

Yes, dear sisters I had a week in a classroom in Cambridge and I had the time of my life…. And no, I did not buy a single pair of shoes. That my sweet girlfriends is the best scientific study of all.


 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/education/edlife/a-sharper-mind-middle-age-and-beyond.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0





Friday, June 6, 2014

On behalf of the 5%

Excuse the rather serious nature of the following post, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.....


http://globalnews.ca/news/1379758/please-stop-telling-obese-canadians-to-give-up/

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I Walk the Line


I should say that as a woman without children, I am fascinated by the PARENTHOOD and what it indeed does to a brain. Make no mistake, I love parents. I have a set of my own. Some of my best friends are parents.

But parents do some pretty weird shit in the name of their offspring. What is it about raising a little person that turns a completely rationale person into a bit of a lunatic?

Is it the sleep deprivation? The worry? The guilt? Over the years I have watched perfectly rationale, normal sisters lose their shit to the PARENTHOOD. There they are…. Lovely, strong-minded perfectly kick ass girlfriends who given time will need therapy because they could not rent a bouncy castle in time for their little cherub’s birthday.

In my observation the PARENTHOOD plays havoc on many things in one’s life; but mostly- it’s screws with one’s sense of time. PARENTHOOD is am emotional time warp. I hear it all the time from my breeding friends…

“Where did the time go?”
“There’s just not enough hours in the day?”
“What time is swimming? Hockey? Dance class?”
“I don’t have time for coffee today, I have to plan a princess party”

Time is indeed precious. As a woman without children, I value it as much as the next sister. But I have noticed that when it comes to my “friends with dependents” time is a nasty bitch.

There is never enough time and yet, the PARENTHOOD makes you wait around a lot….

There they are flocks of parents standing on line…. For everything.

People without kids don’t stand on line.

We don’t have a little person with expectations waiting to be disappointed at home- we can come back for whatever we need or just plain go without.

Sure there are those twenty somethings who wait on line for the next I-Phone or the next pair of expensive sneakers. But as a rule- if you see a line up running right around the block somewhere- chances are (unless it’s for concert tickets) it is NOT made up of thirty somethings without kids. Most certainly, said line is indeed composed of geeks, hipsters and parents.

Sure, geeks and hipsters are parents too- let’s not get boggled in semantics- this is a fun blog- not a life-changer.

Allow me to elaborate….

Last weekend I spent some quality girlfriend time in NYC with a fabulous woman (you know who you are). My girlfriend, we will call her “Sara” has two cherubs at home both of whom are fans of the latest Disney movie “Frozen”.

I have not seen this movie. I am waiting to make it through all other movies on Air Canada’s video on demand before resorting to the Disney section. I am told, however that Frozen is about a girl with special powers who freezes things- including (by accident of course) her sister’s brain. Yah, Disney’s version of sibling rivalry rains true.

Anyway- never mind the gripping movie plot…. The point here is that Disney makes dolls and merchandise to advertise their movies (shocking, no?) and they sell them at Disney stores.

“Sara” and I decided that we would swing by the Disney store in Times Square on our way to the “good shops” in order to purchase two “Olaf dolls” for her daughters. Incidentally, Olaf is a snowman in this movie… the mind reels.

So sure enough, dressed in our Saturday best, we hoofed it twenty blocks in pursuit of said stuffed snowman. Two blocks from the store “Sara” let out a small sigh.

“What’s up?” I asked
“Look at the line… we’re not waiting in that.”

Sure enough snaked around the Disney store and half way down the next block was a line of parents and children. There they stood with hope and capitalism in their dead eyes…. Standing on line in the greatest city in the world on a Saturday morning all for the promise of an Olaf doll. The world was their oyster… the city was before them and they would spend easily 8 hours drinking Starbucks and passing time just so Timmy could have a Disney toy that one day would sit neglected in the garage somewhere.

“No,” I said, very unconvincing, “we can wait”…. I’m a good friend, you see?
“Nope. Let’s go to Bergdorf’s”. She announced.

Now do you see why I love “Sara” so much? Bitch has priorities.

And then I had a thought. I walked up to the lady who was at the front of the line…

“Hi. What’s you name?”
“Jen”
“Hi Jen. Can I ask you a favour?”
“Sure”.
“Are you buying an Olaf doll today?”
“No.”
“Great. Can I give you money and you go inside and buy me two Olaf dolls while I wait out here?”
“Sure”.

And like any good friend, I threw money at the problem. I handed Jen $100 and moved to the side of the line. How much is an Olaf doll you ask? I have no freaking clue. How much is my time? Priceless.

Sure enough Jen came through and 10 minutes later she emerged with change, a receipt and two fuzzy snowmen. Jen it turns out is from the Midwest… she is honest as Mom and apple pie and a true sister. Indeed in the spirit of it all, I insisted that Jen keep the change and buy herself lunch. She had saved the day and indeed she should be compensated.

The whole experience got me thinking about the time we waste in lines of every shape and size.

I should say that I hate standing on line. I’m the youngest child… perhaps that’s a thing. I’m used to people waiting for me and not the other way around? Sounds shitty? It is. But I’m honest.

In my experience, parents wait on line more than most.

Tales of parents sleeping overnight in line to get their kids into preschool, hockey, and swimming are commonplace.

Make no mistake…. That line around the Disney store was indeed a symbol for the great divide between the PARENTHOOD and the rest of the world….

The average American spends an hour of their day waiting in lines. This totals 2-3 years of their lives. According to research we overestimate the amount of time that we indeed wait on line by as much as 35%.

According to an article in the NY times unoccupied waiting is the worst. When indeed we have “something to do” while we wait, human being are better.

An example cited is the baggage wait at Houston Airport. Years ago, airport architects moved the baggage carousel at Houston a full 10 minute walk away from the gates. People had to walk to get their bags, which took some time to arrive, and sure enough complaint about baggage wait times dropped….

Why do you think there are mirrors around elevators? This principle dates back to post WWII when high rises were indeed on the rise and elevators were not the fastest… stick a mirror by an elevator and someone can check their face while they wait.
Studies show that being distracted while waiting in line makes the line so much more tolerable. Perhaps those on line at Disney were in a better mood because of the “action” in Times Square. Perhaps Disney should hire personal trainers dressed up as princesses to hold boot camp classes for those waiting on line? There’s a thought.

Indeed there are norms around waiting in line. I’m sure I broke a few of them handing my money to Jen. Yes, I was an asshole “cutting the cue” but no one seemed to object.

Do I feel badly that I jumped a cue and put my needs before hundreds of others on that sunny Saturday in NYC in the name of a Disney snowman?

Seriously my sisters… there was Bergdorf’s to be had. I am sorry to all those in line who felt that I put my needs before theirs. If it is any consolation- I worked my guilt out at tone hell of a shoe department 10 blocks uptown.