Hill Memories

I had a hill workout on the books today.. and a tough one!  I thought about the best hills to run and discarded all of the standards for various reasons, too short, too steep, too much traffic, too much noise, no place to warm up… This continued even when I was driving to “some” hill.  Finally I decided on Peenaquim.

I knew in the back of my mind why I was struggling to choose a hill.  I usually ran hill repeats with Sherry, on Friday afternoons.  We’d run Laundry hill for short sprints, Wendy’s for medium intervals and Par three for longer intervals.  It didn’t matter if it was cold, rainy or hot, that was our hill day.  The only time I remember us bailing was one spring when there was a grass fire close by.  The air was so thick with smoke that we bailed almost immediately after getting out of our cars and went for a beer.

More Fridays than I can remember and we always had to be done by 5, because Friday was Jack & Sherry’s night for Luigi’s and groceries.  Always.

So that’s why I chose Peenaquim.  It’s a hill we never ran, it wasn’t paved until recently.  It was a good choice.  It’s a gradual grade with only a few steeper parts, there’s no traffic and it’s surrounded by coulees and quiet.  A meadowlark cheered for me each time I ran past and at one point flew across my path.  And yes, I said, “Hi Sherry”  and smiled, for I’ve always wondered if her spirit is captured by a bird soaring high above us in the sky.  Following us on our bikes and cheering on our runs.

I miss you my friend.


Calgary 70.3 July 2014




These are My People

I am so lucky.   In the past few days I have felt an overwhelming sense of wellness and calm.  Surprising, because it’s been a really tough week.

My body was pain free Friday for the first time in almost two years.  My back didn’t hurt, my knees didn’t hurt, my foot wasn’t numb.  My mind was calm after an exhausting and emotional day revisiting Sherry’s death and the months following.

Make no mistake, I have to work at it.  It’s a continuous cycle that can sometimes be vicious.  I’m not always well, I’m not the same and I may never be.  While running Saturday, I said to my runnning partner, “someday’s it’s so frustrating, I just want to go to bed!  But I have to stretch, meditate, be quiet so my mind will shut down and sleep will arrive.”  I know what I have to do to be well; and it takes time.

So why am I lucky?  I’m lucky because I have people that have taken the time and care to teach me these things.  I’m lucky because I’m surrounded by kind and loving people.  I’m lucky because I have amazing friends who listen and hear me.  Then they help me understand, empathize and release the anger.  They don’t perpetuate the anger, the grief and the negative feelings.  They help me find the light, the good, the alternative.

When we cruised into Streatside for breakfast after our 10 miles on Saturday (okay, maybe it wasn’t cruise… the last mile for me was pretty painful!) I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging.  These are my people.  They are welcoming, they smile, they greet you.  They don’t care if you are fast or slow, fat or thin, young or old.  They are runners and they are together to enjoy being outside and time with others.

I’m thankful today that I have been embraced by so many wonderful people.  You make me well.  Thank you.


It is Well

Two friends.  One is suffering a huge loss, the other is celebrating a huge accomplishment and recognition.  Change for both.  Change for me.  While my heart aches for one, my soul rejoices for the other.

How do we manage the juxtaposition of what we know with what is to come?  How do we support and facilitate the change for our friends and for ourselves?

Change is a difficult thing.  No matter if we invite it in and welcome it, change means a disruption to our lives.

Yesterday, after sharing her loss, my one friend asked how I was.  I paused for a moment, then replied, “today, I am well.  I feel still and peaceful.  It is a blessing.”  Part of me wondered if I should share this with her as I knew she was suffering, but I think sharing our feelings allows us to help more, and create through honesty, trust and deep relationships.   Yesterday, I was in a position to listen and empathize.

Today, I’m a little out of sorts.  Celebrating and grieving with friends does have a cost for me.   I know when work, family, life starts to add up and I need a break.  Funny things start to happen.  I get forgetful, I’m clumsy, I drop things, I can’t concentrate.

But this is where self care comes in for all of us.  For those that are directly experiencing the change and those of us that are supporting the change, or maybe we are doing both.  Listen to your body, listen to the clues.  For me it means being kind to myself, getting outside or walking the dog.  It also means recognizing the emotions that arise and knowing that it’s okay.  It’s okay to feel sad when you support others, even when it’s a celebration, because it means you care, it means you have a connected relationship.  And those relationships are what matters.

Take time today to recognize the feelings in your mind and body today.   Then reach out and make a connection.



Be Brave

Where did these little boys go?

Last night Eli told me that he was going to Waterton with his friends on Saturday, one of those friends will be driving.  Yikes!

When I was a teenager, I drove to Edmonton weekly by myself to take lessons.  We all drove, we drove in all conditions and we drove in the city.  Yet, when Eli, who is almost 17, said I want to go to Waterton with my friends, I thought, no way!  My mind came up with a million reasons why he shouldn’t go;  it’s winter, your friends are new drivers, 16 year old boys are silly and sometimes don’t think.  But the real reason is I’m afraid.  I’m afraid of what could happen and I’m afraid to let the driving out of my control.  I’m so afraid of other drivers, so afraid of what could happen.

I’m really struggling with this.  Logically, I know the driver is capable, I know that these boys are responsible. So I will let him go and keep my worries to myself.  For awhile I chastised myself for having irrational thoughts.  Unfortunately, they aren’t irrational thoughts.  I know all too well what can happen in an instance, what can happen when a driver looks away from the road.

I came across this picture of Sherry when I was looking for a feature picture:



She would tell me to let him go and adventure.  I will because it’s the right thing and I know he needs to grow.  But I’m still afraid, so I’ll try to “be of good courage.”




A Fine Line

Two drivers were sentenced this week in Lethbridge courts.  One, a rancher who injured 3 people, was charged with driving with undue care and attention, fined $2300 and had his license suspended for two months.  He originally was charged with dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

The second driver, a women who killed a motorcylist, was charged with careless driving, fined $2000 and had her license suspended for three months.

The driver that killed Sherry was also charged with careless driving, fined $2000 and had her license suspended for three months.


If I understand correctly, the dangerous driving charge stems from intent, where as the careless driving charge is unintentional.  A mistake if you will.  A mistake, regardless of how big it is, or the consequences.  So if you are negligent and you kill someone, but you didn’t mean to, it’s careless driving.   Seems like a fine line doesn’t it?

When the crown prosecutor asked us if we wanted to appeal, I said no.  I said no because our criminal code does not support anything but careless driving.  With the incidence of distracted driving causing death increasing at a phenomenal rate, isn’t it time to reassess these codes and laws?

Where is the responsibility to the family, friends and community?  How does the driver repay their “debt to society”?  Not by being fined or having their license suspended.  Some say it’s through a civil suit where reparations are made.  Yes, in some ways.  But in reality, it’s not the driver’s money, it’s the insurance companies money.

When I was in school, I remember drivers that had caused accidents and deaths had to recount their stories to show us what “could happen”.  Why don’t we still do this?  Why are these drivers counselled not to speak in court and not apologize, to take responsibility for their actions?  To stand up in front of family and friends and say, I did this, I’m sorry.  I still feel like I need that driver to look me in the eye and tell me she’s sorry.  Would it make a difference?  I don’t really know, but I feel like it would.

It’s time to update our criminal code and revise our laws to reflect the consequences of distracted and negligent driving.  Somehow these drivers need to show responsiblity for their actions and have true consequences to taking a life.


Reach Out, Someone is There

I came across a video on facebook today titled Living with High Functioning Anxiety.   If you haven’t watched it, take a minute to do so.  It gives you a little snapshot into the thoughts someone with anxiety might have.  I’ve had those irrational thoughts. ” You’re not good enough” for me was “you did something wrong” or “you weren’t a good enough friend” or “you didn’t save her”.

It’s like you have no control over your thoughts, regardless of how irrational they may be.  For me, the anxiety was accompanied by physical symptoms;  my chest tightening, rapid breathing, a sinking feeling and fear.  If not alleviated, those thoughts and physical symptoms became a full blown panic attack.

Thankfully, I have had the guidance, patience and support of so many to work through the anxiety.  It still rears it’s ugly head every now and then.  Driving from Lafayette to Houston on the I-10 caused me extreme stress, I was sure we would be in an accident.  I had to take an ativan and close my eyes for most of the drive.  I still startle easily, I’m still afraid, although less so.  If I sit too long in a structured time and space (like a meeting) I become restless and my mind starts to wander and the anxiety creeps in.  Movement alleviates the thoughts and helps me focus.  I get up and pace, stretch, wiggle.  Don’t ever be afraid to get up and move when you need to.  No one knows, no one has to know the real reason.  It should just be standard practice in long meetings.  If you’re uncomfortable getting up, make up an excuse, like you have arthritis and have to move!

I’m thankful for my support systems.  I meet friends at the Uni to do strength training twice a week.  We bike together, we hike together.  I just completed my first marathon club run of the season with three other friends.  It felt so good to be out there running with those ladies.  Switching places to chat with one another, sometimes talking, mostly just listening.  I know that I am safe and cared for, that they will listen and understand.  It was a relief to be with them again.

I get to spend this weekend with a group of dear friends that love life and have guided and helped me through many rough patches.  I am so lucky to have these people in my life to watch over me.

Next week is Bell Let’s talk day.  Talking is the first step.  Be sure to reach out for help when you need it.  Someone will be there.

Finding Even Ground

I’ve been feeling the need to write, but the words fly around in my head in an unorganized melee.  It reminds me of the scene in Harry Potter when the keys are flying around as they try to get to the Chamber of Secrets.

Perhaps it’s because I have too many pots in the fire and I need to pull some out. I’ve gone out on a limb often this month with new situations and while I welcome them, it takes a lot of energy to focus and plan.   I delivered a training session for Pratt & Whitney this week.  Corporate training is a new area for me but I was completely captivated by the processes and procedures at the plant.  I’m also in the process of collaborating with the nursing programs at the College and the U of L to facilitate a 150 person session on curriculum.  Yikes!  Even though I’m looking forward to the collaboration, the size of the group makes me a little nervous. I also have a session coming up with SafeNetAB on distracted driving for which I just finished writing the session description.

It Can Wait

“I heard a beep and I looked down”.  “I only looked away from the road for a moment”.  Have you heard these words before?  It takes approximately 4.6 seconds to read a text message.  Driving at 90 kilometres per hour, your vehicle will travel roughly 123 meters.  In that time, disaster can strike.  It’s past time to educate ourselves and others on the dangers of distracted driving. Hearing my story will help you approach the subject with your teens and others. 

All of the new adventures I’ve taken on are welcome.  I enjoy working with people, and speaking, corporate training and facilitation help me grow.

This unsettled feeling of unease comes and goes.  No matter how centred and well I feel, Sherry is still not far from my mind.  Today while I was making Isaiah’s bed, she was on my mind and I can’t even remember why.  In the grocery store, I passed a magazine that had something on the title about seeing a death, and there she was, in my mind.  While there is less of that uneven ground it is still there for me.

The good news is that I can find even ground, and I think the too many pots in the fire is actually helping me find that balance.  We did an activity for our team that really showed me that I was missing the creative part of my life.  At the time, I thought that meant only my music and I was missing my music.  And I am, I am missing my music.  But I’m also missing having a farther reach and creativity means many things.  I had to be creative in my delivery for Pratt & Whitney, and think of their needs and what would speak to them.  I will need to be creative to keep 150 people engaged, positive and critically thinking for an entire day of redesign.  Public speaking always demands creativity to engage with your audience.

I’ve also committed to playing in church once a month to ensure I’m still performing even in an undemanding situation.  Along the way, I can guide and lead others around me.

We start marathon club soon and I’m looking forward to the weeks of training that will lead to my first ultramarathon.  I’m actually excited to run miles and miles.  It’s the challenge, and the friendship.  Sherry and I ran so much together, I know she will pop into my mind during some of those runs.  Some days will be positive, those days when things are going well, the sun is shining and the running feels easy.  But there will be days that will be tough, when the weather is poor, my legs feel like lead and my mind is forced to overcome.  I hope that Sherry’s toughness and encouragement will be with me in these times and keep my feet moving.

In the meantime, I’ll keep moving towards even ground.