“There's a race of men that don't fit in, A race that can't sit still; So they break the hearts of kith and kin, And they roam the world at will. They range the field and rove the flood, And they climb the mountain's crest; Their's is the curse of the gypsy blood, And they don't know how to rest.”
- Robert Service

Friday, 20 September 2013

Think About What You Say

Often at work I find myself a cheerleader. I mean, yes, sure one of my primary functions is to will children from illness to health, but being that they're young people it's not unusual that I have to really bring out the "big inspirational guns" to convince them that a) they can get better and that b) sometimes they also  need to put in work to get over the barriers preventing them from ragaining their 100%. I once sat with a teenaged boy for 30 mins, like some movie-style football coach trying to bring him to the realization that he needed to break his cycle of laying in bed all day in order to get out of hospital. It was something like: Yes, your leg hurts and you're sad because you can't plays chool sports at all this year now, but if you don't get out of bed to do physiotherapy you'll also not get out of hospital. If you don't work at this physio, you might not recover well enough to play sports at all. You might get benched for a very, very long time rather than just this season because you didn't take some responsibility for working your way back.

That's the cliff  notes, anyway. For the record, he was 17 so I could dish some stronger words than if I was just trying to get a 7 year old to do the same thing.

Anyway, recently I've found myself doing some similar coaching, except I'm noticing that what I'm saying really applies to a lot of situations - including some things I'm working on myself. Not to toot my own horn, but I'll offer something up, and then think "Jeeze, that shit it solid gold. You could learn something from yourself!"

This one is pretty much my favourite, and I've used is in many ways for a while.

Yes, what you're about to do is hard work. Have you ever been skiing? Well, I remember the first few times I hit the slopes. I was terrible, and I fell down pretty much more than I was upright. But I had this good/crazy/expert skiier friend help me out. Early on she said "Let's try a double-black diamond run (The Headwalls)!" After I picked my jaw up from the ground she told me something to the effect of "I'll be ok. Just take your time and have fun!" Well, we did. That run was stupid and way out of my comfort zone, but we rolled down and played in the powdered snow around the trees and at one point I think we just slid on our bums like we were on a giant playground slide. It was by no means pretty, but I made it to the bottom alive and proud! But most importantly, the next time I ventured onto an easy run I was able to say "Wow! This is so much easier than the headwalls! I can so totally ski down this!" It's the same for you. If you just hesitantly keep taking the easiest route, that's all you'll ever be comfortable with and you certainly won't progress further. But if you push yourself -even into a place where you're positive it won't look good or go smoothly - you'll be able to look back at what you've already done and be able to say "Wow! That other stuff isn't as difficult as it used to seem. I can get through this."

Lately when I tell this one - or a version of it (like You are about to be challenged. Do your best, because in order to move forward, you will have to at least meet them. You don't have to do it well, but it does take work to get the things we want), I find myself repeating it in my mind. Especially now that I've registered to run the Tough Mudder race in just over a week. I set this goal a few months back and I've been working hard at it but frankly it still scares the ever living shit out of me. And the training had been hard. For a person who has long proclaimed that she and running "are not friends," I have been doing a lot of running. I even (successfully) tackled a long run with a very, very long uphill climb which at the beginning of the summer I would never have believed I could manage. As they say, I may have been slower than a herd of turtles running through peanut butter, but if I didn't try it, even ungracefully, I might never have known I could do it. And as a plus, all of my shorter, flatter runs seem so much more achievable!

It's a pretty sweet example of "don't dish it if you can't take it" - and I totally believe in it.
p.s. Thanks, Mandy for being the crazy one and deciding it would be a good idea to try the Headwalls on my second day at the slopes. I have since returned many times.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Balcony Bounty

So I told Mike that when we picked out an apartment in Sudbury it had to have a balcony or outdoor space so I could garden. I really wanted to grow something!

Well, after 4 months of growth, I decided to pull up my carrots...

Ilse and Pépé - being garden gnomes came to inspect my bounty. Though not impressed, they are satisfied. For the record, I do have more carrots - they're just small.


Seeing as we made a pilgrimage to the far west of Canada in the spring, it was only fitting that we also visited the most eastern bits in the autumn. Some of you may have followed the adventures of a friend of mine - Ilse the knitting gnome - because she stowed away in my luggage and then insisted upon having her picture taken at every turn. She's a maniac. I also took photos, and I'd like to share them with you.

We started our trip in Newfoundland. Constrained by time, we stayed close to St. John's. Still, it was easy to find good sea air -
Part of the East Coast Trail near Cabot tower required a chain-handle. Good views!
And good cheer!
I was offically Screeched in! Kissed the cod and everything!
We stayed for three nights in St John's, and I would definitely consider going back. There's a lot to see on that rock, but much of it takes many days to get to and from. The residents are friendly and the landscape is delightful. We spent  one good night getting to know the fine establishments on George Street, and listened to some very authentic local musicians.

 On Tuesday, we flew to Nova Scotia, and rented a car so we could drive the length of the province (in the pouring rain) to Sydney where I have family. One of our primary destinations was to Fort Louisbourg which we visited under cover of fog. I'm told that like all things at the Fort, the weather on that day was extremely authentic. We visited just at the start of shoulder season so many of the buildings were closed, but there were still plenty of places to poke around in, and we indulged in a fresh baked loaf of hearty bread. nom. Fun fact #1: Despite almost all of the buildings being made of stone, there are only two masons employed there. Tough gig. Fun Fact #2: We learned that because the fort was well defended from the sea and the surrounding area was pretty well all bog, the French weren't suspecting to be attacked. Too bad the English thought it was a good idea to haul heavy artillery through a bog for 6 weeks. But seriously? How shitty would that job be, the guy stuck hauling cannons through a bog for weeks?
foggy view of Fort Louisbourg
Giant Fiddle in Sydney!
For those of you who laugh when I tell you that my family (the Ball family) are from Ball's Creek, Nova Scotia!
After a good stay in Sydney, we thought to go and visit Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Then we realized that the drive from Sydney, through the park and down to our next destination (Halifax) would take 10 hours, we opted for the cliff notes version (Ha! Cliff-notes? get it? Because there are cliffs in the park!) whereby we drove just up to Ingonish.

After a goodly drive along the winding road of many elevations next to the ocean, we were happy to stop for a picnic lunch on the beach.We considered swimming, and then we realized that the water was SO FREEZING.
 More adventures on the drive to Halifax:

Discovered a giant roadside lobster trap!
I saw my very first live wild porcupine! ...sadly he did not see us.
There was no rest for the wicked in Halifax, and we spent two days doing absolutely everything there was to do - from a tour in an amphibious vehicle, to the old Citadel, to the Alexander Keith's brewery.

Speaking of Alexander Keith....
His tombstone in Camp Hill cemetary
On our last night, we decided to drive out to Peggy's Cove, most notable for its lighthouse. On this day, however, the sky was perfectly clear and the sun was setting like a giant golden medallion blazing in the sky and the sea - oh! The sea! - was churning and crashing! This could easily be named my favourite moment of the entire trip. With each wave-smash the air became salty and the wind blew the most glorious sea-winds and I felt wonderous in it all.
"As Queen Triton, I command you, great waters - RISE! bwahahahaAHAHA!"