Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Climb

Me in Jasper in 2006

I didn't know I liked any Miley Cyrus songs. I haven't followed the charts since I was a teenager. I usually turn on the radio and listen to whatever comes on, and if I don't like it, I turn it off. My commute hasn't been longer than 10 minutes for nearly ten years, so really, music artists only get 20 minutes out of my day (on a good day) to get my attention.

So, last night, driving home after a long day, I hear this song come on. I've heard it before, just background noise on my drive to or from work... but the first time, I listen to it. And it puts tears in my eyes, because I'm supposed to be running 21km  (13.1 miles) on Sunday: the longest I've ever run. And I thought about how I used to weigh over 300 pounds, how it used to be hard to go up and down stairs, how it all started with just spending 30 minutes less on the couch each day... and how changing my habits meant I could give my mom a kidney without any repercussions to my own health.

And all this training: It's probably the second hardest thing I've ever done (after giving someone a kidney). It has been a lot of work. It's taken a lot of focus, and a lot of commitment to make sure I eat properly, sleep enough, stretch enough, relax enough. It's forced me to stay right in the moment at all times, because when you're running for over two hours, if you start panicking in the first 20 minutes, you're screwed. And I've dealt with pain: pain while running, and the pain of admitting that I was injured and had to stop for a couple of weeks. And then the fear of failing: I've sat in tears some mornings, trying to convince myself that I can do this, and that I can't let all these people who have supported me down by giving up.

I've learned that I can't rely on anyone else to keep me going but me. And this is not the only difficult thing I will ever have to do in life. And yeah, maybe it's not important to anyone else in the grand scheme of things, but it's made me a different person in a short period of time. Maybe I know how to do these hard things just a little bit better now.

So, before she started swinging on wrecking balls, Miley said a few things that actually mean something to me. Heh. Who knew?
There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waitin' on the other side
It's the climb...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Inheriting the Making Gene

It's Father's Day today, and I'm thinking about how I inherited my love of making stuff from both my parents. Dad is always working on something, even in retirement. He's got a vegetable garden on the go that I'm betting will have some really tasty tomatoes pretty soon. I think that it's his need to make things that keeps him active and healthy... and I'm grateful I got some of that from him.

Yesterday was bright, dry and sunny, but with a nice cool breeze. We went to the pool for a swim, then I had a massage after lunch. I booked it for pure therapy: my body has been feeling pretty beaten up with all the training. I must have really needed it, because, even though the masseuse was working through some pretty serious knots, I was almost asleep near the end. Sigh, I need more of those.

When I got home, I took advantage of the cool day to get some baking done. I know it sounds kind of "Little House on the Prairie" to say that I NEED to bake, but really: when the weather is as warm as it has been, I take advantage of any opportunity I can get to make my daily snacks. It's a consequence of being too cheap to buy granola bars.

On the left, my regular Banana Oat Snack Cakes, with half the sugar and with avocado instead of butter. I usually have one every day - good source of potassium and iron. On the right, chocolate cupcakes, made with bananas and applesauce and 3/4 of the sugar in the original recipe. And yes, they're both delicious... and I eat one of each every day!

A sunny day that is cool enough for baking = pretty awesome day.

Later on, I made a batch of Silken Tofu Chocolate Pudding, which I served in one of the vintage glass dessert dishes I was lucky enough to snag at an antique store. Before I took the photo, I grabbed a few blueberries off one of the bushes in the garden, as well as a couple of mint leaves from the plant bed. Photogenic, and so good:

Tonight, I made chicken and dumplings - one of the hubby's favourite dinners. I also made a bunch of Southern Fried Tofu for lunch this week. And tonight, I'll keep working on my Draco Shawl, which I making pretty good progress on.

In truth, a lot of this making stuff is distracting my brain from the fact that my half marathon is officially one week away now, and I'm trying not to panic. I'm working through a nagging injury that is scary, but seems to be manageable if I'm smart about it. I did a 13km (8 mi) run this morning with only slight discomfort in places. Lots of rest and massage and stretching and more resting is on the table for this week. It hasn't been easy, and if there's one thing I've learned, it's that you have to be careful who you tell your fears to when the going gets tough. And, at the end of the day, you can't quit just because something is difficult.

That's another thing I learned from my Dad. Happy Father's Day!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Eyes Open, Brain On

It's been a long week... and a short week... or so I think. Jet lag does this. You are so tired, but you just can't stay asleep. And you're hungry at all the wrong times. And you can't remember if you said something aloud, or if you just dreamed it. Jet lag: it sucks.

We arrived back at our home on Sunday, about mid-afternoon. I've done the trans-Atlantic voyage lots of times, but it's always harder coming back this way. And it's not the longest haul I've ever done, but maybe it's just harder when you get older. Bleh.

The longest of the flights wasn't too bad. The seat next to me was empty, which meant I could dump some of my stuff onto it rather than jamming it into the seat pocket in front of me to get smooshed by my knees every few minutes. I passed the time by doing quite of lot of work on my shawl... and by "work," I mean ripping out a ton of stitches and re-doing them after I realized how far off my stitch count was. It was pretty ok: I watched a couple of movies and snoozed a bit, but I never get any true rest on a plane. Nine and half hours is a long time to try to find the bright side of sitting uncomfortably. Near the end of the flight, I discovered the kids' music channel. A couple of minutes listening to the Disney album brightened things up considerably. It turns out that I will sing along aloud to "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast pretty much anywhere, even if I'm surrounded by rows and rows of very tired people.

I went back to work on Tuesday. By Friday, I had finally caught up again with the sun. I sleep when it's dark, and I'm awake when it's light, which is a real accomplishment. I mostly eat when I'm supposed to, but a bake sale at work sort of threw a wrench into those plans. Peanut butter marshmallow squares are a terrible kryptonite, as were the four chocolate cupcakes in the background. Yeah, I bought them. I didn't have any change. I wanted to support the bake sale. And it was a tiring week, ok?

I'm glad to be back in my own surroundings, even though my weariness has meant that my projects being worked on much. I was glad to make it to the weekend, when I could down for a couple of hours and work on my shawl. It's Katherine Mills' Draco Shawl, which is a clever pattern that makes use of decreases and increases to give a swirly, spiky look. My version should be interesting, since I'm using a very skinny yarn, a much smaller hook, and a heck of a lot more yarn. The instructions for the decreasing section are strange, so I ditched them and basically did the reverse of the increase section. So far, I'm liking the simplicity and the texture of the stitch pattern (which I altered to sc, ch2, sc to make the spaces between each stitch larger). I'm curious to see how it blocks - I'd like it to be as swoopy as the original one:

Today, I finally got around to taking photos of my shrug, which has been sitting complete for nearly a month now... I honestly can't remember when I finished it. One of the pictures is a bit blurry, but it took me a long time to lever myself off the couch to fix my hair and take photos of it (I ran 19km/12 miles this morning, and I got stuck on the couch). It's about the best I can come up with today. I'm quite happy with it, given that there was a lot of improvising to make the sleeves a little wider and a little longer. I think I'll get some use of it this summer:

And while sitting here writing this post, I did pick up the camera and take a shot of the arm, which shows the colours of the yarn more accurately. It's like honeydew and cantaloupe together, no? 

In all, I'm glad to be back in the swing of things. My half marathon is in two weeks, and honestly, I can't wait for it to be all over. Maybe it's all the upheaval of the past few months that has made it even more difficult than I imagined, but the training wasn't at all as steady as I'd hoped for. After the event is over, I plan to celebrate with a summer full of good ol' sittin' on the couch.

I think I'll get started on that right now! Have a good week!