Like a Boss

My Parents came home yesterday. They sold everything and left for Europe for an undetermined amount of time. They aren’t really home, they are visiting.

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I hadn’t spoke to them in 106 days. Apparently I am bad at email. My sister emailed my parents 104 times. That is 1 for everyday they were away except for the 2 she was on the plane to England and didn’t email them because she was sitting beside them.

Apparently that makes me a bad daughter.

I’m better at texting.

This was the first time since the ‘DARK TIMES’ that I had been separated from my parents.

  1. Yes I am 47 years old
  2. No it doesn’t make me an insecure baby
  3. I do not have a dysfunctional relationship with my parents
  4. we just actually like each other.

I haven’t felt like crying so much since my parents left in July, 106 days ago.

I called my dad this morning and I instantly cried. Damn I missed them. It’s not even like I am the favourite child. That would be the sister. And rightly so, she takes care of them in ways I just don’t. Then the next favourite would be the brother. He is dependant on them in ways I am not. As a mom, I know there isn’t a favourite, they just like each of us for different reasons. I happen to be the most independent of the lot. I keep to myself, hold my problems in and try not to worry anyone. I took care of everyone when I was younger, now I let my sister do it because she loves it, I just did it out of a sense of obligation. I have a hard enough time taking care of myself and my offspring. I have learned a long hard lesson about self-care that I need to be cognizant of. People call it selfishness, I call call it survival. I always seem to be on the brink of disaster and I manage to hold it off.

That gets exhausting and it is exhausting talking about it.

So, I didn’t write about it. Mom didn’t get to hear about my days or the weariness in my bones, or the times I felt like I was a total an utter failure. As a mom, I know she wanted to hear those things….but I don’t do that. I don’t share. It’s easier to stamp the feelings down and swallow them.

After lunch, I packed up the FamJam and we drove out to my Grandmothers where my sister and my parents are currently living while my sister’s home is – for lack of a better word – being finish. My parents will have a home base/in-law suite where they can have a home base while they travel the world being gypsy hobos.

I walked up the steps to the house and right into the arms of my daddy. I cried inside where no one saw. I stuffed the tears away because I didn’t want to be teased or have my emotions get in the way for visiting. I didn’t want it to be about me. I wasn’t the one who left. I wanted to hear about them.

We stayed all afternoon and caught up on their zany adventures. I learned a lot of things about my parents.

MOM: The Woman who faced her fears until Hell Froze Over

  1. She went topless on the Mediterranean (My mom has always been modest to the point almost to the level of Prudish)
  2. She drank beer AND Scotch (Alcohol always scared her and for good reason)
  3. She smoked a cigar
  4. She likes my dad – and not because he is her husband. They spent 106 days together ALONE and enjoyed their time together. They have been a couple since they were 14. Liking each other is an important part of that.

DAD: The Man who doesn’t give a crap about what people think

  1. He sat on a bus tour and gave people hell for being late – they never showed up late again (Who else has the balls to call people on their shit?)
  2. He naps whenever he damn well feels like it…and like a boss (In Kensington Palace he was bored, so he laid down on the sofa and slept…in the palace… In London)
  3. If he thinks something is outrageous, he says so. (I always thought I took after my mom, but really, I am like my dad. People annoy me and I call them on it. Just like he does. I also expect people to call me on my shit – I respect them if they do. I think they are weak if they don’t)
  4. He likes my mom. They laugh together and have a good time. He lets her baby him and he humours her by letting her plan everything. Compromise is important.

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I also learned my siblings and I are more alike than we are different.

My sister wore a fancy hat on the plan home because she didn’t have a hatbox. She owned it like a boss. It wasn’t that much different from the time she wore a Sombrero home from Mexico because how else would you get it home?

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I am pretty much the same. I have learned that life is too short to waste time doing what bores you or is annoying or out of obligation. I am busy. I have very little time for my family. They come first. Everything else second. Don’t like? I’m cool with that. I cannot please the world.

As my dad is known to say, “If someone doesn’t like it, they can go down the street to find something they do like. Don’t break your neck trying to please because only you and your family matter in the end anyways.”

Amen Dad.

Welcome home, I’ve stopped crying now, so maybe we can hang out later.

#MoreLoveLetters

123-broken-hearts-14300882-564-605Today was one of those days where a trigger happened and I was suddenly thrusted back to a time and place where my heart was broken and oozing all over the place.

I hate it when it happens.

It usually is a song or a smell that will be a trigger for me.  90% of the time I push it out of my mind, but today was hard. I actually cried in the car all the way to work. It’s weird how something that happened years ago still affects me like it happened this morning.

I posted this on Facebook today :

Why is it that broken hearts never really heal?

And this was the response I received from a running teammate and rapidly becoming great friend:

Crumple a piece of paper… open it…
You can flatten it out but it will never be the same.
Forever changed… like the heart… hugs

BAM – she nailed it. I am sure I will never be the same. Not that the same was better. I have grown, gained wisdom and learned a lot from that experience. Yet the pain still lingers just beneath the surface. One false move and the tears can leak at any moment. Not true, it usually is masked or forgotten…until the trigger.

A dear friend asked me if I was ok. I guess so, in the sense that I don’t think I will ever be okay, just different. IT was an incredibly sad day for me. People looked at me and knew something was wrong with me, but were kind enough to let it pass. My Pup has stuck to me like glue.

Then I went to work this afternoon.

All was fine…sort of…I had work to keep me focused. Then it was my dinner break.

I had to head out of the shop and walk several blocks to my car because the lot was full. So I had to walk a different path than I normally do. That was when I discovered this envelope sitting by itself on the ledge of a window saying READ ME.

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I felt a little like Alice in Wonderland having to make a decision. Do I pick it up? Is it for me? Did someone drop it?

My first thought was ‘it might be a secret’ for Post Secret! COOOOOOL!

I decided to pick it up and open it.

Then I read this:

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Could there be a better message intended for me? I think not. It arrived at the very moment I need it. Thanks A!

Tears stopped, smile grew big, and I felt better.

It is amazing what happens with random kindness. Perfect.

#moreloveletters

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Lost and Found

When I was a kid, I could hardly wait to be a Grown Up. In my minds eye, the title was filled with freedom, wisdom and entitlement. I have been waiting for these things to happen since I reached the age of majority.

Still waiting.

It doesn’t look like it is going to happen any time soon either.

I feel ripped off.

I made a decision a few weeks back not to be the glue in certain situations. Yesterday it came back at me head on in the form of harsh words and anger. Because I have chosen not to engage in certain activities, means another person has to pick up the slack. While he voiced his discontent and anger and directed the harshness of his reality at me, I felt ambivalent. My immediate thought was…too bad, I am not going to do it, nor am I going to feel bad about it.

I walked away.

This is a huge step for me in my whole process of needing to be the care-taker or fixer of things. I can honestly say “Not Caring”.

But then why do I have that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach? I think perhaps its because I respect the person who is angry – truth be told, I know he is not angry at me, just the situation and I was the catalyst for the reaction. All I said was “Enjoy your day tomorrow” and shit hit the fan because he now had to work on his day off. Of course it wasn’t fair that I was the recipient of the behaviour but that is human nature.

I understand because I do that. I am not proud of it either.

I do try to be the nice kind people, but sometimes we all lash out at people because we are having an bad day or feel feel like no one really understands where we are coming from or what our situation truly is.

For the most part, people don’t really get it nor do they care because they are wrapped up in their own trials.

This makes me miss the ones who do understand. My sad reality is my empathizers are all miles away from me and thank goodness for Social Media because it keeps me connected to them. Yesterday I spoke with 4 of my – for lack of a better work – kin. They get me, I get them. They understand and I understand them. I miss them like I would miss breathing. I think about being away from them and my eyes tear up.

I think for the most part I miss them more than they miss me – of course I think that way because it still boggles my mind that people care about me. I am always shocked when someone does something kind for me. What a sad state of the world when kindness is a surprise.

While I think I have not found wisdom, freedom or entitlement, I know I have not lost them. If I look carefully enough, I realize I have indeed found those things, I just may be surprised to understand how they feel while experiencing them. I am not filled with the sense of awesome power. I am not filled with a happiness that I thought would accompany those things, but I do have a sense of peace knowing I am steering my own ship for the first time ever.

That alone makes me feel like a grown up. It also makes me wish for my mommy to come home and take care of everything like she did when I was little.

The time has come to let my mom not worry about all the little things I need fixing.

47 years old and I have finally found my way.1926170_10152827204221337_3195006942175040459_o

Unglued

If you have ever done Preschool Crafts with me or Scrapbooked with me long into the night, you are well aware that I have issues when it comes to adhesives. This one time I was a scrap night with my pals and it was long past midnight. I was so frustrated with some letters I was using. I had applied double sided tape to the letters, and after hours of cutting I had lost the letter I needed most. Could not find it anywhere. Looked under the table, cleaned up my spot, went through the trash…nothing. My friend looked at me with that expression you save for someone who tried hard but never quite gets it. You know what I mean – that awkward kid who just wants to be cool but never will. She had sad eyes and a sympathetic smile as she reached over and peeled an alphabet letter from my hair.

It had become stuck in my curls – forever lost had it not been for the keen eagle eyes of my friend.

I have been known to glue things together that needed to be separate, this list includes my fingers, left nostril and a lock of hair to my eyelid.

I am adhesive challenged.

Ironic.

It’s Ironic because I am typically the glue that holds things together.

My friend had made this comment to me the other day. He said reading some of my stuff is scary because he knows I am holding everything together like glue.

True.

I am the Krazy Glue in most situations waiting or rather wanting to be rescued.

The thing is, I fancy myself as Princess Elizabeth. The Great Robert Munsch Heroine, The Paper Bag Princess who rescues the prince and then dumps him because he is a jerk and she lives happily every after.

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Hmmm.

I have been doing a lot of rescuing lately. When I say lately I mean the past year.

I sat back and took stock of the gluing I had been doing and how well it was working. Typical me fashion, it was holding well, but not in the correct placement. I was feeling the stress of a situation that I didn’t really like, didn’t ask for, nor did I particularly care if this situation continued. So why was I keeping it glued together?

Great question. I asked myself the same thing.

I held this together to see if I could do it. Did I accomplish it? Yes.

I held this together to see if I liked it. Did I? No – it clashed with my values.

I held it together to ease the strain of others. Did it help? Yes.

Do I regret it? No. I learned a ton about myself, others and realized I have a set of beliefs that cannot be swept aside for cash.

I like that about me.

I unglued myself today. It felt like the right thing to do. It was hard doing it, admitting to ungluing. But it was done in such away that bridges are not burning down around me and respect was gained. In the end I did it for me and I know I did the right thing.

I am going to sleep well for the first time in 6 months. Why? Because I rescued myself.

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Trust the Journey

AC366 Back

I have been drifting lately.

I went for my annual MRI and lots of ‘stuff’ surfaces while I am alone with my thoughts for two hours. Perhaps I should do that more often….be alone with the thoughts. My busy life prevents me from dwelling too much, then suddenly I need to stop and think and it leaves me in an unsettled state of mind.

When I go in for my MRI, they need to get a clear picture of my brain and my acoustic neuroma. To do that, they place a cage over my head and attach it firmly to the bed while they roll me into the tube. I’m not going to lie, it isn’t at all pleasant. I suffer from claustrophobia and tried to keep myself calm enough to not have an anxiety attack. My mind was reeling between thoughts – none of them were positive in the way that made me feel great about my journey. In fact, some thoughts were actually harmful to my psyche.

I had spoken in great length to an incredible friend earlier in the week. We talked about my frustration with people constantly telling me I will be fine.

Dear People: YOU DON’T KNOW THAT. Telling me I am fine makes me feel like my feelings are inconsequential. My feelings just are. I cannot control them, they exist in a way that cannot be altered. I don’t like it, but I have learned to accept my feelings for what they are and not numb them. I know you mean well, and are trying to reassure me, but it just makes me angry.

There is a group of cancer survivors that come to my place of work every Monday night. They are part of a run/walk group that support each other and understand their situations in ways people around them just don’t. i have learned plenty from them. One gal in particular talked about not sharing details about her cancer because she didn’t want to alarm anyone, instead, it made things worse. People worried more about her.

I struggle with how much to share. I grew up with people telling me to stop being so mellow dramatic.

Ouch.

So how much is too much?

I cry on my own a lot. I blame other situations to ease the fear of the one I am facing.

So what exactly am I facing and why does it scare the crap out of me?

Well, here we go.

My Fear for all to see, judge and dissect.

  1. I fear my bran being altered in a huge way. I notice changes already, like not being able to recall nouns. Descriptors are fine, I can do that. Its like the door in my brain that holds all the nouns is locked. I can see it picture, word, image, but I cannot speak it. it evades me. Not every time, but enough that is scares me.
  2. I fear my intelligence vanishing. This part may be mellow dramatic, but it is a real fear. I never felt smart. Ever. I have learned and read studies that the more intelligent you are, the less you think you are. Which is why there are shows like JackAss. Those people are not bright, but are POSITIVE they are. With intelligence comes a humbling notation that you do not know everything, sure I tell everyone I do, but I don’t. Going back to University really proved a lot to me. I am smart, capable and understand a whole lot more than I give myself credit for. It scares me that I will lose this. Although sometimes, it might be nice to be dumb enough not to worry about things. It sounds peaceful.
  3. I fear my personality changing.  I like who I am. Whether its a real fear or not, I don’t want to be different unless I make those changes. I like being in control of who and what I am, the thought of a tumour being in control makes me angry.
  4. I fear I will look like an old person. I am 47 years old. There is a real possibility of me losing the strength in my face, making me look like I had a stroke. Apparently I am vain. I have never felt pretty, or desired…ever. But what I have I embrace. A lot of damage has been done to me over the course of my lifetime. I let men make judgements, and them believed them. I am at the point in my life right now where I am not over it entirely, but over it enough to say I look damn good for someone pushing 50. Please don’t make me look different until I am ready.
  5. I fear I will not be available for my children. My work has taken me away from them. This upsets me more than the tumour making me unavailable. But a real truth is all four fear reasons I listed above could make become emotionally unavailable or worse, physically unavailable. Death isn’t so much a reality, but vegetablism is. If that happens, please unplug me.  I trust my surgeon but anyone can have a bad day. Brain surgery is a big deal and I am not ready for it…now or likely ever. Thankfully I am not in the position to have it…yet.

 

Over the past 5 years, I am not going lie, my life has been difficult. I recognize other people’s lives haven’t been a cakewalk  either. Everyone has their own struggles. I do know this, I am not the same person I was 5 years ago. If you told me I would be standing here with the circumstances that surround me, I would never have believed it.

Yet here I am.

There is one thing I know when everything else seems so lost to me.

Trust the Journey.

It all seems to work out in the end.

I’m just not at the end yet.

 

 

My hair is matted and Cheetos are stuck to my face…but I have a plan

I laughed at my sister the day she received a kareokee machine for her birthday.

Not because she got a kareoke  machine, but because she knew at that moment she would never get anything done until she got over the binge use of that machine.

She laid on her sofa and demonstrated for me how she would look after weeks of use. It was as if she knew karaoke was her heroine. She leaned on the arm and feigned drool coming from her lips as she was singing Aerosmith or Show-tunes. Didn’t matter which tune it was, she had an addiction and she knew it.  I could envision dishes stacked to the ceiling and Cheetos stuck to her shirt with crusty food creased into her hip. She knew it and I knew it.

That night we sang for 8 hours. My voice was lost to every single from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. I pulled out tunes from the 60’s that I learned at the steering wheel of my Dad’s Montego MX, Jimmy Rogers and the Kingston Trio, then there was Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli and Barbara… Barbara doesn’t need a last name.

My voice was done for days afterwards. My sister? Well…she continued down that road of music addiction. Then one day it stopped.

I do not mock her or tease her about that problem she had because it could have easily have been me.

Wait…

It was me.

Since I have finished University Studies, I have been binge watching TV as if the world is about to end. Since December 3, 2013, I have found myself enjoying the delights of televisions series that challenge my interest, make me laugh in a subtle way that compliments my humour and I have been solving mysteries with finesse. Or at least that is what I tell myself after watching the show 3 times in order to figure out all the clues.

I have binged watch Sherlock, Call the Midwife, and most recent….Suits.

I come home from work, watch Suits. I wake up early to get an episode in before work, I have a day off – stay in my jambes and watch suits.

I find myself looking like Penny after she started playing on-line videos games….with Howard.

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Then as quickly as it happened, it was over.  I am caught up and the season doesn’t resume until AFTER THE OLYMPICS.  I found myself relating to Donna, coveting Jessica’s wardrobe  and having a soft spot for crazy Louis. I want to be on team LITT!  I want to wear Christian Loubatans to work and carry Prada bags. I want to have the trust and loyalty of a Harvey and I want an office dammit! I want an office with a view of Bernie Madoff’s old building. I would settle for an office with a view. Hell, at this point, I’d settle for an office.

What I do have is potential and possibility. What Suits has done for me has pointed out the people in my life who I trust and those who I need to guard myself against.

I have set new goals for 2014. I understand my vision NEVER turns out as planned. If you asked me 3 years ago if I knew I would be standing where I was, I would have laughed you out of the room. Therefore I am changing my focus. Where and what are out of the picture now. I can reach higher than that.

I really like my possibilities for 2015, besides…anything can happen.

Now…what to watch next…

Goodbye, Farewell, The End

In one month it will be the second anniversary of the Edmonton Tourist Project ( I woke up this morning and realized it is the third anniversary! WOW 3 years!).

I can no longer recognize the girl I use to be.

I began this site as a way to help me become accountable, take risks, heal the hurt and become the person I dreamed I could. I learned the difference between goals and dreams. A goal is a way to realize your dreams and wishes. I have learned the secret to goal achievement and it is satisfying in ways I never thought possible.

I will graduate in December. WOW. I once never dreamed I was smart enough for University. Now I find it mundane and limiting in my learning. Looking forward to having letters after my name. It automatically gets people’s attention when the reality is, I was just as smart before, but now I know how to put it all together. That is progress.

I say yes more often to try things and no more often when I have taken on too much or just really don’t want to do something.

I have traveled solo and figured out where I begin and my family ends. This was also important for me. I needed to learn boundaries.

I have learned and practice great nutrition. I have lost nearly 95lbs in two years. I have  another 90lbs to go, BUT it has become habit. Great food choices made of REAL food have taught me to listen to my body. I know what it needs and when it needs it. Eating gratuitous sugar because it is someones birthday is rarely worth the calories. It has to be OUTSTANDING before I will spend calories on sugar laden food because there are consequences to those actions. I either eat less, work out more or gain some temporary weight. Neither of those options are awesome. So I choose carefully.

I have learned that loving someone doesn’t mean it has to be a married relationship or a parental one. I love my girlfriends, fella friends, and family with a fierce intensity that I didn’t know existed within me. This has given me permission to spend time with those people and the ones I just like…get less time or none because my time is limited and valuable. It doesn’t mean you are not valuable it just means I am prioritising my life. I come first, then family, then friends, then school, then work. Work is last because it is a means to a lifestyle. However, it made the list so you can be sure work is filled with passion. If it isn’t on the list, it lacks passion. Without passion, I have no desire to put in an effort. That was my problem before the project. I had my priorities mixed up. I need to nurture me so I can nurture my passions.

That makes it simple.

I place me first for the reason listed above, however, I didn’t put into what ME means:

I have learned I am a social introvert. I like socializing but not all the time. Please don’t drop in on me, call first. There is a list of people who are welcome to drop in and that list includes my mom, dad, sister, my best friend and George Clooney. Call first or I get cranky.

I need to include fitness in my life for lots of reasons, but the big one is if I have to face surgery for my brain tumour, then I want to be as fit and healthy as possible. Death does not scare me, but my children still need their mommy for the time being and I intend to be there as they need me. Being THE MOM is a responsibility that I do believe I was created for. I take it seriously and approach it with humor and humility. I have raised amazing humans and can’t wait to see how they shape their future.

I need to read. I need to continue learning and I need to sit in stillness and reflect. This is what defines me. Include fitness in there and those things need to be done alone for me. That is my recharge time. People exhaust me, I love them but I need that space away – and often, like everyday.

I need to set goals to reach new dreams. Goal setting and dream achieving is simply amazeballs.

So does this means I am fixed and no longer need the Edmonton Tourist Project? Well?

I have been think about that a lot while I run. Running has become my focus and passion lately. Writing is my creative outlet. I am writing 2 books right now. They tumble out of me like movies. That leaves me with nothing left to say on the Edmonton Tourist Project. While my growth continues, I no longer feel blogging about it is the right platform.

That must mean this is the end.

I am so incredibly grateful to those of you who have supported me all the way along. I have met incredible bloggy friends along the way, some turned into real life friends, some have drifted away and others have died. This tells me that endings do not have to be bad. Happy endings are lovely too.

Is my blogging career over? NO WAY! I am devoting my writing over at my health and fitness blog called Me and MO. Mo is short for momentum. You can find it HERE or http://justmeandmo.wordpress.com/  It is the same me who looks at life slightly skewed with humor in her brain and wit on the tongue.

I get it if all that running and nutrition talk isn’t for you. I do understand that. It isn’t for everybody. For now it is where I need to be.

Soon I will close this site, revamp it and change it into something different. But I am taking the summer off.

This feels right. It is time to say goodbye to old me and embrace the me I really am. It kind of feels like the final episode of M*A*S*H* and I feel like BJ. Not wanting to say it but needing to.

Keep in touch friends.

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Lesson’s my Dad taught me: Happy Father’s Day

I was one of those lucky kids.

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You know the kind, I had a dad who would play with me. As a teacher I could always spot the kids who had a great relationship with their father, they would talk about him and tell stories or behave in such a way that reflected the good times they had together. I was one of those kids.

I learned plenty of great things and was fortunate enough to be scarred for life because of my Dad, so I decided I need to have a Dad Tribute today on my Dad’s 45th Father’s Day Milestone.

Things My Dad Taught Me by the Edmonton Tourist

  1. To love Superheroes: Sure my Dad is a Superman fan, and I think that is sad and pathetic because he is the WORST SUPERHERO EVER. But I was encouraged to be my own superhero. I was Danger Girl. I had my own cape and my own super powers. I stored lightning bolts in my chest and could throw them at a moments notice. I learned that I had my own inner power to conquer all things difficult. I just needed to put my mind to it and work for it.
  2. It never hurts to be kind: I was taught the kindness, manners and respect was a common courtesy that everyone should enjoy. This didn’t mean you had to like the people, but you had to be polite. It makes the world a better place. I’ve witnessed it.
  3. Appreciate other’s strengths: Life is too short to harbour jealousy. Everyone has a talent that should be celebrated. Embrace each other’s talent and be thankful they are good that things you are not. Work together and be a team, more can get done that way.
  4. Be a Reader: The fact that my Dad was an English Teacher is the reason I am a reader. Sure he would give me books and then talk to me about them, but that was because reading for pure joy will take you places you can never imagine. There is nothing more delightful than being so caught up in a book you think about the characters and places long after the book is over. Reading great novels has made me smarter through understanding, questioning and researching further to gain a greater understand of the events.
  5. Travel: I have been all over the world the seen things that only a handful of people have had the privilege to see. Dreams came true on holidays with my parents. I saw the Bird Lady feed the pigeons on the Steps of St. Paul, I’ve stood at the base of Vimy Ridge and felt the whispers of Canadian boys who died there so that I may live the life I have today, I learned how locks and channels work on a rare sunny evening in Amsterdam and learned about laughing until your sides hurt and tears spring from your eyes because being silly is way more fun on vacation than being serious.

Of course my dad has taught me many more life lessons, I just appreciate these ones the most and have taught my children the same life lessons.

The biggest and best lesson I learned from my Dad, is don’t take yourself to serious and laugh at yourself more often. Think about it, you are hilarious. Embrace it.

Happy Father’s Day Daddy! Love you! xxx

Me and Dadeo at the finish

Me and Dadeo at the finish

Defining Edmonton #50thingsyeg

The Edmonton Journal as a feature running until July 10 called Tell us what makes the city tick with 50 Things That Define Edmonton. The Summer of 2010 is when I became the Edmonton Tourist. I chose to live my life like I do when I am on vacation, take risks and explore my surroundings. Part of that included being a tourist in ETown.

I grew up with parents and a grandma who knew the importance of exploring your surroundings. From an educational and child development standpoint, exploring my surroundings increased my vocabulary, taught me about my City’s history and gave me a solid sense of family. I grew up learning that families do stuff together. Over the years we visited the Zoo, Fort Edmonton, Muttart Conservatory, the Royal Museum and Art gallery and went to shows and concerts at the Citadel, The Jubilee, Rexall (coliseum), and Commonwealth Stadium. I’ve curtsied to Royalty, hugged hockey players, conversed with artists, and chatted with fellow citizens. I think this makes me more than qualified to contribute to the 50 things that Define Edmonton.

But you guys know me so well, I won’t make a list of 50 things – just the 11 things that define Edmonton for me.

The Edmonton Tourist’s Top 11 Things that Define Edmonton

  1. The Edmonton River Valley: I have always love the valley. My family picnics there every Friday night and we utilize the park system on a regular basis. Since I have become a runner, I now want to move closer to the valley. Every season there is something spectacular about it. I love running through it 5 times a week. There are trails I have never explored and some that are my favorite. It is the only place I know of where you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere and yet you are downtown. End to end it is has more square feet than Central Park. Yet it is made up of hundreds of parks honoring great Edmontonians and Canadians. This is hands down, the number one thing that defines Edmonton.
  2. Volunteers: Every city brags about it’s citizens. True Story. But Edmonton has a community of volunteers that just come out of the woodwork to support events. It is nearly impossible to get a volunteer spot at the Edmonton folk Fest. When major sporting events come to town like the World Track and Field games, the Masters or the World Triathlon, volunteers put their hands up and say “I’d love to help!” Sure there are events where they just can’t get enough volunteers, but I think that has more to do with marketing than people not wanting to help. Edmontonians give back on a regular basis. True Story.
  3. Festivals: I’ll be honest, not every festival in Edmonton to fantastic. I have been to all of them – except any new ones that will pop up this summer. Some are duds. However, there are some festivals that are out of this world AMAZING and people (like me) plan their summer around them! Well, I plan around The Fringe Festival and the Canadian Derby Marathon. Marathon Weekend use to be Edmonton Festival Marathon, but now it’s name has change. The Fringe is a the largest Fringe Festival in North America and second largest in the world (Edinburgh is first). I can been seen DAILY down at the Fringe. As for the Derby Marathon Weekend? I am running on Saturday (5k) with my ChatterBox and on Sunday (21.1k) with a plethora of people – some friends and some strangers but we are all part of the running community!
  4. Hockey: I know not everyone is a fan (What???) but those who aren’t true fans are bandwagoners. True Story. When I say Hockey, I don’t just mean the Oilers, there are the Oil Kings, Minors, street hockey, pond hockey – you name it. It is all year, every day. The NHL lock out was hard on me, but there was enough of the other stuff to keep me happy. Edmonton has some pretty cool hockey memorabilia, like the giant Stanley Cup (engraved and everything!), Wayne Gretzky Drive (Cap freeway), Mark Messier Trail and the new arena controversy that keeps saying they are done but are they really? I think not. In fact, the papers are all full of the 25th Anniversary that Waynederful was traded to the L.A. Kings. And we have never been the same since. We have a new coach, but I am just going to keep hoping for a playoff spot and pray we don’t become Toronto (45 years since the last cup).
  5. Patio Seating: Weird right? Well, in Edmonton we have THE WORST weather. I am sick of rain and cold and before that I was sick of cold and snow, hopefully I will get sick of dry and hot. We don’t get much time to sit outside on patios drinking beverages with friends. So when we do, on a long summer evening, we try to maximize it. My favorite patio is one that has padded chairs because I will be there awhile. Those bistro chairs aren’t as comfy. Yes you will find Patio Heaters because in the fall and early spring it is cold but we just don’t want to admit that winter is around. All hail the PATIO!
  6. Construction: Before there was a guy named Mayor Mandel, we had a dude who wouldn’t spend money on infrastructure and we are paying the price now. But when it is done, we will finally have roads that can move the population around. Meanwhile, I cannot remember a time when potholes didn’t need filling, bridges are being built and road closures make summer driving hot and long. Which is why I am trying to be a long distance runner, it will be faster to run downtown than drive.
  7. Gardens: We don’t have Butchart Gardens, but since the season is so short, there are an awful lot of flowers in people’s yards. We can squeeze 4- 4.5 months of gardening in before the frost destroys everything. People go big with their gardens and I am one of them! I have huge patio containers in the back and planted beds in the front. I like flowering trees and running lately is a fragrant paradise! May Day trees and Lilacs fill the river valley. Beautiful!
  8. Golf: I don’t golf but I know by just living in Edmonton that lots of people do. There appears to be a golf course for every 5 citizens. They are pretty – maybe one day I will be a golfer. However, it just doesn’t make sense to me. There should be a goalie, THEN it would be a sport….whatever.
  9. Parks: Edmonton Parks are spectacular. The city does a great job keeping them sparkly and clean. The river valley does have great parks but they aren’t the only ones in town!
  10. Ponds: Actually they are reservoirs. They were created to assist the rain overflow to prevent basement overflow. And the result is fantastic wildlife pockets around the city. Geese, Herons, Ducks, and Bald Eagles can be spotted at some of these places. They are lovely spots of tranquillity splattered all over the city. And in the winter? Shiny or just skating happens. Skating on a frozen pond is a Canadian rite of passage. If you have never done it, embrace your heritage and do it!
  11. Recycle: Odd I know, but Edmonton is a world leader in Recycling. I notice it when I travel. We recycle everything and other cities barely recycle paper. Shocking. So happy we are doing our part.

There you have it, my personal opinion of what defines Edmonton. What would you choose?

Beyond Your Limits

I have been thinking a lot about pushing myself to the limit. Be it physical, mental or emotional. There seems to be no greater satisfaction than from those who are able to accomplish this feat.

Emotional limits, both positive and negative expression is not my favorite. I struggle with the pain of ending and heartbreak as do most of the humans I know. It is the hardest one for me to push.

I love pushing my mental limits, but being brain tired is the worst after emotional tired.

Yet there is something so completely satisfying about pushing your physical limits. It makes my mental juices flow and sends me to emotional heights that I am sure only George Clooney could equal.

This past month I have pushed my physical limits past the point I thought was my limit. I ran up Emily Murphy Hill 3 times, for the first time ever. She normally kills me after half way on the first time. Yet I conquered her. I ran in my first 10k race and set a personal time record. I was tired for 2 weeks but I knew it was because I left my guts out there on the road. I have set some pretty tough goals for myself this summer and I know the only way I will get there is by leaving pieces of me on the ground, in my books or on my sleeve. I will either be broken or exhilarated. Either way, pushing myself is my way of celebrating success.

A couple of years ago I never did anything that was hard. I never challenged myself through work, I never challenged myself through intellect, I never did anything physical that could test my limits. If it was hard, I avoided it and said no.

The Edmonton Tourist Project challenged me to say yes and try new things. I look back and don’t recognize that girl in the pictures. She looks different than I do now, but more importantly, her spirit was broken or harnessed by others. I said goodbye to her and the new and improved me is  – as my friend It’s Maevealous says – FIERCE. I love that word.

I am inspired by her intellect. She is knowledgeable in ways that humble me. She is insightful and brilliant, adventurous and fun. All things I wanted to be and now am achieving.

Through facebook I have become part of a running team WDW Radio Running Team for The Dream Team Project. I have met amazing athletes who are in different chapters of their book. I am just past the Introduction, while others are near their climax and some others are in their epilogue. Yet we all chEAR each other on and support through words, laughter and help. One of these athletes just became a 2 time IRONMAN. She is my hero. I am inspired by how she pushes herself to her physical limits and signs up for yet another IRONMAN because a teammate has decided to enter for the first time and so she will be there in full support. She is gracious enough to tell me her story, so look for that coming up soon.

Weeks ago I put my emotional struggles here on this page for all to read. The fat girl running faced bullies and went head to head with them. That blog post went near viral. Women all over the world read it to the tune of 15000 visits and countless shares. Local women came up to me and asked for my autograph. It was weird. But through that post I met a running mom who ran her first half marathon in Vancouver. She has inspired me to join Team in Training and pursue the San Francisco Marathon next year. I will be talking to her soon too about Team in Training and her exciting adventures about running in Vancouver with an injury!

And then there is my one of my dear best friends. She is a new friend but you know how some people just click? We did. Last year she entered a spin-a-thon event and cycled for 90 minutes. She had never pushed herself to do anything like that. Today she is riding 93km from Leduc to Camrose in the MS bike tour. I am so excited for her because I know she will never be the same after she feels what it is like to push yourself beyond limits. I am going to meet her at the finish line today. You don’t get a medal for this event, so I made her a giant chocolate chip cookie medal to hang around her neck – and then eat because I am sure she will be super hungry.

So when people ask me “how are you able to do that?” be it running, university, work, momming or reading a billion books for fun, I tell them because pushing yourself to limits is incredibly satisfying and it makes me

FIERCE

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