Edmonton Tourist: Mill Creek Ravine

IMG_2598

Can someone tell me why Mill Creek Ravine is classified as a River Valley Park? It starts in South Edmonton by Argyll Road and ends about 2km away from the River. It does follow the creek all the way into the valley, but it is not really a Vally park. Not that I am complaining. Mill Creek Ravine is park #4 in my quest to visit all the valley parks. This one is my favourite running spot. I am always on the upper trail beginning my downward decent into the valley because running downhill is the most fun you can have on legs.

The Captain and I began at the 2.5km mark. How do I know the milage? I run this trail a lot. The Mill Creek Pool upper parking lot is 2.5 km away from the trail head. I have run that a gazillion times and have explored the lower trails down below. But I had never been along the creek itself at this point of trail. So Cap and I parked the car in the busy lot and made a right turn towards the creek down the long steep hill.

IMG_2603

 

The hill was loose gravel and my sled dog thought running down it might be fun, except it was too steep for me to run so I fell and he kept dragging me down the slope while my feet dug in as brakes. I finally had to yell at him to stop. The cyclists behind me thought this was hilarious. I have a very strong pup.

IMG_2573

The first thing I noticed about this new trail I was on was the blossoms. It is super early for leaves and flowers but I will take it! I love summer and today had that “summer in the city’ feel to it.

IMG_2574

When we made it down the hill, I took the time to brush the gravel out of my hands and emptied my shoes while Cap explored the first bridge and the creek.

IMG_2575

I was surprised by the amount of people down here. The upper trail is always busy in the mornings with runners getting their long run in for the week. But this was 1:00 PM, the runners have finished for the day and the cyclists were out. Apparently this is where they come. So many trails that meander all over the place down here, I made sure to stay close to the creek. I knew it would come out at the river so I didn’t fear getting lost.

I crossed 7 bridges that spanned the creek. Far mare than I was expecting.

As Cap and I wandered around, we found some seniors playing Pooh Sticks. A game my kids like to play when they were little. It is a game you play by tossing a stick downstream and rushing to the other side of the bridge to see whose stick won the race. Cap and I stopped to cheer them on a bit. We continued on and found the River Valley Clean up Volunteers in full force picking up refuse and the trash to keep our parks lovely. I got into this habit long ago from my dad. Out walking and I pick up trash I see and place it in the bin. If everyone did this, a big weekend wouldn’t be needed every year. So THANK YOU Volunteers! I appreciate the work you do!

IMG_2585

A little further along the creek and we found two boys building a fantastic fort. This is something I loved doing as a kid. When I lived in Hay River we had a forest behind us like this one and I spent hours working on my home away from home. These two boys built an impressive lean-to and had benches and a cooking area. There is nothing I love more than to see imagination at work.

IMG_2584

We kept pushing onward and discovered a picnic area. It would be a bit of a trip to pack fire wood in, but it can be done!

IMG_2592

As we wandered along the creek, we heard lots of birds and saw dozens of dogs but the rest of the wildlife was scarce. Even water in the creek was low. It has been a dry winter and even dryer spring so I am hoping for some solid rain to happen for a while.

As we entered deeper into the forest the noise of the city became so distant we could no longer hear it. As always it amazes me that I can be in Downtown Edmonton and feel like I am in the middle of nowhere.

Before we new it, I could see the buildings peeking over the trees in an effort to remind me where I was.IMG_2595

I had expected this walk to be about 2km to Connor’s Hill, the road that leads to the downtown core. But because of the meandering creek, we ended up walking 6km much farther than my dog prefers. We needed to stop in the shade so he could snack on some greens and cool his belly on the damp grass. I finally convinced he we needed to walk further because the apple tree was in bloom and I wanted a a photo of the sign, proof we were here.

To cheer Cap up, we climb the paved trail back to the parking lot. This was a 2.5 km trek, a much shorter distance than the way we arrived at the bottom.

IMG_2600

This was my 4th park. All 4 times I have experienced something that I had not seen before. It astounds me that Edmonton still holds secrets from me. Damn I love this city!

Next up Nellie McClung Park over by the Old Timers Cabin.

 

Plan A revised

img_2478It was a tough week for me.

My baby girl became an official adult. Work stress is beginning to feel like burn out. I’m too tired to relax and have fun at night. I am ready for an extended couple of days off but that is not around the corner. My usual stress decompress was missed last week and I fear it may be missed this week too.

I blame the burbs. At the time I moved in to the burbs I felt it was important. I chose my home based on school district and individual schools for my children. Living in the neighbourhood of the preferred school just made it simpler. Studies showed that schools where families have the same values about education helped promote secondary education for your own children.

Here we are with two adult children and no one remotely considering University …yet.

And I have no one to blame but myself.

I went back to school at the age of 43. Proof that school will always be there.

School is over-rated. AND ridiculously expensive.

I loved it for the most part. But I also discovered that what I loved about school, I can achieve on my own without the cost. I plain and simply love learning. I love research and I love solving problems. Non of this is education institution exclusive.

Both my kids are headed down an non-traditional career path. When you throw in conventional education, it suddenly alters the course of where they want to go. Now that they are both adults and understand responsibility, they know what needs to be done to get to their goal. I have stepped back and watched it happen before my eyes. I am there to catch them, but mostly they know where I stand. They often hear me say, “I do not care what you do as long as it isn’t hurtful to others and it productive to you and not self-destructive. Choose where you want to go and NO PLAN B. You can’t give your Plan A 100% focus if you have a plan B”

Plan B’s are for when you outgrow your goal and need a new path. I have had many paths. There is always time to reinvent yourself. I am living proof. I often defend my children as fiercely as any mother bear. “This is their choice. What worked or didn’t work for you is not our concern. My children have their own goals, their own life and their own mistakes to make. You have your own children….go be their parent.”

So with that said – my plan A is done. I need a new plan. I hate the burbs.

I want to live in one of two places. Either Edmonton’s River Valley or really close to it because that is my playground. Or I want to live in Vancouver because it is my other playground. I love both equally and have a magnet pull to be there. But my house is still full of people who need my support for a while longer.

I feel restless today. Usually that means heading to the valley with my dog and wondering around in nature because even though it is in the middle of the city, it feels like the middle of no where. I live 25km from the river valley. I need my car. My son is at work and has my car. I know everyone is thinking, “Why can he take the bus?” He can, but we live in the burbs in the City of Edmonton. It has THE WORST TRANSIT SYSTEM IN THE WORLD! a 2o minute drive to his place of work on a Saturday is the equivalent of a 2 hour one-way trip on the bus. So I let him have my car. My dog won’t go in the hubs car. He just won’t, 75lbs is a lot to lift into a car, so I won’t force him.

I want to live and play in my playground. I have earned that. This is now my new Plan A. I have no use for plan Bs

Dear Universe, I ask that you help me figure out how to move to the Valley or to Vancouver by Summer 2017.

I want to live surrounded by trees.

I want that peaceful feeling I get when I sit on a bench overlooking water.

I just don’t have that here in the burbs. I no longer feel like this is my home, its just easy.

It is easy because I don’t have to do anything. It is easy because it is familiar. It is easy because it is the same. Easy does not mean awesome. I have never been that girl who was satisfied with just good enough.

I do not need a big home. I do not need STUFF bursting from my closets.

I need a window, sunshine streaming in my room, a comfortable chair, a coffee pot and a shower that is roomy, a bed big enough to stretch and a short distance to my playground.

I have created a space that was nurturing and homey for my children. They are now grown. Now it is time to look after me. My plan is in place, and now I need to take the steps to get there.

Plan A it is.

Seawall-looking-out-to-city-Clayton-Perry-e1423346446418-607x253

 

8 Things No One Needs to Apologize For

I am pretty angry with myself. I have let people take my happy place from me.

5-Amy-Poehler-Quotes-To-Inspire-You

What the hell was I thinking? I can do better.

I have had to protect myself from being a part of some really amazing things because the feelings associated with this are currently devastating to me. I was chatting with the hubs about people in my life who did some hurtful things and how it made me feel. He was sad for me and said “Oh no, they took it away from from you” He is right, and I am taking it back right now.

I let myself sit in the pain for a while because I have learned from experience that feeling pain is the fastest way to over come it. Then I was speaking to a friend about it and I burst into tears. I didn’t mean to. My emotions are sitting pretty close to the surface so tear leakage happens  easily at the moment. I was rewarded with their annoyance. At the time I felt apologetic for making this friend feel this way.

Then I snapped out of it. Brought myself back to my senses and thought….

WHAT THE HELL ROBYN? STOP APOLOGIZING FOR OTHER PEOPLE’s FEELINGS.

I feel this way. Period. Feelings just are. I cannot control them, but I can control the words that come out of my mouth and I am taking back that I apology.

I am not sorry. You should be sorry. You are part of the reason.

I am no longer sorry I made my friend feel awkward and annoyed. Too bad so sad. You want to be my friend? This is what happens when people hurt me. You don’t want to deal with it? Leave.

A shift happened. The sadness stopped and its like an imaginary hat pulled down low on my forehead. My eyes narrowed and now I am in the angry phase. I am owning it.

How dare I let myself be influenced this way.

Then I found this gem

8 THINGS A STRONG WOMAN SHOULD NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR

1. MAKING CHOICES AGAINST CONVENTION

Even women who consider themselves liberated from social conventions feel that they will be judged for going against the expectations that others have for women, even though that expectation has changed over time.Women make choices that are right for them and they should never apologize for that.

I made a choice that was right for me. It maybe very Canadian to apologize for it, or very female especially in a world full of men. I take back my apology and I stand by my choice. I made it for a reason and it had everything to do with the behaviour and attitudes of others. It didn’t fit with my values. I am owning my decision. I will not feel guilt. quote-amy-poehler-2

2. PUTTING HERSELF FIRST

A strong woman knows that she can’t be her best for others unless she is already at her best. By taking care of her own needs before helping her family, boss or community, she is able to do more for them.

But first she has to be healthy, financially secure, and mentally strong. Strong women don’t apologize for prioritizing their to do list with taking care of her own needs.

Men don’t, yet they seem to expect women to pander to their egos and support them when its not reciprocal. I am just as important as anyone else in the room. No one else is going to put me first – that has been proven time and again. So as with everything else, I will do this myself.irene_parlby-900x300

3. MAKING PLANS WITHOUT DEFERRING TO ANYONE

In the 1970’s a study found that prior to learning about women’s liberation, women felt the need to defer to men when making a decision. The need to ask permission of the men in their lives left them feeling resentment and anger.

About that…its called being an Adult. I no longer ask for permission, however, I do include because being exclusive is hurtful. I am not intending to be hurtful. I have learned what it is like to be excluded and funnily enough my male friends do this regularly. My women friends do not. Here is the difference,Women tend to do this: “I am  doing this – would you care to join me?” My Male friends tend to d o this: “I am doing this” Without the invitation and then are surprised when people get hurt. 5women-4

4. BEING COMFORTABLE WITH SEX
Consensual sex is healthy and natural to both men and women, but it’s only women who feel like we should hide the fact that we both have, and enjoy sex just as much as men do. A strong woman knows that she has control over her physical enjoyment and has a choice of whether or not to have a partner.

A strong woman rejects the negative labels that have been given to women who have sex frequently or outside of marriage. What she does with her body and with whomever she wants to is none of your business. 

AND a woman’s body is HERS this means you are not allowed to help yourself to it whenever the mood strikes you. Consent is key. 41355f3a2fa0f3e3ff0d0ae606aea447

5. SPEAKING HER MIND
Words have power and a strong woman uses them to her advantage to communicate effectively. Strong women should never apologize for using language to express themselves; even if that includes swearing, raising her voice or saying unpopular things.

Exactly – so fuck off, I am 48 and make my own decisions. Being the devil’s advocate because you enjoy the argument that ensues just makes me think less of you. If you actually believe your statements then you are entitled to your own opinion and we must agree to disagree. My voice is as important as your voice. So again…fuck off. 05d0ac0c0839ccf60e31c7c31b42c614

6. SAYING NO
‘No’ is a powerful word, and strong women will not apologize for using it liberally. A strong woman will decline to overextend herself so that she has more energy to devote to people and activities who are a priority.

Although it can be tempting to apologize for skipping your party, a strong woman knows that she’s not doing anything that needs your forgiveness. If you are upset that she can’t attend your event, that’s a negative emotion that you put on yourself, not something that a she has caused you to feel. Apologizing for someone else’s negative emotions is not what a strong woman will do.

Yeah…so this one is still hard for me. The new phrase in my vocabulary is “No Thank you” Still to the point and polite. Because above all else, manners elevate you.

B6OQYlGCcAAVcw4

7. HAVING STRONG OPINIONS
A strong woman will not apologize for having and expressing her own unique thoughts, even if they are different from yours. She also has no need to apologize for holding seemingly conflicting beliefs. For example when she expects a gentleman to hold the door for her, while still expecting him to treat her as his equal.

Strong women are aware of the convention of devaluing traditional female roles and segregating gender in the workplace and they do not apologize for expressing their dissatisfaction with this. Strong women will not apologize for expecting equal pay for equal work, equal treatment by the law and evolving gender roles.

I have lost friendships over this, that is how important this is to me. I am as deserving as any man, maybe more so because I have to work harder to prove it. My wish for my daughter to is to just be equal. It is looking that her peers have grasped this concept in spite of their fathers and grandfathers or the “old boys club”. I am a proud mama of two feminists one male and one female. #sheforhe

tfey

8. EXPECTING MORE
A strong woman has a list of accomplishments that she wants for herself but she also knows that she is capable of much more. She not only expects herself to achieve, she expects the same of others. A strong woman knows what she wants to change and how to achieve it.

A study in Psychology of Women Quarterly found that when it comes to breaking gender barriers, women’s own expectations for their success were important to their sense of achievement. Since gender discrimination still exists in the workplace, women bear a psychological and economic burden that men do not.

Amen to that. I found this is true across the board and even is found in my volunteer work. Mostly because the men feel the need to remind me of it. I don’t need reminders. Unfortunately I have to look past their shortsightedness and bring more to the table. I refuse to expect less of me. I refuse to apologize for my ideas and my efforts. However, if I am capable of more, so are you.I now expect it of you.

r39291lr

Just do it.

Acoustic Neuroma Chronicles: Finding Support

9550064-Background-concept-wordcloud-illustration-of-empathy--Stock-Illustration

I belong to several support groups for Acoustic Neuroma. The consistent chatter lately usually follows along the lines of “people say the understand, but they don’t really get it.”

For the most part I think that is true. No one really understands what you are going through unless they have been there themselves. My symptoms often get dismissed as “Oh well, you’ll be fine.” or something like” My uncle lost is hearing from artillery, he has a hearing aid, you should get one so you can hear.” My favourite was, “Well that is just the way it is now so get used to it.”

I know that. Don’t ask if you don’t want to know. Believe me….I know.

I can explain my situation but there are those people who just don’t want to know. Sure they say they do, but then their words are dismissive.

I have become accustom to keeping my AN ‘stuff’ to myself. I have learned that most people in the support group do this as well. It is our cocoon technique. We wrap ourselves up to protect ourselves from thoughtless or uncaring individuals.

Please don’t for one minute think I am painting you all with the same brush. I know who supports me and who doesn’t. I know who I can talk to about my AN and who I cannot. Yesterday something pretty astounding happened. The Acoustic Neuroma Association found my Discombobulated piece and featured it because it spoke to so many people about what they live with. I was able to articulate symptoms that resonated with literally thousands of people. I have pretty much cried for two days.

I often will take on the feelings of those around me. I have received so many emails, messages and comments saying “I stayed at my desk and cried. This is the first time I learned that there is someone else out there like me.”

Know this, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

We all don’t feel the symptoms in the same way nor do we have the same issues. Lots of us have hearing loss. I learned yesterday my deafness is called SSD or Single Sided Deafness…who knew? Apparently it’s a thing. But I also learned that we are more alike than different. I have taken the time to respond to everyone’s comment or question because I HEAR YOU and YOUR FEELINGS MATTER. Even that lady whose father tells her she is over reacting. You aren’t. You are reacting in a way that is real to you. I bet he is scared.

The lovely thing about the support groups is people share with you regrets about treatments, new research they found, relatable stories and kinship. True there is sometimes too much information and I need to step back occasionally. I don’t always want to know what the future could have in store for me. I have faith in science. I think science will solve my issues eventually. If not, science will save the next person. That is comforting. Until that happens, it is nice to know we can hold each other’s hand or offer a shoulder because we have all cried at some point. We have all been scared at some point. We have  all felt hope at some point. We just know.

If you are not living with an Acoustic Neuroma but love someone who is, you are also welcome to join the some of the support groups. We do not want to hear stories about people not suffering from AN – there is a different forum for that, but we would love for you to become more aware of our journey. We need support and we are looking for it everywhere. Having it close to home would be lovely. If not,that is okay too. That is why we are in the support group and we will hold each other up.

Acoustic Neuroma Association 

Acoustic Neuroma Public Group

 

Edmonton Tourist: Henrietta Muir Edwards Park

100 years ago this week is a big day in history for Alberta. Women received the right to vote. Women became persons under the law. That is a big deal. For all the complaining I do about how far women still need to go to achieve complete equality, I am pretty pleased I live in 2016 rather than 1916. Knowing me the way I do, I can pretty much guarantee that I was a vocal suffragette or at the very least a participatory suffragette.

Henrietta Muir Edwards was one of the Famous Five who were important figures in Canadian history and the have 5 Edmonton River Valley Parks named for them. This was my 1st Famous 5 Park and my 4th park in my quest to visit all Edmonton River Valley Parks this summer.

I was anxious to get to this park because Edmonton is in the process of adding the Valley Line through here. Soon construction will happen and the lovely little park will change because of the LRT (Light Rail Transit) slated to come through here. Evidence was clear, this will begin sooner than later. The park signage was gone and I had to dig up some internet evidence that it once existed.

The sign says Trail modifications begin April  20.

I didn’t park in the parking lot. I came from the east and parked further down in the residential area of Cloverdale. I love this little neighbourhood and have a strong desire to live here in my near future.

Cap and I began at the statue of George the Principal of Bennet School. He must have been quite the community leader to have a this area of the park dedicated to him.

This park starts out quite urban with brick sidewalks and lovely light posts. We walked across the open grassy promenade and found our way on dirt trails leading to the river.

I run through here frequently so none of this was new for me. I did notice the sounds of nature we deafening this morning. I love that I can be this close to the Edmonton Downtown Core and still feel like I am in the middle of the wilderness. The valley came alive today with birds, ducks and geese calling out to Cap, mocking him because he couldn’t reach them.

We turned away from the River and walked towards the Clover dale Bridge, the foot path that leads to Louise McKinney Park, another of the Famous 5.

 

It is April and I saw leaves budding out on the trees. I don’t know about where you live, but there should still be snow patches and no real visible signs of green for another couple of weeks.

When I run though this park, I tend to keep to the foot paths, what I didn’t realize is this is a lovely picnic spot with stoves for camp fires. I had no idea. This has been the greatest lesson for me, slowing down to take in my surroundings. I thought of lost opportunity for family picnics and made a mental note to come back once the construction began. Knowing Edmonton, they will leave this place better than they found it once the train comes through.

Captain and I walked up to the Bridge to take in the view.

Although you cannot tell, the paths were busy this morning with friends running their 20kms in training for the Vancouver Marathon in a few weeks. It was good too see so many people I know. It was a stark contrast to the deserted feeling I had last week in Goldstick Park.

I added a clarify filter to show the detail of the river valley and noticed all the ice has melted.

IMG_2477

IMG_2474

The Hotel MacDonald looked majestic this morning.

The Chinese Gardens can be seen in the distance of Louise McKinney Park, a place I will visit later this summer when I begin my explorations of the North Side of the River.

IMG_2476

Cap and I continued exploring West towards Rafter’s Landing where the Edmonton Queen has been put on the auction block, opening bid $10, 000. Its a fixer-upper with limited traveling ability because of the sand bars on the river. I never did go for a trip via Edmonton Queen, but I have paddled down in my trusty canoe. If you ever get the opportunity to see the valley from that perspective, I highly recommend it.

Captain had a run-in with a protective gander and the two of them go into a bit of a scuffle. Luckily for me, the gander flew off because it was all I could do to hold my dog back from a tastily snack. I think the goose realized this and decided to save himself, so he and the missus flew off in unison while I stretched out my shoulders. My Pup is a big boy who is stronger than I in situations like these, but I managed to keep him at bay. I then spent the next half hour picking burrs out of his fur.

While I didn’t expect to learn or discover anything new here at this park because I frequent it regularly, it did teach me to always expect the unexpected. Give the park a visit before it changes on the 20th.

Next week The Captain and I will visit my favourite running path Mill Creek Ravine Park, but as usual explore path not travelled by me.

 

Acoustic Neuroma Chronicles: Discombobulated

Discombobulated is a great word. It is up there with Serendipity, Halcyon and Quintessential on my favourite word list. Words are as much about meaning as they are about sounds. I retreat into words for their meaning and the way they roll of my tongue. There is a scene in Elf where Will Ferrell says, “That’s a fun word to say.” I have moments of those I share with friends who, like me, just like hearing the words roll of the tongue.

Thankfully my hearing loss is in one ear. I can still hear myself think and speak.

Sitting at my desk yesterday, I was on the phone retrieving my messages. When I finished I heard my C.O.O. talking to me. I whirled my head around and could not see him. I heard him chuckle. Finally he shook my cube’s wall and I looked up. There he was laughing at me.

I smiled and said in my under utilized Teacher Voice, ” I am deaf in this ear so sounds are always all around me but difficult to pinpoint.”

I said it for 2 reasons:

  1. To educate him
  2. To stop him from mocking

I played that card. I was pleasant and friendly but don’t laugh at anyone when they are confused. I don’t care who they are, what their skill level or disability. Laugh with someone, not at them.

I don’t enjoy that feeling of being discombobulated. It doesn’t happen with just sound. I am less dizzy lately. I think it has to do with severely reduced sugar in my system. I do think it has improved brain function. So being dizzy for several days in a row has either stopped happening or I have adjusted again. But what is new for me is the feeling of head removal.

I know, sounds weird. I don’t mean it feels like I have had my head severed, its more like my soul or inner self slides out of my body briefly.

I can sit in my chair, swivel it to talk to my team and suddenly it feels like my body moved and my inner-self stayed facing the other way. Then I snap back together. It is the oddest sensation but a million times better than chronic dizziness.

59_ksenia-9201290x70cm

I can sit still and this can happen at random. It is strange but never lasts for more than a few seconds.

Discombobulation is the best descriptor I can think of to describe this new sensation.

I was listening to my new favourite podcast, Modern Love . It began as a series  of essays written for a New York Times Column about relationships. Not just marriage and dating but relationships with with others, parents, children or friends. I am HOOKED.

One episode called In Darkness and in Light is the story of a woman who is going blind over her lifetime and how her husband promised her he would always be there to support her. I must admit to listening to this episode about 11 times. I feel the same things she does, only of course my life is changing through sound. We are both discombobulated. Her struggles, her fears all resonate with me. Her and I are more alike than we are different. It was comforting to hear someone speak truths and I understood. It was as if we communicated through an understanding. Neither of incapable of handling the changes, it is just sometimes it is nice not to have to explain the changes and have someone just get you.

I love it when someone remembers what side I am deaf on. Their movement is subtle but just enough so I know they remembered. It is a kindness I appreciate. Or when I lean in to hear better and they speak louder and don’t back away. I get so frustrated with soft spoken people because culturally they have been brought up not be loud. I cannot have a relationship with you that will work for me. I need to hear you to understand you because you do not communicate in other ways.

Nicole C. Kear the author of this poignant essay describes a time when her and her husband had a fight on the street on the way to a party and he left her standing there. She could find her way home but she felt abandoned. I understood that too. People get angry at me when I can’t understand what they are saying as if I can control it. I feel lost yet I know I will survive. I can figure out how to cope. But sometimes its nice to have a person in your corner who just gets it without having to direct. That becomes fatiguing. I am a leader in 90% of my life. Once in a while it is nice when someone looks after me or supports me and I don’t need to cope I can just be. Asking me “What can I do it help” is nice, but it is still me leading and directing. Just do. I notice everything and will appreciate it. Don’t wait for direction. Take initiative.

I get you Nicole and your story resonated with me in a way that I didn’t expect.

Discombobulated friends forever DFF.