Friday, October 5, 2012

Sometimes you need a physical scar before the mental ones can heal


I am approaching my last full week in Canada and my sense of the situation has progressed from denial and grief to acceptance.  I am sure that the psychologists out there could precisely pinpoint which part of the 'death' scale I am currently at - except of course I am not dying.  Well, not in the literal sense anyway.

It is true that I was viewing my move from Canada as a type of sudden death.  The quickness of the offer, decision, and the planning to move has happened so suddenly that I have felt as if I was in a fog for the last couple of weeks.  I have been performing tasks and errands without being mentally present in them.  It has been rather surreal.

I think one of my fears was forgetting my time here.  I know that's not possible, but it was still a fear.  Would I forget what it was like to wake up and see the mountains?  Would I forget the reds of the maples in fall?  Would I be able to remember the smell of the stink lillies, or the pine sap as I ran in the forest?

They were minor, inconsequential fears. I admit it.  However, they were enough, that the thought of losing all that I had gained emotionally from living here, was enough to set terror in me.  I didn't want to forget this place.

I had my 'leaving party' last weekend.  I was dreading the whole experience.  I knew many would be upset and whilst still being in my disconnected frame of mind, I wasn't sure how I was going to deal with that.  I was also dreading the event because it was the beginning of the end.  The start of the move and I wasn't quite ready to accept that.

There were tears - lots of them- and a lot of laughter.  We took the entrance of seven burly policeman walking into the bar at 2am as a cue to leave, but this was not before I was given a very special gift by my friends.

A tattoo gift voucher.

A bizarre gift I know, but one that was frankly a stroke of genius.

I had been thinking of getting a tattoo to mark my time here, when we knew moving to the UK was a possibility, way back in March.  I always knew what I wanted to get in a general sense.  It was the word Orädd - which was the whole basis of registering for my first ever trail race.  A race that still to this date was the toughest race I have ever run.  Orädd is the Swedish translation for the word 'Fearless' or 'Intrepid', and in a way it summed up everything I have been over the last seven or so years.  As I have thought about it over the last six months, the style and the location were also becoming more fixed in my mind.  I wanted a typewriter or a print font to remind me that this was where I had started to write and I wanted it on my inside wrist, so that I could see it as I was running.   To me, this seemed very fitting as my running and writing have become such a personal focal point for my sanity.

I was lucky that I managed to get an appointment at 11am last Wednesday.  I knew I was leaving pretty soon, but I also know they book up very quickly. I arranged to have the tattooing witnessed by some of the friends who brought me the voucher and then we were going to lunch.  An 'Ink' then 'Drink' -but without the alcohol, I was picking up D later- event.

At a routine dentist appointment the Monday before the tattoo appointment, (but after the party), I discovered I had to have some work done before I left Canada.  Only 45 minutes on Wednesday.  I was squeezed in at 9:20, so there was plenty of time.  Little did I know...

At 10:50 I was still in the dentists chair with bite blocks and drills crowding my mouth.  Nearly every tooth was worked on -at least half of them done without a local anesthetic. (The dentist was able to numb my upper jaw where the deepest of the old fillings were housed, but he didn't want to numb the lower jaw because I would be unable to eat or drink for up to 5 hours.  The fillings didn't appear deep on the x-ray so there should be very little pain.  According to the Dentist, the x-rays lied!)  There were tears streaming from my eyes and I was beginning to wonder if I was really going to be able to have a tattoo without screaming.  At 11:30, I staggered to the tattoo parlour, late and with a very bruised mouth.  Luckily I was so rushed I didn't have time to be panicked.

I met my friends outside and we went in.  After filling in various forms, of which my friends gloatingly took photo's for future embarrassment value, I went into the actual studio.  The tattoo artist  already had my idea's on what I wanted and she just needed my verification before she started.

Then it began.  And my first thought was, "Okay, this isn't that bad.  Isn't it meant to hurt more?"

As she worked, the look on my face was of bemusement.  I had psyched myself up to thinking this was going to hurt. A Lot!  It didn't.  Nothing more than a longer than expected cat-scratch.  In fact I think at one point my friends were taking photo's of me pulling funny faces as the artist worked.

As she finished, I quickly asked her.  Could I have another on my neck?  This was more of a sudden decision.  The idea had come to me the night before.  I had debated wether to get my Orädd tattoo on the back of my neck or on my wrist.  The back of my neck was also a candidate, because this was 'my' private word -something just for me and not to show off.  As I decided my wrist was the place, an idea came to me to have a Canadian maple leaf placed on the back of my neck.

The artist came back with a maple-leaf outline which was just as I wanted it.  I didn't want it shaded or in red - but just a leaf outline.  In the end, instead of one tattoo I ended up with two.

That night, I had planned on going out with a dear friend of mine.  Alycia was D's aide in the first two years of school and I count her as D's 'Canadian Mum'.  In school, she was the mamma bear and without her I would not have had any confidence on leaving D at the school.  I knew she loved D like a son and she would protect D like a son -something I know she did despite the feelings held by others on the school staff.

We went to the Movies; something we had been planning for months.  The only film we could really see that was in both of our interests was 'The Odd tale of Timothy Green'.  A chick-flick where a boy came unexpectedly into peoples lives, changed them forever and then had to leave.  The boy in the film was so much like D, that we couldn't help but see the similarities.  Little things, like the way he kicked the soccer ball, the way he flapped his arms on the diving board and the way he was socially quirky, were SO D, that the film hit us harder than we expected.  D has changed both of our lives forever, and although not for me, for Alycia he has to go. It hurts and I could see that.

Timothy Green came into the main characters lives from the garden.  Grown from lost dreams and magical rain.  His 'secret' was that he had leaves on his legs.  Like a tree, the leaves grew strong, but as fall came they died and disappeared.  When Timothy's last leaf fell he would disappear.

At that point, I wondered if there was some hidden universal prompt that had made me suddenly decide to get a maple leaf tattooed on my neck.  A reminder that like Timothy, there is a boy in my life that should be cherished because you never know when Autumn may come and one of us may have to disappear.  A link to my friend who looked after him as a son; a further reminder of the connections our family has made.

M isn't a fan of tattoo's and can't see the reason for them.  In some ways, I could have said the same thing twelve months ago.  However, yesterday and today, I understand.  After Wednesday, there has been a mental calm.  An acceptance of what is happening and the seeds of excitement of what is to come.  I tried to rationalise why getting a tattoo was pivotal in this feeling, because despite any rationale, it does feel like that.  These tattoo's are an important marker in my life.

The only way I could express it was this: "Sometimes you need a physical scar before the mental scars can heal".  I needed something tangible -something visible- to show what I have been through.  It's a way of acknowledging what has happened, good and bad, and showing everyone that's it's mine.  Taking ownership of my trials and treating them as something I have learnt from.  Cathartic isn't a big enough word.  I feel like seven years of trials have been taken off my shoulders and I no longer feel like I am battling and just existing till the next disaster.

I am a survivor and I have the scars, albeit deliberate, to prove it.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Packing up: Mentally, Physically and logistically

I am in a strange mental situation at the moment.  It has to do the fact that my life has taken a juxtaposition that rivals 'Monty Python'.

I am currently sat on my living room couch, surrounded by boxes and lists, eating chocolate, drinking tea, drunk after a few glasses of wine, thinking about my family, contemplating the disintegration of my current life whilst listening to my running ipod and trying to spare some brain-cells so I can write my final articles for Canadian Running Magazine.

I am a mental mess.

I am not sure that the fact I am leaving a country I have counted home on-and-off for seven years -that after battling to make friends and be a part of the community I live in, I am now forced in a way to leave it- I have come to terms with what's happening to me.

I feel like a traveller in my own life.

I am continuing; doing my daily tasks with the added chores associated with an international move, but without the presence of mind to fully comprehend.

I have my "I am leaving Canada" party tomorrow.  I am not sure honestly how I feel about it.  It's like attending a wake; you are there, but not entirely present or comprehending what is happening.  I know it sounds crass and unfeeling to associate me leaving a country to a death of a friend or relative; but that's exactly how it feels.  I am grieving for my life here; my friends, my connections, my community.  I am grieving for the life I could have had here.  I am sad for what I missed out on and what I failed to accomplish because this break wasn't on my RADAR.  To me it feels like a sudden death.

That's not to say that I am not happy about going back to see my family.  Of course I am.  This will be the first family Christmas D has had with his extended family.  This is the first time he would be opening presents where the action didn't involve a webcam.

My previous relocations have been an adventure; into the unknown and unfamiliar.  Even when we came back to Canada, it was still with the feeling of a grand adventure.  Now we are going home and although there is a sense of security and peace with that, there is also a sense of a part of my life that is over.  No longer will I be a person in foreign lands, I will be just one of the 'Nemo's'.  There will be nothing special about me at all.

This is turning into a rather morbid post and that wasn't the intention.  I suppose there is more emotional  connection to this land than I ever imagined.  This is my home and I am having to leave it.  I am a little lost.

As with any emotional turmoil, there is always a physical consequence.  There seems to be a trait with our international relocations that there has to be a 'health scare' before we leave.  One that is always serious enough that can't be ignored, and one that can't be resolved before the move.

In Australia, it was a car crash and the diagnosis of 'Early On-set Osteoporosis  two weeks before we arrived in Canada.  When I left the U.K to come to Canada for the first time I was suffering from PTSD and un-diagnosed post-natal depression.  This move is no different.

On-and-off over the last couple of years I have been dealing with a loss of sensation in my fingers and toes.  It is usually cold related and so intermittent that I never really bothered with it.  It was enough that my barefoot running was usually hampered from October to April because I couldn't feel my feet, but I just put on shoes and socks and decided to ignore it.  I didn't realise that my desire to ignore the issue had almost become pathological.  I even went to the point of not running in the winter so I didn't have to confront the fact I had a physical issue.  This summer, it became acute.  It's hard to put the lack of sensation to the cold when you are stood in 70F sun in August.  This was beginning to happen on a weekly basis, so I went to the doctor.  After a lot of blood-work I was called back.

I had a load of markers for 'Auto-immune' issues and I needed to see a number of specialists.  This was last week and I leave for the U.K in two weeks time.  I am now left with this underlying fear that there is something wrong and I really should have dealt with this issue sooner.  Could the tiredness and depression I have had over the last couple of years be due to something else?  Is this the reason I am now unable to eat anything more than chicken, rice and cooked greens?  I know there is nothing I could have done to prevent this situation and there is nothing I can really do to solve the situation, but sometimes the feeling of 'what-if' is enough to jolt the largest surge of optimism I can muster.

As for the 'logistical' packing?  Actually that is one part of my life that is going smoothly.  Too smoothly.

The shipping agent came around today to evaluate the house contents.  Firstly she was glad that she was talking to a 'Pro'.  She didn't need to discuss the process, the customs declarations and procedures.  There was no talk about what was an 'allowable' item and how the move would be organised.  In fact she was in-and-out in about ten minutes.

I mentioned to her that with all of the other international moves we have had this sense of panic in the last few days.  We were no-where near in clearing out the debris, or cleaning.  Nothing had been organised.  I actually remember on one move, phoning a junk removal company the day before we left, pleading for them to come the next day to remove our detritus.  They finished loading the skip about thirty minutes before our taxi for the airport arrived.

This time however, I am spent wandering around the house wondering what we have missed.  All the cupboards have been excavated.  The garage has been cleared of ninety-per-cent of it's junk.  I have this un-nerving feeling that somewhere in this house there is a 'closet of doom' just waiting to spew it's contents just before we hand over the keys to the landlord.  I keep feeling I have missed something and I am not sure what it is. We have nearly two weeks before our flight leaves and we seem to be pretty much organised.  Something is wrong here.

As to the running part of my life?  Well that's not going bad.  It's not going brilliantly -a nagging pain in my right knee is annoying me- but I am getting out there.  I am taking the time to run with friends.  I am enjoying the Autumnal sun which isn't present in the UK.  I am taking the last chances with my shorts before I relinquish them for eight months.  I am breaking out the arm warmers and the new SKORA shoes.  I am just taking the time to enjoy what BC has to offer.  I was debating to run my last race tomorrow, but my 'broken knee' isn't enjoying the change in weather and with two weeks before we fly, I know I am chancing a hospital trip tackling a technical trail race under-prepared.  Although I am lamenting my poor race season, I am looking forward to the prospect of Fell running.  There is nothing that attracts me more to a race than the fact I will come out of it looking like I have been 'mud-wrestling' with a bikini clad female -although admittedly the bikini clad female will have trail shoes and an hydration pack, but lets not destroy the fantasy.

This post hasn't been the 'fun and joy' I was intending.  It's a post you would normally write in a diary when you were fifteen.  I suppose that's what 'blogging' is all about really.  Writing about your fears, dreams and everyday experiences.  It's just that here you lay it to everyone so they can read it.  You don't hide it under the bed hoping your Mom doesn't find it whilst she is cleaning.

There is something about laying yourself open to the world that provides clarity.  I may be packing up in more ways than one, but my sense of hope is still there.

As I write the last line I heard this song come up on my running ipod.  It doesn't come up very often because my run has usually finished by this point and I always like to start at the beginning of the play-list.  I am almost OCD about that - the first song has to be Jean-Genie by David Bowie.  This song has reminded me of what's important.  It's reminded me of my Mom -who I miss- and Dad -who I miss even more.  It reminds me of my hopes and dreams of my own little family.  It reminds me what I want from life.  This moment of bereavement won't last, but the sentiment of this song will.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Moving onto the next chapter

Life is a strange being.  Most days you tootle along in your own little merry world, not really concerned about what life is planning for you behind the scenes.  You do your daily chores, you run your errands and in a brain-numbing way, you become content and relaxed. Then...

BAM!!!

Just as you have settled on the 'Sofa of Monotonous Days' with your cup of tea and box of biscuits, life decides it's going to wake you up by ceremoniously kicking in you in your tender areas.

You are thrown into a whirlwind of events that only pauses occasionally, just to let you catch your breath, before it comes in for the next bell to land a left hook that floors you.

(Yes, I have had wine - not that you needed to ask).

I am currently in 'Round 35' and I am wondering which one of us is going to get the K.O first -life or me- because life has been in training.

As you can tell by the lack of posts in the right-hand side-bar, I have been holding my own against the onslaught, much to the detriment of my ad-hoc writing.  It all started here, in Round One when life decided to blind-side us with our Canadian Permanent Residency rejection.  It continued with school issues, school vacation, heavy workload and no time to do it.

After the rejection, our family picked ourselves up and -in our usual way- set to task on how to either: persuade the Canadian government to accept us, win the lotto, get an internal transfer to the UK (via my super-smart Hubby), save enough money to move ourselves, with the hope of a job at the end, or find some other miracle.

As we had never intended to get kicked out of the country -our PR seemed in the bag as we had successfully followed every bureaucratic hoop asked of us- we discovered that our savings would be wiped out in the need to cover the tens-of-thousands of dollars to move ourselves back. The other options were also pretty non-existant.  Our  hope was someone liked my hubbies work enough to help off-set some of the cost on moving ourselves back, and provide a job at the end of it.

We had talked to my husbands company about it, but after six months of muted rumblings and talks, nothing was really coming out of it.  We had talked to other companies too, but due to a big studio closure in the UK, there were more games programmers in the UK looking for work than teens at a Justin Beiber concert.  Most of the programmers were already in the UK and didn't need big relocation budgets.  We decided to hang tight, wait 6-8 month for the industry to settle, save as much as we could and try and get a UK job before our visa ran out in November 2013.

We sat back, enjoyed the glorious summer, made plans to get D into grade 2 without trauma and frankly use the next six months to catch our breath back and chill.

That was our fatal mistake.  Never believe for one minute life will let you catch your breath.

Earlier this week we began to get indications that hubbies company may pay for a relocation back to the UK.  Fantastic!  However, it all rested on the amount of relocation.  We had only just started saving and if we had no residual finances to cover the deficit on the relocation, then the chance to move back within the company would be moot.

The next day, hubbie had some calls with the internal recruiters and the informal inferences on the relocation package/job looked promising.  Could it be possible that we could move at the end of the year? Perhaps have Christmas in the UK?  D's first Christmas with family?

The paperwork came through and it wasn't until we read through it, that we realised the job offer and relocation was astounding.  Hubbies company had stood by him when others wouldn't and were offering him opportunities to stay with them.  We could move and stay with a company that has -given the family crap we have landed on their doorstep- treated us well.  We could move back to the UK, keep our savings and hubby would still have a job. YEA!!!

Yet, there was more.  Not only had they offered hubby a job, but they had offered him TWO jobs.  Jobs with different emphasis, in different parts of the country and they were letting us take our pick.

There had to be a catch.  Somewhere...

Well, yes there is - although it isn't something that will derail the plans; the only affect it has is moving our timescales forward.  We wouldn't be moving to the UK for Christmas; in fact we won't even be seeing Halloween in Canada.  They would like hubby to start at the beginning of November.  We have four, or so, weeks to move - not just down the road, but countries!

Given that this wasn't even on our RADAR, (okay, we had mentioned it as, "wouldn't it be nice if...") this is a HUGE change of thinking.  A sudden life-changing event that has hit us straight, square between the eyes.  One we are still getting our head around.

There are some other catches.  I have to give up my blogging on Canadian Running Magazine.  The magazine is very Canadian-centric and prefers authors to be resident in Canada.  I fully understood that when I took the role and I am honoured that they have let me write for them in the last 9-10 months.  They will always have a place in my affections for taking a chance on me and letting me see what I could do.

I will have to find a way of keeping D from internally melting.  Big changes can affect anyone with Autism.  Forgetting the size of this change, the quick timetable is going to be hard.  I have spoken to his school and effectively we are just going to concentrate on keeping D calm and happy.  Work, demands and pretty much anything else can go hang for the next four weeks.  I have to work out how to get D settled on the other side of the Atlantic.  New country, new city, new stores, new food, new house, new furniture, new school, new teachers, new friends - heck, new time-zone.  We fully accept that D will be a potential nuclear basket-case for at least 6-12 months.  I am coming to realise my job in the UK will be his aide and support - in and out of school.  That's fine, I am good at that.

I am sure there will be other hurdles, successes and failures.  There will be a multitude of conflicting emotions; excitement, relief, hope, love, joy, heart-breaking despair, grief, loss, loneliness.  I will yearn for the west-coast mountains that are part of my soul and the kid-like joy I get when i see the first snows on the peaks.  I will miss the gnarly trails that I run and the wilderness that surrounds me every-time I step on the trail.  I will miss the coffee with my friends and the comfort of knowing what I am doing.  I will be so glad to see my family again and catch up with long-lost friends.  I will be excited to see the history and connection to my past everywhere I go.  I will comforted by the familiarity of the old, whilst seeing it all afresh.

Frankly I will be a complete mental mess for the next 2-3 months.  It's good.  I can do this.  We'll be fine *insane giggle*

If you see a middle-aged woman running around, giggling insanely, with wine in one hand, coffee in the other and a look of complete disorientation  then please deposit her to the Kift household.  They are probably missing a mummy somewhere.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Church, Sex and Politics - just missing the Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll


I know I haven’t written here in a while and I also know my running has been taking a back seat to … well, everything from kids, school, relocation – let’s just put it under the tag-word ‘life’.

Actually, I am not going to write about running in this post either.  Definitely put this under the ‘life’ category of my blog.  You will be pleased to know I won’t be giving you a run down of MY life at the moment –which fluctuates to mundane and insane.  This is a general musing.

This is a musing about sex.

Before you all get excited and expect me to do a Krista on you, I am going to bring you down to Earth by informing you I am also including Religion and Politics in this post.  Yep, I am the woman you DON’T invite to the dinner party because I will be the one who brings up at least one, if not all, of the three taboo’s.

My post comes about from a couple of news articles I have read recently.  Yeah, I know you are wondering at least one of two things: Either, ‘You read?’ or, ‘When are you ever sober enough to read?’  Both are very valid questions.

The first article is this: ‘Why Sex could be history’.  It’s a book plug basically, but it highlights the fact that in the future –potentially near future- sex will not be required to have children.  With the advent of lab-grown sperm and eggs, along with artificial insemination, soon people will not need the elements of life or the actual act of sex to have kids.  Add in the fact that there is development of ‘Wombs for Men’ the factor of being female will also not be an issue. 

The second article is this. ‘Republican Senate Nominee:Victims of ‘Legitimate Rape’ Don’t Get Pregnant’.  Apart from the fact that clearly this guy failed High School Biology and in my opinion is a “fruit-loop”, it is a fact that Todd Akin is appealing to the Uber-conservative members of his political party and State.  Frankly the fact a man wholly unconnected to the majority of his female voters, feels he has the right to not only, shame women because of an act they had no control or desire for, but then dictate what they can and can’t do with their bodies is frankly repugnant.  I find this man scary and I find it even scarier when there are probably thousands –if not millions- of people willing to agree with him.

The fact that Todd Akin is not alone in his views and that his idea of abortion –and Sex- is not only promoted in his country, but actively enforced in others, highlights one fact;  politics, sex and religion are too closely related.

It is usually at this point most commentators would point the finger at Islamic countries in Africa and the Middle-East as the worst perpetrators.  The subjugation of women and brutal treatment for their actions in the name of Religion is so well documented that many people wouldn’t look any further. I can see many conservative Christians in many Western Countries saying,  ”But that’s Islam – they are heathens.  We are nothing like that.  We follow Jesus and have the true God.  We are a democratic country who honours and respects our women”.

Do you?  Do you really?

This week, a Russian court sentenced three women to two years hard-labour for singing an ‘anti-government’ song in Moscow’s main Cathedral.  They were trying to highlight the fact that the government and the Russian Orthodox Church are too closely linked in secular Russia.  The fact that Patriarch Kirill promoted President Putin as a man from God and members of the church should vote for him, may give the group 'Pussy Riot' good cause to make that claim.  Admittedly, the way they group protested was probably not the wisest thing they have ever done.  Regardless of the country you are in, a public political protest within a Church –of any Religion- is going to get you arrested.  However, the very political nature of the trial and the harsh sentencing shows,  that the incident was more used to silence political enemies, than a conventional ‘slap on the wrists’ because they had done something stupid and upset a few people.

The sad fact is, no matter how secular a country claims to be, it is increasingly obvious that politics and religion are too closely connected.  As such it is inevitable that sex get’s mixed up in there somewhere.

The reason sex get’s mixed up with religion and consequently politics is all down to procreation.  Centauries ago, when the infant mortality rate was high, the Church needed members and the best way to do that was to get your congregation going at it like rabbits.  Every child was needed –regardless if you had enough family resources to feed them- because in a way our species depended on it.  Those in charge of the church were men.  Find a way to subjugate half of the population, guarantee your position, as well as increasing your attendance on Sunday and frankly you are onto a winner.  It makes sense in a primal, medieval way. I don't like it, but I understand it.

However, we don’t have the same population crisis we had five hundred years ago.  In fact we have the opposite problem.  The Church is still telling us to keep producing the faithful, when in fact we are running out of food.  Not just food – water, land, fuel are now becoming a scarce commodity.  We are wiping ourselves out because the ‘Nuclear 2.4 Children family’ was what was demanded of our society and we happily continued to give it.

So now we are in this quagmire of views.  We have religion –all religions- claiming themselves as the keepers of peoples souls, dictating that they need more children, whilst they are intricately entwined with the politicians who legislate to ensure they get that –regardless if it’s in your best interests or if in fact, it’s something you want.

However, what happened if you took sex out of the equation?  What if sex wasn’t needed to produce children?  If a bit of nookie in the middle of the night is they way you want to create your family then cool – but what if it wasn’t?  What if you were a single woman who wanted kids? How about a Gay couple?  What about a single Man?  If having a family was what you wanted, but you didn’t want a hetro-sexual relationship to get it, what would happen to the church then?  What would happen to the arguments put forward by politicians regarding who can and can’t have equal legal rights, just because they can’t produce children in the relationship they are currently in?

Perhaps that the reason why there is political angst on homosexual marriage or the lack of tax/personal benefits given to single people. Where you have more benefits if you are a married couple with kids. Couples outside of conventional ideals are always deemed less important than a hetro-sexual married couple because they can’t produce kids.

Yet, if any one could have kids -if there were no biological difficulties in having children, what would happen then? What would happen if NO-ONE were allowed to have children in the ‘conventional’ manner?  That at the age of 35 you were tested for mental competency and allocated a laboratory produced kid to raise – regardless of your gender or sexual orientation.  Admittedly, the “Logan’s Run” world I am painting is very unlikely – but it puts the question; If hetro-sexual relationships weren’t necessary to produce children, would the same focus be placed on them in the spiritual and political landscape?

If sex were taken out of the equation, would the link between state and church be weaker?  Would that be a benefit rather than a curse?

What do you think?

I have to admit I am not sure where I was going with this long-winded and meandering post.  It was just an intellectual connection I made whilst having a shower.  If you are offended, then tough - just don’t tune in next time. If you think I am intellectually wrong, then enlighten me.  I am just a blogger who has no idea what she is saying half the time; I am always willing to learn.

Thanks for listening – feel free to ignore the last 30 minutes of your life.  Now go grab a beer. Here's tothe call to alcohol and the practising the act of expanding of our species - just make sure you practise responsibly ;)

Edited from the original because I am essentially a journalistic hack who is lousy at copy-editing.  When I realised I could hardly make sense of some of it, I guessed you guys would be in a similar situation.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

An update - wait isn't an "up date" something kinky you do on a mountain.

Two pixies fall into a beer....
"You are drunk and when you are drunk you forget I am in charge!"
"Which way do we go?"
"That way!!!"

Actually, that quote is probably only humorous to one person and that's because we spent a whole summer in our teens swooning over a film star in braids.  I would expand on that, but my life is sad and lonely as it is without losing friends to over-sharing.

For the first time in a little while, I am a little drunk.  I had a choice.  Go and do a workout with the consequences of sobering up, or write something here and pretend I am normal.  Sorry guys, you drew the short straw.

So here I am.  Eating a chocolate biscuit -sorry, cookie - which is rapidly disappearing down my tank top because I am missing my mouth; waiting for my tea to cool down, so I have liquids in me to prevent the hangover tomorrow; and contemplating the porn I have just downloaded on my Kindle.  Umm.. I think I over-shared on the last part.

The last month has been a case of over-sharing.  To the call I made on the local beach to a member of the PTA regarding my issues with school as a group of parent's listened in - many of whom I don't know the names of because my son wasn't in school enough for me to know them -- Ooops. Then progressing the drunken podcast I made with Krista and Caity from Run Barefoot Girl, in which the last thing we talked about was running and yet we spent about an hour on vagina's.  Then to my sudden Facebook postings about the porn I was downloading for my Kindle.  Yeah, self-censorship is not one of my strengths.

As far as work has gone, my role at Canadian Running and The Barefoot Runners' Society has been a bit on the back-pedal -- much to my annoyance.  My blogs are a little low this month, although I made up with it by having a two-page spread in their current print issue. (No link as yet).  The last article submission has been an education in the realm of magazine publishing.  I managed to get away with limited editing in my last article.  This article, not so much.  It was a question of "thinking about the money and not your integrity" here.  Paragraphs I wanted to keep were cut and my words were altered to sound like someone else.  My name is still at the top and I have a funky photo in the "Contributors" section, but it has made me realise if writing for the money is really what I want as an "End-game".

Despite my best efforts, the war with the school-board -although satisfactory in regards to the fact they admitted they screwed up- has still meant D only spent a quarter of the time in school as he was scheduled to do.  Most of it under my supervision.  It's my own fault.  My plan in September to have thirty hours of free-time a week was similar to the UK claiming, "we have a drought situation".  Fate always seems to have the last laugh.

I was relieved to have the summer holidays start.  By July, Mummy's new rule of, "I am not allowed to deal with idiots till I have my first coffee" was very apparent.  Although, the rule still stands -I mean how hard is it to find the indicator on a car?- it's less pressing.  Coffee at the moment doesn't signal World destruction -just a little bit of devastation.

Running has taken a little back seat, although it was replaced on the "back-row of Love", (did I just write that?) to cross-fit and weight training.  Much to my reluctance, Christian is right in some ways.  I hate to admit it, but running exclusively is a fail.  Weight-lifting continually is also a bit of a fail for me too, however, mix the two together and extra-ordinary things happen.

Schedules have meant that running has not been as possible as I would like.  So instead I have been resorting to some weight-training to fill in the gaps in the evening.  The consequences have been enlightening.

My speed hasn't dropped - in fact my pace is faster.  Thanks to the efforts of Curb Ivanic at core-running, I have found my pace has improved with my strength.  My endurance - well, okay that has suffered.  There is only so much you can 'fluff' before that three miler feels like a ten kilometre.  However, that's not been as hard to get back as I thought.  My form is still good, my speed is still there and the distances are coming back.

D has been in camp this week -another testament that the School Fucked up.  He has had an awesome time and I have had the respite I have need to catch up on some much needed writing, some planning for BRS and preparation for my camping trip.

Yep, D and I are going on our first camping trip.  As with everything we have decided to make baby-steps (a bit like when I posted a full picture of me in my first bikini in 21 years, before I realised what I had done - I am sure people have back-ups somewhere).  Our trip is to a field an hour from civilization.  With no electricity and no running water.  There is a huge lake and D can't swim.  As I write I am beginning to realise my actions.  What the heck!  I mean what could go wrong?

I admit it, I am secretly excited.  Camping to me brings back days of my mis-begotten youth.  Okay, I was probably about 10 years older than D, but S'Mores and campfires are universal in the age ranges.  He is going to love it and I am pretty excited -despite the fact our bathroom is referred to as a "bush' in the dictionary.  My years as a trail runner will come in handy here.

There you have it.  A month in review.

As to our impending move to the UK?  That's still in negotiation.  Family set-backs, then remissions have meant our game-plan keeps altering.  The impending need keeps fluctuating.  The move is still a constant, but at the moment we are still looking for a 'good' move instead of the 'what-ever we can take' move we were looking for last month.  We have thirteen months to get the move going.  Who know's we may win the Lotto.  I may get a big corporate sponsor who wants a presence in Europe.  I may also find aliens and discover new life on new worlds.  The ET discovery maybe more achievable.

Not much of a witty post, but as much as my drunken brain and my typed out fingers can manage at the moment.  Any eloquent responses are much appreciated.  It might make this post worth reading. :)










Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Is there such a thing as a happy childhood?

Before I even start writing I want to put a disclaimer on this post.  This post is not written in any way to diminish the trauma in peoples' lives -- especially in their early life.  I concede many people have had a childhood and life crappier than mine.  This post although inspired by ones I have read very recently by a number of people is not an attack or a STFU.  I am not here to say how my early life sucked and how it made me more successful or happier in my later years.  I don't want to re-hash my past or show how it made me stronger. I want to write about the fact that it's not the 'bad times' that create us, it's how we deal and learn from them that matter.

You can place siblings together in the same family situations, yet there is no guarantee that they will both come out into adulthood in the same mental frame.  More likely one will be successful and one will be a screw-up -- with both sides blaming each other for the residual baggage they bring into their adult years.  Why should that be?

The thing is, I don't think there is one person out there who thinks their childhood was perfect.  Admittedly some are 'more perfect' than others, but we have to remember that our parents are people and they screw up.  Their screw-ups will diminish our perception of our younger years.  Regardless of how well you parent, you can guarantee that at some point your kids will come back at you and claim
you 'ruined their life'.  I joke to D, that when he becomes a adult we will do a deal.  He can pay for my hair-dye and I will pay for his therapy.  I have pretty much accepted that he will claim I was the reason for X, Y, and Z happening in his life.  He will then have kids and realise that he is now the one to blame ;)

Taking D as an example, I know that he will not have the happiest childhood.  When he hits 18, he will look at the stuff he is going through now and see how hard it was for him.  He will see the fact that he wasn't in school much.  He will see that his friends thought he was strange.  He will look at the fact  stopped him doing everything he ever wanted and my favourite word is "No".  He will look back at all of the international moves we made and wonder why we couldn't stay in one place for longer than a car-lease. He will remember that I hated playing his computer games with him, even though they were the most important thing in the world.  He will remember that I would lose it occasionally and shout at him.

When he hits his teens, he will probably dye his hair purple, wear the strangest clothes on the planet, drink, smoke, swear and get into a few scrapes.  He will storm into his bedroom as I tell him his girlfriend, or boyfriend or consensual animal can't stay the night.

He will look back at all the stuff I am doing now -- not working, spending all the time in school talking to staff, ferrying him too and from therapy -- and call me controlling.  I never let him have the freedom he wanted.  The fact is, if I went the opposite way -- I just let him get on with it and assumed he would figure it all out on his own -- then I would be blamed for not caring or helping him enough.

He won't remember the trips out we had together.  He won't remember me holding him as he slept or the hugs I gave him when he had a boo-boo.  Doesn't matter if he remembers or not.  I will still do them because I will remember.  I will also take ton's of photo's as evidence when he says "You never took me anywhere".

Negative events become more fixed in our memories than positive ones.  You remember the horrors, but not so much the joys.

If this is the situation with our kids, it stands to reason it is the same for us too.

Our lives and childhoods are never going to be perfect.  It stands to reason that they won't.  We are not our parents and they are not us.  No matter how we try to understand our kids, or we try to understand our parents, it will never be enough and as such there will always be disasters.  Yep, there are some parents who do jack shit for their kids -- who are frankly no more than kids themselves.  There will always be parent's who in our conservative mind-set should never be allowed to procreate.  Their kids will grow up fine.  However, there will also be parent's who no matter what they do, from reading all the parenting books in the library to taking courses will still produce screw-up's.

The fact is that the most important thing we can remember is that we are going to mess-up our kids.  The  most honest thing we will ever admit is that we are making this up as we go along.  The best skill we can teach our kids is that when life goes wrong, we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and we start all over.  That disasters are only disasters if you let them rule your life.  You are only as strong as you want to be.  No matter what we do as parent's, it's the childs' attitude that will prove wether they are a survivor or a victim.

Because in the end, that's what they will be.  A survivor or a victim, there is no middle ground no matter what we do.  Our job as a community is to show kids how to be a survivor.


As I said before, this post wasn't in any way set to diminish anyone or their lives.  This post wasn't designed to say my life was crappier than yours, or your childhood was shittier than mine.  I don't want to rehash the stuff that happened to me in the past as such, because frankly I am over it.  I have dusted myself off and attacked life with a bloody big hammer.  I just wanted to say that teaching each other how to do just that; to take the knocks and bruises and come back up with a smile and a whoop-arse punch is what makes the difference between a crappy life and a good one.




Friday, June 8, 2012

If you know it, pass it on -- Challenging "Information hoarding"


A semi-drunken rambling post...

I was talking to my friend Jesse the other day about a child he was helping who appears to have a condition similar to my son D.  The information I gave him has helped him cement his role and help his charge.  At the time, after spending a while messaging Jesse, I turned around to hubby and explained I had been chatting to a friend about PDA and my comment was, "If you have the information, you should pass it on".  I was then struck by the fact that this isn't how we are meant to operate.

Knowledge is power.  Knowledge is wealth and knowledge should be saved.  I have friends who don't like doing pro-bono work because it get's them into a mucky mire of "owing/being at liberty to others" without any compensation.  They have worked hard to get to the position they are in.  It has taken them time and money to get where they are.  As such they should be compensated accordingly.  Feelings of being "taken advantage of" or "being worth less" than if they charged an appropriate fee.  I get it. I do.

Actually, no.  I don't get it.

You see, I don't prescribe to the usual "you make your bed" mentality.  I feel our world is a community and we should be a part of it.

Yes, I have spent time and effort to understand the issues I do.  The path looking after an ASD child has been seven years in the making and possibly thousands of dollars of trial and error.  My road to barefoot running took over three years of research and hundreds of hours practising.  I have experience and knowledge that probably exceeds the man on the street and if the man on the street wants a quick fix on my knowledge then he should pay for the privilege. Right?

Should our world be limited to dimes and cents?  Should we sacrifice the benefit we can offer to others just because they don't have the finances to pay for it?  Is the knowledge and experience mine and mine alone?

The fact is I am just a part of the chain in knowledge.  I may have learnt via my own experiences, but I also learnt from the experiences of others.  Their knowledge was given for a nominal fee (if any payment was paid at all).  Is it right I should take the information they gave to me for free and then call it my own to distribute as I feel fit?

No. It isn't.

The information inside your head isn't just yours.  It belongs to a mirad of people.  You take parts of someone's else consciousness and you meld into yours. Okay, if you went to college you probably paid for a lot of it -- but likewise some of it you didn't.

I get that we all have to eat.  We all need to put bread on the table and wine in our bellies.  There will be times where we have to charge a fee for what we are able to do.  There are times when the use of the information in our grey matter holds us accountable.  If you are a lawyer, the advice you give can mean the liberty of the person you are helping.  That is a huge responsibility and yes, when you take ownership of someone elses' life you should be compensated for that.

I am a spiritual (although not religious) person.  Some will call it fatalistic or naive.  That's not quite true.  I believe we are the masters of our own destiny.  I don't rely on someone else to make my life better, that is for me to do.  However, I do believe that there are times where you are given opportunities that make your life better and they are a result of the actions you have done.  Some call it karma, some call it "paying it back -- or forward, or sidewards, whatever" -- regardless, you get paid for what you do in this life, it's just not monetary.

I'll happily accept and use the information people pass onto me for no other reason that they want to help.  Sometimes the help is useful, sometimes it isn't.  However, very rarely have I met someone who passed on information without an honorable intent.  I'll take parts of what they have taught me and I'll use it.  It becomes a part of me.  As payment, I pay it forward.  I'll then pass my information on.  I accept some of it will be used and some of it won't.

There is no agenda -- I don't want money or power or privilege.  I just want to help someones' path be a little easier.

There are only so many people in this world.  Granted six billion people is a lot.  It's not like you can invite everyone to your barbecue and imagine you can fit them on your small patio.

Yet, if I help two people today -- even in small ways, then it stands to reason, that tomorrow they in turn will help two others (each).  I was never very good a maths, but I reckon, sooner or later that small payback will come back to me some way or another.

Tomorrow, or next week, or next year, I will learn something more that will make my families life better.  The cycle grows and starts all over again.

I have to admit I am not sure where I was going with this post when i started it.  It's a drunken rambling and I guess I should just call it as such.  I just think this idea of "Information hoarding" doesn't help us in the end.  Our deeds get passed on exponentially by others.

I vaguely remember Jason saying in a post (a long time ago) about knowledge being a gift.  I wish I was sober enough to find the post, but anyway... it's true.

This blog and my life is a gift where ever and when ever it's needed.  Feel free to take the information you need and don't be afraid to leave the parts you don't.  Live happy and gift your knowledge on.

And no, you can't have the receipt and exchange it for a multi use blender! *rolls eyes*

Friday, June 1, 2012

Never piss off the Mama bear

Just a quick update on my running life at the moment.

Umm.. there isn't any.  Ahh, blog post finished -- is it too early for beer?

Just as I feel fully recovered from a bout of flu and I was able to pull myself back into the running gear -- and after a month away from running, pulling is an understatement.  The phrase "Quart into a pint-pot" comes to mind.

So, I was fit(ish) and ready to go. Then D became sick.  Poor lad, he was full of flu and he spent 3 days  (plus a weekend) away from school.  On the Monday when the school returned D still seemed under the weather, but he insisted he wanted to meet his friends.

I arranged a short day for him and let him go.  The first day was difficult but okay.  However, days 2, 3 and 4 were not so manageable.  Yes, having a difficult day is an improvement to what happened to D over the following days.

His class was evacuated 3 times in 3 days.  The violent outbursts were dramatic, prolonged and actually uncharacteristic.  As I mentioned to his Resource Room teacher -- he hasn't had any violent tantrums in months.  Even on these off-days he was still calm at home.  I was at a loss to help her.

What has resulted is the beginnings of a battle.

On investigation it seems as if D may qualify for a little sub-set of Autism called "Pathological Demand Syndrome" or PDA.  It's a very new version of PDD-NOS which has primarily been investigated in the UK but little elsewhere.  When reading the diagnostic description it was chilling.

D never fitted well into the Autism mould.  I concede he does have developmental difficulties, but his social behaviour, imagination and his basic empathy seemed to be at odds with the classical Autistic definition.  The documentation also cited that conventional Autism behavioural techniques are more likely to increase problem behaviour not reduce it.

PDA fitted all of these anomalies as well as explaining in detail why he had these violent outbursts.  His therapists agreed that he seemed to fit the profile, although they weren't qualified to diagnose him as such.

It was clear at the end of the "week of hell" that D's mental state was in the toilet.  He had no self-confidence, he was on the verge of being depressed and it was clear he was having anxiety issues at school.

Issues at school -- this was the problem.  He didn't exhibit any of these issues at home and only very briefly in therapy (once, on the day he came down with flu).  Only at school.  This to me indicated that there was something at school that was triggering him.

I kept him home and decided to home-school him for a bit until we could come up with a plan to integrate him back to class.

The plan provided by the school was the same plan they created before spring break.  Two hours a day, stuck in a room by himself with little un-orchestrated, social interaction with his peers.  A plan that may have prevented some triggers, but a plan that increased his sensory-seeking behaviours at home and reduced his ability to socially interact naturally.

In one of the meetings with the Resource room teacher, she made a comment that made me wonder.  She asked if I had discussed the issues happening between his classroom teacher and his previous SEA (who is off sick indefinitely) in front of Dylan.  Umm.. what issues?  I admit, I had heard random rumours.  I had been a little confused by some comments D had made about how he had been treated in the classroom and I was fully aware his teacher didn't like me or D that much.  But this made me wonder -- was there something more?

I made a decision that I wouldn't send D to school until we had an acceptable plan to deal with his behaviours (that didn't involve un-official exclusion) and any incidents between his SEA and teacher were fully disclosed.  I needed to know if incidents in the classroom had created an anxiety in him in regards to school.

Let's say nearly three weeks on and it is clear the school believe D's behaviour has nothing to do with them, and I am getting more concerned that it does and they aren't addressing it.  I can't see how putting a 7 year old in a room on his own will stop him reacting negatively if he is given a demand which is a potential trigger.

This is starting to get messy.  Lines are being drawn in the sand and we are amassing our own armies.  My army is D's home therapy team.  The school has the Autism Outreach team.

I don't care -- I know in my heart that the situation with the school has created educational and mental issues with D.  I have seen the change in him since he has been home-schooled.  He has managed 3 months of work in 2 weeks.  His maths, reading and writing have improved.  He is happy, confident and smiling.  He wants to learn.  The change is dramatic.

Keeping him at home all the time may not be an option as D needs to learn and test his social-skills with his peers.  I am also not letting the school board keep his funding money without providing him any resources, which is the scenario that would happen if he was home-schooled.  Trust me, it appears home-schooling D would be a "win-win" situation for them.  They don't have to spend time dealing with a "difficult" child and they get $18,000 to spend on SEN kids they can manage.

I am on a battle-quest.  I have the school-board in my sights and I am squaring up for a fight.

I am a pissed off Mama Bear, hear me roar!  Then run away bloody quickly because this is going to be a battle where there will be casualties and that list of injured will NOT include D!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Guest Post on 'The Barefoot Monologues'.

I was lucky enough to be asked to write a guest post for my friend Trisha on her blog 'The Barefoot Monologues".

Trisha is an awesome writer and I was honoured to write for her.  Hopefully her blog stats aren't hit too much by my ramblings.

The post was called:  "Accepting the inevitable -- I am a Runner".

Enjoy

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Why would barefoot runners make the best shoe designers?

Yep, there is a glass of wine in my hand, which is a cue for me to start mumbling incoherently about something or other.

Today, it's a mini-revelation that how barefoot runners would probably make the best shoe designers in the world.

I admit it's a sweeping statement, but in my surreal world it makes sense.

I must first clarify that when I talk about shoe design I am talking about shoes that work and not necessarily shoes that look good.  It's an unfortunate situation that the two aren't necessarily connected.

So why are we the best shoe designers?  Let me explain.

#1  Barefoot runners probably know more about running form than is healthy.  Generally barefoot runners know how to run.  It is a very general rule -- there will always be people who run badly regardless of what they wear on their feet, however on the whole we know the important aspects of running well.  We also know how shoes affect our form and which aspects of shoe design affect our form more than others.  If you want a shoe that is designed for enabling good running form, then we are your team.

#2  Minimalist runners are probably some of the pickiest people on the planet.  Seriously, we ask a lot of our shoes and we are very particular on a number of aspects.  We require good ground-feel, wide toe-boxes, comfortable fit, flexibility and minimal cushioning.  We also know how to identify the above.  We are so in-tune with the responses from our feet that we can immediately tell when something isn't right.  Quite often we don't need hundreds of miles to identify what is wrong with a shoe.  You'll probably find we can tell if a shoe is going to be good or bad by the time we get to the end of the street.

#3   We don't necessarily care what a shoe looks like, we just want it to work.  Forget those fancy swishes you have put on the side to cover the fact you can't design a shoe.  We won't be distracted by your design.   It may work with the masses, but it isn't going to work with us. This is also important for point #4.

#4  We are the 'Mothers' of invention'.  If you produce a shoe that sucks, then we will hack it to pieces until it works.  We don't take it back to the store and whine about the fact it's lousy.  We will pull out our tool-kits and craft-boxes.

We 'think outside of the box' and we will come up with solutions to the problems in your shoes.  The shoes may  not look very pretty after we have finished with them but they will work.  If there isn't a shoe out there that fulfills a need, then by heck, we will make it.

For example:  I made my own winter running shoes out of neoprene aqua booties, shoe-gloo and sand.  I used them extensively for a whole winter and they are still my ideal winter running shoe.  They work because I made shoes that fulfilled the specific needs I wanted.  I didn't add 'bells and whistles'.  The are ugly as sin, but they do the job and they do it well.  I have also been known to take craft knifes, duct tape, cardboard, hair elastics and glue to a shoe to make it work.

#5   We may not care about how a shoe looks but we do have our own sense of style.   Okay, I am biased here but I think as a group we are kind of groovy.  You can tell a barefoot runner in a crowd without even glancing at their feet.  We are not your average runners and if you want unique styling in your shoes, then we are the group you need to talk to.  Forget the black lycra tights and boring race shirts. We are bold, bright, eccentric and punk.  We can make your shoes stand out from the crowd.

#6   We say it as it is.   If you have a sensitive disposition and react badly to criticism then don't talk to us.  If you want the straight up, flat out truth about your shoes then we will tell you and it will probably involve the terms that are more related to the bathroom (or bedroom, if we think your shoe is good).  We are a concise bunch and find it hard to wax lyrical about a product we think needs improving.

#7  Strange as it sounds, people may actually listen to us.  If you are a serious runner and you wanted to know how good a shoe is, who would you talk to?  The guy who's education about running only goes as far as watching "Chariots of fire", or the person who may have spent the last six months reading about running and analysing their running form?  Okay, we don't know all the answers -- in fact we know even less when we have been drinking -- but the fact is that we probably know a little more about what we are talking about than the runner who goes to the box store for their runners.  If we don't know the answers then we probably know those that do.  We aren't experts and many of us don't claim to be, yet if I needed to know how good a shoe is, then I would go to the blog from a minimalist runner.  They know what they are looking for.


There you have it.  My drunken reasons on why we are awesome shoe designers.  Now if any shoe companies want to offer me a job then feel free, however I am not expecting any immediate offers once they have seen my previous designs.  The Smithies were conceived and constructed with the aid of wine and it shows.  Ahh well... that's another career scrapped before it was started.

Now back to my previous vocation of 'General drunken wastrel'!






Saturday, May 5, 2012

Avoiding the temptation to "Suck it up, Buttercup!"

As you can see from the lack of posts over the last couple of weeks, life stuff has interrupted my usual stupid mumblings.

I wish it was for exotic reasons -- like I was whisked away to a beautiful island where it was warm, sunny and not covered in green moss -- but no.  Life threw me something that floored me.  Actually it wasn't life as such but probably some flu-ridden kiddie in the food aisle of the local food market.

Yep, a plague descended upon my house.  I have been replaced by a groaning, spluttering monster that seems to move at a sloth-like place, whilst producing slime from every known -- and probably some unknown -- orifices.

Fine, I just had the flu.  I have a post to write here.  If I condense it to "I had the Flu" how else could I fill this page up with an additional thousand words.

Despite having the flu-jab this year, it appears that the Universe found it ironic that I should be the only person in the house to come down with the flu.  Apparently, the flu-jab mitigated the full of the effect of the virus, which meant I didn't even have full flu.  I just had enough flu to make me feel like I wanted to die, whilst giving me enough energy to not quite justify collapsing into a bed and achieving it!

I have been feeling pretty rotten.

It all started a couple of weeks ago when I woke up for the 5-peaks trail race in Golden Ears.  I wasn't able to register on-line, so I was going to register at the race start.  I woke up and felt a bit rough, but generally okay.  I was going to register for the longer race.  As I drove to the race start, I began to feel a little more worse for wear.  In the end, I registered for the shorter 9K course with about 350m.1,000 ft elevation gain.  I am pretty glad I did.

I spent the first 3K hacking and wheezing up the first slight incline -- much to the annoyance of the beef-cake dude who was prancing about at the race start showing everyone his strapped on video camera. He started in a corral before me -- with the unspoken intention that he was going to get awesome video of himself running up some mountains.  'Pride before a fall' meant he was consequently 'chicked' by lots of middle-aged women, including me as I spluttered past him.  I have a feeling he won't be showing that video at his next protein shake and dead-lift party.

After, the initial 'hacking my lungs up' start, the race actually improved.  I power hiked up the steep inclines and bombed down the rocky descents in a respectable time of an hour.  It was one of the first times I have not fallen into the stragglers on these races and I felt quite pleased with myself on the mid-pack placing especially after the dubious start.

About four hours after the return home I began to feel distinctly dodgy.  I initially placed the aches and tiredness to the run, but as an overnight sleep just produced a fever and an inability to move faster than a lethargic snail, I guess I was actually sick.

The next week was spent with the inability to actually move for more than about ten minutes at a time.  I was okay-ish if I was sitting, but as soon as I moved, then I would be hit with a sudden head-rush and proof that doing anything more strenuous than a slow walk was not an option.

The first week progress to a second week.  After continuing temperatures, aches, tiredness and a sore throat, I eventually conceded defeat and went to the Doctor.  I was told I had a 'mild' - 'MILD!' did the Doctor not see my corpse slumped on the chair in front of him -- dose of flu and there was nothing he could do.  Gargle with salt-water, eat Vit C tablets till you look like an orange and drink fluids.

So, here I am, nearly 3 weeks later.

The aches and pains have disappeared.  I am not that speedy, but at least I can stand for more than a hour without wanting to pass out.  An improvement on the ten minutes.  I am still quite slimy, but a follow on from the two weeks of slime is that the slime is turning into post-viral asthma.

Last night I experienced the worst case of asthma I have had for a long time. So this has lead to the a heart-wrenching decision.

I cannot run the BMO half-marathon tomorrow.

This was my BIG race of the year.  The expensive race of the year.  The one I have been training for. A race which I will experience a "Did Not Start" -- and the joy of a $100 t-shirt to add to my clothing collection.

The mental problem I have is not so much the "DNS".  I have experienced that before, so it's not a unknown situation -- I know I am not fussed about that.  It's the fact even now -- as I am sitting here, tissues full of green gunk surrounding me -- I still desperately want to do this race.

 Although I was moaning and groaning about the logistics of the race earlier in the week and even though I knew that at best this was going to be a "walk-run" affair -- with the emphasis on walk --  I was still  planning to get up at 4AM and run this race.

Until, last night.

I was having to take my asthma reliever almost hourly through the night and mentally putting a time-frame on myself that "If I don't feel better in an hour I am going to the ER"; it just highlighted that my body is not even in a state to walk this race.

My body is screwed, but my attitude isn't.  It is still chanting, "Suck it up, Buttercup!"  and "You will feel better when you start".

The thing is, I know I won't.  It's not even a case of pushing my bodies limits a little.  This is a case of pushing my bodies limits to where there will need a road-side ambulance at the half-way point.

I barely had enough breath to walk to the Salmon Hatchery today for the 'Fingerling Festival' and back.  That's a one mile round-trip (with stops).  Moving continuously for 13 miles is not a realisable option at the moment.

I need to resist my minds chants of "Suck it up, Buttercup!"

I have been using this line on my Son lately -- in a way to teach him that life doesn't go the way you plan. Today he came back with a retort of "Never, Ever, Trevor!"  The look on his face was priceless and I now know that the phrase is now consigned to the bin of "go-to parental one-liners destroyed by a smart-arse kids with an even smarter mouth".

So this post is a message from my viral-wrecked body to my permanently optimistic brain.

"Suck it up, Buttercup? Yeah, right! Never, Ever, Trevor!"


My Husband took a photo of me today.  I was sat in my tutu, fairy wings, my race bib and I was blowing my nose.  I made a very sad running fairy.  I posted it on a Facebook competition from my local independent running store.  If i get over 100+ likes, I may win some free running gear.


So go here


The Runners' Den Facebook competition


and click LIKE.  Let's see if we can use the power of Social-networking and get a sick Fairy some free gear ;)






Friday, April 13, 2012

You get what you see... Just don't be a prat

It's a Friday night and in an attempt to console myself in running a road race with 50,000 people on the weekend, I have turned to the bottle.  Well let's say it's more of a box of wine, than a bottle.

Also, running seems unlikely with a road race of 50,000 people.  Let's call that as it is -- a scenic stroll with the potential of treading in something unseemly...

Digression, my biggest failing.  That's not why I am here.

I was reading the blogosphere tonight and I came across a post by my friend and fellow furry super-hero, Jesse.  His topic of discussion was expanded in a post by Jason -- someone else who has had the misfortune to meet me.

Their posts all related to being yourself in all things. How this is the secret of success.

For some reason, my drunken self decided this was also an important topic -- probably in a "You're so right mate! *belch*" kind of way.

When I went to New York last year, I had the opportunity to meet many people I had only known on-line.  It should have been a nervous event.  I was travelling thousands of miles to meet a group of people I didn't actually know.  I was going to spend the whole weekend with them, probably in a state of incapacity.  Well that was the plan anyway.

I had even invited Krista to come and bunk with me in the same room.  Even though our social interactions had only progressed to throwing drunken comments to other barefoot runners (who we also wouldn't recognise outside of their avatar).

The overwhelming feeling I had during the alcohol hazed weekend, is that everyone was just how I thought they would be.

Through our drunken and usually late night shenanigans on-line, we had not pretended to be something we weren't.  We had not made comments to impress others.  We had not held back our ideas in case we had offended.  We did not tolerate people who clearly were trying to be pretend they were something different.

We were like minded people who felt that being ourselves was important. Our meeting in New York, just validated that.

It wasn't until after I returned from New York, did I realise that this is probably unusual.

I am not comfortable trying to be someone else.  We have all tried when we are young.  We all want to be 21 when we are in fact 17.  I realised whilst in my teens, that I pretty much suck at pretending to be something else.  I find it too exhausting and annoying.

Since then, I forged my own path.  It has led into some interesting times.  However, I soon realised that forging my own path and being myself doesn't prevent doors from opening; they make more and exciting doors open.

Let me tell you a story to explain the person I am... (Yes, the story involves me being drunk).

I was 21 and I had just finished my degree in Economics.  I was in the process of applying for jobs and post-grad courses. I had undertaken a post-grad course in education.  A week before I attended the obligatory induction meet-and-greet beer party, I was asked to an interview for a managerial position at a top-end bar in the west end of London.  The interview was scheduled for an hour after the college party finished.  That was just enough time to go from the party to the interview.

Needless to say, I turned up at the interview a Little worse for wear.  In fact I think I may have accidentally pee'd myself on a run to an underground tube train.  So not only did I smell like the brewery I was applying for, I probably smelt a little like the guy that was continually sitting on it's front step.

As you can tell, I perhaps wasn't too stressed about getting the job.

The interview progressed in a bit of a drunken slur (well I was the one with the slur, the interviewer thought 4pm was probably a little early).  I was asked the usual questions:
"What is your five year plan?" I responded, "I don't have one, I couldn't predict where I would be five years ago, what makes you think I can do that now?
"What are your plans for this position?" I answered, "Not to get fired" 
"What do you think you can contribute to this organisation?" Deadpan I replied, "Entertainment"

Then they asked the killer final question.  The one that usually invokes stony silence.
"Do you have anything you wish to ask us?" I looked the interviewer straight in the face and asked, "Give me one good reason why I should work for your company?"


Let's say I don't think this was what he was expecting the drunk girl, looking like the wicked witch of the west because the only outfit she had that looked suitable for an interview was the one she used to wear to the goth club, to say.  Not let's not forget the drunken burps and the slight pong of urine.

I stumbled out of the interview and managed to get back home on the evening commute train.  I was avoided by everyone in their business suits on the way home -- mainly because I think they were worried about a dry cleaning bill if I threw up on them.

A week later I received a letter telling me I had be given the job.  I turned them down.

I realised then, that if you are honest in what you do and how you act with others, then opportunities will come your way.  You don't need to be something you aren't to get what you deserve in life.

Being honest about who you are -- accepting your own faults -- will allow your strengths to shine.  Pretending to be something you aren't is a recipe for disaster, because eventually the facade will catch up with you.

Yes, I know the c in 'facade' should have a funny thing on it, but I am tipsy and if I go looking for it under special characters I will probably accidentally delete the entire post! You see - honesty!  Just be glad I am typing.  Actually, being able to type is probably something the internet is not too happy about.

The people who lie to get what they want, will fade and disappear.  This new age of social media will catch them in the end and those that are left standing are those who have integrity and self worth.  It might be drunken integrity and an over-inflated opinion of self-worth, but it will always be better than the guy who thinks adding a couple of extra grades on their CV will land them the top job.

There you go, drunken ramblings over.  The long and short moral of this story is - don't be a prat.  Be who you are in life and good things will come.







Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tactical withdrawal is not a defeat

I have just read Jason's post on the Barefoot Running University about how we can change our lives if we want to.  We should quit moaning and just make the changes to make our lives better.

I completely agree - Just STFU and do it!  I am very much of the ilk that life is what you make it and there is nothing you can't do if you really try.

However, I am also a believer in understanding which fights are worth fighting for.  Accepting defeat is not a weakness when you realise why you are doing it and you are in control of it.  Let's say it's not a defeat, but a tactical withdrawal instead.

So as you may know we have had our Permanent Residency declined because of D's Autism.  We could fight it, however, it would take hundreds of thousands of dollars, time and probably a lot of luck, hoping that the immigration officer is  having a nice day.

We love Canada, don't get me wrong and if we could, we would stay here forever, but we won't accept a solution that makes us less than residents.  The solution the Immigration department has mapped out for us will do just that.  We would be "tolerated visitors" with a PR stamp.  We won't do that.

The other situation is that the Canadian Immigration Department is now querying our work permits.  We could, but we never wanted to be in Canada on work permits indefinitely.  Why, when it means you get to stay?  Firstly, and most importantly for me, is the fact we can't vote.  Being part of the political process is important to me. I have balked and hated that I am unable to affect the country I live in.

Secondly, is the fact that although the work permits allow me to work, they don't allow me to re-train or work in schools.  They are also based on a one year period.  Many companies are reluctant to hire someone who may have to leave in less than a year.  At the moment, that's okay, I am not in a position to work, but in the future...

The fact that the Immigration Department is querying D's medical condition for the work permit is sending alarm signals.  The immigration lawyers believe that the next work permit issued will be the last - a "temporary measure whilst we investigate your situation further and then reject you" situation.

These are all conditions outside of our control and although it is something we could fight, the fight will make us compromise in ways that we cannot morally do.  We won't be Bullied by this country into making promises we have no way of guaranteeing we can keep.  I am not going to plan my life for the next 10 years, because in my experience that leads you to failure and stress.

If we are to be a part of this country, we want to be a full part of it.  Residency is a privilege not a right -- I understand that.  But obtaining qualified, educated and experienced workers as residents is not a privilege either.  A country has to prove that it is willing to take all a person has to offer and bring with them.  You can't just cherry-pick the parts you like and throw away the parts you don't.

Anyway, it appears at some point within the next 12 months we will be moving back to the UK.  Is this a defeat?  Not really.

I am glad we came here.  I am glad we have tried.  I don't want to leave, but I know that the fact we are going to have to leave at some point isn't our failing -- it's Canada's.  Standing up for ourselves and refusing to be bullied is not a failing it's a strength.

We are lucky that M is so well regarded in the industry, that getting a job should be quite easy.  It's very rare to have someone of his experience -- he has worked on pretty much every game console created since 1995.

So although, the move back to the UK can be seen as not trying hard enough, I fail to see it as that.  I see it as us utilising our rights as individuals to be respected by government.  We are taking our skills and going to go where they will be appreciated and where we will be accepted not only for our good parts, but the parts Canada is unwilling to recognise.

We aren't going to fight a battle that diminishes us.  We will use that energy to constructing something good from our lives and frankly that can be done anywhere.

Fighting, hate, rejection are all negative emotions that take away from us -- never add to us as a whole.  Working for the future, love and accepting others as we wish to be accepted is a positive force and that is what we are working on.

This isn't a defeat, it's a change of course that is bringing us peace and closer as a family.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Jumping on the Pussy Bandwagon

Did you know there was one? It's huge..! I mean, chuffing enormous!

Firstly, let me counsel you -- I have had at least two glasses of wine more than I should and I have a huge glass left because I had hit the notorious "Is the cask empty?" syndrome.  If you don't know what that means, then clearly you are someone of class who buy's "Bottled" wine.  You can ignore my ravings.

Anyway, I digress -- it happens a lot.

My friend Vanessa, who I think is completely awesome and who is one of those I have never met -- so her opinion of me, maybe greater than it should be -- wrote a post about an ad campaign about some shoes.

I would go into the details of the ad campaign by Pearl Izumi (yes, I am drunk and had to double check the spelling -- definitely not getting any free gear from them because of that), but most people in the US running community would have heard about it, because it's been hyped up as a big controversial discussion.  Yeah, war, peace and the end of intolerance can go hang -- Pearl Izumi made a definitive statement between who are Joggers and Runners, let's be mortally offended!

I am really not going to get any free stuff from them am I?

The point I want to make, is more of the response my friend Vanessa had from her post.  A few people decided to misread her article, re-tweet it and she became the subject of a vicious verbal/on-line attack.  Unfortunately, due to the nature of her work, (she is an editor for active.com) -- personal opinion clashed with occupation and she had to not only rescind the article but post a public apology.

When I say the attack was vicious, I mean it.  People were calling her work, threatening her and her job was on the line.  I frankly think this is out of order.  It makes me angry to think that people feel so much of themselves and their little lives, that they had a right to verbally attack another person so virulently that it almost cost a career.  Yeah, I think you are scum.

I understand that when you start writing for a magazine or another publication that may place your opinion higher than others, you have to be more careful in what you say in regards to something intimately connected to that job -- in our cases, shoes, running gear etc.  This is why I am hesitant in writing shoe reviews etc.  However, my blog -- like Vanessa's -- was active a long time before our more public writings came into being.

This blog -- like Vanessa's -- is my safe haven.  I hope I have made enough distinction in this place to show that the view's expressed here are my own.  They are not a magazines, a non-profit society's or anyone else's.  My work should not be placed in jeopardy by anything I write here.  If you don't realise that, then leave .. NOW!

This is my outlet and I refuse to let that be taken away.  I feel for Vanessa because her outlet was diminished by people who's opinion of themselves were smaller than they let on.

I was going to write about how I feel about the ad campaign, but that has been discussed to death and I refuse to add fire to a corporate freak-show -- I am really not going to get any free gear here! Must re-think my business plan.  Mamma needs new clothes!

I just wanted to offer my support to a fellow blogger.  I was going to say writer, but that's a professional title that means you need to be a grown up.  Blogger is more apt.  When you are a blogger your opinions are your own and not edited.  They are you.  Frankly I am more interested in "Vanessa the blogger" than "Vanessa the writer".  I could get drunk and wear pajama's and a TUTU with "Vanessa the blogger". Much more fun.

I know this post means little to about 84 of my readers.  That's okay.  I am happy with that.  There is only really one person this post is for and she knows it.

Really need to finish that glass of wine now and fall into a stupor. :)

HUGS to the person who understands this post.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Please come to Canada - but not if you're Autistic

This is a tough post to write.

After two years of sending forms, being prodded and poked.  Spending thousands of dollars getting police certificates, we have found out today that our quest to become Permanent Residents in a country we have lived in for pretty much seven years is going to be rejected.

Why?

We have an Autistic son.  Actually we have a mildly Autistic son.

We have no criminal records - we are law abiding.

It doesn't matter, that M and I are both highly skilled people.  It doesn't matter that M is highly paid.  It doesn't matter that M pay's a huge amount of tax every year.  The fact we have both spent between 4-8 years each in a college doesn't mean anything.

The fact that, I was hoping to train as an Special-ed teacher doesn't matter.  The fact we wanted to buy a house is not a factor.  We are contributing members of society.  We have jobs, we pay our taxes, we pay our bills on time, we have no debt, we follow the laws, we help in the community, we have friends and a strong network.

Yet, our seven year old, who counts Canada his home -- who counts himself Canadian, is being rejected by the country he loves.

We have a beautiful high functioning, verbal, intelligent son.  One who unfortunately is going to cost the government $24,000 a year to treat. For every Autistic Child in BC, the government gives $18,000 to the school board and $6,000 to pay for extra therapy.

$24,000 a year, which they are already paying as we are temporary residents.  However, that doesn't matter.

We are all in a state of shock at the moment.  To be rejected at this late stage, when we thought all the hurdles had been jumped through.  To be rejected by some cold hard letter.

We have 6 weeks to appeal.  We just aren't sure what this means for our work permit renewal that is in the works.

Maybe I will write more when I can make some kind of sense of this - because at the moment I can't.



Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I thought March was the month for madness

Just a quick post to let you know why I have been on the quiet over the last month.

To say life is hectic is not an understatement -- it is far beyond that.

When I started out in September with D going into grade one, I had this foolish notion that I could do so many things with the thirty hours of free time I had a week.  Slowly over the following 5 months or so, that thirty hours was whittled away to perhaps twenty.  Twenty is still not bad; I could still run, write, help out at BRS and occasionally clean.  Life was still good.

Then February came about.  Instead of being able to actively plan my calendar, my life went into fire-fighting mode.

Following an allergy test I had done at the end of January, my body went into allergic melt-down.  Those pin-pricks just seemed to show my body that I could be allergic to what-ever I wanted.  This started the down-hill spiral.  Everything I seemed to eat, touch or breathe, resulted in asthma, hives and sneezing.

My days weren't spent in the coffee shop anymore.  They were spent trying to find a decent vacuum cleaner -- Did you know Dyson have a whole range of models out in March and therefore NO-ONE has any?  Yep, neither did I until I needed one.  We then had to research how to limit allergens, which resulted in new mattresses, pillows, bedding and another $1000 we didn't want to spend.

Then I needed to get cleaning and re-organising, so that everywhere is as clinical than a doctors office.  Oh, the cleaning... I am not sure how D coped with the concept of me cleaning.  Seems like he didn't.

I was still writing and BRS'ing, then disaster No. 2 turned up.

D, began suffering what has been termed "Sensory overloads".  The last one in the series, resulted in him throwing chairs in his classroom in a bid to get out of something - not sure if it was a task, environment, or life in general.  Frankly at this point it doesn't matter.  His class had to be evacuated and the whole incident was elevated to full-scale disaster.  Followed by a horrendous after-meeting by someone I will only term "Aide from Hell".  The result ended up being a Mum who frankly wanted to shut down, a kid who couldn't and wouldn't go to school because of anxiety.

Those twenty free hours which had previously been demoted from thirty. Now, we had ten.  After a very short week in school, D re-turned to school for 2 hours every day.  When a thirty minute handover was counted, this left me with ninety minutes a day.  Heck, I had more free-time when he was in pre-school.

Add, in Doctors consultations and additional therapy sessions, it was clear the only way my house would look decent was if a bomb was placed inside it.  Something D actually wanted to attempt by the way.  Never tell an kid on the spectrum that he "can do whatever you want, sweetie", because he will!

Then in the midst of confusion, add in calamity No.3.  They do say these events come in three's right?

During the site migration of the BRS site, we encountered Domain name issues, which lead to legal issues.  The whole 'blow-by-blow' is still in the works and won't be released until we are super-sure that what we say is validated and accurate.  The last thing we need is for the whole community to be pulled and for the 'powers-that-be' to face legal bills rivalling their kids college funds.  Being on the executive committee, this meant that whilst BRS was down, I wasn't able to spend the time sitting drinking wine and eating chocolates (probably two of the items I am not currently allergic too!).  My in-box grew to the size of the Marsh-mellow man from Ghost-busters and I had to be creative when doing the conference calls with a highly-strung 7 year old hanging around.  Yep, I was that Mum who used the power of 2 new Skylanders and 2 hours of game time as a babysitting tool.

I am pleased we are beginning to see the light at the end tunnel of this mess, now NEWBRS is up and running.  I am sure there is a lot more work to be done until the whole sorry incident has been put to bed, but those gut-wrenching couple of weeks where we honestly didn't know if the community would survive seemed to have lapsed for a while.

In a few months, when the dust has settled and we are all cleared with what we are allowed to say, then I will tell the story.  It's actually quite an uplifting story when it's finally published.  A story of how a virtual community came together to save itself from those who had only monetary interest in it.  How, passion and dedication won over the big bucks.

As you can imagine, the writing part of my life has pretty much taken a back seat for a week or two - or three, or four.

One part of my life that hasn't suffered as much as it could have is my running.  I am thankful for that.  It has been my life-saver over the last month.  I had started a half marathon clinic in January and although the allergies and asthma has meant I can't run as quick as I would like, it has shown me that slow distances is something I can do.  I now have a reason to run at least three times a week and even if I miss one of the club sessions, it just spurs me on to get that run in somewhere.  So I am still running 3-4 times a week and I am running the long distance more often than not.  However, I must point out I think the training plan is insane.

I am training for a half marathon in May, and yet the plan has shown that over six weeks, (last week and the next 5 weeks), four out of 6 runs are over 10 miles.  In fact one run is actually 13 miles.  I am running a half marathon in training for a half-marathon.  To me that sounds of crazy.

I am sure my usual training plan of running 6-8 miles in my long run, then getting drunk, registering for a half-marathon three days before it happens, is a more viable training schedule.  I mean, come-on! Last week I ran nearly 30 miles in a week. I haven't run that mileage in over 18 months.  Perhaps I should question my sanity and those little pills the Doctor gave me a couple of weeks ago :)

Regardless, my life at the moment is spent being more of a grown-up than I would like -- OR running away from being a grown-up and failing miserably.

Let's hope I just had an early start on the March Madness, because I am not sure  my sanity can take another month of this.  Saying that -- isn't it Spring Break in a couple of weeks? Oh, I am so screwed.  Good-bye sanity, you will be missed.