Let’s see. April began with a big sad post about my knees and waiting for surgery. But some good things happened too.
So many of you reached out, on and off the blog and the Facebook page and encouraged me to push a bit. That’s so not me. I’ll happily wait quietly in lines normally. But I began to worry I’d been forgotten. Did I give them the wrong address and phone number? Had they lost my file?
So I listened to your advice, friends of the blog. I called the surgeon’s office. I heard the voicemail message that says if you are waiting for an appt date don’t leave a message, we’ll call you when we have a date. I cried.
I listened to more of your advice and wrote a quick note to the hospital ombudsperson, telling them about the message that made me cry, and could someone please check that my file isn’t lost?
The surgeon’s office called back. It’s all sad. There’s a pandemic going on. I was prepared for sadness. They haven’t taken vacation since the pandemic began. They are still not at 100% surgical capacity. They are still cancelling surgeries everyday because of staff shortages due to COVID-19..
They are now calling people who saw the surgeon in January 2019 to make appointments. My visit was in August 2019. So, best guess, another 8 months before they call to set a date.
But on the bright side, I have their phone number. They said to call if I have any more questions. And I’ve got a rough time line. They didn’t lose my file. It will happen.
Our team even had its first in person social. Look at our smiling faces. We’re the Rally’s Angels.
Riding outsidein Vancouver
Also in April I attended my first in person academic conference since the pandemic began. In March 2020 I cancelled my plans to attend the American Philosophical Association’s Pacific Division meeting in San Francisco after the world started shutting down and falling apart. And this April, April 2022 I attended the Pacific Division meeting in Vancouver. Even as I was getting on the plane, my first flight in more than two years, it didn’t feel real.
Sarah made plans to come with me and with from Vancouver. I told myself that even if the conference got moved online we’d fly to Vancouver and work from our hotel room. It wasn’t moved online. It happened! It was so wonderful seeing people again, hearing about people’s books (and new babies) and I loved every minute of it. Tracy organized a wonderful feminist philosophers’ dinner.
While there we also walked a lot and borrowed hotel bikes and rode around Vancouver. Wow. It felt wonderful to be outside.
Here’s some photos we took riding bikes in Vancouver and walking around the city:
And at home
It’s also spring now in Ontario, despite some occasional cold days, and we’re riding outside training for the Friends For Life Bike Rally. David, Sarah, and I did our first training ride last week, London to Strathroy for lunch, 70 km all told.
Checking in with some monthly numbers
Total km ridden in April: 400 km, making for 1791 km so far this year.
Total activities: 35 making for 152 so far this year, my goal is 220 workouts in 2022 and looks like I’ll shoot past that goal easily.
Total books this month: 3 making for 9 so far this year. Wish me luck making my goal of 25 books this year.
A slower, longer Saturday morning group ride on Zwift. It starts at 930 AM ET and goes for 90 minutes.
Here’s the event description, “Building up your endurance but holding a lower pace? This is the group ride for you! Join Paul as he leads The Herd on Elizabeth’s iconic endurance ride. Respect the leader’s pace and ride with the yellow beacon. This is NOT A RACE! Stronger riders are encouraged to fall back and help sweep the riders struggling in the back. Join us on Discord during the ride: https://discord.gg/Dr7ZtPV (Please use Push-To-Talk) Check us out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/zHerd/.”
What’s to love?
They do what they say they are going to do. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against smash fests or rides where people who can’t keep up get dropped, as long as that’s what they say they are. That’s true IRL and in virtual cycling. The Thundering Turtles is a slow, steady, 90 minute ride where people stick together. There’s a veritable army of sweeps, more than 6 I think on the ride I was on recently.
They also wait and regroup. It’s the only Zwift group ride I’ve known to do that. In France the other week we all got the castle–at about the halfway mark–and waited for the rest of the bunch to catch up. This week we waited at the top of the leg snapper in Innsbruck. It was fun to race up and then wait, without falling off and down the other side. It got pretty crowded up there.
The group also sprints and you can join in if you want. Or not, again because they regroup.
The banter is friendly and supportive. There are lots of different reasons people are on a slower paced ride. For some it’s a recovery ride after a tough week of racing. Others are just starting out. Some people are coming back from injury. And for others that’s just the speed they roll.
I know I am almost 50, deeply perimenopausal, and I have no right to expect my period to arrive when my FitBit says it will.
You may be aware that I have been experiencing cramps for a few days and was sure I was getting it on Monday.
Did I mention my FitBit told me I was to get my period yesterday?
Last month it was a week early. This early period thing only started a few months ago. Before that, I was like clockwork.
The fun thing about perimenopause is that I could be experiencing all of the symptoms and I may not actually bleed this month. You just don’t know. It’s all kind of a guessing game.
To be honest, I didn’t see myself still getting them at all at this point of my life. My Mom had a hysterectomy at 35 and my sister started perimenopause much earlier. Knowing this and that I started my period exactly one month after my eleventh birthday, I figured it would have ended by now. I won’t get into the years of pain and misery which seems slightly a waste when I didn’t end up having children. But, I digress.
Oh Period Gods (Lilith? Zara? Esther?), I am running a half marathon on Sunday.
The last thing I need on race day is to worry about stabbing cramps, feeling like my uterus is going to fall out of my body or having to change a tampon in a Port-a-Potty.
I haven’t been on the Pill in years, so I can’t just keep taking pills to avoid getting my period on race day. If that were the case, it would be a useful strategy, since the days leading up to my period always affect my energy levels and athletic performance.
If I get my period, pretty much NOW, I’ll be in the prime part of my cycle on Sunday, right after I get my period, once the pain and cloudiness have subsided, where I have optimal energy levels.
So, dear Period Gods, I know you may have much more pressing concerns, but I respectfully request that my period comes today.
It has been over a year since I checked in my heart health and cholesterol, and my aim of managing without medications. In news that will surprise exactly nobody, I failed. But that’s okay.
I have been learning to cook and enjoy more meatless meals. I have switched to whole wheat breads and pastas as part of an overall effort to increase my fibre intake. I probably have more salt than I should because I can a lot of my own vegetables when they are in season, but I’m okay with that because I like growing and preserving food too much to give it up.
I am not as diligent about eating late any more, because I often struggle fit food in before dance class, especially now that I am going to the office semi-regularly.
I started taking cholesterol medication; even at a low dose, it was enough that my blood pressure meds were cut in half. Better living through chemistry!
I am still fat. I am also very active. And I am as tall as ever, which the technician at my most recent bone density scan says is a good thing.
In summary, I’m doing as well as could be expected. I could probably do a little better, but the extra effort isn’t worth it to me. I may remember to check in again at some point in the future, but likely only when there is a major change.
How about you dear readers – have you tried to fight off some aspect of aging but now are at peace with it?
Diane Harper lives in Ottawa. She is starting to look forward to retirement so she can do more things she enjoys.
Some people start fitness challenges in September, the start of the school year that somehow feels like the real start of the year to many of us. Others go with the more traditional January start. It appears I like April. I wrote about it last year.
This year my workplace is doing an activity challenge for the month. It doesn’t have to be walking, but that happens to fit with another challenge I’m also doing. I like the fact that getting enough sleep and drinking plenty of water are also goals.
The other challenge is with one of my medieval groups, where we are aiming to walk 183 miles by the end of May. Why 183 miles? I have no idea! There is probably a very logical reason that I have forgotten, or missed completely in my enthusiasm to join up. Whatever.
The challenge works out to about 5 km a day for me. I used to do 10 km walks regularly, but haven’t done one in at least 15 years.
Sometimes I go out late in the evening, and catch the light near dusk. I am lucky enough to live near two large rivers, so there is always plenty to see.
I feel blessed to live in a walkable part of the city, with a real variety of landscapes.
I don’t do 5 km absolutely every day, but I am getting the distance done each week. My walks are getting longer, I am going into the office as an excuse to knock off an easy 6 km, and on Easter weekend I walked for 10.6 km.
Best of all, the chronic hip flexor pain is gone. Apparently I needed to get out of my chair a lot more than I realized. And I am learning to enjoy my own company, just wandering and admiring the views.
I am pleased to report that after a mere thirteen years of Taekwondo training*, I am finally virtually unfazed by being asked to lead the warm-up for my class.
If you recall, my post for International Women’s Day was about my challenges with stepping up to lead in that specific way and how important it is/was to me to get past those challenges.
So, back in March, I had decided that the way to get over my reluctance was to 1) lead the class for several weeks in a row- so I would be able to get used to the feeling and 2) make a lesson plan in advance to reduce the risk of going blank while I was up in front of everyone.**
And it totally worked!
I didn’t even end up leading the class every week that I was planning to – I was sick one week and my instructor led the entire group together another week. It was still enough time to get used to being up in front of everyone, to find my own groove with instructing, and to prepare enough lesson plans and warm-ups that I can use at any time.
I have to say, I like knowing that I am prepared and that I won’t feel overwhelmed by being asked to take the class. In fact, two weeks ago, I was asked on the spur of the moment to take the class and as I stepped up onto the small stage at the front I realized that I wasn’t uncomfortable at all.
That was exactly what I was hoping for when I made my plan for March.
In June, I am going to be testing for my 4th degree black belt, a rank that means there is a lot lot more teaching in my future. I am grateful to know that the ‘trick’ to making myself more comfortable with that really is to prepare and to practice.
(Yes, this is the same ‘trick’ I apply in every other area but it had never occurred to me to apply it at TKD.)
Do you have one area of your life where you can’t quite bring the same oomph that you bring in other areas? Have you found a way around it? Were you able to transfer a skill from somewhere else?
*I’m being funny here, or at least trying to be. My fear of taking charge of the class has only been an issue for the past few years since I wouldn’t have been asked or expected to lead the class for most of the early part of my training. Previous to the past few years, I might have been asked to lead a small group or to lead students who were behind me in my training but my reluctance to step up in front of the whole group – my peers and students with more advanced ranks – was a relatively recent issue.
**Taekwondo is practically the only time I fear going blank on stage. I tell stories, give speeches and presentations, and do workshops regularly and while I might feel a bit nervous, I don’t worry about going blank. I guess that because TKD involves coordinating what I am saying with what I am doing it adds an extra layer of stress for me.
It is just about May– the end of the semester and college academic year, and hopefully the beginning of warmer weather. I admit to having become more of a fair-weather cyclist and swimmer lately. Luckily, my time has (almost) come.
This year– in fact these past few years– have been all about the moods. For me, this has meant impatience, periods of lassitude, a few burst of energy and motivation, and moments of connection and joy. There’s been sadness and grief, too, with more to come. That is the way of life. But alongside those emotions come pleasure, silliness, adventurousness, feelings of warmth and even a little ambition.
regarding ambition: as soon as the weather and my schedule cooperate in tandem, I’m taking out my new kayak. Of course the event will be covered in detail on this blog.
regarding adventurousness: as soon as I can work up the gumption, I’ll try some late spring chilly immersion in Walden Pond and Mystic Lake. The ocean may have to wait another month or so.
regarding sadness: I am and will be living with the loss of a loved one. I plan on some meditative quiet and some friendly company, both of which help a lot. Stillness and movement both have their place as part of a healing regimen.
Take a look at my post about the many moods of movement, and see if you find one that fits what you’re feeling like these days. If you have more suggestions for movement moods, let me know.
Am I an athlete? Are you? We’ve wondered that here on the blog. Indeed, Tracy wrote about that way way back in 2012. (OMG, the blog is nearly 10 years old!)
Tracy wrote, “When I first wanted to be a writer, I used to read lots about writing. I read more about writing than I actually wrote. Something I read that stuck with me more than anything was that if you want to be a writer, start thinking of yourself as a writer. Call yourself a writer. Organize your schedule as a writer would. Write.It took awhile, but eventually, instead of thinking in terms of wanting to be a writer, I started to think of myself as a writer. And I behaved as a writer. That is, I started to write. I wonder if we can say the same for athletes? If you start to think of yourself as an athlete, will you then behave as one?”
“The idea is familiar. When we adopt an exercise identity, physical activity becomes a part of who we are and a powerful standard that can drive behaviour. Research I conducted at the University of Manitoba and the University of Ottawa shows that the more adults identify with exercise or physical activity, the more they do it.”
“In my research, people started seeing themselves as exercisers when physical activity crept into other aspects of their lives. So shamelessly wear the gear, even when you aren’t exercising. And don’t be shy to work exercise into your conversations.
One of my favourite thinky posts here on the blog is one of Cate’s about identity. She asks, How many fitness lives do we get? I know I’ve gone through lots of different stages, from ‘active involved outdoorsy parent’ to ‘recreationally competitive cyclist’ to my current focus ‘get in the best shape possible for knee surgery.’
Athlete might be too high a bar for many of us to adopt but it’s not the only option. You can think of yourself as someone who enjoys exercise, the person for whom movement is fun. I think of myself as someone who needs to exercise for reasons of mental and emotional health. That means I do it even when I’m busy and stressed, or maybe especially when I am busy and stressed.
I think developing an identity is why people post workouts and selfies and social media. It’s often derided as ‘showing off’ but that’s always struck me as a bit off. Ditto wearing athletic clothes. Yes, it’s signalling that you workout but it also makes working out–fitting in a quick run and some stretching–easier.
How about you? Do you have an identity as an exerciser, as a fit and active person, as an athlete? What, if anything, do you to foster and maintain that sense of identity?
Joanne Tarvit has grown up curling competitively, just like Dale Curtis, her mother. This interview shares what it’s like for them to curl together as a family, what curling teaches kids, and how women can thrive in curling at any stage of life. The full recorded interview is below the edited transcript.
Would you describe how long you’ve curled and your greatest curling accomplishment?
Dale Curtis: I’m not sure I want to say! It’s probably been 55 years. I think I only missed one season when I was living down in the United States. My greatest accomplishment in curling would be when I went to senior women’s nationals in Ottawa as skip.
Joanne Tarvit: I’ve been curling for 28 years. Mom had me on the ice when I was about 5 and I don’t think I’ve missed a season. My greatest accomplishment in my curling career would be winning back-to-back silver medals at the Canadian National Championship with a group of girls from Brock. They’re a great team.
How long have you curled together, and when did you start?
Joanne: This is our fourth season playing together weekly at the St Thomas Curling Club, but we’ve been playing bonspiels together for 20 years.
Dale: I introduced Jo to curling when she was 3 or 4 years of age. My brother David, her uncle, was Icemaker at two different clubs in Brampton and we lived close together. The ice was installed in September or early October, and I would often help because it can be a 24-hour job. Jo would come with me. David would actually sit her on the rocks and push so she could ride them down the ice!
Then we got Jo on the ice at 5, and I was an instructor in the Little Rocks program. The rocks the children use are about half the size and weight of the regular rocks that adults throw. It was a bit later, when she was skipping a team of kids at 9 or 10, and was handling the pressure of it all, that I thought, oh she can really do this!
Joanne: At our home curling club in Brampton, it was my mom, uncle, and grandparents as well! I felt a lot of pride knowing that my family was curling there and now, it was my turn. So I absolutely loved it as a kid. I was so lucky that mom was willing to come out, not just for those two hours on a Sunday afternoon for the Little Rocks but really anytime. I would want to go throw and she’d be like, yep let’s go and practice. I had a parent who not only loved the game but was really good at the instruction side of it as well when I was young.
As I got more into the competitive side of the game, around 12 and 13, I started to feel a little more pressure, but only because our whole family has many provincial championship banners hanging out at the club. It was a constant reminder. At one point in our life we had three generations, all playing on the same team in a bonspiel, so those are some really special memories for us.
What does curling teach kids like Joanne who play at a young age?
Dale: A curling team is only four players, so the team dynamics are much different than hockey teams or basketball teams. Curling teaches kids about their responsibility to the team, to the importance of committing for the season.
The game itself is played over at least two hours, so patience is involved, too. When the game is not going your way, you have to learn to control yourself emotionally, to set little goals for yourself. Emotional control is so important because the game is not over until it’s over. Kids have to learn that their body language on the ice affects their teammates. It teaches young people about sportsmanship. So I think curling really does teach a lot of life skill lessons for young people.
Joanne: I will add there is kind of a leadership element to it as well, one that doesn’t necessarily have to come solely from the skill position, like a captain. Every player in curling has a unique role, so they need to be able to bring positivity to their position. Curling has really helped me in many aspects in life, knowing that I can bring something positive to a team or group of friends, or just collaborate well with whoever I work with.
Is it challenging for kids to acquire those self-regulation and interpersonal skills in curling?
Dale: Yes, and you see it in the youngsters when they’re first starting out. We have a lot of broom banging when kids don’t make their shots or the game isn’t going their way. I think that’s why Jo likes the sweeping aspect to the game rather skip because sweeping offers an emotional release.
Joanne: Absolutely I was a broom slammer. I’ve slowly moved away from it, but every now and then I’ll still let one slip. So self awareness and being able to use strategies to work through that frustration, because you still got another rock to throw or you’ve got six other rocks that you have to have to play. You have to learn to be able to forget quickly. Curling has been the catalyst that has helped me learn that whenever I am stressed or any kind of anxiety comes up, my best release is any kind of physical activity.
Now that you are both adults, what is it like curling on the same team?
Joanne: We have been able to play together since I was 10. And now into my 30s being able to do that still and at a fairly good level has been a ton of fun. We could be continuing to do this for the next 20 years if mom wants to. It’s creating memories. We talk about bonspiels and events all the time around the dinner table. I think one thing we do have to be careful is that not everyone in the family curls so not that our dinners shouldn’t be solely about curling, but it does tend to happen.
One thing that’s unique about playing together is that we’ve watched each other play, well, for my entire life, at least, and so we know what it looks like when each other has a really good throw. We are able to provide that deep level of feedback.
Dale: For me, there’s not too many people that I would even ask about how I’m throwing. Jo’s coaching and training has given her as much of a critical eye as I have, I would say. So I trust the feedback I’m getting from her, probably more than anybody else in the club.
When I’m skipping and Jo’s throwing I trying to give her feedback as to what I’m seeing. I can be far more direct with Jo, and possibly not always as positive, in part because most other people are not curling at the same level that Jo is. So I think, maybe that comes with the territory—the higher elite curlers want more direct feedback.
Joanne: Once in awhile it’d be nice to know that I’m doing something right, mom! [laughs]
But, yeah, every game we play is an opportunity to practice and to learn. Mom has a very important competition coming up, so I have been trying to use these games to remind her of habits for keeping sharp. It’s a long season, and you can get what we call “lazy on technique.” So, I help to support her competitive game when we play.
Are there advantages or disadvantages playing together as mother and daughter?
Joanne: Like any kind of teammate, any relationship dynamic, you’re going to have good days and you’re going to have your bad days. There’s the odd day that we’re really not on the same page, and there’s frustration there. But I think, because we’re family, it rolls off the shoulder, so we’re like, “All right well, love ya.”
Having played with mom and watching her, I know her body language and style of strategy. When it comes to calling shots not a whole lot has to be said at times. But I’m also really comfortable at letting her know when I don’t think that’s the call here, and we should go with something else.
Dale: We know each other so well that I think that, at times, our emotions aren’t as much in check with each other as they would be with another teammate. We can be more raw with each other. If I’m in a bad mood, Joanne’s going to know about it, whereas if it was another teammate they may not know that I was in a bad mood as much.
Why is curling a good sport for fitness and health?
Dale: Curling is a wonderful sport to get involved in from a social aspect and from a fitness aspect. It is something you can do at any time during your life that you know we can adapt body types, to the skill at any at any age.
Joanne: Yes, the incredible thing about it is that you can start when you’re five or you can start when you’re 60. It’s a welcoming sport—there’s a spot for everybody in curling. And it’s more of a workout than most people think actually! I know when I come up from sweeping I’m usually huffing and puffing and working to get my heart rate back down.
The amount of empowerment that really comes with playing as a female I think is a ton of fun, because we can play the game right alongside the men, right alongside anybody. It really doesn’t really make a difference who you are in this sport. Everyone can play.
How important are role models for women who curl?
Joanne: Growing up as a young female we always were able to watch the Scotties, which is the national curling event. It always had air time and it was on every single year, and I think that’s unique when it comes to women in sport. For young girls who are playing hockey, I feel like the only time they get to see their idols play is every four years of the Olympics. So I felt very fortunate that I got to watch my idols every year compete at the Scotties and they’ve just constantly been adding women’s events to slams. Today, it seems like once a month you’re watching women on TV play. Other women play on TV, so I had something to watch and strive for.
Dale: I sort of went through the same thing when I was growing up. My mother ran the junior program at our club. I played with my mother in a regular league at the club for many, many years, and we did bonspiels together. It’s part of our family tradition that we’ve grown up with, and I’ve learned that nothing has to stop curling! I remember when my brother and I would miss our family Christmas dinners because we’d be playing or training and it was never really questioned. We were supported.
No matter what your life situation is, you should still be able to play. I curled when I was pregnant. As long as you’re healthy, you can just modify your delivery a bit so there’s no issue. I mean your body balance is actually lower as you go through your pregnancy, so it makes it quite easy really as long as you’re healthy and can keep your leg strength up. It’s great!
Joanne: Yeah I blame mum for my cold hands and feet, nowadays, because she played so long into her pregnancy with me that I was so close to the ice all the time!
What’s one piece of advice you have for each other about curling?
Dale: I just hope that if Jo wants to continue her competitive path that she’s able to find a team that can showcase her talent, whether she makes it to the Scotties or whatever. I hope she continues to love the game and pursue what she loves. Whether it takes her to a high competitive area, or to continue doing club curling, she should do what she is passionate about.
Joanne: For mom’s upcoming competition, I’d say just soak up the experience! I know how competitive my mom is because I get it from her. So I say enjoy it and not worry too much about the wins and losses. They’re going to come either way because it’s sport and it happens. You’re playing on a world stage, so make memories and enjoy every single moment of fun.
Oh, and have a good sharp release every time.
See the full video recording of our interview [32:50].