Drishti for life, revisited

I’m in my hometown this week, supporting family members through a difficult time.

This is following my mother’s death last summer after a brief, acute illness.

This is the place, as my cousin put it, where the exit sign off the 401 says “Welcome to Where You Came From (but changed since).” I haven’t lived here since 1988, but it’s where my family has been from for literally centuries. I have an epigenetic imprint on this place, but it’s like echoes, a dream. I’m staying in an air bnb that has a Bitcoin theme. It used to be a two story nightclub. I never danced here, but I ate my first pasta carbonara right next door.

It’s been a tough year for family things, and once again, I find my ground through yoga. I forgot to pack enough socks when I jumped in the car, but I remembered my travel yoga mat. Always.

I’ve been cycling through Adriene’s seven day sequence called “Yoga Ritual”, for the third time in the past few months. (I access it through the Find What Feels Good app, which I pay for — I’m sorry that I can’t find a free link).

The ritual is a 15 minute flow followed by a 5 minute meditative sit. Simple. 20 minutes to find your presence and breath.

The flow is simple — starting every day with child’s pose, then a flow that includes a couple of three legged dogs, a few eagle poses, a lot of folding. Every day is a variation on the same flow. It’s a deliberately repetitive series, to focus on presence, awareness, what’s new today.

When I was doing Day 4, Oxygen, I was in a balancing eagle pose, looking at a point ahead of me for focus — the drishti. And I remembered a post I wrote back in the first year of covid, just around the time we were seeing that covid was a long-term space for us. About finding a focal point off the mat — a drishti for life — is really important when the world around us is a swirl.

Right now, my grounding point is connection, showing up with compassion, with acceptance. I know that in my head — but that 20 minute yoga and meditation practice reminds me to feel it in my body.

What’s YOUR drishti when the world is a swirl?

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who is from the part of the world currently known as Windsor, Ontario.  This territory is within the lands honoured by the Wampum Treaties, agreements between the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Lenni Lenape and allied Nations to peacefully share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes, and specifically of the Three Fires Confederacy (Ojibwe, Odawa, Potawatomi) and Huron/Wendat Peoples.

fitness · injury · snow · winter

It’s snowing again!

Here’s Martha from a few months ago with advice we likely need again, at least those of us in North America, whether you’re in California or Ontario!

How to shovel safely and fitly

A car convered in snow with a heart traced on the window
blogging · fitness · top ten

Top Ten February 2023 Posts, #ICYMI

  1. Pain and the Human Playground (Sam)

2. I’m 53 and a half and I’m still menstruating: is this a good thing? (Cate)

3. Yoga poses I simply can’t do, and what I do instead (Catherine)

4. Keeping Fit While Healing from Hysterectomy (Guest Post) (Marjorie)

5. I walk 20K steps a day… and I’m getting rid of my Fitbit (Guest Post) (Michelle Lynne Goodfellow)

6. Exploring the world of YouTube trainers (Tracy)

7. I love lifting weights and getting strong again but none of my suit jackets fit (Sam)

8. 58. (Cate)

9. This month’s newness? Yoga! (Amanda Lynn)

10. Full Heart Fitness at 50: The FIFI bloggers interview Canada’s Ultimate Challenge athlete Lori Campbell (Sam)


A six month journey recovering from total knee replacement

I thought it would help me, and maybe help others going through this, or contemplating going through knee replacement surgery, to see what the six month journey after knee replacement surgery looks like. For me, it’s to remind me–as much as anything–how far I’ve come, but also to think about what’s next as I gear up for surgery on my right knee.

In the draft of this blog post I was referring to my new knee as 26 weeks old, but I have decided that new knees are like babies. At a certain point, you stop the weeks talk and move to to months

If you’re reading this and thinking about knee replacement surgery, pls know that your mileage may vary. I’ve gotten to know a group of people who’ve had this surgery and our recoveries all looked different. I had the advantage of going into surgery in pretty good shape. I did the Friends for Life bike rally, riding Toronto to Montreal, the week before knee surgery. The downside of the state I was in prior to knee surgery is that my right knee also needs replacing and it’s slowing down my progress.

These days I’m not needing the cane as much for walking. I keep leaving it places which is a pretty good clue that I don’t depend on it the way I did. I’m riding my bike on the trainer on Zwift. Today was an hour and 26 km.

Sam and Zwift

Here are some milestones along the way:

My surgery was supposed to be day surgery but my blood pressure had other ideas.

Day two I came home with a walker, lots of at home physio instructions, and all the drugs. Really there were enough drugs–not just pain meds– that it required another adult to keep track of all of them.

Day Four I switched to crutches, went to my first physio session in person. It’s lucky I like Estee, my physiotherapist. I’m still there twice a week, now in the evenings.

Day Five I made it upstairs to sleep in my own bed, rather than the fold out sofa on our main floor, and managed to have a shower! I felt human again.

A week after surgery, Sarah returned to working some of the time from her office, and I was getting around reasonably well on crutches. Still, the first two weeks really were a blur of pain meds, physio, icing, elevation and napping. I couldn’t really read or watch complicated television. Thankfully there was SheHulk!

I was only able to sleep a few hours at a stretch and kept the ice machine on my knee pretty much constantly.

Week Two, I got my staples out and had a follow up appointment with the surgeon. Still no driving (because pain meds) so Sarah had to take me. I was able to start taking tiny walks down the street each day and could manage basic household tasks such as unloading the dishwasher, sorting laundry, and making lunch. I got back on the bike (with a stepladder, lol) and started to work on range of motion. I couldn’t do a complete rotation of the pedals yet. I also managed to attend a friend’s wedding. I was likely the only guest there with her own ice supply. We didn’t stick around for dinner and dancing but it felt so good to be out in the world.

Sam on the trainer bike

Week Three I started small outings and we even made it to the farm in Prince Edward County. Still no hot tub for me but it was nice to have change of scenery for physio. I was no longer taking the serious pain medication except occasionally at night. I went to a Tafelmusik concert and saw a movie.

Week Four Finally, I could manage a complete pedal stroke on the bike, backwards but not forwards, but still it was progress. Throughout all this I’m doing physio exercises four times a day and still there’s lots of icing, and elevation, napping and TV. I moved on to binging Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad, shows I never watched back in the day. I also started to drive again.

Week Five I discovered that I could pedal forwards on a recumbent bike at the gym, even if I couldn’t manage forwards on my trainer bike just yet.

Week Six I started aquafit and I returned to work. I had the option of staying off for 12 weeks but there’s only so much TV a person can watch. I started using the cane instead of crutches–leaving the all-important coffee-carrying hand free!

Week Seven I discovered that if I raised the seat on the trainer bike I could pedal forwards and I started riding a few minutes each day. For the first few times I didn’t even turn Zwift on. I just watched TV and tried not to tink about how far or how fast I was going.

Two months, I flew to the Dominican Republic for a short vacation in the sun. I did an underwater spin class! When we got back I started personal training again and started to focus on strength and balance as well as range of motion.

Three months, I started to see a massage therapist as well as a physiotherapist to help with range of motion and getting rid of the last of the swelling. Check out my fancy physio tape!

Fancy physio tape

Four months, annoyingly my right knee started to bug me as I did all the physio for the left knee that’s recovering from surgery. I was fitted for a right knee brace so hopefully the right knee won’t slow down my recovery from surgery too much.

Knee brace

Five months, I rode an actual bike again, outside, in Arizona and went on some desert hikes. Read about it here. Our longest ride was 25 km and I struggled a bit with the mechanics of riding–clipping and unclipping, and getting on and off the bike, but it felt so good to be riding again.

Sam on her road bike in Arizona

Six months, I’m back at hot yoga (yin) and lifting weights, as well as riding my bike on the trainer, going for dog walks, and doing physio and personal training two days a week each. I’m doing group rides in Zwift–The Thundering Turtles and Seattle Baby Steps and Ride On For Health –as well as rides with the slowest of the virtual pace partners. The thing I’m working on now is cadence.

At six months it isn’t over. It’s still an all on thing recovering from knee surgery. There is still a lot of physio. There’s still some knee pain (though frankly the right knee is worse than the left). Some days I hop up and forget about my knee altogether and other days it’s a struggle getting around. That’s the weirdest thing, how much it varies from day to day. I know movement helps and the days where I ride my bike and lift weights are the best. I think this would be very hard and extra challenging if you weren’t already an active person for whom physical activity is a large part of your day.

Today I’m seeing the surgeon about my right knee. Wish me luck!

Any questions? Send them my way!


Watch, listen, and read suggestions for a Sunday


“…the original, debut documentary by Caroline Treadway. LIGHT reveals the hidden world of eating disorders in professional rock climbing as the filmmaker follows two best friends on their harrowing journey in a courageous narrative that breaks the silence about the sport’s darkest secret. Angie Payne, Emily Harrington, Andrea Szekely and Kai Lightner share their struggles and insights in this powerful film about the quest for lightness and its dangerous legacy. This film was directed, written, edited and produced by women.”


21 Extra Motivating Songs for Chilly Morning Workouts

Motivation for chilly mornings playlist
Scopio, mountains


How climbing’s send-at-all costs culture almost ruined me by Beth Rodden

cycling · Rowing · running · yoga

What sports do you pair?

For Catherine, it’s cycling and kayaking. I’m also a fan of this combo.

The case for cycling and kayaking as companion sports

In general, I think a number of us on the blog are fans of water based sports. When I first started the fittest-by-fifty challenge, one of my goals was to take up something new and I went for rowing. In this older post I talked about the skills overlap between rowing and cycling.

Kim Solga is another fan of the rowing/cycling combo.

These days for me, during the summer months, there’s a lot of boating and biking–Snipe racing and road bike riding.

For many of the bloggers, I think it’s running and yoga that are their favourite pairing.

How about you? Of all the sports and physical activities that bring you joy, which is your favourite pairing? Let us know in the comments.

Yoga in the park, Scopio
fitness · motivation · running · training

Let the 10K training begin!

Image description: digital readout of a treadmill screen on the “track” mode and with a water bottle perched beside it, spin bikes and mirror in the background.

It’s been ages since I have had an actual training goal in my running. And I feel the lack of focus a lot. So I’m excited to say that with my regular Sunday RunFam, I’ve signed up for the last-ever Run for Retina 10K on April 16th. That means I have eight training weeks to go, including the week we are still in. It’s sad to see it go, but I’m excited that it’s going in the spring this year rather than the fall as it did in 2022.

Signing up with a few others has been enough to get me motivated enough to train for it. At the same time, I have old memories coming up from years gone by, when Anita and I were doing things like running over 20K on a Sunday morning then going out for breakfast, followed by pie for dessert. I can hardly fathom the determination and motivation that got me out the door for that sort of thing, regardless of the weather, only a few years ago. It feels very unlikely to happen again.

Settling on the 10K this time gives me something to reach for but still feels do-able, especially with it still eight weeks away (okay, very soon to be seven weeks away). It feels exciting to have a training goal again, and it has had the motivating effect that I was hoping for. Whereas for the past few months a week where I’ve run even once between my Sunday get togethers with the RunFam is a real accomplishment, this week I actually hit the gym three different days for a short run. Granted, they have been really short, like 20-30 minutes. But still, it’s something. And I’ve felt good afterwards, and I am now building up to be able to get seriously into a 10K training plan that is going to ask more of me on my weekday runs.

I also borrowed the audiobook of James Clear’s Atomic Habits this week, and that has mostly resonated. (we disagree on some things that he thinks of as good habits, such as weighing yourself daily — for me that is not a good habit). There are lots of tools for getting started on good habits. And in general I agree that a focus on process is more helpful than a focus on goals. Goals are so far away. I can think about that 10K, but unless I have a plan that is in itself motivating, I’m not going to do the work. This week I used the 2-minute rule to get me down to the fitness room in my building. I told myself that if I can get down there then I only have to spend a few minutes (okay, I confess that I have made my minimum 15 minutes, not 2 minutes). Each of the three times I stayed on the treadmill for at least 20 minutes.

Yesterday I followed that with 10 more minutes of resistance training. Again, 10 minutes isn’t a gamechanger, but having a habit where some resistance training follows a couple of my mid-week runs has no downside.

Between the YouTube trainer experiment a couple of weeks ago, and then the 10K training plan starting this week, I feel some hope that I can regain some of that old conditioning and endurance enough to enjoy running again.

Wish me luck!

fitness · rest · sleep

Sam and a regular sleep schedule

Good sleep means more than getting enough hours. A consistent sleep schedule matters, too. I’m not getting that these days.

Why not? Well all sorts of reasons not really in my control.

Now my right knee often wakes me up during the night with knee pain. We’ve got one family member who often works well into the night. Another family member whose shift work means he’s often up at 5 am. My preferred sleeping hours are 10-6 but between knee pain, dogs, people, and work schedules that’s just happening. So while I’m getting enough sleep in any given week it’s not happening in regular amounts at regular times.

See this article on the connection between sleep and health

“It’s a familiar question from your health-care provider: Are you getting enough sleep? Studies have shown that adequate sleep, between seven and nine hours for adults, can improve cognition, mood and immune functioning. But new research reveals that it’s not just hours of sleep that count toward mental health benefits. It’s whether that sleep occurs on a regular or irregular schedule. An NPJ Digital Medicine study published in February looked at the sleep habits of more than 2,000 first-year medical residents. The researchers found that variability in sleep habits significantly affected their mood and depression — no matter how many total hours they slept.”

Here’s what my sleep often looks like, from my Garmin watch data:

Tracking sleep

So that’s roughly 7.5 hours of sleep a night on average. Which should be okay in terms of total sleep. But it’s not. Because I’m not consistently sleeping the same hours.

A recent story in the New York Times talked about the heart health risks of inconsistent sleep.

“New research affirms what doctors have long advised: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day for big health benefits.”

See How a Consistent Sleep Schedule Might Protect Your Heart

Here’s more:

“Researchers examined a week’s worth of sleep data from 2,000 adults over 45 and found that those who slept varying amounts each night and went to bed at different times were more likely to have hardened arteries than those with more regular sleep patterns.

People whose overall sleep amounts varied by two or more hours from night to night throughout the week — getting five hours of sleep on Tuesday, say, and then eight hours on Wednesday — were particularly likely to have high levels of calcified fatty plaque built up in their arteries, compared with those who slept the same number of hours each night.”

I’m always amazed at people who can regularly get by on 6 hours of sleep or less. That’s so not me. My temperament is pretty even and I’m not very easily upset but I’ve realized that’s all dependent on getting enough sleep, in a consistent and regular way. Once I’m also battling the not-enough-daylight and absence of sun, getting enough sleep is critical.

So I’m going to try regularly going to sleep at 930 and getting up at 530.

Wish me luck!


Three Things on a Thursday: Watch, Read, and Listen

Thing 1, a thing to watch.

To Watch: You Go Girl!

In the New Yorker: A Black Woman’s Spiritual Journey Up a Mountain, in “You Go Girl!”

In Shariffa Ali’s short film, a comedian grapples with her fears and finds healing and solidarity in the outdoors.

Here’s the trailer but the New Yorker link has the full short film.

Thing 2, a thing to read

To Read: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Gym Class by Greta Christina

“I hated gym class. Like so many other nerdy, awkward kids, I despised it. I was bad at it; I was scared of it; it was a place of exclusion and shame.

“And then almost overnight, I started liking gym. I didn’t just stop hating it — I actually enjoyed it. I looked forward to it. I had fun with it. And I was good at it. I vividly remember my nerdy math-teacher father jokingly scolding me about my report card one quarter, scowling and asking with mock disapproval how a daughter of his could have gotten an A in gym.

“What happened?”

Thing 3, a thing to listen to

To Listen: Self Magazine’s Keep it Hot Playlist

31 Scorching Hot Workout Songs That’ll Have You Feeling Yourself

fitness · hiking · motivation · traveling

Sometimes downhill all the way is okay

I am in Alvarenga, Portugal, a small town of just over 1000 people, about an hour and a half outside of Porto. It’s in the hilly countryside, filled with vineyards and orange and almond trees. I am with 5 other women, traveling on holidays.

Map if Arouca, Portugal
Arouca, Portugal

There’s a big, award-winning tourist attraction nearby in the town of Arouca, which was developed in 2020. After traversing the world’s largest pedestrian suspension bridge (516 metres), there’s a hikeout out on the Paiva Walkways. It’s about 8 kilometres, almost entirely downhill, on a series of wooden staircases and boardwalks that follow rocky faults on the left bank of a rushing river.

We are 6 relatively healthy middle-age women, wearing multiple merino layers and carrying full water bottles. We are traveling with 40 litre backpacks rather than suitcases. The day we went to Arouca, it was overcast but warm for an average February day in Portugal—perfect for a vigorous hike.

The suspension bridge and part of the wooden staircase and hikeout below
The suspension bridge and part of the wooden staircase and downhill hikeout below

We crossed the bridge just after 11:00am and started out on the downward hike, enjoying the green and rocky scenery. Used to day hikes of greater distance, many of us expected to refresh briefly at the end, then walk back up. As long as we arrived in time the final bridge tours that day, at 2:00 or 3:30pm, once back at the top we were free to recross the bridge at no extra charge. What a fun challenge!

Some of the staircase portion of the hike
Some of the staircase portion of the hike

We took our time on the way down, stopping to take photos and to watch rafters and kayakers navigate the white waters below. We nodded at the hikers who passed us going back up the walkway: that would soon be us! Then, suddenly, we were within a kilometre of the hike out exit, and noticed it was nearly 1:45pm.

Would we reverse course and start back up the hilly hike, returning to our start point? Would we shift gears from our leisurely pace and “hoof it” to make sure we would arrive on time to re-cross during the last bridge tour?

Some of the boardwalk portion of the hike​
Some of the boardwalk portion of the hike

We did not, because we knew that we have nothing to prove—to the trail or to each other. Instead of turning around to ascend, we continued downhill at our enjoyable pace, then had a celebratory beverage at the end. Rather than hiking back up, which we probably *could* have done, we took a cab back to our residence to celebrate our achievement—a beautiful day out walking in the Portuguese countryside.

Some days, you can hike downhill all the way and still have a great day.