Spa Day for Women: an alternate to Golf?

I’m writing this after returning from a trip to the city for a corporate holiday event, and I’m in a mood to muse. Having recently left post secondary education and returned to a career I had left behind, and it has been fascinating to see what has changed and what hasn’t, in the 20 years since I last was a businesswoman.

Selfie of woman smiling in surprise at camera. she has pink and grey hair and is wearing a striped sweater.  she is seated on a train
On the train – my caption on social media was “I’m doing something a little crazy right now”

For one thing, it looks like I may be able to avoid learning to golf! I used to say that if I wanted to prioritize career advancement, I may need to take golf lessons. Indeed, golfing for career goals is a thing.

So in my 8 months back in business, I am pleased to have had a few pleasant social opportunities – lunches, dinners, holiday parties… but awhile back I was invited to a afternoon at a spa, sponsored by a vendor. It was specifically framed as a women’s event, which caught my eye.

I don’t really know how I ended up on the list of invitees, but I wasn’t going to turn it down. And I’m so glad I didn’t. In truth, I’d never been to a spa. I’d never heard of them, outside of some stereotype of eastern European mud-baths… I didn’t come from a wealthy family, nor from a family who was going to spend a lot of money indulgently. Plus I grew up in a small logging town. There were no spas. Once I started being a city gal, I had no idea what they were. Eventually I did clue in, but I still never considered going.

image reads "dear guest: please up us preserve a tranquil environment by using a 'spa voice' and turning off cell phones and other electronic devices while in the spa'
Spa voice – it’s a real thing (evidently)

So, I went. And it was pretty lovely. Yes we walked around in robes and ‘slippers’ (flip-flops). We had water with citrus and were encouraged to speak with a “spa voice” (clearly a topic for a linguistic blog!). I LOVED the “water therapies” – a citrus-scented steam room, a cool pool and a whirlpool. I had my first massage in years and it was great. After our ‘services,’ we got dressed and headed to restaurant as a group of about 15 for a very enjoyable dinner.

Beyond the getting pampered, I was struck by the chance to be with a bunch of women colleagues. The event was sponsored by some female professionals who tend to work for companies in my industry. We are their clients. It was pretty cool to see so many powerful women in one place, and I made some important connections for myself.

photo of dining table in restaurant with glass window looking out onto the CN Tower

So spas and exercise… they kind of go together, maybe? For me, the power of solidarity, and an alternate opportunity to connect was meaningful.


Remembering: My Loss and My Gain

image of woman smiling at a camera while seated in a canoe on a lake. Behind her in the boat are 2 young boys in life jackets and a man. All are holding paddles

October is Pregnancy Loss Awareness month and I want to share the post below, of my own pregnancy loss. I originally wrote the post for my Facebook account. I am a musician and I have a pretty wide engagement with my community there. For that reason, when I wanted to let my broader community known about my experience, I chose to post my thoughts there. Samantha is my “friend” and my friend in real life too; she read my post, recognized that it touches on fitness, gender and reflection, and so encouraged me to share it here.

I am so glad I did. Talking about loss is scary and painful, but it can help to let the pain dissipate; writing the post below certainly did help me. I also found out just how many women in my life had experienced pregnancy loss. One of the saddest parts of my miscarriage for me was realizing how common it is, and how little I realized about that.

I am still sorry about that miscarriage, but my deep sense of loss has transformed into something much less painful and more… balanced? Somehow my loss feels like it fits into the hills and valleys of my life and I’m actually ok with it. I know when women have pregnancy loss at later stages that is far less possible… I am very grateful that I can experience it that way.


Professional Sports, Fans and Gender -Some Thoughts

What’s the relationship between people who love to do sports and people who love to watch or follow sports? It’s definitely not a one-to-one relationship. I think especially in the North American context, professional sports fandoms are identities unto their own, and they don’t necessarily connect to someone being an athlete themselves.

For me, I have loved watching hockey ever since I was in Grade 5, when the Vancouver Canucks surprised everyone and went to the finals of the NHL (to be wiped out in four straight, alas!). I loved the energy cheering together and I remember waving a white towel whenever I could, joining in with fans everywhere on the BC coast.

I have continued my hockey-loving life, despite never having a chance to play hockey. At my age, and in my coastal community, there was no ice to skate on in our town, the nearest rink being a 40-minute drive to the next town. I would have loved to play hockey, I think, but I really had never heard of girls doing it, and I certainly didn’t have access to it.

photo of woman and teenage boy in front of  a glass divider separating them from the ice at a hockey rink.
My son and I about 5 years ago, ready for playoff season!

I have relished my life as a casual fan. It’s not like I track the stats of players, but I do enjoy learning from my 18 year old son who does keep track of some stats. And I have enjoyed many mother-son hockey games over the years, we’ve enjoyed watching the Canucks play in North Carolina, Ottawa, Buffalo, Toronto and Vancouver. It’s awesome. I have particularly enjoyed junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League, as we live in a town where we’ve had the joy to watch young NHL stars come develop.

I also love watching the women’s hockey teams play when it’s actually on TV and covered (so basically during the Olympics). But honestly, it never really crossed my mind that the pathway for girls in hockey is so much narrower and shorter than for boys. For boys, there is a well developed junior hockey system in North America and parts of Europe. There are university scholarships. There are professional leagues in many parts of the world.

For girls, the options seem to be far fewer. There are scholarships, I understand, and there are national teams. Surely, though, the training supports are minimal compared to those available to the multiple tiers of development for boys’ and young men’s leagues.

Honestly, as a casual fan, somehow the gender imbalance in pro-sports had barely registered in my mind until recently, when I heard stories of women’s soccer teams arguing for parity in funding. The totally limited options for girl-hockey-players really never crossed my mind until I started hearing news stories about the new women’s Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) being developed.

A woman and a man smiling at the camera, wearing almost matching green shirts.
Sometimes I even get my husband to join me in cheering on the hockey team!

The other day, a friend posted news about knowing a woman who got drafted to the PWHL. He has a daughter who plays hockey. It hit me – this is BIG. There is no logical reason that male athletes should earn professional wages whereas women shouldn’t. It feels like a bit of an awakening. And I guess I’ll be looking to get myself some PWHL tickets!


Meditation: Time for a restart

I’m writing this on the start of my vacation. That might seem a little mundane, but for me it’s a Big Deal. Five months ago I started a new, permanent job, returning to an industry I had left behind to have kids and go to school. The past six years or so, I have been working interesting and fun, but unstable (and underpaid!) jobs on contracts. It is not lost on me that having paid time off (PTO in the business world) is a tremendous privilege, and I am thinking about how to best take advantage of this privilege.

Truth is, I’m really tired, after throwing myself head-long back into a career I had left twenty years ago. It has been awesome and it has been intense.

Happily, I am having a pretty relaxed vacation and excited to have my whole family come visit me in Ontario from British Columbia. We will spend a lot of time at southwest Ontario’s beautiful beaches and do some city-tourism.

A photo of two chairs in a vegetable garden, against a fence
A lo-fi photo of my meditation spot in my garden. Gardening always makes me happy so it was the perfect place for me to start!

I am thinking that this vacation is also an opportunity to re-start a regular meditation practice. I started meditating out of necessity (for my mental health!) early in the COVID crisis, when I was really struggling. I found peace by doing simple meditations with an app, in my beautiful vegetable garden.

I subscribed to the app so I had more choices, and I meditated regularly and even followed a few “courses.”

These days, though, “post” COVID as we seem to say, I haven’t taken the time to meditate. I miss it. So I am declaring here that I’m going to restart! Hold me to it, if you are so inclined readers. I can use the accountability :). Really though, I am ready for it.


The Dilemma of the Changeroom

Lately I have been thinking about changerooms. Particularly pool change rooms. I live in southwestern Ontario, where our summertime is pretty brief. In my town, our public, outdoor swimming pools have a truly short season – they open about July 1st and close on Labour Day (the first weekend in September). If you ask me, that’s a lot of money in infrastructure that is only staffed 2 months of the year. (I would like to see public pools open longer and offer more programming, but that is a different post.)  

Locker room,

So doing aquafit in summer is particularly fun! You go out into the bright sunlight (usually) and get to enjoy the light along with the exercise.  

One part, though, has been a bit of a shocker. I think all of the changerooms at public pools in my town are just large rectangular rooms with a bench running along the side. There are no lockers, no cubbies, no little walls to duck into for privacy. And of course, the changerooms are organized based on binary gender – there are male and female options only, although some offer “family” changerooms, which are just a small area with a locking door.  

This is not a new topic on our blog; we have written about getting naked in public spaces here and here. I found Kim’s reflections in A Tale of Two Locker Rooms to be especially helpful in thinking about what I even have to say about this.  

I have to admit I am not big on stripping down naked with a bunch of people coming and going. My body is bigger than many others’. I have had more than one kid comment about it in a way that made me feel uncomfortable, but not nearly as uncomfortable as their mother gasping at their comment did. I have body image issues. Truly, I’d like to meet the woman that doesn’t.  

I prefer a small spot with a curtain or door to pull shut, so I can strip down, dry off and pull my clothes on while my body is still damp and often a little sticky. I find it hard to do that gracefully when I’m around people, honestly.  

Several of our bloggers mentioned the inspiration they felt watching senior women stride around naked in these change spaces, and I admit I have felt that too. I love their quiet confidence and often I have seen a group of older women chatting and slowly getting dressed.  

I also have been fascinated when in swimming situations in Germany. When in east and central Europe, I have often said I didn’t know if I felt more embarrassed by being naked, or being seen as a North American prude by covering up my naked self.  

This week, though, the giant empty rectangle of changerooms jarred me more than it might have in the past. For one thing, the insistence on binary gender is pretty bizarre to me. Where are we asking people who don’t identify as ‘male’ or ‘female’ to go. I don’t like the messaging there.

As well as binary gender concerns, I also have gotten used to my new, all-gender change space at my winter pool. It has pretty fancy, large change rooms with doors that lock, and glass windows everywhere in the space. I had never used a large, all-gender change space before, but I have gotten used to walking around a corner and into a male face.  

So when I went to my summer, echo-y rectangle change room, the room felt… kind of naked. Like there was nowhere to step aside and that just… was not great. I’m still thinking on this – like Kim and others say in past posts, what should be wrong with a naked human form? I mean, we all have them…  

Swimming pool

Here’s My Happy Place – Where’s Yours?

Photo of sign that says Port Bruce
Port Bruce is actually a small Provincial Park too – pretty much just a beach

Do you have a favourite place to walk? I am writing this just after returning from what I think is my favourite locale for walking – Port Bruce, Ontario. I’m not sure why but I just feel like I have more energy when I’m there. The world feels both bigger AND smaller. My special place is a small harbour town, a village, really, on the shore of Lake Erie.

photo of a pebbly beach shore with small waves and a grey sky

Of all the Great Lakes, Lake Erie is probably the least glamorous. It is shallow. It is notoriously choppy and has at times been desperately polluted. For swimmers like me, summer swimming can be unappealing – the waves stir up sediment and it’s muddy. Sometimes it’s treacherous. The lake is so shallow that waves develop in a very chaotic way and it can make swimming and boating unpredictable at best.

The lakes inspire strong feelings, and in my Southwest Ontario city, there is a big divide: folks seem to be either Lake Huron people or Lake Erie people. Depending on what side of that divide you fall on, you may totally dismiss any lake Erie locale. Folks sometimes call it a mud puddle.

That was me, until we discovered a small cabin about 150 metres from the shore in Port Bruce. We came in the “off” season for a week and there were huge lake storms. I walked up and down the beach and through the streets. I was kind of hooked on this place.

close up photo of beach pebbles with a single piece of wet green beach glass
Port Bruce’s beach is beloved for finding beach glass!

It’s nondescript in some ways. A few older cottages. Some newer ones and the odd giant mega cottage. There’s a sizeable trailer court for summer visitors, and there’s a marina on Catfish Creek, whose muddy water flows from corn fields to the north.

Port Bruce as a town lacks hubris, and that suits me fine. You hear a chain saw or a power tool most days and it reminds me of life in the logging town I grew up in.

photo of woman smiling at camera while standing on beach.

Somehow, all of that makes me feel like walking. Really. It’s odd, even to me. But the lack of affect of this place makes me feel more comfortable and I just walk and walk. Up the beach. Down. Through the little streets. Even the steep (for Ontario!) hills don’t bug me. 

The past week was pretty glorious – I worked, I walked, I swam. It got me wondering if anyone else has a special spot. I’d love to hear about it, and what makes it so great.


Aquafit for the WIN! Now how to schedule it?

As spring turns the corner around to summer, and my work-from-home job is feeling more normal, I am turning my own thoughts away from my professional goals and back to my goals related to my health.

In the lead-up to starting my new job in March, I had spent an intensive year looking for a job I felt really good about. For quite some time now, my professional goals have taken priority for me. I’m thrilled about my return to a career in insurance claims, but I am also needing to find balance. Work is intense and I am sometimes finding it hard to turn off my brain. Much to my consternation, I am having some mild low back pain, a totally new thing to me.

So this week I snuck away from my desk for an 8:30am aquafit class offered by in a public City pool. I went because I was feeling achy and stressed and wasn’t really feeling focused.

Much to my surprise, I had a GREAT time even though I hadn’t been in the water in quite a few weeks. Even more joyous for me, my brain was completely cleared. What a cool thing that was. I had a productive, enjoyable work day. Wahoo!

I like aquafit and find deep-water classes the perfect amount of fun versus challenging. When I started attending aquafit intermittently, almost 20 years ago, I was usually the youngest person in the pool. Often, I still am. I’ve often written here about my struggles with exercise here – how fun to get to say something that feels purely positive.

Photo of an indoor swimming pool with lanes and a small climbing wall in the background
My “home” pool – an older and modest pool that I love!

I’m writing this at the end of the week and my back got achy again. Clearly I need to set myself a schedule for self care – that is not something I’m good at. In fact, I’m writing this as a way to keep myself accountable, and to also create some more positive brain waves.   

I’d love recommendations for exercise planning if you have any. I am thinking I need a balance of aquafit, weekly yoga and meditation. My gosh, when I write that, honestly, I’m a bit dazzled. Who even am I? Not the kid who used to literally quiver walking into the school gym for PE class.  



Work life balance? What about just (physical) balance?

I’m struggling to figure out how to keep myself sufficiently active these days. I have a new, intellectually stimulating job that I’m generally really happy with. But it’s working from home, and although you just can’t beat the commute, I find myself far less active than I was in my previous university administration job.

I can’t say I actually miss the 5 flights of stairs I walked up each morning going into work, but I kind of do miss the energy of rushing myself out the door and up to my office for the start of the day.

I get that I have the power within me to go for a start-of-day walk to get me going, but oh my gosh, when I’m learning a WHOLE bunch of stuff for an intense job, I really have been wanting to take advantage of that extra time in my day for sleep or just getting to my desk early.


Last month I wrote asking for suggestions for how to keep active while working from home and I got some great advice – thanks! It boiled down to self-discipline though in some ways.

That is an ongoing challenge for me, in terms of exercise (see: Wait, I Like Exercising?)  However, I also am thinking I need to give myself a little space here. I have been at my new job 6 weeks now, and although it’s awesome it’s A LOT. I am back in a career (claims adjusting) I haven’t done in almost 20 years, and I am handling complex commercial losses that are far outside of the kind of work I did previously. Honestly, it’s cool. But it’s also intellectually demanding.

A woman wearing shorts and a tank top resting her head on a pillow on a couch, while laying with a dog
How I feel after a long day reading policies and claims

Maybe I just need to let my brain be my exercise for a month or so? I don’t think that I want a sedentary lifestyle long term, but perhaps it’s ok for a short term? I have been taking time in the day to meditate pretty often. I need it.

I will say, I also have continued to go to weekly yoga at my former workplace. I even got my own yoga mat (thanks colleagues who loaned me theirs!). Even though it’s only once a week, it’s made a HUGE difference to my comfort in my hips. Ideally I would like to be doing that twice a week, but the course teacher only teaches once a week.

At least, though, the yoga helps with my hips and my physical balance. I just walk so few steps in a day…

Of course the other thing that is stealing all the free time I might have had for aquafit and dog walking is my KIDS. It is the end of the year music season for them, and as high school kids they have had SO MANY activities to be driven to and from, and also witnessed. My husband and I share that work, but ultimately it’s really interrupted any sense of rhythm I can develop in my new life.

So that’s me this month: not super active and feeling concerned about needing more balance. Your advice last month was great! How have you worked through crunch times in your life?


Working from home? I need your advice

What a month it has been for me! I have had some changes in my personal life, and my post this month is seeking some advice about staying active. Here’s the story.

About 6 months ago I started a new job as a university administrator. I had been teaching post-secondary courses by contract for some time and wanted more work stability. My new role was also contract, but promised to open up permanent opportunities within the institution. By February I had identified a couple of potential job options, but in the midst of this new job search, I rather unexpectedly came upon an option in insurance, a field I used to work in.

It’s not what I thought I was looking for, but as of two weeks ago, I am happily an insurance adjuster again. I’m also working from home full time, and that is totally throwing me for a loop. Gone is my morning climb up five flights of stairs at the university. Also gone is a lot of my human interaction, and the approximately 5,000 steps that were a part of my experience across campus.

For the first 2.5 years of the COVID pandemic I taught from home, but working a fulltime desk job from home is an entirely different experience. I am realizing that unless I consciously plan for activity, I may be very sedentary, not something my hips or any other part of me needs.

Image of a middle aged white woman and younger white young man standing in front of the CN tower, lit up green at night.
After a long and tiring day – a very comfortable one because I was loosened up from yoga!

Happily, I am able to keep attending the weekly yoga class at my former workplace, because I am maintaining a very part-time role with them (read about it here: This month’s newness – yoga). I have been back to yoga every week since I started my new job and OHMYGOSH after being stiff from too little movement, the yoga has been a dream!  I have found that a single weekly class is making me so much more comfortable. I’m also thrilled that I made it back to the pool for deep water aquafit and even though it has been 6 months I felt great.

This is making it clear to me that I need to develop an activity schedule, something I don’t really love. As I write this I’m in Toronto watching the Toronto Maple Leafs trounce my Carolina Hurricanes. I spent the day walking the city with my teenage son, and although tired I feel great. I am already walking my dog every day, but I clearly need something more defined.

I am curious – if you work from home, or otherwise have a very inactive job, how do you deal with it? I have tried a little morning yoga, but as a newbie it’s daunting. I would love suggestions on keeping limber and healthy!


This month’s newness? Yoga!

I have to say, every month as I settle in to write my blog post, I realize I am about to write about something that might seem totally unremarkable to many of our blog readers. I am, in fact, a work in progress when it comes to my relationship with activity, and with my body. I have written before about my mixed-relationship with exercise.

The truth is, I really value my monthly post here, for the opportunity to reflect. Since I was a never “good at sports,” I pretty much avoided using my body when I could. When I did use it, it was either painful physically or the experience challenged my self-confidence emotionally. So THANK YOU to Sam and Tracy for creating this space, and making it an inclusive one where people like me can share our less-than-glorious experiences with sport.

Recently I’ve told you about hiking at elevation (Thoughts on a New Hiker Hiking at Altitude), about skating (Back On the Ice for a Moment) and about tackling (and vanquishing!) the challenge of a giant staircase every morning On Gender, Stairs and Finding the Progress Where I Can). This month, my accomplishment came on a mat – I went to a yoga class!

Like many middle-aged, white women, I have heard about the wonders of yoga for a long time. Years ago I went to a few classes and got entirely overwhelmed by them. I wasn’t so wise then, and set myself up for failure by going to drop in classes where I was WAY out of my depth. And I gave up.

But last week, I went to a yoga class at my workplace. My employer provides the class and my colleagues were very encouraging with gentle invitations for a few weeks. So I got brave and went. My workplace has been quite stressful for me, and I thought if nothing else I would lay on the mat and breathe.

Selfie of woman smiling at the camera, with grey and pink hair looking messed up.
This is me back at my desk after yoga – sweaty, relaxed and smiling!

Well, let me tell you readers, that is NOT what I did. In fact, I did all the moves. I kind of rocked it, at least in my head 😊. I definitely wobbled a whole bunch and more than once looked up and realized I was bending when I was meant to be standing or something… but still. I managed to plank a bit. I downward-dogged along with everyone. I child-posed when I needed to. I even lizard-ed. I LOVED IT.

I have talked about my hip surgeries before –  I’ve had 2 repairs in 3 years. This was quite a moment of excitement for me – my hips were a little sore afterwards, but now 4 days later I can say that they are totally fine. WOW. And it was fun. The teacher was kind and encouraging of everyone to go at their own pace.

So, as soon as I got back to my desk, I signed up for next week’s class. And I intend to be back every week that it’s running. I hope I can find the teacher off-campus and maybe attend another of her classes. Me at yoga? Wow.