Grateful for a Heck of a Lot

I’m presently sitting in the dooryard of the trailer in Carlton County writing this late blog post. I’ve been thinking all day about what I wanted to say. Actually, I’ve been thinking for the past two days, because I basically forgot to blog yesterday, distracted as I was by everything there is going on here at the Potato Festival on the 100th anniversary of Hartland, New Brunswick (home of the worlds longest covered bridge by the way).

I’ve had a surprisingly active summer, given my lack of training for anything in particular. This is what I was thinking about while walking along the boardwalk in Bouctouche, feeling the sea on my toes. I was thinking about the contrast between “inspiration” and “connection” and how that impacts my activity level.

Some things I do because of “inspiration”. It was watching Sam do the Bike Rally through Facebook that inspired me to sign up for the first year. But I wouldn’t have done it again without her connection and our friends who collected around us to support us. I was inspired by Tracey to run in the Niagra Women’s Half Marathon but it’s only connection to my friends and partner who runs that ever gets me in running shoes again.

This spring and summer I have biked in Quebec, biked in Prince Edward County, biked with my mom (who is almost 75), and canoed a little with my awesome friend and co-blogger Cate. None of these things would be possible without the base level of fitness that I have acquired over these last 15 years and none of it would have been desirable if there weren’t people to enjoy it with me.

It was really yesterday that this whole thought came together. I had been in the car a long time and we went to a museum that has lots of connection to the family history of my  bestie. After the museum, I found myself desperate to move and I knew were were near a beautiful nature area (dunes on the east coast of New Brunswick). I literally *needed* to move.

In the time I spent wandering happily along the boardwalk and then back through the beach with my feet in the ocean, I was overwhelmed with gratefulness that I could walk along that boardwalk and put my feet in the sand. I thought about how I wanted to bike along the shore and maybe next year do a trip from campground to campground along the Acadian Peninsula. I can do it and that is real because of my connection with the others around me who also value movement and strength. We don’t have to be “athletes” or high achieving type A goof balls. We just need to be able to do the things we want to do. Bike around rural Ontario for an afternoon, canoe for a few hours in a little breeze on a small lake, walk along a gorgeous boardwalk. I know not every 50 year old has this privilege.

So thank you community for making this possible.

Me on the boardwalk in Bouctouche New Brunswick. You should go there. Dunes, salt marsh and the sea. Perfect., Also, I’m wearing a purple t-shirt that says “Keep Calm and Pretend it’s On the Lesson Plan”. This is always good advice.
mom and me.jpg
Me and my nearly 75 year old mom midway of our 40k bike ride at a bakery. She has a an ebike and this means we can do stuff together again. I’m in a really weird cat bike shirt. She is smiling broadly.

Petit Train Du Nord, a Delightful Bike Adventure

I had not biked at all this year but I was determined to have an active holiday with my partner. Sam recommended this delightful route and boy-howdy was it worth it.

The route is a reclaimed rail line that has a combo of asphalt and crushed stone surface. Since it was used by a train, it’s not too hilly and it goes from Mount Laurier to St. Jerome, delightful little towns north of Montreal. The route is about 200km and so serves almost every biking need.

There are multitudes of Bed and Breakfasts along the way, camp grounds and amazing restaurants. I don’t think there is such a thing as a bad restaurant in Quebec people. That province understands food.

I had a lot of favourite things about this trip and it was very different from substantial bike riding I had done in the past. My partner is an occasional biker and he is not a road biker so we took hybrid bikes on this trip. His was a pretty fancy aluminum frame with a famous name. I had a steel frame that has served me since I bought it second hand in 1990. I also had the pannier holders. Because the grade never exceeded 3% none of this was an issue. We scheduled the trip to take 4 days and none of them were farther than 60k. We also had a shuttle service that took out stuff from place to place so we weren’t weighted down with kit. I would totally do this ride in a self sufficient way though, now that I know where all the camp sites are.

Biking is so delightful for so many reasons. It can be a solitary pursuit of meditative aloneness or it can be social in ways that running never matches for me. When you bike, there is always a choice to go hard or not. I don’t have that kind of option when I run, it’s always hard, so I’m always more focussed on my discomfort than being social. Biking equalizes me and my partner too. I’m experienced and he isn’t so I get to revel in that and he is very gracious to let me take the lead in all things bike. As we peddled along the forested route that first day, smelling the pine needles and enjoying perfect weather, I was astounded that I forgot how much I love it. Last year was a year of running, a half marathon and a fast 10k. Now I’m content to leave that behind. I’ll run again but I’m only running so I can bike better. I just don’t like running much, it’s a fact.

I may have hooked my partner on biking. He is wondering about doing a longer trip, elsewhere, maybe Newfoundland? I so want to do this trip.

I will end this rather jaggedly written post with two stories of the trip, one poignant and then weird and one hilarious.

The story of Jannette (name has been changed):

One of the B&B’s we stayed at had a magical feel. There were endless gardens and exceptional buildings, obviously built with love and care. Our host, I’ll call him Mark, was, well, a bit dour. The place was so meticulous and perfect and he obviously worked all the time. He was also particular about the schedule, the times for check-in, for driving us to town for dinner, for breakfast. The place was for sale and my partner was trying to create some conversation with the man in the car on the way to dinner. He told us that he wanted to get back out in the world and hike. He had been a very accomplished adventurer. I noticed he only used a singular pronoun.

When we got back that night, we were looking at the things in the common room, the photo books and the art on the wall. Jannette was mentioned everywhere. The notes were signed “Jannette and Mark”. She was in all the pictures. She was in the oil painting with Mark in their beautiful and sacred garden. I suddenly felt as if I knew what happened, that Jannette had died, probably of breast cancer and Mark was grieving. He was selling the place and keeping it up so meticulously to honour her but once he found a suitable buyer, her was going to walk to the end of the earth until he died of a broken heart. I know, I was a dramatic story, but it fit. I felt more compassion for his demeanour, poor grieving Mark.

The net day we arrived for breakfast in the main house. I was weird to have Mark preparing us breakfast in the kitchen he and Jannette shared. I felt her spirit everywhere, in every perfect detail of the place that Mark had not changed, and would not change, until he walked away into some wilderness forever.

Near the end of the meal, my partner looks up and says, “Oh, thank god, there’s Jannette”.

And there she was.

She whirled in, said hi, ran upstairs, came back down, had a conversation with Mark in French that we didn’t understand because they talked so fast and then she left again. Very alive was that Jannette.

I still don’t know what was up with Mark, maybe it was divorce, maybe this is his nature, who knows. Anyway, I was glad she wasn’t dead. The place is totally worth going to even with the slightly dour host. If you are interested, pm me somehow, I have a Facebook Page, and I’ll tell you. I feel bad naming him as dour in this post, but the story was too good not to tell.

Second story. . the derailleur:

Oh, people who are cyclists already know there is a bit of a poop-show coming.

We were on our last day and it was raining. We were coming into St. Jerome and there was a lot of stopping and starting. During one start, I heard a terrible sound behind me, the sound of skidding and clanking. “Are you okay?” I asked.

“I’m good but I think I have a technical problem. Oh yes, definitely a bad technical problem.”

The derailleur was shorn off and the chain was destroyed. One big man crank too many I guess. Anyway, the good news was were were only 3 k out and it was mostly down hill. So, we scootered in the last bit, a fitting end to a glorious adventure.

Interested in the trail? Here is a link to start you off.




Kitten Yoga at Home

“Yoga And” has been blogged about a bunch on this blog lately, most comprehensively by Cate here.

I live in a plain and ordinary place. There is no goat yoga, kitten yoga or beer yoga on the program (although I heard a rumour that beer yoga was in the planning stages and thankfully the yoga instructor said something to the effect of “WTF NO!”) One of the disadvantages of it being so plain and ordinary is there is not a lot of choice around going to a yoga class. You can go way to early in the morning, 10am or way too late (I can’t do it at 8pm, I’m toast). The early afternoon, when I am most available is the time all the other people who go to these studios are either at work or home for naps with their toddlers. So I’m out of luck.

My daughter suggested I check out YouTube for yoga videos and I scoffed. But you know what? I actually like them.

First of all, I can peruse them to find an instructor that I like. I prefer my yoga without too much nattering by 22 year old instructors. That may sound harsh to the young folks but that’s how I feel. My life is messy and I’m not always happy. I don’t strive to attain happiness anymore, I just want to be. The older instructors understand this better.

Once I find the person, I commence the yoga. That’s where the kitten comes in.

Actually, he is a cat, a soft, smart, arrogant little black cat. He is up in my business from the beginning to the end of the 40 minutes on the mat. He is used to the iPad being his toy (Check out apps for cats, it’s a real thing) and he occasionally pauses the video for me. While I am in downward dog, his tail is up my nose. While I am in bridge, he is hitting my head with his paw. If I am asked to step a right foot back, I need to make sure he isn’t laying there where I can step on him. Basically, he’s a pain.

The dog, on the other hand, stays out of my way.

I love it.

I really didn’t think I’d be that person who does yoga in her front hall with a person named Adrienne talking to her on a YouTube channel. These days, I take my activity where I find it. Dog walking, hall yoga with a cat and random inconsistent runs are what I’ve got on the menu. It’s all I have in me right now. That’s okay.

A blurry image of a small black cat on a stairwell landing
Behold the Mischievous Shadow

I Can Still Run

My 50th year has not been my fittest. So far, I’d say I peaked at about 48 and a half. This is not to say I will not peak again, just not right this second.


The fun thing is I went for a wee run on Monday. It was about 3.5k. Now those of you who have ever stoped running and then done 3.5k a few months later may wonder, “How could that ever be FUN?”

It was fun because I ran with my kid.

My almost 19 year old son has not, thus far in his life, been much of an athlete. He’s a pretty good downhill skier and an excellent amateur stage actor. He’s a bright funny young man. I heard a rumor that he ran 5k one night while trying not to study for finals. So I asked him, “Hey, wanna run with me tomorrow?” and he said YES.

I remember when I was about 20 and my mom wanted me to learn tennis. She paid for some lessons and was so thrilled to have me on the court with her while she whupped me. I don’t think I quite understood her thrill until that run.

The run itself was unremarkable, but the joy of me being active with my adult kid was pretty special. It’s is now officially one of the numerous documented perks of being fit at midlife.

(Did you like how I did that? Book promo. BANG)

And for those of you who think you raised a couch potato, this is also an example of how you just never know what will happen in the young adult mind.

I’m looking forward to more.

A yellow lab looking forlorn while a pair of white black and yellow running shoes sit empty of feet in the foreground Come run with me, says Shelby

advertising · body image · eating disorders · fitness · gender policing · media · objectification · sex

Really, Walmart? Really?

I don’t love Walmart. I don’t love Cosmo Magazine. I really don’t love what Walmart has done with Cosmo Magazine in 5000 locations in the good ole’ USA. Sam brought this article to our attention on our contributor discussion page and said, “Blog fodder. Do feminists agree with conservatives on this one?” I swear sometimes she says stuff just to get me riled up enough to write a blog. . .oh. . .wait.

So in a nutshell, Cosmo will not be available at the checkout where all the precious minds of little girls might get polluted with its sordid sexual content. Dawn Hawkins of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (Formerly known as Morality in the Media) claimed it as a victory of her organization’s own making, referencing #metoo as the inspiration for this action. Walmart made a vague statement about it being a “business decision” in which it “consulted” with unnamed entities. Cosmo isn’t being banned. It’s just being moved.

Honestly, do I care? I hate Cosmo. I mostly hate it because it over promises on the sex tips. Here’s an example, “7 Best Sex Positions for Female Orgasm“. It says these tips will “guarantee to help you orgasm”. But you know what? That’s bullshit. I’ve tried every one of them. I want my guarantee! They get me every time and dash my hopes. But you know what else is in there? This gem about the fight to include women’s choice into Obamacare. There’s also this one about my current favourite teen that isn’t related to me, Emma Gonzales, and the photoshopped picture of her ripping up the bill of rights.

When Sam asked if feminists agreed with conservatives, I will confess to having a trauma trigger. It all goes back to a time in 1990. I was a young impressionable law student and I read Catharine MacKinnon. For those who are too young to remember, these were troubled times in the feminist movement (I mean, when aren’t there troubled times). There was a general agreement that pornography, as conceptualized by the patriarchy, was not great for women. It was not about our pleasure, it was not about our agency, it was not about our actual bodies. It was about our function and that function was to arouse and get off men. That’s objectifying. That’s an impoverished view of women and women’s sexuality. But in the hopes of doing something about it, feminists teamed up with the “moral majority” of conservative evangelical politics. They argued for an end to the scourge using legal tools and in the process, did a terrible disservice to a lot of women, including me. In this discourse, sexuality became even more of a source of shame and, as happens, marginalized sexuality took the brunt of it. Somehow the mainstream porn industry continued to thrive while it was harder for alternate voices to get in there and change any of these narratives. Things didn’t get better for women as a result of this unholy alliance because it got hijacked by the more powerful partner in the endeavour. (This is an admittedly uncomplicated summary).

Meanwhile I wasted 10 years of my life not doing fun sexy things that I wanted to do because I thought it would make me a bad feminist. Did those well meaning white lady anti-porn feminists mean for any of this to happen? Of course not. But you can be sure that the folks like Ms. Hawkins would be pretty pleased that I stayed away from all that perverted hanky panky I was trying not to think about.

So, back to beleaguered Cosmo. I wish it was not such a trashy mag. I wish it portrayed more real bodies. I wish the sex advice was better. But other than that, it’s not the worst. They have stopped putting diet advice on the cover. There is a lot in the magazine that speaks to women’s agency. That it reports on celebrity gossip is not a thing that should banish it to the back shelves. I’m curious if that trashiest of trash piles the National Enquirer can still be found eye level with the kidletts? Likely. The hypocrisy is beyond the pale.

A brief perusal of the website of the NCOSE indicates that its main focus is on enforcing and strengthening obscenity law, educating young people about the dangers of overconsumption of porn, prohibiting the exchange of sex for money and somehow “stopping the demand for purchased sex”, I guess through the punishment of being caught (?). While their goals are around the protection of women and vulnerable young people, their tools involve repressing the material, not educating or empowering the victims in the ways I think are helpful. Their aims are also decidedly not sex or sex work positive. I guess that’s where we differ, me and Ms. Hawkins. Cosmo is imperfect, but it is somewhat educational. It reflects reality. NCOSE targeted Cosmo because it is a somewhat sex positive liberal trash mag. I will take that over a sex negative conservative mouth piece of a shameful president any day of the week.

So the answer, Sam, is NO!


A Gif of an older glamorous white woman in big sunglasses and a scarf wagging her finger and shaking her head, “Nuh uh, honey”.
fitness · motivation

Stop Pushing

Okay okay I get it. I’ll stop.

It’s been a really bad half a year for me in a lot of ways but a really good half a year in other ways. On the professional side, it’s all roses. My practice is full to the brim and I’m teaching in a program I love with so much room for growth and spreading my painfully acquired wisdom to new therapists. My kids are stable and overall, so are my key relationships.

Yet, I’m struggling. I stopped exercising in September and just didn’t bother to start again. A wave of lethargy consumed me, but only in the narrow field of my physical self. Inside my brain I was brimming. In the outside world, I was atrophying. It’s so strange to be depressed in this particular way. I’ve joked that I’m so good at coping that I mostly don’t notice my depression when it slams me but these past few years, winter is just shit. Sorry for swearing. No. Not sorry. It’s shit. Shit for me, shit for people I love and who depend on me and kids. . .the world gives not a shit for how shitty you feel. It goes on demanding things of you, paying lip service to your mental health and then blaming (or worse punishing) you for not doing enough about it. Ya, that’s me, a mental health provider, and that is what I know to be true. Add peri-menopause and it’s just, you know, shit.

When I realized I really didn’t even feel like riding a horse anymore, I knew I was really in trouble, but the idea of making myself do more made me want to cry. So I tried stopping.

This I where I’m at right now. I’ve stopped. But stopped what? It’s hard to describe exactly. I’ve stopped trying to be or do a thing that is not what I am right now. I am not some kind of super charged athlete. I never have been. I’ve done some cool things and pushed myself in ways I’m proud of. The Bike Rally (Toronto to Montreal in 6 days) twice and the half marathon last year are two things I’m really proud of. But you know what? That’s as good as it’s going to get for me. I don’t need to do more. I don’t need to even repeat any of it. My body is aging and it needs to stay active but if my idea of active is to keep pushing myself to do more, I just end up in a shame spiral fighting myself and I’m not interested in that today.

I have returned to the gym. I did the 30 minute circuit, the most vanilla workout ever. It’s all I can handle right now. I went to yoga. Plain yoga. Not hot yoga. Not power yoga. Yoga. It was good. I may ride next month but I think I’m not fit enough to have that be fun for me right now so I may wait to get back to that. I am not doing anything longer then 10k ever again so there will be time this summer to ride my bike with Sam and Cate and Kim. Yay. As always, my dog makes sure that I get out of the house at least once a day. She’d better be immortal.

I’m turning 50 in June. I don’t think it will be my fittest birthday ever. That’s okay. I’m grateful to be alive at 50. I’m grateful to have meaningful work and beautiful friendships. I’m grateful I can to a 30 minute circuit or a dog hike. I’m grateful my life is in my hands and I will spend the remainder of it giving back to this sad, barely comprehensible world. I’m grateful for my superstar coping and oh dear sweet universe I will be grateful for spring.

The cute slightly sad looking head of a yellow lab on my leg, wearing orange leggings with big white polka dots



dogs · fitness

Lost Without My Doggo (Tails From the Woods)

Hi. This is me, still not doing very much by way of movement. . .EXCEPT. . .dog walking.

In this post I will contemplate the different types of dog walks as I see them. You can argue with me, but I just made this all up so you can be right if you want.

Basic walk: This is the 7:45am walk around the small park. It is necessary for the dog’s health and short because I (or you, or someone) has to go to work or school. The dog loves it and the human just needs it to be over (1km).

Panic walk: This walk happens right before you have to do something important but the dog needs it and you love the dog. So you walk very fast and yell at the dog to stop checking every bit of pee-mail she has and lets go because you need to move. (1km)

Information gathering from teenager walk: This is the one you ask your teen kid to come on with you so that the dog gets a walk and you maybe get some info (intel) on their life or the life of a sibling. Children who are looking in the same direction as the adult talk more than children being directly interrogated. Don’t believe me? Try it. Car ride, swings in the park, park bench, ski lift or. . .dog walk. (1.8km)

Hang out with a spouse walk: The spouse you never see. Ya, that one. Go for a dog walk, get a coffee, don’t forget the Timbit for the dog. (1.8km)A happy yellow lab standing in snow looking up. There are snowshoes with boots in them all around the frame

It’s so cold I hate you dog walk: This is the walk that you wish you never owned a dog for. Except she is so happy and loves you for taking her, so I guess it’s okay and she can stay, but I can’t feel my face. (1km)

Cottage road dog walk: Casual, delightful, you remembered to put your snow pants on so you are not too freezing. Love the cottage road dog walk. (1.5km)

Forest tromp with dog: Snow! Forest! Happiest dog ever in the world. These are the best walks. They can be casual and slow or fast and sweaty. Everyone is having a good time, especially the dog. Let’s face it, the dog always has a good time. (4km)

It doesn’t matter what state you are in or I am in or how long it’s been since I wore running shoes. It doesn’t matter if I’m depressed and peri-menopausal and hate everyone. The dog is always up for a walk and the dog is always happy. Therefore, I walk the dog and the fog of life lifts just a little bit. May your year be full of happy dog walks or some equivalent even if you don’t feel very fit and even if you are exhausted trying to be a feminist in these weird times. Dogs see your potential. Dogs know you’ve got this. Dogs think you are a-okay.