family · fitness · Guest Post

A Pattern Emerges (Guest Post)

Two weeks ago, I went lane swimming for the first time in a long time. In my last blog post, “All Lanes are Open,” I commented on how I often let my excuses overtake my need for physical exercise. I left the pool that day hoping that I would have better self-discipline going forward. While I did think about swimming more, I found that fitting another session into my schedule was still difficult. In fact, I haven’t fit another one in yet.

However, this is not a self-deprecating post. I may not have succeeded in getting to the pool, but I still got a workout in. Only, it wasn’t in a gym, on a track, or in a studio. It was in a house. And no—it wasn’t an at-home fitness program.

Last week, my mom and I set out towards the small Albertan town where my sister had moved. Our goal? To help her clean her new place so she could begin settling in. When we arrived and saw the little two-bedroom bungalow nestled on the large property, we were giddy with excitement. It was a house with character. Inside, wood paneling and mismatched trim adorned the walls. Vinyl flooring ran throughout the house with some newly replaced planks poking up in attestation.

The door on the floor leading to the storm cellar.

The highlight of the mid-century home was the proper storm cellar situated in the floor of the laundry room. The heavy floor-door revealed a series of six-inch-deep stairs that led to a surprisingly high-ceilinged cellar. Here housed the furnace, a work bench, some smaller pieces of furniture, and, of course, cobwebs. Thankfully, there was a sliver of a window to ease claustrophobia.

What does this have to do with fitness? We had to clean the house. All of it. I’m talking dusting the walls, washing the walls, scrubbing the baseboards, doing all-the-above to the floors, disinfecting the bathroom, degreasing the kitchen, and deodorizing everything. Then there was dodging flies while vacuuming up their deceased friends from windowsills. It was an intense workout!

To tackle it all, we decided to divide and conquer. I declared myself in charge of the bathroom, doors, and windowsills. My mom and sister tackled the main bedroom and living rooms.

Have you noticed the abdominal workout that cleaning a bathtub provides? If you’re like me and refuse to stand in the bathtub while cleaning the surroundings (because—gross), then you’ll understand the shoulder stretch you get from reaching across the tub. It is a must to engage the core muscles to avoid back injury. Then there’s the up, down, side-to-side motions. Thankfully, cleaning the basin portion offered a relieving stretch along the lower back as my glutes lowered me into a squat.

Then there are the mystery group of muscles that are featured in cleaning toilets that are situated close to walls. I had to be deliberate in my movements, keeping my muscles obedient to ensure I didn’t bend carelessly around the bowl. I certainly did not want to pull a muscle on my first task!

Cleaning the vanity and mopping the floor—and re-mopping it after my sister’s boyfriend walked through with boots to change the light fixture—concluded my bathroom workout. Next were the doors. Now, that is a good squat routine!

Our trio reconvened to tackle the kitchen which, fortunately or unfortunately for me, provided a similar full-body workout as the bathroom and doors did. Arms were favoured in scrubbing out cupboards. Legs and core were the primary targets of the lower cupboards and the space behind the appliances. Even with all three of us tackling it, breaking a sweat was easy come by. We happily took advantage of water breaks.

The three of us in front of the house post-clean.

Amid the scrubbing and polishing, us girls got to talk. We’d laugh over cloths, asking each other which one was for soaping and which one was for rinsing, and asking ourselves why they were all the same colour when there were other colour options. Even though we were too busy and too tired to talk about deep things, we all felt content just being around each other.

Doing life together is a value that I hold dearly. If I had it my way, I would do everything with at least one person present, even if it’s reading in silence. Having this extroverted viewpoint does often stifle my ability to self-start my fitness routines, but it’s a part of my personality. Companionship ignites my spirit.

I did feel more sore in the days following the cleaning than I did after swimming, but I still experienced the same gleeful energy as I did at the pool. The joy from working out alongside two of my favourite people made me realize that hard workouts can be completed without mental burnout. I can leave tired and wake up sore and still want to do it all over again. I thought that feeling was reserved for passionate fitness gurus.

I seem to have a pattern emerging. My fitness journey finds success most frequently when I execute it alongside something my soul loves. In the pool, my love for the water propelled me forward. At this house, it was my love for my mom and sister.

While I wait for my next lane swim or deep-clean day at a friend’s place, I’ve decided to come up with a list of things my soul loves and see if I can pair them with a physical activity. Maybe I’ll try hopping on my stationary bike and watch train-wreck reality TV. Maybe I’ll go for a long walk-and-talk with a friend. Unfortunately, I have yet to come up with an idea where I can read or write while exercising.

If you have an idea for me, please let me know in the comment section below. While you’re at it, let me know if you are a solo-fitness person, or an extrovert like me who prefers having someone else’s energy come alongside.

Stephanie Morris is a transcriptionist and writer based in Alberta, Canada. She is a wife, a mom of two, and a newcomer to the career-writing world. As a fancier of history and literature, she aspires to blend the two in fiction and nonfiction pieces. To follow Stephanie’s writing adventures, find her at @words.and.smores on Instagram.

family · fitness · Guest Post · swimming

All Lanes are Open (Guest Post)

Would you rather be able to fly or be able to breathe under water? My seven-year-old daughter has been entertaining our family the past few suppers with “Would you rather” questions. This one, between flying or breathing under water, comes at a time when my choice is clear. However, if she had asked it two days ago, that clarity may not have been there.

Two days ago, I found myself spiraling towards depression. The current economic climate paired with my four-year-old son’s exercises in emotional regulation had been agitating my anxious mind. The stress had begun to cling to my arms, threatening to squeeze me into suffocation. By the time I sat down at the supper table, I was detached from conversation and desperate for solitude, a state of being that is contrary to my extroverted nature. I felt on the verge of a mental breakdown when, suddenly, I was hit with an undeniable desire: I wanted to go lane swimming.

Lane swimming

Swimming is my preferred fitness activity, though, admittedly, I don’t often engage in it. My fitness journey has been one of ideas more than one of action. When I am thinking about fitness it is in the context of “When I have some free time, I’ll get to it.” The problem is that I am the mom of two busy kids, a responsible pet owner to an active dog, a socialite who desires to stay connected, and an aspiring entrepreneur about to jump into a new career—free time evades me. These identities of mine are used as my primary excuses for scarcely devoting time to exercise.

However, that evening at the supper table, I chose to listen to my desire, and I declared to my husband that I was going lane swimming. We had already made plans for him to complete the children’s bedtime routine while I got some work done, but I told him that I needed to go swimming instead. Being the knowledgeable and supportive husband that he is, he heard my desperation and encouraged me to go.

Yet, even after mentally committing to going, I found myself putzing about, slowly gathering my aquatic attire, waiting for the excuses or distractions to come. A small voice trickled in bringing guilt over leaving the family and household responsibilities to my husband. Isn’t that often the case, that women feel guilty about taking time to take care of themselves? I am thankful that my husband doesn’t support that mindset. Seeing my hesitation, he told me again to go. No other excuses came.

So I went. I drove the one kilometer to the pool, navigated the newly renovated changeroom, and walked awkwardly towards the lanes. Feeling out of place and slightly embarrassed by my existence, I paused to confirm with the lifeguard that all lanes were open. They were. Then, after more than five years, I snapped on my goggles and dove in.

What a glorious experience! The salty basin welcomed me freely, extending the kindness of washing the tensions and stresses from my body. Giving way to my strokes, the water let me rise and fall with the movements of my limbs. My muscles propelled me forward in a pattern understood by my lungs, which held air for me until my mouth broke the surface. I swam two lengths, rested for a minute, and then repeated, cycling between the front crawl, breaststroke, and backstroke.

For 30 minutes I resisted the urge to push myself in favour of allowing myself to enjoy my time in the water. That proved to be difficult as two swimmers in the lane next to me had performed their butterfly strokes at twice the speed of my breaststroke. To tame my competitiveness, I allowed myself to admire the strength of these women. Though their skills surpassed mine, I knew that it was a result of ambition, perseverance, and conditioning.

These women were working hard, and I knew that they had reached their level of athleticism by choosing to engage in that hard work regularly. I felt inspired by these women by their mere existence in the pool, so I chose to allow myself to think of myself in that light too. I left the pool with a confidence and a knowledge about myself that I had silenced. I learned that in the water I am powerful, graceful, capable. In the water I feel hopeful, patient, and at peace.

Two days later, these feelings linger. The minute tension that remains in my glutes and hamstrings brings me pride. It took more effort to get myself to the pool than the act of swimming did. The only barricade between a lifestyle that heals my anxieties and nourishes my body is me.

My priorities, while focused on good things—like my children, pets, and wanting to contribute to the household in duties and in finances—have needed this awakening to consider the exponential benefits of physical activity.

My fitness journey is alive. When I am not physically moving, I am growing. My life leads me to places that challenge my priorities, my patience, and my fears. Fitness has a place in that growth, and I see it attract me back to it in my most desperate states of being. This time, I am certain that I won’t be waiting five years before visiting the lanes again. In fact, I find myself thinking that next time I’ll ride my bike the one kilometer to the pool.

I couldn’t have imagined that one lane session would be so transformative. So, when I am asked if I would rather be able to fly or breathe under water, my answer is quick and easy: I would rather breathe under water. It takes me to new heights anyway.

Stephanie Morris is a transcriptionist and writer based in Alberta, Canada. She is a wife, a mom of two, and a newcomer to the career-writing world. As a fancier of history and literature, she aspires to blend the two in fiction and nonfiction pieces. To follow Stephanie’s writing adventures, find her at @words.and.smores on Instagram.

birthday · blog · blogging · cycling · dogs · family · fitness

59 great things about Sam, in honor of her birthday

All of us at FIFI are grateful to Samantha and Tracy for starting the blog in 2012, inviting us to join as writers and readers, and keeping it going strong in the midst of whirlwinds of change over the past decade plus some. In honor of her birthday, and in no particular order, are 59 great things about Samantha, who turns 59 today.

1–4: Samantha’s in-house menagerie of various creatures:

5–8: a rotating roster of cats, past and present, including the venerable Zippy, who lived to the ripe old age of 18, Boo, her son Gavin’s cat, who lodges with them from time to time, and her daughter Mallory’s cats Louie and Moon, who visit on occasion.

9–16: Sam’s well-looked after family of Mallory, Gavin, Miles, Kathleen, Sarah, Jeff, Susan, and others I’m forgetting. Not to mention her many friends, students, colleagues, and neighbors (which I’m counting as one for these purposes).

I don’t think I got everyone in this montage, but that’s just because Samantha’s family and friends cannot be contained by mere digital means.

Images of Samantha with family, friends, dogs and bikes.
Samantha with family, friends, dogs and bikes.

17–26: Sam’s written a lot of very popular blog posts over the years. Here are ten of them:

The fact that Sam wrote in both 2013 and 2021 about finding clothes to fit athletic women’s bodies shows a real need for this blog. And by the way, it’s not fixed yet. But don’t worry, Sam and the rest of us are on it.

27–31: Samantha has been writing about real women’s bodies (in contrast to Barbie bodies) for a decade before the movie came out. Here are five of her posts:

32–37: Sam embraces the gear! six bikes:

  • pink brompton
  • gravel bike
  • newer road bike
  • older road bike for trainer
  • fat bike
  • track bike (possibly for sale…)

38–40: Sam continues to embrace the gear! 1.667 boats

  • 1/3 of a big sailboat
  • 1/3 of a small sailboat
  • 3/3 of a canoe

41: Sam doesn’t embrace single car ownership, but shares one with her mum.

42: Say what you will, but I think Sam and I looked pretty similar in high school.

43: I think we still look like we could be cousins (which we certainly are in a psychic sense, or something)

44: Samantha loves books! She buys books, reads them, talks and writes about them in our FIFI book club (and elsewhere), and gives books to people. Hey Sam– what should our next FIFI book club be about? Something to think about.

45: Sam’s To Listen, Read and Watch posts. They are a relaxing and often informative time-out from work emails or more serious reading. Wanna catch up on some of them? Look here.

46: No matter what sort of snafu or whoopsie-thing happens with the blog (and yes, below our sleek, professional exterior, we are fallible like everyone else…:-) Samantha manages to a) fix it; or b) compensate for it; and c) not sweat about it. Thanks, Sam!

47–59: For each year of this blog– 2012–2023 and on, Samantha and Tracy deserve praise (Tracy’s birthday is coming up soon, too, so stay tuned…)

Happy 59th, Samantha, from me, the bloggers, the readers, and Robert Anderson (who took this photo on Unsplash).

Pink happy birthday signs on pink confetti frosted birthday cupcakes. yum.
Happy Birthday! yum.

cycling · family · fitness · holiday fitness

A tale of two bike rentals, or what to request for cycling on vacation

Renting bicycles for vacation two-wheeled adventures with friends and family (and solo ones) is one of my favorite things. I’ve rented bikes all over the world for me, and all over the US with my sister and her kids. In fact, my sister and I have an upcoming e-bike tour in San Francisco that includes riding across the Golden Gate Bridge and taking the ferry back (with bikes) from Sausalito. Don’t worry– I’ll be documenting and reporting on it as soon as it happens.

But renting bikes doesn’t always go well.

Case in point: my sister recently reserved rental bikes online from the beach condo resort where she and the kids were staying for a long weekend. They were part of the accommodations package. When she went to the main desk at the resort to begin the pick-up process, here’s a bit of what happened:

Sister: We’re here to pick up three bikes I reserved. What sizes do you have?

Desk person: They’re all the same size (this is totally false), but the seats are different heights.

Sister: Oh, okay. Are the seats adjustable?

Desk person: We don’t have any tools for adjusting them. You would have to go buy one (while not false, this shows ignorance of the fact that the seats are all quick-release and therefore all adjustable without tools).

Sister picks up bikes, but there are no locks or helmets anywhere in sight. She doesn’t think about this until later, and is very unhappy. They can’t use the bikes to ride to the beach because of no locks (and no helmets). By the time they get back to the rental desk, it’s raining, so they give up and return them, unhappy.

My sister had much more to say about her unsatisfactory experience, but the upshot is this:

person holding a big round yellow unhappy face.

Let’s contrast her experience with mine when I rent beach bikes from an actual bike shop near that same resort. Here are some things they know and deal with that the resort bike people either don’t know or don’t care about:

  • Their bikes come in different sizes and styles (step-through and not);
  • Their beach bike saddles are quick-release height adjustable;
  • Bike tires need pumping often, which is tended to;
  • Each bike comes with a lock and helmet;
  • Their bikes also have bottle cages and removable handlebar bags.

Every time I’ve ordered from Cyclopedia, they delivered and picked up the bikes themselves. We didn’t have to be there even, because they were locked them outside our condo. And the lock combo is pre-set by these folks to be the last four digits of my phone number.

When our bike rental period is over, we leave them locked outside, and the bike shop van comes to get them, knowing the combo because my phone number is on their form.

A big round yellow lemon graphic sayingEasy peasy lemon squeezy
Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

I’m writing this tale of two bike rentals because if you aren’t a regular cyclist but enjoy riding bikes on vacation, you might consider renting from an actual bike shop rather than whatever place you’re staying. I’ve had great experiences and great conversations and gotten great tips from bike shops all over by renting directly from them.

Readers, what kind of experiences have you had while renting bikes on vacation? I’d love to hear about them: the good, the bad, and the atrocious.

family · fitness

Family vacationing: working together to maximize collective fun (reblog)

HI readers– during the past five days I’ve been on vacation with some dear friends, taking some time out (and away) to enjoy water, sun, nature, food, a little culture, and laughs with each other. I’ll be blogging about it soon, but have to get to the airport very soon. So, I offer you another family vacation blog post– from 2016 with my sister and her kids– about adjustment, fitness and fun. Enjoy, and then head outside if it’s nice where you are.


family · feminism · fitness · holidays · inclusiveness

Fathering, feminism and fitness for living

CW: Mention of loss and complex family relationships on Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day in the US, Canada, India, China and a bunch of other countries. When we celebrate it varies, just as it does for Mother’s Day. How we celebrate it varies also, according to community and family traditions, proximity of family members, relationships among family members, and where we are along the family life trajectory. In short, Father’s Day rarely reflects the simplified messages that we see in cards.

I’m don’t know why so many Father’s Day cards use dogs in human roles to issue greetings, but whatever. They are kind of cute, though.

For my sister and me, Father’s Day has always been complicated. Our father didn’t teach us how to fish, or play chess, or make a bookcase, or do those things that movie-dads (and maybe some others?) seem to excel at. Our parents went through multiple marriages, resulting in both distance and complexity in family relationships. Father’s Day was, at best, awkward for us. We really didn’t know what to do or celebrate because all the other days of the year didn’t give us a clue about what fathers do for and with their children.

My father died young and a long time ago, making Father’s Day complex in a different way– about regret, loss, and wondering what I had actually missed by having that relationship.

Today, though, I am not feeling that sense of loss. I’ve been visiting my family for the past two weeks, seeing a lot of relatives. I’ve been seeing and hearing about the fathers in my family– uncles and cousins who have been attending to their children in ways they feel like they can and should contribute. From school work to boogie-boarding in the surf, these men are doing what they know how to do and learning how to do what they’re not good at, all geared toward teaching and loving and making the world as safe and wonderful as they can for their kids.

Once I took all this in, I looked around and saw how fathering happens in my family. My sister and I do these things– for each other and for her children. I’m the one who takes the lead on travel plans and outdoorsy activities. I do the major gear-buying (read bikes at every age) and opportunities to use them (rail trails for the win). My sister teaches the kids about money– how to manage it, how to save it– and about living in the world of grown-up things to do (like oil changes, bill paying, house maintenance, etc.)

We also do this for each other, providing structure and security when it’s needed, helping each other learn or get more comfortable or just push through things that are hard. Travel planning isn’t my sister’s forte, but I love it. Doing car things for my car isn’t mine (see? I can’t even word it precisely…) but she helps me, even from afar.

Elizabeth and I agree on the importance of planning ahead, the necessity of contingency/back-up plans, the simple pleasure of dog walking, and the superiority of beaches over mountains (fight us). Beyond that, we help parent each other and her kids in our own inimitable ways.

Dear readers, wherever you are with your father, we wish you a Happy Father’s Day. And wherever you are, we hope you find some ways to let yourself father and be fathered today and all days.

Father's Day (and general) greetings from the Womack sisters, Catherine (left) and Elizabeth (right).
Father’s Day (and general) greetings from the Womack sisters, Catherine (left) and Elizabeth (right).

family · fitness · self care

Christine moves with/in/through grief

My Dad passed away on Saturday, May 6th.

He’s been unwell for a long, long time but it was a ‘might live a long long time’ type of frailty, not a ‘could pass any time’ sort of illness so losing him on Saturday was sudden and jarring.

I am sad, disoriented, and unfocused and every muscle in my body has been tense since Saturday.

But even amidst grief, ordinary life details must continue and holding on to those routines is helping me to put one foot in front of another while I make my way forwards.

Khalee and I have been going for walks.

A dog standing on a sidewalk looking back towards the camera
Image description: a light haired dog looks back toward the camera. She is standing on a sidewalk next to some winter-worn grass.

I’ve been drawing a daily monster.

A drawing of a blue and purple teardrop shaped monster who is giving advice about feeling your feelings instead of fighting them.
Every May, I set a drawing challenge for myself to create MAYbe 20 Monsters. This year the monsters are giving advice. Obviously this one was a note to self. Image description: a drawing of a teardrop shaped purple and blue monster with big glasses with text to the right that reads “Terri wants to remind you that it is okay to feel however you feel. “Go ahead and feeling your feelings,” she says, “Let them wash over you like a wave and they will pass.” She knows it isn’t easy to do but it will get easier in time.”

I’ve been meditating. (On Sunday, it was warm enough to lie in my saucer swing to meditate.)

Bare branches from a tree against a cloudy sky
Image description: the view upwards from my saucer swing – the black rope from the swing, some bare branches and a cloudy sky with some blue peeking through.

And I have been doing yoga.

I really liked how straightforward and direct this video was and how she didn’t try to be soft and singsong when she spoke.

A video from the SaraBethYoga YouTube channel. The still image shows a person with brown hair and a yellow shirt leaning to one side to stretch their neck. The background of the image is purple and white text reads ‘Grief Yoga Neck & Shoulders.’

And all of those are keeping me moving forward, literally and metaphorically.

I’m being kind to myself about it, I’m going slowly, I’m being gentle with this new version of me, I’m moving with/in/through grief.

My Dad was Peter Hennebury, a mostly-Civil Engineer, who loved bad jokes and thick books. He had a quick wit, a sharp tongue and a equal penchant for both formality and irreverence.

He was and is loved.

If you are so inclined, please raise your next cup of tea or coffee to Pete.

A photo of an old man and a middle aged woman with grumpy expressions on their faces
Yes, these grumpy faces are deliberate and they are a joke. Image description: a photo of me and my Dad with grumpy expressions on our faces. He’s a thin older man with grey hair and glasses, wearing a collared shirt and a hoodie. I’m a middle aged woman with a round face and light brown hair and glasses wearing a black hoodie.
family · fitness

Bowling with the family!

This week was my spring break, which I spent in South Carolina with family– my mother, aunts, uncle, cousins, and of course my sister and her kids. Last week I posted about my goals for the week, which included low-key nature walking in state and town parks. I did that, and will blog about those adventures this week.

But what I didn’t expect was that I would go bowling. But I did that, too, with my sister and two of her kids. It was fun. Actually, it was very big fun. How could it not be fun? After all, bowling includes:

  • funny shoes
  • multicolored balls to throw at things (sorry, correction– roll at things)
  • Graphic animated signs showing how you did in your most recent frame
  • a snack bar
  • 80s soundtrack playing in the background
  • other like-minded souls acting as if they don’t mind your loud enjoyment of the game

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t bowled since college. Even then, it was just the occasional group outing where I didn’t worry about my complete lack of knowledge or technique. I recommend adopting this same attitude, as it promotes enjoyment.

However, if you’re feeling ambitious, you could watch this video on 3 bowling tips for beginner bowlers that my niece Gracie found after we got back from our bowling expedition.

To save you time and effort, the three tips are:

  • buy an expensive custom bowling ball, as the bowling alley-provided ones are bad and don’t really work;
  • hire a bowling coach and bowl all the time;
  • practice kneeling at the line of the lane and doing a spinny thing with your hand and the ball– unclear for how long.

None of us found that advice helpful.

My niece Gracie, who plays volleyball a lot, had the best form of all of us.

Gracie in the classic post-ball-release form, about to get a strike.
Gracie in the classic post-ball-release form, about to get a strike.

My form, copied from my memories of Laverne and Shirley TV show episodes, looked more like this:

Still, I managed to get the hang of it after a while. Luckily, none of us needed to remember how to score– it was done automatically, along with graphic indicators:

My sister won the first game, and I won the second. I think we both forgot about deference to the kids in the heat of competition. Gray was trying out his own technique of holding the ball (rather than gripping it using the finger holes) and spinning it down the lane. Had we played three or more games, I think he would have beaten us all. Gracie, who had the best form, decided to be experimental and lost interest in actually knocking down the pins. My sister and I mainly concentrated on not falling down.

I highly recommend a family or friend bowling outing. For $41.97 for four people, it was a good deal. I do admit to walking creakily for a while post-bowling but it was short-lived. And maybe bowling shirts will make a comeback. These always looked great on Laverne and Shirley.

Laverne and Shirley, in lavender bowling shirts, Laverne’s with her omnipresent script L.

So, readers, do any of you bowl? Did you have a bowling heyday? Have you tried it lately? Are you tops in your league? Let us know.

family · fitness

Strolling through the holidays

This year I’m spending the Christmas holidays with my family in South Carolina, where it is unseasonably cold (but nearly as cold as most of North America right now). This is no news to anyone who knows me, as it’s my usual holiday routine– fly or drive from Boston, arrive at my sister’s or my mother’s house, and divide up my time between towns and relatives. It can get a little hectic, but it means seeing more family, which I love, and listening to more audio books or podcasts, which makes the shuttling manageable.

What makes my holidays most meaningful, though, is the sweet combo of nature, activity and loved ones. I thought I would share a visual holiday stroll with you, my dear readers. I’d love to hear from you if you’d like to share some of your holiday activities with friends, family or yourself.

In no particular order, here goes.

First up, a stroll and chat along the Riverwalk in Columbia, SC with my nephew Gray.

We talked about music, what to make of Ye (formerly known as Kanye West), urban walk spaces, and whether an adjacent ant hill was occupied (he poked it with a stick despite my recommendation against it, but nothing terrible happened. Whew.)

Some years, my sister and her kids (and friends) head to Litchfield Beach right after Christmas. There are fewer tourists, so we have the shoreline to ourselves. We walk all we walk, collect shells, and catch up on each others lives.

When I’m in Darlington, I always take the opportunity to walk in Williamson Park, which has a cypress swamp. It’s always interesting to me how the swamp changes and adapts over the seasons and years.

Then, of course, there are times when it’s necessary to try out some of the cache of Christmas toys the kids received. Gray let me go for a ride on his three-wheeled swivelly scooter. I think I did pretty well. By the way, that December it was very warm, so I was in short sleeves– another South Carolina holiday treat.

I'm concentrating to get the hang of swiveling on this scooter.
I’m concentrating to get the hang of swiveling on this scooter.

And of course, there’s a lot of dog walking. I have dozens of holiday photos of us taking out Kiwi the Yorkie and Bailey the Golden Retriever.

My niece Gracie, Kiwi, Bailey and my sister Elizabeth, at a moment with the dogs at Sesquicentennial State Park.
My niece Gracie, Kiwi, Bailey and my sister Elizabeth at Sesquicentennial State Park.

There’s always more to share, but my sister is reminding me that I still have to gifts to wrap before heading to my mother’s house. I wish all of you a peaceful, nature-included, happy December 25.

charity · cycling · family · illness

Pedaling for Parkinson’s in Prince Edward County: Join us next year?

Parkinson’s Canada hosted “Pedal for Parkinson’s Prince Edward County” this past Saturday, a charity bike ride features a 40-km and 75-km option, starting and finishing at the North Marysburgh Town Hall.

Our team was called Susan’s Spinners– Sarah, Sarah’s Zwift ZSUN teammate Emily, and me. In the photo above we’re joined by Susan, a family member and occasional blogger at Fit is a Feminist Issue, who is also a cyclist and who has Parkinson’s.

Here’s a few words from the participants:


This year attending the Pedalling for Parkinson’s event in PEC was somewht bittersweet. I haven’t been on my bike for the past month due to a recent back injury, so didn’t want to chance riding.

I also missed my original team, the Rigid Riders (people with PD and their friends) as most were attending events supporting team captains Mike and Steve as they ride across Canada raising awareness and funds for Parkinson’s (

What made it a wonderful day though was that two members of my extended family, Samantha and Sarah, and Emily, a friend of theirs who I didn’t know, came together on short notice to form a team, Spinning for Susan, to bike and raise funds to support me and Parkinson Canada.

Recently I’ve thought the most important message a person with PD can hear is that they are not alone. I not only felt that profoundly but am happy that my team raised funds for Parkinson Canada to spread that message and to continue to support people with PD across the country.


It felt odd to be doing another charity bike ride so soon after the Friends for Life Bike Rally, but this is an important cause for our family. Susan and I have known each as friends since Grade 9 home economics and we’ve been family since I married her brother many years ago. I joke that Susan and I were friends first, back when he was the annoying older brother.

So Susan’s Parkinson’s diagnosis has hit the whole family. She’s been riding with a Parkinson’s group and in past years has ridden this charity ride. When it turned out that we could have the use of Sarah’s family farm in Prince Edward County that weekend, it all started to come together. Sarah and I would ride and Susan would come along for support and inspiration. She’s also a very generous donor to Parkinson’s research, giving enough so that Sarah and I both got jerseys! When Sarah’s teammate Emily, who lives in the county, agreed to come along, we had a happy trio of riders. I’m struggling a bit with speed these days so I was happy to have a chatty, scenic social ride for a very excellent and important cause.


I didn’t even know the event was taking place until 48 hours ahead of time when Sarah invited me to join in. Since I’m training for a 150km ride in September, and live in the neighbourhood, it sounded like a great opportunity to find some company for a long ride.

As I signed up online felt a pang of guilt, however. They were asking for a minimum fundraising commitment of $250. The ride was in just over 24 hours… “Nothing to lose,’ I thought, and made my own donation to get the ball rolling. Four of my friends and relatives jumped at the chance to donate. In less than 24 hours I was above the threshold. Guilt assuaged.

So happy that I went. I not only managed to raise a little for a really good cause, I got to meet the wonderful Susan, for whom we rode, and had a lovely social ride as a bonus.
I will definitely be back next year!


Like Sam I found it seemed strange to be doing another fundraising cycling event so soon after the Bike Rally, but I knew I really wanted to ride in support of my family who are living with Parkinson’s Disease, including Susan and my uncle Jack. I also had two grandparents with PD, so I’ve been able to see the results of all of the groundbreaking research, much of it being done here in Canada, that’s making a big difference in the everyday lives of over 100,000 Canadians with PD. In a generation there have not only been huge leaps in treatment but also understanding this progressive neurological disease, and the important role exercise plays in mediating symptoms. It was amazing to ride with folks who told us how movement, especially on a bike, is medicine for them.

The ride itself was super well organized and had lots of support from the Prince Edward County community, from the local radio station to the Lions cooking us lunch. I will never cease to be amazed at the number of cycling-friendly roads all over the County, even if some of them are a little rough.

All in all, a great day on the bike for a great cause!

Sarah and Sam listening to the pre ride instructions

Join us next year! It would be great to have a larger team and make it a social weekend in Prince Edward County.