Tag Archives: friends

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

10 Apr

Yesterday was just the second time that I missed a day in the Post A Day challenge. But since I still have enough “spare” posts from earlier in the year, I remain on track to complete the challenge.

In any case, I have a good excuse. With three weeks to go until my wedding, there is still a truckload to do and stress levels are running high. But never mind about that. Last night I had the opportunity to forget about to-do lists and table seating charts for a few hours. Because last night, my maid of honour Michelle and bridesmaid Jenn picked me up and whisked me away for a night of out-and-out fun.

My girls adorned me with a shiny Miss Universe style sash emblazoned with the word “Bachelorette”, a light-up “Bride To Be” badge, a silver tiara, and a white feather boa. We went to a nearby bar with a live band, where Michelle had reserved a table for us, right beside the dance floor. Shortly after our first drinks arrived, several other ladies arrived. We drank, danced, laughed and drank some more. My glass of wine kept regenerating itself, and from time to time a shot glass would appear in front of me, as if by magic.

It was a great, great night. It was pure, unrestrained fun, and that is a big deal for this overwhelmed Mom who hardly ever gets to go out.

Thank to you Michelle and Jenn for putting it all together. As I write this almost a full day later, I am still basking in the warmth of the friendship that surrounded me last night.

(Photo credit: Michelle Clermont)

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Blowing out another set of birthday candles

2 Dec

When I woke up yesterday morning, I felt a little bit down. It was my birthday, and for some reason I was thinking that very few people would remember or care. The previous day had been torture for all of us – it had been a very rough day for George – and none of us had managed to get much sleep. I think that at the start of my birthday, I was suffering from exhaustion as well as emotional fall-out. For a variety of reasons, I just wasn’t expecting a lot from my day.

Then I turned on my computer and checked my email. There were about a dozen birthday messages waiting for me from friends and family members. I opened my Facebook page and my eyes popped as I saw birthday wishes from about fifteen more people. It was only six in the morning and already I had received birthday wishes in one form or another from almost thirty people.

Wow.  Maybe my birthday wouldn’t be so bad after all. I got myself dressed and looking semi-presentable and left for work.  My pathetic self-pity tried to follow me, but I knocked it on the head and fed it through the paper shredder.

In the middle of the morning my Mom called.  This is always a highlight of my birthday. Even from the other side of the world, my Mom manages to make me feel special in a way that only Moms can. Later in the day, I got a call from my brother. He was calling from a cell phone in South Africa, so we had only a brief conversation that I struggled to hear in the chaos of the bus station, but it was so lovely to hear his voice and know that he was thinking of me.  And all through the day, the emails and Facebook messages were pouring in.  By the time I got home from work last night, I was feeling touched by all of the kindness, and truly humbled that so many people had taken time in the chaos of their own lives to think of me and wish me well.  Even today, the wishes are still coming in.

When I got home yesterday evening, there were flowers and a birthday dinner and cake and presents. As I sat there among my family, the feeling of being loved and appreciated settled on me like a soft snowfall.  How had I thought, that very morning, that people would not care?

Turning 40 worked out well for me. I became a citizen, received a marriage proposal, and after a rough start, I had a great running season. Now that I’m 41, I look forward to more great things. My wedding, for one, which is just five short months away. Now that I’ve joined a running club, I expect to go from strength to strength. I have started the process of conquering demons from my past and making positive changes to my personal life.

And next year, I will not start my birthday by feeling sorry for myself – life is too good for that!

Back to the start line

7 Apr

On Saturday, the day after World Autism Awareness Day, I officially made my comeback to the world of racing. My previous race had been a ten-miler back in November – a fairly miserable affair in which I had been overdressed, over-complacent, and completely confused by poor course marshalling.  I was scheduled to run in the Resolution Run on New Years Day, but my freshly acquired pinched nerve took care of that ambition.  So now, during the Easter weekend, I was ready to race again.

I did not really have any great expectations. Even if I had been healthy in the interim, I would have expected a bit of a slowdown due to the challenges of running in winter conditions.  You just cannot maintain any kind of speed running into strong icy winds with snow coming at you, while wearing multiple layers and a balaclava that makes you look like a burglar.  As it was, I was out of action for almost three months because of various things that were wrong with me.

So my goal on Saturday was simply to finish the 10km race.  I had a friend with me who was running in the 5km event.  Fran and I have known each other for years, and she has recently been bitten by the running bug.  Saturday was her first race ever, so there was a sense of occasion for both of us.  Although we were running different distances, we had a common goal – to cross the finish line.

Ten minutes before the race started we discovered that the 5km and 10km races were starting from different places.  The 5km runners stayed in the designated starting area, and the 10km runners were sheperded to a different point, about 600m away.  I set my training watch, listened for the starting siren, and off I went, wondering how far I would be from my pre-injury pace of 6 minutes 30 seconds per kilometre.  In defiance of my usual strategy to start slow, I ran my first kilometre in exactly 6 minutes and 30 seconds.  The second kilometre was slower.  The third one was very fast by my standards – 6 minutes and 13 seconds.  There were still seven kilometres remaining; I knew that I was going to regret this early spurt later on.

At around six kilometres, I passed Fran, who was coming in for her final stretch.  She was looking good; we waved at each other and went on our way. And true to my predictions, I started to seriously flag in the eighth kilometre – this unfortunately coincided with a couple of pretty intense hills along the course.

But mental power means a lot in running, and the fact that there were only two kilometres remaining helped restore some energy.  I got a further boost thinking of George, the ultimate reason I’m doing all of this running in the first place.  I used the ninth kilometre to recover, and I was able to run the final kilometre fast and come in for a strong finish.  My final time was 1:06:14.  My pace was 6 minutes and 38 seconds per kilometre – not far off from my pre-injury pace.  I was very happy with how I did.  I am now looking forward to my next race – also 10km – at the beginning of May.

It is now four days after the race.  I have been for one run since then, and my legs have not complained too much.  I must be in better shape than I’d thought!

World Autism Awareness Day

2 Apr

Today is World Autism Awareness Day.  This is the day to reflect on people of all ages who are touched by autism.  Wherever they happen to be on the spectrum – whether they are verbal or not, high- or low-functioning – they are important members of society.  They deserve love, respect, admiration for all they have to live with and overcome, and opportunities.  Autism manifests in countless ways.  There are probably as many forms of autism as there are autistic people.  Some auties talk, some don’t.  Some have enough capacity for academic learning to complete high school and go to university, some don’t.  There are auties who are brilliant artists, some who are mathematical whiz-kids, photographers, musicians.  Some become famous.  Some don’t become famous, but manage nevertheless to carve niches for themselves in the communities in which they live.

We had a very good World Autism Awareness Day.  It started with George requesting and wearing a pair of shorts instead of the long pants I had selected for him.  Traditionally, George has a hard time with the transition of seasons.  If he’s used to wearing winter clothing, he doesn’t want summer clothing.  If he is used to shorts and T-shirts, he will not wear winter clothing until he has experienced the freezing cold weather for himself.  So the fact that he transitioned so seamlessly into summer clothing is a big deal indeed.

Once we were all dressed and ready for the day, me, my mother-in-law, and my friend Fran sat at the kitchen table chatting and having a lazy morning.  James was playing with his cars, George was wandering around the room, not really doing anything.  Gradually, we became aware that he was counting while he was wandering.  So far, not really a big deal.  For a long time, George has been rote counting, and even doing mathematical sums, but it’s never really been applied to the real world.  This morning, however, we realized that there was a purpose to his counting.  He was counting how many chairs were in the room, how many tables, how many cups were on the table.  Instead of rote counting, he was counting groups of objects.  He was using the concept of counting for something real.

While I was still celebrating this very meaningful accomplishment, George paused his constant activity to tug at my sleeve.  “Let’s sing O Canada”, he said.  And he started singing our national anthem.  Admittedly, he wasn’t word-perfect, but he did really well for a six-year-old, especially one with autism and limited verbal skills.  He sang sweetly, with lots of heart.  He made me proud to be Canadian, and proud to be his Mom.

Later in the day, we went to the park.  I sat on a bench watching my boys running and playing, I pushed them on a swing and showed James how to go down the fireman’s pole.  I laughed as James grabbed a handful of leaves and dumped them over George’s head, and I smiled when they insisted on holding hands with each other for the walk home.  It was a perfect brotherly moment for the two boys.

And so I wrap up a wonderful day, and I prepare for tomorrow’s 10km race.  I am eagerly looking forward to the race.  It will be a significant and exciting step in my quest to run for autism.

Thank you for being there

1 Apr

Every now and then I have a run that is so great that I do a happy dance at the end of it.  I mean that quite literally – I stand in my driveway and do this weird little hoppity-hop thing that I’m sure makes the neighbours more than a little perplexed.  I had been looking forward to this yesterday’s run since the weekend.  I am currently enjoying some time off from work, so instead of dragging myself out into the dark at 5:00 a.m. yesterday, I was able to wake up at my leisure, get the kids safely off to their respective places, and hit the road at about 9:00 a.m.

I woke up feeling a little rough.  Although I had a reasonable amount of sleep the previous night – meaning I got more than six hours – half the night was spent on the sleeper couch with James, who had woken up feeling lonely (quick diversion: I want my kids to know that they can come to me at any time of the day or night. There are people who believe co-sleeping with their children is a Very Bad Thing.  I am not one of these people).  Here’s the thing about the sleeper couch: it ruins my back.  When I sleep there I wake up feeling as if someone has spent the night pounding on the back of my neck with a rubber mallet.  However, I was determined to go running – I am a bit weird that way, once went for an eight-kilometre run with a sprained ankle – so I did some stretches, laced up my shoes and went out.

It was only 5km, but it was a really fantastic run.  For the first time since returning from my illness/injury, I actually beat my virtual partner.  Maybe I should explain the virtual partner.  A few months ago I upgraded my training watch to one that has GPS.  The new training watch has a feature that allows you to set a target pace per kilometre, and throughout the run you can visually see how you’re performing compared with the target pace.  The virtual partner “runs” at the target pace.  Since recovering from my illness I have been consistently running fifteen to thirty seconds per kilometre behind the virtual partner.  I have been OK with that – I have, after all, been in recovery mode.  Today, though, I finished my run several seconds ahead of pace.  The psychological boost I felt from that was tremendous.

Yesterday’s run was part of what is turning out to be a phenomenal week.  On Tuesday, I had my first consultation with Brandon, my holistic lifestyle coach.  Under his guidance, I am going to take steps to get my life in balance.  It will have a positive impact on all areas of my life – parenting, running, work, my relationship with Gerard.  I feel as if I have entered a new positive phase of my life.  I also have a maid of honour for my wedding!  There are no words to describe how amazing my friend Michelle is.  What started as a simple car-pooling arrangement has turned into a deep friendship, and it will truly be an honour to have her standing beside me when I get married.  My friend Jenny also deserves a special mention.  She has been my best friend since we were both ten.  She has put up with all kinds of crap from me, seen me through some very intense crises, and just been there for me no matter what.  The fact that she lives on the other side of the world to me has not lessened our friendship one bit.  And because distance will prevent her from being here for my wedding in person, I know that she will be here in every other sense.  She will be as involved as she can be in the planning of the wedding – thanks to the joys of the Internet.

Yesterday I went to the airport to pick up my friend Fran.  Fran is a South African who moved to Vancouver (well, an hour outside of Vancouver) a few months ago.  I have known her for years, and have not seen her for a long time.  She is staying with me for a few days: we are planning to hang out, relax, have fun, go running together (even a race on Saturday!), and gossip about people we both used to spend a lot of time with.

In talking about these people – my family, my friends, people like Brandon who are helping me in a professional capacity – I realize just how blessed I am.  I am surrounded by really incredible people.  I am very lucky, and I hope I can always remember that when things get rough.  And I want to say to these people – Gerard, my boys, my Mom, my late Dad, my biological parents who did such an amazing unselfish thing to give me a better life forty years ago, my wonderful, wonderful friends, everyone who touches my life in such a special way – thank you for being you.  Thank you for being there.