Friday, March 31, 2017

23 stairs

There are 23 stairs between my office and the staff washroom.

How do I know?

I know that after two weeks of a fitness challenge at an actual gym, with actual trainers, because there is pain in every one of those 23 stairs today.

But the "good" kind of pain.


This 47 year old body is getting a much needed wake up call but not all of the muscle groups are best pleased with this turn of events.

In fact some have been dormant for so long that they are protesting this new regime in the very strongest of terms.  

No pain, no gain, right? 

In all honesty I wasn't so sure there was any "core" left but ... I can ASSURE you, buried though it may be - it IS there - crying angrily at its rude and repeated awakening.  While I was well aware the derriere needed "work",it too is unhappy... which makes me happy in a perverse way.  Get lost gluteus maximus - no more junk in the trunk!!

But the quads - oh the ever loving quad muscles - they are screaming the loudest.  

But even they bend to the power of the bladder and so the 23 steps had to be conquered several times today.

And through the pain I am thoroughly enjoying the experience.  

It helps Allan and I go together, although, of course, Mr-almost-50, had levelled up and moved ahead of me (although in no less pain!).  It helps its very low key and friendly while being very demanding.  It helps we missed a week in NYC - kidding....kidding.  

The exercise and our version of clean eating (WHAT? No potato for over 10 days - my Irish ancestors are freaking out)... reduced sugar, carbs and quadrupled veggies and more nuts and seeds than I had imagined... the pants are feeling just a tad roomy already. 

Make no mistake - I have a loooong way to go.  These muscles are going to be protesting for a while yet but I think its safe to say I have found my new fitness regime.  

Now if I can just get up off the couch I think I have earned a fry or two, maybe a beer....Happy Friday!

Also a heads up - I am getting up early tomorrow, in the rain and "light" wind to go out in the ocean in an open boat with two crazy dudes to find crab.  Slight chance of a good story and few photos if I survive. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 26, 2017


Tonight is the last night of my last Spring Break as a parent of a school going child.

14 years...

Tomorrow starts the last term of high school for my last child ... granted this will be a more substantive statement when my sister makes when her 7th child is at this point.... but nevertheless ... I am feeling nostalgic for all the spring breaks we have had over the last 14 years. 

So many years we bolted for the sun of California - LA, Orange County, San Francisco, Oregon coast, Disney, surfing in Monterey..... and twice in the last 3 years I have headed to New York to take my beloved Grade 12 of the moment for a trip to the Big Apple. 

This time Mr. David with dreams of Broadway shows and United Nations and the Guggenheim and cool photography.  We dragged Allan along and while it was not a story of NYC love for him - he did love the shows, the Hi-Line and the architecture.  

For this Mama - revisiting NYC was wonderful and although the snow did complicate things - I loved NYC again for all the reasons I loved it before and for seeing David tick some important things off his bucket list.  

By this point in her year Lindsay was already registered in the program of her choice at the university of her choice but David has had a less clear journey.  While in NYC he was accepted to Simon Fraser and since being home her has been accepted to UBC Okanagan (but not his first choice of UBC Vancouver) and so we face some complicated and important choices over the next few weeks.   

So for him, and for us, this week was a little hiatus from reality.  Allan did well to set the Masters aside for a few days despite being at a pivotal point and relentless emails and texts from his group as they gear up to present their "thesis" in 2 weeks.

I did everything I hoped and the 3 Broadway shows we managed to go to exceeded all our expectations (and our budget) but will long stay with us in our hearts and minds. I was only just recovering from a nasty strep infection and so the 78 kms we walked stretched my energy and that added to a delayed flight home getting in at 5am has vaulted my napping ability to new heights! 

That may also be helped by Allan and I having taken an important and well contemplated leap into a 35 day challenge at a local gym.  Not just very good gym instruction and exercise but also a renewed commitment to better, cleaner eating.  We are both really enjoying the challenge and finding muscles we didn't know we had.  When the alarm goes off we check to see who can move what and if we can get down the stairs unassisted!  And while the new eating regime was daunting we have done super well and are both feeling great.  We doubled our veggie intake and reduced the carbs and sugar substantially.  We have a ways to go to get these middle-aged bodies back to optimum health and wellness but we are well on our way. 

And so as this evening draws on, our girls brief visit is over, the celebrations of my dear Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary is over - as wonderful as it was... as the boys and Spanner are zoning on the couches pretending tomorrow won't come... I am grateful for all the Spring Breaks we have had as a family, for all the memories and experiences we have shared.  

And I am ready for a new rhythm of spring breaks to come when me and my sweetie will likely enjoy adventures with just the two of us!  

So here begins the last term of the school year, the last term of my life as a school mum... it is always a sprint to the finish and we have lots of decisions, lots of grad events, a girl about to be halfway through her degree and making summer plans, a masters to be completed and so, so, so much to be grateful for. 


Saturday, March 25, 2017


My parents were over for dinner the other day - they sat side by side opposite Allan and I at the table. 

It was a typical family dinner.

There was lots of loud conversation, lots of debate and dissenting positions.  My dad raises his expressive eyebrows as my Mom adds some of her unique "irishness" to a story, she swats him with her napkin and he chuckles quietly.  He corrects a detail or date in the story, she pauses and looks at him, makes a decision about whether to argue or not, decides not to, and carries on with the story.  

As I watch this familiar patter between them, the looks they exchange, the way he pushes her buttons and she rarely disappoints in her reaction, and then how they mostly often end up laughing together... I see in them the truth of the heart of marriage.  

The two have become one and yet neither is any less for that fact.  The becoming one has made each of them more completely who they are.  

They challenge one another, frustrate one another, push one another, create space for one another, champion each other, serve one another, pray together, take long walks and great adventures and while occasionally there are tears, more often there is laughter.

Today they have been married for 50 years. 


I could not be prouder of their perseverance and integrity, for the hard work they have done on this 50 year journey and for the family they have raised, the friends they have gathered and the rich and nourishing life they have made together.

While obviously I owe my existence to this marriage, I owe a far greater debt for the lesson of love it and they have shown and taught me.  

Mom, Dad.... Thank you for choosing love for 50 years.  For showing up in your own lives and in mine and Jill's and our families.  For modelling love, acceptance, accountability, integrity, faith and making the most of any situation.

I love you both more than I can every properly express and today I am humbled and grateful for you, for 50 years of your love.  

As we celebrate today, as we laugh and no doubt debate and dissent, as eyebrows raise and looks are exchanged - we will know that this journey was sustained by more than just you, more than just us...that God has been, is and will be the author and perfecter of all things.

I love you.

Thank you.


Friday, March 10, 2017

An unexpected path

I have always been surrounded by Teachers. 

My husband, many of my friends, my Mom, My sister.....and I have always extolled the virtues of said teachers proclaiming they must be saints and/or crazy to want to teach all day.  

I happily spent my days at my own desk doing a variety of interesting tasks without the clamour of dozens of students.

Of course these teachers in my life told wonderful stories of life in the classroom, connection with students as well as the familiar battles with marking, assessment, pressure from parents etc. 

I nodded and smiled. 

Then one day I was asked if I would teach a class in the Early Childhood Education Program at a local college. 

Nope. Can't. Not a teacher. 

Persuasive arguments were used about sharing knowledge, helping develop the field, an extra paycheck...

So one night I found myself in front of a class of adult learners.

I was terrified.  

And WAY over prepared (I know this shocks you).  I had the whole class (in fact the whole course) timed and scripted and I had about 2000 back up articles / activities etc. 

Last night, 10 years later, I taught my last class of that same course to adult learners in Richmond. 

As I packed up my projector and laptop and gathered my papers I paused for a moment in the now empty classroom and reflected on how wonderful this unexpected path has been.

In many ways I am more passionate and more engaged in the teaching material than ever.  I have come to love not only teaching the material but engaging students in deep thinking and debate and pushing them to look at things from multiple perspectives.  I love seeing them catch the vision for what early childhood education can be.  I love telling them how important they are, how much they have to offer and how much they need to take care of themselves in this demanding but deeply nourishing and rewarding career.  

I have so many stories of my own now, so many students I see out and about in the community, so many wonderful Instructor colleagues who have helped and guided me and so many boxes of teaching materials! 

Although I still don't perceive myself as a "natural teacher" whatever that may be, I still sometimes struggle in that role and I still over-prepare (If Allan had a dollar for every time I left for a class anxious I didn't have enough material and then came home late because I went over time and didn't use half what I had prepared we'd be staying at the Ritz in NYC next week).

With no more classes to teach in the foreseeable future I am, for sure, going to enjoy the hours I get back (and no marking!) but there is much more that, surprisingly, I will surely miss.  The research, the reading, the building of courses and classes, the interaction with students, the collaboration with colleagues, the joy of being paid to share that which is as much who I am as what I do.  

Maybe I'll step back on this path at some point but until then ...

So long classroom....

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March 8th

March 8th is an important international day.

One I had not really known about until I was enlightened by some of the wonderful women who I work with.

March 8th is International Women's Day.

A global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

It is certainly under-celebrated here in Canada.

But since I have been aware of this day and how big it is in other countries, and how important that is to women who have come from there to here, I have tried to remember to mark it. 

>As a woman leader of an organisation of all women it is never lost on me how special their work is for our children and families but so many of them carry incredible stories of immigration and restarting life in a new place, a new culture, a new language, helping their families make the transition.  Many of them starting new careers and adapting to a totally new way of life. Their stories are humbling.  As are those of the Canadian-born women who work with me who all carry stories of struggle and pain and self-doubt at times but work everyday to make the children's childhood count.  

All these women come to this work with passion and commitment and a dedication and attitude that is often staggering as I often know what load they just walked out of their homes still carrying.  Most days they find a way to set those loads down for a while and they focus on the children, on their work, on the extraordinary moments that we are witness to everyday.   They push themselves to learn more, do more, be more so the little people they invest in will grow up strong and capable and curious.

So there are 50 red roses in my kitchen and I have the immense privilege of delivering them tomorrow to some extraordinary Early Childhood Educators who embody the slogan for IWD 2017 #beBOLDforChange

Happy International Women's Day 2017 #TeamSRCC

No post about amazing women would be complete without my deep gratitude for ALL the amazing women in my life who light my way, listen to my words and my heart, who inspire me, challenge me, laugh with me and make me proud to know them. 

My one and only tattoo says one word - Ohana - my people, my tribe.... today I celebrate the women in my tribe.  Thank you ALL you make my life rich.

I lift you up and wish you find the BOLDNESS to be the CHANGE you need, the world needs. 

Friday, March 3, 2017


A while ago I had a cold and I came to the conclusion I had not been nearly grateful enough for dual nostril breathing.  

And truly since then when I put out the light and turn over at night and take a deep breath in and let it out I AM grateful for both nostrils working.

But there is a new thing I have to be grateful for. 

Another thing one never thinks about until the simple act of doing it causes 9/10 pain.

I am ever so grateful for the simple and massively unappreciated act of pain free swallowing.

Unlike the nostril thing where you can usually get one working, even if takes creative pillow placement, when your throat feels like a lava tube on an angry volcano there is no alternative. 

And, of course, I have the most over-active salivary glands in the free world.  When I go to the dentist and they have that saliva sucker thingy they usually offer you every so often to suction out you mouth.... yeah....when I go they duct tape that sucker to my mouth and put it on maximum suck for the whole appointment just so they can find my teeth.

Listen ... if I can find a meme for this then I am NOT the only one who has it!

So I swallow..... a LOT...which right now is not a happy thing.  I have devised strategies to slow down the swallow rate but I end up looking like a blowfish every 3 minutes.  In the middle of one fevered night I decided I would need to buy one of those dentist suction thingys and I googled it at first light.  In the light and with some hot tea soothing my throat I decided I was too cheap and it was altogether too weird to buy it afterall. 
But it did cause me to have to confront the fact I had never considered.... that the saliva is going somewhere...I never gave any thought to this but given I live 5 doors down from a huge dental practice I found myself now registering that when the big earthquake hits - among the other 500 things I will need to be worried about - I will now also be worried about possibility of the saliva tanks at the dentist office cracking and having to avoid the spit of all my neighbours!

Oi vey

Today I can swallow without wincing and the thought of eating solid food doesn't seem unachievable. I think I have rumbled with strep throat and am winning thanks to copious amounts of tea and an interesting combination of over the counter medications.  

I am well caught up on world and current events thanks to CBC Radio and my scrabble games are all up to date on my phone. 

I look forward to being back on my feet, freely swallowing, just in time to start the boot camp I stupidly impulsively signed up for before the lava moved into my throat.  

But if strep throat didn't kill me surely burpees and sprints wont.

Right?  Right?