Friday, July 29, 2005

Loving Life

Last night Jason and I had friends over for a BBQ, some of which we see quite often, some of which we hadn't seen for ages. We had a blast. Good food, great people, wonderful weather and a big deck to share it all on. Neighbors dropped by to see what the hubbub was about, the tea lights flickered in the moonlight and the music wafted around the lot of us.

In particular, one couple, D&A, had just returned from the UK, after having worked overseas for two years. They are now 7 months pregnant and have decided to raise their baby here where they have lots of family. They are so happy, even when their life is a little upside-down - living out of suitcases and expecting a baby in months! They have always been a bit of a role model to me as to what a "happy couple" looks like.

I know them through my ex-boyfriend, K, and the last time I saw them, I was struggling to get through a really low point in my life. I was deeply in debt buying K out of our jointly-purchased condo, I was living with a suicidal roommate to make my mortgage payments, K was dating someone new after telling me he didn't have time for a girlfriend... it was awful.

My friends were really there for me. I remember sleeping on one friend's couch for a week while K and I were still in the final throes of breaking up. She gave me teddy bears to sleep with and we talked for hours between her work shifts. Another friend would meet me in Starbucks when I couldn't sit in front of my desk anymore, we would hide in the overstuffed chairs as I bawled my eyes out. I hid in the bathroom and cried at weddings, cried on my bike in to work, cried and cried until my eyes were puffy messes. It seems like such a long time ago.

A few months down the road, I met Jason. Our friendship really helped me see things differently and his experience really helped me put mine in perspective. I thought a lot about what was important to me. We found out that we had a lot of things in common and valued similar things in a relationship - honesty, a strong belief in and want of a family, being each other's biggest cheerleader, security... our list goes on and on. The development of our friendship to a love relationship has been so amazing and RIGHT. I've never been so sure of anything in my life, it was very easy to say YES!!! to his marriage proposal.

Last night really reaffirmed things in my head. I imagine I must have looked so different to D&A.

Even when things were still okay with K and I, I never had that level of comfort where I could just be me. I used to fade into the background, leaving the limelight to K. I used to keep my mouth shut, leaving the convo to K. And it wasn't necessarily anything that he said or did, it's just the way I was around him, or around any of my exes to that point. I was reigned in, and trapped inside.

At a dinner party I would hide in the kitchen for the most part and fuss around so I couldn't drop anything, or say something silly, or sound ignortant, or whatever.

Now I leave the dishes for later. I'm having too much fun loving life. Jason definitely brings out the best in me. His love and support makes me very confident and the security of our relationship puts me at ease. I can make mistakes and laugh at myself and not worry.

I didn't know it could be like this. What a difference someone can make.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Questions Answered!

Here are the answers to the great questions that Rambling Girl posed to me a while back! It's taken me a while, but I really had to think about them....

1) what country have you always wanted to travel to and why?

Well I've travelled to most of the countries that interested me at that point and time in my life, things seem to change with each trip I take. I loved the freedom and frivolousness of my trip to Greece and Italy after finishing my degree, I loved the biodiversity of Australia. The people I met during my month in Cuba were so generous, even when they had barely anything, and trying my Spanish was fun. The food in Thailand was superb and learning massage was a really human experience. Yoga in Mexico, lazy days in the Nevis' Caribbean sunshine, travelling from a suitcase through Western Europe and cycling through parts of Eastern Europe... getting engaged in a German castle! Out of all those things, I love people, different cultures and food the most. For those reasons, I'd have to say India. I'd also like to go to Nepal since Jason raves about it so much.

2) what is your absolute favorite outdoor activity?

OH! That's a tough one! I wish I could say swim, bike or run... but instead I choose SURFING!! I love my newfound comfort level in the water, and I love using my yoga know-how to pop up evenly and effortletlessly. I love the feeling of tooling around, bobbing in the water, sitting on the edge of my board, waiting for a nice wave to come along... I love the breathless struggle to paddle hard enough to get going really fast, and of course I love the feeling of the pull on the tail of your board when you've caught the wave just right. The tiny movements you can make to control the board in different directions keep you thinking during your ride... balance! And I love peeling off the top of my wetsuit when it's all said and done, lying in the sun or around a campfire, swapping stories and resting my surf-weary body.

I also love to snowboard, but it's much more forgiving when I fall down surfing!

3) what words of wisdom will you impart on your little niece that you know your sister would never tell her?

My family is very active and healthy, young and strong. But for some reason none of them can understand why I enjoy triathlon so much... "Why do you DO that to yourself?" is the most common thing I hear. Why? Because I CAN. When I first started to date Jason, my family was quite protective, but also they thought that being with someone who had gone through so much would be so hard, and that maybe I was putting myself directly in the line of fire... Sure, it was risky, sure sometimes there are grey days, but developing my relationship with Jason has been the most rewarding and fulfilling experience in my life. And that's something I get to enjoy everyday for the rest of my life.

There are so many people out there that never push themselves, they aren't really interested in seeing what their potential is. For some people it's physical, for some it's mental or emotional... regardless, I like to push the limits a bit. I like to step outside the comfort zone once in a while and take a chance.

My advice would be to push a little, find out what you are capable of, enjoy the risks in life. Don't short-change yourself, you can do anything you set your heart and mind to. Don't get lazy. I don't mean this just in the physical sense, but also emotionally, mentally, academically...

Oh yes, and to let her younger sister (if she has one) borrow her clothes...

4) what do you like most and least about living in Vancouver?

I least enjoy commuting in Vancouver. Even though I live very close to the city center, I find driving unsettling and scary. I haven't owned a car in over a year now, and have resigned myself to public transit. Love the sky train, HATE the bus - bone rattler, loser cruiser, however you want to put it. I hate the steamy feeling on a hot day when people won't open the windows, and I can't stand people who stare at my knitting! Although, there are a lot of cute grandmas who ask what I'm making. I bike to work quite a lot, but find the bike paths lacking. Too many near-door-prizes and people using roundabouts wrong. I still do it, but am on high alert the whole ride.

I love the diversity of Vancouver, the different ethnicities and cultures. I love living close to the Punjabi Market and Chinatown. I love knowing where to go for good sushi, butter chicken, dim sum, Polish sausage, souvlaki, Jamaican patties... I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. And did I mention the cinnamon buns at the Jewish bakery? To die for!

5) what song makes you laugh?

There was a two-record set put out by K-Tel when I was little, it was called Goofy Greats. It had songs like Snoopy vs. the Red Baron, Guitarzan, Yellow Polka-dot Bikini, Boney Maronie, The Name Game... anyhow whenever I sing those songs at the top of my lungs (much to Jason's and Bella's amusement) it reminds me of being a kid, doing the same thing and dividing the parts to sing with my brother and sister. Mostly, I love singing Guitarzan...

They've got a pet monkey
who likes to get drunkey
and sing boogie woogie
cuz it sounds real funky
so c'mon.... sing one, Monkey!

OOh Uh Uh Uh ....

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Baby Ashley! Posted by Picasa

Bella joining me in a spinal twist... Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Yet Another Sweater Set... Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 15, 2005

Yoga Response

I am one of those people that "responds" to yoga. I don't mean that I can put my toes in my ears, or my nose to my shins. I mean that something in my psyche really reacts to letting go of competition and judgement.

Sometimes when I am struggling to get into a pose, I start thinking about accepting my limitations in the pose, and I'll close my eyes to draw my focus inward rather than trying to compete with the hypermobile woman in front of me. When I do this, I often release a few tears, or a loud sigh to dissipate the tension. A bit embarassing to some, but that's just what happens. When I close my eyes, I don't have to worry about people looking at me, or judging me, because I can't see them.

If I can get to that acceptance state, I can relax into the pose wherever I am, and hold it for ages. If I can't get to that state, I continue to struggle and wobble and fall over. I wake up the next morning sore, frustrated.

I am feeling that struggle with my yoga apprenticeship. The harder I try, the more I feel like I'm fighting it. I'm just not there yet. I can do the poses and say the cues, but I can't sell it when I urge people to let go. Because I haven't let go yet.

So last night I wobbled and fell over. After finishing my yoga class, I went to my mentor Heidi, prepared to ask her what I should prepare for my segment of Monday's class. Instead I just started to cry. I had no idea that was going to happen. But it did and it felt great.

Heidi chuckled at my embarassment, telling me that it's great I'm having such a "yoga response" to my experience with the apprenticeship. She likened my experience to her own 10 years ago, when she started out from her fitness instructor background. Her studio kept her as an apprentice for almost 2 years because they didn't believe she was "there" yet. But nobody told her what they really thought, and she never clued in herself to what was holding her back. She's an amazing instructor now, and a wonderful mentor.

She told me to keep coming twice a week, just to reestablish my own practice. She said anytime I felt like it, I could walk around and help her with adjustments, or teach part of the class. No pressure, no deadlines.

I walked away feeling like a million bucks.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

On hiatus...

Well, once and for all I'm going to practice what I preach. Every time I teach a class, I tell people to listen to and respect the limitations of their bodies.

But this whole season, I've been ignoring mine. I've done two major races without properly rehabbing my knee. I've been neglecting my yoga practice because of all the swimming, biking and running. I'm even eating meat with reckless abandon.

So it's time for me to say goodbye to tri for the rest of the season. To kick off my "non-training", I had a massage therapy appt yesterday and am visiting my physio today. I've gone to yoga TWICE this week. I might even go to one of Eion Finn's Showboat classes this weekend!

I'll probably go to Kits pool this weekend and fit a nice long ride in as well. But it will be for FUN, rather than for training. Maybe taking a break from running will allow my knee to mend a bit. Maybe the yoga will help balance out my glutes. Maybe the stretching will undo all the evil I've wrought on my body in the past year. Maybe a break from my carnivorous ways will keep me from getting that heavy-distended-stomach feeling that always follows a meaty meal.

Maybe I will finally get to put on a bikini and loll in the sun for a weekend instead of alternating between bike shorts, swim goggles, and running shoes. The tan lines don't lie.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Yard Sale & Squamish Tri

This weekend was a bit of a blur...

Jason and I decided to have a yard sale on Saturday to get rid of all the "doubles", that's what happens when you combine two fully-stocked households! I ran the sale side of things, while Jason was my support staff - getting change, cinnamon buns and Jamaican patties, carting leftovers to the Sally Ann... The experience taught me that there are a TON of weird people in Vancouver that collect junk. And people are cheap. My dialogue with one guy was as follows:

Cheap Dude: How much for this?

He's pointing to a large pile, containing well over $10 worth of stuff.

Me: Since you're buying so much, how about $7?

Cheap Dude: How about $3?

Me: What?!! That's not even half! How about $5?

Cheap Dude: How about $3?

Me: Fine. $3.

GR! One woman told me I should give her a discount because she was sending all her stuff to Lithuania. Seriously? The postage would cost more that the goods... I call BULLSHIT! But then there were some really cute old grandmas that I gave really good deals to and one Vietnamese man whose family was trying to learn their English vocab - I gave him a Scrabble game.

All in all, we wound up with $300, which is enough to buy a bike trailer (two-seater) that we can remove the seats from and put Bella in. That way, we can take her along on our next cycle tour through the Gulf Islands, which we're doing for our honeymoon the week after the wedding! Hopefully she doesn't try to claw her way out!

Wetsuiterrific! Posted by Picasa

The Squamish tri was yesterday and again, my knee managed to perform! I managed to beat my last year's time by a minute! All the time I managed to knock off my swim and bike were regained on my run, gr! So next year my (easy) goal is to bring it down by 5 minutes. My sighting still sucked, but at least I didn't drown or veer toooo far off course. The bike was FUN, I was in aero position for the majority of the flat course. The run was awful - it's steep for the first 5k, then mostly downhill for the last half.

LAST YEAR: 33:13 swim, 1:24:12 bike (with trans), 51:44 run
THIS YEAR: 30:59 swim, 1:21:16 bike (with trans), 55:26 run
NEXT YEAR: 29:00 swim, 1:18:00 bike (with trans), 50:00 run (we'll see...)

My transitions were awful. There were two different transition areas, so I couldn't find my shoes in T2 and in T1 took about a million seconds to get my bike gloves on.

Andrea, my future sister-in-law, had her 5-year race-iversary and managed to get a personal best! Rachel, our friend who recently returned to tri after a few years break from competing for world-level type races came third in her age group! HI, welcome back, here's your medal!

Chicks of Tri! Jen, Rachel, Andrea & I (SHRIMP!) Posted by Picasa

Jason managed to cut his time from last year, but didn't enjoy his experience quite as much. He thinks he swam "like a donkey" but I think he did great! There are so many emotions tied up in this for him since he started doing this specific race in memory of Ang last year, so it isn't really surprising that he will probably always cry at the end. I think that is a good thing, and that we should do the race every year.

Rachel, Jason and I apr�s race Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Losing the Bubble

Growing up, my family was of the tight-lipped, no-touching genre. There were no kisses goodbye if I went to my girlfriend's house for a sleepover, no tearful I-love-you's when I headed off for university. We were more of the "tough love" set. I remember one night, when I was about 9, my parents were fighting and my dad went to stay at his parent's house to cool off. He was crying and my mom told all of us to go give him a hug before he left. That was the most contact I had had with my dad for most of my memorable pre-teen to adult years.

Now that I'm an adult, I can see how this has shaped me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not putting the blame on my parents. Their childhoods were a lot rougher than mine and I know why they are the way they are.

I couldn't let people inside my bubble. I remember how hard a time I had opening up to my first boyfriend, my closest girlfriends and eventually to my older sister when she left the house. I remember living with one girlfriend who said "I love you" to her family members everytime she hung up the phone and how weird I thought that was. And the hugging? I was a bumbling fool, awkward when my friends went to hug me, and never EVER the instigator. Don't even get me started on the little cheek kisses that I still manage to mess up! Is it one kiss, or two? Some people go three! Even in my late 20's, I still bump heads trying to avoid it.

My brother's girlfriend Kristi always comments on how un-touchy-feely my family is. From her influence, my brother has gotten much more huggy in his adulthood. My sister is similar, especially with her newborn. The last time we visited while she was pregnant, we were all huddled around her tummy with our hands on it, waiting for Ashley to kick. I know that I have gotten much much better under Jason's influence. His family is extremely open with expressing their feelings to each other, which is great. In fact, Jason is known in my family for being all about the man-love, hugging all the men in my family as well as the women! Funny! It threw my brother and dad off at first, but I think they secretly like him for it. Jason and I always tell each other we love each other, before we leave the house, hang up the phone or just whenever the feeling strikes. He will kiss me goodbye in front of his friends, or hold my hand in public or give me a hug while we're waiting for the crosswalk.

The other night, I was meeting someone for the first(ish) time at the house for dinner - the time before was a brief intro - and I surprised myself by going for the hello hug! I think I surprised her a little too! It felt good. I felt like I had been cured a little.

As my wedding date approaches, I find myself wondering how weird it will be to see our two families meet. They are so different. I know Jason's family will say wonderful glowing things, love love love... I wonder if my family will still be the tight-lips? I know Jason's family will be all hugs and kisses and tears and I'm really hoping that will open the floodgates on my side as well... okay, maybe not the floodgates. I would settle for a teeny tiny crack between the doors. The hinges probably need oiling.


Saturday, July 2, 2005

Goodbye Devinci, hello Trek!

Va-va-voom! Posted by Picasa

Today I did something completely un-Callie-like! I bought a brand new bike! A 43cm 2004 Trek 2200 WSD (women specific design)... Ultegra and Bontrager Race components, it even has a carbon front and rear fork! Airstryke F-19 aero-bars!

Is it in my budget? No. But James made me a great deal, even ate the tax and threw in the aero-bars! Hard to say no, especially after I felt the wind rush past me zipping up and down the hills on my test ride through the Seymour Demonstration Forest. Jason rode alongside me and commented on how happy and comfortable I looked. Besides, what do those bike store guys want with a teeny tiny 43cm frame from last year? Seems like the perfect sale to me!

The last bike I bought when I was just starting out, after having done a few sprints with my mountain bike. The bike was a year-old XS Devinci Chicane that Bike Doctor was trying to get rid of. It didn't fit me very well, I was pretty stretched out, but didn't really know any better. It's gotten me through a bunch of races quite well! But after completing my 6th triathlon, and a half-Iron at that, I feel like I've finally earned my way to the next level!

Too big! Posted by Picasa

Now I have no more excuses, I told Jason that if I bought the bike that I would have to get more serious about my bike training. I've had no problem getting into Masters swimming, or half-marathon clinics, but I've never been part of any formal bike training. With my knee still recovering and my running at a minimum, I figure this is the year of the bike!