About Face

A few weeks ago, my sister in law notified me that my face showed up on a Facebook page with someone asking if anyone could identify this person. My image was found on a cell phone I had lost on the summit of Mount Ward in the Crowsnest Pass. It was amazing that they had found the phone as I had lost it descending down on my butt over a mountain side of scree. Here is the remarkable part. I was up there in August of 2019. That’s over 3 years ago. Think back how much has changed in the last 3 years. For me? I lost my mom, I lost my job, COVID happened and I almost lost my sense of self.

As I look at the face staring out from the phone that shouldn’t be working, let alone sporting my face on the cover, I marvel at our ability for resilience. That woman captured is me but yet, is not me. She is restless and ready for change. She is tired and grieving over so much loss in the last few years. She is there with her two great nieces enjoying a warm summer day doing what she loves to do. Exploring uncharted territory and pushing herself to go further and harder.

Phone still works after 3 years!

Sometimes I am not sure where the strength comes from. It just appears and I am always grateful to the universe for providing it to me. I sat on the top of the summit enjoying the sun and view as the girls explored further up and around. I saw 3 crows in the distance. They were making a big racket and circling overhead. I watched them for a bit then noticed behind them that some big dark rain clouds were starting to form. Anyone who has been hiking in the mountains knows to start down when that happens. Hopefully you can outrun the storm, most often I am not that lucky. I was about to holler for the girls to come and they appeared ready to head out. I happened to look down and found the most unique rock I had ever seen. I had been thinking about the crows and their warning that the weather was about to change. The rock appeared to have a crow flying over the mountains on it. It was pale yellow with a black image of a crow. I picked it up and put it in my backpack. In hindsight, I wish I would have done the same thing to my phone which I placed in my coat pocket tied around my waist.

As the clouds got darker, we started to slide down on our backsides. It was treacherous and slow going. Over half way down I realized my phone wasn’t in my pocket anymore. There was no way I could go back up and try and find it. We had been zigzagging and moving over a large space of rock and debri. It could have been anywhere. Like a needle in a haystack. I resigned myself to either come back a different day or say “goodbye” to the pictures from that day.

I got a new phone and reclaimed quite a bit of my pictures, chats and music as I usually back up stuff to the cloud. I was missing the photos we had taken that day which was too bad. When I reloaded my messenger chats I was heartbroken to see my conversation with my sister who had passed away in 2016 wasn’t coming back up. It took some letting go to say “goodbye” to the conversation I had treasured.

Time goes by and I have had 3 phones since then. Every once in a while I would think about the phone and wonder if it was still alive. What view it had looking out over the barren terrain. Saying good morning to the crows and other creatures who passed by. My face is smiling out on that mountain side I thought. Never did I think it still worked after all that time.

I have been in contact with the mother of the guy who found it and will go pick it up some time soon. She said that several people had recognized the woman in the photo and let her know the phone belonged to me. The hat I am wearing I have taken on so many adventures. It’s kind of my signature look for exploring…lol.

Thinking about the phone and it’s adventures, I happened to glance through my messenger chats. I was drawn to the one with my sister, hoping that for some miraculous reason the conversation would reappear after all this time. I was amazed to see that it had. Everything was there again. My history with my sister has come back to me now. Years and years of conversation came tumbling down the mountain side to land at my feet.

Why now? So much has happened since 2016. I thought that was my low point but it wasn’t. Both of my parents died in the years after my sister’s passing. Despite all of the pain, grief and loss, I feel more alive today than ever before. I am living life on my terms in my own way. Choosing my adventures, love, spiritual paths and sense of self.

I am awake. I have lived many lives since I lost that phone. I am grateful for it’s reappearance to remind me to be grateful for what I have.

Once again the energy shifts and tilts the balance back.

I have a desire to put the phone back on the mountain. 

Stay tuned to see what I decide….lol

Love you all that keep reading our posts and coming along on our journeys through midlife.

Light and love.

Me+Us+I+You=We

As a coach in my previous life in corporate banking, I became very accustomed to using first person pronouns to describe who was the owner of actions or feelings. I have been thinking about relationship dynamics and the intersections of “Me” to “US” and “I” to “You”. 

My daughter told my husband that we are both very stubborn people. I agree and we are both very strong in our opinions. We both have known we are very different and yet, in the past, have found ways to connect. As we get older and more set in our ways, it has become harder to compromise and find our way to a common grounding. I admit we have struggled and sometimes it feels easier just to throw in the towel and move on.

I can’t help but think I am not yet done learning all I can about myself and behaviors from this man. He challenges me in my core thinking. We expressed our feelings to each other in letters, texts and some verbal. I didn’t like what he said and he didn’t like what I said but we both listened, asked questions to clarify what we meant and then spent time trying to figure if we could still be compatible together. 

I get his points when he says that I feel I can express my feelings and he should respect and accept them because they are mine. He does stuff I don’t like, he says things I don’t want to hear. I asked him to apologize for things he has said to me and he asked if I feel like I should apologize for the way I feel and things I have said? 

I said “no” I meant what I said. At the time, he meant what he said too. So where does this leave the “US”?

I know that I respect him for his honesty towards me.

Can I keep the “ME” in “US”? We seem to be in different stages of life. I have decided not to go back to work anytime soon. He works full time. I want to travel and explore the world while our health is good and we are mobile. Can we create our own balance without driving each other crazy? We both have agreed we don’t know. We have been figuring it out one day at a time for over 36 years. For us, we know that we are at our best when we are connecting on every level. We travel well together, we have built a life together. We are unconventional in our partnership management system but so what?

Neither of us want to end this story yet so we have agreed to continue. To find ways to build our new chapters that include the “Me” in “US” and the “I” and “YOU in our “WE”

Blank Canvas

Starting from scratch. Am I crazy?

I sat in the van the other day and stared at its current state. My old thinking is still wanting to rule the day. The interior is good enough just do some cosmetic stuff and move on. I struggled with those sentiments for a few more minutes and then all the sudden the sledge hammer in my hand found a purpose. Before I knew it half the walls were down and the van had twice the space.

Sometimes you fight change until the urge to shift within just can’t handle it anymore. Picking the option that makes you feel like you have settled in life only delays things. It never really sits right until you do “that thing”. You know, that thing that is whispered in your ear over and over again. There was a wonderful lady I got to interview at the ashram named Jean Roberts. She wrote a book about her life as an island girl growing up in Grenada. How she grew up in oppression and decided to run away at a very young age.

I left home at 16 and lived with a couple of sisters. I worked and supported myself through high school. It seemed so much easier then to make decisions without worrying too much about how they affected others around you. The world revolved around my teenage life and I was creating canvases by the dozens. Thought nothing of painting over them and moving on.

I will be 57 in 2 months. It’s been a lifetime of changes. I am not my 16 year old self for sure. Thank heavens!

Sharon’s latest post talks about living adventures through my posts. It’s not lost on me how she and I are always peeking over the fence at each other. I envy her ability to make decisions about relationships and move forward in that regard. Put on her big girl panties and move into a better light. I understand the hesitation to make the first strokes on the canvas. I ask myself often what I am afraid of when it comes to being alone. If my partner doesn’t see my vision and has no desire or interest to explore the possibilities with me then ….what am I waiting for? A sign? Hmmm I have had plenty of those, a sledge hammer in my hand? I have one of those too? A push? Maybe.

My friend Sharon and I are at that place in life where our whole world is about to change. The post COVID blues I think. The universe is opening up again so now what?

For me? I have an empty canvas in the form of a tiny home to consider how “I” for the first time in my life want to create a haven just for me. Sharon has a new condo, new job and new life. I am excited for both of us to face our fears and build our confidence in ourselves. Maybe even build a bit of confidence in others. My brother has been helping me with the demolition. We have barely spoken over the last 40 years. Now we are collaborating almost daily. I am finding my voice and figuring out what I want to say. I am exploring new pallets and variations of light and color. It is changing my perspective for the good.

It’s healthy and positive to clear space. So many possibilities to explore now that the demolition has started.

Are You Retirement Compatible?

When it comes to retiring are you and your significant other on the same page?

In life and relationships we talk about a lot of things in regards to goals, religious beliefs, values, children and who is going to clean the toilet…lol. Most often, we gloss over at what age we are going to retire as it seems so far away when we are young.

These days though, many partners are talking about taking a break from their jobs for a year or two fully expecting they will find another job eventually. Some are trying to catch up with retirement funds, paying off debt that was unexpected and dealing with the cost of relationship breakdowns. Life can get complicated and a large amount of people put time away from working on the back burner. We live in a world now where you could be working into your seventies.

So, have you had the talk with your partner? Are you retirement compatible? What if you aren’t aligned on timing, expectations and lifestyle?

I remember thinking in my twenties that I would retire at 65. I would work, most likely, at one maybe two jobs. I would have a pension and some savings and life would be awesome when I turned 65. Well, we all know what happens to life while we are living. So many things are unexpected and not planned for. You wake and realize that those you love and expected to grow old with or around have either passed away or in bad health. You feel older. You slow down when you are hiking. You are weaker and feel pain in your joints. When did I start to get older? I thought all those things happened in your seventies not your fifties. I watch those around me and I realize my window of opportunity to live with abandonment is shortening. I can’t rely on being in good health when I am 65. I know my abilities today and I feel that if I can continue to build strength and endurance now that as I get older the longevity should hold. At least that’s my theory and I am sticking to it.

I have been talking to many friends and family about their plans. Some wanted to take time off to travel now and then maybe go back to work when they get tired of doing that. Others plan to work until they can’t work anymore well into their seventies or beyond. Others plan to work and play and juggle the two. What has been a common theme though is that most find themselves in a bit of a pickle when it comes to agreement from their partner as to both being on the same page.Life throws us curve balls. I am a firm believer that the universe shakes things up when we get too complacent. 

My universe is telling me to squeeze the lemons now. Get as much juice as you can out of this existence. My husband is planning on working another 9 years or so.I am hoping he will decide that there is more to life than stock piles of money and things. You can’t rush someone else’s discoveries. You shouldn’t wait though to “do you”. It’s scary to venture out on your own. It’s even scarier to sit and wait for someone else to get on board.

Life’s obstacles are constant and ever coming at you. I had journeyed with an eagle in the past and it had shown me to put the chaos in my palm and squeeze out order and decisions from it. It’s an exercise I can do physically to help me focus on which direction to follow. Mistakes will be made, that’s how we move forward. It takes more courage to act than to stand still and watch.

Next week I am taking a break from van renos to hang out in Banff with my sister in law. We have decided to go tandem skydiving and caving. The waivers are signed and the deposits are given. I am making lemonade with the sweetest ingredients I can find. I am not saying that finding common ground with your partner isn’t important. It totally is. Respect for each other and practical goals are key. Time away from work doesn’t have to be expensive. I find a balance of things I do that are free and things that are epic adventures that may cost me a bit. It’s the doing that counts. The sharing of the experience. We all relied heavily on our memories during COVID of things we had done in the past to get us through the rough patch. I thank my lucky stars that I was blessed with so many adventures in my life so far.

It’s funny how the biggest regret in life is usually the ones that involve not doing something rather than taking the leap and trusting you will land safely. The journey is worth it!

Hopefully your partner agrees that taking breaks sooner rather than later is the way to go. If they don’t then it’s up to you to decide whether you stay put and wait for them or…

Get into that harness, secure the lines and find someone who is compatible with the here and now of your awareness.

Van-Essance

I have wanted a camper van for some time now. I follow a few vloggers who are living a “van-life” existance on Youtube. I am a realist. I know that vanlife is not as glamrous as some might think. It sounds romantic and care-free but in reality it can be scary and full of hidden costs. Yet…here I am..I bought a van. Not just any van. A 1978 classic Chev camper van. It has low kilometers, fridge, stove, bed, character and is full of potential. It was formely owned by a tattoo artist that used it to travel around to convention and tattoo shows. It’s perfect…for me. My husband thinks I am nuts. Why buy something soo old to which I reply well “I am older, aren’t I worth restoring?”.

I can use it “as is” if I would like as it drives well so far. We (my brother in law) drove it from North of Vermillion all the way to Raymond which is about 550 Km. It was great on the road and handled well.

What do I hope to get out of owing such a vehicle? Quenched curiosity. Have you ever drove on a highway and seen all of those locals attraction signs? Tours of a honey farm or the worlds largest Easter egg lives here or a Ukranian flee market 12 kms that way. I want to stop at them all and be able to say I have been there. Why not? YOLO is a thing.

So, for this year, I am thinking get the van as comfortable as I can and as mechanically sound as I can and hit the road. There is no time like the present to take advantage of good weather, cheap-ish accomodations and the time to explore anything and everything up and down this Province that I live in.

I can’t wait to start the “VanEssance” adventure series. Hope you join me for the ride. If you see me on the road wave or better yet leave me a comment here and perhaps we can meet up and go for coffee or go see what is interesting in your hometown.

Cheers to the adventures of Midlife Arises continuing…

Namaste

Week One

Remember how I said I was going to start Whole30 in July? Well, plans changed. I thought it’d be easier to cut out refined sugar, dairy and alcohol in the summer months, but my boyfriend pointed out that: a) we enjoy going to pubs together and b) I enjoy having a drink with my friends. It would, in fact, be easier to follow the eating plan in the winter. Sure, I could give up alcohol for the summer – but why?

OK – I get that. I also get that I am ready to make a change. So, I’m doing a modified Whole30. I have food allergies (carry-an-Epipen-just-in-case-type-of-allergies) to all nuts, legumes and lentils. Giving those up? Done. I already avoid most grains because they don’t agree with my Hashimoto’s Disease. I feel better when I don’t eat them. So – grains? Done.

I love cheese. I mean, I LOVE cheese!! Giving up dairy? I’m on Day Four. It’s not easy. I also like having fruit and yougurt for breakfast. Not happening. My body knows it. It sent out a craving for ice cream today that was overwhelming. It didn’t help having temperatures in the high 20’s (Celcius) and living in a condo without air conditioning. I was SO tempted. I even drove past the DQ thinking, “I can start again tomorrow.”

I kept driving. If I stopped, I’d be letting myself down. I’d only be dragging out the withdrawal effects. I had a constant headache and extreme fatigue all day. A “quick fix” of dairy would have made me feel better. But, would it? Psychologically, yes. Physically, maybe not. That’s why I’m doing this. I want to cut out things I know to be inflammatory and reintroduce them one at a time to observe the effects on my body and mind.

I’ve also stopped eating or drinking anything with refined sugar. I know alcohol has it, but I don’t drink very much. Reducing by 90% is better than not reducing at all.

Over the weekend, I stocked up on fresh produce. Did you know cotton candy grapes actually taste like cotton candy?? I froze some and it seems to have intensified the flavour. I snacked on cucumbers today. I haven’t done that in ages. When the craving for something sweet got too strong, I made a fruit smoothie. I have chocolate protein powder that is dairy/gluten/sugar free and thought it might help. It did – minimally.

I’m eating whole foods. Nothing refined or processed. Only things found in nature. I’m not counting calories. I eat when I’m hungry and until I’m full. I took the forecast into account and cooked up eight chicken breasts yesterday so I don’t have to use the oven this week. If you knew how much I dislike grocery shopping and cooking for one, you’d know this way of eating is a big effort and commitment for me.

Today was a rough day. My body knows something is changing. I expected it. I was sorely tempted to say “F*** it!”, and I didn’t. Tomorrow might be similar, and that’s OK. Next week will be better.

I hope.

Staying Cool

I am luxuriating in the cool temperatures of 19C this morning. After the last week of mid-to high 30C temperatures, this is a welcome respite. I don’t care if I need to put on a sweatshirt later – every window in the house is open to let the cool air blow through it.

I’ve always believed it isn’t necessary to spend thousands on central air in Alberta. We have such short summers, a week or two of high temperatures doesn’t justify the expense (though I admit, it’s nice to have!). We spend the majority of the year in winter and I remind myself of this when it gets too hot for comfort.

Staying cool in a home without air conditioning proved to be a challenge. By late afternoon, my indoor temperature was 81F (27.2C). My normal room temperature is 67F (19.4C). Fortunately, it cooled down slightly overnight, so by 0100 or 0200, I was able to sleep.

What did I do to try to beat the heat?

  • I kept all curtains and windows closed during the heat of the day. I’d only open them after the outside temperature dropped below what I had indoors.
  • I draped cold wash cloths over my fans. That didn’t work very well.
  • I froze water in 2l pop bottles and set them in front of the fans. This worked better than the wash cloths.
  • I bought a personal evaporative air cooler. It was better than the pop bottles. It kept me cool while I worked or sat on the couch, but not nearly enough to cool a room.
  • I took cool showers.
  • I put fans in the windows overnight to blow in the cool air. I got up early to remove the fans and close windows/curtains before temperatures started to climb again.

Today, I’m researching how to keep seniors cool in the heat. Martin’s dad is in his 90’s and still lives independently with his wife. The a/c unit in their apartment isn’t strong enough to keep up with the heat happening in their area.

What have I learned? A few things I should have tried last week.

  • Drape cool towels behind the neck and around the shoulders. I should have thought of this. I have a cooling jacket for Keo when we go to outdoor dog shows in the summer. Same concept.
  • Sip fluids all day to stay hydrated. Seniors are especially prone to dehydration.
  • Soak feet in cool (not cold) water while sitting.

I’ve also found cooling blankets online. I’m not sure how well they work, but the reviews seem to indicate they help for sleep (and, I’m assuming, afternoon naps).

Most cities also have dedicated cooling stations open during the day where people can go to escape the heat. With COVID restrictions lifting, there are also options to visit a library, mall, or coffee shop to get relief from the heat.

The trick will be convincing his dad to try these things.

For my area, the temperatures get back to more seasonal summer heat. Unfortunately, other parts of western Canada aren’t so lucky and will still be experiencing the heat wave.

For readers without a/c, do you have any other tips for staying cool in the heat?

Summer Adventure

Reading the title, you might think I’m planning an exciting trip. Instead, my big adventure for the summer is to clean up my eating by undertaking the Whole30 eating plan. I’ve done it once before and know it’s a commitment, and it’s not easy.

I planned to start today, July 1, but changed my mind. I’m going to ease into it. Because of food allergies and having Hashimoto’s Disease, I already avoid quite a few foods. So, during the next week, I’m going to stop eating all grains – not a huge step because I’m already gluten-free. It’ll mostly be rice and my granola bars I avoid. Next week, I’ll stop eating dairy products. This one is tougher because I love cheese and yougurt. Finally, I’ll start the Whole30 eating plan and give up sugar and alcohol – 30 days with no umbrella drinks!

Why am I doing this? I know I’ll feel better at the end. As I reintroduce foods after the 30 days, I’ll have a better idea of which foods my body tolerates and which it doesn’t. I know – once I’m through any withdrawal symptoms – I’ll have more energy and I may even start to sleep better.

I enjoy a challenge. When I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, I followed the Autoimmune Plan (AIP) for seven months. That was the MOST restrictive eating plan I’ve ever done. It was Whole30 on steroids! At the time, I needed to figure out what foods made me feel good and which ones made me feel worse. As a result, I avoid gluten, nightshades, and potatoes. I’m not allergic to these, but I know eating them makes me feel bloated, fatigued, and achey – almost flu-ish.

As much as I’ll miss having drinks on a patio, it’s a good time to undertake Whole30. I’m settled into my new home and job. Martin is working most of the summer so my eating plan won’t be restricting what he eats (he already avoids a lot of foods he likes because of my allergies and Hashis). And, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve done it so it feels like it’s time to hit the “reset” button. I find it easier to adjust my eating in the summer when there’s things to do outside. During the winter, it’s hard to give up hot chocolate. 🙂

So, there will be blogs about this eating adventure. I know I’ll go through sugar cravings the first few days I stop eating it. I’ll get frustrated with having to grocery shop for fresh produce every week and meal plan. Near the end of the 30 days, I’ll start to think I’ve done it “long enough” and contemplate quitting. Blogging about it will keep me honest and on track.

Anyone want to join me on this adventure?

Time To Heat It Up

Summer is finally here. I have been told that the next weeks temperatures are historical for the heat we are about to enjoy. So what does one do when faced with the prospects of being doused in fire? Go find several lakes, a cool mountain retreat and set up camp.

I am fortunate enough to live close to several mountainous options within a couple of hours. One of my favourites is the Crowsnest Pass area. The lakes are crystal clear, random camping on crown land is still allowed and the hikes are endless.

We have set up camp near Chinook Lake and tested out our inflatable kayaks. They work better than I expected. Quite solid and easy to inflate. It’s wonderful to see the lakes from a ducks perspective.

Crows nest Lake

I have still been thinking about time and how we spend it. Taking pockets of it and creating memories to sustain us when we need it. The someday maybe I will have the time is a dangerous way to live. Before you know it, it’s gone. I can feel my body saying that it’s getting older. Wake up with stiff joints and echoes of old injuries that resulted from past adventures. I am ok with those reminders that I am human. It’s an affirmation that I have pushed myself to squeeze every last ounce of juice out of this flesh. Summer has just begun and so the adventure continues…

Wind In My Sails…

On the way to Vimy Ridge just outside Waterton Park May 2021

One thing that is a guarantee about living in Southern Alberta is that there will be wind involved when planning any outside activity. You would think after living here for over 50 plus years, I would be used to it by now. Ugh! Living at the ashram taught me that weather should be secondary to keeping yourself in motion outside. I walked trails in snow, mud, rain and didn’t let it get me down. So what’s a little wind in my sails then? Well, to be honest, it’s more than a little it can get up 70km/hr easily before you know it. The gang has decided we should focus on “adventure” this month and I am up for many as the month progresses. I bought an inflatable kayak and have been delighted in testing it’s ability to stay a float on some pretty easy local lakes. It was on a calm day I have to admit and I will probably stick to calm days while kayaking. My husband and I decided once to take our canoe out on St Mary’s reservoir. It was calm when we started out and not a cloud in the sky. We paddled around the lake and were really enjoying the day when we noticed in the distance some ominous black clouds building. We knew we wouldn’t make it back to our original starting spot so decided to go a shore by the East bank. This part of the lake has big boulders and not much else. I clammbered up the rocks and huddled by the canoe while my husband went to get the truck.

When it rains it pours. The universe loves to make the most when it catches me out in nature without anywhere to go but to stay put and grit it out. Boy did it down pour. The wind whipped around me and the rain felt like nasty pellets stinging my bare arms. I held onto the canoe which at some points wanted to fly away. It seemed like hours before hubby came with the truck but it was only probably minutes. So you would think that maybe I had had enough of that type of boating? Nope, I decided to go even more adventurous and trade my sturdy, hard bodied canoe in for an inflatable kayak. I hope to try it out soon on some rivers and lakes in the local mountain area. I need to go shopping first for a good life jacket and longer kayak paddle.

Wind or no wind, I am determined to get out there this summer and enjoy this amazing playground I have been blessed to live in. I hope to see you on the river or lake or on a mountain trail. Either way, if nothing else, this crazy time has proven how lucky we are to be alive. Why not get the heart pumping!