Monday Musings: the magic of a snow walk

Last week we had legit snow.  Well, we had legit snow for Vancouver, which basically means about 4 inches.  And it barely lasted in its solid form before it turned into a heinous mess of dirty slush. But while it was falling from the sky at alarming rates, and while it rested on the ground in its pristine frozen form, it was truly wondrous.

There is something about a snow walk that kicks the ass of any other walk, and I say this as a lover of walks. Walks, in my humble opinion, are completely underrated.  Walks have been tossed aside because they’re not “real” exercise. Walks seem like a waste of time. Running is faster. Driving is faster yet. But let me tell you this: walks are the best.  And let me up the ante by adding that snow walks are the most magical of all.

Let’s start first with walking. Even sans snow, walking is going to do some pretty great things for you. I’m not going to lie and tell you you’ll burn hundreds of calories, but you are moving, and motion is a good thing. Motion takes anxious, nervous and negative energy and helps to wash it away. Trust me, as a perpetual glass-half-empty soul, I’ve witnessed first hand the power of a simple walk in its ability to take me from a level 10 on the grumpy gus scale right down to a solid 4.  Motion also shoves exhaustion out of its way. Walking has no time for your tiredness. You will breathe deeper, and you will move, and you will no longer want to crawl under your desk and take a (hopefully) undetected nap at two o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon.  This is the power of walking.

The snow walk only amplifies these positive effects. The snow walk incorporates a feast for your eyes. You cannot see trees draped in snow, mountains dusted with powder, a field of the white stuff glistening in the sunshine without being overwhelmed by its beauty. Unless your heart is dead. Beauty is guaranteed to make you feel better.

The snow brings silence and stillness to the air in a world that is increasingly full of so. much. noise.  With silence and stillness comes the feeling of calm.  And with the feeling of calm comes clarity of thinking and brave new thoughts.  The snow walk is your secret weapon for when you’re stuck or feeling uncreative.

The snow brings joy. It takes you back to your childhood, when was life was simple and fewer things brought more pleasure than finding a large swath of untouched snow to trample through like an intrepid explorer. Walking in the snow gives you moments to reconnect with your inner five year old, the one who wants to see how far she can slide on the snow, who wants to see how many snowflakes she can catch on her tongue, who delights in the novelty of weather we see so rarely in Vancouver.

This is what the snow walk can bring to you.  Joy. Calm. Stillness. Silence. Clarity. Beauty. Motion. Air. Energy. Positivity.  Are any of those really things that you wouldn’t want even more of in your life? Take it from me, the snow walk has the power to put you in a place of total and utter contentment. Next time the snow falls where you are, instead of freaking out about driving conditions or all the ways it will get in the way of your plans, bundle up and walk. Just walk.

Told ya. Beauty and magic.
Like seriously, even a residential street looks spectacular.

Training Tuesdays: being at peace with your version of fit

This weekend, I went on a 9.2 km return winter hike.  It’s the longest hike I’ve been on in what feels like forever (but in reality has been about 1.5 years). On the car ride back from our weekend getaway, my friends were talking about how I used to not consider anything below 20 km as a ‘real hike’.  Oh how the tides of turned. But it got me thinking about the importance of being at peace with how you define fitness for yourself right now, not how others define it, and not even necessarily how you might have defined it for yourself in the past.

You may have heard the expression comparison is the thief of joy.  When we compare ourselves to others or to our past self, we are essentially telling ourselves that wherever we are right now is not good enough.  We all have that friend or colleague who runs marathons. We all know that person who swears that Crossfit is the be all and end all.  We all probably even know that person who, like I used to, tries to hide their eye roll when you talk about the 2 km hike you went on this weekend because that’s obviously not a ‘real’ hike.

For every activity that you do, there will always be someone who does it better, faster, longer, or harder.  Even the marathoner has to contend with those pesky ultra marathoners (she says as someone whose whole blog was brought about by signing up for an ultra marathon…).  It’s far too easy to feel as though you’re not doing enough with your fitness.  It’s taken me a long time to get comfortable with sticking to small hikes, barely ever running, and even the small things like having to avoid burpees, mountain climbers and split squat jumps because they aggravate my injury. Will it be this way forever? Maybe not. Or maybe it will be.  It doesn’t really matter because right now this is my fitness reality.

Does that make being at peace with my current fitness easy? Not at all. I still struggle at times to be okay with my current fitness. I spot people at the gym doing all the things I used to do, see runners bounding past me like gazelles, read a trail description for a 40 km hike and at least half the time my initial reaction is “ugh, I used to be able to do that”. If I hear people talk about their half marathon or marathon training, I sometimes have to bite my tongue to keep myself from pointing out that I’ve run a damn marathon too.  This is despite being stronger than I’ve ever been, despite having built muscle, and despite (mostly) having kept my injury in check for the last 1.5 years.  I still have moments where I let myself feel down about not being ‘as fit’ as I used to be or as I perceive others to be.

Here’s what I’m learning, though: I don’t need to justify that I can barely run 5 km these days. I don’t need to justify that I choose not to hike 30+ km every Saturday and Sunday. I certainly don’t need to beat myself up because jumping split squats throw my SI out of whack.  I am the fit that’s right for my injury to heal. I am fit for being able to lead the type of life I want to lead. I am fit enough to allow myself donuts every Saturday (don’t underestimate the importance of this in my world) without fearing I will swell to unnatural sizes.

What’s my point to all this? Find a way to be at peace with whatever your version of fit is, whether it’s walking a half hour as often as you can, taking a spin class a few times a week, lifting weights in your basement, or even running an ultra marathon. If it’s what feels right to you and your body, and it allows you to live the type of life you want, let all those comparisons you’re making slide right off your back. Your version of fit is good enough.

Monday Musings: Change, change and more change

Pull up a chair and let me tell you some of the big things on the horizon that I’ve subtly alluded to over the past couple of months but never really talked about. Behind the scenes, we’ve been quietly working away at some big-time moving and shaking. It’s been exciting, exhausting, stressful and, at times, utterly overwhelming.  But mostly it’s exciting.

We are moving! To the Okanagan! The heart of wine country (in Canada, at least)! Lakes! Rolling hillsides! Slower pace of life! Yes!!!!!

I don’t even know when or how it all started. At some point while I was still on my work hiatus, we got the crazy thought “what if we sell our house and move to the Okanagan?” It seemed like a pipe dream at the time, but slowly we started investigating the situation. On a wine weekend, we hopped into an open house smack dab in the heart of wine country. While that particularly property wasn’t the right fit for us, it was the small action that set us off on a path to full-blown can-we-actually-do-this research.

Now, not even two months later:

  • I’ve started a new job for which I had to negotiate a trial period of working in a different region.  The jury’s still out on whether it will actually work, but we’re going to give it a whirl.
  • We’ve staged, listed and sold our current house and have to be out October 1st.
  • We bought a new house that won’t be ready until February 2018, which means…
  • We’ve been on the hunt for a temporary rental to carry us between our move-out and move-in dates.
  • My partner in crime has resigned from his job and will wrap up work in two short weeks, at which point he’ll start looking for work in our new ‘hood.

There have been a lot of stressful weekends driving up to the Okanagan on a moment’s notice. There’s been a lot of last minute cleaning in preparation for showings (thankfully the real estate market is ridiculous here and our house sold lightening fast). There’ve been a lot of mid-day phone conversations about upgrades and offers and counter-offers. There’ve been flurries of emails to mortgage brokers, realtors, relatives, rental agents, and prospective employers. So yeah, we’ve had a lot of stuff on the go in a short period of time.

Chances are things won’t slow down much for the foreseeable future. While it’s tiring a lot of the time, and certainly gets in the way of consistently blogging, it all feels like the right move (pun intended) and I couldn’t be more excited for the future.  Change is rarely easy, especially when you combine multiple major changes all at one time, and yet sometimes it’s exactly what you need to align your life with your priorities.

We’ve wanted a number of things to shift in our life. We’ve wanted a slower pace. We’ve wanted to have a life that doesn’t revolve around stressful jobs that pay well but don’t necessarily hold personal meaning.  We’ve wanted to be closer to some of the things we love (golf, wine, new trails for me to explore, etc.). We’ve wanted to get as close to mortgage free as possible so that we have more time and need less work to do more of the things we love. We couldn’t envision any of that happening here in the Lower Mainland. While the move isn’t going to instantly satisfy all of these wants, it will get us considerably closer in the short term. In the long term, it creates the ideal conditions for a life we’ll both love.

So for now, even in the midst of the stresses and annoyances of moving (ugh, moving, am I right?) I am trying to remind myself of all the positives on the other side.  Bring on the change!