Nov 25

Running with tears

The national anthem started and I had tears in my eyes. Was it my national anthem? I don’t even really know what that means anymore, so sure. I’m in America now and I got tears in my eyes during the national anthem.

I have no idea why I got tears in my eyes. Maybe the tears were for the fact that right after Mika was born I couldn’t imagine ever running again, let alone racing half a marathon. Or maybe they were for the fact that late that night before the race, Ivan had cycled to Walgreens to get my watch fixed which I’d only just discovered had stopped working, even though he has so much work to do, just so I could get to bed early. Or maybe I was crying because of all the 5am starts and cold rainy runs that I’d done, knowing that I was working towards this. Or maybe it was out of love and respect for my body – my body that had been feeling achy and ill all week leading up to the race – that was somehow able to pull this off. Or maybe it’s because for the first day in more than a week, there was no rain, and later the sun would come out.

I didn’t cry. Just so you know. But then the starting bell went and as we passed our first group of supporters, cheering and yelling, I welled up again. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? I laughed to nobody at how ridiculously happy I felt and how surprisingly good I felt as I followed the feet of the pacer infront of me.

Running 13.1 miles is much easier than running 21.1 kilometres. For one, writing 12 splits on my hand is much easier than writing 20. And mentally I found this race possibly the easiest I’ve ever run. This is how I broke it down:

  • Run 5 miles at target pace. Assess how I feel at 5 miles. I was following the 1:45 pacer for the first 5 miles and I felt super.
  • Feeling good? Bump it up slightly and run another 5 miles. So I dropped the pacer and bumped up my pace until I was coming through 2 minutes under my goal splits for the next 5 miles.
  • Now I’m at the 10 mile mark. Only a 5k to go. Run that 5k as hard as I can. I was hoping I would pick up the pace even more. But my thighs were cramping up and I wasn’t even sure if I was running anymore. I kept up my pace, maybe increasing it a fraction, and wasn’t sure if I’d make it over the line in one piece.
  • Boom. Done. I made it. In one piece.

My PB for a half marathon is 1:30:00. There’s no way I’m training at that level now, but considering my training I’m extremely happy with my time of 1:42:48 for this Seattle half marathon. Only 10 minutes slower than my best!

Waiting for the bus to brunch, check out that amazing christmas train set!! Mika couldn’t take her eyes off it.

Ivan and Mika were at the finish line to see me cross and although my body was like ‘whaat?’ seeing them there in the super cold at 9am was possibly the best thing in the world (brunch at Chaco Canyon an hour later was a close second).

Alright, I’ve run my post-baby half marathon, we can have another baby now.

(p.s those instagram photos above are not mine, they belong to josephrlee, kelsnasty, missy_dearest, kaypearamsdale, pinkpre and runhappier. I didn’t take my phone with me)

Nov 22

Happy happy thanks thanks

I’ve only ever celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving and so I had no idea what a big deal Thanksgiving was in America. It’s a long weekend here and people are saying ‘happy holidays!’ in the street as though it’s Christmas time already. And I mean it practically is Christmas time. The lights are up, the advertisements are many and I’m pretty sure ‘happy holidays’ is what we’ll be hearing from now until January 2nd. I’m not complaining at all. The sooner I can crank the Christmas tunes and get some pine and fir up in this house, the better.

In the spirit of the happy holidays I am so thankful for my family. For the little miss M who leaps into my arms, holds my head with both her hands and kisses me square on the mouth. For the handsome man in my life who always gives me time to run and yoga and who never fails to keep our house bright with fresh flowers and make me tea.

I’m thankful for the beautiful friends and family who are flying to the other side of the world to celebrate our wedding with us in just over ONE MONTH.

I’m thankful for our warmth and our food, the rain and the sunshine, books and good coffee and making new friends who make new places feel like home.

I think EVERYONE should celebrate thanksgiving in some form. We don’t eat turkey but we are cooking a feast tomorrow (menu below) and thinking of our loved ones who are in far away places. Also check this out, just cause I think it’s a pretty great idea. Happy holidays y’all.

Roasted green beans

Butternut squash, brussels sprout and bread stuffing with apples

Black-eyed peas in garlic-ginger-braised mustard greens (The Inspired Vegan, Bryant Terry)

Molasses, miso & maple candied sweet potatoes (The Inspired Vegan, Bryant Terry)

Apple and gingerbread cake

Nov 14

On not owning a car

(playing silly games on the walk home today)

You know that I love not owning a car. But then sometimes I really wish we owned a car. We probably will end up owning a car at some point. One car for the family, as we grow from 3 to 4 and when we move to an area further away from our work.

But until then, I’ve been constantly reminding myself of the benefits of not owning a car:

  • Passive exercise. Even if we take the bus, we still walk half a kilometre from our house to the bus stop and back. The round trip to the nearest grocery store is 2km. And each day Mika and I walk to a park or an activity and we end up walking between 5-10km each day. If we owned a car, that would drastically reduce.
  • Saving money. Taking into consideration bus fares ($2.50 for 3 hours ish), Zipcar costs ($50 a year and $10 per hour of car use) and taxi rides ($20 ish on a night out), owning a car always comes out as costing more. The upfront cost, the ongoing gas, the insurance, the servicing, the repairs…
  • Feeling closer to our community. When we own a car, we usually spend most of our time traveling to places in other neighbourhoods. But when we’re limited to our feet, the bus and our bike, we tend to spend much more time in our own community. I love this.  I love how we can bump into people in the street. I love how when we run errands, we can stop for a little while for Mika to jump in some leaves or to follow a squirrel. The people who are always hopping into cars seem to be in such a rush and much harder to have chance encounters with.
  • Not contributing to all the negative environmental aspects of owning a car. We’re just not. So that’s cool.

90% of me feels extremely lucky that we don’t need a car to have a great life here. And 10% of me keeps wondering if our life would be much cooler if we had a car. Such is life I suppose!


Nov 12

On being here now.

Sometimes I can spend an entire 90 minute yoga class thinking about tattoos, menu planning, blog posts and tanning. Sometimes I sit down to eat my lunch and I spend 20 minutes reading a book whilst mindlessly inhaling a salad. Sometimes I’m in the shower and I spend the whole time planning my day or thinking about the day that has just been.

Some research suggests that people are significantly less happy when their mind is focused on something other than the task at hand. In other words, people are happier when they’re present.

It’s an easy thing to say, and it seems like a very easy thing to do, but I find it unbelievably difficult at times to be entirely present. A few months ago I started putting aside 5 minutes a day to ‘practice’ being present. It’s much easier (in my opinion) to be present when you’re doing something (ie. focus on your actions, notice your surroundings) than to be present when you are just sitting.

You could call it meditation I suppose. I call it a practice and I use it to calm my mind. It feels difficult – as though my mind is actually working out. It can feel frustrating and tiring. But this is usually when I know that I need it the most.

Here’s what I do:

  • Sometimes I set a timer on my phone so that I can know when 5 minutes is up. This way I can allow myself to completely relax rather than always wondering what the time is.
  • I put a notebook and pen next to me. Sometimes if there is a thought or an idea that just cannot go away, writing it down can help get it out of my brain (safely knowing that I won’t forget it) and then I just start again.
  • I start by noticing my breath. I notice the way the air feels against my top lip and the way my tummy and chest rise and fall.
  • I imagine ‘sending’ my breath to different parts of my body, really noticing each part of my body as I do this. I might try to relax a part of my body, or just simply acknowledge it and feel it.
  • When I notice my mind wandering (and it can wander faster than I thought possible), I have a few different techniques that I use:
    • I imagine that the thought is a cloud and that it’s floating across the blue sky in my mind. I try to imagine a clear blue sky with no clouds, so if one comes in, I watch it drift away again.
    • I quickly try and bring myself ‘out’ of my body. I imagine that I have just walked in the room and I can see myself sitting in the room. And I just watch myself. This is one of my favourite techniques and can make me feel extremely present.
    • I focus on my breath again. I think about my tummy rising and falling with each breath.
  • Sometimes my mind can get so crazy it feels like a crowded mall at christmas time. (And I hate crowded malls at christmas time). I have no idea why I find it so hard to stop thinking about things, but sometimes I give myself a pep talk like ‘you can think about this again in 5 minutes. Just stop right now. There will always be time to think about things, but for now, just be present. Listen for something. Focus on the breath.’ Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

And that’s it. If I manage to do this a couple times each day, I feel noticeably more relaxed, calm, collected and present. Do you meditate? Or practice being present?

Nov 05

19 months

The words you say: Papa, mama, agua, bebe, car, carro, no, ball, arbol, sky, bubbles, plane, yellow, thank you, gracias, bike, apple, banana

The sounds you make: rooroo (dog), meow (cat), nomnom (squirrel), moooo (cow), neeeigh (horse), tsttst (rabbit), rahhh (tiger/lion), ah ah ah (monkey), beeeeepbeeeep (car)

The things you can sign: more/mas, please/por favor, thank you/gracias, banana, ball/pelota, book/libro

You can point out almost all your body parts.

You understand: simple instructions like ‘go put this in the rubbish bin’, ‘go get a book’, ‘can i have a kiss please?’, ‘abrazo! (hug)’ and so, so much more.

Things that make us think you’re pretty much a genius:

  • The way you take your own diaper off, take it to the rubbish bin, put it away, climb up on the toilet seat to reach the basin and wash your hands with soap and then dry them with the towel. I mean, come on!
  • The way you try so hard to climb up and down stairs without using your hands
  • Your ball skills. You can throw, kick and roll.
  • The speed at which you run. It astonishes people. It doesn’t look like it should be possible. Your little legs move so quickly!
  • When we get home from being out, you take off your little shoes one by one and put them in the closet next to ours.
  • When you see a mess on the floor, you’ll pick up the little pieces and take them one by one to the rubbish bin in the kitchen.
  • The way you tell us when you need to go toilet. (We’re scared to potty train you. I mean, it’s gonna happen, you won’t be in diapers when you’re 20, but we’re in no hurry.)

Your favourite things:

Books. Always books. You will tell us which order you’d like your books read to you in, and they must be read in order.

Your little toy animals.

Dogs and cats and squirrels.


The swings at the playground.

The foods you love:


Moroccan stew.

Bread sticks.

Things we don’t want to forget:

  • The way you call anyone wearing a bike helmet ‘papa’
  • The way you run to find me after your bath, naked and clean and warm and you leap into my arms and give me a huge hug
  • The way you squeal when we tickle you. The way you laugh randomly when we say something that you find funny (like ‘oops’ or ‘woops’ or ‘goat’)
  • The way you love the water running on your back as your bath fills up.
  • The pitter patter of your tiny feet as you chase your papa down the hallway playing hide and seek when he gets home.
  • When it nears 6pm, any sound that you hear from outside you turn to me and ask sweetly ‘papa?’