Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thrive thursday: Commuting by Bike

This is a on going series that is posted on thursday's, to answer the question: "What helps you to thrive in your environment?" The series is written by myself, and a variety of guest Contributors. This week, I want to comment on the joy of a commute

Today, it is simple. I wasn't sure what to write. i certainly have not felt like I have been thriving as of late. but, on my way back from work at the hospital today, I realized for the first time in quite a while, something that I have not talked about for a long time. Mostly because, to me, it is so simple. it is something that I love. Something that sustains me. Something that makes me thrive.

I remember what it felt like to get back on my bike, way back in 2007, after I had spent the summer recovering from a crash that broke both my arms. It was my new baby blue brodie, I was scared, but, it felt like freedom. biking around the city, too and from work, too and from school, felt like freedom.

Commuting by bike allows everybody who does it to be healthy. (I know people who have dropped 30 lbs by just riding too and from work.) Commuting by bike allows people to slow down. Commuting by bike allows you to go faster than public transit. commuting by bike allows you to talk to other people on bikes. Commuting by bike (I know, i know... dangerous) allows you to get lost in your music while on two wheels. on the 19th of sept, 2008, i wrote:
"there are a couple of things that i love about commuting by bicycle. some of them depends on the ride; such as watching the sun rise, or set. or if you want to get a workout, or if you want to take a leisurely ride. or, if you listen to music, or choose to listen to what is going on around you. but, at least one thing that happens every s
ingle time you go on a commute. You have the time to feel the wind in you hair, and rushing past your body, as you take the time to prepare for the day, or take time to decompress from the day. it is a time to think about your day (ahead, or behind), while your blood is flowing rich with oxygen and endorphins. :)"

and, i still agree with that. most definently. commuting is one of the things that *Certainly* allows me to thrive in my environment.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

over again

So, once again, I am sitting in a waiting room, to see a health professional. This is getting a little ridiculous, I say. I am in off season. I am not meant to be feeling so crappy, for so long. I am not stressing my body on a daily basis, and I am sleeping lots. Lots and lots. i do not want them to tell me that all my indistinct signs and symptoms add up to nothing. Because that just means I am a hypochondriac. UGH!

Thanks, everyone, for the nice words, and people checking in, and for caring. caring is really appreciated.

Sean was here this past weekend. And, it was delightful. he arrived on saturday morning, and i surprised him out at the airport. After a slightly terrifying drive into the city (can I say... never been to this city?! "Look at that building! it's made of brick!" "No Sean, LOOK AT THE ROAD! AHH! red light!" ), we met a few friends for a delicious morning breakfast at Faberge, then took off for the eastern townships. We made stops along the way, mostly including Abbaye St. Benoit Du Lac which includes monks that make cheese and cider. And beautiful walking/prayer trails through the trees. we then made our way to the little town that we were staying in for the weekend, Magog, and the B&B.

Magog is a beautiful little town, and very proud owners of their lake monster, Memphre (yup, apparently everyone has a strange french cousin. Even the loch ness monster, and the ogopogo). We walked around, took photos (ok, sean took photos), and then left, to make a day to be foodies. Things we ate: wine. chocolate. apple cider. Tart. hot chocolate. flat bread pizza. raclette. salad. YUM! On monday, we pretty much just did nothing. it was not a nice day outside, and I was not feeling good. so, Slept in late, walked around the adjacent, fairly trendy, adjacent neighbourhood to mine, Mile End, returned the rental car, and then hunkered in to watch some episodes of "Modern Family" (which, btw, is my newest favourite, hilarious, show).

all in all, it was a great weekend with good company, good food, good laughs, good conversation and good fun. it was nice to spend it with someone that i like so much. and, i am looking forward to any photos that might come out of it!

on a completely different note...

Recently saw this article, about nursing in the DTES in Vancouver. Pretty much, this is one of the reasons why I have chosen nursing as a career. This type of work is what opened my eyes wide open, and made me say: dang it! nursing is perfect for me!!!! If I ever have the chance to work in a situation like that of the safe injection site, I would be so privileged. Because that is what I feel we are called to do. (ok, maybe not everyone, but... you know. At least a handful of us.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

sometimes, just sometimes... have a bad day.

I know that my post from wednesday was apparently upsetting to some people. I had a huge # of hits on my site, people phoning me out of the blue (like my mother!), and sending me emails saying super nice things like "hang in there" and "you will get through this." and "why didn't you tell me you were in the ER?"

and, that is somewhat the reason why I hesitate in writing things like that. Not because i don't appreciate what people have to say, or that I dislike the encouraging words. in fact, they are amazing. you, my friends, are amazing.

but, i just don't like it when people over react. people have bad days. they have bad weeks, bad months, and bad years. and, sometimes, a vent just needs to happen. It doesn't mean that something drastic is going to happen, or that the person thinks that the world is going to collapse, or that they are not going to make it through. it just means they need a vent. and, as long as they know what they need to do to help cope through the moment, generally, it is going to be okay.

but, yes. Physically, I am feeling a bit better. not fantastic. just better.
So, thank you for your concern. I just don't want you to be overly concerned ;)

Sometimes I know how I want to deal with things, other times I don't. sometimes i want to talk about it, other times i don't. But, one thing that i do know is that the boy I like is coming from edmonton to visit this weekend. And, despite the crappy week i have felt, this makes me happy. we will go and play in the fall colours of the eastern townships. drink good wine, and eat good food. we will hang out with friends, and be with just us. photos will be taken. french will be laughed at. and enjoyment will be had. yay :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thrive Thursday: Without words, there is nothing

This is a on going series that is posted on thursday's, to answer the question: "What helps you to thrive in your environment?" The series is written by myself, and a variety of guest Contributors. This week, the topic is, once again, words.... but, with a different spin. The contributor today is Megan O., who is a life-long friend of mine, from West Virginia University, who lives (and writes) in DC. Her (hilarious) blog can be found here: She states that she was at work, when she sent this email. Thus, the photo is a little out of focus.

When Amo asked me to do this, I thought, “Yes! Writing! That is a thing that I can do! I am in school for that!”

But as I thought about it I realized….this is a really difficult question. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve gone through a few things that I thought make me thrive, but nothing really clicked. Sure, for the moment that I was experiencing a particular thing it made me feel alive. But on a regular, day-to-day basis? I couldn’t really put into words the things that I love. Which was discouraging. Not having words is like not having a mouth. What do you do without a mouth?

And then today, completely out of nowhere, I came across this Adrienne Rich poem, “From an Atlas of the Difficult World.” So I looked back at Amo’s “rules” and saw that it can be a piece of art or a quote or whatever and so I will take the easy way out and give you someone else’s words:

I know you are reading this poem
late, before leaving your office
of the one intense yellow lamp-spot and the darkening window
in the lassitude of a building faded to quiet
long after rush-hour. I know you are reading this poem
standing up in a bookstore far from the ocean
on a grey day of early spring, faint flakes driven
across the plains' enormous spaces around you.
I know you are reading this poem
in a room where too much has happened for you to bear
where the bedclothes lie in stagnant coils on the bed
and the open valise speaks of flight
but you cannot leave yet. I know you are reading this poem
as the underground train loses momentum and before running
up the stairs
toward a new kind of love
your life has never allowed.
I know you are reading this poem by the light
of the television screen where soundless images jerk and slide
while you wait for the newscast from the intifada.
I know you are reading this poem in a waiting-room
of eyes met and unmeeting, of identity with strangers.
I know you are reading this poem by fluorescent light
in the boredom and fatigue of the young who are counted out,
count themselves out, at too early an age. I know
you are reading this poem through your failing sight, the thick
lens enlarging these letters beyond all meaning yet you read on
because even the alphabet is precious.
I know you are reading this poem as you pace beside the stove
warming milk, a crying child on your shoulder, a book in your
because life is short and you too are thirsty.
I know you are reading this poem which is not in your language
guessing at some words while others keep you reading
and I want to know which words they are.
I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn
between bitterness and hope
turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse.
I know you are reading this poem because there is nothing else
left to read
there where you have landed, stripped as you are.

I don’t know what it was about this particular poem on this particular day. Maybe because I am at least three of the people she is describing at any given time. I know what it is to hunger and thirst for words, whatever they may be. Maybe because on days like today, when I struggle to find words of my own, I turn eagerly to anyone else’s. These are the days I wind up with an armful of new books because everyone else says it better.

I guess the answer to the question “what makes you thrive?” for me, is words. But Amo already covered that. So how do I say it differently? I agree that there are power in words. They have the ability to convey an emotion, an idea, or a belief in a way that can leave me wanting to shout from rooftops, “Yes! Yes! This is exactly what I was trying to say!”

Words can change people or things. They can raise up or tear down nations. We are a world founded on words. It wasn’t until God named things into existence that we had day and night and man and woman and land and sea. Without words we would still be formless and empty.

The right words can make us feel like we aren’t the only ones who feel a certain way. The right words can make us feel like we belong to something bigger, like we are a part of something. We need words to survive. Without words we are nothing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

a bit burnt out.

warning. this is N.O.T a happy-go-lucky post. it may even be a bit depressing. but, i need a vent. and, i don't care what you think, and if you don't like my vent.

so, I had mid-term exam yesterday. In a class called Clinical assessment and therapeutic nursing. or something like that. It is a under-grad nursing class about technical things: fluid balances, and electrolyte balances, and acid-base balances, and post-surgical care. Stuff that nurses need to know. Also stuff that we learn. in. clinical. and, really, it is the only mid-term exam that I have, so, I shouldn't be complaining. Some people have it much harder.

I could've not taken my exam yesterday... I had a doctor's note. I was ill on Monday. I thought that there was something really wrong going on with me. so, i went to the ER. For the 2nd time in as many months. It has me feeling like at hypochondriac. and, each time, it has not been something serious, and has been something very treatable. which is good. but, it is slightly embarrassing. I was at the ER from about 2:30 and arrived back home at 10:15pm. and, not going to lie. The ER waiting room is not very conducive to studying.

but, what was my alternative? Write the exam later? when I am not motivated to study, because i have more school work building up? or have to write it next week, when my boyfriend is coming for 4 days this weekend to visit (YAY!)? or have my final be worth 100% of my grade?! not very compelling alternatives. the worse of two evils. and, i had studied some. I wasn't feeling great, I am feeling exceptionally tired these days, but, i deducted that it was better than waiting. so, i wrote the mid-term yesterday.

And, i don't feel good about it. I mean... I know that I could've done better. i am kinda worried about what my grade is going to be. and, i guess it kinda sheds light onto something that has been in the back of my head, for a while... I am tired of school. i am in my 2nd M.Sc degree. I am pretty much in my 8th (ish) year of post-secondary education. and, i know this is just one exam. a small part of a bigger picture. but, the more i think about it, the more i am worried about it.

i love learning. i love nursing. i love that i have the opportunity to have this many years of education, when many people in the world can barely send their children to school. i love thinking, and challenging my knowledge base.

but, i don't love focusing on cramming numbers into my head that I know I will have a sheet to tell me what the right values will be, when I should be focusing on learning what the outcomes and longer-term results might be. I don't love being broke all the time. I don't love feeling like i should be succeeding, yet, for some reason, hitting barriers that are restricting me. I don't like feeling that I have to prove myself to be better than others have opportunities that expand my knowledge, or teach me. I don't like being tired all the time. i don't like projects where your grade depends on other people. i don't like having to feel like I have to put relationship to the side, in order to achieve tasks. i hate knowing that I know one exam has never, in my life, changed my fate (okay... well, except that exam), so, I shouldn't stress about it.

but, this exam, in particular, reminded me a few things. i am tired. I am feeling like my brain is incapable of translating the information onto the paper into practical knowledge. for the first time in a very long time, I am feeling like i don't want to do this, despite wanting the outcomes, and knowing that I have too. i am feeling defeated. i have felt ill more this fall than I have felt over many years... like something is just not right in my body. (on another note, the ER doc suggested that I might want to get my thyroid checked. in a way, it would kinda be nice to know if some of the things I am feeling is due to some imbalance. on the other hand, i don't like the idea of having something wrong with me. and, on the 3rd hand~ if I don't have hypothyroidism, then it just means that i am in a slump, and this is just emotional.)

the end. that is all. hopefully it will get better. i know it will. these things never last.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't

well, today started off with it being a hit or miss for weather. And, apparently, it is a hit. That being said, my body is apparently not working for me today, unlike the weather. I have now been in off season for 4 weeks. I have 2 to go, before training starts up again. and, what have I been doing?

well, i have been doing yoga. i have been commuting on bike. I have been african dancing. I have been hiking. I have taken naps, and slept in during the mornings. I have been being a little more relaxed with eating, and just giving my body a chance to take a deep breath out. a deep sigh.

i have been doing yoga on a fairly consistent basis over the past few weeks. and, i like yoga. i have done yoga on and off for about 4 years. I have had instructors comment on how they "can tell that i use my body a lot." i have had them comment that they like that i listen to my body, and meet it where it is at. i have had them "trick" me into taking hatha yoga, instead of power yoga, to teach me to slow down and challenge myself in a new way. Because frankly, i do sports that make me GO. I like to go fast. I like to go long. and, i sure like the feeling of doing things that get my blood pumping.

but yoga (much like bixi bikes) slows me down. And, i like that. And, normally, I can hit poses. i am not all that flexible, but I am also not terrible.

but today, i woke up, went to church, left, jumped on a bixi to go to yoga, and all of a sudden, my body felt like it was not mine. My heart felt like it was jumping out of my chest, and, my respirations were quick. and, this lasted through yoga. it was fricken hard today. and, i couldn't hit many of the poses. sure, it was a slightly more advanced class. but, my body was screaming.

so, what do you do? you let it scream. you let it not hit the poses, and you let it go simplier. don't push the poses, don't get frustrated. it is like that it life, sometimes, too. sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. and, when it doesn't just listen... listen to what your body, what the world, what god, what nature is trying to tell you.

sometimes it is just to slow down.

Friday, October 15, 2010


So, i stayed home today. The headache stayed overnight, and the body not wanting to move, with a tinge of nausea did not make me want to go out to clinical this morning.

Not to mention... wind gusts of 65km/hr, a temperature of 7 degrees, and rain amounting to 30mm...

call me undisciplined. call me a faker. call me lazy. I don't care. there are trees falling out there, and I didn't feel 100% healthy today. So. i.didn't. go. to. clinical.

instead, I choose to stay home, sleep in, not change out of my PJ's, drink warm drinks, clean my room, apply for a fellowship, watch a show or two on my computer, and catch up on school work, catch up on emails. i might not even go to yoga tonight.

cause tonight, it feels like a really good day to keep doing what I have been doing all day long.
besides, i am still in off season for another 2 weeks. i'm allowed to not work out every day.

and, that is kinda nice.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thrive Thursday: Life long friends

This is a on going series that is posted on thursday's, to answer the question: "What helps you to thrive in your environment?" The series is written by myself, and a variety of guest Contributors. This week, life long friends are the topic of conversation.

So, not feeling great today. Something is brewing in my body (migrane? stomach reacting to new dietary changes? fatigue? maybe all of the above?), and hopefully it will be gone for tomorrow for my friday hospital rotation, and certainly the weekend. But, today's post is not going to be super long. But, the past weekend got me thinking about this topic...

we all have 'em. Those people who are "your people." the ones who get you through and through. It has been mentioned before, how great it is when a work friend, becomes an out-of-work friend. but, what of those friends who are life-long friends? to me, they are the best kind. a few years ago, after a random, hollywood-themed relationship, a work-friend said to me something that spoke to the core of my being. that people are in your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. and, my boyfriend and i see this a little differently... i have friends who i can not speak to, or see, for months. weeks. even years. but, they are still my closest friends. some are even my *best* friends. boy i like has asked before... well, if you go for months or years without being in contact, are they really that close? i say yes.

because life long friends are people that you have shared experiences, trust, laughter, tears, thoughts with. they are the people who you don't have to explain your actions too, or question if what you do will turn them off. they are the people who hold you accountable, and might know what is best for you, even when you want to ignore the best, and do what feels good. they are the people that you can call up, when going through town, hang out, and feel like no time has passed at all... when it doesn't really matter how much you have done, or not done, in the time away, because you pick it up, right where it left off. they are the ones that, despite the fact that you might not see them, or talk to them as often as you want, it doesn't make you love eachother any less. they are the ones that you will eventually tell your kids to go visit, when they live in a town across the continent, and your kids are taking a mid-twenties adventure through the world.

and, I am convinced that life-long-friends enable you to thrive. the ability to call you out, to re-direct you on the right path, to uplift you when down, and encourage you to make a tough decision. they are there when you need them, and leave you alone when you don't. These friends help you grow, develop, and flourish. And, isn't that exactly what thriving is!??!

and, besides... who doesn't like sitting down for a coffee with them, or that first hug after so long. it is just so dang feel-good!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

foliage, fall and fun!

This past weekend was Thanksgiving. Yes, we don't celebrate the pilgrims up here, but rather, the harvest. Now, i LOVE thanksgiving. I love the meal, i love the occasion to gather family, and I love that you just get to think about all the things you are thankful for.
just to name a few.

i have, in the past, had many a thanksgiving memory. Like this one, that occured during my senior year at WVU. Some of the people in that picture are university friends who have turned into life long friends. at least 3 of them. There is a zach. there is a k-shon. there is a KJ.
When i lived in the states, I celebrated twice a year. I used to have the Varsity 8+ to my apartment for canadian thanksgiving. Then, (for many years) I celebrated American Thanksgiving, in Georgia. One year, I went back to edmonton, to get confirmed. But, with all that, I have good memories. This year was no exception. And, I am a little overwhelmed about how to make this post.

there is so much going on in life right now, so just bear with me... i will try to make it easy with points...

1) rowing has been challenging lately. Not much to say, other than that the girls that I am coaching have been through barrier after barrier this fall. And, yet, they press on. and, to me, this is strength of character. body. mind. spirit. They, to me, have exemplified sportsmanship, and risen up to fight battles which are not theirs to be fighting. I remember what it is like to be on a team that is building. it is not always fun, nor is it easy. There are tears, and there are times that decisions are not pretty, and where you want to scream. But, believe me. It gets better. Thank you girls for maintaining strength.
2) I love vermont. Will and I went down to vermont for the weekend, to do some camping, and some hiking and some ice cream eating. it was great times, and it included finding a local country church, for a ham Columbus day thanksgiving dinner. It seems to be a theme with us, and our trips to new england... finding cheap, huge meals at churches. but, we camped in a sketchy, yet beautiful, location right on the land of a abandoned old house, due to the real camp ground being sold out. We rode cows in Burlington, and drank local brewskis. we hiked up Mt Mansfield, to which there was lots of scrambling, unmatched views with collapsed friends, and lots of cold wind. here are a select few of my many faces over the weekend. More photos, will, I am sure, be posted in the future.

3) thoughts on faith. during the weekend, I thought about a lot about God. and, how, I am so not surprised that so many times, God chose to speak to people, while on the top of a mountain. He pretty much wreaked havoc with Moses up there. He taught faith to abraham. Christ did the crazy action of a transfiguration at the top of a mountain. And, I have set step upon some very high places. But, as far as i can tell, there is nothing in life that compares to the glory of what god can show you at the top of a mountain.

In Romans, somewhere, it says something to the effect of nature revealing God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature... I think, romans 1. And, i felt that this weekend. I felt it in the wind at the top of the mountain. I felt it when I stared up into the starry night, and felt that it (other than people, of course) is God's greatest creation. God's invisible qualities.

That moment when creation and nature and peace and silence and vastness and glory all come together and whisper secrets into your ear.

and, maybe that is why i like to escape into nature. why i like to hike up mountains, and down winding trails. why my heart longs to be away from the tall buildings of a city. why steep slopes, and tall walls and green trees call to me. why i would choose to sleep in a tent, and cook over a small stove and curl up into a sleeping bag. why i like to go to places where i can take a deep breath,


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thrive thursday: the power of words

This is a on going series that is posted on thursday's, to answer the question: "What helps you to thrive in your environment?" The series is written by myself, and a variety of guest Contributors. This week, I want to comment on the strength of words.

So, it is a little late at night, and I have waited to see if I was going to get the submission that I thought was coming~ it will just have to be another week.

Not going to lie. This week has not been great. the beginning of the week was stressful (with two presentations, and one stats assignment) because i blew off the weekend to take photos and sleep in late, and pick apples. And, on the rowing team, we are going through some growing pains. I have felt defeated, and I have felt like I have been letting people down. That there are things that I want to do, but don't know how to do them. that there are things that i am doing, which I should not have to be doing them.

and, yesterday, I was reminded of the power of words to change situations, and outlooks. I was feeling a little a lot grumpy and frustrated and slightly angry. a person sat down with me, and spoke light into the situation... by (as she said) being the adult. by reminding me that what i was doing was working, and that I must remember that I can not change everything. That the people that i feel like I am letting down, don't feel that way at all.

With words, everyone has the power to speak life or death into someone's life. for example, if you tell a kid "you're an idiot" everyday, he will grow up thinking he's an idiot. If you tell that same kid "i love you" instead, he will grow up knowing and believing he is loved.
Words can help push others forward, or they can pull others down. And, all I know, is that when someone uses words to encourage, or to speak light into someone else's life, that person feels like they can thrive. Words can let people push higher than they feel like they are able to succeed.

so, listen to others words that allow you to thrive. Speak those words into other peoples lives. and remember the power of your words.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

There is nurslings in them there trees...

You can tell by the wind
By fresh cut wood
All stacked to dry
That autumn's here...

I love the autumn. I love the crispyness of it. The cold air at night, and the warm air during the day. I love that in the East, the colours of the trees are unmatchable. I love winter vegetables like squash and beets. I love that death means that new life will come. I love thanksgiving (HURRAY for the upcoming long weekend!!!) and the memories that go with it. The only thing that I don't love is that it normally doesn't last that long.

This past weekend, along with doing my photo session with Will, we also went apple picking. Apple picking, or, en Francais: "Cueillir Les Pommes," in Quebec is somewhat of a cult following. Almost as good as la cabane a sucre. I found us a Vergers biologiques. A organic Apple orchard. Despite the fact that it was at least an hour away, and .70$ more than the regular apples, I still insisted. I mean, comon... if you are going to spend the afternoon in the field, chomping on apples from a tree, then they better not be covered in pesticides. Once again, Will was there. And, once again, he brought his camera. He can been seen below. And, yes. He is wearing Liederhosen, in celebration of octoberfest. I present to you, again, some of his amazing photography.

We hid in the apple boxes. Me, Leanna, and Jennifer.
we also lay in the grass, and climbed the apple trees. There were 4 varieties: golden delicious, macintosh, royal gala, and spartan.

One of the glorious things about the eastern townships of Quebec is that it is scattered with glorious, french looking structures. The way that the sun came out in the late evening highlighted buildings and fields and water light nothing you can imagine.

But mostly, the afternoon was about getting out of the city, loving nature, and being in company of loved ones. I love that I have people here in Montreal. That I have people who love to go and pick 10lbs of apples. That I have people who i can lay down with in the grass and laugh with and eat brie and blue cheese and crackers and hummus and pita. so, here is to my friends.

wonderful will.

Lovely Leanna
Girls in a tree. Joyous Jennifer.

and, at the end of the day.
Jump for Joy... I love the fall!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

fantastic photography

So, i have this friend. His name is Will Swanson, and he takes phenomenal photographs. Will is pretty much within the top 3 people I have here in Montreal, and is such a phenomenal friend. He has a heart of gold, a quarky personality, a history in movie making and social work. He is going to be a nurse.

Last year, he told me that he would photograph me. This is a little intimidating to think about having a "professional" photo session.. mostly because I look at the photos he takes, and think "dang. there is no way I can look that good." and "i have NO idea how to pose." and... most of all"Wow. I had no idea how self-concious and critical I can be of myself."

in addition, i was totally convinced that he is unable to take a good photo of me. and, i am in a post-season, out of shape state. However, on friday, he proved me wrong. We shot into the night, and I was stunned at watchinghim work, how much fun it was... and, mostly, what were some of the results. To do things like this is such a huge boost in confidence. And, we are not even done yet. Here are a few.

His photography is called Ilyaxous, and you can see more here: ilyaxous Photography.

ps. below here, it becomes scandalous ;) If you care to venture further, be warned.