Choose the smart

“Do you know this guy?” she texts. A link accompanies the text.
The name is familiar, but I can’t place it.
The link leads me to a provincial College of Physicians website, citing disciplinary action for this person, who has had his medical and driver’s license suspended for a DUI. In Canada, this is a federal offense.

“No, I don’t think so”, even though I look at his credentials and see he trained the same time I did, and is from the same city I grew up in. I google image (<–ha! I just turned that into a verb!) him, and the person I find is not a face I recognize..a bit disheveled, dad-bod even though that photo was probably taken in his twenties. Ahh, internet.

“Yes you do. We went to high school together.”
A few more prompts about people he’s dated, and a “he used to be cute”..
*Oh wait* Yes, I do remember him! “But I don’t remember him looking like that.”

How do you fall so far?
High school hottie turned doctor, and then an unceremonious tumble and splat from grace.

A DUI for a doctor is… shame. You know better. You’ve seen the consequences. You’re supposed to be saving lives, not endangering them.
An arrest like this belies all the bad decisions you would have had to make before you got into your car that night, all the lack of foresight. It’s like an affair. It’s not a single whoopsie. There are a series of decisions that are made before you end up destroying things. Steps taken. All with the option of turning back.
And yet…
Now it’s “conduct unbecoming”, to put it politely. This will follow him for the rest of his career.

Why? How is it that we are so bad at making decisions? Why do we always seem to choose the stupid? Is that why it’s so celebrated and awe-inspiring when people choose the smart?

Choose the smart.
Just imagine what this world would be like if would we could all just figure out how to do this.

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On religion

Ascent Trail – Blackcomb Mountain

A touchy topic, I know.

My kids just finished a week at vacation bible school. It’s basically a week-long camp, with a theme, and Christian underlay, and songs, and a whole lot of other kids who may or may not come from families who practice any particular faith but figure it’s really cheap childcare.

My kids love it. I’m glad that they are learning about God from people who are stronger in their faith than I am, and where I fail as a parent and an example in so many respects.

We are a church-going family. I grew up going to church, and my faith is very much a certainty, but not necessarily something that I am good at bringing into regular practice. I struggle to stay awake at church, and I often struggle to find God there.

We’d normally go to church on Sunday morning. The kids love it. They have friends, and a community of wonderful people who, when they say it takes a village to raise children, well…the church is part of our village.

Today though, we hired a sitter from 9-5, and my husband I had a date day.

We ran into some church friends last night, and they said,
“So we’ll see you tomorrow?”
“Oh, we’re going on a hike tomorrow.”
“Hm.. Church? Hike?” She made the motions of her hands as a scale.
“I find God on my hikes.” I reply.

And it’s true. I find God bigger on the mountain than I find him at church.
If I happen to be skiing or biking or hiking, yes, there’s a selfish fun factor there, but every time I’m in those woods, or looking at the sky, or touching the moss on the bark of a 600 year old tree, I feel God’s real-ness to me. Yes, I can get that at church too, and there is a wholly other amazing thing about having a community of people who share a common purpose, but being outside, being awed by the wonder of basic biology? I am more grateful, more full, and more reminded of deity by that than I am by an hour and half in a church service. Many a church service has brought me back to centre too, or raised the intellectual bar, but sometimes, we just need to be outside. Awash in it.

It also meant I got a solid day with my husband, without errands or children, or interruption. We didn’t talk much on the climb (too busy breathing), and after, we just hung out and enjoyed the view and the silence. We had a pretty quiet day actually. It was spectacular.

I can’t remember the point of why I started writing now. But we all need to lose the religion because that’s not what it’s about. That’s the petty sh*t that starts wars and breaks families apart. The God I believe in is so much bigger than that, and he reminded me of it today.

I want to ride my bicycle

Not news. I know.

I’m in the city today, or, as some have named it, “the sh*tty”. There are ashen skies with damp, darkened streets, and I am in my weird sterile white office feeling trapped, looking at puddles on rooftops and thinking about being in the woods. I don’t know why everything in our office is black and white.

Our old office was green. It was an old, musty green, reminiscent of an interior designer who had little creativity and who may or may not have also been a bit old and musty. But I feel like green is a colour that nurtures peaceful thoughts and calm. Why else would everything soul-refreshing outside be green? There was fuzzy faded carpet, and a narrow hallway with green cabinetry; everything a clinic should not have. But it never made me feel like I should be an albino red-eyed lab rat to fit in.

Now I’m sitting at my oversized, glossy white desk, and trying to figure out if I feel low because of the weather, because of office politics, or because of the lack of greenery. Or maybe it’s because I left my hubs and kids and dog, all warm and soundly sleeping, at 5 am this morning, to brave a watery highway.
I am also trying to figure out what I should ride tonight. My usual riding companions are away and I’m left to my own devices. Again. Why yes, I would like a little cheese to go with my whine.

I have a couple more hours of patients, then an hour or two of paperwork, and then I will go and ride my bike, rain or no rain, because that will be the best therapy I could have, and maybe it will make me feel awake.

p o s s i b l e

Have you ever heard of Bethany Hamilton? She’s this surfer who, as a teenager, had her left arm bitten off by a shark. She returned to surfing, and went on to marry, have two children, build a health/fitness/coaching business and recently made a movie about her experience. One of her signature quotes is, “I don’t need easy, I just need possible.”

Yesterday, I did this thing. The Red Bull 400. You run up a ski jump as fast as you can. It’s only 400 m, but it is misery, and quite possibly the longest 7 minutes of my life. The fastest guys and gals do it in 3-4 minutes. If you place in the top 50, you do it again. Some don’t run the second heat.
I did. I was 11 seconds slower than the first time. But I wasn’t last! There were 3 more behind me.
I can now say I placed in the top 50 women in the world finals for the Red Bull 400 championships. Not that it means anything in the real world, but hey, if you ever need to find the top 50 women who can run up a hill really fast, I am on that list.

I remember looking up at that steep incline, and having a moment of wonder if I’d be able to make it. I’ve never had my legs burn so much, or my heart rate get so high in so short a time. You wanna know what lactic acid feels like? Try this. The crazy thing? I had to pay to do this. Yup. I paid good money to run up a ski jump twice, and set my legs on fire.

There was a girl with a severe spinal deformity who did the whole damn thing on 2 crutches. And a guy who, to my eye, probably had cerebral palsy of sorts and did the whole thing on crutches too. No excuses. There are no excuses. I love these events, and the passionate, crazy, all-out-give-it-all-ya-got personalities that show up to them.

And then? I was an idiot and decided to go to the gym this morning because the legs didn’t feel that bad and maybe I wouldn’t get to go for a bike ride today so I’d best get a workout in. I’ll just do that circuit with the 60 box jumps. No big deal.

Well, then, I did get a bike ride in, and on one of the longest climbs and longest descents to boot (well, in terms of rides that can be done in a few short hours).. Legs on fire, and hopefully, getting stronger. Refiner’s fire, right?

I also made a zebra, elephant, cow, crocodile, leopard, and tiger with origami (albeit poorly, and following instructions) this afternoon with my kids. I’d show my daughter how to do the fold, and she’d say, “Okay, I’ll try”, and I LOVED hearing this.
Anyway, she thinks I’m a goddess with my origami prowess.
I wore one of those hip packs from the early 90s around all day because I had pants with no pockets and keys and a phone to store. I felt like I was trying to be a trendy hipster, but I am imagining that I rocked it, and was not just an almost-forty woman wearing a hip pack.

WINNING. I am winning today. And it feels bloody good.

Classic rock

My malleable teenage mind was most influenced by hair bands like Bon Jovi, grunge bands like Nirvana, and wailing bald men in bands like REM and Live. But when people call certain songs rock anthems, I can’t help but think how appropriate that term is.

Anthem (noun): a rousing or uplifting song identified with a particular group, body, or cause.

They’re the songs you yell out at the top of your lungs in a bar full of people you don’t know while air-guitaring, and suddenly you are all connected in some weird deep way, that will disappear as soon as that 4 minutes are over. Then you leave the bar all hoarse and sweaty and happy.

Today, I decided my children need to be exposed to these things. It needs to be part of their pop culture education, because in all these songs are references to items in every era.

Aside from the usual heartache, declaration of independence, or jab at the ecclesiastical meaninglessness of life, there are songs like Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire, where Stalin, the Challenger Shuttle, and everything in between is referenced. (I know, because my grade 7 social studies teacher used this song as a curriculum of sorts; BRILLIANT.)

They’re too young right now to hear about war and genocide, but they aren’t too young to learn that songs are poems, and that you can use your voice like an instrument without using words, or that feelings can sometimes be best summed up in a guitar riff or bass line. My daughter loves Lady Gaga’s Shallow, and when we go to the lake, we talk about what shallow means, and how that is being used in the song.

Anyway, the joys of the internet meant Youtube music videos. We started with Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer because I was watching Instagram footage from the BC Bike Race (a 7 day stage race that I dream of riding one day…just need to find $$$ and a couple weeks off work and a few months to train…) and there were some guys jamming post day 4 of the race today and singing that song.
Re: Bon Jovi:
Are those boys or girls?
Is that his real hair? Or is it a wig?
When they yell, they sound like they could be girls.
You know what people with curly hair like that do? They do this! <makes headbanging motions>
I bet he’s really good at playing the ukelele.
That guitar is just like, a bigger ukelele right mom?

I think this will be my new rainy day past time. Watching retro music videos with my kids. The BEST.

Bikinis

Because I am, for all intents and purposes, high-functioning insane, I follow a lot of instagrammers who are professional fitness people – bodybuilders, athletes, trainers, and the like, in hopes that I will pick up exercises to try that might make me stronger. I want to be stronger so I can do more stuff better. Like ride my bike. Chase my kids. Climb mountains. Ski. Paddle. You know.
Also, how cool would it be to be an almost-forty-year-old woman levering off a flagpole at the playground? Or doing a muscle-up on the monkey bars while my kids played? My kids think it’s the coolest thing that I can do a headstand and a cartwheel. I’d love to get my handstand game so strong that I could walk around on my hands. I imagine it will come in handy someday. Bahaha, you see what I did there??

Anyway, all these super fit people posted recently about it being bikini day or somesuch. One of them had a fun blue bikini, and it inspired me to go on the hunt for one.

Well.

The thing about bathing suits is that you have to try them on.
Conceptually, bikinis are simple. They’re like underwear. But then they’re not.

Things have to be tight enough to stay on in event of crashing waves, and there are actually 1.4 billion different styles to choose from. When you try these things on, you have to be able to stand back a bit too. Change rooms don’t allow for that.

So I put this glorified stretchy underwear on, and I’m suddenly startled by the sight of myself because my legs are fully rhino-sized. Cosmo magazine of the 90s would have called them THUNDER THIGHS!
I had no idea they looked like that.

I don’t usually stand in front of the mirror and look at my legs up close, much less in skimpy underwear, but then I wonder, is that what they look like when I wear shorts? Have they always looked like that? How does the ground not shake when I walk around?

I’m not dismayed or anything. It’s been a long journey of learning to love my body habitus after a balletic adolescence of glorifying thin. I didn’t wear leggings till I was 25 because I fully hated my legs until then.

But now, they’re rhino sized and I’m (*eek*, dare I say it?) a little proud of them!

Because I can squat more than my body weight, and I can pedal so much faster uphill, and last so much longer downhill, and when one of the fitness instagrammers posted about working up to doing pistol squats, I didn’t know what she was going on about because I’ve been doing pistol squats for months now!

So now I’m walking around like the StayPuft Marshmallow man, or so it feels, and I am totally down with it.

This has got to be some sort of psychological breakthrough or something.

Canadiana

July 1 is Canada day. We’re a pretty young country, a mere 152 years of age, and full of youthful optimism. Sure, there’s dark massacre-esque history, like any country, but we’re forgetful and open and unscarred for the most part, and trying to make amends with our buffoon-ish but handsome prime minister.

Anyway, in keeping with the stereotype of flannel-wearing outdoorsy lumberjacks, I took my kids out paddle-boarding on Sunday, the day before Canada day. Me, a friend, my 2 kiddos, two inflatable paddleboards, and a backpack full of snacks = exciting times ahead.

There’s a river called the River of Golden Dreams, and most summers, it is full of visiting twenty-something Australians on inflatable rafts, floating down in idyllic bliss whilst checking the view and getting totally munted.

We went early, hoping to bypass this demographic, and were rewarded by a peaceful float, with the occasional shallow section causing unanticipated beachings of our boards…

Not to worry kids! This is an adventure! <As I balance my way down a log to free my friend’s fin from the underwater obstacle it’s stuck on, yelling at my son to stay still so he doesn’t fall in or float away because he’s precariously beached on a little sandbar while I’ve gotten off to help.>
“Mama, my butt is wet. I don’t like this adventure.”
“Mama, stop talking and FOCUS.”

Sigh.

That’s okay. We saw families of geese and ducks and flitting goldfinches and beaverdams and fish and frogs, and dipped our toes in the freezing glacial melt. Afterward, we practiced cartwheels and headstands in the sun and it was perfection out of a storybook.

But then, the dread of the impending work week loomed.

On Canada Day, I did a spin class in hopes of quelling the work anxiety. It didn’t really work. That evening, I went and rode this epic trail I haven’t ridden since last year, and suddenly, the fog cleared, the mood lifted, and all was right in the world again. It’s a long descent, and stunningly beautiful with a few challenging rock features, fast berms, and loamy goodness. It took just over an hour to ride up the mountain, where we stopped to take pictures of our sweaty selves and a bear, spontaneously named Steve. It probably only took 15 minutes to descend (with photos and hooting/hollering and trying to ignore the burning legs and arm pump), but that 15 minutes is a strange and peaceful meditation. Then it all ends in high-fives and laughter and beer and bike talk. A perfect ending.

Steve’s butt, in the distance