Sunday, July 23, 2017

Day one - amazing!!!!

So so so happy that I have chosen to attend this retreat.  Already I am feeling motivated, that I have learned a ton, and a lot of stuff to transfer back to school and life.

The drive was really easy and just 3 hours.  My cabin is situated way in the woods but there are just 2 of us sharing a 4 person suite so lots of space.  It is well ventilated and has a fan, hooks, very comfy beds, and tons of windows with full blinds.  My walk back to the main house and washrooms is about 2 minutes so no big deal and actually it is through a meadow and very peaceful.

The group is 15 people in total and from all over Ontario, Canada, and even the Caribbean. Out of respect for the guests I do not want to reveal to much about them as this is a very personal journey for everyone.  But I can say our journeys are very similar.  Tired, frustrated, overwhelmed with aspects of our lives but everyone is so friendly, kind, funny, and very willing to learn a ton.  There are both men and women here from all walks of life with some tough lives and jobs.

13 people are staying here on site in a cabin while 2 guests have rented a nearby motel or cottage.  We get all our meals included and Liz's husband does all the cooking.  This is a pet friendly place so there are dogs and cats all over and some guests even brought their dogs.

The day officially started at 3:00 pm with introductions and expectations in the yoga studio which is equipped with everything anyone could ever need to meditate or do yoga.  We were given a binder to fill with all kinds of handouts and homework, we got a pen and journal (I brought one but didn't need to), and then were given our first "practice".  Mindfulness is very clearly taught as simply "paying attention".  For example, we were given 2 raisins and asked to feel, smell, hear, taste, chew, swallow one then the other.  It was amazing how the attention you give to an object as simple as a raisin taught us to "pay attention" to it and be able to focus on something for a long period of time.

Dinner was amazing and full vegan.  Risotto, veggie bake, salad, sausages, were all served family style and you could take as much as you need.  Dessert was a form of cinnamon roll or fruit.  There is always tea, trail mix and granola bars if you need something else.

After dinner we did another "practice" and this one was on finding your breath and being able to "pay attention" to where you breath.  Liz (our leader) then taught us how to sit to meditate and the importance of being comfortable.  She explained that it is important to have your knees at or below your hips.  I wasn't too uncomfortable so just had my legs straight out.  We practiced sitting for 10 minutes and it flew by (if you are paying attention to your breathing!) and we even tried lying down but most agreed that sitting was better as lying down lead to napping.

I feel fantastic and so ready to get up tomorrow for 7:00 am yoga to get more flexible and stronger. I thought it might be a bit silly to sit and meditate, do yoga, and talk about mindfulness with a bunch of strangers but everyone is here for the right reasons and really working hard on themselves.

I need to go as we were given some homework to complete before tomorrow.  Did I mention we are going kayaking on Thursday?  So excited to continue to explore the grounds as they are so peaceful and beautiful.  I will for sure be snapping so great photos with the fancy camera.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Ready to Grow

Tonight I have all my stuff ready to go and I am excited to head north to Sugar Ridge Resort for their MBSR
(Mindfulness - Based Stress Reduction week retreat.

As I mentioned earlier, my motivation to attend this week is due to the fact that I feel I need to learn more skills associated with my mental (positive optimistic thinking) fitness before I reexamine my physical fitness.

The resort provides everything you need except towels and personal items so it looks like I have packed a lot but I just want to have many clothes to change into since there will be tons of yoga and outdoor activities.  Plus, who knows how the weather will be or how hot it will be at night so I am bring a lot of change of clothes.

Lennie said to bring our fancy camera so that I can capture some photos of the beautiful grounds that the resort is situated on.

The resort is just over 3 hours away so I am hitting the road in the AM to give myself lots of time to get there.

I had to complete a full "get to know you" form to send ahead of the trip so that they can meet my needs and provide anything special needed.  I don't have any dietary needs but I did say that I am looking forward to more yoga practice and especially the afternoon mindfulness workshops.  I wonder what I will be able to transfer to work and school.  Maybe use with some of our students?

The schedule for the week is:

Sunday July 23
1 – 3 arrive and settle into your cabin
3 – 5 pm  Introduction and course orientation
5:30 dinner
7 – 9 pm workshop
Monday – Wednesday July 24 – 26
7:00 – 8:15 optional Yoga class
8:30 breakfast
9:30 – 11:30 am workshop
12:30 – Lunch
2:00 – 4:30 workshop
5:30 dinner
Thursday July 27
8:30 Breakfast
10:00 – 4:00 workshop (lunch today is part of the workshop schedule)
5:30 dinner
Friday July 28
7:00 – 8:15 optional Yoga class
8:30 breakfast
10:00 – 11:30 am workshop
11:30 – 12:30  closing discussion
12:30 Lunch
I love yoga and was really into it in 2005-2007 when a couple of my teaching partners encouraged me to join Moksha yoga here in London.  I was going several times a week for 90 minutes of hot yoga and my practice really improved.  I joined The Yoga Shack a couple of years ago and again loved going and practicing.  But, my practice stopped when I started running and then completing the doctorate.  I now have the time and energy to start again.

Wish me luck.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The "Doctorate" Party

I could go on and on about my graduation weekend last October in which I received my doctor of education degree from Western University.  I was so proud to have my brother and his family come from Seattle and my Uncle Graham and Aunt Ainsley drive from Ottawa to partake in all the fun.  Friday morning was spent at the Faculty of Education celebrating with other graduates, Friday afternoon was the actual fancy graduation ceremony BUT Friday night was the hilarity.

I had said for years that when I graduate with my doctorate that I would throw a costume party.  Yes, a costume party.  It just so happened the graduation weekend and Halloween all fell on the same days so it was only fitting that I advise everyone who wants to come celebrate that they must dress up...and dress up as a doctor.  I thought it would be funny to see what people will come up with and I DIDN'T have to wear a costume because I was now a doctor. (I know I'm not a real doctor but still...)  

Well, our friends and family didn't disappoint.  Firstly, my old friend Michelle made me a cake that was totally awesome (my dissertation had a lobster theme so she made it match the theme).  Then we all traveled to the Alibi restaurant in London where our family holds every party we have and Lennie still works there after 29 years in London.  As we arrived the costumes that people designed, made, and wore were incredible.

Ann Marie and Scott Luce spent months researching Masters and Johnson and they hit their costumes out of the park!

My uncle Graham and Aunt Ainsley made their costumes of Dr. Luigi and Dr. Lobster!! So cleaver.

Our teacher friend Jeff came as Dr. Patch Adams including the red nose!

Oh course Lennie spent hours getting his outfit of Dr. Evil including a bald wig.

My bro Johnny and his wife Vicky came has Doc from the Love Boat and Dr. J.  Too funny as she is about 4 foot 6 inches tall.

Our teacher friends Jeremy and his wife Kimberly came as ghostbusters and the Hulk - so much make up!

More teacher friends and because they were French teachers they had to come as the very popular Dr. and Mrs. Vandertramp which is a great way to help students remember French verbs - very clever.

Scotty P and Megan rocked it with Megan as Dr. Amy from Big Bang Theory and Scotty won the night with his Dr. Phil costume.

My classy aunt and cousin Sharon came as Dr. Zhivago and Dr. Seuss so happy they came and brought the classy!

My brother Jeff spent months working on this costume so he could come as Dr. Pepper - hilarious, heavy, and made it hard to lift a beer to his mouth (he found a way).

My other cool cousin Ryan and his partner came as Indiana Jones and the joker's girlfriend from Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn, so inventive.

Our friends Rich and Krystal came as Dr. House and Meredith Gray so fun!

Our hockey friends Puck and his wife Rebecca came as scientists with Rebecca taking second place with her Einstein costume - her hair won the night.

Our teacher friends Chris and his wife Jenna came from Big Ban Theory; Leonard and Bernadette - hilarious as Chris didn't cut his hair for months so it would look right!

My dad rocked some real doctors scrubs from his neighbour while my fun Aunt Sandy came as Dr. Doom while her daughter Kelly came as a witch doctor.

My favorite moment of the weekend came when Lennie surprised me with a visit from our cousins from Chicago; Kevin as Bugs Bunny and his amazing daughter Emily as Dr. Ross from Friends.

My adorable Vice Principal and his wife came as Doc Brown from Back to the Future and Dr. McStuffin's who I had no idea was as it is from some sort of kids TV program.  

Our school secretary Sherry and her husband John came as Dr. Seuss and Dr. Mario from Mario Brothers! So good!

Huge thank you to everyone who participated in this weekend making it amazing and all those who traveled from so far to join us.  Obviously I owe a big shout out to everyone who has helped me since 2013 to complete this bucket list item.

What would you dress as if you had to dress as doctor?

I'mmmmm Backkkkkk

I know I know it has been almost 17 months since my last post.  I have not forgotten about you I promise.  I think I was burned out, tired, and so busy writing for my doctorate that I couldn't put another word to paper...until now.  The doctorate is done (here it is, I graduated and held a fun weekend party, the school year finished and I have enjoyed 2 solid weeks of summer that I have not had in many many years.  No courses, no speaking engagements, no work, truly, I have nothing to do except relax and hang out with Lenster!

I brainstormed for months what I should do this summer and I booked a trip to Spain to speak at a big research conference, I wanted to return to Fitness Ridge for 4 weeks, I wanted to go to Iceland but you know what...I am not doing any of it.  My body is telling me that I need to rest and I am actually listening.

In an effort to learn to listen to my body I am going to be attending a week long retreat at Sugar Ridge on mindfulness, yoga, and meditation.  I found the retreat through a search of the internet in which I wanted something here in Ontario so I could just drive and not have to worry about a flight, shuttle, and not having a car.  But, more importantly, I have realized that before I can work on my physical fitness again, I really need to get to a better head space and this week, I believe, will provide that. Check it out here.

I started this blog in 2009 so my family could be connected while I attended my first 2 weeks at Fitness Ridge in Utah.  I loved updating them everyday with my fun and crazy adventures.  I do see the irony in that fact that I am now attending a retreat at a place called Sugar Ridge, I wonder if it is meant to be? I will be blogging my days at Sugar Ridge so that I can remember all the lessons learned and be able to bring the learning back to London.

It's good to be back.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Recover "ed"

Today I went back to work today after missing 12.5 days.

If you know me, you know that this is unbelieveable. One day off maybe, but 12.5. What the what!

I haven't missed that many days of work in a row since 2011 when I had my cancer surgery and before that it was 2007 when I got diagnosed with Crohn's disease so, you know it must have been a bit of a big deal.

Without providing TMI, I had a big surgery but that is not what this blog is about.

I wanted to come back to work after Christmas. That would have been 4.5 days off after a major surgery. I was feeling guilty and always feel guilty whenever I am not at work. I get paid to be there right? I need to be present for our school, students, staff, and community right? Well, if you remember my unfortunate hospitalization in August for the stupid disseminated Zoster virus mess (see blog Never Fully Charged) I like to be a work. I like my job and especially the people I get to be with everyday.

But, something changed when I reread my Never Fully Charged post. I realized I was actually letting my school community down but not being even close to 100%. Why would I return again to work and not be at my best. Why return "recovering" when I need to return "recovered"? It took me to November to recover from the summer situation and this was going to be no easy recovery either.

Then I saw this picture "you can't pour from an empty cup".

I would hope that those that know me, have worked with me, or care in anyway for me realize that I needed to "recover". Not just be ok, and ready to go but actually "recovered" from this major surgery. I hope people know that rarely do I put myself first. (Check out Simon Sinek's book Leaders Eat Last and his YouTube talk Why Leaders Eat Last

I have slept, cooked good meals, gone for walks, knitted, read, worked on my doctorate final dissertation, and just rested - something I can't really remember doing for a long time. I feel amazing. I am ready to go and be a good leader again. I am feeling 95% (tough to be 100% with Crohn's disease always looming in the background) but am proud that I made the decision to listen to the doctors and surgeons to take this time needed to fully recover.

To those who are feeling guilty about being at home because you are not well, stop it. Take the time you need to be your best because your friends, family, and co-workers deserve you to be firing on all cylinders.

Today was wonderful. I felt great, got to see all my school community, got lots done and was able to get back at it!

A lot of people are posting their "word" for 2016. word is RECOVERED and proud of it.



Sunday, September 20, 2015

"Never Fully Charged"

It's been over 8 months since my last blog post. I know that's sounds awful but I haven't been well and for the first time in a long time I have learned to pick and chose where I put my energy and a blog post (for me) takes a lot of work.

Today I had an epiphany while chatting with my colleague Ann Marie. I was sharing with her my disappointment in the way I have been feeling and work output and she texted "Never fully charged! Hard to start a year on a low low battery." She's so right. I don't realize that I will never be 100% all the time ever again and I need to come to terms with that.
This summer was awesome. Lennie and I took holidays and did some wonderful adventures to Vermont, Boston, Bermuda, and Calumet. We had his brother and family visit, friends in from Germany, and did many projects around the house.

We even adopted 2 kittens that we have be waiting to do for a long time.

For the first time in a long time I felt good and even did some runs at the track and then...I started to feel I had the flu. I know what that means, I know when I am not well.

A flu that wouldn't go away. A flu that caused terrible headaches. A flu that caused a rash. Then I found a bubble on my side that we thought it was poison ivy or prickly heat rash. But, the headaches, chills, and sweats continued and I thought maybe I had the chicken pox and I couldn't take it any more so I took myself to the ER.

They quickly took me in, did blood work, got me on an IV and put me in isolation. Many teams came thru and looked at me and said lots of "oohs" and "ahas" and then referred me to infectious diseases. They attended and quickly said that I had something called Disseminated Zoster virus. It's Shingles but in 7 different parts of my body. I needed to be hospitalized, put on antiviral, kept away from others who may or may not of had chicken pox and that I was really sick.

I knew it. I knew I was in bad shape. The pain was unbearable and they quickly got me numerous pain and sleep meds. I don't remember much after that till about 4 days later where I woke up on the 6th floor at Vic. Hospital in an isolation room. The body pain was better, I still had a wicked headache and sores all over my body including my face and eye. Teams came thru and talked to me, an eye specialist came and did tests, IVs continued and I slept.

In 2007 when I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease we made the decision that I would take immune suppressors to fight that disease BUT it would make me more susceptible to viruses. Well, here it is, a tough virus to deal with. Also, complicating this fight was the stupid thyroid cancer that always squeezes its way into every problem and certainly doesn't help the cause with its medication and ridiculous aftermath.

Lennie and my parents visited but it was difficult because you had to dress in protective stuff.

Of course I started to panic because the list of things I wanted to get done at school before the kids arrived started to add up. New staff room, bulletin boards, calls to families, and meetings needed to be accomplished. Plus we had a new VP joining our team and I wanted to do a good job creating a trusting, respectful relationship as an admin partnership.

After several more days I started to get very upset because I didn't feel I was getting any better, my care was getting mismanaged due to an unbelievably busy floor at Vic, and I was lonely in this room 24 hours a day. I begged to go home and after some difficult conversations with many Dr teams they let my mom bring me home promising to stay away from others and wear a protective mask for a while.

They gave me another 7 days of oral antiviral meds and I came home to be looked after by the kitties.

So now here I am 2 weeks into the school year and "never fully charged" from this summer has been tough! Unfortunately, part of the hospital plan was to remove me from my methotrexate that I take for my Crohn's disease because it is an immune suppressor which would have counteracted the antiviral so of course, 3 weeks off that has caused all my auto immune stuff to flare up.

It feels like my body doesn't know what to fight - you know when you have too many apps open on your devices and it makes you feel like it is not functioning as well as it should? Well, my body is trying to decide where to put its energy. Crohn's, arthritis, shingles, school, psoriasis, thyroid, doctorate, vertigo?

What I have realized today is that I will never be fully charged because of the numerous functions my body is trying to manage. I have already made huge sacrifices to conserve my body's battery energy to work full time and do my doctorate but, I am going to have to make even more.

I am happy that I was able to do a blog, that must be a good sign. I am also 8 months from finishing the doctorate which takes a lot of energy. I am also back on the methotrexate which should kick in soon and handle all the autoimmune symptoms well.

So I just need to relax, take a day at a time, ask for help from others, be patience and recognize my "new normal" of  being "never fully charged" will be ok.

What do you do to re charge your batteries?  Is that important to you? Anyone else feeling the "too many apps open" squeeze?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hello Knitty

Little known fact...I have been knitting since I was 19 years old.

My mom and grandma taught me in Cardiff, Ontario in the spring of 1988. I had left high school to finish it by correspondence classes because I really wasn't transitioning well from my move home from living in France.

Looking back on it I was too big for my britches and needed some grounding from my grandparents. Since there was no Internet back then I would snail mail my assignments to and from my teachers and while waiting, I learned to knit.

I loved it then and still to this day feel it is one of the few things I do which truly centres me.
Last Christmas when we started our sabbatical I knit a sweater and this Christmas I went nuts and completed 4 projects and 1/2 of another.

Using the leftover purple yarn from last year's sweater, I knit a slouch hat.
Then I made Megan and me cool shawl like items. I joined the website and have been able to track all my projects.

They turned out pretty good. I took the brown one and Megan requested a purple one.

I posted the photos on social media and my cousin Sarah requested a circle scarf so I made that too. It was easy but I didn't do a good job of the seam so learned how to do an invisible one for the next scarf.

Now I am working on this cardigan in the colour charcoal. I love it so far and it looks great. Plus, it is an easy pattern.

All this knitting has got me inspired to start a knitting club.

Here's the voting list for the knitting club names I'm starting. Which one do you like?
1. Loopers
2. Hello Knitty
3. Purl Jam
4. Wholly Knit
5. Sheep Trick
6. Knitty by Nature
7. Rows before Bros
8. The Knit Wits

Club "draft" statutes...
- Thou shall attend with own stuff.
- Thou shall not talk about work.
- Thou shall clean up own mess.
- Thou shall drink coffee/tea/wine & lots of it.
- Thou shall not poke anyone with needles.
- Thou shall measure twice and cut once.

Anyone want in?