Day 364 of 365: One…

A year ago tonight, I sat in a restaurant with my husband and shared with him my goals for 2013.

“2013 was the year I…”

  • Settled back in Canada
  • Challenged myself to be active for 365 days
  • Got in touch with my feelings and truly identified what I want in life.

A year ago, we were on a work assignment in Poznan, Poland.  This assignment had us spending the majority of our time there.  As much as our time in Poland was simply amazing (my views on life and culture have been greatly broadened), it was isolating too.  Not being able to fluently speak the language has major draw backs.  It’s limiting when attending parties or even considering joining a social group.  People were so kind and helpful but once the encounter of working through the language barrier was over, I both sides were happy to go along our merry ways.

Being isolated and feeling bored was no way to live.  And I was also feeling like I was on a treadmill, going nowhere.  I needed to get focused on something, anything (other than work) to help avoid wilting away.  The building our apartment was in had a good gym and pool.  We lived in a neighbourhood near three large parks.  Being active seemed like a great option.  I could challenge myself to try different activities and it gave me something to focus on each day.  At the same time, I also wanted to be back home.  We had not lived in Canada since 2005 and when we finished up in the USA, we went right to Poland.  An exciting adventure far away from where I wanted to be.  Exciting and boring all at the same time.  2013 had to be the year that I took my life back.

Setting these goals didn’t happen overnight.  In 2008, I came up with the idea of 365 days of straight activity while reading Julie & Julia.  The idea came and went because the timing wasn’t right mostly due to a lack of real motivation.  Getting settled back in Canada was something my husband and I had been focused on since 2010.  We knew our assignment in Poland would not last through 2013 so this was the time to seize the opportunity.  Personally, I’ve been struggling with being in touch with my feelings for some years now.  (Coming out of the other side of 2013, I believe this is natural for most humans.)  Overall, it took me about a month (December 2012) or so to get pen to paper and narrow in on three huge goals.

It paid off.

Getting settled back in Canada.  My husband and I finished up our overseas work assignment at the very end of August.  We were back in Canada for Labour Day weekend.  Part of settling back in Canada included stable employment, buying a home, reconnecting with friends, and getting engaged with the community.  Our employer was very happy with the work accomplished in Poland (and with the Dutch office) along with our dedication and flexibility in working in three major manufacturing facilities.  He has now assigned us to corporate global projects and allows us to be based in Toronto, Canada.  Prior to coming back to Canada, we were searching for a condo to buy.  In October, we made an offer and it was accepted.  We are almost homeowners being that we do not close until May 2014.  Until then, we live with my husband’s parents.  (It’s everything you could possibly imagine and more.)  We see our friends all of the time and we have begun to establish ourselves in our “temporary” community and in our “upcoming” community (which also happens to be the neighbourhood we lived in prior to moving to the USA in 2005).

Challenged myself to be active for 365 days.  If you are a follower, “THANK YOU!!!!”  There are 176 of you (and over 3800 hits!) and that is something I never expected.  Being active for 365 days was something else.  The first ten days were horrible.  Actually, one, two and three were not bad.  It was really four through ten but I’ll get more into that in tomorrow’s blog post.  Blogging as part of this challenge has been a great outlet.  Isolated in Poland, this blog allowed me to share with others in a free-flowing manner.  Daily blogging was also a chore.  I had two major times this year where 1) I had to take a break for a few days and 2) I just didn’t do it regularly.  I moved past both of those phases and I’m finishing the challenge strong.

Got in touch with my feelings and truly identified what I want in life.  As I mentioned above, I think most everyone goes through a phase when they feel like they are on an emotional treadmill.  Sometimes you need to be there to get through.  Treadmills are boring but if you use them correctly, you are a better, stronger person when you get off them.  This past year I’ve let go of some hurt and I realized what it is that I want and why I couldn’t see that I was actually moving in the right direction even when it felt like I was going nowhere.  Being on the back-end of this goal, I thought I would be in a different place right now but I’m not and I’m okay with that because where I thought I needed to go ended not being where I needed to be.  Emotions, feelings, desires…they are all tricky but as you peel away layers the fog slowly clears out and the view gets better and better.

With 2013 about to come to a close, I’m getting ready for a big 2014.  Most of my goals this year will be broken down into multiple projects, big and small.  In writing my goals and using the statement, “2013 was the year I…” I create a mini vision and/or feeling of what it’s like when the goal is achieve.  I start to create something to move towards.  Here’s what I’ve got for 2014.  Again, it’s all going to breakdown into a bunch of big and small projects this year.

“2014 was the year I…”

  • Became a homeowner in a neighbourhood and condo that I love.
  • Took control of my weight and moved my BMI to the lower quarter of overweight.
  • Helped my family move towards where they need to be. (Yep, this one has a ton of personal content.)
  • [I haven’t filled in this blank just yet.]

Today I went to the gym in the morning and spent 45 minutes on the elliptical trainer.


Day 193 of 365: One Week Until the Big 2-0-0!!!

It’s hard to believe it’s only seven days away.  These past 100 days have seem to just fly bye.

Over the course of today, I was thinking about yesterday’s post.  As I “replayed” the post in my mind, it became very clear to me that I did not include my activity for yesterday.  How could I forget this!?!?  Well, last night I went out for a run.  3.5 KMs in approximately 25 minutes.  It was dark out which also means that it had cooled off.  My husband was waiting at the end of the driveway for me with a big glass of water.  Yeah!  Even though I was running after (Dad, at this point skip to the next paragraph) 10:30 PM, I did see other runners outside doing the same thing.

Since safety is very important (Yes, Dad…this paragraph!) I made sure I was wearing a bright pink shirt and stayed on busy streets that were well lit.  I listened clearly for all noises around me and ensured I was very aware of my surroundings.

This afternoon I did something I’ve never done before (kind of).  My husband and I went to the YMCA with my father-in-law.  Yes, I’ve been to a gym but I’ve never been to a Y and I’ve never gone to the gym with my very sociable father-in-law.  During our workout, Darren and I were taking turns doing back extension when we both overheard to floor staff talking…

“Did you know that Winston’s son is here?”  “Yeah, that’s him over there…”

We both kept our heads down as we were at the gym to sweat.  Another gentleman stopped by and talked to us about time he had spent in Poland.  He was nice and not too chatty.  He had a great balance of story telling mixed with small talk.  Let’s just say he’s witnessed some serious history and was lucky to get out when he did.

After spending an hour and a half at the gym, we were done and ready for lunch.  It’s been two weeks since we’ve been in a gym and I can honestly say that my body was craving it.  Come tomorrow, my shoulders and lower back will be regretting it…at least a little bit.

Day 177 of 365: It’s Done

This morning my husband and I headed down to the gym to do our really good strength training routine one last time.  It took us an hours, like it always does.  We’ve been following this routine for about 7 or 8 weeks now.  It’s been great but when we return in four weeks, I’ll have a new routine for us to follow.

All day I was pretty stressed.  (Almost cracked twice.)  Ridiculous stuff with the airline or airlines depending on how you view a code share flight.  Last minute tasks at work.  Needing to pack five suitcases worth of stuff and clothes into four.  It was so much to get done and I could not stay up all night to deal with it.  We need to get up at 3AM to catch our taxis (yes, plural…four suitcases, two carry-ons, and two personal items) for a flight that is leaving before 6AM.  Luckily a friend stopped by just after a horrible phone call and she was able to distract me for a bit.

My husband has been great.  He knows I’ve been on the verge all day.  Multiple times he has said to me, “No matter what happens, I love you.”  He’s been great taking direction and offering help.  And when I have asked for help, he’s gotten right on it exactly as I asked.  (Yes, I am a Type A slightly controlling perfectionist.)  He even made me a couple of drinks (to try to help calm my nerves) and he made dinner, like he does on most nights.  He’s amazing and I’m very lucky.

So the packing is done.  I finished about 90 minutes ago.  This is my last task for tonight aside from packing my pajamas and continuing to calm down so I can fall asleep for at least 4-5 hours.  At one point today, I was so wound up that I actually stopped mid-way down a flight of stairs realizing that my blood pressure must be ridiculous right now and that I really need to calm down.  (This was while I was leaving work this afternoon.)

Now that I’ve written about my blood pressure, I do expect my father to have his blood pressure reader out for when we arrive tomorrow but just to make sure I give you a really good idea of how strung out I was earlier today let me say this.  If I was to do this post any time before 2PM this afternoon, it would have been in ALL CAPS!

So, 6AM CET flight out of Poznan and 7:30PM EDT arrival time in Thunder Bay followed by a 3 KM run to my parents house.  Yes, it will be a 19.5 hours of airport to airport travel time.  Knowing this, I expect my post to be short tomorrow.

Day 147 of 365: That Was Hard

Woke up this morning and headed down to the gym after putting on a load of laundry at 5:50 AM.  Ugh!  The amount of brain power needed to complete this task before even getting to the gym is exhausting.  Hand eye coordination was not yet present resulting in needing to clean up the fabric softener.  Putting in the powder laundry detergent really was the smart thing to do last night.

Down in the gym, we (husband and I) worked through our routine.  Since we’ve been doing this routine for about 3.5 weeks, I challenged us to up the weights on a few moves.  I upped the weight on wood choppers.  Instead of a 5 KG weight, I used a 10 KG weight.  That was hard.  There is nothing else to say but “That was hard.”  Yes, I know that doubling the weight is not the correct approach but the plates in our gym are limited it 2.5 KG, 5 KG, 10 KG, 15 KG and 20 KG.  We are working with what we’ve got.  We reduced the reps and took out time and was able to accomplish 3 sets.  After a few more times of doing this, it will feel more natural or it will still result in sore muscles the day after.  I’m split on which I think would be better.

I do know that I upped the weight on another move (10KG to 15KG) and increased the number of reps when doing an exercise ball pass from hands to feet.  Overall, we spent an hour in the gym this morning.  By the time I got out of the shower, my laundry was done and so this evening all I need to do is eat dinner and knit.  This feels like heaven.

Day 140 of 365: Back to Leiden

Tomorrow, my husband and I are travelling back to The Netherlands for work.  Just finished packing and I find that I’m quite board with my wardrobe.  Many of my clothes I’ve had for a long time (more than 18 months) and it’s getting tough to just pick something out.  It’s time to continue to shop for some new threads.  The other challenge with this trip is that the weather is going to be cold and rainy.  It’s supposed to be around 10c every day.  We’ve been enjoying sunny, 20+c weather.  The early spring clothes have been put away and it’s hard to go back.  A moment ago I was reading a blog about how wonderful it is now that the weather is nicer.  This feels like we’re taking a step back.  Thankfully we are only there until Friday.

While in Leiden, I will be running on Tuesday and Thursday and following my strength training on Wednesday and Friday.  I may even treat myself to some extra time on the elliptical trainer too!

This morning, I was in the gym for 45 minutes following my strength training routine.  For each exercise, I was only two sets.  I was extremely hot when I woke up this morning even though I felt okay.  Not sure why I was feeling to warm but maybe it had to do with being in the sun for a few hours yesterday.  For about five minutes near the start of my routine, I just laid on the cool floor of the gym to help cool down.  I was grateful when my routine was done and I was able to step into a cool shower.

On the way home after work I said to my husband that we had nothing to do after work and that I really didn’t know how to handle this.  Well, as it turned out that wasn’t completely true.  I had two loads of laundry plus packing to get done.  Also, a colleague in our Polish office (and his wife) are expecting their first child.  Months ago he asked that I knit something for his baby.  I was flattered and agreed.  The babies due date was yesterday and only today have I started a baby sweater.  Just when I thought there was nothing, there is always something.


Day 135 of 365: Almost didn’t…

Today, I almost didn’t go to the gym.  I was up until 1:00 AM last night but still set my alarm 5:45 AM.  Even though I got out of bed after one snooze, I then fell asleep on the toilet for ten minutes.  Yikes!  Not the right way to start the morning.  Obviously my body was not ready for physical activity so I climbed back into bed for two more hours.  I just couldn’t wake up.  (If I get less than seven hours sleep, it’s a tough miserable day.)

As I was feeling sluggish all day, I decided to do a beginner yoga video after work.  Forty minutes of something easy and yet still physically challenging.  As I asset what this change would mean, I decided that I would double up on Thursday and go to the gym in the morning and then run after work with my husband.  A challenge but it also means that I would not miss any gym sessions this week.  I can totally do this.

Then mid morning, we are invited to dinner tomorrow with our CEO for Thursday evening.  It didn’t even hit me until I was driving to our apartment that we won’t be able to go running after work.  So scratch running after work but I really can’t because I already skipped my Tuesday run.  As I was pulling into the parking garage I decided to get my butt upstairs, get changed and get into the gym.  This must get done.

An hour later, I had completed my strength training routine however was still working on finding resolve to run on Thursday morning before work.  I know I need to do it.  I also know I need to fall asleep by 10:00 PM to make this doable.  I almost didn’t get to the gym today but I’m glad I did.  It’s coming up on 9:00 PM and I need to start getting ready for sleep.  Good night!

Day 134 of 365: Wound Up!

Unfortunately, a story in the Canadian news got to me today.  A man who took two guys out to test drive a truck he was selling never returned home.  This happened last Monday.  So many people were calling in tips and posting words of hope.  It’s a sad story that ended with the worst possible outcome today.  All week I’ve been very hopeful and today my hope, along with everyone else’s was crushed.

This news was announced just as I was leaving work.  This combined with a mile long to-do list of various cleaning and tidying activities, going for a run and then cooking dinner and eating hopefully before 9:00 PM got me wound up.  I was in my apartment trying to strategize, come up with the best way to get everything done as quickly as possible.

“Do the easy things first and cross them off your list.  It will make you feel good.”  “Tackle the one thing you want to do least and then you don’t have to dread it any more.”  “Get the laundry started and at least put a check mark in your to-do list for getting it started.”  “Prep some of dinner before you go for your run.  Yes, you’ll start later but at least it won’t take as long later.”  “RUN!”  “This isn’t on your list but you’ll be happy you did it.”  Ahhh!!!  Make it stop!!!

Yes, I was wound up!  I was so wound up that I decided not to run.  As much as running can be relaxing or slightly meditative (for some), I knew I would not get there and the stress and thoughts of everything I still needed to plus feeling mournful, I turned to yoga.  I hadn’t done this in over a couple of weeks so it seemed like a good idea.  Once my chores were done, I did a beginners 35 minutes yoga video titled Bend and Twist.

Five minutes in my mind was not focused on my breathing.  Instead, my mind was focused on a few other tasks still not completed (which I just remembered one more I still need to do).  About 20 minutes in, my mind let go.  Yoga was what I needed.  A nice little bonus was the improvement I noticed while in plank position.  I’ve been working on core, abs, and planks in the gym and today I say significant payoff.

So not only was my mind relaxed by the end of the session, I also felt a huge sense of unexpected accomplishment.  In a way, it brought my hope back to the surface and refocused it in other areas.  Namaste.