Friend Dates: Bodypump AND Brunch!

Hi there!

What’s new? How ya been?

I’ve spent the last few days in the big city and I can’t wait to go home tonight! I miss the mountains, trail running and my Blendtec.

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The upside to spending so much time in Calgary lately is that I’ve been able to see my family AND take Bodypump classes at Goodlife Fitness.

Ange, Jen and I  enjoyed a Saturday morning class together in McKenzie Towne. It was Jen’s first ‘Pump class and I’m thrilled to report she liked it!  Woohoo!!!

Next stop on our fitness destination list: the new Stephen Ave location. I haven’t experienced it yet, but the girls have been raving about how gorgeous it is.  New life goal: visit every Goodlife in Calgary until I find a favourite.

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I’m OBSESSED with Bodypump and confident I’m it’s #1 fan.  I never used to get overly excited about strength training until I started attending Pump classes in the fall of 2013. I was instantly hooked on the music, uncomplicated choreography and moves I was already familiar with: squats, lunges, bicep curls, tricep dips, push ups, etc. Not to mention how great (and hungry!) I felt afterwards. There was a time in my life when I attended at least three classes a  week and began growing lady muscles and definition I didn’t even know I had.  Thank you, Les Mills for the sculpted shoulders and strong back.

Since then, I find myself incorporating a lot of ‘Bodypump moves’ in my own workouts and focus on synching my reps with the rhythm of the music instead of counting.

Post workout, I brunched at Blue Star Diner.  I ordered the Vegan Scramble: maple coconut curry tofu, sautéed veggies, corn tortillas and berries. I loved every bite and when my plate was finished, went to town on my friends hash browns.

Tale of heartbreak: I’m not vegan,  just intolerant/probably allergic to eggs. Big sigh.

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 Hey, what do you typically eat before a workout? Justin’s PB cups?

….. just me?

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I love Justin’s.

Justin, If you are reading this, can we be married or become life partners? I just googled you and I’ve determined you look like Justin Trudeau. But I prefer your last name: Gold.

Joanna Gold has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? 

I have a boyfriend but he’s already accepted that he probably doesn’t stand a chance against a man who owns a nut butter company. (Hi, boyfriend! You mad, bro?)  I think the three of us could be really happy together, though. THINK ABOUT IT.

Okay…. this is getting bizarre.  I’m probably single now. I’ll be sure to report back on THE TALK we have later. To be completely honest, the BF is likely  lol’ing a little bit while reading this and thinking, “I am not going to give her the satisfaction of even acknowledging I read this garbage.”  Then, later, after a change of heart,  he’s going to say, “So I read your blog post. And you’re right. I’m not going to comment on what I read.”  Yes.

Have you seen 50 Shades? Are you going to? Fun game: using this line on your significant other. Mine laughed like I was kidding.

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In other news, MEC is  following me on Instagram (find me here!) and now I can die happy. MEC! This, my friends, is what Mountain Girl Dreams are made of.

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Also….

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Ha!!! No truer words have ever been written.

Where is your favourite brunch spot?

Of all the Justin’s in the land, which one would you choose? MAPLE ALMOND BUTTER. <3

Do you work out with your girlfriends? What do you usually do?

Disclosure: Written as part of the GoodLife Fitness Blogger Ambassador Program.

Thinking Out Loud: What I’m Loving Lately

Thinking-Out-LoudMy favorite day of the {blog} week! Thinking Out Loud is the best link-up in all of the land. (And the only one I participate in. Join the party over at Spoons!)

You know how most ladies love spending money on clothes, shoes, bags, makeup and jewelry?

(I enjoy it too, but I don’t think I experience the same satisfaction and pleasure as the general population. I’ve always been a tom-boy.)

I prefer books, running and outdoor gear. I picked up some new reads and am currently engrossed in North of Normal.  When an Indigo staff member noticed me carrying it around, they told me it was phenomenal. In that moment, I couldn’t wait to get home and dive in!

So far – WOW. I continually find myself thinking, “I can’t believe this happened” or “I can’t believe these are real people”. My bedtime has been getting pushed back later and later because I can’t put it down.

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A girlfriend and I are ‘book-clubbing’ The Untethered Soul right now.  I’m  intrigued by Deepak Chopra’s statement: “Read this book carefully and you’ll get more than a glimpse of eternity.”  It’s not a concept that’s foreign to me: our authentic self, the ego, discovering the truth about who we are, etc.  I love learning and re-learning the same lessons translated through different spiritual teachers.  That’s the thing about enlightened people: it’s always the same message, just a different channel.

GOOD GOD, as I’m writing this, the lyrics of a song just caught my attention: “Your body is a ship, the soul is the passenger” {Passenger by Royal)

My Canadian lumberjack lady/Man Repellent look is complete. I made it official with a boyfriend-style  red flannel shirt which I practically live in now. I like that it hides all of my curves, lady parts and accentuates a boyish appearance.

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I think my BF is pleased that I’m not turning heads or getting second glances from folks. (And when I’m not wearing flannel, I’m in sweat pants. I’m the ultimate dream woman.)

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I discovered this little piece of paradise during my commute home from work the other day. *SIGH*  It is possible to ever stop marvelling at the beauty and mystery of nature?  I hope not. This is the Kananaskis River in beautiful Kananaskis Country – hard to believe this photo was taken in February.  Yeah, we have no snow right now.

There’s a part of me that is urging me to look into becoming a part-time tour/adventure guide. As someone who’s addicted to the outdoors, exploration, showing people around, sharing history and the mountains, it’s already second nature to me. So why not turn it into a side job?

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I might be a litte TOO obsessed with this mountain charm necklace my sister gave me for Christmas. Keeping my love close to my heart. <3

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I’ve been running a lot lately!  Wooooo!!!! The weather has been FANTASTIC (I’m so sorry, east coast friends. Don’t be hatin. Come visit me!)  so I’m back to training outdoors on trails and quiet highways after work. On average, I’ve been covering 5-8 miles at a time.

I haven’t signed up for any races yet – I’m playing it safe and staying cautiously optimistic until I get a feel for how my body is handling the increased mileage and general wear and tear. {I already have one black toenail, a couple blood blisters, and the bottoms of my feet are one giant callus, so I’m well on my way!}  If you’re new here, I dealt with a pelvic stress fracture last year and I need to be careful. I definitely plan on entering 5 & 10ks here and there, but as for my first half marathon of the season, I’m leaning towards the Calgary half  at the end of May OR the Banff half  in June. Or both. Oh sure, why not? I like the sounds of both.

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I absolutely adore trail running. I don’t even run with music anymore. The deafening silence of the forest keeps me engaged in the moment, my breath and stride.

With increased training, comes the need for optimal nutrition. I already eat pretty healthy, but one area that needs improvement is decreasing my alcohol consumption. I don’t drink at all during the week, but it’s not unusual to split a bottle of wine (or sometimes two!) over dinner with friends on the weekends. I need to reign it in a bit.

In addition to maintaining a balanced diet, other areas of opportunity are supplementation to help fill the gaps.  I don’t always find the time to add enough variety or rotate food as often as I “should”. I eat a mostly plant-based diet (but I eat everything. Does that make sense?) so I make sure to take to supplement with an active form of vitamin B12, vitamin D and multi-strain probiotics.

I also ordered some multi-vitamins, Omega 3 capsules and BCAA’s from MyProtein to assist with my nutrition.  (They sent me a shaker bottle too! I’ve been using it for lemon water, instead of it’s intended protein shake purpose.)

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Don’t you love how convenient it is to shop for health and fitness products now? Especially since my in-store options here in the Rockies are limited and very, very expensive in comparison. Time is money! Or something like that. Seriously though, the majority of my free time is dedicated to  outdoor sports, adventures, running, the gym and sleeping. And visiting with my long distance BF.  No time for old-fashioned shopping. (I wish I could order all of my groceries online too!)

That’s all I have for today.

What supplements (if any) are you currently taking? Where you do your vitamin/healthy food shopping?

 Are you training for anything specific right now?

Name three things you’re obsessed with lately! 

The Concept of Finding Yourself.

I don’t know why the font on this blog post is in italics – I hit something on my keyboard and I don’t know how to fix it! So sorry, so dumb when it comes to technology. #RIPSteveJobs

A topic I want to discuss today is the concept of “finding yourself”. What it should look like. How you do it. And where you’ll find your authentic self.

“Are you just doing this so you can go ‘find yourself’?”

“I hope you find what you’re looking for”
“Why can’t you just be happy with what you already have?”

If you’ve ever gone through major life changes, I’m sure you’ve been asked similar  questions. One of the things I’ve noticed about living in a mountain paradise is that it tends to attract like-minded people.  But not everyone is on the same soul journey.

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Humans naturally gravitate towards places of power and healing: particularly the mountains and ocean. Nature just has a way of understanding you.  It’s why people want to be here: YOU JUST FEEL GOOD. ALL THE TIME!   I’ve also noticed individuals flocking to the Rockies to “find themselves” and I’ve always wondered if they ever “find” what they’re seeking.  Or what they’re looking for.

My personal thoughts are  that you don’t actually need to physically “go anywhere” to discover who you are. It’s always there for the taking, just waiting to be revealed. It’s actually about traveling inwards and using your awareness to discover and remove the barriers of illusion that stand between what you *think* you are/aren’t. And then you’ll know what to do and where to go.

Sometimes we need those healing nature vibes to assist us in the process. I’ve spent many hours on mountain trails thinking about who I am and what I want out of life.   I knew what I wanted* (even though it was vague) but it was so completely foreign to what my current life consisted of that I got hung up on the details: how it could possibly work (it seemed unattainable,  too far-fetched, and WAY out of my comfort zone). Isn’t it funny how we fear the things we crave the most? 

I felt like my dreams were too plain: I craved simplicity. I wanted to live, work, train, explore, create and PLAY in paradise.  I’m a quiet, creative sensitive soul that just wants to be around trees and live freely.  It was never enough for me to be a weekend warrior.

All of those fine details of “how” kept me stuck and spinning my tires. It wasn’t until I realized that my urge to control the outcome was keeping me in a bind.  I consciously made the choice to ask for what I wanted and LET GO of the need to understand how every detail was going to unfold. Or when my desires would come to fruition. And what my life would look like in the end.

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My biggest fear in life is regrets, or “What-Ifs”. I don’t want to look back and wonder what kind of magic I could have created had I not been willing to take a risk.  One of the most important pieces of advice I can offer is, if you’re waiting to feel 100% fearless, 100% certain and 100% confident as a sign that you’re “ready” or “making the right decision” you’ll be waiting forever.  I can promise you this: You WILL feel afraid and it always accompanies a certain level of risk and uncertainty when an experience is really important for us. Being scared doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do something – more often than not, IT MEANS WE SHOULD!

Nowadays, my greatest joy is spending time in nature. On a warm sunny day, one of my favorite things to do is heading out onto the back roads to explore. Tunes blasting, sun shining on my face, accompanied with my camera and a notebook – there’s nothing better!  I have an insatiable sense of wonder and awe. I don’t ever want to quench that thirst! 

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{*What I wanted seemed vague: I wanted to work in a role that supported my passions and strengths (writing, photography, social media) … in the mountains and open myself up to the experience of authentic, real love.}

What kinds of dreams or desires do you have? If you ever find yourself trying to talk yourself OUT of them – it’s a sign you should pursue them.

Describe what brings you joy:

Thinking Out Loud #53

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So, Valentine’s Day is this weekend. Thinking Out Loud is today. (Thank you to Spoons for hosting!)

What are you lovebirds up to?

I don’t have a Valentine, but I definitely foresee a solo chocolate mission happening. While wearing sweatpants and watching Netflix (I’m currently into  Departures – have you seen it?)

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I love chocolate. Especially brownies, truffles or fancy bars of good quality chocolate. Confession: I hate candy. {Insert the shocked emoji}  I’m certain I’m the only person in the world that doesn’t like five cent candies.  It’s just so… sugary and I hate the instant headache and aftertaste.

I’m a terrible gym companion. I asked my man-friend to help me train my arms and well… my face says it all.

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HAHAHA I look so sad. (I was) We strength trained for an hour and I mentally checked out after 20 minutes. If I’m not in a group-exercise environment with loud music and interval training, I fall asleep.

My favorite moves were barbell bicep curls, alternating between 30, 20 and 10#. To make it up for my bad behavior, I asked them to join me on the Stairclimber for 20 minutes. (I love that machine!)  I like ensuring I leave the gym drenched in sweat!

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I don’t know how I’ve managed to avoid the Costco sized bags of Boom Chicka Pop until now, but it FINALLY HAPPENED! I’ve always known this day was coming.

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A big bag of popcorn calls for a movie night, wouldn’t you agree?  I can’t remember the last time I drank soda – it’s been YEARS and I loved every sip.

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I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining or looking for sympathy, but have any of you felt like life is WEIRD lately?  My best friends and I think Mercury Retrograde might have  something to do with it.   I’ve reached a point where all I can do is laugh.  Earlier this week, I was convinced the storm had passed and things were turning around… and then I hit a deer on the way to work and wrecked my car. My first thought was: “OMG I’M A MURDERER!” By the time I got out of my car, the deer had disappeared into the forest. I called the Alberta Parks conservation office to let them know and they sent an officer out to the area to take a look around.

Even Sam said, “Yeah. You’ve made me believe in Mercury Retrograde”. HAHAHA.  My best friend Ryan comforted me with these words: “I hate your life”. Thanks bud.

We haven’t had much of a winter here in the Rockies. We’ve swapped snow for rain and I’m not complaining one bit.  Yay for easy driving, outdoor running (!!!) and not having to bundle up in 40 layers of clothing.

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On the other hand, there aren’t many snowshoeing or boarding adventures taking place. I’m okay with that. It’s worth the trade off!

If you had to compile a list of your top five books, which ones would you choose? The Alchemist is one of my soul food favorites – I’ve gifted it to more people than I can count and it still makes me cry every time I read it.  There are so many great quotes and reminders on life, love and adventure.

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Another favorite: Born To Run. Have you heard the news that it’s being turned into a movie?!?!  I can’t wait!!! Word on the street is Matthew McConaughey is playing the lead.

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Tell me….

Chocolate or candy? YOU HAVE TO PICK ONE.

What was the last movie you watched?

Valentines Day plans?

Lately: What I’m reading, eating…..

By the time you read this, it’ll probably be Monday, but I’m currently writing this from the comfort of a hotel bed on Friday night.  I can’t tell you how excited I am to be watching Netflix and eating dinner in bed. I’m exhausted!

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Veggie burger with AVOCADO MAYO + yam fries

Friends, the last couple weeks have been insane. I can’t think of any way to describe it other than, “WTF.”    Due to a family emergency, I’m going to be spending quite a bit of time in the city over the coming weeks, so YYC friends: expect random last minute dinner and Goodlife Fitness gym-date invitations from me. Would any of you be up for Bodypump on Valentines/Family Day weekend?  SAY YES! BE MY FRIEND.

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The view from my home away from home

A few things to share as of late:

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I finally tried the new S’mores Quest bar. Canada is late to the party for everything. Every.single.thing. The verdict: thumbs up!  It’s like a cross between cookies and cream and chocolate chip cookie dough.  Do you get a little too-excited when you discover big chunks of chocolate in Quest bars? Isn’t that the best? It’s like wining the lottery.

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#Girlboss was my read of the week. I love learning about outside-of-the-box thinkers and entrepreneurs. Not only does Sophia Amoruso share her unconventional career story, but offers valuable insight and advice on developing your professional life. I always get lost in the business section of the bookstore. Mostly because the majority of the books don’t really speak to me on a personal level.  (My man-friend once tried to read Harvard Business Review to me as a bedtime story. It worked, that’s for sure.)  #Girlboss is more my style as it focuses on supporting creative-thinkers and do-ers.

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I haven’t had much time to workout lately, but I made sure to carve out some ‘ME TIME’ on Friday night. I have several winter adventure-treks planned and I need to keep my legs strong and fresh!

One of my favourite ways to train my legs is cranking the elliptical up to a ‘somewhat tolerable’ high resistance while pretending I’m climbing alpine trails for 30-60 mins. Rounded out with 50lb cable extensions, and weighted squats and lunges = DEAD LEGS.

I have a fun travel-tip to share. Most hotels offer apps now, but I didn’t realize how useful, time saving and awesomely convenient they can be.

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I’ve reached a point where I’m looking for reasons to use hotel apps as much as possible. So far, I’ve:

-Ordered room service
-Requested extra towels, a bath robe and wine glasses
-Put in a maintenance request for the shower head
-Arranged a cab
-Scheduled a room refresh for a specific time

All from my phone! Remember back in the day when we used to have to talk to people like some kind of animal on the phone? Those were dark days. 

Have you tried a flat white yet? GOOD GOD DON’T. Or do. I guess I had the expectation it would taste like a latte, but it’s just way too milky for me. I can’t stand the flavor/aftertaste of milk. Bleh!

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Have a great week!

What’s your go-to Starbucks order? Grande blond roast

What are the top 3 apps on your phone?

What’s the last book you read? 

Weekending: Remember these guys?!

GOOD DAY.

Hi.

What’s up?

How do you do?

I’m just going to get right into it. I absolutely despise writing intros to blog posts. It feels so awkward and forced. No thanks.  I prefer a straightforward and blunt approach. Here goes:

I climbed into a cave this past weekend, saw a pack rat and now I want one as a pet. 

Is that random or WHAT? I can explain….

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I explored Rats Nest Cave inside Grotto mountain with Canmore Cave Tours and now I don’t need to see or do anything else ever again. Until next weekend, that is. ;)

I wasn’t sure what to expect and didn’t do any research ahead of time since I wanted the experience to be a surprise. When I found out they offered a 60 ft rappel I began jumping up and down with anticipation and excitement. Cave rappelling is something I’d been dying to do!

To start, our group trekked 1.5km up Grotto mountain to the cave entrance. We outfitted ourselves with harnesses, ropes, knee pads, coveralls and helmets and then we were on our way! I didn’t feel scared or nervous at all. Adventure-based activities don’t frighten me, but overripe bananas, loud noises and sea urchins – WHOA, NO THANKS.  (???)

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Me leading the way!

Once inside, we clipped ourselves onto a safety line and took a look around to discover ancient pictographs and animal bones dating back to 1000-4000 years  at the bottom of a 50 ft drop off. THAT was the moment I saw that sweet little cherub of a pack rat sitting inside a nest  fell in love. It looked like a giant fluffy hamster and didn’t seem to mind us intruding on his cave.

Sadly, my camera battery died and I didn’t have the opportunity to take any pictures, but during our 3 hours inside Rat’s Nest, we descended about 160 ft, climbed into tight squeezes, explored different ‘rooms’ of all sizes and shapes, witnessed an assortment of mineral formations and a grotto.

Without a doubt, the highlight was the 60 ft rappel. I thought our guide would climb down first and open his loving arms to catch me, but nope. I was on my own. He clipped me into the rappel line and said, “Bye! See you at the bottom. Send your clips up when you’re done.”  I started getting a little nervous when, at one point, had to kick myself far away from the cave wall and swing over to the right to make the final descent. The only thing I could see was what was illuminated in front of me by my headlamp. It was kind of a blessing that it was pitch black. Sometimes I get vertigo when faced with heights.

At the Grotto

(From their website)

The second highlight was when we all turned off our headlamps and did an exploration in the dark. It was the ultimate sensory deprivation. We crawled on our hands and knees just feeling our way through the darkness. Then, we sat in silence for a little while before turning our lamps back on to discover we were in the midst of a giant room with an a massive fault line overhead. It was a completely different world down there! It was such a great life experience and I’m really glad I did it.

Aside from that, I took my friends out for a 10km snowshoeing hike in Kananaskis Country. Long time readers, you may remember my frans, Ryan and Jan. Yes?

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This was us, last year:

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Oh my, have we all grown up since then. I moved to the mountains, Ryan moved to Toronto and Jan found the love of her life. During that time, we grew apart, and in a strange twist of fate, reuinted.

I’ve really needed some friend-time and was delighted when Jan and Ryan decided to road trip to the mountains to see me. It was so nice to catch up, drink wine, eat pizza  and share our stories from the past year.

There’s nothing like a little mountain-adventure time with friends to boost the spirit and strengthen your bond. :)

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I have such a deep appreciation for the solid, genuine connections I’ve formed. This past year has taught me that all of my relationships have challenged me to understand and accept the truth about who I am, instead of the illusion of  “what I want to be”.  The universe isn’t giving me who I “want” to meet, but rather who I NEED to meet. I like to think of all relationships as the key to self-discovery, exploration, healing and growth.    Our greatest teachers are like mirrors. Revealing truths about ourselves that we wouldn’t have discovered on our own. And more often than not, it’s painful. Once those truths are revealed, that’s when you know it’s time take a deep breath, a leap of faith and ‘trust the magic of new beginnings’.

Lastly, if you’re lucky enough to find friends that breathe life into you,  who challenge you to show up and take responsibility for your destiny, hold onto that.

Side note. I have impeccable taste in music and I’ve been compiling a list of songs YOU NEED on your playlist (and won’t hear on the radio. I HATE TOP 40 SO MUCH!!)

I hope you like the tunes! <3

Tell me about your weekend!  What did you do? 

How has someone challenged you to change/grow/evolve?

 What are you listening to right now?

RUN CHAT: Why we do what we do

HI.

I want to talk about running today. My old confidant. Best friend.  Life companion. Outlet. Source of power and inspiration.  The thing that simultaneously breaks and rebuilds my body and spirit.

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I feel as though  ‘runners’  belong to the same soulful tribe. Unless you’re a runner, it’s difficult to explain why we do what we do. Why we push ourselves so hard.  To the point of discomfort, exhaustion and pain.   And for what purpose? To non-runners, it seems pointless and masochistic.

BECAUSE: Running transcends physical dimensions.

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I run…

as a way to enjoy beautiful weather, nature and alone time with my thoughts

to ‘cleanse’ stagnant energy or emotions

when I want to feel inspired

when I want to remember who I am

to feel alive and present

to re-connect with my spiritual practice (I’m convinced it’s the ultimate moving meditation)

when I need clarity in releasing old thought patterns and limiting beliefs

to view the world from a different perspective

to remind myself of how resilient I am, how far I’ve come, and that “this run” is not the hardest thing I’ve ever done (even though sometimes putting one foot in front of the other totally feels like it is)

… I could keep going, but I’m going to stop there.

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I was looking & feeling a little haggard this day. Haha!

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Last week, while I was out walking a mountain trail with a friend, we shared a heart to heart. They said something that resonated with me on so many levels, but particularly when it comes to running and ultimately, evolving as a person.

 

“When it comes to challenging yourself, you set the bar. No one can tell you if it’s easy or hard, or if you truly gave it your all. Only you know. You’re not competing with anyone but yourself. You have to truly want to do it.”  WHOA.

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Earlier this week, and over the course of two days, I dug deep and unintentionally knocked out 18 miles (28-ish km). I just needed to move my body. While I was pounding the pavement, I held onto those wise words my friend shared with me on personal challenges and setting the bar. So simple, yet so profound. I like to think it helped me push forward.  I also thought about the above list on ‘why I run’.

Running with the sunset wasn’t too hard on the eyes, either. :)

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So, fellow runners/fitness enthusiasts. Tell me:

WHY DO YOU RUN?

What keeps you motivated?

The Misconception of Fear & Living Authentically

My Mom gave me some solid advice recently. You know it’s good when it becomes blog-topic worthy, hey?

I think there’s a misconception that driven, resilient ‘warrior-types’ such as myself are immune to fear, growing pains, or the curve balls life sometimes throws at you. Or that life is “easier”. Based on my experience, I’ve learned the warrior’s path is hard. Incredibly hard. It requires an enormous amount of courage and willingness to show up 100%: prepared to experience bliss, but knowing that at times, you’ll find yourself immersed in the depths of sorrow and fear.
Essentially, you’re forced to feel EVERYTHING. It’s a double edged sword.   Living consciously doesn’t exempt us from pain or hardship. If anything, our experiences and emotions become intensified because we’re  no longer just cruising through life comfortably numb.  Lacking awareness, if you will.

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As I approach the one year mark of moving to the mountains, I’m confident I’ve experienced every human emotion possible. I’ve encountered the thrill and awe of summitting mountain peaks, contentment and peace while paddleboarding under the stars, crushing loneliness while waiting to form new friendships and the spark of rekindling past and new romances.

I’ve had fulfillment and clarity from sitting in the forest and thinking out loud – sometimes trees make the best counselors.  I’ve experienced deep longing for authentic, intimate connections, while confronting the fear of opening my heart and life to someone.  I’ve had moments of lying awake at night, crying and “just wanting my Mom” or wondering, “What next? I don’t know what to do”.  There have been times where I felt so broken I’ve had to force-feed myself. I’ve faked smiles and friendly conversations, despite the sensation of feeling suffocated by the lump in my throat. But, it was always with a grateful heart and acceptance that no feeling or situation is permanent: joy, pain, pleasure, confusion.   It is what it is.  It’s all about making the best of my circumstances and trusting the process.

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I’ve recently discovered that I’m entering a new life cycle: my journey is calling  me to expand (yet again) and shift my perception to welcome 2015’s challenges. All of them.  It’s equally confusing and intriguing. The advice that my Mom gave me?

“There is something much bigger than you at work. You just can’t see it yet, but you will. So when you feel like you don’t know what to do, that’s the lesson: you don’t need to do anything. Just wait.  Know that what is coming is much better”

I’ve always been a firm believer in, ‘The Universe Only Trades Up’. Sometimes, on the surface, situations seem terrifyingly painful. There’s definitely a period of loss, grief and re-building of oneself. But it’s always worth it. Always, always, always.   I have this terrible habit of asking The Universe/God for what I want but then I get scared when it begins to manifest because it requires blind faith to trust my instincts and internal wisdom.

Do you ever experience that?  There is some sort of intuitive compass inside all of us that defies logic or common sense, but it doesn’t lie. Ever.  For me, it usually looks like this:

Weird feeling tells me something isn’t right –> Ignore —> Weird feeling urges me to understand something isn’t right —> Attempt to rationalize it/tell myself I’m being paranoid —> Weird feeling appears with a sense of urgency —> Okay I’m listening —> Weird feeling asks me what I want —> I say it out loud but make it clear I’m afraid —> Life starts to change —> I put up resistance and say I’m not ready —> Life continues to change with or without my opinion —> I’m terrified of what’s happening and feel out of control —> Things start making sense again —> Weird feeling is replaced by comfort and I feel okay again

Am I bi-polar? (Not to make light of mental health, but seriously. Sometimes I wonder how it is emotionally possible to feel EVERYTHING at all once)

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted a ‘Life” post, hasn’t it? I miss these types of chats. It’s always been a topic that effortlessly flows from my fingertips or lips.

No questions today, but I’m eager to hear your thoughts on the illusion of ‘living a fearless life’ or lessons you remind yourself of when times are rough.

I keep this one in my back pocket: “I don’t know how to do this, but something inside of me does” 

WIAW: It was a Carb-y day

One of the traits I’m known for is my efficiency. Whether it’s my professional or personal life, I’m always brainstorming ways to not only improve the way I do things, but execute my projects or tasks in record time.  That being said, todays post is rounding up a number of topics: Jenn’s WIAW (I did it!) and quick life update/random ramblings.

Before we get into it: Friends. I think I broke my blog. My posts haven’t been showing up in feeds (like Bloglovin) and a post I published last week isn’t showing on my site, yet I’m still receiving comments for it. I need to bite the bullet and hire a designer ASAP. I’m ready and tired of talking about it!   A few of you recommended “affordable” blog designers recently – if you could be so kind to refresh my memory, I’d be grateful for your help!

How have you been?! It’s been a while since we talked, hey? I’m trying to think of what’s been happening in my world lately. Let’s see…

Here’s a look at yesterday’s eats. I felt particularly ‘carby’ (I love those days!)

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Breakfast #1 & #2

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Peanut butter toast with banana and chia seeds / Greek yogurt parfait with honey granola

Lunch/Snacks/Dinner

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Spinach salad, fish, mac & cheese / Rice cakes with Justins chocolate hazelnut butter / Cardamom chicken topped with toasted pine nuts & onions on naan bread

I also snacked on (unpictured)  clementines & dates + PB throughout the day.

Winter in the Alberta Rockies has been interesting. On one hand, it’s unseasonably warm (by Canadian standards) and we haven’t had to deal with many snowstorms or frigid wind chills. BUT my winter-sport adventures have been suffering as a result. Due to the lack of snowfall, ski and snowshoeing conditions aren’t so great. Most days, it feels like early spring and I’m itching to run outside, except it’s pitch black by the time I get home. (I live in a new development where  there’s no sidewalks, streetlamps or safe paths. I *could* run laps around the block but that’s just a recipe for insanity and boredom.)

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One of the spectacular views I encountered while driving through the Columbia Icefield 

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Arman:  because I know you’re going to comment on my outfit: I’m wearing sweatpants. Tucked into my Uggs. Yeah I did.

Miss Cowgirl herself (Ange) came out to visit us last weekend!  I suggested a walk along the Bow River where I  managed to  lead us adrift, but we had a great time.  I recently found myself lost in the Calgary airport parkade. What a nightmare that was. Who gets lost in a parkade? I felt like I was suffocating inside a black hole. Everything looked the same, I had no idea which level I was on, where my car was, etc.  The best part? I was on the phone with my man-friend legal guardian laughing hysterically saying, “I don’t know where I am!”
Him: “I GAVE YOU SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO GET BACK TO YOUR CAR. What do you mean you can’t find it?”

I love me.

Sorry, I got sidetracked. Back to Ange’s visit.  After our walk, we picked up ingredients to make snack plates and spent the rest of the evening eating, drinking wine, chatting and playing Monopoly Deal. <— My current obsession.

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Veggies, hummus, goat brie + mango habanero jelly, aged cheddar, feta stuffed peppers, olives, marinated artichokes, pickled beans, proscuitto, peanut butter dipped pretzels, crackers, sushi and yam & sweet potato salad. It was heaven!

For breakfast, we ate strawberry-pineapple yogurt bowls topped with Cascadian Farms granola. Strawberries are so good right now, eh?

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I bought a DSLR. Part of me REALLY wanted to go all out and splurge on a Canon 7D or 5D, but realistically, I’m not a pro-photographer and I know I’ll get annoyed having to carry heavy gear around with me. So, I found a used Canon Rebel and now I just need to get a telephoto lens along with a higher quality “regular” lens and I’ll be set!

The first shots I took with the cam:

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(Morning sunrise from my living room)

IMG_6939(On the road to Jasper)

What are your top 3 yogurt bowl toppings?

What foods will you never tire of? Peanut butter, hummus, avocado, pizza

Bloggers, what kind of camera do you use? (And why) Do you have any lens recommendations to share?

Jasper Adventures: Exploring Maligne Canyon

HAHAHA. I just finished uploading some photos from my latest mountain adventure and it’s cute how I thought I’d be able to recap everything in one post. Perhaps you should grab a snack or a latte before proceeding. Brace yourself: tons of photos ahead!

In all the years I’ve been living in Alberta and exploring the Rockies, I’d never been to Jasper until this past weekend. Most tourists and Albertans favour Banff for it’s close proximity to Calgary, making Jasper feel like a hidden treasure.  Although it requires more effort to get there, it’s definitely worth the extra hours in the car. The drive alone is spectacular.

Our road trip kicked off bright and early on Friday morning. We hit the road (from Canmore) around 10am and made a brief stop at Lake Louise for a photo op.

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The snow-covered lake is quite the contrast to it’s brilliant shade of turquoise in the summer!

The drive between Lake Louise and Jasper is absolutely stunning and offers world-class views of the majestic Canadian Rockies. We traveled through the Columbia Icefields and Continental Divide, passing several glaciers, snow capped peaks and frozen waterfalls along the way.

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That’s a glacier in the centre of the mountain.

Winter conditions can be treacherous and cars must be equipped with snow tires to complete the journey between Lake Louise and Jasper. (Snow tires and an SUV are the greatest purchases I’ve ever made!)

After 3.5-4 hours on the road, we arrived in Jasper eager to settle into our accommodations and kick off some weekend fun.  Upon arrival, we were immediately greeted by some friendly locals who didn’t  mind posing for a few photos.

IMG_6979The elk in Jasper are friendlier than the herds around Banff/Canmore. #Observations

Unfortunately, I don’t have much to report from our first evening. After checking into the hotel and exploring the resort, we had dinner then called it a night. We were tired! (I hate staying up late.)

THE “thing” I wanted to do most was delve into the depths of Maligne Canyon.  The initial plan was to go off exploring on our own, but at the urging of the hotel’s concierge, booked a guided 2.5 hour tour with Maligne Adventures.  For $70 per person, it included a shuttle, gear rental (boots + snow cleats) and an enthusiastic interpretive guide to show us the way. I actually preferred having  a guide with us to educate us on the park’s history, geological formations, wildlife and so on. One of the first things he told us was that we were ‘going to see a lot of strange things in Maligne Canyon’. He was right.

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Geo-thermal heat prevents sections of the river from freezing over. There were times when we could hear the river flowing underground underneath a seemingly “dry” or frozen river bed.

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We witnessed a ton of frozen and flowing waterfalls. We even filled our water bottles with fresh spring water. I have Giardia now. (Kidding) 

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During our exploration, we climbed inside a cave that was breathing. I can’t remember the science behind it, or where the air was coming from, but it was warm and dusty. The cave was  filled with crazy ice formations and crystals.

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I know what you’re thinking. We’re all on the same page. I’m certain of it. ;)

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The entire experience overwhelmed these two boys. They kept taking breaks to hold each other tightly and sigh.

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I lost count of how many waterfalls we climbed behind. I licked one. And ate ice crystals.

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The view while looking up inside a cave

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At one point, our tour guide said, “I’m going to go see if I can find my friend” and disappeared into the canyon. A few minutes later, he appeared with what I “think” is a marmot, but I’m not 100% sure. Anyone?

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It was dead. And frozen.  When it was my turn to hold Fluffy, I accidentally broke one of it’s claws off, but don’t tell anyone.

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After spending a couple hours exploring the canyon, it was time to begin our ascent back to stable ground. During our walk back to the shuttle, I chatted with our guide about his time in Jasper and completely related to a couple things he said: “I haven’t been on vacation for over 8 years – I don’t need to!” and, “Some people are just mountain people!”  I feel you, mountain man.

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Pyramid Mountain looming in the background. Jasper is located in a valley, giving the mountains the appearance of being much higher than I’m used to. They looked so far away, too! At home, the base of the mountains are right at your feet.

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And that concludes our tour of Maligne Canyon. I would definitely do it again and I’m already looking forward to a Summer 2015 trip to do some hiking in the area.

What’s the funnest tour you’ve ever been on?

Have you been to Jasper? Where are some of your favourite treasures within the park?

Tell me about your weekend! How’s your winter going so far?