Chills and thrills

Today I went with my granddaughters and their mom and dad to the Santa Claus parade.  I’m not a particularly sentimental person but there was a tear in my eye when Santa spoke about having missed us all for the past few years and how much he loved us.  My youngest granddaughter (demonstrating the likelihood of turning into a skeptic) informed me that it wasn’t the real Santa and provided a few reasons. I realized that this child has never sat on Santa’s knee and has only encountered him on a screen. It gave me a chill!

This coming Tuesday, TPW will hold its fall dinner after missing the last two. I am so looking forward to a chance to be with “the group.”  I am one of the slowest walkers in the group and this dinner is a time when I hear about the lives of the leading walkers. It gives me a thrill of expectation!

Covid is still out there but the miracle of vaccines and at-home testing has allowed us to expand our horizons almost back to our previous lives.  I’m holding a dinner party for 10 people next weekend after almost 3 years of no entertaining.  I’m thrilled to be able to do it but a bit chilled as I relearn how to get all the food hot on the table at the same time.

A lovely time was had by all!


TPW is fortunate enough to have some members (not all –it’s not a requirement for membership) with backyard pools.  In the Time Before Covid, we had lovely annual pool parties at R’s house where her husband, a good friend to the TPW, barbequed burgers for us on the Sunday after the Midsummer Night’s Race.  We’ve missed that race and that party!

But happy days are here again.  Another member with a pool invited us to come and swim in hers after our walk this Saturday.  The weather was perfect.  How lovely to hang about on a pool noodle and chat! The hostess provided a lovely lunch on her patio.  The person who created the birthday hat had a chance to wear it while we sang and then there was cake and gelato!  Could a better time be imagined?

This group or parts of it have been together for over twelve years.  It’s very satisfying to enjoy our traditions with one another.

The Best Decision I Ever Made

Somewhere in my long life, I was given training on how to “bring people out” when I was conversing with them.  I don’t remember much of it except the question, “What decision did you make that led you to be here now?”  It often leads to fascinating stories.  For me, the decision to join Toronto Power Walkers was one of my best.

I moved to Toronto for a job.  I made lots of “work friends” (people I like and still see often) but I wasn’t developing much of a local social life outside of work.  I travelled a great deal, which meant regularly eating out and no consistent exercise.  At a women’s conference I heard Dr. Jean Marmoreo speak about training for a marathon.  The rest is history.  I got fit and made a lot of new friends.

These friends provide role modelling in so many ways, not least staying strong.  A huge contingent walked the Sporting Life 10K in May, two of them finished the London (England) half marathon a few weeks ago, and this morning, some of them walked in the Waterfront 10K and finished fit and strong, some winning their categories.  The whole community cheered them on.

The summer solstice is always a time of reflection for me.  I think about what I want to add to my life, what I want less of, what I need to continue.  TPW tops the list of what sustains me!  Thanks!

Why we do it

This Saturday was beautiful – sunny, cool, perfect waking weather.  Walking with friends has got to be the best tonic available!  We at the TPW have known this for a long time but now it’s showing up in medical studies all over the place.

Studies show:

1) 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week (you can talk but not sing) gets you a stronger heart, lower blood pressure, clearer thinking and sounder sleep.

2) Post mortem brain scans of active elderly people showed that they had more of a class of proteins associated with healthy cognition.

3) An average of 4,500 steps a day significantly lowers the risk of dying, every increase of 1,000 steps lowers the risk by 28%.  (My math skills are dubious but this seems to imply you can live forever if you walk enough each day,)

4) The kindness and empathy exhibited during these walks helps us do better mentally and physically with illness and adversity.

5) Getting outside causes stress levels to fall by 60%.

6) Walking boosts immune cells to fight off infection.

7) And the nap after the walk helps the body regulate its inflammatory response.

The end of an era (sort of)

I’m a big fan of Quirks and Quarks (a CBC science show) and this week they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in 1969.  As I listened I was struck with awe at the bravery of those men, realizing more now than I did when I was 21, how really primitive the technology of that event was, and frankly, how much luck was required!  Despite the fact that it was an event inspired by the Cold War, we saw it as an achievement by the inhabitants of earth.  We were a hopeful lot back then, thinking we could stop wars with sit-ins and songs.  Sometime in the half century that followed, I lost that shiny view.

I’m sorry to say that I’m giving up again.  Finishing a half-marathon is being removed from my list of annual goals.  For many years, training for my annual 21k race was the motivation to keep me on the walking trails, piling on the kilometres.  I got to know the city really well!  I had trained to walk the Beaches Jazz Festival 21k next weekend, when a family difficulty arose that made it impossible.  The relief I felt when I realized I would have to drop out was astonishing!  I guess I didn’t really want to run that race but could not admit it to myself.  So, from now on my races will be 10k’s.  Don’t despise me; don’t pity me as I accept the limits of my knees.  It’s part of admitting that I’m seventy-one.  (And don’t send me pictures of octagenarians skipping rope!)