Good Intentions

Did you walk in the mall on Saturday? Or did you brave the cold graveyard? Or were you like me, having great intentions but ending up snuggled under a warm blanky and walking in your dreams?

I did get out on Sat., later on, for a walk up to one of my clutch of favourite coffee spots. It’s about 4k each way so I got some distance in, but not with any great speed. 🙂

I was thinking about my intention to walk and all the other things I needed to squeeze on the weekend. Meeting up with TPW would have been good for me but would have made the day very hectic. I did regret not going. I didn’t beat myself up though! In a world where we often fail to maintain balance, deciding to drop one of our intentions is a sign of increasing wisdom (at least that’s what I’m going to tell myself). It was a much less hectic day for me.

One of the things I regret though is not joining in in the conversations. Now I use the phrase “joining in? knowing that I lean towards the listening side of most conversations 🙂 I listened to Under the Influence this morning and one of the lines was, “Men shop at Sears, Women shop at Bloomingdales?. It was a discussion of differences between how men shop and women shop. While I shop like a regular male, I do tend to find my feminine side takes precedence in conversations. I may not remember much, but I really enjoy the topics that come up at TPW. And I especially like to hear the questions that I should be asking but my male brain doesn’t think to explore. So even if I’m not saying much I’m thoroughly engaged. And that’s what I missed by not walking, along with the general sense of camaraderie. 

I’m smiling though, because there’s always next week!

Second week in our northern home

What a lovely day! Yes it was brisk, but that’s what layers are for, right? If I’m not mistaken, we saw the first little spots of ice on the ground. OK, it was cold. Maybe that’s why we were champing at the bit to get ourselves going. Of course, one of the topics of conversation was the gloomy, gloomy, gloomy week that was. (Did I mention it was a gloomy week?) But not Saturday morning. The blue sky was a wonderful introduction to the colours we were about to enjoy. Bright red leaves blanketing the still green grass. Brilliant yellow of leaves still adorning the trees. Many of the trees have lost their leaves, emphasizing the latter half of fall, leaving the more muted green of evergreens. We’re so very lucky to have the change of venue as we move from our summer digs in High Park to our winter home in the cemetery. Even though we’ve walked the distance many times in both spots, the change of location always makes it feel fresh and new. And the colours of this Saturday certainly welcomed us back in style for our second week in our northern home!

Early New Years Resolution

Crisp. That was the first word that came to my mind Saturday morning. I’m not able to get out with the group for a few weeks, but I still try to get out on my bike or for a slower walk around my neighbourhood. And on Saturday morning it was crisp. I hope all of you brave souls dressed for the weather!

It was cloudy first thing, but as the day wore on, the sun began to creep out. There is something special about the way the sun shines in the fall on a partly cloudy day. The cool shade of the clouds gives way to an intense brightness that warms the soul. The blazing yellow and crimson leaves flame bolder in that angled light. As much as I already miss the the heat of the summer, the crisp freshness makes me look forward to the fall. 

Fall, Autumn, October, a new season with all its own merits. It’s called me to make a resolution (who needs to wait for the New Year?) to train right through the winter. As TPW, we are committing to walk each Saturday, or each one we can manage, to keep ourselves fresh, and crisp, and young-at-heart.

Whether I’m out with the group or out on my own, TPW is there with me. The sunshine that warms my soul.

Journeys

We all met at Diane’s last week for our annual planning get together. Delicious, warm, social – just a lovely time. 

It’s the start of the walking year for many of us, the start of a new journey. We talked of the many races happening around Toronto and further afield, more new journeys germinating in my head. But even though we are just looking forward to these new journeys I realized how many journeys we’re in the midst of. Winter (the season) is just over half way done. The school year is more than half done – and that September to May/June cycle is mirrored at work by the parents adjusting their lives to that reality. And with the Olympics front and centre these days, we are seeing the culmination of many four-year journeys, some of which will begin anew as soon as this journey ends. A few nights ago I looked up at the stars and realized that all our little journeys pale in the grand journey of the universe.

Our lives are filled with journeys, big and small. They provide hopes and dreams, challenges and hurdles, memories and lessons learned. And every Saturday morning we gather to share these journeys, supporting each other and taking joy in the journeys of each other. And we continue our journeys the best way we can, one foot in front of the other.

Keeping Things in Perspective

Pooh! I slept in and missed this week’s walk. OK, I was up quite late Friday night doing a choir event. 

Pooh! I’m injured again. This time it’s my feet and the podiatrist said it will be 6 to 8 weeks. OK, this may fix ongoing problems that I’ve had for years.
Pooh! I haven’t trained for the Resolution Run. OK, this really is a fun run, so this will help me embrace it as just that.
It’s funny how the little annoyances in life sometimes loom up, consuming our focus and dwarfing the blessings in our lives. 
This thought occurred to me as I walked away from the podiatrist’s office, feeling just a little bit sorry for myself. Then it occurred to me that even though I’ve had my injuries this past year, I’ve been able to walk 3000 miles (well, I will have by next Saturday’s walk). That is a blessing, that I have the kind of body and stamina that will carry me through the miles and kilometres – I have to admit it will be nice to start counting in kilometres again – and no, I am not going to do the challenge again. And so I missed a week’s walk – I have the blessing of a wealth of interests and activities, and if sometimes they bump into each other, that’s OK. Not in peak shape for a race? It’s a blessing in disguise, forcing me to take part in a race just for the camaraderie. 
And that reminds me that in many of my Saturday walks this year I have been helping others in the pursuit of their racing goals. I am blessed with a wealth of friends who are there to support me, and I them, in good times and in trying times. And I have a wealth of friends beyond TPW as well 🙂 
So as you go about this busy season, when the Pooh! hits, remember the blessings (including all of us at TPW) all around. 

Happy Mother’s Day

If you were expecting a Mother’s Day theme to this week’s blog, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I started to think about this after the rain last weekend 🙂

After we decided to relocate back to the cemetery last weekend I decided I needed to take a walk down by the waterfront to see what all the buzz was about. The first thing I saw was that the dip just east of Sunnyside pool was completely underwater – good call on the relocate. This was at 6pm on Saturday and the water was already receding. Based on where the driftwood was laying, the water had gone down a good 10 cm. And at that point the breakwaters were just visible. Wow! The next thing I noticed was the brown, silt-laden water. After a storm it’s not unusual to see the Humber basin quite brown. But this stretched from the furthest point west over to the tip of the island. Wow # 2!!
All the rain reminded of Hurricane Hazel from 1954. No, I wasn’t alive at the time, but my parents were living only 1 km away at the time. All they remember of the day was that there was a lot of rain. However, the devastation in the river basin was extreme, destroying a whole street and killing 81 people. Click to read more.
But out of that tragedy came major changes to municipal standards that have shaped Toronto ever since. Any potential flood basin was purchased for recreation and to put in improvements to control flooding. The wonderful parkland we enjoy today along both the Humber and the Don rivers are the result of Hazel.
I was thinking of that on Sunday when I was surprised that the rain had stopped and the sun was out. Lovely. I was noticing both the green and the wide variety of blooms coming up everywhere. Reds, pinks, oranges and whites! And the shades of purple – I’ve noticed more and more Periwinkle taking over lawns and gardens everywhere. Isn’t that a great word? Periwinkle – say it out loud – Periwinkle – hehehehe! And then the rich, heady, lusty fragrance of the lilacs that are just coming into bloom – yes, it is my favourite flower.
And I cannot forget the yellow – yellow everywhere. Then I saw a young boy, what was he doing? Weeding Dandelions! Yes dandelions, blankets of them already. I thought, what perseverance they have considering the extent we go to in order to eradicate them. Perseverance, a good word for what we’ve had to do over the last few weeks of cloud and rain. But no, dandelions don’t just persevere, they thrive! Give them an inch and they’ll take an acre. And at this time, after all that rain, Mother Nature is thriving everywhere as the rain mingles with the rain of yellow maple blooms, revealing the majestic canopy of the deciduous forest. In October we give thanks and use words like cornucopia, bounty and abundance that will carry us through the winter. We are seeing another cornucopia of bounty and abundance that Mother Nature produces to carry the newborn of nature through the growing season of summer.
So maybe this is an ode to Mother’s Day after all. Happy Mother’s Day Mother Nature. May you continue to thrive.

Spring is here at last!

Spring is here at last! It’s a huge relief for me. This past winter has not been good for me. Despite not having a ton of snow, I’ve always struggled over the lack of sunlight, and this year was very gloomy. It hasn’t helped that with injury I’ve been staying away from TPW walks up until recently. The regular walks and, most importantly, the camaraderie of the group are very special to me in keeping a balanced mood. But this is not meant to be a downer blog post! I’m back to Saturday’s in the park (cemetery) with TPW. The conversations are lovely, even when I’m only listening in.
I’ve mentioned often that I’m doing a lot more walking in my everyday life. The 2017 in 2017 has been a big part of this as every time I head somewhere I think, that’s not too far, I could walk there and add another 2 miles (hee-hee-hee!) It also helps that my only other mode of transport is the TTC. It makes those decisions even easier to make. And with each passing mile, the next mile becomes easier and easier.
I get a lot of my ideas when I’m walking, like this one. I try to keep a good pace going but that still gives me oodles of time to see the environment and smell the flowers. 
This blog post sprouted from the sight of a handful of hardy flowers beginning to bloom at the side of the sidewalk. It made me feel like I feel in sunshine, as if I had flowers bursting from my fingers and toes, and right across the top of my head. (Isn’t that a crazy visual?) I followed that line of thinking through to the summer when I swear I could commune with the trees – basking in the sunshine and rain, reaching out every possible leaf to increase exposure. (It’s interesting to me that I’m not a fan of man-made greens, but I could look at trees against the sky forever, marveling at the various shades of living green.) Fast forward to fall when we harvest the warm days and crisp evenings and enjoy the fruit of our summer memories, and set some aside for the winter to come.
Spring is here at last! I love it!

A March Ramble

Ouch! I think I’ve been bitten by the Mad Hatter! It must be time for tea.

It’s March of course, and the March Hare is rushing about, late as usual. Just as Easter is late this year, do you suppose the March Hare is late for his gig as the Easter Bunny?
Beware the I’d’s of March … I’d rather be in bed! I’d like to have walked this weekend but it was TOO COLD!! I’d prefer the south of Spain right now.
And then there are those March sisters, the Little Women. Just like TPW, Little Fast Women. Or is it Little Fast and Loose Women (you have to be loose to be fast), or perhaps that’s a step too far.
I can’t wait for the March Past … no, not being reviewed by our commander, I mean April … or March is past, finally.
Do you think the March Hare is another term for Pace Bunny?!?
Left-right, left-right, left-right, left-right, left-right,
Left- , left- , I had a good job and I left.
Left-right, left-right, left-right, left-right, left-right.
(Okay, say this really fast) Left-right, left-right, left-right, left-right (we’re power walking!)
Left, as in left behind, as in those hours that were left behind when the clocks moved forward. Can you say the clocks spring forward when it’s still winter?
And where do those hours that we lose, where do you suppose they go? Maybe to live with Peter Pan and the lost boys. Is that why Peter Pan will never grow up? He’s living on lost time.
Oh, I seem to have lost the thread of this post …

… I’m following the March Hare down the rabbit ho-o-o-o-o-ole!!

… or maybe it’s just cabin fever. Nothing like a long ramble on the weekend, eh?

Michael’s Musings

I haven’t been out lately due to injury, but it hasn’t kept me from walking shorter distances. I don’t have a car so I don’t have many alternatives.
These shorter walks on my own have given me lots of time to think. It usually starts with something frustrating, like the commercialization of Christmas with carols playing non-stop. But it often turns to what I do like. What do I like about Christmas, and what are the carols that move me?  I have to admit I am limited to Christian carols from my upbringing (Silent Night), and secular tunes from the radio (Rudolph and Baby It’s Cold Outside).
Funnily enough, the Little Drummer Boy is one of my favourites. Partly because it’s about giving even when you have little to give, but equally because that gift is accepted with as much dignity as receiving gold and myrrh. I am moved to tears each time I hear it.

So amidst the tinsel laden glitz of the malls and the throngs of shoppers, I think the spirit of the season lies in the moments that bring tears to us. Tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears of community. And TPW is a community that helps me keep my sanity in the hustle and bustle of this season. Thank you community!

Clear and Crisp

What a lovely clear day it was on Saturday. Clear and crisp. With the emphasis on crisp. Geez, it was in the very low single digits. Brrr. Well, I guess I shouldn’t complain too much as I suspect this is just a very mild taste of what’s to come.
It was great seeing many faces I’ve not seen for some time, and some brand new faces. As usual there was lots of discussion this week, especially after the U.S. election and everyone using the T-word. It was nice to see, despite the looming apocalypse south of the border, there was still lots of laughter.
And now, as the light is becoming a rare quantity, it’s time to take it a little easier and let the excesses of summer be healed. No, that doesn’t mean hibernate, no matter how much that cozy bed sings it siren song of sleep. The quiet paths of Mt. Pleasant cemetery also call, but to build strength for what lies ahead. That’s right – Christmas – with lights and music and shopping and presents and food and drink and food! 
Happy trails all! See you on Saturday next.