It’s been a while… I’ve written numerous posts in my head but couldn’t get them out and on the screen. Frankly, this is a good thing.

I haven’t been super positive or optimistic for a while now. I was doing great and then the lockdown measures were announced before Christmas. The pool closure brought me to my knees. And no, I’m not exagerrating.

Swimming with the Nepean Masters Swim Club has been a bright light for me this fall. I even signed up for four swims a week in Jan/Feb 2021. And then it was gone.

I held onto Jan. 25 when swim club would resume… and then it happened again. Now my club is on hold until March 31.

The last few days I’ve been angry. Angry at the world. Angry at people. Just plain angry. Frustrated with it all. And feeling helpless to do anything about it.

And then I remembered something I said in 2019 to over 500 women at the Bushtukah S.W.E.E.T night: control the controllables.

These three words have brought me back. All I can do is control my emotions, behaviour, and outlook. And honestly, I’m tired of being angry.

I’ve turned off the radio. I’m listening to CBC Radio 2, podcasts, and a lot of Taylor, Adele, and Marcus. I’m back training for cycling (I need to get fit again so I can lead rides for the Ottawa Women’s Cycling Club). I signed up for dryland swim training with the Rideau Speedaus. I’m drawing regularly. I’m watching goofy television – Great Pottery Throwdown, Junior Bake Off, Hell’s Kitchen, Station 19, and Ugly House to Lovely House.

This is a scary time. I don’t know what will happen next. But I do know this – I’m fortunate to be alive today so it’s up to me to make this a good day.

For now, these two photos are giving me all the feels and hope:

New Motivation

Thank you to Andrea Emery for this slick logo and club kit!

A huge thank you to the women who joined the Ottawa Women’s Cycling Club call last night!

I had no idea what to expect. How many women would join the call? What would the interest level be like? Would people like the kit? Could we get people fired up for the 2021 cycling season?

Let’s just say, I was buzzing until almost midnight last night. I’m usually in bed by 9, so yeah, the Ottawa Women’s Cycling Club call was fantastic.

Good discussion. Great questions. Lots of enthusiasm.

It’s interesting, cycling is my thing. I feel best on the bike. But lately I’ve been finding it hard to get on the trainer and stay motivated to train. But geez – this changed last night!

My alarm went off at 4:00 this morning and I was still buzzing from last night’s call. I had zero thoughts of more sleep or riding later… I got on the bike and pedaled. All thanks to the vibe from the group of women who came together last night.

Isn’t amazing what can happen when you connect with like-minded people who are also excited, enthusiastic, and supportive?!

Fingers crossed we’re able to see all our plans for the Ottawa Women’s Cycling Club come together in 2021!

(Want to find out more about the club? Search for Ottawa Women’s Cycling Club on Facebook. We also have a network page for women to connect and chat as well – Ottawa Women’s Cycling Network.)

Alright, I’ve gotta go. I need to work out a winter riding plan so I can be fit and ready to enjoy riding my bike with the rad women in the Ottawa Women’s Cycling Club!

90 Seconds

Some days life is a lot. And it seems that these days life is really a lot.

And being a ruminator and over thinker this can lead to a slippery slope of internal debate, frustration, and despair.

I used to think being a planner was a positive. But it’s really easy to let planning become over thinking and constant internal chatter.

It’s time to get off this merry go-round. The only way I know how to do this is to write about it.

So here goes nothing: I give myself 90 seconds to over think, ruminate, and debate whatever thing has invaded my brain.

This means I have 90 seconds to get over the person who is trying really hard to bully me. This means I give myself 90 seconds to rethink the off-hand comment. This means I have 90 seconds to worry about what comes next or might happen. This means I have 90 seconds to think about what I’ll have for breakfast tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

I think you get the idea. It’s super easy for me to rethink, agitate, and over think the emails, comments, messages, plans, and stuff of life. So 90 seconds it is.

A big thank you to a good friend who suggested the power of the written word in helping me get out of my head.

Confession: I’m Not Doing All The Things

I’m not doing all the things.

I’m not doing a self-guided yoga practice. I’m not getting in 10,000 steps a day. I’m not reading more. I’m not taking advantage of Zoom workouts and meet-ups. I’m not maximizing my time.

That’s right – I’m not the uber-productive, super motivated, goal-oriented person the online articles, podcasts, blogs, and social media posts say I can and should be during this pandemic.

When the middle of March came, a switch did not flip for me. I did not suddenly find hours of free time and devote this to self-development.

Nope. I kind of did the opposite. I wallowed and got bored. I couldn’t even binge watch all the shows (I already did this in the before times).

And here we are in October and I finally have the nerve to stand up and say “I‘m not a pandemic overachiever. I’m not doing all the things.”

I’m just doing what I can to stay sane and not think about the what if’s, should have been doing, could be doing, missing out on’s, and might never do agains.

I like to believe I’m not the only person who is growing weary of the super-motivated ideal that has been forced on us as a way to look on the “bright side of the pandemic” and to “find the silver linings“.

But who knows. If I trust the Internet, I’m the only person in the “not doing all the things and I’m okay with it” cool kids club.

And no, I don’t want to join your sourdough starter club or take lessons for a language I’ll likely never use since who knows when it will be safe to travel again. Thanks though.

(Written with a smile and a generally balanced outlook on life. I’m fine. Really. I am.)

Happy World Ostomy Day

Today, October 3rd, is World Ostomy Day. A day to raise awareness of ostomies, ostomates, ileostomies, and ileostomates.

Unfortunately, most of you have likely never heard of World Ostomy Day or even know what an ostomy or ileostomy is. Somehow days like Doughnut Day or Coffee Day attract more attention than days celebrating ostomies, colon cancer, bladder cancer, Crohn’s Disease, or ulcerative colitis….

I presume this is because no one really wants to talk about what happens in the bathroom. Well, it’s time to change this. Too many people neglect to tell their doctor what happens when they go to the bathroom – they ignore the cramps, pain, blood, diarrhea, constipation, gas, and bloating.

But these are signs and symptoms of very serious diseases. Ignoring these symptoms only leads to bad bad things. And let me tell you an ileostomy or ostomy is not a bad thing.

For people like me – it’s a lifesaver. I have an ileostomy because I have ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis is terrible. Having an ileostomy is not terrible.

This is how I explained my ileostomy to my friend this morning as we walked to the river for a swim,

Because of ulcerative colitis, I had my colon removed. So now my small intestine sticks out of my stomach. My small intestine empties into a pouch attached to my skin. I empty this into the toilet. I change my pouch every four days. I also had my rectum removed and my butt sewn shut. This is called a Barbie Butt.”

That’s it. Plain and simple. My ileostomy doesn’t stop me from living.

In fact, it allows me to live. I do struggle with food – I can’t eat everything I want and I do experience a lot of pain in my abdomen – but this is all solvable and a minor inconvenience when compared to being as sick as I was before having my colon removed.

I no longer have to wear adult diapers. I no longer crap myself in the grocery store. I no longer see the toilet water turn bright red because blood is literally dripping out of my butt.

Now, thanks to my ileostomy, I feel free. I really can do anything. These photos, taken by my friend Tom sum up the first part of how I spent World Ostomy Day:

I started swimming around a year ago. I was really nervous to swim with my pouch and ileostomy. What would happen? What if it doesn’t stick? What if my pouch fills up while I’m swimming?

Finally one day, I got fed up with myself and my dithering – I went out and bought a swimsuit, goggles, swim cap, and ear plugs – and then I went to the pool and went swimming.

It was awesome. I was hooked on swimming again. I was slow (still am). My technique was very rusty. But I really felt at ease in the water. Swimming 25 meters was intimidating – but I stuck with it.

And now I’m swimming with a swim club and meet up with a cool group of swimmers to swim in the Ottawa River. I lucked out with my Ottawa River Swim Gang – super welcoming, patient, and experienced swimmers – who tolerate my less-than-straight lines, endless questions, and constant chatter.

I could not have gone swimming before I had my colon and rectum removed. There was no way I could get in the pool or out in the river – the chances of my needing to rush out very quickly due to constant diarrhea, lack of bowel control, and the fear of a big disaster – meant I could not swim.

But now I can. My ileostomy means I can do it all. And I intend to.

After my swim in 15C water, I went for a bike ride.

Life is good. Happy World Ostomy Day! A big thank you to the smart doctors who gave me my life back.