Summer Catch Up

This is my summer so far! Lots of riding and swimming with rad people.

This is another pandemic summer. I know things are much better than they were but frankly, even with both vaccines circulating in my body – I’m not 100% ready for normal times.

In fact, I kind of like the new times. I’m less rushed. I have more time to be still. I find my weekends are not over-packed with rushing from one thing to the next. I appreciate activities and connections with friends more.

I have to say that one of the major highlights of 2021 and this summer is the Ottawa Women’s Cycling Club. Who knew we would have 90 women in this club?! Amazing! Riding with these people is hard to describe.

I always come home feeling lifted and inspired.

For the last few weeks we’ve been hosting a group riding and confidence skills clinic. Thanks to the amazing Sam, the women in our clinic are improving by leaps and bounds. It’s so motivating and inspiring to see these people learn skills and gain so much bike confidence.

Thank you to all the members in the Ottawa Women’s Cycling Club – you have put a new spark in my riding!

And when I’m not riding, I’m likely swimming or thinking about swimming. I’m a new swimmer and as is my way, I’m trying to learn as much as I can about this sport. There is so much to learn – and this is why I love it. Plus the feeling of gliding across the water is super special.

I’ve met some fantastic people thanks to swimming. It’s a real bonus to connect with like-minded people who don’t mind getting up for a 6:30 a.m swim on the weekend. Thanks to these people, I’m motivated to set some swimming goals.

Non-Sweaty Life….

Of course, it’s not all sweating and recovering from sweating around here. In between work and regular home life, there’s been some drawing (not as much as I would like), reading (again not as much as I want), and general sitting.

Some days it seems like I do more sitting than anything else. This is new for me. I like it. I’m letting go of “shoulding” on myself. And just learning to be.

Marc and I have started looking for a new-to-us house. I know right?! Surprise! So this does take up time. Not to mention the work we are doing to our house to get it ready for staging and showing. We bought this house in 1998 – so it’s been a long while since we’ve really looked at houses and thought about packing and moving.

And honestly, that’s about it.

It looks like cyclocross will be happening this year. Hooray!!! So soon, I’ll start hosting some cyclocross clinics for women and start meeting up with friends for ‘cross practice. I really hope ‘cross happens. I miss seeing over 50 women charging down a race course and hearing the race stories afterwards.

Imagine what it will look like with all those red Ottawa Women’s Cycling Club jerseys on the start line and flowing over the barriers…

That’s it. Nothing special. No deep thoughts. Just regular old life. Suppose this is why I haven’t written in a while. Hopefully next time I’ll have something more interesting to tell you.

Real Life with Ulcerative Colitis

“I hate my body.”

I said this to Marc this morning.

I hate the intense abdominal pains that come out of nowhere. I hate the way my body responds to food. I hate that I do not have any safe foods anymore. I hate that I can’t rely on my body.

This is real life with ulcerative colitis for me. I look great – healthy, fit, tanned, etc. I’m active with cycling, swimming, walking, and generally living life.

But under all this – the truth comes out. Life with a chronic illness like ulcerative colitis is hard. It’s there everyday. The fear of what food will do. The pain that comes out of nowhere. Not knowing if this will be a good day or a bad day.

I did not write this for sympathy.

I’m writing this because I believe it’s important to never sugarcoat real life. I’m writing this to remind people that what you see on the outside is not the whole story.

I write this to let others out there living with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease, and other chronic illnesses know that you’re not alone – there are people around who know and who understand.

It’s Okay to Not Do It

This post is a reminder for my future self – it’s okay to not do it, it’s okay to not do all the things in one day, it’s okay to sit and just be still.

It seems that in between the articles about languishing and flourishing, there is the constant unspoken message of needing to always be doing. At least, this is how I feel. I read the articles about how it’s okay to feel burnt out or to be lacking motivation but then I think “yeah, whatever – I still have 15 things I need to get done today.”

And then I try to do those 15 things – some happen, some don’t, and generally of the ones that do get done – most are wrapped in frustration, fatigue, and disinterest.

And here we are today.

I had planned on leaving the house at 7 a.m. for a longish ride to Merrickville and then filling the rest of the day with all the things.

But instead, it’s noon and I’m still in my pyjamas. I got up at 10 a.m. I have zero intentions of riding, swimming, or really doing much.

I want to ride. I want to swim. I want to do everything. But some days I just can’t.

Is it burnout? Is it pandemic fatigue? Is it the fatigue of living with a chronic illness? Is it because the last few days I feel like I’ve been digesting knives? Is it because it got freaking hot really fast? Is it because of the hot flashes and perimenopause?

I don’t know what it is (probably all of the above and more)… What matters is the listening and reminding myself that it’s okay not to do it.

Starting Over

I had a blog post written, and I deleted it. It didn’t say anything I haven’t said before. This pandemic is hard. That’s it. It’s hard regardless of who you are and where you live. And staying angry about people who can’t follow recommendations or refuse to get the vaccine is wasted energy.

Instead here’s what’s happening these days:

  • Marc is recovering well from the bike/car accident. He’s back on the trainer and back at work. And yes, he’s taking it easy. A big thank you for calling, emailing, texting, and messaging – we really appreciate it.
  • The Ottawa Women’s Cycling Club is booming – last count we have 82 members. This is so fantastic and I can’t wait until we can organize rides and get people riding together in small groups.
  • The Ottawa Women’s Cycling Network is close to reaching 1,000 members! I never imagined this happening. It’s a real treat to read the posts and see people helping, encouraging, and sharing.
  • I’ve been swimming – and not in the pool. Not going to lie – that water is cold! But it’s not so bad. In fact it’s exhilarating. And quite addictive. It really is different swimming in cold water, it feels like a totally different sport.
  • I miss the pool and swim practices with the Nepean Masters Swim Club. Up until a few weeks ago, I was swimming four days a week and I was finally making some progress. Fingers crossed the pools reopen soon, I still have so much to learn.
  • April has been a pretty stellar month for cycling. I’m trying to hold back and not do any long rides yet. I’ve learned the hard way that 100+ km days in April results in cycling burn-out by July.
  • I’ve finished all of the Inspector Gamache books and I’m patiently waiting for the next book. I’m not a mystery reader but this series written by Louise Penny has been just what I needed. I started reading this series in 2016 and it became my go-to when I need a total escape.
  • I finished watching Formula 1 Drive to Survive season 3. Dang, this is a fascinating program. I know nothing about Formula One racing but this series is something else. Now, I’m waiting for season three of Sunderland ‘Til I Die.
  • I borrowed an idea from Austin Kleon and I’ve started a daily log journal. Every day I write a few sentences about the day. It can be whatever I want – my mood, something good, a recap of the day, really whatever I feel like jotting down. I like the freedom of this type of journaling – it takes less than a minute to do, there are no rules, and I’m not trying to write something profound.

And well, that’s about it. Life is really just rolling along and for this I’m thankful.

I miss family and friends. I miss the freedom of spontaneity. I miss restaurants. I miss concerts and museums and art. But I’m also so very lucky and fortunate to miss these things – so many people are missing a whole lot more.

(Obligatory photos since every blog needs a photo or two to help improve the click-rate…. These two photos might suggest a slow building pattern.)

Bare legs in the snow way back in 2009 in Belgium
Bright red legs after 23 minutes of swimming in 10.4C water

Resurfacing

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: