Sunday, 31 August 2014

Moving On

Yesterday was "Move into Residence" day for our son. It's a big day in our family and for many, many families across the country. I won't try to estimate the number of students leaving home to attend University but I will say it must be a LoT. 

Our son is going to the University of Guelph only 2 hours from London which still seems a long way when he's never lived away from home. I've been looking forward to this day with mixed emotions for months now. I am happy he is looking forward to Moving On and enjoying the relative independence offered by University life. But there is a small part of me that can't help but worry because he is our 'baby' and I will miss him. 

I love his energy, enthusiasm and good humour. He makes me laugh and is fun to have around. On the other hand, he is a teenage boy. He is messy and up all hours making noise and disrupting my sleep. 

I used to sleep through the night before becoming a Mom some 24 years ago. I wake up at the slightest unusual sound in the house. It must be a 'Mom' thing because my husband isn't bothered until I wake him to complain. I fall asleep again easily enough unless I realize it's late and our son isn't home, then I worry. 

Our outside doors all make different noises which I can't help but hear when he's coming and going at odd hours. Plus our kitchen is below our bedroom, so I often wake up to the sound of late night snack prep.

My sleep has been disrupted now for a Very Long Time. I must say I'm looking forward to sleeping through the night. The only problem is better sleep comes at a a price. Our house will be quiet ALL the time.

I also plan to start cleaning this weekend. Our son is a typical teen and rather messy at home. As quickly as I clean, he makes another snack or tracks in dirt on his shoes or leaves his clothes in a trail behind him

Although I love a clean and organized house, I wonder if the house might seem too empty without him? I wonder if I'll miss his mess just a little?

I worried all week that he hadn't done much to get organized but I went ahead and did his laundry while he was out having fun with friends Friday night. I put cases in the hallway for him to pack and placed all his new single bedding in the large laundry bag. I figured he could finish packing in the morning before we left.

I was surprised to wake up at 2 a.m. to find his bags packed and ready to go. Of course when I got up at 6 a.m. to feed the cat, let the dog out and put another load in the dryer I noticed the drying rack was empty which prompted me to go through his bags. I didn't think his clothes could have possibly been dry in such a short time. I found one pair of track pants which were still damp. 

Overall I was super impressed with his packing. My messy kid folded everything perfectly and made efficient use of space in all his cases. In the morning, he refolded and repacked the towels I had put out for him. Here is the car all packed up including a little fridge which will be handy for their water, juice and snacks.
Here I am in his new room on campus. This is his bed and desk. The fridge fits between the two beds doubling as a night table. He has to buy an extension cord to plug it in. We offered to do it but he insisted he could manage. I think he just wanted us to Move On so he could start his exciting new life on campus.
He is in a triple room with a third bed through a door to the right. It's quite a spacious separate room. He and his friend requested to room together so they will be sharing this space and their roommate will get the more private space.

Our son insisted on unpacking everything himself. He and his friend have this big walk-in closet at the foot of their beds. Who knew he would be so fussy about his space.
Moving in took a mere 45 minutes even with a long line of slow moving traffic. Since we were hungry and our son was anxious for us to leave, my husband and I went to Borealis Grille and Bar for a delicious dinner.  
We even had cocktails to celebrate a successful day. Our dinner really was amazing. 
After dinner, we decided to return to the University to walk around. My husband and son had taken a campus tour in July but it was all new to me. When we arrived, we saw our son participating in group activities so we did what any respectful parents would do, hid in the bushes and took a photo from afar. He looked like he was having a great time which helped put my mind at ease. 
My husband showed me the new lecture halls built a few years ago. They really are very nice. I couldn't resist sitting and imagining what it would be like to be a student here.
This was taken outside the lecture halls. Also very nice.
The Bull Ring Coffee Pub looks really cool from the outside  but it closes early this week so I could not see inside.
I liked the view between these buildings. It leads to a large park and green space.
 This is the walkway through the park ... very pretty.
I think students did a good job painting this cannon in the school colours - red, yellow and black. Funnily enough our son was not impressed when I offered to crochet an afghan in these colours for his room. I was just joking with him... honest.
New students are wandering around in large groups all over campus. I also noticed the odd parent wandering around looking a bit bewildered and out of place just like us.
We headed back towards the residence our son and his friend moved into. I enjoyed our little campus tour.
We looked but didn't see our son again before we left. I'm not too worried, there are lots of new students away from home for the first time and they all seem to be having fun.
That's their room to the left of the open emergency exit. Their windows are at ground level and open to let in a bit of a breeze. They can see out but the mesh makes it impossible to see in - I checked. 
With our campus tour done, we headed back to London to pick up our dog from my parents, have a drink and fill them in on our day. 

Our son is growing up and Moving On. 
I am so happy he is happy, yet sad he is gone.
I will do what Moms do best. I will Carry On.

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Well I better get ready. Did I mention we have a party to attend? It's a 50th Birthday for a friend. Cleaning can wait. Let's have some fun.

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Monday, 25 August 2014

No Excuses

Guest post by Cathy another good friend and fellow crafter

I am so pleased Cathy agreed to tell her motivational story about how she got into sports and crafting at a young age and, although she took a break while her children were young, has returned more motivated and enthusiastic than ever. I particularly love that she took on the challenge of learning to swim so she could transition into participating in triathlons. When you set your mind to something there really are "No Excuses". 

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I was pleased when Beth asked me to write a guest post for her blog. I will admit that trying to figure out my motivation for crafting and endurance sports was more difficult than I anticipated. I have done both for years but never really thought about why!

Beth and I have known each other for almost thirty years through London Centennial Wheelers (LCW) our local cycling club.  For many years, we volunteered for the 7 a.m. shift at registration for the LCW Springbank Road Races in May, and would catch up on our parallel lives. We have a lot in common, including husbands who are engineers and two kids each with our sons being the same age. However, it wasn’t until Beth and I connected on Facebook that I realized she is also a crafter. 

I’ve done several crafts over the years starting with sewing. Back when I was in elementary school, all the girls took Home Economics which provided a solid basis in making our own clothing. My mother had a sewing machine so I continued making much of my own clothing as it was far less expensive than store bought. 

Once I reached university age, I was heavily involved in competitive running, cycling and cross-country skiing. With the advent of spandex fabric, I was able to start making my own sports clothing as well. I even started a small business making and selling custom sports clothing. The name of my business was Willpower Sportswear, which was a word play on my last name "Williams", and "willpower" needed to pursue endurance sports.  

That's me in 1982 wearing a cycling uniform I made. It was tough lining up those stripes!
In my teens, I also taught myself how to knit and crochet mostly making Nordic knit sweaters and granny square afghans. I didn’t enjoy joining squares, so I chose yarn colours I liked and made big granny squares, changing colours every couple of rows. Most of the gifts I gave at this age were handmade, mostly for economic reasons, but family and friends always appreciated my efforts.

I had great intentions of making handmade clothing for my own kids. Oh how naive! I made several knitted baby sweaters and hats while I was pregnant the first time and then didn’t make anything for almost 15 years. Similarly, my athletic endeavours took a backseat while my kids were young. Leisure pursuits became a thing of the past during those busy years.

Here is my daughter wearing one of the few handmade baby outfits I managed to make.  
A couple years ago, I got the urge to pick up needles again. This time I wanted to do something simple that did not require a pattern. I discovered yarn bombing which is the act of covering outdoor public items such as statues, fences or railings, with knitted or crocheted pieces. 

I have stayed with covering trees on our own property using my favourite granny square crochet stitch. I love how colourful and cheerful they look. 
Sometimes I buy new yarn, but I often use scrap yarn from my own stash or from a local thrift store. I like crocheting while we're at our cottage. It is simple and fast plus, if I run out of a particular colour, I just switch to another without needing to drive to the city for more.

As my kids have gotten older (18 and 15 now), I have been able to return to sports, this time as an "age-grouper". When I was competing in endurance sports as a young adult, I was very hard on myself and rarely satisfied with my results. At this point in my life, sport is something I choose to do for fun, so I don’t put the same kind of pressure on myself. I train as well as possible given my other life responsibilities, and then look forward to testing that training on race day. I am always excited to compete now which is a very different and positive way to experience racing.  
I have gradually increased my running to the point where I am doing half-marathons. This is a distance I had not done when I was younger, so every improvement is my best ever result and I’m not competing against my younger self.  
Several years ago, I tried my first duathlon. This is like a triathlon, but without the swimming. My favourite distance is 5 km run – 20 km bike – 2.5 km run. I find I can fit the training required for this distance into my life and still have time and energy to take care of everything else that needs doing.

Last year I turned 50 and wanted to do something that’s been on my bucket list for a very long time… learn to swim. I had tried several times before but had not gotten proficient enough to do a triathlon. This time I took private lessons and swam two to three times per week for over a year. In June of this year, I did my first ever Give-It-A-Tri in Welland featuring a 375 m swim – 10 km bike – 2.5 km run. I experienced a few moments of fear and doubt before entering the water, but once I started swimming with the other competitors, I realized I was going to be just fine. 

I have done two more triathlons since then, the most recent in Chicago. That race included a very tough 750 m swim against the current in Lake Michigan. It left me panicky and gasping for air but I managed to get through it even more determined to improve my swim portion. Becoming a great triathlete is not my goal, participating and enjoying the process is my motivation.
People often ask me why I do my sports and my crafting, both of which are a bit outside the norm, especially for a 51 year-old woman. They wonder how I find time for these pursuits. I will admit I do have a lot of responsibilities, with kids and care giving for several family members, as well as running my own small but busy accounting practice. 

To me, sports and crafting feel normal because they are similar to activities I have enjoyed from a young age, more like a return to what I used to love. These activities provide relaxation and stress relief so I make sure I find the time. I also think they help me deal with things outside of my control in the “real world”. 

Yarn bombing is considered pretty silly and meaningless, but it gives me pleasure to see colourful decorations on the trees as we pull up to our cottage. Likewise, I’m not going to the Olympics at this stage, but it gives me satisfaction to know that I can set a physical goal, work towards it and see the results of my efforts on race day. 

Real life can be so serious, I think it’s good to have less serious pastimes. And sometimes, on a good day, I can even win a pumpkin! How fun is that?

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Thanks Cathy for contributing to my Blog. I know we have been friends for years but we rarely get together to discuss all that you have shared in this story. I was so pleased to see you use the term "parallel lives" and reference our husbands and kids. I had been thinking the exact same thing with the same words for the past few days. How weird is that?

I have to mention my husband bought a pair of cycling bib tights from you years ago and was still wearing them 20 years later. Your work produced quality custom fit sportswear that lasted. 

I also love that you've taken up frivolous yarn bombing of trees on your property. It makes me smile although I think my husband is worried I might 'bomb' his car or his bike. OK that thought makes me smile a little bit too.

I am super impressed with all that you do and with your competitive spirit. I can tell that you love the challenge and especially the social side of training and competing. Keep on Tri-ing.

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Tuesday, 19 August 2014


Guest Post by Elizabeth a good friend and fellow crafter

I decided to title this post "Inspiration" because I am totally inspired by Elizabeth's resourcefulness to plan, train, prepare and execute a solo bike ride and camping trip in Southwestern Ontario. I hope you enjoy reading her adventure as much as I did.

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I was flattered when Beth asked me to write a guest post on her blog. “Motivation” isn’t exactly my middle name, so I was surprised she would ask me to write about it. “Wander through life picking the daisies” is more my style.  

Beth’s quest to spend August thinking about motivation certainly got me thinking about why we do what we do. Most people have really big projects, like work and family, and sometimes smaller projects, like cycling or crafting. I think middle-sized projects include preparation to achieve goals such as developing fitness for big rides or races and learning new skills for crafting.

This summer I decided to set a Big Goal for myself. I decided to do a self-supported three-day solo bike tour. I had worked with Coach Paul Cooney from LTD Performance Cycling over a period of several months to improve my fitness. I think I’m almost as strong as I was in my twenties and I’m now in my fifties. Having a coach who is very responsive to questions and comments provides a lot of support and motivation to improve. I also prepared my bike, dusted off some old panniers and camping equipment and made sure I knew how to do some basic bike repairs. Both my husband and son like working on bikes, so I don’t usually have to do much of that. A review of a few fundamentals set my mind at ease. 

Loading up for a solo ride requires a balancing act, packing everything I might need for camping yet keeping the weight low for riding. I made multiple lists and did a few trial runs before my Big Ride. This is my bike packed with all my gear weighing in at about 55 pounds. 
Travelling alone on my bike was even more fun than I thought it would be. The first day I left home and rode into a strong headwind across the Holland Marsh and through scenic farmland full of happy lounging cows around New Tecumseh to Earl Rowe Provincial Park which is 60 km from home.
Just as I arrived, it began to drizzle then became quite cool. Setting up camp took about ten minutes and cooking my simple dinner took only a little bit longer. Usually when we camp, we marvel at how long it takes to do everything, but with my simple setup, I had a lot of free time. 
You might think with so much free time, I would turn my attention to the knitting I had bothered to pack. A single sock on DPNs is pretty light and compact and I had thought it would be a good way to pass some time. I had been working on it a few days earlier but had set it aside, unhappy with the way it was turning out. For those of you who are in the know, the stitches I had picked up along the heel flap were uneven which made the sock look messy. It's difficult to feel "motivated" and keep working on messy looking socks. Luckily I had also packed my Kobo so I spent the evening happily tucked in my little tent reading.

There are no worries with bears when camping in southern Ontario, but I was still worried my food might be raided by raccoons or skunks so a nice couple at the next campsite graciously agreed to store my food in their truck. Thank goodness I kept coffee in my panniers because after a long cold rainy night I got up early and then waited… and waited… and waited for my gracious neighbours to wake up. 

I read my Kobo, packed my gear and drank copious amounts of coffee for FOUR hours, resolutely ignoring the horrible mess also known as my sock project.
When I finally got to my food, I munched a quick breakfast, finished loading my bike and headed to Alliston where I bought more food and a warm vest. I then headed south to Albion Hills Conservation Area. It was another windy day and the clouds were dark and threatening. 

I arrived at Albion Hills in time for a nice lunch and managed to set up camp just before the rain started. This is where the "wheels came off" so to speak. I was well-prepared for solo biking and camping BUT I wasn't prepared for Albion Hills in the RAIN. 

The wide-open campsites are a little creepy, very CReEpY actually, especially with the guy from three sites down who had been drinking steadily all afternoon then wandered down to scrounge wood from the bush behind my tent for his campfire. Lack of bush shelter also made the sites windy, so sitting outside was quite cold, even with long tights, wool ski base layer, a T-shirt, long-sleeved bike jersey, fleece vest, windbreaker and my buff fashioned into a toque. Sitting inside my tent was warm enough but a bit cramped and scary with the drunken "scrounger-man" stumbling around outside. 

I could have warmed up by going for a walk, which wouldn't have been restful or particularly sensible in cold rainy weather. Then the young bucks down the way started chopping at overhead branches at their campsite with large knives and axes. I had finished all the books on my Kobo and still could not bring myself to knit the sock. By suppertime when I realized it was going to rain all night, I decided to bail and called my kids who came to the rescue. In that hour while waiting for a ride, the other two campsites got into a boom box volume competition. I think I made the right decision as it was not going to be a restful night at Albion Hills.

The next day feeling like I still had some unfinished business involving road riding, I headed out for a quiet ride in the hills of King Township. I was booking it on an easy downhill on 16th Sideroad when I startled a Great Blue Heron. It took off from the ditch and flew in front of me through a tunnel of tree branches over the road. If I hadn't braked, I'm sure I would have plastered myself up the backside of a fairly upset bird. It was exciting in a much more satisfying way than dealing with crazy campers in bad weather at Albion Hills.

So that’s my story of my self-supported three-day solo bike trip. You might wonder what it has to do with motivation. 

Well, I would say it takes a lot of Motivation to accomplish a Big Goal (First Solo Bike Ride done) yet it only takes an annoying little problem to become unmotivated (Messy Sock not done yet). I would also say Very Big Problems certainly can Motivate Me to Move On.
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Thanks so much Elizabeth for your contribution to my Blog. I'm truly inspired by your story and can't help but wonder what you will think of next. Keep on knitting, quilting, biking and "wandering through life picking the daisies".

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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

More on Motivation

This month I've been thinking more about what motivates people and what motivates me in particular. I think different people are motivated by different things based on individual personalities and goals that may change or evolve over time.

For instance, I love being active and fit but I also like to sit for long periods and crochet or write. When I get caught up in a project, I can easily forget to be active. I might even let other distractions such as laundry, cleaning, social media, tv, food prep or anything else keep me from being active. I might call these distractions "obligations" to make them sound more important but they're really just excuses. 

In my last post I discussed how gadgets such as my Garmin vivofit and cycle computer help with motivation by tracking my activity and progress. This daily accountability is a great tool but doesn't provide the big motivating reason I need to keep me on track. 

When I look at my athletic friends, it seems like a lot of them use races to keep them motivated. They sign up for a race or a series of races, then either train on their own, with a coach or with a group of friends with similar goals. They seem to love it and they love everything about it including the race day excitement.

For me, racing is not motivating. It is totally stressful. I have done a few 'fun' races over the years but I cannot say I enjoyed them. Everybody is very encouraging and supportive yet I still get stressed by the high energy and excitement at these events. Even volunteering at races is difficult for me as I literally 'feel' the tension and don't like it. 

Since racing is not an option for me, I have to come up with another really good reason to be active and get fit in the winter when it is challenging to ride outside. I like to make exercise a practical part of my day so I will continue to bike to work as detailed in this post. In the winter with shorter daylight hours and freezing temperatures, my route changes from park path to road and I refuse to ride on days it might snow since safety can be a concern. 

From experience, I know I need more than just biking to work and walking the dog to stay fit in the winter. I have lots of options. I can ride my trainer (not exciting), jog (it's been a few years), cross country ski (depends on snow), lift weights (we have a home gym) and/or body weight exercises (did I mention we have a home gym?). 

So there are lots of options but how do I make myself exercise regularly in the winter? I need a really good reason and I think I have found one that is perfect for me. My husband and I have been talking about signing up for a 2-week bike tour with CanBiCuba. They have one scheduled to start January 24th, 2015. You can read all about it here. We did this tour in 2010 and loved it. You can view our Picasa Web album photos from that trip here. Even though I was relatively unprepared for the longer distances and climbs, I managed just fine and had a great time.

I made it up this mountain called La Grand Piedra on my own where my husband was waiting to greet me at the top. Full disclosure - I did have to walk a few sections.
We rode this beautiful coastal road (120 km) without support as the bus could not drive this route and ran out of water for the last 25 km. The climbs were long, the vistas were gorgeous and we loved it. This leg of the tour is now supported with a jeep carrying water which is great.
For a change of pace, we also enjoyed some interesting hikes in the mountains in Cuba.
Since I am familiar with the route and know what to expect, I would like to challenge myself to ride a bit better. The last time, my husband helped push me up some (OK a lot) of the mountains but I would prefer to do it on my own and think he would appreciate that as well. Looking back at these photos from 5 years ago, I would say I was in pretty good shape and will have to work really, really hard to do better.

I also crashed a couple times on the last tour. Nothing serious but I did hit the ground on both the first and last day. It made me a bit nervous to ride with strangers so another challenge is to ride confidently yet carefully with no crashing this time. 

Improved fitness will help me ride better. Improved fitness will provide the strength required to position myself safely in a group. Improved fitness will allow me to ride the mountains without a helping hand. Improved fitness will allow me to tour with enough energy to enjoy the local sites and social time at the end of each day. I love all the benefits of travel touring with improved fitness. 

So that's my "big motivating reason" to get fit even if I might prefer to sit and crochet when it's cold outside. What about you? What keeps you motivated to get out there and just do it?

In keeping with this theme, I've decided August should be Motivation Month at meo my crochetI have asked a couple of my athletic friends who are also into crochet and/or knitting to contribute their stories on motivation. Watch for More on Motivation later this month.

Monday, 4 August 2014


My husband surprised me with a Garmin vivofit for my birthday. I did not know what it was so he explained it is a fitness band that counts steps plus does a bunch of other stuff. He assured me all "the ladies" at work love them and felt vivofit was one of the better versions available. 

When I asked why the ladies liked them so much, he said they thought the fitness bands motivated them to be more active. I was skeptical but curious to see if it worked for me.

I have been wearing my Garmin vivofit faithfully for 3 weeks now so am ready to share my thoughts. 

One of my favourite things about the vivofit is the band which is relatively narrow and can be worn comfortably loose. I also love that there are no push buttons on the sides. Push buttons on watches tend to dig into the top of my hand causing a small bruise and callus which has completely healed since switching to the vivofit. I love it.

My husband bought me the basic black band as he felt it goes with everything. That's true but there are some fun colours available in sets of three - purple/teal/blue or black/slate/red for just $25 USD. I must say I'm tempted. It would be nice to have a few choices to coordinate with outfits as I can see the vivofit becoming a permanent fixture on my wrist. 

Surprisingly, the vivofit step tracking really is rather fun. Since I was skeptical and not familiar with the whole fitness band concept I started with the standard goal of 7500 steps per day to see how I measured up. I discovered my relaxing days easily exceed 10,000 steps so I changed my goal to 10,000 which seems to be reasonable. 

Most of my walking is done with our dog. She gets a short walk in the morning, a longer walk after work and often another short walk before bed. I work in an office where I sit at a desk but I do get up regularly to move around. The vivofit displays a red bar after one hour of inactivity to encourage movement. Just a couple minutes of movement will get rid of the red bar. I usually move enough to avoid the red bar warning except when watching a movie or crocheting or blogging. It's nice to have the visual reminder.

This morning, I slept in until 9 a.m. then went straight to my laptop to catch up on Facebook and work on this blog post. My husband brought me coffee so by 10:30 a.m. my vivofit was flashing red with only 11 steps recorded. I took a break to walk the dog and get in 2900 steps at one go.

It's easy to be active with a dog but the vivofit makes me more accountable. I find I've been going further and more regularly just to make sure I surpass my goal of 10,000 steps daily. I'm hoping it helps on extreme weather days when walking outside is less fun. Last winter was particularly cold so we cut short many walks. Now I'll know exactly how far I've gone and how far I need to go to reach my goal. No more lame excuses. 

I think goal setting and accountability are key elements for motivation. Just to be sure, I looked up the definition on Wikipedia.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Motivation is the driving force that causes the flux from desire to will in life.
Motivation has been shown to have roots in physiological, behavioral, cognitive, and social areas. Motivation may be rooted in a basic impulse to optimize well-being, minimize physical pain and maximize pleasure. It can also originate from specific physical needs such as eating, sleeping or resting, and sex.
Motivation is an inner drive to behave or act in a certain manner. These inner conditions such as wishes, desires and goals, activate to move in a particular direction in behavior.

The Garmin vivofit does encourage more activity and it should work for almost anybody. Vivofit gives clear, easy to view feedback. Just by clicking one button on your wrist you can cycle through number of steps taken, number of steps to reach your goal or number above your goal, distance, calories, time and date.

I wirelessly sync to Garmin Connect on-line where I can view the data at a glance and track my progress over time. 

I also have a Garmin Edge cycling computer (my birthday gift last year) which tracks my bike rides and provides data on distance, speed and elevation changes. The distance covered on the bike is automatically added to my vivofit walking distance and calorie count. Cycling does not count as steps but my husband tells me I could use the large band around my ankle to count pedal strokes. I haven't tried since I'm not interested in that level of detail.

I would also like to get a Garmin heart rate strap. The vivofit can be used to measure heart rate which I think might be useful for more intense efforts like when I'm biking. Who knows, it might even encourage me to start running again. Motivation indeed.

So do more gadgets equal more Motivation? I think it helps and certainly can't hurt. At the very least, it's fun and gives my brain a bit of a workout figuring out how to use all this fancy technology. I will continue to wear my vivofit and recommend it to anybody who asks.

What about you? Do you have a fitness band or any other gadgets you find particularly motivating or helpful? Let me know in the comments below. I'd love to hear what motivates you.