Change #100: The Journey To Rule In Laser Tag

I would like you to meet some people.

IMG_20170916_203213
The Team From Left to Right: Xena, Lala, & Hershey. Filbert was the photographer so unfortunately, he wasn’t able to be in the picture.

We began our laser quest saga with a home-cooked meal thanks to Xena and Lala at Xena’s cave. We caught up on the usual topics of conversation of work, trips taken, and major and minor unexpected life setbacks. As the conversation rolled on for some time, and we devoured the mouth-watering curry chicken dinner, we lingered in Xena’s cave a little longer than we should have.

It suddenly dawned on Xena that we running short of time. At Xena’s insistence and in she suggested it was best that we split up: me and Filbert would head to the destination so that we would arrive on time, while Xena and Lala wrestled the remaining food into the refrigerator.

We would meet at our destination: Laser Quest. 

As me and Filbert rolled out of the apartment building (both because we were full, and because we were in our car) we depended on old reliable GPS to get us there quickly. We turned this way, and that, and our trusted GPS got us there. However,  as we were short on time, and GPS knew this, she insisted that she show us all around Xena’s neighbourhood first. (GPS took us on what I feel, may have been the less direct route.)

Me and Filbert arrived late. We waited for a short time as the employees of Laser Quest took care of the customers that arrived before us. Then Filbert dealt with the registration. Xena and Lala appeared not long after, and even though we were a little late in our scheduled time, it did not matter.

We finally all stood in front of one guy and when it came time to register he turned to me and said, “What code name do you want?”

I plopped my head in Hershey-style fashion of sad puppy, looked blankly at him, and said, “Code name?”

He said, “Yeah, the name you want to use for the game.”

Mimicking and summoning my LBM, I blinked a couple of times and in a voice that trailed with the end of a question said, “Hershey?”

Then everyone else gave their code names: Lala (cool), Xena (Oh. That’s a good one too.) and Filbert. (Great. That’s funny and triple cool.) With so many similarities between me and my dog, I guess it wasn’t surprising that I would pick his name.

They took us to a dark room with blue-lit lights. In there you had a good idea of what other people could see on you. Poor Xena lit up like a Christmas tree in her sports gear of reflective white hat, and white sweater. Even our teeth glowed in the dark.

IMG_20170916_205947
The room where you ask the question: have you chosen your attire poorly?

Xena realized she would be an easy target and took her hat off and her sweater as she wore darker clothes underneath.

Oddly enough, I hadn’t really thought about what I would wear and just wore anything. Remarkably, I did not glow very much. As well, both Filbert and Lala were ok as well.

They made us read the rules and at this moment I cannot remember them all. But some stayed with me such as: no kneeling, no running, and no swearing. Mostly, because I broke the last two. Before entering Filbert and Xena educated us on the best way to be successful: get to higher ground, and shoot your laser gun from there.

I made sure to enter last because my reasoning was this: I could shoot people in the back. (Hmmm…I’m not normally like that.) As we entered Lala asked Xena, “So we’re staying together then?”

Xena said, “No!”

As soon as we went in I shot poor Lala repeatedly with my laser. I also was shot repeatedly by many people, and one of which was my hubby, Filbert.

The advice I was given came tumbling back to me: when you’ve been killed you can’t use your gun at all for 5 seconds, so you use the opportunity to get to higher ground. Every time I was killed, I sprinted up walkways and around corners, through fog and through blue-black darkness. It wasn’t until I nearly crashed into a child 3/4 of the way through the first round, I remembered one of the rules: NO RUNNING.

At one point in the first round, I was alone and made it almost to the top. I was neatly tucked into a corner.  It was a perfect sniper spot. I could use my laser above and below me, taking multiple participants out.  At one point I looked at the back of my gun and it showed Hershey’s name (good name) and I noticed a rank of “13”. After a few moments of my sniper position, I had gained in ranking and was positioned in spot 5 at one point.

After 20 minutes the first game ended. I pushed my sweat-drenched hair aside as I walked back down the planks with my gun.  We waited in the main room and looked at the screen to see where we ranked.

Filbert stood beside me, and with a casual voice he said, “Do you see who’s #1?”

As my eyes scrolled back up the board I read: Filbert. I grinned at hubby and said, “you did good.” But hubby did well at paintball as well. There were several times he managed to remain in the game right to the end and I told Xena and Lala that. Filbert said, “I’m good at surviving.”

Xena analyzed her score card, and proceeded to yell out names of the people who shot her the most. Many of them were children. Xena went over and discussed matters with one girl, and jokingly warned her, she was going down in the next round. Her friend piped up defending her and said, “Yeah, well, we’re partnering up. You’re going down!”

Xena promptly gave the girl a high-five.

When the next round started we went back into the room and read the rules again. (I quietly reminded myself that there was to be no swearing, and no running.)

The next round started and I believe at the beginning of the game, I got separated from Xena, Lala and Filbert. At one point I remember coming around the corner,  and I shot Xena in the back. I promptly apologized. I knew it was Xena as she donned her reflective white hat and sweater for the second round. She glowed in the game room like lights do on an airport runway.

Lala, Xena and Filbert protected and stayed together in one area. Once I found my team, I stood with them. I found another sniper position. The problem with this new location unlike my last spot, was that I stood right in the middle of a walkway where I was an open target. Annoyingly one guy kept shooting me straight down the walkway. At one point after I had been killed probably a dozen times by him, I proudly announced, “I’m going to take one for the team.”

I strolled around the corner with my laser gun in hand, walked straight up to where the shots were being fired without even ducking, and fired my laser gun.

And, they killed me.

But I think I may have got them too.

When we were done, Lala had moved up in the rankings and was overjoyed at her position. Both me and Filbert had dropped. I do not recall where Xena placed.

Sweating profusely, and deliriously happy we bounced out of Laser Quest. After paintball it was nice not to hurt, and yet still have had the chance to do something completely different and that I had never done before. (Lala was also new to laser quest.)

Would I do this again?

Absolutely! Less expensive, less painful than paintball, it’s a fun-filled night out where you also get the chance to do something physical.

Why wouldn’t I?

***

What? I never built anything with legos before.

Why not start now?

20170917_173500
My next challenge.

 

Advertisements

Scheduled: Laser Tag On Saturday, September 16th

Where: Ottawa, ON

When: Saturday, September 16th

Time: At 8 PM we’ll be firing up our lasers! 

***

Ok, how many people thought I would never get around to this one?

Don’t be shy, raise your hands?

For this challenge, I would like to send a big old thank you to a friend that raised her hand and posted on Facebook with, “I’m in!”Love the excitement!

Now, must avoid getting killed by too many toddlers at laser tag. That would be embarrassing. Worse yet, I won’t even be able to lie if it happens. Too many witnesses as both my hubby and our friend are participating.

Let the games begin! (Well, on Saturday.)

Change #99: This Quest Has Been Fulfilled – Kayaking At Dow’s Lake

 

20170910_134249_Dow's lake kayaks

We hesitated. We waited. We considered. Then, we reconsidered.

Once all the stars were perfectly aligned, fresh out of excuses, and an overwhelming concern that we might be kayaking at Dow’s Lake when the temperature dipped to 12 degrees Celsius in a few weeks, we drove to Dow’s Lake today and rented some kayaks.

Some may say this isn’t much of a boundary. That I picked a safe and controlled environment. We had perfect whether conditions, and there was no threat of us going through the Ottawa rapids where I at least, would be guaranteed to go swimming.

Except, keep in mind that hubby nor I, ever kayaked a day in our lives.

Once we paid our deposit and received our life jackets, I watched as my husband effortlessly glided into his kayak. I wondered if he had lied to me all these years. Didn’t he say they were tipsy? That they were wobbly beneath our feet?  Although, I know he had never been on a kayak before I had assumed that he spoke with someone who knew.

An attendant motioned to me that my kayak was ready. I strolled over and then stepped into the kayak convinced hubby was wrong and it wasn’t so bad. It wobbled. I braced myself, in particular my knees, and flopped my butt into the seat with a thud. My hands clutched my phone and I nearly lost my paddle with the effort. With one hand still holding the phone, I looked around and wondered where I should put it? With no options either in front of me, or behind me for that matter, I stuck it under my thigh in the hope it wouldn’t get wet and I didn’t kill another phone.

(Tangent Story: A few years ago I went swimming with LBM. Cole’s notes version goes something like this: we were walking on a trail, Hershey got hot, and began stretching out in puddles in order to cool off. It’s one of his favorite things to do. The dirtier the puddle, the happier he is.

He did this several times until at one point both of us thought he was in yet another puddle, but it turned out to be a swamp. Needless to say, he disappeared a second after stepping into it and was under water for a few seconds. Panic-stricken, I shouted his name. Feeling like it was an eternity and that my puppy was drowning, I did what every parent would do. I jumped into the same “puddle” after him!

I proceeded to push aside murky water while shouting, HERSHEY!!!  Not even a second later, I saw his little brown bum walking up the embankment calmly. Relieved, I watched him slid backwards a couple of times, until I gave him a final push to help him up. I waded up the same embankment.  Safe on the trail again, he proceeded to have “demon puppy” as I like to call it. Yeah. Good times. )

(No really, it was. I laughed, and laughed. And then we drove home in my husband’s car soaked and stinking like swamp water. I had to clean it out later. That was less fun. )

Ok…that wasn’t much of a Cole’s notes version. Oh well. Back to kayaking.

Once in the kayak I began paddling. Except, I had no idea how to steer. I gently plopped by paddle into the water and splashed some water aside while hubby paddled his way in my direction. Unable to steer, I nearly crashed into him. A collision was only averted because I stuck my paddle out against his kayak pushing him away.

Yeah, that’s my definition of steering. The concrete wall that makes up the Rideau Canal was less lucky though when a few short minutes later, I drove my kayak directly into it. Not with a lot of speed because at that point I had no idea how to go fast. But with a gentle, thump.

That was embarrassing. 

Hubby all the while is trying to explain to me how to steer. “If you leave your paddle in the water the drag will slow you down a bit…If you push to the right or left, you can turn.”

Here are photos of hubby. He is the expert.

But I’m not listening. I’m too busy arguing with my kayak.

My feet got wet. My jeans were wet up to the knees. Apparently, there is drip from your paddle.  I now understood why the attendant said, “I’ll see if we have a dry one,” when he went looking for kayaks.

We were going to wear sport clothes before we left but I had declared, “We make such a big deal about things. It shouldn’t be that complicated.” The way I saw it, we were sitting in a kayak on the water. We weren’t in the water.

Oops. That’s what happens when you make assumptions about stuff you know nothing about. 

Eventually though, I found a rhythm. I pushed my paddle deeper into the water and I picked up speed.  I could paddle multiple times on one side in order to turn my kayak right or left. My husband did it easily and with little concentration. For myself, it required me to consciously think about what I was doing, and what direction I meant to go in. I had to plan. For me, it was like skating where I lack the ability to turn and stop. But this time, I was in a kayak.

Oh yeah, and because once I realized I had to dig deep into the water in order to gain speed, I did this with enormous effort. At one point, I nearly tipped myself out of the kayak. I would have gone swimming and kayaking all in one day.

Right to the very end the steering was a challenge. Hubby glided his kayak along the side of the dock and got out. Me, still bumbling about on the other side, I pushed water here and there, and even with hubby’s guidance I still failed. Instead, the front of my kayak hit the dock and I bounced backwards. Then, I paddled backwards. Finally, hubby and the attendant could pull me in. With much wobbling on my part, and both the attendant and my husband helping me, I barely made it out.

Would I do it again? I don’t know.

What do you think?

20170910_141153_Me Smiling

 

Change #98: I Admit I May Have Been Wrong About You

For more than 14 years we were together. Your strength carried me through the most challenging and difficult times providing blue/grey space where I could hide while sweating, or robust vibrant colours that made me bounce happily along on the treadmill while One Republic sang in my ear.

We did everything together: run, row, elliptical and the odd Pilates class here or there. (Actually, now that I think about it, it was just the one Pilates class.) You introduced me to many things, but in particular running, and overall how much I love to live an active life. Before you, I was a McDonald’s-eater, every-night-two-large-pizza-eater.

You changed that, and you changed me for the better. 

Then, you began abandoning me. The odd machine that wouldn’t work, various closures that meant I had fewer and fewer options of Jims, until one day a final decision was made on my part that we should end our relationship. The timing of it couldn’t have been worse. We would never forget it because the break up happened at Christmastime. But my job had ended. I had to conserve. I had to make choices. So I tossed you out with the garbage, and swore I would never come back.

But you were a trooper about it, much more mature than myself. While I was angry about the number of times you failed me, you gave me a final wave and a thanks for all the years we spent together.

I had replaced you with New-Jim. New-Jim had a beautiful freshly designed exterior, and he winked at me when I walked up to his front doors. New-Jim was also less expensive as he was a bare necessities Jim. I could use his weights and cardio equipment all I wanted for a monthly fee, but to swim in him, would be an extra charge.

“That’s ok,” I waved my hand at the client representative as I negotiated price. “I rarely swim anyways. If I do swim, I’ll just pay the extra fee.”

New-Jim was also convenient because he lived close by with less than 1 KM between us. There would be no more excuses for me not to pay him a visit. I told myself I could bike there, run there, or walk there.

Yeah, things would be different now that I had found a closer New-Jim. 

As the months drifted by and spring turned into summer, summer to winter, I noticed something around my waist had developed that meant my pants felt a little more snug. And some other pants, refused to button up. Thighs were a little rounder. It only occurred to me recently that New-Jim was pretty and shiny, but there were things that I missed about Old-Jim.

I REALLY missed Old-Jim’s sauna. It was my dessert after a long, hard workout. For me that means that in 1 1/2 years, I haven’t had any dessert.

I also missed your convenient location inside that shopping mall where I could get cash at my banking machine without paying a service fee. Or, where I could buy dress pants, or a shirt for work after an exercise session. If I needed butter, or bread, I could also grab it in that same mall. It was a one-stop, do-it-all location.

I only noticed recently that New-Jim was close by, but he didn’t offer anything extra. As well, once I was close to home and with New-Jim FAR too close, it meant I could always say, “I’ll go later.”

And later for me, never happened. 

I went to see you yesterday. I wasn’t going to say anything about our past life together, but then I did. And Old-Jim – you were so great about seeing me again. You’re vibrant colours, your smile, and how you mentioned I should grab the pool schedule and a schedule of classes that are offered. Some of those classes, you said, I don’t have to pay an extra fee.

What???? No way!!! I thought.

After we had reconnected again, I changed into my workout clothes, and used your treadmill and your row machine. I showered. Then, I sweated a little more when I sat on your wooden benches and I heard a crackling sound that meant the sauna room was heating up. It wasn’t long before sweat dripped from my VERY TIRED body.

After more than a year, I finally had some post-workout dessert.

Thank you Old-Jim for taking me back. Like most relationships, I understand that when there is a breakup there are always two people to blame. But nothing is ever perfect. Your equipment will break, I know that. I’ll get stuck in traffic, I’m sure. But after trying something new, I’m ready to go back and see if we can give this relationship a second chance.

And on day one, I can honestly say, it’s good to be home.

20170908_154654

Upcoming Challenges To Be (Hopefully) Tackled…

Here’s the list of things I want to do:

  1. Laser Tag (I know, I know. I’ve been talking about this since the start. But hey, paintball happened.)
  2. Make Meringue Cookies
  3. Dine Solo without using my cell phone as a crutch. (Oh boy, I hope I get a window seat.)
  4. Go Bowling again (i.e. give up my Friday routine of breaking open a bottle of wine at 6 pm and do something different)
  5. Play on the Extreme Trampoline (Yup, I’ve been talking about this one since the start of the blog too.)
  6. Possibly Indoor Skydiving Although it would require a second trip to Toronto or Montreal. (It might not happen before the close of the blog on October 20th).
  7. CN Tower Edgewalk (Most likely will happen. We’ve reserved Hershey kennel space and are booking a hotel room, and we know there are tickets available on the date we are considering. Should I tell you what date it will happen? Maybe. But not today. Stay tuned!)
  8. And then whatever else I can think of….

***

Challenges In Progress….

  1. ***Ahem…The 10 book challenge. Right now it looks like I might not make this one but I am making a valiant effort as I have closed off two books in the last couple of weeks. If you look at my Goodreads book list you’ll see a book called, You might Be From Canada If….  that is made up of a series of sketches that are hilariously funny/with other poignant moments that describe some of our history as Canadians. There are really funny ones (in particular the one about the Canadian Goose…I laughed, and laughed…) mixed in with the occasional heartbreaking piece. (The Terry Fox one.) This is my new favorite coffee-table book.
  2. Attending Beethoven’s 9th on September 21st.

***OK  some may say that my book made up of sketches shouldn’t count. But I’m counting it because I’m also reading another book that I won’t be able to log because there’s a swear word in the title. It’s a very interesting book made up of a series of essays and it’s a self-improvement book. (Well, sort of…)

Anyways, I can’t log it because I’m currently working on a middle grade novel and in case I find a publisher or literary agent, successfully launch it, and a few children buy it, I don’t want one of the books showing up on my list of successfully completed books that has the ultimate swear word in the title.

I know, I know. It’s a long shot that any of that will happen, or that middle grade readers will even look at my account on Goodreads. But hey, just in case, I need to be prepared.

Change #97: The Basketball That Left Me For The Woods

20170827_081638
You cannot hide from me.

I’ve never had very good hand-eye coordination. I am very good at catching a baseball with my face, and once got clobbered in the cheek standing around at a volleyball court in high school. Add to these embarrassments that years ago at one of my husband’s corporate events, I failed to make contact with a soccer ball even though the ball was directly in front of my foot, all other players stayed back giving me the opportunity to kick it, and I had multiple, pathetic attempts at the endeavour.

Even under these perfect circumstances, I never successfully kicked it. 

When I was at public school I attempted to play basketball. Let’s summarize by saying that I never made the team.  But for Pushing Boundaries I wanted to attempt to get one basketball through the net. Surely, one should not be impossible. This was in part inspired by my niece and nephew who are naturally talented at basketball as well as many other sports. After watching a few of their games years ago, I was left in awe at their ability.

Given that my niece and nephew were so talented, maybe all these years I was mistaken. Maybe, I too, had a hidden talent as a basketball player and never knew it. Was a new career as the oldest recruited female basketball player awaiting me?

Ok, I never really thought any of that.

Really, I just wanted to get one ball in the net.

My husband had warned me that basketballs were loud and therefore playing at 5:30 or 6:00 AM was out of the question. I preferred not to annoy the kind neighbours that surround me and therefore knew this would be a weekend challenge. As the summer months began slipping away, I wondered whether it would happen at all. Would the basketball give me the evil eye up to the end of this blog, and continue to throw scorn at me after it was all over? Would it be one of the many things I never accomplished, an unfinished challenge that would ridicule me years later?

It would forever be the basketball that waited for me.  

 At 8 AM this Sunday morning, post-walk with the Hersh, and after months and months of staring down at the basketball that sat in the main hallway of my house, it finally happened. I dropped LBM off at home after our walk this morning, stuck the basketball in a plastic bag, and drove to the park. If kids were using the basketball court I would be out of luck. Kids would always come first. As I pulled in to the parking lot, I looked towards the basketball court, and there was no one.

I had no more excuses.  

20170827_080448
Where are all the kids?

I grabbed the basketball and charged towards the basketball net. I stood in front of it as it mocked me. I threw the ball in the general direction, and it fell short of the net by more than 2 feet. It bounced along the concrete, and rolled into the woods. I ran after it, retrieved it, and tried again throwing it from approximately the same distance. (I knew I needed to be several feet away.)

Again, the same thing happened. I wasn’t even close to the basketball net. I started to giggle as I began to sweat, my heart thumped in my chest, and I chased my ball into the rocky, root-lined woods that are positioned directly behind the net.

About 5 minutes after I started, and from a closer distance, the stars aligned for me (it must of been divine intervention) and my basketball rolled around the rim before slipping through the net. HA!!! I was a winner! Then, I got another ball in the net! (Although it wasn’t immediately after the first one, and it was again, from a close distance.)

I moved back and tried again. I can’t remember how many times I threw it, but after several attempts I at least hit the back of the backboard, and it bounced off. It bounced in this direction and that, nearly hit a passing runner. (Ooops, sorry about that.) I never successfully got a basket in from a longer distance. I planned to leave several times giving myself 15 minutes to get it right, but stuck around to try, and try again.

When the ball bounced off in the same direction as my car (which it had never done before) I used that as my indicator to call it a game. My time was up. In the end, I definitely got 2 baskets, possibly 3, but I am unable to remember from all the running I had to do in order to retrieve the ball.

As I walked up the steps of my house I felt an odd sense of accomplishment. It was fun to attempt something that I already knew I had no talent to even try. But at the same time it was invigorating to challenge myself in spite of my utter lack in athleticism. My hand pushed the door open and my husband looked at me and said, “Aha! I knew that’s where you were!”

He asked me if I got a basket in a net and I proudly replied to his question in the affirmative. Then he asked me how I managed to get a ball in the net and get a picture at the same time. I said, “I couldn’t.” Instead I babbled on about how I got some pictures of the net before, and when the ball landed in the woods. That would have to be good enough. Alone, I decided, that was the best I could do.

Hubby decided that was unacceptable. A few hours later we went back to the same basketball court and I did it again.

Here is the proof….

 

Thought of the Day, And Possible New Challenge?

I’m tired of being afraid of everything. 

***

I am considering tackling the CN Tower Edgewalk. It was something suggested by my friend Sheila months ago to me as a potential challenge and ever since I’ve been considering it.

But I am petrified of heights.

Thinking about it.

If it does happen it will be in late September/early October.

Stay tuned.  TBD.

Below is the link for your terrifying enjoyment.

http://www.edgewalkcntower.ca/

Change #96: I’ve Blinked & Summer Is Nearly Gone; But Not Before I Rode My Bike

We had our bikes serviced in the early part of August, and even by then I was starting to wonder if it was already too late for us to try to get a bike ride in this summer. I couldn’t remember the last time I was on my bike but I would wager money against anyone who gambles it’s been more than 3 years. This year, with this blog, I wouldn’t let the season end without at least one ride.

In Ottawa on every Sunday morning during the summer, they close the parkway offering one day a week when cyclists have access to 50 KM of road without the worry of battling with motorists  for a small portion of the lane. My plan was to commit to a Sunday morning and both me and hubby would get our butts on our bikes and enjoy a scenic bike ride along the Ottawa River.

And damn it, we would enjoy it! 

But time is running out. Days are already shorter, (if you wake at 4:30 AM like me, you know we’ve already lost the beautiful pink glow of the sunrise and darkness is our new friend) and I suspect in a few short weeks temperatures will be cooler. I needed a ride to happen. No more excuses.

I informed hubby before I left this morning that I would get on my bike tonight. I didn’t care if there were thunderstorms and pouring rain. I would make it so.

And so, I did.

My attire was running shorts, a sports bra,  my gigantic panda t-shirt that I received from the CN Tower Stair Climb (I don’t know why, I just love that shirt), old pungent running shoes, my bicycle helmet, and a sporty purse. (I had no place to keep my phone!) Was I cool, or what?

I didn’t look cool, or hip, and I didn’t have perfectly coordinated biking clothes. My goal was simple: get on the bike and peddle before it’s too late. If I overthought about why I should or shouldn’t go, I knew it wouldn’t happen. (I had already talked myself out of it several times.)

And so I went.

Random Thoughts, That I Thought, While Biking: 

  1. This feels so great! I’m 5 years old again! Whoo! Look at me go! The wind feels so great.
  2. Why are my legs burning? That stop sign means I’ve only biked 500 meters. Oh god, I’m in terrible shape. (**I know it’s 500 meters because I know the full length of the road is 1 KM. It’s one of my running routes.)
  3. Stop sign. Do I have to stop? Maybe I should stop. Hmmm…do I remember the signal to indicate I am stopping? I googled it before I left. Which one was it?
  4. Never mind. No one’s around.
  5. Whoo!!! I am flying!
  6. Click. Click. Uhm…can’t remember how to change gears. I should wait till I’m on a less busy road. Yeah, I’ll check when I’m on the dedicated biking path.
  7. Got it! That wasn’t so hard. Ta-da! Gear 7.
  8. Oh, gear 7 makes me peddle more. No, back to gear 8. It’s harder to peddle – but I get more distance.
  9. I’m such a geek. I can’t believe I’m going to get off and walk my bike across the intersection.
  10. I should get a picture of me outside on my bike. Well, I can’t ride and take a picture with my phone at the same time. Everyone will just have to believe that I actually went for a bike ride.
  11. FINE. I’M GETTING A PICTURE. But I’m going to stop and take it. They’ll believe me then.
  12. There. No wait, I look like I’m scowling. THERE. No. THERE. No. Oh lord, I look tired. Do I always look like that? That doesn’t make me look like I’m enjoying this at all. Ok. THERE. Good picture.
  13. Ack! Bug in the eye!
  14. It really is safer bicycling on a recumbent bike. I don’t have to worry about getting a bug stuck to my contact lens.
  15. I think I’m starting to itch. Ahhh..ragweed season!
  16. I’m not built for outside.
  17. I don’t know what hubby is talking about. I got great balance on a bicycle!
  18. Oh no,  tree branch. Duck!
  19. I can’t believe I almost rode into a tree branch. How did I miss that?
  20. Oh, what pretty flowers. This is so great. How beautiful. Is that wild parsnip?  You know, poisonous wild parsnip that if it touches your skin it will burn. Not that I know, because it’s never happened to me personally. Uhm, maybe I’ll just go a little bit over.
  21. Those clouds look awfully dark. Is it going to thunderstorm? I’m going to peddle faster.
  22. Home! 20 minute bike ride and I’ve earned a glass of wine. 

Change #95: The Ice Cream Quest Continues

This blog should not be dominated by various ice cream taste testing sessions. And yet, as I type this blog post I feel as if this is the 3rd post related to that very thing. Although perhaps it is my 4th post? 5th? I really don’t know.

I love ice cream. It’s my ultimate consolation prize when I fail at something, my bad day decision, and I’m-so-stressed-out-what-do-I-do-answer? I try not to make it the solution every time and I will substitute in a run here, or a walk there to try to keep the waistline in check. Sometimes a little exercise makes  a difference in how I feel as well.

But I do love ice cream. Now there are seldom ice cream flavours that I hate. I love cherry ice cream, French vanilla (but you already knew that), chocolate, mint, raspberry cheesecake, strawberry, Moose Tracks, chocolate chip cookie dough….the list is endless. Although, one time I had some lemon ice cream that I did not like. But most of the time, I am not disappointed in most flavours that are scooped inside my cone.

Last night we planned to make a gourmet meal at home of roast beef, mashed potatoes, carrots, and fresh peas. (The peas did not come in a can. Fresh peas are a beautiful summer thing that our grocery store offers for a limited time.) When I raced out for the third time yesterday, and my final run to the grocery store, (I always forget some items and have to make multiple trips to prepare for a meal) I asked hubby if he wanted dessert, and he mentioned he would be happy with ice cream.

As I scanned the shelves I nearly purchased my old reliable Klondike bars. Then I turned and saw the Magnum ice cream and close to it was Ben & Jerry’s. Decisions, decisions perplexed me as I stood in the frozen section aisle grabbing at one box of cones, putting it back, and grabbing a container of that ice cream over there.

Something else troubled me. Post-paintball my blog had taken a nearly one month unattended hiatus. With a little more than two months to go I felt the panic as I considered if even making it to 100 changes would be possible.  Finally, there was one more thing that weighed down on my shoulders: I had stopped trying to do new things.

Sure, paintball was epic but it should not be the final thing I ended the blog with two months early.

Then I saw it. Ben & Jerry’s If I Had 1,000,000 Flavours that I never tried before in my life. Something new and different. Would I like it? Would I love it? The girl who will eat various ice cream but somehow turns to vanilla 9 times out of 10, will she like a mouthful of a mixed up symphony of every flavour?

20170812_205524

After dinner, and after LBM’s walk, we sat down to watch some television with our dessert. I purchased Magnum chocolate-chocolate ice cream for hubby (he’s been dragged along on various adventures with me, he should have what he likes) and scooped the Ben & Jerry’s 1,000,000 flavours into my bowl.

As I watched TV I took note of crunchy nut, mixed in with some sweet chocolate, with maybe white chocolate?  vanilla, and then with perhaps something that tasted like a bit of brownie. I shovelled one spoonful over another until my bowl was empty, and I scraped at the bowl to get the last amount out.

Did I love it?

Meh. It was ok. I liked all of those flavours and textures separately, and in my bowl it was alright. But sometimes having vanilla, strawberry, or cherry ice cream alone allows you to savour the one flavour.

Sometimes less is more.  

***

In case your wondering our roast beef dinner, with mashed potatoes, yorkshire pudding (Gordon Ramsay’s recipe), carrots, and peas was AMAZING.

Well worth the time and money spent. Just saying.

This Is Not Me = Go Pug, Polar Plunging & Paintball Welts

If you look to a well-manicured lawn and garden you will see the calmness of emerald-green grass while appreciating the beauty of flowers that burst with colour. Flowers that may include any number of red roses, purple chrysanthemums, pink and red peonies, white or orange lilies, to the far off and most of the time separated – blue hydrangea.

Underneath the grass and around the flowers, you will find the odd weed that grows. To those that are simply passing by they may not notice. But for the conscious gardener who tirelessly works to keep it flawless, it’s all they see.

I began a blog called Pushing Boundaries in October 2016 with a commitment of spending half the year completing a change. This worked out to roughly four changes per week and by the end of the blog I expected to reach 186 changes.

At first it was invigorating when I woke each day and considered what the next “change” or “challenge” would be. Should I swap my daily earl grey tea for coffee? (Yes, I did it a few times. And overall, I seldom enjoyed the experience.) When Halloween creeped up on me in October, I forfeited the old reliable witch/ghost ensemble that I have donned since my grade-school years and did something completely different: enter the PUG. Did I try the limited-time offered Tuxedo drinks that Starbucks featured at the beginning of this year? Yes. Eat seaweed salad?  (Yes, and NEVER again.) In the month of February when the wind howled and snow and ice crunched beneath my feet, did I spend one evening painting my nails red in Kingston, ON and the next morning curling my hair to best impersonate a flapper girl from the 1920’s so I could dive into Lake Ontario for the Polar Plunge? (Yes! It was fun. TBD if I will do it again.) Did I climb all 1,776 stairs of the CN Tower? (Yes, and more importantly I did not die!)  Wear purple nail polish? (Yes.) For me, the list was endless….

I am vanilla; otherwise known as Routine Girl. I do not enjoy routine most of the time. I like to believe that I have imagination and inclination to do different things; to live deeply and on the wilder side. (Although, not that far on the wilder side.) The problem with me is that I become complacent with life and the opportunities that are at my fingertips if only I could commit the time, money, and energy to make them happen.

Life is difficult with new jobs, financial concerns, and most catastrophically – facing either your own health concerns, or the health concerns of those you love. In the past when I’ve lost someone I loved, I felt as if were standing alone in a desert waiting for someone to arrive, or for something magical to happen that would transport me away from it all. In front of me there was nothing but a sea of endless yellow sand that when it was carried on the wind, it would whip against my face stinging it. To me it felt that impossibly lonely, that empty.

But what I didn’t realize is that if I turned around and looked in any direction there were cities that surrounded me that bustled with life; friends and family that I could chat with or hang out with, new foods to try, people to meet, and new adventures that awaited me.  All that I needed to do was to turn my head and start moving again in one of those directions.

I lost two people I loved very much in less than three years. Both of them were 42 years old when they passed. In September 2016 I turned 42 years old. I started Pushing Boundaries in October of that same year.

I don’t know if the blog was tied to the number 42. I’ve always had a sense that time was ephemeral: that whatever you planned to do, do it now, because there are no guarantees of what tomorrow will bring. For me, Pushing Boundaries may have been my answer to ensure that I did not stop with life. It forced me to continue to move in some direction.

Living life to the fullest is a cliché. But we keep clichés around and use them sometimes ad nauseam, because they are true. Pushing Boundaries has helped me to continue to enjoy all that life has to offer, sometimes reluctantly. It forced me to get outside and try new things: restaurants, food, or to attempt a physical challenge that I’ve never done before such as the Polar Plunge or the CN Tower Climb. The blog forced me to revaluate things that I decided a long time ago I disliked (e.g. coffee), and make an attempt to try them again to see if my taste buds evolved. (Answer: Overall, I still hate coffee, mostly.)

I open the blog with this:

“Change happens. It can be chaotic, but it helps you expand your mind and shapes the person you will become”

I stand behind that statement to this day. But the other thing change does: it gives you heart palpitations in both the literal and physical sense.  A few months back I found myself waking up at 3:00 AM worrying about what four changes I would be tackling that week. Blonde hair? Wear make-up for 30 days in a row?  Streaking 21 days straight? (Ahem, that’s running 2 KM for 21 days, NOT running naked through my suburban streets for 21 days.)

The stress of coming up with four changes per week was exhausting. Also, I found that some challenges required me to do them longer than one day in order to accomplish them. Therefore, cumulatively I could already be participating in several changes before adding new ones. For example, at one point I had blonde hair, was wearing make-up every day, and I was also eating and drinking things that I didn’t want to consume. The blog, Pushing Boundaries, I began in order to help me become less bound by routine, started to constrain me more tightly.

And I missed my routine. I missed having time to sit and read a book without worrying about how long it would take me; to inhale the aroma of that first cup of tea and enjoy each sip without feeling guilty that I wasn’t trying some other beverage; I missed running when I wanted to run and exercise in general. I missed the routine, the calmness of knowing what was coming next.

A few months ago I decided to scale back the blog posts. I no longer held to the requirement that I had to complete four changes in one week. In truth, I decided that to try to reach 186 changes in one year was too many.  I needed time to breathe, to savour, do chores, to go to work, to visit with family and friends without worrying about what my next blog post would be, or when I would write it.

I made another change on Pushing Boundaries. Did I feel bad? Yes. Did I feel like a failure at not meeting the challenge I built? Absolutely. But I knew I needed to take a step backwards, to regroup, and make time to do the bigger challenges that I wanted to do. To be more selective about what I was changing.

At the time I write this, the last “change” I did was paintball. It was a steamy, July 22nd when that finally happened a few weeks ago. I went with my hubby and friends and we received our instructions, pulled the paintball suit up, and yanked down the mask that suffocated us in the scorching heat and sun.

I never played paintball before and was warned that when I got hit by a paintball, bruising might occur.  The very first ball that hit me, exploded in a shooting pain through my upper thigh. It was excruciating. So much so that a few days after the event, new bruises appeared where I hadn’t even noticed I got hit. That first direct hit was the one that stayed with me. Despite the pain and the bruises, I loved paintball. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I learned some things about myself that day. More importantly, I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last 9 months while writing Pushing Boundaries. I’m not a gardener, never have been, never will be. (I used Google to look up each one of the names of those flowers at the beginning of this post and selected images so I knew what the flower looked like.)   With my garden, I do what needs to be done so I can step back and say, that’s ok now.  But even I know the grass needs to be cut, flowers need to be planted, and weeds need to be pulled.

I need to tend to relationships, savour meals and drinks, enjoy conversations with family and friends; while also making time for adventure. After all, there’s only two months left for Pushing Boundaries – bowling, laser tag, and indoor skydiving still awaits me. My life is this messed up bit of craziness – and I love every piece of it.