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.
Laser Tag (I know, I know. I’ve been talking about this since the start. But hey, paintball happened.)
Make Meringue Cookies
Dine Solo without using my cell phone as a crutch. (Oh boy, I hope I get a window seat.)
Go Bowling again (i.e. give up my Friday routine of breaking open a bottle of wine at 6 pm and do something different)
Play on the Extreme Trampoline (Yup, I’ve been talking about this one since the start of the blog too.)
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).
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!)
And then whatever else I can think of….
Challenges In Progress….
***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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
This feels so great! I’m 5 years old again! Whoo! Look at me go! The wind feels so great.
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.)
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?
Never mind. No one’s around.
Whoo!!! I am flying!
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.
Got it! That wasn’t so hard. Ta-da! Gear 7.
Oh, gear 7 makes me peddle more. No, back to gear 8. It’s harder to peddle – but I get more distance.
I’m such a geek. I can’t believe I’m going to get off and walk my bike across the intersection.
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.
FINE. I’M GETTING A PICTURE. But I’m going to stop and take it. They’ll believe me then.
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.
Ack! Bug in the eye!
It really is safer bicycling on a recumbent bike. I don’t have to worry about getting a bug stuck to my contact lens.
I think I’m starting to itch. Ahhh..ragweed season!
I’m not built for outside.
I don’t know what hubby is talking about. I got great balance on a bicycle!
Oh no, tree branch. Duck!
I can’t believe I almost rode into a tree branch. How did I miss that?
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.
Those clouds look awfully dark. Is it going to thunderstorm? I’m going to peddle faster.
Home! 20 minute bike ride and I’ve earned a glass of wine.
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?
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.
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.
Workout clothes. Hiking boots or running shoes. Cooler. WATER! Ice. Full length paintball body suit. Armour. Helmet. Paintballs. And of course, you’re paintball gun.
All those questions that I asked, all those months ago, are finally answered.
It happened this Saturday. It was post-walk with LBM at 6 AM, post-showering, and post-wiggling into my tank top, sports bra, and tights. We had already coordinated with our friends Sheila and D. (he asked that I create a fictional name for him, Diego? Dexter? Ok, we’ll just go with D.) about the time we would rendezvous at Delta Force Paintball in Stittsville. We agreed to meet at 8:45 AM.
We were a little late.
There was an overwhelming sense of anxiety that flooded over me as we drove out to the Delta Force Paintball site. I was concerned about hitting someone with my paintball and seriously, and inadvertently, hurting them. I’ve never used a paintball gun before. Was there a chance that I could be so terrible at shooting, that I would send a ball soaring towards a referee critically injuring him/her without meaning to? Or, hit another player in the head sending him into a coma?
Then there was my concern for the three people that I convinced to do this insane event with me: hubby, Sheila and D. What happened if something happened to them? I twisted and turned my hands around in front of me in the passenger’s seat of the car as me, at 42 years old, decided I would play paintball for the first time and had somehow convinced three other people to do the same. (Although I learned later, that D. had already gone before. What???)
We needed to arrive at 9:00 AM as this was our first time playing. We were told that we needed some information before the commencement of the paint games. The information required me to know the following: how to use our paintball guns, how to reload, and how to turn on and off the safety for the gun. Oh, and more importantly, how we were to exit the area with hands in the air after we had been shot. Failure to raise your hands, meant you were in the game still. Yellow splatters would be your new favorite colour.
It was an overwhelming amount of information to take in, attempt to retain, and then recall when necessary, on only 1.5 cups of tea. All this before 10 AM. After 10 AM I would need to use this knowledge that I had been given at the following locations: The Two-Storey Castle, Speedball, and Prison Break. (There were others, but we called it a day around 1 PM). At these locations, I would become both the hunted and the hunter. Purple balls loaded in my gun, they would explode when catapulted into the air and would hit my target. Haha! I would rule the castle!
After I dumped all my paintballs on the ground, I reloaded the holder again. We hadn’t officially started yet, and I had already poured a bunch of balls into my holder, and failed to plug the hole with my finger that would enter into my paintball gun. Purple balls surrounded me, hubby and our friends where we stood. (We were not given our guns until we were in the zone where the games were played.)
My expertise already showing, I then managed to put my armour on top of my paintball body suit. One of the nice guys from the company very kindly and gently pointed out that the armour should go underneath the suit.
“Oh,” I think was my eloquent response. It reflected the depth of knowledge I had about participating in the event I was preparing for.
We finally put our helmets over our head. There are signs that are clearly marked that state you must keep your helmet on at all times while in the playing field. This is for your protection as there are other games going. There is the possibility you could get hit by stray paintballs. The man who delivered our detailed instructions did it with comedic oomph. At one point he explained that after we had been shot you could raise your hands in the air and say a number of different things that included: Out! Down! or …Ow!
But the helmet thing he was serious about. Not a joke was made. The warning was real: TAKE YOUR HELMETS OFF WHILE ON THE COURSE, AND YOU WILL GET KICKED OUT.
I had on my tank top and tights, the armour that protected the chest and stomach area, and then the paintball suit. I was certain it was already in the 20’s, and when I placed the helmet over my head, and the staff at Delta Force Paintball secured the strap around my chin, (oops….forgot that part) I instantly felt like all the air had evaporated around me. I took deeper breaths in and tried not to panic about not being able to breathe.
The good thing is: I know for certain my hubby felt the same way. So, I was not alone. The trick, was not to panic. More importantly – DO NOT REMOVE THE HELMET.
As we walked through the wooded area, we came across a patch where slippery mud awaited us. I decided to bypass the mud and save my hiking boots by meandering over to the left side where shrubs and trees were in abundance, but mud was not. However, after further consideration about how dense the shrubs were, I forced myself to trample through the muck. The brown slippery mud was safer than the dense shrubs that awaited me to the left. The shrubs were guaranteed to tug and pull at my already overloaded gear that clung to my body, and by the weighted gun that I carried. (If felt like I was carrying bricks.)
Once at the castle, the referee outlined the objectives. Hubby and I were placed on the blue team, and Sheila and D. were placed on the red team. Blue Team’s mission was this: to protect the castle. Red Team’s mission: attack the castle and raise the flag.
I was going to stay on the bottom level of the castle, but hubby suggested we go to the second level. We made our way to the top and the firing of purple balls started. Me and hubby were perched around the back of the castle, so it took some time before I saw anyone get hit. I was both shocked and horrified when I saw hubby put his hands up in the air, casually walk down the stairs, and announced, “Hit!” several times.
My mouth open, I stood there. I was alone. It was me and the few others that remained to defend the castle. I wondered how exactly this had happened? How was it that I remained? I saw someone from the red team hiding behind a barricade in front of me and I began shooting, shooting and shooting. We weren’t allowed to shoot blindly, nor were we allowed to shoot in the head. From an elevated level, the rules that I adhered to sure made it difficult to take my target out. I tried and tried to get a shot at the person (man, I think?) but I don’t believe I ever did.
From that way or this way, or yonder, or over there, a paintball EXPLODED and hit me in my upper thigh!!!!!!
Did it hurt!
Holy SH*T! You Betchya!
This was my introduction to my first paintball hit.
Question Answered: Does paintball hurt?
Yup, it sure does.
The Red Team killed us and raised the flag. Then, we switched it up and we killed them, and raised the flag. (Not me, other people. From my team. People who play paintball better.)
After this there was Speedball where our Blue Team lined up against a fence, with only barrels between us and the other team. The Red Team stood against a line of trees. I thought briefly of those war movies, where you had a courageous hero that would charge down the center screaming, and would get several hits in on the enemy taking their people out, before the hero would succumb to a fatal blow. I wanted to be that person. I would be a shock trooper.
But my first paintball hit still stung. I was never brave enough. I made it to the first barrel and hung out with some kids. Then, I got clipped on my collarbone. It didn’t hurt as much, and I don’t think the paintball exploded. But, any injury counts, so I walked out.
When we switched sides, I got clipped on my finger. That hurt. And I was out again.
We had completed 2 rounds. I was sweating so much my body armour clung to me inside my paintball suit. I wobbled off the course with my helmet firmly affixed to my face until it was safe to remove it. Once we made it back to where the picnic tables were, I pulled down the paintball suit to my waist to cool off and felt the refreshing breeze on my arms. (I had my workout clothes underneath.)
Sweat dribbled down my body. My hair was stuck to the back of my neck. I also found myself fading a little and decided it best to head to the car to grab water and a granola bar. We had all agreed to one more round. Nourishment and hydration before the start of it, was a much needed requirement.
I swore we had more time. When hubby and I got to the car I gobbled my Kashi Bar down and gulped some water as my ears heard the words, “Red Team & Blue Team…”
I turned to hubby and said, “What? I thought we had more time? We finished our last game early?”
We pulled and yanked at our suits, and suited up for our last game of the day. As I pulled the helmet that covered my face on, I felt this: air-can’t-breath….air-can’t-breathe….air-can’t-breathe….
We walked through the woods again to our destination. The heat soared. Water dripped from my nose. I hadn’t even begun to shoot my heavy gun yet. (Did I mention that? The guns were SUPER HEAVY! I must get to the gym and work my upper body.)
Thump, thump, thump, thump.
My heart. Can’t breathe.
The paint game commences again. I start from the back and run to a barricade. Then, the unthinkable happens. My gun jams.
I hunch down behind the barricade, waiting to get shot. I’m unarmed and trapped. Then, I say something like, “Referee, gun jam!”
I start to walk over to where the refs are and amazingly, no one shoots me.
Once there the referee examines my gun, turns to me and says something about me popping the air off an I think I hear, “you must have done it when you were running when you were scared.”
I can’t help but laugh.
I go back to my spot. I take a few more shots. Then someone hits me on my right knee. A second later, two more shots hit me on my left knee.
I yell, “Hit!!” And slowly walk to the barrel that I am to touch and then rejoin the game.
I have the option to go back, but I linger by the barrel for awhile. My hubby sees me and motions that I can join the game again. (In this game you get multiple lives, it’s not always the case. But right then, I could. However, at less than 5 minutes, you don’t get to come back.) Reluctantly, I slowly walk back to the barricade.
I’m tired. I’m hot. I can’t breathe. I think I’m hungry.
I hide behind a barricade and I have no idea if I got shot again.
The game is over. I can’t remember if we won or not. I don’t think so. Then, we switch sides and do it again. Once on the other side, I get shot again and I go hang out with some of my team mates that are lingering by the trees because they ran out of paintballs.
I’m hot. And I’m tired.
From what I know, no one else stopped playing before they needed to. My hubby stayed in the game right to the end, perched behind a bus. I don’t know about my friends as they were on the opposite side. But, I bet they played until they couldn’t play no more.
I am apparently the biggest wimp.
Would I do it again?
Absolutely! It was one of those days where your mind is in a constant state of working hard trying to figure things out. I struggled to reload and load my paintballs each time. (I dumped my purple paintballs several times) I exerted myself physically running, crouching, hiding, and trying not to get shot. Sure, it hurt.
But, without the pain I would never have this experience. A bruise here and there, and I’ve decided, it was worth it.
Over the years, I’ve entered, entered, and entered a contest to win free tickets to an advance screening of some movie. The last time it was Wonder Woman. I believe another time it was Saving Mr. Banks. In all, I had apparently entered 23 times before it finally happened.
I was on my morning break at work, and my email from home downloaded to my phone. Imagine my overwhelming joy when I saw last week, that I had a chance to enter to win tickets to see an advance screening of Dunkirk. I saw the movie trailer some months back and I was hanging on the edge of my seat. I can’t even recall what movie I was watching that time, but all I thought was, MUST SEE THAT MOVIE! As well, a few days prior to receiving the email for the contest, my hubby had announced that people were already saying that the movie would be AMAZING. (It hadn’t even been released yet!)
As my fingers frantically punched into my phone the information that was required in order to enter the contest, Mrs. Negative, reared her ugly head.
My fingers stalled for a few moments as I wondered whether it was worth it. Bad Luck Penny pounced on me at my most vulnerable time and whispered into my ear, you? Do you really think you will win?
Then, I did what I do when I write. I waved my hands at her in an attempt to shoo her away from me, like the mosquitoes that swarmed around me this morning on my walk with LBM. But Bad Luck Penny wouldn’t leave me alone. So I smacked her away, with a take that!
And I entered. That day I received an email saying, I had won!
Take that Bad Luck Penny! Hubby and I were going to the advance screening of Dunkirk!
I was excited about it initially. But then as the day was nearly upon me, I wondered whether it was a good idea or not. I would have to get into work early in order to make it to the event on time, and then at the close of the day I would have to crawl through traffic. We had already been informed by the organizers that we needed to be there early.
But then I thought, it’s for Dunkirk! Of course, I’m going!
Yesterday was the day. I went to work early, did my time, and then once in my card I yanked out my GPS to see if she could navigate me through some crazy traffic. GPS decided she would attempt to send me down a road that was closed, but I did not listen to her and made my own turns. GPS and I eventually reconnected, and I was somewhat confident she was sending me in the right direction to the movie theater. In the end, GPS’s route was not much different than mine.
Hubby and I met at the movie theater with time to spare and entered 1 1/2 hours before showtime. We received our tickets, and then were placed in a cue. People all around us chatted and laughed. We were all in good spirits.
But as the lineup grew and grew, I became more uneasy. I’m short. There’s no way to write it differently. For that reason I believe, sometimes when I’m standing in a lineup with lots of people, I get claustrophobic.
I became short (pun!) with my husband. I snapped at him for some irrational reason. I became crusty with the people that were laughing all around me. I wanted to move. I wanted to be outside of everyone. I wanted to run.
Finally the doors opened and we made our way into the theater. We had a short (ok, that will be the last time I use that word) security check, and then we found seats in the middle of the movie theater. Everyone who attended was much more considerate than usual when we purchase regular movie tickets, and we all made a point of shifting down in order to ensure there were no gaps between seats and that way there would be room for everyone.
The movie was an IMAX version. As the trailers started, the sound thumped off the walls, and made our seats vibrate. When Dunkirk began it was an intense movie with non-stop action from beginning to the end. I found myself covering my eyes, and then peeking between clasped fingers, hoping the men would make it onto the ships to be ferried home. Many times during the film the men who were waiting were killed by enemy gunfire. For those who made it onto the ships, they too were not safe. In the end, it was a roller coaster of a movie.
I know that’s a brief synopsis of the movie, but I don’t want to ruin it for you. This movie is like nothing I have ever seen before. You should see it.
The only downside of attending the advance screening? The lineup, the amount of time we had to commit to lining up in order to attend the early screening, and the sound was cranked up much too loud making it difficult to hear the dialogue.
Would I do this again? I don’t think so. I’m really glad we did it for such a wonderful movie like Dunkirk, but if the movie was meh, I would have been disappointed.