License to Fly…

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Recently, on a business trip, as I was driving a portion of my team back to the hotel after a long day of meetings, one of my colleagues began to recite a beautiful poem by John Gillepsie Magee Jr. Gillespie was an aviator in the second world war and a fellow Canadian and sadly never made it home to see his famous poem fly:

High Flight
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
~~~

He completed it with perfect clarity and cadence and the rest of us within the confines of the little Rav4 took a deep breath in and felt nothing less than humbled. Like somehow, this piece of literature, so different from the code that we had stared at all week, had made our steps lighter, our hearts more inspired. This is the power of the arts and why they are such a powerful force – and why they need to be nurtured and nourished in every child and adult alike. They are transforming. Creativity offers both inspiration and insight and is a founding tenet of a life well-lived!

I was so inspired by this recital, that I had to respond with my own poetic license:

Convergence
When I rehearse that poem
The one that poured out of your soul as though you had just put pen to paper
magic to page
memorized for every accent, every sonata, depicted so carelessly, breathlessly
weaving folklore onto the page
Of rockets ships and air travels and dreams and the like, and all those things that soar together
And I remembered a time when that passion cursed through me like a fire-laden spear of things-to-come
And I thought, please, remember these words, these lyrics, these notes that pass from us, one to another
at times, as though no-one else was listening, yet, at the same time, as though, all the world held their ears to the walls.
Inspecting each syllable for what it was.
Magic on lips. Sharing the peace of the earth, humanity toward each other. Humanity toward these words that we so often take for granted.
These words that were meant to be shared, if only for the breaking of the bread, the substance lost in each other’s interpretation.
Each bite something to savor without anything ever being ingested. Absorbed.
Ah yes, the roads converging.And that too, has made the difference. ~ KO
~~~

I borrowed on a Robert Frost theme from The Road Not Taken.
While going one’s own way is important, the converging ideas of the collective work – the team, the group, the tribe, the circle, the family – is every bit as important as being your own horse and marching to your own drummer. It’s the Yin and Yang… the community, the love, that is the essence of it all.

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Onward to Yellowstone

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The prospect of an impending road trip brought both trepidation and excitement. The trepidation came with the thought of how difficult life on the road was, whilst putting in 6 to 12 hours of straight driving per day. On the mind, on the body, and particularly on the hips and back. If sitting is the new smoking, we had our case of smokes in hand and the windows rolled up for the duration! It only took 4 hours on the first day before the seized hips reminded me of the last big trip that we had shared together….Coast to Coast. Yoga had to be in my pocket and taken out regularly if the body was to survive this onslaught.

The excitement that was rolling up, like a building wave, not sure of the undertow but wanting to ride it hard, looking at the magical fall scenery which we somehow found ourselves amid. Like centre pieces on the Thanksgiving table, marvelling at the colours. Thankful for the setting of the table and not even really concerned about the nourishment to come….for ANY would be welcomed and savoured.

The scenery did not disappoint. The stretch of highway on Hwy 20 between Sedro-Wooley and Winthrop, Washington was amazing. Alive with oranges and yellows, interspersed by the blues and greens of the Methow River.

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Winthrop provided a much needed rest stop a la Wild West, complete with some Billiards at 3 Fingered Jack’s Saloon and a great overnight at the Rio Vista Hotel.
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The following morning, and ready for some grub, we ventured into the Rocking Horse Bakery where a fabulous long Espresso was served with a smile and a story.
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The Barista had just finished a 4 month trip on the Pacific Crest Trail (http://www.pcta.org/). I immediately became engaged and listened attentively as she told her story of a solo journey, from Winthrop’s Trail Head of the PCT, up North, during the Spring/Summer, emerging just West of Manning Park lodge. My jaw dropped as she told me about the 9 pounds, that was her pack. In disbelief, I asked, ‘with a tent and a sleeping bag too?’ She nodded. ‘What about a stove?’ I retorted, thinking that a small burner alone would be a pound or two. ‘Oh, I didn’t cook. Everything I ate was cold.’

Of course, we touched on one of my favourite all time books, albeit more for the emotional components than for the PCT hike itself, Wild. She rolled her eyes a bit, and told me what many had before, that for adventure travellers, it was somewhat lame (her recommendation instead: Carrot Quinn’s Blog). That’s okay. Onward.

Onward we were, toward Missoula, Montana. The West. The Wild Wild West. Destination, about 7 hours away. The scenery did not deteriorate as we wove our way through Hwy 97 and 174, alongside the Columbia River and the GREAT Grand Coulee Dam (wiki: Grand Coulee Dam).
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A quick lunch in Spokane, Washington, before continuing along Southeasterly, through little wild west town, after little wild west town. We mused about the lack of population with every bend of the road, enveloped by foothills on each side, and mesmerized by the foliage, ripe in its autumn hues.

We rounded one of those last bends around sunset; seemingly when most of our driving days thus far, ceased, thankfully. And there she was, Missoula, Montana. A little nugget of a University Town (University of Montana), with cyclists everywhere and friendly smiles and boots, too. Elevation – 3200 feet, so not too much of a foothill either.
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The next morning, coffee in hand, we walked the little one horse town that was, before giving way to its Walmart urban sprawl and again, marvelled at the folks that had to settle it, coming through the mountains and no doubt finding a nice flat patch next to the Clark Fork River which still flows through the heart of downtown.
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Onward to Yellowstone and more desolated highways weaving through tiny one-horse town’s, usually with one gas station full of year old merchandise which few people stopped at, let alone, buy.
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As the highway lowered and raised throughout the mountainous terrain, we zigzagged past various heights of Continental Divide signs three or four times. Of course, this led to research, when our cell signal was strong enough to find the Wiki (Continental Divide of the Americas). On the East side of the divide, the rivers drain into the Atlantic and on the West side, the rivers empty into the Pacific. One of many interesting pieces of learning activities upon our drive.

We listened to many, many podcasts – CBC ( (CBC Podcasts): Power and Politics, Powerplay, the Debaters, As it Happens, and The House), NPR (NPR Podcasts): Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, This American Life, Science Friday), and of course, Dan Savage, which had a great opening section on his last Tuesday’s edition asking Canada to do the right thing and kick Harper to the curb.
As we entered the West Entrance of Yellowstone Park, at noon on Saturday, we knew that this particular day would need a blog to itself. Until then, be curious and enjoy the ride! Namaste.

FullSizeRender copyBoots courtesy of Missoula, Montana…. #lovinThem

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Tour de White Rock Crit 2015

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Tour de White Rock Crit 2015

This gallery contains 39 photos.

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Birthday Month 5.0

I just awesomedWhat a great way to CELEBRATE the year….and the 50 Years! Whoa! Crazzzzy baby! 🙂 A big thank you to all of those beautiful peeps in my life that make it all so worthwhile. LOVE to all! xoxo

Peace Out! #LuckyGirl

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Challenge Lost (Biking 101)

Yay!

We had a little bet going. I lost …. but …. still accomplished the task in less than 6 minutes. Does that count? Does it?

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The Message, the Messenger, and the Medium

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As any of my dear friends will be quick to point out to you, I am a bit of a social media junkie. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook; You name it, at the small end, I have played with it, at the extreme end, I have posted on it a lot.

I gave up cable TV (and moreover, news in all of its forms) almost 2 years ago, and haven’t missed it for a second. I pride myself on making time to read 5 to 10 articles a day, ranging from Healthcare reforms in the U.S.(salon.com) to Yogic breathing (mindbodygreen.com) to How Best Friends are Formed and Maintained (PsychologyToday.com). I love knowledge and education. It is my passion. I have had it course through my veins since I did my very first research project in Grade 2. At that time, Jane Goodall became my idol. Her philosophy on education and life would find a cornerstone in my soul to which I would cling as the rest of the world shrugged in indifference.

This was a passion:  to learn, to grow, to understand the world better, to understand myself better and what made me tick inside the massive cuckoo clock that was our universe.

When Facebook appeared in my life in 2007, the vehicle with which to disseminate this knowledge had shown up, as though Kit from Knight Rider had pulled up to the curb and asked me to jump in. How could I say no? The fucking car was talking to me!

With such a vast dissemination of knowledge comes such great responsibility yet seemingly there was a rule book missing. The World Wide Web had opened us all to a previously undisclosed galaxy (or was it a black hole?) and no one could find a ‘Robert’s Rules of Order’.

Questions popped into our collective consciousness with answers as differing as each of those streams: How often were we allowed to post on this contraption? How often were we allowed to hit the ‘Like’ button? When should we comment? When should we ignore? Did our grammatical use of language alter or falter or change from the way in which we would submit an Descriptive Essay in first year English at University? Were the rules of engagements different? Was the bar set higher, lower, or somewhere in between? Where did our Canadian politeness and etiquette fit into the picture?

That is the thing: There are no rules. The same person that dropped out of school in grade 9 is on equal footing as the one that graduated Summa Cum Laude from Harvard. If you are friends, you are friends. Facebook doesn’t discriminate. Everyone can post, comment or like in the same fashion. Equanimity in action. A new society was formed free of the unacknowledged cast system of years gone by.

As in any Utopian society, Facebook is good in theory but that is where the Facebook context ends and the personal bias’ engage:  Do I, as a user, discriminate against posts based on the other person’s frequent posts, poor spelling, poor grammar? AND that is not even talking about the content?

What if the content is excellent? Do we as a society punish those that are over-zealous, over-enthusiastic, poor spellers, ‘shouters’ (caps)? I think that we do. I think that we somehow think that we can control the behaviour of others by giving feedback in a particular manner, or rather, withholding feedback. Maybe our innate bio-feedback loop that we have prided ourselves with – because after-all, our viewpoint on the world, is the right one, can and will actually control another person’s actions through the magic of the medium.

Here’s the thing. Passion is a hard thing to contain. Anyone who has ever been first party to those individual’s that have that passion in their soul emphatically understands to what degree the passionate person is capable. You know, the musician, the artist, the runner, the ones that never stop. The writer who barges through the 15 rejection letters in the hopes that just one of the articles submitted will stick and the unflailing optimism that works in perfect tandem with this passion.

Never ever, ever apologize for enthusiasm. Passion is woven into our soul with gold strands, and those that try to break you; those that become annoyed with your multiple posts, your poor spelling, your bad grammar, your use of CAPS to fully engage a HARDY point – NOT to yell but to remain PASSIONate. Do not let these people sway you. Carry on. Yeah, I know, it is just Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, but in a world that encourages us all “To be the change that you want to see in the world”, maybe, just maybe, that is one of the only ways that we can change the world. Maybe if we just inspire or reach one person, then our 20 posts for the week will be worth it. Maybe. Maybe not. Keep Calm and Keep Posting in all of your imperfection. It is simply a reflection of the World Wide – with or without the Web.

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Unbracing Myself

IMG_9036For the past 341 days (just over 11 months), I have been wearing braces.

My dentist had suggested that I may want to look into braces about 5 years ago as my bottom teeth were showing a lot of crowding, and my bite was starting to cave inward a bit. At first I shrugged off his suggestion asking myself why would someone in their 40’s want to get braces for dog sake.

A few teeth cleanings later, with the same hygienist, when she remarked what great shape my teeth were in. They were easy to clean and so healthy. It was an epiphany of sorts when I asked her if I would have all of my teeth until I died. She nodded, and said, “For sure you will. They are so strong and healthy. It is too bad that your bite is changing. That may affect things down the road.” When my dentist came in a few minutes later, we talked more about braces and he told me how he had had them recently, and that his orthodontist had been excellent for him and that he would strongly recommend her. He gave me her business card that day.

Within a couple of days, I went to see her for the ‘free’ consult and this was the first set of pics that they took:
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Not the greatest portraits ever taken for sure, but you can see how the bite was changing (bending inward) from the overcrowding of the bottom teeth. After a short discussion with a variety of people at the ortho’s office, I decided to go for it! On April 19, 2013 I sat in the ortho chair for an hour, while they attached a lot of metal to my teeth. Once all of the brackets were in place, a thin wire would be strung through the brackets and the braces would be deemed to be pulling my teeth in to better placement. Every 4 to 6 weeks, this wire would be changed for a thicker gauge and my teeth would ache for a few more days until they became used to it, again.

To say that I underestimated the task at hand, estimated to be for one full year, would be a gross understatement. I had no idea how often one actually eats, and what factors influence when and what one eats, and how many tooth care products one would have to carry at any given time to be somewhat able to function in social settings. It was a huge commitment…and frankly one for which I was very ill-prepared. After the first 4 months, I had lost 8 pounds, as I tried to maintain a very active lifestyle with a convenient diet. One beautiful summer afternoon I walked in to Starbucks and asked them what their highest calorie drink was so that I could drink some calories without the ensuant bid to find a place to brush and floss. You know, I was on my way to the beach. I am sure that they don’t get asked that question often. It was a Caramel Chocolate Frappucino of some sort, fyi (600 calories).

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Needless to say, I sucked it up, and bitched and moaned and realized that I had so much to be thankful for, and that this pain all would soon end, and I persevered. I brushed, and water picked, and flossed, and tooth picked, and chose my times to eat, and didn’t nibble much. I experienced kissing as though my lips were so far removed from my teeth that I didn’t feel natural in my own skin. I got better at it though. Practice makes perfect. It was an unsuspected, or perhaps, unwanted hurdle that I fought hard to overcome. I mean, after all, kissing is an art, right? One that I feel that I had honed over the years. Two steps forward, one step back, it was still progress.

With one month left in my treatment plan, little tiny elastic bands were introduced. Oh joy…at first I could open my mouth about an inch without feeling the elastics do their job, and 4 weeks later, I could open my mouth about a half inch. If I yawned or sneezed, the elastics broke. To say that these were annoying and uncomfortable would once again NOT truly convey they depth and breadth of their annoying qualities.

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But hey, it is done now. Today marked the end. I made a couple videos today – before and after and to illustrate what went on. Today, the pain of the past month (especially) is still fresh in my mind and while I know that with a little time, my memory will diminish the uncomfortable aspect of the last few months, and I know that it will have been worth it. Whew. Done. Finito. Progress. Namaste.

Before removal:



After removal:

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Stumble On

IMG_7638I am a hippy.
Or is that hippie.
I wander through this life with my heart on my sleeve
And a dollar in my pocket, just in case
I believe in Karma and all the things
that fall out of Karma and onto our path
I live free
I love openly
I write when I can
And think way too often
I analyze things that aren’t worth the effort
And get attached to things that I should let the fuck go
I drink and swear too much (case in point)
I once thought my formal education would take me places
that I never could otherwise get to
I now know that that notion was a fallacy
That the education is in the school of heart knocks
And that life is about picking yourself up when no-one else will
Tattered and broken and dusty and full of holes
I stumble on toward ecstasy
Believing that with each good-bye, a new hello is spoken
Believing in the cosmic good that there is with every single intersection
No matter how seemingly insignificant it may seem at the time
Dust off, bow down, give thanks, stumble on.
~ KO

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Create YOU, Beautiful YOU! 2014!

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Ah, my last blog post of 2013 and once again I will build it around the past three year-ending posts – Posts that have emphasized transitions, growth, and adventure. Narratives that have attempted to shine a special light on all the beauty within all of those people that have interwoven their magic throughout this journey that we call, life. They have been the people who have led me, who have carried me, and who reside within me in a very deep and profound way. This last post of the year is for you.

I ended 2012, alone in my house, writing. Dazed and confused and so unsettled, unsure, unbound with what the future offered. Here it is a year later, and I am lying on a bed in a Mexico hotel room. Life is a funny motherfucker. I am still so unsure of so many things, hands outstretched, blindfold on, trying to read the brail on the walls as if they were organically painted by some distant universe, leading me this way or that, but really just continually bumping into things along the way, following light when it presents itself, taking solace in the darkness because I know that is the only way in which I can find the light.

A year ago, I quoted one of my favourite Liz Gilbert’s quotes:
We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy’s fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, under him the whole time. Your treasure–your perfection–is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the buy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.

Truth-be told I worked hard on this one this year. It was like a full-time job as I struggled to find the courage to be more on my own. To find my own sense of self. To find my own power in the stillness. To sit in it. To bask in my own radiance. To accept the challenge. As always, it is still a work-in-progress.

It was a year full of challenges: the 365 day Handstand Challenge, the Plank Challenge, the Core Challenge, the 21 Day Meditation Challenge and my personal favourite, the 28 Day Facebook-Free Challenge. I played along with all of these with reckless abandon as they provided a good reason to change things up, if nothing else. Yet it was the everyday challenges that continued to mystify me.

As my Yoga teaching evolved into its second year, I began the year with a focus on that most delicate of Chakras, the Heart Chakra. It would be a theme that carried on throughout the year. I wanted to move on to the Root or the Throat Chakras, but I felt that my true understanding of the Heart Chakra was amiss; that the Heart Chakra had to be in balance; that the giving and the receiving of love had to be balanced. On some days, when it felt like my heart was literally overflowing with joy and love, I had to learn to just sit in it. Enjoy it for myself. Run with it. Play with it. It doesn’t need to be given away so easily although sharing the very essence of it in everyday life is fun. I learned that I am not guarded at all and don’t want to be and if pain and hurt occur due to a more open heart than most, then so be it. At least I could feel. It is good.

Along those same lines, my Yoga practice has continued to be a huge source of inspiration on so many levels, reminding me to find my big deep beautiful breath, and breathe into each and every moment, however uncomfortable some may be. They will pass. Time will heal. Breath will flow. It always has. For this I am grateful. Every morning, I look out my window and give thanks for all those people that have flowed through my life…some lessons, some laughter, many breaths; some quick and shallow, others deep and lasting.

A by-product of this breath has been my newly discovered LOVE of running. I have never been a runner and have used it only as a means toward an end, but in the Spring of this year, I started putting on some mileage and found that my breath flowed like water from a spigot. Free and easy. One breath, one stride, until 10 kilometres had been patched together and I was looking around wondering how I had arrived here, lost in the transportation. Like Yoga, my running became a moving meditation. The more that I focused on my breath, the more miles I put on. Definitely a very cool addition to the fitness aspect of both sports.

Shoulders back, heart forward, bit by bit we chip away at the stone until we have carved out what we want. For some, this takes months, for others, decades. The key is that we keep chipping, however slow, however methodical, however frenzied. Bit by bit, we all get there.

Life simply doesn’t happen all around you, YOU happen to it. You choose, you want, you engage, you plan, you implement, and when things work out, you celebrate. When things don’t work out, you stress. This is how life works. YOU are the common denominator to ALL the good and ALL the bad in your life. That is not saying that sometimes really, really bad things occur to which we can assign no blame whatsoever, it is just saying that YOU control the majority of your own destiny! Today is New Years Eve 2013, and my thought that goes out to each and every one of you – old and new acquaintances alike is, “Make 2014 the year that you want it to be.” Get in touch with yourself, your needs, your desires, your creativity, your moxie, your determination and create your very own year for you!

It is about the journey, and riding the waves as they coast up and down beneath us. I hope to do the same in 2014 – hopefully cutting myself some slack, and learning from some of my mistakes and being kind and gentle to those around me (and myself), because everyone is fighting a fucking battle of some kind. BE THE CHANGE that you want to see (Obama-ism). Each and every single day, change one little thing, and be genuinely surprised when at the end of the year that you are so much closer to being the person that you actually want to be, and there is nothing more sexy or more appealing than watching someone who has that inner swagger going-on! That is beautiful! Namaste. Peace to all with as much love, light and laughter as I can muster. Create YOU, beautiful you!

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