Hiking

When I first took a trip out to the mountains with my family, after we had lived on the prairies for awhile, I was awestruck at the clear night sky, the moon that seemed just out of reach of my fingertips, and the heavy aroma of pine. My eternal restlessness subsided. I made many holidays out to the mountains after that.

Image result for helen lake
Helen Lake

I thought that when I moved to the foothills, I would go out to the mountains a lot more than I do. The reality of spending three hours in a car every weekend after working a full week squashed that.

But now that we have a child, we will have to go out so that our child can understand that there is more to life than lights, noise and concrete. That wild places are where our souls can be free, even if just for a short while.

If you choose to hike, there are many excellent resources out there including:

Nerd Fitness

Hiking for Beginners

MEC – Hiking for Beginners

As a reader, being out in the woods and reading means that no one can interrupt me. At least, this was true when I hiked alone. Now, it’s about sharing these experiences with the people in my life. As a writer, even though I am hiking with people, I have plenty of opportunity to write, even if it’s just working out problems or brainstorming in my head. Being away from the chaos of city life makes those big story problems into tiny ones.

My favourite hike is Helen Lake and if you find yourself there, please enjoy it (also, watch for bears).

Faith Hunter – Thorn St. Croix

One of the reasons I love reading is that characters often embody the ideal human. When I was younger, I thought the ideal human – fair and noble and always did the right thing – was what all people strived for. Unfortunately, it’s been a long time since I believed that but that makes reading about these characters all the more enjoyable.

IMG_20180815_1215039

Thorn St. Croix of Faith Hunter’s  Rogue Mage series is noble, putting herself in danger to help the townspeople, even when they reject her, as noted in page 43 of Seraphs:

“Out front of the old building a throng of people milled, split into two factions…We would have to walk between the two crowds to gain entry. Well, in one way that was symbolic of what I had done to the town: Divided it utterly.”

 Looking at the world we’re currently in, where racism and exclusion reign supreme, this series and Thorn St. Croix’s struggle has never seemed more relevant when it should be much less relevant.

Could I do what she does? Help the very people who want to kill her just for who she is? I’m not sure anymore. But when I read these books, Thorn makes me want to believe that I could. She believes in doing what’s right, in protecting the people around her, because it’s what we should all do, even if we don’t. Maybe we need to see the ideal to keep striving for it.

Footwear

I’ve never focused much on footwear for working out. All I figured I ever needed were runners that had soles without holes. I have since learned that the correct shoe for the activity can mean you’re less likely to be injured. Runners for weightlifting should allow you to distribute weight uniformly so you remain steady. If you wanted to compete, you can get specific shoes for that but I just use runners since I only want to be stronger. Have a look at this post to see what I mean. 

Image result for running shoes

I have specific runners for running as they have an internal bump that counteracts my feet’s pronation (bowing inwards). A physiotherapist or a well trained shoe sales person (not likely to be at big box stores) will be able to identify what specific pronation issues you may have and direct you to the correct type of shoe. I highly recommend taking this route if it’s possible because an injury will sideline any work out intentions you may have.

This page can help you navigate footwear and decide what to buy for what activity.

 

 

Brandon Sanderson – Kaladin

People, myself included, have an ability to pretend that their decisions don’t have consequences for themselves, that the bad things that have happened to them in their lives are the results of other people’s decisions or actions against them. This willingness to give up control over their own lives to other people or institutions seems to give them an “out.” It’s not their fault. It’s the fault of other people.

The Way of Kings has been sitting on my shelf for years. Brandon Sanderson was a guest at When Words Collide 2014 and I, along with many others, received a free copy of this book. It’s sat there because the book is big and time has been short. Ironically, when time is shortest now that I have a kid, I decided to read this book and I’m glad I did, all because of Kaladin, my favourite character.

IMG_20180815_1215171

Kaladin dreamt of being an honourable soldier when he was a child and carried those dreams right into his life as a soldier. Considered lucky or stormblessed, people followed him because they have a higher likelihood of surviving with him. Being considered lucky set up the belief that others, spirits or deities, acted on him to bring this good fortune. So when his “luck” turned, when he became a slave and then a bridgeman, he wondered why all these bad things were happening to him. Why have the gods targeted him so? On page 993, Kaladin says “The Almighty cursed the Lost Radiants for betraying mankind. What if I’m cursed too, because of what I’m doing?”

Kaladin’s journey comes to a point where he has to decide if he is a victim or the architect of where he is right now. Did the decisions he made prior result in his current situation?

His journey is so interesting to me, especially when all that he does is try to act honourably. I have always believed that people should act fairly. However, making honourable choices can have unpleasant or negative consequences. For example, by choosing to pick up a co-worker’s slack, you hide from your supervisor that co-worker’s negligence. Do you support the team and just get the work done or do you let the client down and allow that negligence to come to light? Either one has unpleasant consequences for you and your team but ultimately the choice is yours.

Our choices have consequences, no matter the intent that informed them.

 

Stretching

Stretching is always one of those tick boxes that needs to be done for every workout. Or does it? This article from The Globe and Mail provides a good, up to date summary on stretching and whether or not it is beneficial. 

I stretch. I have certain biomechanical issues (knee caps that wander and feet that bow inwards) that mean I need to take extra care in order to be able to continue working out. If a placebo effect is at work, I’m okay with that as it means I have good recovery after every workout. When I choose not to stretch, I’m sore.

When I go to physiotherapy, they give me stretches that I need to hold for 30 seconds. Now, I do all of my stretches for 30 seconds, twice each time, and that keeps my muscles from tightening up.

These are a few of the stretches I do:

Legs

Forward bend 

Wide Legged Forward Bend 

Arms

Triceps stretch 

Eagle Pose above the waist 

Back

Child pose 

Seated forward bend 

Sitting at your desk too much? Try these stretches

As you probably notice, I use quite a few yoga stretches. I’ve made the routines so hopefully I will find a way to incorporate yoga into my daily activities.

 

Al Onia – Victor Stromboli

How does a person who cannot forget anything associated with strong emotion move on? Maybe they don’t. At least, Victor Stromboli of Transient City has not when we meet him. He is a witness in a roving mining city, living alone in a temporary tent city, with few friends and no family. Because of his memory, he is able to, with a shock, reconstruct a crime just by being at the crime scene using the sights, sounds, and smells.

When a case comes along with a personal connection, he starts working it, with the possibility of moving up to a detective. The personal connection is a woman named Kathy Whittaker he was in love with when he was twelve years old. Her family moved to another city and she forgets him, but he never forgets her.

IMG_20180815_1215474

His memory from years ago is now a living entity in front of him and his adolescent feelings propel him to solve her husband’s disappearance. There is a problem with all of this though. Much has happened to both of them in the intervening years and she is no longer the girl he remembers. As Shoes, one of Victor’s only friends, says to him, “…You’ll find what you’re looking for. Make sure you look in the right place.”

If a person could not forget anything that ever happened in their life, how hard would it be for them to move on? Victor is a man stuck in time and the world around him is changing without him noticing. This has left him isolated and alone.

Throughout the book, Victor starts to seek out change by taking on new responsibilities and seeing the people around him for who they are.

If you stare hard enough and long enough at the past, you will stay there. Victor could choose to live exclusively in the past but finds a way to see the present. Al Onia’s biography says “His stories celebrate the potential hero in each of us.” In a world as busy as ours, being able to see what is in front of us is a hero’s skill.

Rogue Town is the next one from Al Onia and I can’t wait to read it.

 

Running

I’ve never enjoyed running, until now. I used to try and quickly found myself very bored and aware of just how much physical activity I was doing. That quickly de-motivated me and I would quit. Now, my brain must be going at a much slower pace and asking for less stimulation as I actually enjoy it. Lesson for me – Never give up on an exercise form as you might enjoy it at a later date.

IMG_20180723_0554014

It helps that it exercises my very active dog. If we don’t take her out, she lets us know what we should be doing when she sits by the door, sits in front of us and stares at us or picks up her toys and throws them at us. If I take her running in the morning, she actually relaxes , flopping out on the floor or in the yard and being happy with just being. With just a walk, she’s pacing the house within a couple of hours.

When I started running in the past twelve weeks, I had to battle with myself. I didn’t want to run. But my reward was a calmer dog so I kept at it. Now, I look forward to the run because I feel so much better mentally and physically and my dog looks at me with a happy, mouth-open, tongue hanging out, face.

I have to take it very slow. Knees that bow inwards mean I put too much weight on the inside of my knees which eventually turns into me not running. So, I run every second day, take the weekend off and take it very slow. It’s taken me twelve weeks to get up to running for four kilometres (approximately as I don’t have one of those tracker devices) non-stop. I will gradually add extra kilometres as the sun rises later and later each morning. My dog can’t chase her frisbee in the dark so we might as well run instead.

Don’t hesitate to explore those activities that you didn’t like in the past. You might find you really like them now.