The Weekly Coastal – bullet points forever

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Life continues to grow and evolve on the Coast. August is in full swing. This is going to be a point form update. I haven’t been sleeping that well lately, and there’s just too much happening at the moment to put together an eloquently written life update for the week. So HERE GOES.

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  • Running my first BC Just Write workshop at Distrikt Movement with Jess Robson this weekend. Jess is such a wonderful, smart, awesome human, and Distrikt is such a great space, and I can’t wait to put these things together. If you’re in the Vancouver area, and still have some internal doubts over starting your next writing project, we still have a few spots, and I promise you’ll leave with the confidence to begin.
  • I’m well into my 30 Sea Days Challenge, and even though some days it’s kind of a pain, it also always makes me feel good about life. If I’m stressed or happy or whatever, biking or running to the ocean and taking a dip in the sea always makes me feel better, and also inspires a little bit of awe for the place that I live. Whether it’s cloudy or hot or morning or late, the daily time I spend in the ocean is ALWAYS an exercise in appreciating the beauty of my homeland. And it’s been really nice to have people join in either in person, or from afar, with their own daily dips. I’m thinking of going for another 30 days when the first 30 are done, but we’ll see about that.
  • I’m coming up on three months on the Coast. Holy moly. I actually can’t even believe it. It continues to be an adventure and an up and down roller coaster of days that are magical and inspiring and wonderful, and other days that are lonely and stressful and challenging. Such is any new undertaking in life where you’re working to stretch yourself and grow, amiright?
  • I think that I might have found the first speaker for CreativeMornings Sunshine Coast, which is so exciting. I’ll know more next week. But it feels good to be checking things off my list of prep for our first event. I am so nervous and excited for CM to come to this community and I can’t wait to see how it grows and evolves over the upcoming year.
  • I’ve been running more, which is so wonderful and makes me so happy. I still have a long way to go to get back to where I was, but the fact that I am able to run a few times a week is just the best. I actually feel like I can start to push myself again, which is SUCH A RELIEF after a year of on again off again injury. A lot of my runs lately have been a part of the daily dips, so they often part run, part hike up a steep hill, but I’m working on it one step at a time.
  • Jenn McRae and I checked out Coastal Community Crossfit and it was pretty great. I’m always nervous about checking out new workout spaces, because I am super picky about the trainers whose classes I take, but I have a good feeling about this one. So happy to be getting back into some strength-training.
  • Jenn McRae and I have also become managing partners at the co-working space in Gibsons – FUSE workhub – that is set to re-open in September. We have a lot of work to do in terms of the space itself, website, social media, etc etc etc between now and then. More on that in the weeks to come.
  • FINALLY made it to a CreativeMornings Vancouver event; I hadn’t been since coming back to the West Coast. It’s about time! Had a really great morning, despite having to wake up at 5am to catch the ferry, and shut the venue down having a really great conversation with a few people I met at the event. Pretty much exactly why I love CreativeMornings so much. Thanks for the best time, CMVan crew!
  • My friend Stevan was visiting from Toronto, and invited me to a really lovely pal dinner all the way up in Halfmoon Bay, and thankfully I was able to hitch a ride with his partner’s sister who also lives in Gibsons. Met some lovely further up the Coast, part-time Coasters, and re-meet some folks who I know “from around” in my youth. More people moving to the Coast all the time, and I love it!
  • OH MY GOD. Also, I got a roommate! Welcome to the Coast, Hana MacDonald! While there are definitely things that I love about living alone, I am so pumped to be sharing my space with another human again. So far, we seem to get along really well, and my giant apartment is already feeling a lot cozier and more like home.
  • I’m sure that other things happened, but it’s 1am, and I’m sleepy, and my brain is buzzing with everything else that I have to get done that is not my weekly blog post.

So that’s it for now! Sending love from the Best Coast.

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Road to Recovery

After months of resting, icing, not getting better, not knowing what was going on, I have finally FINALLY figured out where my stupid foot pain is coming from and what I need to do to start to recover.
Just to review how my injury happened, and what’s been happening since, about 2-ish months ago I was walking down the street minding my own business, when I felt a sharp, stabbing pain in the ball of my right foot. I hobbled the rest of the way to the coffee shop, thinking that the pain would go away if I gave it a moment to rest, but two hours later, I still found myself hobbling home. When I took off my sock to examine my foot, my second toe and the area behind it was red, tender, and swollen. I RICE’d the shit out of it, but the next day, the red had turned to purple and the swelling had gotten worse. I went to the doctor who told me it was either a bad sprain or a mild stress fracture, but either way, REST. Try to stay off the foot as much as possible for at least 6 weeks. This at a time when I had just ramped up my training again. This was about a week out from a 2 and a half week trip to BC where I had planned to spend at least part of every day trail running through the forests of the Sunshine Coast. I tried to find other activities to occupy me. I tried yoga, and that hurt my foot. I tried swimming, and that hurt my foot. I tried pilates, and I hated it.
7 weeks in, my foot wasn’t improving, so I went and had an x-ray to confirm that it was not a stress fracture so that I could start physio. I’d been going for 3 weeks, and it was helping a little, but what had actually gone wrong was still a complete mystery.  I was pretty sure that there was some kind mechanical weirdness happening in my feet, but it as just a strong inkling on my part, with nothing concrete to back it up.
Well, this week in physio there was FINALLY a breakthrough. I kept talking about how things weren’t improving, and how my other foot also has similar but different issues. And this week my physio started remarking about how the callousing on the bottom of my feet is really unusual (the middle of the ball of my foot has a heavy callous), and pulled in the foot expert from their practice to take a look. He remarked that not only is my medial arch fallen, but that my anterior transverse arch is also 100% not there. WHAT. I didn’t even know that this arch existed. And suddenly everything made sense. After more exploration, my physio and I realized that I was essentially using only my second toe to stabilize my entire foot. We tested out the strength on my outer toes, and they are basically ornamental at this point. What the hell?!?! I can’t actually even begin to express how exciting it is to finally have an explanation for the weird pain I’ve been having in my feet (left starting 3 years ago, and right starting 2 months ago). I’ve talked to GPs, Sports Medicine experts, osteopaths, and other physios, and they have always done some exploring and then given me a big ol’ shrug when nothing showed up in my scans.
I’ve still got a lot of work to do, and mindfully trying to walk while focusing on my arches and how they SHOULD be working rather than how they HAVE been working is really really difficult. It’s kind of like I have to relearn how to walk all over again. I’m continuously baffled by bodies, and how we seemingly have to teach ourselves over and over again how to actually use our own bodies properly to keep us from injuring ourselves. Shouldn’t something as simple as walking just be intuitive? Apparently NOT.
ANYWAYS. Mystery solved! While I’m still in pain, I now have a plan, and can actually see my road to recovery. Can’t wait to be hitting the gym, and road, and trails, again very soon.

PS. Giant thank-you to Ossington Chiropractic and Rehabilitation for helping me to finally solve this horrible mystery.

PPS. As an aside takeaway from this whole ordeal. You know what is going on with your body. You have intuition. You have feelings. And never doubt that you should listen to them. I’m very lucky in that I’m assertive, English is my first language, I’m extremely health literate, and I am fortunate enough that I was able to afford access to physiotherapy. If even one of the pieces of this puzzle was not in place, I would likely still be hobbling around in the dark in extreme pain. I would likely have an incredibly frustrating couple of months ahead, before finally being told that I should probably just not be a runner, and should try to find something else. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to be an advocate for your own health, and to trust your gut 100%.

Sometimes you will write things that are not very good

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted anything of substance on the blog. It’s not because I haven’t been writing. It’s because I don’t feel like I’ve written anything that’s very good. And that’s ok.

I tried writing a blog post about solopreneurship (a work in progress), about modern ideals of femininity (still needs more fleshing out), and about how I’m recovering from an injury at the moment, and losing my mind from lack of physical activity (epiphany just this moment… lack of writing well, and lack of physical activity are perfectly aligned *crying*).

Not everything that you write will be good, and that’s ok. In fact, it’s a good thing. If you’re not writing anything that’s bad, it probably either means a) that you’re not writing very often b) that you actually have no critical eye for your own work, and it’s all kind of mediocre. And as for the former, sure, you could write a pretty good thing every now and then, but if you’re not writing regularly, and sometimes badly, then you’re also probably not getting any better.

Don’t beat yourself up for bad writing.

Not every song on an album is a hit single; not every song written makes it onto the album; and not every melody hummed is turned into a song. So why put the pressure on yourself that every note scribbled on your laptop or in your notebook needs to turn into a finished piece that you share with other people? You don’t. And that doesn’t make those scribbles any less valid. Those scribbles are you growing and learning and getting better at your craft. Those pages are the shoulders of your own giants that you will one day stand on when you’ve practiced enough to write something truly great. I’ve spent my entire life writing; in the early years it was mostly in stacks and stacks of teenage journals. If you looked back on those journals, it would be embarrassing. They are the worst. You wouldn’t look at them and say, “these are great examples of writing! This lady is FOR SURE going to be a professional writer when she grows up. Let’s publish this shit!” But they did give me the space to have years and years of garbage writing without anyone’s judgement (including, my own).

So write badly. Write pieces that go nowhere and never get finished. Abandon a story that is going nowhere and lights no fire in your heart. And then start again. And again. And again. And practice every day until you write something great.

An update

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There’s been a lot of change in my life in the past few months, and there’s going to be even more in the months to come. I wanted to make an update post to keep people that I know in the loop about what the heck I’m up to these days.

  1. I’ve had an injury. The week after I made my post about how active I was and how much I love being active, I got a stress fracture. I was told to immediately stop any activities that had a high impact on my foot (ie: running). I tried yoga, but the upward to downward dog transition hurt my foot. I tried swimming, but the foot paddling associated with anything but the breast stroke also caused foot pain. I tried to walk less, but I’m such a big walker, and honestly it’s been a crazy struggle. 4 weeks later, I’m not feeling that much better, and I’m wondering if the end will ever be in sight.
    I’m going to try to get back to going to the gym, but with no box jumps, skipping, steps ups, etc etc etc, and see how it goes.
    I’ve seen so many runners that I know deal with injury, and it’s so fucking difficult. On the plus side, it has made me MISS running so much. I constantly think about how much I love it and how much I want to get back out there. Distance is definitely making the heart grow fonder in this case. So much fonder.
    I’m trying to remember to see the long game (patience!). In the big scheme of things, one month off (or two…) is so short when you compare it to a lifetime of physical activity.
    This injury was also a good reminder for me. I knew that it was time to replace my shoes. I could tell that they were worn. But I put it off. And with the level of physical activity that I was putting in, that was a fucking stupid decision. I will never do it again.
  2. I’ve started freelancing full-time. This decision came about in late 2016 after a series of personal breakdowns and revelations, and I finally realized, “I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT” and went for it. I spent the next few months taking every meeting and coffee that I could get, and now things are starting to come together. I’m so god-damn excited about the year ahead. I’m excited for the variation in projects and clients, and the feeling that I never have to be stuck in a specific job if I don’t want to ever again. BUT WHAT DO YOU DO, ALTAIRA? Well, I’m still kind of figuring that out.
    For now it mostly falls into a few buckets:

a. Writing. I love writing, and I’m good at it, and I can pretty much write about anything. I’m hoping to do more health care communications work, some work related to environmental and social issues, and also some work making online resources on various topics. This will be balanced with a healthy dose of blog posts on things like running and mental health and creativity. Writing all the time.

b. Research. I’m good at digging for things online, I know how to identify legit sources, and I’m basically a professional lurker. If you need something from the Internet, I can find it. I love going down knowledge rabbit holes and digging forever until every bit of useful information has been found. Whether it be for an environmental scan, or a policy paper, research holds a special place in my heart. It is a good partner to writing.

c. Other consulting. This third basket is a mixed bag of other things that I like doing. This includes some consulting about events (how should it run, what issues might you come up against, what are your goals), some strategy, and I’m hoping in the future to help teams develop online courses/workshops etc to supplement their own consulting work. I’ve helped to shape countless workshops and online education modules in the academic world, and I’m ready to take those skills and apply them to creative projects.

d. Workshops. I’m also running a series of workshops here in Toronto called Just Write. The purpose of which is to give participants the tools that they need to turn off the part of their brain that tells them that they can’t, and to just start the writing project that they have been thinking about, because that is the first and most difficult step. The next one is THIS SATURDAY. If this sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to register. This month’s workshop is only 45 bucks and will include a really great yoga session by City Yogis.

  1. I’m (mostly) moving back to BC. You heard me. May 2017, I will be packing up my Toronto life and moving it back across the country to Gibsons, BC. I’ve known for a few years that I would be planning a move to BC’s Sunshine Coast, and now the stars have finally aligned and it’s time to go home. I. CANNOT. WAIT. If we’ve ever spoken about my homeland in real life, you will have noticed how my eyes light up when I talk about the smell of the forest, and the damp air coming off the sea. I’m ready for bonfires and vegetable gardens, for trail runs and swims in the ocean on my lunch break, for easy west coast hangs that blend from morning into night, for long table dinners in apple orchards and afternoons spent holding baby sheep. READY. FOR. IT. In large part, this readiness has been facilitated by my decision to freelance. I was always hesitant to move back, because even though my heart ached for the West Coast, the thought of leaving my Toronto life completely behind, and visiting a week or two a year was just too much to bear. So at the moment I’m building up my Toronto clients, with the plan to have a home base in Gibsons but to come back and live in TO 2-3 months a year. The Sunshine Coast has so much possibility, and I cannot fucking wait for the projects, events, community building that I have started brainstorming for the year ahead.
  1. I’ve met so many wonderful people. WEST COAST HIPPIE MOMENT. When I finally gave in to what I really want from my life, I started to meet even more of the best people. I already have some truly wonderful, supportive, funny, generous friends in my life. But the connections that I’m making have just started to explode off the fucking charts in recent months. It’s blowing my mind a little.
  1. Everything is always working out for me. My fam, Jacqueline Jennings Pierrot has started using the term, “coming out of the spiritual closet” for people connecting with their purpose, and generally getting into new age spiritual practices like tarot readings, crystals, positive vibrations with the universe etc. One morning, on my most recent trip to BC, she was like, “I’m listening to this positive thinking podcast, I know you think that it’s stupid, but whatever, it’s totally working”. One of the things that she said from the podcast as a positive mantra was, “everything is always working out for me”. And my immediate reaction was *EYE ROLL* *FUCKING GAG ME* and J was like WHATEVER. And then I started saying it as a joke, because it was too self help, new agey for me, but then actually everything started just working out for me in exactly the way that I hoped it would. Soooooooooooooo… EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS WORKING OUT FOR ME.

Update COMPLETE. Big thanks to everyone who keeps reading my blog, and sending kind words or letting me know in person that a post that I wrote really resonated with them. You’ve helped me to write more consistently and honestly in the year that’s passed, and encouraged me to dig more deeply in the year ahead.