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.

 

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Two cities. Two loves.

Two and a half years ago, I needed a change. I was tired of the story that I was telling about myself, and I needed to be challenged. I needed to grow. I uprooted my life in Vancouver, and without having ever been here, I moved to Toronto.

And I got what I was looking for. It’s really hard to convey how much things have changed for me since coming here.

In the past two and half years, I’ve taken over running a successful lecture series on creativity, left a job that I hated, and finally shifted sectors after years of waning, found the general direction I want to take with my life, rediscovered the real core of my athleticism, let go of family, solidified bonds with new family, started writing regularly again, and started a writing workshop series. It’s been a good couple of years. I love Toronto.

But here’s the thing – when I am here in Toronto, I miss Vancouver. The feeling of longing for the ocean, and the mountains, and cool clean forest air is buried deep in my bones. In moments of meditation, when I close my eyes, I am running down a soft wooded trail, trees overhead, making my way to the sea. My friends in Vancouver are old friends. They are the friends who know every one of my flaws; who have seen me at my very worst and most distressed; they are the friends who have become my family; they are the friends who are home. The love that I feel in Vancouver is a calm and comforting love. It eases me, and makes me feel safe and whole.

And then there’s Toronto. Still new. And honestly, I still feel pretty lonely here much of the time. I take a long time to feel comfortable in my skin with new people, and so most of my relationships here still feel like early days. That being said, Toronto has shown me a new love. Maybe it’s that sometimes you need to see yourself, or others need to see you, with new eyes to see your true potential. The communities that I have become a part of have pulled something out of me that I didn’t know was there. They’ve made me feel a lot more certain of my own capabilities; more sure of myself; stronger. In Toronto, I have met some of the most incredible women who I have ever known, who continuously inspire me to strive to be better. Not just in big ways, but in the small ways that I carry myself in daily life.

Two cities. Two loves. Two homes.

Can teleportation be a thing already?

Altaira Northe’s Guide to Getting Doored

On October 2nd of 2015, after years and years of cycling mostly without incident, it finally happened – I finally got doored. I have to say, as much as it was awful, I was also lucky. For one, I’m a pretty adept cyclist, so rather than falling over into traffic, I was able to maneuver pretty well post door collision. For two, there was no streetcar coming at the time, and the parking spot in front of the car that doored me was empty, so I didn’t immediately careen into another vehicle, or get smoked by a giant train… which would have led to a much more devastating outcome. I don’t really like to think about it. Despite the fact that my injuries weren’t life-threatening, I WAS injured, and dealing with the police, the driver, and the insurance system in the hours, days, and months that followed was so disheartening and frustrating. For these reasons, I’d like to share what I learned, so that hopefully if you are ever doored (but hopefully you’re not) that you are better prepared to deal with the fallout. Keep in mind that some of this advice might only apply specifically to Ontario, where my accident happened.

  1. Even if you don’t feel injured, you might be injured. ALWAYS GET THE DRIVER’S INFORMATION. ALWAYS.

Getting in an accident floods your system with adrenaline, making you believe that you are more ok than you actually are. You might feel alright in the moment, but chances are injuries will settle into your body as time passes. Superficial injuries are easy to spot, but it could be days before you really start to feel deeper tissue injuries.

In my case, the driver who doored me refused to give me her information. Despite her protests, I took photos of both her and her car (including licence plates); without this information, the police wouldn’t have been able to file a report.

  1. If you would like the driver who doored you to be ticketed, a police officer must be called to the scene.

Right after the accident happened, I called the non-emergency line for the Toronto Police Department. They asked me if I was in danger, and I told them that I was not, so they instructed me to go to the nearest police station to file a report. Upon arriving, I was told that the driver could not get ticketed for dooring, since no police officer was called to the scene. I was furious. The driver was on her cell phone, and barely looked up from texting when I hit her door. In fact, she proceeded to tell me about how stressful her morning was. I most definitely wanted her to be ticketed. Had I known about this rule, I would have insisted that a police officer come to the scene of the accident.

  1. File a police report.

Again, even if you don’t think that you’re going to pursue any action at the time of the incident, you might change your mind later. And you won’t be able to without a police report. FURTHER, if you want the powers that be to have accurate information about how many cyclists are hurt on the road, YOU NEED TO FILE A CLAIM. The more cyclists that file reports when they are injured, the more accurate the information that government officials have will be when they consider driving laws, infrastructure, and other policies that affect cyclists. By filing a report about getting doored, you are hopefully helping to reduce the chance of other cyclists getting doored in the future.

  1. The police officer who files your accident report is REQUIRED to give you the insurance information of the person who doored you.

I spent MONTHS trying to track down this information. I was initially told that I either had to file a form for 100 dollars to get the info in something like ten days, or I could get it in over a month for 35 dollars. I spoke to at least 3 police officers about this, and none of them could give me the correct information about how to proceed. Every one of them was condescending and dismissive.

Finally, after a particularly harrowing experience, I tweeted at the TPD. Within 24 hours I was on the phone with an officer from their public relations department. The next day, I had the information that I needed to begin talking to the driver’s insurance company. Getting this info took three months, and it should have been given to me the day I was hit.

  1. Go and see a doctor as soon as possible after the accident.

If you have serious injuries, obviously call 911 and go to the hospital. If your injuries are not life threatening, and you’re still mobile, make sure to go and see a doctor for an assessment as soon as possible after the accident. A doctor’s immediate assessment will play a huge role in any insurance claims that you might choose to file against the person who doored you. Even if you “feel fine”, just go get assessed. A few hours now will lead to much less distress if you decide to pursue claims in the future.

  1. Be clear with the insurance company about your intention.

I spent two months going back and forth with the insurance company before I found out that they had referred me to the wrong department. I had been working with the department dealing with lawsuits, and what I wanted was to file an Accident Benefits Claim.

If your injuries are less serious like mine, and you’re just seeking coverage for rehabilitation therapy, then you file an Accident Benefits Claim. If your injuries are quite serious, and you missed work etc, you might want to file a lawsuit on top of your Accident Benefits Claim.

At any rate, it only took a few days to file the Accident Benefits Claim once they transferred me to the right person. This mix up delayed my treatment by several months.

  1. Even if your injuries don’t seem serious, GET TREATMENT.

A little whiplash or sprain might not seem like a big deal now, but these are the types of injuries that really settle into your body and come back to haunt you when you get old. A little shoulder ache now can turn into chronic shoulder pain and disability in your old age. If you are doored, you are entitled to receive physiotherapy treatment. Take the treatment that you are entitled to! When I was doored, I got some pretty serious whiplash in my shoulder, and sprained my ankle. In the months after the accident, I experienced daily pain, especially if I engaged in physical activity. Now, after two months of visiting a physiotherapist and RMT on a regular basis, I’m getting pretty close to recovery. I still experience pain if I push myself too hard physically, but it has improved a great deal.

  1. Get back out there.

Since getting doored, I worry a lot more while cycling. I flinch. I brace myself for another hit. I’ve always been cautious, but I find myself being almost too cautious since the accident. It took a while to get back out biking in traffic, but I know that the only way to feel comfortable again is to just keep getting out on the road over and over until it feels normal again. Keep biking. Keep asserting my right to be on the road. And keep making space for other cyclists to take to the roads too.

 

 

the 100 day project – day 79 – 100

I really dropped the ball on the last quarter of the 100 day project. Regardless though, I DID write more in this time period, so I suppose in that way, it still served its purpose. Right? Right.

The summer so far has been an amazing blur of way more running than in the past, pal hangs, lots of creativemornings things, and many many meetings to talk about current and future collaborations. Sometimes I can’t believe the momentum I’m gaining in terms of just meeting incredible people. How many new and wonderful, talented, humble, wonderful humans can one person possibly meet?

ANYWAYS. I’m home visiting Vancouver and the surrounding areas at the moment, and it’s always an emotional, but also comforting experience. I miss the coast. But there are also so many reasons that I’m not ready to return. More and more, I am mulling over the idea of trying to create a life that allows me to split my time between these two cities. Vancouver/the Sunshine Coast are so deeply connected to my heart, and the deep deep depths of my soul. My heart and bones ache for the mountains and ocean when I’m not around them, and I actually can’t help but cry when I’m taking the ferry home across the ocean. THAT’S HOW MUCH I MISS THE GD OCEAN, AND THE LANDSCAPES OF COASTAL BC. Long days running through the forests and plunging into the ocean; harvesting veggies from my friends’ gardens, and feeling all of the love and security of people who love me incredibly.

But then Toronto speaks to me, inspires me, and drives me in completely different ways. It pushes me to grow, and to be better, and to be brave. I can feel myself becoming a better and better version of myself with each month that passes that I live there. I have more confidence, and more sureness of myself and my abilities, and more security in my own strength. I would simply not have been able to reach this level of growth had I stayed in Vancouver.

SO WHAT DO I DO NOW. Two battling loves, and two very different lives, both of which I crave so deeply. I just want them both. Now I just need to figure out how to make that happen.

THE END.

the 100 day project – day 33

Today I went to see a talk by Roman Mars of 99% Invisible, with some of the other women from CreativeMornings Toronto. It was pretty much the best ever. Roman Mars has such a gift for storytelling that shows the beauty and wonder in the everyday. He is such a gifted speaker, with a calm, silky, measured tone. He has a way of making one feel incredibly excited about, and interested in, a topic without becoming manic or dramatic in his manner of speech.

Anyways, it was just such a treat. The talk was put on by Format, so THANKS FORMAT.

This was followed by a few drinks and foods at Bar Raval with a couple of the lovely ladies from Parkdale Roadrunners, and holy shit is that place great. Really lovely, beautiful atmosphere, that has more of a european vibe. And also, HOLY HELL, the tomato toast. Tomato toooooooooooast!!! We ordered it based on the bartender’s recommendation and it was probably my favourite out of everything we had. And it was only 3.50. It took me back to spending long summer days out on the water at my friend’s lake cabin and running in briefly in the afternoon only to make a quick tomato and mayo on toasted rye sandwich. THE BEST. But this was better. The mushroom towers were also the most delicious.

FINALLY, I came home to find that my roommates had completely unpacked/set up all of the common areas in our house. So it finally is really starting to look a lot like a home. Hurrrrrraaaaaaaaay.

And now it’s time for sleeps.

The End.

the 100 day project – day 4

If it weren’t for my compulsive tendency to check all social medias all the time (including when I am just crawling into bed), then I would have forgotten today.

Another sick day, and it’s so rainy and thundery here in Toronto right now. While on one hand, I kind of love the heavy rain on the roof because it reminds me of home, on the other hand my heart is going out to pals who are participating in the Covenant House Sleep Out Toronto event where local business and community leaders sleep on the streets for one night to raise awareness and money for homeless youth at Covenant House. Hope you’re staying warm and dry out there tonight, friends!!

Also, shout out to the anonymous person who helped me to reach my tiny personal funding goal for the PDRR 4 HRPR run, to raise money for Toronto’s Ronald McDonald House, happening this weekend! There’s still time to donate! Or also just to come out and cheer as a giant group of us run along the waterfront as part of a 25k relay. It’s gonna’ be a great afternoon!!

Ok, sleep now.

My new favourite thing

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WordPress just randomly deleted the first round of this post… which was completed. So here we go with ROUND TWO.

Recently, a friend convinced me that because I am already a very experienced cyclist, and a moderately experienced runner, that I was now ready to be a brand new beginner triathlete. And so, on Sunday August 24th, I will be competing in the Toronto Island Give-it-a-Tri race. With only 3 and a half weeks to race day, the only thing that I really needed to work on was my swim stroke.

While I’ve loved spending summers swimming in lakes and the ocean since I was a child, I have never really SWAM and have usually hated the idea of swimming laps (booooring), and have avoided chlorinated pools like the plague. However the need to train so that I will not die in the opening leg of my triathlon trumped both of these things. I was wary at first, but then I discovered Toronto’s free outdoor summer pools.

More specifically, I discovered Sunnyside – Gus Ryder Pool. While busy on the weekends, I’ve found weeknights at Sunnyside blissfully calm, and I’ve never had to deal with more than 2 other people in the slow lane. The pool is long and peaceful, with a deep end that allows for water treading or a long float on my back staring up at the sky as the clouds go by when I’m done my laps.

Sunnyside is a quick 15 minute bike ride from my house, along side streets and the lake front. And if I decide to go for a little 5 km jog to round out my training, I can run over to a freaking butterfly habitat. It’s beautiful. As previously mentioned, on top of all of this, Sunnyside is also FREE. FREEEEEEEEEE. I know that normally swimming pools only charge about 3 dollars for admission, but it’s still so amazing to me that I can pop in for a little 20 minute swim if I’m in a hurry and it costs me absolutely nothing at all. On top of this, Sunnyside also has a pretty amazing history, but I’m not gonna’ write about that here.

ANYWAYS. I don’t remember how I signed off the first time I wrote this post, but the second time around it goes something like this: next weekend, I will compete in my first little mini-triathlon, and a few short weeks after that, Toronto free outdoor pools will close for Fall. While it won’t be the same, I will reluctantly drag myself to swim my lanes indoors, paying my three dollars, so that I am better, stronger and faster when I return to summer pools next June.

THE END.