Monthly Archives: February 2013

You lose some, you win big

The good thing about having gained thirty lbs over the last ten years is that I now have sexy, shapely, well proportioned legs.

No, seriously! For most of my life I have been a skinny Minnie – tall and awkward, all arms and legs. And I don’t mean super model, trendy skinny (if there is such a thing), just skinny. Fast forward ten years and two kids later, and quickly approaching forty, I have gained some much needed curves, but a little too much chubby spots for my liking.

I was mostly feeling pretty good about my changing body. I’m getting older and it’s to be expected that a lot of us will most likely get a little thicker as the years add up. I’m okay with this. What I am not okay with is being extremely out of shape and run down. I think I am far too young to be panting up a few flights of stairs and avoiding physically strenuous activities with my kids because my body can’t handle it. Just a couple of years ago, I climbed all 1176 steps of stairs of the CN Tower you see in the distance of this photo:

Ice city

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Right now, I don’t think I would make it halfway without keeling over.

I realized how out of shape I am when we were on vacation in Costa Rica. Sure, I spent most of my time lying around on the white sand beaches, but there were a few things I found that I couldn’t keep up with while on outings with my husband and kids. Hiking, any kind of climbing, and even horse back riding were activities that quite literally wiped me out and took me days to fully recover.

This is coming from a woman who used to easily bike across the city and break out into just a little bit of a sweat.

So, in an effort to nurture my Plan de Vida, I have made a new friend. Her name is Jenny, last name Craig. I was skeptical at first. I’m generally not into frozen, packaged foods, but I know myself and I knew that in order to drop the weight I would need something structured and easy to follow. I can eat as much fresh vegetables as I want along with the prepared food. I started about a month ago and so far it’s going great. Soon, I’ll be ready to start preparing my own meals which I am excited about.

I want to live a long, healthy and happy life. I want to be like those eighty year old grandmothers I saw biking with ease on the dirt roads in rural Costa Rica. Losing the extra weight is my first step in getting healthy, and four weeks into it, I am feeling a difference.

Morning stroll in the snow covered boardwalk

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It’s quite cold and icy up here right now, so I’m not getting out as much to go for my walks and to take pictures. But come spring, I will be carrying thirty pounds less and I will be doing more biking and brisk walking on those lakeshore trails. It’s a habit I intend on keeping when I am old and gray and surrounded by grandkids.

And dammit, I’m gonna have fabulous, sexy and shapely legs when I do it.

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Snow Day in Toronto

Winter city

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Every winter, good Canadians across the country love to make fun of us Torontonians when we get any significant amount of snowfall. Yeah, I guess Mel Lastman is to blame for that. Call in the army!

Snow days are such a rare thing around these parts, that when we do get them, yes we grumble but not because we are afraid. We grumble because we know the frustration that lies ahead as a result. Getting home from work to our families takes twice the amount of time, which really sucks. Hence the grumbles and panic.

Icy bush on the shore of Lake Ontario.

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I’m from Northern Ontario, where 30cm of snowfall is just a light dusting. But in a city this size, any amount of snow like that is enough to slow things down considerably.

But it’s not enough to stop us.

Contrary to popular belief, we love snow and winter activities. After a snowfall, you’ll see cross-country skiers in city parks, and people (and family dogs too) of all ages taking to the hills with their sleds in Christie Pits, Dufferin Park and the  Don Valley. I think I have even seen some stuffy, Bay St. business types racing down some of those hills. We’re not as wimpy and uptight as the rest of Canada likes to think.

And yes, as any good snow loving, toque wearing, Tim Horton’s drinking Canadian will tell you, the twenty-second thrill ride going down is totally worth the ten minute climb back up.

The 20 second thrill going down is totally worth the 10 minute climb back up.

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All Instagram photos are my own, taken and processed on my iPhone 3Gs. Follow me on Instagram: @BearHeartWoman

A post about death, mortality and processing grief

Warning: depressing and potentially triggering post alert. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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I used to firmly believe, without a doubt, in God, Creator a Higher Being or whatever it is you want to call it. While I’m not at all religious now, I was raised by my devoutly Catholic grandmother who instilled in me a strong sense of faith and spiritual belief. Even though I walked away from the church years ago, I still held my own beliefs about spirituality that suited me and were relevant to my Native American heritage.

Well, in this past year especially, I’m not so sure about that anymore and for the first time in my life, I question everything I have ever believed.

Without getting too long-winded about the road that has led me here, let’s just say I have watched way too many good people around me suffer from misfortune, serious illness and sudden death.

I am mostly a positive person, however all this bad news makes me consider my own mortality and the possibility that something could randomly happen to me and my family. I feel incredibly guilty and selfish for feeling this way when there are so many people around me who are really suffering. My life is a bed of roses compared to some of those who I interact with each day. I count my blessings, all the time.

No so long ago, I would have believed that everything happens for a reason, that bad luck was really fate, and there were important life lessons in hardship to be learned, and blah, blah, blah. This used to make me feel better, but right now it all just feels like platitudes – empty and hollow and only echoes my grief and confusion back to me.

Is there an afterlife, or a God, Creator or Higher Being watching over us? These are questions I contemplated a lot this past year when my beloved auntie Harriet passed away, and recently when a young woman I knew, a 29-year-old single mother of two, suddenly and mysteriously died in her sleep. My aunt’s death I could handle, but the other just seems so random and so cruel. Why why why?

But there is only silence to my pleas, and no solace. There is nothing, just unanswered questions that lead to emptiness and the only thing that fills up the space are tears.

I realize today that I will never know the why’s of any of the tragedies I witness. Nor will I ever know for sure if my Auntie Harriet or my grandmother who raised me are up “there” somewhere watching on me like guardian angels. I will never know why this young woman, who when I last spoke to her (two days before she died) was so full of life and hope, is suddenly gone. Just like that, her life is over, her hopes wiped out, leaving behind two orphaned children, same ages as my own…

….oh Lisa, Lisa, Lisa…

…so random and it scares the hell out of me.

There is nothing that explains any of this to me, comforts my grief, or soothes my fear. Comments like “It was her time…” or “she’s in a better place now…” don’t make me feel better. They make me angry and confused. Who, what and where do I turn to when the beliefs and values that once gave me comfort no longer hold true?

I don’t know what happens after death, if there is an afterlife or if there is a grand plan that will suddenly all make sense to us when our souls leave this earth. And wondering about it doesn’t make me feel any better either, it only makes my fear bigger. The only Life I know about for certain is the one I have right now. This very moment, so short and fleeting, is the only thing I have any guarantee for.