Are you high maintenance?

LogoWhen we travelled to Europe two years ago I learned that I could easily fit everything I needed for three and a half weeks away from home in a teeny, tiny carry-on, but when we take the vehicle, moderation or minimalism go out the window! After all, there’s a lot of space in a large SUV! On the way home from our recent trip to Jasper, we spent the weekend in Edmonton with our son and his family. I took some good-natured teasing from both hubby and son when they discovered that I’d packed six pairs of shoes for one week away! I was laughingly told that I’m high maintenance.

That led me to wonder… what makes a woman high maintenance? One definition I found online says that a high maintenance woman “places a strong emphasis on her own image, wants, needs, and desires. Her feelings are her highest priority, and she expects everyone around her to conform to her self-created worldview and value.” Ouch! That’s certainly not the kind of woman I want to be!

As often happens, the idea for this post took me down several online rabbit trails looking for information about what people really mean when they refer to a woman as high maintenance. I found lists that included traits such as needy and controlling, self-obsessed, hard to please, always plays the victim, wants you to be her personal chauffeur, makes you feel like her errand boy. Interestingly, most of these were written by men. I can’t help wondering how many of them were coming out of a bad relationship when they wrote these things!

I also found several “How high maintenance are you?” quizzes that assign points to traits such as wears high heels every day, owns 20+ pairs of shoes, wears makeup daily, takes 15+ minutes to apply makeup, buys high end makeup, has painted nails, wears acrylic nails, has nails done professionally, has a regular pedicure, gets a massage regularly, wears a lot of jewelry, carries a designer purse, etc. According to those, I am definitely NOT high maintenance!

Clearly, there are women (and men) who excel at self-indulgence and others who take absolutely no interest or pleasure in their own appearance. Then there are the rest of us who fall somewhere in the middle. Not only do we not really know for sure if we’re high maintenance, we probably don’t even care! Instead of worrying about whether or not I’m high maintenance, I prefer to focus on what kind of person I am. Am I a person of integrity? Am I kind, compassionate, and self-controlled? Do I exhibit patience and humility in dealing with others?

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And now, about the six pairs of shoes! I took my hiking shoes, my walking shoes, my white leather sneakers, a pair of casual flats, and two pairs of sandals. I wore all of them except the dressy sandals which I would have worn to church except that it was cool and rainy that morning. Instead, I wore the flats. Come to think of it, I actually had my water shoes with me too and wore them when we went kayaking. And my rubber boots were in the back of the vehicle! They stay there all summer in case they’re needed when we’re camping.

Don’t anyone tell my husband or my son that I actually had eight pairs of footwear with me! 🤣

Family and fun in Jasper National Park

After more than 15 months of life limited by Covid-19, Alberta lifted all restrictions on July 1 and declared the province “open for summer”. With barely over 50% of the eligible population (those age 12 and over) fully vaccinated, we’re skeptical that this will last, but in the meantime we’ve made spending time with family our first priority this summer. Since the beginning of July, we’ve enjoyed visits with both our Alberta kids and their families and last week we headed off to Jasper to spend some time with the oldest member of the family. My aunt, the last remaining member of my parents’ generation, is 97 years old and is very special to me. After spending much of the last year alone in her own home, she recently moved into a seniors lodge and is absolutely loving it!

While in Jasper, we were also able to enjoy two of our favourite summertime activities, kayaking and hiking. With hundreds of wildfires burning across western Canada, smoke hung heavily in the air partially obscuring views of the mountains, but there was still much beauty to be seen. 

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A quiet paddle on Pyramid Lake


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Pyramid Island

While enjoying our peaceful morning paddle, we saw an elk grazing in bushes alongside the shore and had the opportunity to observe a pair of loons feeding their half-grown chick. Unlike the air above, the water was so clear that we were actually able to watch the birds swimming below it’s surface! I wasn’t able to get a clear photo of the youngster, but one of the adults stationed itself between us and its offspring providing me with great opportunity to photograph it at close range.

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There are many, many hiking trails in the Jasper area, but we decided to do the Valley of the Five Lakes again. We first hiked it four years ago with our oldest son and his family. While I remembered the spectacular views of the lakes, I’d forgotten that the trail is quite steep in places. With roots criss-crossing it and many rocky outcrops, good footwear is advised. 

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First Lake

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Second Lake

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Third Lake

We enjoyed the view of Third Lake, my favourite of the five, from a pair of iconic Parks Canada red chairs. Read more about these chairs, found in national parks across the country, here

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Fourth Lake

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Fifth Lake

For clearer smoke-free views of the lakes with mountains in the background, take a look at this post from our previous hike. 

There’s also plenty of beauty in Jasper National Park that can be seen from a vehicle. We spent an entire afternoon on a sightseeing drive with my aunt as our guide. She toured us around Lakes Edith and Annette close to town and then decided that we should head up the longer road toward Maligne Lake. The air was a little clearer up that way which was nice. I especially enjoyed the views of Medicine Lake. 

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Medicine Lake

At Maligne Lake, we enjoyed a coffee/tea break on a patio overlooking the lake where we could watch tour boats come and go. 

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Maligne Lake

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Auntie Norma, an avid hiker into her 80s, handled the short trail from the parking lot like a pro! I’m sure no one who saw us would have believed that she’s 97. On our way back to town, she had no sooner expressed her disappointment over not seeing any wildlife when we came upon some Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. IMG_2693

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The icing on the cake, however, was a mama black bear and her very young cub! Unlike many tourists who threw caution to the wind trying to get a perfect photo, I took mine from the window of the vehicle!

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On the river again…

There isn’t going to be a Fashion Friday post today. We spent the last few days camping at Big Knife Provincial Park and when I’m camping, fashion is the furthest thing from my mind! Instead, I’m going to share a couple of kayaking experiences with you.

The weather forecast for Monday called for extreme heat, so after a leisurely breakfast we decided to head for the river before the day got too hot. The sun was shining, the air was almost still, and everything was so fresh and green!

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At this time of year the water is high, so we were able to leave the Battle River for a bit and paddle up the much shallower Big Knife Creek. It was like entering another world; a world of untouched and incredibly peaceful wilderness. Unlike last year, we spotted just one beaver and heard only one mighty tail slap. The rest of the time, the water was like a mirror and the reflections were amazing. 

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Returning to the main river, we continued upstream. On the way, we chose a spot where we’d pull ashore for a picnic lunch on our way back. 

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It was there that we had the most amazing experience. We were just returning to the boat when we heard a loud splash just upstream from us. A moose was swimming across the river and I had the camera in my hand!

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She even stopped on the hillside and posed for me before heading into the bush!

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When we started kayaking four years ago, I could only paddle for about an hour and a half before feeling like my arms were going to fall off. On Monday we paddled for almost four and the GPS told us that we’d travelled 10.5 miles (16.9 km). We were pretty impressed with ourselves, but also glad to be back in camp by the time the temperature rose to 35ºC (95ºF) later in the afternoon! 

Our second kayaking adventure was quite different and I didn’t even think to take any photos. We’d done some hiking on Tuesday and left camp for much of the day on Wednesday to go to Camrose for medical appointments, so we decided that we’d go for a short paddle yesterday morning before packing up and heading for home. There’s a bridge not too far downstream from the campground where Secondary Highway 855 crosses the river, so we decided to kayak there and back. The river widens in that area and when we got out on the water, we realized that the wind was MUCH stronger than it had appeared back in the campground which is quite sheltered. It was at our back, so we had no problem getting to the bridge, but when we turned around we quickly realized that there was no way that we were going to be able to battle our way back to the boat launch. Paddling as hard as we could, we were barely able to move forward. Water was splashing over the bow and I was immediately soaked from the waist down. Thankfully, we knew that there was a small road down to the riverside by the bridge that people use to go fishing, so we found a spot to land the kayak nearby and only had to carry it a short distance to that road. Of course, the vehicle was still at the boat launch and now one of us had to walk back to get it! Since I’m trying to walk lots anyway, I volunteered. Richard waited with the kayak while I walked almost 3.5 km (2.16 miles) back to the vehicle. That’s not a lot farther than I walk most days, but much of it was uphill and that horrendous wind was trying to blow me off my feet; the feet that were wearing only water shoes! That definitely wasn’t a fashion statement, but I can say that I’m very thankful that I don’t kayak barefoot! 

 

Kayaking, hiking, and bridge building

We kayaked to Saskatchewan yesterday. That might sound like an amazing feat, but only until I tell you that we were camping on the Alberta side of Dillberry Lake which straddles the Alberta/Saskatchewan border. We were across the provincial boundary within 5 minutes of leaving the boat launch!

Camping, hiking, and kayaking are my favourite summertime activities and we chose Dillberry Lake Provincial Park for a short getaway this week because there we could enjoy all three. Though it’s less than two hours from home, we hadn’t been there since the early 1980s! The lake was much smaller than we remembered and we were able to paddle all the way around it in less than an hour.

We spent several hours out on the hiking trails the day before though. The “knob and kettle” topography of the area consists of hummocky mounds (the knobs) and water-filled depressions (the kettles) that form a series of small lakes. We hiked the entire trail system (8.93 km) which is made up of several loops alongside and around some of these lakes. With the exception of bazillions of birds, butterflies, and dragonflies, we didn’t see any wildlife, but we saw plenty of evidence along the trail to suggest that they were there.

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At one point, where a tiny wooden bridge should have taken us across the water exiting one of the lakes, industrious beaver had built a dam and flooded the trail. A temporary floating bridge had been brought in to enable hikers to cross, but clearly that wasn’t enough. Would we have to turn back?

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Where there’s a will, there’s usually a way. With a little temporary bridge building on Richard’s part, we were soon on our way again! The beaver had built themselves a fine home in the flooded end of the lake.

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A little further along, we ate our picnic lunch at a lovely rest spot overlooking one of the lakes.

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We were back on the trails for a short jaunt this morning before packing up to come home. This time we saw two majestic moose at fairly short range, but unfortunately neither one waited around long enough to have it’s picture taken!

Rocky Mountain getaway

After being cooped up at home and going almost nowhere except to medical appointments for several months, we desperately needed a change of scenery. First thing Wednesday morning, we packed the vehicle and drove almost five hours to Banff National Park where we enjoyed a couple of days surrounded by the beautiful Rocky Mountains. One of the things we most wanted to do was some snowshoeing. We’d hardly done any this winter as we’ve had much less snow than usual this year.

Snowshoeing on Lake Louise

We woke to an absolutely perfect day on Thursday. The cloudless sky was a brilliant blue and there wasn’t a breath of wind. After several days of thawing and freezing, the snow around Banff itself was very crusty, but we found powder at Lake Louise. Strapping on our snowshoes, we set off across the surface of the lake toward the majestic Victoria Glacier at the other end.

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We made it most of the way to the far end of the lake before turning around, realizing how far we’d come, and deciding that it was time to head back toward the iconic Chateau Lake Louise in the distance.

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The Chateau has a special place in our hearts as we were treated like royalty when we stayed there on our honeymoon over 44 years ago.

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Marble Canyon Hike

After eating a picnic lunch in front of the Chateau and watching the skaters on a cleared section of the lake, we headed off on another adventure. This time, we crossed the BC border into Kootenay National Park to hike the short, but impressive Marble Canyon trail. Multiple bridges span the narrow gorge and the views were spectacular. My photos don’t really do them justice. 

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To celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, Parks Canada placed pairs of bright red Adirondack chairs in select National Parks and Historic Sites across the country. “Connect with nature in the country’s most unique and treasured places. Whether it’s a place to rest after a leisurely stroll or to cheer your successful completion of a strenuous hike, our red chairs offer a place to slow down, to relax and to truly discover the best that Parks Canada has to offer,” reads a statement on their website. It’s always a delight to come across these chairs in unexpected places. This set were half buried in snow, but I couldn’t resist sitting in one anyway!

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After a wonderful day in the great outdoors, we welcomed a soak in the outdoor hot tub back at the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort where we were staying! Due to Covid restrictions, we were able to book 25 minutes each evening and have the 16 person tub all to ourselves! There are definitely a few perks to travel during Covid. Banff, which is usually overrun with tourists, was fairly quiet during the week and affordable accommodations could be booked just a few days in advance. We had a cozy little one bedroom condo with a full kitchen and a living room with a wood burning fireplace for approximately $115/night, much less than it would normally cost. 

Hoodoos Trail Hike

Yesterday morning we enjoyed a second hike. This time we accessed the Hoodoos Trail just across the road from the Tunnel Mountain campground. According to the map, it’s a short 10 to 12 minute walk from there to the end of the trail overlooking the pinnacles of weathered sandstone known as hoodoos. 

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We soon discovered, however, that the trail continued much further along the ridge overlooking the Bow River below. We followed the trail to it’s very end. Out and back took us over an hour.

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Again, we were surrounded by beauty in every direction!

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And again, we found red chairs!

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On the way home today, we stopped in Calgary to help this little cowboy, our youngest grandson, Simon, celebrate a Covid compliant front porch birthday complete with an amazing Minecraft cake from Crumbs Artisinal Bakeshop.

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Hiking in November!

We usually have snow to stay by the end of October, but as we all know by now, 2020 is a rule breaker! Though we had some unusually cold weather and a few flurries in the latter half of October, when we turned the calendar page to November, the weather took an amazing turn. The average daytime temperature at this time of year is barely above 0ºC (32ºF), so when the forecast said that today’s high would be 18ºC (64ºF), we decided to go hiking! Hiking in central Alberta in November? Unheard of!

This morning, we headed for the village of Donalda, about an hour from home. The last time we hiked in that area was over five years ago. It was already 18ºC when we arrived and we hadn’t been hiking long when we started peeling off layers!

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We started off following the woodland trail that leaves from one corner of the village. With all the leaves on the ground and the trees bare, there was a peaceful beauty about the place. Before long, we passed through a gate that took us onto 129 acres of private land that’s used for grazing cattle. Signs tell hikers that they’re welcome to explore anywhere within the area. We had the option of staying on the trail along the rim of the massive coulee, the northernmost part of the Canadian Badlands, but instead we turned toward the valley and wandered wherever our feet took us. Up, down, and around the bluffs we went seeking out interesting formations and views.

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Though there weren’t any cattle grazing in the area, we had to watch our step as there was plenty of evidence that they had been there! We did see some deer. 

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The weather is so warm this week that the golf course, which has been closed since October 12, has reopened with golfers playing on temporary greens. Richard had Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections in both his shoulders a week ago to promote healing of some old sports injuries, so he can’t do much with his arms right now. Golfing is out, but he certainly could hike!

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I have no idea how far we hiked, but we were out for about three hours. We enjoyed a picnic lunch overlooking the valley.  

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Eventually, we rejoined the woodland trail at it’s far end and made our way back to our starting point. Along the way, we passed this unusual sign on a fence post. We have no idea what it was trying to tell us, but it seemed very appropriate for this most unusual November day!

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My kind of birthday

If the weather permits and we’re not travelling, I usually like to play a round of golf on my birthday, but today I decided that I wanted to spend some more time hiking and kayaking instead. I just can’t get enough of the glorious fall weather that we’ve been enjoying and what could be better than spending it out in nature?

Big Knife Provincial Park on the Battle River is one of our favourite places within an hour of home, especially at this time of year. The campground closed in early September, but the park gates are still open which means that the hiking trails and boat launch are still accessible.

For today’s hike we decided to take a path less travelled. In fact, the trail that we chose doesn’t even appear on the park maps. I think it’s really just an animal trail that is occasionally used by humans. We first discovered it several years ago when we were doing some geocaching in the park, but we hadn’t hiked it again since then.

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The trail begins with a fairly steep climb to the top of the bluff shown above and then follows along the ridge. 

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Apparently, I took more photos looking back than ahead!

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The path eventually leads to The Hoodoos, a mini badlands area, and then joins the River Flats trail system . 

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If this is what 68 looks like, I’m good with it!

After hiking part of the River Flats trails and having our picnic lunch along the way, we headed for the river and launched the kayak. When you’re on a hiking trail, a river, or a lake, there’s no Covid, no politics, no racism, no hoaxes or conspiracies. There’s just you and nature; just beautiful peace and quiet!

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We spent three hours paddling. Every time we’ve been on the river in the fall, we’ve seen a blue heron. I always hope that we’ll be able to get close enough to get a good photo, but they’re very elusive, taking flight as soon as we get anywhere near. Today, it was almost as if the heron was playing with us. Every time we got close, it flew a short distance upriver and then appeared to be waiting for us to catch up. We never did get close enough to get the picture I was hoping for though!

This muskrat, on the other hand, was quite unconcerned with our presence. He was sunning himself in this same spot when we passed by on our way up the river. He slipped into the water and disappeared, but when we returned, he’d obviously decided that we were no threat and continued to sunbathe while we stopped to take his picture. In fact, if you zoom in, you’ll see that his eyes are even closed! 

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We got back to town in time to clean up and go out for supper. That’s definitely my kind of birthday… a day in the great outdoors and no cooking! 

Anniversary getaway

Hubby and I celebrated our 44th anniversary on Friday with an overnight getaway to Wapasu Lake, a tiny dot on the map just an hour north of home. We started our day with a hike at Wapasu Conservancy Park. While our wedding day was cool and blustery, Friday was a perfect fall day. The trail was absolutely gorgeous with the sun shining through the canopy of golden leaves. 

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We started our hike with a climb to a high point that offers a view of the lake and surrounding area. 

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Wapasu is a Cree word meaning white swan. When the trail took us back down to the lakeside, there was a large flock of Canada geese and one pair of swans swimming some distance from the shore. While I didn’t get a very clear photo of the swans, I did manage to capture some of the geese taking flight.

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Further along, we enjoyed a peaceful picnic lunch overlooking the lake.

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After about two and a half hours on the trail, we returned to our starting point and took the kayak out on the lake. There was a strong breeze blowing that whipped up some significant waves. I got pretty wet when the occasional one broke over the bow of the boat, but it was fun! The lake is small so even contending with the waves, it took less than an hour to paddle our way around it.

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After changing into dry clothes, it was time for the next part of our anniversary getaway and we didn’t have far to go. Beachside Bed and Breakfast is located just outside the park boundary. Though the B&B has three guest rooms, occupancy has been reduced to one family group at a time to ensure safe distancing during the Covid pandemic, so we had the entire guest portion of the house to ourselves. After settling into our lovely room, we relaxed with a glass of wine on the deck overlooking the lake until it was time to go for dinner.

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The only restaurant in the vicinity is a truck stop at the nearby village of Innisfree, but it’s located on a hilltop with a beautiful view and, as is typical of truck stops, the food was tasty and plentiful. The sun was setting over the lake as we returned to the B&B. After another glass of wine on the deck, we went for a walk along the sandy beach in the fading light. 

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That brought the outdoor portion of our beautiful anniversary day to an end, but there was still a jacuzzi tub and a king size bed awaiting our return to the B&B! 

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Hitting the Covid-19 wall

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Do you feel like you’ve hit a wall where Covid-19 is concerned? Have you simply had enough with all the restrictions imposed by the pandemic? I know I have!

I admit that as retirees, we’ve had it easier than many. We don’t have jobs or a business to worry about or children at home. My father, our last remaining parent, passed away ten days before the World Health Organization declared the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, so we don’t have elderly parents in care facilities to worry about. Nevertheless, I’ve definitely hit the proverbial wall. Like many others, I’m tired and frustrated.

Experts tell us that this isn’t unusual. Dr. Aisha Ahmad, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto who has has conducted fieldwork on conflict dynamics in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Lebanon, Mali, and Kenya, recently summed it up this way: “The 6 month mark in any sustained crisis is always difficult. We have all adjusted to this “new normal”, but might now feel like we’re running out of steam. Yet, at best, we are only 1/3 the way through this marathon. How can we keep going? First, in my experience, this is a very normal time to struggle or slump. I always hit a wall 6 months into a tough assignment in a disaster zone. The desire to “get away” or “make it stop” is intense. I’ve done this many times, and at 6 months, it’s like clockwork.”

With the pandemic dragging on and no end in sight, it’s easy to become discouraged. In our part of the world summer is over. The days are getting shorter and the hours of darkness longer. We’ve enjoyed beautiful fall weather throughout the month of September, but the long cold winter is just around the corner. People will soon feel more shut in than ever. Add to that the fact that Thanksgiving is almost upon us (we celebrate it in October in Canada) and not long after that, Christmas. Those are times when families usually come together to celebrate, but much of the spread of Covid-19 over the summer has been the result of family gatherings. There’s a lot of uncertainty in many families about how to observe these holidays this year. 

One of my greatest sources of frustration is the urge to travel. It may not make sense to a lot of people, but wanderlust (a deep, uncontrollable desire to travel and explore the world) is real. With interprovincial travel discouraged and international borders closed, I’m beginning to feel trapped. Yesterday, I jumped in the vehicle and drove down country roads just to try to appease that feeling! 

Then there’s frustration over the divisiveness of this thing. With more than 1 million deaths due to Covid worldwide, there are still those who believe that it’s a hoax or a conspiracy cooked up by “the” government to take control of our lives. I still haven’t figured out which government they’re referring to or why they think that all the governments of the world would come together to destroy their own economies! I was actually told yesterday that it’s all a plot to derail the upcoming election in the United States! What ever happened to calamity drawing people together? It certainly hasn’t happened this time! 

Anyway, enough of my ranting! Thankfully, Dr. Ahmad also offers hope. “This is my first pandemic, but not my first 6 month wall. So, what can I share to help you? First, the wall is real and normal. And frankly, it’s not productive to try to ram your head through it. It will break naturally in about 4-6 weeks if you ride it out.” I sure hope she’s right! 

In the meantime, what can we do to help alleviate that hitting the wall feeling? Nicole Haughton, a registered psychologist based in Toronto, suggests that that maintaining a proper diet, exercising regularly, going out for fresh air, and engaging in spiritual practices or mindful meditation can be beneficial to mental health during this time.

For me, writing about my feelings is cathartic, but here are a few other suggestions:

  • Give yourself something to look forward to. I can’t plan a major trip right now, but I can plan an overnight getaway for our upcoming anniversary. 
  • Step back from social media and limit the amount of news you consume. I definitely need to take this one to heart!
  • Clean out or reorganize something. It could be the kitchen cupboards, a closet, a filing cabinet, or the garage. The simple act of bringing organization to chaos where we’re able to can be very freeing. I did a lot of this back in the early days of Covid-19, but it’s been awhile. Now it’s time to do my seasonal wardrobe switch and reorganize my closet for winter. Having some “new” clothes to wear might also be a pick me up. 
  • Start a gratitude journal. It’s easy to spiral into negativity, but even in these strange and somewhat difficult days, we all have much to be thankful for.  

Finally, psychologist, Dr. Heather McLean, asks her clients to rate themselves on this scale and tells them, “If you see you are on the low end of any of these these, get busy and problem solve, think outside the box, and ask others for help on how to fix it.” 

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Though the pandemic is likely going to be with us much longer than anyone hoped or predicted, I do trust that it will come to an end. For now, I just need to focus on getting through this blasted six month wall instead of bashing my head against it!

Playing pretend – fantasy backyard book party

LogoAs a child, I loved playing pretend. You probably did too, but as we got older, real life pressed in and the world of make-believe was all but forgotten. Apparently, not so for retired high school English teacher, Sue Burpee, who has hosted two virtual parties for the readers of her blog, High Heels in the Wilderness, since the Covid-19 shutdown began.

In her blog, Sue writes about fashion, travel, books, and life in general. I’ve been following her for several years and had the privilege of “attending” both her parties. The first, in early April, was an afternoon tea at the historic Chateau Laurier in Ottawa and the second, this past Saturday, a book party at her home overlooking Ontario’s Rideau River. And what a party it was!

Since we came from across Canada and around the world, it was an overnight affair complete with an old-fashioned, down-east lobster and corn boil at supper time and houseboats on the river to accommodate us for the night! You can read all about it here.

The invitation told us to dress casual, cool, and comfortable and to be sure to bring a hat. After contemplating my closet and considering several different options, here’s what I chose.

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The white crop pants are a basic piece that have been in my wardrobe for several years and the light, airy Scallop Top from cabi’s Fall 2019 collection was perfect for the heat wave that the Ottawa area has been experiencing lately. My Summit Breeze crushable hat was easy to pack and provided great protection from the sun. Of course, I also wore lots of sunscreen! I knew I’d want to stroll around Sue’s lovely property, so I wore a comfortable pair of Naturalizer sandals that I’ve had for several years.

Since this was a book party, Sue also asked each of us to bring a book that had had a significant impact on us to share with the other guests. Again, how to choose? There have been so many! Probably the book that has had the most profound impact on me, other than the Bible, is Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, but I don’t actually have a copy of it right now. Instead, I chose one of the memoirs that I’ve been reading during Covid-19. A Good Wife: Escaping the Life I Never Chose, by human rights activist Samra Zafar, is the inspiring story of a courageous and determined woman who walks away from a harrowing past and builds a new life for herself and her two daughters. An arranged marriage in her native Pakistan at age 17 and a subsequent move to Canada with her new husband promised to be the fulfillment of her dreams, but instead turned into an abusive nightmare. I was impressed by her grit and determination and reminded that many women, especially amongst our immigrant population, live lives shaped by cultures that we have little understanding of.

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Yes, a virtual party during these most unusual days was just what I needed! I feel like I’ve had the opportunity to connect with a whole group of like-minded women from around the world and I’ve added several new books to my ‘must read’ list.

Many thanks, Sue!