Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Tomorrow is officially the last day we can fundraise the minimum $600 required by each participant in the Tip to Tip for Africa. That's not to say we can't keep fundraising, but we have to make sure we have $600 by May 1st as that is the minimum we committed to raising.

So....I'm sure the burning question you all have (aside from 'Is the Frosty Treat in Kensington going to be open on Victoria Day weekend?) is - have I succeeded in raising the $600 minimum?

And the answer is a very excited 'YES!!!' I have been absolutely blown away by the responsiveness and generosity of family, friends, work colleagues and strangers as I set about on this fundraising campaign. Honestly, from the get-go I've been overwhelmed by how quickly people have said 'I'll sponsor you!'. I really can't say 'thank-you' enough to everyone for their show of support and enthusiasm. I truly do believe that the Tip-to-Tip for Africa is a meaningful fundraiser - this money will go directly to Africans who want to start or expand their small businesses. A hundred dollars could mean a lifetime of income and success for someone in another part of the world. That's pretty amazing when you think about it. I'm a big believer in self-sufficiency, but an even bigger believer in helping people move towards their dreams. And it's inspiring to find so many like-minded people in the various circles of my life.

Jen & I did embark on one team fundraising event - we held a bake sale at UPEI. This wasn't an ordinary bake sale though - we had a Mobile Bake Sale Unit. People didn't even have to leave their office, the bake sale came to them along with two big smiles and a lovely assortment of sweets and treats. I'm happy to report we sold out after one hour! Unfortunately we were forced to sample all of the treats before we actually started our sale and there were a few 'seconds' that couldn't be sold.

So that's the short and sweet of my fundraising to date - I am fortunate to have the support of so many wonderful and generous people. It was a great reminder of how rich I am in great friends, family and work colleagues. Who knew fundraising could be so easy and rewarding?! Keep the surprises coming!

Monday, April 21, 2008

So Far, Yet So Good

So with less than four weeks until the Tip to Tip takes off from North Cape, here's where things stand with my training:


Phew. I am exhausted. And sore. And it feels great!

Before I even committed to the Tip to Tip I was mentally preparing myself for some major change-ups in my exercise routine, and this challenge certainly provided an incentive to put those plans into action. While I spent the winter doing the same ole' cardio routine on the machines at the gym, I am now mixing it up big time in an effort to prepare all body parts for this cycling trip and, potentially, bikini season on PEI (which generally lasts two -three weeks!).

Here's what I am doing now for cardio:

BIKING - Yes, yes, kind of a no-brainer, but it's only been the past couple of weeks that I've finally been out riding around in the decently spring-like weather. A friend of mine, Rob Paterson, has very, very generously lent me an excellent, comfortable bike for training and the Tip to Tip. I've been getting used to it, especially my bum.

I've decided that if I'm going to cycle, I might as well pretend to be a cyclist, so took the bike in to a shop for a 'tune-up', and bought myself some great biking shorts with padded bum and crotch. Soooo fun to wear around the house, I highly recommend the investment, if not for the sheer amusement of built in padding!

Have been biking some days as a mode of transport, and other days in training or for leisure. On Saturday, finally got on the Confederation Trail for a longish bike ride. Jen and I did about 26 kilometres in about 1.5 hours. We were taking it pretty easy, given that the wind was blowing in THREE directions at once (only on PEI!), but more notably because there were spots on the trail that were still covered in SNOW! And I had to get off my bike and walk these stretches. Anyways, was not winded or tired after this long bike (actually went for 1/2 hour jog right after then more biking) so am a bit more confident that I may be able to pull off this whole 400 km thing. Because, you know, 26 km is a whole 5% of the trip :)

BOXING - Have started going to women-only boxing classes at Holland College.If you think a women's only class means it's going to be easy, think again. An hour of circuit work that is basically a full-body workout has lead me to discover muscles I didn't know I had. In addition to lots of bag work, we do skipping, ab workouts, majorly difficult leapfrog jumping and ring work where we get to do combinations with one of the instructors - loving it.!

JOGGING & MACHINES - Yes, I am still doing cardio machines quite a bit because the weather still isn't perfect and I can really push myself on the machines without as much impact on the body (i.e. elliptical is easier on the joints). Also randomly jogging when the weather suits. I have to recommend jogging or speed walking to anyone who is not keen on going to the gym or pushing their body beyond it's real comfort zone. It's great exercise, it's stress relieving, it's free and you can do it anywhere, anytime.

I've also revamped my strength training. I cannot emphasis enough how important it is to do strength training - this includes lifting weights, doing body resistance moves like pushups, and general toning moves like squats and lunges. if there's one thing women don't give enough attention to, it is strength training. They either think they'll get really big muscles or they care more about burning calories with cardio. Trust me, if you add strength training you will see enviable results within a few weeks...and increase your metabolism, thereby burning calories more quickly!

So my strength training:

PERSONAL TRAINER - yes, I have hired a personal trainer to help me revamp my strength training routine and I keep telling her to push me hard at our sessions. She's given me two great new routines - one for my upper body, one for my lower body/abs. I do strength training four times per week and I really love it. As an added bonus, you don't get nearly as sweaty and yucky as you do with cardio workouts. Sometimes I sneak my workout in at lunchtime.

EATING - OK, so clearly training and getting in shape is easier and more effective when you are feeding your body with good fuel. I've been focussing on eating well and portioning properly over the past few weeks. There have been a few times when unplanned events kind of threw me off my game, but overall I am doing very well! I am no longer a candy addict, but have to admit I have become a bit of a pineapple and spinach addict... Is this bad? Is this sad?

My personal trainer tells me I shouldn't eat too late at night, but I always like to have a little snack before I head to bed, normally pineapple, but she tells me this raises blood sugar and encourages the body to store fat while I am sleeping. Oh dear. I am going to try drinking green tea as a bedtime ritual instead. Apparently it helps increase metabolism as well.

I eat six times a day. This is not a bad thing, it's actually good because you maintain blood sugar levels by eating smaller meals more often.

I've been experimenting with more recipes lately. Made a yummy bean salad this weekend and a light chicken quesadilla recipe. Mmmmmm. If anyone wants some easy , healthy recipes I am always happy to share. I have an especially well-known one for salmon loaf ! Other sources of good, healthy recipes would be on the Internet at sites such as Weight Watchers, Chatelaine, Health Canada, Heart & Stroke Foundation, Diabetes Canada, etc.

And that is all she writes for now. An update on fundraising to follow soon!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

In the Beginning . . .

Every journey has a beginning, but we often miss the first steps of our own journey to an unknown destination.

We don't realise that we are moving away from the familiar, towards something that will revive and redefine who we are. There are baby steps in the beginning. A thought that sneaks up from some unknown place in our subconscious or a dream that we can't shake the next morning. Maybe a comment by a friend that strikes a nerve, or a piece of music that speaks to something deep within. We
don't catch sight of it yet, it still hasn't surfaced.

But if we are ready, then the synchronicities begin to emerge. It's only chance that four people have mentioned that author's book to me this week. Maybe I'll check it out and see what it's all about. Then there's that writing workshop that's coming up. I keep seeing notices for it everywhere, and then my old professor asked me if I was interested in going. How strange is that? Well, I have been dedicating a lot of time to my writing lately and I am looking for some guidance. I guess it couldn't hurt to check out what a workshop is all about... We call them coincidences and flukes because it makes it easier for us to dismiss them OR accept them.

And then there's a moment where everything shifts, where you realise that you have crossed the line between the familiar and the unfamiliar. Your heart began the journey awhile back and your head has just caught on to the fact. And when that happens, you are fillled with such overwhelmingly contrasting emotions - fear and giddiness, anticipation and doubt, pride and shame. Then there's the choice that your mind imposes - retreat or forge ahead. Ah, but if your heart has already begun the journey, there is nothing to be done but forge on. The heart will ALWAYS triumph over the logical mind in matters that involve the self's evolution.

And so it is, that I have crossed over the line.

I have crossed the line before, most often my journeys have been leaps of faith that literally involved journeying to far off destinations. I think perhaps my first journey was when I moved to Ireland in 2003, but really that journey began a year and a half before I found the courage to get on a plane and move to another country where I knew not a single soul. That journey really began with me ending a relationship that was holding me back from my draems of travelling the globe. Oh how the world opens up wide to embrace you when you choose to follow your dreams.

Now I am doing it again. I have set myself a challenge to bike 400 kilometres, from the Western tip of PEI to the Eastern tip of PEI. To my mind it seems a daunting challenge. I know there are athletes that would see it as a breeze, but I am not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination. And while I have been steadfastly dedicated to working out and eating well for quite a while now, this is still very much a leap for me.

Biking is not my forte. I am full of fears, mostly that I will injure myself, or my eyes will water constantly as they sometimes do at the most inopportune times. I worry that I will be last, that someone will have to keep coming to the back of the pack to make sure I'm still actually on my bike. I stress that my bike will give out on me and I'll be stranded because my mechnical abilities have been absent since the day I was born. I worry that I won't be able to sit or walk for days after the 4-day adventure.

But I am excited too. Almost giddy with anticipation. I LOVE a challenge. I thrive on setting a goal and reaching it. I decided, just ten days ago, that I would do the Tip to Tip for Africa, committing to not only completing the 400 kilometres, but also to raising at least $600 for the Townships Project.
This is what is driving me - if I am raising money for a worthy cause and people are so willing to support me, then I WILL complete my end of the bargain or injure myself trying (not planning on that, just trying to get a point across!).

Already, I have devised game plans for both fundraising and training, and things are happening. Call them coincidences or flukes, but I know they are synchronocities..opportunities and occassions that are presenting themselves because I AM ready for this journey.

And on that note, I will sign off. More to come re: my training and fundraising.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

April Showers...

Wow, so it's been a month since I posted a blog. I daresay I'm becoming a rather lazy blogger. This is not, however, to suggest that I am being lazy in life. Quite the contrary, life has been ridiculously busy/fun/crazy/exhausting as of late. I shall do a brief recap of the past month's main highlights (not including Jen Mac's orange hair, which was certainly a fabulous highlight!)

Florida/NYC Vacation
- Yay. Mid-March meant an much needed escape for the island of snow and wind! I headed to Halifax where I spent a couple of very enjoyable days with Sister Sahra and Rowan Thunder. After a fudge-making session gone wrong (i.e. I ate half the pan in a night!), I was off to Orlando for five nights and four full days of wonderful magicalness!

I met Sheena down there and we spent the first two days wandering around, getting splashy at Typhoon Lagoon and fobbing ourselves off as a married couple (to each other) so we could go to a timeshare presentation and then get really cheap tickets to Busch Gardens. We even had wedding rings which, if they were real, would have set us back about $30,000! I'm not sure we fooled anyone with our charade, but it was hilarious! Sheena got really into telling the story, while I just barely managed to stifle my laughter. On a related note - NEVER EVER agree to go on a timeshare presentation, no matter WHAT incentives they offer you. It is the biggest waste of time and they are so aggressive you can bet your bottom dollar they are aggressive.

Jen joined us mid-week and we enjoyed drinks/food at Bahama Breeeze, delicious drinks at Blue Martinis (plus I danced my butt off, which is always fun!), and had a fantabulous time at Busch Gardens. An amusement park, a zoo AND free beer! Could there be anything better in the world? Well, aside from a giant candy factory with free samples... Anyways, we went on a super scary rollercoaster, plus some average-scary rollercoasters, downed a lot of beer and went ot beer school where we learned that pretty much everyone pours beer into a glass the wrong way. You do not tilt the glass and pour into the side. You set the glass down and pour directly into the middle.

NYC was AWESOME! I left FLorida on Friday and headed to the big apple, where I met up with my friend, Kelly, who is goind a RTW trip. The first night we went out for dinner and started chatting with an older couple sitting beside us - they poured us Saki and gave us all sorts of tips on where to go in the city. Then when we left the restaurant, we were greeted by four people our age who ended up taking us to the subway and one of them stayed out and showed us around Greenwich Village. The next day we just soaked up the city - went on the Staten Island ferry, Ground Zero, 5th Avenue, Empire State Building (but not up it!) and tried to do some shopping, but it was madness. I did mange to buy a knock-off Prada purse from a dude selling them on the street - literally. In the evening Danielle arrived from Montreal and us three single gals hit the town in style. We went to a DJ show (Digitalism) then to a random bar called Hi-Fi, where we enjoyed many beverages and the company of some decent blokes. Sunday was kind of a write-off on account of Saturday night. KElly and I eventually made our way to Central Park, then in the evening all three of us went to a comedy show down near Times Square. Monday was more touring - we went to Soho, where we had the BEST rice pudding at a place called Rice to Riches, then we wandered down through Chinatown to the seaport for lunch. Sadly I had to call it a day and get on my bus to the airport. Boooo. I will definitely go back to NYC. I would love to see more of it, and perhaps in a different season.

Grad School

So about a week into March I rec'd word that my application to Queen's Masters in Enviro Studies program had been accepted. Upon returning from my holiday, I decided to accept the offer. So...it looks like I will be moving to Kingston, Ontario in September and calling it home for the next two years. It hasn't really sunk in yet. I am such a commitment phobe and this is a significant commitment of time and place, as well as money. Luckily the financial burden will be significantly reduced by funding offered through the university. Still, time is so precious to me! Anyways - I'm excited about being in academia again, in an arena that I find interesting and important.

Tip to Tip

Last Friday I decided, under the influence of several glasses of wine and a few shots of whiskey, that I would register for the Tip to Tip For Africa event. This is an annual event held on PEI, which requires participants to raise funds and then bike from the Western tip of the Island to the Eastern tip over a four day period. The total trip is about 400 kilometres! I have to pay $ for my accommodations and food, then I have to raise $600 for the Townships Project, which supports South African women entrepreneurs through micro-financing so they can start or expand their business.

An excellent investment of funds in my opinion. As for the question of my survival - we shall see. I have just started training, so it should be quite an interesting five weeks leading up to the actual cycle, which takes place May 16 - May 19. If anyone is interested in learning more about the project and/or sponsoring me check out the website:


If you want to donate just click on the donate button and use your PayPal account or credit card. be sure to include my name in the NOTES link which will appear when you are reviewing your donation!

On that note I shall end this blog post with a promise to post on a more regular basis in the upcoming weeks, perhaps with some notes re: the progress of my training. As it stands now, I am quite simply SORE all OVER!