5 advantages of running in old age

Earlier this week Facebook showed me one of their “Memories” posts, reminding me of a truly family-filled Mother’s Day 10K in Toronto 5 years ago, shared with my husband, 2 sons, 2 daughters-in-law, 1 brother, and 1 nephew. Pretty special. This FB memory happened to pop up as I was recovering from the 10K I had participated in the day before – Mother’s Day this year – as part of our local Fredericton Marathon Weekend. The only other family participation this time was my husband dropping me off and picking me up, but it was still lots of fun with lots of fellow participants. What a great way to start Mother’s Day, and what a spectacular spring day it was.

Sporting Life 10K, Toronto, 2013

Thinking of the two Mother’s Day runs, 5 years apart, got me contemplating changes in the approaches to running in our household and in our family at large. The younger people, who actually do what most people would call running, are too busy with their work and family lives to take the time to run (even though it would help alleviate all that stress!). The older people, my husband and I (and to a much lesser extent my brother), have slowed down because of various body parts telling us that our past enthusiastic schedule doesn’t mesh with the recovery times necessary for these aging bodies. BUT, once you’ve got this message from your body, you can work with it. And, with that in mind, I’m here to preach for the advantages of taking up (semi-)long distance running as a retirement activity. Continue reading

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Planning for retirement isn’t just about having enough money

I don’t mean to start this blog post off with a downer, but its impetus is in some way due to the sudden death of a friend of ours this past weekend. Along with shock and sorrow, the news got me thinking about the many opportunities for retired people in our community to get involved in new and abiding interests and to develop new friends in the process. This is how we became friends with this lovely man we’ve just lost, through community bridge groups, which led to many shared experiences and happy occasions.

Retirement is the one phase of life that arrives with little to no planning for what we’re going to do when we get up in the morning. When we’re very little, we learn everything we need to start our lives as students in school. When we’re in school, we learn what is needed (hopefully) to become successful participants in the workforce. When we are in the workforce, we learn (with varying degrees of success) to prepare financially for life past a paycheque, our retirement. But we never really learn what is required to have a successful retirement. We are never given the lecture on thinking about what you would do when you wake up if you didn’t have to go to school or to work. Interesting. Continue reading

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On the Circle of Privilege

This is way, way too good not to share. Such an important message about life. (And, having taken one first-class flight in my life, I can attest to the extraordinary difference in experience between first-class and coach. It’s a totally alternate universe!)

Pernille Ripp

We woke up to a flight delay.  Not the kind you want to have as we embarked on our 28-hour travel to Bangkok.  Not the kind you want when you already have only a few days to be somewhere. As the morning went on, it quickly became clear that we were not going to make our connecting flight, and numerous phone calls ensued.  Anxious minutes spent waiting to see whether Thailand was within our reach or not.

After 25 minutes of checking every airline, every combination, even surrounding airports, the verdict was in; no, we were not going to make it.  Not on time.  Not tomorrow, perhaps Thursday.  Flights oversold, not their fault, just how it is.  My heart sank, trip of a lifetime had just turned into a 2-day excursion to the other side of the world.

And then something curious happened.  The representative noticed that we were not…

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Rivers, floods, and the rhythm of spring

Earlier today, I joined the throngs of fellow citizens of our fair city out walking and biking in the spring sunshine. A leisurely stroll or ride along the river and around downtown is always enjoyable on a sunny Sunday, but today everyone had something special in mind. Everyone was out viewing the high waters of this year’s spring freshet. And since this year’s flood has caused the closure of several downtown streets to cars due to high water, the neighbourhoods near the river are wonderfully quiet, with only the sounds of people enjoying each other’s company and the occasional sound of a sump pump motor sucking water from someone’s basement.

Downtown Fredericton, Library on right

Floods aren’t fun. They damage property, dislocate people and animals, inconvenience countless others, cost lots of money, and in the worst cases can result in staggering human tragedy. They are also regular occurrences, so why have so many people lived along rivers for millennia? Continue reading

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Carnage comes to Toronto

I find it difficult – no, impossible – to write about travel, running, or retirement in the immediate aftermath of the senseless carnage in Toronto on Monday. It was just a week ago that we left Toronto after a pleasant 4-day stay there, filled with family time and theatre-going. The only downside was the poor weather, which was cold and wet, culminating in an unprecedented 2-day April ice storm that played havoc with all means of transportation, including our ability to fly home on schedule.

Fast forward a week and everything is turned on its head. The weather made a rapid and dramatic change for the better. Spring has sprung, and with that the feeling that life is good. Walking down the street you have shivered along as quickly as possible all winter suddenly becomes a stroll. The air smells different. We want to soak it all in. Which is what everyone was doing in midafternoon Monday on Toronto’s longest street,  Yonge St., between Sheppard and Finch, when the unthinkable happened. What appears to have been an awkward, asocial young man who struggled to fit in either at school or in a very brief stint in the military, unleased his frustration and anger by mowing down two dozen innocent bystanders with a rented van. Just like that, ten people dead and many others injured while out walking in the welcome warmth and sunshine, probably thinking to themselves, “Life is good.” All this pain and incomprehension on the part of so many, and meanwhile the perpetrator can’t possibly feel any better. No winners, just losers. Just loss, so much meaningless, heartbreaking loss. Continue reading

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More on meetings

The “Meetings: the practical alternative to work” poster I shared in a recent post  seemed to resonate with many readers, for some strange reason. 😉 Isn’t it amazing what we do to ourselves! A friend of mine who ended up in administration once observed that he resented how much time he spent in meetings, that is until he opted to take a different slant on things. He decided that if the powers that be thought his job was to go to meetings, then he’d go to meetings and that is what would get done. This path of least resistance didn’t help productivity, but it lowered his frustration level, at least to some degree.

Continue reading

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Come From Away, Newfoundland, and walking the talk of kindness

I had intended to start a blog series on the provinces of Atlantic Canada this spring – the special region I call home – to share our rich history and scenic beauty, and maybe even entice more people to visit, explore, and enjoy our “down east” hospitality. It’s on my blog-posts-to-write list. But spring is playing coy with us so far this year, so this idea has remained on the backburner. That is until we had the opportunity to see the award-winning musical, Come From Away, in Toronto this past weekend. The show, with a powerful story based in Newfoundland, has returned to Toronto with a new cast while the Broadway run continues, and my brother was excited for us to see it – and for him to see it for a second time. [This trip to Toronto included two days of an unprecedented April ice-pellet storm that stranded thousands of people, including us, at the Toronto airport, but that’s another story.]

My brother was right (thanks, Phil). This musical is thoroughly entertaining. It’s remarkably uplifting despite the circumstances of its story, at times joyful and at other times heartbreaking. It’s lively, engaging and action-packed, but, above all, it’s a testimony to kindness and caring between human beings. Kindness to others is something the news would have us believe is in exceedingly short supply. We need to be reminded that it is possible for people to embrace strangers and treat them with the same kindness that they would treat long-time friends. We need to be reminded that living without fear can change the whole dynamic of how we treat one another. And, although people seeing this terrific, life-affirming musical would not be faulted for thinking that some of the vignettes portrayed in the play are over-the-top sentimental to the point of being unrealistic and corny, this in fact is the kind of reception you find in Newfoundland. Really.

Come From Away is a musical based on the true story of those truly nightmarish, chaotic days after 9/11, when planes flying to the U.S. from all over the world were diverted to sites outside the U.S. while authorities tried to determine what had happened in NYC and elsewhere, and what might happen next. Thirty-eight planes filled with people headed for the U.S. and who initially had no idea what was happening were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland, a remote town of 9600 people. As odd as this may seem, tiny remote Gander has a very large international airport – no longer used much – that was the major refueling stop for trans-Atlantic flights until planes could carry enough fuel to no longer require refueling. And so, in this tragic, traumatic time, this small town ramped up to welcome, shelter, feed, comfort, and entertain something in the order of 6700 passengers from all walks of life. If there was ever a group who’d be up for the challenge, it would be Newfoundlanders. Continue reading

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