Archive for the Stories Category

Oct 3 2013

Run a 10K

With a few 5Ks under my belt, at some point either in late 2011 or early 2012, I decided that I would start training to run a 10K. I had the program figured out “Run your fastest 10K” it said; Of course it’s going to be my fastest, It’s going to be my first!

It wasn’t long after I had started my training that I pains hit the front of my leg. The left was worse than the right. I would stop running for a few days and try again; the pain persisted. I tried to push through it but I’m not a fan of pain, so I gave up. This was probably in March. The race was in May.

I had paid my registration for the race, I was determined to go the distance, even if I had to walk.

Before the race, I spotted the 1:15 pace bunny and decided to keep pace with that group. I started off a holding a decent pace (though looking back, it was way too fast!) I did quite well for the most part. Then I hit the 9K mark and my legs didn’t want to run anymore. So I walked a lot.

I crossed the finish line with an official time of 1:21:09.68.

My fingers were swollen and I was shaking but I had done it! I had run my first 10K! And I thought “that wasn’t so bad” I want to do this again!

Since then, I’ve run a few more 10K races and my training program makes me run 10K or more on a Saturday “just because”. I can now run a 10K faster “for fun” than I did in my first ever 10K.

I now call myself “a runner”, for this non-athletic girl who got benched playing team sports, I’m very happy with that.

10K History
2012 – Jugo Juice : 1:21:09.68
2013 – Run for Women : 1:09:19.83
2013 – BlueBerry Festival : 1:06:59
2014 – YMCA Strong Kids : 1:07:21
2014 – Run for Women : 1:09:20 (waiting for results website for link to official time)

Jun 9 2013

Try Sushi

My workgroup likes to celebrate things and we like to eat; Cupcakes for birthdays, special events at restaurants, team meetings with catering. If we’re celebrating a person in particular we try to entertain their preferences.

On April 5, 2012 – the folks in question loved sushi. Uh-oh. This is a very scary thing for a picky eater. I would know! I figured what better opportunity, to try Sushi for the first time.

I let the lovers of sushi place the order; when it arrived, I grabbed a couple of the “least sushi” looking ones. I think these were California rolls or something. They tasted okay. Then the Sashimi arrived. Oh. God. Well, it wasn’t bad, but it sort of tasted exactly how I expected raw fish to taste.

My first attempt has not made me a convert. But as a picky eater, I know that I may have to try something 10 times before I can say that I like it.

What I did like, was the Umé!


May 9 2013

Stan Lee – Redux!

In April of 2012, when Billy and I had the honour of being in Mr. Stan Lee’s presence, I was smitten. Maybe a little too much.

Then, on October 20 2012, the Calgary Expo announced that Mr. Lee would be making an appearance at the 2013 event. A chance I never would have expected to have again; an opportunity to redeem myself. There was no question that we would be having our picture taken again. I would not miss an opportunity at making this right.

Stan Lee - The Do Over!

Life and second chances.

Mar 12 2013

Display my art in public

I think it was in September (maybe October) of last year that Linda, a friend-artist, asked if I would be interested in participating in a collaborative project that would be on display as part of Exposure, the annual Calgary Canmore Banff Photography Festival.

The thought of having my art on display in public was very exciting; certainly something that was on my life list!

The collaborative project would have the lot of us explore the new West LRT CTrain line. On the given day, 5 of the 6 participants met out at the 69th street station and starting taking photos (The 6th was in Hawaii.) We moved on down the line stopping at some stations for longer than other.

After the photos were taken, Linda, as our curator, had the hard job of selecting the 3 photos from each of the six photographers that she felt best represented our aim.

I won’t lie – I was quite upset that one of the three photos of mine she selected happened to be one that I liked the absolute least, however – and this is where I get artsy fartsy on you…

Learnings come to me in the most unexpected ways; It is in the recognition of this that I will grow.

It is the spontaneous glimpses – the stark line of the golden fields against the blue-white sky, the simplicity of an empty cup of tea, the balance of things that inspires me to observe the world around me.

It is by capturing these details that I am reminded that not all realities are equal. What I create with my tools is an alternate view of the world around us. By capturing these bits and pieces I hope to gain a clearer understanding of myself – to open the unexplored world of possibilities and relationships.

With this piece, I begin to better understand myself.

This was that photo:

Open to the Sun

I still don’t like the photo but now I look at it with different eyes. It’s been an experience I have enjoyed thoroughly and once I certainly hope to repeat in the future. Someday, maybe I’ll even have an exhibit of just my photos!

The show is still up at Pages Books on Kensington and will be up through April 27th. You should go see it; MY ART IS ON THE WALLS!! (there’s also the art of 5 other talented people.)

Mar 10 2013


I’ve been to Toronto a few times: Billy and I went for our first trip together, Family vacations, stopovers at the airport (which doesn’t count towards the goal of visiting all the capitals of Canada!). I never really explored the city; we always had an agenda. I wanted this trip to be a little different than the others.

In 2010, I was flying to Jamaica for a wedding and the only available, reasonably priced flight the travel agent could find for me was from Toronto. I decided that I may as well take the opportunity to explore Ontario’s Capital City and fly in a couple days early.

I booked myself in for 2 nights at the Canadiana Backpackers Inn. The location was perfect to allow me to explore the city on foot.

A few of the things I did while flying by the seat of my pants in Toronto:

  • Walked a lot.
  • Met up with a couple Flickr contacts and we walked around the Eaton Centre and that part of town
  • Had lunch at 360: The rotating restaurant atop the CN Tower.
  • Watched the Blue Jays get ready for a game from the glass floor of the CN Tower
  • Strolled around Kensington Market – this was probably my favourite part
  • Walked on the Canadian Walk of Fame and checked out some ‘stars’
  • Took lots of photos “from the hip”
Mar 9 2013

A blood donor’s adventure

There’s a code on my blood donor profile that indicates that I can donate to babies. I apparently don’t carry a type of virus that means I can donate to wee ones – I wasn’t aware that blood requirements could be so specific beyond blood type. That’s another reason there needs to be more donors!

That’s the awesome news about yesterday’s blood donor adventure; the bad news is that I was unable to donate.

For those who have never donated blood let me explain the first part of the process:

  1. You show up, they ask you to confirm your identity
  2. they prick your finger to check your iron levels
  3. they give you a pamphlet to read
  4. you go into a little privacy booth to answer some basic questions
  5. you eat cookies (plural!) while you wait to get called by a nurse
  6. you get called by the nurse
  7. the nurse takes your temperature and blood pressure
  8. the nurse asks you “high risk” questions.

It all went wrong (or right, depending on your perspective) for me at step 7.

For starters, my temperature was “too high” (what they consider “too high” is 37.9C – which really isn’t that high given that the average is 37.2!) but what was more concerning was my blood pressure. The nurse said that we would continue to step 8 and repeat step 7 to see if the numbers were better.

They were not.

The nurse indicated that my numbers were still too high to safely proceed with the donation. She gave me a letter with both blood pressure readings and strongly suggested that I make an appointment with my doctor to have myself checked out.

I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to make a donation: what would have been my 16th. On Monday, I will call my doctor to figure out what’s going on so that hopefully, I can continue donating blood and saving lives! (including those of babies!)

If you’re a regular donor – please book your next appointment. If you’re not a donor – you should look for a clinic and go donate in my place. You’ll be helping a lot of people and you get free cookies!

Mar 3 2013

Give Blood


The whole process of one person donating takes about an hour and a half from start to finish; It’s not a big commitment: It’s something like 2 hours every 3 months which works out to only about a half day per year. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend a half day of my year saving lives than doing something annoying like cleaning my kitchen!

Approximately every minute of every day, someone in Canada needs blood. In fact, according to a recent poll, 52 per cent of Canadians say they, or a family member, have needed blood or blood products for surgery or for medical treatment.

That’s a big blood requirement! I can’t remember if there was a specific motivating factor that convinced me to finally start donating but because I couldn’t think of a good reason not to donate I had added “give blood” to my life list.

Reasons to donate:

  • Save Lives! (that makes you a REAL superhero!)
  • Free Cookies! (all the oreo cookies you can eat! before AND after!)
  • Free Soup! (if you like that sort of thing)
  • Free Cupcakes! (occasionally)
  • Nice People! (the nurses are super nice and friendly and so are the other donors!)

I’m hoping to get to at least 100 donations in my lifetime. My first donation was on June 29th, 2007.

blood donor

My blood donation milestones
01 donation – Jun-29-2007
05 donations – Jul-16-2009
10 donations – Dec-30-2011
15 donations – Oct-06-2012
20 donations – Coming Soon
30 donations –
40 donations –
50 donations –

Mar 3 2013


My parents were quite involved in the community; whether that was because of us or because they genuinely enjoyed it I’m not sure, but I’m tempted to think it was the latter. I can say without a doubt that seeing my parents involved in community played a big part in my love of helping others by giving some of my time.

Dad coached hockey from the time I was 3 or 4 up to my High School days. Mom did the girl guide leader thing. I’m pretty sure dad was also on the hockey association committee. Mom is currently the president of the local Canoe Club (she has also held other roles). I’m guessing they’ve probably done more and that I’m simply not aware of them.

Here is a list of places where I currently volunteer:
Calgary Public Library
I used to volunteer here on a weekly basis but I haven’t volunteered in about a year due to a role change at work that has made it very difficult to pick up a shift. Most of my volunteering hours with CPL were spent helping with the adult computer literacy classes (from how to use a mouse to surfing the internet). I also enjoyed the “computer drop-in” times where patrons could come in for help.

This seemed like a natural evolution from my love of playing boardgames. I am an Ambassador with Fallcon which means that I do all sorts of things both during the annual convention and at other fallcon events like: teach games, work at the game library, host games, be a general happy welcoming face to new and experienced gamers!

Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo
2013 will be my first year volunteering with the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo. Another extension of my nerdiness. The time commitment on this one seems reasonable. I’m sure there are opportunities to help out a lot more but we’ll start easy with a couple shifts helping out the exhibitors and go from there.

Mar 2 2013

Win the lottery

When I put “Win the Lottery” on my life list – I didn’t specify it had to be the big jackpot.

The first win came about in a group at work in May of 2003; I think there were 6 of us. It was pretty exciting to come to work to find out we’d won a little bit of money. It worked out to about $400 each. Not a jackpot by any means – but it did allow me to scratch “own a digital camera” off the list.

But the win I had in November of 2005 has to be (by far!) the most exciting and nerve wracking win of anything I’ve ever experienced. It gave me a glimpse into the emotions one might go through when you win “the big one”.

It was an Atlantic 6/49. The prize structure for this draw is defined with a top prize of one million dollars but I didn’t know exactly how it worked. What I did know is that in “regular” 6/49 – matching 5 numbers means you’ve probably won a nice little chunk of change.

I remember waking up and sitting at the computer with my ticket to check the numbers, what happened next probably went a little like this:

1st number: check.
2nd number: check.
3rd number: check.
4th number: check.
Holy jesus! What is going on?!
5th number: nope.
6th number: check.
Holy Mother! No. I gotta check those again.

2nd number: yup.
3rd number: yup.
4th number: yup.
*shaking begins*
5th number: nope.
6th number: yup.

I think that at this point, I ran out to the living room where Billy was probably playing on the Playstation and told him that “I’ve won some money. Holy mother Mary, I’ve just matched 5 out of 6 numbers on my lottery ticket. I don’t know what that means. But Oh My God what is going on!?” He probably told me to relax and check again. I looked up the payout table:

Match Payout
6 of 6 $1,000,000
5 of 6 + Bonus $64,900
5 of 6 $649
4 of 6 $64
3 of 6 $6

$649 bucks! Wow! Well – it’s not going to pay off my car – but I’m not complaining.

After this experience, I can only begin to imagine what sort of disbelief a person must go through when they match 6 for 6.

It’s certainly an experience I’d love to live through again!

Mar 1 2013

Run a 5K

I always tried my hand at sports. I generally failed miserable – but not for lack of trying!

At some point, I decided that the problem with my failures at sport was that I always attempted team sports; where it’s about playing and winning as a team, where there’s a chance of being picked last, where you can get benched even if you’re giving all you’ve got (I’m not still bitter about that. really. *cough*)

I realized that running would be all about me. Sure, people would still be faster than me but as long as I finished the race still standing on my own two feet – I would be successful.

Set a personal target and go for it; Train or don’t train, It doesn’t matter! If you do it and finish – you win!

For my first race, I set a goal of 35 minutes. Most of my training had been inside on a treadmill but I felt mostly confident that I could do it. I started my watch the second the gun went off. When I finished the race, my chronometer told me I’d finished in 37 minutes: SWEET! Not 35, but I was alive. I may have been the last one across the gate but I felt great, I felt accomplished and really – what’s 2 minutes?

Then I waited a few days for the official results to get posted: 33:39! SCORE!

Since then, I’ve run a few other races. I really enjoy it (except the shinsplints. I really have to see a doctor about those!)

Here are the other 5K races in which I’ve participated:
Energizer Night Run – August 13 2011 – 36:51.22(chip)
Calgary Women’s Run – August 28, 2011 – 37:22(no chip)
St. Pats Day Run – March 17, 2012 – 37:38.90(chip)
Love your Wild Side – September 1, 2012 – 43:00 (no chip)
CIBC Run for the Cure – October 6, 2013 – 31:51:00 (chip)