Hiking, Blessings, and Loving Everyday 

I drove a route this weekend by myself that I have a strong connection to. In my parents car and later by Greyhound bus, I memorized roads and landmarks along the way, many of which have not changed. I later rode shotgun with my husband to Riding Mountain National Park after the days of the Greyhound bus. Further north west from the park, along the route, is my grandparents farm. 

I attended Dauphin’s Country Fest to meet and greet Luke Bryan and see him in concert for the fourth time. I’m kind of a huge fan! He sang new and old and did Mountain Music by Alabama cover proud. My favorite line from Mountain Music is ” Oh play me some mountain music, like Grandma and Grandpa used to play.” 

Country music is in my soul – so many of the stories speak to me. I especially love prime country and listen to mostly older songs and artists who have been around for a while. I’m selective with new country music and who I like and their sounds and lyrics. 

I met Luke Bryan!! No cell phone photos allowed but we can contact the festival for the professional photos that were taken

I was on the road early this morning so I could spend time in Wasagaming in Riding Mountain National Park. My mission was to find a good cup of coffee, cinnamon buns, and take a short hike. I arrived in town at 6:30 am and only a few joggers and walkers were out. The air was crisp, the birds sang, and the sun was still waking up. With restaurants not open in town yet, I took a stroll along the marina on Clear Lake. I absolutely love this area and Wasagaming is rooted in many aspects of my life. 

The baking and meals are homey and delicious at Whitehouse Bakery and Restaurant. Doors open at 8am daily and people line up for take out starting at 7:45, with the line remaining constant throughout the day. The line moves quickly and shelves of baking are replaced consistently throughout the day. 

Waiting in line. I was number six before the doors opened and about twenty people behind me.

Mission accomplished – maple, original, and cream cheese cinnamon buns

I guzzled a cup of coffee and headed out to Ominnik Marsh. The trailhead is located right on the edge of town. At 1.9 kilometers I spent over an hour on the boardwalk, just simply letting my mind wonder free without any cares in the world. Frogs, ducks, and birds sang me the song of their home. 

Trailhead

I used this opportunity while walking to really count my blessings. I sat down on benches and closed my eyes and focused on gratitude, giving thanks for everything I have. I remained very in the present, not thinking of the past or wondering about the future. Just gratitude for the here and now. 

With the solitude I practiced yoga and focused on my breath, pushing my body a bit further into every stretch. I don’t make time to do daily yoga but it is important to me so when I have an opportunity in nature and I am alone, I like to practice. No mat required. Just my barefeet and wooden planks.

I remember coming to this marsh when I was a child, about seven years old. The water was higher and the boardwalk sank and our feet got wet. I remember it all being a blast. This place perfect for kids and families to enjoy. 

Feeling strong mentally, a little tuckered out physically from the drive and the music festival, but more importantly, the weekend has been therapeutic for me and I feel refreshed. 

Ride Don’t Hide

I cycled 21 km today in support of mental health at Ride Don’t Hide 2017. This is the second year that the community ride in support of Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has been in Winnipeg.

Gearing up to ride 21 km!

I was met with sunshine, clear skies, and a cool breeze. It was the perfect cycling weather. I was initially really nervous with the distance and was convinced I would have to be scrapped off the road with a shovel. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I zoned out and cruised at a pretty consistent speed the whole time. Winnipeg is also a flat city so I had that going for me too. 

The route consisted of quiet streets through residential, busier streets with designated bike lanes, and through downtown. The ride was beautiful and smooth and not at all competitive. People stopped along the way to take pictures at the Manitoba Legislature and Canadian Museum of Human Rights, just a couple of the pit stops along the route. 

CMHA did an amazing job with volunteers at water stations and directing and cheering cyclists on along the route. I especially liked the police officer who cycled with the event and would pop up all over the place then zoom off then come up behind us out of nowhere. He was all over the map making sure we stayed safe. 

Waiting to cross Main Street at Assiniboine Avenue. The community ride was very respectful of road traffic.

Next year I am planning on putting together a team and my first recruit is my husband. He would have joined me today but was on call with work. I’m looking at everyone in Winnipeg to come out and join me. There were even a couple of kids in the 21 km ride! My daughter will be my second recruit. I have a year to think up an awesome team name. 

I have been making it a point to do as many fundraising activities as I can in support of mental health, especially ones that are physically active.  I don’t get nearly enough daily exercise so these events do me a world of good. 

In addition to the physical activity, I love being an advocate for mental health. It has become something that I am incredibly passionate about. My support system has helped to raise me up and with my strength I have become an advocate for myself and others. 

Snacks after the ride. Love me some Bothwell cheese

I can still remember a time when I wouldn’t have had the courage to do this ride or even the walk I did a couple of months ago. Even if the sky was blue the dark inside was too much to defeat. Some days are still completely and utterly painful for me with depression and anxiety but I am stronger than ever before. Medication and a village of support for the win! 

Annihilated 21 km and breaking down the stigma!

My Hiking Pals

Asha and Arya are straight up my favourite pals to be with on a trail. There is a solitude that I like when hiking but I don’t like to be completely alone. I enjoy the company of my family and friends but when I am alone there is more of an opportunity for self-reflection and contemplation.

I hike to relax and to be present in the moment and take in all of the sights, sounds, and smells on my time and not anyone else’s. I feel adventurous when I am on my own and it is the independent nature of who I am that makes me want to complete the challenge of a trail on my own.  

My dogs are great listeners as I babble to myself (them) about what is on my mind. I like that they don’t respond. I sometimes just need to talk things out to search within for answers to my problems. Unconditional love and no judgement is what they give me.

As I have come further along on my mental health path, silence has become more important to me. I wonder if it is possible to switch from an extrovert to an introvert? At one time, not even that long ago I was energized by being around people but now, I need the opposite. 

During lunch at work I seek out a comfy chair and read a book. I am still usually around people but I don’t engage nearly as often. I still sit and chat with people but my mind calls for a book most often instead. 

I have been questioning my new found desire for solitude because I spent 34 years needing to be surrounded by other people. I don’t completely go out of my way to avoid interacting with people and I still play well with others. I just need to be alone to re-energize. This is a lot to wrap my head around after 34 years of doing the complete opposite. 

If I could spend the whole day with my dogs, I would. I wish we had Take Your Dog to Work Day. Wouldn’t that just be the best! Arya and Asha are amazing supports for me and I love exploring the outdoors with them.

Look how happy and tuckered out Asha is

Like I said before, I love the company of my family and friends while hiking. I just need prepare for a different mindset during that time. People who join me must like large dogs and tolerate country music – and we will get a long just fine! 

Silence 

This week was a week that I needed absolute silence. Laughter annoyed me. Yelling made me anxious. Talking irritated me. The sound of any and all noise made me just want to curl up and be by myself. 

I had tasks that I needed to complete in the evenings but silence in my bedroom was where I was drawn too. 

I drove without the radio on in the car and no headphones at work. Every bleep of sound agitated me. I work in a wide open office so silence never came. I felt trapped and on edge. 

I feel like I am having a breakdown today, I was pushed too far mentally despite pulling back. I’m upset with myself for locking myself away in the evenings, not even reading. Just sleeping – where sound didn’t interrupt. 

The only time where I felt at ease was when I was sitting on a patio Wednesday morning, drinking coffee while waiting for the bus. I felt chipper and energized. Where did that all go? 

A half an hour of contentment in an entire five day period. I’m exhausted. I hope I can get outside this weekend. 

The air in the morning 

Mornings are hard for me. I have a difficult time leaving the safety and comfort of my cocoon. The first thoughts that I usually have when I wake up are related to the previous days mental struggles, which in turn makes me feel anxious with the start of the new day. 

I wish I didn’t start my day with negative thoughts. I only have so much control over my mind at literally the second I wake up. I need to talk myself up most mornings and sometimes I haven’t made it. 

The easiest time for me to start my day without having to talk myself up is when I am camping. I pop up even if I feel groggy. I quietly leash the dogs and slip out of the tent into a space where my senses tingle with amazement. 

I inhale the fresh air and the scent of trees, grass, and dirt. I walk my dogs and listen to the songs of the birds. There is a calmness and a serenity that puts me in the right state of mind for the rest of the day. 

It’s a beautiful day dream to have right now but reality calls. I have been trying different things to get myself up in the mornings. 

I came up with the idea of breakfast dates with my husband twice a week, where I would wake up with him and make breakfast. It was great for the first couple of weeks but fizzled. Why is it so damn hard for me to keep a routine? Breakfast with my husband is fun. What the heck is my problem? 

Asha my large dog loves being out in the mornings and I love being out with her, just the two of us. Walking in the early morning sets me up for a good day. All I hear are the sounds of my feet hitting the pavement and the air brightens me up. So why can’t I make my brain and body work together every single day to do something I love? 

I wish I could be one of those people who can hop out of bed and greet the day with song and dance, like I am in a Disney movie. I have the best of intentions but most times I just squeeze by. 

I love the mornings that I have my shit together and I want more of them. Maybe I need to move my bedroom outside into a tent… 

My Hectic Perspective 

My morning yesterday started off incredibly hectic and in the pit of my stomach I felt a crushing anxiety start to reach over my entire body and mind. There was a snowball effect of issues that in my mind kept mounting. I have a hard time dealing when circumstances outside of my control spin out. 

I sent my husband text messages loaded with profanity, directed towards the situation and not him. I feel horrible that my daughter has learned so many cuss words from me – most of which pour out of my mouth when driving or in situations related to the car, which is where the stress came from yesterday morning. 

When my daughter and I finally reached our destination, we had fifteen minutes to spare and she read me the book she got in her McDonald’s Happy Meal. 

In the calm of what was a chaotic morning, I apologized to her for the chaos. To my surprise she didn’t seem to think the morning was crazy at all. It was fun! 

WHAT? FUN? HOW WAS THIS MORNING FUN?!? Two people, same situations, two different perspectives… 

We went to McDonald’s twice. Junk food and toys! Screw you car for foiling my wholesome tuna sandwich plans for lunch.

We walked to Wal-Mart. I guess walking to Wal-Mart with your mom is fun. I was wearing a hoodie, dog fur covered sweat pants, and flip flops not designed to walk any great distance. It was 26 above and the sun was beating down on me and I was so uncomfortable and hot but couldn’t remove a layer because I had nothing under my hoodie. I was miserable. 

We rode in a taxi and it looks like the back of a police car without bars on the windows. Oh child, you don’t have a booster seat and that seat belt barely fits you properly. You’re so tiny. Why is it legally OK to put a child in the back of a taxi without a car seat or booster seat but it is against the law to not use one in a personal vehicle? Oh thank god, we have arrived at Kal Tire and you’re alive!

Perspective and how we choose to think can really make or a break a day. So often I have let issues ruin an entire day, dwelling and sulking on how the day is continuing to suck. Next time I have a moment that is not going well, I’m going to look at it through the lense of my daughter and see what I can make positive out of a negative situation. My kid is such an inspiration. 

Stay tuned for part two of Saturday. I went out for a late afternoon hike… 

Life Goal: Hang Out on More Large Rocks 

My original Saturday afternoon plans consisted of hanging out at a book store with a cup of tea. The weather all week had been calling for 80% chance of thunderstorms, however much to my delight the storm passed and the skies called me for a hike. I picked up my friend and headed east for a late afternoon adventure.

I had wanted to do a different hike but with our time constraint, we chose Sturgeon Falls. The trail was a new experience for my friend and I was happy to just be out enjoying the fresh air. 

We literally hung out on a large rock for two hours. It was a glorious two hours! We chatted off and on but mostly we did our own thing. Silence! 

I brought my fishing rod and cast the line out countless times. The motion of casting is soothing. “One more cast, one more cast”, I kept saying to myself “and then I will do something different.” One more cast turned into another and another. Catching fish is great but I love the calmness I feel from just casting and reeling, over and over. 

I read a couple chapters of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: The Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. My goal is to read twelve books this year and I am currently on number twelve. I stretched out on the big rock and used my pack as a pillow. When I wasn’t looking at the book, I glanced through the tree branches towards the sky where birds hovered and the clouds moved. Peace! 

For years I have gone through stages where I will practice yoga on a regular basis and other times I won’t touch the mat for months. I didn’t need a mat yesterday, just a big rock and my breath. I liked that the rock was bumpy and the wind blew. My abs had a workout that they rarely ever see. It felt good to just be. 

I love the sounds that nature shares. Birds chipping, branches rustling, wind blowing on the water creating stronger rapids. It’s mostly silent though. A silence that I have come to crave. A silence that I honor and appreciate. 

A goal of mine now is to hang out on more large rocks and just be one with the silence. How beautiful!  

The Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive Trail 

One of my goals this year is to camp, hike, and explore places that I have not been to before. Unless some place really calls for a repeat visit, I’m spending my time exploring some where else. My outdoor bucket list for 2017 is full of mostly new experiences. 

The Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive Trail was on my list and I crossed it off this afternoon. The trail is located about a half an hour from Winnipeg, north of Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, along Highway 59. 

The trail has earned a repeat visit as I know my husband would enjoy it. We will plan a family trip together before the end of the year. I bet fall will be a gorgeous time to visit. 

My daughter and I walked on the 1.5 km (one way) cedar boardwalk that winds through balsam fir forest, white cedar bog, and a rare type of peatland known as calcareous fern. I copied this description from the website. Other than being incredibly peaceful, I don’t know a whole lot about different types of forests. There is a good amount of signage along the way explaining about the different species of plant life and I really enjoyed reading some of the information. 

My daughter is learning about the life cycle of caterpillars in school so imagine her delight when we came across an army (thank you, Google) of caterpillars. She was very intrigued and spent a lot of time exploring them. I love that critters don’t creep her out. 

A fascinating experience for my little caterpillar enthusiast

Hitching a ride

The Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive Trail was a really fun way to spend the afternoon. The sun was trying to peek out of the clouds and on occasion it did. I woke up feeling unrested and anxious. I’m so thankful that nature is not too far away for me to go and feel at ease and collect my thoughts.

A boardwalk of blessings 

Adventure on the Trans Canada Trail 

I had the opportunity May Long Weekend to hike a very small portion of the Trans Canada Trail near Nutimik Lake in the Whiteshell. 

Whiteshell River Bridge Trail

With fishing on our mind, we went to Sturgeon Falls instead of continuing along the Trans Canada Trail on Pine Point trail. The weather this past weekend was full of cold rain combined with a lot of ticks in the area so we chose only one out of the two hikes I wanted to do. Pine Point was the other hike. I have heard great things about how beautiful it is. 

Which way to go?

We spent a couple of hours fishing and enjoying the scenery. The Whiteshell reminds me of mini mountains. Mini Mountains of Manitoba. Sturgeon Falls is a popular place with kayakers, boaters, and shore fisher-folk and even though there were a lot of people around it was still a really relaxing and tranquil place.

The Trans Canada Trail winds through urban settings and greenways, rural landscapes, wilderness trails, and waterways all across Canada. How fascinating! 

A portion of the trail is close to where I live and continues to weave through Winnipeg. I hopped on my bike after work today and set out on an adventure. 

The green line on the map below indicates the path that the Trans Canada Trail takes through the Wolseley neighborhood. I started at Omen’s Creek on the left side of the map and rode to Maryland Street. Much of the trail along the river is covered with flooding, which is to be expected this time of the year.

Lots of mud! Bike was stuck.

Stairway to the bottom of the Assiniboine River

I decided to make my way back to Oman’s Creek by crossing the Maryland Bridge and cycling along Wellington Crescent. Both Wolseley Avenue and Wellington Crescent were full of activity and people enjoying the beautiful weather. 

Oman’s Creek. Word on the river is this spot is a hot fishing spot. The dude in the chair knows what’s up.

Back home after an amazing ride

The next part of the Trans Canada Trail in Winnipeg that I want to explore on my bike is North Point Douglas and into St. Boniface. Can’t wait!! 

Celebrating Sobriety 

I have been sober for one year and three months. My anniversary is February 14th. On a day that is commercially sold as romance and love, I decided to love myself more than I ever had before. It is the day that I decided to rewrite my future and give myself a stronger chance to achieve my goals.

I fell in love with a ring that became a symbol of motivation to reach one year. Daydreaming and looking at it online gave me something else to think about when times got tough. I shared images of it with certain people. It was another way to help keep myself accountable and focused. 

I chose a different ring when it came time to actually purchase my reward. I wanted a ring that spoke to me more than just being gorgeous and frosted with sapphires. I wanted something a little more simple and told a story about how I began to heal.

The ring is called Branches. Yes, like a tree branch. The branches I saw while hiking, camping, and soul searching. Branches that are strong and can withstand storms. When a branch breaks, a new one can grow. Nature is my solace and as beautiful as my motivation ring is, nature has captured my heart.  

A reminder of how powerful I am

My ring is from Mokada Custom Jewelry Design Studio on Waterfront Drive in Winnipeg. I had the opportunity to tell a bit of my story to the owner, Mona Stott and she sincerely congratulated me and wished me well. We talked a little bit about our outdoorsy nature and also how we like to get glammed up. I was ecstatic with joy the entire time I was in her shop. 

On Mokada’s website, Mona writes “History has taught me that each person has walked a unique path leading up to the moment we meet, and I get to tell their story with the jewelry we make.” 

I chose Mokada because of the personal service I would receive and I try to support small, local businesses whenever possible.  I encourage you to view the website and visit if you’re looking for jewelry. The service I received was amazing and I hope to return one day for more special jewelry.  http://www.mokada.ca