Posts Tagged ‘courage’

Iron Will

August 27, 2013 2 comments

The beginning of a long day, at Alta Lake.

Love, respect, and determination intermingled with the Whistler mountain air Sunday.

Joining a long string of bikes making their way to Rainbow Park post dawn – fellow spectators – there was an ominous mix of expectation, hope and worry. A knowledge that there would be achievement tinged with pain. There would be victors and at the same time carnage. Dreams realized, but at significant cost.

I had butterflies in my stomach. And I was only watching.

Someone had told me spectating an Ironman was hard work, which I found slightly ridiculous. But they were right. It’s not the jockeying for prime position around the transitions that is hard, it’s the wide range of emotions you experience. From incredulity to disbelief. Whether you are watching the pros streamlining down the highway or willing someone to take another step just by clapping hard.

It was, in its own way, grueling.

I wondered, as I watched an older man in incredible pain limping along the run course at the fourteen hour mark, what was possibly motivating him to set out for the second thirteen mile lap. What could inspire someone to strap on a headlight once darkness fell, knowing they had entered the water before the sun had risen. Behind every athlete, their unique story. Because even the ones who looked fresh on race day had suffered at some point of their arduous training.

A day of dichotomy. At times I watched perfectly sculpted super humans gliding past, while at others I watched softer forms in various stages of struggle. At the finish line some athletes sat on picnic benches and chatted with family, while 20 meters away the medical tent overflowed with salty casualties awaiting IV’s or wheelchairs.

Some athletes bounced away from the finish line, while others were carried.

One thing they all shared was the courage to try. Every face etched with resolve. Evey face.

On top of all that, this.


Don’t blink or you’ll miss her.

Euphoria at watching my friend rocking a race that I will never attempt. Chrissy, who I try to persuade to have another glass of wine, stay out later, come hang at the beach for a while. She quietly sacrifices these leisurely moments in order to train, making various excuses but never complaining. She chose her dedicated path, and on Sunday, was rewarded.

Tenacious despite fatigue. Focused and unwavering, she was the fourth superwoman to cross the line. I went to cheer her on, but every time I saw her on the course, getting it done, my throat closed up and I couldn’t squeak out a word of encouragement. A spectating fail. Amazed, I could only gawk at her strength.


Christine Fletcher proving her iron will

Incredibly proud of Chrissy, and my other friends who not only finished Ironman, but achieved new milestones. In fact, props to everyone who attempted this test of mettle. Not only are you an Ironman, you are proof positive that we are capable of incredible things.

My Craigslist Posse

July 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Craigslist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you build it, they will come. And if you post it on Craigslist, they might also come. Mostly, with the exception of a few no-shows. They’ve arrived from all over, with varied stories. It’s the randomness that I love. Everyone is creating their own field of dreams, and it’s fascinating to be a part of it, for an infinitesimal moment in time.

In preparation for our move, I’m selling our furniture. It worked well enough in this house, but will look like it took a wrong turn in our new, smaller space. We’d have to inch ourselves around it, and let’s face it, life has enough obstacles.

I took a picture of the items in question and posted to Craigslist. Before I could make my tea, I received responses.

A student from UBC was overjoyed to pick up a $50 espresso maker. A guy drove an hour to pick up our upholstered ottoman, which would be so much safer for his two-year old son. A young couple came for our dining room furniture, and when I describe them with rosy cheeks, it is no exaggeration. They loaded up their truck with our table and chairs underneath a huge tarp, and I could almost hear the Beverly Hillbillies theme song playing as they drove away, the optimism that beamed through their skin.

Eric from South Korea came to put a deposit on our bedroom furniture; I’m worried our moving date was lost in the translation. I’m hoping he’s coming back before the movers.

Another UBC student, Sophy, sold everything a year ago to travel the world, and is now re-furnishing from scratch. I was dying to ask her about her travels but she was wringing her hands about our loveseat, I didn’t dare distract her.

And then there was Leon.

In his email, he mentioned he was just starting out. When he came to pick up our armoire with his father, I was surprised to see he was roughly my age. His father was a talker, though Leon was not. He explained that Leon’s family, his wife and two children, had lost everything a few months ago when their rental house went up in smoke. Leon had been watching the Canuck’s game, when his youngest daughter got out of bed complaining of being hot. As it turned out, that was because there was a raging inferno on the other side of her wall. They had four minutes to get out of their house – the lint in the dryer needed to be emptied from the back of the dated appliance, Leon said wryly. They escaped unharmed physically, but will wear emotional scars for years to come; his children now terrified of going to sleep.

Leon’s quiet determination to rebuild a comfortable space for his family was the face of courage itself.

The twenty-odd things I’ve sold on Craigslist have all gone to great people, I was happy to meet and chat to each of them. My first and only potential scammer arrived tonight, via Stephen, who sent me the following email:

Thanks for the mail, I will like to purchase your item note you will not be responsible for the handling and shipping of the item, my shipping company will come to your location for the pick up kindly confirm to me with your full name and address so that I can have it forward to the shipping company for them to calculate the shipping cost to me for the shipping to commence on time right?

Dude, I wasn’t born yesterday. And if you’re planning on scamming people, you might want to lose the form letter approach, it’s a dead give away.

Bravery Ends Where the Dentist Begins

January 5, 2012 4 comments

If I’ve learned one thing as a parent, it is how to nonchalantly cajole my children into situations that – if I were in their shoes – would cause me to quiver more than the cellulite on my thighs.

Whether it concerns skiing down an icy pitch or eating lima beans, I begin by reassuring them they will live to tell the tale, and that it will be good for them in the end. In the middle I may regale them with stories (completely fabricated) to send my point home. And although I try to avoid it, it usually ends with a bribe. The turnaround time from patiently explaining attributes to desperately tempting them with candy is about one minute.

I have this act down-pat: “Be brave! You can do it! I watched a two-year old do this last week! Seriously, we will celebrate with Skittles when this is all said and done.” Change a few nouns, adjectives and bribes, and this accounts for most of my conversational life.

Yet, when I find myself in their shoes and on equal footing, I crumble faster than my shortbread recipe. Since the show must go on, meaning they must be tricked into various scenarios, I have resolved to never let them witness my cowardice. You know that old adage, “Never let them see you sweat?” After my recent trip to the dentist, I have adapted this to “Never let them see me with a dental dam.” If they saw how their tough-talking mother behaved, I would never be able to drag them to the dentist again.

My dentist has been wanting to replace one of my fillings for five years. I have put it off for excellent reasons: I’m too busy, I tell him. There are groceries to be bought, children to be chauffeured, nails to be filed. He usually rolls his eyes, but this time he wouldn’t waiver, and booked me for the following day. Something about a crack and an emergency – he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Before I could vigorously floss my teeth to remove a week’s worth of sesame seeds, I was back at the dentist, waiting for the major procedure. Replacing a filling is not as easy as it sounds. It involves needles. And pain.

They called my name and the funniest thing happened: I found I was rooted to my seat, and rendered immobile. I did, however, manage to overcome my sudden nausea and held on to my digesting oatmeal.  The dental hygienist was smiling and gesturing, and all I could do was shake my head and babble. The receptionist got involved, and then my children’s hygienist, Molly, walked by. For ten years she has witnessed me encouraging/bribing my children, and she got a kick out of seeing me on the receiving end of the drill. Pun intended.

Sometimes it takes a village, but that day it took an office to get me to walk down the hall to my very own torture chair. I asked William, my dentist, to explain the procedure, and once he finished his detailed answer I asked him to explain it again, slowly this time, at which point they bound and gagged me with the dental dam. Before they snapped the plastic in place, I begged him to be liberal with the happy gas, and encouraged him to be all he could be, professionally, on this day.

I attempted to lose myself in an old episode of ‘Friends’ that was playing on the ceiling as they pricked and prodded and drilled and suctioned. The happy gas made me a little loopy, but it’s no champagne. I tried my best to breathe through the plastic and keep my drool in check, and when things got dicey I quelled my screams by digging my fingernails into the arms of the torture chair they thoughtfully provided. I vaguely recall Molly and the receptionist peeking in to see how I was faring. Finally – sooner than I expected – they were done, and although my mouth was frozen into a sideways elliptical shape, I was free to go.

As I sprinted down the hall, I thought what doesn’t beat you makes you stronger, and congratulated myself on my valiant effort. Then William called after my retreating backside, “The temporary tooth is beautiful – just avoid solids on that side until we do the other half of the procedure.”

The receptionist handed me a tissue for the saliva that was dribbling down my chin. Seeing the sorrow in my eyes, she fed me the same annoying line I feed my children, “Don’t worry, it will be over before you know it!”