Thursday, September 30, 2010

Loving Life

I swore to myself that this year would be different, that I wouldn't take on nearly as many commitments and that I would have all this free time to relax and love life. Not only had I promised myself I would do this, but I had actually even convinced myself that I would follow through.

Yes, I have committed to less. I removed the 5 or more hours of volunteering I did every week last year. Unfortunately, that's about all I cut out. I still haven't quite managed to learn to say no (although I did pass up a couple volunteer opportunities that made my heart break a little when I deleted the e-mails without replying with a big giant PICK ME!!!) and I don't seem to have any of this elusive spare time that I keep hearing about. Instead I have just become more hardcore about the things that I left in my schedule.

The difference is, although my schedule is still just as busy and hectic, I am actually loving life this semester. I don't have any more spare time, but I have filled the potential spare time slots with things I love. I have finally gotten into a really great groove, that although it is proving to be pretty exhausting, is making me excited to wake up each morning to head to the pool, gym or class.

One thing in particular that I've been loving lately is The Nutrition Blog Network. The Nutrition Blog Network is a collection of blogs written by registered dietitians. The blogs are quite often about food or food related topics, but some of the blogs are about fitness or sometimes they are completely random. I scroll through the news feed of nearly updated blog posts several times a day, which is probably another reason I'm so busy all the time...procrastination. For anyone out there who has time to waste and an interest in anything food related, I recommend checking it out!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Comeback Frustrations and Aches

I LOVE swimming! I absolutely love being back into training! The last year has been tough. I never really found the balance between training and sitting on my butt doing nothing. As hard as I tried to stay "active", I never figured out not to go big or go home. And then I went to Kenya, where I did little to no exercise and ate nothing but fried dough, beans and maize everyday.

But now I'm back to training! And it feels amazing! By amazing I mean that my whole body is sore and aching and stiff. It hurts to move. My legs are currently shaky and my muscles are spazing. I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to get up the stairs to go to bed once Glee is over but I figure I'll figure that out in an hour.

As absolutely fabulous as coming back to training has been, it's been really frustrating at the same time. It's hard to do the things you used to do and not be able to do them nearly as well. It really sucks to be incredibly out of shape. I'm probably still in better shape than a lot of the general public, but it's crazy how much taking a year off can affect everything! I keep expecting myself to be able to do the things I could do this time a year and a half ago before the whole heart drama began. It's hard not to be disappointed with slower times in the pool, fewer chin-ups and lighter weights at the gym. I know I need to patient but it's hard! I wish I could snap my fingers and be back into the shape I used to be in. If only it were that easy!

For now I'm just going to enjoy working my butt off and hope that I regain the use of my legs in the near future.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Atlantic Dietitians of Canada Conference

This past weekend, I road tripped to Moncton to attend the Atlantic Dietitians of Canada conference with Tuck and the Prof who went to Kenya with us. She was asked to speak about her experience supervising students in an international placement. We ended up spending the entire morning finishing the presentation before our 11:30 presentation. We had found out the night before that we would be in fact presenting along side our prof, and while we tried to prepare by figuring out what exactly she wanted us to talk about, she just told us not to worry and we'd be fine. Besides that one time I gave a presentation on Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia in front of a handful of island dietitians as part of my clinical placement, I have never had the opportunity to speak in front of a large group of dietitians. This terrifies me a little. It's not so much that I dislike public speaking. Public speaking doesn't bother me at all, especially after giving so many presentations in front of 100+ people in Kenya, but it was the group of people I was presenting to that had me a touch rattled. These are people who will potentially be hiring me in 14 months (eek!) and people who will be my colleagues.

Tuck and I sat in the front row while our prof presented and occasionally asked us questions or to clarify certain concepts of the presentation. Eventually we found ourselves correcting her and adding comments to what she was saying (she asked us to correct her when it was appropriate and to add to her presentation whenever we could) so we just stood up and kind of took over. We had the whole conference room chuckling at our misadventures which resulted in lessons learned, and had them tearing up at some of the outcomes we were able to achieve. In the end, the presentation went way better than I ever would have imagined it would! We had a line up of dietitians wanting to ask us questions after our presentation and probably could have sold all 96 aprons right then and there.

High on life from the presentation, we skipped out on the last session and went to Costco. I bought some really awesome tupperware, and must admit that I enjoy my lunch just a little bit more everyday that I use them.

Dietitians are known to stereotypically all have the same haircut and sense of style. The profs at UPEI joke about it all the time but this was the first time I ever actually witnessed the phenomenon with my own eyes. When sitting in the back of the conference room, you look ahead and all you see are a sea of bob hair cuts and dangly earrings. I couldn't help but feel a little left out! I wonder how many other professions have a stereotypical look to them? I'm sure a lot, I just never noticed before. I can't decide if I want to run out and get a hair cut or keep my locks in rebellion.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Confederation Bridge Run 2010

I've been meaning to write about the Confederation Bridge run for a whole week now but it's taken until now to actually get around to it. And even now, I have a list a mile long of other things I should be doing right now, but I decided it couldn't wait any longer.[Waiting (and waiting!) at the start line]

Every runner was assigned a start time, I'm pretty sure we were all assigned the same start time, and then the walkers were supposed to start about an hour after us. My designated start time was 7:00am and it was advised to be at the start about an hour before the race in order to get registered and find parking. My parents and Alex parked over on the New Brunswick side and then took a shuttle bus to the PEI side, so I parked my car at Gateway Village in PEI and met them at the start line. I had to leave my house around 5am to make sure I was there on time, and I ended up leaving a bit early because I had no idea where my parking lot actually was. I had it in my mind that there were going to be several different parking lots and that I would end up going to the wrong one and would need a lot of extra time to figure everything out. I also was convinced that since this was a fairly big race and seemed to be well organized, I'd need to give myself time to get my bib number and maybe a chip timer or something. I was wrong about everything! The only designated parking was a giant grass field, registration consisted of bingo-dabbing my hand. I sat in my car for an hour before it was actually time to approach the start line.

I met the fam jam at the start line and got to see my dad for the first time since June which was awesome. My Dad and sister aren't exactly morning people, and it was pretty chilly out so I was met with a bit of disgruntlement. I was planning on spending the day in New Brunswick to see my grandparents and to watch Big Al play in Mt A's home opener soccer game against SMU. This meant I had to carry my change of clothes with me for the 12.8 km run. I was dreading wearing a backpack so I crammed everything into a neon fanny pack. I was pretty impressed with my mad packing skills, but I'm definitely not jumping at the chance to run with a fanny pack again any time soon. It conveniently bounced around right on top of my bladder the whole time. I got it at value village a few years ago so it was definitely not meant to run in.

The start ended up being an hour and a half late, so we all had to wait at the start line freezing our butts off. Fred Fox, Terry's Brother started the race by saying "on your marks, get set, go!" and ran the race with all the runners. It was really cool to be running across the bridge! Every few minutes you'd look around and see nothing but runners and water and realize, I'm actually running across the confederation bridge right now. I even got to peak over the edge of the railing, which was terrifyingly high up and made me a little dizzy. Driving over the bridge will never be the same!

I would definitely run it again, despite how unorganized it was. Next time I think I'll train for it though. Apparently my Kenya Treadmill regime didn't quite cut it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to The Grind

I've managed to survive my first week back at school and have even completely caught up from missing the first three days of classes.

I don't have classes on Tuesdays so my mom and Alex drove over to spend the day. We spent the day wandering around downtown Charlottetown shopping. We got the bridesmaid dresses fitted and they are currently getting tailored as we speak and will be ready in a few days. We also went on a Cows Creamery Tour! I've been wanting to go on the tour since last spring. It's closed in the winter though, and hadn't opened again before I left for the summer. The tour itself was nothing all that special. It's a way smaller scaled operation than I thought it would be. All the t-shirts and ice creams are made on site in Charlottetown and then shipped to each location across the country. There are way fewer locations than I thought. Something like 6 island wide and 3 more across the country. I think the fact that it's so small scale, while making the tour less impressive, was what I liked best. It definitely made it impossible to turn down an ice cream cone after the tour!

This week was also swim team try outs. Each practice contained a test set or dry-land testing to measure where we are now compared to where we will be (hopefully) by the end of the season. I only ended up swimming a couple of times because only one practice a day was scheduled for the week so I guess we're easing back into the pool. It actually ended up working well because I used the extra free time to read the millions of text book pages that were assigned. I am really looking forward to getting back into training for real next week. I've taken almost a year exactly off of training, which has felt like much longer. I can't believe how much I've missed training and paddling, so I'm super excited to get back into the routine of multiple training sessions a day. There are a lot of new rookies on the team this year which is awesome. We've always had a really small team, but we've almost doubled this year. It's a lot easier to drag your butt to the pool at 5:30am when you know that 20 of your friends will also be there. Last year most of our morning practices only had around 6 people show up, which wasn't very motivating.

T-Minus 2 days until the Terry Fox run across the confederation bridge. I don't feel like I'm even close to prepared to run it, but I'll be running it with my mom, my sister and my dad which is awesome. Although my mom and dad are both out on the east coast visiting, my crazy busy schedule, and the ridiculously high cost of driving across the bridge has prevented me from seeing them as much as I would have liked. It'll be great to get 12.8 km of quality time in with them this weekend though. The picture on the left makes the bridge look a lot longer than 12.8 km, and I won't lie...I'm a little worried about the entirely up-hill first half of the run.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Home Sweet Home (almost)

Finally back on the island. The flights home were uneventful and I even all my luggage got back safe and sound.

I was greeted at the airport by the best surprise ever! My mom flew out and drove over with my Sister and Grandparents to surprise me at the airport. I had no idea at all they would be there! I Was expecting just my roommate and maybe 1 or 2 friends to show up, but in addition to my family, about 8 more friends came to see me. It was a little overwhelming, and combined with being in the same clothes and awake for the past 30 hours, I couldn't help but be a little bit (embarrassingly) emotional upon seeing every one. My mom went back to nova scotia with my sister and grandparents but she's coming back over on Tuesday to hang out with me which I am very excited for. My dad is even driving down on Wednesday so the whole family minus TJ can run across the confederation bridge together on Sunday. Should be really great! I love my family, and it makes me so happy that they will soon all be here to visit! I wish TJ was here to but I guess you can't have it all.

My kitbag with my laptop and phone charger accidentally went back to Nova Scotia in the car so I am without a phone and a laptop until Tuesday. It's a good thing I just spent 3 months without a phone and without reliable access to internet or I might be going nuts right now. I can't believe how addicting they are! My mom tried to drive my car but one of the back wheels doesn't move anymore so it had to get towed and will be at Canadian Tire getting fixed until Tuesday probably, but Sam has been nice enough to let me borrow hers to go grocery shopping and to do some running around that I needed to get done.

I planned on being super productive today to get ready for my last first day of school ever (well...for a while at least) but instead I just took it easy and procrastinated. I can't believe it's fall already. I thought I might get to squeeze in a day or two of sundresses or shorts before bundling up but no dice. Typical PEI I guess.

Swim Team try-outs start tomorrow so I went for a easy swim this afternoon to try to remember how. Feels great to be back in the water and I can't wait for training to get started officially next week after try-outs.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Great Mzungo Migration

It was surreal leaving Kiirua this morning. After wrestling everything into a very heavy suitcase, a jam packed back pack, a small duffel bag and a knapsack, I finally found a place for everything I'm bringing home. I hate traveling with twelve million bags. My general rule is that if I can't carry it myself then I have to bring less. I usually stubbornly refuse to use one of the airport trolleys and end up huffing and puffing my way from baggage claim to the car. As much as I would love to abide by my own rule for this trip, it simply was not possible. I tried really hard but I have accumulated a lot of stuff apparently. I even gave away the majority of the clothes I brought with me and still seem to have way to much stuff. I suppose I could blame the mass quantities of aprons I have packed but I haven't been able to convince my self that they are to blame yet. So for the first time in my memory, I will be traveling with more than I can carry by myself, and will be a trolley full of too much baggage yielding tourist at the Nairobi airport tomorrow night.

I don't like goodbyes. I usually don't really even acknowledge them, I just say goodbye to people as if I will be seeing them the next day. Although I go off to school for months at a time without seeing people, I see everyone again eventually. It's weird to imagine that the people I didn't say goodbye to here will likely be people I never see ever again. I'd love to say I'll be back, and I really do hope I will be eventually, but who knows where these people will be or when I will finally make it back to Kenya. I couldn't help but wonder if my hatred for goodbyes had an impact on the types of relationships I have built since arriving in June. Knowing that I was leaving in 3 months with the high probability of never seeing these people again, did I subconsciously distance myself and prevent myself from getting closer than I did with these people? I've been really lucky to have met some really great people throughout this trip, but I wonder how different my relationships to these great people would be if I had not known I would be leaving. How often do we limit ourselves because we predict an unfavorable outcome? Holding ourselves back may be a defense mechanism against failure, but it simultaneously eliminates any possibility of success. Although I am a believer in trusting my instincts, learning how to selectively shut off the voice in the back of my head may be a valuable skill to acquire.

I start my 24 hour+ migration back to Canada tomorrow night and am looking forward to catching up on my movie watching. The past 3 months have been like living in a bubble; although I was aware of what was going on in the real world, it didn't really affect me too much. Getting back to real life with bills and a job and classes and homework is going to be rough. Although it will probably be rougher on my friends and family who have to listen to me stressing out about it all than it will be on me.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


This time tomorrow I will be squashed in a car with all my luggage on my way to Nairobi. It seems crazy that it's been three months since I got off the plane in Nairobi for the first time.

The last few days have consisted of packing and repacking numerous times. I have an extra suitcase coming home that I didn't have coming here so I figured I'd have almost an entire empty suitcase and that packing would be a breeze. Somehow I seem to have accumulated a lot of stuff. A lot of heavy stuff apparently. To be fair the majority of one suitcase is aprons, we're each bringing home 40 some-odd aprons which takes up quite a bit of room and are surprisingly heavier than I thought they'd be. At the moment both my bags are jam packed and one might be over weight but it'll all work out one way or another, it always does.

Today is the first day of school at UPEI and although it would be nice to be able to start school with everyone else and not come back a week behind already, I am really not ready for classes to start. I'm not sure I have the mental capacity to sit still for a lecture and do homework every day. I am however, really really looking forward to swimming this year and can't wait to get back into the pool.

We've done nothing but watch Sex and the City and crochet for the last few days so I have nothing exciting to write about, but we're spending our last day in Kiirua at the Meru Sports Club soaking in our last of the equator rays by the pool. The entire time we've been here it's been freezing cold and rainy but the last week has finally been as hot and sunny as we were promised September would be. My fingers are crossed it's hot today too!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

C Sections and Waterfalls: My Last Full Week in Kenya

It's been a pretty uneventful week but it's flown by just the same. We were originally booked to fly home on September 3rd, but due to a technicality with the funding, our departure date got pushed back a week to the 10th. We had made our schedule based on leaving on the third, so last week was pretty chill and next week will be too.

Monday through Wednesday we just hung out on the compound and worked on some internship stuff and reports that are due when we get back. On Monday, just as we were about to start making lunch, the phone rang. There was a Cesarean section surgery about to start at the hospital and the nurses were inviting us to scrub in. We ran over to the hospital, got all geared up in scrubs and scrub caps and rubber boots and face masks and got to watch the procedure while standing right beside the doctor. While mom was getting all stitched up, I got to hold the healthy baby boy (2.7 kgs). It was pretty awesome. The nursing students here with us said that In Canada, nursing students wouldn't even be allowed to scrub into a surgery of any kind, so we were pretty lucky to have been able to scrub in. Never again will I be able to scrub in on a C section, but I'm glad I got to do it at least once. I definitely have no desire to be a nurse and do it everyday though.

While we were at the disco slash Guinness Football Challenge last Saturday night, there were video cameras everywhere. We assumed that the footage was simply being used for the big screen TV that was set up on location, but we got a phone call from Martin at about 10pm on Tuesday night saying that I was on TV at that very moment! We don't have a TV here so I couldn't actually flick it on to see myself but I'm pretty sure the footage was from a football (soccer) skills competition I entered and failed hard core at. All I could think of as I failed to dribble the ball between a couple of pylons was how much I wished my sister had been there to show all the Kenyans how it's done. Not only were Amy and I the only two girls to enter the competition, but we were probably the only two white people to enter as well. There were a couple of Kenyan guys that were showing off and doing fancy maneuvers but I'm still fairly confident Alex would have been able to dribble circles around them, which I would have very much liked to have seen.

Yesterday was our very last Saturday in Kenya! It blows my mind that it's September already, it feels like it was just last week that I was boarding the plane on my way here. I'm not sure whether I'm in bigger shock that it's September because it means leaving Kenya, or because it means the end of summer. I love summer, but I didn't really have one this year. I can't quite wrap my head around starting school the day after I get back, already a few days behind.

We wanted to make our last Saturday eventful, so Salome took us shopping in Meru, then to her sister's house for lunch, and then we went hiking to a couple of different waterfalls. She had mentioned that we would be driving to a waterfall so I mistakenly wore flip flops. Turns out we were driving to where we could hike down to the waterfalls. The first fall was only a couple kilometers from her sister's house. It was probably comparable to the size of Webster's Falls. The second was much bigger, and was a short hike from the side of the road. We met up with a couple of guys who knew the way and they lead us through the forest to the falls. To say that we went hiking is a bit of an understatement. We were literally climbing boulders and hacking our way through the forest. At the second falls, we hiked to 3 different spots to see it from different angles, but unfortunately, the second location was really muddy. I was impressed by how well my flip flops were holding up until I stepped ankle deep in mud. Wet flip flops are very very slippy, and not good for hiking. I ended up just carrying them and hiking barefoot. Good thing all my barefoot running had toughened up my feet! The last place we saw the second falls from was a giant rock in the middle of the forest. We basically had to scale the edge of it, griping on strategically sturdy vines, and rock climbed up it. Going up is always better then going down. Definitely worth the view, but getting down was a little bit trickier. We all made it down eventually with only a couple of minor slips and falls, but there were quite a few Danger Bush casualties. By the time we got off the boulder, my flip flops were dry so I was able to put them back on to hike back up to the road where the car was parked.

I only have 3 days left in Kiirua. We leave for Nairobi early Thursday morning and then fly home Friday night. I've packed one of my two suitcases and have realized how much junk I have here and how much more stuff I have to come home with than when I came. It's almost entirely full of fabric, aprons and yarn (I've developed an addiction to crocheting and am a granny square champ) and my fingers are crossed it doesn't weigh more than 50 pounds. The last 3 days will be full of packing and last minute shopping if I can find room for anything else.

Salome is coming over later today so we can teach her how to make Banana Bread and she is going to watch us make chapatis to ensure that we are doing it right. We've tried a couple more times, and although they're good, they just aren't Kenyan enough for our liking.