Sunday, October 22, 2017

Passion? What's your Agenda?

Oh, my. I don't buy myself stuff very often but I've gotten tired of trying to keep my busy life organized with mediocre tools.

Busy life?

Mother of Five - only two still at home.
Vegetarian cafe partner, no employees.
Running keeps me sane.
Housework, shared with husband and two young adult males.
Teach birth companions and provide mentorship to aspiring midwives.
I don't attend births that often any more (not on call 24/7 any more!) but I still do prenatal classes from time to time.
Building up online presence and working on online courses so we can transition to nomadic lifestyle in 2021...
Occasional social events.
Bills to pay, for home and cafe.
Novel written but not published yet.
Book about birth almost sold out so second edition needs to be written.
Occasional English exam marker for local college.

Need I say more? And I know your calendars are just as packed! So, next list:

Mediocre tools?

I started a diary when I was ten years old. I kept one all through my children's younger years, and beyond. Then when I was running an organic farm in central Italy, with four young boys to care for, I realized I needed to plan ahead. I started an agenda then, and carefully wrote down when I needed to plant or harvest, go to PTA meetings, hatch goose eggs in the incubator or prepare for a family visit.

As you can see, I have tried many shapes, sizes and themes of agendas over the years and they've been pretty useful. I always weave between agenda posting and journalling, trying to get the past, present and future to come together on paper.

The most useless of the mediocre tools is my laptop. I have about seven calendars all competing for space, and while its nice to know when my son's basketball practice is, I don't need to have that information readily available. I use Google calendars to link with two of my websites, and that is very useful. My phone also competes for my attention, but the calendar isn't pleasant to use and ... half the time I don't even look at it.

So, what to do?

A few years ago, a client of mine showed me an amazing agenda she was using. Its called a Passion Planner. It does everything I always dreamed my agenda could do. I looked it up online over the years, decided it was too expensive, and went on using my phone, laptop and various notebooks and diaries.

This year, I am doing more, and more different projects are coming my way. I decided to go for it and buy myself a gift.


Ok, get over it. It feels a little hokey when you first start. Set your timer for five minutes and organize the rest of your life. BUT IT WORKS! It's a little bit like running a marathon: put one step in front of the other and you reach the finish line. This agenda helps you figure out your goals, make a priority list, and organize the steps you need to take to get there.

Here are my goals for the coming year: 

now that I've written them down, they don't seem so daunting.

and here is my road map for the next few months, with one goal highlighted and detailed.

my coming week. 

I am using different colored pens for different categories of stuff I have to do, and I may make one more small purchase and get a pack of fine-tipped colorful felt pens.

My final question for you: do you have an agenda? Throw it away and plan your passions!
PS: The folks at Passion Planner are offering you a 10% discount with the code PASHFAM10. Go for it! Tell them Rivka sent you (montrealdoula [at] yahoo dot com).

Thursday, October 19, 2017

How to run a half marathon: running mama's guide.

"Can you get a bus for part of it?"

No, you can't get a bus. You have to do the distance. That's what the fun part is. So, what's the plan? How do I run a half marathon? First of all, why would I even want to? Don't bother if you're not motivated. Why would you? But if you've started running and you really like it, and you think you might want to run a race, here's how:

A IS FOR ATTITUDE: you gotta have it. No attitude, no race. See this lady here?
She has attitude. She's been saying to herself, ya, I can do this.

B IS FOR BEST: here's the key - when you run, whether it's a mile, a 5 k, or an ultra, you are running your Personal Best. That means that you are not competing against anyone except yourself. Don't kid yourself, you're not an elite, and if you're reading this article, you'll probably never be one. So, when you run, you want to do YOUR VERY BEST. That is, your best for the day. The best you can even though you are tired, feeling sad, hungover, in a rush to get to work, whatever. That's the BEAUTY of the BEAST.

C IS FOR CLOTHING. Find some clothes you like to run in, and wear them. Essentials: good shoes (see "S"); a good bra if you need one; socks that don't chafe; comfy underwear. If you're running in the heat, wear clothing that lets you sweat. In the cold, check this out:

Remember, you don't need the latest most expensive gear! You should save your pennies for a good pair of shoes, and that's it. I've picked up some great running gear at my local thrift shop!

D is for Distance. Whether you're running your first mile, your first five k, or your first marathon, you will put every ounce of effort into it and get the same sense of satisfaction from it. I remember when I ran my first five kilometers without walking. I was so proud! This May I hope to run my first Marathon ... more on that to come ... maybe one day I will run the original Marathon!

E is for effort. It ain't always easy being a runner. Take today, for instance. I was supposed to run with my buddies at 6:30. I really want to get this post finished - and I came home from work to lots of unfinished housework, and I have to cook dinner and shop and ... will I make the effort to tie on my shoes and run? I hope so!

F is for Fartleks. Basically, this funny word means that you play around with your speed. So when you are doing a long run, change it around by running at full speed for a short distance. It helps your body build strength and adjust to different paces.

G is for Goals - what are your running goals today? This week? What is your ultimate running goal? I would love to run an ultra one day ... Figure out your goal and work towards it, one step at a time.
H is for Hamstrings. You should stretch after a run, if you feel tightness or you are healing from a previous injury. Here is my favourite ten-minute post run stretch: the Mogul Muncher.

I is for Injuries. They happen! Running is a little unusual for the human body, especially on sidewalks. I've had an IT band issue, and some Plantar's Fasciitis. I sorted my IT band - I did exercises that strengthened my hips and that did the trick. The Fasciitis, well, it's a struggle and I just have to be careful. You will have your own injury that haunts you - do your research, go to a sports clinic if you can, and most importantly, REST when you are in pain. I also use Arnica homeopathic tablets or cream (Boiron).

J is for Joy: You gotta love it! If you're not enjoying it, do something else. I'm not saying that you have to love that feeling at 2k when you wish you had slept better, or at 14 k when you feel you're going too slow, or at 5k when you really have to pee. But if you're not having fun overall, then running's not for you. Get happy!

K is for Knees. Be careful with your knees, and if you start getting pain, look into it right away. ITBS will give you a very specific pain on the outside of your knee. Other knee injuries can be related to ill-fitting shoes or poor form. Don't run through the pain! Have it looked at by someone who knows what they're doing, and then follow their instructions. For the immediate pain, I use ice, rest, ice cream (to feel better), and long hot bath soaks. 

L is for Long Runs. Long runs are a must when you are training to Run A Half Marathon or more. Do a long run every week. If you don't have a training plan, thats ok but make sure you do one long run every week, until about two weeks before the race, and reduce your distances. You don't have to run longer than 22 kilometers but do try to do that at least once, about a month our from your race.

M is for Medals. I love getting my medal!

N is for Nike, the goddess of victory. Running isn't about victory over other people - ok, it would be amazing to be first. At least first in my age group... sigh ... But the real Victory is over yourself. 

O is for Orgasms, of course. Does your sex life get better when you run? Start running and find out!

P is for Pee. Yes, it's one of the very rare times when I wish I was a boy. They can pee anywhere. I have finally figured out how not to have to pee during a half marathon: hydrate gradually through the week before your race. Drink 3-4 litres of water a day, more if its hot weather. Don't drink too much the morning of. Don't drink coffee the morning of. And practice control. Just tell yourself you actually don't have to pee. Forget about it. You are usually losing enough water through sweating that in fact you don't really have to pee. If you do, try going commando or wear pants, shorts or a skirt with built-in briefs so you don't waste precious race time with your knickers in a twist.

Q is for Quality. If you discover that running has become yet another chore that you have to stick into your busy day, then stop for a while and pick it up again (soon!!) when you feel less stressed about it. Running time should be quality time.

R is for Rest. If you love to run, that doesn't mean you have to overdo it. Your body needs to rest. Take at least one day a week and rest - don't run - especially if you are an older runner like me (well I'm not ninety yet but 61 counts!).

S is for Shoes. Find yourself a good pair of running shoes - get an expert to help you. I ran with Minimalist for a few years and loved them! Then my feet started to hurt a little and I went with Sayonara Wave ... but you have to choose the shoes that feel good for you.

T is for Training. Find a training plan if you want to Run A Half Marathon. There are lots of them everywhere on the internet. Runkeeper has some good ones that are free.  If you don't want to "train", then don't! Just run to your heart's content.

U is for Us. I am so happy I have running buddies. We run together, stick together, and have fun together. We talk about work, life, relationships, kids, or we just run ... and then there are my running buddies who don't actually run. They just meet me at the finish line!

V is for Victory!!!

W is for Water. So important to drink water! Every day, even if you're not a runner. But if you're running, make sure you drink 8-10 glasses a day, and if you run for longer than an hour make sure you carry water or you know where the drinking fountains are on your route (not if its below zero ... )

X is for X-country. Also known as trail running. This is super fun, and a completely different type of running. Remember to wear good shoes, know where you're going, and stay safe.

Y is for You! Just put your shoes on, open the door, and step outside. Its a wonderful world out there!

Z is for the Zen of running. When I run, I feel calm. Its my way of meditating. I hope it can become yours too!

 Run A Half Marathon!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Discover your Potential

I have an assortment of interesting classes, workshops and get-togethers happening at my cafe over the next few months.

Here's a taste of what's to come:

Most exciting, I am organizing a long-term study group. I'm very motivated to find a core group of birth companions who are interested ...
We will be focusing on the prenatal experience for about nine months, then moving on to labor, birth and the postpartum after that. If you would like more details please email me.

Events in the upcoming months:

October 28 and 29 ...  learn about cooking and baking with chef extraordinaire from Caffe della Pace.

November 15, from 6-9 pm, learn about postpartum herbs with Jenny Bee. For more details, see event here.

November 19, from 6-7:30 pm, Doula Cafe! This is a place where doulas and doulas-to-be can get together at the Peace Cafe. We share birth stories, life stories, laughter and more on the third Sunday of every month.

On November 26, Jenny Bee presents Yoga for Doulas One (Prenatal). This is a must for anyone who is learning how to doula or already practising. Yoga for Doulas Two (Labor and Postpartum) will be offered in January.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

When the S!*@*#t Hits the Fan (and you get splashed)

Midwives have a kind of cute expression for it. "Meconium happens." Meconium is the sterile black sticky poop that babies have in their guts until they are about 3 or 4 days old. Some babies poop it out in the womb (not great). Others spray it all over everyone when they're being born.

I'm not big on euphemisms, generally. Let's talk it out and use the correct language, ya? But sometimes, you just feel like you've been crapped on.

Yip, and you're there, underneath the working parts, wishing you were on vacation. So, what to do? What do you do when someone poops their stuff out on you?

Unfortunately, this tends to happen more frequently when you are a caring person. I don't know why. The poor sod who has some stuff to work out doesn't really understand what's going on and they often regret their misdeed afterwards: "I don't know what came over me". Or they are so confused they think the whole episode is your fault: "Well you know I am sensitive about ... blah blah." We can theorize forever about what makes people tick, or explode. But ...

This kind of thinking is EXACTLY the opposite of what you should be doing. It's not about that other person. It's not about Frank Zappa, or whoever it was that just pooped on you. Imagine a newborn baby, slippery and new, who just happens to spurt meconium all over your clothes, face and .... everywhere. You don't blame the baby! Right?

How can we effectively live through the experience of being dumped on? First of all, this advice is NOT for people who are being physically attacked or threatened. I am talking about emotional dumps that make you feel bad, for an hour, a day or a year.

1. If it's something that happens over and over again with one person, you need to take a good look at the relationship and figure out what you're involved with. What is it inside you that needs that dynamic? Do you need to end the relationship?

2. If you've decided to continue a relationship, despite the occasional dump, you need to understand the emotional activity inside yourself when someone takes a dump on you. We react in two ways, and both ways involve a mental loop that keep repeating inside your head. Some of us turn the hate inside, and go into "poor me" mode, remembering ancient and not-so-ancient hurts, reminding ourselves of all the times someone wasn't nice to us, listening to that voice inside our head that says: "I hate you because you are a loser". Harsh.
Others react with anger, and take their anger out on anyone and anything around them. "How dare you do this me! I'm gonna hurt you bad, and also you, asshole, because you can't drive worth shit!"

Let's get to some fundamentals here: Peace. Love. Most of us want inner peace, and everyone wants love. So, how to get there? Best to avoid emotional road accidents. Like the midwives say, meconium happens. Really bad meconium can happen, stuff we have no control over. The least we can do, then, is regain some control over the things we CAN control. And we can start with our reactions.
Phase One: Person does an emotional dump on you. Breathe.

Phase Two: Distance yourself.

This is their poop. If you can't distance physically without making it worse, then go away emotionally. Be mindful. Feel your body. Let go of tension in your muscles. Breathe.

Phase Three: Disconnect the loop.

Remember, the other person is doing something, not you. Don't react. If the loop starts, go back to your breath. Feel your body. Breathe.

Phase Four: If you can, connect with the compassion inside you.

Look at the person who is having a fuss. Shine your love on them. Don't say anything, and don't get a sucky look on your face. Just sit with compassion and love. Breathe.

Phase Five: Get on with your life.

Do something physical. Yes, go for a run! Maybe take a break from the dumpster, if you can and you feel it is necessary. Have some fun. Be aware the looping can start at any time! Breathe.

Do Not:

1. Explain. No reason to! You do what you need to do. No need to rationalize, describe, justify.

2. Give advice. The person does not need your unsolicited advice. You can only protect yourself from damage if you fortify your own emotional immune system (using breath, mindfulness, attention to your body and by avoiding toxic activities like explanation, bad tape loops, and self-pity).

3. Take yourself too seriously. 


You can change the world! 


One good habit at a time. Join the fun side! Be mindful, be compassionate, be loving and kind. But don't make a comfy house for yourself underneath Frankie's toilet, or you're in for a world of pain. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

City Life Political (infrastructure, heavy machinery, and water?)

Let me say first of all that I am grateful to live and love in a city where I know that I am safe, I can get health care when I need it, I have enough to eat - and more - and I'm not in imminent danger of being murdered when I step outside.

I live in better conditions than millions if not billions of people. One of the things I live with is this concept we call democracy, and it means that we have the right to vote: our votes will be counted, and they will mean something.

So, here's my two cents worth:

The beginning, August 16, 2017
The city of Montreal has needed infrastructure repair for a very long time. They've decided to rip all the streets up now, and they're finally doing extensive work all over town. Great! I don't know the ins and outs of how much the federal push for infrastructure improvement has to do with it, or who is "pushing the envelope" to whom ... but I do know that while many of our citizens are driving around town gnashing their teether in frustration with roads closures and the like, some of us are actually living in a construction zone.

It's been touch and go with our water supply. You might notice those white pipes in the pictures? Our water comes through those. Every so often the taps don't run at all ... but we've learned that we can't have the washing machine on and try to have a shower at the same time. But we're used to water issues, we used to live on an isolated farm in rural Italy where I would walk down to the spring every day with my twenty liter jerry can ... a little different when we're all busy and it's Sunday night and we all want to do laundry and prepare for Monday morning but hey!

- is it legal for citizens to walk freely amongst moving heavy machinery? (no other way to get off our property)

- is it fine to have emergency service vehicle access severely limited? (meter long and meter wide ditch in front of our houses)

- is it ok not to have garbage or recycling pickup for over a month?

- more trivial quality of life concerns: the noise, the extra dust, the effects on our social life (people with small children or disabilities or both cannot access our house easily)

So, my question is, which municipal party would have managed this construction fiesta in a way that better served the interim needs of the population?