Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Twelve Days!?

I can't believe it's been twelve days since my last training post! Talk about slacking!! I'm glad to report that I have been working out even though I haven't been blogging about it. Okay- so maybe I haven't worked out every day but I am trying to keep at it. I'm not going to lie, it's super difficult to keep motivated at it while I'm stuck here in cold Canada while Carolyn (BWC's blogger) is in Jerusalem and Julia (BWC cyclist) is in Bolivia! To be perfectly honest, I was on Trip Advisor today looking up flights to Cali...oh how I wish I could spend my birthday weekend there -I'd bike every day and eat avocados!

Here's the truth of the matter. Coach Chris :) directed me to move from the elliptical to either running, swimming or cycling. This was fine for the first week or two because I was staying at a hotel and they had a decent gym which allowed me to get my full cardio workouts in using the treadmill and pool. Once I got home though I had a choice between my elliptical and my bike (or running too I guess...but I don't want my runners to get all slushy). I opted for my bike. It was one of those freezing cold days out and my chain fell off while still in my driveway. Unable to handle the freezing temperatures on my bare fingers, I gave in and didn't do my cardio that day...or the few following that.

Nearing the end of last week I figured doing a workout on my elliptical would be better than nothing so I started up on that again. I also added in some hot yoga and have been doing that two or three times a week (which I love and fully attribute to my lack of blogging - I'm wiped by the end of the day).

Peace :)


Friday, February 11, 2011

My grandma the Nun

Mary Angela Kerr - aka Grandma :)

We celebrated my grandmother's life today. She had been in hospital the last week and a half after suffering from a stroke. I spent a number of days by her bedside and couldn't help but notice the name tag of our beloved Angela Kerr declared her as "Mary Angela". I had never seen or heard the "Mary" bit of that before, though wasn't surprised.

My grandmother was a nun. Yes, you heard correctly...a nun. She joined the sisterhood when she was just 18 years old. I find this interesting because when I was a child I remember dearly wanting to be a nun - I can't tell you why. I also wanted to be a mennonite though so maybe it was the faith-visible-to-the-world thing both groups have going on (for the mennos it might have also been the appeal of their horses).

She had served as a teacher and principal within her community. I won't go through the details here but at a certain point the nuns were given the option of leaving. My grandma chose to do so because she no longer felt her call to education.

Shortly after leaving, she met my maternal grandfather (she was my mother's step-mum). They were quite the couple: a former Catholic nun paired with a former deacon of the Baptist church haha. Their love for God united them and their love for each other was amazing to watch.

When my grandpa fell ill two years ago I moved to Chatham for the month to stay with my grandma who was ninety at the time. I will never forget the sight of her each morning on the way to the hospital to visit with him - she would literally run down the halls of the hospital towards his room and I could barely keep up! It brought a smile to my face every day. We'd arrive at his room and the first thing she would do is say hello (though he was unresponsive) and the very second thing she would do is write a new Bible verse on the board by the foot of his bed. That's where her hope and strength were found.

At the service today my uncle spoke of her life & their life together. He shared a letter my grandfather had written her many years ago and I'll share it with you now. Click on it to enlarge it.

A love I can only hope for!

The faith in and total love for Christ they shared continues on in me (all six of my grandparents have been amazing examples of love and faith). I pray I'm as blessed to live until 92 but if I don't please know that I will have lived every day totally in love with life and appreciative of the people I'm sharing it with...and with dreams of changing the world one day at a time :)

I'll close off with some of my favourite photos of her life.

Their wedding day

This is my favourite photo of them together. The went square dancing every week up until my grandfather fell ill. He was 82, she was 89. Love it.

Gran and Jeff

Guest of honour at her ninetieth birthday celebrations a few short weeks after  my grandfather's passing

Together at her 90th

Uncle Dale speaking at her 90th birthday

Our visit together two days before her stroke <3
Love her to bits and will miss her dearly and will always remember her infections smile and laughter.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Training: Feb 10, 2011

Exciting announcement!!
I'm adding a new segment to my blog. In addition to physical training for our cross-country tour we're also busy with our "brain" training (aka learning more about Israel-Palestine). So, when you pop by to read the physical training blog posts make sure you also check out my updates about books I've read, conversations I've had or documentaries I've watched. :) I'll start this tomorrow (Friday)...so keep an eye open for it!

Onto my physical training journal...

Feb 10, 201
Coach's challenges:
60-90 minutes of cardio maintaining a heart rate of 160-180 - either swimming, biking or running. No elliptical.
Muscular workout should target quads, abductors, and core

Weight: 132

Todays goals:
Complete 60 minutes of cardio and maintain a heart rate of 175-180
100 Plank "side rotations" (so 50 per side)
End with the three yoga moves (shown below!)

Setting: Cardio
Time: 30 minutes
Distance: 1.72 miles
Calories: 224
Heart rate: 174
Plank side rotation things: 75/side (25 more than my goal!)

30 minutes of laps

Today went well! It's been nice having access to a pool & treadmill - Saturday will be my last day with access to them unless someone has any suggestions :)

I'm not breaking as much of a sweat on the treadmill as I did on the elliptical although I feel it a lot more in my legs. My body is nice and sore today (and yesterday, and the day before haha). I love the swimming too because I can feel it in my arms and i've always loved the water...it's amazing.

In case anyone's interested, these are the three yoga moves I end with. They were suggested in a cycling magazine I've been reading.

The Bridge

The Butterfly

Thread The Needle

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Training: Feb 9, 2011

Feb 9, 2011

Coach's challenges:
60-90 minutes of cardio maintaining a heart rate of 160-180 - either swimming, biking or running. No elliptical.
Muscular workout should target quads, abductors, and core

Weight: 131.6 lbs

Todays goals:
Complete 60 minutes on the treadmill and maintain a heart rate of 175-180
100 Plank "side rotations" (so 50 per side)
End with the three yoga moves

I accidently reset the treadmill twice (I know, right?! So irritating). I always watch my heart rate and randomly check the time and distance so I can report those.
Setting: Cardio
Time: 45 minutes
Distance: 4 Miles
Calories: not sure
Strides: no idea
Heart rate: 175-177
Plank side rotation things: 75/side (25 more than my goal!)

This wasn't very challenging at all. I had to stop at 45 because of my knee so I did 30 minutes of laps in the pool to make up for it.
I was happy with my core exercise today and pushed myself beyond my original goal. It always comes down to pushing as far as a possibly can so I was happy to do that extra little bit. I can still feel it in my arms haha.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Red Umbrella Photography - Maternity shoot in Wellesley

Saturday afternoon I had the absolute pleasure of spending some time with Dan, Krista and her baby bump :)

I LOVE maternity shoots. I've said many times that it was seeing a maternity photographer featured on Oprah that first made me really want to pursue photography. With all my experience photographing bellies, I've never had this request: Krista wanted to do her maternity shoot outside in the middle of our bone-chiling Canadian winter!

I love a good challenge and was so excited to find ways to feature this beautiful mommy-to-be without letting her freeze. I love the shots we got and had such a fun time working with these two.

Can't wait to meet Baby Bergsma! Until then, here is a little sneak peak from Saturday's photo shoot.

Ontario is so beautiful. The big trees lining the roads country roads are perfect. It's one of my favourite streets to shoot on.

I love how much these two love each other. I couldn't help but smile, watching them together.

I think he's secretly hoping for a boy
This little baby is going to be so loved...and cuddled :)

Krista wears pregnancy so beautifully! Can you believe she's due in only three weeks?!

As soon as I saw this last photo it quickly became a favourite. I think it caught my eye because it has such a different look than I normally shoot. Love it.


Homeless. Bum. Hobo. Street person. Drifter. Beggar. Pauper. Vagabond. None contributing zero.

Society has a lot of names for people who don't have a home. I don't like most of them (I cringe every time a friend refers to a street person as anything that allows them to forget about the person part. Especially the term "bum". Hate it.).

I have had the opportunity to learn a bit about the homeless situation in Toronto and Montreal and have met a number of people who live on the streets in both cities. Their stories never cease to amaze me. Many of them are just people who fell upon difficult times and simply didn't have a community to provide support. One was a prof at U of T before his wife died suddenly and he couldn't handle the loss of his lifetime partner. Two had been Master students at U of T before spiraling out of control under the pressure to perform.

The idea that one would have to go to one of Canada's big cities in order to witness the problem of homelessness is obviously false. The problem exists in Kitchener-Waterloo - just drive down King Street and you'll see them. The "two dollar guy" is particularly well known. There's Kenny White - he loves to write and will share all about his family if you give him the opportunity to. There's the guy who sits between Coffee Culture and Cafe 1842 and will ask you for change every time you walk past (even if you walk past three times within five minutes)...I really should know his name by now. I could go on.

I live on the south end of King Street in Kitchener and pass by a number of people living on the street each time I bike to/from Waterloo. My roomie (and fellow BWC team member) volunteers at a local soup kitchen every day and at Out Of The Cold once a week. She knows most of the people we bike past from one of the two programs.

Well, last night took a turn of events neither J or I expected though somehow I could have predicted it (and kind of did...more on that later). Around 11pm we heard a man yelling very clearly upset and very drunk. Our first thought was that it was the couple in the main floor apartment. It sounded like he had been drinking too much (it was Super Bowl Sunday after all) and was hitting his girlfriend. I was shocked since I had never heard them fight before and asked J if she had ever heard him yell at her like this before - she hadn't (thankfully).

We listened a little closer as the yelling crescendoed. We quickly realized it wasn't them at all. It was a homeless man banging on our basement door (accessed only from outside) trying to get in. We could tell by the yelling that whoever it was was very angry and felt entitled to a night's stay in our basement. After letting the other tenants know what was going on we all prepared to peak outside to see what was up. I was really rather nervous about this because he was so angry I was afraid he'd try to run at us or something. J peaked around the corner and didn't see anyone so I peaked out a bit further and still didn't see anyone. It didn't make sense - we could still hear him.

It occurred to us that this mystery man was actually already in our basement! Why he was yelling I don't know.

The four of us (J, the couple from down stairs and I) snuck through the knee-deep snow to the basement door on the side of the house. We slowly opened it and found him sitting on the steps immediately inside the door. Despite knowing most of the homeless in the area, J had never seen him before. All completely shocked we didn't really know what to say. What DO you say to a homeless man who has somehow found his way into your basement on a cold winter night?

Questions were flying around. Who are you? What are you doing in here? How did you get in here?

The answers were a little less than coherent. Something along the lines of, "It's okay, I paid him...I paid him. He let me in."

"Who let you in?? Who did you pay?"

"No really, it's okay. I won't hurt anything or make any trouble. Please let me stay here. It's so cold out and I don't have anywhere to go. I'll be okay. Just please let me stay here!" All spoken a little bit (or a lot) slurred and rather slowly. My heart couldn't help but break for him.

"Sir, the only reason we realized you were in here was because you were making noise and trouble. We could hear you all the way on the second floor."

After exhausting our options -he was too intoxicated to go to Out Of The Cold or any other shelter and we certainly didn't feel safe having him in the basement in general but especially considering how drunk he was (with another half bottle of something in his hand)- I resorted to calling the police. We really didn't want to. In fact, I walked out to the sidewalk before calling because I knew J wouldn't want me to involve the police. We really just didn't want them to fine him.

The police arrived quite a while later and found him in the very back corner of the basement. They said it looked like he had been squatting there for a while. We learned his name is Dave.

There's a bit more to this story. I've been half-joking for the past 6-8 weeks that someone was living down there. I was never serious enough about it to search the whole basement but my intuition knew. I've lived here for two years and one night about two months ago I got home and noticed the basement light on. Being someone who tries to conserve energy I wanted to turn it off. You know that feeling when you're a little kid and you run up the basement stairs because you're afraid *something* might get you even though you know nothing is there? That's the same feeling I had that day - I was afraid to go in because I just knew someone was down there. I dismissed my fear because I "knew" nobody was really down there...but I couldn't shake it. I was nervous to open the door and turn out the light even though the switch is right inside. I had never had this feeling with this basement before. From then until now, every time I came home at night the light was on and I wondered.

So where do we go from here? The police took him to detox and then he'll just be out there again, living on the streets of our city. He has no community to support and lift him up in this difficult time. Meanwhile, we have an empty room with a mattress and blankets made available to strangers regularly Granted, they're couch surfers who quickly become friends but they are strangers to begin none-the-less.

I can't help but wonder, "Why not invite him to stay here?"

My logic answers, "Because he has a problem with alcohol and anger and so it wouldn't be safe".

"Since when do I life a safe life though?" I challenge back. "I want to move to one of the most heated conflict areas in the world (this week in particular my heart has been aching to go back to Jerusalem). I lived through a rocket attack in Israel/Egypt last summer (okay so I didn't even realize it was going on at the time...but I heard it and dismissed it for something not dangerous :p ). I'm bravely biking across Canada in the face of a lot of opposition (including from our current government) and expect to face loads of challenging situations. None of this is really all that safe by society's standards."

Logic interrupts, not missing a beat: "Safe and street smart are two different things."

I invite your thoughts on this.

Want to DO something?
Consider joining your family and friends February 26th in the Coldest Night of the Year, a 10km fundraising walk in support of the hungry, homeless and hurting. Taking place in Toronto & Waterloo.

Google "homeless blog" or other things along those lines and you'll find loads of interesting reading material.

Here are some services provided in our area:
Food Bank Of Waterloo Region
House of Friendship - Men's Hostel
Marys Place - Women's Hostel
Supportive Housing of Waterloo
Homelessness And Housing Umbrella Group (HHUG)
Supportive Housing Of Waterloo
Homelessness in Waterloo Region

Friday, February 4, 2011

Training: Feb 04, 2011

Where have I been?!
I've been away from my elliptical this week. I was pulled out of town for most of the week due to a family emergency. While away I was able to continue with my muscular workouts and pushed those a bit harder since I couldn't do my 60 mins of cardio. 

Feb 5, 2011

Coach's challenges:
60 minutes of cardio maintaining a heart rate of 160-180
Muscular workout should target quads, abductors, and core

Weight: 133.6 lbs

Todays goals:
Complete 60 minutes on my elliptical and maintain a heart rate of 165-170
100 Plank "side rotations" (so 50 per side)
End with the three yoga moves

Setting: Cross-training
Time: 55 minutes
Distance: 4 something (note book isn't here)
Calories: 400 something
Strides: ?
Heart rate: 167-172 for most of it. last 15 minutes were between 161 and 167

After being away from my cardio for a few days I definitely felt it. Although, I also didn't eat before working out and I know that made a difference too. I pushed myself pretty hard today though, and by the end I was done (cut it 5 minutes short for the first time ever...boo). While I was away this week I focused on my quads and core as requested by the coach so while I was doing cardio today my quads were begging me to stop haha. I pushed through though and did the best I could.

My main thought WHILE I'm working out is "could I go any harder right now?" and usually the answer is "yes" so I push my self as hard as I can for that time. I know that near the end I won't be able to push as hard as at the beginning but if I'm always pushing my hardest I know I'll see the results I'm looking for.