more than just a race

i trained and finished my first half marathon last weekend and for me, it was a big moment. despite all of the pains of my training - from the getting up to go for a run to the actual physical pain on my joints, i am so happy that i’ve done it, been through it, and survived. the last three months of running went by so quickly and race day just came and went but the journey was more than three months in the making.

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the race is a proud moment for me, just to finish and go through it but even more than that, it was a freeing moment in my life. the last 6 years of my life were defined by my job - a job that i loved and helped teach and shape me to become who i am - but it defined me and my life and i didn’t fully realize it and what it meant.

when i signed up for the half, it was something that was truly selfish in every part of it and not something i was familiar with. it was selfish in that, it only effected me and i was the only contributing factor to this. i didn’t have to consult my work schedule and calendar - only mine and i was able to plan and schedule for me. and finishing the race was that moment for me that i appreciate all these things in my life that are for me.

beyond that, i am so lucky to have such an amazing support system of friends in my life that get up early on a sunday to hold my wallet and make signs to watch me cross the finish line. i am more grateful than ever to have these people in my life and at every point of the course when i saw someone there, i got a little less tired and little more motivated to keep going to the finish line.

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having them there and seeing them at the finish line, i am so blessed to have them in my life and to have my life. who knew running a race could mean so much and make me so reflective.

i can’t say enough thank you. thank you.

when do you know?

as someone who’s never been very athletically inclined, i still have a hard time calling myself an athlete or a runner… which brings me to something i’ve been teeter-tottering with for the last couple of weeks.

i’ve been training for my first half marathon and running regularly at least twice a week for the past 6 weeks now but i still don’t know if i would call myself a runner. at what point am i considered a runner? i guess it is subjective but since i started training, i keep thinking about that and where i fit in with that definition. and i still don’t have an answer - is there one?

i talk like a runner with my runs and my knee problems but i still feel like a poser and that if i called myself a runner, i’m not even fully convinced of it myself.

so when does it happen that i become a runner?

confessions of a new yogi… in a yogi world

About six months ago, I decided I needed a change - i knew I needed a change. Just over a month ago now, that change happened.

My world for the last six years was changing and I was about to enter into something new for me and I was excited. But I was petrified. This is the first time I’ve made a career change and since I’ve got nothing else to compare to it, I’m going to say that it’s huge - career changes are huge. Everything is scary at this point but no matter all of the emotions I was going through - and I mean all the emotions, there wasn’t anything I wasn’t feeling - I was completely certain of my decision and of the change, there were no doubts in my mind. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I was no longer going to be the expert at what I do, I no longer had all my relationships I’ve built, I was going into a world that was unfamiliar… a world of yoga.

And so, I put on big girl pants (my stretchy big girl pants) and stopped being so scared of what was on the other side of the door. My new job and a building full of yogis awaited me and I couldn’t wait.

Luckily for me, I wasn’t the only yoga rookie and grateful for my dance and cheer background that I think I was able to fake my way through my first hatha class (I didn’t know it was hatha at the time) - at least that’s what I think. Meanwhile, the reality is that I looked around at everyone else and did as they did as the teacher said poses and words I didn’t understand. I’ve been forewarned about the downward dog but no one told me about vinyasa or savasana - what!?. Regardless, I survived and dare I say, is it too soon, too corny to say I loved it? Well, I did.

Now, I only have a whole world of yoga to explore, that’s all… and not any one of them are less intimidating.

This is it…

It became official two weeks ago but only today did it feel real. I went into the office for the last time, where it’s going to be my office and already half empty, it already looked depleted and sad. Today, as I cleared out the rest of the six years that accumulated in that space, it hit me that this is really happening - not that I ever thought it wasn’t.

I have spent more time inside those walls than in own house - that pretty much was my home. I had a blanket, “slippers” (office flip flops), my mug, and most importantly the people, my family that filled it. Trying to “pack up” six years in two weeks isn’t easy and went by in a blur. Today six years of history is shoved into bags that I don’t have room for in my house.

I’ve done a lot of growing up in those years and in that building, with those people. They’ve seen me change and we’ve all changed and grown together. I got my braces off, graduated from college, got bangs, and travelled the world in that time.

More than anything, last night made me realize how incredibly lucky and blessed I am and that no matter how articulate I am behind my veil of tears right now, I can never express how great of people I have in my life. The support of those people, my friends can never be equaled by any amount of money or value of things and I never say it enough but THANK YOU THANK YOU. To have people like you is unmatched by anything else. And as great as most my memories are, they weren’t always the good ones that I remember and I will miss being there and sharing more moments (good and bad) with you everyday.

As the feeling of this reality hits me and my sadness overcomes me, my excitement is for change and a new beginning is as overwhelming. I am so excited and scared of the new but because it’s unknown and everything we do is scary until we do it (and sometimes, still scary even after you do it - re: tower of terror). My friend reminded me yesterday that I am braver than I realize and that I do things that scare me and I always come out on the other side, even stronger and better for it. And I take comfort in that.

In a much simpler way to put it, one of my favourite movies said it best: “I must have done something good”.

Thank you,
Summer xox

My nerdy Saturday afternoon at chapters #funtimes

Reflections on the time of my life

It’s been just over a month now that I’ve been home from the trip of a lifetime and I miss it and think about it everyday.

I was only in St. Lucia for a much too short two weeks but it really made such an impact to me and in a way that I hope is forever and not just because for right now, still in my mind. As my friends ask me about my trip and I tell them, my favourite part was the kids and how they’re always smiling and laughing and holding your hands somehow fulfills something for them that I could never even imagine. And corny as it may sound, it’s the truth and more than I could’ve asked for. (warning more corny stuff on the way).

As I try to describe my experience, I did a very poor job of really showing them what my time there was like because it’s beyond words. There are none to do it justice. If you’ve been there, you know and I think that’s really the only way to know. The kids and the Zulu communities touched my life in a way I didn’t think would happen. As a very city girl, life in a small small town didn’t seem like something I could adjust to but I did, faster than I ever imagined and leaving was harder for me to adjust to than I thought, especially since I grew up in a big city and I’ve known city life for much longer than I was in the small town.

When I first started planning for the trip and then it was going to happen, everyone told me it was going to change me and that I’m going to come home different. I just nodded and smiled. I’ve grown up with a lot of luxuries, spoiled and privelged in many ways and I was skeptical that I would change because I’m also stubborn and love my hair straightener. And to my surprise, probably more surprised than anyone else, in less two weeks, I felt the change. I’m not sure I can describe the change but whatever it is, it makes me a happier, more likeable person (at least I hope) and anytime I forget and when I get frustrated at work, I just think back to the faces that made me smile because looking at those faces, you can’t do anything but. And I adjusted to wet, crazy hair too - life does go on without a hair straightener as it happens (but I was very excited when I found a hair dryer to borrow).

It was the kids, the community, the amazing people who gave their time to the projects and who I lived with, the great staff, who made my time there so easy, and the beautiful country of South Africa that truly show the potential of the world working together and I feel so blessed and lucky to have been part of it, if even for a short while.

So, despite just two weeks (not enough time), I hope I was able to do something for them because they did a lot for me.

Just me and Hopper

This is one of the day I’ve been waiting for since I booked this months ago.

I knew that there were penguins in South Africa and I knew that there were some at the aquarium so naturally, as I was doing my research I came across the Penguin Encounter at the Two Oceans Aquarium. I knew I get to interact with them and learn more about the penguins but I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect or what exactly was going to happen but I wasn’t too bothered, I was too excited. I really was like a child.

I was taken into a back door (dodgy, right?!) and brought into the Penguins environment. I was surprised that I was in there, where the penguins just walk around. Shernette was the trainer that sat with me through the experience. She said that the penguins are not really afraid of people any more and but like people, they are also moody and sometimes aren’t super friendly or social, so if they don’t come up to me right away, it’s normal and sometimes, they don’t even go up to people, if they’re in a really bad mood.

Within minutes of sitting down, Hopper and Nikki got out of the water and started walking towards me. Hopper jumped up on my lap within minutes and it startled me and I was a little apprehensive at first, I think that’s fair, but started to feel comfortable and LOVED every moment of it. I can’t believe I had a penguin on my lap! Their “fur”/”skin” wasn’t as smooth as they seem, if you go against the grain, it was slightly prickly but very smooth when you went with the grain. The fin was very hard and smooth. The whole experience was surreal. Pinch me now.

For our last night, we ventured down Long Street and ended our night at Mama Africa’s for some African food and live music.

I decided I wanted to be more adventurist with eating and try some traditional foods so what better place than here and on my last night? I kept seeing chicken livers everywhere on menus for whatever reason and soeke is a Cape Town specialty so I decided I had to try it. They’re not as scary as they sound and actually were quite tasty. I’d probably do it again.

The band was amazing. They were so talented in a way that is so hard to describe without being there to experience it - and experience is the perfect word because it really was and they were so good.

It was a perfect way to finish off the African adventure.

Time for wine

Courtney and Terry got into Cape Town last night and had an early start this morning as we picked them up for our wine tour.

We got into the first tasting at around 10am and we’re left to wonder… is there a “too early” for wine? Well, when we’re on vacation, apparently not… While in Cape Town…

The first tastings we did were from Zevenwacht in Stellenbosch, where we also had a cheese tasting and tour of the wine cellar.

We also visited Tokara in Stellenbosch that Basil, our guide, said was a special stop - it’s an extra tasting that wasn’t actually included in the tour but good thing. I fell in love with the Chenin Blanc and couldn’t pass up bringing that home with me, so I didn’t.

Off to Franschoek to Rickety Bridge winery for lunch and a tasting. The leek and potato soup I had was unbelievable. I’m not sure what they put in there but it was one of the tastiest things I’ve eaten and it’s only just soup but it was so good. Probably the best thing I tasted there.

On the way to Paarl, we passed by Victor Verstor prison, where Nelson Mandela was transferred to for the last two years of his sentence.

Final wine tasting at Laborie in Paarl.

Sightseeing in Cape Town

Back on the bus this morning for a day of sightseeing around the city. First stop: Castle of Good Hope.

I walked around the castle and looked at the architecture of it all and took in some of the history of it and then headed out to the next stop. However, along the way, I got distracted by Mr. Price and not surprisingly did a quick shopping stop. Back on the bus for stops in Kirstenbosch and Constantia vineyard.

The tour ended with a stop at Mariners Wharf, where I stopped for a Magnum (which I hadn’t had since St. Lucia) and a walk around the wharf. There were some boutiques and restaurants and a man doing tricks and feeding the seals in the water.

Watched the sunset from the deck in my hotel room and ended with a catchup with Suzanne.

awesome day

Have you had one of those days where things just work out? Well, I just did.

Today was supposed to be my Robben Island day but when I left the hotel, it started raining and when the weather is bad, the ferries don’t run so I was so worried that it would get cancelled. When I arrived to the waterfront, it cleared right up and the sun came out so I breathed a sigh of relief.

The tour was exactly as I had hoped and it was very overwhelming and emotional being there. It was exactly as Nelson Mandela described in his book. The ferry ride on the way there felt like an eternity and it was soo cold but I just sang the tune of the Nelson Mandela song that I learned in St. Lucia and it warmed my heart slightly (cheesy, I know). A former prisoner was our tour guide around the prison and he would tell us stories of his time and that is something I would never get to experience that again, that’s for sure. Seeing the prison was an experience and then seeing Nelson Mandela’s cell was so crazy to me. I had pictured this for so long and this has been on my checklist for a long time now and having it become real is unreal to me. I still can’t believe this happened today. I loved it and I’m so glad I was able to do it.

I went on the hop on hop off bus today to help me get a lay of the land but because I didn’t get back from Robben Island until later in the afternoon, I had to slightly rush but it wasn’t too bad. I got to see the city and visit the District 6 hotel, which is a very cool experience and quite emotional in itself as well.

Already a great day but I topped it off with a fantastic (slightly overpriced) restaurant, Nobu. He’s kind of a big deal and when I found out there was one in Cape Town, I had to visit. And to finish my already amazing day with sushi, no better way. It was completely empty when I got there, just before 7 so I sat at the sushi bar with the chefs and then started chatting to them. I loved watching them make the sushi and having them keep me company. The food was so good and the experience being at ths sushi bar was unforgettable. I had so much fun tonight and the whole restaurant was so accommodating with me and treated me so well.

Perfect way to end off a great day. Hoping for a repeat tomorrow (and I get to see Suzanne!!)