So this is the 40s

In the blink of an eye, I’ve entered the 2nd year of my 40s. Truth be told, the journey has lasted several years. 40 felt like such a milestone in my life. Is it middle age? What have I accomplished? Do I LOOK 40? They’re all trivial questions, but they let me set foot on what has been some of the most interesting years of my life, thus far.

When I was 38, the thought of turning 40 started entering my mind. I could feel the months counting down but it was still over a year away so it was parked. I focused on other parts of my life, jumped at opportunities presented to me, and trained my ass off for my 100km ultramarathon goal.

When 39 hit, the conversation became more real. It turned into a year of discovery on what 40 would mean to me, and to change the heaviness of that number to a year of reflection and opportunity. Instead of avoiding it, I took it head on and decided it was a year of #digginginto40. Long discussions with Elaine over many, many, MANY hours of mountain adventuring made the actual event of entering a new decade into a non-event. My mind was set and I was ready.

But why does 40 mean so much? What about it carries such weight?

Now, at 41, I can say the only things that have changed that I wasn’t quite prepared for were the external events and discussions that come with being on the Earth for those many years. The landscape of considerations with every decision made has shifted. Overnight, you don’t dramatically age and life isn’t over. If you feel that way, then it likely has gradually manifested itself and you finally took notice on the morning of your 40th birthday.

Instead, I look around and absorb and breathe in my environment. The realities I face can be uncomfortably real. My parents are aging so no longer am I just considering myself when I think of major life decisions, such as buying a new home. I need to know I am setting myself up to ensure that they are taken care of. And not just in a general sense, but in the details – are they going to live with me? Are they going to downsize and live close to me? What sort of care can I plan for? What lifestyle do they have now and how can I create continuity for them?

Photo Credit – Brice Ferre Studio

And what about me? My conversations have turned a corner and medical history, death and wills are being discussed. My conversations also include hard truths, whimsical silliness, and mad appreciation – the building blocks in making the vision of my future world an absolute, undeniable reality. The steps. The process. The who. The why. It comes fast and furious and every action I take is with intention.

Now, at 41, I know a lot of things but I also know I don’t know a lot of things. I’ve long learned that life will continue flowing the way it wants but I have control over the direction of my metaphorical boat, who’s in it, and how it runs. So, here I am and to that, I say, “Lean in. Lean gently but with unbridled passion.”

Open letter to my mother

July 25, 1997

Dear Mom,

I’m trying to write you this letter, but I fail to find a constant stream of thought and the perfect articulation of words to paint an accurate picture of what 19 years has been like without you. It’s impossible to express the loss of a parent at the infantile age of 21. Legally, an adult, but so far from being prepared for the true realities of life.

Did 19 years really go by? 21 is too young. 21 is too young to lose you. I had so many expectations of moments we were to share, and advice you were to impart on me. Even thinking back now, I find myself rejecting the stream of events that unfolded. The diagnosis. The expected time remaining. The treatment. The end. It all went wrong, and you were stolen from me, our family, your husband – our world.

09

Every day I miss you to my very core, and every day I find solace and comfort in the strength I have from you, the care for others you instilled in me, the values by which you’ve raised me and how I live by them daily. I find peace and calm from those very things, because that is the only way I can get through a day knowing that you’re not here.

I fear I’ll forget pieces of you, as I desperately grasp onto our every word, touch, glance, laughter, learning. I have memories but they’ve softened over time. Have I filled in the the gaps accurately? Have some memories slipped through never to be remembered again?

The weight of these thoughts could collapse a person’s reality, and they have from time to time, but an attitude of unbridled gratitude for the constants in my life have been my saviour. They provide a euphoric lightness that grounds and surrounds me daily and has allowed me to find inspiration and positivity in all areas of my life.

The path I’ve chosen at each turn and crossroad ahead of me may not have been what we had originally imagined or planned, but I know you’d be proud and happy for me. I’ve surrounded myself with the best people who inspire, appreciate, and care for me. I come home to shared love, laughter, and support from a man who is my forever. I think it’s everything you had ever wanted for me as a parent.

So, today, in your memory, I paid tribute to you the best way I know how. I climbed a mountain, as I have in previous years, and let the air fill my lungs. The struggle and effort of each step was muted by the magnitude of the grief from the loss of you.

Your youngest daughter,

Linda

A Little Bit of Dignity

You don’t see anything out of the ordinary when you look out my window, but take a few minutes to listen to my story. I’ve been looking out my window across the way a few times a day searching for a man.

Last Wednesday, I step out of my building to meet my nephew. While I wait, I witness a young man (no more than maybe 20 years old) running down the street with a full garbage bag in his arms. In pursuit is an older Asian man yelling at him to stop. By the time I realize what was happening, the young man throws the bag (filled with empty cans) against a tree and proceeds to casually walk across the street and down the walkway to his destination, as though nothing had happened. The older man catching his breath gets down on his hands and knees to pick up the cans that have fallen out of the bag after it had burst from the impact. All I could do was walk over, help him collect his cans, and ask if he was ok. He thanked me, and I proceeded to meet my nephew.

I came back into my home a few minutes later, shocked and appalled at what I had witnessed. I looked out the window and the older man was stacking his collection of empty cans and started down the road. I couldn’t just sit back and do nothing, so I went through my recycling as fast as I could to collect any bottles or cans I had. I threw them into a bag and ran out the door to find this man. He was gone.

So everyday, I look out my window several times a day to see if I can find him so I can add to his collection. People don’t necessarily choose their circumstances, but they can choose the path by which they thrive and survive in life. The least we can do as human beings is show them some respect and dignity. I am so deeply saddened by this, and I hope I get to properly meet this man sooner than later.

Saying Good-Bye

In less than a week, I’ll be saying good-bye.

I’ve had long hair for 25 years, and I’ve always said that I would only cut it if I was going to donate it.  Well, now’s the time.  So, in less than a week, I will be saying good-bye to at least 10 inches of hair.  But, that hair symbolizes more than just hair.  I’ll be saying good-bye to part of my youth, a piece of my identity, a security blanket.

BUT, to that, I say:
  • to my youth: I’m only as old as I feel and I may be 40, but I feel young!
  • to my identity: As each day goes by, I am more sure of who I am and the way I see myself is not directly related to the length of my hair.  I am a life partner to the best man I know.  I am a fierce and loyal friend to people who enrich my life beyond my expectations.  I am a community connector.  I am a runner.  I am forever grateful for what I have, and will strive to be more.
  • to my security blanket: Along the journey to the place where I currently plant my feet, I stopped needing you.  So it’s time for YOU to be free of me.

NOW, since I’m #DiggingInto40, I’m turning the tables on an action that once scared me.  I am filled with anticipation and excitement.  And, to extend my passion for giving back, I am raising funds for charity.  The charity I have chosen is Wigs for Kids BC, a 100% volunteer-run program out of BC Children’s Hospital that provides wigs to children with cancer and other serious illnesses at no charge, as well as essential drugs and feeding supplies not covered by MSP.

I WILL raise at least $3000 – the cost to create a wig. The labour alone costs $800. I WILL be a zero cost to this charity to improve the quality of life for 1 child.

I’m matching the first $1,000 so if you can spare a few dollars, I’d really appreciate it. It’s for the kids (truly!).

Yours in gratitude,
Linda

#DiggingInto40

DiggingInto40

As I enter my 41st year – first, hold up… how did I get to 40 so quick?? – but I digress .. as I enter my 41st year, it’s given me the space to reflect.  I reflect on my past, take inventory of my present, and point my internal compass to a place that continually excites and inspires me.

Being 40 isn’t really scary or sad or daunting.  What I’m moreso aware of are the things relative to me at and come with being 40 years old.
  • It’s been 19 years since my mom’s been around, but I think about and miss her to my core every single day.
  • If I’m 40, then my siblings are nearing 50 and my father’s nearing 80 – although those are the realities that I accept, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are easy to grasp.
  • The number of white hairs on my head are growing exponentially – it’s an uphill battle that I may have to give up on soon.
  • Certain health tests and risks are now a routine concern, such as mammograms, early onset menopause, osteoporosis, etc!
  • All the things “Anti-aging” are now necessary.
But, given all this, I know I’m also lucky in life, and am full of gratitude:
  • There is laughter in my home every day.
  • I am surrounded by unconditional love.
  • Not only have I been given opportunities, I have created opportunities.
  • I have a thirst to learn.
  • I am connected to those communities about which I am most passionate.
  • For whatever reason, people show up for me and the space I’ve created.
  • I’m ever curious and absolute in my desire to grow.
  • The things I value in my life are purer than gold, shine brighter than diamonds, and more valuable than adamantium (see what I did there?).

When they say 40 is just a number, it really is.  It’s not what people in their 40s say.  Ok, it’s not JUST what people in their 40s say.  Take a minute now.  Close your eyes.  Take a deep breath.  How do you feel?  I sure as hell don’t feel 40, whatever that means.  Age is just something that quantifies years of memories and experiences, the events that took place to have you land where you are today, the decisions that shaped how you currently process information and emotions, the perspective you have when you see the world.  All the while, you have a calm understanding of the vastness around you and the opportunity that lies ahead.

I’m flipping 40 on its head and I am more adamant than ever to create memories and relationships that will enrich my life, and be the person I aspire to be.  I’m not going to ignore 40.  I’m #DiggingInto40.  Watch out for me.

Live Audaciously.

20130824_132127_13Sometimes, in grief, there is clarity and good reminders of what I already know.

Ten days ago, I lost a dear friend.  Today was the funeral service.  And it was hard – DAMN hard.   I’m going to tell you a few things about my friend Doug.

  • When we met over 10 years ago and became friends, he questioned whether or not we would stay friends.  He said all of his friends have disappointed him at some point and it was just a fact of life.  I happily proved him wrong year after year and he realized that I was just going to stick around.
  • He was good for my self esteem.   You see, Doug was about 20 years older than I was.  This confused others, but neither of us cared.  He was a friend and friendships are ageless.  We shared many long talks and he often gave good advice.  If it was bad advice, I’d tell him because I knew I could.  🙂   So, many times, he boosted my confidence saying things like .. “if I was 20 years younger, I’d be asking you out on dates everyday.” (when i was moaning about not finding a good partner)  “if I could afford you to pay you what you were worth, i’d hire you in a heartbeat.”  (when i was job hunting)
  • He knew how to make me laugh.  Knowing that he was 20 years older than I was, he would pretend to be the creepy guy, but was never able to pull it off.  He’d answer the phone “Linda’s Massage Parlour – we never rub you the wrong way.”  And things of the sort.
  • We appreciated each other.  And would tell each other.
  • He lived a life that I admired.  He was fiercely in love with his wife on a daily basis.  He ran a good business.  He hired good people.  He admitted his shortcomings.   He invested in people he cared about.  He was often optimistic.  He was ever curious.  He loved his inner child.

Sadly, Doug was also sick and his life was cut short.  It sucks for him.  It sucks for everyone around him.    He was a gem.

So, with that, I leave you with two words:  Live Audaciously.

Forget the saying of “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” I say, keep your friends close and drop your enemies. They’re dead weight on your brazen path in life.  Shed those negative people in your life, like they’re the last 5lbs you wanted to lose.  And love the good people in your life passionately.

The Girl in My Mind’s Eye

It’s interesting to see how certain life choices can completely transform who you are. In my mind, I’m still just a revised version of the old me. The old me didn’t make a lot of good choices, didn’t have a strong focus in life, and certainly didn’t have an athletic bone in her body. Somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind’s eye, she’s still there and very present. Only those that knew me in that time can attest that, at that time, that was me. I think one of the reasons why she’s still so prominent is because she embodies many of my insecurities. She’s the voice of the ‘I can’ts’ and amplifies my fears.  She’s the one who says I’m not good enough or worthy.  As hard as it is to swallow, she is still me and I haven’t let her go yet.  It’s a daily struggle and a process. I am, however, aware that I’m a very different person now and am so much happier and I’m surrounded by amazing people in my life who love, support, and inspire me. I couldn’t ask for much more.

thenandnowSixteen years ago, I never would have thought I would be a girl who would run for 4 hours through the trails in Whistler, which included a bear encounter (2 bears actually) and a soak in glacial run off waters.  Sixteen years ago, I wouldn’t have pictured running my 4th 50km race in a few days.  Sixteen years ago, I was 20lbs lighter, didn’t do ANY exercise – actually, I didn’t really do ANYTHING and that’s not an exaggeration – and wasn’t sure what to do with my life.. and I smoked.  Not only did i smoke, but I was also bulimic.  I also didn’t necessarily keep the best company. You know those Asian girls that you would see at the night clubs that dated a few shady characters who were on the wrong side of the legal line? Yah, I was one of those.   Again, poor life choices.

Now, I run ultramarathons, lead a run club that is full of a phenomenal group of people, have a fun career that ties together philanthropy and sport, am realizing my passion for building an inspiring run community, have built and continue to build strong life-lasting friendships with people that humble me, and I am loved. There is a focus and a purpose to my life and it’s ever-changing and is being constantly refined.

I don’t know how it happened – it’s all a blur.  All I know is that I am falling forward toward positivity and possibility in my life, which stem from beautiful experiences and rare people.  I am continually thankful, inspired, and ever so lucky.  And one day, she’ll just be quiet and be happy for me.