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Trek into the Canyon

Good morning everyone,

I hope all is well as we head into the Christmas week! I will be headed back home to the snow  tomorrow and I am not going to lie, I am kind of reluctant to leave the sun, heat and the gorgeous canyons of Arizona to come back and swap my bathing suit for a winter coat.

Regardless, I am coming home with some incredible experiences such as a hot air balloon ride and trekking the Canyon with my father.

It all began about a month ago when we were joking about going away for Christmas (Let’s be clear, my father was joking about going away, I take adventures very seriously). We have friends in Arizona and I had never seen the Canyon. It seemed like a logical choice. Pair that with the fact that trekking the Canyon was on my father’s bucket list and it was a done deal.

One month later, we were headed to the rim of the canyon, trekking poles in hand.

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You guys – I was completely and totally blown away by the canyon. It defies explanation and gets me one step closer to my life dream of seeing the seven wonders of the world.

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We took our time heading down into the canyon, stopping often to take in the beauty, take pictures and chat with other trekkers. We made it down to the base in the early afternoon and we spent the rest of the day exploring the north side of the trail.

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We also checked out the main lodge for some hot coffee and chatted about the day.

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The reviews of the food did not disappoint. We had a fabulous stew and cornbread dinner and packed it in for the evening for our 5 am start the next morning.

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My dad had a goal of hiking the vertical 19 km in 7 hours and I let him take the lead and set the pace that he was after. I was surprised at what a fast clip he maintained and I was pretty sure we were going to scorch his goal.

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As the altitude got higher, we stopped a bit more to make sure that we were properly hydrated and feeling good but we had no real road blocks and we just kept climbing up!

grandcanyon2In a whopping 4 hours and 50 minutes, we crested the top of the south rim. It was so incredible to see my dad’s reaction when he realized how fast he hustled out of the canyon. Next stop, everest!

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I was so proud of him and so grateful that I was raised by an active father which allows us to do things like this together. And then there is that key thing of getting along with each other well enough to do it.

I have always looked up to my dad and we have similar personalities which allows us to chase goals and follow our dreams. I was asking him about a big risk he took in his business while we were hiking and I asked what his back up plan was.

“Back up plan? There was no backup plan! I just jumped in with both feet!”

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And this is why he is my hero.

Following the trek, we headed to Sedona to check out the rock formations there and had dinner at a fabulous restaurant and gave a cheers to the trek.

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Have you ever trekked the canyon?

What is the next adventure on your bucket list? – Mine is the newly added Klondike 100 Miler in Alaska – I am hoping to tackle it in 2015. Anyone want to come? ADVENTURE!

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Holiday Gift Guide for Runners

Hi there!

We have reached the end of another week and now it is fast tracking to Christmas! If you have neglected your Christmas shopping up to this point, relax, I totally have you covered.

Buying for an athletic type on your list when you have no concept of the sport doesn’t have to be tricky. I have curated some of the greatest and best things out there at a low cost.

Check it out:

1. Adventuress Skin Care

This is a fabulous skin care line designed with active people in mind.

The founder of the company is active herself and began her company to fill a huge gap for women who were searching for products that worked as hard as they did.

A small company with fabulous product, this is sure to delight anyone on your list.

Retail: Range from $10 – $85

 

 

2. J Walking Designs

As a person that probably is wearing a sports bra underneath my blazer as I chose to run an extra 10 minutes instead of saving time for universally accepted bathing habits, the idea of workout gear that doubles as clothing WINS. J Walking Designs is an adorable start up company from the states that produces cute and quality product for $55.

3. Dessert Freedom Cookbook

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Check out my review of it here.

This is a fabulous cookbook that offers 10 desserts that are actually healthy for you, providing Paleo, Vegan and Gluten-free options of your favourite Christmas goodies.

Written by Leanne at Healthful Pursuit, a multi-talented holistic nutritionalist, it is a beautiful and quality cook book.

Retails for $10.

Screen shot 2013-12-10 at 6.52.01 PM4. Smart Touch Running Gloves -

Any outdoor runner on your list will go nuts over a pair of good touch screen gloves so they can be rocking out to their favourite tunes while keeping their hands warm!

Retails from $20-$40.

5. Race Entry – 

If you REALLY want to surprise a runner on your list, buy them a race entry.

Search for local and unique races in your area and gift them with a certificate to the event.

For the road runner who is looking to shake things up a bit, a 5 Peaks trail entry would be a fun challenge and something to look forward to all year long!

6. Running Literature – 

For the runner in the midst of their off- season, a new book or a magazine subscription would be the perfect, thoughtful gift and a fabulous way to pass their new-found time. A few of the tried and true classics:

Born to Run – Christopher McDougall

Mind Gym – Gary Mack

The Lore of Running – Timothy Noakes

The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing – Philip Maffetone

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7. Running Calendar – 

Runners World produces a new running calendar annually. It is full of beautiful photos of runners, motivational quotes and facts and a space to record your daily workouts.

Perfect Stocking Stuffers: 

All Natural peanut butter – This is a holy grail of food for runners. Delicious and protein-packed, they will be delighted.

Quality socks – There are few things a runner needs more than socks. Hit up your local running store and nab a couple pairs for the runner on your list.

What is on your wish list this year?

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12 Days for Good

Today marks the beginning of a special project that I am undertaking with the House of Friendship in Kitchener-Waterloo called the Twelve Days for Good. 

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Alongside 11 other “do-gooders” in the KW community, I have committed to putting aside the hustle and bustle of the season and focus on the needs of my neighbours.

The premise is simple – do one kind and unexpected act every day. This is not just a random act of kindness, although it could be part of it, but it is an intentional and deliberate choice to give up time, resources and love for others.

Each day has a simple theme that the deed is focused around.

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It is not something that is isolated to the 12 do-gooders but extends across the community to anyone who wants to be involved in the event. Simply visit the website, click the button and begin sharing your acts of good over the next 12 days.

Giving back has been something that has been sorely lacking for me in 2013. It has been a bit of a journey, manoeuvring a lot of new, difficult and adult problems that can leave me focused on my own needs and wants.

I am claiming 2014 the year of giving back and I want to start it now. I have a lot of exciting plans in motion for the new year that help develop the spirit of giving, uncomfortably with other’s suffering and gratefulness for what I have.

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House of Friendship is a beautiful place to serve as they annually serve over 42,000 women, men, youth and children living on low income. They also give addiction, housing, family, community and residential services.

I am excited to be coming alongside such a passionate group of people who are making such a beautiful and lasting impact on our community.

Join me over the next 12 days and DO GOOD in your community. Follow my journey on the blog, twitter and Facebook and share what you are doing as well! Follow all the other do-gooders on the 12 Days For Good website and House of Friendship’s twitter feed.

Let’s do good!

Day 1: Today, I am spending lunch break delivering food hampers to the hungry and needy neighbours in our community. Although I am not sharing a meal with them, I am spending the time I would spend eating, sharing food with them, creating a spirit of equality. 

What was your good deed today? 

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October Goal Check in and 5 More for November!

Hi there!

Hope you had a fantastic weekend full of relaxing or in some of your cases, running marathons!!

I had a busy weekend taking some weekend extended learning courses, spending time with family and working at NIGHT\SHIFT, a project that I have helped create at my job.

As we head into a time change and a new month, it is time to review the goals that I set for October and make a few for November!

1. Qualify for Boston in my October 20th marathon. A+

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Wahoo! A hard race with an injury, but I ran my first marathon in 3:28:34. Looking forward to the next one and hoping to race it in 3:20:00 or less. I believe in celebrating success, but I also don’t stay satisfied for long!

2. Spend some quality time with my sister, Jolene. A+

My sister has to be supervised for all of her meals and one of the most memorable moments in the past month was the night I had returned from my 40 km run. I got her snack together upon returning and told her that I needed an ice bath. I prepped the tub, poured in the ice and climbed in fully clothed while she sat opposite me with her little meal. I told her that I wouldn’t get out until she was through. With anorexia, you need to seize little moments to make meals bearable, because so much of it is a struggle.

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3. Do some work on the blog. A

I have been a busy little bee making new changes on the blog. I had a great meeting with a website designer friend of mine and there is even more coming down the pipe, but here are some of the changes that I made this month.

Ramped up my About page and added some new features. 

Curated some of my Top Posts. 

Updated my Race page and sectioned them off into categories. 

With more changes on the way!

4. PR my 5 KM distance. A+

O YES I did! I ran a sub 20 minute 5 Km on 3 hours of sleep!

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5. Take in Octoberfest. A+

I went. :)

Ok. So what am I thinking for November?

1. Learn how to code! I am taking a course on CSS and HTML coding to help improve my web savyness and help me to make my own updates to the blog.

2. Complete my first trail duathlonNext weekend I am headed to Michigan to complete my last race of the season that consists of trail running and mountain biking. Keep your eyes peeled for a recap!

3. Heal my Achilles Injury. I have some therapy booked for after my race to reduce inflammation. I am also focusing on resting to recover from a hard season and using the rest of 2013 as a bit of an off season to start ramping back up in January. I have some huge news coming for 2014 which will require my legs to be speedy and healthy.

4. Get my Christmas shopping done! That’s right! I want to have everything completed by the end of November! December will be busy enough without shopping thrown in and now that I am resting, I should have tons of time!

5. Take a professional development course. I am taking some courses on marketing and sales for my job. I am looking forward to adding a bit to my knowledge base!

How about you? What are your goals for November?

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Ending 2012 With a Bang.

Friends.

What a wonderful holiday season I have just come through. It was lovely to have time off but I am ready to jump back into regular life and a regular blogging schedule. I have so many amazing things planned for 2013 with Laces and Lattes and I cannot wait to share them with you. But FIRST, I want to thank you all for being such supportive, fantastic readers in 2012. I feel beyond blessed to have people who read my writing at all and although I would do it if no one were reading, you all turn it into a conversation. So thanks.

What have I been up to the last week and a half? It is hard to remember when life switches gears and moves at a different pace than normal. I am used to compartmentalizing my days and when it is one giant relaxing free-for-all, my mind is a blank. Here is a bit of a sneak of what I have been doing:

Dinner with University girlfriends in the Distillery District in Toronto (phone quality photos)

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Babysitting with Jesse.
(Unlike they told their parents, we did not allow them to polish off an entire bag of PartyMix :P … Jesse treated it as dinner and gave them a hand. We put them to bed 2.5 hrs past their bedtime; obviously the most capable sitters EVER)

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Christmas Dinners with Family

I snapped this candid photo on my phone of my grandma and sister puzzling out a crossword together. One of my favourites!

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Christmas with the family

Yes. My mother bought us onesies. And yes, we wore them all morning.

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He isn’t a true boyfriend until he can hold you when you look like a cow and still be smiling…

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We weren’t the only ones who were dressed for the occasion:

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Celebrating 2 wonderful years in Niagara with Jesse

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Totalling my car

ouchYes. You read that correctly. Yesterday, I was heading home from Niagara to change and get ready to go out to the two New Years parties on our agenda. I was about 10 minutes away from home when I hit a snowy patch of ice and swung into an icy patch. I spun into the ditch facing forward and I remember nothing after that. It was a traumatic end in 2012, and 2013 has begun with insurance calls, car rentals and phone shopping. Yes. I feel a bit like Job, my phone was ruined in the accident as well.

I feel so blessed to have a family and partner that I can call at anytime for anything. Jesse dropped everything and came to let me sit in his truck while we waited for the police. My dad left work and my mother dropped her shopping. (Perhaps the most surprised of all at the latter). :P

They waited on the side of the road for almost two hours until the police and tow truck came.

And then they waited almost another two while the forms were filled, reports were filed and the car was loaded on the truck. I reacted a bit when the tow truck driver started treating my car like the wreckage it is. I named her Serendipity Elizabeth Kuepfer and have treated her like a human being since I have had her. When windshield wiper fluid hits the dashboard, I joke that I am washing her face. When she gets new snow tires, I tell my father he is helping me put on her new shoes. This car is literally an extension of me because I spend at least 2 hours driving every day. Totally ridiculous, I know, but I totally LOVED that car. On the way home from Niagara, I was waxing poetic to Jesse about how I grew up in Sera. I got her before University and she carried me through my entire undergrad. She took me to youth group, to parties, to South Carolina, to Indiana, Virginia, Ohio and all around Ontario. I literally could write a chapter on how much I loved this car, but I realize how ridiculous I sound. Regardless, this week I am squaring my shoulders and buying a replacement for Sera, naming it, and beginning another round of adventures in another “best car in the world.”

My parents cancelled their New Years plans, Jesse called his best friend and let him like we were not going to our New Years party and we all had a candlelight steak dinner and brought 2013 quietly watching War Horse and toasting with ice wine at midnight. It was a beautiful New Years, completely unexpected and opposite of what any of us had planned, but that is why it was perfect.

Much love to you all. And please, drive safely in 2013.

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Christmas With Anorexia

I had a post all drafted up for today, but I threw it out the window in lieu of something else much more important.

Christmas seems to be a loaded time for many things; our tables are laden with wonderful food and our week is saturated with family events. It is a happy time. We are surrounded by the people we love and a feast almost every day of the week.

For an anorexic, that is the problem.

Jolene has been doing very well for the last while. She found a medication that worked with her and she had been actively trying to surround herself with a support network and positive influences.

The tricky thing with an eating disorder is that it is subtle. It slips up quietly; a few discouraging words from a person here, an interaction with a trigger there, and suddenly, what was looking like a breeze slides into battle field territory. Suddenly we notice that we are losing her again. The voice that we hear is no longer her, but her eating disorder. Her decisions are clouded by her impulses.

I am not saying Jolene has gone backwards. Any recovery is full of ups and downs. But Christmas strikes a deep fear in the heart of someone who struggles with food and makes each day a struggle.

We need to find a balance with the Christmas propaganda that you will need to “Lose Those Holidays Pounds” which assumes you will GAIN anything at all or suggests that food is a thing to be feared rather than celebrated. We need to find a way to celebrate sensible eating and the wonderful gift that our bodies are. Yes, we come in all shapes and sizes, but that is what makes it amazing.

fruitThis Christmas, eat your vegetables, have a bit of pie, and celebrate how beautiful you are and how blessed you are to be surrounded by family and friends.

And if you think of it, please send out positive thoughts and prayers to Jolene. Christmas is never an easy time for her, but we are celebrating the fact that it is her first Christmas with us in a while and surrounding her with support and love.

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Jar of Hearts

Christmas dredges up a lot of different feelings for me and I have to say I am relieved. For a very long time, I have not felt much regarding Jolene; people ask how I am doing and the answer is fine. I am not lying. I am. I have had this discussion often with my family and others dealing with tragedy. It is an excellent tactic of the brain because we are not meant to spend our days in our pajama’s, eating ice cream from the carton and wallowing in our own tears and misery because that will not help anyone. So we just feel nothing but a lot of love for Jolene.

But as Christmas approaches, I am feeling it all. Frustration, anger, guilt and sadness.

Frustration with the fact that Jolene seems to be going backwards. That her voice sounds smaller every time I talk to her and her desire to fight her eating disorder doesn’t exist. It is so much money and so much time from my family, the government and friends and it sometimes seems for nothing.
Frustration with the well meaning people that touch my arm and tell me “She is going to be ok and completely healed, just wait.”
I am sometimes tempted to whirl on them and ask them what secret knowledge they have discovered that my family has neglected to unearth along the way. How they can flippantly promise such an unknowable thing? Jolene may never be healed and that is something we need to work through every day. It is like telling a family member of a level 4 cancer patient that “They will live, just wait and see!”

Anger that Jolene is needing to miss Christmas with our family.
Anger that the monster has grown stronger and she is trying to self harm so they cut her nails to the quick and put gloves on her, like an infant. So she will spend Christmas day sitting on a couch, little hands in gloves, eating food that she loathes to touch and without the tangible support of loved ones.
The other day my mother came up to me, put her head on my shoulder and said in a small voice, “Some times I wonder where God is.”
And I guess that is where we are all feeling as Christmas approaches. What we all felt when we heard that Jolene’s Christmas wish was to come home for Christmas, say good bye to us, and go back to Utah and allow the eating disorder to take her life.

Guilt because I am moving forward, living a wonderful and colourful life while my sister cannot do that. Guilt because I live for the moment where I can wake up to my life and Jolene lives so she can go to sleep and forget. Guilt that I have a beautiful man in my life that makes me feel like I can accomplish anything, that I just received three of my dream jobs in the last month teaching enriched high school english, writing for the Waterloo Region Food Roundtable and working at Alternatives Journal. Guilt that I can laugh till I cry with my mother, talk for hours with my sister Megan and discuss ideas about life and the world with my dad.
I am living and moving and I feel like I am leaving her behind.

So naturally, this conjures up a lot of sadness right now.  You will not find me in my pajama’s, face planting in Ben and Jerry’s but you may find me crying in the car or at random inopportune moments.

Like on my run this morning when Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts” came on my iPod because that is the song Jolene had chosen for her recovery song.

She chose it as her message to the Eating Disorder this summer when she came home. And that hasn’t changed, but she just let her heart get broken again.

Last week, we had family therapy session with her councillor and her and as a family we were supposed to say what our hopes and dreams were for her in the future to show that there are people who believe in her when she doesn’t believe in herself.

She responded “Well, I like everything you said, but I think I will just let you all down”.

So I began thinking that it was about time she had a jar of hearts that she can see every day. Full of dreams and hopes and memories and inspiration that are not just from our family, but our community and the world. So I am collecting them from you. I am taking the messages you said, placing them on a heart and sealing them in a jar with the lyrics to the song and sending it with a local family that is driving to Avalon Hills to see their daughter who is with Jolene there. This way, Jolene can get a message of hope, love and a little laughter for Christmas so maybe she won’t feel so alone, so hopeless and so sad.

So if you want to join in on this, please send your message to me in the comments below, my e-mail account or bring it into Home Hardware in Wellesley tomorrow. I will be accepting messages until 5 pm tomorrow. Thank you to everyone who has already sent some, you are encouraging our entire family with them.

If you are unable to send a message and want to help Jolene in some way, we are selling Eating Disorder Awareness Bracelets at Wellesley Home Hardware and Anna Mae’s Bakery for $2.00 with the message “Freedom” and “Courage”. If you are unable to make it to those locations, contact me and I will get your order to you.

Thank you for helping us believe in miracles.