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106296159_598401851100672_891954685164863832_nwe have all lived amidst a wellspring of uncertainty, perhaps finding fear and darkness at the source, perhaps finding opportunity. i have traversed all the points along and beyond this lockdown acquifer choosing largely to create and live my own covideology.

the shutdown in my part of the world was sudden and extensive.  i taught my usual 3 classes on friday — adult fitness, gentle yoga, kettlebell group training — and arrived home to the email that it was shut down, as was my work with private training clients.

i spent the first two weeks prepping for the return to work. i am not sure what i was thinking, but it had not set in that this might be a longer stint than just a couple of weeks. and, it has been.  and continues to be. and the short-term future remains unknown.

after that first two weeks, i created the list of the more extensive home and yard projects that needed or wanted doing that we had not had time for. as i write this, 14 weeks later, i rest content that i have tackled none of them.

on the other hand, i have delved into many online opportunities, taking courses in the neuroscience of behaviour change, functional aging, functional programming for female clients, targeted mobility training, foundational mace and mace flow, indian club swinging, energetic alignment & intuitive sequencing, living the 8 limbs of yoga, living from a place of surrender, the flight of the swans: buddhism in north america, and a few others.  i love to learn and these weeks have been a gift for those of us who have some sort of internet connection and are lifelong students.

i have also found a workout groove which, prior to this break, had become sketchy due to my work schedule and caregiving responsibilities.  if you’ve looked at the blog before, you will notice that i have been running with quite a bit of consistency for a few months now, slowly building my weekly distances and using the running experience as metaphor for some of the personal work that has been tumbling through me.

steelsummeri also picked up some virtual studio training with Flow Shala at the end of march and have been having a good deal of fun-bathed-in-sweat learning to work with the steel mace.




i love uncertainty, the feeling of being lost. when you’re lost, you’re free.~ marty   rubin




running into a void; running as void

104701746_629725940964667_5216301799963580231_non weekend past, i headed out for a leisurely run.  i roll my eyes when i say that; there is nothing in my experience that feels ‘leisurely’ when i move in a running sort of fashion. the morning was one in a series of lovely days we’ve been blessed with.

from the moment i shifted from the walk down the laneway to the run, my body felt good. i felt light, i was light.  the touch of my bare feet on the asphalt was but a whisper, a kiss, in the thich nhat hanh spirit.

it was a slow run, meant to simply move me along the surface, the gentle arc of the earth moving beneath me, with no effort to run fast/er or further. yet, before i realized it, i was past my intended turnaround point, adding my every 7 to 10 day 10% increase in distance a few days early.

just before my turnaround point, an oil delivery truck pulled into a laneway ahead of me and then, a kilometre into my return distance, the truck passed me in a boisterous whir and whoosh of engine calls and slipstream.  as it climbed the hill ahead of me i noticed what was agreeable in this stentorian beast and how the qualities of its calls changed as it climbed the hill, peaked,  and disappeared from sight.  once out of my sight, the call of the wild fuel truck lingered, fading, fading, fading. i could imagine it moving along the roadway and i became curious as to how long i could hear its song.

there came a moment when i could no longer be sure if it was still within earshot or simply lost to me.  beyond that moment was nothing. nothingness. emptiness. sunyata.


a few days later i headed out into the oppressive heat and humidity which had been visiting our part of the world for a few days at that point.  each day collecting itself with a heat warning wrapped in a humidex number.   i love heat, but not so much high humidity.

damp before i ran a step, each stride was an effort, an exercise in squishing all my internal moisture out through every single pore of my body.  small rivulets collected and spilt forth from the back of my hairline, the bend in my elbows grew ever increasingly damp, my eyes stung with the salty fills from my brow, smudging the lenses of my glasses, my headband saturated.

my world became a soggy soft-focused sudoric steamy stretch of scenery through which i tried to breathe and move.

i thought about the sunbeams gathering in the droplets which hung so heavy in the air.  each tiny collection an opalescent prism, bending the rays of the sun into more intense heat, acting like ocean spray on barely clad beach goers.  the brightness of these flashpoints causing me to keep my gaze mostly downwards.

if these vehicles of humidity could do so much to amplify the heat and light of the sun, i began to wonder if they could do the same for the diffusion of odour particles moving freely through the air.  surely they could, for on this day i was profoundly aware of the smells. there no was wind to carry them, but there were these moisture beads — fragrance beads — to serve as conveyance.  the dung spread on farm fields, the oily diesel of passing trucks, the sheep manure, the sulphurous remnants of skunk adventures settling acrid in my mouth.

short runnings in my mind

todayrunon this day, a short, faster run in anticipation of 7 hours of a steel mace vinyasa conditioning course later in the day.

the humidity has taken a dip and there is a slight reprieve in the heat. it is warm, but not hot.  i set out at a pace faster than i normally do and settle my breath into the rhythm of this demand over the first half kilometre.  and mind falls into a quiet place and senses awaken.

after the first half of the run, when i turn into the glory of the sun on my face, i must push myself to maintain this faster pace.  it is my first run of the year where i find i fall into mindgames to make it happen, counting light standards, noting distance markers, reeling myself home as i count down.  the to-me-a-hill looks to subdue me and i know i must give in to that or do myself in, though my effort remains stronger, even here.  before i peak, i am panting and feeling a familiar tightness in my chest and shoulders. all the signs that i am working my edge.

it takes me longer to resettle the pattern of breath, stride, heartbeat after the not-hill, but it is do-able and again mind falls into a quiet place. ah, but only for a bit.

in the space of the run, that place between quiet/empty and fighting my winds, a new zone opens; a territory that has found the safety and gentle temerity to exist.  bits of my life begin to burble, breaking the surface of my mind in soft ways, lacking the turbulence of just weeks ago. it is okay.

postrunwhen we walk like (we are rushing), we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth. we have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the earth… be aware of the contact between your feet and the earth. walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.

― thich nhat hanh


dad, john cameron chappell, may 2003each year, father’s day is a bit differently nuanced for me, especially in these recent years of living with mom and her shifting memories of him, their relationship, our family.  the man she remembers, or perhaps more accurately re-members, bears a kernel of resemblance to the man i recall growing up with, but the stories she tells have evolved, or devolved, dramatically in recent years. in some ways, her alzheimer’s dementia has done more to remove him from my life than it has removed her.

now, i totally get that memories are not reality. they are interpretations and so change over time.  i notice this quite regularly for mine. as i come to understand or reframe an event in my past, my memory of it changes. or maybe it is the emotional charge of the memory that changes, causing shifts in details. and memories differ from person to person, even when those people are all in the same room at the same time. have you had one of those conversations with a sibling? like, were we even raised in the same home??

all those memes that proclaim ‘people change, memories do not’ are simply nonsense.  memories might be precious, they might be horrific, they might be mundane, but they are also watery, opalescent, runny.

in general, dad was a modest and humble sort of person.  he was outspoken and direct and was never known to beat around the bush on anything.  he had a good sense of fun and a pointed sense of humour and this was never in short supply.  he never, in my memory, did anything for show, nor did he appreciate flash and show in others, and he did not suffer fools.  he also had a generous spirit and a gentle heart, though there were clearly times when he would allow his beliefs in what he ought to do over ride what his heart felt.  he was sexist, and behaved as would a gentleman of his era – both chivalrous and quick to point out the merits of sexist roles.  he loved all of us, even when that was difficult or painful.  he loved his wife.  he offered gruff, sometimes harsh, corrections and was given to despair when we fell into waywardness. he had a strong sense of family loyalty and obligation.

while mom loved him, in the ways she knew how, she did not see strength of character in his modesty and within days — moments? — of his death, she began a radical new storyline for her (our) life. these creations of her longing were so easy for me to live with when they were not a regular part of my life.  this changed when she came to live with us almost 3 years ago, and her new updated version of life was ever present.  early on, she would try to co-opt me into her re-creations and i, not fully understanding that i was responding to her-with-dementia and not just her, fully resisted. i no longer recognized him in her memories, though i saw so much of what she wanted to be in this construction of a whole new history.  it gave her a whole new present.

yet, it is really very little of her-with-dementia that is the composer of this brave new past.  my confusion was simply with my role. really, the rewrite is just her, as she has always been, but uncensored by the realities of others. as my partner pointed out much earlier in this way of being/living with her, the dementia has simply distilled her into a much more concentrated version of herself.

it has been part of a difficult and ongoing journey for me to leave these interpretations – often pure fabrication – be, to not be bothered by the dad in my heart no longer being the dad of our shared history.

see? here i am, talking about it. still. and i know i am not yet finished.

so, today, on this father’s day, i take a moment to be grateful he did not live to see her into her life with dementia; he would not have coped well with it.  and i am thankful for the bits of him-in-me that i like which balance out some of the bits of her-in-me i do not.  i allow myself to soften into my own memories and accept that some of the choices i made were right and reasonable responses of a girl, a child, living in a chaotic life circumstance where little was as it seemed and so much was the opposite of the official narrative. i can begin to release some of this now.  i am sure dad would be okay with me finding my way.








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