Monday, 29 December 2014

Christmas with the Morrisons

This is only my second Christmas since my parents moved so things are a little different still from past years and we're still getting into the groove of what our traditions are now that we've moved house and we are no longer near a lot of our family.

Christmas means food and snacks all day
It was really nice to see my parents and to have some time away from training and Calgary and to have some time to relax.  Obviously I still had to train while I was away but I got to take a break from actually skating and it was oh so nice to sleep in and watch TV and read books that weren't for school guilt free.

with my mommy on Christmas day

Christmas day for us is always stockings and then pancakes followed by gifts and then enjoying those gifts whether they be movies, books, etc. This year my sister got How to Train Your Dragon 2 so we watched that (it was great).

And at the end of the day turkey of course!

she pretends to like me on Christmas

How was your Christmas? Any crazy traditions? Let me know!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

National Qualifier 2014

The first competition that actually counted for something this season happened at the beginning of December.  I know that it’s the end of December now but after I got back from racing my life has been a whirlwind of training exams and practice races; this is the first chance I’ve had to breathe and it’s because I’m currently sitting in an airport waiting for my flight home for Christmas.

Pictures courtesy of my aunt who came to watch some races

If you’ve read my previous National Qualifier post you’ll know that it’s important for me to do well at that competition so that I can qualify for National Team Trials and the Canadian Open completion.  I’ve skated Canadian Open the past two years and have previously managed to qualify for it without too much trouble.  This year however, everything did not go as planned.  Qualifier wasn’t a terrible competition; I had some good races, and some not so good races, and a little bad luck like with any meet but unfortunately this time the best that I could do wasn’t good enough to qualify me for the next competition.  Obviously I’m disappointed because I want to keep working my way up the ranking lists instead of down them but I’m using this small setback to re-evaluate some things and to consider my options moving forward.

big outside pass

On a happier note I’m going to be taking a bit more time for myself over the next few weeks so hopefully I can try to get back into a routine of writing a blog post once a week!  Mostly I’m just excited to get a bit of a break from skating and school and spend some time with my famjam over Christmas (even if it’s only for a week).

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Needing a Change

I was feeling a little stuck.  I was dealing with minor health issues, I was sick for weeks and I was struggling to keep up with school and then I was starting to struggle with skating.  I feel like a lot of people feel this way;  you get to the middle of the semester, you get stressed and then fight or flight kicks in.  For me the instinct to run kicks in, I want to quit, to change my whole life, to move somewhere else, just do anything to change the situation so I did the cheapest change I could and redecorated my room.

My room was an absolute disaster and I felt like it was a direct representation of how unbalanced and out of control I was feeling so the first step was cleaning up.

the before picture
I bought some new bedding for $12.99 at IKEA, new cushions, and I replaced my magazine clippings and One Direction posters with some more age appropriate decor.  Even though redecorating didn't cure me of being sick or make me caught up on homework it did make me feel better and less anxious and stressed out.

it's not perfect but it's more organized at least 
I put up a card my Grandma gave me to remind me what's important and a picture and old good-luck letter from one of my friends to remind me that there's people who are proud of me and who believe in me
no more 1D, I'm such a grownup

Sunday, 28 September 2014

An Open Letter to My Best Friend Niela

Hey Niels,

     I'm writing you this great public declaration of my love for you because I didn't get you a going away gift. This is all I have to offer you.  I was going to get you something, I was going to make a nice little going away gift basket with a cute mug from Starbucks and some other small travel/going away goodies but I ran out of time to send it to you because we all know Canada Post takes about 27 years to deliver anything. So here we are.
     First of all don't freak out. I will admit that what you're doing is scary but think of how exciting it is! When I first moved to Calgary I was completely fine until the morning my dad left and that was when I started panicking but there were so many people here in the same situation that I was in and I can guarantee it'll be the same for you so it'll be easy to make friends (you're like a super likeable person anyways so you'll probably end up with too many friends ... don't forget about me).
     Mostly I just want to say that you're super brave and I'm so proud of you and you're making me seriously consider doing things that I honestly thought I would never do.

I love you and miss you always,

This is still one of my favourite pictures of us

Monday, 22 September 2014

Mini Update and Work Stress

Oh hey there, it's been a while.  If I'm being completely honest I've been finding this whole working and training very overwhelming lately so any time I've had at home (and it's been very limited) I have spent sleeping or sprawled out on the couch getting caught up on the many TV shows I watch.

Since I last blogged I've been to Salt Lake City where I raced the first competition of the season (just for fun it didn't count for anything) and then I came back to Calgary and worked 6 evenings straight.  So for 6 days I trained all day and then worked until 10pm and on the 7th day I left for Ottawa for a visit to see friends, family, and to spend some time at my cottage.  The visit was short and sweet but a much needed break from my day to day routine and of course it was nice to see family and friends that I hadn't seen in a very long time.

Then after my nice trip home I came back and worked 4 evenings straight, great.  Adding school into the mix life became very stressful.  As of right now I'm a little stressed out and sick (because apparently I'm always sick) but I'm managing to balance it all (just barely) I'm just hoping that if something goes south it's anything but skating.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Internet Blackout

Inspired by this post (I know I'm talking about her again it's not creepy I swear) last week me and my cousin/roommate Keri went on internet blackout.  At 7:00PM we turned off our phones and closed down our computers and nothing bad happened? If you asked either of my parents they would tell you that I am addicted to my phone/computer and they bug me about it constantly when we're together.  Even when I'm watching TV I'm on my phone or computer for the entire time just repeatedly checking all my social networks for absolutely no reason.

I might have a small problem...
We didn't limit ourselves to no TV because I think we might have actually lost our minds (maybe we'll work up to it?) and about 13 minutes into blackout we honestly questioned how long we were going to make it.  Luckily I had prepared accordingly and had copied down my favourite mug brownie recipe in advance so we microwaved some brownies, popped 24 into the DVD player and sucked it up.  It took about a half hour to adjust but after that it honestly wasn't that bad.  Instead of being constantly stimulated by the phone or the computer I felt like I was able to relax a bit more and even though we were only watching TV we were more engaged in what we were doing and interacted with each other more.  There was a moment after our episode ended where I was lying face down on the floor and Keri was bouncing a tennis ball off my back but hey at least we were interacting with each other instead of on our phones right?

I honestly think that not being on my phone/computer all night up until I went to bed allowed me to fall asleep faster which was nice because I have been struggling with sleep lately.  I've even started trying (though not always succeeding) to limit my phone use even when we're not doing blackout to see what kind of effect that would have on my sleep schedule especially on nights where I work late and need to wind down quickly to try to get enough sleep.  We've done blackout a few more times since that first night and I'm thinking of making it a more regular thing (maybe just on weekdays or nights where we're both home), with that much time off the internet think of how many books I could read!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Canada Day

It's been a while since I've actually done something for Canada Day.  When you're from Ottawa Canada Day is a pretty big deal, there's always something going on and downtown basically shuts down for a big party and fireworks.  I always thought that Canada Day was a big deal everywhere but apparently it's not so my first few Canada Days in Calgary were disappointing; no one wanted to do anything special and just treated it like it was any other day.

This year my cousin/roommate's friend was visiting so we decided to make an effort to do something fun so we went and explored some of the things going on downtown in Calgary.

Me, friend, and the cousin
Our first stop there was a band playing.  I have no idea who they were, they're probably in town for stampede, but they were playing Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy) so we stopped until that song was done.

There were a lot of tents set up when we first arrived selling clothes, and bags, and scarves and things and then also a whole bunch of tents selling art.

One of the first things I said after we got off the train was "I should have brought my camera." It was such a nice day (honestly one of the nicest ones I've experienced since moving to Calgary) and it was fun to explore parts of the city that we hadn't spent a lot of time in before and I wish I'd had something other than my iPhone with me to take pictures. 

Olympic Plaza an the Calgary Tower
There were lots of buskers out.  We stopped to watch this guy for a little bit and he was really cute and funny with this little kid while he was waiting for a crowd to form but then once he actually started juggling he dropped some balls on his first trick so we moved along.

We walked all the way along the riverfront and just enjoyed the sunshine occasionally stopping to check out different things that were going on and checked out the Peace Bridge for the first time. 

Peace Bridge - a very fancy pedestrian bridge
Shot of the river from the bridge
We then ended the day with some dinner and drinks on a patio but unfortunately we were home before fireworks because we had to get up for training the next day #athleteprobs.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Better Days

Hello friends, do not fear I am alive and have not completely spiraled downwards to the point where I can't get out of bed (although I was heading there for a bit).  My last post was kind of bleak but here's the thing: I am a complainer.  I love to complain.  If there were prizes for complaining and procrastinating I would at least be in the running if not walking away with a trophy.  I complain about little things; some of my favourites are "I'm tired," "my hip hurts," "I'm cold," "I don't want to leave the couch," "my back hurts," "I'm tired."  But I don't complain about bigger things so instead I wrote a supes dramatic blog post about it.

After I had a complete meltdown at practice last week my coach pointed out that I tend to focus on what's going badly at practice instead of what I'm doing well so I feel like I'm doing terribly while a coach might see something completely different.  In the spirit of trying to focus more on the positive on ice today's blog post is also going to focus on the positive.

This morning we had a brutally long program on ice, I'll spare you the specifics because you don't care about that but we ended up being on the ice for over two hours.  I will admit that I often have a lot of trouble psyching myself up for long programs but today ... I kind of killed it.  I did more laps than I have in a single program in a long time and because I was thinking more "I can do this" instead of "OMG I'm dying so hard I'm not going to make it" I was able to do it and I was in a better mental space and not on the verge of tears for half the practice.  It wasn't any easier than any other long practice but I was just in a better mental state to actually complete it which is somewhere I haven't been probably since before I started having all my issues with being healthy last season.  Basically I'm just feeling pretty good about myself today and wanted to give me a pat on the back.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Being an Athlete is Hard

I've recently started a new part-time job which means that I've been meeting a lot of new people and explaining to new people that I'm a speed skater and basically a full-time athlete.  A lot of people don't really think anything of it, some people think it's really cool and I think that most people don't really understand it.  Most people think that the fact that I speed skate is interesting, that it's unique and then "speed skater" becomes my identifier.  When I was younger I liked being different, I liked that speed skating was so ingrained with who I was and I liked the lifestyle I got to live because of it.  Lately however, I've become a little disillusioned with the whole thing.

These days skating is hard work.  I'm no longer skating just for fun like I did when I was younger I'm training with a purpose, to attain a certain result and a lot of the time it can be a lot of work with no reward.  The only time that people outside of the sport are aware of speed skating is during the Olympics so I often get asked "oh, you speed skate? Does that mean you're you going to the Olympics?" But the thing is only five girls get to go to the Olympics.  That means that there might be twenty other girls who also put in the work, who committed to training for the four years leading up to the Olympics, who put in all the work but ultimately it will be for nothing.

Don't get me wrong I like skating, I know that I can walk away at any time and I knew what I was getting into when I started taking training seriously.  I have good days and bad days; today just happens to be a bad one.  I just find it difficult to balance "real life" (school, work, social) with skating life and I feel stuck, and bored.  Normal people my age have an undergrad degree, they're figuring out what they want to do, they're getting their own apartments and moving out on their own and starting second degrees.  They're going out with friends and making new friends and trying to support themselves and moving around the world, traveling, and making mistakes.  Meanwhile I'll be continuing my third year of my English degree in my fifth year of university, I'll continue to depend on my parents to survive, the only traveling I'll be doing is to Quebec for other skating meets and I won't have time to make new friends because any time that I'm not skating, training or working I'll probably be sleeping.  I feel like everyone else my age is moving on and starting new chapters in their lives and I'm still stuck on the same page.  I'm just stagnant, putting the rest of my life on hold until I'm done skating and then I'll be able to deal with it.

I feel like I'm an athlete half the time and a student then other half.  I get OK grades and OK results but I can't help thinking that if I was just one thing I could be more successful and feel less stagnant.  I don't want to quit skating but if I'm being completely honest I've been doing the same thing day-in and day-out for three years and on my bad days I feel exceptionally bored with my whole life.

Basically my life is super hard and I'm having a bad mental day and I want to do something with my life and everyone should feel sorry for me.

annnnd a little motivation to keep me going because new training block starts tomorrow

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Training Camp

The first week of June the Olympic Oval where we train put together an in-town training camp for all the skaters short and long track.  This meant that we got to train with people we don't usually train with and we also got to do a lot of different activities that we don't do in our day to day training aka we got to have some fun!

Day 1's fun activity of the day was training with the U of C Dinos football coaches.  A lot of the exercises did translate because like football speed skating is a very power driven sport and especially in short track there's a lot of sprinting, reacting, and changes is speed.  Unfortunately for my group though there is not a lot of catching in speed skating and every time we missed or dropped the ball we had to do pushups.

Getting instruction from Dinos head coach Blake Nill
DayDream Images
Doing our pushups
DayDream Images
One of the most fun activities was when we did Muay Thai with UFC fighter Nick Ring. We got to kick and hit each other and I now feel completely confident in actually fighting all the people I jokingly ask to fight on a daily basis (just kidding I'm still under 120lbs of skinny white girl).

Classic cheesy fighter stance picture
DayDream Images
Runner up for most fun activity was when the coaches organized a version of The Amazing Race for us.  This might not sound like a training activity but we spent the whole morning sprinting across the University of Calgary campus (and I mean sprinting) and by the time we were done we were probably more tired than we'd been after doing our structured running intervals.  All our sprinting was rewarded because my team ended up being the winners!

The winning team!
Continuing our fun week of trying new things and working with new coaches we had a session with a National track and field coach where we found out just how uncoordinated and not flexible some of us are.

Working out in the fancy WinSport Under Armour gym
DayDream Images
We then finished off the week with a nice long bike ride.  If you've read this post you might know that I am prone to fun stuff like panic attacks whenever anybody puts me on a bike.  I had a bit of a rocky start because I was having problems with one of my pedals and I talked myself down from one tiny little freak-out mid ride but I managed to ride for over two hours tear free.  It helped that it was a really nice day and also the last training session for the week.

A rare picture of me on a bike
DayDream Images
It was a fun training camp (even though I had to get on a bike) and I had a really great time doing some different styles of training and training with some new people.  Sometimes training can get a little monotonous as we tend to do the same kind of thing every week but this was a great way to change things up and refocus going into the new season.

All pictures are courtesy of the Olympic Oval Calgary facebook page and DayDream Images 
(except for the one from my instagram of course)

Sunday, 1 June 2014

May Favourites

It seems to me that May just flew by, I could have sworn that I only wrote my April favourites like last week.  I have a few beauty-type favourites and a lot of other favourites because let's be honest beauty isn't really my thing and I mostly just slap things on my person to keep my skin from flaking off and my hair from breaking apart.

Growing up I had both a pool in my backyard and a cottage on a lake and spent almost all my summer time outside so I was always very very tanned.  These days I live somewhere with slightly less summery weather and I don't have the luxury of spending all my time outside (ugh adulthood) so my first favourite is the Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer (fake it 'til you make it right?).

Can be found at Shoppers DrugMart
It's just a white moisturizer, it doesn't really have any scent and it's very subtle so it's pretty much foolproof.  I put this on after my shower, even on my face, and as long as I make sure it's all rubbed in it doesn't streak, it looks natural and just gives me a subtle more bronzed look.

My next favourite is also summer related and it's the Neutrogena UltraSheer Dry-Touch Sunblock.  I like to use this for my face because it's not greasy so I won't break out especially if I use it while I'm working out.

Can be found at Shoppers
Now I know there's a lot of hype around coconut oil right now for cooking and baking as an alternative to butter and other unhealthier oils but for me it really makes the difference for my hair.  I have very dry and damaged hair but if I cover it in coconut oil overnight or for a few hours before I shower I find that my hair is softer, shinier, and all around healthier looking.  I only use it about once every week or two but that's honestly enough.

Can be found at any grocery store
This month I have also been loving coffee.  I think I've been having a cup almost every day in may.  I know Starbucks coffee can seem a little overpriced but this dark roast is honestly delish (and this is coming from someone who wasn't even a huge coffee fan at all until this year).

Can be found at Starbucks
Moving on to music.  I was absolutely obsessed with Alex & Sierra when they were on The X-Factor US and they've finally released their first song which is quickly on it's way to becoming one of my new faves. (Bonus the lyric video is super cute).

Finally my last favourite is a YouTuber called Hannah Maggs (she also has a blog linked here).  She and her husband make weekly vlogs following their daily lives and while that may not sound super interesting the editing in the videos is beautiful and they have a gorgeous little baby.  I don't watch or go out of my way to find baby vlogs but I wait with bated breath for them to upload their video every Sunday because their videos are entertaining and so pretty to look at.  Here's this week's video: 

Makes me want to start vlogging! As always feel free to leave me any suggestions or questions in the comments and let me know what you've been loving this month! See you next weekend :)

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Barbecue Season

Even though I'm rather committed to a winter sport I think that summer may be my favourite season.  We've had some nice summery weather lately (even though it's dark and there's rumblings of a thunder storm outside as I write this) and nice weather means we can break out the barbecue!  Barbecue is one of my favourite things because it's relatively fast and it also creates little to no dishes (washing dishes is the worst I hate dishes).

I wrapped some sweet potatoes and onions up in foil with some garlic, olive oil, cinnamon, oregano, and shredded coconut and put all that and some pork chops (because pork is cheap and I'm a poor student) on the grill.

I multitasked and iced my knee that was sore (just from training not an injury or anything) while I cooked dinner.  I was home alone so while I was waiting for dinner I got to enjoy a couple of our new patio chairs and my book in the sunshine.

Our patio is still a work in progress, we don't even have a table right now (we're working on that) but we got some nice chairs on sale at target and some little tea light holders so fingers crossed there's some nice enough weather this summer that we can spend a lot of it outside.

My finished dinner complete with some leftover chickpea salad that was just chickpeas, veggies, onions, cilantro, red pepper flakes, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Monday, 19 May 2014

New Challenges

In a perfect world I would be able to skate and train full-time and give 100% of my attention to it.  Unfortunately I don't live in that world and I have to plan for my life after skating so during the fall/winter I have to do school part-time even though it might not seem like a priority right now.  I'm very lucky that my parents support me enough that (along with my provincial funding) I don't have to work during the school year but speed skating is a very expensive sport when you factor in the equipment, the oval program fees, and the travel expenses that I am responsible for not to mention regular expenses like food, rent, and school.

My first summer in Calgary I didn't work (in Calgary I worked at home before I moved) because I moved so late in the summer, the second summer I was back and forth between home and Calgary too much to work but once I started to get even more serious about summer training I was spending all but about two weeks in Calgary so this summer I'm balancing full-time training and a part-time job.  I am well aware that this may make me seem spoiled but it is impossible to work without missing any training since training tends to take up the whole day and that stresses me out.  I need the money, I like my job (so far at least it's been a week) but I worry about missing training and ending up behind where I could be and behind my teammates.  I'm realizing more and more lately that skating is not going to be something I'm going to do forever, that I need to think about and prepare for a life after skating one day but I'm not ready to give it up yet and I want to make sure I can quit (some day, not soon) knowing that I've done everything I could have and without any regrets and right now I feel like missing important summer training could end up being a regret.

I'm hoping I can sort everything out so I can do all my training but right now I'm just feeling anxious about the whole thing because I don't want to let my coaches down, I don't want to depend on my parents for everything, I don't want to make my work angry and I don't want to skate badly next season.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

A Taste of Summer

I went to visit my parents in the Vancouver area for just over a week or my home away from home away from home?  I've got too many homes to count now.  While I was there I was lucky enough to experience some really nice weather, summer weather in fact.  I went for a little walk with my mom and my sister and took some pictures that I've spent the day reminiscing over since it snowed in Calgary yesterday ... seriously snow in May, what's up with that?

Being in BC was such a gorgeous change because everything was green and flowers were in bloom and most importantly it was warm, sunny, and there was no snow.


Always love getting my camera out and taking pictures, being creative, if I could I think I'd like to just walk around and take pictures of anything and everything and maybe do a bit of writing in between and nothing else.  Unfortunately I don't get to do that and I've got to start my new part time job tomorrow, wish me luck!