It’s been something like five years since I felt like someone who’s been active. People always assume I’m very fit and it makes me laugh since I’ve hardly been doing anything since the kids came along. Yes, I bike but it’s more for the thrill than for fitness and I don’t get out there long enough for it to be counted as exercise.
The past couple of weeks I’ve started to try and get off my arse. And I am happy to report that today, for the first time in a LONG time, I actually felt like going for a run after work. It was a very short run but I was so pleased that I got out there.
Let’s see it I manage my swim tomorrow. If I do, it will have been my most active week in five years.
… and now that I have written about it, I can’t not do it!
Alright blog, so here I am. How long has it been, you ask? So long I can’t even recall when I surfed by my own site. That ain’t good. Uh uh.
So here I am trying to dig deep for the writer within me, trying to recall everything that’s happened in the past few months. It’s been a big year – in just so many ways. It’s probably a bit early in the year for a reflective piece but here are some quick updates off the top of my head.
Little Charlotte is no longer a baby.
She is a proper little toddler now at 19 months and such a little character. She picks up concepts really quickly and she’ll remind you of them.. you know, just so you don’t forget. So for example, if I show her a sharp corner of a table or how her fingers could get caught in the door just once, she doesn’t tire of reminding me of the said sharp corner or door every single time thereafter.
In the evenings when I pick her up after work, she goes round all the family giving them hugs and kisses goodbye. And when I pick her up, she plants 3 or 4 sweet kisses on each of my cheeks and not to forget, my nose too. She’s extremely affectionate with Mummy that way. Oh, and whenever we’re together as a family, she beams and calls out, “Mama! Daddy! Che Che! Charly!” with glee, as if she’s just so overjoyed that we’re together as a family. Her Chinese name actually means ‘Togetherness’ – How apt.
Charly has a little piggy soft toy that Auntie Gracie got her – Wilbur. Because no Charlotte is complete without their piggy best friend, right? Every night, she cuddles it to sleep. And she ASKED to be moved to her big girl bed. I’d gotten her a bunch of little books and her favourite story to be read by Mummy was about Pirate Pete & Princess Polly getting new beds – she kept pointing at her crib and indicating it was about time she got out of jail too, believe it or not! So when we got her bed set up, she was just so happy! She flopped onto it that night and kept shouting, “Bed! Bed!” It was adorable.
Then there’s Naomi – who’s turned thirteen.
Okay, I jest. She’s just three and a half, but boy does she already feel like a teenager. She negotiates, she argues her case, she holds me to account. And if I want to get through to her, I’ve got to be creative (and firm) with my reasons or it just isn’t very effective.
She’s curious. She fights naps. She wants to sing, read, swim and ‘spend time together as a family’. Oh yes, she is fiercely passionate about our little family rituals. She especially loves us going to the kopitiam together for breakfast and has even made some friends there.
And boy, is she ever particular. Oh yes sir’ee. She’s JUST like her Dad! Things have to be JUST the way she left them or it really upsets her. I recently overhauled the playroom and goodness knows how I managed that without her melting down at me shifting things everywhere.
Oh wait, I do know. Creative reasoning – as above. That all said, she’s such a little buddy and so much fun to hang out with. She likes ‘having a chat’ too. Sigh, love her.
Yup, I’m still riding.
I’m proud to say that since Vancouver in June, I’ve probably ridden every weekend since – save one or two when the torrential rain didn’t let up, or when we were in Bali. Of course, it helps that I’m now on a full sus which I’m slowly getting used to and really loving.
I’ve gone from rolling off stuff to dropping off, so that’s a big yay at least for me. Really want to go back to BC and up my game even more but that’ll have to be an aspiration for the longer term for now.
I also love that we’ve got ourselves a little riding group of weekend warriors. We’ve also rounded up some riders from within the office – and well, that just makes going to work that little bit more fun!
Must say… I’m really looking forward to Christmas but boy, am I dreading the wet season. Gotta get more Muc Off!
Being better with friends & family
Okay so from their perspective they may not necessarily agree, but I’ve been making more of an effort with people who matter to me.
Last year, I got to the end of the year having only seen my best friend twice -or something shameful like that – and I’d not had the time to call or text my sister.
This year, I’m doing better with birthdays, I’ve seen people more, I’ve made it to important milestones, I’ve had lunch with a few other colleagues outside my team and Hubba and I have spent a lot of time talking.
All in all?
Just a bit more connected than last year.
And the year’s not up yet.
So, more to come! Watch this space.
A few weekends ago, I took part in my first adventure race in years. Stupidly, I did zero training and I just went into it with a positive outlook and two really great teammates. And you know what? I died.
Yes, we finished the race – well, all 53km that we were able to complete before the cut off point anyway. We fell short of 7km which was the last bit of running. But nevertheless, we did it.
The day after, I could hardly walk. But according to the husband, I was the calmest and happiest I had been in a really long time. He said that my ‘tank’ was full and that I should probably consider doing stuff like this for myself more often.
Not the reaction I thought I’d get. I thought I’d get a ‘whyyy did you leave me and the kids for an entire day?!!’
Life surprises you like that sometimes.
There are indeed many lessons to be learned from being on the bike.
For one, that almost anything in life is relative. Something may seem really hard on one day, then lot easier the next – and only because you’ve tried something even harder that day.
A month ago, we were riding up to the base of Mt Fromme and it felt so steep that I panted so hard and I felt like my heart was going to stop. My legs burned so bad and no amount of zig zagging made it any easier. We then spent a lot of the day climbing the mountain just so we could ride down it. Gracie reckoned we’d done a total of about 12km uphill that morning.
Today, I ride up the usual roads I take to get to the trail and it feels like no effort at all – yet I was huffing and puffing up these roads before our trip.
I suppose the real lesson is you don’t know what you’re truly capable of until you push that much harder and suffer a little. Innit.
When you come back from a significant trip, it’s easy to talk about where you went, who you were with, what you ate, anything you might have bought.
But the truth is, I came away with a whole lot more than just memories of good food and couple selfies. The real souvenir was a mindset.
Vancouver is an amazing place. I have never seen a more socially aware or responsible society – Recycling is a big thing that everyone does and is conscious of and everyone is incredibly genuine and considerate. I have never seen people more concerned about clearing up after themselves and taking the time to give way or say thank you’s. I have never seen a place more engaged with the great outdoors. And we were only too lucky to discover it through the eyes of two great friends, Grace & Joe, who are living like the locals, biking to their hearts content and just taking in life.
Aside from spending a whole week in Whistler hammering down the bike park, we also had the good fortune of spending some time riding the North Shore with them – and met some of their friends & colleagues at Endless Biking.
Endless is a bike rental and tour company – They provide the gear and the guidance to ensure you get the most of your riding at all the different trail networks around North Vancouver. As soon as we arrived, we spent some time with Darren and Eli who gave us a clinic on cornering, and Ryan who took us through a drops session. Joe then spent most of our rides secretly progressing me by taking me to trails that he thought would challenge me to become a better rider.
And boy, did he challenge me!
Every time we headed out, I’d have this feeling of dread inside me. Oh dear, I’m not familiar with where we’re going. What if I can’t do it? What if I hold everyone back?
Joe was really good and super patient. He’d take time out to explain trail sections, re-affirm techniques I had learnt and reassure me sections were do-able. Grace would sometimes ride ahead of me to show me how very elementary it could indeed be. So I always felt completely safe and confident in my abilities – this meant I always did something new skill-wise whenever we went out and pushed myself to a new level each time. I really loved that! It just felt so gratifying to always improve. And both Grace & Joe would be super supportive as well, letting out great big woops and verbal pats on the back whenever I accomplished something. It made me feel so happy and fuzzy inside.
On one particular early morning, their lady boss friend Kelli Sherbinin came and rode Mt Fromme with us. I was all nervous since Kelli’s got really hardcore bike cred but just like Joe, she was incredibly supportive and patient in trying to get me to progress. Both Joe, Kelli & Grace – and Andrew too – literally waited ages for me to pluck up the courage to attempt what’s probably a very small rock feature to most at the start of Bobsled. And when I did… Well, I just felt I had to go do it again… and again… and again… and again… So I could get over the fear and know what I was capable of.
(you can hear Kelli whooping at me in the distance!)
Have you ever been so mentally caught up in your head that when you finally get through something, you burst into tears? That’s literally how I felt whenever I cleared something like that, whether it was a skinny bit of woodwork or a technical section. I’d quickly turn away from my friends so they didn’t see how choked up I was – They’d be cheering at me for doing it and I’d be a mix of happy and seriously overwhelmed… and scared! But I loved progressing. It was doing a lot more for me mentally than I could imagine.
One of the phrases they kept using was “Just peek and place, Janice. Trust yourself and commit. You’ve got this.”
It took a lot to do it, but whenever I did I realised how much I could accomplish if I truly set my mind to the task.
A week later, I found myself at a business workshop in Dubai doubting some of my abilities. And guess what the little voice in my head was saying?
“Come on, you’ve got this. Just peek and place, trust the rest.”
You take a whole lot away from the trail each time you ride. I think that’s why I love biking so much.
For a bit of Mummy inspiration, read: Mother Puckers on PinkBike.com
It seems like a lifetime ago that Hubba and I were in Vancouver on our first adventure together in 4 years.
In reality, we’ve only been back for about 2 weeks and I suppose this blog post is long overdue.
A month ago, we took the brave step of going on a two week holiday sans kids. The kids were with their beloved Grandparents and having a holiday of their own and almost every few days we’d get on FaceTime wherever we could to catch up. Prior to our departure, my head was in a complete mess. It had probably been a long time since I took a mental break and checked out of everything – and even right up till us getting on the flight, I was worrying about absolutely everything there was to worry about – Was everything at work sorted? Had I forgotten to pack anything for the kids? Was everyone in school informed that the grandparents were in charge? Had I assigned all home help chores clearly and fairly? Had I prepped both kids well enough so they’d mentally understand why we were not going to be around? Needless to say, I had a lot on my mind. So much so that I dare say I completely neglected Andrew – and of course, myself – over the two months prior to leaving.
And whilst Andrew was really looking forward to the trip – We were going to Whistler, after all. Mountain Biking bucket list and all that! And we were about to go see two really great friends too! – Until we landed in Tokyo for transit, I just wasn’t in the right head space and I just wasn’t that excited.
Look, I’m not going to complain and say I have a bad life and that it made me so stressed I couldn’t think straight.
The reality is I’ve got a good enough gig – The support we have from grandparents is just phenomenal and when we announced we wanted to take a couple’s holiday away, everyone was more than supportive. I wanted to cry when my Dad messaged me the day I left saying he felt I really deserved my holiday and to have a great time. In fact, I think I did cry. Sheez, I was probably crying at almost everything. What can I say… I think I just felt I needed to check out.
And check out, I did. I became a complete numbskull the moment the plane left Singapore. Hubba actually laughed at how dimwitted I was being about everything. It was almost like my mind decided I didn’t want to make a single decision, or think of anything at all.
Anyway, once we got to Canada we hopped right onto bicycles. The first morning of our trip we rode a few bits of trail, attended a bike festival, took a couple of bike clinics together and then attended the world premier of a biking movie. There was no such thing as ‘getting over jetlag’ – we just maxed ourselves out right away. And the next day, we were off to Whistler for a week’s worth of downhilling.
I rode 8 out of 14 days of the trip. And you know what?
It was fantastic.
I loved every minute of it. After the kids came, I spent all this time being afraid of the trail but I fell in love with mountain biking all over again. And most importantly, I fell in love with Andrew all over again. Everyone’s told me about how important it is to take the time to be the best you can before you can be the best mum that you can be. This trip really taught me what that meant – And I’m feeling really alive and in love with life again.
This couldn’t be just the one post as I learnt so much from this trip…. More posts to come. Watch this space :)