The “Big O for my 3-0” Weekend

Obstacles of rocks, exposed slimy roots, fallen trees, low hanging branches and mud bogs; slick leaf-strewn paths snaking along the side of a hill; long, strenuous climbs up-hill and joint punishing descents – the Big O had all the makings of a perfect trail run.

It was unlike anything I’ve ever done before. I hadn’t known exactly what to expect beforehand, but I did know one thing – this wasn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill road race.

It was challenging, it was exhausting, it was longer than 19km (or so it felt), but it was fun. For the first hour, I felt exhilarated. The ground under my feet was more forgiving than asphalt. The scenery was beautiful (the trail wound through dense forest and offered glimpses of Lake Okataina) and my body didn’t feel like it had been out of the running circuit for as long as it actually had been (I hadn’t known I was going to enter the race near Rotorua until a month beforehand). For the first time ever in a race, I didn’t wear my “bionic” leg brace. Yet my knee didn’t bother me at all.

(I didn’t wear it because during my training runs, it caused me such a profound pain in my shin that I had to take it off. I knew that if I started the race with it, I would have probably ended up chucking it into the ravine in a fit of frustration within the first hour).

The “Before” shots:

I finished in my target time. I could have even shaved a few seconds off, had it not been for Marjo cheering me on in the home stretch. Her yelling “RUN LIKE YOU’RE 29!!” made me miss a few beats. I can run, but I can’t run and laugh very well.

The “After” shots:

Anyway. This is the most memorable birthday yet!

Even though I wasn’t able to spend it with friends and family back home, I was so happy that I did something outside of the regular birthday booze-up.

(Thanks again for all the cards and surprises! I was so overwhelmed by the effort and thoughtfulness. Especially by the trivia game my friend-since-we-were-tw0-years-old put together and everyone who contributed! It was a fun jaunt down memory lane.)

I’ve had 10+ years of shenanigans for my birthday. I wanted something that felt like an accomplishment. Something I have worked for and have become pretty good at. I’m certain 30-year-old-Carolyn would have kicked 20-year-old-Carolyn’s ass.


How I Feel About Turning 30

Have you ever forgotten how old you are? Even for a slight moment?

I experience that quite often, but have even more so in this past year. Someone will ask me how old I am and my first reaction is to say 27. Not to trick people into thinking I’m younger, but because I really don’t feel 29. So I forget! And then it dawns on me that I am 29 and there has got to be some weird time warp thing happening because it can’t possibly be accurate that soon I will no longer be a 20-something. I feel more awesome than I have through most of my 20-somethings, so what’s going on?! I’m Benjamin Button-ing my way into the next life?

Tomorrow, I join the 30 Club. And I have so much to celebrate! Starting with the fact that I even made it to 30. There was a time when I said I’ll be lucky to see 30…but that was mostly because I was tearing around MRU residence, bouncing my head off speed-bumps, riding down stairs on pieces of cardboard, lighting myself on fire, zooming down highways at 2 am in the box of a pickup truck, tearing my ACL in mosh pits…you get the idea.

In a slightly more dignified sense though (and one my parents are less likely to shake their heads at), I like to think I’ve accomplished quite a bit so far and have become a pretty good adult (while maintaining my youth and vigor with girlish glee!). I’ve earned my degree in Technical Communications and climbed my way up the job ladder (and what a climb! You should have seen the salary I settled for immediately out of college. My sister is working part-time retail while she goes to school right now and she’s making a higher hourly wage than I did back then!). I’ve traveled to Mexico a few times and done road trips throughout the States (I even found myself in Alaska!). I’ve visited New Zealand and Australia and Iceland and then back to Australia and New Zealand again. I’ve ran several half-marathons (and finished second place in my age group in my first ever “halfer”!). I became an Auntie and was completely overwhelmed to find out how much love I have for my niece and nephew. I’ve played ringette against the Calgary Stampeders (a football team, for you non-Canadians). And won the gold at Provincials. I’ve climbed up a volcano. I’ve learned how to look more graceful while being bucked off a horse (this is a matter of personal opinion. But at least I’m not using my face anymore to break my fall). I’ve had the honor of being a part of three friends’ lovely weddings. I’ve eaten a Subway sandwich that consisted of just pickles (that was a lofty goal I wanted to do for my 26th birthday. I love pickles!). I’ve ridden an elephant. I’ve volunteered and fund-raised for causes that mean a lot to me.  I’ve learned to drive a stick-shift. I’ve been skydiving and bungee jumping and surfing with a shark. I’ve learned to ride a motorcycle (and subsequently laid down a motorcycle). I’ve partied like a rock star (and partied with rock stars). I adopted a rescue dog. I’ve spent an entire winter doing nothing but snowboarding on the weekends. I’ve had a huntsman spider on my face and eaten exotic things like kangaroo, crocodile, rattlesnake, whale, shark and puffin. I’ve learned to play guitar and I’ve taken drum lessons. I’ve created a vast amount of memories with the most interesting, inspiring, supportive and fun people. I’ve been (and still am!) a part of an amazing relationship that manages to thrive, despite a crazy long distance. I’ve come to realize just how much I lucked out when it came to the family I was born into.

And the list goes on. But one of the things I’m most proud of at this very moment is living abroad. And getting my dog over here too! Especially because I thought that window of opportunity had closed and it was something I had been dreaming of for ages.

I think the urge to experience another country was instilled in me from a very young age. I remember digging through my mum’s boxes of slides and film reels she had stored from her time spent abroad. She lived in Scotland, teaching English riding lessons at a stable and then traveled throughout Europe. I was so little and unaware of the size of the world. I thought the pictures she had taken were from somewhere in another dimension.  I wanted to go to another dimension!

When I was 17, I had dreams of going to university in Australia (there were not enough monies in my pockets for me to be an international student at that time. I thought maybe I could just run away there and be the official didgeridoo player for rugby games or something). When I was 22, I was thisclose to moving to England but the job fell through. At 27, I sort of accepted that it wasn’t going to happen, so I figured I’d try to just settle into Calgary and accept it as my home (no matter how much I didn’t really want to be there). I got my own apartment and I got Leila-dog. Then, after a series of events over a span of two years, the opportunity to move to New Zealand presented itself, so I did it. It was a lot of work to get here (and to get settled ), but I made it happen.

And there are so many more exciting things to look forward to. Moving to New Zealand has made me more aware of what else I want to do and what I want to become.  I feel more focused and motivated and content and confident. I also credit that to age and the fact that I’ve experienced healthy doses of both the good and the bad. I’ve figured out my priorities. I’ve been a participant instead of a spectator.

So, 30 doesn’t seem so tragic. I’m embracing it! I think I’ve earned it.


Bring to me all of the pizza!! Plus, some Friday Favorites

I’m multitasking in the sense that I am blogging while keeping my eye on this handy little feature by Domino’s:

My hangover hunger demands satisfaction and it’s slightly assuaged by the fact that I can track my pizza and have a pretty good idea of when it will arrive at my doorstep.


I had been compiling a list of my favorite things, but it didn’t actually get posted on Friday. Friday ended up being a night of drinks with coworkers. We started at about 4:30 and I lasted until 11:30. (That was kind of embarrassing until I realized it still added up to seven hours of shenanigans.)  I spent more on the cab ride home than I did at the bars (to be fair though, it is a pricey cab fare from Ponsonby over here to the North Shore). Starting with wine on a night out is a poor life decision that I should have learned by now.

Anyway, again. Some of the little things!

  • Sunsets at Matawai beach
  • Daisies! In something other than a conventional vase (this is my Bavarian beer mug I scooped up at the Takapuna market for ONE MONIES! Er, dollar. Yes, these are the flowers I bought in honor of my dear mum for Mother’s Day.

    • Enjoying a homemade smoothie in the sunny backyard with Leila after a grueling trail run.

    • Feeling the Skype love from people back home. Always a good time.

    I was out-Frenching my Frenchman and thought I’d just leave it on for subsequent Skype conversations. (Read: I forgot I had drawn on my face while talking to Phil. It took me a few moments to realize why Quinn burst into laughter and asked if I was drunk when I answered her Skype call.)

  • Stopping to chat with people on the street while walking Leila. Another perk of owning a dog is that it makes you more approachable! Some are strangers and some are people in the neighborhood I’ve talked to before. The ones I’ve talked to before usually remember Leila’s name and not mine. haha! (I can’t even be jealous. I’m proud that my friendly little fur ball leaves such a lasting impression.)
  • The International Comedy festival was in town. A crew of us went to check out a comedian who is the boyfriend of Marjo’s coworker. He was interactive and funny and didn’t single us out to make fun, so I liked him.
  • Movie theaters with a liquor license? Yes please! (Never mind the part where I was so sleep deprived going into the movie that the wine made me super snoozy). I’ll have to watch “The Five Year Engagement” again, but from what I recall, it was pretty funny.
  • Began with a sunset, so I’ll end with a sunrise. Although it’s winter now and colder and rainier and darker, I like my morning walks with Leila more now (kinda). We get to catch some pretty beautiful morning skies. And leaving the house in the dark makes me feel as though I’m up earlier than I need to be and I’m not running late for work yet.


Happy Mother’s Day, Dearest Mar Mar

I’m wishing my mom a very happy Mother’s Day, all the way over there on the other side of the world.

I miss her a lot.

I’m always very aware of just how lucky I am to have her.  One of the things I absolutely adore about my mom is her unwavering support and guidance. No matter what endeavor I take on, she is so proud of me. She encourages me to go further and explore what other possibilities there might be. Whether it be posting to a trivial little blog, running a half-marathon, or moving across the world (she is the one that fueled that fire, by the way), she is so engaged and supportive.

One of my most favorite pictures. Mom at…3 years old maybe?

When I was in high school, I didn’t get to see her a lot. She works night shifts at a veterinary lab (with a long commute from the farm into the city), so she’d often be gone for work by the time I got home from school. And in the morning, she’d either be sleeping, or not home yet at all.

But she was still there for all the important things. Actually, for things that I would not have deemed terribly important at the time. But they mattered to her. And now looking back, I’m incredibly grateful that they did. For instance, in grade 12 I had a ringette tournament in Calgary and had planned to go shopping for my emcee outfit between games (I was emceeing the annual grad fashion show). My mom stayed in the city after she had finished work, showed up to cheer me on at my 8 am game (after she had only gotten 3 hours of sleep), then took me shopping. Not because she had to, but because she wanted to. Never once complaining or letting on how exhausted she was.

She still works long hours at the vet lab during the week and is often helping dad out on the farm on the weekends, chasing after those damn cows (my words, not hers ha!). She is the hardest working person I know.

She has only ever had my best interests at heart and my happiness is one of her top priorities. When I protest about her worrying or bending too far backwards for me, she tells me “I’m always going to be your mother”.

Yes, you will Mar Mar. I am so blessed. If there’s anything I hope to attain in this life, it’s to possess a fraction of your selflessness and generosity, kindness and love. You are the most beautiful person I know, inside and out. I wish you a very happy Mother’s Day. I love you!