Get down? or Get back on track?: Depression nearly got me

Yesterday felt like the lowest of the low kind of days. I felt like it simply took EVERYTHING inside of me just to get out of keep going…to keep working towards getting T help in school…

All parts of me felt on the verge of hiding under the covers and simply going back to sleep, avoiding the challenges we have been facing for a simpler, quieter, easier kind of day.

Was I depressed? Absolutely. Is this depression…I don’t think so. But easily see how if I were to give in to that desire to stop ,it could easily be there in a heartbeat.

As a family, we’re exhausted…we’ve been working with the school board in trying to find a solution to support our son in school. It’s been incredibly draining and the amount of meetings/emails/conversations we have had about it has us living in survival mode to just get through each day. We are continuing to advocate for T and won’t stop… but its taking every piece of energy we have.

Add that to the fact that I have been injured over the summer, have hardly exercised and ballooned in weight because of it. I just hit a wall. I started seriously questioning whether I needed to consider going to see someone professionally by mid afternoon??

But then we had an Autism Meetup last night. A group we started to support Parents in the city of Toronto who want to look at different ways to manage through Autism, look to each other for support, get advice on different solutions and talk through the victories and challenges we have.

It helped. But this morning helped even more.

I decided I can’t let this get to me. I know we have to keep fighting and I need to keep energy high to take care of our life. I need to be there to support our kids as they begin the school year, my husband, who is writing the most well-articulated letters to anyone and everyone willing (or not willing) to listen and my business, that I need to keep going in order to maintain the flexible schedule we need to access therapies/resources for T throughout the day.

I decided to try to go for a run…and then someone woke up early and agreed to come for a run with me. T…agreeing to come along if he could run in his pajamas.

Sometimes we need a little reminder what we’re fighting for

We raced…full force…fast…as hard as we could…and I remembered why I started running in the first place.

Running helped me work through the diagnosis of ASD, helped me gear up for the fight and I realized that I REALLY need that element in my life to stay sane.

I might not be as fast as I was awhile back, but I’m back.

Warning: Acting like you’re 17 can have adverse affects on your health

So I thought I was being wimpy.

We had bought this boat to rediscover the hubs and I’s love for watersports and felt it was that time to get the kids engaged in a whole new different world at the cottage. I grew up waterskiing every weekend and couldn’t WAIT to get back out on skis. So we dropped the boat in on May Long Weekend and I braved the water temp to enjoy one of my favorite feelings of all time..the tug of the boat, the speed, jumping across wakes and going slalom…ahem…wait…did you say slalom?….Did I forget the fact that I haven’t skied in nearly 15 years…??

N and her fave part of summer. Getting thrown in the lake

As I got up on 2 skis, my arrogance  and adventurous nature of youth came careening back into my soul and I somehow forgot that I am living in a 37 year old body and instead felt like I was about 17 again. Not a problem unless that exaggerated sense of competence leads you to believe that you should drop one ski the first time out in said 15 years…so as I come sailing by the dock I think, “I can do this!!”  and promptly loosen out of one of my skis…and then promptly have one of the wickedest falls of my entire waterskiing history. 🙁

I felt a slight ache in the back of my leg but didn’t pay much heed to it until we went tubing later on…crashed (in a fun, “OMG I feel like I’m 17 again”, weeeee kind of way!) and hit the same spot on my leg.

That was May 24 and when I started out running the next week to maintain our training schedule for our next half, I just couldn’t do it. Everything about my leg felt sore and painful. I talked to my physio, went to massage and Active release therapy and nothing was fixing it. I just stopped running. Even walking or sitting in a chair was enough of a trial that I realized I had tweaked it somehow and needed to give it rest.

But here’s the problem with summer…with summer comes fun, food, drinks and parties…missing out on the exercise that counteracts all that fun gains you back the pounds shed over the last year and a bit. We all know it’s a cycle, you are either on the healthy train or you’re off and with this injury I fell off…and how! I ultimately went for an ultrasound on my leg and discovered I have torn my hamstring in two places. What does that mean? 8-12 weeks of recovery and physio to get it back in working order. I am starting to come to terms that the half I had planned is not going to happen but what I NEED to do is get back on the train.

So today I went out for my first run this morning since the week after May Long. I accomplished 2.5km…

At first I thought..2.5k? Yuck! I’m starting all over again. And then I realized..”Hey, I’m starting all over again…if that’s what it takes, that’s what I’ll do as long as I am doing!”

The other thing I realized is that part of why I haven’t been writing on the blog is because running always helped me decompress, sort out my thoughts and decide what I wanted to write about. Without that outlet, I really feel like I have been lost these past two months.

I have bought my ticket and I am getting on the train (I look at it that I was temporarily in the station). The journey feels like it will be longer this time but look forward to what’s next in the adventure.

Magnum, our friends dog getting the most out of the boat

23 Years Later and I finally finished what I started..

It took 23 years to get there but I finally finished what I started.

I am pleased as punch to report that I passed my Bronze Medallion final exam yesterday and received the elusive Bronze badge and medal that I had originally started going for when I was 13 years old.

and now the question I have gotten ALL the time?

WHAT possessed you to go and sign up for a class where you are older than even the teacher by 20 years, get to hang with the 11-14 yr old/pre-pubescent, like “Oh my GOD, he’s sooooooooooooo cute” set, force yourself to accomplish endurance tests that aren’t necessary and receive a qualification that would only be good if I suddenly decided to change careers, channel by inner Baywatch star and become a lifeguard?

3 Reasons

1) Because I had quit…when I was a kid and it really has lurked in the back of my mind for this many years and I wanted to show my kids that regardless of the time it takes, it’s always worth finishing what you started.

2) Because I am continuing my quest to show my kids healthy living and next on my to do list is a Try Triathalon and the Ottawa Army Run in late September, so working towards endurance in the water fits perfectly in my training plans

3) Because I have this silly list…a plan of things I was going to scratch off before I hit’s not 40 that’s the issue (at one time, I wasn’t sure I would get past 29 with the kind of adventures I was having!) It’s the list..Of things I really want to do…to take life fully by the horns and live every day as fully as I can. I have scratched a few so far- motorcycle license, bungee jumping, zip lining, parasailing, scuba diving, surfing, Italy, Spain and as of yesterday, my Bronze Medallion.

The catch is, I have a TON more on my list and find with having kids that my nerves of steel are starting to get a lot more like rubber..torn between making smart decisions that won’t put any of us at risk, and wanting to lead by example to my children to go for the adventure, do something that scares you every day, take the bull by the horns. I want them to go after what they want. To work hard and reap the rewards. To never believe that they can’t do something. If I can get that through to them, it’s one of the most important lessons I can pass on.

I’m not sure which adventure the list will take me next but I can honestly say…its something already starting to percolate in my head.

How training,hard ass coaches and mantras helped me finish the race

We did it.

Half Marathon Start lineEven with a case of monster shin splints and a cold day of…I am proud to say I accomplished my second half marathon in a time of 2:07.

This was the first time we had trained with the Running Room in terms of the half and man! was it ever different than when we did it on our own.

On our own, we did most of our runs in the am..pushing each other to get up every one of those mornings to go forth and run. We ran into a few issues…our backs each gave out at one point in time or the other, I totally had visions of a serial killer stalking us in the park when we ran at 6am, heavy heat and humidity left us in dire need of cold showers as soon as we got back in and we compromised on distance, pace, and amount of runs per week. Our first half was in October and we finished in 2:12.

This time, we decided it was worthwhile following an official running program and training with an organized group. Our group leader was Stephen. Hard ass, no mercy..Stephen’s focus was about being supportive in that military kind of way and pushing you to get to your personal best. There was no “compromise” with him. Instead, he would drill into us that if we did not believe that we could accomplish our goals, then it was only our own heads getting in the way. Stephen is somewhere in his 60’s and just ran the Boston Marathon. If there was someone I have met recently who simply commands respect its him…and as much as he would yell at us to keep going and work hard, it was because he really wanted us to be proud of the training we did to get there.

The half we chose to do this time was filled with sweetness as the Mississauga Marathon was the very first 5k run we did last year and we were coming back to do the half.

We felt nervous but ready…a bit unsure of where our time would net out but focused on trying to run our own race. (A couple of days before we started debating heading to 12:1 or 15:1 Run/Walks…in the end, we agreed “why would we invent a new program when we have been training with 10:1 and that has suited us perfectly).We ran together to the 16k mark at which point, my running partner Jen went on ahead. I started slowing up a bit and feeling the aches of the shin splint and ankles I had been working so hard to avoid the previous 3 weeks. By 20k, I was chanting my mantra (the list of kids names I know who are managing through Autism- when I get into challenges, I keep thinking if they are expected to fight through everything they will have to, I should be able to get through a stupid run) Tired and Sore, I debated if it was worth just walking to the finish line?

And then my brilliant, most amazing, most outstanding husband did something utterly perfect. He set up our two very loud and very proud kiddos at the last km mark to get me through to the end.  It did just that. They cheered, I teared and came in to the final stretch strong and so happy to have achieved my personal best (So far!)

I thought this would be a one time shot. To scratch off my bucket list and keep heading to new adventures.

Who knew that this might actually be becoming a habit? and one that I am really starting to enjoy…:)


Trying to talk Teenage while crossing off my list

So here’s the scoop…

I started my Bronze Medallion at the St. James Civic Centre in Winnipeg at age 13. I have absolutely no recollection why exactly I didn’t finish the course but life somehow got in the way and I didn’t think it was a big deal to not complete.

I promptly forgot about it for the next 17 years. But like getting my motorcycle license, it was has been on a particular list in my head for years. A TO DO I wanted to complete, something in the back of my brain about the fact that I never actually finished something I started. So when my running partner and another equally fabulous friend decided that we should go for a ‘Try Triathalon’ this summer, I somehow found the perfect training ground for the endurance swim that we would have to accomplish on the Tri circuit…AND finish something I had always meant to. Killing two birds with one stone per se.

So I signed up. But what I DIDN’T think about is that I might be a little older than the average participant in the Bronze Medallion course. Hilarity ensues at what I am now affectionately calling the Social Experiment.

I showed up the first week having no idea what exactly to expect and ran into another mom at the entrance, asking the direction to the Bronze Medallion class. I sigh with relief and say “Oh, are you taking the course too? That’s great! We can be partners!” (maybe a bit too enthusiastically). She promptly looks me up and down and says “Uhhhh nooooo, I was checking for my 11 year old son” ..11? They are seriously as young as 11? You gotta be flippin kidding me!

So I walk in to the theory part of the class and it is me and 20 11-13 year olds. I go to my mat (yes,mat…cause young people can sit on mats for 1 1/2 hrs whereas us evolved really do prefer a chair) and we are subjected to 2-18 year old instructors who truly believe that yelling at us is the most effective form of teaching (Umm, yeah: intro to management course!) We then go into the pool for the next hour and a half and have to perform varying acts of self-rescue and rescue techniques. Fabulous if you have a butt who has not experienced any form of weight gain, child birth, age in general. Not so fabulous as you have to huff out of the pool as if you are climbing out of “mock” ice break incident and thinking really…how much cheek did I just show these poor kids?

I find it a challenge to relate to these young bucks. There are some seriously hilarious conversations I have been witness to, laughing to myself MANY times throughout this adventure and wishing there was someone there I could share a snicker with. My favorite conversation so far was one of a girl asking everyone in the class where their family background was from. As she went through the line, Ukrainian, Polish, Scottish, etc…she came across a guy who indicated his background was Indian and Dutch. Her response “OMG! That is sooooo sick! (Thought sick was out by now?)  I would love to be Indian but I don’t like Indian food!” COMEON! This is the future of our youth today?

I am now in my 5th week of the course and have found a camaraderie of sorts with the girls in the class…In part because of an exchange of discussing the Hunger Games (OMG! I SO think Gale is cuter !) , part because I know a lot of answers to the quizzes when we are practicing for a theory exam. I have 4 more weeks to go and then I will have completed that elusive certification. As much as I don’t get the kids in my class, it was totally worth it. I completed a 500m endurance test today as part of the qualifications and was beyond excited to NOT be the last finishing the laps. This has been a lesson in connecting with the younger generation, age discrimination, weight discrimination, staying cool in the height of an emergency and staying focused in managing through a crisis

I am particularly proud that I will be able to pass on this “completion of starting something” with my kids and only hope they can take cues from the fact that mommy will never quit unless it’s really serious. In the meantime, get out and swim…it’s seriously one of the best forms of exercise I have ever been a part of.

Here’s to the next one…


Injury and Inspiration-Can I make the race?

Mother Trucker!

It’s 2 weeks to race day and I have battled a week of sheer frustration. It started about 2 weeks ago. We were on a run and I began feeling a faint bit of anger in my leg as we went along. I was hoping it would be like other instances I’ve had of shin splints, where sometimes just running it out makes the world of difference. But this wasn’t so simple.

This pain has stayed and as we keep training, is becoming a persistent nag in my lower leg and ankle. I have cared for it with icing, elevation, epson salt baths, stretches, you name it. Give me something that you once heard might help shin splints and I will try ANYTHING at this point.

The kicker was this past Saturday. I had put on a compression ankle hold on my left foot which in some ways made it feel a ton better, but as we went along I could tell my right leg was taking the brunt of the run and started feeling the impact on that side as well. By the time we hit 17k, my running partner was well ahead and I just wanted it to be over. By the time I got to the end of the 18km, I asked her to look the other way and bawled like a little girl. Since then I have taken a break from running and have even given in to trying acupuncture for the first time. Good friends have suggested new shoes, others have suggested taping..I will try it all. I just want it to feel better.

I have done other training in the meantime, (swimming and biking throughout this week) but am cautiously planning on trying a run this evening. The weekend also brings a 21k practice run and I feel as nervous as a pre-teen at her first dance.

I’m really trying to focus on the positive belief that I will be ok but have had a few warning conversations from a number of friends/family about not pushing it. That you have to be careful at this point and straining it could cause much worse damage.

I hear that. But I also have an incredibly hard time giving up on something that I have been working towards. We even have a standing joke in our family that the “Powells aren’t quitters”! (Sidenote: This is something my husband actually said to me in the delivery room as I was in labour and about to go in for an Emergency C-Section and yes, I am still married to him…)

It’s true though. We don’t quit and really like to show examples of finishing what we started to our kids. I keep looking at running as a metaphor of what we are going through in working with Autism. Even though you come up to a wall, you have to keep going. If we don’t keep going, who’s going to advocate for my child? I am fighting through this with a determination I haven’t had in the past but I’m not stupid. If it gets too much, I will defer the race but I can’t help looking at so many people who overcome far greater obstacles and think “who am I to cry about a wimpy shin splint”?

If you ever want to feel truly motivated and inspired by what people can overcome…watch this clip of Team Hoyt. (Get the tissue)


Training…finding time in the midst of tired

Morning with a view of the CN tower...jussssst off in the background. You see it?

I have something like a dozen half finished posts in my drafts these days. It seems that whenever I get a chance to sit down and truly concentrate on writing a post I think is worth value, it comes at a time where my eyes are getting heavy and my body is shutting down. I’m in a constant state of craving that much sought after sleep that (these days) feels a little elusive. Its not that I stay up that late, our challenge exists between the hours of 2-6am. Hours which normal sane people would be fast asleep in deep REM mode but our children have decided in this phase of familyhood, that they are prone to  getting up and acting as if its bright and sunny daytime rather than the dark cloak of night.

Like clockwork, one of them (BING! ) is awake, chatting about all sorts of gobbledy gook, not just awake but WIDE awake which (If we don’t get to them in time) might just wake up the other one. A much worse proposition. My husband and I love to dance but this dance LEFT-RIGHT-STUMBLE TO BED-GET UP–LIE DOWN WITH KID-BACK TO OUR BED-TAG OFF-REPEAT is one that we’re not as much fans as say a good foxtrot!

You might think that we have really young kids…a baby perhaps or a toddler…ummmmm no. Our kids are 4 & 6 and seem to have been leaping in and out of this phase for their entire existence. We know they can stay in bed. All sorts of threats, negotiations, deals and more though seem to get thrown out the window as soon as they say those words that breaks the heart of every parent its been said to..”Mommy…I had a nightmare…will you cuddle with me?” Ouch! Stab me right through the heart, because whether or not they really did have a bad dream, (I had many growing up) I want to be there to help comfort them when they need it.

I am not helping the matter of being tired. As I mentioned, I actually enjoyed the accomplishment of the half marathon we did last year so much that we are doing it again. May 6th is our official race day and we are now in the high teens in terms of long runs along with other short runs/training 3-4 times a week. So I am getting my exercise and training hard for this run. We also have begun training for a Try Triathalon. This is something that a) I never in a million years entertained I would be doing and b) find monsterously more appealing than say and actual Triathalon as its more likely going to be a 500m swim, 20k bike and a 5 k run. All elements I know I can handle. Its just whether I can handle them together?

A few friends have commented recently on where I have found the time or the energy. The answer is two fold.

The time…I have a really awesome partner in a husband who has come to the brilliant conclusion that when I exercise, I am a happier person…ergo, he supports me and the training schedule I am working against (and often keeps me motivated by telling me how proud he is that I am going after a goal and sticking to it). I also try to manage runs during times that don’t impact our family as much…which is why I am getting out of my cozy warm comfy bad at 5:45am to meet up with my neighbour and get in the 7k we need to do before 7am tomorrow. Yuck!

The energy…I think since I started this I have more energy overall…I am eating healthier, I am sleeping better (when the kids don’t wake us up) and I am feeling fit. But truth be told, in the confession outlet that is this blog post, I drop the ball. I have a long overdue list of phone calls to make, emails to catch up on, taxes to be done, garage sale stuff to be organized…I can go on…

But I know for me, to stay healthy and in fighting form to tackle the constant challenges we keep getting faced with, this is what I need to do. My friends know I love them and someday we will catch up (definitely over a glass of wine), the taxes will eventually get accomplished, the garage sale stuff purged…

and emails…I don’t think anyone ever catches up on emails…like ever.

1/2 marathon-No Starbucks: Having a goal can make a world of difference

We did it! We actually did it!

At the start of this year, I couldn’t even run a km let alone 5, let alone 22 but a couple of weeks ago, we crossed the finish line in our first half marathon with a completion time of 2:12.

Who knew that actually setting a goal WITH a timeline was what it was going to take to get us there? Something I have realized along the way is that I haven’t actually put a lot of goals in front of me recently that were tangible and time-based. Lose weight, be better organized, get the admin part of my business in order, make a meal plan, eat healthier, keep that work/life balance, volunteer, speaking engagements…these have all been recent “goals” that I have put on myself that almost are destined to fail given that there is nothing attached to define the success.

So with this half-marathon under my belt, I realized that I need a training schedule similar to what I did for the run to get things in order…and maybe..not try to do EVERYTHING at the same time! I need to take ONE goal, figure out the timeline and work towards it…one step at a time. If you try to do it all, again…#majorfail…

The best line I ever heard was actually from a Weight Watchers meeting..that it’s very easy to unsucceed…It starts with a LAPSE (where you give yourself an excuse as to why you did it), then it heads to RELAPSE (where you think, well I’ll start again next week or what’s one more time) and then you head to COLLAPSE (where you start to think, I messed up so might as well give up).

So figure to keep the pressure off, I need to figure out 1-2 goals for myself WITH a timeline that I can work towards achieving over the fall and Christmas season. Think not eating all the Christmas baking before I actually give it out to friends could be a good one but would like to work to something a bit more achievement based would be better.

I was recently at the Blogher Writer’s Conference in New York where I met a lovely woman by the name of Eilyne who was at the conference to look at getting her project/blog published. She was a Starbucks addict (would head into the coffee giant 3-4 times a day) and chose to take a 100 days without Starbucks to see if she could actually do it. Well she did it…and what she found in the interim was a whole bunch of things she had been hiding from simply by heading to Starbucks. We talked about what’s next for her now that the project is done and I suggested she challenge people to see what they can do in 100 Days. 100 Days hey? 3 Months? I think I might be up for that challenge…its creating a goal and setting a time limit. I will keep you posted on what that goal might the meantime, think about what you can do..maybe even in 100 Days and join myself and Eilyne in the challenge.

If you’d like to check out Eilyne’s blog, it’s here and she in real life is a super lovely person.

It’s Official


I was going to step away from this. Between managing my business and managing our house, I felt like I was running out of time on the spectrum of work/life balance and heading back into the world of “work” too much. I left corporate candyland to concentrate on finding that balance.

But the summer taught me a number of incredible lessons and I am dedicated to getting back on track in sharing information and connecting with other members in the Autism/ Mom/ Family/Entrepreneur communities. I have discovered that the social media world can be a great outlet; An absolutely fabulous place to connect with people you might never have met; and a meeting place of kindred spirits that just make your days so much brighter.

It was partially because of Twitter that encouraged me to make the statement that I am about to make..

I have signed up for a Half Marathon this fall. That’s right. The chick who couldn’t even get past 5 k this Spring is en route to the biggest physical challenge of her life. (and aside from a few nagging sore hips) is completely unafraid of something that used to terrify me. Failure.

In the past, I wouldn’t have tried this. Wouldn’t even thought there was a possibility..but I have to say, you actually start “training” for something like this and it becomes a lot easier and more approachable than you could ever imagine. You see there is this so called brand (Running Room) with a nutty (see: Brilliant) marketing strategy wherein they invite you to their store to help you get ready for a race, all the while talking up products they have available for purchase and keeping you motivated to stay on course. We started with a 5K clinic in March, proceeded to a 10K clinic in May and were confident enough with our efforts and training that we have made the decision to go for it and run this fall in our first half marathon!

I ran at first because I was angry. Dealing with a sudden diagnosis of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) completely threw our world upside down. Navigating the course of Special Needs support in Toronto had me beyond frustrated and ready to give up. While getting support for your child is essential, we quickly discovered that resources are so very limited, waiting lists are long and sometimes the workers within those areas are unsympathetic. My guess is that they see so many families in some of the worst moods on the planet and have simply become desensitized to protect themselves from the emotional draw this must have on their own mindset.

So I used running as my own outlet to pour out the heartache I didn’t want to burden my friends, husband, family with as I watched them all accept/adjust to this in different ways. But then something changed, I started talking about Autism. Online. Getting into conversations, reading blogs, following advocates on Twitter and being able to admit not being very strong to a random group of strangers. I started looking at running at personal goals I could achieve for myself that I could be proud of and started participating in fabulous communities/hashtags on Twitter like #momswhorun #momsrunning with a group of moms who are inspiring, motivating and simply (like me) taking it one day at a time.

Small Leaps of Success!

I did it…I finished the 5k run in under 30 minutes! This was complete with a moment of hyperventilating and the inability to swallow by the 4th k…BUT I actually did it…!

I am more and more realizing that its about taking small victories throughout life…not giving into preconceptions of how far or how difficult it would be…JUST DOING IT…

Its not just running..its my business.. its working through the red tape when it comes to helping T get the best possible care & resources. Its so easy to get overwhelmed with life, the demands of home, being a mom, being a business owner, being an advocate, taking care of your relationships. And the simplest answer is one step at a time…

I envy all those moms who seem to have the supermom gene, capable of managing everything and still being able to e-mail at the appropriate times/bake cookies/do volunteer work. But that’s just it, they SEEM to have it all together…

Being a Supermom doesn’t need to be about being able to accomplish everything on your list. It’s more about realizing when its time to stop, spend a moment with your kids, listen to them and just be present. I much prefer focusing on being THAT kind of supermom..

FINAL RESULTS: Overall Race 345/1141 (top 30%)
Age 35-39 (top 9%)
Overall Gender Top 17%
In my age, I came in 8/94

My time: 5 K in 29:42

So as much as I am still not a fan of running, I liked it enough to commit to the 10K…Lookout!