50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #50 – Turn 50 with a smile

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heads up! this is what 50 looks like

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My shadow turned 50 too!

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MUST HAVE CUPCAKES!

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50 Orange Tulips – my favourite flowers from some of my favourite friends

7:10 pm, February 24, 2016

I am officially 50.

A lot of people were asking me what #50 would be. I’ve known for a few months but I kept it pretty quiet. I think a lot of people were expecting something really crazy, like jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. No such luck. The craziest thing I have done is turn 50 with a smile on my face. The whole reason for this crazy year was to not cower from a number or let it define me. Instead, I would redefine myself and hit the age of 50 head on and hard, holding nothing back. I’m pretty sure “50” never knew what hit it after this year.

I think I can pretty safely say I did that. I woke up this morning, 50, and smiled. I thought about the year, and the things I’ve accomplished up to now and I was proud. I have more to do, but now I’m saying yes to adventure more and I’m watching as my life gets bigger while before it was starting to get smaller.

I have a group of amazing people around me – people who lift each other up instead of cutting each other down. This is contagious. I feel lifted up and I lift those around me. I have tested my fears and, maybe not defeated, but I’ve acknowledged them and nudged them to make them smaller. I have done things that are heartfelt, frightening, sad, silly, impulsive, creative, and out of my norm. It’s been an excellent year.

The whole purpose, though, was to hit 50 with a grin on my face and a life that is expanding rather than contracting. I think I’ve accomplished this and more. In a few days I’ll do a recap of the year.

For now, though, I’m going to have a glass of wine with my mom – best roommate ever. I celebrate my birthday today but I always remember it’s Mother’s Day to her. 50 years ago we were in Meadow Lake, SK, and our adventure together was just beginning. I believe I hear the sound of wine being poured and we will be watching Thor tonight because it’s one of the many things we love to do together.

Happy birthday, to me!

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Me and my mom, Norma Giles – love her to the moon and back!

 

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50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #49 – Self portrait

I thought for a long time about what a self portrait would look like and I never really came to a solid conclusion. In reality, it would be who I am in the moment – writer, skier, runner, friend, dreamer, chef (occasionally)… so there is no one image that would actually define me. This was very interesting. I wanted to do a self portrait that was the most me and for today, on my 50th birthday, this is what it is. I wanted to take it today as a record. I might take another one next year and see who I am then.

Right now I feel quiet, creative, light, layered.

Why was this crazy?

How often do any of us put the thought into who we are in a given moment and then act on it. This didn’t take long to take, but it took months of consideration. It’s not the prettiest, or technically the best photo … but it’s who I am in this moment.

Would I do it again?

I think I have to.

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Self portrait, February 24, 2016

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #48 – Take a selfie a day

I wanted a different way to document the year so I decided to take a selfie a day for the entire year. I’m happy to say I only missed 6 days because I was busy and forgot. I had a daily reminder set on my phone but most of the time I managed to get it done before the reminder went off. Most of the pictures here are in no particular order, but some I’ve pulled out for special mention.

I wanted to do this because I hate having my picture taken so I wanted to desensitize myself to it. That worked – by the end I really didn’t care how I looked and some of them definitely reflect that attitude. What I noticed, going through my selfie folder today was how much time I spend with certain people in my life. Jody is there at least once a week – she’s either running or skiing with me on Sundays and has done a bunch of my crazy things with me. Monica, Krista, and a few other people show up a lot too. I also noticed how often I really did forget – there are a lot of pajama shots because my alarm went off at 8pm every night. Also, I spent a lot of time bored and waiting in traffic lineups thanks to the bridge resurfacing that happened last year. That was often when I remembered to do the selfie. When I did something special or was with other people I tried to do a selfie that reflected what I was doing. A lot of them, though, are either driving or in pajamas.

 

The other things I noticed were that I, like probably everyone else, have days where I think I look awesome and days when I just cringe. They’re all valid and don’t really say anything about me at all. There were a lot of days when I made dorky faces. One night I didn’t remember until 11pm and reached over to my night table, held my phone up and snapped it while I was half asleep. I started to care less and less about my image and started to see joy in the images that weren’t ‘perfect’. This was a great thing for me to do on so many levels and I’m really glad I did it. I’m only including a few here but there really are 359 in that folder!

Why was this crazy?

It was a project that took a whole year and I had to be persistent and disciplined. It was actually harder than it seems and there was more than one day when I was inwardly grumbling about it.

Would I do it again?

Yes, I might just keep doing it. I like the idea of documenting the time.

 

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #47 – Photograph star trails

This was one of the crazy things that was weather dependent and I wasn’t sure I was going to get to do it in time. I’ve wanted to photograph star trails for a long time but I lacked the proper equipment (still do), a truck to get me away from lights of the city (still do), the ability to stay up late at night (still do), time, and clear night skies. Star trails are the night photos you see with circles of light (the trails of the stars over time) racing around the sky. They actually aren’t one long exposure photo. They are tens, often hundreds, of photos layered on top of each other to show the movement of the earth.

Kamloops has been drowning in fog and clouds at night in the last few months, although if I’m fast asleep it seems to magically clear and other photographers have been getting star trails and the aurora photos almost every night it seems. Apparently they have no day jobs and never have to sleep!

Yesterday (February 23) I had planned to do my backup crazy thing, which I will now save for another day. The sky was clear all day and I knew I was going for a night ski at Stake Lake. The stars at Stake Lake can be amazingly clear so I knew I might get a chance. I went for a short ski and was nearly blinded by Orion, the Big Dipper, and a sky full of stars.

The perfect picture was not the goal

I had printed out some instructions for photographing star trails and brought them and some tea along. My goal was not to get a perfect picture. Any kind of night photography takes practice and since I wouldn’t know how it was going, or if I had any success at all, till I got home. My goal here was actually something that showed some movement of the stars (actually the earth is moving but that’s a physics lesson).

I knew I had some things working against me. It was a full moon night and it’s best to do star trails on a night with no moon. I chose a spot that was safe for me and my little car, but it was on a busy road and the lights of the cars played more of a role than I thought they would. I have a light tripod. It was a bit windy and I think that caused some camera shake. Also, the lens I used is OK, but I would love to upgrade! Finally, it was cold and I was alone … star trails are actually pretty boring so if it was warmer, I had more time, and brought a book or something it would have been better.

The end result isn’t perfect. I only had about a half hour before the moon was too bright and star trails photos, to get the good ones, take hours. I am pleased, however, that it does show some movement. My photo consists of about 60 images layered together so the lines aren’t very long (longer lines mean more time). I also need to find a better place to take them because focusing north put me in the lights of the city.

Why was this crazy?

The biggest thing was I had to be patient and I had to be willing to fail. Nothing in nature can be scheduled. I had to wait for a somewhat perfect night, and I had to make the effort to get out there. There was absolutely no guarantee of any success here and I wouldn’t call this the best picture I’ve ever taken by any means. It is a first step, however, and there will be many more before I get something I’m really proud of.

Would I do it again?

Absolutely!

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Not a great picture, but a great start

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #46 – Street photography

I needed another backup for some weather related crazy things that I knew might not happen. When I mentioned it to Dani, my co-worker who took my pictures earlier she suggested trying street photography. My stomach clenched. I knew that would make me really uncomfortable and therefore I should do it. Being seen with a camera and taking pictures of people, even with a long(ish) lens, would make me feel very exposed. Therefore, it must be a crazy thing.

I decided to go out on February 23 (today) and spend a couple of hours in the afternoon taking pictures of people. Dani and I both agreed that this would make both of us extremely uncomfortable, but she had good ideas about how to make it more doable. Avoiding faces and just taking pictures of interesting body parts or actions – hands, feet, body position, etc. This made it easier for me and I realized it would be a good thing for me to do.

It reminded me of when I was 23 and lived in Dublin, Ireland. I was almost always alone and I always had a journal with me. Pretty much all I did in those days was walk, hitchhike, and write. I loved going to venues to hear local bands and I would often go early get a table so I could have a good seat, and write. I learned very quickly that nothing freaks people out that idly looking up (actually daydreaming but they didn’t know) and then looking down and writing something. They all think it’s about them. People would actually go out of their way to walk by my table to look down at what I was writing. It got to be pretty funny and I may have made a bit of sport of it. I would intentionally stare at a group of people and then start furiously writing. Half the time I was writing letters to friends or my mom, but my victims didn’t need to know that.

Being seen with a pen, however, is a bit different that being seen with a camera, although the situations may have had in influence. When I was in Dublin I was a foreigner who was intentionally avoiding deep friendships or commitment. At home it’s different.

I parked in the West parking lot of Riverside Park and decided to warm up to the idea by trying some pictures in Riverside Park. I realized I liked looking at feet – running, walking, standing, all interesting. I got some good pictures and my confidence increased a little bit. I still had to take a non-people picture every once in a while just to calm down a bit. After going through the park I crossed the pedestrian train bridge (the same location where my first date (see crazy thing #14) got really interesting, and headed toward Victoria Street. I walked west, back toward the park, and I noticed my confidence increasing with every click of the shutter.

When I got home I looked at the pictures and realized it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be – very interesting!

Why was this crazy?

I was exposed, and drew attention because I had a camera. I don’t really like drawing attention – not sure anybody’s picked up on that yet!

Would I do it again?

Yes, I think it’s good for me to do that. Summer and places like the Farmer’s Market might make things easier!

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #45 – Write a screenplay

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I do feel a bit weird about announcing this. It’s not a totally done thing yet but my part is done and the rest is out of my hands.

Actually, that title is a little bit misleading. I have been writing screenplays, among other things, for many years. The difference with this one was that I was going to sell it and it was going to be made into something that someone other than me could see. Generally, the criteria for my crazy things is that it had to be something I had some control over. You can’t just say “I’m going to win the lottery” because we don’t really have control over that… or at least we shouldn’t!

I had pitched some ideas already to Odyssey Media of Vancouver. They produce a lot of movies of the week for networks like Lifetime and SyFy, among others. Right before my crazy year began they picked one of my story ideas and asked me to develop it further. I did, and eventually I got a contract to write a script for a movie of the week that would air on the lifetime network. This is a pretty big deal. It’s not a union production and it’s not huge money, but it’s a 90-minute credit on a major network and it’s a nice toe in the industry door. The fact that I didn’t have to be living in Vancouver or Los Angeles was extraordinary – yay for the internet! I was given deadlines for the synopsis, treatment (basically an outline) and once that was approved, the full script. Now came the hard part, I had to deliver a script and they had to approve it.

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When I tell people I’m having a writing day, I (usually) really am writing and this year I had an extremely tight schedule because I didn’t want to have to take time off my job to get this done. 90 pages needed to be finished and approved. I also have some minor… or maybe major… issues with procrastination.

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I’m happy to say I accomplished my goal and in October the script for Justice Unleashed, a mother-daughter thriller about human trafficking, was complete and approved. This was very much a process of writing for the specific needs of a client rather than just writing creatively with no need to have anyone approve what I’ve done. They did request changes, and some of them were … well… ridiculous… but in the end they are the client and what they say goes. It was difficult because I could see somewhere great that the story could go but the network has very strict requirements based on demographics, markets, etc. Not my call.

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I have done a lot of professional writing in the past – magazine articles, book contributions, marketing writing, etc. I’ve also been paid to write video scripts for different organizations for training and promotional purposes so being paid to write is not new to me. The fact that I created a project that will have a $2-3 million budget (making it a low budget production) and take a year to complete – that’s new for me.

I didn’t write this earlier because the crazy thing is still ongoing. When the script for Justice Unleashed was approved, they asked me if I felt like doing another one. I said.. “Sure!”… (duh!). I’m currently working on it and I’m hoping the first draft will be finished in the next few weeks.

Justice Unleashed has a director, but he’s not yet locked in with a contract and I’ve just been told it will likely be shot at the end of June or early July in Vancouver. If it is in Vancouver I’ll also be able to visit the set, which should be exciting! I’ll do more blog posts on this as I know more.

Once the one I’m currently working on is finished I’m going to take a break from movies of the week and concentrate on a script I’ve been dabbling at for about a year or so… something about a woman who does 50 Crazy Things in her 50th Year.

Why was this crazy?

How many other people do you know who are doing it and getting paid?

Would I do it again?

Oh yeah!

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50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #44 – Ski a Half Marathon

20160220_132659On the same day I put a new hole in my head I decided to complete another crazy thing. I had been trying to schedule it for a while but it just never worked out. That Saturday afternoon I decided I had to make it work out.

The idea for this year long project, if you recall, came when I was drinking wine and surfing Pinterest. I started seeing Disney running costumes and suddenly came up with the idea of doing the Disney Princess Half Marathon, in costume, in Florida, two days before my 49th birthday. That was crazy thing #1. Since then I ran the Disney Tinkerbell Half Marathon in California, I hiked 21K (the distance for a half marathon) out on the Berg Lake Trail wearing a heavy pack (and nearly died), and I ran a half marathon without training with Jody. I figured the only way to complete the set was to ski a half marathon.

In the past, the longest I’ve skied in one day was 17K (I think) with two friends a couple of years ago. I remember being completely dead after. I expected the same this time. I am a very slow skier. Senior citizens still kick snow in my face, politely of course… most of the time!

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I don’t like skiing when the guys aren’t in the ticket booth – it just makes me feel a bit insecure, but I knew Lee would be there until about 4 pm and I knew my crazy thing would take me over three hours. Instead of heading out on a long trail and being far away from the ticket booth and a way to bail out if it wasn’t going well, I decided to do a shorter route near the parking area and just do laps. Lee and Leah were there for the first three laps and the last lap was a short one so I knew I’d be fine.

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I didn’t take as many pictures as I usually do because I wanted to get this done before it got dark. I did four laps, two were longer and two were shorter, and it worked out almost exactly to 21K. I ended up helping some lost snowshoers get turned around… how they got lost in that area baffles me! I had to reassure them that I knew what I was talking about and they were not where they thought they were. I did lots of thinking about the year and everything I’d done. I even tried to put what I learned in my cross country ski lesson with Lisa into play – for the first three laps. For the last lap I was just going and not thinking too much. I’m proud to say that I finished, it was still light, and I had a great time. I now know I can do longer distances without completely collapsing. And as a bonus, I could still walk the next morning! How cool is that!

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Note the bandaid on my nose – I didn’t want to get sweat in the new hole in my head!

Why was this crazy?

It was the longest I’d skied by quite a bit in one day. This year the longest I’ve done is 14K at once.

Would I do it again?

Now that I know I can do it – sure! There is something ultimately satisfying about setting a goal and reaching it.

 

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #43 – Ladies’ Choice

So, a couple of my crazy things were (are) very weather dependent and the odds of me being able to complete them before my birthday are very slim. I’ll still do them, just later. Thus I needed a couple of backups. In a moment of insanity, and these three women bring out my insanity in ways I can’t even describe in print, I said to my very good friends Jody, Krista and Monica… hey, this would be crazy… how about you guys pick something I have to do. Now, if you recall, I may have some control issues so letting go of control is a bit of a big deal. They were thrilled. They level of their thrill actually made me panic a bit, making this thing even crazier. These women have done a lot of my crazy things with me this year and I doubt we’ve even scratched the surface of what is crazy for them.

You want me to what????

They agreed on something and told me about it when we were at the IHOP in Kelowna before we went into the Escape Room at Exit Canada. Their idea… Karaoke! Brilliant. I sing in public a lot for children and their parents, I’ve been in choirs, and I don’t have much trouble singing in front of people but I’ve never tried Karaoke. This will be awesome! Me and my freaking big mouth! Once they heard my experience with singing their faces dropped. Then Jody’s voice cut through the crowd and my jaw hit the table. Jody said, “We should make her get her nose pierced!” Then Krista said, “I have a gift certificate for Instinct Adornment – we could do it together!” And Jody and Monica said, “And we would come to document it!” I swear I couldn’t breathe. Getting my nose pierced has NEVER been on my radar. I’m sure this state of shock affected my performance in the escape room!

After a few days I started to come around to the idea. When I told a few friends what I was going to do they universally approved, saying I had the perfect nose for it.

So, Monica made the appointments for the following Saturday, February 20th. We showed up and Krista and I had to pick out the jewels we were going to stick through the cartilage in our noses. Once Jody saw the bling she couldn’t resist. And then Monica, who wanted to do it but planned to do it after her next tattoo, couldn’t be the only one who wasn’t doing it. All four of us did it and created some chaos and pandemonium at the store. We do have a lot of energy when we’re together.

Theo and Jenna own the store and they are awesome. Theo even waxed his moustache when he found out I was going to blog about it. Jenna, though, wore a surgical mask the whole time. Not sure if I totally trust someone I couldn’t pick out of a police lineup. She rocks the photobomb though, so that makes up for it.

Monica and I both chose blue sapphires. Jody got a sparkly white one and Krista got a star. I was the first to go. Apparently, this was a bad idea. Theo was sitting in front of me, his hands in my face and his gloved thumb stuck up my nose. I was expecting him to say something like “Ok, I’m going to count to three…” but oh no! He jammed it through my nose when I least expected it. I was holding someone’s hand (not sure who?) and I may have screamed. It hurt like bloody hell! Theo says I have thick cartilage in my nose which may have made it hurt more. I felt electricity going down my arm and I was catching my breath. I was sure he shoved a sharp telephone pole through my face so I was surprised to see this tiny blue piece of crystal sticking out of the crease in my nose. It looked kind of cute. The shock only lasted a few minutes but it was long enough to freak out the rest of the girls. It turns out they don’t have thick cartilage and didn’t even feel it. Jody was practically beaming the whole time. I only wanted to kick her a little bit. I may have been called a weenie for my reaction. I told them it hurt way more than my tattoo did.

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J0dy – such a good friend, always there to document my torture and hold my hand!

And to answer the question I always had, it doesn’t have a butterfly piece on the inside like a stud for an ear does. The post is bent 90 degrees. It’s been two days and I’ve blown my nose and it wasn’t any more gross than normal. I haven’t had a cold, though. Krista got one so maybe I’ll wait for her report.

True to us, we had to go out for food after and ended up at Swiss Pastries. Sugar helped calm my pain. I’m sure that’s what the cure was. My nose piercing was my birthday gift from these wonderful ladies and I have to admit I’m thrilled. I think it looks awesome and so do theirs. It was so great to do another crazy thing together. Looking forward to more in the future, although maybe not quite so tightly scheduled!

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It’s really all about the food!

Why was this crazy?

Oh come on! What part of it wasn’t crazy??

Would I do it again?

No, I think I’ve gotten all the extra holes I need now.

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With Theo and Jenna (masked)

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #42 – Volunteer somewhere scary

Since I started compiling a list of things to do in my 50th year I knew all along that a good portion of them had to make me uncomfortable in some way. Most of them, like Trapeze School and Downhill Skiing, make me physically uncomfortable. Some, however, just make me completely uncomfortable. I decided I would expose myself a bit more and volunteer somewhere scary. I have done a lot of volunteer work before. I thought about volunteering with the homeless, or with animals, but I pretty much work with a lot of the homeless crowd on Mondays at the library and I’m fairly comfortable with that. With the animals, I would most likely feel the need to adopt all of them and until I buy a place, we can’t have any more pets. I started to think about what I avoid (aside from olives, jumping and going fast). Then an opportunity arose and after thinking about it for a long time and talking with some good friends, I realized what I needed to do.

I have been volunteering already as the Publicity Director for the Overlander Ski Club for over a year. It started with “I’ll volunteer with publicity” and ended up with me on the Board of Directors as Publicity Director. I have enjoyed my time on the board a lot. I love the club, it provides access to one of my very favourite activities and I appreciate the work that goes into making the Stake Lake Ski Trails as successful as they are. When then President Alan Vyse announced he was stepping down a void was created in the room. A couple of my friends who are very involved in the club each started to nudge me, having long talks with me, and working very hard to convince me. I was, in the beginning, unconvinced.

The board is made up of a group of passionate skiers who all love different aspects of the club and the sport. They are all very talented, well spoken, hard working, and… very opinionated. This includes me, by the way. They are also very strong willed. That might include me as well. Besides a love of skiing, the thing they all have in common is a love for the club and a desire to see it be as strong as it can be. But they all see, and support different paths for arriving at that common goal. This is actually what makes them an excellent, yet slightly intimidating group of people.

Before I put my name forward I had to look long and hard at what my role would be. Eventually, I realized my job is to help the group focus and move toward the achievement of the shared goals of the club. Once I framed it like that it started to look more doable and less frightening. I kind of see it like being a boarder collie trying to herd a group of squirrels. I will most likely pay for that remark in the future although I’m pretty sure only one other board member and two staff members are likely to read this. I think I can bribe them all with cookies and coffee.

I consider this to be a scary thing, yet I know I am naturally good at it. Although I’ve avoided leadership roles for years, they always seem to find me anyway no matter how I try and avoid them. My mom told me once that one of my teachers in high school described me as a reluctant leader. People would want to follow me, which I wouldn’t like, so I would hide in the back of the room, and they would just go to the back and find me anyway. I guess it’s time to just own it and do it.

I put my name forward as President (and still keeping Publicity) and at the AGM everyone seemed to sit on their hands. Nobody ran against me. I did hear from Alan that in his memory there had never actually been an election with votes at the AGM because they were always so happy to have someone volunteer. I heard from some board members and the staff that they have my support and are excited about the new blood (like they can smell it????). Great, now I’m picturing hyenas ripping the flesh off my corpse. “What happened to your last president?” someone might ask. “We ate her! Aargh!” Active imagination alert, and now they’re sounding like pirate hyenas. I may not be able to look at the board members without laughing again!

Anyway, on February 15th I became the President of the Overlander Ski Club. Our first board meeting with me as President is in March. I may bake some cookies to sweeten their dispositions…. Oatmeal or chocolate chip?

Why was this crazy?

I’m an introvert and a reluctant leader. Trust me, this is crazy!

Would I do it again?

Let me get through the next year first!

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #41 – Wing it for a half marathon with Jody

Since my year began with running a half marathon (21K) I figured it should end with one too. Because Jody is always up for an adventure, she agreed to do this one with me. Her husband, Gerry, shook his head in disbelief.

Not only were we going to run (actually more walk than run) a half marathon on our own with no crowds, medals, t-shirts, or any kind of fanfare, we were going to do it without any training.

I cross country ski a lot in the winter and Jody had done quite a bit this year as well, so it’s not like we’re not fit. Running is like any other activity. Muscles like to do things they’ve been practicing. Our muscles have been practicing gliding, or showshoeing with our legs in a different position than running. Neither of us had actually run at all since December 15th when we did our 5K virtual cupcake run. Really, though, how hard can it be?

We made plans to meet at 6:30 am on Valentine’s Day at my house. We could run on the rivers trail and use my house as a washroom stop / aid station. Tomena, much to our shock, decided to join us for the first 9K. So the three of us reminisced about the slush run of last year and training for half marathons we all did last year. We watched a brilliant sunrise, and had a great time.

Then we got back to my place, reloaded our water, etc. and said goodbye to Tomena. 12Km to go – no problem!… actually… problem!

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Don’t be fooled – this is ice not water!

We agreed that we would walk the rest of the way because that would be easy… right? Wrong! By the time we got to 16K we were hurtin’ girls. My hips were sore but I think Jody was suffering a bit more than I was. It was a damp morning, which does nothing for either of us, and it was also icy. We didn’t discover that until Jody found what looked like a puddle and was actually polished ice. She went down backwards in slow motion and there was nothing I could do about it. After that we still had 5K to go. We managed to finish but I wouldn’t say it was our best run or walk. It took us four hours!

Of course, some of that time was spent doing what we do best – enjoying the scenery and taking pictures. Some of the highlights that distracted us from our pain were the awesome hearts strewn along the trail by artists wanting to brighten up Valentine’s day. We saw wildlife – a beaver underneath the Overlander’s Bridge and swans coming in to land. We met and interesting guy collecting cans and bottles, and we had lots of time for great conversation.

Looking forward to running season starting again, but not until I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every second of ski season.

Why was this crazy?

We spend a ridiculous amount of time training for runs – what if we just did the runs?

Would I do it again?

Probably not… I think training and building gradually to a distance is a good thing! I was in serious pain the next day!

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Finished! We got that sh#t done!