Tag: Billie Jean

Healthy Swellness: 2017 in review

 Best Nine 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, I will tell you I don’t really want to reflect on what’s been a very hard year. But I will because it’ll help me move forward and motivate me to work on making next year better. Up above is my best nine as determined by that site, and yes, there are some great highlights there.

I have been thinking about this past year all week and even I have to admit that there are some shining moments, ones that I let get overshadowed by overwhelming anxiety and stress. When I put some time into thinking about the year, 2017 will be the year that I will remember for these moments:

IMG_3919

My life changed for the better by adopting Billie Jean. In February, when an extremely scared hound landed at my door as my very first foster through Save Our Scruff, I had zero intention of adopting a dog. I wanted to foster as that was a way I could help a great organization while also getting some quality time with dogs that I could fit with my schedule. Then as Billie Jean came to trust me and came out of her shell more and more each day, I fell head over heels for her. More than love for this incredible pup, she was good for my health. She helped me to stress less and forced me to have more balance in my life. The truth is that there are days I feel stress and anxiety are swallowing me whole and I want me up feeling as though I’m in a dark place, and yet I have no choice but to take her out for a walk. Her trust, sheer happiness and wagging tail are like a switch for me. I exhale and she reminds me that we just have to keep on keepin’ on.

airplane over BC

I got to travel and explore and make new friends. I don’t believe that if you put something out in the world that it’ll come true…but I’d become fixated on visiting Lake Tahoe, and I was lucky enough to travel there for work and it was as stunning as I hoped. The same goes for Park City. I had been intrigued by this city I’d heard so much about and I felt so fortunate when I got to ski there in some epic conditions and do one of the most incredible SUP yoga classes ever. I visited California several times again this year and fell in love with it even more. More and more, I think I’m meant to be a California girl. Belize has always, too, been on my radar and I was thrilled to go on an epic trip there with G Adventures where we went caving, made tortillas from scratch with some inspiring women, and learned drumming with locals. 

Camping with Billie Jean and Bun

I road tripped all summer long and learned to camp. I spent much of the year focusing on close-to-home getaways with Billie Jean from late spring through to the fall. From a few trips to wine country (including PEC and Niagara) to learning to camp (a new passion for me—and am thrilled about partnering with MEC for some gear I plan to continue to use regularly!), staying in Ontario and enjoying quality time with my favourite dog was perfect. With it being Canada 150, it was great to celebrate what an incredible country we live in and discovering areas I’d never been to like Norfolk County. Besides the fun of camping and exploring Ontario, I’m also giving myself props for all the driving I did this year. Truth is I prefer to be a passenger but feel more comfortable behind the wheel now and even did my first two days at a race track.

IMG_8550

I met Charlie Hunnam. Last year, I got to meet Taylor Lautner, this year JAX TELLER.  What can I say, I fangirl hard for some celebs. As a Sons of Anarchy fan, meeting him, I was on cloud nine. I also go to meet Nicholas Hoult and had dinner with chef Curtis Stone so it was a pretty star-studded year. Oh, and I partied on a Bacardi bus with Luis Fonsi (I still love that song Despacito!)

IMG_1356

I got to see Backstreet Boys in concert. Yes, I’ve seen them many, many times but it doesn’t make it any less special, haha! Front row at their show in Las Vegas cost a fortune and was an ordeal (lining up so we could nab our prime spot at the stage, ugh) but seeing them in concert makes me ridiculously giddy and happy so it was well worth it. As was seeing NKOTB in concert again. I swear I feel an endorphin rush just reminiscing about it while writing this. I got to make a deep connection with the souls (OK, hold hands briefly…) of almost every one of these boy band-ers this year, yassssssss!

NKOTB 2017

I ran two marathons and cross-trained more. After my longest break from the 42.2k distance, I ran the Chicago Marathon and Hamilton Marathon, bringing my marathon total up to eleven. While Chicago was fine and Hamilton quite terrible, and neither was the ultimate result I wanted, I am proud to have these races completed. A marathon is difficult and a lot of hard training (which I think I forget sometimes) and I have to remind myself that there once was a time I couldn’t even dream of completing such a distance.

IMG_1600

 

As for  cross-training, I still focus heavily on running but I did work in a bit more variety to my fitness. Dance classes at Dance Life X is something I adored (I grew up taking dance classes and have always loved it). I made the effort to go to yoga classes and through work I got to include workouts such as Pilates, Spinning and HIIT. With Billie Jean, I hiked more and got out into nature more. She’s good for my health in so many ways.

kick back with a tall cold one

Work including some fantastic collaborations. Work has its ups and downs but this year there were projects and partnerships I loved working on: Working with Reebok on content about running and travel. Food campaigns with Loblaws. Content with Dairy Farmers of Canada, including this super fun retro-inspired one (above) and one about the power of protein. Some fun video content with College of Kinesiologists of Ontario. And let’s not forget projects I got to include Billie Jean on such as with Dyson and Marks.

20171206-0S5A6595

So, what are my goals for 2018…

With just a few hours left in 2017, I see that this year wasn’t entirely without good moments. Looking ahead to 2018, I strive for more balance in my life. While I traveled less this year (which was what I aimed for), I still went on eleven trips and 12 road trips, and the time, effort and disruption to my schedule that caused is simply very stressful and overwhelming for me. I need to work on not overextending myself.

Health-wise, I intend to try to include more variety and will continue to try to improve my running. I think more dance, tennis and Pilates will be key to my happiness when it comes to working out. I will plan on some goal races, but I have not yet decided on which ones. Ideally, I’d like to do one marathon destination race. When it comes to other aspects of wellness, I will continue to work on getting better sleep, drinking more water (I have started to drink a bit more!), and eat more veggies. A little more self-care, too, in terms of keeping my negative inner voice in check. I had a wake-up call recently when a client told me some content beat up on the reader too much, and I realized that the copy was essentially how I speak to myself all the time.

For work, I aim to continue to partner with brands who align with Health & Swellness. I’ve met and worked with several people who truly understand my brand and for that, I’m proud and plan to pursue collaborations with such companies more in the new year.

For this blog, I hope to blog more about my passions. Sheer lack of time has meant I cover some interests too infrequently. I have lots of ideas and things I want to write about, but just run out of time. But if I can achieve a more manageable schedule, you can look forward to more beauty and food posts in 2018 and my ramblings…I’ll try to keep the boy band love to a minimum, I promise!

Here’s to a safe and happy goodbye to 2017, and wishing you an incredible 2018! It’s a year brimming with possibilities!

Karen xo

Lost in Paradise in the Bahamas

 

 

1 Comment December 31, 2017

Pet Swellness: Welcome home, Billie Jean

IMG_1034

“What have I gotten myself into???”

This is what I asked myself late the night of February 3rd. This was the night my first official Save Our Scruff foster dog, Billie Jean, was dropped off at my place by a transport volunteer (fostering means I open up my home to a rescue dog until it is adopted, and while in my care, help train it, bring it to vet visits, meet with trainers if needed and learn the dog’s personality so that the organization can find the right home for the dog).

Billie Jean had just landed from a rescue org in the Dominican Republic and she was cowering in sheer fear as far back of the crate as she could. I’d opened the crate door and was trying to convince her it was fine, and had reached in to pet her, and she had snapped at my hand. And I freaked out a little.

I left her alone for a bit, but then sat outside her crate chatting to her, thinking that’d be comforting. After awhile I went to add a blanket so she’d have something soft to sleep on, and she went to snap at me again. WTF. I went to bed and figured I’d figure out what to do in the morning.

I found out from the awesome team at Save Our Scruff that I was basically doing everything you shouldn’t do with a very terrified dog. The talking, the eye contact, the trying to pet her — this is all intimidating and scary. So I spent the day just cooking and hanging out at home, reading online about how to handle scared dogs. In the early afternoon, I saw Billie Jean had exited the crate and was sitting near it, so I sidled up to her slowly and just stood next to her and let her sniff my hand, which I just left by my side (I didn’t reach out — but had I, I would’ve done it palm up; learned this from the reading I’d done that day). She quickly returned to the crate, but a couple of hours later, she exited the crate and went straight onto my bed.

I’d have just let her hang out there alone til she felt less scared, but my cats were hiding in the closet, and I wasn’t sure what would happen if they emerged, so I thought I’d better be in the room, so I shuffled in slowly backwards and lay facing away from Billie Jean. After about 10 minutes, I reached back to let her smell my hand, and then later I pet her. She sat upright and tense, on guard, for about an hour before she felt comfortable enough to relax a little and lie down more comfortably.

That was one of our breakthrough moments in terms of our bonding, but getting her to go outside to walk was extremely draining, physically and emotionally, for both of us, I think. She’s only about 42 lbs but Billie Jean is surprisingly strong if she’s using every ounce of her being to resist me. I had to wrestle her into my arms to get her out of my door (and carrying a 42-lb dog is awkward!) and then she would burrow herself close to the wall or into the bushes.  So “walks” were really just me standing there with a terrified dog that was hiding. And there was no such thing as a quick walk, since the entire ordeal would take over an hour. The trainer’s email said that me facing away from the dog with light tension on the leash would be motivation for BJ to stay with me…which I had a good laugh about at the time, because Billie Jean had zero motivation to stay with me at all. Her only goal was to not be outside at all, and hiding and not moving in any way she could was her life mission. Neighbours would walk by with their dogs and chuckle sympathetically at me with the dog refusing to budge.

I was frustrated, heartbroken for this scared dog, and simply didn’t know how long I could foster this dog for because I didn’t have time to spend four hours a day walking her. I was low on patience. But I don’t like to give up, so I vowed to commit to two weeks of fostering her and seeing whether she’d improve. But I felt that maybe I simply wasn’t cut out for the commitment fostering calls for. Perhaps I’d been lucky with the rescue dogs I’d dogsat for SOS; they’d all been relatively well-behaved and mostly trained. Billie Jean was proving to be a lot of work and caring for her was all-consuming and I had stuff I had to do on top of fostering.

IMG_0186

And then, seemingly out of nowhere, on day 5, Billie Jean decided to walk outside. Getting her out the door eventually got easier as well. And after about a week we were walking more than an hour some days. After a visit with a Save Our Scruff trainer, we started on crate training and she took to that really quickly. Now she understands that meals take place in her crate and sleep time. This also helped her to learn that the bed and sofa are off limits, unless I allow her to (she still attempts to make it happen though! She’s persistent, we share that in common!).

She also got more affectionate with me. One day I walked into the bedroom and I thought I’d scared her, but it turns out Billie Jean was wagging her tail at me. I’d never seen her do that, which is why I didn’t realize what was happening at first. Another day, she was lounging in her Casper dog bed (which Casper generously gave me for my foster dogs) and I was on the sofa and I said “Hi, Billie Jean!” and she walked over, put one paw on my shoulder and licked my face. And I thought my heart would explode.

IMG_9741

I saw that she was great with the cats, and is very quiet (to this day, I’ve never heard her bark; I’ve only heard her growl at some dogs). And given her energy level and lean build and her breed (hound cross), I thought I’d try running with her, and she runs really well. She keeps alongside me at a good pace…but who’s kidding who, she could go much faster, she just maintains my now slow pace.

I can’t recall when I started considering adopting this cutie pie, but I knew with every day that it’d be hard to give her up. And when I got the email two weeks into fostering that it was time to fill out the Save Our Scruff paperwork so that an adoption listing could be written up, I was filled with panic that Billie Jean would no longer be in my life. I told SOS I was considering adopting her, and they gave me more time to think.

And over the next week, I talked to other dog owners about the realities of owning a dog.  I tried to work out which friends would be able to take care of her when I have to travel. I thought long and hard if whether this was the right dog, and the right time of my life for a dog.

IMG_0344

Because I’ve always wanted a dog. When I was living in Montreal, I’d often visit the SPCA there just to see the dogs. I’m always the one petting dogs on the street, even ones I probably shouldn’t be (street dogs in foreign countries, for example). I asked for a dog as a kid (denied!) and as an adult (also denied!), despite dropping hints each and every year how a dog would be the most incredible gift ever. About 10 years ago, I’d read several books about dog breeds and narrowed it down to a handful (with key factors being “good with cats” and “low energy” — this was before I became a runner!). I photocopied the chapters so that when I was ready to adopt, I’d have the info on the breeds that would work well with my lifestyle. It’s my love of dogs that lead me to volunteer with Save Our Scruff in the first place. I have the cats and have volunteered with cats, but I love dogs and cats equally (I think you can be both a cat and dog person!) so when I heard about SOS, I realized it was a way to get some time with dogs, or in the case of doing home visits initially (that is, making sure potential homes for the dogs are safe) that I’d be helping dogs in need of a loving home in my own small way.

And after more than a week of consideration, I decided Billie Jean had to be part of my family, and applied to Save Our Scruff and within a week, was told that Billie Jean would be joining my fur family. That week or so I spent debating the adoption, I truly needed that time to make sure I wasn’t making an emotional decision. But I believe the timing is right. And as much as I may have helped her, she’s also helped me. Last year was a hectic one, and 2015 was an awful one personally. In 2016, I ran around like a crazy person; I know to many people this will sound like first-world problems and that it’ll fall on deaf ears, but I simply traveled too much. I ended the year burnt out and knowing I need to travel less and have  more of a routine and make more time for me. And after five straight weeks at home in 2017, four of them with Billie Jean, who forces me to have a routine (minimum of three walks daily, meals at a certain time — although she’s not that demanding of a dog, tbh), I felt so much anxiety and stress melt away (except for that first week with her — then stress was at an all-time high trying to help this terrified pup adapt to life in Canada!). I’ve already started to turn down travel opportunities (both personal and work-related) so that I can be more rooted at home, but when I do travel, I have support of friends who I know will care for and love Billie Jean as much as I do. And life, thanks to Billie Jean, is better. Happier. More focused on the things that matter.

I’m looking forward to a lifetime of adventures with this new member to my family. I wasn’t expecting to be a foster fail, but am so thrilled that I am.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Save Our Scruff for bringing this beauty into my life and for all of your help along the way.

IMG_0364

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Comment March 15, 2017


Recent Posts

Categories

Recent Comments