Colours on a run

you know that moment when you’re running, but you have to stop because of a small detail that catches your eye?



I have gotten good over the years at putting my needs on The List. Mothers tend to put their needs in some nether-category, as though their needs are more like wants and therefore secondary (or tertiary). But when I give to myself, there’s more of me to give. It’s generous to be selfish, as it were.

Running, eating well, taking time for knitting everyday. These things improve me. I’m more patient, confident, energetic, happy, satisfied.

Physically I tend to go for very straight-forward hobbies. I run. I cross-train with weights. And to get better at those, you push. The work is harder until it’s easier, and then you make it harder again. There’s a rather linear mode of thinking to it.

This month of daily yoga, though? It’s playful. Oh, sure, I’m pushing at times. But there is always a push and a pull to yoga, an effort and an ease, and always there is surrrender. It’s a less linear path.

The yoga challenge I’m doing on Instagram is pushing me to try things out of my normal range. Here’s Wednesday’s pose:


It’s a faintly ridiculous pose, and I mean that in a good way. It’s called Bird of Paradise, and as you’ve got yourself all wrapped around and you’re crouched down with both feet on the floor there is a delicious moment as you lift one foot…Well, as my teenaged photographer said, “You really look like a bird when you hop around like that!” Have you seen Attenborough’s “Life of Birds” documentary? It’s marvelous, of course, but the section on the birds of paradise and their mating rituals is guaranteed to make you laugh. And so as I was hunched and hopping for balance, and as I was lifting and looking for the ease in the effort of the pose, I just couldn’t help but smile.

It’s play.

Phys ed class


Sandra and I headed to the university jogging track this morning for an hour’s run and then I did a bit of yoga in the sunniest corner.


I love that with the flexibility of homeschooling we can work on the whole person: cardio and compassion, math and politics, laughing and science.

Streaking in December

I’m going to do two things every day in December.

1. Take a photo and share it.


2. Do yoga. Right now I’m also doing an Instagram yoga challenge called #BendInTheHolidays. It’s a group collaboration to give people one pose per day to help improve their backbends. I’m still new to IG and frankly find the challenges a bit overwhelming. So many hashtags and people and sponsors to copy into the description! So for my first one I’m just doing the poses rather than also posting my attempts. Who knows, maybe I’ll post a few. I’ll need a picture per day, after all!

Pushing somewhere new


While so much seems difficult or obligatory just now, Sandra and I have decided to explore yoga more seriously this winter. It’s exciting to have a goal in a new field, rather than just retreading something we’ve already pursued.

Part of it, I’ll admit, is related to the completely inspiring photos of yoga that pop up in my visual day now that I’ve joined Instagram. I really want to be able to do handstands and arm balances like some of those women!

So we are having fun with our yoga. Trying and failing at things. Pushing and progressing.

a hike

Hiking from Manderscheid to Wittlich

On Tuesday we hiked from Mandersheid to Rainer’s parents’ house, about 25km in total. These two evocative ruins come to life in the summer with a medieval fair, but on this day they were quiet. Two castles? Yes, there were two brothers who didn’t get along.

Hiking from Manderscheid to Wittlich

The first half of the hike is full of ups and downs, and moss-covered outcroppings. As a prairie girl, I find this part of the hike most thrilling. After a while it levels out, and the trail follows the side of the hills rather than crossing them.

Hiking from Manderscheid to Wittlich

We ate lunch at the top of a nice steep section, happy for a rest. Rainer’s knee still isn’t happy after the surgery to fix one of his problems, so he kept us going so that his muscles wouldn’t start to seize up. It made the hike more strenuous for sure!

Hiking from Manderscheid to Wittlich

It felt a lot like fall – with brown, dry leaves scattered everywhere and open views. The buds were beginning to open, but hadn’t yet burst forth in their growth.

Sandra had her camera out for most of the trip. It was a Christmas gift, and she’s working hard to master her first non-point-and-shoot. Next year my father (a photographer of real talent) is going to take her through a mentorship. We’re going to call it a Fine Arts credit for her transcript.

Hiking from Manderscheid to Wittlich

The trails are well-marked here, often with multiple trails overlapping and then breaking away. We followed the black arrow as our guide.

Hiking from Manderscheid to Wittlich

The landscape varies over the hike – deciduous then evergreen, mossy then leafy, steep then meadows, small fields and then little streams cutting new valleys into the sides of hills.

Hiking from Manderscheid to Wittlich

At this point on the trip I put my foot down and insisted on a bit more of a rest. Rainer, Sandra, and I had done a 1 hour 45 minute run on Saturday, and a 60 minute tempo run with hill repeats on Sunday. My body was happy, but fading. We ate some nuts and raisins – called Studentenfutter (Student Feed, lol) here. Putting my feet up always makes me happy.

Hiking from Manderscheid to Wittlich

Our reward at the end? A Doener. (Donair in English?) Absolutely one of my favourite foods. We only eat them in Germany. They’re everywhere here, but nowhere to be found where we live. Sitting on a bench in a setting of cobblestones and German voices while eating one of these is a highlight of every trip for me. I remember eating my first one, Christmas 1993. The first time I came to Germany with Rainer. I was 17 and in my first year of university.

A gentle season, for once

Usually, I get home from my parents after Christmas and I become the most Type A version of myself. Lists, lists of lists. Plans. Goals. A sense of driving myself into the new year with force.

This year, however, we stayed with them longer. (They live just out of town, and we could drive over every day in 10 minutes, but there is something wonderful about waking up in a house full of family.) Rather than staying 2 nights, we stayed 5 because my sister was staying longer this time.

This delayed my usual post-Christmas make-room-for-all-the-gifts tidying which usually triggers the list-making, goal-setting Sarah. Since we’ve gotten home, I’ve tried hard to keep it that way. I have not done things on my list for this week. I have sat down. I have read. I have worked out. I have knit. I have made soup.

Snowshoeing on the Assiniboine River

Snowshoeing on the Assiniboine River

Snowshoeing on the Assiniboine River

Three of us went snowshoeing on the Assiniboine River yesterday. It was our first time this year to strap on the snowshoes. Man, we have got to do that way more often. Because, people, winter is wonderful when you get out of the city. Seriously. Leave the city and notice the way winter turns everything into a minimalist sculpture, into an artistic expression of line and colour, into a space in which we can all breathe.

Make this season a gentle one as you transition from 2013 to 2014. Kindness is not just for others. Give yourself space. Give yourself air. Give yourself joyful pastimes. Give yourself room.


Colour on our long run

We found colour on our long run this Sunday.  Sandra and I decided to head out of town for our run. There is something very freeing about running the grid roads. Just by leaving the boundaries of the city and stepping into the landscape of quarter-sections, windbreaks, and stubble, we seem to transport ourselves away.

The weather – cool yet humid, winds full of the pushing force of damp air – reminded us of our runs in Holland, back in 2008 when we spent part of Rainer’s sabbatical there. That added yet another layer of far away to our perception.

Running can have an almost sci-fi ability to alter our perception of the spaces around us.


I have a great yoga instructor. (She’s my mom.) Last class she reminded us that practising non-violence meant that we didn’t need to always push ourselves.

::Think about that a moment. You don’t need to always push yourself. I don’t need to always push myself. Just thinking that, I find myself breathing deeper, my shoulders sinking down and away from ‘hunched up survival’ mode.::



Today, just back from a week away with Rainer, I am realizing that practising compassion and generosity, practising not forcing something, means not going to yoga class tonight. Sorry, Mom, you taught me too well.