Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Life is a lot like TransRockies...

I skimmed over the last few blogs written at least a year before entering Pharmacy School.  After the celebrations of making it in, I soon realized the real celebrations will be on making it out.  Alive.

Life has been, well let us say akin to purgatory.  After passing my first semester, but only by a narrow margin, I soon realized that my work-life balance approach to life would have to be put on hold.  Sundays with Jeremy have turned in to a few hours of precious time - usually on our bikes so I can kill two birds with one stone.  Yes, I just called my husband a bird.  Possibly a Tit Mouse.  They are pretty cute birds.

I am now coming out of midterms.  Only two exams left, a lab report, a case study and two labs next week, but all that is left is manageable.  Unlike the last few weeks.

When Jeremy and I did TransRockies back in 2010, I vividly remember every excruciating moment of climbing up and over the Continental Divide, pushing my bike up, up and over, grateful for every piece of carbon and XT component.  Pharmacy school is like that.  I put my head down and work.  Every once in a while during TransRockies I would reward myself with a bite of a Cliff Bar, a moment to take in the view and the promise of the proverbial summit and that I would stand there, for as long as I wanted to bask in the accomplishment of 3 hours pushing uphill.  And I did.  I am so grateful for the little things these days.  A tea date with a good friend, my mom's Roladden, an impromptu Hip Concert, a ride taken on stolen time through gorgeous single track with my favourite person.  It is these moments that get me through.  And also, the promise of the proverbial summit.  But not to dwell on that summit, for like a watched kettle, I know it will take so much longer to come to fruition if I do nothing else but wait for its arrival.  In the meantime, I have learned so much from my bike racing.  Training and studying need to happen every day.  Rewards are important.  There will be bad days, but dwelling on them dilutes the good ones.  Rest days are life savers.  And putting one foot in front of the other, is the only way to make it to the finish line.
the proverbial summit

the friends that keep me smiling

Friday, August 10, 2012

Better with makeup

Kale.  A vegetable I endure, because I know it's packed with vitamins and is good for me.  But, the taste has always left a little to be desired.  A couple of weeks ago, my good friend KellyB had me over for what is always a tasty dinner.  On the menu, kale.  It was fantastic. Dressed up with lime and mint, it took away all of the bitter taste that has put kale on the bottom of my vegetable list.  With this recipe, it's moved to the top.  I've even planted some mint in my garden just for this recipe. Here's my rendition.  Enjoy...
3 (approx) cups chopped kale
1tbsp fresh mint
1 tbsp good quality olive oil
2 tbsp lime (I used concentrate)
Sea salt to taste

Steam kale until it is has just turned from crunchy to soft.  Toss with mint lime evoo and salt.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 6, 2012

this post has nothing to do with bicycles

Perhaps I should know better than to tell my dad that I'm bored.  But that is where this dream begins.  I think there can be nothing worse for any father to see their daughter partially unemployed, wasting talent, living pay cheque to pay cheque and then to hear that she's bored.  But some time in March, 2011 over one of our precious, yet rare dinners together, he asked me how I was doing.  I looked him in the eyes and replied: 'Bored'.  

And then he offered me an incredible gift.  The chance to go back to school and do it all again to become a Pharmacist.  A career that my dad always thought would fit me to a tee: the right balance of people skills, independent work, and academic ability, plus a chance to own my own business and make a good wage.  I don't know why I shunned this idea when I originally made these decisions back in my teens.  Yes I do.  Because when you're 18, you don't listen to your parents.

June 28, 2012.  As I wrote the date on the top of my paper, I realized that while I live out my dream, perhaps for many this would be their nightmare.  35 years old and writing my Organic Chemistry Final.  For me, a dream come true.  A chance to start over.  And, I even found Organic Chemistry to be fun, I think in the same way some people enjoy CrossWords.  I never got that. 

I can't say getting started has been easy.  This is a long road I'm heading down.  I need 6 Undergraduate Chemistry courses before I can even apply to Pharmacy.  I began with doing an online course.  Athabasca University promptly sent me a text book and the email address of my tutor.  Without much direction, or assistance from Athabasca, it took me 6 months to get through the course.  And while, I've gotten over the feeling of being too old to be in school, I also have a goal to be a licensed Pharmacist by 40.  So, with time in mind, I have started classes at U of T.  I will finish all the pre-requisites by December 2012 and apply for entry into Pharmacy School for September 2013.

What I can say, is that these days, I am certainly not bored.  Life feels better.  I am full of hope and optimism and of belief that anything is possible.

Athabasca 'home lab'.  I'm sure all the chemicals were
 perfectly safe to be on our dining room table.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Simmons Family, parasite-free in 2012

O-Cup #1 this morning.  And, just like everyone else posting on Facebook,  I am NERVOUS.  To calm myself down, I always try to think about what is making me the most anxious and focus on how I can control whatever that is.  Today, it is that after a season away from racing, I'm not really sure where to stand in the start pen.  I'm nervous that after a winter of training, I'm still not back to where I want to be.

But, then I looked in the mirror while getting ready and saw a completely different girl than the one who stared back at me last year.  I'm about 10 pounds heavier, and in my humble opinion, those 10 pounds look good.  My eyes and skin look brighter and I don't have to slather on make-up to erase the dark circles under my eyes.  So, wherever I end up this morning I will know that I have reached the goal that Jeremy set out for me last year:  Simmons Family, parasite-free in 2012.

Monday, April 9, 2012

4th annual Wine, Cheese and Women

Calling all women out there who like to ride bicycles (or would like to ride bicycles).  We are hosting a Wine and Cheese night at the Trek Store Barrie on Monday, April 16th from 6:30 - 8pm.  This will be a great chance to meet other female cyclists and find out more about the Trek Women program: volunteer-led cycling instruction by women for women.

For more info, visit: Trek Women of Barrie and Toronto or call (705) 733-0027

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mountain Biking Basics: a 2 day workshop and overnight retreat, just for women

Mountain Biking Basics: 
a 2 day workshop and overnight retreat, just for women 

Friday, June 15- Sunday, June 17, 2012 in Sudbury, ON 
Attracted to mountain biking, but kind of scared off by the fear factor?   Treat yourself this spring with quality instruction and coaching, to set yourself up for a full summer of riding more confidently. This workshop will take absolute beginners as well as novice female riders the next step to enjoy trail riding and nail down all the basics!  As a women-only clinic, the atmosphere and teaching style will be fun, encouraging, and maybe slightly outrageous once we all get more comfortable "in the saddle." 
All meals from Wine and Cheese on arrival Friday night to Sunday Lunch are provided as well as Friday and Saturday night accommodation at a rustic retreat with cabins.  After a day on the trails, enjoy the facilities at the retreat which include 400 waterfront acres with wood burning sauna, access to canoes and swimming. 

The clinic will be taught by Tammy Simmons, a Level 1 NCCP Mountain Bike Instructor who has instructed for Wild Women, Hardwood Ski and Bike and runs popular Women's Only clinics for the Trek Store of Barrie and Toronto. 

Cost: $399 (early bird rate of $379 – sign up by April 30th ) + hst 
All participants will receive a complementary membership to the Trek Women program.  This program allows members to attend (for no additional cost) road and mountain bike clinics throughout the 2012 season offered in the Barrie and Toronto area ($40 value).  For more information visit 

Sign - up: contact Tammy Simmons (tammyjrobinson "at" hotmail "dot" com)

Note: All participants must bring a mountain bike in good working order and wear a helmet.  If you are interested in joining the clinic, but do not have a mountain bike please contact us.  Depending on availability, a bike may be arranged. 

Women’s Weekend Itinerary 

Arrive in Nairn Centre on Friday evening and start the weekend off right with a glass of wine and snacks and a chance to meet your fellow course mates and instructor.  On Saturday morning, after a good breakfast you will be taught the basics of mountain biking.  You will learn body-bike separation, proper braking, pedalling and gearing, and how to ride over and around small obstacles.  After lunch, we will head to the Naughton Trails for the first trail ride of the weekend, where you will put your new skills to use.  Head back to the cabins after a fun-filled day to enjoy a hearty and well earned dinner, relax in the wood burning sauna, swim in the lake to cool off, take out a canoe or just put your feet up. 

On Sunday, we will head back to the Naughton Trails to further add to your biking skills.  Lunch will be provided at the trails and then we will say our goodbyes, but not before our infamous awards ceremony and final competition for the Nairn Cup.  What’s the Nairn Cup you may be asking… join us on June 15-17th  to find out. 

More About your instructor… 

Tammy Simmons first started Mountain Biking in 1999 and learned to ride on Vancouver’s infamous North Shore trails.  She vividly remembers her first trail biking experience as a scary one in which her friends led her down Grouse Mountain’s steep trails.  She spent the afternoon doing much more hike-a-bike than riding. 

Today, Tammy enjoys teaching others to Mountain Bike.  But unlike her own first experience, she believes that learning to Mountain Bike should not be a scary one and enjoys seeing her participants push their boundaries while learning new skills in a supportive environment.  Tammy has instructed for Wild Women, Hardwood Ski and Bike and runs popular Women’s Only clinics for the Trek Store of Barrie and Toronto.  Tammy also races in the Master Expert Category at Canada and Ontario Cups.  Her race highlights have included first in age category at Paris to Ancaster and completing TransRockies, a 7-day race through the Rocky Mountains. 


Monday, February 6, 2012

no boys allowed - JoyRide 150

My friend Hannah gives the best hugs.  They sum up exactly what it means to feel the comraderie of women.  She puts herself out there, arms open wide, sending out her love without expecting anything in return.  And if you return that hug... seriously it's magic.  And no, I won't be leaving Jeremy for Hannah.

When my parents would come to visit me at Boarding School or University, I was never wearing my own clothes.  Cause girls share.  It's a mystery that my dad still talks about and something my mom doesn't even consider. Because when I'm visiting my mom, chances are that I'm wearing her new ski jacket and she has on my new Lululemons.

What I'm trying to get at here is that there is a kinship among women that I don't expect boys to understand, just as there is bonding among males that I never will.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of coaching at Joyride 150s Second Annual Women's Weekend.  Charlotte and I led sessions on the XC Track to women of all abilities.  When girls learn without boys, something different happens.  I'm not sure what it is, but there's more love, more trying, more learning.  High fives are replaced with squeals, okay there are still high fives, but no one is trying to hide the fact that what they are trying to do is making them scared.  Knowing that the woman beside you is just as scared as you are somehow validates trying the skill in the first place, it turns fear to focus and determination and gives extra motivation if she gets it before you do.  Because, while there is love, there is competition too.

At noon, the park flooded with the general public and returned to its male dominated status.  And I realized at that moment, that as a beginner how intimidating that atmosphere would be.  So a huge thanks to JoyRide for closing their doors this weekend to boys and opening up the sport to a few new gals!