Tuesday, 11 September 2012

If life is a highway, then I want off...

As some of my followers may have noticed, my blog has become a little quiet over the past few days. Last week I had the incredible opportunity to work a trade show with an old colleague in Edmonton, AB, making my return to the fashion world after a few years off with the children. It was an exciting week of meeting with buyers, showing them the upcoming fashions for next season, and watching an amazing lady do her thing and making everyone that came to see us feel like they were at home. With newfound confidence, I am excited for what the future will bring, knowing I will learn much along the way. That was the best part of the last five days...
The Edmonton Expo Building inside of which
I spent my days.
However, while having this amazing experience, I also was reminded why it is I live where and how I do. I want to be clear, what I write is not meant to be an insult to the city of Edmonton, as my opinions and experiences are my own, which could happen in any number of cities around the world. 

From the moment I touched down at Edmonton International Airport, I spent most of my time being driven from point A to point B. From the shuttle to the hotel some 45 minutes away, to the shuttles and cabs to the Expo Centre and everything in between, I have not spent so much time on four wheels since I drove across Canada to move to Vancouver. Needless to say, I missed home, my family, but I also really missed my bike. 

Last week I was reminded of the experiences you miss while sitting in a moving car. I felt in a constant state of disorientation, never really grasping which way was North, South, East or West. I also missed the personal experience that walking or riding in a city brings. Whether it's a leisurely trip along the water, or discovering a hidden neighbourhood, I have always found that riding my bike allows me to truly see all that a city has to offer. For example, growing up I spent a lot of time visiting Montreal and my extended family who live there. Sure, I knew downtown, and the neighbourhoods where my family lived, largely because when we were in the city, we walked or took transit nearly everywhere. However, two summer's ago, on a brief visit, the family and I rented some bikes and rode along the Lachine Canal and the St. Laurence river, and my experience was completely new and wonderful, something I would have never experienced if I stayed in a car all the time. Now I will make a special effort to repeat the trip whenever I get to visit Montreal.
The view from inside our hotel, but I never had a chance
to see it up close
I also became quite fatigued over the course of week. I kept wondering why, until a co-worker asked me if I usually spent a lot of time outdoors. I suddenly realized something I very much take for granted. Generally, I spend the majority of my days walking or riding my bike, so to spend almost of all my time indoors or in a motorized vehicle was depriving me of the fresh air, vitamin D, and exercise I am used to. So as a result, I was getting easily drained and tired. 
In a car, the world just speeds by
One may think that this was actually due to the fact that I was up early every day and working hard, and not the lack of time outdoors. To that I say to that Monday morning, after returning home from Edmonton late the night before, I woke up around 7:30am, helped get the kids ready and walked my eldest to school then came home and spent 2 hours doing housework, then walked to the local market to do groceries, then back again to pick up my daughter from school, and still felt quite energized when we put the kids to bed at 8pm. Now if that doesn't sound like a busy day, I don't know what is. I do know that the sunshine, fresh air and exercise from just one day back in my routine had me back to my old chipper self in no time!

My final view of Edmonton, from inside YEG waiting
for my flight back to YVR
So, after five days of relying on four wheels and an engine to get me around town, I am happy to be home and returning to my people-powered means of transportation. It is proof that exercise is crucial to the human body in order to be healthy and energized, and the more we get people out of their cars and using other means of transportation, the better we will all be. That may sound preachy, or even easy for someone who lives in a moderate climate like Vancouver, but I can tell you I was walking through the snow drift in February in Ontario when I lived there just 5 years ago, while my husband cycled to and from work 365 days a year. It just takes a change of heart and openness to challenge yourself. So get out there and explore your city on a personal level, for your body and for your mind!

1 comment:

  1. I experienced the same thing. I went home to my family cottage in NH. while the time spent there was lots of swimming, kayaking, boating, hiking, and enjoying the outdoors, anywhere we wanted to go that we couldn't get to by boat, we had to take a car. when I returned to Vancouver, and took my first bike ride, I felt SO FREE. I almost felt like it should be a crime, being so open and vulnerable to the outdoors, not wearing some kind of seatbelt device holding me in. or it felt like playing a prank, the kind that makes you giddy and full of life.