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  • I’m A Hugger. I’m Not Doing Well – Extrovert’s Take On Social Distancing And COVID-19

    Operation Lockdown Let’s see. I am a raging extravert who loves hugging people, and who is obsessed with travel. No, I am not doing well. I sorta dated this one dude years ago who was not a toucher. It only lasted a few months. Mostly because he was emotionally unavailable, and had his own stuff to sort through. But also… because I was WITHERING without touch. He’d maintain two inches of space between us when we sat on a couch, and shook me off as I tried to hold his hand in public. [On that note, Italian asked me the other day if it’s too late for me to still go to India. He was joking, of course. Har har. But… the poor guy is feeling pretty smothered right now. I’ve been hanging off of him for a week, and wearing my child on my chest, and my cats around my neck.] Also, I did this ten day silent meditation retreat years ago (yep, I’ve done one already). Up at 4am, eight hours of meditation a day, no reading, no writing allowed. No talking, no eye contact, no touching. The hardest part? It wasn’t the silence itself. I’m happy not to talk when I am alone. I like being alone (it’s awesome company). It’s being around people, and being forced not to interact. I had a roommate at the ashram, and it tore me apart, not to talk and not to acknowledge each other in any way, as we came in and out of our shared room. Why? Because under any other circumstances, it would mean that we had a fight, or hated each other. It was physically uncomfortable. Right now, it’s not the empty streets that freak me out, it’s people at grocery stores, keeping their eyes down, as they make their way through the half empty isles. I struggle to find a healthy balance between doing everything I can to minimize the risk of infection to others, and not delving into a black hole of depressive darkness that comes with social isolation for me. I work remotely, and will continue to work remotely. No steep learning curve for me there. My next pay cheque will not be impacted. I live ten minutes away from a large piece of forest where I can go for walks and runs, while not exposing myself or others. My immediate family and friends are young and healthy, and have no risk factors. I am checking my privilege, and doing the best I can. Even if “the best” is not super awesome right now. Stay away from me / I love you, SOLO

  • Check Up On Your People – Operation Lockdown

    Check up on the massage therapist who makes a living by touching people. Check up on the nail tech who usually spends their entire day “holding hands” with people. Check up on the hairstylist. They cannot cut hair over Zoom. Check up on the stay at home parent, whose only refuge was a yoga class on Monday mornings, and three hours of babysitting on Thursday night. Check up on the working parent, who is currently entertaining a toddler, AND is “working” from home. Check up on your elderly neighbour. They might be afraid to go outside. Check up on the school teacher. They are at home, overwhelmed with needing to move their entire job online overnight. Check up on the nurse, who won’t be able to hug her children until the end of the quarantine once she leaves for her shift tonight. Check up on the gym owner who spent years building up a place where their community gathers to sweat and laugh together. Check up on the extrovert. They miss noise and crowds. Check up on the introvert. They have been stuck at home for the last week with three extroverts, and are starting to feel like they are about to kill someone. Check up on anyone who makes and sells beautiful things. When people are worried about food, they don’t want to pay for beauty. Check up on your people. Check up on not-your people, who might not have their own people to check up on them. Add everyone I missed below… I missed many. And share as a reminder. #operationhuman #humaningtips #operationlockdown Hugs, SOLO

  • Sing From The Balcony, Or Resell Lysol Wipes – Operation Lockdown

    Fatigue and sleep deprivation bring out the worst in me. In the middle of some race, in some godforsaken forest, in the middle of the night, freezing cold, probably wet, and without coffee – I lose my sense of humour, the dirty jokes cease, and the bitch comes out. Major kudos to my race partners for managing the angry Russian in those moments. From what I hear, the key approach is to disregard most of what I say, and keep going. And, for the love of evolution, do not try to cheer me up or get me to “look at the bright side”. I WILL hurt you. First six months of my kid’s life? Oh yeah… sleep dep. When I don’t sleep, I’m an asshole. When Italian doesn’t sleep, he’s an asshole. Except… it turns out that Italian is way way better at being married to an asshole than I am, so major kudos go to him for the fact that we managed NOT to get divorced in those first few months. Time pressure and acute stress bring out the best in me. I still remember when my little brother snuck the biggest knife out of the kitchen and cut himself, while trying to make an arrow out of a tree branch. It was a deep cut. There was a lot of blood. Grandmas ran around him in circles, and wailed. My eight year old self stood there, wondering why no one would give the kid some gauze or something. The times of stress will bring out the best in some people, and the worst in others. — One personal trainer in Spain has been training folks from their balconies, blasting music on the roof, as he does jumping jacks. — One opera singer in Italy has been giving performances to his neighbors. — One coach has set up a studio in his living room to broadcast PE classes to children who are stuck at home. — One couple made thousands of dollars buying up Lysol wipes at Costco, and reselling them at a significant mark-up. ^^^ One of these examples is not like the others. I know which ones I’m trying to emulate. Shout out to my race partners who have had the “honour” of my company when I am coffeeless, and tired, and bitchy as hell. I totally didn’t mean all those things I said. ???????????? #operationlockdown #operationhuman #humaningtips Hugs, SOLO

  • Panic Shortage Vs. Actual Shortage – Operation Lockdown

    Italian wanted to make pizza few days ago. I was instructed to pick up the ingredients (vegetables, cheese, pepperoni) on my excursion to the store. “Oh, and yeast packets!”, he messaged me after I already left. “The ones we have are expired, so I threw them out.” As I go through our new “line up in front of the store, enter one by one, wash my hands, follow the green arrows on the floor, get what you need if the store has it, look down, don’t smile because smiling can transmit the virus” grocery shopping experience…. no yeast. No flour. No yeast. My entire town is finally learning the ancient art of making bread, and we are all doing that at the same time – in between episodes of Tiger King. Yeah, we dug out those packets out of the garbage can. Yeah, they worked. (Five minute rule?) Few weeks ago, when the crazy-ass news just started hitting us here in Canada, and the first toilet paper memes started circulating on the internetz, I did a little test walk-through. I dropped by my local grocery store, and my local bulk store to see what exactly was sold out. My findings were both depressing AND encouraging. Depressing, because this was the first time in my 20+ years in this country that I have seen empty shelves in a store. Because the non-perishable staples like sugar, flour, beans were gone. Because there was a gaping black hole where certain cleaning products, and yes, toilet paper, used to be. But, also encouraging. Encouraging, because, while there was no white sugar anywhere, you could find plenty of brown sugar, yellow sugar, organic cane sugar, agave syrup, honey, and maple syrup on the neighboring shelves. No all-purpose flour, but plenty of whole wheat flour, pastry flour and buckwheat flour. No black beans, but lots of lima beans. No antibacterial soap, there was plenty of … soap. Because there was no shortage of tampons, and, for anyone who’s ever been caught without toilet paper AND tampons, you know which one is harder to replace. Encouraging, because all of this is pointing to panic shortage, not actual shortage. Not yet. I keep reminding myself that panic buying is how some folks express fear. Heck, I’m scared too. And yeah, actually running out of toilet paper is pretty inconvenient right now. Although if that happens to my household, I trust in our creativity and resilience. We will brainstorm. We will problem solve. We will buy tissues instead. We will use baby wipes. We will use – gasp! – soap and water. We WILL pull through. #operationlockdown #operationhuman #humaningtips Hugs, SOLO

  • Licking The Floor, And When “Stop It!” Doesn’t Help

    I’ve seen this video shared and re-shared. Often by health and fitness professionals. Heck, I probably shared it at least once. Video Unavailable The thing is… sometimes, this is what it feels like when you try to explain a mental health struggle to someone. You are told to “STOP IT!”. Depressed? Stop it! Anxious? Just stop it! Overwhelmed? Stressed? Let it go! Love and light. Oh, and STOP IT. I think the polite version of this is “have you ever considered…?”. Like – “oh, you are anxious? have you ever considered meditation?”. “Seasonal depression? Ahhh, yes. Have you thought of skiing?” It sucks to be on the receiving end of “stop it!”. You feel unheard. And a little crazy. I try to recognize when I do it to others. Because I am sure I do. “Why are you taking so long to pick out groceries?” to my husband. “Stop it!”. “Why are you licking the floor?” to my toddler. “Stop it!”. Perhaps, when we utter “stop it!” to someone else, it should instead be a reminder for US to stop. Why do you want them to “stop it” anyway? Is it inconvenient for YOU? Are you missing another viewpoint? Another perspective? A friend asked me once: “WHAT IS IT LIKE when you are depressed?”. I wonder if you can replace “stop it” with “what is it like?’. I wonder if I can. #coachingtips #humaningtips #meetmewhereIamat #operationsupercoach Hugs, SOLO

  • Commercial Moments, Spilled Coffee And Perfect Families

    You know those beach resort commercials, where the perfect family walks on the beach? It’s sunset, and the entire family inexplicably wears white. Seagulls fly, but do not poop. The parents hold hands, and the children run nearby, and then the dad picks up one of the children, and throws them in the air, and they laugh and laugh? Or those IKEA commercials, where the whole family is piled onto the parents’ bed, and, instead of being annoyed, the parents seem delighted at all the mattress jumping, and then there is a shaggy yet at the same time well-groomed dog with them, and there is coffee in white porcelain mugs on the bedside table, which stays (!) on the bedside table for the duration of the entire commercial, and they laugh and laugh? Every single family I know (including mine) has those commercial moments. Heck, they probably have multiple. These are the photos we try to capture. But because life does not end at thirty seconds, we keep going, invariably, the coffee is spilled all over the white sheets, and the dog vomits on the rug. And mommy has a headache. I’d get so much twisted pleasure and the feeling of shared humanity, if I could only keep watching one of those commercials past the sunset, and the white sheets. What happens then? Have a perfect commercial moment in mind? What happened right after? I can tell you that this morning Italian brought me coffee in bed, because Valentine’s. Cue commercial moment! The next thing he brought was the floor rag, because toddler. Hugs, SOLO

  • Drums, Protests, And Strollers In La Serena, Chile

    It sounds like a million marching bands that are all drumming at the same time. Oh, and there are very large speakers involved. It is after 10pm, and I just lied down in bed, and closed my eyes. Boom! Boom! CRASH! BANG! BANG-BANG-BANG-BANG. Cue really loud music. Dogs barking. I count at least three different barks. Someone rings our apartment door bell and runs away. I sigh and get out of bed. It’s a Friday night. We are told that Friday nights is when protests take place. Either that, or there is a beach party on the main strip. Or a concert. I imagine those things would all sound very similar. Lots of people. Music. And an occasional burning car. We are also told to stay away from main squares and places where crowds gather on Friday nights. And on nights in general. Normally, that would be a drag, but in the land of lame, there is no one lamer than toddler parents. “The eagle lands” at 7pm, and if you are lucky, you manage to stay awake for couple of extra hours, while watching Netflix, sipping on Sav Blanc and finally eating something without little hands pulling EVERYTHING out of your mouth. Although with me around, Italian does not really get that break either. I call it “the wife tax”. He calls me “the food hound”. Whatever is happening right now – a protest, a concert, or a dance party – I am not sleeping in the immediate future. Our building is not even twenty feet from the main beach strip, where everything happens. And, apparently, in La Serena, life begins at 9pm. I decide to put on some pants, and actually go check the damn thing out. I mean if the drums are going to keep me up, I should at least see the marching band. Italian doesn’t put up much of a fight, only makes me promise that I won’t start “yet another revolution”. The “protest” turns out to be six teenagers with drums. I have no idea how they manage to sound THAT loud. Meanwhile, the beach strip is FILLED with hundreds of people, eating ice cream, standing in line to get into night clubs, and pushing strollers with babies and kids of various ages and in varying stages of consciousness. This is really more Santa parade meets sand castles than anything resembling an uprising. The presence of strollers has been one indicator of okayness that I’ve been using while in Chile. One of the most reassuring things about parenting to me is that many many people have done it before me. I am not the first with motherly instincts or unconditional love, or whatever else comes with the bundle of joy. Other mothers with strollers are just as interested in making sure they and their children are safe. So… I look for strollers. Italian texts every few minutes. “So?” “Did you find the drums?” He is mostly just making sure I am not about to join the marching band, I think. Stranger things have happened. Instead, I make my way to a little night market, and hand 2,000 Chilean pesos to a guy wearing a face mask. His companion flips a long swirl of churro in boiling oil, pulls it onto a flat sheet of waxed paper, and cuts equal length strips of gold pastry with scissors. He picks out eight strips, sprinkles them with powdered sugar, wraps them up in a napkin, and hands them to me. I head home to split the churros with Italian over a cup of tea, and then try sleeping one more time. Hugs, SOLO

  • Parenting Is Exhausting. Travelling Is Exhausting.

    I read these two sentences in Amanda’s Palmer’s mailing list tonight, and yes, it’s like she was talking to me, and I was nodding – saying, “yep, thank you. thank you for seeing me, for saying what I’ve been thinking”. We choose our own problems. If we are lucky. I chose parenthood. I chose travelling. I chose, I chose. How lucky. How tiring. Working full time, and travelling, and baby is hard. As of 3pm today, my actual food intake consisted of coffee, peanut butter toast, an ice cream cone, a banana, another coffee, and a cookie. Nope, not exaggerating. But, in this very moment, and in this particular life chapter, the food is far down the list of things that occupy my attention. I chose that too. And nope, I have not showered today either, and it’s +35C in Santiago. But it is Italian’s birthday, so I did wake up early, and worked, and he woke up early, and cleaned poop off the child, and, and I worked, and he cleaned yogurt off the child. I did organize a walking tour of urban art for us as a birthday present, and it was amazing, despite my beloved offspring continuously attempting to walk in front of traffic, eat pigeon poop, and arch her back in protest, while screaming like a banshee. And I did sprint to the coworking space to make my meeting (and another meeting, and an interview, and another meeting), and yes, showed up with half a pint of beer to the last meeting of the day. Because beer is included at the coworking space, and did I mention all the poop today? – ah, yes, so feel free to add that beer to my earlier list of food intake. I managed to throw in a whole lot of cherry tomatoes, and blueberries, and half a grapefruit, and even something resembling protein just now (a microwaved egg, I believe? ask Italian), and even do a little 25-min workout (only my second in a week). Gawd, I was hungry for green and fibre. We are trying to clean out the fridge before moving to another city tomorrow. So far, breakfast spread consists of ten eggs, two English muffins, two green peppers, one banana, one yogurt container, half of 1.5L bottle of Coke Zero, and one packet of Cup-A-Soup (chicken supreme flavour). And peanut butter, obviously. I should probably shower. Next destination – La Serena, Chile. Hugs, SOLO #travelnotes #operationescapewinter #chile #santiago #operationmommy

  • Pieces Of My Heart, And The Power Of Stories

    “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” ― Elizabeth Stone Personally, I could not wait to get my child OUT OF my body – mostly, because I had no way of knowing that she was ok, until I could hold her in my arms and make sure. I’d wake up in the middle of night, heavily pregnant, and sobbing. “Do you think she’s ok?”, I’d ask my husband again and again. “She’s fine!”, he’d reassure me, nodding, and hugging me. Of course, he had no way of knowing. Apart from living at the ultrasound office, where I could just lie back, and stick that wand on my belly permanently – watching my baby’s every move… nope, I could not think of a way to ensure she was ok, except for getting her the hell out of there, and seeing she was ok with my own two eyes. But… I get it. Once the kids are out, they are out. Eventually, they crawl around, and walk around, and bump their head into coffee tables, and pull the cat’s tail. All you can do is watch in awe and horror, knowing that one day they might bungee jump or sign up for some dumbass race in Nicaragua, and you won’t be able to do shit to stop them. That heart of yours will get on a plane to Nicaragua, or wherever the hell they decide to go. This is not specific to children. I feel this way about a handful of people in my life. Pieces of my heart – just walking around outside my body. Doing whatever they want. Risking their lives, damn it. Few days ago I drove a piece of my heart to the airport, while listening to the news of a plane crash. Then I spent an hour driving home, listening to more news of the plane crash, and bawling my eyes out. It’s rarely the numbers (176 people dead) that bring the point home. It’s not even the images (of scattered personal belongings, and body bags). It’s the stories. There is a guy on the radio, talking about losing his sister, and her husband, and his one year old niece in that crash. They lived twenty minutes away from us. The guy breaks down sobbing. Poof! I hear my own brother’s voice. He is the one giving the interview now. His sister, her husband, and his one year old niece. Nothing touches like a story. Nothing transports like a story. It is my turn to break down and sob. We are getting on a plane next week. We are pieces of someone else’s heart – just walking around outside their bodies. And those someones will be worried about us. And round and round it goes. To be human is to have someone worry about you. Isn’t that how you know you made a difference in someone’s life? How you know you left a mark? To have someone worry about you. To be a piece of someone’s heart, walking around outside their body. Hugs, SOLO

  • Tickle, Tickle, And Body Neutrality

    She crawls, and climbs on me, and tugs, and pinches, and sucks, and bites, and touches, and pushes. She holds on, and grabs, and pulls. She stands on my stomach. My body has never been used for so many things, yet treated with so little regard. My body is just there. Her body is just there. To explore. To use. Body neutrality. Not body love. Body neutrality. In other words, she doesn’t give a shit what my body (or her body) looks like or doesn’t look like. She cares about what it does. My body? Milk. Yay. Pick me up. Yay. Rest my head on your shoulder. Yay. Belly. Tickle, tickle. Her body? Belly button. YAY. Toes? Wow. Nose? Pick. Body positivity and body love is an unrealistic goal for many (at least initially). To go from body loathing (which is often the default) to body love is a big jump. And, if it’s a continuum, it might make sense to shoot for neutrality first. Not “I hate my thighs”, “I can’t stand my stomach”. And not “I am a goddess of amazingness and sex appeal”, “My curvaceous deliciousness overfloweth”. But rather… I have a body. I have knees. I have thighs. Belly. Tickle, tickle. Toes? Wow. On that note…. “Tickle, tickle!”. #tickletickle #mommysbelly #operationmommy #bodyneutrality #bodylove #bodyneutral Hugs, SOLO

  • BREAKING NEWS: Self-Righteous Asshole

    ...Who Loved Inviting Others To Enjoy Winter’s Splendor Finally Dies Of Hypothermia PORT PERRY, ON – Arthur Jolly, died on Saturday at the age of 33, while building yet another snowman. Witnesses report seeing him earlier that day on a local trail. He was cross country skiing through the forest in a t-shirt and shorts and humming the theme song from “Frozen”. Jolly’s body was found later that day, after, in a typical Ontario fashion, the temperature dropped thirty degrees within two hours. Although Jolly has been universally hated by his friends and family during the winter months for encouraging them to “enjoy Canadian winter wonderland”, and “make the most of this beautiful season”, the police report that there were no signs of foul play. Investigators believe Jolly’s death was caused by extreme weather and unhealthy levels of optimism. Jolly’s girlfriend Amanda delivered a touching eulogy. “I hated how he’d always go on and on about how there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad attitude” she reminisces. “After every snowstorm, he’d spend three hours shovelling the driveway, grinning from ear to ear the entire time. It was fucking maddening.” She wipes a tear, and smiles. Amanda plans to continue to stay indoors until the first signs of Ontario spring (sometime in July of this year). She has also joined a support group at, and is currently seeking a partner with more similar weather inclinations. P.S. Satire is fun. Hugs, SOLO

  • 2020 Preview – FUN

    The word for 2020 is FUN. Seriously. This is perfect. When I started twirling ideas for 2020 word of the year, the general theme became clear quickly. Bounce. Adventure. Twirl. I needed something Tigger-y for 2020. Not “strength”, “resilience”, or “hope”. Definitely not “discipline”, or “commitment”. Nope. That’s all way too serious. 2018 was spent mostly pregnant, and, while that year was many things, fun it was not. 2019… I don’t even remember what my chosen word was for 2019, that’s how chaotic it was. Could the word be CHAOS? I doubt it. But, that’s what it felt like. Lots of joy, and tears in 2019 – and I managed to keep another human being alive (!) – but once again, not really… FUN. Sleep deprivation was not fun. Losing strength was not fun. There is also something in the air this winter. It feels like the first winter in years when I am still BOUNCING at the end of December. I’d like to keep that momentum. And I love the idea of having a filter in mind, when approaching the many choices life throws at you. Should I try the new thing, go to this new place, sign up for that race? What is the one filter I can run these options through? In 2020, the question is: “IS IT FUN?”. A social gathering? Perhaps. As long as it’s FUN. Potential race? Sure. But is it FUN? A trip? A class? A course? A workout? A new training plan? A new gym? You get the idea. And now, the mission statement for 2020… The wonderful thing about tiggers Is tiggers are wonderful things! Their tops are made out of rubber Their bottoms are made out of springs! They’re bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun! But the most wonderful thing about tiggers is I’m the only one The wonderful thing about tiggers Is tiggers are marvelous claps! They’re loaded with vim and vigor They love to leap in your laps! They’re jumpy, bumpy, clumpy, thumpy Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun! But the most wonderful thing about tiggers is I’m the only one Hugs, SOLO

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