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Yes, we are all stressed, worried, scared, unsure, and under duress. We are all in uncharted waters here, and the future is so unknown, as it always has been (let's keep that in mind), but we must remain hopeful.

Spring has finally arrived, mostly...I think. But, it WILL truly arrive, and the sun will shine brighter and stronger, and the earth will warm, and new life will begin. New life will begin, and we will all begin with it. That's what I like about this picture..that even under intense pressure, you can actually still smile. There are many things to smile about. When you're out there picking up supplies for yourself, or a neighbour that can't leave the house, or might be too frightened to do so, smile at the people you see. A smile really is a form of communication. It tells others that you are friendly, and approachable (but only as close a 3 meters for now), and that you are sharing their experience. We are all sharing this experience together right now. A smile can alleviate so much fear, can express that you care, you understand and that even though you can't get close right now, you can bridge that space between you and a stranger with the most universal greeting there is - a smile.

Social distancing is still the best method to prevent transmission and staying at home unless you absolutely need to go out can really help stop the transmission of this virus. But, staying at home is stressful because that means we can't go to work, we can't go to the gym to get exercise that will help alleviate some stress, and we can't visit with friends to vent our fears and frustrations...there are so many things we just can't do right now, and along with financial fears, health fears and the fear of what is waiting for us down the road, can really increase the pressure and strain we are all feeling, and create even more stress. So, how can we all reduce our stress?

Get plenty of rest. 8 hours, minimum a night. I know, personally how hard that is when your brains won't shut up and you're fill with anxiety...but on the bright side..if you don't get a good night's sleep, you now have the opportunity to nap throughout the day..like when you're kids are napping. Put on a really boring documentary or one of those tv channels that sell crap..I can't remember what that channel is called but it ALWAYS put me to sleep.

Eat healthy. Even though we need to have non-perishables in our pantry, they don't all have to been canned. Rice, noodles, peanut butter, dried beans and legumes (which are high in fiber so BONUS), nuts, dried berries and fruits, quinoa and other whole grains and many other dried goods that are healthier options for your pantry. But the best food right now is lots of fresh fruits and veggies, raw, as well as anything home made from scratch. There are a number of local businesses that offer healthy premade meals, @macrofoods being only one of them. If you need to order in, then try alternatives to regular pizza by getting a cauliflower pizza, with a side salad :)

With the gyms closed, now is a great time to get outside..nowhere crowded of course, but we there are many city trails available to the public that are safe, clean, and a nice break from the confines of your house. If you really can't get out there, try online workouts. Plenty of gyms are offering online training and coaching, and social media is stuffed with all kinds of trainers offering classes via facetime, zoom, and other social media platforms. Or, you and your besties could host a Facebook live, or IG live, and everyone work out together. Personally? I follow Psyche Truth on YouTube and do the yoga workouts I find there. Erica is my absolute favourite!

Talk to someone you love and trust. You might need to text, or message, or even do some face time on your phone, but talk to someone. Sharing your burdens of fear and anxiety will lighten the load, and and allow you to vent your fears and frustrations. But, you'll find yourself chatting before long, laughing, sharing experiences, news, helpful tips, but mostly you'll be sharing hope. We are all in this together. We are all experiencing stress, fear, uncertainty, anxiety and so much more, but by sharing this, we can help each other work through these things. So, talk to someone, and listen to someone, and share you experiences, and share news about where to find the staples that are needed. Try not to share too much about the negative impact this is having, but rather the good things that are happening like communities coming together to help each other, like trading goods for services or goods for goods ( this was the beginning of human trade and economy - the barter system). Share cooking or baking tips, or what you are doing to keep from going stir-crazy while being at home.

Being at home for 2 weeks with little ones is quite daunting. They have great energy and will need all kinds of stimulation, but remember bed time stories? I used to read to my kids every night before bed. It was our last connection of the day, and it was the best part of the day. Sure, they would be in bed soon and I would get a much needed break, but as we snuggled together and I read "Fox in Socks" while the kids laughed at me twisting my tongue over the words, the bond of family was solidified. No matter what had happened during the day, this was our time to reconnect and reaffirm our bond as a family. My kids are adults now so I don't have the same problem parents are facing right now, but if I did have small kids at home, we'd be busy with crafts, reading, and lots of play. Since I wouldn't have to rush to work, or try to do much in a single day, I'd have that chance to play games with them, read a lot, watch some programs with them, teach them a skill or two, and talk. I miss my kids being young because we did have so much fun together, and they kept my mind fresh and open. I'm sure the parents out there are doing all they can to keep the kids busy and happy, and most importantly safe and healthy, and now is a good time to share your tips with other parents who are at home, desperately trying to find fun and interesting things for the kids to do. Share your fun, and your struggles with other parents right now. Grown up talk is just as important right now, so please reach out to each other and help keep each other sane.

This is definitely going to be one helluva storm that we are all weathering. But, as the saying loosely goes "smooth seas don't make a good sailor". As we all head into this storm together, keep in mind, we are all heading in this together. We are all adrift out there, feeling very alone, very scared, afraid of drowning, being lost, or being forgotten, and fearful of what is waiting for us down the road. How long will this storm last? What will happen after the storm has passed? No one really knows how long this will last but what happens after can be determined right now. Now is the time to find each other, and hang onto each other. To pull together as a whole and support each other. Do you see someone floundering? Reach out to them and let them know that if you can help in any way, you will. This is not the time to let others flounder or drown. We must absolutely be reaching out our hands (metaphorically) and grabbing onto each other and hanging on. Now is the time to be the best human being you can possibly be. Now is the time for other big companies to offer help, as Facebook has done, and I applaud them for doing this, and hope other big companies will show their altruism at this time when it is so greatly needed. Now is the time to share what little you have to move the entire world forward, away from selfishness to selflessness. If you have something that can help someone out, please share it. Knowledge, skill, basic supplies, wealth..all of these things can be shared and shared so easily. Even if you don't have a lot of money, you probably have a lot of other things you can share, and in doing so, we, as humans, can move forward to a better future. One that is less hectic, less stressful, less crazy.

I'm going to end this blog by asking each and every one of you to reach out to someone today and see what you can do to help ease their fears, frustrations, or concerns. Let's all be the humans we have been trying to be, and make a difference in someone else's life.

Be safe. Be healthy. Be kind.

Joanne Gale

Those are not my jogging shoes, just thought I'd start with that. :) Mine are dirty, starting to fray, and in need of a new pair, which I'll be hunting around for soon..as soon as it's dry enough to not worry about getting a soaker.

One year ago, I got a dog and started walking every day with her, twice a day. We'd go on long walks at night, usually for about an hour, sometimes more. I really wanted to jog though, but my left knee was having none of that. Even our long evening walks, which were loads of fun, and sometimes an exercise in patience with a puppy that's learning new things, like "heel", or "leave that..leave it..leaveitforcryinoutloud..what's in your mouth??? OMG!!! LEAVE IT!!" But for the most part, she's been an amazing walking partner, even when I would slow down because of pain in my left knee. Then I'd start to hobble and my right hip would hurt and by the time I got home I was just a bundle of pain. That started to change the more I walked and built up strength in my knee and legs, and then I got the Slimwave system and things really started moving forward. Like, really moving forward!

I don't want to toot the horn of my own platforms, but Slimwave has made a huge difference in my strength and stamina. I didn't get booty results like my assistant, Dania did, but I was focusing on building strength in my legs, particularly around my knees. And it has helped tremendously.

So, I'm out walking the dog one night, and we like to go to a local park where there are ponds and nicely paved walk ways. I usually let her off the leash because no one else is there at night, and she likes to run around, play fetch, and just be silly. It lets her burn off some of that energy. I decided to pretend I'm running away from her, and as I jogged away, I started to feel pretty good. So, I leashed her up, and we went for a short jog, about 5 minutes. Then, I walked for another 5 minutes checking in my with knees.."all good?" All good they said. So, I jogged another 5 minutes, and finished up our walk with a brisk pace for about 20 minutes. I felt fine when I got home, and the next day there was no pain. I was a happy camper!!!

My happy camper of a dog.

Jogging has been my go-to exercise since high school, when I took up cross country running a little more seriously. I was on the cross country team in middle school and had a great coach, and took what I learned to high school. Then, as years went by, I continued to jog on a regular basis, pushing myself to go further and longer. I was up to 10k runs when a kidney infection took me out. It took me a long time to recover from that, so I had to shorten my runs. As the years went by, I joined gyms, worked out with weights, but always hit the treadmill and got about 40 minutes of cardio. It was great. Then, hypothyroidism knocked the crap outta me. I had zero energy and felt like crap for almost 2 years, when I found a doctor that would hear me, and got on the right medication and the right dose. But, I had stopped jogging by then and the pain in my left knee was keeping me from being as active as I like to be.

So, I'm starting slow. I jog 3 to 4 times a week now, building up to the 30 minute jogs I like. 10 to 15 minute jogs are all I allow myself right now even though I feel strong enough to jog longer, I know that if I go too hard too soon that I'm going to either injure myself, or be too sore for the next few days to get out and do it again. So, start slow, pace yourself, and enjoy the activity..that's what I'm telling myself.

I'm really proud of myself for getting this far with it and I've stuck to it. I feel more energized and clear-headed, and more relaxed during the day. I sleep slightly better too which is a HUGE thing for me, having sleep troubles that have plagued me since I was a teenager. I'm not really thinking about losing weight as I haven't stepped on my scale in about 5 months. I go by how my clothes fit, and measurements anyway. What I'm trying to do is build my strength and stamina, and get back into a routing doing an activity that I really enjoy.

I'll keep everyone posted about my progress. Being accountable is a great way to stay motivated, and I'm going to do my best to not let you, dear reader, or myself down.

Happy trails!!

Joanne Gale

This will be my final blog post about WRWR2019. Months later and it still resonates with me, and the incredible experience lives on in memory, and in conversations with other riders. It was such an amazing thing. I still can't believe I did it!!

This post is about a woman named Donna, who is quite incredible, and a real warrior.

I met Donna in Sault St. Marie on one leg of the WRWR2019 ride. She was riding from the Soo to Parry Sound with the group. The incredible things about Donna are:

She just got her license in July

She beat cancer

So, we have a new rider who wanted her first group ride to be with a group of women. She couldn't have picked a better time to join up in one of the most epic world wide journeys, and world wide sisterhood of riders. She had only been riding a couple of months, and was going to ride some really twisty, challenging roads with the group. Her skill level wasn't a beginner, that's for sure, and her resolve and determination were inspiring. Not to mention she BEAT CANCER.

Along the way I got to learn her incredible story. She had spent a year battling the Big C, and winning. There are many of these incredible stories just as there are many who lose that battle. Donna decided that life was waiting for her, so she went out and got her motorcycle license, and a motorcycle and went after life with zest and an incredible spirit that is testament to the warriors out there who are in this battle right now. And she smiled, just as in the pic with the two of us, throughout her ride, challenges and all.

As we headed out of Sudbury (one of our stops on the way to Parry Sound), darkness came, and challenges with it. There were many areas of construction and single lanes with oncoming traffic, and Donna struggled a little, as most newer riders do. I remember being a newer rider and really having trouble with oncoming traffic, especially transport trucks, or having to pass other vehicles, especially transport trucks. But attempting something like the ride from Sault St. Marie to Parry Sound would have been the most unlikely thing I would have done as a new rider. Flat, straight roads, with lots of daylight and little traffic were my routes in the beginning of my riding career. Her absolute bravery just amazed me. But, as it grew darker, a few of us could see her struggling, so we decided to flank her and make her feel safe and confident. Tracey, Ashely (see the other blog posts to find out about these amazing women too) and I flanked Donna. Tracey leading, Ashley just behind her in staggered formation, Donna behind Tracey, and me bringing up the rear. Like this, we rode to Parry Sound, arriving safe and...sound. (No pun intended). That's where I learned that Donna would be riding back to Sudbury on her own the next day - not gonna happen! I decided to ride back up to Sudbury, and then on down to Barry, where I met up with my hubby and we rode to Hamilton to meet up with everyone there. That was the end of my journey with WRWR2019 - in Hamilton.

Donna is just an incredible woman, with warmth and humour, and grit and determination. This post is to celebrate her, and others who are real warriors. Who face cancer, battle it, and with incredible resolve, win the battle. This post is also for all the women who go into this battle and lose. Riding with Donna and getting to know her really made me realize just how fleeting life is, and how precious it is, and how we must remember those who lost their battles with this terrible disease. Riding with Donna was honouring those who are no longer with us, and remembering them. It also made me realize how lucky I am to not have had to face this battle down, but that if I should ever find myself on that battlefield, I'll know there are so many others who have gone before me, will be there for me. Her story is an example of the fighting spirit of women, the incredible community we have, and the endless support for one another, as women, that we have.

I wish I had more pics of her and I, but this summer I plan on riding up north again, and I'll be sure to contact her so we can ride together again. I promise I'll update everyone with pics, and her story.

The ride never really ends. So many minutes that are stored in my brain and my heart that I could write a novel about everything I experienced and learned. If you ever have the opportunity to go way outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself, I would highly recommend that you DO IT!! The connections you'll make will last your lifetime, and the memories will be shared over and over again! I'd rather live with fear of trying new things than regret.

Ride on Donna, ride on! See you soon!