‘Adulting’ at its finest



It’s well over 24 hours before our first dinner party in our new place (of what we hope will be many!) and I’ve already got the table set and the wine chilling in the fridge.

If you had told me 15 years ago that hosting a dinner party and using new place mats and cutlery would make me this excited, I would have laughed in your face.

From burning poptarts and improperly boiling eggs to hosting dinner parties at home  where I actually cook half-decent food and have a couple signature dishes – I’ve come a long way in three short years. Who knew being an adult was this much fun?

Do you have a signature dish you cook when you have company? Share it below.


Recess: the ultimate time to strategize

This week is the second week of March Break for many kids here in BC. Yes, you read that correctly. March break here is more of an extended holiday than a five-day hiatus from classes.

And to think years ago, I just wanted to be grown up.

Today’s daily trigger from Triggering Memories got me thinking about school and inspired me to revisit a time during the school day where the most important conversations took place: recess.

In the spring and fall, it was spent playing endless games of Red Rover, mastering the impossibly hard double-Dutch skipping game and playing man hunt on the playground. Those who came back to the classroom with gravel embedded in their palms from falling during an intense game of hide and seek were looked upon as playground heroes. 

In the winter, recess meant building snowmen, catching snowflakes on our tongues and going down the slide at turbo speed because the slippery snow added extra horsepower.

If we were feeling brave enough, or perhaps just stupid enough, we’d stick our tongues to the soccer goal post to see if they would stick. On the days it didn’t, I was internally happy although I’d never say so to my friends. Half the fun was trying to figure out a way to get it unstuck without losing a few layers of skin. (We, like most fearless kids, did this more than once.)

Our playground at elementary school was massive and was rotated between several grades, depending on the day of the week. When it wasn’t our turn, we made use of the soccer fields, picnic tables, and baseball diamond, even if we were just playing imaginary ball. Homeruns were scored and grand slams were achieved that would have rivaled any Major League Baseball game – or so we believed.

On the days it was our turn to use the playground, we went down the slide with such speed, we could have flown across the entire school yard. We embraced our inner monkeys and scaled back and forth across the metal bars until our palms bled from the blisters. When we couldn’t make it across anymore, we looped our feet through the bars and hung upside down until all the blood rushed to our cheeks and we were forced to sit up again.

Recesses were also a time to strategize with friends: which boy looked the cutest today? Whose house were we going to sleepover at this weekend? What did we have for lunch?

For most of us, our problems were non-existent outside of what we were going to wear to school that morning and whether Mom and Dad would let us stay out just a little bit later tonight playing with friends. We were naïve and innocent enough to think everyone had it as good as we did all the while not truly understanding just how fortunate we were. 

When I got to grade eight, I couldn’t wait to get to high school – at 14-years-old, recesses seemed juvenile. Something for little kids who still believed in Santa Clause and still had the benefit of youthful ignorance.

Recesses became cliquey and awkward for those whose intellect outgrew the pace of their friends, whose physical appearance made them stand out for one reason or another and whose wardrobes wore loved by someone else before they donned them.

For these kids, the 15-minute breaks started to drag on instead of flying by like they once had.
There were always a group of kids who had an opinion and, with the support of their friends standing behind them, would make comments to try and solidify their place in the playground hierarchy.

Oftentimes, the sub-zero temperatures were a warm comfort to the outliers next to the cold shoulder of their opinionated classmates.

While the school yard dynamics could be as unpredictable as the weather in the suburbs of Ontario, recess holds fond memories for my inner double-Dutching, hop-skotching, monkey bar-scaling playground star.


29 years, 29 lessons

Anyone who has spent more than five minutes with me knows I’m a bit of a birthday diva. One night of drinks or celebrating isn’t enough – I generally extend the party over the entire month of February. Although it’s the shortest month of the year, for my friends and family, it probably feels like the longest.

This year, it’s my last 20-something birthday…. Or my first (of many) 29th birthdays – however you want to look at it.

To celebrate, I’m going out with friends (again) and sharing some of the most important things I’ve learned over the past nearly three decades. Whoa.

  1. Getting old is a privilege denied to many. I’ve lost enough people in my life and wished I had more time with them. Instead of wishing away my birthdays or whining about getting “old” I truly celebrate it. All. Month. Long.
  • Loyal friends are hard to come by – hang onto them. In our professional and personal lives, we’re constantly meeting people. It’s not hard to find folks who share similar interests, or who will grab a drink after work or go for a walk on the weekends with you. Loyal friends are harder to come by – they’re the friends who defend you behind your back instead of stabbing it and will check in on you instead of simply saying ‘let me know if you need anything’ because they know you need help but won’t ask for it. Cherish these friends – they’re few and far between.
  • Time is a great healer for a lot of things except my paralyzing fear of spiders. That only seems to have gotten worse.
  • Family is forever, but they won’t be around forever. Sometimes we get so caught up in our lives we let weekly phone calls slip and emails go unanswered. Since losing my Dad, I’ve made a valiant effort to try and stay in better touch with my family. No one on their death bed said they wished they stayed in less frequent contact with those who love them.
  • Changing how other people feel or think is about as plausible as me giving up wine – it’ll never happen. Learning I have no control over what other people think of me or how they feel towards me has been a hard but important lesson. I can’t make someone like me just like someone can’t make me feel a certain way towards them. It’s crummy, but it’s true.
  • Having a passion is as important as oxygen – we need it to feel alive. Getting back the ice after a 10-year hiatus was one of the best choices I ever made for myself. I didn’t realize how much I loved it – or missed it – until I laced up my skates and just did it. I may not be the best skater in the world, but I love being on the ice and have a hell of a lot of fun making an idiot of myself doing it. It gives me purpose outside of work and adds another layer to the complex, hormonal monster that is Alyshia.
  • Giving back is essential. If you’re reading this, you have access to either a computer or mobile device – you’re miles ahead of more than half the people we share the world with. We sometimes get caught up in our own miniscule problems like shitty Wi-Fi connections or not having enough money to go out with friends with the fourth time in a week that we forget there are people who are fighting for their life every day. Some of my most satisfying and memorable experiences have come from giving back – it’s an amazing feeling to know that in some small way, you can help make life a little easier for another person be it through donating time, money or other resources.
  • Health, like time, can’t be bought. All the money in the world means absolutely SFA when you don’t have your health. You can only drink to excess, smoke, eat chocolate for dinner and not exercise for so long before it starts to catch up with you.
  • Fear is great motivation. I made a lot of choices over the past couple of years that scared the shit out of me. I made them because I knew they were the right choice without knowing where my next step would be. For a compulsive planner like me, it was terrifying but so far, it hasn’t killed me. And I’ve learned a few things along the way. So, embrace the fear and go for it. You’ll get there, I promise.
  • Saying ‘no’ without offering any explanation is incredibly liberating. I’m kind of a ‘yes’ gal. I say yes to coworkers, to friends, to family and commit to things I know I probably shouldn’t take on but do anyway. It’s caused me stress, tears and heartache. I was always worried if I said no once, it meant no forever. Now, I’ve realized it’s OK to say no and not feel bad or feel obligated offer an explanation.  Sometimes, the answer is just no – end of story. And trust me, people will ask you again.
  • Never underestimate the healing powers of a good cry and a tub of Luna and Larry’s chocolate peanut butter ice cream.
  • My body doesn’t bounce back after a night out on the town quite as quickly as it did when I was a teenager. A round of shots when I was 19 meant the party was just getting started.  At 29, it’s a punishment – it’s a sure fire way to guarantee I’ll be hugging the porcelain god later and dragging my ass around the entire weekend trying to recover. And partying on weeknights? I’d rather get a Brazilian than deal with a hangover at work.
  • There’s no shame in having a night in, even if it’s a weekend. Spending a night in on the couch binge watching Orange Is The New Black in my Winnie The Pooh onsie doesn’t mean I’m necessarily missing out on anything spectacular if my girlfriends are on the town… except maybe a wicked, weekend long hangover (see above).
  • Crosswords are nearly impossible to complete without cheating a little bit. Sometimes, you just have to turn to your trusted friend Google for the answer. Yes, I’m a communications professional but I’m a terrible thesaurus. I mean, how many ways are there to say fight, seriously?
  • Confidence goes a long way to helping you get what you want, be it landing a job, getting asked on a second date or just being approached by someone who needs help. If you’re not confident on the inside, fake it til’ you make it.
  • Learning to cook more than three meals is key to surviving living on your own and not becoming the size of a house Especially if one of those meals is KD. Plus, it impresses dinner guests when you can whip up a signature dish that doesn’t come from a box and has more than two ingredients.
  • Cheap wine is not always bad wine and expensive wine is not always good wine. Sometimes it takes trial and error to differentiate between the two. Accidently picked up a bottle of sub-par vino? Pair it with some cheese and girlfriends – they’ll help it make it bearable.
  • On that note, a good, trustworthy, reliable girlfriend is worth her weight in gold. I’m fortunate to have a great group of gals I can call on when I want to go out, need to vent, or just be brought back down to reality. I wouldn’t be where I am without the ladies in my life and I’m eternally grateful for their friendship…. And their wardrobes, which I occasionally borrow.
  • Before you can truly enjoy the company of others, you have to appreciate your own (Thanks Auntie Sandra.) If you can’t stand being around you, how can you expect other people to? I was 25 before I took myself out to the movies solo and 27 before I went to a restaurant to eat by myself without a book or phone to distract me. I wish I’d done it sooner. Escaping daily distracting to spend a bit of time your own and inside your own head is a gift too many people deny themselves. Without distraction, you can think, you can process, you can reflect, you can just be you without having to worry about everything else around you.
  • Trying to keep up with The Jones’ is like trying to roll a boulder up a mountain. It’s hard, it’s exhausting and if you keep at it long enough, it’ll eventually destroy you – and your bank account. Family and true friends don’t give a crap if you’re wearing Prada or second hand, as long as you’re happy and being true to yourself.
  • You only have one pair of feet – take care of them and they’ll continue to carry you where you need to go. Crappy shoes make for angry feet, hideous bunions and painful blisters. I learned this lesson the hard (and sore) way.
  • Just because something has always been a certain way, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Variety is the spice of life, or so they say. Sometimes changing things up leads to better things. And if it doesn’t, at least you’ll got a good story out of it.
  • A relationship has to go both ways. When one person gives more effort, passion or understanding most of the time, they’ll eventually start to feel taken advantage of. You may not agree with or like everything your partner does, but at the end of the day, they’re still human and they’re choosing to be with you as much as you are with them. Reciprocate efforts, be respectful, show affection and be empathetic – or you’ll risk losing them.
  • Worrying about things or situations that may or may not happen is a bigger waste of time than watching Glitter. Anxiety is something I’ve battled my entire life and have only just gotten control over the past few years. I’ve worried about what other people may or may not think, I’ve worried what they’ll do, I’ve “what if’d” every god damn situation in my life, right down to what would happen if I sent a particular work email, which resulted in me thinking I’d lose my job, be sued by someone who didn’t even know I existed and end up on the streets. Seriously. All of the energy I’ve wasted worrying about stuff that never happened or was something I had no control over could power the city of Beijing for a year. If you can’t control the outcome, let it go. Things will happen as they’re supposed to, both good and bad.
  • Sudoku is impossible to master.
  • Your outlook is a choice. There are some things beyond our control – whether we’re 6’1 or 5’2 or whether we inherited Aunt Jean’s crooked nose. But how we look at things is something we are definitely in power of. Being positive and focusing on moving forward and improving instead of dwelling on nonsense issues speaks volumes about who you are as a person. Positive people attract positive relationships, situations and experience.
  • Forgive yourself as easily as you forgive others. You wouldn’t hold a grudge for the rest of your life against someone for making an innocent mistake, so grant yourself the same courtesy. Mistakes are part of being human. And, sometimes, they’re kinda fun to make on purpose.
  • Coming up with 29 things that I’ve learned was really freaking hard. 

What’s the most important or meaningful lesson you’ve learned?

The end of another (synchro) era

You ever wish for a day to come and when it finally does, you wish you hadn’t wanted it to arrive so quickly? Yesterday was that day for me.

February 21 – the West Coast Challenge Cup – marked the end of another great synchro season. Now that it’s come and gone, I’m really sad it’s over.

The past five months, I’ve had the opportunity to skate with a new team in a new category with a new coach – to say it’s been an interesting experience would be an understatement – but not in a bad way.

We managed to collect some new hardware – two golds and a silver – and a respectable fourth place finish in Ontario against some of the best teams in the country. Although, a medal would have been the icing on the cake….

We pulled together this season to skate a fun, upbeat, Saturday night 90s throwback routine. And we had a hell of a lot of fun doing it.  

Not uncommon with any team, there were moments where the practices felt long and our patience ran thin. Muttered comments were occasionally made and dynamics were tested. We’re women, we have hormones and a lot on our respective plates outside the rink – we can’t help it.

A few gals experienced life changes, some planned, some not; others had hectic work schedules; some fell ill; others just had an opinion, myself included.

Yet, despite all of this, it’s moments like yesterday that matter. Moments where the differences and BS are put aside and we just skate. We skate for ourselves, we skate for each other, we skate for the sport – because we truly friggin’ love it.

Yesterday, we laid it all out and the results were reflective. We achieved our first 50-plus point score of the season and had more energy than any of our previous skates. We stepped off the ice feeling confident, powerful and united – like we had all achieved something great together because, well, we did. We topped the podium the same day we organized and ran the competition.

We all deserve to take great pride in our achievements. It’s something we may not have been able to pull off individually, but as a team, as Ice Evolution, we’ve proven ourselves to be unstoppable.

At the end of the day, we’re different gals from different walks of life and although we may not always agree on everything, we do share the same love for one thing: synchro.

It unites us in our passion, it’s the reason we get up at 4 a.m. with a smile on our face and head to the rink (coffee in hand, of course) and it’s the reason we return to the ice year after year, despite saying just months before that it may be time to take a “break”.

Having only been back on the ice for two seasons after a nearly 10-year hiatus, I can say that the past two years have really ignited a passion for this sport I thought I’d long lost.

I’m grateful to the two coaches who took a chance on me, allowed me to join their rosters here in BC and came up with fun and challenging routines for us to skate to. 

I’m grateful to the two managers who busted their asses, took time away from their families and made sure the team showed up where they needed to and on time, with a back up bag of extra essentials just in case. 

I’m grateful to the other gals on the ice who made me feel welcome and who have befriended me despite my quirks, sarcasm and propensity to swear. I’ve made some friendships on the ice that have further been strengthened off the ice and I’m truly appreciative to have met these awesome gals.

Although I don’t plan to skate next year (no, seriously), I know this won’t be my last season. It’s not a matter of if I’ll skate again, just when.

In the meantime, I’ll keep my three new shiny bits of hardware polished, my memories close and my skates sharpened and ready to go…. just in case.

The Glory Days Are (Officially) Back!

At around 9:30 last night, after refreshing my inbox over 500 times during the course of the day, the email from Ice Fyre finally arrived. When I opened it and read the second line, I nearly cried from excitement:

The Ice Fyre Coaching staff are proud to offer you a position on the Ice Fyre Adult II Team for the 2013-2014 season.
After an eight-year break and having convinced myself I’d never be able to skate again, I’m officially on a synchronized skating team. I feel like a kid on Christmas morning.
Given how many people were at the second try out, I was worried about my chances – there were only 20 spots and many of the skaters were really talented. The email itself said the decisions were difficult. I certainly didn’t envy the position the coaches were in.  
That being said, I can’t begin to describe how elated I am to be part of the skating world again.
The past two weeks have reignited a flame I thought had long burnt out and it really does feel amazing.
I’m looking forward to reconnecting with the girls I skated with before and meeting the new members of our team.
With three competitions planned for the 2013/2014 season not including nationals, we have a lot of work ahead of us and I can’t wait to get started. Our practices begin in August so that gives me plenty of time to come back down to earth from cloud nine and get myself in shape.
Bring on the skating tights, blisters, Sunday night practices, run-throughs of the program just “one more time”, competition buns, sparkles, and Peterborough Petes hockey parties memories.
Look out synchro world – Whitby Ice Fyre’s Adult Team is ready to top the podium!

Reliving The Glory Days: Round 2

Last night, we had our second of two skating try outs for Whitby Ice Fyre’s adult team.
Since our first session last week, I’ve been thinking nonstop about the possibility of skating again. I’m borderline obsessed.
On Saturday, I went to a figure skating store to buy tights and gel socks. I’m a serious figure skater after all – tights and gel socks are necessities.  
Although I knew exactly what I was looking for, I found myself wandering around the store touching the skating dresses, fiddling with the sparkles, playing with scrunchies, and trying out the skating 
After 15 minutes, I finally went up to the cash and word vomited all over the poor cashier about how excited I was to skate again “because, like, it’d been so long”. He politely nodded while he rang me through but the look in his eyes said it all – this woman is I-N-S-A-N-E.
All day before the try out, I had nervous butterflies. I thought about what I was going to wear, what time I should leave, I Google-mapped my route even though I’d been there 100 times, and set my skating bag by the door.
I tried on two different outfits and I hummed to myself while I did my make-up – yes you read that correctly. 
As I brushed my hair, I began to laugh uncontrollably. Tears streaming down my face and my make-up essentially ruined, I realized I just did my make up before a skating practice. I barely have time to do my hair and make-up before work but here I am applying mascara and eye liner before a work out. Apparently my inner poptart isn’t totally gone. I’m not sure whether to be embarrassed or proud.  
(Photo credit: Britta)
When I arrived at the arena, I felt at home again. Even the sight of the Zamboni resurfacing the ice gave me goosebumps. (what?!)
The cool, crisp air was almost intoxicating and this time, I felt more in control and more confident in my ability. 
Although I struggled with some of the movements we were asked to do, I felt like I was on a high. In fact, skating last night almost made me delusional.

It wasn’t until this morning that I thought about some of the things we were asked to practice and realized that I probably didn’t execute them as well as I thought I did in my mind. Field moves like Ina Bauers and spirals were much more challenging than I ever remember them being.

In my mind, my spiral looked something like this:
From everyone else’s perspective, this was probably more accurate:

… But less canine and more human. You get the idea.
I think there must have been something in the air. Or perhaps I’ve just become a full blown addict.
As soon as I got off the ice, my muscles began to ache and fatigue started to set in – I loved every second of it. With my 2003 Gold Medallion competition CD cranked the entire way home, I realized how badly I wanted to make the team. 
I know I have a long way to go to reach even half of the level I was at before in terms of flexibility, confidence, skills and strength but I’m committed to doing it and know I can bring myself to reach a level of ability that would allow me to a great member of the team. Let’s hope the coaches agree.
We were told offers will be emailed over the next day or so I’ve been patiently waiting for mine and haven’t given it a second thought. 
Who am I kidding, I’m (nearly) pulling my hair out. I hate waiting for things. In fact, I may or may not have refreshed my inbox 276 times already waiting for the message….
Stay tuned!

Reliving The Glory Days

Last night, I had a chance to relive the glory days. 
No, I’m not talking about the “high-school Alyshia” glory days. I’m talking about reconnecting with my first love: skating. 
France 2004
Back in the day, I was a competitive synchronized skater with Whitby Ice Fyre. A member of Team Canada for two years, our junior competitive synchronized skating team competed both locally and internationally, representing Canada at two competitions in Europe. 
Our 20-member team was like a sorority – minus the Greek letters and secret handshake. We were all very different but were united by the one thing we all had a passion for: synchronized skating. (Well, that and hockey players.)
We partied together, we cried together, we succeeded together, we lost together. I formed lasting friendships with many of the girls I skated with – one of them was even a bridesmaid in my wedding. 
Just another practice circa 2005
The year I stopped skating to pursue college, the fees were several thousand dollars and the time commitment had reached upwards of 20 hours a week. I never thought I’d be crazy enough to skate again have the opportunity to be part of a team again.  But when I found out a few girls I used to skate with were hosting an open session to gauge interest in a potential adult team, I was more excited than I expected.
It took me a few days to locate my skates and after sharpening the rust off of them (literally), I was ready to go. I hadn’t been on the ice in over six years, but somehow convinced myself I’d be able to do it.
Last night, reality began to sink in. When I walked into the arena, my cheeks flushed and my heart raced. What the hell was I doing here? What if I made a total fool of myself? I wasn’t even sure I’d remember how to stand on the ice, let alone skate.
The second I stepped on the ice, my anxiety and fear disappeared – I felt at home. The cool air nipped at my cheeks as I began warming up and I realized how good it felt to just skate.
Our signatures are still in our old change room
Standing on the ice with some of the girls I skated with eight years ago, it was like no time had passed at all. As we worked through different warm ups and skills, my mind wandered to memories of three-hour practices, the competitions, sneaking out to buy alcohol in Paris, and sharing secrets, tears and laughs.  
It felt like nothing had changed…. until I woke up this morning and realized time had changed one thing: my body’s ability to bounce back after a skating session.
I could barely swing my legs over the side of my bed. I’m sore in places I didn’t realize I had muscles. Evidently over the past eight years, my body has taken a bit of a turn for the worse and doesn’t recover from a work out like it used to when I was 18. I feel like I have a skating hangover. The crazy part is I can’t wait to do it again.  
I was proud I managed to make it through the hour-long session with only four blisters and without falling – on the ice at least. I did take a tumble (read: face plant) in the change room afterwards – evidently I need to get used to my toe picks again.
So, I’m looking forward to the session again next week, joining the team in August and making new memories…. Unless of course I don’t make the cut, in which case I’ll just tell everyone I decided against skating after all. 
Stay tuned!