Brought To You By The Letter I; Forty-Five Weeks In

One of the most wonderful things about the world is that we are all so different; the world is a rich tapestry; as my grandma used to say, it takes all kinds of people to make a world. And yet, in many ways we are all the SAME; we all want to live our best lives, to be the best versions of ourselves, and to experience joy, happiness, and health. But it’s our differences, I think, that are so interesting.

For example, there are people who, when they open a box of Girl Guide sandwich cookies, prefer the vanilla to the chocolate. When I say prefer, I mean they actually eat all the vanilla cookies before eating the chocolate ones, if they eat the chocolate at all. I know! And there are some people who prefer the sandwich cookies – either kind – to the mint chocolate wafer ones. I cannot pretend to understand such people, but I respect their choices. I mean, if we are sharing a box of Girl Guide cookies, I am more than happy if you choose the vanilla and leave me the chocolate.

I once knew a woman who had incredibly strong opinions on every small thing you can imagine, and those opinions – generally negative, she was and probably still is a wretchedly unhappy person – manifested in judgement of other people. Women over age 21 with long hair were pathetically trying to recapture their youth, anyone who grooved to Billie Jean was a pedophile by association, thong underwear was for prostitutes and anyone who wore such items was suspect, kale was for people who were pretentious and snobbish, as no one could ever possibly really like it. You can imagine her opinion of me. She even thought labradoodles in general, and my dog in particular, were stupid. Barkley! Say what you will about my underwear, but Barkley Boy is off limits.

I haven’t spoken with her – obviously – for many years, but whenever I feel a nugget of judgement about someone or something manifest itself in my brain, I remind me that I do not want to be that person and I try to see things from that person’s point of view. It mostly works. Plus, have you ever noticed that when you secretly judge something or someone, it ALWAYS comes back to bite you? Never say “I would NEVER do X” because inevitably it will happen. It’s like someone I know who smugly told me, many years ago when I was going through the agonies of potty training with my son, that her daughter was fully potty trained, day and night, by 18 months and all I had to do was put my son in underwear and it would happen. It was superior parenting that made the difference and I, frankly, was not doing my job properly. Then her second child refused to use the potty and was still having accidents at age 5. That’s karma at work. I mean, I think that kid must be a teen by now so I’m sure he’s gotten over that hurdle but still. I try to keep an open mind and consider there might be mitigating circumstances that affect every one of us in different ways.

On that note, I have started a “Strength for Runners” online program; I am on a hiatus from running at the moment, and I really miss it. I am just not a Winter Runner; I don’t like running in below-zero temperatures, I am a very early morning person and I do not want to run in the dark even if it wasn’t below zero, and I am really, really scared of slipping on the ice and snow. Even when the gym reopens I am not sure when I will feel ready to face it, and in the meantime, I have no access to a treadmill. I do have an elliptical trainer and a Peloton bike, so I can keep my cardio strength up, but I thought I should try this strength training so that when I do get back to running, I don’t injure my knees or my old-lady hips.

I know many of you love strength training, like my friend Twyla (HI TWYLA) but I…do not. I love cardio; I love being sweaty and that heart-pounding, lung-aching feeling of a good workout. But strength training? No. However, this program is ten minutes per session and I can make myself do anything for ten minutes, including listening to a detailed conversation about the WWE Royal Rumble and how it is a real highlight of January, not to mention the year.

The first ten minute session was incredibly underwhelming, OR SO I THOUGHT. This is ridiculous, I thought as I lunged and “curtsied” and planked my way through ten minutes. This is doing NOTHING. I can’t feel a thing. It’s completely ineffective. Who would ever find this helpful? I silently judged the whole program and everything in it until the next morning when I got out of bed and discovered that my butt was on fire.

Judgement! It literally bit me in the butt.

Consider me humbled. Suffice it to say that I haven’t missed a session yet. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up with buns of steel, like one of those videos from the nineties. At the very least, I’m hoping to start running again and be injury-free.

Outfit of the Week

This week’s OOTW is – appropriately enough – workout wear! Normally only my lucky family sees me makeup-free, in workout clothes, but I love this outfit so much I wanted to share it with you. First, I have had those pants for at least ten years and they still look great. The woman mentioned above also thought that lululemon is overpriced garbage, but the longevity of their clothes can really not be beat.

When I get up in the morning, it’s COLD in the house. I spend a bit of time reading, writing, and drinking coffee and so I need a little layer before I start exercising. I love this crop sweater; it makes me feel very Flashdance. I would never wear it for its intended midriff-baring purpose, but I like it as a layer.

When I do my yoga practice, it’s still pretty chilly in the house so I like to have a t-shirt on over my yoga tank. I bought this tee in 2013 for the Blissdom blogging conference, and you can see it here with a photo of my dear, dear friends Hannah and Allison (HI HANNAH HI ALLISON).

By the time I do my cardio I strip down to my tank top. This red tank is probably nine or ten years old; my friend Sharyl has – and still wears – the exact same one (HI SHARYL).

By the by, I have to share with you my workout playlist from earlier this week:

I think we all can agree Spotify shuffle just does not work. I have hundreds of songs on multiple playlists, and I always hear the same dozen or so over and over. My older son showed me how to arrange the songs alphabetically, which is a very fun way to listen to music. Note: it does NOT work for Christmas music, unless you want to hear eight different versions of Baby, It’s Cold Outside one after the other. Anyway, this playlist is brought to you by the letter I, with special appearances from Johnny Come Home and Jump. Incidentally, I think “Brought To You By The Letter I” would be a great name for a personal blog.

Thoughts and prayers for my family, who have to hear me singing loudly with my earbuds in. JOHNNY. WE’RE SORRY. WON’T YOU COME ON HOME. The only thing worse is when I listen to the Hamilton soundtrack.

Pandemic Reading

Bear with me for a moment when I say that this was a really good book and also the premise is a 16-year-old girl who runs away to live “off the grid” with her high school English teacher. I know. I know. Things, as you may imagine, go disastrously, because what kind of man runs away to live off the grid with a 16-year-old girl? But there is a very excellent story in here and also a theme about sisters and family. It’s set in 1969, with a backdrop of hippies, the Vietnam war, and the Manson murders.

I really like Malcolm Gladwell – this isn’t my FAVOURITE of his, but it’s very good. He is always so smart and nuanced, and this book about assumptions and strangers is excellent with, as always, a very very VERY wide range of examples.

Three generations of women, one wedding dress…but the current bride doesn’t want to wear it! Oh no! This is what I’d call a Hallmark Movie Book: light, silly, full of twists and turns and emotions. A nice winter weekend read.

Happy last week of January, everyone! Stay warm and cozy! xo


  1. Marion Hill says

    As your wonderful blog has now become part of my life and a highlight of spectacular insight I start my week with cheeks hurting. I smiled, I laughed and love your spirit more each week. I also wish I had your energy. But I give myself so excuse because I think I’m your senior by 10 years…. but still I should try to keep up. Thanks for the fun, the honesty and the window.

  2. For a minute I thought you might have been describing my sister, Ann. Judgy, unhappy, and literally says things like ‘That’s not what you do’ – which translates to THAT’S NOT WHAT YOU DO, BUT IT MIGHT BE WHAT I DO. Sigh. I appreciate your take on steering clear of judging others. You are a great example.

    I love the Goodnight Moon shirt. I still read that book on the regular. Comes with the territory. That blog conference looks like such a fun time. I recognize Allison.

    I just finished This is Happiness for my book club and I really liked it. Have you read that one? I’m decided to get a head start on my next book club book, Migrations. It’s good and happily it is a fast read. I’m a pokey reader, so I feel so accomplished having read almost 100 pages just this weekend.

  3. Thanks for introducing me to Mrs Judgeypants. I will now use her as inspiration when I find myself going there, too! I love that you have a GOODNIGHT MOON t-shirt. Also, my son and I were this very morning discussing weird band names, and FYC came up! I’m sure there are weirder, but that in itself could be a blog topic ;P

  4. I love your Goodnight Moon t-shirt!

    Can we still judge the people who leave their shopping carts in the middle of the parking lot?

  5. Such a good lesson as a reminder to abandon the tendency to judge – I’ve been literally bitten in the ass by it so many times that I’m pretty solid on that – certainly after I thought ALL my kids would be as easy as my first and only girl. Ummm, no.

    Like you I love running, don’t love strength training so much, but I made a decision to do pushups every day (started last July) as I approached my 65th, and haven’t missed a day since!). My goal is to hit the weights a couple of times a week but don’t beat myself up too much about it. I do although run in the winter. It’s not as cold here in southern Ontario as Calgary – but it gets pretty darn cold! By the way I have running shorts & tights that I’ve had since the late 90’s!!! Yes it hurts to spend the $$ at first but 20+ years later you realize it’s about 20 cents/wearing.

    (ps as a side note, if you accidentally type “boy in a girl house” into the search bar to find Nicole’s most recent post….well, just don’t – It’s kind of porny….)

  6. Brought to you by the letter I would be a FANTASTIC blog name! If I didn’t already have a blog I would start one just to use that name (giving all the credit, of course, to you).

  7. I had an opportunity to practice not judging this morning on my walk. I saw a neighbor had hung a tree with pink hearts and I started to down a curmudgeony path: Valentine’s day is a minor holiday– isn’t it too early to be decorating for it? Then I stopped and thought, we need all the joy we can scrounge up these days and if a tree of pink hearts brings anyone joy, I’m for it. Truly.

  8. Brought to you by the letter I is the best blog name ever. Well, yours is pretty fantastic too.

    Miss Judgypants sounds HORRIBLE. I know we’ve all had moments of judging, or you know, silently judging. But part of that is human nature, but she is a wicked, terrible person. Barkley? NO WAY.

    My oldest daughter and I had a fight many years ago when she was dating this terrible guy….I saw him for who he was and she said I was judgmental. We still discuss this and she’s sad that she didn’t take my advice and save her self lots of heartache over him.

    BTW: None of your pics are showing up. It says “This Image was Hot Linked”.
    I’m not sure what that means. I hope someone didn’t ‘steal’ your pics.

  9. I don’t eat the chocolate sandwich cookies, but I just think this means we’re perfect for each other. I do prefer the thin mints to the sandwich, although no one ever seemed to be selling them here until recent years. Re the opinionated woman: you forgot about tattoos :). I used to take a step class, and once a man in his forties came in and did a class. The next week we were both there early and he confided to me that he’d thought the previous week’s class was going to be easy and then damned near had to crawl out. It’s funny, thinking a workout would be too easy is not something that I have ever experienced. I remember the shirt – when Angus was little and he wanted me to read that book he would ask for a “Mommy Moon”. Great, now I’m crying, WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO ME.

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