a peek inside the fishbowl

29 Oct, 2010

looking for the gift

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

A few weeks ago I completed the Couch-to-5K “learn to run” program. It took me all summer, but I did it. I’m amazed at the change it has brought about but I have to stay motivated… which is kind of hard to do when it’s cold and rainy outside. I have to admit, I now understand the existence of treadmills.

First, I need proper clothing. Second, I need to see a doctor about a puffer. I have cold-induced asthma and it’s uncomfortable to do anything brisk when it’s chilly outside.

I’ve been giving this running thing a whole lot of thought now that I’ve met my goals (more on that later) but for now I wanted to share with you one way I try to stay motivated: I look for the gifts.

Recently I’ve been thinking about a couple of people we’ve known who aren’t here with us anymore. People we loved will never see a sunset, take a deep breath of crisp air, watch the beauty of the changing seasons, or hug their kids. Those seemingly tiny and simple and mundane things suddenly take on a whole new meaning when I really think about it. I get to see and do those things regularly. Is this or is this not a terrible injustice to let these things go by unappreciated?

So, in deference to our loved ones who aren’t with us anymore, I look for the gifts.

As I’m jogging I’m thinking: what tiny gift will I receive today? I’ve seen fluffy white contrails slicing through the bluest of skies, I’ve run by freshly mown grass and cedar hedges (love the smell!), I’ve seen cute puppy dogs and acrobatic squirrels, I’ve seen heavy-headed roses growing tall in the most beautiful gardens, and once, I (literally) stumbled over a lost letter I then popped in the mailbox. Ha! I did someone a favour and they don’t even know it.

Right now I’m enjoying meandering pathways:

Wednesday October 27, 2010

… and the yellow and blue:

Yellow and blue
The other day I found this:

Ace of spades
It’s a different kind of gift. I mean, who knows what it was doing in the middle of the street, but I took it as a sign. The ace of spades is symbolic of a couple of things. This is from Wikipedia:

“The ace of spades (also known as the spadille) is, traditionally speaking, the highest card in the deck of playing cards, although the actual value of the card varies from game to game. In popular myth and folklore, it is also known as the “death card”.

It has some interesting connotations with war (if you read further along the Wiki entry) and yes, as far as I know, if you are having your cards read and you flip over an ace of spaces it symbolizes death. But happily (for me) the death apparently doesn’t have to be a literal one, it could be a metamorphosis, some kind of major change.

I’m not usually the kind of person who gives in to these kinds of things, but I like my ace. I’ve brought it with me when I run. Change is good. The person I am is stronger than ever.


7 Responses to "looking for the gift"

1 | Bob LeDrew

October 29th, 2010 at 9:03 am


Nice essay, and nice image.

2 | Ginger

October 29th, 2010 at 9:06 am


I never finished the running program. It was making me negative as I couldn’t get past a certain point. I am still moving forward with my original goal of 500 miles in 2010. And my goal for 2011 is to conquer C25K and become a runner. My friend started the program because she wanted to pass on good habits and health to her infant daughter. Days after she started the program her infant daughter passed from SIDS. She was a twin and her twin brother is growing and thriving. She picked herself up and completed C25K for her daughter. She still runs for her daughter.

3 | Denise Nielsen

October 29th, 2010 at 9:12 am


This is wonderful. As a off and onn runner myself, you’ve given me a bit of motivation this morning. Even if it is grey and drizzly out.

4 | Lee

October 29th, 2010 at 1:51 pm


I like that sentiment. It remends me of M.T. O’Callaghan’s thought about remembering “… to look for the diamonds in every day.”


5 | Une femme en santé

October 31st, 2010 at 5:41 pm


Hi Andrea,
This morning I went for a 4 k run.
The snow left humidity on the path and the nice maple leaf were stick on the pavement. I was looking at it for all my run. It was a nice gist ;-)

6 | Graham Zeisner

November 1st, 2010 at 12:12 pm


I love the tree brances and sky picture. Beautiful. I don’t know how I happened upon your blog but no matter….it is a good one for sure. I need to be inspired to keep up my blog and photography pursuits.

Good luck.

7 | Mark Clatney

November 5th, 2010 at 1:51 pm


You will be surprised you do not need the steroid infected beta blocker inhaler. If you gave up sugar for 7 days dont take the inhaler or the chip if they ask. Had the same problem try with a small scarf first then the burning will go away. Go to the Running Room and get the equipment etc. Good Luck

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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