The commute life

I’ve been working in my new role long enough now to have settled on a commute path that suits me. It may not be the quickest or most direct or even make sense to anyone else, but it is mine and I actually like it.

It took a few tries, different routes researched before attempted, then attempted and disliked, and attempted again, and again and then finally – I found the one that worked for me.

While taking the most straightforward route down the 401, eventually linking up to Hwy 85 into St. Jacobs can once in a blue moon shave 10-15 min off of my drive, this route means almost always being stuck traffic, surrounded by people I have noticed that do not pay nearly enough attention to the driving of the car and much more attention to the phone in the car, which means higher frustration levels.

textingdriving

It also means being in the car anywhere between 35 and 75 minutes depending on which lane is blocked by which obstruction and which areas are inexplicably jammed up. I took this route on my way in on my first day. This was also the last. I attempted the return route along the same roads, but didn’t make it past two exits before I bailed and began cutting across roads I assumed led me home.

They did.

I made it my mission to find a route that I could live with until our office relocates at some point this year – of the locations being reviewed by my boss and myself both put me well within 20 min from home, which would be a welcomed change.

When I finally did find my route, it meant taking just over 45 min to get to and from work. With the exception of getting into town to get to my neighbourhood which is so (not) conveniently placed in the middle of town, the meat of my time is spent on country roads. Leaving the city and accompanying traffic that seems to be outgrowing said city behind has translated into a peaceful, wonderfully paced drive that is keeping me sane… well for the most part.

I’ve taken note of a few common occurrences along my drive and I just want to be sure I am not alone in:

Conversing with other drivers – not to their knowledge of course: By this I mean sometimes thanking them. Usually for using their signal, finding the speed limit and maybe even taking a bit of a risk by pushing it, or finally being able to pass that tractor/horse and buggy that may be causing a small slowdown. Sometimes if I am super happy for them, I will applaud their achievement by literally applauding them. I hope they know it’s meant sincerely and from the heart. These drivers understand the point of taking the back roads and don’t mess around – I really appreciate you.

turnsignal

Conversing with other drivers – to their knowledge: My route is usually very peaceful and provides me with more patience then I normally posses when too many not so bright people gather in one spot in their vehicles on the highway. That is not to say though that I still don’t have my moments where I encounter the odd jack ass. Sometimes that jack ass is the person who does exactly the speed limit in the 70 and 80 km zones, REFUSING to give 10 or 15 over, but then flies through the 50 and 40 km zones pushing 80 through the handful of little towns I pass through, as if that is the only speed their vehicle is capable of. These people usually are conversed with through the use of my horn and maybe even a good lipping off to…from the safety of my own vehicle of course. The other type of jackass that I have encountered is the one that cannot for the life of them keep their speed and meander in a +/- 20 km range around the speed limit causing the worlds most frustrating conga line of cars that cannot pass because in 5 minutes, he’ll be riding up your butt because he a) has no control or understanding of the mechanics of his vehicle or b) is not paying fucking attention.

asshole

Celebrating the wins: When I hit all the green lights heading out of town, or two slower trucks split at a light turning left and right leaving the through way free for me to zip down, or when my chosen 8tracks playlist of the day KILLS it and gets me right in the feels for my mood of the day – I celebrate. A celebration can be any of the following: clapping, “whoo”ing or “yay”ing, raising the roof, or break out into a little dance. Which leads me to…

Car dancing: As you well know, Jacqui and I are professional car dancers and take this role very seriously. To aid in my car dancing career and deep love for music, my 4Runner is equipped with a competition quality sound system including sub and amp (yes, I am one of those people – and no, I do not care what you think when you see me rollin’ as you be hatin’). When Michael first told me his intent for the equipment was to be in my daily driver, I really wasn’t pumped about it…but now that I have it, I don’t know if I could live without it. I am no gangster by any means though. My choice of music ranges from good hip-hop like Jurassic5, A Tribe Called Quest or Shad, to contemporary piano, country, indie, electronic/chill wave and everything in between as I don’t discriminate – but I digress. The point being that I not only get in more car dancing because the length of my journey being increased, but also because with less traffic and wider, more open roads, one can feel that much more comfortable busting out their best moves. My abs thank me, I can tell.

Making Friends: Travelling the same route everyday has its little perks of familiarity and while I normally find routine monotonous and deadly, these ones seem to bring me a little bit of happy. I now know based on a few key vehicles that I see every day if I, or they, are running late or are on time. In addition I have made friends with a Great Blue Heron that flies over my truck’s sunroof on the daily at the same time, in the same spot by the river – his name is Henry and he is an incredibly majestic creature. There is also a very sweet construction crew that has been working on the road in one of the small towns I pass through for quite a few weeks – we’ve become such good friends that when they see me coming they will extend the slow sign for the reduced lane a few moments more to make sure I can sneak through before making my lane come to a stop, which always makes me smile.

On top of all of these wonderful things that may happen at some point on my drive, the bit of extra time at a reasonable pace has given me a lot of time alone to think – which my inner-introvert loves – or not think and take in my surroundings. Enjoying my commute has made the transition back into the working world even easier and I’m so thankful for this simple luxury. And to all of the hardcore commuters who have to deal with Toronto/401 traffic, and public transportation, my gratitude for my commute is present and the magnitude of this blessing is not lost on me – I promise.

~ Toni

My secret ingredient

I love to move.

Staying active is one of my absolute needs; I require it to stay healthy and most of all happy.

On top of running, hiking and working out, I LOVE to dance. I blame my love for dancing on my love of and absolute need for music…or it might be that I simply cannot sit still for too long. Either way, I must dance! (Disclaimer: I have no formal training and can not be held responsible for any permanent, or disturbing  images that may be burned into your brain after witnessing said dancing.)

You will find me dancing in the morning while I get ready for my day. You will find me dancing with my nieces and nephew to any silly song that is playing. You will find me dancing in the shower…wait…scratch that – most of you will NOT find me in the shower. You will find me dancing in my truck as I drive (and no, I do not give a rat’s ass what the people who stare think – yeah, I see you!). You will find me on the dance floor at weddings until my feet hurt enough to kick off whatever ridiculous pair of heels I have chosen to wear and then continue to dance barefoot. You will find me dancing with my girls at the club on girls’ night, or even in living rooms and bedrooms as we party prep. You will find me happy dancing whenever there is good news to share. You will even find me (embarrassingly) seat dancing at a restaurant.

But my most favourite place to dance? The kitchen.

Kitchen dancing – or as my wonderful fiance has coined it, ‘T’s Making Dinner Dance Parties’ – take place in our home on a regular basis. Said fiance has often lamented that he does not understand why I always choose music over television (unless of course there is a hockey game on – then the dancing is put on the back burner…until the Habs score and the happy dancing commences…see the trend here?) as he is the master of the TV and it can usually be found on whether he is watching it or not.

Often, Michael will come home to me prepping whatever meal with music playing as I fly around the kitchen, showing off my killer dance moves to Rocky and Adrian (my two very ‘small puppies’) and often getting them to join in.

Adrian and I

Adrian and I

Rocky and I

Rocky and I

Truth be told, I absolutely believe the food tastes better if prepared while dancing, the dishes washed are somehow cleaner if I’ve busted a move (not a hip), and the house is happier with my rhythm filling the rooms.

Only outdone by a good run, dancing helps to clear my head, shift my mood, pick me up or add to an already incredible day.

I’m always looking for music that moves me, often getting lost in the worlds of SoundCloud, YouTube, 8tracks, and Hype Machine for hours. Don’t tell Michael, but if the night’s dinner is taking a little longer than usual, it’s because I have found a new artist that I can’t get enough of and pull a full on crawl for anything they have released or collaborated on.

While our fancy speaker setup (so technical) in the living room allows me to make sure our wall-sharing-neighbours LOVE us, my handsome came home from work last week with a small token of love and a sign that he fully supports my requirement to turn our kitchen into my personal dance floor – a set of little speakers for the iPad.

My adorable, yet very efficient 'kitchen speakers'

My adorable, yet very efficient ‘kitchen speakers’

While I suspect this gesture carries some underlying self-serving motive (read: I will no longer monopolize the above mentioned fancy speaker set up and main television/he’ll be able to concentrate on the chosen Xbox 360 game of the evening.), it was nonetheless sweet and of course made me break out in a saucy little dance to thank him.

My favourite kitchen dancing moments are when Michael gives into my silly ways and joins me, making simple, everyday activities into sweet, sweet memories.

Tonight when you get home from the sometimes monotonous tasks of the day, instead of settling down in front of the TV, I challenge you to throw on your favourite makes-you-move-mood-music and dance.

~ Toni