Karen Rempel photographed at Taglialatella Galleries art opening in Chelsea Sept. 14

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Sept. 17, 2017 – My friend Angela James and I attended an opening at Taglialatella Galleries on Thursday night, Sept. 14. We saw an exhibition of iconic original and limited edition works by influential graffiti and pop artist Cristophe Schwarz, aka Zevs. The collection is called Zevs: Liquid Assets.

Here’s a pic of the artist at the opening (black t-shirt):

It was a real scene. Evidently the night began with tequila shooters, and the champagne flowed freely from there. I was honored to be photographed with Ange in front of a great piece of art that my outfit matched. The slideshow at the top shows some images taken by celebrity photographer Patrick McMullan. This one is by Ange:

Many thanks to my friend Pat Duffy, writer and instructor at the United Nations, for the invite. Ange and I had a blast, and met some amazing people, including artist and professional partier David Padworny; actor, photographer, and former model Mark Reay, who made the autobiographical documentary Homme Less; writer/actor/producer Gregor Collins; and artist and musician M Fisher, aka Viking Swan.

Here’s David with a Louboutin-flashing babe. There’s a button on her shoe with a message for President Trump!
And here’s M (from another event):

He’s working on an upcoming photo exhibit that will take place in Spain.

ChiRunning and Yoga at BC Wilderness Visions

July 16-17, 2011 – CANCELLED

$349 includes teaching fees and delicious organic vegetarian lunch, snacks, and teaAngela ChiRunning at Hastings Park

Location: Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, North Vancouver

9:30 – 4:30, Saturday & Sunday

Guides: Angela and Karen are teaming up for the second year in a row. For a glimpse into the awesome time had by all at last year’s ChiRunning and yoga retreat, see here.

  • Learn to run free of injury!
  • Learn to run effortlessly!
  • Learn to be energy efficient!
  • Learn how to create Chi Energy Flow!

Angela no longer has Achilles tendonitis since using the ChiRunning form, which combines the inner focus and flow of T’ai Chi with the power and energy of running to create a revolutionary running form and philosophy that takes the pounding, pain, and potential damage out of the sport of running. The ChiRunning program increases mental clarity and focus, enhances the joy of running, and turns running into a safe and effective life-long program for health, fitness, and well-being. Angela has run 20 marathons and completed Iron Man Canada in 2008.

Karen has developed a yoga practice that supports long distance running. Combining yoga with running helped her overcome knee pain and IT band problems, to cross the threshold from the 10K distance to the half-marathon! Her most adventurous race was the Klondike Road Relay from Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon. Yoga is a millenia-old discipline that provides the perfect complement to your running practice. It brings suppleness to the entire body, builds core strength, and safely releases the lactic acid that builds up in the muscles during a run. The relaxation that yoga brings allows your body to run for longer distances with ease.

This 2-day non-residential retreat in the beautiful North Shore mountains will teach you the fundamentals of the ChiRunning form as well as a post-run yoga practice that is more fun than the old stretches you learned in gym class!

Mornings will begin with a group check-in in the crystal-clear mountain air, followed by running and yoga. In the afternoon we’ll teach you methods for connecting with the Chi energy in nature, and then give you a chance to practice what you’ve learned with more ChiRunning. The days will end with a final yoga session to send you home feeling relaxed and connected with nature and yourself.

This weekend retreat will give you time and space to connect with your body and with nature, and you’ll return to the city feeling refreshed and enlivened.

Optional reading: ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running, by Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer

To register, please fill in the online Registration Form. For payment information, see Fees. We’ll send you directions and a suggested gear list when you register.

Rites of spring and a tramp through the woods

Last November I closed up the house at Monkey Valley for the winter, and Angela and Karen in the cattle chutecrossed my fingers that the place and plumbing would fare well. Last weekend my sister and I went to Monkey Valley to open up the house for the spring. I was delighted to discover that there were no plumbing problems after a winter of freezing temperatures in this high mountain place! Just one washer to replace in a tap, and a spill to clean up because the laundry detergent decided to fall off the shelf and spread over the floor. While this led to a minor bout of cursing (laundry soap is very foamy and hard to clean up!), it was such a relief to be able to turn on the water and use it right away, and not to need a plumber in to fix leaks. I think that after 8 years of winterizing the plumbing I’ve finally got it down!

As an added bonus, the house was still in immaculate shape, as I left it, with no disturbances from the little friends that nature often sends to visit me!

On the holiday Monday, my friend Angela of ChiRunning fame came to visit, along with her partner, Joe Charron, and the other member of their musical trio, Wahl. After a birthday lunch for Joe (which included an awesome chocolate cake that Angela just happened to bring along!), we all went for a tramp around the property. I took them over hill and dale, climbing fences and fording the creek twice as we circled the 160 acres of the property. It was a great afternoon, with Joe identifying some of the plants whose names I still don’t know, and Wahl making jokes and taking pix. We just may have convinced the two guys to lead some campfire sing-alongs at the retreat in July.

After seeing the lay of the land, Angela was able to plan the ChiRunning focuses to teach at our upcoming retreat. As well as the basic ChiRunning focuses, she will be teaching techniques for hill running and trail running. Here is a flyer for the ChiRunning & yoga retreat at Monkey valley that Angela created. Please feel free to print it out and give copies to your friends. We look forward to seeing you there!

Spring elixir brings surprise offerings

It’s a glorious spring day in Vancouver. Happy first day of spring, everyone! Angela James - Vancouver's only chirunning instructorThough the blossoms have been on the trees for months, today spring is officially here, with a hazy blue sky, soft sunsine, pink and white blossoms, and tender new spring green life everywhere. There’s something about that fresh tender green of new leaves that infuses my soul with the same tenderness.

Thursday, running along the Trans-Canada Trail, I noticed this greenness all along the path, in the moss and ivy, salmonberry bushes with their bright pink blossoms, and green grass pushing up among the dried brown grass from last year. New life arising out of the remains of the old life. May these spring blessings infuse your soul with fresh life, optimism, and tenderness for all living creatures.

Yesterday I met with Angela James, the ChiRunning instructor who taught the workshop I attended in January. At the workshop we had talked about how well yoga would complement the ChiRunning, and yesterday we put together a ChiRunning and yoga retreat at Monkey Valley on July 23 – 25! The cost is $375, and includes delicious organic meals, camping accommodations, and instruction in both ChiRunning and yoga. Plus Angela will be providing healthful Rooibos tea. There will be lots of free time for walking through the woods, hanging out by the creek, and toasting marshmellows on the campfire in the evening. Angela is a lovely person, very energetic and positive to be around, and I know that everyone who’s around her feels uplifted by her energy. I think we’ll make a terrific team. I’ll be teaching the yoga portion, offering the yoga routine I’ve developed over the past eight years to complement and support my running! See here for more details.

Sad news about the Vancouver marathon. I’ve been sick for the past three weeks, which put a major crimp in my training schedule and caused me to miss a key long run. So I’ve had to bow down to the truth of my limitations, and scale back to the half-marathon on May 2. I don’t feel too discouraged, as I had that marvellous experience of going further than I’ve ever gone before in the 33 KM run I told you about. I still aim to do the full marathon one day, perhaps for my 50th birthday! Oh wow, that is so hard to believe, 50 is just six years away. But today I am feeling the spring energy bring a lightness to my spirit, so let’s all go out and soak in the sun and smell the elixir of spring in the air.

Chi running

Before I finish the story of my trip to California and the medicine walk I Running on my favourite road at Monkey Valley at sunset timetook, I want to tell you about the chi running workshop I went to last weekend. Angela James taught the workshop. She is the only certified chi running trainer in Vancouver. Danny and Katherine Dryer developed this method and wrote about it in ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running. Danny is an ultra-marathoner (running distances of up to 100 miles!!!), and also does T’ai Chi, an ancient martial art that works with our chi, or life force.

If you’ve never felt your chi and wonder what it is, try this simple exercise. Rub your hands together in a circular motion until you feel a lot of heat in your palms from the friction. Then hold your hands about an inch apart and sense the space between them. (You might want to close your eyes to allow your other senses to become more sensitive.) You might notice a “cushion” of air, which feels like a slight resistance if you bring your hands slightly closer to each other. Then gradually bring your hands further apart, feeling the energy between them, until they are so far apart that you no longer feel the energy. Then slowly bring your hands together and see what happens as they get closer. It might feel like the space between your hands gets denser as the energy concentrates when your hands come closer together. The energy between your hands is your chi, or life energy. Chi is also all around us, available for us to gather from the air, ground, and living plants.

Roadrunner doesn't need tips on how to run--but watch out for coyote!With chi running, we can gather this chi while running to help energize us on long runs. I noticed I could do this while running through Stanley Park in the Vancouver half marathon—the trees definitely gave me energy in a way that concrete buildings on other parts of the route did not. And we can also replenish ourselves with chi at any time during the day (not just when running). T’ai Chi and another practice called Qigong teach ways for gathering and working with the energy, and opening the channels in our body to help it flow more freely. It is subtle energy, and you might not believe it even exists if you’ve never felt it, but hopefully the simple exercise I showed you will help you to feel it.

I first read the ChiRunning book about four years ago, and practicing the method helped me increase my capacity from the 10K distance to the half-marathon. The techniques show us how to run using the body mechanics most efficiently and effortlessly, allowing us to run long distances injury-free. Previously, pain where the IT band attaches to my left knee prevented me from running long distances. But using the chi running technique, in combination with my yoga practice, I was able to gradually and gently increase my distance from 10K to 21.2K!

So as you can imagine, I was very excited about going to the workshop and learning about the technique from an expert. The workshop was terrific, and I highly recommend it. Angela is a very supportive, skilled teacher. A few students she has coached were also there, offering their insights from the perspective of people who are still learning the techniques. We learned some of the “focuses”—specific techniques—indoors, and then went out on a track to practice them. I was amazed at how using these simple techniques really increased my speed. It was almost scary!

But afterwards, something funny happened. I didn’t want to go running. Hmm, what was going on? The next day was supposed to be my Sunday long run, but I didn’t go. I planned to do it Monday instead, but Monday came and went without a run. In the training program I am following to prepare for the Vancouver marathon this May (which will be my first full marathon!), it says never try to make up a missed run. So Tuesday I did a shorter run, just 56 minutes. And I realized I didn’t want to use what I had learned at the workshop. I didn’t want to mess with my comfortable, slow, plodding running style. I like to just go out and not think about running. I don’t want to go faster! I don’t want to change! Don’t harsh my mellow!

I had my worst running week ever, totally blowing off the training schedule. I only ran three times, though I did do a long run of 2 hours and 40 minutes on Wednesday. But I still didn’t want to try the new techniques.

This experience taught me something about learning, and about the ego. The ego does not want to change, not really, even though we might think we want to change. There are calcified structures within us that keep us going in a familiar groove, doing the same things, thinking the same thoughts, feeling the same feelings. It takes a huge amount of effort to carve new neural pathways in the brain, which is part of the process of learning a new behaviour. We have to have a lot of motivation and focus in order to persist with this. It is hard to go out of our comfort zones and into new unknown territory. Why, even getting up early on a Saturday and going to the workshop was hard to do, and created an irritable resistance within me that I had to overcome!

So I’m going to give myself a break with the running. I intend to practice what I’ve learned for short periods during a run now and then, but most of the time I will just let myself be. And I think that when things start to get hard in the marathon, that occasional practice of new techniques will pay off. I’ll have some new things to try, to keep myself interested during the 4+ hours of the run. But more importantly, running with the new methods will use my muscles slightly differently, giving me a rest and allowing me to go beyond the limits that my comfortable old style has.

#1 tip from the workshop

Chi running uses the principle of “cotton and steel.” Imagine a needle in a ball of cotton wool. This is what our body can be like when we’re running. The needle is the spine and the core abdominal muscles of our body. The cotton is everything else: our legs, butt, lower back, arms, hands, feet.

Steel: To embody this while running, draw your spine up really long, lifting your head up off your neck (keeping the back of your neck long and tall). Draw your belly in ever so slightly. This engages the core muscles. The long spine and resilient, engaged core muscles provide the steel—the support the body needs to glide effortlessly along, hour after hour.

Cotton: Now let the rest of your body totally relax. I love the feeling of letting go and noticing the muscles in my back loosen and let go like a liquid, from the waist and butt down all the way through my legs to my feet. It feels amazing to let all these muscles totally relax, and to trust that they know what to do in response to the changes of the terrain—I don’t have to do anything. Try this the first time when going downhill, and you will be amazed at the feeling of lightness and freedom!