WTF Wednesdays 01:
 Celebrating Jay Schmidt

My friend Jay has a huge collection of interesting friends. Smart, hip, non-conforming ones and, it seems, the quirkier the better. I have no idea who gets the honor of being Jay’s best friend, but I’m very happy to say that Jay’s been my BFF for 20 years. And counting.

Jay is wise, generous, dependable, creative, sporty, adventurous and always full of stories. She devises and strides into professional, travel, athletic and social challenges without seeming to notice the feats she undertakes. Jay laughs easily and often, throwing her head back and filling the soundspace with beautiful, boisterous laughter-shaped applause. I love making Jay laugh.

Jay knows good food and chooses and cooks like a master. Super healthy, or super decadent, she knows and loves and excels at it all.  She’s lived in Asia, Alberta and both Canadian coasts. She’s rocked hardcore biking, camping or hosteling adventures in Iceland, Oman, Dubai, Cuba, Oregon, Germany, Holland, the Baltics and the Carolinan coast. And Jay’s been car-free all these years, pedalling from her funky urban abode to work and play. Stickhandling public transport and virtucar when the snow gets thick.

Luckily for me, Jay’s also a sage. In all these years we’ve yet to find a dilemma, drama or disaster that was her match. Her advice is golden and delivered with firm, friendly, absolutely-got-your-back confidence. Which leads to Schmidt’s First Law, “Jay’s always right.”

She’s loyal, honest and listening. Forgiving, flexible and tonnes of fun. She knows her friends, usually more accurately than we know ourselves (see, Schmidt’s First Law, above). She’s a queen of creative, sanity-saving pampering. And, because she’s not a friend-mixer, I almost never have to share her attention!

Jay’s a gifted writer and editor (which leads to Andrea’s First Law, “Don’t let Jay read this blog”), a knowledgeable investor, a voracious reader and always up on whatever’s going on. And is she strong. She’s dedicated to and passionate about exercise, squeezing yoga, bootcamp, jogging, cycling, skiing, spinning, boxing and barre-class into the crevices she pries open between friend-time and work.

And, best of all, Jay is 100% authentic Jay. No pretence. No competition. She explores, evolves, learns, muses and shares. She knows who she is. She says what she means. What you see is what you get. Pure awesome Jay.

I’d better stop there.

In The Beginning

Jay and I met on June 30, 1993 at the University of BC campus as we nervously prepared to cycle across the country.

Wait. No, we didn’t.

I remember seeing Jay’s name on the Tour du Canada participant list as I trained that spring and wondering if she was the young Asian super-cycler I passed every morning on the Aviation Parkway. Little did I know that Jay and I had actually met as we awaited an OBC group ride at Andrew Hayden Park. That Sunday morning, as we sat waiting on the curb, we exchanged pleasantries, but not names. Then I heard the planned speed and promptly rode home, leaving my yet unknown, perseverant soon-to-be best friend to keep pace with the lightning legged, without me.

That unknown Jay struck me as youthful, friendly, fun and courageous. And my glimpse-impression was bang on.

That summer we biked across Canada, coast to coast. We ate donuts and cinnamon buns and squished PBJ sandwiches. We took on rain, snow and headwinds across three prairie provinces. We mourned a lost comrade. We basked in sunshine across Ontario and Quebec. We composed and sang a wrap-up ditty as we spun our way through the rolling hills of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI, then belted out our finished chanty aboard a schooner in St. John Newfoundland. I came home to Ottawa with a bubbly new cartoon-making gourmet-cooking friend who had a great sense of humour, a quick wholehearted laugh and a whole whack of adventurous stories to share.

Lucky me.

Epic Then

We’ve had lots of fun over the years. We biked across Canada, of course. And then the Icefields Parkway from Jasper to Banff, the Eastern Townships, the Islands off Victoria, loads of little excursions and at least one failed cycle-camping fiasco in the Ottawa Valley. We’ve skiied and skated and nordik-walked. We’ve done bosu and yoga. We’ve enjoyed oodles of decadent meals, delicious desserts and many large vessels of coffee and wine.

Epic Now

These days, we eat and drink and deliver animated tellings of the stories of our lives. We’ve been meeting weekly for fourteen years. Through 14+ years of ups and downs. Celebrating, venting and hashing out. Choosing courses. Making plans. And sharing the results. Over good food and drinks.

It’s awesome.

University of Jay

What haven’t I learned from Jay?

For the first too-many years of our friendship, Jay patiently weened me off many of my redneck ways. I cringe to think of the many faux-pas she tolerated and how she deftly and delicately opened my mind, smoothed some snaggy habits and lifted my sights. She’s taught me, both by example and explicitly, how to handle sticky social situations. She’s steered me away from crazy plans, vetoed ridiculous worries and forced me out of ludditude. She’s eased loads of my pet-owner and motherhood guilt. She’s even researched and picked my financial investments. She’s been an example of diplomacy, strength, independence and true, deep, dependable friendship.

If only she could teach me that laugh.

Fantasy Fabulosity

If I could magically conjure a next adventure with Jay, I would pick 5 days of fair weather credit-card cycle touring through gorgeous rural landscape. We’d strategically cycle 5 hours each day —  from one delicious eating experience to the next — then roll into a cozy clean B&B for hot showers, conversation and comfy beds. And I swear I would not shriek while biking, no matter how many snakes or black squirrels zipped into my path.

It would be lovely.

Related Links:



WhatI’m Thankful For.
Why They’re Fab.
What Terrific Folk.
Why The Face?

Like this? You’ll love writing your own.
Pay it forward, I dare you.
And leave your link below so we can all enjoy it.

  • upstatelisa

    What a great friend. Andrea, you are a brilliant writer too! Loved the way you write!

    • Thanks, Lisa. She is indeed. Lucky me.
      And thanks for your kind words on the writing. I keep my blog posts short and sweet so kindof cringed publishing this long rambly one. Your positive feedback is much appreciated!

  • Jay

    I am honoured to be the subject of this beautifully-written post and
    beyond touched by your words, which made me laugh and made me cry. I’m
    the lucky one to have had you as a friend these past 20 years! I say we
    make that bike tour happen and you get to shriek all you want!

    • Hey, Ms I-never-go-on-facebook! How’d you find this?!

      and, Thanks for your kind words.
      and, I’ll hold you to that.

      • Jay

        Ha! After our conversation last night, I realized I had some untagging to do!

  • Janice Toews

    Jay, this made me cry too. It is indeed a pleasure and an honour to be your friend, Andrea.

    • Thank you so much, Janice. I’ve just been combing through all our Alberta photos (for no particular reason, of course) and crying, myself. I am so grateful for your friendship and so glad you found me all those years later. xox