Montreal Runner Mom

Mommy. Runner. Blogger. Writer


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Stretch like a Dancer

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Ever since I can remember I had an identity-I was a dancer and the daughter of a dancer. Growing up, my parents owned a dance studio in our community and throughout my childhood, teens and young adult years all things related to dance permeated my life. Training, competitions, teaching, you name it-I did it all. Eventually I decided to make it my career and have now spent the past 16 years of my life fully dedicated to taking our studio into a successful 2nd generation family business.

Along the way I have learned a thing or two about stretching. Stretching is the backbone of a dancer’s training. Some dancers need a lot of stretching, others very little but everyone needs to do it. In the past year since I have made the transition into running, I have realized that most of my stretching comes from my dance background. Right from the beginning, I naturally stretched before and after each run (with the exception of one particular day when I was too eager to get out and run-oups!) That day I certainly paid for it with some nasty shin splint issues! See my previous post about thisToo much of a good thing

Dancer’s often focus on warming up the bottom half of the body such as hips, hamstrings, ankles and feet when preparing to dance styles such as ballet, jazz, contemporary or modern dance. Many of these stretches are also great for runners. Keep in mind before doing any pre-run stretching 10 min of light cardio warm up is recommended to get the blood flowing to your muscles. If not, then stretching “cold” can actually do more harm than good.

Here are my favorite pre and post run dance stretches 🙂 

Pre-run warm up and dynamic stretching-This is basically a warm up and should be treated as such. Save the deep muscle intense stretching for post run when muscles are at their warmest. Dynamic stretching involves low intensity and includes a range of movement. 

5-10min light cardio warm up–suggestions include: brisk walking, jumping jacks or light aerobic movements. This could even be something as easy and fun as blasting a few of your favorite tunes and dancing around your living room, which I have been known to do….just ask my neighbors 😉

Upper body – reaching arm over head as you lean to the side, hold for 2 counts and switch to opposite side.

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Hips – lunging forward slowly to stretch hip flexors. Moving forward and back slowly and then releasing to change legs.

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Hamstrings- holding this position gently while alternating between flexing and pointing your foot.

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Ankles and Feet -ankle circles first on each side and then use a Theraband to stretch feet by flexing and pointing slowly. Use the Theraband for gentle resistance.

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Now you are ready to RUN!! 🙂

Post run static stretching-this is really important stretching and should be used in conjunction with other recovery and injury prevention techniques. Holding the positions longer than during pre run stretching enables you to get a deeper stretch that will enhance future flexibility.

Upper Body and Legs – this is just like the side reaches from your pre run but now includes sitting in a wide straddle position which encourages turnout from the hips and stretching of the hamstrings. Alternate side to side slowly, holding the position in between for 5 counts. Can also include reaching forward in center with both arms and flattening the body towards the floor.

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Hips – using the wall is a variation on the above hip flexor stretch but offers a deeper range of motion for post run when your muscles are at their warmest.

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Hamstrings- using the Theraband gives added resistance and helps to maintain the correct position without twisting to reach your foot. Make sure to keep the knee stretched.

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Ankles and Feet -same as pre run but now with greater resistance and holding for longer.

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So my running friends, these are the stretches that I always do both pre and post run. I hope that you find them useful as well. If you have any favorite stretching routines, please share! I would love to hear them 🙂


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List + Schedule x Accountability = Habit

What am I naturally good at? Making LISTS. I can make lists about what to do, when to do it, how to do it etc…I could make lists about other lists and lists about following the initial list!

So what do I struggle with? Actually following the list.

And how do I resolve this? By making schedules to help me follow my lists and then making these schedules public in order to be accountable for my plans.

The result? A new HABIT.

habits wordle

I tend to have HUGE plans of what I want to do with my life and how I want to get there but in the little every day moments, I can get distracted easily, lose focus and waste a lot of time if I’m not careful. So I schedule EVERYTHING! I have found it is the only way I can keep the momentum going and continue on the path I have set out for myself. When I have a good day and I keep to the schedule I am ecstatic, filled with energy and enthusiasm for life!! If I fall off the wagon….well I get grumpy, cranky and aloof.

So in an effort to remain on target myself, I thought I’d share with you today some of my scheduled routines that have helped me to create long lasting positive habits.

habit

I believe that everything we do on a daily basis is a habit, some are good habits and some are not so good habits. The key to staying focused on your goals and actively working towards them each day in order to make them a habit. Now we all have great intentions and can come up with various new habits to instill in our lives that will make us better people, better employees, better spouses, better friends etc….but the trick is sticking to those habits.

Most people know about the “21 days to create a new habit” process. However, if it is that easy then why do so many of us drop out before the 21 days? I believe that in part it’s because the new habit wasn’t scheduled in to our lives properly. Now of course this new habit must be something that you desperately want. It’s not good enough for it to just be something you’d like to have, you must want it more than anything else!!

That explains the initial motivation but you still need the SCHEDULE 😉

So by actively scheduling something into your day in a very particular way, you can make your new habit easier to keep. For example I recently felt that running was taking up too much of my morning. By the time the kids got off to school , I would still need to eat and get dressed before being able to leave the house to run. This was effectively adding on 30min to an hour on my workout without actually working out! So I changed my schedule to reflect the results I wanted. Now I get up each morning and get dressed in my running clothes BEFORE I start organizing the kids and preparing them for school. This has allowed me to eat breakfast with them (a nice bonus!) so that once they are out the door at 7:30am, I am already dressed, have eaten and basically have no excuse but to run out the door in that very moment.

But there’s still something missing in this equation…ACCOUNTABILITY. Without accountability, why would anyone stick to any schedule? We all know how easy it is to give in and let go of our good intentions. So what makes me accountable for my new running schedule? Ahh, this is a fun one. For me, the accountability lies with my husband who has full rights to give me crap if I don’t follow this routine 😉

I have also scheduled in stretching and meditating after each run. I have a routine of coming home, lighting candles and incense, putting on calming nature music and pulling out my yoga mat to stretch and meditate. It is calming, grounding and makes me ready to take on the day. Because this is time for me that I love so much, I am accountable to myself. If I don’t run I cannot have my “Zen time”.

To accomplish these things, all I did was schedule getting dressed and eating earlier in order to be able to get out the door at 7:30am. This simple schedule adjustment enabled me to run earlier, still have my “Zen Time” and gain almost an hour of that I can now put towards other areas of my day. However without a written schedule and accountability, I would not be able to keep this up and make it a habit.

Another good example of how scheduling helps in creating new habits is this blog. I have committed to posting very Tuesday and Friday and have done so without fail since mid October. It’s a schedule that I knew I could commit to before I even started because I practiced different versions of it before making it official. For the first month and half of starting this blog I posted on various days whenever I had the chance and felt like I had something interesting to say. I soon realized the benefits of posting on a regular schedule. Firstly because it enabled me to stay committed to my new task and more importantly for the sake of those reading the blog.  So I chose to schedule in my posts on Tuesdays and Fridays because those were the days where I had openings of an hour or so in my schedule. Now the fun thing about blogging is that the accountability is easily built in. If I don’t follow the schedule, I feel guilty because I know people are reading and are becoming accustomed to the days when a new post appears. So just like my morning running and zen routine, blogging has also become a habit that is now easily followed without much effort because it was properly scheduled.

This is not to say that just because you schedule something it will be easy to accomplish it! First you have to really want it, then you need to try out different versions to see what doesn’t work for you before settling on a schedule that does. Once you find it, schedule it and then make yourself accountable to someone else, someone who you will feel guilty disappointing if you don’t follow through. Next thing you know….you will have a new habit that you love and that is supporting you in your quest for enriching your life and accomplishing your goals.

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What habits do you want to integrate into your life?

Do you follow a schedule to get the most out of your day?

I would love to hear your thoughts!! 🙂


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I Mustache You a Question…

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Thanks to FLRunnerboy for tagging me to do this post. I don’t normally do survey type posts but this was a fun one.

Four Names That People Call Me (Other Than My Real Name):

  1. Miss Jennifer -by my students
  2. JenJen -by my niece
  3. The Girl -by my dad -sounds a little odd to me too now that I haven’t heard it for so many years but when I was a little girl my dad made it sound beautiful 🙂
  4. Geneviève -by elementary school francophone teachers who decided this was the translation of Jennifer…it was not.

Four Jobs I’ve Had (Have):

  1. Preschool Dance Teacher
  2. Competitive Dance Coach
  3. Dance Studio Administrator
  4. Dance Studio Owner

……did I mention I my life has been all about dance? 😉 unless you count working in retail at the mall when I was a teenager, I seriously have never had another job.

Four Movies I’ve Watched More Than Once:

  1. Wedding Crashers
  2. Couples Retreat
  3. The Neighbors
  4. Old School
  5. The Hangover 1-2-3

Okay, so it’s more than four…..I just couldn’t nix any one of these favorites 🙂

Four Books I Recommend:

  1. Happiness of Pursuit -Chris Guillebeau
  2. The Art of Non-Conformity -Chris Guillebeau
  3. Born to Run -Chris McDougall
  4. I Am Malala -Malala Yousafzai
  5. Long Walk to Freedom -Nelson Mandela
  6. Awaken the Giant Within -Tony Robbins

Again four was not enough! All fabulous and all recently read…I could on and on and on, I LOVE to read 🙂

Four Places I Have Lived:

Montreal x4

Born and raised pour toujours 😉 J’adore Montréal!!

Four Places I’ve Been:

  1. Paris, France
  2. Turks & Caicos
  3. St Lucia
  4. Santorini, Greece
  5. Lausanne, Switzerland
  6. Florence, Italy
  7. London, England
  8. Grand Canyon, Arizona
  9. Whistler, British Columbia

Okay, I’ll stop, four was no where near enough…I LOVE to travel!!

Four Places I’d Rather Be Right Now:

  1. Australia
  2. Aruba
  3. Hawaii
  4. Japan
  5. Iceland
  6. Brazil
  7. Thailand

This is another list that could go on FOREVER!

Four Things I Don’t Eat:

  1. Tahini
  2. Frogs Legs
  3. Escargot
  4. Sashimi

Four of My Favorite Foods:

  1. Filet Mignon
  2. Anything with spinach!
  3. Crème brûlée
  4. Cheese fondue

I also have a problem with Lays BBQ chips -it’s an addiction actually…Sadly these chips probably shouldn’t be considered food either which makes it even worse!!

Four Shows That I Watch(ed):

  1. Amazing Race Canada
  2. Masterchef
  3. Million Dollar Listing New York
  4. Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain

Four Things I’m Always Saying:

I have altered this to 5 things “I’m always saying to my kids” (ages 3 and 6) because this is where I repeat myself the most!

  1. No Chloe, you can’t wear shorts to daycare
  2. No Zach, you can’t stay up late tonight
  3. Chloe eat your dinner
  4. Zach go take a shower
  5. Chloe….Zach….??? ARE YOU LISTENING TO MOMMY????

 

Four People I’m Tagging To Do This Next

Okay here’s a few more than four but why not? it’s fun! And feel free to join in even without being tagged!

  1. With All My Affection
  2. 4boyslotsanoise
  3. Bubblesandbooyah
  4. The Weekday Table
  5. Running on Healthy
  6. That Extra Inch
  7. WHOLE-istic Life

small_heart That’s all folks!


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My Holiday Wish List

It’s the end of November and the time has come to start thinking about holiday shopping! Shopping at any time of year is one of my favorite activities however holiday shopping absolutely tops my list! I love spending hours online and in stores searching for just the right gifts that my family and friends will enjoy.

However as I start my research and begin shopping for others, I also begin creating my own wish list……teeheehee!! This year much of my wish list is of course running themed. While compiling my own list I noticed that despite the obvious theme, the items I like cover everything from technology to clothing to home decor. You wouldn’t think there are so many running themed things to buy….but there are 🙂 🙂

Here we go…..My Holiday Wish List!

Tech Accessories

Yurbuds

I officially lost my iPhone ear buds during Halloween because of course, I dressed up as a runner! 😉 My costume was a full racing get up, complete with a bib pinned on, medal around my neck, fuel belt and my ear buds. I wore this “costume” to work and had a great time until I had to take out the ear buds in order to hear other people speak (what a concept!) and then promptly lost them. Since then I’ve been using the uncomfortable and pretty useless ones from the dollar store. I have officially suffered enough…so Santa…..I need Yurbuds for Christmas please!

A great little stocking stuffer for all runners!

www.yurbuds.com

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Garmin Watch

Okay so this can be a big ticket item for sure but it is oh so pretty and very useful! This Garmin running watch keeps track of all your running stats, gives feedback and helps to motivate you to do better each time you run. And…it beats getting your regular every day watch all sweaty 😉

Check out their many different styles, there’s one for every price range!

www.garmin.com

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iPhone case

Hmmm….totally not a necessity I know but I recently saw it online and just fell in love…..describes me to a T!

With so many running cases, it’s easy to find one with a favorite quote, photo or even customize your own! 

www.goneforarun.com

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Winter Accessories

Trax

Living in Montreal and running in the cold, snowy weather makes these an absolute necessity! Having those little ice picks on the bottom of your running shoes gives you the security and peace of mind to be able to focus on your run and not on trying to avoid the ice. Practicality doesn’t top everyone’s list of favorite gifts but let’s face it, if it’s something you will actually use then it’s a good gift!

Great gift for the winter runner on your list!

www.ca.shop.runningroom.com

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Wool Buff

So here’s the thing….it’s not pretty or stylish by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, just add a tuque and you actually look like you are going to rob a bank wearing this thing. You also don’t need one all the time. In fact much of the winter you could probably get away with not wearing one. However…..on those really cold early morning runs when the wind is howling and the snow is blowing and you can feel your nose hairs gluing themselves together…that’s when you need a wool buff!!

Don’t let your favorite runner be caught without one!

www.buffusa.com

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Home Decor

Decorative Pillow

I guess I must be a sucker for inspiration lately because this pillow just got to me. It’s the kind of thing that makes you smile AND makes you feel guilty if you were considering not running today! Just the thought of walking past this pretty little item and not going for a run makes me want to lace up right now!

Available in different colors and with various quotes. Find your perfect one today!

www.goneforarun.com

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Medal & Bib Display

This is a new one for me….now that I have bibs and medals from soon to be 5 races, I have started thinking about how to display my current and future ones. For now they are on the cork board in my office but I wanted to find something a little more special. I am all about inspirational reminders and thought this could be a great way to begin displaying my collection and stay inspired at the same time!

Encourage yourself or a friend to continue their running journey by displaying their achievements!

www.goneforarun.com

www.mile22bags.com

CustomerBag6      Medal+hanger

So this pretty much sums it up….I love shopping, I love running and together these activities are a match made in heaven!

What’s on your holiday running wish list?

Have a favorite running gadget or item that you love?

Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!! 🙂


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Race update!!

Yesterday I registered for the local Resolution Run on December 30th! Yay!!

Okay, so here’s why this is so exciting to me…

I’ve done a few 5km races and recently did my first 10km. I had wanted to get in another 10km before the holidays but haven’t been able to find anything in my area that works with my schedule.

This 5km however is on Mount Royal which is a hill in the center of downtown Montreal. This hill was formed from an ancient extinct volcano and is now covered by a lush forest. Mont Royal is a beautiful location at all times of the year and the views of the city are just fabulous!

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View of downtown Montreal from Mount Royal

Racing on the hill not only means elevation to contend with but the time of day will be an interesting factor too. The start time is 5:30pm which means the race will be in complete darkness!

Basically I figured if I can’t get in another 10km why not race on the mountain, in total darkness while the temperature is dropping off for the night? Hahahaa!! I might be losing my mind a little but something about it makes me think it will be fun 🙂

Race map for Mount Royal Resolution Run 2014

Race map for Mount Royal Resolution Run 2014

Now I just need to stock up some winter running gear because it will be a nasty form of cold that evening I’m sure. And I will need new treads. Last year’s pair were totally worn down at the end of the season and in no way can you run without them in icy winter conditions. Maybe a headlamp too? lol…what a stylish outfit this will be!

Luckily though I will be able to get in some training on the actual course and I must thank FlRunnerBoy for this idea! He posted recently that this was one of the training methods he used to obtain his latest PR and I am eager to try it out for myself!

As well, this race comes at the perfect time of year to counter balance all the eating and drinking of the holidays!  After a week of Christmas feasting and just before New Year’s Eve drinking time, I can use this race to feel a little better about all the gluttony of the holidays! Though I will need to be disciplined with my training in order to be ready for this race. However I’m okay with that because being disciplined about running is much easier for me than being disciplined about eating and drinking!!

So let the countdown to the Montreal Resolution Run 2014 begin!!


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Caption that Driver!

Ahhhh…..the looks you get from people driving in their cars as you run past them. Today I played an exceptional game of I what I like to call…Caption that Driver 

I usually run in the morning somewhere between 7:30 and 9am. I am fortunate that my job allows me to make my own schedule and often work from home. As well, my hubby always takes the kids to school so I get to start my day with an early run.

This morning as I headed out, I began to notice people in their cars staring at me. Huh? Staring? yep….staring. I had occasionally noticed this before but never to the extent I did today.

Why was today different? Well, the first part of today’s route was on a busy street that leads towards the highway so it’s always packed with cars especially during morning rush hour. Today it seemed busier than it had before. It was also windy, chilly and there were a few flurries…however the sun was shining so by my standards it was beautiful!!

When I first noticed the staring it made me uncomfortable. What were they staring at? Was I losing a piece of clothing? Was something stuck to me? Was I running weird??? Nope, none of the above.

As each car approached, I could feel their eyes peering through the windshield at me trying to see who was this bright neon person behind the shades. Their stares came complete with looks and judgments that ranged from impressed and jealous to full on disgust and contempt. The more they stared the more I stared back….and smiled, sometimes even nodded.

And boy they didn’t like that! Hahahaa! 😉

Unlike runners who always acknowledge other runners and cyclists on their routes, people who don’t do outdoor sports seem to speak another language. The language of averting their gaze, shifting their body language and pretending not to notice the runner passing them by on the street or bike path. However, if they are feeling bold and protected from inside their car…they stare.

Once I began to have fun and make eye contact with these drivers, I began to caption their stares in my head….

Guy wearing a turtle neck, winter coat and tuque

Seriously? Shes running OUTSIDE?? Does that girl know it’s under zero today? 

The old couple shaking their heads disapprovingly

Oh my!! What is she doing? Going to catch her death! Tsk! Tsk!

The young guy blasting his music so loud I could hear it through his closed windows and my ear buds

WTF?? I lift weights man, now that’s working out!

The soccer mom driving the minivan in her pj’s with a hoard of screaming kids in the backseat

….Damn that girl, I wish I had time alone like that!

The stressed out middle aged guy trying to multitask driving, checking email, drinking coffee and eating a doughnut

….I’m way too important and busy for that kind of thing! 

A fellow runner (or maybe cyclist?) who smiles back and waves!!! 

…hey there buddy, have a good one!

The business woman trying to talk on the phone and apply lipstick while driving

Who has time for working out?? She must be a homemaker!!

The hipster student casually blowing smoke out his window and sipping a latte

….Running? Hell no. I’m way too cool for that.

And on and on it went…

Until I realized that I had run farther and faster than usual and I was smiling like a toddler eating ice cream! That’s when I knew I would be playing Caption that Driver again 😉

So my friends…I challenge you to play Caption that Driver on your next run and let me know what happens. Maybe we can turn this into a real game, with points, teams, challenges and even play offs!

Let’s get out there and Caption those Drivers!! 

running woman


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Lest we forget…

Ahhhh…my run today was long and filled with heavy thoughts. Yesterday I hadn’t planned on writing this post but now it seems I cannot focus on anything else.

Late last night, I watched an Anderson Cooper report about a man who was born into a political prison in North Korea. His story is haunting. I was appalled to see the level of depravity and violations of human rights that exist in that country, these camps and that are happening this very minute. I always knew the basics of North Korea’s issues but had never heard details as horrendous as I heard in this report.

North Korea has a policy of 3 generations of imprisonment for offences such as trying to defect. 3 generations. That is a lot of grandchildren being born, existing and dying inside a prison that should really be called a concentration camp. Not only was I appalled at his story but I was shocked there doesn’t seem to be anything being done about others currently living in the same situation.

If you have not heard this story I urge you to learn more. His name is Shin Dong-hyuk and he is alive today despite all odds. He deserves to be heard worldwide. 

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/anderson-cooper-on-north-korean-born-in-prison-camp/

So as I went out for my run today , I looked up at the sky. A beautiful clear blue sky. And I thought of the people inside these camps who look up at the same sky and live a life that can barely be called a life. I thought of these people and others around the world who are suffering from similar and other awful realities that give them only an existence and not a life. I thought of my own family, many of whom died in concentration camps during the 2nd World War. I thought of slavery, both American slavery and other forms of slavery throughout history. I thought of the countless civil wars in the name of religion.

So many of these horrors still exist today. Everyone knows about it and in the case of countries with nuclear power such as North Korea, very often there is little that is being done about it. That in itself may just be the biggest crime against humanity. Places like this are left to themselves to continue their cycle of crimes hidden away from the rest of the world.

In Canada and other countries of the Commonwealth, today is marked as Remembrance Day. On this 11th day of the 11th month and at the 11th minute of the 11th hour, millions of people observed a few minutes of silence for the war heroes of past generations. In America it is Veteran’s Day, a day that honors all those who have served in the Armed Forces. November 11th is recognized all over the world as a day to thank those who fought for the freedoms that we enjoy each day.

Today we wear the poppy, hear the bagpipes and quote from the famous poem-In Flanders Fields

Inscription of the complete poem in a bronze "book" at the John McCrae memorial at his birthplace in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Inscription of the complete poem “In Flanders Fields” in a bronze book at the John McCrae memorial at his birthplace in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

However so many in this world do not have the rights and freedoms that we do. They have no cause to celebrate today. So today instead of just giving thanks and remembering those who have passed on in the name of our freedoms. I would like to challenge myself and everyone I know to do something more. Today let us honor the past but also make a plan for the future. After watching that report last night, I feel as though I cannot go forward with my life and continue to live in a bubble with no regard for these atrocities.

There are so many worthy human rights causes. My challenge is simple. Find one the speaks to you and do something. If every person in the free world took a stand, changes would happen. So get involved. Join a group, write a letter, give your time and resources. Everyone has something to offer. There are many people out there working hard for human rights causes but they need more support in order for real changes to happen.

We are all human and we all should have the same rights and freedoms, no exceptions.