Sunset cruising

One of the best investments we have made, in regards to family fun has been to keep a boat in the water. Not on a trailer, in our driveway, needing to be launched every time we want to use it. Rather, she is tied to the dock in our local marina, quietly waiting for us, anytime we should want to go for a cruise. 

  
For those who don’t own a boat, this will seem a little strange. What does it matter? How big a deal is it to launch? Saves a lot of money to keep the vessel at home in your driveway, which you already pay for. This has been our thought process over the years, with the various different boats we have owned. (We’ve even had the driveway full of boats, no room for cars, but that is another story). 

The fact is, boats in the driveway do not go for a sunset cruise, on a moments notice. In fact, anything less than a day on the water doesn’t seem worth the effort of the launch or the single use cost of the boat ramp. The marina is only open during certain hours for launching. So, in all the years we have owned boats, we have not taken advantage of these awesome evening sunsets we get. 

Of course, you can watch the sunset from land. But, you kind of battle for parking and the best spots are not known only to you. Rather, you share that kind of experience with many others. That could be small children who are ready to be at home in bed, rambunctious dogs who see the ocean and need to run, or parents who, at the end of a long day have had enough. We have been there and done that. 

Now, we race around the house grabbing what little we need to bring on the boat, hoping to catch as much sun as we can. Then we take the short drive down to the sea. Our slip comes with a parking pass, so we are easily a few moments away from the dock. A few minutes more and we are quietly cruising out of the marina. Smiles all around, it is an amazing feeling to feel the wind in your hair, the salty sea air and the last rays of Summer sun on your cheeks.

  
The only downside to having full access to the marina is five-foot-eitiss. This is a disease, of sorts. Last night we indulged ourselves to a full tour of the boats on the other dock. Ones we don’t see regularly. Oh my, there is a serious sum total of dollars floating over there. We comment on this one, we really like that one, and then start guessing how much they all cost. This is when you can start talking yourself into the next size category of boat in terms of need, rather than want. I know how this goes, that is how we are walking the marina, we’ve had five-foot-eitiss for as long as we’ve owned boats. 

But that is for another day. As the sun fully set last night and we headed for home, we were content. It was a lovely evening spent in an amazing part of the world. A bigger boat won’t make that any better.

  

Wildness is a necessity

I am loosing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news.   

– JOHN MUIR

I took a screen shot of this quote from Instagram awhile ago. I do that. My camera roll is half full of these things. Sometimes words like this, stop me dead in my tracks and I don’t always know why. I tuck them away for future reference. Everything falls into place, eventually.

The quest for a piece of “wildness”, is not a journey I was consciously aware I was on. I didn’t know I was missing it in my life. I’ve always fancied myself a city girl. My parents have tried to show me the benefits of living further afield, where life is a bit less tamed by the constraints of civic rules and regulations. I’ve been curious, but never enough to commit. 

Recently, on a trip to Cortes Island, something in me shifted. Luckily something similar tugged at my husbands heartstrings. Timing is everything. We didn’t seriously speak of it until almost the end of our stay. We toured a piecce of waterfront land and all the pieces clicked into place. We both knew, this is it. Of course, this is not a movie, we don’t pan from that moment to a view of us happily sipping coffee, enjoying the view. Real life has many more hoops to jump through to get from “A” to “Z”. I’m not sure which letter we are on just now, but we are getting towards the end.

Eventually, we will join the cast of characters which have commited to steward a piece of wildness. The memories of those who have come before remains strong on Cortes. There are remnants of the past everywhere you look and it is a rich legacy. But you have to really look, in order to see. For many people from the city, a shell midden or an old orchard, the wild mint and oregano, these things blend into the rest. For me they are symbols of the industry those who came before had. The fortitude to carve out a life in a place so beautiful, it takes your breath away. But a place of wildness. Not for the faint of heart. 

Of course, we are not pioneers trying to clear the land with hand tools. We are not up against the hard deadline of the approaching winter. We don’t worry about the fruitfullness of the crop and the extremely hard work of preserving sustanence for the dormant season. We have the luxury of time, resources and distance. It could take us years to create permanent living quarters. We will only be able to enjoy weeks at a time, rather than months. We can purchase what we need from as far away as we like. This is a different era.

But our quest for wildness knows no time. It is more primal. It is something all humans crave. Even if you don’t realize it. There are riches to be discovered, which are priceless. That is what we have found.

  

Being a kid

All my vacation days this summer, were spent doing stuff I’ve always done. Visiting family and friends. Hanging out in familiar locations. Even the pace of time away was short and sweet, a few days here and few days there. My cognitive abilities were not being challenged, tested and pushed to the limit, (which my everyday life can often seem like). And so, of course I loved my vacation days this Summer.

If it seems right to reach back to the May long weekend, then Summer 2015 starts there. Unfortunate circumstances, brought my family from Alberta to stay with me. We united with local, extended family for a celebration of life. (See Angel). And even though one amazing life had ended, we felt a boost of energy by being together and playing out our family rituals. This is when I first realized how much my childhood and my family hold the keys to the kind of person I once was. Maybe even more so, the kind of person I want to migrate back to. Who wouldn’t want to experience some of the “great fun” which comes with being a kid again?

In early July we made the pilgrimage back to Portland for WDS. This time my husband joined the fun. In a big group venue, with part inspiration, part education, I am reminded of being in a school auditorium for some kind of special event. The energy in the room is a buzz with great expectations. You leave an experience like that changed, but grounded. At least for me it was an even stronger reminder of what brings me extreme joy. Inspiration is queen. Always has been.

In late July, Calgary was calling. My own children had been in that area for almost a month by that point. While we missed them, we reconnected as a couple. A little scary to start. What happens when we strip away all the busyness of our kids lives and turn to each other solely? Will we have enough to talk about? Turns out yes, yes and yes. Ideas we tossed around in those weeks are some of my most productive, supportive and loving times of the year. Seems we not only have a lot to talk about, we still really like hanging out with each other!

A side trip from Calgary, took us to a very small town in Alberta called Bassano. (Not to be confused with the town of the same name in Italy). In this tiny place, my children can be. They come and go. They swim in the local pool. They eat when they are hungry. They are free to be their own people. The restrictions of modern life, living in a city, bound by endless rules, regulations and customs, have no place in a place where life flows at a simpler pace. This was the story of my formative years. It is only now, looking back, I realize how good I had it. Hindsight. It is also a place where you can feel nourished in a way. Because there are moments of deep reflection, there are also moments of deeper connections with other people. My Aunt made a book recommendation which was absolutely perfect. She listened to me talk, and then the book was placed in my hands. (See Work Life Balance).

3 Girls London

Then I was off on my own, the long haul flight to London, England. There I met up with 2 dear friends and we talked, walked, laughed, enjoyed food and drink and generally acted like the women we really are. Our truly authentic selves. Not the ones that have to be placed in a specific box by those around us. When you have the opportunity to roam like this, you are free. It is a fantastically wonderful feeling. One that I highly recommend to anyone. And it can be done in your own city. It can be done for a few hours at a time. I would think the benefits are greater is this habit can be practiced far more often than once per year. I just take what I can get.

My trip to London was a tiny add-on, to a business trip. I don’t want to give the impression that I jet off to Europe at moments notice for a few days! I do about 6 long haul trips per year and I have added these weekends, only 4 times in about 12 years. Even though the airfare is already paid, the extra hotel and eating out and having fun, can get a little spendy. So I am careful on this type of travel expense. The same amount of money goes a long way towards a Mexico vacation for the whole family.

Whaletown shore Aug

Speaking of family, once I got back from Europe, the very next day we were off to Cortes Island. Maybe it is because I grew up in Alberta, but BC Ferries meant fun ahead, summer, adventure and did I mention fun? Getting to Cortes requires 3 ferry rides. I was so excited, even for this first day of travel. (After the previous day of inter-Europe + long haul, being strapped into a seat for way too many hours, give me some space to roam!) The pace of life slowed with each ferry ride. The busyness of people, the stress, the appointments, everything faded away. As we sailed into Whaletown, I felt like we were finally home.

Whaletown sign

We spent a week on Cortes Island. We tried to do everything, in the hopes of packing it all in. But as the days progressed, we realized that was not going to happen. We had to come back. We started to speak of next summer, of doubling the time. But that seemed so far off. It also seemed like, “not enough”. Would we be able to experience this place for such short periods of time, so infrequently? Cortes was too magical for that. We had fallen under her spell.

For my part, the book “Tidal Passages” by Jeanette Taylor was an eye-opening view of what life was once like on Cortes.

What emerges from Taylor’s colourful pageant is a view of pioneer life that is quintessentially coastal: of potlatches, longhouses, stumpranchers, handloggers, beachcombers, seagoing missionaries, isolation that brought out the worst in some people and the best in others, and through it all the watery element of dugouts, steamships, ferries and tides that pulsed through islander life like a heartbeat.

Combined with our week of discovery on the island, my imagination was overflowing with modern life on Cortes. What would it be like to spend countless hours here? Experience different days, maybe an Easter holiday, Canada Day, even stretch out to a Thanksgiving or a Christmas break?

Canada flag

As we packed up to leave Cortes, I felt a profound sadness. I have arrived, enjoyed and left so many places in my life. Even within the past few months, why should this be so different? Where is the pull on my heart-strings coming from? How did this happen?

I’ve been discussing these questions with my sister. She arrived with her 2 boys, (kind of young men now), a few days ago. Her stay marks the end of our Summer vacation days. Tomorrow when she boards her flight back to Calgary, I’ll turn my attention back to work. The big Fall push that drives my company to hit the year-end goals. It is always with some melancholy that I look at the start of Autumn. As the days shorten and we brace for cool and then cold weather, the Northern hemisphere’s environment is moving into a cycle of dormancy, while we ramp up our industry.

Maybe what I miss most about being a kid was the innocence. The end of Summer was the start of school. Depending on the year, that was mostly a good experience for me. Fresh supplies, friends, learning, the return of the schedule. Nothing ever interrupted this certainty in my life. It was with a measure of dismay when I realized upon starting your working life that your Summer vacation would be reduced to a paltry 2 weeks. And that was only if you were allowed to take that whole thing at once, which might take decades to achieve. There was some fine print for you.

So I’ve learned an important lesson this Summer. I’ve practiced how to be a kid again. And I like it. Now, how can I incorporate this mindset into all my days? This is a question I feel compelled to understand and explore further. For me, it is a lock which I am determined to find the key for.

Work Life Balance

The summer of 2015 is half over. At least for my children. They are already sad about what has passed, in regards to what little is left. Time is really flying for them. They have had so much fun and excitement, they are so emotionally charged, you can almost feel it in the air. A whole month away from home, staying with family, but running pretty independent lives. What a wonderful time! And then the parental units arrive on the scene.

While I’ve been visiting my family in Alberta, I’ve been catching up. Running some very familiar patterns. Routines which are well worn over the years. Food preparation in the kitchen, dishes to be washed, recipes to be practiced. Games. Real outside swimming pools. Roasting marshmallows over the campfire. Small children staying up past their bedtime. Card games, both new and old favourites. Sleeping in tents because there were too many people to fit the number of bedrooms. Family.

Then, Sunday morning, I started to worry. I have a big week coming up. Will I get everything done? What do I have to accomplish anyway? What happens if I don’t get finished what I set out to do, according to my standards? What then? That was when I stopped myself. What brand of silly is it when you worry about your work life this much? On vacation? So I rolled over and went back to sleep.

But it haunted me all afternoon. I voiced my concerns about this topic to my Aunt. She disappered for a time. Then she returned with a book for me to read, easily accomplished in an afternoon. Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote, “Gift from the Sea”. A delight. As the pages started to fall away, I was amazed that something written so long ago was still so relevant. I immediately ordered my own copy. I was also taken by the fact that my Aunt could so easily put her finger on the pulse of my problem. She had answers at the ready. 

It is a gift to be able to help others. Especially when the “others” are me and feeling down or otherwise uninspired. My mini Alberta vacation ended on such a high note, I almost floated home today. I guess the only trick is, how to make this feeling last and apply these kind of lessons when life gets tough and stressful again. 

On the bright side, I am getting closer to finding a way to serve others. If I could harness the power of women around me, the wise women, the brave women and bring it forth for others to share. Help solve the daily mysteries for one person with insights from another. Restore a balance of working and living that makes sense to each and is not a prescribed formula. Fill up our cups with inspiration. Help us continue to serve and help others. 

It sure seems as if what we need to learn most, comes to us at the perfect moment. Just when we are ready to receive, ready to become teachers. At least for me, that is how my Sunday unfolded.

“I shall ask into my shell only those friends with whom I can be completely honest. I find I am shedding hypocrisy in human relationships. What a rest that will be! The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere. That is why so much of social life is exhausting; one is wearing a mask. I have shed my mask.” 

― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

Creative drinks

As the weather continues to be wonderful here on the South Coast, we are looking for more innovative and interesting drinks to keep us cool. (Oh wow, that sounds like a line of copy from a magazine! Can’t tell whether I think that is good or bad.) Even my husband was looking around for something new last night, which is not his usual state of mind when it comes to food and drink.

I came up with 2 new drinks for us to enjoy this weekend. Along with a great deal of water, hopefully everyone is staying hydrated in the wonderful summer heat.

Superfruit Sangria

  • 2 cups of frozen, mixed berries, (we have been freezing trays of berries every week and almost have a full shelf in our stand-up freezer)
  • 1/4 cup each dried mulberries and goldenberries, (substitute other dried fruits, like raisins and cherries)
  • 2 tablespoons goji berries, (these don’t really have a substitute, but can be left out)
  • 1 cup of pomegranate juice, (or any of the pomegranate blends)
  • 1 bottle red wine, (I had 1/2 bottle red + 1/2 bottle of rose opened, perfect use)
  • 2 cups kombucha, (I used blueberry & maple made by “Rise”) 

Make this in the morning, for evening enjoyment. The next day, it is even better. Because this recipe is lighter on alcohol than most sangria, I think it is better in hot weather. But, enjoy lemon ice water as well. I think you could increase the juice/kombucha ratio to make this a mocktail as well.

  
Kombucha Mojito

  • 3 cups fresh pineapple
  • small handful of fresh mint, (or less if mint is too much for you)
  • juice of a lemon
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 cups of kombucha, (I used mint and chlorophyll made by “Rise”)

In the Blendtec, use the juice setting.

  

My favourite notes from WDS

These are some of the words I have taken away from WDS2015. They are notes I have written down, but I apologize if they are not exact quotes. So many good turns of phrase. Inspiration! My notebook feels like a little piece of gold, thought it might be nice to share.

  • “How do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world?”  -Chris Guillebeau
  • “If you stay in MOTION, you don’t have to face the things that make you EMOTIONAL.” -Jon Acuff
  • “Flip the epic switch.” -Asha Dornfest
  • “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” -Maya Angelou, (used in Vani Hari’s presentation)
  • “Be not a superhero, but a super human.” -Lewis Howes
  • “Real relationships cost you something.” -Jon Acuff
  • “We want painful emotions to be better and when they can’t be fixed we get the message that grief needs to be silenced.” -Megan Devine
  • “What if I was worthy of my own trust?” -Asha Dornfest
  • “Is there anything I could do that would make you not love me?” -Lewis Howes
  • “If you want to be awesome, treat people more awesomely.” -Kid President
  • “Give life permission to break your heart.” -Lissa Rankin
  • “Even elephants are born small.” -Derek Siver
  • “Sometimes the tapestry has to come completely apart in order to be re-woven.” –Tess Vigeland
  • Inspired by Kurt Vonnegut, “Karass – a group of incarnated beings whose job it is to bring into existence, a holy idea.” -Lissa Rankin
  • “Nobody knows the future.” -Derek Sivers
  • “I use WDS to remember who I am, not the roles I play.” -WDS2015 attendee from Japan
  • “Don’t be a know it all.” -Wes from Armosa Studios
  • “Creativity is the new literacy.” –Chase Jarvis
  • “Gen X is missing deep conversation today, long form communication.” -Jonathan Fields

I don’t suppose this qualifies as long form communication, but I very much agree with Jonathan Fields. Something I will be trying to do more of.

Thank you for WDS

Even though I had a 6 hour drive home yesterday, I couldn’t put words to my recent #WDS2015 experience. For those who were not in Portland, or have not heard me try to explain WDS, it is a conference. Properly named The World Domination Summit, aiming to achieve 3 main tenets – community, service and adventure. With a quest, how to live a remarkable life in a conventional world. Still don’t understand what the conference is about? Well that is part of the mystique, I think. The feelings you have while attending are different, moment to moment, for the same person and range widely between folks.

I attended last year, just the basics of the Main Stage conference. So I had a pretty good sense of what that was about. But this year I took in the academies and the world record attempt, (success). I wanted to have the whole experience. I’m an all-in kind of gal, I guess. But not without support. Last year my dear friend and my Aunt, this year my husband. I couldn’t muster up the courage to be one of the many, many people who were attending alone. They bravely went out there and met people, something I have classically been terrible at. With the help of my wing man, I met a few people this year, maybe some which will turn into lasting connections.

The experience of being surrounding by people who are supportive, welcoming and even willing to give of themselves to help another, almost 3,000 of them, people who have nothing personally to gain by reaching out, I can only use the word AMAZING. Maybe also delightful. Inspiring. Fantastic. Wonderful. It warms my heart and soul to know that people can come together and be so…..well WDS-like.

I may not be aware of other conferences which have the same vibe, (if anyone can tell me, please do). I can’t get enough of these “good-life” experiences. I went into the weekend with a pretty empty cup. My life seems to drain it out of me. I really needed the inspiration and fulfillment which I received. But I was prepared, I arrived with several spare cups, a deep reservoir with which I can draw on for some time.

WDS Globe Sign_web

So now, come this way with me….I’ll take you on a little summary tour of what I experienced at #WDS2015.

Thursday July 9, 2015:

  • Sean Ogle, the WDS Man About Town, lead an academy called – Location Rebel.
  • The famous Jonathan Fields, 5 time WDS attendee and former keynote speaker, talked about “The Art of Becoming Known”.
  • Dinner at Noble Rot – best meal for me, great sunset view of the city. Rooftop garden provides the vegetables to the restaurant.

WDS Academy_web

Friday July 10, 2015:

  • Started the morning with Worldwide waffles, a world record-breaking, mass participation of sitting in a bed, in our pjs, eating breakfast at the same time. My husband was not so comfortable walking through the streets of Portland in our “costume”, but this, I had no problem with. (The beds were all donated to families in need in Portland.)

WDS Waffles_web

  • Registration – picking up the loot! OMG, so much good stuff!

WDS Loot_web

WDS button

  • Button we got from a fellow attendee! I think she was using this as her business card.
  • Opening party at Pure Space, great venue.

Saturday July 11, 2015

  • Jon Acuff kicked off the main stage presentations with a super funny, high energy and charismatic talk.
  • The Food Babe, Vani Hari shared her struggles with corporate America food industry giants and the “haters” alike.
  • Lewis Howes talked about The Myth of Masculinity.
  • Kid President, (who I had never heard of), was in the house! Brad Montague and Robbie Novak shared the story behind the YouTube persona they have created. Very genuine. I even bought the book which explains their journey in detail. I think kids like that are great.
  • There was a bunch of other stuff added on the schedule that day, including Pamela Slim who spoke about knowing your 7 births.
  • Over to the marina for dinner at Thirst Wine Bar.

Sunday July 12, 2015 – this was a big day, lots of emotion.

  • Jeremy Cowart gave one of the most creative, inspiring and moving presentations I have ever seen. I could have excused myself and cried for a long time. He described his childhood and what he had to overcome in school which lead to his later success. It just broke my heart to hear yet another story of how the traditional education system is failing, particularly with boys. This was very close to home for me.
  • Megan Devine spoke of grief, another emotional session.

WDS words_web

  • On the lighter side, Asha Dornfest gave a humorous talk about reinventing yourself in a time of uncertainty.

WDS Adult speech

  • Lissa Rankin spoke of the “Hero’s Journey”, something my husband related to very strongly.
  • We finished up the main stage key-note speakers with Derek Sivers who asked us, “Why are you doing what you are doing?”
  • We learned about the WDS “Magician” who will be moving over to The Wayfinding Academy. Taking a bold step to change post secondary educations experiences.
  • The closing party – FUN.

WDS candle

WDS Closing party_web

 

Monday July 13, 2015

  • Our final academy, hosted by Pamela Slim and Rob Young. “How to take action after WDS”. Perfect ending.

There was so much else we did in Portland, more great food we ate, happy hour at The Paramount where I tried almost every one of the 7 they had on offer, etc. Of course we left some money at Powell’s Books, couldn’t be helped. And my mind comes back to the people, so many great people. The memories built over these days are precious.

Handmade business cards

Business Card Making Assembly Lin

Who hand makes a business card these days? Creative people. Artists. Someone with a lot of time on their hands. Turns out, I am not really any of those kind of people and yet I’ve just finished my first batch of handmade business cards.

I have to say, I really liked the process. I’ve been collecting ideas and thinking about this for a long time. But the deadline is looming. WDS 2015, (World Domination Summit), in Portland starts in just a few days. I’m not going to be caught short again this year.

In truth, I didn’t mention my blog until the closing party at about 9pm. The person I was chatting with replied, “Wow, that is a really good concept”. Of course I did not have a card to give her. Wow! Rookie mistake.

There have been so many moments since then, when I could have used a card. The URL is the name of the blog, but it requires memory, which I certainly don’t possess. Hardly can expect the attention span from anyone else.

Business cards are probably still in use just to save the brain cells required to remember yet another thing. If you have the card, it is so easy to make an association to meeting the person from whence it came. At least, I find them to be useful in this way. And I have a neat little box on my desk where the new cards go. After a year or so, the cards are sorted and filed away appropriately.

I love to see who has taken the card design to the next level. Unfortunately it is few and far between, where any kind of creativity comes into play. You would think people would be trying to stand out in this area of branding, just as they do in all other areas. Maybe I’m attending the wrong kind of events. And maybe I need to speak up at the right kind of events!

So I’ve made 30 cards. It seems like quite a few. Especially when I only might have given out one or two last year. I suppose if I make it a goal to give out 30, then I’ll be so far ahead. But, let’s face it, my efforts to date have been pretty pathetic. Self promotion is not my strong suit. However, my husband is with me this year and he is my #1 fan. So at least I can give him one. Maybe I’ll make a few more!

What I did was super easy. Picked a really nice card stock. Metallic finish, premium card stock, 65 lb. paper. Then I found some see through vellum in the 25 cents bin at my local art supply store. After I had created my funky design, I printed it on the vellum. (I designed the page myself in illustrator). Then I cut out both pages, the card stock was true size and the vellum was a little smaller. I used a good ruler and an OLFA knife. And glue.

The whole operation took me back to my college days. When I was design school, there was no auto-cad. We did everything by hand. The best I might have done then was hand draw the first one and then make multiple photo copies. But the cutting and pasting are the same. I love the way they turned out. Now to get a nice little case for them.

Interesting links about business cards:

Business Card Making Top Sheet

 

Business Card Making Progress

Business Card Making Finished

Oh I hope there are no spelling mistakes! At lunch time, when I was well into it, I double checked “flourish”. It started to look wrong to me!

 

Dust if you Must

I’ve always disliked dusting. I blame it on my allergy. It makes me sneeze. And it is so dirty. It is also pointless. It’s just going to accumulate again. Do you really dust it away? Or do you just move it into the air and then it settles after you walk away?

As the poem says, there is a “life to lead”. So many more fun things to do, rather than dust.

Dust If You Must
by Rose Milligan

Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there’s not much time,
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
Music to hear, and books to read;
Friends to cherish, and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world’s out there
With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair;
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it’s not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself, will make more dust.

  • 10 Tips For Dusting – OMG, I’m not doing all these things…no wonder my house is so dusty!
  • Sorry, I can’t add 2 more references for how and why you should be dusting….get outside and have some fun!

Enhance enjoyment

The definition of a condiment has something to do with enhancing flavor and enjoyment. I would have to agree with that. In the condiment category there are so many options to choose from.

You start out as a youngster with ketchup. A mystery combination of ingredients suspended in a tomato base. My children choked down so many meals with the plate swimming in a sea of ketchup. It was so disappointing to see the real flavour of their food being drowned out by the ketchup. But they matured and got over that habit. Thankfully.

Then there is the world of mustard. That is not overstating the different choices in the mustard category. There is something to suit any taste. I usually have 2 or 3 different kinds on the go. Right now we have a basic hot dog mustard, a spicy hot and dijon. We just finished a jar of turmeric mustard.

It would take a very long post to go through all the other condiments in my kitchen. And the rotation at any given time is temporary. We are often trying out new ones. And I’ve taken to making condiments fresh. The difference of a fresh version to a store-bought is really night and day. With my strong preference being toward the fresh options. I like the taste better and I can feel in my bones, how much better it is for my health.

I’ve been experimenting lately with salsa verde. It seems like the taste can be quite similar to chimichurri. It also depends on where the salsa verde recipe derives from. Mine is from an Italian version, rather than Mexico, Spain or Germany. Back to the Italians, again.

I think salsa verde can be used with anything and everything. Top corn on the cob, instead of using butter. Use as a dip for vegetables or chips. Add to anything coming off the grill. Or even use as a marinade before going on the grill. When I taste salsa verde I am taken back to warm summer days. Even in the dead of winter. It is so easy to make up large batches and freeze in flat “sheets” in plastic bags. Then re-constitute with olive oil.

Classic Italian Salsa Verde

  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, (or onion)
  • 3 anchovy fillets, (or anchovy paste)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3/4 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cup cilantro, (or basil, mint, or combinations)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard, (whatever is on hand)
  • juice and zest from 1/2 lemon, (could use vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, (could use another type of oil)

I put everything in the Magic Bullet and shake it as it blends. You get a sauce this way. It is super quick and easy. Alternatively, the vegetables and herbs can be finely chopped. The result is thicker and not as creamy.

I would say that this sauce enhances enjoyment of whatever is on the menu. I like it with eggs too!

Salsa Verde with bean

Great fun

“Childhood is a short season.”    ~Helen Hayes

“When we protect children from every possible source of danger, we also prevent them from having the kinds of experiences that develop their sense of self-reliance, their ability to assess and mitigate risk, and their sense of accomplishment.”    ~Gever Tulley

My sisters and I shared wonderful experiences in the 1970’s. This was a decade where children could be free. When the sounds, tastes and smells were wonderful with a heightened sense of joy. We did not have parents or grand parents running after us, urging caution. We were not fearful or worried. We skipped and jumped for the pure delight of it.

Maybe I was lucky to have an unusual family. Perhaps bordering on being hippies? Maybe my parents were too young to know better. But somehow, by luck or by sheer cleverness, we managed through without any serious injuries. In fact, we thrived.

I can remember, so often, being told to “go play”. Which, (I now know from being a Mother), was also code for “leave me alone for 5 minutes”.  But, we didn’t know that then. We took the directive to heart. Go play, have fun, be children. Do what kids do best, live in the moment.

Child_Duck

Imagine the joy of riding on a plastic duck?

Children_fire_marshmallowsChildren_camp chairs

Standing free and clear on those old school camp chairs? Cooking your own marshmallows over a fire?

Child_axe

Have you ever cracked open peanuts with the back of a hatchet?

Children_merry go round

Planting your feet to keep from sliding off the merry-go-round?

Children_trampoline

Trampolines with no cages around them?

Children_Slide

A slide that was 4 times as big as you?

I guess we weren’t the only family who experienced the 1970’s in this way:

I am this…

On the Sunday of May long weekend, seven of us girls piled into my SUV and headed over to Black Bond Book Warehouse. I’m not sure what other families do, but we are readers. In no time we all had piles of books. My sister decided that another person could add a book to your pile, giving you a reading challenge. That puts an interesting twist into things!

I had to admit that I was a reading baby. Even a book a month was a challenge. My Aunt was astonished. I think she reads one a week. Which is why she makes good use of the library. I often have to renew a novel from the library, once or twice!

But this day we were on a mission. Grab an armful of books and get back to the sunny patio. Not only could we more carefully look at our own purchases, but we had the added bonus of looking through the balance of the loot.

I am a sucker for books which are part self-help, part productivity, part management, maybe slanted toward business. That is why I came to own the latest addition to my collection titled, “Do More Great Work“, by Michael Bungay Stanier. What I didn’t realize when I bought this book is, it’s a workbook. Which is a huge added bonus for me. There are so few of these kind of books on the market, it was almost like finding treasure. In fact, the activities are called “maps”. Who doesn’t love to pour over a good map?

The first map was easy. I breezed through it so quickly, I thought I might just make it through the whole book in a weekend. (Given my track record, who knows why I thought that!) Anyway, turn the page to map two and that is where I came to a dead halt. I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to complete the assignment. 6 days later, I dug down and pulled out the wisdom I needed.

That was today. Things were going so well, I went on to map three. This was equally tough to complete. These exercises require some serious soul searching. But the results are so worth it. OK, now I am gong to be very vulnerable and share this map. So be kind.

The first word describes what I am when I am doing great work. The kind of work that I love. The place where I loose track of time and when I’m in the zone. The second word is not necessarily bad, or the opposite, but it represents, at best good work, at worst bad work.

  • Visionary not task master
  • Analytical not routine
  • Earnest not complacent
  • Comprehensive not lists of half formed ideas
  • Organized not winging it
  • Knowledge seeking not taking it at face value
  • Engrossed not simply covering the bases
  • At ease not cautious
  • Mindful not quiet
  • Dedication not just 9 to 5

I think this is a pretty powerful list of words. The book advises you to keep a copy near your desk and have a laminated version to travel with. I’ll admit, before I completed this map, I immediately dismissed the notion of laminating. But, now that it is done, and I see it here in print, maybe I’ll pop over to Staples and create that hard copy.

The idea behind this list is to steer to the left. Staying on the left is where great work can occur. Tendency is to veer right. Although good work is still good, it is with great work that I feel most alive and vital.

 

Update to “About CW”

CW Coffee_webI started this blog in 2011 with a desire to record what I see and experience in the world. The twist was it needed to be “the good stuff”. As I go about my day, make it through the week, I try to notice what is happening around me, that which has a positive angle.

I find, when we focus on the things that are right in the world, we tend to agree. This dialogue lifts the human spirit in a way that is very universal and inviting. We are brought into a welcoming space, feeling bigger than ourselves.

My blog is a collection of ideas, resources and photographs that can be used as a source book of sorts to acknowledge and remember all “The Good” that is constantly happening around us. Use this interactive journal to help practice gratitude in your life. I hope you leave here feeling connected to other people in a very wonderful way.

Welcome to The Good Life List!

A short list of interesting things about me:

  • I’m a curious planner. I hope for the best and plan for the worst.
  • As a young girl I yearned to be old. Imaging what my adult life would be like consumed me. It has turned out, (so far), nothing like I thought, and that is a good thing.
  • I hold stress and anxiety, “below the water line”. On the surface I look calm and serene, but underneath I’m paddling like crazy.
  • My husband is my favourite person in the world. My children are next, but I’m preparing myself for their need to fly, each day a little more.
  • Love to create things, working with my hands to produce something that I can look at and say, “I made this!”
  • My mind is rarely quiet.
  • Organization is calming for me, everything in its place and a place for everything.
  • I love to hear my children tell me their stories, little pieces of their personalities spilling out of them.
  • A conversation with my husband, if I am really in a bad spot has always been able to restore my confidence.
  • There is always a pile of books at my bedside, I love to read and will have 3 or 4 books on the go.
  • I love the effect of physical exercise. My mind is clear, my muscles feel strong. Cannot say I love to actually get out there and do it.
  • When I go through periods where I can post every couple of days, those are good times. Lots of good stuff is happening. I live for that.

Enjoy!

-CW

Where is the list?

My husband posed this question to me this weekend. I think the nature of a blog, is really a list of posts. So I don’t see the literal problem with the name of this blog versus the content structure. But, in actual fact, it didn’t start out with this name. I changed it.

I started out with “The Good Stuff”. Over time that name, which was intended to be cheeky, just rang of consumerism. Not at all what I am going for. And then I wanted a .com URL, and those are hard to come by. So I had to modify the name of the blog. That is how we arrive at the list part.

Now that I think about it more, I really love lists. All of it. Creating them, checking things off, the sense of accomplishment. It is one of the reasons I stick with a paper planner, rather than moving to a digital version. The mental satisfaction. I’ll take that whenever I can.

Since I’m not a web designer, and don’t plan to hire one anytime soon, there is not a big design update coming to make this blog look like a list of entries. I’m about simplification right now, and probably always. But I think I’ve got an idea to start making future posts feel a bit more list-like.

See if you like the new feature of The Good Life List. 3 or more, (depends on how I feel that day), links, references, a small list related to the content of the post.

  1. Workflowy – popular technology platform for making lists
  2. Ray Bradbury on How List-Making Can Boost Your Creativity from Brain Pickings, (an amazing blog)
  3. The Amazing history of the To-Do List, (I love the Johnny Cash list)