2014 Annual Review

I am inspired by Chris Guillebeau. He shared a deeply personal annual review on his blog, The Art of Non-Conformity. Problem for me is a lack of process. I can see from Chris’s post that he creates a detailed set of goals and then conducts quarterly reviews. I would think it makes the Q4 review a little easier to manage! But have to start somewhere, so here we go.



  • Rang in the New Year in Mexico. A nice family dinner at Corazon Cafe where a singer played guitar. Moved from sleepy La Paz to a big Cabo resort where the kids ran around the pool and played for 5 days.
  • Woke up one morning with a full dose of inspiration. Created a new architecture for my blog.


  • Bought a “Los Cabos” journal for an e-course with Brene Brown. The content followed her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection”.
  • Practice is a Process
  • Wholehearted
  • Travelled to Oslo, Norway for the first work trip of the year. Left my family in Calgary, on the way home from Mexico and peeled off via London.
  • Got my hair cut quite short. It was time for a change and the end game was to let my natural color come through. But we made a tiny mistake by putting so much light hair dye in. First I looked grey already and second lots of my natural color is a much darker!

Short hair

  • A few days spent in Denver, Colorado on a work trip.



  • Back to Oslo, Norway early in the month.
  • On the way home, stopped in Calgary where my parents picked me up for the short trip to Fairmont, B.C. Skied at Kimberly and Panorama during a week of vacation.




  • Sent my daughter off on her own to Calgary by plane. She was thrilled.
  • On the way to the airport, near the end of the month, was hit by 2 cars near the entrance to the tunnel. My car ended up being written off. I had to catch a later flight to Calgary.
  • Spent a few days in Bassano, Alberta with my daughter. My Aunt hosted a kind of retreat, which was lovely.



  • Renovations on the new MBR were coming along nicely in early April.
  • Quick trip to Oslo, Norway.
  • Bought a new car.

New car

  • April 12th we had a warm enough day to wear shorts and sit in the sun!
  • Around my birthday, headed off to Munich, Germany. Another work trip where we ended up in Austria. The last of the “fancy dress” parties.

80s party


  • Tacked on an extra day to spend May 1st walking around Munich with a dear friend.
  • Early May, off to Newport, Rhode Island for a work trip. Entertained customers at The New York Yacht club and sailing on an old America’s Cup boat.

Sail Newport

  • May 27th, the garden was in full bloom. Didn’t get to plant anything this year. Enjoyed everything that was already there!
  • Fallow State


  • June 2, our first crab boil of the season.

Crab boil

  • Spent my anniversary working in Seattle, Washington.
  • My Son graduated grade 7. A big one for him as he would head to a private school in the Fall, leaving 8 years of friendships behind.
  • Tried my first Annie Sloan painting projects after taking the course at The Passionate Home in Langley.
  • The MALM Transformation
  • Inspired by Paint

Paint card_web


  • Ringing in my husband’s birthday and Canada Day, we spent a few days on the Sunshine Coast. Unfortunately the weather was less sunshine and more rain forest.
  • Personal Space
  • Attended the most amazing conference called “The World Domination Summit” in Portland Oregon.
  • Service, Community, Adventure

Theatre WDS_web

  • Drove to Bassano, Alberta and then back to Calgary. Spent a few days recovering from all that driving. Picked up my kids and drove back to Vancouver. Managed to avoid any hail damage in what was one of the worst seasons for the area.
  • Canned a few jars of beans as they were coming off the fields. Processed bushels of fruit for our freezer.
  • Food Preservation
  • Renovations of the MBR were almost complete. Bought some artwork at the White Rock Farmer’s Market and finished the last of the Annie Sloan paint projects.


  • On the way to Oslo, Norway stopped in Stockholm, Sweden for a long weekend with my girls. 2 dear friends who also work where I do. One based in Stockholm and one in Hong Kong.
  • Stockholm Helgen


  • Home on my son’s birthday with great plans to be “present” for him. However, the travel was starting to catch up with me. Had the worst swelling in my legs. Felt – just – bad. Ended up sleeping for a long time.
  • Teenager in the House
  • Mid August, picked up my nephews from the airport and then shipped all 3 boys off to camp on Thetis Island.
  • Took a last week of summer vacation when my Sister and Parents arrived from Alberta. All the kids took a week of skim boarding camp at White Rock beach.

Skim boards

  • My sister and I, taught ourselves how to add beads into a knitting project. Made great progress early on, as usual!
  • The Good Beach Life

Beads knit


  • Private School
  • Early days, my daughter was not back in school. That was due to the Provincial teachers being on strike. We had an interesting experiment in home schooling, which my daughter did not enjoy.
  • Education Hacking


  • Mid September, off to Hong Kong for the better part of 2 weeks. This was a long trip and I suffered coming come with adjusting back to the schedule. For many nights, had to take sleeping pills. This was unusual and a little concerning.
  • Unpacking



  • Early October off to Alicante, Spain. Another long trip, about 10 days. While it was a fantastic location and I quite enjoyed much of it, had a very tough time with my mood. Even had an episode of what I could only call “panic” which was very strange. Made an appointment with my doctor.
Team SCA leaving Alicante October 11, 2014

Team SCA leaving Alicante October 11, 2014

  • Extreme Sports
  • Missed Canadian Thanksgiving which was a bummer. This is a non denominational holiday all about food!
  • My husband who was the VP of Marketing for a high tech company was laid off as they continued to downsize staff. This is no fun to go through, but he successfully negotiated a fair severance.
  • Dia de Muertos Shrines
  • Last day of October we adopted a cat. Not sure what we were thinking. But he is considered a “senior” as a 7 year old. At least we stopped short of a kitten, (we almost adopted 2 kittens), who would have tore our house apart.



  • Creative Soul
  • Joined a knit-a-long where I created a very nice hat. My daughter, who looks amazing in hats, immediately laid claim to it. That works well, I look terrible in hats.
  • Hosted a work friend for dinner in White Rock and she gave me a lovely present!

Worry Dolls

  • Day trip to Calgary, mid month.
  • Picked up my Aunt and Uncle arriving from Calgary who were staying at our house for a week.


  • Spent a fantastic week in New Orleans, Louisiana on a vacation of a lifetime! Really felt like I was in another world.
  • True Rest & Relaxation


  • One more trip to Calgary for work with a couple of days added on. Relaxed for the weekend at my parents house, attended a Christmas party at my sister’s house and a family Christmas dinner. Super nice.
  • A Christmas Eve flight to Mexico. Will spend the last days of the year, back where the year started.

Next year

  • A group of three represent woman from all over the world. We will do amazing things.


  • A new beginning for my husband, built from the ashes of the past.



When did my little baby turn into the young man who could confidently launch himself into a 40 degree pitch of knee deep snow and accelerate to 70km per hour? Then sustain that intensity for the better part of 6 kilometers? And hike for 475 steps along a ridge to get there in the first place. Enjoying every bit of it.

As a parent it is amazing to watch how he has transformed. As predicted, it happened so fast. Like the speeds he was reaching in the Tayton Bowl, time has sped by just the same. We have these little snap shots to record the moments – the go pro video, some iPhone photo’s, the app which gives us the stats, the facts. It is the feeling of being there, present in the moment, burning it into my memory. The taste of poutine, classic rock and exposed wooden beams in the chalet will always be associated with skiing, my family, my children, the most important people in my life.

My son has years of skiing adventures ahead of him. His path will twist and turn along the highs and lows. His passion and dedication will carry him along. I’ll be waiting at the bottom of the run to hear the stories of adventure from his journey.

Fast friends

There was an 11 year old girl in grade 5 who met my daughter on our ski vacation this past week. It was an instant connection. All they shared was tied up into numbers and gender. These criteria are virtually meaningless when it comes to adults becoming friends, but to a child on vacation we are talking fast friends.

It makes me wonder, why can’t adults accept each other as easily as children can? What have we lost in our ability to find similarities to spin a conversation around? The instant communication turns to shared activities, (a.k.a. play), and then a friendship is formed. Just like that.

There is no need for further investigation, what kind of job do you have, where do you live, who are your other friends, do we think alike in most ways. Children take things at face value. 5 minutes ago I had no friends, now I have one. Simple. Easy. Great day!

My daughter skied with her new friend and treated her with a gentle kindness you would expect from old friends. That is a good thing, the ability to live in the moment. Be present, be happy with what is happening now, be open to new experiences.

I’m not sure if this new friend will be in my daughters life for a long time, but my daughter will always remember meeting her and enjoying her company on this family ski trip. This is a special gift unto itself.

Ullr the god of snow

It might be our last journey along the Crowsnest Highway from Cranbrook to Vancouver. At least our last unplanned trek, in the winter. If you look at the map, it is a twisty tour through Southern BC, with short stretches where your forward progress is completely opposite of your intended heading. In the winter, it is a frozen land with little reason to stop along the way. Not much traffic to contend with, but an eerie feeling of isolation at times through the snowy glades.

What makes for great driving conditions in the winter, does not make for great skiing. In the last 8 years of this family ski vacation, we have pretty much experienced all the different types of weather. Dry roads with speedy progress through the mountain passes to black ice which could send you off a cliff in the blink of an eye. When the roads are covered in snow, the plows can’t keep up and the fluffy white stuff keeps falling, it is time to slow down, take it easy and be thankful for the fresh powder on the ski hill.

This year, skiing was as good as it gets. Big overnight dumps, fresh powder in the morning, blue bird days and heavy snow days, blanketing the runs while we ate lunch. Ullr was smiling down on us, but it was not without sacrifice. A single ski lays somewhere outside the extremely large hole dug in the snow searching. A gift to Ullr, at least until Spring.

Over the years our children have grown tall and become very good skiers. We have come together as a family to enjoy one of the sports that best celebrates Winter. We have learned to respect the danger of winter driving while enjoying the fun that comes with snow accumulation at high altitudes. These are just a few of the perks, living in a Nordic country like Canada.

Ski for the whole family

Jerry Seinfield was quoted as saying, “There is no such thing as fun for the whole family.” I had never heard anyone dare to say what many of us have always thought. How can one activity, on one day, truly be fun for the whole family? This idea landed, for me, at a perfect time. I was breaking away from my parents as a young adult and wanted to create my own fun. So I did.

Then the problem landed right back on my shoulders when I had children of my own. I was not so smug now. This was a real challenge. What I came to realize is, family fun with small children, is fun for small children. The fun for adults is trying to enjoy themselves through their children’s fun. This works best with adults who are close family members. Trying to invite along some child free friends usually doesn’t work. They have not become masters of sacrificing themselves for these tiny little people who are running rough shot around your life.

Through a lucky set of circumstances, my sister and I decided to pick skiing as a family activity. We each pursued this within our own communities, but each year we came together for a week to ski. This turned out to be a good idea due to a number of factors. Things like willing spouses who also enjoyed the sport, (super important and probably a show stopper if they had not been skiers already), and parents who could get us free accommodations near a very family friendly, beginners ski hill.

Over the years, all 4 kids learned their turns and fully enjoyed the week at the local mountain. But, as these things happen, when you start kids early, they have a tendency to become so good, they pass their parents in ability. My sister likes to attribute this to confidence and no fear of falling and hurting themselves. Whatever the reason, the 3 boys that once used to follow us down the hill like little ducklings, are well into expert terrain this year. My daughter really applied herself to parallel turning in an attempt to catch up to the boys. It won’t be long and she too will have passed me by.

So we are in a very lucky position to have found something to do in the winter that is fun for the whole family. It required a lot of work, nurturing and care. Almost like another member of the family – the perfect ski run that we all yearn for each time we go up the lift.

Family ski

Other related posts:

Never Never Land

The best known resident of Neverland famously refused to grow up, and it is often used as a metaphor for eternal childhood, immortality, and escapism.

photo 1

I think a ski run named Never Never Land could not be more appropriately named. This run would need to be something that attracts certain kind of adventurous sorts. A place where one goes to feel young, always. Lucky for my son, such a place does exist, not just in his imagination.


Panorama Mountain Village ski resort is of average size for North America, with 2,847 acres of skiable lift-served terrain. This places it somewhere in the top ten in terms of area. It also has one of the largest vertical drops in North America, at 4,000 feet. In terms of continuously skiable vertical drop, it is 5th behind Revelstoke, Whistler Blackcomb, Jackson Hole, and Kicking Horse.

Panorama’s longest trail of 5.5 kilometres, Never Never Land starts at the top of the Taynton Bowl as a double black diamond steep narrow gully then widens out into a fast groomed tree lined trail leading to the Village.

photo 3

I have gathered all these fancy facts from the web, I will likely never go to Never Never Land. I think those days are over for me. Like Peter Pan’s lost boys, these places are for a certain kind of soul. They dream of the steep slopes that can only be accessed after a lengthy hike. These kind of conditions keep the rest of us away, it is not for the faint of heart.

My brother-in-law has not lost his younger, lost boy, in the process of becoming middle-aged. He has cultivated that spirit in his son and as a result of ski club this year, my son has joined this club.

It was a great ending to another family ski day. This time, 3 boys made it to Never Never Land, and they decided to grow up a little and come back to us.

Here veggies

The standard diet on a family ski vacation is a tough thing to take sometimes.

  • First, we rise early and shove in some breakfast, whatever the kids will eat, quickly so we can get up to the hill for first tracks. (Some in our group are more militant about this than others.)
  • Mid morning snack is usually something in the vitamin J category, chips from a vending machine or smarties being constantly doled out from a ski jacket pocket.
  • Lunch will always involve a hamburger and maybe some french fries.
  • Apres ski will involve beverages either in the soda pop category or the equally fizzy beer category. And some snacks there too.
  • Dinner can look an awful lot like lunch, depending who you are in the family.
  • Bedtime snacks are when I finally put my foot down and tell the kids to eat carrot sticks, or an apple and drink water. They usually pass on this snack all together.

Last night was my first turn to cook our family dinner. In honour of my whole food workshop which has just released module 2 this week, I went with veggies, veggies, veggies and pork tenderloin on the side. (Picture is from my phone and had to use the flash, sorry not the greatest quality, but you get the idea.)

12 noon is my house salad, big hand on the 3 is roasted veg that was very much coloured by the beets, down at 6 is sautéed beet tops, and then pork tenderloin.

House salad – substitute with whatever is on hand and whatever your family and friends like

  • Greens – any combination – fill the salad bowl
  • Grated beets
  • Cheese bits goat or feta that can be crumbled
  • Baby tomatoes cut into quarters or dried tomatoes sliced into julienne strips
  • Pumpkin seeds or other nut blends, whatever you have on hand in your freezer nut bags
  • Drizzle over balsamic cream and olive oil
  • Grind salt and pepper to taste

Roasted vegetables – combine softer and harder varieties, cook the hard ones for about 40 minutes and the soft ones for 20 minutes

  • Olive oil, chopped garlic, salt and pepper for dressing in the roasting pan
  • Beets and yams – diced in 1/4″ pieces
  • Mushrooms – in half or quarters
  • Zucchini and red onion – diced in 1/4″ pieces
  • (Above was all I could bring myself to buy for last night, reasonably fresh, nice looking and not crazy expensive for being out of season and having to travel around the world to get here.)
  • At other times of year, and definitely from your own garden or to your own taste add: eggplant, parsnips, fennel.
  • Roast at 375 degrees F 20 to 40 minutes
  • Cool and toss in a dressing of your choice
  • My dressing was balsamic cream, dijon mustard, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and julienne basil

Beet Greens – super easy chop up and saute with olive oil, then a little red wine to reduce and finish with a dollop of butter and a small grind of S&P

Pork Tenderloin – marinate all afternoon in a concoction of choice, (mine was a bottled chili lime), bake until almost cooked through, finish on the BBQ.

OK – time to wake up the family, only a slight wisp of clouds in the sky, otherwise it is going to be a blue bird day. Skiing here we come!

The family ski

We travelled about 1,000 kilometres by car yesterday. In the winter, through the Rocky Mountains, which can be a walk on the wild side. The snowy highway gods were feeling generous this year, and let us pass with no troubles. We made record time, in just over 10 hours.

I have been coming to this place since I was a teenager. And now my children have learned to ski here, recognizing certain landmarks year after year. Improvements have been made, but essentially it is the same.

In my job, I have the fortunate opportunity to visit and ski in some of the best resorts in North America, but there are a few things that make me love this place above all others.

  1. My family is here. It is a great time to connect, play games and put in some turns together. My husband and I believe that a family that which plays together, stays together.
  2. When you check in, or pick up pre-paid lift passes, no-one assumes you are trying to take advantage. There is no ID verification, they just take your word that you are who you say you are.
  3. The outside hot tubs are actually kept at 104 degrees F or better. You don’t get out there and wonder how long it will take to warm up.
  4. The shop that sells bathing suits has the largest selection in Western Canada with staff that know how to fit a bathing suit on a less than perfect body and make said body look pretty good.
  5. In the cold winters, there is an ice road that you can drive your truck across.
  6. The ski chalet on the hill is open beam wood construction, small and cozy with a real wood fire burning to warm your toes beside. You can always get a seat by that fire, even if someone is there first

Family time

It is one of my goals this year to spend more time together as a family, doing stuff. We try to be together now, but I don’t think individual play on a computer, all 4 of us in the same room really counts. Or at least, that should only be one of the activities we do together.

Sunday we skied together. It has become such a fun way to spent the day as a family. The kids are old enough and competent enough to ski on their own, but they like to be with us. I know this will not last, so it is with immense pleasure that I hold on to these days as long as possible.

So far, I have come up with the following activities:

  • games
  • movies and live theatre
  • skiing and swimming
  • bike rides
  • walks
  • reading aloud
  • cooking and eating
  • volunteering
  • camping and fishing
  • arts and crafts

I have found that, by spending time together, we discover what is going on in each other’s lives. In a chance conversation with my son on Sunday while sharing a plate of poutine, he mentioned a ski club at his school. We come to find out that registration is almost closed and the club only had 6 spots left. To think he almost missed out on night skiing and taking lessons in the dark!