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.

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.

Crafts

January

  • 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.

Categories_web

  • 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.

 

February

  • 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.

Fairmont

 

March

  • 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.

Knitting_webB&W

April

  • 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

May

  • 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

  • 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

July

  • 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.

August

  • 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

image

  • 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

September

  • 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

Daytimer_web

  • 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

HKG_web

October

  • 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.

Lynch

November

  • 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.

December

  • 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

NOLA

  • 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.

Dolls

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

Crow

True Rest & Relaxation

It is the last morning of my first ever week long vacation as an adult. I’ve been on lots of vacations over the years, but this time was different. I had no responsibilities. None. Zero.

It is a curious thing to have the weight of your life lifted completely from your shoulders. With the removal of the never ending list of “things” I hold in my mind constantly, there was a true freedom.

When I woke up in the morning, my first thought was not guilt. There was not a queue of tasks stacking up in my inbox, the long list that sits in the forefront of my mind, the wishes I have for myself sitting way at the bottom of my daily action plan.

It has been with space and time away where I now realize how complicated my life has become, how intricately woven together all the little pieces are. It has taken quite some time to get this way, each layer supporting another. It will take some time to untangle much of the complexity.

I think this experience, this new understanding, is like seeing a child who has grown in your absence. When you are with them all the time, you don’t realize the change, it happens so slowly.

As I head home tonight, the challenge will be, how can I preserve some of the whimsy, the magic and the freedom of the last week? How can I elevate some of my deeply personal needs to the top of my life? For it is with great self care that a person can be better at everything else they do.IMG_0190.JPG

The lottery

Over the past couple of months, my family has discussed what we would do differently if we won the lottery. This is not passive dreaming, we had purchased tickets.

First one was my Dad. He had a ticket for a grand prize of $50 million. Since we were discussing how to spend his money, we didn’t get too greedy. My sister and I suggested a luxury family vacation. We started with what we knew.

My sister has been to Maui and has no great urge to go anywhere else, so Maui it was. I said it had to be at least a month. We agreed that private accommodations for parents, separate from children was a must. On the beach. Then, I really wanted to fly business class. My Dad busted out a private jet. So generous! It actually felt, for a few minutes, as if we were going to Maui on a private jet!

My Dad did not win that lottery. But my husband got into the spirit and bought a ticket for the BC Children’s Hospital Dream Lottery. The proceeds from this support a great cause and a hospital which we have used several times for our own children. It really feels like a donation, with a possible upside.

The prizes are quite lavish, with the early bird draw yesterday of a brand new Tesla Model S. I have not checked our answering service, so it is not 100% confirmed, but probably we did not win the car. However the final draw is November 5. While the homes and cars and furniture are all nice, we have our eye on the cash. $2 million would allow us to set up our future more quickly and easily than our current path.

As we discussed this lottery it quickly became apparent that we have a pretty great life already. In fact, I would not change a thing for the rest of this year. That is a pretty satisfying thought. Money would not improve the things in my life which I hold with the highest value. My family, our health. Friends and the great relationships they bring. Experiences, learning. These things money can’t buy.

So we sleep soundly knowing that whether we win the lottery or not, we already have the life of our dreams. I know how that sounds and my younger self would have scoffed at hearing me say it. Maybe this kind of perspective comes with age. But I have finally realized, acquiring more stuff, traveling to far off places, these things alone do not bring me true happiness. It is how I feel with the people I cherish most, these are moments of bliss.

The Good Beach Life

Just like the seaside, a lifestyle is not always calm. There are moments of quiet reflection, even meditation. But as the wind picks up and the atmospheric pressure changes, so will the internal storm rise. This kind of ebb and flow is how I enjoy my beach life most. For it is with fortitude we trudge through the low points making the highs so sweet.

I have to admit, we had mostly high points this past week. But, maybe my graph for this kind of chart is changing. The lows lifting up to more of a medium point and my highs becoming incredibly tall. Could be. That is my story and I’m sticking to it.

There were so many moments to be thankful for this week. I’m picking a few:

  • Weather – pleasantly warm, enough to work on our tan, (even a little sunburnt children who swore they had sunscreen on), but cool in the evenings
  • Food – excellent wherever we turned. Taco’s on the beach for lunch, cookout for dinner. Fresh seafood in Stanley Park, dockside in Steveston and on the rooftop patio of the Boathouse
  • Exercise – the kids sprinted after their skim boards we walked dozens of miles, up and down the 300′ hill to the beach
  • Space – we had enough for everyone. That is a luxury we often don’t have on a family vacation, but something not to be overlooked, particularly as the kids are teens and tweens
  • Activities – new and old. The kids kicked their skimming skills up a notch. My sister and I learned to add beads into a knitting project
  • Shopping – books, everyone got something, beach reading and beyond

We had a little bit of clouds and rain yesterday. Some might view that as a low point. My mood can sink low when the sun doesn’t shine, but we made the most of it. We combed the beach at Lighthouse Park and my nephew packed out quite a haul of beach glass.

I think we managed fun for the whole family this week. But, most important, I had a great time.

Beaded Cowl_web Books_web

Related posts:

 

Personal Space

How much space do we really need anyway? We packed everything we need, (and probably more), for 5 days of vacation. All that gear, stuffed into the Honda Pilot. Then we unloaded it all into a little cottage. Gradually we found all the little nooks and crannies where things could be stored away for our visit. Yet, stuff is strewn around, taking up most available surfaces. The treasures of comfort we brought from home.

It makes me wonder if it would be possible to reduce our possessions and square feet of living space down into a much smaller footprint. There is a movement towards these tiny houses, which accomplish that. But as I sent the kids out to the patio to eat their breakfast this morning, they insisted it was too cold. They did not think to throw on warmer clothes and enjoy the amazing view of the water. They huddled over the sink instead.

I can’t blame them. My children have grown accustomed to a certain level of comfort, which requires space. But I wonder if we would be better off as a family to live with a little less? Be a little closer together. Evidently it fosters a sense of politeness that is not so common in North America today. When you live in close quarters you are brushing past each other, touching and being close, which forces you to respond in kindness and mutual respect.

On the other hand, after this 5 day experiment, my family will be extremely glad to be home. Privacy will be restored. Personal space expanded back up to normal.

The upside is that when my children complain about the small size of our house back home, I can now talk about a cottage – and they will be aware that we could live in an even smaller space. Grateful they will be! (I’m not so sure).

20140703-101736-37056566.jpg

20140703-101736-37056043.jpg

Slide to off

I learned something important this vacation. How to slide the little button into the off position. Miracle for me. Unfortunately I didn’t think of it until Thursday morning. As I lay awake at 3:50am with my mind racing about the work email I had read and responded to before bed, I thought – there has to be a better way!

One of my problems is the increasing count. That little red circle which shows the number of unread emails. It fills me with a certain level of anxiety to watch the number climb. I take a peek, then open one and then respond to one and then I’m awake in the middle of the night on holidays!

So I slid the “mail” function to off in my settings. The number disappeared along with my curiosity and anxiety. Poof, gone. I’m not even going to slide it back until Monday morning. Aside from Mexico at Christmas when most people were also on holidays, this has been an amazing couple of days. A simple little action which tricks my mind into complete relaxation – brilliant! I only wish to have known about this sooner.

20140216-064227.jpg