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“To Reach a port, we must sail; Sail, not tie at anchor; Sail, not drift.” ~Franklin Roosevelt

So I sat in my car today and I watched as a huge SUV tried to back into the tiniest of parking spaces.  I contemplated reversing and trying my luck in another row of vehicles further down, but decided there was no where I really had to be.  I was in no rush at all. So I just watched and waited and gave myself kudos on my *choice* to drive a small *economy* car (It’s an ’87 Jetta).

I patted my own back while wearing a smug look on my face, all the while subtly cringing at the nine-point turn the gas-guzzler was struggling through.  Who doesn’t know that it’s easier back into a lane or road than it is to back into a tiny stall?  Really.

As I had so much time on my hands to judge others and self-affirm my positive life choices, I also had a moment to realize an overwhelming sense of Déjà vu.  I swear I’ve done this before.  Actually, I know I’ve waited for this exact vehicle in this same parking lot…..I did this here…. I did this last year!  It was pre-Christmas.  I wrote about it!  Ah ha!  HA.

And so it is that I re-visit my little blog.

I had to have a look at what I wrote last year at this same time.  Where was I in my own head?  What was my mood?  I had just settled back down on Vancouver Island and I was surrounded by family and new friends and the excitement of living and breathing the snowboarding lifestyle and getting paid for it with a job at the mountain!  It was time for me to put down roots and explore a new community – how exciting!

The handful of entries I’ve managed to post since that time a year ago, don’t really give light to all that’s been going on in my life.  It’s hard to write about your thoughts and feelings and outlooks when you’re in one place and the people you see every day are directly contributing to your thoughts and feelings and outlooks.

It really ups the level of accountability when you don’t get to just pick up and leave every few days!

Although, in saying that, I did manage to move to Nanaimo briefly.  I got the opportunity to move in with fabulous friends and go back to school.  Well, actually, school fell through…. and after a few weeks (it was days) slugging through a less-than-stellar job, and the realization that we were all so busy I wasn’t even really spending time with my room mates, I decided to pack a backpack (it’s my default I guess) and go up north.  I had been asked by my uncle to help out as shore crew for the Van Isle 360 – a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island that happens every two years.  It’s an elite sailing race and I was happy to have the chance to be a part of it.

I arrived in Port Hardy ready to do the team’s laundry and cook them warm, hearty meals upon request.  Luck was with me – the boat was short-crewed and I must have struck them as the perfect Weight-Distribution-Specialist, as I was invited aboard.  This was amazing for so many reasons.  One being that I had entered (and lost) a contest just a few weeks before (see previous posting) where I was trying to win a trip aboard a sail boat.  Kismit or what?  This was waaaaaay better than any two-bit prize…. I got to do real sailing, in a real race, with my (yes, real) uncle.

Among an amazing array of other scenery, I saw the beautiful northern tip of the Island and spent a fun-filled night in Winter Harbour.  I’d like to say I picked up a lot in the way of sailing knowledge, but everything moved so fast, it was hard to keep up…on the water, and off.  Sailors really know how to party.  We had a night to recover in Ucluelet after being battered for hours and hours (one of the other boats broke their mast in the storm) on the longest leg of the race – 140 nautical miles – over the rugged west coast waters.  The wind was so bad and the rocking so incessant that two of the life-long sailors aboard our boat couldn’t move – couldn’t even sit up for over 12 hours.

We had the wind at our back as the danced into Victoria’s inner harbour.   And we got caught in the narrows for hours on our arrival into Nanaimo, but this was a great opportunity for the Coast Guard to deliver Tim Bits (donuts – to all you non-Canadians) out of pity, as we anchored and tried not to move backwards.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it was so perfectly timed (the whole trip – not just the donuts).  I got a much-needed reminder that I love the adventure – I’m always up for the adventure – and although I’m trying this settling down in one place thing, it doesn’t mean I have to settle.

I realized I didn’t want to live in Nanaimo.  I moved away when I was eighteen for a reason.  And although I’ve changed, and the city has changed, I wanted something different.  I missed the little life I had started to set up in the Comox Valley.  And so I returned to Courtenay, once again with a backpack on.  My family put me up, yet again, while I started looking for employment.  And employment I got.  All of a sudden I was ironing trousers and blow drying my hair.  Within a few weeks I had my own place… and my cat and I found ourselves living together for the first time in 3 years.  Sometimes these things happen that fast.  Well fast may be a relative term….

Anyway, we all move at our own pace and there’s no point in pushing it.  Things are feeling like they’re falling into place for the most part, and that’s pretty awesome.  This life has proved to be quite the incredible journey so far, and my guess is: it will only get more incredible as we continue sailing forward.

 

We all know that Christmas is a special time of year. Family, friends, wining, dining, and gifts. Yeah, it’s special, no doubt. There’s the flip side to consider, as well. Stress and all that mumbo jumbo….so-busy-bad-weather-unexpected-expenses-hard-to-buy-for-too-much-to-drink-to-eat-to-wrap….yadda. Yadda. Blah blah.

Bah.

My advice? Start watching the chaos and find humour. Just give yourself a little extra time and sit back and watch the insanity ensue. You can’t change the crazies that come out of the wood work and emerge in droves at your local shopping venues. Instead of getting annoyed at the person who takes eight minutes and a nine-point turn in order to back into a parking spot, give these people a break. Everyone shops this time of year (with exception of those overly down-to-earth types who have found the true meaning and all that..or the really crafty types that are so prevalent here on the west coast). So it falls to reason that unskilled shoppers come out at this time of year. This makes it that much more adventurous for the rest of us!

Actually, I think I’ve over simplified these characters. They aren’t unskilled at shopping – they are more-or-less unskilled at basic social interactions and sometimes even logic in general.

Watch the person in front of you try to explain a specific book to the lady at the cash register – while not knowing the title, the author, or even the genre of book they’re in such dire need of. Take note as she get more animated and frustrated, starting to lash out …. “nobody in this bloody store knows anything about literature!” She storms off feeling vindicated knowing she is better-read than anyone else in the shop and also that it’s run by illiterate morons. Now instead of letting their negativity rub off on you and your retail experience, just take a moment – realize you’re just very lucky not to be that person. Smile at the cashier. A knowing glance can do wonders. Now you can feel vindicated in your own right – and the camaraderie of like-minded, socially-adjusted people is exactly what this season is about.

Love thy neighbour… and your local customer service associate.

In all seriousness, I’ve really had to embrace being back in the real world for this time of year. My battle is not with the general public, but with my memories. I thought I had it all figured out – I got a job at the ski resort in order to fully wrap myself up in winter. Being up on the heavily snow-covered hill, surrounded by people who love being outside – it’s the perfect way to get through the long dark winter. Yes…all figured out – I knew this sort of job would ensure I worked through Christmas and I could slog through this very emotional holiday by working hard and feeling exhausted enough to sleep through the night. I could avoid Christmas… again! What luck.

Luck comes in oh, so many forms. I truly believe that each one of us is lucky, it’s just a matter of perspective.

So I guess I was one of the lucky ones – my schedule gave me both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off. As I was about to volunteer to take my coworkers’ shifts, I held my tongue and thought about the opportunity at hand. This could be exactly what I need. I’ve stated before: some of the best outcomes have been from situations that are difficult and way, way, way easier to avoid. It dawned on me that I need to face the holidays; the traditions, the ups and downs that come hand in hand with this time of year.

It’s been pretty sweet so far, and even with a few tears there is some sense of accomplishment.

I can’t even begin to count the ways in which I’ve been lucky. Life happens, sh*t happens, some of it’s heavy and bad and life-altering, but we do our best to pick ourselves up, and when we do – whether it’s luck, or determination or sheer grit, we, hopefully, can look around and begin to see the love surrounding us.

My love and thanks to everyone who has been part of my life these last few years. I have met so many special people. I have travelled with each and everyone of you whether it’s through airports and foreign countries, written word, or shared memories.

We’ve arrived here …right now. It’s pretty good, isn’t it?

Keep each other laughing. Share music. Hug to stay warm.

Merry Christmas.

You know those moments when you feel like everything is as it should be? That all the good, the bad, the confusing, the funny, the in-between moments – that it’s all happened – is happening – in the just the perfect ratio? Like all the happenings have led to this point. Good and bad and neutral…it’s brought you to the exact spot you’re in, and that spot is exactly where you’re supposed to be?

I’m not talking about the physical spot either; I’m speaking more about one’s state-of-mind. I’m talking about growth and I’m talking about experience.

You know?

Some may call it wisdom – although I’m not feeling overly wise – definitely not.  But I’m feeling like I’ve come to a point where I am okay with myself and my feelings and I’m proud of the journey I’ve been on and it’s okay to be proud.

And although I’m not necessarily speaking in physical terms, the physical journey is not to be ignored. It’s been astounding! I’ve seen a whole heck of a lot of Australia and New Zealand. I’ve made my way through South East Asia and some of the South Pacific. I’ve even stopped off in Canada for a visit! This is some substantial travel. Considering my original trip was planned as six weeks in Oz and two in NZ, I think flying by the seat of my pants is an understatement. What an opportunity, and a gift.

I’ve kept my head on straight (or as straight as it’s ever been…this is all relative.. it’s a sliding scale). So many ups and downs; SO so so many decisions to make everyday. No routine means I can’t turn my brain off too much. Maybe this isn’t true, but I’m using my brain in very different ways than I did when I lived in a house, went to work everyday, and came home to a husband and cat. All these decisions I’ve been making have led to this spot. All my interactions, on the road and at home, have helped to bring me to this head space. And you know what? I can honestly say, for the first time in many, many moons, that it’s a good head space. The galaxy in my mind is good. It’s accepting and filled with positive ions. I’ve disproved dark energy…no antimatter here! (oh, oh…now I’m on an astronomy analogy tangent….this can’t be good for anyone…it could be never-ending..doppler effect…escape velocity….let’s change the subject, the trajectory, if you will).

Someone wise once said that we are never given more than we can handle (this is actually based on a passage from the bible [Corinthians 10:13] but I didn’t know that until I just looked it up). I heard this a long time ago, probably when I was a teenager, and it was one of those ideas that made sense to me at the time, but its poignancy was fleeting and quickly vanished into the aether. Well this small piece of wisdom was brought back into my life, by someone I love, when Kevin and I were battling that insidious f*#ker we call brain cancer. Kevin and I latched onto this idea; we embraced it whole-heartedly and it kept us going, especially through some of the tougher moments. I still think about it and I believe it and I hope that it brings some sort of peace to people going through something difficult. We, as humans, are tough and capable. I feel tough and capable.

I also have a headache, but I guess that’s to be expected. Gamma-ray bursts and supernovae have that effect.

“There are two mistakes that one can make on the road to truth…not going all the way, and not starting”

~Guatama Siddharta, The Buddha

So I’ve taken a short hiatus from writing – a small break.  I’ve not felt the overwhelming urge to share these past few weeks.

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My mind has been busy and private.  January 10th was a big day –  a very important day – and significant to so many people who read this blog.  I think I’ve needed some time to sort out exactly what this anniversary means to me; sometime to regroup and look at what I’ve (we’ve) been through.  I’ll let you know when I’ve figured it out…

There are moments I still find myself in disbelief at the chaos of the last couple of years.  I have a feeling these shock waves will strike for a long time to come. How do we get through this stuff…how have I made it?  One thing I know is that this year is extremely significant to me as it is both an end, and a beginning  Funny how that works, hey? …(it’s science).

Getting through the holidays was a triumph unto itself and frankly I  feel like a huge balloon of air has been expelled from my chest.  Definitely a lessening of pressure.  What sort of pressure? Well I’m not too sure, but the build up to that year was insurmountable.  I have made it and I’m still going.  I surprise myself sometimes.  I guess we all do.

Greens PoolsMy last couple of weeks in Western Australia were just great.  After New Years we packed into a friend’s caravan and hit the road.  We would travel ~500km southeast of Perth, cutting diagonally through the bareness of NoWheresVille, Australia, to hit the coast again and check out a little place called Denmark near the city Albany.  With absolutely no regard for its namesake – all that this small community lacks in European charm, it makes up for in abounding natural beauty.  Our hunt for waves proved fruitless, but we had fun exploring the beautiful coastline.  The water was so clear! The terraces and rocky cliffs ever expansive.  We cut across through Margaret River and found our own private beach – the kind of beach that comes to mind when you picture Australia but you’ve never been here.  No people, just sand and waves and sunshine.

We arrived back in Perth it was time to get to work.  I had located a small Christmas tree farm in the far Eastern suburbs that could use a helping hand in exchange for room and board.  Jann – the family matriarch – and I had been in touch and hit it off right away.  Claiming there was little work to be done around the property – due to the dryness and soaring temperatures – we agreed that I would do as much as I could, work-wise, and then spend the rest of my time swimming in the pool.  These are work conditions that I can feel confident in accepting.

Well my week with the family was just amazing.  I was accepted into the family with open arms.  Richard & His AlphornThis is one cool clique, and between their short bouts of conversing only in Swiss-German I was let in on their colourful history. Stories of living in Nigeria, and traveling the world kept me entertained at every meal.  We ate well, and talked well, and it was sad to leave.

This leaving stuff has to be the downside of traveling.  The connections we make as we go – this is the whole point of travel.  Scenery can be fantastic, awe-inspiring.  New cities and towns are (usually)  fun to explore. This is all fine and good,  but the relationships we create, both on the road and at home, are the core of the journey. With the freedom to pick-up -and-go comes the other side of the coin – saying goodbye…it gets old. There’s a reason we naturally settle down and get those roots in the ground.  Only a very special kind of person can keep up the transient lifestyle.

Jill 'n Kim Making the Most of the Final Days! So with only a few days left in the most remote capital city in the world– we planned a going away shindig and it was perfect. Altogether I have had the good luck and fortune to spend more than two months in Perth and the surrounds and have come to consider some of the people I have met there to be the type of friends that are life-long.  A barbeque on the beach…. guitars found their way to nearby laps….the astounding talent of my Western Australian friends was given the limelight.  Damn it – another goodbye.

The Rocks, SydneyAnd with the end comes a new beginning – this time the east coast    I touched down just in time to celebrate Australia Day in the country’s biggest city.  Old friends and new, we had a great time,  After years of practice in Canada, I feel I’m a bit of an expert at this type of celebration.  The sunshine, swimming, beer, and chaos of families running around – I felt right at home. ..

But I’m not….not yet.

Theme Songs of the Day:

Thailand was a treat. Upon arrival we were greeted with fireworks, a parade, dance and light shows…it was amazing. We ate bugs – more than one – and agreed they tasted like the small crispy bits of french fries.    We wandered around in awe at the activity, picking small antennae out of our teeth, and only on our way out of the city the next day, did we find out it was Coronation Day.  One night in Bangkok …pretty great.

The majority of our taste of Thai – you know, besides the grasshoppers and such – was spend on beaches surrounded by other young westerners. It was quite a change of pace from our experience in Cambodia but it was easy and relaxing.

Our Balinese Christmas came and went and was lost in a sad and happy wave of normality I had never experienced before. It was good to take a break though…no carols, no presents, no freezing temperatures. We had a seafood dinner and I was lucky to share my token Christmas Guinness with two Irish blokes.  They kept us entertained with tales of excess and debauchery.  I reckon that Guinness pool-side is just as good as eggnog fire-side.  And tales of debauchery are a very close second to “Miracle on 34th Street”.

All in all, our last couple of weeks in Asia  were a gentle transition – relatively speaking – back into the throngs of the Western world.  Both the prices and the touristy-feel increased as we migrated south. We were blessed with exceptional scenery, culture, and religion.  This assisted in filling our hearts with a sort of pseudo holiday joy.

And so we made it back to Australia in time to celebrate the bringing-in of a new year.  This one will be pretty good I think.  A year of new beginnings… adventure, travel, friends, family, new things, new people, old things, and all things in-between.

We are alive and it’s our job to do some serious living.  Everyday will be a day of celebration even if it’s small and quiet and personal.  We will smile more. Why not? We will forgive – get over it.  We will open our hearts and be amazed when others open their hearts to us.

We will realize our faults and forgive them.  If we are able to forgive others the very least we can do is forgive ourselves.

We will get excited.  There’s a lot to do: we pay the bills and do the dishes, but everyday holds joy, and if it doesn’t then we need to make changes.  Maybe we will open up, be honest, and ask for help.
We will find love.  It’s everywhere and it comes in oh, so many forms and it starts with you. We will give love and give it freely – that means no strings– none…no exception.

One of the best things I’ve done this year is to remove myself from my comfort zone.  I’m not suggesting everyone give up everything they have to travel the world – although I support you 100% if this is the case, and I hope to meet you along the way.  The montage of destinations are simply a change of canvas that has helped in removing routine, pattern and familiarity from the equation.  The palette.

All the most memorable experiences of the past year are the ones that initially gave me pause.  The times that I had to work up the balls to get ‘er done. No shortcuts.  I’ve had to challenge myself, ask for help, take the leap.  When I have truly done this, each and every time, I have walked away a little bit proud of myself.

It’s important to know that these challenges have resulted in a magnitude of outcomes.  The whole gambit; an entire colour spectrum of emotion.  Regardless of the greys and browns and blacks, I have surfaced more complete – each experience benefiting the painting-in-progress that is my life.

May 2010 be a more-happy-than-sad year for all of us. A colourful year.

Theme Song of the Day:

Night WindowsThe Weakerthans

 …

British Columbia is a place that sings loudly to me.  I have grown up with the mountains and the ocean and the forests in my backyard – three decades of walking through postcard-quality scenery on a day-to-day basis – and yet it still takes my breath away. 

We’ve all heard that one of the great things about going away is how much you appreciate what you’ve got when arriving home again. This has to be true for so many people around the globe.  The comfort, familiarity, and routine of home…it’s got its appeal.  We derive focus and a sense of direction with this blanket of habit and recognition.

A pattern to smudge over the chaos.  

In this part of the world, on the west coast in particular, we are blessed to not only have wild, natural beauty at our doorstep, but the laid-back friendliness of the people that surround us should not be taken for granted.  A simple stop in the middle of a busy street (with a slack-jawed look of confusion) warrants a stranger stopping to not only offer assistance… but you know what?…uh, I was headed in that direction already so why don’t I just lead the way and make sure you get to where you’re going?…Want half my muffin?

It’s like living in a Disney movie.

This is not to imply naivety.  Not at all.  We just have friendliness and it perpetuates itself…one person smiles and then the next.  It’s science!  As a whole we are educated and alert and maybe we have an underlying confidence that allows us to put ourselves out there.  It’s really something.

Where am I going with all of this provincial pride?  Well I didn’t actually intend to go on and on about how great we are up here in the Pacific Northwest.  I just couldn’t help myself…! 

But truth be told, I guess it all comes down to the fact that I’m seeing home in a very different light than ever before.  My main component isn’t here anymore. A huge part of the ‘home’ equation has been taken away.  My comfort and belonging is emotionally tied up in the life I have been building with one person for ten years.  I can still appreciate the qualities of home.  I still have that life…it’s just very different now…it’s individual – my observations may be more objective in some regards because of this… or, I don’t know – maybe they’re teetering towards a more subjective nature?

Anyway, I didn’t have too many expectations of coming back.  I knew I had to face the paperwork I have been putting off.  I have beautiful new babies in my life (all of them boys!) that I have had so much fun visiting.  I am honoured to take part in a couple of weddings, some BBQs, and more than a few parties!  I get to visit with friends and family and its been fantastic so far. 

A few hiccups along the way have threatened the digestive peace that is home.  Some of the hiccups are bigger than others, but I know I am strong; I can handle these…I will drink my water upside down and get through the worst of it (by the way – in Oz they stand on their heads and drink water right-side-up to cure hiccups).  

I am very aware that as issues arise, the temptation to pull away from all of it gets stronger.  I have to be careful not to become too numb or distant when dealing with stressful situations. Sometimes the little things seem unmanageably big and then at others the big things seem so small in comparison to all that I have been through. 

Uh…yup….’subjective’ is the clear winner here. 

Give me the stress of a lost bus ticket or a language barrier any day – it seems easier than trudging through even the smallest confrontation or mishap at home.

All of this: the good and the bad, it’s all part of life.  Things should get easier as time moves forward.  For now I am happy to visit ‘home’ and I am looking forward to heading back on the road in only a few short weeks.

Let the adventure continue.

Island View Beach

I’m sitting on the deck enjoying the heat and the noises of very tropical-sounding birds. Somehow the five hours of sleep I’ve had in the last fifty-odd hours is sustaining me. I think I may be surviving on the excitement and novelty of being somewhere new. It’s so warm!! I can see a wild baby turkey as I write this.

The flight over was a pleasant surprise. I have never been upgraded before, but if I only have the one shot at improved airline comfort, the 14.5 hour flight to Auckland was the prize to land. I was moved from an isle seat at the back of the plane to a “premiere economy” seat against the bulkhead at the front of the aircraft. SO much leg-room!! Post DessertThe food was good too – prawns and such, cheese, port…champagne to start. Fantastic. Thank you, Air New Zealand – really it was quite the experience and I feel a guilty indulgence at having traveled like a rock star…or at least a Canadian rock star…

Upon arriving in Brisbane, my good friend Alice welcomed me. There’s nothing better than having someone you love meet you at the airport! It’s been seven years since we’ve seen each other, but Alice has had a way of being around during pinnacle moments in my life. We first lived together in Edinburgh, ten years ago. Alice was the only ‘local’ who lived in the flat with us and we became fast friends. We traveled a bit through the area surrounding the city and endured one of the most disastrous camping trips I’ve ever been through. It was an ordeal – but we laughed the entire time.

Years later, Kevin and I took our first trip abroad together and Alice’s house was one of our stopping points. I got to show him my former playing ground, and Alice and Kevin had a chance to get to know each other. That was the trip Kevin proposed to me on – Alice was in on the surprise. Very devious!

Our last meeting was later that same year when she came to Victoria to visit us. Since then we have been keeping in touch intermittently. Coincidently, Alice wrote an invite for me to come visit anytime, just a day after the tickets to Australia had been booked. “Oh that would be great – you’ll never guess – I AM coming to Australia …where exactly do you live?” Aha- Brisbane, wow that’s where I’m flying in!

From the deckSo we trekked through the city, making our way to her place – a beautiful little flat in a nook off of a cul-de-sac. Up on a hill, we can see the city through the leaves of the frangipani. It’s so green. It’s warm, and the bag is heavy, and the jeans are exchanged for a skirt, and the beer is cracked. Ahhhh…..

Friends come over and we chat and have some food and soon enough it’s time to head to the West End… We’re going to see the Chocolate Strings, a very fun and talented local band, at a pub called Lock n’ Load. The West End is a super-casual, café-culture area in a small strip just south west of the Central Business District. Live music plays at a few different venues and the atmosphere is busy but relaxed. The bar is packed and the music is just great. The band has actually outgrown the venue and people are dancing on the sidewalk outside. What a rad first night.

We get home in the early hours of morn’ and, after struggling with the math, I realize I’ve been up for exactly 48 hours. Sleep comes easy. I am so happy to be here.

Theme Songs for the Day:

Massive Nights – The Hold Steady, from the album Boys and Girls in America

A.M. 180 – Grandaddy, from the album Under the Western Free Way

Later –

The day was good. Although it would have been just fine to hang out in the yard and work on Alice’s friend’s bike, we actually managed to walk into town and maintain some amount of productivity. We walked for hours – I saw just how ‘interesting’ Brisbane is…it’s not necessarily the prettiest of cities, although there are some little gems. Alice explained that Brisbane had a huge developmental boom in the late 80’s. It so happens that the city held Expo ’88 (yes, they were the city that followed Vancouver). “Queensland shows the worls: Regionalism and Modernity.” The massive amounts of concrete are a testament to this era.

Slurpees were our main form of sustenance as we made our way over the Goodwill Bridge, through the Botanic Gardens… we walked down through the main shopping area and, as it was Saturday, it was jam-packed. It had started out cloudy but was pure sunshine within the hour.

A view from The Goodwill Bridge

A view from The Goodwill Bridge

We walked down to the man-made beach that sits beside Brisbane River in the South Bank area. It’s a little weird that chlorinated water sits on the graduated sand ‘beach’ – but all the people that swarmed the area seemed happy. It’s like a big water park for the whole family.

As we strolled the market we realized how terribly tired we really were. Movies were in order…and popcorn (it’s just SO good – top five foods for sure). A successful day. Tomorrow – the beach.

Another theme song for the evening:

Burn One Down – Ben Harper, from the album Fight For Your Mind

It’s been a nice, easy start to my travels.  Although I haven’t left the country, my only possessions are the ones on my back, so I think it’s fair to consider the traveling officially begun?  I have been living ‘elsewhere’ in my mind for a long while now, so it’s nice that my physical presence can finally catch up!

The city of Vancouver is beautiful and busy and each street is a contrast in terms.  Outside the high-end stores, the high-end shoppers dodge (and ignore) the homeless.  It’s SO busy and bustling but it starts raining and everyone disappears.  Luckily there are enough Starbucks to find shelter in.  The area outside the Art Museum is quite a thoroughfare during the average weekday, but 5:00 pm rolls ‘round, and the steps swarm with kids and homeless and hippies..  is there something artful about this….is it human art?

…I would think it may be considered installation art.

I have been doing a lot of walking in the last few days.  I consider myself somewhat of a local of Vancouver; the majority of the family is here and we did a lot of visiting growing up.  Canuck games and concerts bring me over periodically as well.  This past summer/fall – Kevin’s treatments took place here every two weeks.  I can now navigate through downtown (in a car) without wanting to impale someone with my bare fist.  I like to think that summer traffic at rush-hour taught me patience.

Anyway, I am now trying to see the city through the eyes of someone who hasn’t been here before. It’s hard to do, but not impossible.  The best part of pedestrian-style transport:  You have time to look up.  The clouds and sky seen from below, looking up between the buildings, are awesome.  The mountains in the background, with their dusting of snow, peep through the buildings…this is an incredible sight.  If I were not from here I would be awestruck.

Cupcakes from Cupcakes...the other beautiful aspect of Vancouver: the food!

Cupcakes from Cupcakes...the other beautiful aspect of Vancouver: the food!

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So I am on the plane soon – less than 24 hours….  I am finally doing it.  Thank you to everyone who helped me get here.  We did a lot in just under three weeks!  I admit I still have a few things to do before I head to the airport, but what a reward I have to look forward to.  The next time I write I will be in Australia.

Theme songs of the day:

The Canadian Dream – Sam Roberts, from the album We Were Born in a Flame

California Dreaming The Mamas and the Papas, from the Album If you Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears

If Venice Is Sinking – Spirit of the West, from the album Faithlift

The house is barren and it’s wonderful.  I feel I can breathe again.

Isn’t it amazing how we incessantly collect things; always wanting more? We tend to wrap memories and feelings around inanimate objects. In the end, our stuff has the upper-hand. It maintains emotional power over us. “I can’t get rid of that: it was my aunt’s…it was expensive…it matches the couch…”

The boys get the big stuff loaded

The boys get the big stuff loaded

As the moving team (a group of really loyal friends) carts and carries and lifts and packs, I wish that we had a dumpster outside where I could throw out the lot. I am a true believer: we shouldn’t let our stuff own us.

Of course, saying that, I still have a hard time giving a good portion of it up. These quiet power-wielders will not have the last laugh… oh, er…wait – I should probably keep that candle-holder… uh, yeah… a friend gave it to me.

..sigh

So I guess it feels like this next chapter of my life is finally starting.

Using a word like “finally” conveys a sense of impatience, and although I only made these life-changing decisions in the last few weeks, it feels like I’ve been waiting eons to see them come to fruition. I guess I am a little impatient. I am nearing the end of packing up. I have some cleaning to do and some errands. My heart is in my backpack already and I will fill the rest of it with a few essentials (no candlesticks mmhhh?..). I will head to Vancouver for some visiting and some live music for a fantastic cause: http://www.savethebrainsvancouver.com/.

I will get on the plane and I will be free.

I know I am looking for something. What? I’m not sure… but I have a feeling it will always be waiting around the next corner. Will travel help me get around the bend to have a peek at what lays beyond? I think it will. Or at least it can’t hurt. I’m not going to get all the answers I want, but I will have a really good time searching for them.

I am very aware of the perception of running away.

I don’t think I am, and if I am, I don’t care. The thing is: I faced life head-on when I needed to. The last 16 months have been the toughest, most painful, most tender, most hope-inspiring, test of human-ability that I have ever witnessed; that I will probably ever witness. Not only was I seeing it up close, I was living right smack-dab in the middle of it.  I was partaking in it, moving it forward, keeping it together.

I need a rest. And by rest, I mean journey.

Theme songs for the day:

Masterfade – Andrew Byrd from the album The Mysterious Production of E

Gravity Rides Everything – Modest Mouse from the album The Moon and Antarctica

Silver Lining

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