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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.

 

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

If I felt the early stages of freedom yesterday, today I just feel exhausted. I am realizing I can’t keep up this pace forever. My intent was to stay as busy as possible before I go, but I’m feeling the effects of very little sleep and an extraordinarily long list of things to get done.

I have loaded my plate to the point of brimming.

Take a left at Mitchel's Farm in Saanich and you come across this beautiful view

There are things that HAVE to be done: empty the house by Saturday, clean, pack, so on, so forth, blah blah blah. But the things that are keeping me really busy are the things I WANT to get done. Visiting and reconnecting with friends, taking pictures of everyone and everything, getting outside to appreciate the local beauty (who doesn’t start to take our surroundings for granted?), reading, writing, ‘rithmatic (ha, kidding), getting excited about where I’ll be headed in –wow- just eight days! – these are the ‘to dos’ that take me away from the former, more redundant activities. Who can blame me, hey?

The tough thing about getting over-tired is that my coping skills decline exponentially with every few hours of missed sleep. The emptiness creeps in…it’s like a vapor – a fine mist just enveloping me very subtly. It wraps around my back and moves through my chest, up the back of my neck. It’s not crushing, just a little stifling. It makes things harder.

Luckily, so far, I haven’t had these ‘vapor-bouts’ all that often, or for very long at once. Just an hour or two and then I get distracted enough to keep going. Actually, I think maybe I get bogged down by the big stuff I have to get done, and then I remember that I have a lot of fun stuff to get done too. This helps!

To pull a quote from an email I recently wrote to a friend: “One thing that seems to be getting me through the tough times is knowing that there is this huge web of inter-connected people; people that care for me…in SOME way.  Saying this, at times I also feel alone – even when I’m surrounded by close friends and family.  It’s very surreal and indescribable…?

Now that I read this back, I think I also find solace in knowing how much that inter-connected web of people not only care for me, they also care for each other. There are so many beautiful relationships out there, so complicated and simple and different. This is family. We are all family.

Theme songs for the day:

While My Guitar Gently Weeps – Paul McCartney & Eric Clapton, from the album Concert for George (*note: It’s live, and the best version of the song, by far)

Fresh Feeling – The Eels, from the album Souljacker

Phantom Limb – The Shins, from the album Wincing the Night Away

Driving at dusk - the clouds just glowed.

Driving at dusk - the clouds just glowed.

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