Intuition

Painted in Waterlogue
Cap

I just wrote a complete blog post and deleted it. I am caught in that strange place of wanting to write and not wanting to share. I am in that place of solitude where I feel a change coming on.  To help facilitate this I joined a meditation challenge that encourages me to sit in silence twice a day. I am journaling the changes I notice. So far after 3 days (officially) and 5 days, because I stated earlier than the group, I am less inclined to write but I have a strong desire to draw.

As a kid, I would sit at my desk and draw for hours. I am intentionally bringing that practice back and to see what happens. I am looking for something and I think I just need to follow my intuition.

 

Edmonton Tourist: Wm. Hawrelak Park

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I was cleaning up in here and noticed I didn’t even write about Hawrelak Park. It could be because I rarely come here. But that is a lie. I just don’t think of coming here to use this space like a park or a walking place. It may because I was always here and didn’t need to explore it when I did my river valley park series. Whatever the reason for the omission, I am here now.

This place is probably the busiest of all the valley parks. It hosts festivals, races and large enough to always find a picnic spot in the summer. As a kid, we used to picnic here on a Sunday afternoon with every other Edmontontonian. Then we stopped. The World Triathlon Games are held here, I come for the Freewill Shakespear Festival every summer and I walk through this park to get to somewhere else. My health is back on track and I am working towards longer distances again. Not running, but definitely walking longer distances. This place made sense to come to because two loops = 5km. Plus the added benefit of plowed roads. The paths are packed and easily traversed.

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Cap and I parked in the southwest corner of the park and picked up the trail along the river. It was later in the day and the sun was low in the sky. To be fair, this is Edmonton in January, the sun is always low in the sky.

The trail quickly entered the woods.

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We saw lots of cross country skiers and runners along this path, with a few dogs and their humans. This trail leads towards the off-leash that runs along the North Saskatchewan River all the way to Keilor Lookout. We were not going that far.

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When we made it as far as the bridge, we crossed over to check out the views. The bridge was pack with more dogs and their humans coming from the Buena Vista Dog Park over by the Valley Zoo. We didn’t go that far either. Just to the end of the bridge and back.

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After our return trip, we walked towards the park centre. Did you know there is a skating rink on the lawn not just the pond? I had no idea! This is particularly good because the pond was not ready for people yet. Too risky.

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The best rink, in my opinion, is over at Victoria Park, especially at night with the pathways lit up with Dylan Toymakers’ beautiful lanterns. But, this place has ample parking and is lit at night too. Just not with the special lanterns.

We headed towards the north end of the park and past by the playground and many picnic sites that sat empty today. That also surprised me. Lots of people come for a fire and a chance to roast a hot dog or marshmallow. We kept moving forward and walked along the Ice Castle. I went once but don’t feel the need to go again. It is very beautiful at night but this attraction is pricey. Plus I have issues with the amount of water it uses. However, it is pretty.

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WE walked along the north end of the pond where the triathlon athletes enter the water. It looks different without all the geese on the lawn.

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You can see the amphitheatre in the back and to the left. The new Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues is building something back there to commemorate 100 years in Edmonton. Construction had begun.

Cap and I passed some incredibly large trees on our walk. I have looked at these trees for so many years, they always seemed the same, but today, they were huge. I couldn’t put my arms around this guy.

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We jumped back onto the path and passed copious amounts of feeds for both squirrels and birds.

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Soon we were back at my car with the sun lighting up the downtown.

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People don’t think of winter as a time to be active outdoors, but in Edmonton, if you only went out in the spring and summer, have your life is gone in a blink. This park is filled with all-season activities.

Get out and enjoy your city people!

 

Hibernate

It’s that time of year where I find myself hunkering down and taking a step back from my busy life. Partly because December is so hectic with gatherings and special events, it’s nice to sit around and expect very little of yourself. It helps that the weather has been a wee bit on the cool side. -51C windchills anyone? The wind has been a tad brisk. Today is the first day we opened the curtains and let the sun in. Why? Normally we keep them shut as an added insulation barrier to the wind that whips out of the north. It is -17C and quite frankly, it feels like spring.

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The view from my home office. 

I read once that how you react to winter is a metaphor for how you react to life. I take it in stride.

Coping with cold does take more effort and thought. For example, I have to plug my car in. Not because it is electric, but because the block heater warms the oil pan and it makes it easier to start. I plug it in when I get home and I also plug it in at work. It adds an extra five minutes each time. Not a huge deal except I am outside struggling with frozen cords praying the end doesn’t snap off like it has before – that is a major hassle if you have never done electrical work before. Things break easily is this type of cold.

Dressing for cold takes thought. I work in a glass building. Sure there is central heat, but it still feels cool. I have a blanket and pashmina at my desk. I wear wool socks, and usually have a base layer, mid-layer and outer layer. When I only have two layers, the blanket comes out for my lap. As I get tired near 3:00 p.m., I find I get cold. Pot of tea and my pashmina help to perk me up. I always wear a scarf and an extra wool scarf for outside. Winter takes effort.

Eating is also a change to the regular. The last thing I want is a salad. Give me hearty soup and crusty bread. Soup for days is my motto. Bread and baked goods make the house smell delicious, warm and welcoming. It is comforting to eat at home when it is cold.

At home, the curtains are drawn and the fireplace is on. Quilts on chairs and sofas to snuggle with in front of the fire while watching tv or reading. The duvet on the beds and long hot showers are the best part. I don’t like going anywhere so I cancel plans and stay home. We have lived through two weeks of this. Now, as a reward the weather is moving up to single negative numbers it will feel like a treat.

Weather in Canada seems to be a competition. The Prairies are better at it than Vancouver, but Newfoundland is better at it than Alberta. When I lived in Yellowknife, NWT, cold and dark was a way of life. Too cold for your car to start but you went to school or work anyway. If you didn’t, you would never get anything done. Same as Edmonton. I missed work once because of a blizzard in 1988. It rained, covered my car in an inch of ice and then it snowed so much it buried my car. It took most of the day to dig my car out. The roads were closed anyway, so there was no way I was getting out of my town to drive into the city. I was late once because my car didn’t start but a new battery helps that from happening again. So this year, that didn’t happen. As a child, I never missed school because schools never closed. It is what it is. Weather is relative. What is hard for us prairie folk is harder for Lower Mainland folk and the thought of surviving winter on the Rock is unfathomable yet here they are, surviving.

Tofino residents were still surfing this week in spite of the fact they walked through the snow to get to the water. I get that. Winter is a metaphor for how you face life. You either hide and complain, or you get out there and enjoy it.

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www.paullevyphoto.com posted on @pacificsufco 

The sun is on its way back to me. It is setting as I leave work now. This makes it feel like spring is coming. It is rejuvenating to see the sun as I warm up my car and unplug my car. Do I hate winter? No. I love the dense sound when it’s cold. The crunch of the snow and event the frosty feeling in my lungs. It makes me feel alive. Cold snaps help me appreciate spring and summer. I am planning my garden and dreaming of my summer vacation. This year I have decided to not plan around anyone. I am taking the vacation I want without accommodating other people. I am spending my one week at a retreat between the Monashee and Cariboo Mountain Ranges and then one week staycation at home hanging out in my beautiful city.

I can’t imagine living somewhere where the four seasons don’t exist. Winter is the perfect time to hibernate, relax and enjoy the cozy warmth of inside and all the great things about home.

Edmonton Tourist: June’s Deli

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The Gibbard Block in Edmonton’s Highlands reopened in 2019. I didn’t make it to the reopening nor did I get to it later on. However, I did go a couple of weeks ago when it was warmish outside. Doesn’t it look great with the green awnings gone and the new storefronts? This entire two-block section is adorable and I love the quirky shops and food service spots! Today’s mission: June’s Delicatessen.

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This place has everything you expect from a good deli from matzo ball soup to a bagel and lox platter. There is even egg cream on the menu! For Canadian’s who don’t know what that is: an egg cream is essentially a chocolate soda. It is devoid of eggs and cream. But Wikipedia explains the name origins from Stanley Auster, the grandson of the beverage’s alleged inventor, has been quoted as saying that the origins of the name are lost in time. One commonly accepted origin is that egg is a corruption of the German word echt — also found in Yiddish, meaning “genuine” or “real” — and this was a “good cream“. It’s weird and I wanted to try it, but more on that later.

We (the hubs and I) decided to for lunch. Well, he wanted brunch and a benny for some sort and a latte. I took a peek at the on-line menu and landed on a Reuben and an egg cream. We arrived to find this nifty sign.

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Yes, please! There was a bit of a line to go to Fox Burger next door and If I learned anything from Seattle with my sister is, always go to the restaurant with the line. So I will head there next time. But it’s not like June’s was empty. We came as several people were leaving so that freed up a table for us.

 

The first thing I noticed was the cool back and white tile and vintage tin ceiling. The vibe was fun and definitely a pleasant change from the dark and worn out La Boheme.

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We stuck to our game plan and ordered the items that were on the on-line menu. It wasn’t different from what they placed in front of me. The hubs had the Benny and I had the Reuben.

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Mine was delish! I loved the pickles and kraut on the side, the corned beef was lean and delicious. The hubs enjoyed his except he said beef bacon is weird. Fair. I didn’t try it.

Now, normally I enjoy a coffee or a latte. I did neither. I had a chocolate egg cream. My mom warned against them. She had one in New York City and said it tasted like water-downed chocolate milk. Well, that is exactly what it is. Except I loved it. There was a texture from the seltzer water. Seltzer is different from club soda. I don’t know what it is or why it’s different but it is and I loved it. I will forever be an egg cream lover.

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That is a thing of  beauty/

The hubs’ coffee was delicious, exactly what you expect from Ace Coffee Roasters.

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You go to the counter to order and they bring your food out to you or you can go fetch it. either way, it is a lovely relaxed and casual meal and I will be back. In fact, I am bringing my parents when they come home from their European travels. I think my mom will love this place too.

June’s is only open until 4:00 and closed on Mondays.

Get out there and explore your city Edmonton! There are fun and delicious things everywhere.

6427 112 AVE NW | 780-752-5863

TUES-FRI 8AM-4PM | SAT/SUN 9AM-4PM

CLOSED MONDAY | NO RESERVATIONS

 

 

Grief

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I am reading Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. It’s funny how the things you need know to show up in your life. I didn’t know I needed this and yet here we are. I have read a few of her books, I wouldn’t call myself an avid fan, but I do like some of her work. This novel has a character researching elephants and their grief. One line stuck out for me, “Elephants handle grief better than humans.” It felt like a smack across the head. One of those moments where time slows down and I honed in on that line.

Okay Universe, I am listening.

Recently-ish, a relationship that was very important to me ended. It was okay! I was in a calm peaceful place. Then I wasn’t.  The hubs and I had a conversation. What I am feeling? Is it judgement? Disappointment? Jealousy? Anger? Nope, we figured it out. It is grief. All the stages, all at once.

I am terrible at grief. I am terrible at emotions in general. I cry and then eat those feelings into numbness. When my grandpa died, I acted out in terrible ways because I didn’t let the emotions happen. The loss of important things in my life are typically not handled well. The guidance I have received in the past was ‘stiff upper lip and get on with it’ type of advice. Being an empath, you’d think I’d be good at processing emotions but for me it’s more of a Harry Potter/Dementor type scenario. I can feel life being sucked from me. I can now recognize what I need. Hugs and sympathy from random people are not it. I need boundaries. That includes me expressing my needs and giving in to self-care.

Elephants will stand in solidarity with their family and usually hover over the corpse of their loved one for days, only leaving for food and water. They sit in their feelings. They touch and connect with their loved ones. They cry and feel their emotions. I think I can learn from this.

It takes me a long time to get over something and I think it’s because I don’t let it sit in me. I keep pushing it away and masking it. I don’t want to take five years to get over something. I want to feel the sadness and grief and then eventually look at those memories with fondness. I want to face this head-on.  I can look at memories of my great-grandma and my grandfather with fondness now, but that took a hell of a long time. But it’s only been recent memory that a friendship break-up from five years ago has healed. Does it take that long? Would it have happened sooner if I didn’t numb myself and stick my head in the sand? I think yes.

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I am journaling about this grief because that is my process. I am not a talker. It takes someone asking a lot of questions before I will talk. I always feel lighter after the words are on the page. I can’t be the only one who takes a long time to pass through grief. What is your process?

 

 

Edmonton Tourist: Wabamun Lake Provincial Park

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It was -1C and my first thought was, “I should go for a walk in the woods with Cap”. My second thought was, “Stop looking at Facebook memories.” In 2017 the overnight low was -42C with a windchill of -50C. The house was warm-ish… but the walls and floors were cold. Closing curtains add that extra insulation barrier. This memory sealed the deal. I was going to a provincial park with my boy. I checked the weather at Wabamum and at Miquelon, Wabamum won by 2 degrees.

I hadn’t been to Wabamun Lake Provincial Park since my son was 5 maybe 6. We came to the beach and he loved the train trestle that crossed the water. As a train enthusiast, this was his favourite beach.

I hung out at this lake from the age of 18 to 26. My ex-husband’s family had a cottage at Seba Beach, the west side of the lake and I was a camp counsellor at YoWochAs near Fallis, the Northside of the lake. The provincial park is located on the east side. I learned to paddle and sail on this lake. I also learned to water ski and tried scuba diving. I prefer paddling in the canoe and exploring the freshwater creeks that feed into this lake. I remember listening to a friend telling me he was going to sail to the provincial park and step the mast so he could camp. I had no idea why he needed to do that until he explained about the train trestle. Since that day, every time I see the trestle, I think fondly of him.

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Cap and I arrived to find everything closed. The campground was barricaded, the beach access was closed. The only place open was Group Camp D, or at least the parking lot to group D was open. I parked there along with three other vehicles.

There was more snow here than I anticipated. If I am going to continue to do these types of explorations, I think I need to invest in a pair of snowshoes. The last time I wore snowshoes they looked like this:

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The snow was deep and I think I could benefit from the stability. My sled dog would appreciate them because then going off-trail wouldn’t be such a big deal for me. Alternatively, perhaps a sled would be better! He pulls me up slippery slopes as it is.

From the parking lot, we discovered an ungroomed trail. People had used it for snowshoeing and skiing. Lots of dog tracks so Cap had a lot of investigating to do.

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The trail took us along the northwest shore of the lake. We found lots of animal trails, moose, hare and coyote. The coyote makes Cap skittish and reluctant to go first. He wasn’t as confident as the other trips we take.

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We had to stop a lot, sniff the air and snow and listen for predators. Waiting patiently for him, I noticed the smell of coal. I had forgotten the area smelled like this. They still strip mine south of the lake and Keephills and Sundance plants are still in operation – as a general FYI, Edmonton still gets its electricity from coal. It isn’t as clean as you think. Do any of you remember the smell of coal and straw burning to thaw the ground for construction crews? That is was it smelled like. It was a familiar smell of my youth.

We kept walking thinking I would find beach access, but no luck.

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I also expected to see ice fishing on the lake.  When I came out here in the late ’80s, the lake was covered in fishing tents. Side note: I went into Wabamun and found all the ice fishing tents off the main pier. They just don’t do it the bay because of limited access to the water.

The sun is still low in the sky for a mid-afternoon day, it casts long shadows and sparkles up the snow.

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We walked about 1.5km before Cap stopped and would not go further. Obviously, there were coyotes ahead. So we turned around and he just about pulled my arm off trying to get to the car.

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This is a park that is slammed with campers and beachgoers during the summer season. But if you are a cross-country skier or snowshoe enthusiast, I recommend the quiet peaceful winter to visit. I didn’t come across any picnic sites, but I know there is some closer to the day-use area. Wabamun is about an hour west of Edmonton on hwy 16. It’s also worth checking out Canada’s largest dragonfly located in town because how often can you see big things like this?

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Get out and explore!

Peace

Everyone is talking about their word of the year. A word that can be the theme for them for 2020. Something to aspire to or remind you who you are. Mine is Peace.

Definition of peace

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a state of tranquillity or quiet: such as
afreedom from civil disturbance peace and order were finally restored in the town.
ba state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom breach of the peace
2freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions I have been in perfect peace and contentment— J. H. Newman
3harmony in personal relations The sisters are at peace with each other.
4aa state or period of mutual concord between governments There was a peace of 50 years before war broke out again.
ba pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity offered the possibility of a negotiated peace— New York Times
5used interjectionally to ask for silence or calm or as a greeting or farewell

at peace

in a state of concord or tranquillity The problem was settled and his mind was at peace.

 

In my cube, there is a sticky note that says, “You are meant to live in peace”. I look at that when I am angry or frustrated with various scenarios. I sometimes feel rage bubbling up inside me that makes me want to lash out. It happened twice this week. Once in my personal life and once at work. Two separate times an incident happened and I filled with rage – it felt bigger than anger.  I began meditation for this very reason. I needed somewhere to put my anger. I don’t want to feel that way all the time. I took a walk, breathed deeply, and made myself a pot of tea. Both times I repeated “I am meant to live in peace.” and promptly affirmed I am not in control of other’s actions. But… BUT! But!!!!! I am in control of mine.

I need to stop looking at things that frustrate me. I cannot change others, I must accept. Image result for I am meant to live in peace

Face facts Robyn, nothing is going to change because it hasn’t thus far. Accept, move on, live in peace. Release and begin again.

I am meant to live in peace. It sounds like my new Sankalpa.

I am peace.

Happy New year friends. May 2020 bring you peace.

 

 

Edmonton Tourist: Ten Years of Travel

As we move into a brand new decade, I am reflecting on this decade. The last ten years of blogging have pushed me into unexpected places. I love my city but I knew there were places I hadn’t really been to. The more I visited the nooks and crannies of Edmonton, the more I knew I wanted to explore other places the same way. Becoming the Edmonton Tourist had me looking for those hidden gems that are free to explore and left me with delight at new knowledge of other places. My parents gave me the gift of travel and I have been all over the world. After being the Edmonton Tourist, I think I would explore those places differently if I had the chance to go back. As we move into 2020, I reflected on some of the best things I have seen in ten years. I eagerly look forward to exploring more because, to me, there is no better thing to be than a tourist.

2010: Vimy Ridge. I went to Europe with my famjam. We landed in Paris and explored France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany during a nine-day period – it may have been ten days, IDK, it was A LOT. We had a plan but the best part of the trip was the unexpected happenstance of stumbling upon Vimy Ridge. It was a complete accident that changed my life. The art, the unexploded shells, the trenches and the grave markers of boys who were not much older than my own shook me to my core. Thanks Vimy.

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2011: Banff National Park. My son and I went on a camping trip to Banff. Just the two of us. We created memories that we still laugh about. I learned he is more like me than I realized and we both love Johnsons Canyon. It was a pivotal moment for us. It is one of the greatest vacations of all time.  Thanks Banff.Johnston's Canyon - all paths deserve to be walked on

2012: Regina. I learned from my trip with my son that one on one time with your child is important. The next year my daughter and I went to visit my godmother in Regina. This was an epic trip filled with big things like the world’s largest coffee pot and Al Capone’s secret caves of Moose Jaw. But we also went to Dog River. A fictional town on the prairie where they filmed Corner Gas. It was such fun I cannot begin to describe it. Small town Saskatchewan was an unexpected great trip. Thanks Regina.IMG_1648

2013: Calgary. If you know anything about Alberta, you understand the love/hate relationship between Calgary and Edmonton. A bucket list item was to run a race with my dad. The fat girl whose grade seven gym teacher called her lard ass. Whose ex-boyfriend said fat made him lose his chubby. Proving to myself that I could run and run with my dad was a big deal to me. It was his birthday and we took my son to Calgary for the Calgary Marathon weekend. We ran the 10km. The Hubs and my daughter surprised me at the finish line. It was an epic day. I learned that Calgary puts on one of the best races I had ever attended….better than a Disney Race… The crowds were amazing and the sites were beautiful. Exploring a different city on foot was such a gift. Thanks, Calgary.

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Me and Dadeo at the finish

2014: Hawaii. For my son’s graduation, he got to pick a trip. He chose Hawaii. We went to Aulani, Disney’s resort on the west side of Oahu. We had been before when my son was 7 months old. He learned to crawl in Hawaii. I didn’t want to leave the resort. I am not such a big hot beach fan, I love the cold beaches of Tofino, but this place was magical. I loved it. I learned that I am impervious to sunscreen and can listen to the ocean for the rest of my life. The four of us explored every inch of the resort and spent time on top of volcanoes, looking at war memorials, learning about seafood and pineapple allergies but most of all just loved exploring with each other. Thanks Hawaii.

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2015: Big Sur. I was crew for my friend who ran from San Fransico to Anaheim (500 miles) to raise money and awareness for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. It was the loneliest trip of my life, but as with all times of loneliness, the greatest learnings come from that. It was my own pilgrimage of sorts. It was the greatest growth for me. It was the beginning of the end. I shed 500lbs of dead weight and began the long road to creating boundaries. I sat on a rock at Devil’s Slide and watched a pod of humpback whales swim by. It was a spiritual experience and the greatest learning of my life. This was the place where regrets were born, accepted and learned from. I returned to this spot on the way back home with my hubs. I cried for days. I cried all the way home to Canada. The great purge of emotion happened on this trip and I learned who I could trust, and who was loyal. I am grateful to my Hubs for taking such good care of me when I couldn’t care for myself. This place feels sacred. I long to go back. Thanks Big Sur.11921645_1125074180854471_1929081778109239340_n

2016: Vancouver. The year my daughter graduated, her chosen trip was to Vancouver. It is no secret that Vancouver is my favourite city on the planet. She was toying with the idea of going to school here. We did a different kind of trip than we normally do. We visited film sets. Heck, we even crashed a set at the Delta dog park during the filming of the Flash. We drove right on set with the confidence of the film crew. It was only later they asked us who were. We were lost and how the heck do we get out of here? Good times. I learned things about Vancouver I never knew before. What a great place to explore. Thanks Vancouver.

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2017: Tofino. The Hubs and I came here on our honeymoon way back in the early 90’s. In 2017 the Hubs just retired and I was about to start my new career. It had been a tough summer and I was ready for change. He surprised me with a trip to the Wickaninnish Inn on Chesterman Beach in Tofino. I walked straight into the ocean and stood there for an hour or two and just let the waves wash over me and heal me. I cried and let out all kinds of pain, trauma and RELIEF. I was reborn on that beach. It’s corny but true. A baptism of sorts. This remains the greatest vacation of all time. ALL-TIME! It only would have been better by having my kids there. I want them both to get married there and I want to move there. I never want to leave Tofino or Ucluelet again. When I win the lottery Friday night, Saturday morning I am packing and moving there. At least I will have a seasonal home there and a place here in Edmonton because I love Edmonton too. The ocean, the rainforest, the raven and the wolves are something special to me. I love this place. Thanks Tofino.

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2018: Vancouver Island. I loved 2017 so much, I needed to go back. This time I was healthier and could do more. 2017 was what my daughter refers to as the time I died. I didn’t but I was close to it. My kidneys stopped working and let me just say, I don’t recommend organ failure. It was a long road back, by the time I made it back to the west coast, I was ready to explore every nook and cranny. We hiked rainforest trails, explored the lighthouse, ate amazing things, went to a carving shed to meet an artist, met a gal who moved from Edmonton in the ’70s and never went back. This time we went in a boat to explore the ocean as well. We saw eagles, sea lions, harbour seals and orcas. ORCAS! Damn, I love you Tofino.

2019: Jasper. Secret Season is the best. My daughter’s 21 birthday was spent at Disneyland. It took up most of my money. The hubs and I wanted a vacation so we booked off-season at the Jasper Park Lodge and saw things I hadn’t seen before. Winter in Jasper before ski season is THE BEST EVER! We saw wildlife and zero people, except for that couple from New York City who was shocked I was wearing a sweater and no parka. Winter in Alberta is different than in New York. What I think is warm is apparently FREEZING in NYC. Big babies… Seriously though, make the trip for the wildlife and the scenery and the quiet because it is worth every second. Thanks Jasper.

img_4557 2020: The Unknown. I think I will go to Kamloops for a spiritual conference at the Akashic Ranch in June. But I might go to Sedona and explore vortexes or Santa Fe for the Balloon Festival. I might wander down to Waterton National Park or take my kids back to Aulani, maybe we will go to Disneyland and visit Galaxy’s Edge or just stay at home. I don’t know. But I do know I will be exploring more provincial parks, hanging out in my river valley and poking around new restaurants and maybe take in a festival or two. 2010-2019 showed me a lot of amazing things. I am positive the next 10 years will show me more.

Get out and explore, you won’t regret it.

Ten

People apologize to me a lot. It’s weird. I think it’s because they tell me they are doing something then they don’t. I respond with a variation of “The choices we make…” I am not their mom, maid or approver of things. Your choice, your decision. Every action up until this moment was a choice and a decision. Now you either suffer the consequences or reap the benefits.

Ten years ago – ish (August 15, 2010) I started this blog. I had hit bottom. I didn’t like me. I wanted to change. I was unhappy. I hated my job. I hated how I let people make choices for me. I hated living the consequence of those actions. I loved being a tourist. I loved trying new things on vacation. I loved exploring new things on vacation. I simply loved vacations. It occurred to me that I should look at my life through the eyes of a tourist. I decided to take risks, try new things, say yes more than no and make decisions based on what felt right for me. It was my life and I was going to take back control.

So I did.

I blogged about most of them. I needed a way to hold myself accountable but what I didn’t yet understand was the act of writing showed me what I was thinking. Some of you have been with me since the beginning. Thanks for that. Some of you have left and new people have found me along the way. Thanks for that too. This is the end of a decade of self-exploration. The past 10 years helped me reconciled what happened and opened my eyes to what I can see now.

  1. I learned that I needed to know who I am. No one knows better than me. People think they know me but they don’t. I am me. I know what I like and I know what I don’t like.
  2. I like honesty. There is nothing so terrible that it can’t be fixed or at least accepted. Be honest and tell the truth. Ask for help and be gracious about it.
  3. I like gratitude. When someone does something for you, say thank you. Whether its a gift or a gesture. Say thank you. When you experience something so profound and have no words, say thank you. When you experience something so horrible you have no words, say thank you. Good and bad both teach you something. Always be grateful.
  4. I like loyalty. In my eyes, there is no greater expression of love than loyalty. You know if I am loyal to you. You also know if I don’t trust you. There are only a handful of people I am loyal to, the rest remains to be seen and the few on the outside have been removed from my circle. This ties back to knowing who I am.
  5. Which leads me to boundaries. I used to be a people pleaser. Desperately seeking love and acceptance. I love and respect me now. I have set clear boundaries and have no problem with NO. This is a fairly recent discovery. I needed to learn the other four things before I got here. Boundaries are the key to my happiness. Boundaries complete the circle of knowing who I am. So who I am?

I am empathetic, kind and smart. I know what I like and what I don’t. I am open to trying new things and I am loyal to my people. It has taken me 10 years to get here. I sometimes feel like I should regret things. Instead, I am grateful for the learnings. I no longer fear people who were cruel to me. I no longer fear being alone. I no longer fear anything really… except birds. I think I will always have an irrational fear of birds, but only those tiny birds like sparrows. Although I do like watching birds – from a safe distance. I don’t want them pecking out my eyeball, if you want to be close, that’s on you.  Yet I have a strange love for the raven. The raven symbolizes prophecy and insight. His intelligence helps him figure out solutions. We are kindred spirits. My favourite place to be is on a red chair on the west coast listening to the raven speak to me.

After reflection and examining my life, I know my actions created consequences and benefits. I wanted things to be different but I cannot change them, so I have accepted things instead. Stop saying sorry to me. I am not the keeper of forgiveness, only you are. Just like I am the only one who can forgive me.

I am moving forward into 2020 with 20/20 vision. I finally feel free.