Edmonton Tourist: Irene Parlby Park Take 2

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Way back in 2016 I did a quest that focused on visiting all the Edmonton River Valley Parks. I did that except one – Hermitage Park. I haven’t been yet. Maybe this weekend. I never think to go there mostly because it is in a part of town I never visit so it’s off my radar. My favourite is Mill Creek Ravine, followed by Irene Parlby Park. You can read the original post here.

I went back as I do, several times a year because I love it. If you told me I could live in Rossdale, I would pack my bags and be there in a heartbeat. Either Rossdale, Cloverdale or Riverdale, I could live there easily. I had heard the walkway from Irene Parlby to the Walterdale Bridge was open. This walkway had been closed since I began running. I ran my first half marathon in 2011, this was my first race. I am not like those other people who work their way up in mileage. No, I like to go big or go home. Now, eight years later, I realize going home is way better. I have all the things I love at home from family and my pal the dog, to coffee and my cozy blanket suitable for snoozing on the couch. But I had always wanted to see what that path was like. SO I DID IT.

Last Sunday.

I parked north of the park mostly because the area is zoned for permit parking because of the proximity to the baseball diamond, ReMax Field. Plus there was a game that day. Captain and I walked the three blocks to the start of the park.

The first thing we noticed was the lack of mowing done by the city. I thought this park was more manicured than it appears. I like growing parks naturally along the river and ravines, but this park should be an exception. Why? For no other reason than I like it that way.

The public art is still beautiful.

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We met other dogs and people along the way. Runners and cyclers were out in full force. Then we made it to the gate that had been closed my entire running career.

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Glory be! It was open and no one was happier than me and my pal Cap.

Did you know there is a new footbridge too? Well, I had no idea what was here so I am assuming its new.

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It looks new. This gave me a nice perspective of Queen Elizabeth Park (formerly my favourite park and is my favourite picnic park).

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To the untrained eye, it is just river valley forest. I know it is in there. Trust me.

We walked further west and checked out the Rossdale treatment plant fun facts. I can’t remember any of them. All about the environment and watershed. Oh wait, I remember the headwaters come from the Columbia Icefields and Saskatchewan Glacier. I may have already known that having visited the headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River at Saskatchewan Crossing many times along the Jasper/Banff Parkway.

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Bonus view of Walter in the distance.

We made our way to Walter. The new Walterdale bridge. I love this bridge. She is a beaut. I had always wanted to walk underneath but alas it was closed during construction and my entire running career. But now I had my chance and she did not disappoint.IMG_3499

The landscaping around it is lovely.

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All native Alberta plants from trembling aspen to wild rose.

We spent a good hour exploring the area and walked back through the residential Rossdale, where I fantasized about living in one of the restored homes. Although secretly I prefer Infill. Don’t tell anyone.

It’s now open for recreation use and I encourage you to take a peek. I love my city and I hope you get a chance this summer to find out you love it too.

 

Direction and Purpose

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If you have been following me on Instagram   You may have noticed I have been busy and doing a lot of things lately. I just haven’t written about them. It isn’t that I haven’t been called or I haven’t had time, I have just … resisted. Its as if I haven’t been myself lately and honestly, I haven’t.

Why you ask? Well, mostly its because someone said to me they didn’t like how I make them feel and blamed me for things that were never my intent or actually did. And I felt horrible. Fear has held me back. But I hung out with my friend Oprah Thursday night and as usual, she schooled me in a thing or two.

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She was promoting her book, The Path Made Clear. I had a copy but because she is Oprah, the most Oprah thing you can do is give away your book…for free. I downloaded the audio version – which, by the way, is my favourite version because she narrates it and her guests recite the quotes. All excerpts from her SuperSoul Sundays. The point of the book and her reason for the tour is to find your purpose.

Now the thing is, you can have more than one purpose. They can appear at different points of your life. For me, being a mother was a driving force. Now that my children are adults, I can see why that was a purpose of mine. I am also one of Mister Roger’s Helpers. This is an actual purpose, I swear.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Rogers said to his television neighbors, “my mother would say to me, ‘Look for thehelpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

I remember him saying this to me, on TV, in my grandmother’s living room. Since then, I have been a helper. I have looked for helpers and when I could, I became one. I helped other children both as a child and as an adult. Sometimes I help other adults. They are harder to help and don’t usually want help. But I do what I can.

My other purpose is to help people up. This is harder to explain. I am aware of my surroundings. When I see a leader or a person in a position of power fail to notice someone, I notice that someone. For example, I thank people for doing their job, for being kind, for being creative and innovative. I thank them or compliment them. Some people go through their life without being noticed and all it takes is for one person to notice and their life is forever changed. Sometimes it’s asking a question that sparks inspiration or its validating their thoughts. Sometimes it’s remembering an important event in their life. Not a birthday but their child’s exam or their dog’s surgery. Something that is meaningful and shows you listen and pay attention. Either way, noticing someone is thanking them for what they do. It is always my hope they will be grateful and smile or express gratitude, but it isn’t a requirement and it doesn’t stop me from helping people up.

But I digress…

Oprah spoke about being small. Glennon Doyle talks about this too. I made myself small and stopped writing. Oprah’s story went something like this… The first year Steadman and Oprah were together, he went to Walgreens for something. A man called out to him “Hey Oprah’s boyfriend! Give me some money!” Stedman was hurt and upset by this and came home to tell Oprah how much it hurt him. At this point, she knew it wasn’t about her. 37000 guests have taught her it is rarely about the person being blamed. She waited for him to calm down and then she spoke. She said, I am Oprah Winfrey and you are my boyfriend. I will not make myself small for you. I have worked hard to be who I am and I am never going back to that small woman. This is about you.

Now Stedman had a tough life as a kid and no one ever saw him for who he was and what he was capable of. It’s interesting to me how the Universe sends you the same scenario or life lesson until you learn it and let it go. He went on to be a prolific writer of 12 novels and he is a motivational speaker on IDENTITY LEADERSHIP. I think he learned the lesson and moved on. Good for you Stedmen!

When I was speaking to this person about my blogs and a book I was writing, this person blamed me for some things and accused me of some other things. I felt terrible they thought this even though what I wrote was never about blaming anyone. It was about examining my life and understand why I behave in a certain way. The cause and effect of things. If they felt guilty, that’s on them. I am not blaming. I am healing. The only way to heal is to look at a situation and see what you can learn from it.

So that leads me to another purpose. Learning. Half the things I learn are by me writing out things and reflecting. It’s how I have conversations with myself. It’s how I teach me things. It’s my process. I have a large following who enjoy that. If you are not one of them, cool. Stop reading, this isn’t for you.

I cried for two hours during the Oprah show. TWO HOURS, ask my pal Rena, she was there and she witnessed my tears and gave me cute little arm rubs in solidarity. She knew why I cried. I cried because Oprah validated me. It was as if she was looking at me and said “Robyn, I know exactly why. You are doing great and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. Don’t be small. Stand in your own power.”

That brings me to another purpose or mine, and its all tied to this blog and things I do because of it. I write I explore, I take risks and explore my feelings. All of these come with why. Why I feel the way I do, why I take risks, why I explore, and why I write. They why is personal. Sometimes I talk about it and sometimes I don’t, but it never is blaming, it is just an explanation.

You can expect to read more from me, I know there have been a few people asking me to write more. I will but mostly it’s for me and I am glad you enjoy it and are along for the ride. Soon you will see posts about raspberry scones, secret valley paths, trips to Disneyland, Shakespeare in the Park and some other things up my sleeve.

But there is one thing I could use your help with. I am learning some new skills and need five (5) people to help me with my practicum. If you would like to have your numerology chart done, please email me at edmtourist@gmail.com I will do a free numerology chart for the first five people who reach out to me before June 26, 2019, at midnight MST. You will be contacted and informed if you will be receiving a free numerology chart completed by me.

Numerology is the ancient science of numbers with each number contributing a unique vibration to the story of your life. One of the benefits of numerology is that it can uncover your life purpose and life lessons you will face along the way to help you make the most of your life’s journey. It is not fortune telling or seeing into the future but it is a way to understand patterns and behaviours you notice in your day to day life and why problems keep appearing in different areas of your life. Numerology provides tools to help you figure out life lessons you have set yourself in your pre-birth plan. Each number has a meaning and it has the same meaning across the different categories. For example, the number 8 is a strong business and abundance number. It repeats a pattern in various ways but always has a money and business focus.

If this interests you, I need a few things from you:

  1. Your name that appears on your birth certificate.
  2. the month, day and year of your birth the way it appears on your birth certificate.
  3. Your Current Name. The name you go by today, your day to day name, first and last name. For example, if your name is Robyn but you go by Bobby, or you changed your last name. This is  your Current name
  4. Optional: After meditating for a bazillion consecutive days (actually its 924 as of today June 23, 2019) I have begun listening to my intuition. I am intuitive. I have been since I was very small. I am learning to rely on this more. Ask me a question about your purpose or path and I will answer/channel to the best of my ability.

What you will receive from me:

  1. A confidential Numerology chart that only you and I will know the details of – and whoever you share it with. I delete charts and do not keep a record.
  2. A chart that focuses on your 7 core numbers and Karmic Lesson
    1. Life Path – Your chosen path
    2. Destiny – your purpose
    3. Soul- This feeds your soul
    4. Personality-How other people see you
    5. Maturity- Potential your growth from 45-60
    6. Birth – Talents and Abilities
    7. Current Name – Additional strengths, lessons and experiences
    8. Karmic- your weaknesses and areas of growth
  3. A chance to ask me an intuitive question where I channel the answer to the best of my ability – I am new at this but so far I have been fairly accurate. Its a muscle I am developing.
  4. An opportunity to discuss your chart and ask me questions about it.

Still interested? Send me an email edmtourist@gmail.com

 

Edmonton Tourist: End of the World

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I have often wanted to visit the End of the World located at the old Keillor Road in Edmonton’s Belgravia neighbourhood. For a long time, this place was the stuff legends were made of. The kind of place that was secret and only a few locals knew about. I tried to get there once before but the steep bank looked to be a bit much for me in my current state of health.  I could see myself falling into the river below or worse, breaking something that would leave me laying in the words until animals found my body, dined and scattered my bones across the valley. For obvious reasons, I never made it.

This was once a retaining wall from the old road that snaked its way out of the valley an into the University area. As the bank deteriorated and risk of collapse was something the City wanted to avoid, they closed Keillor Road and converted it into a pedestrian and bike path for people to use. It is a lovely section of the valley. You can park Whitemud Park and follow the path behind the Whitemud Equine Centre. On a good day, horses are close to the fence and come say hi. My dog Captain loves seeing the horses so this is usually a long stop for us to visit with these animals. If you follow the path up the banks of the valley, you find yourself on Saskatchewan Drive. If you make a sharp right you will find the lookout. Alternatively, follow Saskatchewan drive south, you’ll come to it eventually. The walkways are full of people running, strolling skateboarding or cycling. Don’t assume you’ll be alone. Plus there is the added fun of people having a little weed part. I went on 420 so there were a few people enjoying the first legal 420 in Edmonton.

The City of Edmonton also thought this was unsafe for people to visit, so they developed it for everyone to access the lookout. Part of me thinks it was a good idea and part of me was disappointed. Secret locations are fun and feel exotic, but now I had an opportunity to access it.

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As always, my faithful companion on all my adventures joined me. He validated my suspicion of his fear of heights. He does not like bridges and lookouts. But he was brave enough to wait while I took photos but he wasn’t allowing me to sit and take in the view.

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I entered from the south entrance via the stairs. I have to admit it felt a little anticlimactic after seeing the photos of people who hiked through the woods to get to the concrete pilings. There was a lot of people here but I waited to get them out of my photo. I descended the steps to the platform.

There is a narrow section that overlooks the southwest part of the city.

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Off in the distance is the Quenelle bridge but standing here, it’s hard to believe this is the middle of the city. I think that’s what I love most about Edmonton. Stand in the valley and you forget you are in an urban centre.

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Turning to face the river I could see the Valley Zoo parking lot, Sir Wilfred Laurier Park and the rowing club.

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Turning to my right I could see the Beauvista dog park and the bridge to Hawrelak Park.

That Alberta blue sky always gets me. I could have stood here longer taking in the view but my poor dog did not enjoy being so high up, so I let him take me further north along the lookout.

I don’t think the entire space is finished. There are snow fences placed along the edge and the path is gravel. If the city is going to make this accessible for others, I suspect they will pave the path. Although it is a fairly steep climb for a wheelchair.

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It didn’t occur to me to take the photo before climbing out of the valley, but I did turn around once I was at the top.

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I recommend visiting the lookout this summer. I think I will return once the valley is in full foliage and again in the fall. I think when everything is covered in a blanket of snow it will also be lovely. So tell me, did you ever visit before the City built the stairs? Can you tell me about the walk to the End of the World?

Remember to get out there and explore your home. Be the tourist in your town and learn the secret spots. I suspect you live in a fascinating place too.

 

 

 

Edmonton Tourist: Zeidler Dome

The Telus World of Science had closed the star theatre for a long time while it was in refurbishment. It was always a place I preferred to the Imax or the other galleries. When it closed I admit to being sad but excited for the technology! I haven’t had a chance to go see a regular show, I did head over Friday night to experience Dome A 360* Meditation in a full dome. To read about my meditation experience, visit here.

We arrived early so we would have a chance to explore the Star Gallery. I hadn’t been there for a long time and was eager to explore it. I had a chance to drive the Lunar Rover, watched a show about Saturn V and admired some of the photos from the various space missions.

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We kept an eye on the clock so we could arrive at the dome when the doors open. They held us in the waiting room. I thought it would be a nice space for a party. The ceiling was stary and trippy.

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The usher stopped to chat with us and recommended we sit along the back of the wall so we could get the full experience. When we walked in, most people vied for seats in the centre of the theatre. We headed to the back. Did you know there is an area with floor beds so you could lay down and explore the dome? I thought this was cool and may explore a star show that way. The new refurbed dome looks exactly like the dome on Big Bang Theory where Raj works. We weren’t allowed to take photos during the show, but I took a few while everyone was settling in.

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When the experience started, we were asked to close our eyes. I peeked. The dome was lit up with the night sky. It made me eager to come back. As I sank into my chair, I notice they fully recline. This is new. I was completely horizontal, I only wished my legs were supported. The experience was an hour then they gently brought us back. It was a great experience and I think I will participate in something similar again. I will for sure head back to enjoy the other dome shows.

 

Flashback

Friday night I delivered some items to my old neighbourhood. When the woman gave me the address I became unusually excited. I dive by this neighbourhood occasionally, not frequently because I don’t have any reason to travel to Sherwood Park any longer, but every now and then it makes sense to use the facilities there. I lived out my childhood school years in Sherwood Park and while most of the time spent out there was not a happy time, there are pockets of wonderful scattered throughout. My parents provided my siblings and me great sheltered freedom to explore. I call it sheltered freedom because while it felt like we were alone and independent, they kept a watchful eye on our shenanigans.

Before my family moved to Yellowknife, we lived in a rental complex in the late 60’s/ early 70’s. This remains the best inclusive childhood memories where my imagination was rich and plentiful, the friends on the block matched my interests and there was very little influence from outside forces. I wasn’t fully aware of much other than things that focused on me. I was 2-5 years old.

This was the place where Danger Girl and I had interchangeable personalities. I was her and she was me. I wasn’t influenced by male superheroes to the point of I wanted to be them. I wanted to be my own superhero so I created her. She wore a cape and could fly. I would climb to the top of this shed that used to be 7 feet high. Now the same shed stands at 5 feet. Clearly, it shrunk over time.

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I remember my brother wanting to climb up with me, but I would never help him. My friend Tanya (who was also a Danger Girl) Sat on the roof with me while we waited for the help call to rescue citizens in peril. Once the call came, we flew off towards the woods. DEEP in the forest, we would rescue the Ghost family and their daughter Lucy. Lucy was my invisible pal (only seen by me) until I moved to Yellowknife. She didn’t move with me but stayed in Sherwood Park, close to her sister.

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I remember driving into Edmonton for Dairy Queen night in our pajamas and watching Bugs Bunny and eating Kraft Mac and Cheese while my parents got ready to go out. We had a closet on the stair landing that was filled with toys, but mostly I played with crayons, puzzles, Fischer Price Little people and my cape.

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My room was the top right window, my brother’s was in the centre. It was simple and in my mind idyllic. Often I take myself back to that time when my friend Tanya lived across from me and my other friend Tammy live down the way. We learned to ride bikes, skip and build forts. On rainy days we would listen to records and build inside forts.

When I had my kids I wanted the same childhood for them. They played outside all the time with neighbour kids and were covered in mud. They still laugh with their childhood friends when they see them. I recently reconnected with Tammy who lived down the block. An incredible gift because the old memories resurfaced. Old memories remembered while my family is making new ones. The perfect Family day experience. *Disclaimer* I remember in vivid colour but the photos are edited because it was dark as pitch – so everything looks sepia just like old-timey photos should.

Happy Family Day from mine to yours.

 

Lyndon

There is nothing I enjoy more than learning something new. Except maybe experiencing something new. Actually, they could be considered the same thing. I registered for a class that started in October and runs every month. I, of course, attend the second last class because I didn’t know about the others. I caught up by reading the synopsis and do the readings. I felt ready to attend. The class is about connecting with nature.

I feel I am already pretty connected. I love watching wildlife, I understand how to find it. I live in an area that has coyotes living a couple blocks from me. I watch bald eagles circle overhead. I often see moose and deer on my way to work. Geese are everywhere in my neighbourhood and I can identify different songbirds.

Fauna taken care of.

Flora has always been a passion of mine. If there was a situation where I needed to forage, I wouldn’t get scurvy plus, food would be fairly tasty. I enjoy gardening. I love the feel of the dirt between my fingers and the smell of crushed leaves on my hands. Eating what you harvest is particularly satisfying. Give me a chair in the middle of the woods or garden and I am happy.

This class’ intent is to create a more abundant garden by connecting with nature. It leans on the ‘woo woo’ side of spirituality but I also connect with that. I am embracing the fact that I am an empath who is very intuitive. So – now you know.

This class talked about connecting with your garden. Apparently, when you speak to your plants they will perform better and you will receive an abundant garden. I have read studies on the power of music etc. Talking to people does marvellous things, so why not plants? It requested that I photograph my tree every day. Talk to it and touch it. I was to journal my experience. There were zero expectations about what I might experience and zero expectations to complete this. All I was told was “give it a try”. Cool, I am open to trying new things.

I did this for one week. Monday through Sunday. I forgot Friday. I was home from work sick. I made a habit of stopping by my tree every day after work. Decompressing before I entered the house. So technically,  I did it for 6 days. I promised my Edmonton Tourist peeps on Instagram and Facebook that I would report back. I received feedback that confirmed I am not alone in talking to my plants. But honestly – this is the first time I had ever done it. I promised to share my experience.

Day One: I have to admit I felt a little kooky for standing in front of my giant tree in the front yard. Its the only tree I have where I wouldn’t have to trudge through snow to get to. I can stand next to it without being knee deep in the frozen stuff.

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The sun was setting and the light was pretty. It was cold but, so what? I approached it and said ‘Hello Tree.” I thanked it for providing shelter from the wind and sun. I took my glove off and touched a limb I could reach. The bark was smooth but more importantly, I felt something. It was warm tingles flowing through me. The energy I feel when I am happy or on the right track. I thanked it again and was surprised I felt pretty darn good.

Day Two: I had completely forgotten about this project until I drove into my driveway. OH YEAH! I stepped out of my car and walked towards my tree. “Hello, Tree! How was your day?” I didn’t hear anything but I removed my glove and reached for the limb again. The energy moved rapidly into my arm and quickly enveloped me. Something told me to ask its name. Obviously, I didn’t get a name but I did get an image in my mind’s eye of fluttering. Almost like butterfly wings. I didn’t know what that meant or if it was anything at all but I wrote it down. I thanked the tree and went inside.

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Day Three:  Day three was an emotionally hard day. I had some personal stuff I was thinking about and focusing on work hasn’t all that fun. I felt pushed into a situation at work that annoyed me so I needed to deal with that the next day. Basically, coworkers frustrated me a bit. I pulled into my driveway and boom, I got excited because MY TREE! This time I didn’t even need to touch it before I felt the energy radiating from it. I thanked it for sharing the energy and touched its limb. I spoke to it telepathically and asked it its name. This time I heard (not with my ears but that gut feeling) “You name it.” Fine, I shall call you Lyndon, partly because you are a Linden tree and partly because Y is a thing for me. I have a Y in my name, I put one in my daughter’s name, it’s a special thing for me. The tree did not react to Lyndon, but why should it? It doesn’t need a name. After I named Lyndon, I turned to look at the bushes in my yard. I felt like I was neglecting them. So I walked up the garden path and gently touched them and thanked them for their time in my garden.  Honestly – I know this sounds kooky but here I am doing my homework. From my experience posting the first photo on Instagram, I have learned the great gardeners out there all have relationships with their plants so I am not that strange.

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Day Four: This was a bad day. I had a medical procedure done and I felt terrible. I was an emotional disaster and was happy to be home. I stood in front of my tree and cried a little. I didn’t say hello or thank you, I just accepted the energy from Lyndon. It flooded over me and I honestly felt better. I touched the limb and thanked Lyndon for being there for me. I stood there with my hand on the limb for a good ten minutes. I meditate daily and this felt the same way. It just felt good to be connected to my tree in silence.

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Day Five: I didn’t leave the house. I was a mess from the previous day. Hindsight tells me I should have gone to say hello to Lyndon. But I didn’t.

Day Six: Not a work day but I was going out to run some errands with the hubs. I knew I would be home late and I didn’t want to forget about my gratitude session with my tree. SO, I stood before it while the car was being backed out of the garage. I apologized for not visiting the day before. I thanked it for being understanding and always there. I held the limb for a while and the energy flowed through me again. I have to say I am quite surprised that I feel this good after I take a moment in gratitude, I don’t think its about the tree but more about being thankful for the tree. I thought about Lyndon on the way to our destination. I also thought about the importance of connecting more with my garden. If nothing else, its good for my mind. I feel refreshed afterwards.

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Day Seven: I had no plans to go anywhere. So I put shoes on and went outside to greet my tree. “Good Morning Lydon!” Then we held hands. “Thank you for being there for me.” We stood in silence for a while and I thought about how I take this beauty for granted. Actually how I take all my garden for granted. I apologized to everyone and thanked them for their presence in my garden because even covered in snow, they bring energy and interest into my space. I love the way they feel. So Thank you garden.

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I journaled every day for a week and am supposed to do this for a month, until the next class. At the time we were assigned this project, I suspected it was about gratitude. I wasn’t wrong, or at least I don’t think I am wrong. I am just supposed to report back. Do I feel different in a week? Absolutely. I feel connected to Lyndon and am grateful for the energy it shares with me. I look at my garden differently and its only been a week.

That Barenaked Ladies song has been running through my head the past few days, “Its been one week since you looked at me  Cocked your head to the side
and said I’m angry
Five days since you laughed at me saying
Get that together come back and see me
Three days since the living room,
I realized it’s all my fault, but couldn’t tell you
Yesterday you’d forgiven me
But it’ll still be two days till I say I’m sorry”

Don’t leave it, be grateful. I learned a lot about living things being there for you. Its okay to lean on them, ask for energy/love and say sorry when you need to. I don’t think it matters if it Flora, Fauna or Homosapians. Ask for what you need, give when you can.

It’s only been a week. A lot of learning happened.

 

Winter Break

Health is a fickle thing. One minute you are great, the next…not so much.

My Christmas break was filled with sleeping, lab appointments, more sleeping mixed in with visits to my Doc. While I am steadily improving – not 100% – I am back at work and felt good enough to get outside. Sunshine and fresh air are magical elixirs that boost me up. The best part about getting outside is the sun is on its way back to me! Darkness isn’t always present and sometimes I can see the sun when I leave work. This is the best feeling – sure its dark when I get home, but sunshine in my mirror is lovely.

There is a National Park not that far away from me. Elk Island National Park is home to Bison, wolves, deer, moose…and a myriad of other creatures. I always ask the universe to show me some creature while I am there. I am never disappointed.

The Captain and I headed out mid-afternoon because I wanted to capture some twilight over Astotin Lake. We drove directly to the Bison loop in hopes to spot the heard. No such luck. I just caught the moonrise over the prairie.  The Red Chairs are a lovely spot to sit and contemplate.

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We left the loop to make our way to Astotin Lake but found a ‘bear jam’ on the way. It wasn’t really bears – but that is a common term for wild animal sighting. There was two bison across the beaver pond. They looked like rocks or boulders – but I knew they were the bison I was looking. ei7.jpg

After seeing those two fellas, I was hopeful I would spot a heard at the lake, or at least one more fellow. No such luck. everyone and their dog was at the beach today. I know it seems like an oddity to head to the beach in January. But Albertans don’t let the weather stop us from living our best life. We pack a lunch and make a day of it. Who doesn’t love the beach? Families were snowshoeing, tobogganing, skiing, sitting around a fire – there was a lot of fires. The smell was heavenly. It reminded me of winter cookout’s past. Pack snow around the fire as wind protection, roast hot dogs and apples and you are having a great time! The snow doubles as a cooler for beverages! Win/Win!

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We popped out of the car and started walking towards the lake, but the snow was deep and Cap didn’t enjoy it touching his belly. He is a big boy too so the snow must have been nearly a foot. He led me to a cleared path and we went exploring in the woods instead.

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There is a denseness I can’t explain unless you have experienced it. The snow absorbs sound so everything seems silent but yet you can hear voices carried across the lake. The crunch of the snow sounds different in January than it does in March. This is the height of winter and its perfect.

Further down the road, we discovered ungulate tracks – it looked like bison to me! Yet there were no large animals to be found. Cap loved the smell and followed the tracks for a while.

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Soon we found ourselves back a the beginning of our adventure. We did the full loop and that tired us both out. Cap slept all the way home and continued napping for the rest of the evening. He is a healthy guy but as he ages, he sleeps more. Kind of like me. Obviously, we are kindred spirits.

Elk Island National Park is located about 50km east of Edmonton on Hwy 16. You do need a discovery pass to enter. A single day is available at the gate. I have a yearly pass and try to make the most of it. Since I purchased the pass we have visited Jasper National Park, Banff National Park, Pacific Rim National Reserve and Elk Island National Park. I hope to get to Yoho and Waterton this year before it expires. Get out there and take in that blue sky!

 

 

Peasant life

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I read a column in the New York Times by Ann Patchett. If you have never read any of her, treat yourself and put one of her books on your reading list this year. When I read her columns, it’s like chatting with one of my pals. I thoroughly enjoy her style.

She wrote My Year of No Shopping in 2017. I read it then and revisited it over Christmas week 2018. She discusses how she outlined her year of no spending. No clothes, which seemed hard for her, she stopped various other spending but allowed books (although you can visit your local library) and discussed gift giving. She decided to only give books except for her editor who married and thought that a book wasn’t right for that situation. But if someone gave me a book for my wedding, they would be at the top of my list of favourite people. Can you imagine a collection of lovely books to start a library of your own as a newlywed? It sounds divine but that might just be me.

I gave no spending some serious thought in 2017. Then I met my friend. She sets aside several weeks throughout the year to live frugally. She calls it Peasant Week. The biggest change she makes is to not buy groceries for an extended period and uses up all the food in her freezer and pantry. I am guilty of having a well-stocked cupboard and replenish it often. She has a monthly allowance and does not spend over that limit – ever. She has a budget. $xxx for gifts comes off her paycheque monthly along with other items that come up unexpectedly throughout the year. All of this is because she has a goal of retiring at 55. Her house will be paid off and she has some tidy investments so she can live the life she desires. That isn’t saying she doesn’t love every moment of her life now. She is humble and grateful and refuses to do chores on the weekend because those are her play days. That is what she calls them, play days. She will only do what feels fun on those two days and does all her chores after work throughout the week. Her life is lovely.

I did that to some extent only with a different goal in mind. It wasn’t about saving money for me, only at first but that changed over time. I went through a financial crisis and curbed travel spending for three years. (But Tourist, you travelled a lot in the last three years! I did, but I will get to that.) My goal was to live a simple life not complicate it by financial obligations. I have to admit it was hard watching friends travel to Disney when I could not. I unfollowed most acquaintances on facebook because I needed to change my thought patterns of jealousy and envy to appreciation and gratitude. Hard to be grateful for what I have when I am longing for what I don’t have.

Simplify is what I call it. I simplified everything from facebook followers to items in my home.

The first thing I did was join a facebook group that gave things away, didn’t sell them. That was important to me. It wasn’t about the money. It was giving things to people who needed them far more than I did. It was about helping people who are starting out in life. I gave away a dumpster full of things. A side benefit, I don’t miss a thing. I have more to give this year. I want to come home to a minimalist house. I live with three other adults. two of them have a hard time parting with things because they don’t know what to do with it. We are also working on that, so this is a process. I have all the time in the world to remove things, there is no rush. I check the site daily to see if anyone is looking for something when I have it, I give it. Simple. Occasionally I see something I need. Like a crockpot. I never had one before and am grateful for one!

Before the tree comes down this year I am getting out four small boxes to sort. One for my son, he has a collection of Santas for his grown-up tree starter kit. One for my daughter, she has an angel grown-up tree starter kit. Decorations I want to keep for a small adult tree of my own and then a give-a-way pile. I do not need an entire storage room of Christmas decorations. clutter around the house stresses me now. Those will go to a new home or Good-will.

Last summer my daughter went to Disneyland. Her first adult trip without her mom. She had travelled with her school and for work, but this felt different. She stayed on Disney property and understood how much I wanted to do that. She knew how much I love the soaps and creams so she saved them daily and brought home a giant bag full of sample sizes. I have travelled a lot for work and was gifted trips when the hubs retired. I collected some of those fantastic smelling items and brought them home. I enjoy ‘free’ souvenirs. When she returned, I went through my cupboard and discovered several bags of these things. I consolidated all of them and decided I needed to use them up instead of buying any new product. Five months later I am one-third of the way through the bag of beauty products. I haven’t bought anything including toothpaste since August. Toothpaste will run out next month but the soap and shampoo will last me until summer.

I brought this lifestyle into my work-life. We had a Secret Santa exchange. There were three rules, one for each week:

  1. The first gift must be from the dollar store and cannot cost more than $3.
  2. The second gift must be something from your home that you no longer use and can be re-gifted.
  3. The third must be home-made.

Surprisingly, everyone participated. People received amazing things. Re-gifting was magical. It felt like we did more with less. This was a huge validation for me. I did the same thing with items in our warehouse. I used up what we had before we bought new. That is important to the bottom line, but more importantly to the environment.

As I think about 2019, I know I don’t need any new clothes. I would like new boots, but mine are fine and not worn out yet. I had a hole in my puffer jacket but taped it with black electrical tape and now its fine for at least another winter so it will take me through until 2020 and I will reassess then.

I have more sheets and towels than I know what to do with, so I will sort through those and put them in the give-away pile. I went through appliances and utensils and gave them to my nephew, but I think I can do better. My pantry is the real challenge for me. I will work my way through the freezer and see what I can do with those items. I want to start a standing garden so I can easily harvest my own food. I think that will be my project for this year. I will focus on food.

Back to the “but you travelled extensively Tourist, what gives? I thought you didn’t want to spend money on travel?” Truth and I didn’t spend money on travel – sort-of.

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My hubs was given a lovely retirement gift of travel. Boom, that was how I travelled. I have a new job that lets me travel across Alberta. Boom, I saw parts of the province I had never been to before. On my down time while away for work, I would explore the towns and areas. Alberta’s Coulees are gorgeous. Prairies are beautiful. I learned that appreciating your own backyard has significant benefits and is just as beautiful and wonderful as exploring towns and villages in Europe, Australia or the US. People travel far and wide to come here. I live three hours from a world-class destination. I am lucky. I get to see Northern Lights regularly – as in ALL THE DAMN TIME. Very few people will ever see those in their lifetime. Grandpa was right, Canada is awesome.

2018 taught me about appreciation. The more I appreciated what I had, the more I received. It was crazy but true. People gave me stuff for being kind. I won things like small lottery wins, books, dinner out and movie tickets.  I learned joy doesn’t come from things, it comes from experience. Help those who need it. Don’t put a price tag on things, just give it away because you can. You will receive more in ways you never thought possible.

Abundance is a gift.

Happy New Year, may 2019 be abundant for you.

Gratitude

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

I have been here typing away since 2010. At the start of every new year, I usually make a list of the things I learned and the things I want to achieve for the new year. I decided a while ago that I want to just see how the year will unfold without any predetermined goals or items I need to cross off my list. I have one goal for 2019, and that is to make more memories with family.

I have no idea what that is going to look like, but I have a feeling moments and opportunities with show themselves without me manipulating situations to fit my list. I have general thoughts about things to do, but we will see what happens. 2019 is shaping up to be an expectation-free year for me.

Self-awareness and reflection are key components of my growth. It’s important to look at my actions and learn from them. Everything is a learning opportunity, and I like to think about how I could have done something better, behaved nicer or examine a missed opportunity. Many changes happened over the last twelve months. Some things were horrifyingly terrible and hurtful, and some things were so completely wonderful I don’t want to forget. I think I have learned from the lines I drew in the sand, behaviour modifications and decisions. I will still reflect and continue to learn, but thinking about what I am grateful for is more important.

  1. New Friendship. In January I prayed for a friend who I could have deep and meaningful conversations with. I thought it might be someone I was already friends with and we could take it to the next level. That didn’t happen. What did happen is something so unexpected I am overwhelmed with gratitude. A new person entered my life, and we have deep and meaningful conversations about books, circumstances, spiritual connections and guidance. We help each other navigate complicated situations. This person is a gift.
  2. Synergy. Way back in the days of University in the ’80s (not to be confused with University of my 40’s) I was working on a project where we needed to achieve synergy with the team. It didn’t happen, and I said so. We were docked marks which annoyed me because I was honest. They were actually marking us on how we gelled as a team, not on the work we did. I was so angry. I didn’t believe synergy was something contrived. I still don’t. You have it or you don’t. My first teaching experience I worked with two other women and we just connected. Our planning was legendary. I naively thought my professor was correct. That this level of connection was always possible. The 1990 planning team was euphoric. It was an excitement about the work. I felt like it was my calling. It was magic for one year. Fast forward to 2010, the last time I taught in a classroom. I never found that same connection ever again. I was able to work well with others but I didn’t achieve that same feeling. I began to hate the people and the work. I left. I went back to school and changed careers. I never expected to have that same connection with staff. I just did the best I could and kept moving forward. I had a taste of something close in the job I have post graduation. The guy I worked with was a genius and I loved working with him. Our planning was creative and fun but our hands were always tied. It was close. Then I moved on again. Seven months into my new position I figured I wouldn’t stay long. I was alone. I didn’t have anyone to throw ideas around with. Then a shuffle happened and I found myself sitting next to someone who was also alone and wanting more. We began talking and sharing ideas. Suddenly I was back in 1990 and found that synergy again. I not so naive this time that I will have this forever. People move on. But I will be grateful for it as long as it lasts.
  3. Doctor Nurse Surgeon Angels. My son was injured and bed-ridden for two years. He suffered and thought his life was over. He was misdiagnosed and was told he would have to suck it up. My husband was training for a marathon with a friend and was talking about our frustrations with our son’s situation. She said she had been to a conference where the surgeon talked about this type of injury. She gave us his name in October. By April my son had a diagnosis and a surgery date. In post-op, he said he was pain-free aside from the surgical pain. He could tell it worked and walked. He climbed stairs 4 hours after surgery and never looked back. He has his life back and has made a complete recovery. His future is bright.
  4. Angels. A few times I had experiences where I couldn’t explain what had happened. Yet it did, and it was miraculous. Angels.
  5. Health. 2017 was bad. BAD BAD BAD. My daughter calls it the time I died. I didn’t die, but I was damn close. My doctor figured it out. We have a plan and its working beautifully. I have had a temporary slip back into that dark sickness again. Only this time I recognized it earlier, I sought treatment immediately and am recovering quicker. I am so grateful I understand it better. I have a lot of life to still live plus I want to meet grandkids. I will be an amazing gran or nan or oma or lola. Whatever, I will be great at it when it happens way down the road. I have lots to be healthy for.
  6. Bake-off. I had stopped doing things that brought me joy. Why did I do that? That was the stupidest thing I ever could do. I love to bake, and I love to eat baking. There is a lot of pressure to look a certain way.  I am telling you this, fuck that. My Great Grandma lived to be 99. She ate whatever the hell she wanted from cookies to jellies. Eat the damn cookie. Lick your fingers. Enjoy that glass of wine. Moderation is key. Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith got me baking again. I loved every second of it, and I ate the cookies. I am thinking about all the voices who told me I should be… I needed to be… Here is what I learned: I need to do right by me. This is my life, not yours. I don’t care what you think. I am over you. The line is drawn. My life is peaceful and happy, and I have cookies.  You can continue to be angry just stay out of my yard.
  7. Siblings. I am the eldest. I don’t have a memory of being an only child. I usually spend my birthdays alone doing fun things. This year I invited my brother and sister over. It got me thinking about the shenanigans we got into as children. We talked about it and laughed. I need to do that more. I went to visit both of them over Christmas. Big hugs from both of them. More hugging is important. I am going to have them over, and we will do stupid stuff like operation or monopoly or beer pong.
  8. Captain. Me and my pal the dog went on epic adventures this year. He barked at bison, saved me from a raging river, pulled me up an icy hill and ate snacks while I ate dinner. He looks after me and is always gentle with me. He nips at my hubs playfully but never with me. I get loving kisses. He is the best thing to happen to our family.
  9. Ocean. I stood in the ocean and let the stresses wash away. It made me cry.
  10. Skype. My parents live in Europe for part of the year. I chat with them more when they are overseas than when they are home. I like feeling connected with them and am excited to see them when they come home. But I never feel like I can see them when they are home. There are lots of demands on their time from others, so I stand back. I am not going to do that this year. They are my parents. This is my line.
  11. Wildlife. I have travelled to Whistler, Vancouver Island, Jasper, Banff, Southern Alberta and Vancouver. I asked the universe to show me an abundance of wildlife. I saw two orcas swimming across the Georgia Straight. I watched a mama, and her three cubs eat tender grass in the spring up at Whistler. There was an abundance of whales, bears, elk, bighorn sheep, coyotes, eagles, hawks, sea lions, harbour seals, deer, mountain goats, moose and wolves everywhere we went this year. Those creatures are always the highlight of any year.

 

Make the most of what you have. Gratitude brings more great things into your life. Let the anger go and be grateful for what you have before its gone.

Happy New Year friends!