About Me

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I am the working mother of two little minions, just on a new adventure in another province away from my seaside home trying desperately to solve life's many riddles and find inner peace despite all the chaos...and when all else fails there's always wine.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

IT'S OKAY TO DO NOTHING??

Pretty much since high school my life has been full up to the max. From 18 to 20 I balanced three jobs and a full course load. My early twenties began with a mortgage, a marriage, and the start of my "career".  While working 40 hours a week or more, for a large company, I took on the task of achieving my professional accounting designation via correspondence. And given that I am an incredibly, stubborn overachiever I didn't just do a couple courses at a time, nope, I did 4 or 5 per semester for five years straight. I know, I'm crazy. Oh but wait, that wasn't all.  During this time I also helped my husband run his business by tackling the accounting and all of the paper work that constantly spread across the kitchen counter.  Fast forward a few years and near the end of my schooling we decided to really test the limits of our sanity.  I was in the final two year leg of my CMA designation, what they call the Strategic Leadership Program and what I call Management Accountant Boot Camp. Apparently holding down a full time job, now as the senior financial go-to person for our office, and a do-or-die-tragically executive program was not enough. Nope, we had to throw in having a baby, moving in with my parents and building a brand new house in there as well. (Believe it or not, nobody was killed in the making of these accomplishments.)

I have spent years having to schedule, plan, map, plan and schedule almost all of my time. I was very disciplined with everything I was responsible for and there was literally no down time - well, that's not true I did sleep......a bit.  I missed out on a lot and having so many commitments took a toll on my relationships all around - it was very challenging and I am super proud of myself and everybody involved, for making it through and for supporting me. 

So what's my point and what does this have to do with anything? Well, after all these years of not being able to sit down unless it was to study or breastfeed, I am really struggling with days when I have nothing - or what seems like nothing to me - to do.  Yes, keeping the house clean and the family fed and the blogs written and the business records up to date and working when I can and going to board meetings and visiting with friends when the kids aren't screaming at me, keep me pretty busy by conventional standards. But there are lulls that I simply can't handle. I try to sit down and I can't; within 30 seconds I'm up and fidgeting and looking for something to organize. I constantly feel like there is something I "should" be doing.

Living on a west coast island you need to learn to relax, to let go, to sit on the beach and DO NOTHING, but stare and breathe and stare some more.  I need to remind myself of this constantly.

"Dear Self, it's okay to do nothing..stop that, put that down, you can do nothing!"

So if you are relocating to an island from the city or a fast passed job or lifestyle.....better take head of this warning or you could end up like me, a neurotic afraid-to-do-nothinger. 

You have my official permission to do nothing, in fact please do a lot of nothing, and do some nothing for me.

Friday, July 13, 2012

HUCKLEBERRY ZEN

Life Lessons via Berry Pickin'

Yesterday I took the kids junk huntin' and berry pickin' as it had been ages since I had picked salmon berries and huckleberries. For those of you who are not familiar with these berries a salmon berry is the raspberry's sour cousin that grows wild all over most coastal islands and the huckleberry is a tiny, round, coral coloured delight that is a real pain in the butt to pick (hence the ages since picking)

If you've ever picked Huckleberries you know, it takes for bloody ever, and although Huckleberry jam and pie, and all that, is frickin' amazing, at the time of picking, it hardly seems worth the effort. As a kid I would routinely cheat and just strip the entire branch, tiny leaves and all, just to fill the bucket and to avoid painstakingly picking the little berries one at a time.  Even the other day, here I was an adult, picking berries (which was my idea) and five minutes in I was frustrated and annoyed and switched to picking salmon berries because they were bigger and would fill the bucket up faster.  Bubs however, was a purest and stuck to Huckleberries only, I thought he was crazy.  Then I had this "AHA" moment, like the kind Oprah is always having.  Picking Huckleberries is a little bit Zen; like scrubbing a bathroom floor with a toothbrush. You see, it's an activity that has great reward if you can stick with it and be patient and find an inner solitude (whilst you rob a shrub of its fruit).

Picking Huckleberries is a lot like life, and even more like life on a west coast island. It's not easy, it takes up more of your time, it can be boring, incredibly boring and you don't even know if you'll end up with much of anything.  However it's really not about how full your bucket is. In the end, it's about the fact that you did it; that you persevered and that you took the slow, sweet time to finish what you set out to do in order to get just a little treat of something most people will never even see or taste. 

I filled my bucket halfway, that was enough for me...Bubs had consumed his efforts by the time his seat belt was buckled.

Monday, July 9, 2012

IT'S ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE

Sailing 'round Lasqueti Island and Back
This weekend we took off from Shelter Point and headed for Lasqueti island, another island I have literally stared at for years and never stepped foot on. It was to be our very first overnight adventure with the kids and we were packed to the rigging with food, drinks, blankets, pillows, bug spray, sunscreen, snacks, books, and more snacks. The weather report called for sun, sun, sun and more sun and it was about darn time!!

We were departing at dinner time so I crafted up some Basa (slightly wrong that while sailing on the west coast we were about to feast on farm fished catfish from China but c'est la vie), with roasted mushrooms and red pepper in tinfoil.  Tinfoil rules - it is an essential kitchen tool for west coast living. The trip already felt magical. On the way across Bubs (aka Kowalski) and I played a few games of "Deep Dive" with his Shark Cards (these are a super cool find I brought back from a trip to Maui..check out the site http://www.chroniclebooks.com/ and http://www.chapters.ca/ to find them!) He pretty much kicked my butt every time.

We anchored in False Bay amid a few other boats that were tied up to private tie ups. Unfortunately everybody was suffering from a summer cold so after watching a cruise ship silently pass by like a traveling light show, it was quick to bed as soon as the anchor was dropped (and yes I let it down gently this time!).

In the morning we tied up to the little dock where the water taxi comes in from French Creek on Vancouver Island and where float planes unload. We walked up the road a bit, past the Lasqueti Hotel, and one of my favourite sights ever! Right next to the hotel was a large cabinet stocked with containers, clearly labeled, with various types of cookies, all for sale on an honour system!! You know you've hit a small, west coast island, when a cabinet full of cookies is not raided or destroyed; so cool.   Just up the road from the  "cookie honour system" was the Saturday farmers' market. We were early but nobody seemed to mind (which is not always the case; some farmers' market wardens will debone you if you arrive 5 minutes early - be warned). Lasqueti however, is pretty laid back.  There were amazing woodworks, produce and baked goods; I was salivating instantly. We purchased some beets and some tomatoes that were almost too pretty to eat before getting back on the boat for day #2 of sailing - destination Jedidiah Island.

We had intended to anchor off of Jedidiah and row ashore to investiate the park, but after going round the entire island and looking at the various options we talked ourselves out of it and opted instead to head for Cooks Bay on Texada - a bay full of private summer cabins for some rather elite/successful North American sometimes residents.  Cooks Bay however is still rather exposed to the weather and the waves caused by passing cruise ships and large commercial traffic. The next bay north felt no safer so it was back across to Lasqueti for the night - a wise choice. Anchoring again we feasted (everything seems to taste better on the boat) and then rowed ashore to the beach of a little private island that I need to learn the name of.  The sunset was incredible and as the kids hunted for beach treasures and threw rocks in the ocean we once again felt like we were part of something rare and wonderful and precious. We wait so long for the long, grey, cold, depressing winter to end and then all of a sudden the sun comes out, the water warms up and we find ourselves asking the question "why would we ever want to be anywhere else?"


In the morning we sailed back over to Texada, to Shingle Beach, where the hugely popular Diversity Festival (now in its 10th year http://www.diversityfestival.ca/) was beginning to wind down for the weekend. We rowed ashore to go say hi to a few friends and I was blown away by how much the Festival had developed since I had been to it six years earlier. The food and clothing and art vendors were incredible. I was mad at myself for not having brought my wallet but that was probably a good thing as I could have spent a small fortune on summer dresses, sweaters for the kids, leather bags etc. etc. sigh.  There was a large cardboard castle set up by a group of puppeteers that amazingly got the kids involved in building a large dragon and then encouraged them to join, excuse me lead, the parade around the site - it was magical and the kids couldn't believe they were on Texada (what is this wonderful place they asked? Home, this wonderful place is actually our home) It made me think that here we were, at home, a place we often curse for its remoteness and lack of things to do..however it's amazing how your perception of something can change if you approach it from a different angle.

We sailed back (although we did do a lot of motoring we were able to sail for a good a portion of the trip) to Shelter Point and anchored the boat and swam/splashed about in the water before coming home for a delicious meal made from our Lasqueti spoils.  It was another amazingly beautiful, west coast weekend, and reminded us of why we live where we live. 

Things that sunk in on this trip:
  • Change your perspective and the world you see everyday will change
  • The adventure that you crave so badly is often a lot closer to home than you think
  • I use the words AMAZING, WONDERFUL, MAGICAL, BEAUTIFUL and HOME, a lot...just sayin'
  • Take advantage of the sun while it shines for the dark and cold will come back, that is the great cycle of life, so (this will sound cheesy) seize the daylight and the love and the life and the light while you can
  • Tinfoil rules, just about everything can be cooked in tinfoil
  • Mosquitoes do not rule - my kids look like they have the chicken pox right now
  • And lastly, living on the west coast you are in the midst of such incredibly diversity. In one weekend we say multiple islands, met and saw such a wide range of people, enjoyed the infinity of what the world has created down to the individual shells on the beach to the wise cracks our little people came up with. The world is an amazing, amazing place...come live on a west coast island and you will be right in the middle of a whole array of amazingness.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

HAVING MORE WITH LESS

Harwood Island - June 24th, 2012
Last weekend, for the first time in my 30 + years living on the west coast, I stepped foot on Harwood island.  The sun had come out in the morning and in a mad dash we had made our way to the sail boat, loaded with food, drinks, music and activity books for the kids. After a short stint of shiner fishin' (for bait) we headed for an island that I have passed probably no less than 1000 times by boat, ferry and plane. It almost seems silly that I have never seen it's shores but June 24th was going to be the day to right that wrong.  We fished for awhile, hoping to catch a cod (and if the stars aligned a Halibut!) but only ended up catching and releasing seven "shoes" (Skipper nicknamed dogfish shoes as they don't put up a fight - they reel in like shoes).  Striking out on fishing meant that it was time to hit the beach (with the emergency chicken kabobs that I had ready to go in the cooler - never count on fish!).



We anchored (after a bit of squabbling - apparantly I was supposed to let the anchor down lightly and not all at once, which very well could have ripped our boat apart, does oops cover it?).  Rowing ashore with supplies, I felt like we were claiming new land, like Captain Vancouver or Chrisopher Columbus, we were going to claim the beach in the name of the Four Penguins (our sailing names for the family Husband is Skipper - makes sense he's the Skipper, I'm Rico, Bubs is Kowalski and Missy is Private - who's job it is to look cute and cuddly).  We had the entire beach to ourselves; like our own slice of paradise.  The kids instantly stripped their clothes off and ran full-frontal-nudity across the beach, while Skipper and I lit a fire and roasted our dinner of chicken skewers, roasted garlic, brie cheese and mushrooms on an old shopping cart over our beach wood fire - it was heaven. Where else can you do this? You can settle on the west coast but if you chose to live in an urban area you will always be sharing beaches with strangers and regulations (not saying that there are no rules here). 


Living on a westcoast island you realize that you are part of something really, really special. It is not the least bit true that here, you will and can do less.......rather you can do MORE with less.  Living on a west coast island you will have to learn to do without certain services and goods however, you will come to know that you are part of the lucky few who have the stunning beauty of the sea and its shores as your own, practically private, back yard. Your children may not necessarily be able to have passes to the zoo or be able to play all the sports under the sun but if you get them outside and share this paradise with them they will learn to start fires from scratch, to enjoy running free, to discover marine animals, "treasure" and adventure. They will learn to just be and enjoy life. 

You can't buy underwear on the island where we live but then again, you can't buy a lot of things that you can get for free, just outside your door, every day. "If once you have slept on an island, you'll never be quite the same......."