28 January 2016

January

January is drawing to a close and while time seems to have slipped through my fingers, this has also been one of the longest months I can remember.

The new year started off with a dance party in the den with my nephew and nieces, dinner on our traditional Spode holiday plates, and a weekend hike at High Falls with my sister and her family.  Dave and I attempted to call each other at our respective midnight hours and managed to get in a few words before turning into our respective time zones.

This has been the month of letting go...of intentions, of expectations, of want-to-dos and should-dos.  This is the month that has indicated what kind of year 2016 might be...one where I might need to surrender a bit more rather than control.  One where the wild ride of transitions continues and I hang on to the safety bar in my roller coaster car for dear life.

This will also be the year of big shifts in terms of how I want to approach that never-ending ride of ups and downs.  Last year, I spent a good deal of time steeped in the heaviness of longing for some-kind-of-unidentified-something-else.  This year, I am hoping to be content in the here-and-now of what is right in front of me.  To focus on maintaining precious connections over many miles via the wonders of technology and to treat myself with the gifts of love, patience, and respect...as all people deserve.

It is the year that deserves some serious thought as as things shift...personally and professionally...thoughts that demand intention, mindfulness, and lots of writing in journals.

January has been hard as in the letting go I've felt as though parts of me are slipping away.  More than anything, my greatest fear has revolved around disappearing and not being seen.  I've felt like a ghost in many respects as I move further from how I used to identify myself in terms of worthiness and success and into that nebulous in-between space of redefining what those two terms mean.

But, then again, maybe disappearing for a little bit isn't the worst thing in the world.  Disappearing can mean giving myself the time to sort out the questions, to feel into what is coming next, and to have that quiet time necessary to prepare my body, heart, and soul for what is coming down the tracks.

In the meantime, I'm trying to recognize those tiny moments each day where sadness isn't the emotion that takes centre stage.  To find comfort in the little things.  To be genuinely grateful for all of the amazing things I do have.  To know that nothing is permanent, even these feelings...


09 December 2015

An Update


I haven't felt like posting here at all this year...as indicated by the random blurbs that have appeared in only the first six months of the year.

This year was tough.  It was exhausting.  It was hard.  And, I am better for it.

Winnipeg just didn't agree with us.  As much as we tried to make it something awesome, we just couldn't do it.  I was lonely, Dave wasn't thrilled with work, and we were on a tight budget that restricted our ability to enjoy all the city had to offer.

Don't get me wrong, Winnipeg has its gems!  The Forks in the winter are lovely - skating on the river, little glühwein huts, and snow on the ground; our friends who live there are spectacular; the Canadian Museum  for Human Rights; and, last but not least, I became a regular at the little coffee shop down the street - Little Sister Coffee Maker - where the friendliest baristas I've ever met made me feel like family.  We took long walks at Assiniboine Park and I truly enjoyed my long runs through the city as I trained for a couple of marathons during our time there.

However, something was always just...off.

So, in mid-September, we left.

Dave left his job and I left the volunteer work I was doing with Siloam Mission.  We left with a plan that involves flying, yoga, the Middle East, and travel.  We left with a five-year goal in mind that will allow us to start living the life we imagine for ourselves on the West Coast of Canada.  We left with sadness at what could have been and big hopes for what this next adventure will bring.

When we left Winnipeg, we sold and donated most of what we own, taking four days in a U-Haul to drive to Ontario to put our small stack of bins in a storage locker.  We then criss-crossed Canada and went into the US to visit friends and family before departing on our next adventure.

The trip went a little like this:
Manitoba --> Ontario --> Alberta --> Saskatchewan --> Georgia --> British Columbia

We ate good food and connected with amazing people along the way.  Friends and family made room for us in their homes and lives and gave us the support we needed in the forms of hugs and words of encouragement.

Then, it was off to Bali.  After four weeks on the road and constant movement, we were happy to land on the island and have some time to reconnect with each other.  We had two weeks together of naps, yummy Indonesian food, and long walks.  After two weeks, I was into my advanced yoga teacher training and Dave was off to England to do some on-boarding with the new company he is working for.  He was there for two weeks before heading off to the Middle East to begin his work in earnest.

I completed my teacher training and am now back in Georgia staying with family while I wait for my visa to come through so I can join Dave.  It means another long separation in a marriage that has already seen its fair share of distance, but we know it is worth it.  We know it is all part of the grander plan we are creating for ourselves and keeping that thought at the forefront is key.

It is really hard to write this and try to encapsulate what this year has been like.  I feel disconnected from parts of it, yet fully immersed and appreciative of every experience because I know that we are better for it.  This year has taught me so much about myself and has invited me to dig deeper, leaving me raw, open, and ready for whatever is to come next.

Whatever kind of year you've had, I wish you all the best as we move into 2016.  As this year comes to close, I want to send you the following:

"This whole year has been about becoming who we are, so that we can finally live the life we are meant to.

A life that doesn’t just appeal to others from the outside, but one that sets our soul on fire from the inside.

It’s about giving up the belief that we have to color within the lines and realizing that the most beautiful masterpieces are those that drip off the canvas in glorious passion." 

- Kate Rose

30 June 2015

June

June was awesome.  It was one of those months that you wish would hang on a little longer.  While May lasted forever and day plus eternity, June went by in a flash.

A few weeks ago, Dave and I decided to have a go at the Fort Whyte Alive Twilight Run 10K.  Aside from swallowing a few bugs along the way, we really enjoyed running the trails in this spectacular place.  There were tons of people participating in either the 5K or 10K and every participant received a cool new headlamp to light the way as the sun began to set.  Afterwards, we enjoyed some s'mores by the fire and then made our way back home.



That same week, we ventured over to a nearby neighbourhood to check out Humboldt's Legacy, an eco-store that is chock-a-block full of eco-products and clothing for you and your home.  It was awesome inside!  We browsed through racks of Patagonia gear, checked out some of the nibbles on hand and marvelled at the gorgeous textiles displayed on some of the shelves.  If you are ever in Winnipeg, this is a don't-miss!


Over the past two weeks, I've been out on Vancouver Island visiting our friend, A.  Her husband recently deployed and it presented the perfect opportunity for some time together.  We watched their son play each morning in the backyard, we browsed through shops, took walks, made awesome dinners each night, and even managed to fit in a bit of rock climbing.  








We ventured over to Pender Island and drove around, stopped for a fantastic little lunch at just-opened Woods on Pender, and then into the Sea Star Vineyards show room where we sipped some fantastic white wines.  We also headed in Victoria to make our way (very slowly!) down the street for Car Free Victoria day where we took in the music and looked at all the awesome wares on sale from a variety of vendors.  I also got to see Victoria's Patagonia store and discovered the Sitka store as well.  Gear-a-go-go!  Being on the island reminded me just how much I love it there and it was so hard to say goodbye!



From Vancouver Island, I made my way to meet Dave in Toronto.  We were going to a friend's wedding and this was going to provide me the opportunity to meet his college buddies, as well as to see his mom and wander around the places he grew up.  The wedding was fabulous - one of the best ceremonies I've ever seen!  We danced and laughed and thoroughly enjoyed the poutine bar that was set up toward the end of the night.  


The next day, we ventured to Orillia to meet his mom for lunch before she headed off to work.  It was so great to see her and I loved our chat over our toast and coffee.  We toured around Coldwater and Orillia and I even got to meet one of Dave's friends from preschool.  The towns are lovely and I can see why Dave talks about the area he grew up in the way he does.  Everything was super green and there were trees everywhere!  We stopped in for a tour of Mariposa Market and grabbed a quick bite and a pint at Brewery Bay Food Company.

As we move into July, I want to wish you all a very Happy Canada Day and Happy Fourth of July!  

10 June 2015

A Homesteading Weekend

I have no pictures from this past weekend...only words.

Dave and I volunteered to help out at the DIY Homesteader Festival, an amazing just-out-of-town experience where people can learn fermenting basics, how to raise chickens, permaculture techniques, and how to mend clothing.  There were vendors and farm-to-table food along with one of the best bunches of people I've seen gather in one space in a long time.

I stumbled upon Nourished Roots when I was looking for space for Dave and I to garden in this summer (alas, those plans have gone unfulfilled).  It's a lovely little homestead with over 300 acres of farmland.  The brains behind Nourished Roots are Trevor and Adrienne Pearcy...a lovely and dynamic duo who are living the dream.  According to their site,
Adrienne and Trevor traded in fancy shoes and power lunches for galoshes and preserves years ago. Now you’ll find them and the kids building compost bins, hauling wood, turning soil and building bush trails most days. That is of course when they’re not in the kitchen cooking up delicious recipes made using traditional food prep methods…
um.  How cool is THAT?!?!

Adrienne hosts workshops around traditional foods and when she and Kris Antonious met at a networking event a while back...things took off, friendships were forged, and the DIY Homesteader Fest was born.

The Festival is a labour of love by Trevor, Adrienne, Kris Anotonius (of Tiny Peasant fame!) and Mike Berg who does game design.  Together, Kris and Mike own Cityfolk Creative - the graphic design force behind the Festival.  These four are dynamic, talented, and among some of the most friendly and engaging people I've ever met.  With their brains combined, they have created a collaborative sharing space for homesteaders of all property shapes, sizes, and geographic locations to come together and celebrate what this type of lifestyle is all about!

The day of the Festival, Saturday, began with rain.  Not the nice-gentle-spring-misting kind of rain, but the torrential-downpour-there-is-no-way-you-will-not-get-soaked kind of rain.  Our arrival to the grounds was delayed as a result of the flood being released from the skies above.  Mike was the first one we met and (have I mentioned friendly) he directed us to enjoy the morning on site.  We had the opportunity to attend two workshops before starting our afternoon volunteer shift.

We decided to attend "Intro to Fermentation" and then "Permaculture Food Forests."  Both presenting topics of interest for Dave and I.  We sampled some amazing kraut and salsa, enjoyed hot (and very soul warming) beverages from Pilot Coffee, stood by the fire where campfire cooking demonstrations where taking place, and walked around the marketplace drooling over the selection of local wares and food on hand.

The deluge finally broke just before lunch allowing the crowd to enjoy their meals and snacks outside while Dave and I wandered off to find out how we could help!

The majority of the afternoon was spent helping to set up for a "Natural Playscapes" session that was occurring.  We shovelled, dumped, and spread mulch for a good part of the afternoon...meeting other volunteers along the way.  We re-stocked toilet paper in the Port-O-Johns (someone's gotta do it!) and then helped to set up one of the larger tents for the highlight event of the evening - a Land & Lake Farm Dinner with a menu to rival any four-star restaurant.  We moved tables, set up chairs, draped tablecloths, laid out plates, folded napkins, and generally made the space as welcoming as we possibly could!  The team putting this particular piece of the day together was just lovely and we did a lot of laughing as we ran around getting everything for the guests that would be streaming in very soon.

On our way home, we gave two other volunteers a lift back into the city and enjoyed talking about relationships, homesteading, budgets, and life.  It was wonderful connecting with people who share the same vision for their lives and our planet.

I wish I had taken a before and after picture from our day.  At the beginning we were a little cold, VERY wet, and unsure of what we would find...by the end of the day, we were sore, grinning from ear to ear, and a ton happier for dipping our toes into this awesome community.

04 June 2015

Life Decisions


Dave and I are wanderers.  At the end of the day, while we like the comfort of a warm bed and food in our bellies, we don't really care where or how it happens.  In truth, I feel that as long as he is by my side, we are good to go (insert sappy sigh here).

We've had a wanderers' relationship from the start.  We met across the miles, dated across the miles, were married across the miles.  We've supported each other from afar and when we are together, we try to remember all of the time we spent apart and how we longed for these moments of being able to hold hands and talk to one another face-to-face over the dinner table.  Being together, however, didn't mean that we - as a unit - wanted to settle down, buy a house, and stay in the same place all our lives.

I don't think that is what resonates with either of our souls.

So, instead we are looking at options.  Options for where our next adventure in life is going to take us.  I know, I know...we only just moved to Winnipeg a few short months ago, but we came knowing that we didn't want to be here for very long.  We know our hearts are elsewhere and we know that "home" for us (in the most loose sense of the word), is on Vancouver Island.

That being said, to live our dream on Vancouver Island requires many steps to get there (at least for the way in which we want to manifest it).  And that is where the previously mentioned "options" come in.

Right now, a multitude of choices are on the table.  Seriously.  It's like one big giant buffet where you want a bit of everything but you are only allowed to take a plate of one delicious item.  I wish I could share all of the options with you...and, some of you know what they are and what we are grappling with, but I am hesitant to put them on the blog right now as we are in the thick of *BIG DECISION TIME.*

Maybe it's me and the idea that if I write them down then none of them will happen.  I've always had this crazy notion around saying something out loud or writing things down.  If I say or write it, then it can't happen (maybe that's why I've never been a big fan of vision boards??).

Let's just say that all of the options are a little daring.  Whether it is in regards to the location, the finances involved, the job, or the duration of time we are looking at being in our next spot, all of them have a little bit of an edge.

This is why it is taking so long to decide.  This is why I haven't really felt like blogging.

This is why I feel a little lost and nervous and excited all at once.

I'm used to change.  It's always been a part of my life and I am now at a point in my life where I celebrate my nomadic spirit instead of thinking there might actually be a little defect going on in my heart, brain, soul.  I've enjoyed all of the adventures I've experienced and the way it brings me closer to my true self, both as an individual and as a part of this wanderer duo.

I want to start writing more.  Dave has been encouraging me to do this.  I know it is good for the brain and the soul to get things out, to make things known.  To wrangle them out on paper or the Internet and maybe, just maybe have another soul out there connect with what you are saying.

So yeah...some big life decisions.  I'll keep you posted.  ;-)

28 April 2015

A Journey We Will Have

This past month took me from Winnipeg in the middle of the country, to Salt Spring Island on the West Coast, and then off to Portugal.  There were planes, trains, and automobiles, awesome weather, new sites to see, and amazing people to get to know.

At the end of March, I hosted my first yoga and meditation retreat under my company name, Journeys on the Mat!  The retreat took us to Stowel Lake Farm on Salt Spring Island where we practiced yoga, meditated, and ate our fair share of delicious and amazing food!  The people who gathered for this retreat were incredible and I feel so fortunate to have had this experience.  I'll be posting more pictures from that experience on the JOTM website soon!

When I returned from the retreat, I had less than 24 hours to get ready for our next adventure!  Dave and I were heading to Portugal to have an early celebration of our fifth anniversary.

Some people have asked us, "Why Portugal?"  We chose it after scouting out Airbnb spaces in Japan.  A little cottage popped up on the site randomly and we saw it was in Portugal.  A little more digging and a few more quaint cottages later and we were sold!  Three solid weeks of being in the country allowed us to savour the culture and our time together.

We started our journey in the Esperança region of the country, staying in an idyllic little cottage surrounded by farmland, goats, and chickens.  Getting there was a journey unto itself.  We traveled from Winnipeg to Edmonton to London to Lisbon.  All good (even with slight delays).  We had landed in the afternoon and picked up our rental car.  All good.  We jump in the car and begin driving as Dave re-familiarized himself with a standard.  All good.  Next thing we know, as we are making our way around a roundabout, the car starts acting weird and the left front wheel begin smoking something awful!  All not so good!  We quickly made our way back to the airport and had to get another car issued to us.  As a result, we got on the road much later than expected and ended up trying to find our space in the dark with no cell phone reception or GPS navigation!  We eventually pulled up in the pitch black of night, shutting off the engine, and suddenly becoming enraptured by the blanket of stars that greeted us overhead.  We tumbled into bed that night...

In the Esperança region, we were only 12km away from the border with Spain. We took time to decompress, take in the surroundings, and enjoy being in a remote location to kick off our adventure. We visited Arronches, Portalegre, Elvas, and other small villages and even took on a 16km 20km hike that took us through pasture, forest, and highway, over the the Spanish border and then back again.  We loved going to the local supermarket and discovering the plethora of amazing breads, cheeses, and wines the country has to offer.  Our five days there were magical and I would recommend our space and that region to anyone traveling to the country.

Orange and lemon trees were in abundance, along with cork trees!

The border with Spain

Our next stop was Óbidos, a very old walled city located near the coast of Portugal in the West.  The town and area are absolutely gorgeous and there was so much to do and see!  We walked the wall around the city, took time to peek into shops offering a variety of wares, and then made time each day to go visit a different place.  We visited Fatima (location of the apparitions of Mary to three young shepherd children), Batalha (the site of one of three gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage sites - a large monastery), Nazaré (the site of some of the world's largest waves and where Steve McNamara holds the record for the largest wave ever surfed), Tomar (the site of another of the UNESCO WH site monasteries), Peniche and Buddha Eden (a wild and crazy space where a huge number of Buddhas and other sculptures are being kept), Alcobaça (the site of the THIRD UNESCO WH site monastery, and my favourite for the stories it told of love, loss, and jealousy).  We also took time to hike around the Lagoa de Óbidos.  A gorgeous bay that has tons of walking, hiking, and biking trails around it that all lead to the sea where you can catch fisherman casting their lines, hoping for something to bite.  We had incredible weather the entire time we were there and our little cottage just outside the walled city provided just the space we needed to recharge after each day.

Along the coast
Just one of the many Buddhas at Buddha Eden
Monastery
The view from the wall
Fatima
Monastery views



Cobblestone that can turn any ankle
Hoping for a bite
Monastery

Our third stop was in Porto, supposedly one of the most romantic cities in Portugal.  We did a lot of walking around town along the waterfront.  The space we stayed in was absolutely incredible with views of the bridge and of Gaia just across.  One evening, we walked across the (very!) tall bridge and into Gaia where old Port houses still remain standing.  In Porto, we enjoyed exploring the pedestrian mall, popping into shops selling local goods, and having dinner along the water.  Unfortunately, the weather took a turn for the worse during our time in Porto and our last day was filled with rain.  The skies mirrored the emotions of fans of the Bayern Munich football club who had just lost to the local team.

View from our space in Porto.  That is Gaia across the river.
Cable car

Portugal is known for the tile work.  This building was no exception.

Finally, we made our final stop in Lisbon.  We drove back to the airport, dropped off the car, and then made our way by train into the city.  More specifically, we were staying in the Alfama district (the oldest) of Lisbon.  We were greeted at our little apartment by the owner and then set off to see what we could find.  We popped into shops, did our laundry (which we had to hang just outside the apartment windows to dry! I loved it!), and toured the cobblestone streets that made up the district.  At night, you could hear Fado music pouring from the restaurants and one evening we dined outside. On our last day, we took time to wander some more, enjoying our last day in country and packing up for our long journey home.


09 February 2015

Winnipeg These Days



I realize I haven't blogged much since everything came down to us moving to Winnipeg this summer. There never seems to be time - or inspiration - to get a blog going.  Or at least a blog post that I feel would be at all interesting for me to read in ten years (because let's be honest...that's who these words are really for...the "in-ten-years-from-now-Heather" who will want to reminisce on those long days forgotten).

So, I'm ready to make another concerted effort at blogging here.  If anything, to leave my mark on this little space of the web and on the story of my own life.

To be fair, Winnipeg has been a challenge, but in a good way (at least I like to think so!).

Part of that challenge is that I don't really feel like I arrived here until the end of January (I was on the road in November and then we were gone for a good part of December and then was gone for almost two weeks in January).  That made it difficult to settle in and get to know the city a little better.

Another piece at play is our finances.  Dave and I successfully managed to erase our consumer debt when we first got married in just under 18 months.  To say that is something we are immensely proud of is an understatement.  However, we also have big plans moving forward and, as such, we don't give ourselves a lot of "fun money."  When you live in a city, "fun money" is part of the equation when it comes to seeing all there is to offer - museums, art galleries, restaurants, concerts, etc.  Instead, we choose to save our money for what we know is to come in the future and therefore feel a touch of the cabin fever, especially during this dark and cold time of year (there are only so many walks one can take when the windchill is -40 out, okay?).  

It has meant however, that we've explored some lovely spaces like Assiniboine Park and Bird Hill.  When we do get outside, we like it to be a bit unique and not just continue tromping the same path through the same neighbourhood night after night.

It's been difficult to get connected here...in part of what I mentioned above, but also because the work I am doing currently is all online.  I recently started as the Communications Director for the School of Sacred Arts and am focusing on my business, Journeys on the Mat.  However, because all of that is online, the face-to-face interaction has been a bit...well, lacking.  As a result, my rare day working from the coffee shop results in an almost lengthy conversation with the baristas as they have been my only source of conversation during the day.  Thanks to the baristas at Little Sister Coffee Maker and Thom Bargen over the past week.  They probably don't remember me, but I remember them because they made me feel as though I was a part of something bigger than myself.  

Ah, that pesky need for community and connection!  :-)

On the flip side of that, we have amazing friends here - both old and new - that have made the transition here much easier.  It's meant homes to visit, meals to be shared and conversations to be had.  We are incredibly fortunate to have the friends we do have here and it's made our days brighter because of it. 

The weather.  Ah, how could I post about Winnipeg and not post about the weather.  After a slight warm up in January, we are back to good, old-fashioned winter.  It's been snowy and cold and my morning yoga routines find me with woolly socks, a touque, and three layers on top.  Luckily, the sun is coming up earlier and setting later, so the lengthened daylight is bringing up our spirits.  The cold here has affected my Raynauds to a point where my "dead" fingers and toes are a regular occurrence...even in our little abode.

Speaking of abodes...our little home is one of the best parts of being here.  We knew we wanted something smaller than what we had in Moose Jaw...and we got it.  585 square feet of nesting goodness.  It made us pare down (a practice we continue) and determine what was essential...especially as we move closer to our goal of building and owning a tiny home on wheels.  Our space is minimalist, clean, calming, and forces us (in a good way!) to work more closely with one another.  Living here has made us even more anxious for the transition to be in a tiny home!

All things considered, there is so much good stuff on the horizon...

Dave and I are adventuring in Portugal soon!

I'll begin teaching yoga and meditation in Winnipeg at the Dragon Arts Collective space in April.

The first Journeys on the Mat yoga and meditation retreat is taking place at the end of March on Salt Spring Island!

Dave will be getting back to Moose Jaw - to fly and see our awesome friends.

We have big plans for cheap camping excursions this summer!

Until next time...stay warm!