Saturday at the Sevens

sevensThe sun is shining today in Victoria and it’s a perfect day for watching the International Women’s Rugby Sevens – especially with a couple of rugby-mad men in the house.

playzoneSo why, you might ask, am I inside a gym-like building filled with screaming children and circus music? Well, it turns out the 11-year olds aren’t quite so keen to spend an entire day watching women’s rugby.

And so, to extend the day for the true rugby fans, for my middle son and my husband, I’ve taken the reluctant 11 year-old members of the family for a break to Playzone.

proud_granIt’s ironic really. My mother is a die-hard rugby fan, a woman who spent her late teen years watching rugby every chance she could at Cardiff Arms, who cheered my dad’s teams on through her twenties, and who in her seventies travelled alone to New Zealand to follow her beloved Canterbury Crusaders around the country.

(She is equally passionate about hockey. The Vancouver Canucks have no more devoted fan than my mother).

But in all those years of listening to my mother rhapsodize about her favourite players, cite sports statistics, and shout at numerous refs, I have resisted any interest in anything remotely related to sports. I don’t do sports.

Until now. Until my middle son got into rugby. Now I actually know what’s going on (sort of). Now I actually enjoy the game. And when it’s sevens, even better!

So, apart from the circus music and screaming children, I don’t want to be at Playzone because I want to be at the rugby!

tryI get back in time to watch Canada defeat South Africa (decisively!) But I’ve missed two hours of rugby. Surely there will be cosmic reward for this sacrifice!

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A Yes Girl Says No

Adventure3I like saying yes. Even when I’m not sure. Especially when I’m not sure. If it feels a little bit terrifying, that’s a pretty good indication that “yes” is a good idea. Some of my best adventures have happened because I said yes, even though I felt a bit panicked about doing so. Mt. Kilimanjaro was that kind of yes. Sailing in Greece. Kayaking with the orcas. Backpacking (for the first time in 20 years) last summer with my boys. Getting married. For a second time.  I like yes. In fact “Say Yes” is a bit of a mantra for me.

So it’s been hard for me to learn the word no. I am good with saying no to things I don’t really want to do. But where I get into trouble is with the things I do want to do. There are times where I could be out at a social event four or five nights in a row. And when I could be in Vancouver for the weekend with my girlfriends. And I’d like to say yes. I am a girl who likes a good party.  But I’m coming to realize that in order to truly make self-care a priority, I need to say no sometimes. And not only to too many parties.

In order to really take care of myself, and to make time for what is really important, I need to say no to late nights. No to sleeping away my weekend mornings. No to sugar. No to television. No to blow drying and straightening my hair every morning. No to shopping as entertainment. No (sigh) to wine.

And I need to say yes to meditation. Yes to time in nature. Yes to writing in my journal and on my blog. Yes to my curls. Yes to walking and hiking.  Yes to yoga. Yes to exploring my artistic side. Yes to healthy food choices. Yes to time with Will and my boys. Yes to relaxed. Yes to content. Yes to calm.

It’s slow learning for me, but I’m realizing that I can’t do everything.   I have to say no in order that I can say yes to the things that really matter.

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A Love Letter to Tofino

beach soccerI remember the beaches stretching out forever, the distant edges shrouded in mist. I remember playing for hours in the surf, oblivious to the cold, or turning cartwheels down the beach, one after another until I was dizzy and giddy with laughter. I remember the stars hanging low over our heads, bright and miraculous against the black of the night. I remember summer evenings, the full moon rising heavy out of the sea, and late-night walks on the beach, our every footstep lighting with late-August bioluminescence. I remember being here in storm season, the winds howling and the rain nearly horizontal. I’ve been here for hail storms and snow storms and days so cold and foggy we were chilled to the bone.  And I remember the gift of a perfect, calm, sunny day in the middle of January or the beginning of April, or a sunset so spectacular it could take your breath away.

sunset

I have had a life-long love affair with Pacific Rim National Park and the surrounding towns and beaches. I’ve been coming here since I was a little girl, back to the days when you could still camp on the beach at Green Point, to the days before Tofino was filled with surf shops and art galleries and award-winning restaurants. Over the span of forty years, I’ve returned here year after year, and sometimes season after season.

December Storm

I remember the summer my dad couldn’t come with us, and so my mom, a nervous driver at the best of time, bravely towed our tent trailer over the mountain passes and through the dangerous twists and curves of the narrow Pacific Rim Highway, so that we could have our summer holiday on the west coast.

joyfulI remember coming here as a teenager and a young woman, as a new mom with little ones in tow. And in the years since my divorce, I’ve brought my boys here a number of times, often with my closest friends and their kids. We’ve walked the length of every beach, splashed in the waves, played bocci and beach soccer, sat late around beach fires. The two older boys have learned to surf here.

Eight-year old surfer boy, January on Chesterman Beach

Eight-year old surfer boy, January on Chesterman Beach

surf dudessurf kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And last summer, it was here that Will and I got married.

wedding dayThese beaches have often been a Spring Break destination for us, and as my birthday usually falls over the break, I have celebrated my birthday here a number of times. I’ll be here for my birthday this year, too. And I can’t think of a place I’d rather be.

 

 

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On Patience

patiencePatience has never been among my virtues. Throughout my life I’ve struggled with impatience in its myriad forms. I tend to rush through life, squeezing as much into it as I can; and I’m impatient with those who operate at a slower pace or who are happy to do a single good thing in a day. When I start thinking about any new project -personal or professional – I want to leap in immediately. I want immediate action, immediate answers, immediate results. I am an impatient woman, with myself and with others.

 The Universe, it seems, is making a concerted effort to help me learn patience right now. Yoga and meditation, two practices I’ve recently embraced, are not practices for the impatient. You can’t learn strength and balance and flexibility overnight; you can’t sit comfortably in lotus position and empty your mind for twenty minutes at a time without practice. And just in case I’m not getting the message, the theme of patience is coming up in the books I’m reading and even in the guided meditations I’ve been doing. The Universe is working hard to get my attention.

DuskThe second night of our vacation, we headed down to Chesterman Beach, hoping for one of those amazing Tofino sunsets you sometimes get. It didn’t look good. The clouds had rolled in and as the sun fell toward the horizon, there was little more than a pale glimmer of faint light. Most people started to make their way home, but we waited a little longer, knowing that sometimes the most spectacular moments come well after sunset. And that night, our patience was rewarded handsomely, in magnificent golds and violets and pinks.

Chesterman Sunset

Okay, Universe. I get it!

That gorgeous Tofino sunset was a vivid reminder of the value of patience, of living at a more reasonable pace. And so for the rest of the holiday I was mindful about slowing down. Though my inclination was to squeeze as much into every day as possible, I didn’t. “We don’t have to get to every beach,” I’d remind myself. “We don’t have to do everything on this trip. We’ll be back.”

Instead of rushing, we spent leisurely mornings in the airy, art filled house we’d rented. The boys were happy to do their own thing. And I was delighted to have time to journal and read, to blog and paint. In the afternoons, we’d head out and spend long hours on one beach or another. In the evenings, we’d return to the house, have dinner and maybe play a game, or take a dip in the hot tub which was set among the trees.

It was a relaxing, spacious holiday, and a valuable lesson for me to take into my day to day life.  I’m realizing how much I value space in my life, how much I need long, uninterrupted stretches of solitude in order to thrive. I’ll only get that time when I learn to be patient, to slow down, and to stop trying to squeeze too many things into my days.

***

What lesson is the Universe trying to teach you right now? Are you paying attention?

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Commandeering the Canon

lighthouseI wrote yesterday about how my boys commandeered my camera while we were at Chesterman Beach. Having downloaded their photos, I was impressed, and thought I’d share a few with you. The one above is my favourite among the (many) wave photos my 15 year old captured. The ones below are a couple of other interesting close ups. (I’ll spare you the photos of his shoes. He always takes photos of his shoes…)

rockpoolscloseup

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here are a few that the ten year old took:

musselmom and son

 

 

 

 

 

 

And do please note his photo of me (below), relegated to taking photos with the iPhone. Sigh…

iphoneToday the Canon is mine!!

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Budding Photographers

frank-islandThe waves roll in fast and grey as the sky, crashing violently against the rocks at the far edge of Frank Island. Though I know he’s well back from the water, I’m watching my middle son a bit anxiously as he stands on a rocky outcrop, capturing the waves with my camera. We’ve driven up to Tofino for a Spring Break getaway, and walked out from Chesterman Beach to Frank Island, a spot you can only get to when the tides are low. Here on the far edge of the West coast, the landscape is wild and dramatic. It’s one of my favourite places to photograph, but – alas – my boys have claimed my camera. And I am left to take photographs on my iPhone instead.

tofino wavesI’d like to have my camera in hand, especially in a place as wild and beautiful as this. But last night as we were having dinner, my middle son confessed that his dream job would be to become a National Geographic photographer. He’s a kid who loves the wilderness, who attends to the beauty around him, and who loves to get his hands on my camera. He could absolutely become a photographer.

Frank Island Reflections And so, as he experiments with my beloved Canon, I make do with my iPhone, capturing the beauty of this place as best I can and hoping that he’ll tire of taking photos soon.

chesterman beachBut as we head back towards Chesterman Beach, negotiating the rocky terrain and the many tide pools of Frank Island, my budding photographer notices that his little brother is looking longingly at the camera.

“Here, buddy. Do you want to take some pictures?”

His little brother’s eyes light up and a grin spreads across his face. And the next thing I know, my camera has been passed on to my youngest son so that he can take some photographs too.

Sigh…

As we wander further along North Chesterman beach, I see a photographer setting up his professional-looking camera on a tripod and adjusting the huge zoom lens.

I look longingly at my camera, being used by my youngest son to photograph a broken sand dollar. I look down at my iPhone. I have camera envy.

North Chesterman

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Blossoming

magnoliaWandering along a side street in Victoria today, I was entranced by these magnificent magnolia blossoms, a deep, vivid pink and nearly as big as dinner plates.  I’d headed out with camera in hand, intent on capturing the first cherry blossoms of the season; but it was the magnolias that demanded my attention today, magnolias in shades of white and palest pink and fuschia, their blooms unfolding from fuzzy pods, opening before the first leaves.

magnolia2Victoria is heavenly at this time of year, as the magnolia and forsythia bloom, and the first cherry blossoms appear. There is such beauty and such promise in early spring; and after a couple of hours meandering in the sunshine and photographing the first blossoms, I feel utterly elated, suffused with joy.

I’m out with my camera on a very deliberate mission: I have an afternoon all to myself, to enjoy the sunshine and do something creative. I’m giving myself permission just to play. This is my year for lavish self care. I’m eating well and meditating and practicing yoga; I’m allowing myself to explore my creativity in multiple ways, including writing and photography; and when the sun shines, I’m trying, whenever possible, to get outside and soak it up. 

And it feels amazing. As I focus on my health and well being, as I explore my creative impulses and let myself
play, I feel myself opening up; like the magnolias, I too am beginning to blossom.

magnolia3

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