2017: The Year of Enough

My cousin Sarah and I often talk about what our annual "themes" will be for the coming year.  The idea is to set some goals related to that theme, that we can hold each other accountable for as the year progresses.  In one of our first years, we set a goal related to hours of exercise and number of kilometres clocked.  One year I focused on learning to love myself a little more.  Another year I focused on saying "yes" to things less often, to leave time to relax and recharge. 

I've been thinking hard about what 2017's theme will be.  I'll admit, it's been hard to be optimistic enough to even set a goal.  Maybe that's the seasonal depression talking, but boy, 2016 has been a dumpster fire of a year from my standpoint here on good  ol' planet Earth:  Trump.  Brexit.  The rise of the Alt-right.  Devastation in Aleppo.  Standing Rock.  Kinder-Morgan.  Zika.   Philando Castile's death live-streamed on Facebook.  An ongoing fentanyl crisis in our own backyard.   Terrorist attacks in too many places to name.  The earth warming up an alarming rate.  Freakin' David Bowie.   It's hard not to peer into the future of 2017 and see more of the same darkness.  It's hard not to feel helpless in the face of the challenges that we know are in store for us.

Enough is enough.  I am appalled at the direction this world is going, but I do not want to go down without a fight.  I want to take action.  I no longer want to feel numb to the injustices that happen down the street, or across the world.  So that's how I started thinking about 2017, as the Year of Action.  The problem was, where to start?  How do I change, and also help bring about change?  I'm just one insignificant person - how do I make a difference?  For me, one of the things I have realized I can do is understand how privileged I am,  at the opportunities I am afforded, and also learn to be content with what I have. 

I have always had two soothing or numbing behaviours in the face of fear, stress or pain:  food, and shopping.   One thing I am so grateful for this year is that I found the Whole 30 and eliminated most garbage food from my life.  I replaced junk food with exercise and good eating habits, became healthier, and lost a good amount of weight in the process.  That's an ongoing journey, one that will take time, but it's become a part of my life.  So, coping unhealthy mechanism number one, gone.

Which brings me to the shopping.  It's no secret I like nice things.  I love clothes, love dressing up, love making my home beautiful.  I'm a girly girl and a secret wannabe homemaker.  I collect books, retro housewares, pretty shiny things.  This year, when I took away food as a crutch, I found I was turning more and more to shopping as a cure for whatever uncomfortable emotion I was feeling.  If I felt it, it meant I deserved a new dress.  Or a new lipstick.  Or that new book.  If I didn't feel it - the confidence, the happiness, the love, that also meant I needed the new dress.   If I just got this one thing, I'd be perfect.  I'd be lovable.  I'd be happy.  I'd be worthy.   Most of the time, it worked.  The buying of the things worked.  Until one day, it didn't.

You see, I've become aware of the gross disconnect between my social conscience, which is increasingly loud in its concern for others, for our environment, and for building a world that is sustainable for us now and for our kids in the future, and my consumption of...well, stuff.    I live in a house of nice things.  I have a closet full of beautiful things to put on every day.  Why do I keep needing more?  And what do these things really add up to, in terms of a life well lived?  Will I be remembered, and do I want to be remembered, for having the cutest outfit, and the prettiest house, or for my actions, and the things I put out into the world?   When will I have enough?

So, the theme has become clear.  It's the Year of Enough:

  1. I've had enough -  I want to contribute to positive change in our world. 
  2. I have enough -  I need to learn to be mindful with how I spend my money and in my consumption of things.
  3. I am enough - I don't need stuff, or accomplishments, more money, or less weight, to be a worthy, lovable, person.  This one is my ongoing battle, against perfectionism, feelings of insecurity, of being different, incomplete somehow. Who I am and the good I do is enough.  

I have my theme.  In terms of concrete actions, there are a few things I am committing to:

  1. Community Work:  I'm going to make an active effort to offer more volunteer hours this year.  I've sat on boards for the past several years, and offered pro bono legal advice on an ad hoc basis when people really needed it.  I've contributed financially to charities.  I'll continue to do that, but I want to commit to actually offering myself to be of service to more organizations, in different ways, in 2017.  
  2. Shopping Ban:  Here's the big one guys.  I can't even believe I am saying this, but - I am committing to a Shopping Ban, in order to learn how to be more mindful with my money, and with my consumption.  I don't intend on giving away my possessions and becoming a minimalist - I like stuff too much for that - but I want to learn how to use and appreciate the stuff I've already got.  I'll be posting my Shopping Ban rules later, for more accountability, but this is gonna be a big one.  Big ups to Cait Flanders whose website, and Mindfulness Budget Journal, are a huge inspiration and resource for this endeavor. I don't know how long it'll last, if I will set a goal of three - six months or try to stick it out the whole year, but it's got to be a long enough challenge to do some real change to my current spending habits.
  3. Work on Me:  thetrial of learning to feel more worthy as a person continues.  I'm committing to devoting more time to my well-being, and not leaving this as the last priority on my to-do list.  I'm committing to building free time into my schedule, rather than filling my schedule to the brim with other commitments so that I don't have to sit with this stuff and work through it.  I'm building in the "me" time.

So, there's my 2017 for you.  It's the Year of Enough.  What does 2017 mean for you?


UK Update - GISHWHES and Snowdon

Last week I participated once again in


- the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.  Created by Misha Collins (an actor most famous for his role on


), and raising money for the charity

Random Acts

, this video-and-photo hunt challenges people to move outside their comfort zone, attempt the impossible, and also perform random acts of kindness along the way.  I participated last year and this year, since I was going to be away from my team, I roped some colleagues in the UK into helping me.  It made for a fairly busy second week in Southampton, as I was arm wrestling movie theatre employees for tickets to

Guardians of the Galaxy

, creating art installations out of dishes (complete with artist statements), creating monuments to the founder of Rubber Gloves, Harris Packard, and dressing up co-workers as fish, the Flash and Batman for various ridiculous things.  

One of the major challenges on the list was to climb one of Table Mountain (South Africa), Mt. Fuji (Japan), Mt. Sinai (Egypt), Mt. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), or Mt. Snowdon (Wales).  Being only a 5 hour drive from Wales, my paralegal Indy and I decided to give it a go, and got up very early last Friday morning to make the drive to Wales.

Wales (what I saw of it), was everything I hoped it would be.  Beautiful, idyllic, friendly, with sheep running everywhere...and don't forget the delicious, delicious Welsh cakes.  Snowdon was breathtakingly beautiful and we met up with several other teams at the summit, who we then walked back down the mountain with.  Without GISHWHES, I would never have gone to this beautiful place, or made new friends.  Plus it gave me like, 28,000 steps on my Fitbit for the day, which was rad.  

I wish we had stayed overnight, but instead we undertook the drive home, after getting down off the mountain at 9 pm or so.  We arrived home in the very early hours of Saturday morning, and I spent most of the weekend recovering, binge-watching Orphan Black and chilling out.  The remains of Hurricane Bertha hit Southampton last weekend, and you've never heard anything like the wind and rain that whistled around the flat all weekend. At one point the skylights in my flat, which is right on a pier, blew open and hail started pouring in.  I stumbled around the apartment on stiff-post-Snowdon legs, pushing the skylights back in with a pole, only to have them blow open again minutes later.  It was probably a comical sight, but I felt like I was in some sort of carnival game, trying to anticipate which one would blow open next.

I'm up in London now, which is obviously much more familiar turf.  I'm making a list of all the sights I was too lazy to see when I lived here, thinking I'd have all the time in the world, and am determined to check them all off before I leave in just over two weeks.  I am getting very homesick and lonely and at least this will give me something to do, rather than wallowing in those feelings.  I've also been asked to be a reviewer of submissions for some of the GISHWHES video tasks, which will keep me busy watching some of the craziness other GISHWHES teams around the world got up to.  So, lots to keep me distracted.  16 days until home.

I texted my brother to let him know I was in Wales. He made a joke about needing to get Welsh cakes and I was pleased to be able to text back this photo, saying, "Oh you mean THESE?"

Just breathtaking views on Snowdon, and so different from our BC landscape.

Indy and I at the summit of Snowdon.

First Week...Home?

I've been back in the UK for a week now.  It feels like I've been here longer than that - and also like I haven't been away from here for that long (I was last here in February).  That's the funny, and I guess reassuring, thing about feeling like you are at home in a few different places.  Although it's sad that I don't feel that novelty of a new place when I come here anymore - that feeling of wonder and discovery - it does help with the homesickness.  If only Curriecat was more amenable to travel, I'd be set. 

I'm spending the first few weeks of my stay in Southampton, where my company has an office.  I'm staying in our company flat, which is perched above our offices on a quay in the middle of the port, literally in the ferry terminal where you can catch a boat to the Isle of Wight.  I can hear ferry safety announcements from my bed, and have glanced up a few times while in the living room to see a very large cruise ship sail perilously close to my window.  I've been up to London a few times, both for work and for pleasure, but have largely been spending time getting to know new co-workers and exploring Southampton.  I thought I'd give a little update on what I got up to this week:

This is a funny little monument I found in Southampton's High Street dedicated to some citizens who fought a fire in a local church.  Typically Victorian - desperately in need of an editor to cut out a few adjectives.

This is the monument.  The clock tower has a funny little cuckoo clock kind of apparatus, where two little male figures appear and beat a bell on the hour.

Sunset from my balcony.  Southampton is a working port, with huge shipping vessels as well as cruise ships and ferries to the Isle of Wight passing by regularly.

The Titanic sailed from Southampton.  There is a museum on the subject that I have yet to visit, but on one of my nightly strolls I found this monument to the Titanic's engineers.

I'll be going up to London once a week or so while I'm in Southampton.  This past week I took my boss (also visiting) to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street - the oldest pub in London and still an OK place to grab a pint.

I've been doing a lot of walking, because the weather has been uncommonly nice in England, and well - you make the most of that while you can.  On Tuesday I went to London and got home to the quay quite late - looked like my neighbour (Red Funnel Ferries) took my parking spot for the night.  Good thing I walked.

I found this hilarious graffiti in the women's toilets in a pub in London.  It made me giggle.  

I told you I was walking a lot.  My FitBit scores have been through the roof.

East Park in Southampton.  Right in the centre of town, and a nice place for a walk after work. 

Our office here allows dogs to come to work.  This is Chalky, who I babysat on Thursday.  He lost a tooth (baby tooth!) on my watch!

He's no Curriecat but he'll certainly do.  What a handsome and cuddly guy.

On Friday I had the pleasure of attending a dear colleague's wedding in Birdham, near Chichester, in Sussex. An English church wedding means fascinators/hats required.  Here's me, my boss Ben and his wife Jana waiting for the ceremony to begin.  Jana and I's fascinators are suspiciously similar...

St. James' Parish in Birdham.  Just what we foreigners imagine an English country parish to look like.

The Bride and Groom's getaway car.

A lovely country parish.  I didn't have a chance to walk around the little cemetery outside to see how old some of the burials were.  The church was restored in the 1860s so I suspect most of them date from after that time period.

Parts of this tower were built in 1545.

A reception followed at a converted barn, which had great indoor and outdoor space, so guests could dance inside, or relax outside and get some air.  I danced.  A lot. 

My ridiculously good looking (and delightful) pals, the bride and groom.  They threw an amazing party.

No travels ever seem complete without catching up with Pearson College folk.  Here's (from left) Dorota, Mike, and Gavin, some 17 years after we met, along with Gavin's wife Sanya and his sister Kimberly.  We caught up for a very leisurely lunch in St. Christopher's Place in London on Saturday.

I *think* I've kicked the jet lag now.

The weather has been amazing so far.  This is England people! Look at that blue sky (taken in Trafalgar Square, Saturday evening)!

I love me some movies, and I happened upon this great little cinema in Ocean Village in Southampton.  I've been twice so far - to see Richard Linklater's



worth the hype), and

Guardians of the Galaxy (

not so much).

Any cinema where you can wait outside on the patio overlooking the ocean while enjoying a cider is just A-OK in my books.  In fact, I paid to become a member of the cinema, which entitles me to free tickets and discounts on popcorn, that kind of thing.

So, that just about wraps up my first week here in England.  There was quite a bit of actual work thrown into the mix as well, and today was a leisurely day of strolls around the neighbourhood and a late-night solo dance party for one.  The week hasn't been without its tribulations - the travel from Heathrow to Southampton after a red-eye flight nearly killed me (a train, then a train and train and a taxi, with a few detours just for fun), and a train cancellation last Sunday meant I missed my friend Alex's sold out show in London - but it really wouldn't be England without those weird hiccups, would it?

To London. Again!

Oh, life changes so much from moment to moment, doesn't it?  My life now hardly resembles itself one year ago.  I spent most of 2013 head down, in back to back shows from January to August.  It was a wonderful, exhausting, fulfilling experience.  This year, I've had the stability of working with one client, at one job.  Although I was so happy (and continue to be so happy) to have made the choice to move in-house, I traded my flexibility in terms of working hours for that chance, and I haven't had the same opportunities to be onstage.  But in place of performing, I've had travel.  So. Much. Travel.    

And now - more!  In July I will be heading back to my other home, and spending the summer in Southampton and London, working in my company's UK offices.  In fact, today I've sorted out all my accommodation: our company's seaside flat in Southampton and a cute Brixton studio with an outdoor pool (!) in London.  And I won't be back until September.

This is exciting, of course.  Connecting with friends, having the luxury of time to fall back into my old routines - an opportunity I didn't have when I visited in January/February - it really will be in some ways like coming home.  I'm excited, I really am.  This week I bought my first theatre tickets, to see Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy in David Hare's


which opened last week to rave reviews.  

I'm also anxious.  I'm sure I sound melodramatic and silly, but I'm leaving Curriecat behind.  For the whole summer.  I have trusted friends who will be staying at my apartment with her, but she and I will be apart for longer than we have in her. whole. life.  We haven't spent more than 10 days apart in 8 years.  Just thinking about it makes me tear up.  I know, I'm a schmuck, but she's my baby. 

I'm trying to be positive and focus on the exciting part of this amazing opportunity I've been given, but it's difficult to leave behind the little animal that has been my immediate family for almost a decade.  Any suggestions on how to keep in touch with my kitty while I'm gone gratefully accepted.

I'm going to miss this face.  Amazing Curriecat portrait copyright Michal Russell,  luvUpets.com.

Blink and You'll Miss It.

I feel like when I went to sleep last night, it was a chilly December evening, the darkness creeping in by the afternoon, and here we are in April, with the sunlight stretching longer into the evenings as each day passes.  The time flies so fast it's frightening.   I wanted to check in and give a micro-update on my whereabouts.

In January I headed to the UK for the first time since I moved home in late 2009.  I wasn't super-excited leading up to that trip.  I didn't know if I'd get back to London and insist on staying, throwing away the good life and the good people in it that I have cultivated in Vancouver.  Instead, I just felt happy to be there - and happy to come home when the time came.  I walked over every familiar inch of my city, caught up with friends, saw a show (the fabulous

The Light Princess

 at the National Theatre), and had a guided tour of Parliament thanks to my old friend Stephen Doughty, now Stephen Doughty, MP.  I met my UK colleagues, and visited our London and Southampton offices.  It was a wonderful visit and in some ways put to rest my life there.  Home is truly Vancouver now, and there is some peace in knowing that. 

Carnaby Street on a Saturday night.

Big Ben as seen from Cromwell Hill. I had a chance to sit on debate in the House of Lords as well as the House of Commons.

A week after I got home from England, it was off to Maui to meet up with my parents.  After a few detours in Los Angeles and Honolulu, and a very bumpy ride thanks to the Pineapple Express, I spent a week in one of my favourite places. 

In the I'ao Valley on a rainy Monday.

Keawakapu Beach.

I returned home from Maui refreshed and relaxed, but walked into a bit of a shitstorm in my personal life, and within days it felt like my vacation had never happened.  So, in March it was off to Los Angeles with my travel buddy Cathy, to get out of my own space again and get some perspective.  

In Runyon Canyon.

Waiting to watch a taping of my favourite, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.  I was delighted to get a chance during a commercial break to chat with Craig.  He was sassy and snarky and Scottish, just as I'd always imagined he would be.

While we spent a lot of time walking and exploring, and spent four days in and out of the Disney park (notice the bandaids on my toes from blisters!), I did find a good chunk of time to spend right here - staring at the water and doing absolutely nothing at all.  It was glorious.

Thanks to Yelp I was able to find some of the "cooler" parts of Anaheim, where we were staying, including this great "Park n' Read" in the middle of the Centre Street Promenade in downtown Anaheim.  

Cathy and I sipped coffee from the excellent Ink and Bean cafe and read Tom Sawyer aloud.

My focus during the past months has been settling into my job as Corporate Counsel at Peer 1 Hosting.  For the first time in a long time I can say I really love my job.  I love the people I work with, and I love what we're doing.  This past week I have spent working closely with my colleagues from the legal team on planning for the year ahead.  On Monday we went to the Top of Vancouver, the revolving restaurant, on top of Harbour Centre.  I got to see my home and neighbourhood from a whole new perspective:

Gastown.  My village.

On Wednesday night we all went up Grouse Mountain to the Observatory for dinner, and to once again take in some breathtaking views of the city:

Sunset on Grouse Mountain.  April 2, 2014.

So, that's how four months passes without you even knowing it.  A combination of hard work, travel, and a little heartbreak.   I'm now easing my way back into some theatre after an extended hiatus, and am currently in rehearsals for


, a Norm Foster play which goes up at the Shaw Theatre on May 8th, and a community production of the

Sound of Music

 that opens at the end of May.  It's been a slightly uncomfortable feeling, being away from performing for so long, but as usual I managed to keep myself busy - which means I'm finding now that I've thrown theatre back into the mix that I'm so busy I can't breathe.  This whole "balance" thing is so difficult when you have so much you want to accomplish.  

Birthday Weekend Update

All I wanted for my birthday this year was some family time.  So on my birthday, June 29, Alex and I went on an overnight camping/hiking trip to Sidney Spit, on Sidney Island, and then I headed to Victoria for a backyard barbecue/campfire with my family the next evening.  Alex and I topped the weekend off with a hike up Mt. Finlayson on Canada Day in 40 degree heat, which I admit was a bit ridiculous and not that fun.  But, we did it anyway.  I spent Canada Day evening in an air conditioned theatre watching The Great Gatsby with Roger and Elizabeth, which was a nice rest after trudging up hot rocks all day.  All in all, it was a perfect birthday weekend.

My gear.

Alex's gear.  Note: we had to carry this all a kilometre into our campsite from the Sidney Spit dock.  Oh, don't worry, they said.  There are wheelbarrows.  Which other campers had totally hoarded within their own campsite...

The back view from our campsite.

The front view from our campsite. 

Master camper. 

In Grade 5 I taught my class how to set up a tent in 3 minutes or less. 

Our mother taught us how to camp with class, OK?  Alex is BBQ'ing my birthday dinner. 

I forgot to bring my flip flops so Al's became the "Family Flip Flops."  Meaning, I wore them the whole time.

We got a lot of good walks in while we were on the island


Victory!  A wheelbarrow for the return trip!  We guilt-tripped a family who were letting their kids use this as a toy.

Hook Spit.

Fordie Cat really likes my hiking boots.

When we got off Sidney Spit, I had a nap lying in my parents' backyard in the shade.  

The view from my nap.

Dad's pond.

On top of Mt. Finlayson.

Artists Who Hike (and the People That Love Them)

So apparently I like hiking now.  After a very very stressful few months professionally, I found myself needing some peace and quiet and an escape from busy Gastown.  My friend Jenny dragged me out reluctantly on her birthday for a hike around Buntzen Lake, which to my surprise, I really enjoyed.  And since then I've been hiking every weekend, sometimes both Saturdays and Sundays, dragging various of my theatre friends out onto the trails with me.  We've started a Facebook Group called "Artists Who Hike and the People That Love Them" where we post our weekly hiking plans, so feel free to find us there if you'd like to join on one of our walks.

On the Buntzen Lake Loop, first week of June.

Some of the gang on the Buntzen trail.

Jenny and Oriana on the Cedars Mill Trail, mid-June.

Amazing.  Even this city girl can appreciate scenery like this, in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park.

Kate, on the Lynn Loop.  This post is revenge for her calling me a "Mountain Goat."

Super Dann!

I'm starting to get headband-tan.  How embarassing.

Cedars Mill Trail.

 Mist on the river. Lynn Headwaters.

Birthday Hike on Sidney Island with my brother.

Canada Day on the top of Mt. Finlayson with Alex.  I look much happier than I felt after this straight-up scramble.

A Weekend at Doe Bay

Every year my cousin Sarah and I go on what we call our "annual sojourn."  Last year we went to Osoyoos to visit the Nk'Mip Winery and Spirit Ridge Spa and Resort.  This weekend, we went to Doe Bay, on Orcas Island, to participate in a yoga retreat led by

Megan Costello

.  It was a restful weekend of yoga practice, meditation, soaks in the outdoor tubs overlooking Doe Bay, and naps.  I even turned off all of my various technological devices for the entire weekend!

We left Vancouver early Friday morning to make our way to the Anacortes Ferry.  At the border, the guard asked us where we were going shopping.  When we explained that we weren't going shopping, we were going to do yoga and meditate, he was incredulous.  



to do this?"  We nodded.  "Man, I'm in the wrong business!"

Along the way we played my favourite car game, "Fat America," where each participant picks a fast food chain, and the winner is the one who spots the most outlets en route.  I lost horribly by choosing Burger King - there wasn't one the entire way to Anacortes - while Sal trounced me with the safe (but smart) choice of McDonalds.  We made it to the ferry terminal in enough time to line up and grab our first cup of tea of the day before the boat arrived.   We were amazed that the ferry cost a total of $48 round trip, for both us and the car (my mom was generous enough to give me her car while she is unable to drive due to her broken hip). 

Loading onto the boat.   We are so excited at the cheap fares on Washington State Ferries.

The MV Yakima.  Built in 1968, "restored" in 2001.  Still afloat.

The decor of the MV Yakima left a little to be desired - but sported some interesting entertainment sadly lacking on BC Ferries.  This was the first of many puzzles set up on board.

Another one!  All I could think was, "It would take just one asshole stealing a piece to ruin this for everyone."  All Sal could think was, "I bet this puzzle is covered in germs."

The Salish Sea.

It's a little windy, eh Sal?

Why yes, we DO like to make stupid faces in photos.  We figure it will make our nieces and nephew happy when they are grown up and we are old

, to remember their silly Aunties.

Again - not a sign you'd see on a BC Ferry.

That's where we're going!  Orcas Island!

That's three, if you're keeping count.

Eddie Crane, our trip mascot, enjoys the view as we approach Lopez Island.

Our first stop when we landed on Orcas was Deer Harbour.  Sal has very fond memories of sailing there with my her parents (my aunt and uncle) and her sister.   Not having been there for years, she was amazed at how small it was.  While I liked Deer Harbour, I was more a fan of West Sound, which was a charming seaside village of clapboard houses.  I decided immediately that we would buy a closed-up shop we passed by, and turn it into a local law office slash county newspaper slash general store.

In Deer Harbour, we visited the historic post office, which had been bought some years ago by the "Deer Harbour Community Club," which we noticed, as we made our way around the area, had bought up several historic properties, including a church and a community dance hall.

Beautiful post office boxes in the Deer Harbour Post Office.

Eddie enjoyed the post office. 

The Marina at Deer Harbour.  Sal was sad to see if no longer sported the "76" Ball she remember from when she was a kid.

 After we visited Deer Harbour, we stopped in East Sound.  Probably the most "urban" part of the island, we had lunch at a pub overlooking the water, and visited a great bookstore, Darvill's - I always like to check out books on local history when I travel.

The view from the Madrona Bar and Grill in East Sound.

Hour 2 of Technology-Free Dani.  I could get used to this.

 After lunch, we made our way to Doe Bay.  The resort is a number of cottages, huts and yurts scattered throughout a large, coastal property.  The hub of the resort is the general store, which also features a vegetarian cafe, and a guest lounge that reminded Sal and I of a grandparents' den - old dusty volumes of Readers' Digest, ancient boardgames, and slightly musty armchairs.

We had rented a little cottage at Doe Bay called "The Little House."  It was a tiny, rustic place, just big enough for a bedroom, a futon, a tiny kitchenette and a half bath - but it had heat, and a spectacular view:

Doe Bay also featured soaking tubs that looked out on the water.  We weren't allowed to take pictures because the tubs are "clothing optional" - which meant a lot of what our niece Leah would call "bare nudies."  A lot of them.

This wasn't Instagramed or P



at all - it really was this beautiful.  The

soaking tubs are just to th

e left of this pho


 Sitting in the soaking tubs, you could listen to this waterfall rushing past you into the bay.

 On Saturday afternoon, in the pouring rain, Sal and I decided to swim in this bay before rushing to the soaking tubs.  There was a seal and a heron who watched us rather dubiously as we ran screaming into the water.  It was icy cold, but refreshing - so refreshing that no sooner had we rushed back onto the beach than we decided to turn around and go back in.

 Surprisingly, Sally had a harder time turning off the technology than I did.

Our retreat started on the Friday night, with a yoga session that only some of the group of 14 women attended - as not everyone had arrived yet.  Afterwards, Sal and I had time to hit the soaking tubs before making dinner in our little cottage.  Then we went back to the studio for yoga nidra - a kind of guided meditation that we did while lying on our backs, cuddled up with blankets.  Megan played the crystal singing bowls which produced the most remarkable tones.  After half an hour of that, I was ready for bed and climbed right in as soon as we got back to the cottage, and slept deeply.  I had the weirdest dream though, that I was onstage in a production that featured both Benedict Cumberbatch (surprise surprise) and Dame Judi Dench.  There was an unfortunate mishaps with the costumes, however, and we were all scrambling backstage to find things to wear.  Dame Judi said to me in most disgusted tones that she couldn't find "a damn bra" to wear.

Our Little House, before we bedded down for the night.

On Saturday, time seemed to stand still - the day seemed to go on forever, but in a good way.  We woke early for energy practice.  Well - Sal woke early.  I woke early, then decided my bed and a sleep-in was calling me more than energy practice.  But I was up for our 8:30 session, which was followed by meditation and discussion.  At lunch Sal and I headed back to the soaking tubs, and then we had some free time to read (and nap) before returning for an afternoon  yoga session.  We made ourselves cups of tea and headed back into the rain to visit the soaking tubs again, before that night's yoga nidra.  I came prepared for the meditation this time - I was already in my jammies so that I could fall into bed right after.

This chair quickly became my favourite spot - I took my tea and my book out here to watch the view.


...because who wouldn't?!

I love being near the water.  I always have.  It makes me feel restful, and creative.  Some might say this is because I'm a Cancer, which is a water sign.  All I know was that two-and-a-bit days was not enough time for me to sit and watch the water, and the twinkling lights of other islands.  This morning, I took my tea out and sat in the drizzle to watch the view before our final morning yoga session.

I learned a lot about yoga practices this weekend that I didn't know.  Megan talked a lot about chakras - which has never really been something instructors at my various yoga drop-ins have really talked about in depth.  We did a number of meditations focused on various chakras, and I found myself last night urging Sally to Google various things about chakras online - I wanted to know why the chakras were colored the way they were, what tradition they came from, what they're supposed to "do."  We also did meditations to connect with the earth and the sky.

Megan also uses a number of harmonic practices, such as her singing bowls, and pitch forks (which sounded like chimes to me), to create healing sounds.  Last night I asked her to explain what some of them meant.  She explained that the pitch forks were connected to various planets, and some were connected to deities.  I'm not sure how much I believe in those kind of cosmic connections, but I certainly felt the effects of some of the sounds.  Last night I had gone into our yoga nidra session with a raging headache - and after listening to the bowls, that filled the studio with sound and vibration, my head felt better.  So - call me the optimistic skeptic. 

Being us, Sally and I of course giggled and joked through much of the weekend.  Thankfully, none of the other ladies in our group seemed to mind.  They laughed when Sal explained, during introductions, that we were there because we had drank too much on last year's annual sojourn.  Some even joined in when I started hula hooping joyously before our evening session.  We were the class clowns, that's for sure, but hopefully it wasn't



When we left this morning, I was sad that we didn't have a few more days to relax.  I needed to sleep more, read more books, and spend more time being quiet and disconnected from work.  I loved Orcas, and will definitely want to go back to explore more.

In the meantime, Sal and I are planning our next sojourn.  We've decided on a "man's weekend," where we learn to fly-fish, and drink beer, and wear plaid.  Namaste.

Victoria Visits: Nourish Garden Bistro

I spent a few days in Victoria this week, hanging out with my brother Alex. He and my sister-in-law Laura had asked me to come over to help them pick out some decor for their house in the Cook Street village and I was more than happy to oblige - my brother is one of my most favourite people in the world and I'm always happy to have an excuse to spend time with him. Also - shopping with other people's money?! Well, I'm happy to do that too.

I headed over on the ferry early Wednesday morning, and Alex and I immediately started our rounds of shops: Urban Barn, Homesense, Nood - anywhere that carried *stuff* really, including the Maritime Museum in Bastion Square, where we satisfied Al's craving for an antique map of some kind to hang in his office.

We also satisfied my craving for yumminess by visiting

Nourish Garden Bistro

("Local! Wholesome! Yummy!) at the Glendale Gardens. My friend Mike had given me an excellent review of the place, and even though it was a little out of the way, I was eager to try it, as it's vegan and GF friendly.

We were immediately charmed by the decor, set in the grounds of the gardens in a little annex covered with plants and flowers:

"Secret Garden" entrance to Nourish.

Repurposed barbecue.

The menu at Nourish is small, local and seasonal. Alex and I both ordered gluten-free wraps - Al had a chicken sausage wrap, and I had "Summer in a Sari," which features hummus, apples and veggies (the original comes with goat cheese, too, which I omitted). Both came with enormous fresh salads, and the wraps themselves were amazing! GF breads can be hit and miss, but we both agreed we'd be happy to take home the wraps plain for our own cupboards, they were so good.

Part of Nourish's charm comes from its unique locale, set in the middle of Glendale Gardens. It is pastoral and serene - almost


serene for this Gastown girl - I could hear myself chew, it was so quiet!

The view from Nourish's patio dining area.

The view from Nourish into the Glendale Gardens. Even on a cloudy day it's pretty spectacular, non?

For dessert Alex and I took one of Nourish's GF brownies to go, as we needed to continue on our shopping mission. The staff asked us, repeatedly, if we only wanted


brownie, to the point where Al joked, "Ask me that again and we'll take two." We got in the car and took off, breaking the brownie out of its bag as we pulled out of the parking lot. We took one bite and looked at each other, laughed, and chorused, "Oh,


." Let's just say, you don't want to share these brownies. Moist, delicious, amazing. We should've ordered two. Or a dozen.

You can visit Nourish's website


. They're open 10 - 4 Tuesday through Sunday, and definitely worth the trip out to Glendale Gardens.