The Great Reset

Happy New Year

Time to reset the clock in a forward direction

It’s December 31, 2021. Happy New Year! What a year it has been for me and I am sure you can say the same?

I have been gathering a collection of thoughts, reflections on how this 2021 experience has affected the world. Now, more than ever, there seems to be a collective consciousness that can no longer be suppressed. Many voices are standing up and daring to be heard. I have watched thousands of friends, neighbors, strangers and influencers have epiphanies on what they value and  assess how they are living their lives. What was once worth sacrificing everything for has become meaningless.

There is a ton of information on what is meant by “The Great Reset”.  Some think it’s a shift away from materialism to minimalism. Others have linked it to an awakening of the population to what is really happening to our world and our way of life. However you look at this concept, you would have to have been living under a rock not to have heard about it.

The veil of needing stuff, status and wealth to feel satisfied doesn’t stand up to scrutiny anymore. There has to be more to it than that doesn’t there? 

After the euphoria of being “free”- no job and no responsibilities has worn off the practicality of how you are going to sustain your lifestyle into the future emerges. It’s all great to say that you are free to follow your passions and start living your dreams. It’s quite a reality check to understand if that is even possible given the current climate of economics, travel and unrest.

I heard an interesting quote about western society from an European perspective. In our culture we live to work where in Europe they work to live. I witnessed the cultural differences in Rome, where trying to find an open restaurant was virtually impossible before 3 pm. I worked hard so I could take numerous vacations, buy nice stuff and enjoy a privileged lifestyle. So I worked to live right? Not quite. I belief it’s about finding a way to live and work that you can sustain. We are living longer therefore we have to get creative about how we maintain our quality of life.

What I am learning is that my “all or nothing” mindset has left me with a glass half empty attitude sometimes. 

I can be a pretty intense person to be around. I take a lot of things people say literally. If you say you don’t like someone or something I take you at your word. If you say you can’t afford to do something I believe you even to the point of helping you pay for it, if I feel that strongly about it.

I have had an innate need to fix things for others. To overcompensate for what I believe to be smoothed over by my help or intervention. What I am realizing is that it was my way of distraction. If I spent my time worrying about your stuff I wouldn’t have to face my own stuff.

This last year has been mostly about me. A discovery of who I am apart from my work title, spouse, mother, friend or caretaker. 

There is an exercise we did at the ashram that involved a series of meditations to reveal our Life Seals. Symbols that are unique to our unconscious existence. The process was to bring those images to the conscious surface to help understand our cores. Some of the flow was easy to understand and find correlation to. Others were a bit harder. I struggled with separating my mind from my essence. How is my essence different from my soul or inner witness? Are they different or one in the same? 

Where am I going with this?

I have lined up on the screen questions to ask myself as I think about this last year and what I want for 2022. I want to share those questions with you as we all think about the coming year.

  1. What have I come to value now that I didn’t before?
  2. How am I going to maintain, nourish and grow my essence in the coming year?
  3. Do I see work as something to foster my life or something to replace my life?
  4. Can I have my cake and eat it too? Find work that has meaning while staying passionate about lifelong learning and helping others.
  5. How do I reset my clock for the coming year?

It’s not that I didn’t value time spent off grid before, I know now that those moments are the ones I reflect and cherish the most. The adventures in the van, the traveling with loved ones and friends, the ashram experience, hiking in the mountains and trails have been my happy places. I do admit though, I have missed being with industry peers. I have periodically peeked in on what’s happening in the learning industry during the pandemic. I am passionate about the exploration of how skills and knowledge can be reshaped. I am nervous about the fact I have been away from the industry for over a year. Do I still have anything to contribute of value? I won’t know until I walk into the field and see what has been growing there in my absence. What I value now is a sense of contribution to the community. My mantra to maintain me through 2022 is “how am I sustaining value here?”. I can use this in any reference whether it’s in my own life, relating to work, this blog, our podcasts, my footprint socially, economically, within the environment and with the development of the human race.

How do I reset my clock for the coming year?

The question is easy and yet complicated. Easy in the physical sense by action oriented tasks. Keep up with a healthy body through exercise and nutritious food choices. Sustain a curious and clutter free mind through meditation, yoga and self care. Be mindful of where you came from and where you are going. Remember the pauses as they are key to intentional course corrections when you doubt you are going in the right direction. Stay grateful for everything you have been given. It’s an imperfect, perfect life. To have the awareness and sense of need or desire to reset is a gift. To open the gift and take it out of its wrapping to get a true sense of it’s value takes courage and determination. We are lucky to receive this gift every year at this time. We celebrate and look forward to the possibilities as we say “goodbye” to the past.

I hope 2022 is full of life, love, curiosity and adventure for you and yours.

Cheers to “The Great Reset”

Namaste and light

Tadasana, I Am Firm, I Am Still

Me in the desert of the Atlas Mountains in Morroco.

Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, focusing inward on the spot between your brows. Spine erect while you line up your vertebrae one plate at a time until you come back to the space occupied by your third eye. Hands lay open at your sides, palms face forward inviting the light and energy to merge with you. 

Can you calm the mind long enough to feel the ascent into the clouds? As I do the pose I have help. I am listening to the mantra Hari Om on repeat. It helps with the concentration and release of tension. My body is eager to move. The stance triggers a memory response to start sun salutation flows, plank, cobra and downward facing dog. I resist a bit longer and focus on my breath.

Can I become a mountain? Do I desire to voluntarily stay put? Hmmm

Do mountains move ever? Of course they do. History is full of geological graphs showing the migration of large masses of rock from one location to another quite far away.

As I stand in mountain pose I sense the rock chips breaking away subtle at first then becoming more frequent. Thoughts collect to form solid matter and I think I can find stable ground and stance that will connect me to the earth beneath my feet. Can I sort through the rubble enough to arrange the scattered material into a foundation then add enough mortar to keep it stuck together?

What makes the mass crumble? I have watched avalanches from a safe distance, even seen some snow slides too close for comfort. I have been in flash floods that have moved the rocks beneath my feet on mountain sides and tested my skills to find purchase on a loose shale path. It’s a slippery slope when the material under your feet isn’t stable. I have fallen, even hurt myself and yet I am still willing and able to go back up and try again. I am determined or maybe just stubborn…lol.

Being a mountain can be a lonely choice of states. You may be part of a family of like minds such as a rocky range that traverses as far as the eye can see or you may have to stand out alone. Other beings depend on you for their existence and shelter. You can be covered in stuff put their by others such as plants and animals or thoughts and ideals you don’t own. Liquid flows around you, through you and sometimes even breaks you in half. It’s good to note the most harmless things like water can erode your foundations over time and yet is essential to yours and others existence. What comes to erode you that you may want to divert or eliminate? What helps you to grow strong and healthy be it mineral or mentally?

I hold the pose a bit longer. What am I trying to avoid facing by moving on or away from this place of stability and solitude? I do have an insistent desire to take flight, go anywhere most of the time. To keep moving. While in the pose I do feel a sense of calmness that replaces the anxiety.

Do I like being alone? I don’t hate it. I get my energy from the time spent in my own company doing things I love to do or doing nothing but standing on a mountain in Mountain Pose. We are made of compressed things forced together over time. The matter that forms us. Sound familiar? We have more in common with mountain masses than you may think. Sometimes we find ourselves up high on a ledge wondering how we got this point without awareness? At the peak we need to decide which directions to go from there. Often we get to the top of our goals only to discover that all we have reached are plateaus or a false summit. Just a ladder top that you can see multiple ladders in the distance waiting for you to discover their existence. Are they worth dying on or are we missing the point of the climb?

My mind wanders as I hold the pose a bit longer. My eyes are closed and my breathing has become deep and peaceful. I am sinking further into the mist. A vision pops up in my head, at first I brush it away then decide to let it come. 

I am back in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. I have awoken to the sound of the wind whipping through our tent. My bed is right by the door which is now ajar. It’s not quite morning but I am awake so I decide to get up and make my way towards the dunes. The predawn shed enough light for me to find my way. I pass the camels that have been hobbled in between the sand hills and push upward to the top of a rocky peak. I look out over the range and decide this must be what they mean by the place that heaven meets the earth.

I can see myself standing there in Mountain Pose. I can sense the pressure changing as the sky starts to illuminate. I have chosen an elevated spot to witness the beauty of the day as it begins.

I feel extremely connected to the universe when I occupy the mountain pose. I wonder why that is and then seem to understand the connection. The quiet solitude that comes from the stance. The sense of peering outward while planted on top of the world. Connected to everything yet a recognition of being alone.

Namaste

Full Throttle

Day 4 of Vanlife

I was drawn out of the van early in the morning on day 4 of our adventure. It was dead calm. Overcast with an expectation in the air. We have been lucky so far with the weather. A few raindrops overnight but no snow…yet. The air felt different today. I was restless and wanted to get out of the forestry area. Many of the signs along the mountain road had warned of conditions changing if wet. I didn’t want to test my ability to stay on a muddy, slimy steep mountain road. At least not on this trip. Reesor lake is small and very remote. 

We broke camp and decided it was time to head towards home. We were chasing sunshine and knew our days to enjoy the last dregs of warmth were coming to an end. You can feel winter coming. If you watch the animals, the plants and the energy around you, it all is shifting down. Mother nature is taking her foot off the gas pedal and tucking in her offspring in a bed of leaves and debris. Those of us less likely to feel comfortable on the ground choose to go inward to find our shelter from the cold. The border between the US and Canada will be opening soon and I am contemplating going South for the coldest months.

My battery power still hasn’t charged up since the “electric kettle” incident on day 2. I couldn’t find a stove top kettle, even though I have at least 3 in the house somewhere, so I brought the electric one thinking we could test some of that inverter power conversion. Let’s just say that electric kettles(non 12 volt kind) and lithium battery packs are not compatible. The battery drained in seconds. I did get hot water but at a cost. Good to know for future appliances in the van. 

The secondary roads back through Cypress Hills are mostly gravel. I am not the best driver in the world. I get a heightened level of anxiety on uneven, rocky routes. It’s based on many experiences of being stuck, stranded, tipped sideways, flooded and broke down. I found myself singing some mantras to keep calm and telling myself that it was OK to drive at my own speed. That speed was about 70km/hr. It was slow going but I was gaining confidence with my ability to handle the van on this kind of terrain. It was a bit ironic when we hit the pavement. The wind picked up and started to blow the van back and forth. I had to laugh. I was bare knuckle driving on loose gravel. Now, I was bare knuckle driving on pavement. There is a lesson here right?

The lesson was far from over for me. We decided to make our way towards Writing On Stone park. It’s a favorite spot of mine and I thought it would be a great place to camp for our last night.

I was gaining a feel for how the van handled. How the engine revved and the shifts up and down the hills. It was doing way better than I had expected. I was driving ahead of my brother and made the turn at the top of the park entrance. The van was idling high. Acting like I had my foot pressed down firmly on the throttle. As I approached the parking lot I found myself having to ride the brake to get the van to slow down. It kept revving. The only thing keeping me from flying off into the canyon was my foot on the brake. My brother tells me my back tires were spitting gravel. He pulled up beside me and was looking at me like I was crazy.

I did what I thought was the only thing I could. I put the van in park with the engine still wanting to surge ahead and turned off the key. Once I was sure that the van had actually turned off and I could gain enough control over my shaking body, I jumped out.

Holy F!@#@!

My brother got out of his van and looked at me. I didn’t know what to say. He jumped in the van and turned it on. It started to accelerate again. He got out and opened the hood. He reached down inside and pulled out the casement for the battery charger. We had thought it had been lost a couple of days ago when he had placed it on the top of the battery. It had rode on top of the battery since yesterday and then made its way down to land perfectly on the throttle. What are the odds? At any time it could have just fallen off and landed on the road somewhere between there and the Saskatchewan backcountry. The timing of it was a curious thing too. On the highway or flat road it would have been less dramatic. Overlooking the cliffs at the top of the hoodoos of Writing On Stone had a certain feeling of that movie “Thelma and Louise”. 

I was trying to process what had happened. I laid down on a rock and hugged it for a few minutes. I knew it could have been the end of me right then and there. My brother was shaken and praised me for not panicking. I laughed and said that the incident was quite normal in my life. These things happen to me often. I am always grateful to the universe for helping me to survive. My life lessons come in dramatic ways. Most often, my experiences aren’t that subtle but more in my face kind of scenarios. 

In a previous blog I wrote about one of my dreams that described my experience with a snake charmer and a cobra. Facing my fears head on. The trip has tested my abilities to do just that.

I am quick to put my foot on the gas. I believe you can’t go through life waiting for everything to be perfect before you venture out there into the unknown. It is smart though to have enough sense to power down or put yourself in park sometimes. It can be the difference between whether you survive and thrive or end it all. To stop, learn from the experience and incorporate the change into the next journey.

We have already accumulated tons of information about the van and how van life would feel. We still have one more day though on the open prairies so our adventure continues…just not with such a heavy foot on the pedal.

Blind Spots

I was driving out to work on my van that is being stored at my mothers old house. The road is familiar. I have been on it hundreds of times. It’s morning and the sun is shining. I have my Tim’s coffee next to me and running over in my head what can be done today to get us closer to using the van. My mind is exploring options and not really paying attention to the road ahead of me. I am driving a little fast and mostly on auto pilot. All of the sudden before me a hawk swoops its wing in front of my windshield. It comes at me from the south going north. I am driving east from the west. The dark brown hawk lands in the field on the other side of the road and stares at me as I slow down and look back at it. Hmmmm….what was that about?

I slow down and start to pay attention to the road. I take nothing for granted and know that the hawk is trying to tell me something important if only I pay attention to its warning.

I come to a section of road that climbs a bit of a hill and then drops down the otherside. You can’t see over the hill until you get to the top. As I approach the top I see a lady running with her head down listening with earbuds in her ears. She is running on the wrong side of the road and heading straight for me. She doesn’t notice my car until I am almost 10 feet from her. Then she looks up a bit startled and proceeds to move over to the other side of the road and pass me by.

This particular backroad is usually empty this time of day. I can cruise to town without encountering a soul. Today I encountered the lady and then a man on a bicycle again coming toward me on the wrong side of the road. You just never know when you will not be able to see what is lurking in your blindspots.

Blindspots are an interesting occurrence. Since we can’t see what occupies that space we usually assume that there is nothing there. What if there is? Now I know my example isn’t necessarily depicting a blindspot. It’s more about paying attention and focusing on the task at hand instead of multitasking. According to Google,studies show that only 2.5% of us are able to multitask successfully.

So why do we constantly think we can do it with success?

I can’t see what’s happening in my blindspots. I can use mirrors or ask someone for feedback to help me validate what occupies a space I think is empty. Whether that space be in my thinking, my views, my narrative, my memory or whether it actually is something physical. I am not that great at multitasking either. I do better completing something then starting something else.

The hawk was there to give me feedback that morning and I am very grateful for the heads up!

I have been contemplating doing more things one at a time and doing them to the best of my ability. Then I can move on to the next task with confidence that I am more likely to see what’s in my blindspots.

Afterall, what’s the rush?

About Face

A few weeks ago, my sister in law notified me that my face showed up on a Facebook page with someone asking if anyone could identify this person. My image was found on a cell phone I had lost on the summit of Mount Ward in the Crowsnest Pass. It was amazing that they had found the phone as I had lost it descending down on my butt over a mountain side of scree. Here is the remarkable part. I was up there in August of 2019. That’s over 3 years ago. Think back how much has changed in the last 3 years. For me? I lost my mom, I lost my job, COVID happened and I almost lost my sense of self.

As I look at the face staring out from the phone that shouldn’t be working, let alone sporting my face on the cover, I marvel at our ability for resilience. That woman captured is me but yet, is not me. She is restless and ready for change. She is tired and grieving over so much loss in the last few years. She is there with her two great nieces enjoying a warm summer day doing what she loves to do. Exploring uncharted territory and pushing herself to go further and harder.

Phone still works after 3 years!

Sometimes I am not sure where the strength comes from. It just appears and I am always grateful to the universe for providing it to me. I sat on the top of the summit enjoying the sun and view as the girls explored further up and around. I saw 3 crows in the distance. They were making a big racket and circling overhead. I watched them for a bit then noticed behind them that some big dark rain clouds were starting to form. Anyone who has been hiking in the mountains knows to start down when that happens. Hopefully you can outrun the storm, most often I am not that lucky. I was about to holler for the girls to come and they appeared ready to head out. I happened to look down and found the most unique rock I had ever seen. I had been thinking about the crows and their warning that the weather was about to change. The rock appeared to have a crow flying over the mountains on it. It was pale yellow with a black image of a crow. I picked it up and put it in my backpack. In hindsight, I wish I would have done the same thing to my phone which I placed in my coat pocket tied around my waist.

As the clouds got darker, we started to slide down on our backsides. It was treacherous and slow going. Over half way down I realized my phone wasn’t in my pocket anymore. There was no way I could go back up and try and find it. We had been zigzagging and moving over a large space of rock and debri. It could have been anywhere. Like a needle in a haystack. I resigned myself to either come back a different day or say “goodbye” to the pictures from that day.

I got a new phone and reclaimed quite a bit of my pictures, chats and music as I usually back up stuff to the cloud. I was missing the photos we had taken that day which was too bad. When I reloaded my messenger chats I was heartbroken to see my conversation with my sister who had passed away in 2016 wasn’t coming back up. It took some letting go to say “goodbye” to the conversation I had treasured.

Time goes by and I have had 3 phones since then. Every once in a while I would think about the phone and wonder if it was still alive. What view it had looking out over the barren terrain. Saying good morning to the crows and other creatures who passed by. My face is smiling out on that mountain side I thought. Never did I think it still worked after all that time.

I have been in contact with the mother of the guy who found it and will go pick it up some time soon. She said that several people had recognized the woman in the photo and let her know the phone belonged to me. The hat I am wearing I have taken on so many adventures. It’s kind of my signature look for exploring…lol.

Thinking about the phone and it’s adventures, I happened to glance through my messenger chats. I was drawn to the one with my sister, hoping that for some miraculous reason the conversation would reappear after all this time. I was amazed to see that it had. Everything was there again. My history with my sister has come back to me now. Years and years of conversation came tumbling down the mountain side to land at my feet.

Why now? So much has happened since 2016. I thought that was my low point but it wasn’t. Both of my parents died in the years after my sister’s passing. Despite all of the pain, grief and loss, I feel more alive today than ever before. I am living life on my terms in my own way. Choosing my adventures, love, spiritual paths and sense of self.

I am awake. I have lived many lives since I lost that phone. I am grateful for it’s reappearance to remind me to be grateful for what I have.

Once again the energy shifts and tilts the balance back.

I have a desire to put the phone back on the mountain. 

Stay tuned to see what I decide….lol

Love you all that keep reading our posts and coming along on our journeys through midlife.

Light and love.

Are You Retirement Compatible?

When it comes to retiring are you and your significant other on the same page?

In life and relationships we talk about a lot of things in regards to goals, religious beliefs, values, children and who is going to clean the toilet…lol. Most often, we gloss over at what age we are going to retire as it seems so far away when we are young.

These days though, many partners are talking about taking a break from their jobs for a year or two fully expecting they will find another job eventually. Some are trying to catch up with retirement funds, paying off debt that was unexpected and dealing with the cost of relationship breakdowns. Life can get complicated and a large amount of people put time away from working on the back burner. We live in a world now where you could be working into your seventies.

So, have you had the talk with your partner? Are you retirement compatible? What if you aren’t aligned on timing, expectations and lifestyle?

I remember thinking in my twenties that I would retire at 65. I would work, most likely, at one maybe two jobs. I would have a pension and some savings and life would be awesome when I turned 65. Well, we all know what happens to life while we are living. So many things are unexpected and not planned for. You wake and realize that those you love and expected to grow old with or around have either passed away or in bad health. You feel older. You slow down when you are hiking. You are weaker and feel pain in your joints. When did I start to get older? I thought all those things happened in your seventies not your fifties. I watch those around me and I realize my window of opportunity to live with abandonment is shortening. I can’t rely on being in good health when I am 65. I know my abilities today and I feel that if I can continue to build strength and endurance now that as I get older the longevity should hold. At least that’s my theory and I am sticking to it.

I have been talking to many friends and family about their plans. Some wanted to take time off to travel now and then maybe go back to work when they get tired of doing that. Others plan to work until they can’t work anymore well into their seventies or beyond. Others plan to work and play and juggle the two. What has been a common theme though is that most find themselves in a bit of a pickle when it comes to agreement from their partner as to both being on the same page.Life throws us curve balls. I am a firm believer that the universe shakes things up when we get too complacent. 

My universe is telling me to squeeze the lemons now. Get as much juice as you can out of this existence. My husband is planning on working another 9 years or so.I am hoping he will decide that there is more to life than stock piles of money and things. You can’t rush someone else’s discoveries. You shouldn’t wait though to “do you”. It’s scary to venture out on your own. It’s even scarier to sit and wait for someone else to get on board.

Life’s obstacles are constant and ever coming at you. I had journeyed with an eagle in the past and it had shown me to put the chaos in my palm and squeeze out order and decisions from it. It’s an exercise I can do physically to help me focus on which direction to follow. Mistakes will be made, that’s how we move forward. It takes more courage to act than to stand still and watch.

Next week I am taking a break from van renos to hang out in Banff with my sister in law. We have decided to go tandem skydiving and caving. The waivers are signed and the deposits are given. I am making lemonade with the sweetest ingredients I can find. I am not saying that finding common ground with your partner isn’t important. It totally is. Respect for each other and practical goals are key. Time away from work doesn’t have to be expensive. I find a balance of things I do that are free and things that are epic adventures that may cost me a bit. It’s the doing that counts. The sharing of the experience. We all relied heavily on our memories during COVID of things we had done in the past to get us through the rough patch. I thank my lucky stars that I was blessed with so many adventures in my life so far.

It’s funny how the biggest regret in life is usually the ones that involve not doing something rather than taking the leap and trusting you will land safely. The journey is worth it!

Hopefully your partner agrees that taking breaks sooner rather than later is the way to go. If they don’t then it’s up to you to decide whether you stay put and wait for them or…

Get into that harness, secure the lines and find someone who is compatible with the here and now of your awareness.

Vantastic!

Everything is fixable….it’s my new mantra

Ok, eventually I promise, I will run out of puns here but in the meantime….

I believe in synchronicity. My life has been full of experiences that seem to appear custom made to help me learn something about myself, teach me an important lesson or skill or heal a whole in my spirit or heart. Sometimes, the crisis or drama is created for me to enjoy until another event happens to get us back on the right track. There are no coincidences in my life nor the people that appear out of nowhere to join me on my latest adventure.

The pandemic has been hard on families. Mine has been scattered and a bit disconnected. My mom died at the start of it all and we are all still grieving that loss. I parked my van at her house in a nearby town. I plan to work on it there with my siblings and extended family. It has been a way for us to reconnect and find some comfort in each others presence. Humans need humans. We are all lonely even if we have people living in our houses. It feels right to rediscover their gifts. To get to know them again and understand their point of view. The van has given us an opportunity to move forward in our new space that doesn’t have our mom to keep it all together.

I started looking for a van at least three years ago. Even before the pandemic, I was longing to go on a roadtrip with a house on wheels. To be out in nature with my musical instruments, creating art, discovering plants and wildlife is my jam. I love to hike and explore the mountains. Heck I grew up in the foothills of Alberta. The Rockies were my nursery and then my playground growing up.

I started to gather my board of directors and advisors for the Van-Essance build. Everyone I have contacted so far has been so helpful and eager to try their hand at creating an epic home away from home with me. I take great stock in symbols and appreciate the universe’s lessons.

The key to the ignition of the van broke off in the ignition. I could have taken the whole van to a locksmith and got them to get the key out. I had some anxiety about it being bad and stuck and costing me lots to get fixed. Fear is an interesting thing. 

False Expectation Appearing Real. Have you ever noticed that when we face our fears they are rarely as bad as we built up in our head? My helpers popped out the container for the ignition and I took that part into the locksmith. Within an hour I had it fixed, two new keys and it cost less than twenty bucks. 

I have a feeling that this is only the start of me facing my fears. A few blogs back I wrote about a dream I had in a vacant pool with a cobra and a snake charmer. The snake kept pressing it’s snout into my cheek. I knew it meant I had to face my fears head on. It was no longer serving to sweep them under the rug. 

What do I fear? 

Failure. What if my husband is right and I am not mechanical? That the skill can’t be learned? What if I bought a lemon and it turns out to be a mistake? So many what if’s running in my head. I can let them paralyze me or I can conquer them one step at a time.

What is failure? To me, it’s not trying at all. I have lived many years in a place surrounded by bubble wrap. I created that place. It’s safe, it’s comfortable but it’s missing a key. The key is broken in the lock. I think that getting a new key and starting a different narrative in my head is what is needed.

One step then another. Have courage to move out of the bubble wrap. At the ashram I really enjoyed walking meditations. It’s moving with awareness. Take a step, connect with your body to intentionally shift your balance as you choose your direction. Those teachings are coming in handy now that I am back in the “real world”. 

Van-Essance

I have wanted a camper van for some time now. I follow a few vloggers who are living a “van-life” existance on Youtube. I am a realist. I know that vanlife is not as glamrous as some might think. It sounds romantic and care-free but in reality it can be scary and full of hidden costs. Yet…here I am..I bought a van. Not just any van. A 1978 classic Chev camper van. It has low kilometers, fridge, stove, bed, character and is full of potential. It was formely owned by a tattoo artist that used it to travel around to convention and tattoo shows. It’s perfect…for me. My husband thinks I am nuts. Why buy something soo old to which I reply well “I am older, aren’t I worth restoring?”.

I can use it “as is” if I would like as it drives well so far. We (my brother in law) drove it from North of Vermillion all the way to Raymond which is about 550 Km. It was great on the road and handled well.

What do I hope to get out of owing such a vehicle? Quenched curiosity. Have you ever drove on a highway and seen all of those locals attraction signs? Tours of a honey farm or the worlds largest Easter egg lives here or a Ukranian flee market 12 kms that way. I want to stop at them all and be able to say I have been there. Why not? YOLO is a thing.

So, for this year, I am thinking get the van as comfortable as I can and as mechanically sound as I can and hit the road. There is no time like the present to take advantage of good weather, cheap-ish accomodations and the time to explore anything and everything up and down this Province that I live in.

I can’t wait to start the “VanEssance” adventure series. Hope you join me for the ride. If you see me on the road wave or better yet leave me a comment here and perhaps we can meet up and go for coffee or go see what is interesting in your hometown.

Cheers to the adventures of Midlife Arises continuing…

Namaste

Time To Heat It Up

Summer is finally here. I have been told that the next weeks temperatures are historical for the heat we are about to enjoy. So what does one do when faced with the prospects of being doused in fire? Go find several lakes, a cool mountain retreat and set up camp.

I am fortunate enough to live close to several mountainous options within a couple of hours. One of my favourites is the Crowsnest Pass area. The lakes are crystal clear, random camping on crown land is still allowed and the hikes are endless.

We have set up camp near Chinook Lake and tested out our inflatable kayaks. They work better than I expected. Quite solid and easy to inflate. It’s wonderful to see the lakes from a ducks perspective.

Crows nest Lake

I have still been thinking about time and how we spend it. Taking pockets of it and creating memories to sustain us when we need it. The someday maybe I will have the time is a dangerous way to live. Before you know it, it’s gone. I can feel my body saying that it’s getting older. Wake up with stiff joints and echoes of old injuries that resulted from past adventures. I am ok with those reminders that I am human. It’s an affirmation that I have pushed myself to squeeze every last ounce of juice out of this flesh. Summer has just begun and so the adventure continues…

Adventure in Santiago

I was thinking about our theme of “adventure” for this month. I believe everyday is an adventure – we never know what it’s going to bring – especially when living with a child and dogs.

However, some of my adventures came through my work. For a while, I worked on a global learning team and traveled in Europe and South America. It was always an adventure. I didn’t speak the languages, I have many food allergies so ordering at restaurants was always interesting, and navigating my way through airports sometimes proved challenging (especially in Norway!).

I think my trip to Santiago, Chile was my biggest adventure.

It started with not having a company car to meet me at the airport. There was supposed to be someone waiting for me. I admit, it was always kind of cool to arrive somewhere and see my name on a card. It didn’t happen in Santiago.

A man approached me and asked where I was going. I showed him the address of my hotel. He said he’d take me there. The car didn’t have any taxi labels or indications on the outside. I was somewhat relieved when I got inside and saw the mileage metre. Still, I wasn’t sure. I pulled out my phone and sent a text home saying I’d text when I got to the hotel. If my family didn’t hear from me, something happened.

I got safely to my hotel. On the entire 13 hour flight, I wanted nothing more than to get to the hotel and have a swim. The hotel had a rooftop pool. After sitting on a plane, I needed to move my body. I was in Santiago in May. Our spring in Canada, their early winter. It was 25C when I arrived. I went up to the roof and the doors were locked. I went down to the front desk and was told the pool was closed for the season because it was “too cold”.

After the training we were there to deliver, the project manager wanted to take me out for dinner. He told me I *had* to try a particular drink. He’s travelled the world and they make the best ones here (I wish I could remember the name!). The drinks were good. He kept ordering. I decided if he could drink them, so could I. He was a small man and I figured our ability to handle alcohol would be similar.

I was wrong.

We finally finished our meal. It was about 10:00p.m. As we were saying good-bye, I asked him which way it was to my hotel. He “thought” it was “that way”.

One thing you need to know – I’m directionally challenged at the best of times. Put me in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language, and it’s only amplified. Even moreso when with someone who is as directionally challenged as I am!

I started to walk and soon realized I was not in a familiar neighbourhood. I kept walking. I noticed a group of men starting to follow me. I pulled out my phone and tried to call home. If nothing else, it made it look as though I was in contact with someone.

I ended up in an abandoned parking lot. Fortunately, I had the foresight to keep the name and address of my hotel in my pocket. I showed it to the attendant. He looked at it. He looked at me. He tried to speak to me in Spanish. I simply stared back and shrugged. He did his best mime impersonation to tell me the way I needed to go to get back. Fortunately, it worked.

I stayed on a couple of extra days while there. I knew it was a place I wasn’t likely to return to and wanted to explore.

I bought a pass for the “hop on/hop off” bus. To me, it was a great way to see the city. I could “hop off” wherever I wanted, look around, and know there was another bus coming 15 minutes later.

One of the places I wanted to visit was the “mercado”. It was an open air area in the centre of the city. I visited some of the churches (beautiful architecture), and simply people-watched. I saw a couple of demonstrations and knew enough to avoid them. Only later, upon returning home, did I learn that visiting the mercado as a lone female traveler was probably not the smartest idea.

Leaving the country was a challenge. Apparently, I was supposed to have a yellow form from the paperwork I did upon entering Chile. I didn’t have it. The paperwork I completed didn’t have a copy for me to keep. The security officers didn’t want to let me leave. I pled ignorance. I didn’t know I needed a form, I didn’t have a form. I had my Canadian passport and my boarding pass. Somehow, I was able to convince them I was, indeed, going home.

I’m thankful for the week I got to spend in Chile. I was right – there’s nothing there to draw me back. I’m also thankful for my guardian angels who watched over me. Of all my travels, it’s the one place where things could have gone horribly wrong, and didn’t.

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