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

Timeout

What do you do about time?

Bunny taking a timeout on my back patio

I envy kids and the opportunity they have for a “timeout”. Most think of it as a punishment for misbehaving. You have to earn the timeout by doing something that is looked upon as going against a desired behavior. If we were smart as kids we would leverage them to gain space and moments of time for thinking freely about nothing. Staring at an empty space and concentrating on letting go of pent up emotions that no longer help us be our true selves. If I had little kids right now I would teach them to do just that with the hope they would thank me later as adults. Well, I can imagine that would happen. Reality might be something of a different scenario.

My kids are used to having a mother who thinks a bit differently about most things. I coaxed my daughter into taking a Tai Chi class with me when she was about 13 or so. The instructor turned off the lights and we were instructed to see if we could see auras. My daughter was a good sport about the whole thing. She wouldn’t say she enjoyed the class but she didn’t refuse to go either. I did see her aura and it was blue, now that I think about it. How fitting as she is a surgical nurse.

My aura was mostly yellow. My daughter did say she saw it but not while in the presence of others. She was thirteen afterall…lol.

I wish I could stop time now and again. Not turning back time. I don’t feel that would help me much as I have learned a great deal from how I spent my life. I just want a pause function to help me catch up. I know I am the accountant for my clock and yet some days it gets away from me before I realize “time is up”. I just can’t seem to catch a break some days and end up being late for everything. I have learned to accept these days and triage them rather than try to fix them. What can I cancel? What can I do today that will help me get back on track tomorrow? I forgive myself for getting off track. I don’t let myself off the hook. I know that I can’t change today but tomorrow is a different story.

I have never been one to “be on time”. It’s hit or miss for me. On occasion I am early and most often I am scrambling to just barely make the target second. I have studied time management, created and facilitated many workshops and courses on effective use of time. Here I am though, thinking about how I manage my time. My credits spent and my expectations of future use.

I used to create a three month calendar with important dates and times on it. I had a big bulletin board with project dates and deadlines on it as well as personal goals and estimated completion points highlighted. It was my measurement of time in a very visual way. I could look at it and see how my life was progressing. I had my major trips planned, my small getaways marked. Exercise charts, weight loss goals and eating schedules all planned out with details attached.

 In the last year I turned off all my tracking and planning devices. My Fitbit, my watch, my phone trackers, my GPS, my internal clock and anything else I thought would force me to keep track of my time. No quarter calendar with categories and goals. 

 It was a year of freedom. It was my “Time out”.

My year to just exist in whatever circumstances I found myself being drawn to. It’s been interesting to say the least. I started the year with a push to get the blog and podcasting going with Sharon. Then I found myself drawn to the ashram for almost three months. I went out to Vancouver after that to spend time hiking and getting to know my daughter a little bit better. After that I came back to buy the van and started planning out how I wanted to make it mine. My sister in-law and I spent some time hiking in the National Parks and figuring life together.

My brother and I worked diligently on the van for the rest of the summer and fall. We are almost done! I know my brother a bit better now and I am beginning to see life through his eyes, just a bit. 

I banked on having an unlimited amount of time to spend with loved ones and friends only to realize those moments kept in the vault and not used evaporate. They have no shelf life. You either use it when the spirit moves you to do so or you lose out on the dividends attached. Hard lesson to discover. I have been lucky enough to follow intuition often and redirect my time to focus on their needs and share what moments they had left. 

The year is ending soon. How time has flown by so quickly….lol. A whole year gifted to me to just be. I am looking toward 2022. Can I collect enough pauses, held breaths and brief suspension of knowing or caring to carve out my “timeouts”? Then use those precious gifts to extend that hold on my most inner thoughts and feelings?

Those “timeouts” are crafted when all I feel is joy and the gift of knowing I am alive and held in light and love by the universe.

Namaste

Ode To Max’s Joy 

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in taking life seriously that we forget about the joy. We become afraid to try new things or dust off something we used to love to do. Passions fade and auto-pilot becomes the norm instead of the exception. At these times I think a jolt of joy is needed to get moving again. It doesn’t have to be big or epic. I have been thinking about selfless service lately and ways to keep my body moving. Why the combo? The first one helps with a sense of positivity of action. Making a difference in someone else’s life helps to put me in a better headspace. The second has to do with the production of endorphins that help regulate my mental health. I know that exercise does my body good. When I am in motion, I can focus, think more clearly and sort out my busy mind. Some of my favorite meditations are done while walking or in a yoga flow.

I took my sister’s puppy for a walk today. It’s her first week back at work from a leave and the stress is piling up. There is something wonderful about a dog’s unbridled joy and curiosity to explore their surroundings. They sniff everything, they check out every nook and cranny. Run here then run over there (thanks heavens he is a small dog). Everything is there for them to discover. As we chased each other down the path it felt fun to just be in that moment. 

Someone said the older we get the less likely we are to try new things. I think the opposite is true. The older I get the more likely I am to just “go for it”. Our number of days gets shorter and shorter. If we wait we may never experience that euphoric feeling of letting go and running free. The collar gets tighter and tighter. The leash we are tethered to becomes short. Opportunity to go off leash and roam can be taken away at any moment. One of the most apparent lessons from COVID has been taking our ability to travel without restrictions for granted. It was so easy to book a flight, accommodations and a few adventures the day you wanted to take off. Now a large amount of the spontaneity has been curtailed.

One thing we can still do in abundance is selfless service. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just genuine.

Evergreen

I have been taking a creative writing class online the past few weeks. The class’s main objective is to find a way to pull your memories of life experiences and write about them. I was intrigued by one of the exercises. The objective was to go to a website that matched music to a certain year. Put in the year that you turned 13. A magical year am I right??? Pick one of the songs that comes up for that year. Listen to it and then take some time and write about what comes up based on the song choice. I scanned the songs and came back to one of my childhood favorites. I loved the movie “A Star Is Born” with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. I know this isn’t the original movie version nor the most recent. Let’s just say it has been worthy of a few remakes. Each time the musical score has been just as good as the movies. Ok back to the song. 

Evergreen. Such simple and straightforward lyrics. Appealing to a 13 year old girl’s desires and ideals of what love should feel and look like. The song still has it, even after all this time has passed. 

“Spirits rise and their dance is unrehearsed” 

There are no guarantees when it comes to matters of the heart. We put a whole lot of trust in another being without any way to know the final outcome. It’s what makes the dance so inviting. The thrill of taking a chance to have a partner that shares your journey.

“Time won’t change the meaning of one love”

I am not sure I agree with the songwriter here. Time does change or at least clarifies what love means between two people. The longer you are together the more density is added to it. When you are a teenager love means instant gratification, adoration, ego driven rewards. As time passes shared hardships, support, respect, feeling valued and heard all raise what is meant by one love.

“Ageless and ever, evergreen”

What is meant by evergreen?  According to many definition sources, the gist is that it stays constant in color no matter the season or conditions. Doesn’t falter and stays universally and continually relevant. Wow, that’s a tall order to fill don’t you think?

What if when we say “I do” we promise to never falter, never change our loyalty no matter what and pledge to stay relevant in each other’s lives?

The 13 year old brain thinks that would be very easy to do. Relationships at that age are mostly based on simple needs and wants. Add layers of experience, years of twists, turns and disappointments to the joy of having kids, building your sanctuary together and here we are many moons later. 

My 57 year old self thinks a little differently about love these days. I believe it is constantly changing. I am not convinced it’s evergreen. For me it’s more of a Larch. In a state of adapting and evolving to meet the current circumstances.

If you are interested in doing this exercise the course is called “Pulling Memory Into The Present” hosted by Ashley C Ford on Skillshare.

What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

I don’t alway get the answers I want but I do get the answer I need….

I have spent most of my adult life in a profession where it was my job to translate the needs, feelings and wants of others into easy to do actions. Help customers to first, identify what it was they really wanted and then guide them to fruition. I would like to say I was pretty good at it. I had a pretty loyal clientele and many happy business partners and collaborators. It worked in my personal life too. I helped family and friends many times to figure out tricky situations while we worked through possible solutions. I listened. I watched for clues for unexpressed feelings of what else might be going on under the radar. I think I am pretty empathic and intuitive most times when it comes to helping others.

Despite all of this knowledge, understanding of others and the ability to help others figure out their best way forward, I find myself stuck in my own cycle of failure to communicate. It’s very difficult for me to express how I feel and stick with it when others challenge my position.

I remember as a child of about 11 trying to stop my dad from belittling my mom. I saw how much it hurt her. I thought if she can’t stick up for herself then I will. I will tell him it’s not nice to talk like that to anyone.  I was met with an indifference. From my dad I expected it but I was shattered to feel it from my mom. She played down the verbal abuse and agreed with my dad that adults fight. It’s healthy to argue. Maybe so and yet the difference is in the words used. Calling someone stupid or lacking the ability to think for themselves is unproductive nor is it healthy. Years of reinforcing the narrative leave the psyche tattered and worn down. Having a front row seat has left me with my own trauma and scars.

It has also left me with an inability to trust my feelings. To be firm on my wants and the confidence to express them to those closest to me. Why is it so easy to facilitate for others and not myself? I have a narrative in my head that is pretty negative. It goes along the lines of “you should put others’ needs before yours as they are more important”. “You don’t deserve this or you are selfish when you push your desires on others”. I recognize that it’s ok to express yourself and want to have others respect and value you. The reality is the thoughts in my head are sometimes stronger than my desire to be right or even heard let alone take a firm position.

My sister and I decided to smudge ourselves yesterday then do a tarot reading. Smudging helps to clear the air with sage and then invite positive energy in with sweetgrass. It feels amazing and helps to get specific about your question and deepen understanding. The method we used is one of my favorites. It’s called the Celtic Cross ( my version). You arrange the cards in a cross-like formation with concerns and clarification(middle), past (left), present (top), future (right) and additional clarification or insights (bottom). The deck we used was the Archangel one my sister had. 

My last card was the Ace of Michael. What stuck with me was the last sentence on the card. “Clear up communication problems with others”. Well darn, it’s not like I haven’t been trying that my whole life sigh… easier said than done for me apparently.  

At what point do you just express yourself and then let the chips fall where they may. The key, I think, is to be prepared for the consequences of your desire to be heard and seen. You may get the words out but there is no guarantee they will be valued or wanted. What are you prepared to give up in order to live your life authentically?

Right now? I am not sure. Stay tuned if you are interested in helping me discover a way to communicate that brings me peace and a sense of well being.

It Starts With Training The Roots

Ficus Ginseng Tree age unknown

In bonsai training you become very familiar with the roots of the tree. Some you expose for their uniqueness while others you trim to preserve the strength of the trunk. Obstacles are purposely placed in the path to create a curve or change in direction. Something that seems so random and unplanned is meticulously cultivated and encouraged. 

Bonsai training is not for someone who lacks perseverance as the tiny trees take years if not decades to mature into their full potential. 

What is at my roots? How well do I know my truths about myself? I can identify when I am being manipulated and obstacles have been placed to encourage me in a different direction. I am learning to overcome my fears. To face them and expose their weakness while I seek ways to improve their core stability.

The exposed roots of the bonsai make the tree special and most often extraordinary. I marvel at their design. As I explore the craft I am humbled by the sheer patience and will power  it takes to bend a tree in a desired shape without breaking its branches and killing its roots. All done with a vision in mind that will take many years to reap the reward.

It takes balance and rebalance. Looking ahead to a desired state while being willing to work with what you currently have.  I find this true for me also. My bending is stiff sometimes and takes quite a bit of coaxing to point me in the right way. I need support wires sometimes to help me over the hurdles while I get used to my new awareness and state of being.

Understanding your core roots can help you to sort out which ones to keep and which ones should be cut to improve the situation. To maintain a healthy body and mind, training is necessary. I am always learning something new about myself and testing my abilities to flex and bend. I hope it doesn’t take me decades to mature into my best representation of me. If it does, then that is what is meant to be.

The road to enlightenment is not a straight line. Just like the bonsai, the more you twist and change directions, the more understanding comes to you. The narls, wounds, blemishes that are collected along the way make you uniquely you.

Live Simply

Too much luxury hinders your practice- Dipa Ma

A year ago, about this time, Sharon and I were clearing our spaces. Purging emotional and physical items that kept progress forward from fully being realized.

Now? Well it’s a marathon not a 100 yard dash. What took years to build up isn’t knocked down in one day or one year.

What I have come to terms with is I am happiest when life is simple. I get anxious and stressed out when I let things build up or become tangled. Then, by habit, I have to stop and work out the knots that I created. I wish my learning curve would speed up in this area. In a way I guess it has as I do recognize the behavior and can see where the path is going before it gets too close to the edge. I used to panic and put my foot on the throttle instead of the brake. 

What am I doing? Where is my balance? How did my simple plans become once again so complicated?

I haven’t been practicing my yoga lessons lately. Too caught up in renovating the van and getting it road ready so I could experience some adventures before winter hit. I have a tendency to rush ahead and steam roll over everything that doesn’t factor into my current project or focus. I am not a great multi-tasker. I already admitted that. I am, though, an addicted finisher. I need the check mark in order to feel complete. Ironically buying a van doesn’t really mesh with having a clearly defined end mark. There will always be something more to do.

I am in need of structured practice to keep me sane and grounded. I know this, hence finding myself in an Ashram for months. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to me the length of time it takes to settle down. To become calm enough to accept my current state of chaos and to work through the process of owning the part I play in its creation. We create our world and invite the characters to enter and exit. We do this consciously or unconsciously. 

I wonder why simplicity helps so much with keeping peace in my head? I can guess. I think it has to do with non-attachment. Things, possessions and ownership bombarded us daily. Everywhere you turn someone is telling you that you need this product or process to feel good about yourself or to be valued in society. What if you don’t? What if you were both with value by just being a human being? Your contributions are a gift. Your essence is meant to enhance the experience of all you connect with be it animal, mineral or spirit. Is the meaning to life that simple?

The older I get the more I think it is. All the worrying about money, assets and stature have amounted to a life full of chasing others imprinted priorities. Shedding those layers has shown me a different way to live, learn and embrace my existence. 

I was most peaceful in my life when I lived in a room that was 6 feet wide and 12 feet long at the ashram. I had my instruments, food, shelter, a purpose and a desire to create. I am not sure I want to go back to that room. I am sure though that I learned valuable lessons about myself while living there I need to hang on to.

The Littlest Hobo

Day 5 of Vanlife

After our visit to the “edge” of Writing On Stone, we decided a calm, quiet night near a body of water was the perfect destination for our last night on the road. One of the great things about living near an enormous wide open land is it’s pretty easy to find a parking space tucked into a crop of bushes or trees near a water source.

We settled in and brought out the propane fireplace. With the vans set in caravan style facing front to back we had ourselves a cozy shelter. I looked down on the ground near the van and had to smile. There was this little plastic dog. I was just asking my brother if he had seen the coyote on the side of the road as we drove on what seemed like endless gravel roads that day. He had. I picked up the “Littlest Hobo” and posed him in different positions to play with the lighting features against the sunset on my phone. The contrast of the light as the world settles down to sleep has always fascinated me. The energy conversion from day to night is seamless, automatic and yet, no two sunsets are exactly the same. Every night we get the chance to make subtle changes to our perspective.

Littlest Hobo

What am I supposed to change here? How can any of us know what the right thing to do in our lives is? I have made the best and well thought out plans before only to have it pulled out from under me and turned upside down. Here I am still. I am here. I am alive and I am aware of myself and others around me.

I sat thinking about this for some time that night. The older I get the more I realize decisions made in crisis mode are usually not the best decisions. It took years to get me here, there is no rush to move me over there. Does that make sense?

The morning dawned crisp and clear. The sun was out and we still had fried bologna and pancakes to make for breakfast. Do you remember as a kid fried bologna sandwiches? They were delicious in my childhood. They are not so delightful now. Somehow someone has gone out of their way to make bologna taste and smell like wet cardboard. The pancakes were good though with a little bit of peanut butter and cinnamon honey.

We packed up and brought our new found vanmate on the road with us spending the rest of the day slowly making it back towards homebase.

We drove into the carport of my mom’s old home and both sat in our separate vans for a bit soaking in the last moments before coming down from the roaming high. I went to move my car and saw that it had a flat tire. Sigh, of course it does. I just laughed. My brother looked at me again puzzled by my responses. What could I say? It happens to me all the time. A series of obstacles appear and I set about sorting them out, walking around them, through them or fixing them. We got the spare tire on and put the van to rest for a bit.

So how was vanlife? There are definitely some kinks to work out and lots to fix or change. The bed is a little short, the electrical needs some overhaul, I need an inspection done for sure. Despite all that? I love it! I have always liked to explore. I like the freedom of going only as far as you feel like in a day then seeing what the place you land has to offer up. I am usually not disappointed to find something to spark some joy in my soul even if it’s just a plastic dog randomly lost in a farmers field.

A fellow adventurer waiting to join me on my journey.

All we are is dust in the wind…

Day 2 of Vanlife Series

There is something about sand that soothes the soul. A tropical beach with the soft, warming particles beneath your bare toes is wonderful. Unfortunately, there are not any warm tropical beaches in my neighborhood but…there are sand dunes…who knew??

Welcome to the Great Sand Hills of Saskatchewan.

Exhibit A

North of Burstall Saskatchewan

We made a pitstop in Burstall to gas up and explore the local gift/antique store. I would recommend hanging out there for a bit. They sell delicious local honey, homemade soups, smoked meats and of course, antiques. The fuel pumps are from the 1950s era. The owner has charm and an extensive knowledge of the area and everyone who lives there.

After getting some directions to the abandoned, must see old church, farm yard and cemetery, the location of a neighbors tractor and other such important tibbits, we were directed to the fastest route to the dunes.

We missed the turn off that was written on the bottom of a church bulletin board on a sign at a t-intersection in the middle of nowhere. I did happen to read it but was following my brother and had to flag him down to turn around. We corrected our compass and started down the dirt packed road.

After a drive that seemed to last forever and a few guesses on where to turn we could see the sandhills off in the distance. The sign states that the land is privatish and open mostly to local cattle farmers. You are welcome to drive on the path as long as you stay on the 6km road through the main part of the mounds.

We parked and eagerly got out to explore.

At the top of one trail there hangs numerous cowboy boots as a memorial to one of the caretakers John Booth. He was a local rancher and had dedicated his life to taking care of the local ranchers association and the hills. It’s a fitting monument to plant your feet at a high vantage point. You can see for miles in all directions and you can’t help but gain a better perspective on life and its ability to point out that nothing is impossible.

Memorial to John Booth local rancher at Great Sandhills

The fact that there are powdery white sandhills on a bald headed prairie seems like a far stretched fantasy and yet…here they are. They reminded me, on a smaller scale, about my trek through the Atlas Mountains and North West edge of the the Sahara in Morocco. They are just as serene and inviting.

We had fun laying down and taking pictures and video of the wind blowing the sand across the landscape in swirls and dust devil patterns.

We decided to keep going from there to Leader to discover another local curiosity. The larger than life Leader Wildlife sculptures are a clever way to get folks off the highway and into a little self guided tour of the town and all it has to offer. We took the bait and stopped at a few of them to take some selfies and learn more about their origin. I love the ingenuity of these little towns!

We left Saskatchewan and its big open spaces to head back towards Cypress Hills and the Alberta border.

Stay tuned for day 3 as our adventure continues…

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