No act of kindness is ever wasted

Seven in the morning, Our regular Starbucks. We approach the door to enter and there is someone on the other side. He’s dressed in sweats, of a slight build and taking a long time to do whatever he’s doing. There was an awkward dance of us pausing to see if he is coming out and eventually, Kevin opened the door and it became clear that this guy had his own thing going on and wasn’t going either in or out anytime soon. He was clearly struggling, though whether that was with life in general or with mental health issues – or both – was unclear. We entered, passed him and carried on our way.

On mornings when we run, we usually pick up breakfast sandwiches because we’re hungry and our boardwalk jaunt has eaten up a lot of our extra morning time. We approached the refrigerator case and perused the selections that are the same every single day, talked about what we were getting and placed our orders. Kevin went first and as I collected my coffee, I turned around to see that he wasn’t at the – what the heck do you call the station where you fix up your coffee with cream and sugar? – whatever it’s called, he wasn’t there. He was outside the front door.

When he came back to the bar to pick up his double smoked bacon sandwich, I asked what was up and he said he’d been outside “to see if that guy wanted a coffee, but he was gone.” As we walked to the car, I could see that he was still looking around. I said, “I wonder where he went.” As he pulled the car around and through a different exit than the one we’d usually take, I could tell that he wasn’t about to give up easily. As we made our way around a corner, I spotted him and said, “there he is.” Kevin was on a mission. He pulled out and navigated a roundabout then pulled over quickly. He rolled down the passenger window and bellowed across me, “Hey! Buddy!” The man’s head snapped around. “You want something to eat?” Without a split second of hesitation, he gave a huge nod of his head and said, “yes!” He walked the fifteen feet to the side of the car and Kevin handed me his hot sandwich. “Here, give this to him.”

act-of-kindness

I’d seen him earlier and I’d sent love and compassion to him when I did, but this was the first time that I’d really looked at him. He was probably my age, he had scars on his face and wore his rough road on his sleeve. He wore just an inside out t-shirt and sweatpants and carried nothing with him. He was missing teeth, but had shaved recently, including his head. It was impossible to tell what his story was, but he didn’t need to justify his need with homelessness or addiction or mental health issues. He is a human being and we are all connected. That factor trumps all others.

I held the sandwich out the window and he reached out a took it. He looked me in the eye and he said, “Thank you. Have a nice day.”

As we pulled away, all I could say to Kevin was, “that was really nice of you.” And there was silence in the car for minutes. Eventually, he said exactly what I’d been thinking and what was the hardest part of the whole thing: “All those people just walked by him like he didn’t mean anything.”

The tears that I’d been holding in started to fall freely and I could think of the only thing I ever think of in situations like this: I don’t know how he does it. I don’t know how he deals with people who are constantly struggling with their demons, people who are suffering in ways that are almost completely misunderstood. I don’t know how he copes with the heartache and the pain and the helplessness of seeing so much need and also seeing the impossibility of fixing it all or making it right. I don’t know how he rectifies the life we live, a life of privilege and freedom and possibility with the stark reality of others’ that may have been troubled from the start or that have suffered beyond any measures we might ever know.

I understand why more people don’t commit acts like this. It’s really hard. And it can also be really scary to approach a stranger and say, “you look like you really need something. I can help.”

We were in Vegas earlier this year with my family. Six of us were dining together and ordered way too much food for ourselves. When we were all full and ready to move on to our next destination, my brother suggested that we give our leftovers to someone who needed them vs having the staff throw them out in the back of the restaurant. Everyone at the table was on board and I felt a sense of pride and admiration that my sibling and my dad were so enthusiastic about giving – it was a side I’d just never been in a situation to see before. As we packed everything up, everybody was high on a feeling of charity. When we got outside, we headed down the street and a curtain of shyness descended on all of us. It was lucky that Kevin was there because he was the only one that could pull the trigger in a situation like this and he set a great example for all of us.

When we see people struggling or suffering, we avert our eyes. We look away and we do our best to avoid them. What are we really avoiding? For me, I know that I am avoiding the absolute heartbreak of knowing that this person in front of me was once the love of someone’s life, was once a tiny baby in its mother’s arms, was once a young child squealing with delight on a playground somewhere. They once had a book that they loved or a pet that they cuddled. They smiled and they laughed. They came from somewhere, belonged to someone and then something happened. They took a wrong turn or some chemical reaction took place or they forgot how to cope or they lost something or someone. Seeing that and being close to it forces me to think about just how fragile life is and that just totally breaks me. Because it’s so sad and so lonely and so terrifying.

be-kind

I wanted to share this story mostly because of the immense love and pride and admiration I felt for Kevin when I saw him in action this morning. There was no motivation for him other than helping when he saw someone who needed it. It wasn’t a photo op or a story to tell. He intentions were pure and simple – to ease someone’s suffering, if only for a few minutes. As far as I’ve seen in my life, no person can display greater strength and wisdom than that and we could all stand to take a page out of his playbook.

Walking Vancouver: Sea Island

We had to skip a week in our Walking Vancouver exploration because Kevin was a little hung up with weekend work, but we were able to get back to it last weekend. This time, we chose Sea Island in Richmond.

We thought this walk would be cool because Sea Island is where YVR airport is and we expected that there would be a lot of planes taking off and arriving overhead. It was cool for all those things, but it was a little disappointing in a few other ways.

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For one, the description we referred to is a little outdated. There has been some development in that area so that’s not really anybody’s fault and it wasn’t even very disruptive, anyway. Just know, that if you are following the outline in the book that we used, the lot where they tell you to park is now closed and we couldn’t find any other trail-related parking so we had to park in the big, weird outlet mall that they built in 2015. The good news is that it’s almost exactly where we were instructed to park and there are thousands of spots. The bad news is that I don’t know if you’re actually allowed to park there, but it wasn’t a problem for us.

We crossed the street and found the trail easily, but then we lost it just as easily. It starts and then it just kind of disappears. If you ever do this walk, stay on the shoulder of the road or walk on the other side of the cement barrier at the side (don’t worry, it isn’t super busy) and eventually you’ll find your trail again. It’s a hard-packed raised gravel path. It’s easy walking for anyone without limitations.

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You’ll weave your way through a tangle of on-ramps, off-ramps, bridges and highways before getting to the more peaceful part of the walk.

After about two kilometres, we passed under Sea Island Way and pass the property of the Pacific Gateway Hotel. From here, the trail follows the edge of the river in between the water and industrial spaces, yards and even some places that are under development.

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The trail veered mostly away from main roads and was tucked in behind many buildings. Above, that’s BCIT Aerospace Technology Campus. Unfortunately, many parts of the path are very neglected and poorly taken care of. At time, it’s hard to even know where to go! (See below.)

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Once we crossed Gilbert Road (no crosswalk on this busy street – this wasn’t noted in our book either), the trail gets a lot nicer. You’ll see the Richmond Olympic Oval across the river (bad picture, below) and eventually pass under No 2 Road. After that, the trail opens wide up along the area that’s considered YVR’s South Terminal, where small and private planes fly in and out.

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After heading inland for a kilometre or so, the trail is now entirely riverside – we could see the water and feel the breeze coming off it. Since it was a warm day, this was very welcome. We passed Harbour Air Seaplanes and the Flying Beaver (it would be great to plan this walk around lunch in the pub) and walked as far as the entrance to the Coast Guard Station. Apparently, if we’d continued further, we’d have discovered an old hovercraft. Alas, we didn’t. (Though, we did come across the filming of iZombie.)

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We turned around at that point and we headed back exactly the way we’d come. Again, the book gave an option that would have taken us inland, but with all the changes that we’d already noted since the big, weird outlet mall had been built and the uncertainties we’d seen with the trail, we decided to stick with what we now knew. It wasn’t a great trail, but we knew it would get us back to where we started.

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In past walk reports, I’ve given kudos to Surrey, Delta, Burnaby and Belcarra for their commitment to and maintenance of the trails we’ve walked. Richmond fell a little short with this one. This trail could really use a little TLC in some spots (and a lot in others.) But the plane traffic was really cool.

92-sea-islandThe nicest view on this walk was at the very end.

This walk was estimated to be 9.5km and to take 3.5 hours. We measured 10km in two hours and fifteen minutes.

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Since we have hit our fifth walk, we decided to rank them in order that we liked them. Here goes:

  1. Belcarra Park – Burns Point
  2. Watershed Park to Mud Bay Park
  3. Steveston Greenways
  4. Deer Lake
  5. Sea Island

Kevin’s ratings were almost identical, except he reversed #1 and #2.

Run, Tyson, run!

All week, I’ve been on pins and needles. I’ve been a high intensity mixture of anxiety and excitement and none of it is rightfully even mine.

Our dear friend Tyson is doing the Pine to Palm 100 tomorrow.

The 100 stands for miles.

100 miles.

One hundred. Miles.

Just think on that for a minute.

83. Tyson

This is his second 100-mile race. The first time he mentioned his first to us, he did it really casually. We were in a brewhouse taproom. He did mentioned it as an aside, as part of a bigger story. I made him pause so I could ask about the race. He answered and carried on. I made him pause again to confirm 100 miles and ask how long that takes. Yes. 30 hours. He continued with his story and I waited patiently until I got the opportunity to ask how he trained to do that. How did you prepare yourself for that? Certainly I understood that the physical feat was astounding, but I couldn’t help but wonder how the heck someone would psychologically endure thirty hours of extremely challenging physical performance. Like, whoa.

So, now he is doing it again and it’s just about the only thing that’s been on my mind all week. I feel so much pride and enthusiasm and I just wish that I could be there with him. We’ve been checking in on our group chat every day this week and he’s shared what he’s eating and how he’s preparing and his running playlist and which audio books he’ll listen to and it’s all be really exciting. We can’t be there, but it feels a little bit like we are.

As he heads off into the woods today, we wished him the best of luck and let him know how proud we are of him, that we are with him in spirit. From the time the race starts tomorrow morning until he finishes sometime on Sunday around noon, our hearts and our minds will be running with him.

❤️🗑🐼❤️

Growing a green thumb

I talk to so many people who feel like they are afraid to or can’t start a garden because they don’t have any experience taking care of one or think it might be too complicated to manage. Every time, I tell them that if I can do it, anyone can!

82. Grow tomatoes

The wonderful thing about a garden is that it requires as much time as you want to give it. I started on the deck of our townhouse in Burnaby when I rescued a few of suffering late-season plants from the Rona down the road. There were two strawberries and two tomatoes. We bought long window box style pots to put them in, dirt and hangers so that the strawberries could sit on the railing.

I remember that it was really funny to me that Kevin seemed so surprised when fruit actually came off of each of them. We didn’t get a lot, of course, they’d been neglected all summer until we’d brought them home, but it was a start. The following year, we revived the strawberries and replaced the tomato plants. The deck got evening sun, but the overhang blocked a lot of it from hitting the plants. It wasn’t ideal, but we got a good crop of strawberries and some tomatoes as well. We moved that October so we started over the following year.

Having been bitten by the gardening bug, I was pretty enthusiastic to get started on our new, bigger and less obstructed balcony in New Westminster. I had more space to work in and early the following spring, I saved a cardboard egg carton and filled it with dirt. I planted my carefully selected tomato seeds in each compartment and tended to them every day. I watered them in droplets and kept them warm with heating pads and inside a makeshift mini-greenhouse made from a used lettuce clamshell. They sprouted, every one! And then they grew bigger and I had to find small pots to transplant them to, then I had to buy bigger ones and relocate the strongest to the empty pots we’d brought over in the move. They flourished and I felt like I’d won the lottery. That was the moment in my gardening history when the bug really took hold.

I actually grew many things last year, but the tomatoes were the most satisfying. (Jalapeños were a close second.) I was successful with spinach, beets, some small hot red peppers and strawberries again. I also learned to sprout an avocado pit and had a dozen of them at varying heights by the time Christmas rolled around. I was defeated by brussels sprouts, cauliflower (white, yellow AND purple varieties), cucumbers and I also lost a lemon tree. I’ve never been able to grow a melon either.

When you tell a seasoned gardener that you couldn’t grow something, they just shrug, smile in understanding and offer their best experience and what they did to find success or ‘fess up that they’ve never been able to grow it either. Everybody who does it seems to believe that there is some level of chance and with all the variables, I suppose there always will be.

At the end of the day, the experience of gardening is so enjoyable that I think everyone should try it. There are times when I get into the garden and when I get out, I feel like I’ve just had the most relaxing meditation session. Gardening is therapy.

Because I am so excited to share the joy of gardening, I’m going to walk you through just how easy it is to grow some of your own food. It’s too late for tomatoes now, but there are a few other veggies that can still be grown this fall and some that even do well over winter. If it were me, I’d wait until the spring, but get your hands on a copy of a West Coast Seeds catalogue. I buy all my seeds from them and their annual catalogue is a gardener’s dream. Not only does it show off the many varieties of all the seeds they sell, it is full of pro-tips and how-tos for those new to the game. Sign up for their newsletters for even more detailed coaching including infographics on how to grow your favourite fruits and vegetables (like this one on how to grow garlic) and email reminders that “this month is a good time to plant <fill-in-the-blank>.” And if you’re anything like me, this will result in an overcrowded, but delightfully generous balcony, porch or garden space.

Want to know how to get started, I’m here to help. Here’s my step-by-step instructions for how to have a bountiful tomato growing season (next year.) If you’re on the west coast, plan to start in mid-March (though you can also start later.) If you’re someplace else, check in with a reputable local gardening resource and go from there.

Here’s all you need:

  • Seeds
  • Dirt
  • Something to plant the seeds in – egg carton, peat pucks that expand when you add water, seed trays
  • Stakes and twist ties or a tomato cage

80. Grow tomatoes

I’ve used this Early Girl variety for two years in a row and they have been fantastic both seasons. They are easy, hardy and high yielding. Get out to Ladner to visit the West Coast Seeds delightful little store. They’ll have everything you need (and more) and their staff are very experienced and willing to help out if you need it.

As I mentioned, I used a cardboard egg carton the first year I planted tomato seeds. I filled each little pocket with some potting soil, then placed one seed in each pocket of dirt. I sprinkled some dirt on top to cover each seed and then put a few drops of water over each seed. Germination takes about a week with a tiny little sprout showing itself first. From there it opens up with two leaves and later on a second set of leaves will appear. The key here is patience. It doesn’t happen overnight, but once they get growing, you’ll start to see a difference every few days.

79. Grow tomatoes

After I first planted mine, I placed them inside the plastic clamshell that we’d emptied of salad and put the lid on top. I’d hoped that this would create  mini-greenhouse and it did. I put the contraption on top of a heating pad and I turned it on a few times each day. (Ours has a two hour auto-shut off.) I’ve since read that tomatoes seedlings like bottom heat so this is a good tip to follow. I just did it instinctively because I’d wanted to add some heat to get my greenhouse effect going. It worked.

After a few weeks, the seedlings grew tall enough that they could no longer stay in the greenhouse when the lid was on so I got another bottom half and doubled it up on top of the original. At one point, I had to use plastic wrap to keep everything warm and cozy, but I can’t remember exactly how. You can buy clear lids for gardening trays at nurseries or hardware stores, but you get my drift: whatever you use, keep things as steamy as you can. Watering regularly will help with that and it will also keep your tomato babies happy. They don’t want to be swampy, but they will drink a lot. Don’t overwater, but don’t let them dry out. You’ll figure out a happy balance. 🙂

78. Grow tomatoes

Eventually, your seedlings will start to look a little cramped in your egg carton garden bed. When this happens, find some small pots (make sure they have drainage) and fill them up with your leftover potting soil. Gently dig out the area around where the roots of your plants are one by one. Be generous with the dirt you dig because you don’t want to break your plant or damage its roots. Once you’ve placed the plant in the new pot, add some more dirt to fill up the pot and I like to pack a little more around the area where the stem meets the dirt to give it a little extra support. Continue to keep your plants on the windowsill or in a place where they will get a lot of sun. By now, they’ll be too big to keep a lid on them, but they should also be strong and healthy and able to withstand a little cooler temperature.

Eventually, they’re going to need to go outside and, I’m not going to lie, this was absolutely the hardest part for me. The first night I put them out, I felt like I knew what it was like to send a child off to college. I worried about them all night and I regularly checked that they had enough shelter for days after. (We get a lot of wind on our balcony.) As they get bigger and bigger, they’ll start to need bigger pots. If it’s a warm enough spring or if you plant them later than March or April, you might be able to skip the middle-man small pots and go straight to the ones that you’re going to have them grow in. This might mean that they go outdoors sooner and, if the weather is good, that’s okay. As I mentioned, this is a very hardy variety of tomato.

Note: this transplant or double transplant works with this variety of tomato, but there are many plants that don’t like to be handled and won’t withstand a single transplant, let alone two. Do your research before you choose something else to grow. If you don’t, you can chalk it up to being part of the learning process, but you might have wasted an entire growing season and, once you’re an enthusiastic gardener, you’ll realize just how long the winters really are.

81. Grow tomatoes

Once your tomato plants are in their permanent homes, they’re pretty low-maintenance. They will continue to drink a lot and appreciate daily waterings. Keep the water coming and your plants will grow up and around. After they establish themselves in your garden or their pot(s) in your patio area, you’ll start to notice yellow flowers blooming more and more frequently. These are your future tomatoes! You’re almost there!

Shortly after the blooms shrivel up, you’ll start to see tiny little green orbs where the flowers used to be and as time passes, they’ll get bigger and bigger. It’s around this time that you’ll need to start thinking about support. Some people like those metals cages for keeping their tomato plants upright, but I just use bamboo stakes and twist ties to keep my plants sturdy. As the tomatoes get bigger and bigger, the branches will get heavier and begin to droop more. Keep them up!

If you’ve made it this far, you are officially a gardener! Now, you enjoy your spoils! Eventually, your tomatoes will begin to soften their green colour, then turn yellow-ish, then orange-y and finally RED. That’s how you know when to pick them. Simply pluck them off their stem and enjoy. I usually have so many that I start to pick them early and ripen some in my kitchen while the others take their time while still on the plants.

Bon appetit! When you sink your teeth into your first tomato, you’ll remember just how good homegrown vegetables can be. And then you’ll want to grow something else.

Do you have a garden? If you could grow any fruit or vegetable, which would it be? 

Labour Day

I’m a pretty deliberate person and I like it when I know that things are done with a purpose. I also like celebrations and honouring events, past and present. For the first thirteen years in the company I work for, I was a member of the union. For four or five of those years, I was a department rep and shop steward. In my current position, I am no longer in the union, but I work very closely with those who are on the executive and standing committee. I understand the issues and it’s important for me to support what is right when the opportunity crosses my desk.

Labour Day has largely become more about a long weekend and kids going back to school than anything else. I’d venture to guess that very few people actually acknowledge and understand the root of the celebrations. I’ll admit that, while I was aware of its relation to labour movements past, I had no idea that the first Labour Day celebrations in Canada took place as early as 1872 and I certainly didn’t know the details.

The more thought I gave to it, the more important it was to me to understand the history a little better. For all the research I did, an article titled The First Labour Day was the most comprehensive that I found. An excerpt:

This is the context and setting for what is generally considered Canada’s first Labour Day event in 1872. At the time, unions were illegal in Canada, which was still operating under an archaic British law already abolished in England.

For over three years the Toronto Printers Union had been lobbying its employers for a shorter work week. Inspired by workers in Hamilton who had begun the movement for a nine-hour work day, the Toronto printers threatened to strike if their demands weren’t met. After repeatedly being ignored by their employers, the workers took bold action and on March 25, 1872, they went on strike.

Toronto’s publishing industry was paralyzed and the printers soon had the support of other workers. On April 14, a group of 2,000 workers marched through the streets in a show of solidarity. They picked up even more supporters along the way and by the time they reached their destination of Queen’s Park, their parade had 10,000 participants – one tenth of the city’s population.

The employers were forced to take notice. Led by George Brown, founder of theToronto Globe and notable Liberal, the publishers retaliated. Brown brought in workers from nearby towns to replace the printers. He even took legal action to quell the strike and had the strike leaders charged and arrested for criminal conspiracy.

Conservative Prime Minister John A. Macdonald was watching the events unfold and quickly saw the political benefit of siding with the workers. Macdonald spoke out against Brown’s actions at a public demonstration at City Hall, gaining the support of the workers and embarrassing his Liberal rival. Macdonald passed the Trade Union Act, which repealed the outdated British law and decriminalized unions. The strike leaders were released from jail.

The workers still did not obtain their immediate goals of a shorter work week. In fact, many still lost their job. They did, however, discover how to regain the power they lost in the industrialized economy. Their strike proved that workers could gain the attention of their employers, the public, and most importantly, their political leaders if they worked together. The “Nine-Hour Movement,” as it became known, spread to other Canadian cities and a shorter work week became the primary demand of union workers in the years following the Toronto strike.

The parade that was held in support of the strikers carried over into an annual celebration of worker’s rights and was adopted in cities throughout Canada. The parades demonstrated solidarity, with different unions identified by the colorful banners they carried. In 1894, under mounting pressure from the working class, Prime Minister Sir John Thompson declared Labour Day a national holiday.

Wherever the day takes you today, be it last minute school supply shopping or at a barbecue with family or friends, take some time to consider the hard work that has been done by the pioneers of the labour movement and those who have taken the batons from them ever since. It is often thankless work, but it has provided all of us with the rights and benefits that we enjoy today.

TOU Labour Day

Long distance yoga – update #1

I mentioned last week how my favourite partner in crime and I were closing the gap over the 295 miles between us and exploring yoga together. Well, sort of. We’d decided to sign up for Gaia and do the same 14-day yoga fundamentals course at the same time, comparing experiences and notes as we went. Here’s where she wrote about it before we got started, too.


We’re about four days in and it’s been pretty interesting so far. It’s been a while since I practiced yoga regularly and I hadn’t really realized just how long. Fortunately, I am aware of how quickly the body adapts and how they call it a yoga practice for a reason: because you just keep going and it never ends. I’ll be honest, I was a little sad and disappointed when Amy described yoga as “a topic that feels tremendously overwhelming” in the questions I’d asked her before we started. I immediately felt like I’d let her down. For all the things that we have done over the decade we’ve known each other, I feel like I should have held her hand and bridged that gap before now.

Each of the days in the 14-day series have been given a title. So far, I’ve been through: Courageous, Grounded, Strong and Connected. It’s a nice approach to have a theme and a tailored practice to relate to that theme. Each lesson so far has been taught by a different instructor and all of them have been quite good at explaining the small details of what they are doing and what the viewer should be. The compilation really honours the fundamentals approach and takes the time to teach the bigger picture as well as the small details. The sessions have ranged between 25 minutes and about 50 minutes long and each day’s practice is also accompanied by some bonus video tutorials and readings for each day. I’ve flirted with the idea of doing the yoga teacher training a few times over my lifetime and the intense learning aspect of the fundamentals series really speaks to that part of me.

I’ve struggled with yoga over the years because of my need to combine my physical practice with my spiritual practice. I may leave most yoga classes with a feeling of having physically stimulated my body, but I rarely leave feeling as though I’d stimulated my soul. For me, the heart of the yoga practice is in the soul and I feel like a diner who leaves their gourmet meal still feeling hungry when I walk out of many yoga studios. (If you ever get the opportunity to practice with Amy Reedman, take it! She is easily the most wholly satisfying instructor I’ve ever encountered.)

Over the first four sessions, the Gaia fundamentals series has walked that fine line between being both physically and spiritually satisfying and I love that. It approaches both sides in a way that is encouraging and not intimidating for a beginner. It starts to tackle the concept of mind-body connection that is largely ignored in mainstream fitness practices. It’s nice and easy to digest.

I think that since we started, we’ve realized that we were a little ambitious in our plans to do each session on consecutive days. You know, real life and all… We’re carrying on and working at the goal and checking in with each other periodically to talk about what we’re doing and what we’re learning. I even put this series into my list of things to do in September.

When I asked Amy about her experience so far, she had this to say:

The instructors are always talked about grounding yourself with the earth, through your feet. I thought it was interesting, because it’s easy to take for granted. Just…standing there. Not really thinking about how your feet connect with the ground. Stopping, breathing, feeling the connection.

I’m super proud of her and I’m loving this experience of practicing long-distance yoga.

Do you practice yoga? What’s been your favourite yoga learning experience?

August in review

This month, I started with my first “things we’ll do this month” list of fun(ish – but mostly fun) goals for the month. Things I want to do, see and try throughout the month, some new things, some old things revisited.

Aloha August

I was talking with a friend just days after I’d posted my August list. She’d asked about how I came up with the idea. I told her that I wasn’t really sure where it came from, but I knew that I’d hit on something that would be really good for me when it started keeping me up at night – in a good way. I found that as I was falling asleep, if I woke up for short periods in the night or first thing when I first opened my eyes in the morning, I would lay in bed thinking about what was already on my list for the next month and what I could add. As my list expanded, I had to start writing the ideas down and then, already knowing a few things I wanted for future, I started lists for the rest of the year. I added things related to holidays or special dates that I’d always wanted to do or celebrate, but that, every year, somehow ended on the backburner until I eventually swore I’d do the next time around. Having the list has added a happy new dynamic to our lives this month because it’s given us several things to look forward to. We’re pretty fun-loving and optimistic people and we generally look forward to life, but having a specific list has increased that. Throughout this month, we’ve known that we were going to go swimming in a pool and that we’d get started on our fall/winter gardening – we may not have known the exact details of when and where, but we knew it was coming. Having a list of things to do has also given the feeling of adding time to our lives outside of work. Being more aware of the days as they pass and all the things we want to do with them, made us more conscious of everything we were (and were not) doing. Having enjoyable goals broke up the monotony of just getting through life and trying to squeeze in some pleasurable living, but only after all the chores had been done and errands run. Instead, we were scheduling the mundane parts of life around our new to do list. Nothing got neglected, it was just reprioritized.

23. Awesome August Day 7

Here’s the completed list of things we wanted to do in August with some comments and/or links to my proof.

26. Awesome August Day 10

There were a few things that we didn’t get to, but I’m okay with it. Here are our things that remained undone:

  • Have a picnic – we probably had plenty of picnic-like meals outdoors, but no proper picnic like I’d envisioned
  • Swim in the ocean – Kevin says I should count this, I think that’s a stretch
  • Road trip to Nanaimo – we almost did this one, but then had to give up the dream when the weekend we’d planned it went sideways and there wasn’t another one when we could make it happen
  • Go bowling – this made a reappearance on September’s list
  • Ride our bikes – again, we’re going to try this one another time

58. Awesome August Day 20

And here are a couple of extra cool and awesome bonus things we did in August:

  • We started our Walk Vancouver quest where we pick a different walk and explore parts of Vancouver we’ve never been to adventure on trails we have never seen. We went to Deer Lake in Burnaby, Watershed and Mud Bay Parks in Delta and Surrey, Steveston Greenways in Richmond and Belcarra – Burns Point. I’m really hoping to turn this into a year round habit.
  • I completed the Headspace Take Ten introduction to meditation. I’m somewhat experienced with meditating, but I wanted to go through and introduction like this one. For someone who was totally new to the practice of meditation, this would be a perfect way to get comfortable and accustomed to being more mindful. If you have ever wondered about meditating, I strongly recommend that you check out this free series – just ten minutes a day for ten days.

What made your August special? Are there any things that you will plan to do in August next year?

Things we’ll do this month: September

Yay for September! The mercury in the thermometer is falling (or at least beginning to drop,) public places are becoming more scarce with summer vacationing families and tourists, pumpkin spice everything is making its way into the marketplace like a bull in a china shop. Fall is right around the corner.

Succulent September

Question: do you say autumn or fall? Is there a difference? To me, autumn seems an appropriate word for the soft transition between end of summer and real fall. Fall is the time afterwards – the Thanksgiving and Halloween, cold nights and darker mornings. September is autumn, October becomes fall.

So, back in August, I started this new tradition of coming up with a list of things I/we’d like to do in the upcoming month. It’s mostly fun and games and enjoyable stuff, though some errand-y type endeavours may make their way to the list periodically. Here’s what’s on the docket for September.

  • Plan engagement photos
  • Make perogies with Barb
  • Go apple picking
  • Investigate cover crops and plant them in #myremotegarden
  • Pack up spring/summer clothes, unpack fall/winter clothes
  • Make my dad a birthday cake
  • Make and can salsa
  • Complete 14-day yoga fundamentals
  • Organize visit from Amy & Tyson
  • Read Born For This by Chris Guillebeau
  • Practice handwriting
  • Have a dinner party
  • Swim in the ocean
  • Ride our bikes
  • Go bowling

What exciting things do you have planned for September? What’s on your to do list this month?

#AwesomeAugust – the finale

I spent the month of August documenting a single thing that makes me happy every day. #AwesomeAugust was an enjoyable way to document some of the fun things we were doing as well as the other things we have to be grateful for. I can’t believe that the month is already over and that summer is on its way out, too. Here are my final six #AwesomeAugust posts. Links to my archives are down below.

51. Columbia StrEAT

Day 26
Mint & algae kombucha
The elixir of the gods

74. Awesome August Day 28

Day 27
Jalapeño harvest

73. Awesome August Day 27

Day 28
Memories of great friends, great travel, great cities

75. Awesome August Day 29

Day 29
Modernizing very old heirloom furniture
(Which do you like better??)

76. Awesome August Day 30

Day 30
Baseball at Nat Bailey is a summertime treat.
Good friends are the sprinkles on top.

77. Awesome August Day 31

Day 31
Future jack-o’-lanterns

#AwesomeAugust, #ThankfulThursday & breaking rules aka week one
#AwesomeAugust Week two
#AwesomeAugust Week three
#AwesomeAugust Week four

What did you celebrate this August? What did you have to feel most thankful for?

Walking Vancouver: Belcarra – Burns Point

This summer, we started a new habit of picking a destination from our 109 Walks book and enjoying a hike in a new Lower Mainland location each weekend. Here’s where we have visited so far: Deer Lake in Burnaby, Watershed Park to Mud Bay Park in Delta/Surrey and Steveston Greenways in Richmond.

For the fourth installment of our Walking Vancouver adventure, I chose a place that was a little special to me. The trail that we did on this particular day was one that I’ve done a thousand times before – with my parents, with my brother, with my aunt and with my cousins, in high school, I’d also done it with my friends. It was familiar, but it was also a reminder that it’s been a long time since I was in high school and that a lot has changed since then including Belcarra Regional Park.

72. Belcarra

So, this trip was special for all the memories I have there, but it was also a fun opportunity to share something meaningful from my childhood with Kevin. We’d been to the picnic area at Belcarra once last summer, but he’d never been on the trails there before.

It was another hot August day so we left the house early enough to get there before things heated up too much. While legions of cars parked in all surrounding areas of Sasamat Lake and White Pine Beach, we carried on to the much less crowded Belcarra. (I honestly don’t understand why this happens every single summer day. In my opinion, Belcarra is miles nicer than Sasamat, plus it’s access to the ocean, which is also way better than lake.)

70. Belcarra

We had the option of two different trails from our starting point. The first option would take us along the Admiralty Point trail, the other in the opposite direction along the Jug Island Beach trail. We chose Admiralty Point because it’s the one I am so familiar with.

Once we were parked, we packed up my little backpack with lunch and drinks and hit the trail. It begins right beside the (very well maintained, I must say) bathrooms in the picnic area of the park.

66. Belcarra

Early on, the path head upwards. Some of the longest and steepest climbs are at the very start. That said, none of the climbs are particularly long or steep. It’s mostly a rolling trail that climbs up and then comes down, climbs up and then comes down again. It isn’t too challenging from a fitness standpoint, but it is rather precarious when it comes to grooming. Look out for roots, rocks and other unstable footing along your way. There are many railings, fences, stairs and bridges built into the trail, but it is a true nature hike vs the trail walks that we’ve being doing to date.

65. BelcarraThis isn’t a scene from the trail, it IS the trail

Early on in the trail, for the first kilometre or so, you’ll catch glimpses of the ocean as you move closer and further away, up and down on the slopes. Eventually, as we approached the second kilometre mark, we started to come across small beaches and rocky overhangs. Cod Rock is the first place that warrants a sign, the second is Admiralty Point.

67. Belcarra

Admiralty Point is 100 metres from the main trail and once you get through the trees, it opens up to rock faces at a few different heights. The first thing I did was climb down to the tiny beach area in front of the rocks. If I’d known that the tide was on its way out, I would have waited for a few minutes, but as it happened, I felt like an Olympic gymnast balancing myself while putting my bare feet into the water without getting my shoes wet or my feet cut up on the barnacles that were everywhere. (This was, of course, the day I didn’t bring my big backpack with the aqua socks inside.)

68. Belcarra

This was a really nice place to sit and eat the leftover pizza that we’d packed for lunch, catch our breath, rehydrate and enjoy the views that reach as far as the Port of Vancouver.

As a kid, Admiralty Point was our end point on this trail, but our book actually directed us to take this trail to the end which is Burns Point, overlooking the Burrard Inlet and to Barnet Highway across the water.

Burns Point is about a kilometre further down the trail, but the leg between Admiralty Point and our final destination was significantly tougher than the early trek. It’s hillier, the trails are narrower and the ups and downs are steeper, too.

58. Awesome August Day 20

Once we got to Burns Point, we did little more than just turn around and head back the way we came. Admiralty Point is certainly the highlight of the walk as far as scenery goes. If you venture out on this hike, make that the place you stop for a rest.

This trail isn’t super easy, but it’s enjoyable. It’s mostly forested area so there is plenty of shelter from the sun. Pack a hat if you plan to spend a lot of time on any of the beaches or rocky viewpoints because they are wide open.

According to the book, this hike was 5.2 km and should have taken two hours. We measured almost exactly 6 km and took one hour and forty minutes.

71. Belcarra

What’s your favourite snack to pack when out walking or hiking? Do you prefer lake or oceanside views?