Category Archives: Victoria Lifestyle

Letting Go So I Can Move On

Today is the day I allow my Victoria blog domain to die. Now it’s just another lowly wordpress.com site.

Writing-wise, it was like a bad pair of jeans. Sure, it gave me something to write about, but it would always feel wrong.

Despite that, Victoria has been where I’ve reconnected with writing after losing my inspiration for nearly five years. I’ve tried on many genres of writing while here — for money and otherwise.

With both paid and unpaid writing, I now feel that life is too precious to spend it earning money doing things I don’t love, and even less worth it when money ain’t involved. I haven’t figured out the secret to only getting paid to do what I love yet, but I’m getting closer. I can feel it.

Girl checks out the sunset on Victoria's Dallas Road. By me. Some rights reserved.

Girl checks out the sunset on Victoria’s Dallas Road. By me. Some rights reserved.

I was never gonna be the Victoria-it-place girl. I’m glad the one blog post on about lepers got a lot of recognition and was reprinted in the Huffington Post, but the rest of the blog, I found it hard to give a shit about it.

Learning that it’s the genre and type of writing that was bumming me out is a big thing. It’s the opposite of inspiration, that. Other people can write about food joints and place trends, but it ain’t me.

I’m now learning the writing I want to do can’t be done in one spot. It’s like an REM song — I can’t get there from here.

I can’t explain it to you, but you’ll know it when you see it.

I shot this on day five of living in Victoria. March, 2012. Sunset at Victoria's Ogden Point Breakwater. I will miss this place and its special feeling after I'm gone.

I shot this on day five of living in Victoria. March, 2012. Sunset at Victoria’s Ogden Point Breakwater. I will miss this place and its special feeling after I’m gone.

In future adventures in writing, I see more observational, contemplative work. That’s my jazz. I also want to try fiction again, which I’ve only written for classes before, but that I may have a knack for. After all, inside my brain is a dark and bizarre world at times. I’ve begun cobbling out the plot for an unreliable memoir of a serial killer, for instance.

I’m sure there are those who’ll scoff at the notion that I can know what my “missing piece” is and where I’ll find it, but there aren’t a lot of times in our lives when we have an unmistakable pull telling us where to go, what to do. For those of us lucky enough to decipher that code, there’s this weird undercurrent of certainty that battles the fear of change.

I may be terrified of my five-year world-travel plan, in some ways, but I’ve never had more certainty that a risk I was taking is the right one. Believe me, I’ve thought of all the freaky what-ifs, but the core of certainty remains.

“Certainty” is an iffy word for it, but I can’t find a better one.

It’s like that scene in Donnie Darko where Donnie sees that strange orb of pre-destiny extending from other folks’ torsos, in that split moment before they commit to a direction or action, affirming for Darko Dr. Roberta Sparrow’s theories on time travel.

The global nomad thing just feels that way for me and my writing. What I seek, it’s out there. It feels almost like I’ve accidentally mislaid a piece of my soul and need to go retrieve it.

I remember when I was younger I used to think relentless wanderers were people running away or seeking something. I know it’s more complicated now. Today, I feel like some of those wanderers are plugged into a bigger picture, they’re not running from anything — they’re embracing everything.  “Wherever you go, there you are.”

Abroad, writing will become a kind of clearinghouse for me. I will absorb, process, and relate everything I’m experiencing in the moment. Like French cinema, I may not get it when I’m in the theatre, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy the imagery and I’ll appreciate it more in the days to come.

I look forward to trying all kinds of writing exercises, seeing what fits and what doesn’t. Same with cultures, landscapes, and cuisines.

So today I allow one more thing to fall away from me, a passing of my time here in Victoria. In ways that will remain known only by me, that blog was part of how I came to realize my nebulous dream of being a global nomad was absolutely doable. It was how I learned my limits, that living on, and writing about, life on one island was not gonna be enough for me.

Milestones are cool. For me, this is a good one. There’ll always be the WordPress.com version of the blog anyhow.

And so the slow goodbye to Van Isle begins for me today.

Cycling: Why You Should Start, & How

Britain’s greatest Olympian ever retired yesterday. Chris Hoy took another gold medal in Cycling, and then called it a day. Tearfully, he said his career and these racing competitions weren’t just about winning gold, they were about seeing more people get on bikes. More cyclists, more roads with bikes, more, more, more.

Cycling isn’t just about exercise, it’s not just a way to get where you’re going. Cycling is a complete change in lifestyle. It’s pretty much the only sport that can change your life, in every way, on a daily basis.

When you park that car and ride your bike, you’re saving money, you’re saving the environment, and you’re saving your life.

It costs, on average, about $10,000 a year to run a car. Just riding a bus daily for work can cost you over $1,000, and that doesn’t include lost productivity in all those hours waiting for connections.

Cycling doesn’t cost a cent once you’re in it. Yearly maintenance costs are pretty low, especially if you know how to clean your bike chain and do some of that yourself. Quality bike maintenance and parts can likely be done for under $200 per year, and a good bike should last well over 10,000 kilometres.

Me, I changed cities and lifestyles entirely so I could ditch busing and other forms of motorized commute. I’ve gone from 60 hours a month to only riding a bus for 15 minutes in the last 30 days. The rest of the time, I walk and I cycle. I’m happier, healthier, and less inclined to want to slap the masses.

Change Your Thinking

When I was new to Victoria, I was busing a lot to get a sense of the world. My chiropractor was just under an hour by two buses. Turns out his office is close to one of the nicest bike routes I’ve ever ridden. Total time to cycle there? 25 minutes each way.

With my saddle bags attached, I can hit up some of the great food shops, save $5 on return bus fare, and get an hour of cardiovascular exercise in, reducing my need to find time to “exercise” at some point in my week. How is that inconvenient in any way? Well, it isn’t.

Once you turn all those wasted commute hours — because, by bus or car, you know you ain’t getting anything done but reading or emails — into exercise, that too is where you change your life. It’s killing two birds with one awesome stone.

Cycling is a low-impact, high-result exercise that does amazing things for your body, IF you’re riding the right kind of bike with a good fit. If your bike shop isn’t concerned about “fit” and how a bike performs with YOUR body, then you need a better bike shop. This is not frivolous “entitled customer” thinking, as bike fit is absolutely critical to your enjoyment of the sport, and whether it has negative effects for you.

With the right gear, the right fit, and a little conditioning, you will be amazed at the way cycling simplifies your life.

Tired of getting home angry after a 15km commute by car? Try cycling it. It only takes a month or so to be conditioned to cycle 15kms (10 miles), and I’m telling you that as a girl over 200 pounds. If I can do it, what is YOUR excuse?

Here are considerations for getting started in cycling:

Saddle Bags Will Change Your Life

I pick different areas to shop in every week. My saddlebags will hold 70 litres of goods, which is actually a lot for a single girl like me. I can get beer, veggies, meats, condiments, and more, for over a week.

In one area, I get Mediterranean foods, stellar produce, and Indian ingredients. I plan meals ahead and get things from all three on the same day.

For routine staples and bad weather, I have a closer network of shops for more mundane goods, an 8km circuit I can easily do year-round in about 90 minutes including both cycling and shopping, that sees me hitting 4 to 6 great food purveyors downtown, from Italian to organics.

Then there’s my elaborate “gluttony ride” out to Oak Bay, a beautiful seaside area, where there’s an artisan salumerie, specialty wine shop, and great cheesemonger’s, and I hit that up once a month with a mind to enjoy a fantastic cheese & wine platter after that ride — and getting 75 minutes of beautiful flat touring ride makes it a guilt-free gluttonous night.

Now, I never, ever leave home without my saddle bags because I’m either packing my camera and a lunch, or I usually make use of my excursion by grabbing things on my way home.

When you do, buy heavy-duty saddlebags, because they will last for YEARS. Mine are 5+ years old already, from Canada’s MEC, and cost me about $75 when I got them, and they’re not the expensive ones. If I replace them this winter, it will be for larger ones, not because of wear. Make sure they’re weatherproof, clasp into place, and have reflective surfacing, extra pockets, and easy-to-carry handles. These will be the best things you ever put on your bike.

If you could exercise AND save money AND get all your out-in-the-world chores done at the SAME time, why wouldn’t you?

Pick the Right Bike

There are lots of styles, and more than you likely think, when it comes to bikes. From step-through Dutch bikes to hybrids, road bikes, and mountain bikes, to beyond. Each has benefits, and it’s why most lifelong cyclists have more than one bike.

If you’re looking to be a commuter and use your bike for recreation, then a road bike’s probably the last thing you want, oddly. Get a good bike shop, talk to friends about why they like their bike (as opposed to what YOU should ride, just find out why it works for them). Plus, use places like bike swap meets, used shops, and cycling organizations to gain some good insight from people who use cycling as a whole-life endeavour, because they’re the ones who know.

Know Your Paths

Cycling on the road isn’t a death sentence, but I sure as hell don’t enjoy it as much as I like a pedestrian/cyclist trail, like the great paths here in Victoria, which include the Galloping Goose and the Lochside. Most North American cities are designating paths for cyclists now, but they’re not always where you’d know to look. Ask at your local bike shop to see if they’ve got maps for your region, Google routes, or scan the app stores to see if there’s a cycling app for your area.

The Google (the web version only) now has a “bikes” feature in Beta testing on Maps searches, and you can select that to see the most bike-friendly route. Bike routes are often better, and different, than walking routes as elevation tends to be a big factor in riding. Here in Victoria, the Galloping Goose and Lochside trails are on an old train track, so the elevation grade has been smoothed out very nicely despite all the dips and valleys of living on an island. This makes for a much less intimidating ride than heading up car-friendly hills and other steep grades, and makes it the perfect place to get accustomed to distance rides.

Another plus to Googling places for your travel route is you can also get an approximate cycling time and distance. From my experience, the times tend to be for the “semi-conditioned” rider — not experts, but someone who’s cycling more regularly, so if you’re new, add some cushion time there.

Skills Count

Cycling, like motorcycling, is very much a skills-based pursuit. The more confident you are, the safer you’ll be. You need to know you’re a victim in the making every time you get on your bike, because Car vs. Bike almost always has the same outcome. But that’s not to say you can’t be more prepared to avoid these situations entirely.

Most cycling organizations have Skills-based rides where they teach you how to ride smarter. Here in Victoria, there’s a 3-hour basic skills course that’s free, and there’s an 8-hour one that costs $30, where you go on a ride through the city and they teach you in situ what skills are suited to what scenarios, and how to be a proactive, safe rider.

Safety First

Gear is pretty much the be-all end-all with cycling. You get what you pay for, and, trust me, when your life is on the line in a mid-winter chores ride near dusk, cheaping out isn’t the way to go.

Whether it’s great-quality raingear that keeps your head in the game, rather than you shivering and thinking how awful you feel, or lighting for evening rides, quality counts.

For lights, you want to check out the brightness rating. How many watts? Anything less than 2 watts should be a throwaway. And if it’s only 2 watts, you likely want to double up. Obviously, you need a front and back light, but most cyclists never think to put spoke lighting on their wheels. The only seriously close calls I have ever had have been from cars on side streets not seeing me in front of them and nearly T-boning me. For $15, you can get a couple sets of spoke lights to make your wheels light up and give yourself 360-degree visibility on the road at night. Trick yourself out with lotsa lights, because being a Christmas tree means being seen.

A helmet is a no-brainer, but most people don’t like them. I’ve been saved by helmets twice — once preventing a head injury, and once preventing death. But, hey, if your haircut’s that important to you, fine — just opt out of my medical system if you choose the no helmet route.

And That’s a Starter

Cycling will change your life. That’s inarguable.

If you get hooked, it will be your drug of choice. It will clear your mind, improve your health, bolster your finances, charge your creativity, and mellow your mood. It will save the planet, too.

If your arguments are “It’s too hard,” well, that’s because you’re new. Cycling on the road, your conditioning improves faster, better, than probably any sport I’ve ever tried. If you think “It’s too far,” that’s also because you’re new. Trust me. Give it one month of 4-5 rides a week, and you’ll be stunned.

There are really no good reasons to stay off your bike. I’ve seen parents taking kids to school on bike trailers, children as young as 6 years old cycling 10 kilometres around a city with Mom and Dad during a day, and more.

Cycling is more flexible than you imagine, more rewarding than you could dream, and it’s something you can do today to change EVERY part of your life.

Give it a shot. You’ve got more power in you than you think. Change your life, ride a bike.

My Topsy-Turvy Love Affair with Cycling

Just a moment ago, I was stretching my stiff ass on my balance ball, watching the Women’s Omnium’s final race in the Olympics. (If you’re not familiar, it’s a serious of cycling track races that get tallied up for an overall score for the winner, kinda like track’s Heptathalon.)

Canada’s Tara Whitten finished fourth overall and was devastated, crying on a teammate’s shoulder after losing a  medal.

The winner overall was a young Brit, Laura Trott. The announcer spoke of how the Trott family had been overweight, and their mom decided they all needed to get healthy. She took a young Laura Trott down to the cycling club, got her put on a bike, and now here the kid is, a Gold Medal winner at the age of 20 in the Olympics at home.

On one of Victoria's amazing pedestrian/cyclist trails for a sunset.

Shifting Gears

I’d been half-inspired to write about cycling this week, but my mind’s in a million other places, thanks to personal anniversaries and such, so writing’s not been “working” for me.

Then I saw this girl win this medal, and it was something that all she started out doing was wanting to get fit ‘cos her mom saw the light. That’s all.

And I got to thinking that cycling’s never just “that’s all.”

Cycling changed my life — for good and bad. Mostly good, but here’s both sides of that story.

The Bad

The back problems I have been rehabbing off and on for 4 years, thanks to the repeat blowout on March 15th, 2011,  escalated and worsened because of a bad bike fit. Had that injury never happened, I probably would’ve remained on that road to glory I was on when I’d taken off more than 70 pounds in one year, from October 1, 2007 to October 3, 2008, the day my back initially blew.

Before that, I’d been cycling 150km or more a week, and I was just loving it. My mood was better, my ability to handle stress was better, I was happier to get out into the world every day. Cycling was my moment of Zen, it was my ADD cure. I was more productive day-to-day, more focused, and I really, really loved who it made me.

But the next three years became a cautionary tale about how important bike fit is, because we (meaning *I*) never figured out until last August that my bike could be the culprit keeping my injury sustained. That, and the 60 hours a month I was riding the bus.

Every time I had new back twinges, I’d be asking physios / chiros / doctors if my bike could be the culprit, and finally Dr. Bryson Chow made a couple suggestions, and we realized, yeah, the bike was a big part of the problem.

But that was then.

Now, I know what was the issue. Now I’ve moved and have a new chiropractor who’s worked with Olympic cyclists, and he doesn’t see me as some fat girl with a bad back, he sees me as a hopeful athlete who’s had some bad luck and bad advice over time.

Just five minutes from that great sunset bridge shot is this cycling underpass, on the Lochside Trail, just one of a couple painted-underside downtown bridges for cyclists & pedestrians only.

Time for a New Normal

I moved to Victoria March 1st. It was mid-April when I was given the okay to get back on my bike, the first time since last September. I was told to start slow, and never cycle back-to-back days, so I could always assess it after 24 hours and a sleep.

I’ve been seeing my chiropractor at least every 3 weeks during this time. He gives me advice, tells me what part of my body’s reacting badly, and we try to figure out where I’m going wrong and what to do next.

In mid-April, I began by cycling 5 kilometres a time for a couple weeks. Now I’m cycling 30, and I can cycle 4-5 days a week, not 2-3.

It’s proof that conditioning improves quickly when on the road or trails for cycling, versus working out in the gym. Especially, when, like me, you’re hauling way, way more weight up those hills than some skinny bitch or straw-like dude.

(Hicc) Namaste, Yo.

Despite those early hiccups, I’m reaching that Zen place again, where seeing a hill doesn’t send waves of terror through me. Instead of being sure I’ll have to stop at the top to wheeze and die, I’m more often sure I have it in me to reach the top of that hill. Last night, a long steep driveway I’d recently had to walk the bike up was one I easily scaled and kept on goin’ after.

And further along the same path, up around Rithet's Bog or Blekinsop Lake, on the Lochside Trail.

Every time I’m getting on a bike and I don’t think I have the energy to do what I need to do, I somehow always find it.

But those first three months? They weren’t pretty. I had repeated setbacks as I found more and more things wrong with how I was riding, what I was doing. I had to make some fit adjustments, I’ve had postural mistakes. It just hasn’t been pretty, but for every step back, there were two steps forward.

Just three months on, I’m quite further along than I really expected to be. I’d looked at maps of places I longed to visit, and though I’d never make it that far this year. I had moments where I could only be described with words like “distraught” and “crestfallen.”

Now, I’d choose words to describe how I’ve felt of late like “persistent” and “victorious.” Now, I’ve been past many of those places I set as early goals. Now, new goals are needed.

It takes a long time of plodding through and feeling quite useless, I find, before you realize that it feels good now, or better-than-bad most of the time.

It’s really a great journey, that of getting back into cycling, and going a little further and further, and gradually seeing your conditioning change because the scenery you get to see is changing too, as that distance creeps up week after week.

It’s Not Exercise, It’s a Lifestyle

Now, I don’t bus. I walk, or I cycle. My saddlebags are my life on my bike. Every week I’m finding new food stores to cycle to, places to see. Know what’s better than a 20km bike ride? A 20km bike ride that includes a trip to an artisan salumerie, a signature wine shop, and an encyclopedic cheese shop. That’s a cycling gift that keeps on giving — and it’s my kind of cycling life, in between the days when I’m finding myself on some tree-canopied trail on the other side of town, that is.

Soon, I’ll write about some advice for beginners on bikes, from all the things I’ve learned the hard way, some gear suggestions, and ways to make cycling touring a lot more fun.

Our Lives After Their Death

There’s a full moon tomorrow. I’m in a weird headspace.

In social media, I’m seeing snippets here and there from those I’m connected with, remembering the passing of our good friend Derek Miller last year. My thoughts on Derek, as his death took the world by storm by way of an incredible blog post, were posted here.

Someone once graffiti'd a lot of sites in my new neighbourhood, and this one made me think of Derek last week -- a lighthouse, a beacon, at the end of a long path, and at the foot of it, "The things you really want, you can't buy."

Derek’s death became a lot of things for a lot of people, and I’m having trouble even now identifying what it meant to me, but I know his blog post, and his passing, were part of why I spent the next few months realizing how unhappy I was with my life. The thing was, I knew someone like Derek would simply comment, “Well, then change it.” So, I tried to figure out what I needed to change, why I was so deeply unsatisfied with everything.

He may have “just” been a husband, father, and all-around geek, but I got the sense that there was really nothing else Derek wanted from life. He had everything he wanted. He was where he wanted to be. All he wanted was more life, more of the same with the people he had around him.

All The Things I Wasn’t

I found myself thinking a lot about, well, I’m not where I want to be. I don’t have what I want. I don’t have the people in my life I want (ie: love). Let’s not even talk about the bigger picture.

I’d been kind of skating through life and sort of ignoring anything below the surface. I’d stopped being a good writer (in my view) and stopped living the deeper, observant, involved life I’d once had. I’d been depressed before, but this wasn’t depression — this was plain old unhappiness.

Derek’s death somehow was a slap in my face, like a loud shout of Wake up! Get it right! Time’s ticking!

And, it took a while, but I think I’m where I am now because I’d realized through him of just how far afield I was from the things I considered basic requirements in life — time to write, close to the ocean, quiet, and so many other little things that speak to who I grew up being, who I was in my 20s, when I was most “myself.”

I’m new here, in Victoria, so I’m ironically even more “alone” than I had been in Vancouver. I’ve not been looking for a new tribe yet, but I will begin later this month. Because that’s another lesson I’ve learned through him. Some people just make our souls feel better, and we need them in our lives. We are better people when we have better people around us, and there are few we can’t learn something of life from, but others offer a master class in it.

Two Lost Souls Swimming in a Fishbowl

When I sat in that theatre for his remembrance, listening to all those amazing people paying homage to Derek, hearing their stories, I couldn’t stop thinking about the degrees of life. This couple, Derek and Air, they were in the same crowd I’d run with nearly 20 years before. But by inches and degrees, we must have missed each other here, there, and at different times. Somehow, some way, we never connected until the end of Derek’s life.

What if I’d paid more attention? What if I’d slowed down? What if?

I’m not done learning lessons from Derek’s life. Or anyone’s life. I’m just not done learning.

Next week, Mother’s day rolls up again, and the Hallmark Machine is playing that message loud and clear. So, these days, I’m thinking a lot about the people I’ve lost in life, the legacies they’ve left me, and whether I’d feel I’d done enough if I were to leave this realm tomorrow.

Coming Back to Life

Getting here, moving, that was a start toward the life I’d like, and the legacy I seek to leave. But I’ve barely even begun on my way. I was off-track so many years that just getting back on-track is a hell of a journey in itself.

I’d like to think there’s plenty of time for me to get it right, but that’s foolishness. Sooner is better than later.

So, as the full moon messes with my frequencies, and the hazy oppressive clouds dampen the world beyond windows, I’m lost in thought about who I am today versus who I’d like to be, when I really should be writing a project quote and starting my day job’s work.

Sigh. I don’t know how to finish this post. I’ve tried six different endings and I keep deleting them. Maybe there is no ending. Not for me, not for this, not yet. Maybe there is just a beginning.

Well, then. That’s how it is.

Finding My Words

I’ve been enjoying the reclusive life and doing a lot of solo exploring in small chunks since I’ve moved. It can’t, and won’t, continue for much longer but it’s been a brilliant choice on my end.

It’s only now, clearly, that my desire to write is returning. I was sure this would happen sooner, and part of the Being Antisocial Plan was so that I’d reconnect with my words. Well, yeah. It’s taken time but it’s happening.

Sunset off Clover Point in Victoria. Par moi.

I’ll embrace antisocial behaviour for a little longer — a week, maybe two — to let my wordy seeds grow. Then, I’d like to start meeting people and think it will be easy to do so. Optimism helps, kids!

If I’m in the right mood, people generally like me. Or, people I like tend to like me. That’s not cockiness or anything, because being liked just isn’t hard — be nice, be interested, be interesting, be kind, be authentic. It’s much easier, of course, when you actually talk to people and make an effort. So, until I do that, I shall remain anonymous and lifeless. Yay?

As we both might know, I’m no dummy. I’m the thinky-thinky type, like all geeky writer girls tend to be, and all my cerebral wheels have spun something fierce in the months leading to this moment.

See, I know what small towns are like, and at 1/9th the size of Vancouver and my living in a very small neighbourhood within that, I know anonymity evaporates in a hurry once you start fitting into the community. And that’s great, it’s nice to feel noticed and like you belong, but once you have THAT, you never have THIS again.

I talk to people, I’m chatty, I smile a lot, and most people enjoy bantering with me, so I expect to start knowing more people than I don’t. One day, I’ll be able to recall this 8- or 10-week period where I saw no one but strangers, did nothing beyond shop browsing, and never got greeted by name.

Kinda awesome. For a while. Life and its contrasts are fantastic. People should enjoy their weird life phases a bit more. The start of a relationship, the awkwardness of being new… Newness is fantastic and fleeting. Everything gets old so quickly.

It’s common that we get so caught up in wanting the future to happen now that we forget we can never come back, we’ll never have THIS moment again. We’re the impatient fast-food, flash-cooking society, and it shows in our lifestyles.

I don’t own a microwave. I am in no hurry, friends. Anymore, anyhow. Namaste.

There’s nothing to regret about holding off on joining the Locals Club. I know I’ll get there, and when I do, I’ll absolutely adore being a part of this community. It’ll be great living in a place where I can walk all the way home after 2 or 3 drinks, where I can casually go meet people at the city’s most popular parks and beaches, since they’re all a short walk away. I’m under no illusions of a) what my life can be like here, and b) what it’ll take for me to connect with others.

But, for now, I’ve more literary aspirations in mind.

For that, it’s nice, this anonymous wanderer schtick of mine. A rewarding way to burn off the rat race hangover I’ve had since I escaped the faster, bustling drone of big city life.

I’m still in the headspace where I feel like I have so much I need to do, and that’s all part of the necessary efforts in transition. It’s catching up on work, finishing projects around my home, and other little things. But now I’ve found time for writing (and even blogging) each day for a week.

The change I’ve sought is officially afoot, it seems. Oh, writing, how I’ve missed wanting to do you.

Longtime readers know I’m a big believer in writing being a muscle. The more one does it, the more one taps into the rhythm and grind of what makes writing great.

But if you’re living a life where nothing inspires you, nothing sets you free, it’s hard to tap into that. In fact, it’s damned near impossible. I should know, because that’s how I was feeling for much of the last two years. Trapped and frustrated.

That’s changing, quickly. I’m becoming fascinated and intrigued often. I’m becoming inspired and recharged from time to time. I need more. More, more, more!

Creativity requires much in life but it mostly requires focus and awareness. Stimulation, too. And we can trick ourselves into thinking the city is what we need for stimulation, but, for some, cities are built for distraction, not stimulation.

I’ve been so distracted so long that this silence and quietude in my new life is overwhelming at times. I’m so undistracted I’m confused.

And that too is part of the life transition. Slowing down. It’s the emotional and mental equivalent to the way solid ground feels after an afternoon of being at sea or a day spent 4x4ing. The sudden stop is jarring to our equilibrium.

Well, I feel the same these days. It’s almost panic-inducing at times, because I’m still waiting for that day when I don’t wake up thinking my vacation’s over and I need to return to the city soon. Because I don’t. I live here now.

That’s something I have to remind myself of, daily. There is no rush, there’s no return, there’s just me, here, now.

So, that’s where I am today. Still anonymous, still wandering, still transitioning… but a writer once again.

Where I Am Now: Pictures

I was lucky to be born and raised in Vancouver, the only member of my massive, massive extended family with that privilege.

The city outgrew me, and trying to decide where I could live that wouldn’t leave me brokenhearted about where I’d left, well, that was a challenge at first, until I realized Victoria could fit my budget and deliver on all the lifestyle promises that Vancouver no longer could.

I live in a little part of Victoria called James Bay. It’s the oldest neighbourhood in Western Canada, and has had the longest serving police detachment. Its character homes date as far back as 1860 and there’s at least one on every street.

It’s a mix of old people hauling oxygen tanks and young folks looking for a lifestyle that offers the adventures of the rugged West Coast and proximity to downtown life.

This is my new home, and I find it to be quickly feeling like “home.”

If I can’t find a better life balance here, then I’m a lost cause. This place makes my soul feel a little lighter, and I can’t wait to see what it looks like through all the different seasons. Summer will blow my mind.

Well. Since I’ve moved, I’ve shot 2,000 photos, and I’ve barely sorted through a couple hundred of them. I’d like to now share with you a few images of the new place I lay my hat. Most of these beach shots are within 3 kilometres (less than 2 miles) from my new home, and there is so very much more coastline to see — even more than in Vancouver.

I am a coastal girl through and through. (Despite wanting to travel to all the world’s great deserts.) You will never, ever find me living inland again. When I lived in the Yukon for a year, seven months into my stay, I visited the Alaskan fjiords and saw Skagway, smelling salt water for the first time in half a year, and had to fight back tears.

My heart is on the shore. Always will be.

So, maybe you can see why wandering has held more allure for me of late than sitting indoors and writing.

Some recent photos:

 

This is where you come when the winds are gusting 95km an hour, like they were on this day -- just shy of true hurricane force. My lens cap blew away about 5 minutes before this shot. This is Holland Point, Victoria.

Ogden Breakwater, seen here, protects Victoria's Inner Harbour from the brutal storms Island Life brings. It's a 1/2-mile walk to the end of the breakwater, and never stops being beautiful.

 

 

Another shot of Victoria's Ogden Point Breakwater, the end, where you can enjoy one of three benches, watch passing ships, and rest for the 1/2-mile walk back.

Victorians do not take their beaches for granted. You won't find any desolate stretches, but with so many great beaches to choose from, you also likely won't find huge crowds.

 

Another shot of that great stormy 95km-winds day. I'll never get tired of those, I suspect.

 

I like how there's so many points overhead to watch people on the beaches below, unlike in Vancouver. It's intriguing from a photog's point of view.

My first day living in Victoria, and I find these steps. Love, love, love these steps. Holland Beach.

I really hope we get some good windy days in the summer months, too, because I love how it looks on a sunny day.