A life in contrast

I’ve been thinking recently about contrast, about darkness and light, good times and bad time, easy and hard… the polar opposites in our daily lives that seem so often to go together in close proximity.

I saw this video on Facebook, posted by Telus Optik, but about Josh Dueck, a sit skier that I’ve known since 2004. Josh was recently injured and just starting out on his paralympic sport journey when I worked for the Disabled Skiers Association of BC. I remember Josh so strongly because he was one of the first athletes to take part in an athlete development program that I designed. Not only was he one of the first to take part in it, but he is likely still today the most successful, having won a silver medal at Vancouver 2010 Paralympics and also first person to perform a back flip on a sit-ski. More about Josh here.

In the video (which I cannot figure out how to link here… forgive me!) Josh talks about how he contemplates whether we need darkness in order to appreciate lightness. As someone who went through a life altering accident, I imagine that he is someone who has experienced moments of great darkness. But without that accident, and the following moments of darkness, Josh would likely not have had many of the amazing life experiences that followed… Paralympic medallist, appearance on Ellen, international travel and skiing on some of the greatest slopes in the world, motivational speaking career, coach, mentor, innovator, and business owner… From his moments of darkness came his life of lightness…

light-in-the-dark

The past year has been hard for our family. We’ve had a lot of challenges on our road this year. Challenges with work, family, health, school… lots of darkness in our struggles. I won’t lie… there were some really dark days in the past 12 months.

Through it all, our family remained strong… and we have persevered and worked together and built ourselves into an ever stronger unit and ever stronger individuals. If it wasn’t for the darkness, we wouldn’t have grown stronger and we wouldn’t know how strong we truly are.

And we’ve also experienced great joys this year. When we look back on the photos from the year, we are amazed at all the wonderful experiences we managed during these dark days. We went on an amazing road trip to Banff, Jasper and West Edmonton Mall. We spent a relaxing week in Naramata. We went biking on the Kettle Valley Railroad and hiking on an adventurous trail. We walked a peaceful labyrinth and learned meditative spiritual practices. The kids learned how to play better together using dress up, and soccer balls, and a play pool. Mr. T tried out and made the B Team for box lacrosse, and got his first gold medal in a tournament. His skills and confidence in lacrosse grew exponentially. Miss D began speaking and communicating more fully. Mr. H built his confidence and started joining in on lunch-time soccer play. Both boys have learned and grown into the roles of big brothers.

We have had great moments of pride in our children’s abilities, accomplishments, and yes even their perseverance through their own personal struggles. We have great kids!

I wonder if the joys we have seen as a family have been bigger, stronger & brighter, because of the darkness we’ve had in between those moments of joy?

And then, because I am a minister’s wife, it makes me think of this: The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:5)

Maybe in those moments of darkness, we couldn’t comprehend the glimmers of light that could be seen? Maybe in those moments of darkness, the light was born and we just didn’t know it? If it wasn’t for those moments of darkness, maybe our kids and ourselves wouldn’t be as strong as we are now? Maybe it is through the moments of darkness that we are able to build our future light?

We didn’t know that our hope and our light was present in those moments of darkness but in looking back, as we stand in the doorway between dark and light, we see that there was light shining on us even in our darkest days. We just didn’t see it because we were facing the darkness head on. We were preoccupied with the darkness and fighting it.

And so now, we turn around and face towards the light.

[wallcoo]_spring_flower_162831Plants and trees and animals… we all go through periods of darkness, winter, hibernation… before the spring where light is stronger and warmer, and we poke our little tentative buds out into the first warm days, and contemplate bursting forth with great joy and colour and vibrancy.

 

 

Springtime is such a wonderful time of year perhaps because it follows winter darkness.

Our life is one of contrasts, darkness and light. We can’t have one without the other.

 

 

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Camping or Comfort? What would you do?

We love to camp and to be outdoors.

boys walking in woods.jpg
Happy Hiking Boys, Miracle Beach, July 2012?

Ever since the boys have started school we try to kick off our summer vacation with a week of camping, somewhere in BC, as a transition between the hectic end of school activities and the relaxation of summer months.

We’ve been lucky to be able to do this consistently for the past 6 years.

We’ve been to Miracle Beach Provincial Park, Tofino, Manning Park, Shuswap Lake, and Naramata. Usually we’ve gone camping but we have also been able to rent some rustic cabins when we needed a bit more comfort in certain years. We’ve all loved the time outdoors to reconnect as a family, and to experience the awe of nature.

We have had some unbelievable experiences along the way and it has very much become part of our family tradition. I also realize that this is very much a part of my childhood and growing up experiences. I was lucky enough to spend the majority of my childhood camping across Canada and indeed North America! I was very fortunate.

(I’m the one mugging it up for the camera… always!)

And I would like very much to recreate these memories with my children this summer, as we travel from West to East.

But I also know that we will be travelling in early June when weather is iffy at best, and mosquitoes are perhaps at their worst in some provinces. And we will all be exhausted by the emotions of leaving the familiarity of BC behind, combined with the craziness of April & May, wrapping up schools & jobs, packing up our house, box lacrosse season (which is ridiculously intense I have to say) and the added stress of H being at BCCH for 4 weeks before we leave.

So I’m considering staying in hotels along the way instead of camping. Or maybe a combination of camping & hotels? Camping will be fantastic, but there is something to be said for warm beds, hot showers, and no setting up/taking down of our accommodation every single night. I’ll be the sole adult responsible for all of this which is an added stress. BUT there is also something to be said for the peacefulness of a campground and sitting by a crackling fire at night.

It is Canada’s 150th Birthday celebration and we have a free National Park pass! What better way to celebrate our great nation by really getting out and seeing it from all angles.

And I really want to share my cross Canada camping experience with my children. But I’m also gonna be really really tired by that point!

What would you do? Camping or Comfort? Follow Family Traditions or Move to the Future?

There’s a lot going on these days!

It’s an understatement to say that our family is busy these days! Sometimes we feel like we are in a 3 ring circus!

We have the regular every day things like managing kids school schedules and extra curricular activities, but also so many other things going on too.

It’s amazing how many different things we have to think about when planning a cross country move. There are the usual things with moving like setting up utilities in your new place and shutting them off in your old place, but also getting quotes from moving companies and then actually hiring one to do the job, getting rid of ALL the extra things that we’ve accumulated over the years and that make no sense to move across the country when you are paying $10/lb, and doing your final rounds of good-byes and visits. There is a lot to do.

But we have a few extra things thrown into our regular April & May, even without the move across Canada!

BC Children’s Hospital: H has been on a wait list since the fall, for a program at BC Children’s Hospital. And we’ve been hoping and praying that we would get a space for him before the end of May. We were committed to extending our stay if we needed to. The program is a 4 week in-patient program, which provides multi-disciplinary assessment and support of children, youth and their families who are dealing with mental health and/or psychiatric issues. We found out a few weeks ago that H’s space is available April 11-May 12, which is perfect for us. We are very thankful that the program was able to rush his application and provide us with this opportunity before we leave. So next Tuesday, we will be driving to BCCH on a daily basis and taking H to this program. I don’t know much about how this will roll out for us, but I do know that it adds another layer to our daily complications!

Other Assessments: At the same time, we have been going through additional assessments and diagnoses protocols for H through private clinics. We get the results of these assessments at the end of April and are waiting with bated breath until then! These are important to do as they will inform future education placements for H.

Trips and plans: Momma T is heading out on the trip of a lifetime with her good friend A. This trip has been in the works for a year so there is no doubt in our minds that it is still happening, but timing isn’t ideal at this point! Momma T is heading to Spain to walk part of El Camino de Santiago. (http://santiago-compostela.net/)  This walk is partly a pilgrimage and professional development for her faith formation and to support her work as a minister with the United Church. It is really important that she have this opportunity and truly, the time to herself. She really needs this because she gives so much to our family and to others. She is gone April 22-May 10, which overlaps perfectly with H’s program at BCCH.

Box Lacrosse: And this is Box Lacrosse season. Both T&H play box lacrosse every year. For T it is the sport that drives him. He loves this sport and, if the weather is good, you will find him outside practising using an empty net with targets, or he’ll get H out there in goalie gear and practice taking shots on him which is great practice for them both. Last year, T & H were on separate teams, which meant a lot of juggling and running around all over the lower mainland. After much discussion and looking at our schedule with BCCH, we made the decision that H would not play this year. We are all making sacrifices so that H can do the program at BCCH and this is HIS sacrifice. It just isn’t his year for this one sport. This will allow me to focus my extra curricular energy on getting T to/from his lacrosse events. Which will be a job in and of itself given that I’m single parenting for much of that time and will have a toddler with a pretty strict bedtime routine to handle too!

Education: Trying to juggle the kids current extra curriculars, school schedules, pro d days, field trips… this is HARD work! We are also trying to wrap up this school year a month early with all the associated IEP meetings, conferences, etc. And then setting up the kids for next year with appropriate placements and supports in the Ottawa Carleton School Board. Thankfully we’ve made a great connection there and it looks like there is excellent understanding and supports that will be made available.

Moving: Did I mention we are moving? Well we have a cross Canada trip to plan in here too! While Momma T and Miss D are flying, T&H and me are driving & camping. I haven’t done a bit of work on booking campsites or figuring out our route, and I must get on that! Suggestions are welcome!

So yes, there is a lot going on. So forgive me if I don’t get back to you immediately or if I’m not calling everyone up to set up separate coffee ‘good-bye’ meetings… I am sad to be leaving and I’d love to see every last one of you, but frankly, we are overwhelmed and have a hard time keeping our heads above the water these days! We are planning to have an Open House before we leave but at this point no idea when! Stay tuned!!!

Moving on…

In 1989 I moved from Ottawa to Vancouver to attend school at UBC. I was following a hope and a dream, for a new life and a new vision and a new me.

I recall vividly standing on Spanish Banks Beach, shortly after arriving in Vancouver with my mother. It was Labour Day weekend and a glorious fall day like only Vancouver can do: sunny, slight breeze, warm but not hot. I stood there in absolute glee that I could touch the Pacific ocean and see snow-capped mountains, and I could visit them both on the same day. I felt such excitement about my future at that moment and I think I knew in my heart of hearts that I would find my heart and soul in Vancouver.

My mother has told me, years later, that on this day she knew I would be moving to Vancouver. I didn’t know it yet, but she did. But by 1992 I had made Vancouver my permanent home and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

I’ve lived all over the Metro Vancouver region, from Point Grey to Cloverdale, South Vancouver to East Vancouver, Kerrisdale to Kitsilano, South Delta to North Burnaby… I love the diversity of this town, how the Skytrain can take you over neighbourhoods and businesses that you would never know existed if you were just driving a car, how passionate people are about the environment, recycling, and biking. I love how so many international flights transit through Vancouver and I can meet friends at the airport for a coffee on their way to Australia or Asia or Alaska. I love how the mountains and ocean frame our city views and can orient you to the compass points, no matter where you are in the city. I love our arts & culture and how we attract such a wide variety of artists with such wide artistic views. Mostly I love the ocean and the mountain views… they give me a deep sense of peace and calm.

But there is a lot that I don’t love about this city. I am tired of the traffic, the bridges, the tolls. I’m tired of the hustling and bustling and constantly scrambling to get ahead. I’m tired of the rent prices and the knowledge that I will never be able to afford a family home in anywhere but the far far reaches of the Fraser Valley. I hate how far away my friends are flung, even if we have the same city address, we are always far away from each other geographically and psychologically, and this separates us from all our supports. We hate having to drive everywhere, even a visit to the local grocery store requires a 4 minute drive from home. We are tired of the struggle to stay afloat financially & emotionally, fighting for everything we get.

And so, 27 years after leaving Ottawa, we have decided to leave Metro Vancouver and return “home.”

Today we sign a one year lease on a home in Kanata with the hope of buying our own home after living there for a year.

We are gathering moving company quotes, setting up utilities in our new home, and securing employment details. We are also planning going away parties and yes, setting up this blog is part of it, in order to help our family stay in touch with the friends we have made in Vancouver.

Our plans…

  • Momma T and Miss D will fly from YVR to YOW around May 25.
  • T, H, and me (Mommy P) will pull out of the driveway on the morning of May 27th, driving across Canada and updating this blog as we go (and as wifi is available!). Our plan is TBD at this point… but we will be camping and hope to visit Yoho & Banff National Parks, and Dinosaur Provincial Park. Besides that? We have nothing planned at this point in time! Arriving in Ottawa week of June 12, 2017!

So stay tuned for details about all of these things but as of the week of May 22… we are outta here!