Tag Archives: peace

Stanley Park Seawall

Five reasons to love Vancouver

Since this post from three years ago continues to gather readers, I think it’s about time I cook myself up some crow pie, grab a fork in each hand, and double-fist a big ol’ mea culpa.

I’m back in Vancouver. I’ve been back here for seven months, and I love it. I love this city with all its problems, because the great things about Vancouver outweigh her faults, and besides, I have always had a soft spot for this city. You’ll note, in that post from three years ago, I said “I quite like it and, given other circumstances, I’m sure I could happily live there.” Here’s why:

1. I get so much done on my commute to work

Haha just kidding. I’m working from home most days as an independent communications professional. But when I do commute (and when I’m at the gym), I listen to podcasts and audiobooks – all my favourites: Radiolab, This American Life, Reply All, Criminal, and now Where There’s Smoke. I recently listened to all 14 hours of Neal Stephenson’s latest novel: Seveneves (highly recommended!). Honestly, when I look back at the namby-pamby 35 minute commute to downtown I was complaining about three years ago, I laugh at my formerly whiny self. If I worked downtown again I would probably take my commuter bike at least some of the time. Speaking of which …

2. Have you seen all these gorgeous bike lanes?

The City just completed new road surface for the bike route I would take to downtown from here. A nice, slightly hilly 10K to downtown, where there are separated lanes throughout. Before we moved into my Marpole condo, we lived in a small apartment on Main Street, where it was a barely sweaty, absolutely, stunningly beautiful 5 km jaunt around False Creek to downtown. Vancouver, like Victoria, is cyclist heaven.

I hope, when they build the new bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel, they also have plans for a separated bike track all the way from Tsawwassen into Vancouver. That would be amazing, because I do still love to get back to Victoria once a month or so.

I also can’t believe I was complaining about no running routes three years ago, when I routinely ran False Creek/Stanley Park, and look at those North Shore mountains for trail running! Also, just over the bridge into Richmond are some really nice stretches by the airport.

people doing yoga on paddleboards  just off Kits Beach in Vancouver

Why yes indeed, those are Vancouverites doing yoga on paddleboards.

3. The weather is really nice. Even when it rains.

No really, it is. I’m writing this at the start of a heat wave, and we’ve barely had rain for a month now, but that’s not clouding my judgment (see what I did there?). This past winter was not bad at all, weather-wise.

Shut up about climate change* for now, I’m trying to enjoy this.

4. Proximity to new friends

I make friends easily. I admit, the first six months of my return I felt like a bit of a recluse, but I’m putting that down to the knee surgery I had in April, and before that, an incredibly stressful job. As I get further away from both (I found a wonderful physiotherapist and I’ll be running again soon – RUNNING!) my circle is expanding. I threw myself into my professional association (IABC/BC), I have volunteered for the next Interesting Vancouver, I went to a LikeMind meetup that stoked my creative side (I’ve been writing like crazy since then), we’ve invited friends over for dinner. Who says it’s hard to meet people in Vancouver?

5. Family

My son and my youngest daughter are still in Victoria, but as my youngest turned 21 last year, I realized she’s really, truly OK and ready to launch. I was so glad to have the past three years with her though! She now has a plan and she’s going for it (she got into a nursing program, I’m so proud of her). My son got his B.A. and is going overseas soon.

I was at the Open Textbook Summit a few weeks ago, talking with Clint (a colleague from BCcampus), and someone else; explaining that I’d moved back here.

“Why did you move back?” my friend said.

I started to go through reasons 1 through 4 above, when Clint interrupted me with a smile: “She moved here for LUUUUUV,” he said. And he was right.

Just over a year ago I met my partner, Ken, and my life has been so much better since then. Within months I knew without a doubt he is the one I want to be with. He’s my family, my support, my collaborator and co-conspirator, my anchor. He’s been on the lower mainland all his life and he loves teaching at BCIT and Emily Carr, so it was a no-brainer that, with my career mobility, and with my already owning a home here, that I would be the one to move.

6. Bonus – it’s all about the one per cent, the things you can control: yourself.

Last week we attended a talk by Brett Gajda, who, with Nick Jaworsky, does the Where There’s Smoke podcast. Something he said smart-bombed straight into my soul and exploded with comprehension. It’s one of those things you hear for years, and you think “yeah, yeah, that’s right, I agree,” but you don’t really comprehend how it affects your life until suddenly one day it burrows into the space inside where you need it most. I’m paraphrasing, but here it is:

“Things outside of your control are so big you sometimes can’t help focusing on them. After all, 99% of the problems you have in the world are outside your control. The only thing you can really control is – yourself. Your actions, your attitudes, your values, your choices. But the moment you focus on the 1% right in front of you, everything is different. EVERYTHING.”

So yes, there were reasons to leave Vancouver, and there were reasons to come back to Vancouver. But more than that, there are reasons to be comfortable and happy with the person inside, so you’re content wherever in the world you find yourself next. And that’s the most wonderful place to be.

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*Seriously though, I am worried about climate change. That’s why I take transit and ride my bike.

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Old hymns and bagpipes, and where’s the peace?

I don’t know what to write about this morning’s Remembrance Day service that I haven’t covered already in my previous post. I’m ashamed to say it was my first one in a few years, first one since I moved to Victoria. All I have are scattered impressions and a couple of photographs, so I’ll share them randomly.

My daughter’s young man is a fourth-year cadet aiming to join the army, and I’m not sure how I feel about that because she seems to really like him and I know loving a man in a uniform leads to all sorts of complications besides the usual ones. Currently The Regiment he is attached to has members serving on combat operations in Afghanistan.

Bagpipes always make me cry.

During the ceremony we stood near a decorated Air Force officer. She was so tiny her medals hardly fit across the breast of her uniform. I wanted to know more about her. I’m sorry I didn’t have the kajones to introduce myself and ask.

People should probably not bring excitable dogs to a place where there’s going to be a 21-gun salute.

I really detest “Onward Christian Soldiers,” even when in the context of a Remembrance Day Ceremony. Even when I believed in Jesus, that hymn seemed just — wrong. I wasn’t the only one; the church choir I sang in for years resisted it as well.

You can really tell Victoria is a navy town. Either that or a lot more people show up to outside ceremonies here because the weather’s better than in Saskatchewan where I came from.

There are no WWI veterans left. There are few WWII veterans left either. I did, however see several blue berets and UN jackets.

When will all this remembering translate into true worldwide peace?

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Oh yes, I will remember

I keep losing my poppy – I think they’re designed that way so you have to keep putting a toonie or a loonie into the cadets’ tray to get another one this time of year. That’s OK by me. My grandfather, a veteran of World War II, is long since passed away but I still remember.

Besides that, right now soldiers are returning from Afghanistan in coffins, maimed, wounded and suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Over the past 65 years since WWII our soldiers have been returning from Rwanda, Cyprus, Somalia and countless other peacekeeping missions that resembled only in varying degrees the meaning of that term.

On my reading list, for instance, is General Roméo Dallaire’s new book They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children. He says Canada is losing its moral soul internationally, evidenced by our non-action on child soldiers, our participation in failed “peace” keeping missions like Rwanda.

The issues of war and peace still need our attention; what better time of year to pause for a moment and think about the whole thing.

Except you won’t get any help on that score from Canada’s biggest retailers. According to them, Christmas started weeks ago. Remembrance Day? What’s that? Such a somber holiday is not very conducive to sales I guess. They don’t even have to close their doors for Remembrance Day (Nov. 11) any more. They suffer the young cadets and Legion volunteers to sell poppies outside their doors, but inside it’s all Christmas trees and holiday “music.” On the television it’s started: the heart-wrenching ads designed to give you that warm nostalgic feeling for Grandma’s home baked cookies and hot chocolate.

I say enough. To me every one of those ads, all the Christmas music (it’s not even Advent, if you’re so inclined to follow a Christian calendar) infusing the stores already – it’s an insult to the day we’re being asked to observe this coming Thursday.

I say enough by refusing to shop at stores where they’ve already started the unending  (until Boxing Day) vomit of Christmas marketing. Last night, horrified by a schmaltzy Canadian Tire ad, I Tweeted:

I’ve decided to #boycott stores that have #ChristmasAdsTooEarly starting with Canadian Tire.

That started a barrage of ReTweets and conversation, at least a dozen replies within a half hour of my post.

I’ve decided I’m on to something, and it’s more than #ChristmasTooEarly (my hasty hashtag). I think it’s a marketing fatigue – a feeling of hopelessly getting sucked into the Christmas Season Vortex of Expectations. I’m going to write about it in further posts, but for now I want to make this post about Remembrance Day and about starting my own boycott of the disrespectful retailers.

Meantime, I’m going with my daughter to the Remembrance Day parade here on Thursday. I’ll write about that. Then I’ll write more about my conflicted feelings around the holidays, and further on why I’m remembering to boycott the following shops for Christmas:

  • Canadian Tire
  • Zellers
  • La Senza
  • Leon’s

Any more that you’ve noticed? Any other thoughts on starting Christmas too early?

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