Tag Archives: family

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.


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


Searching for peace with the Christmas season

Don’t even talk to me about Christmas decorations, Christmas music and Christmas parties before Novemer 25th. I’ve been feeling blows to the head by the holiday behemoth since before Remembrance Day and I’m already tired of it.

It’s expensive, it’s fraught with expectations, how-tos, obligatory receptions, parties, gift-giving, specialized appetizers, too much booze and fake cheeriness.

Bah humbug.

No really – it is a great big commercial free-for-all, the one time of the year when our self-control (in spending and eating) and discipline (in getting exercise and taking care of our inner selves) is challenged. Big time.

I know some people just love Christmas (er – the holidays…) and I say good for them. I’ll gladly attend at least some of their parties and have a good time. I’m grateful for their hospitality and the fellowship it affords. I’m not averse to connecting with loved ones and having fun.

However, for me this is the most stressful time of year. I take consolation in the fact that I’m not alone (but contrary to popular belief, there is no spike in suicides this time of year).

I’m worried I am expected to return the hospitality and I just don’t work that way. For me, as a single gal prone to depression, the holidays are a minefield I must navigate. As a person who’s got three children, one grandchild, too much debt and one income, it’s difficult and exhausting to live up to the seasonal expectations.

In previous years I had an automatic Christmas fund savings plan set up at work, but then I changed jobs in March. Had I only read this article in July – “just a little bit of forethought right now can save you a ton of time, effort, cost, and heartache this December,” and worked through this holiday tracking sheet. I pride myself on being organized – but unfortunately I wasn’t that prescient this year

It’s not just the expense, it’s the stress of not living up to the big happy family myth. I stopped visiting my parental units at holiday time years ago – why deal with family drama when it’s cheaper and easier to get together at a less stressful time of year?

In fact, there is a picture somewhere in my mother’s possession of a 12-year-old Tori on Christmas morning curled up in my new beanbag chair with a new book, completely oblivious to everything else going on around me.

Truthfully, I’d rather just hole up somewhere by myself, read a book by a fireplace, pump Pinkham’s Christmas Cantata through my iTunes to my heart’s content for a couple of weeks until it all blows over.

So I’m of two minds about going back home to Saskatchewan for the holidays this year. the best part: I get to see my grandson! Besides, the timing seems convenient – it’s the time of year when work slows down, school is out and nearly everyone takes off anyway.

On the other hand – I’m anxious about it. I’ll travel on the busiest airline day of the year, navigate Regina streets in the middle of winter, compete with a large “coodle” of Grandmas and Grandpas surrounding little Oliver that includes two ex-husbands. Yes two – they’re both, along with their Significant Others, very involved in my children’s lives, and then there’s my daughter’s husband’s family. It’s a good thing for my daughter and grandchild and we all get along great. But still – there’s a reason I’m not married to these men anymore, right?

That’s a a lot going on for someone who would rather curl up with a book and enjoy the quiet in the midst of chaos. Maybe I will get that Kindle for Christmas after all … and whatever happened to that beanbag chair?

Sometime between now and Dec 23, I’ll have to reach some kind of detente with Christmas, at least for this year.

“Terrified” Christmas photo by Rumpleteaser; “Christmas Story” leg lamp photo by Kevin Dooley, both licensed under Creative Commons.