Take the long way home-W.I.S.E. Project

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Love and compassion for yourself are necessities

September is always a month where I feel like I am rushing. Summer has faded into fall, the kids are back in school and their activities have commenced, they expect to be fed at a decent hour every night and I am feeling tired. My husband has been working away for about 80 days now (but who is counting) and he is in a different time zone which presents its own challenges. There is that added struggle to stay connected when we cannot see each other face to face. It is very easy to get wrapped up in our own day to day and not realize that one of our most important relationships,  one that should take precedence, is in distress.

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All marriages struggle through the day to day occasionally but there is an added burden placed on long distance relationships as the calamity of estrangement intrudes on the comfort of our kinship and robs from us the luxury of treasured time. Simple things that we take for granted like good morning hugs and bedtime kisses are now moments that we need to squeeze into our schedule sometime between this and that and their offering is now significantly altered.

I have always faced the crushing reality that although I am constantly seeking that balance between being a wife, mother, a woman and an employee; when I am excelling in one area I am most likely dropping the ball in another.When I realize that I have missed something, that something or someone craves more of my attention, I become so fixated on that shortcoming that I lose sight of my most important priority…myself.

I know that I cannot pour from an empty cup yet time after time I neglect to fill my own up first. This time, when the alarm sounded I initially fell into my regular pattern but quickly realized that yes people need me, but I am no good to them unless I am first good to me.

So I took the long way home. I had a relaxing 90 minute float at Floatique, I stopped at the lake to take in the colors of the changing landscape, I got my hair done, I read books, I mediated more, I met a friend to catch up, I took a course and I went to bed right after supper, just to be still. I made sure that “I” mattered. I filled my cup up first so that I had enough to share with the people that matter the most in my life. Loving yourself is not selfish, it is a necessity. How can we expect for others to love us and make us a priority if we cannot even do that for ourselves?

The W.I.S.E. principles for September were not something that I actively focused on but they definitely played a part in altering my path this month. I made my wellness a priority, I made steps to improve not only my knowledge but the way I respond to discomfort, I made an effort to savor in facile delights such as quiet unhurried moments and I put a real effort into realizing what it takes to feel the way I want to feel and how important it is to pursue that. I will always be a giver, it is in part of my temperament, but I need to give back to myself as much as I take.

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For October the W.I.S.E. Principles are whole, involved, spirit and engaged. I simply want to be fully engaged in my life, mind, body and spirit and continue to be mindful of taking care of myself so that I can be of value to others. I encourage all of you to do the same.

Be W.I.S.E. friends.

Beasts of Burden-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

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Photo credit: Auf ihrer Reise

I wrote a post the other day admitting that I have a very difficult time with uncertainty. I doubt that I am alone in this. How many times have we referenced the Benjamin Franklin quote “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” We are surrounded by uncertainty, the weather, love, how long we are going to live, whether we are going to have good hair on picture day…we just don’t know.

I liken uncertainty to a new romance, there is excitement but it is uncomfortable.

I am attempting to mature by letting go of my need for certainty in every situation. I want to be willing and curious and accepting of the unknown. Life has no guarantees, I have heard it said thousands of times yet regardless I have a desire to know what happens next.

I would be extremely uninterested in reading a book or watching a movie when I already know the outcome so why can I not live my life with the same acceptance.

Uncertainty is an element to be closely treasured, without it we would never endeavor to take any risks. The burden of our insecurities and fear of judgment and ‘what could be’ would change our lives significantly. There would be no creativity, no growth and no change.

I have therefore realized that ambivalence, hesitation, unpredictability and precarious are not dirty words but they are words that I have decidedly allowed to hold me back.

As a lover of wisdom I am striving to be comfortable with the unknown, to embrace the beauty and freedom of uncertainty and remove the chains imposed by predictability! I like answers but I will never have all the answers and maybe finding them can be  much more fulfilling then having them anyway!

 “Risk means ‘shit happens’ or ‘good luck”  ~Toba Beta

Be W.I.S.E friends.

Hurts so good! W.I.S.E. Project 2016

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Yesterday was the last day of summer and a beautiful one at that. I had very little sleep if any the previous night so I tried to manufacture a positive attitude that morning with two cups of the very worst coffee ever made. Tim Horton’s should hang their head in shame. What I produced was an annoying belly ache. However, at lunch I had a fantastic sandwich and I got a free slice of coconut cream pie that I ate at 3 am so I feel like the day somewhat swayed in my favor. I was mentally exhausted starting the day and at the end of the day I was physically spent as well. I was in bed and asleep by 8:45 p.m. and I woke up feeling angry at the world. Anger is a basic human emotion that helps defend us from attack and like pain it is a compelling warning that commands acknowledgement.

The last time I checked in here I had just read Glennon Doyle Melton’s Love Warrior and I had just started her course with the fabulous Brene Brown on the Wisdom of Story. I was listening to the intro of the course with Brene and Glennon (who by the way I have convinced myself are my friends) and they talk about wisdom, shame, pain and owning our stories so that we can write our own daring ending. I remember feeling so filled up with love and blessings. Thankful for the lessons that I had learned in my life and grateful that my story was a good one. Quite literally within 8 hours my life began to unravel. Everything that I believed my life to be was called into question. It is one of those moments where all of your fears and insecurities set in. You are momentarily enveloped in panic and you forget who you are, you forget that you are a warrior and that your spirit cannot be shattered.

In my last post I shared a quote about pain being a traveling professor. In our greatest moments of pain there is always a lesson. Sometimes our distress, our uneasiness and our misgivings are based on the unknown. The unknown creates a disquiet in our souls. We inch along suspiciously into the darkness where we would wade confidently in the light. There is  a security in knowing what comes next. I have experienced pain before, I know that I cannot run from it because it will follow. As a society we use things like food, booze, drugs, shopping and sex to avoid feeling any real pain, even though we know from experience that pain is a prudent educator.

My friend has just recently embarked on a fabulous journey traveling to places all over the world that she has never been, she is doing a great deal of it solo and one of the things I said to her is that I hope she learns to find the comfort in discomfort. What I meant by that is that I hope she can learn to embrace the unknown, to find the beauty in it, to experience the lesson in things that may be hard and be better for it. I am at a place where I find myself struggling to yield my own advice. Often we cannot know what is going to happen next but we can take the lessons we have learned and recall that we have been here before and if we know anything we know that pain has a beginning, a middle and an end. It doesn’t last forever. We wage these huge battles with ourselves in attempt to avoid any sort of pain and in turn we can cause ourselves greater torment.

My whole purpose of the W.I.S.E. Project was to learn to live more mindfully, savoring the present moment without always thinking of the next one. Living in the past and stressing about the future was not helping me to create the joy that I wanted out of life. Crisis is a sign that change needs to happen and to facilitate change and growth I have to find some certainty in uncertainty. It is tough my friends.

Some time has passed and I am feeling clearer and stronger. Very rarely are we presented with a lemon that cannot produce some sort of lemonade.

I never look at feeling hurt and pain as a weakness, I know I am strong and I know I am enduring. I love fully and completely and though I may agonize and endure the scars that braving that type of loving can carry it is my tenacity and my courage that allows me to love fully in the face of fear.

Life is like a big road trip, sometimes you get a little lost, sometimes the road is a little bumpy, the best we can do is play good music and don’t carry to much baggage. Perhaps it is more about the story than the happy ending. Epic stories are wrought with pain, struggle, survival and love. Do your best, create a good story.

Maybe we like the pain. Maybe we’re wired that way. Because without it, I don’t know; maybe we just wouldn’t feel real. What’s that saying? Why do I keep hitting myself with a hammer? Because it feels so good when I stop.” ~Meridith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy

Happy first day of Fall W.I.S.E. friends. May we someday learn to find the comfort in discomfort.

 

 

 

Eye of the Tiger-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

I honestly love this time of year when cool mornings give way to days full of abundant sunshine. The hint of fall can be felt in the air and seen in the changing colors on the trees and the colorful sweaters that the neighbors are wrapped in as they walk their dogs around the lake. The changing of the seasons always seems like a good time for a life change, no matter how big or small. Whether it be a new pair of boots, a new hairstyle or if you are very ambitious a whole new you.

Time to break out the socks and settle in, focus on what is important or refocus on the things that matter to you most. I call this eye of the tiger. Rising up to the challenge of our rival, and most often our rival is fear and doubt. 

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE SUMMER and I have mourned its premature passing just the same as you, but just as the flowers die off, the seasons change and in parades another one with something new but yet just as familiar as home. 

 If John Green wrote about fall he would say it comes like you fall asleep, slowly and then all at once. One day you are mowing your lawn in the afternoon heat and the next you are watching from your window as yellow leaves fall slowly to the ground and pool at the base of your maple tree.

Leather boots, cashmere sweaters, pumpkin spice lattes and savory soups, this is our fall to embrace.

This month as part of the W.I.S.E. Project I am embracing wellness, improvement, savor and effort.

I am continuing to take some wellness courses and I am learning so many new things. I am also committing to unlearning some bad habits and untruths.

I signed up for Brene Brown and Glennon Doyle Melton’s course on the Wisdom of Story which is about owning our stories and committing to writing our own brave endings. A couple of years ago when I wrote Thousand Acre Heart I was able to come to terms with a lot of hurt and diminish a great deal of shame. I have been continuing to work on that and I have realized that we need to stand in our pain and deal with it because if we run from it will follow us and it is never far behind. I had stifled a lot of feelings surrounding the time of my son’s adoption as well as the death of my father, and problems I have faced in my marriage. I finally realized that to get mentally healthy I needed to feel the pain and examine it and then let it go and keep the lessons.

I just read Glennon Doyle Melton’s book Love Warrior. I think it is an exceptionally powerful book and the thing that I found very identifiable is questioning the lessons that we are taught by society and readily accept about weight, beauty, our gender specific roles and how damaging those can be. Often we tie our worthiness and our expectations to very socially distorted norms. 

Glennon talks about the importance of sending our true and authentic selves out into the world each day, not the representative of ourselves, the person that we think society wants us to be. We will quickly lose sight of who we are and we are Warriors, made to love and fight through the struggles that life deals us. We do not need to create a version of ourselves to go to battle for us.

Being yourself is one of the most courageous things you can do, finding yourself is a phenomenal accomplishment!

Be W.I.S.E. Warriors

Pain is not a sign that you’ve taken a wrong turn or that you’re doing life wrong. It’s not a signal that you need a different life or partner or body or home or personality. Pain is not a hot potato to pass on to the next person or generation. Pain is not a mistake to fix. Pain is just a sign that a lesson is coming. Discomfort is purposeful: it is there to teach you what you need to know so you can become who you were meant to be. Pain is just a traveling professor. When pain knocks on the door—wise ones breathe deep and say: “Come in. Sit down with me. And don’t leave until you’ve taught me what I need to know.” 

~Glennon Doyle Melton 

That summer feeling: W.I.S.E. project 2016

In Don Henley’s 1984 classic Boys of Summer, “The summer’s out of reach” and so is the lady in the song that crushed his heart. “Those days are gone forever,” Henley croons. “I should just let them go.” The wistful lyrics gently remind us of the past slipping away, which is what the end of summer is really all about. However; with every ending we are offered a beginning as well and let’s not forget that Don Henley indeed saw a “Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac” which gave us us one of 1980s most iconic song lyrics.

The blazing evening sun hangs in the sky just a little lower than the days before, warm nights awaken to cool mornings and the emerald green of the trees has been dulled by hot days, some of the leaves have already turned to yellow, curling up around the edges. The summer of love will inevitably give way to the fall of responsibility, to sweaters, fuzzy blankets and pumpkin spice lattes. It is a time for long walks, thick socks, big books and new ideas and inspiration. Don’t mourn an ending but rejoice a beginning some would say. The promise of fall is just around the corner.

We always have a plan of what our summer is going to be like and I think no matter what we did it never seems enough. We long for just one more warm night, walk on the beach, hike in the mountains, skinny dip in the lake. It is a feeling of incomplete-ness that leaves us longing for more. Wet bathing suits wrapped in damp towels, dripping ice cream, sandy flips flops and iced coffee step aside for cardigans, hot soup and long pants. The change is inevitable, it happens every year but somehow we find ourselves not quite ready.

Fall is a beautiful time in Canada though. I felt the hint of it in the cool air this weekend as we visited Victoria. Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, Canada, and is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada’s Pacific coast. Victoria has a temperate climate and boasts rugged shorelines and beautiful beaches. Some of the trees have already started their decent into the gold hues of autumn and tourists line up at downtown restaurants and ice cream shops for tasty eats and cool treats, one last taste of summer.

Summer slows down at my work so the shift between seasons is quite significant. Fall means more responsibility, longer hours but less daylight, more to do lists and less quiet time.

I do enjoy seasons. There is something subtle in the intervals between the changing climate that makes you cling to one while at the same time longing for what is to come. For instance I hate shoveling snow but I sure love the way street lights glow against the diamond like powder of a fresh snowfall.

My W.I.S.E. principles for August were willing, idea, strong and evolve. I didn’t focus on these as much as I would previously in the project as I tried to just focus on the good of everyday. I mentioned in an earlier post that I felt like I was focusing so much on the principles that I was losing sight of the present moment, of being mindful and seeking joy in everyday. I do however appreciate looking back on the principles and reflecting on my growth and the areas where I have learned and things I can improve on. The purpose of this project was to be more mindful and find and create a deeper experience of joy in the present moment. Unchaining myself from the shackles of the past and becoming the person I am meant to be. Instead of living in a place of pain or shame I am learning to walk through it, to feel it, to take the lesson and to move on stronger. UN-scarred but possibly with a warrior wound or two.

I visited my husband in Vancouver last week as he is working there and I had not seen him in over 40 days. My second night there we had an argument and it wasn’t awful it was inevitable. I always say that if a couple does not argue someone is getting their own way all the time.

It was one of those times where I feel like I used all of the above principles. I was willing to speak up when I encountered a problem, I had ideas on how to make things better, I was strong enough to say what I wanted and I feel like I have evolved in my fighting style to be less mean and more meaningful. I have never been the type to hold back in an argument but I was the type to hold onto the bad feelings. These are the things I am working on.

My husband has worked away for years and although it has always come with it’s own set of challenges forty days apart has never been the norm for us but it is quickly becoming so. We are at a point in our lives and our relationship that we enjoy each others company, we are not afraid to share our feelings and we genuinely want to share our time. Loneliness has become a very real thing and we are challenged everyday to find the time to stay connected. When my husband worked away in the Oilsands no matter what he told me about the work conditions and living in camps there was an undeniable disconnect between what he relayed to me and what I understood. This year I have been visiting him at his away jobs and I am able to get a sense for the solitary feeling that looms around you when you work and live alone. I want to hold unto him like I want to hold unto that summer feeling and it has had an affect on me to the point that I have to dig very deep everyday to expel the foreboding perception of emptiness that torments me.

For those of you who have spouses that work away I am more than open to ideas on how you nurture your connection during long periods apart. I want to be able to acknowledge that I miss him but I don’t want to be miserable and lonely all of the time.

My September principles are wellness, improvement, savor and effort. I am hoping with some effort I can find an improvement to my current situation of loving and longing, to savor the moments we get to steal together and to continue to journey towards wellness and living purposely in the present.

If we can’t hold onto summer lets try to hold onto that summer feeling.

Be W.I.S.E. friends!

 

 

Into The Mystic

 

The very first time I visited Cape D’or it was a cloudy day with periods of sun but when I walked down the steep dirt road that leads to the lighthouse, proudly overlooking the entrance to the Minas Channel the wind picked up and I got to hear the foghorn whistle blow. It reminded me of  my favorite Van Morrison song “Into the Mystic” and it became one of those magical places that would capture a part of my soul and my spirit forever.

Cape D’or is a headland, located near Advocate, Nova Scotia on the Bay of Fundy Coast. The cape is pronounced by breathtaking 200 m (660 ft) cliffs on its western side and 30 m (98 ft) cliffs on its southern side guarding treacherous tidal currents in the Minas Channel. A basalt reef reaches from the Cape into the Bay of Fundy where it divides the savage waters of the Dory Rips, a rip tide spawned when three unpredictable tidal currents collide.

Most of the Cape is densely forested, but the areas beside and above the lighthouse are cleared and grassy affording magnificent far reaching views of the cliffs, sea stacks and tidal rips in favorable weather. The Cape’s sensational rocky panorama has attracted many photographers, tourists and dreamers over the years.

The second time I visited Cape D’or my youngest daughter Haley was about 10 days old. I was carrying her in a front carrier attached to me. It was Mother’s Day 2004 and although the spring winds were strong  we were able to make our way down the arduous rock path to the lighthouse. My oldest daughter was four and a half and her long dark hair billowed about in the wind and the misty ocean air caressed her face in a gentle welcome.

I remember telling my husband that this was my special place and that I would always come back here.

12 years later I returned to this enchanted spot that had captured a little piece of my soul several years before. I was fortunate enough to be accompanied by my youngest daughter so we could share some one on one Mom and daughter time in a magnetic place that she only remembered through my stories.

It was a beautiful day full of sunshine and blue skies.  The drive along the coast took us through Bass River, Five Islands, Parrsboro and Port Greville before a pit stop at Spencer’s Island Beach for some sun, sand, history and ice cream. Spencer’s Island is located along the Western end of Greville Bay on the Bay of Fundy (Cumberland County, Nova Scotia.) The community is named after a small island of the same name located offshore from nearby Cape Spencer.

The community of Spencer’s Island contains a historic lighthouse dating back to 1904, a beach, campground and cafe.The Lighthouse contains historical ship building pictures and artifacts. Spencer’s Island became a notable shipbuilding community during the age of sail and one the largest and most notable vessels from its shipyards was the Amazon built in 1861 which was later to become famous as the Mary Celeste.

Mary Celeste was an American merchant brigantine. The Captain; Benjamin Briggs, his wife Sarah and their 2 year old daughter Sophia set sail out of New York harbor on a blustery November day in 1872 with 8 crew members and carrying a cargo of 1700 barrels of industrial alcohol bound for Genoa, Italy. Weeks later on December 5 of 1872 the Canadian brigantine Dei Gratia found the Mary Celeste adrift in the Atlantic Ocean, off the Azores Islands. The ship was found in disarray but was described as being in seaworthy condition, under partial sail. The lifeboat along with the family and crew were all missing but their cargo remained intact. The last logged entry was dated 10 days prior. Personal belongings remained untouched and the ship had 6 months worth of provisions on board. None of the people that set sail on that November day were ever seen or heard from again. There have been many theories and speculations over the years ranging from pirates or sea monsters to mutiny. Mary Celeste was originally christened Amazon but was bestowed with the new name after a series of illnesses and unfortunate mishaps. Despite many attempts to unravel the enigma surrounding the ship with the storied past today one of the most enduring maritime mysteries remains.

I became enamored with the ambiguous mystery of the ghost ship Mary Celeste on a visit with family to Spencer’s Island about 14 years ago and I have spent many a free moment over the years researching the tale. Though I do not have a concrete theory  as to what happened to the Captain, his family and crew it is a puzzle that will always occupy some space with me.

Haley is 12 so a bit young to be intrigued by the history of the island community. She was there for the ice cream and the beach. I can recall laying on the beach with the hot ocean breeze blowing over me and thinking ‘this is what heaven feels like’ Every fiber of my being  breathed it in because I didn’t know when we  would make it back to the ocean again. Unfortunately heaven was eventually interrupted by annoying horse flies so we decided to pack up our beach bag and drive up to the cape where we were going to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring, have dinner at the Lightkeepers kitchen and retire for the evening in an ocean view room at the Guesthouse overlooking the ocean.

From Spenser’s Island Beach Rd. you head west to get to Cape D’or. It is a scenic 15 minute drive. The road can be a little rough in spots if the area has gotten a lot of rain but it is worth it. There are several oohs and awwws on the way there. I told Haley that she would need to wear sneakers for the trip down to the lighthouse. The gravel road is lofty and good shoes are a must. Haley as I mentioned is 12, therefore she knows best and believed that flip flops would be perfectly suitable for the journey down with her bags. She was also hurrying because she gets a kick out racing her old Ma and proving her youthful exuberance. As you may have suspected I was right in my warnings. Haley cut her foot open on a rock and though she tried to brush it off so I wouldn’t lecture her it was clearly causing her some discomfort.

We went to the restaurant and we were warmly greeted by the owner Darcy. He is a very fun and expressive man and though he jokes about getting stuck there as a sentence for being bad in his youth he clearly loves what he does and really enjoys meeting new people. He was happy to upgrade our room for us and we got the best room in the house with a private entrance and a fantastic view. We were lucky that we picked a day that only one other couple was staying at the house and we didn’t see them till late in the evening. Darcey asked if we were coming for dinner and we had read such glowing reviews that we wouldn’t have missed it. He questioned us about our likes and dislikes guessing correctly that I would be wanting seafood. Haley gave him her long lists of dislikes and he promised that the chef would put together something satisfactory for her. We agreed on a dinner time of 6:30 and headed to our room to drop our bags. I decided that it must be 5 o’clock somewhere so I poured a glass of wine while Haley showered the beach sand off. I relaxed on a lounge chair overlooking the water and felt very grateful and happy.

Haley snuck over to the kitchen and had Darcey cook her a grilled cheese to tide her over until dinner while I explored some little paths through the thick. When her belly was full we went to the lighthouse and carefully down the rocks. We really like to play word games so we sat on the rocks and played this game Haley had found on YouTube and we had a lot of laughs. I don’t think I had laughed that hard since we were playing the alphabet game in the outdoor hot tub at Kicking Horse mountain and the category was ‘things that are bigger than Nicky Minaj’s ass’ I can say with certainty that it was one of the most beautiful spots I have ever played a word game and the water crashing on the rocks in the background was nothing to cry about.

I have traveled a lot with my oldest daughter Morgan over the years but this was the first solo trip for Haley and I. We were so excited to be home visiting with family and meeting my newest granddaughter but sneaking away for a night just the two of us was a great idea and we enjoyed our time together.

Dinner was amazing and the dining view was phenomenal. Chef Garfield (like the cat, is what he kept telling people) should have roller skates because he was trying very hard to be everywhere at once. He greeted guests, took their orders, made and brought their drinks and made all of the meals and served them with a touch of sarcasm and a side of wit. Haley’s meal was prepared exactly how she had discussed with Darcey earlier in the day right down to the raw carrots. These were not just any raw carrots, they were cut fine and fancy and young Haley was suitably impressed.

One of the greatest things about the panoramic views at Cape D’or is how the rapidly changing light dramatically alters the view. It is a photographers dream. We met a very outgoing couple from Ontario that had stayed at the Cape all week and he was up at 5 am catching the early morning light.

After dinner we caught the sunset and chased the very last bit of light. We hung out for a bit under the stars in the cool ocean air before retiring to our room to play cards and chat about our day.

We met Darcey again at breakfast and he promised  to make us something special. We helped ourself to fresh coffee and juices and anxiously anticipated our first meal of the day which turned out to be french toast with fresh dairy whipped cream, nova scotia maple syrup and an assortment of fresh fruit.The couple we met from Ontario wanted some photos taken together and we obliged. They were kind enough to return the favor catching some extra special memories of Haley and I’s 2016 Nova Scotia trip.

I love Canada. It’s landscapes from coast to coast are so diverse. There are so many places I have yet to explore but there are places, like Cape D’or, that draw you back time and time again. Perhaps when Darcey’s sentence is up someone will sentence me to life at the Cape for the sins of my youth.

Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly
Into the mystic

~from Van Morrison’s Into the Mystic

Geographical information from Wikipedia.

More than a feeling-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

Sunsets, sunrise, high tide, full moons…they are beautiful moments  but like most good moments they are fleeting. Like the wind in your hair on hot summers day with the dial turned up and the open road ahead of you and that momentary perception of pure joy. It’s a feeling, a second, a minute if you are lucky. These are the moments that make up our lives but often we need to coach ourselves to breath in, look around and enjoy them before they are gone. When we practice gratitude we experience more of these moments that enrich our lives.

How often do wish you could capture the feeling of a place? Maybe it’s your lakeside cabin or your grandpa’s farmhouse. It’s more than that initial awe that strikes you when you glimpse it for the very first time; it’s the feeling of unceremonious joy and gratitude you get when you are there that lingers in your memory and beckons you back. I am an East Coast girl living in the big bad West. I am equally torn between my love of the soothing ocean and the larger than life mountains. Every wave in the ocean and every glacial mountain peak cradle a piece of my soul.

Our lives are busy and they go by so fast. I always welcome any opportunity to get lost in a spot away from everyday stresses where time is told by the rise of the sun and the fall of the moon instead of my cell phone alarm.

We had a friend visiting his family in B.C. during his summer sojourn from New Zealand. We knew his time was precious and how hard it is to make time for everyone in a few short weeks. We were planning a little family getaway to the Okanagan region hoping to meet up with our friend before he bounced back to his island nation.

Time was getting short and we had yet to make a plan. This wasn’t my first rodeo so I knew how difficult last minute bookings in the summer can be, especially in the mountains. I was hit in the face with a summer cold so armed with a steaming cup of Neo Citron and my laptop I set out to find a place to suit us that would be a reasonable drive for our friend from Revelstoke, have brilliant scenery and abundant outdoor space, be clean and bright with a generous amount of comfortable capacity and be remarkably “uncommon”.  On top of all of this I wanted it to be fairly priced.

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I dislike hotels and when I go away I appreciate staying in places that have a great story.  I was coming up empty and not feeling very confident in getting what I had envisioned when I happened upon an ad for a solar powered eco retreat in the wilds of Larch Hills which was a twenty five minute scenic drive from Salmon Arm in the North Okanagan region of beautiful British Columbia. We were spending a couple of days in Mara Lake close by so the location was absolutely perfect.

The retreat is called Tin Poppy. It is a 1953, 32’ Travel Trailer built into a sizable, avant-garde abode. The 200 sq. ft. trailer is encased in a modern screened-in post and beam structure bringing the space up to 1200 square feet in total. The structure boasts a myriad of natural light, comfort, conveniences and charm.

The owner Maggie was in France when I contacted her but was very quick to respond and accommodate our request. I had been looking forward to meeting the people that had not only imagined such a space but had brought it to fruition. Unfortunately the day before our booking Maggie contacted me to say that their plane had been delayed and they were stuck in the U.K. but she had a friend make sure the space was ready for our arrival. It was spotlessly clean, fresh poppies were in a vase in the living space and luxurious bath robes and towels were laid out for us to take advantage of the outdoor shower. It was a hot day in the Okanagan so we chose to shower and change before our company arrived.

Though private and contemporary with hot water on demand, the outdoor shower is alluringly close to nature. The bathroom and toilet are conveniently located inside off of a spacious foyer between the living space and the stairs to the look-off. There is a door leading to the the bbq deck on one side, the opposite side takes you to the large entryway which leads to the outdoor shower and another separate sun deck. The other side of the retreat is embraced by wild flowers and Hollyhocks, it is reminiscent of an English country garden looking beautifully unplanned as if Mother Nature just happened to wave her wand on that very spot and mesmerized it. There is a huge rock fire pit overlooking the hills that is beautiful by the light of the North Okanagan moon. Tin Poppy also has a 6 person wood-fired Finnish style sauna to the left of the fire pit for some added luxury.

The kitchen is cozy and it is well equipped to cook full meals. The hosts have literally thought of everything.

We had a visit from a large cat that we found out later was named Leo and shortly after our arrival we had a visit from three dogs of varying sizes and breeds. My family loves animals so we were so happy for the company. The one dog had only three legs but a mammoth personality and he loved the interaction and didn’t want to leave us. He was quiet and loving and being around him made me feel peaceful and I wish I had brought our dogs. I spoke with Maggie and found out that they were their dogs and that a neighbor was watching them while they were away. The dog that didn’t want to leave our side was Sammi. As I  mentioned we are animal lovers and were happy to allow Sammi and Leo to keep us company and spend the night. I didn’t have dog food but Sammi seemed to approve of steak for dinner. If you have allergies or do not care for pets your experience would be different and Maggie would not allow the animals to come around but we felt comforted by their presence.

Our daughter had been out of touch with her friends for a few days so she took advantage of the wifi while Kirk caught up with our friend over music and cold drinks and I whipped up a big dinner.

We enjoyed wine and great conversation over a late dinner and watched as the moon slowly fell below the tree line and the temperature fell with it. The hot sun that had streamed in through the screens was replaced by a cool breeze. The guys built a fire in the pit and we spent some time under the mountain moon in a star filled sky with a fire crackling in the background. We felt miles away from the ordinary and I consciously reminded myself to breath it all in.

Our buddy chose to sleep in the lookoff under the star filled sky and our daughter chose the cozy second bedroom in the trailer. Long after they drifted off to sleep my husband and I made snacks in the kitchen and settled in the cozy trailer nook and turned the heat up. We streamed some very old music and opened another bottle of wine, curled up together and wondered aloud how many people had gotten to enjoy this space since 1953. We felt like we were among some great company. Tin Poppy has some great old bones. We sipped and sang until the wee hours of the morning feeling gracious and fulfilled before retiring to the cheerful queen room.

I woke early but the sun rose before me. I made coffee in the French press and started breakfast in the cast iron frying pan while everyone else slept. The light of day at Tin Poppy is as equally impressive as the dark of night. I was as enamored by the expansive light filled Poppy as I was by a crackling fire under the Okanagan moon.

We ate a hearty breakfast before saying goodbye to our friend, a short but sweet visit before he journeyed back to his home on the South Western Pacific Ocean. Though miles and oceans of time may separate us daily we truly felt that we all discovered a magical place together and we know that our friendship coupled with Tin Poppy’s magnetic charm will draw us together there again.

Tin Poppy is perfectly suited to family holidays, a getaway with friends, mountain and or/beach vacations, winery tours, romantic holidays, hiking and biking, ski vacations in the winter…it is multi functional. If you are bored of ordinary, Tin Poppy will not fail to charm you. Thank you to Maggie for providing me with some of the photos, some of them are from our early July stay.

If you are planning a trip to beautiful British Columbia I would definitely consider Tin Poppy. Below I have provided some links for you.

Tin Poppy on Facebook

Tin Poppy Website

Tin Poppy on AirBnB

July’s W.I.S.E. principles are welcome, innocent, special and enjoy. Tin Poppy has encompassed all of those things for me in a short but memorable visit!

I hope you are enjoying a fabulous summer and welcoming time with family and friends, enjoying special moments and the innocence of new beginnings.

I am traveling to Nova Scotia this weekend to properly welcome my new granddaughter and enjoy my own family and indulge in special times and create new and lasting memories. Cheers to you as July winds down.

Chat soon,

Michelle xo