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

Naked and Afraid-Marriage in the 21st Century -Podcast 3 part series

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I decided to do a three part  segment on Marriage and some things I have  learned during the last 14 years of wedded bliss and almost 18 years in a relationship with my husband in which we have  faced our share of adversity and struggles.

Marriage can be fun, beautiful and so rewarding, but the one thing that nobody tells you on your wedding day is how hard it is, how much work it requires and if you do not nurture it it can very quickly wither up and die, like a flower in the desert heat!

I entered into my marriage pretty idealistically and with a lot of silly expectations. I brought with me way too much sass and this incredible need to be right all the time. My husband brought his own ideas and idiosyncrasies. Adding us together, mixing us up, throwing in some good times and struggle on top of struggle there have been some dark moments. The thing we are proud of is that though there were times where we almost got lost in the struggles, we dug in, put in some very hard work and today we are lucky to not just call each other partners but we are best friends.

There will be times that we may not like each other but those are the times that we remind ourselves how much we love each other. We have shared some great times together and some times that have made our heads spin. My need, or desire to share this with you comes from a good place in my heart that wants everyone in a relationship that is facing hard times or  daily struggles to know that you are not alone and it is normal. I even share some tips about things that have worked for us.

Join me for a fun and honest look into being Naked and Afraid in a marriage in the 21st century.

Part One- Setting the Stage

Part Two- Stupid things your spouse does and taking the good with the bad

Part Three- Make-up sex, fighting fair and why cuddling has it’s time and place.

Thanks for joining me, I would love to hear your feedback and I adore your marriage stories.

Cheers,

Michelle

In the still of the night-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

Wellness, cabin in the woods, solar power, eco retreat, mara lake, british columbia, mindful, mindfulness, happiness, gratitude, Wise Project

I woke early to the soft tap of rain on the cabin roof. I boiled water outside on the bbq and made the most fabulous camp coffee ever made. I built a big roaring fire in the wood stove that has quickly lulled my husband back to sleep. My daughter is gently snoring in the loft. I am curled up with a soft blanket sipping coffee on a comfy chair by the fire. I am charmed by the crackle and snap and the serene quiet of this wooded retreat and I am full of gratitude.

I want to go for a quiet walk in the woods and find the little waterfall the owners told me about but I am a bit nervous knowing that there is a mama bear and her cubs close by. The owners of the cabin say they haven’t seen them by their house but they like to eat from the neighbors fruit trees. I would love to see them from a distance but not face to face alone in the woods. I circled the immediate area and delighted in birdsong and the sounds of nature instead of early morning traffic.

This cabin gives the illusion of being deeper into the wild than it actually is. It is a short drive or five minute walk into the woods so once you are here you feel very far away from the stresses of everyday. Our hosts Chantal and John put a great deal of love into this little getaway and it is evident in the little touches. The solar power is something that I wasn’t familiar with but besides a few common sense things it is pretty straight forward. Want not, waste not!

I know it is not my family’s cup of tea and they humor me a lot, but the truth is when you take away electronics, clutter and conveniences we are forced to live in this moment instead of the next one and we connect more as a family. They cannot deny it. The fact that my husband has drifted off into untroubled slumber several times this morning alone speaks volumes.

Last night we had a tasty camp dinner and played 5 second rule and charades. There were a lot of laughs and I was happy for the quality family time. Our daughter  was terrified of going to the outdoor washroom and hadn’t peed once between four and midnight. She is such a city girl. She insisted she didn’t need to pee at all but I dragged her out there and she managed to not get murdered or eaten by bears. She made us barricade the doors so that mice, bears and woods cabin murderers couldn’t get in and thank god because we are all living this morning.

Despite her fears she fell asleep almost immediately after settling down in the cozy loft. I caught her talking in her sleep several times. The still of the night here is very still. Though I was up early because it is light in here with all of the windows I feel extremely rested.

I am immensely enjoying this place. It feels like you are miles away from everything which is clearly more of a comfort to me than it is to my daughter. I do think it is a memory that as an adult she will cherish and hopefully she will take her own family on similar adventures. When you are an adult you really appreciate getting away from everyday worries.

Mara Lake Beach

She was quite excited to go to the beach today and though we originally thought it wasn’t going to be a beach day the sun won it’s battle with the grey clouds around 3 pm and it is quite gorgeous.  Mara Lake beach is located in Mara, between Salmon Arm and Sicamous in the Okanagan/Shuswap region of British Columbia. It  has a white sandbar and deep blue water that is refreshing and rejuvenating. It is the first time my daughter forgot that she doesn’t have wifi. I loved swimming with her and watching her build herself into a sand mermaid. You cannot have that experience in the city.

It is easy to be mindful in a place like this. The slower pace and lack of distractions forces you into it.  The quiet and the soft glow of candlelight is not so bad either.

I would highly recommend this place for a quiet retreat or for a couple looking to reconnect. There is no fridge or stove but there is a bbq with a side burner and the cozy kitchen is quite equipt. Frankly there is a coffee pot and a wine opener so I felt very much at home. I am fascinated by the tiny house movement and the “less is more” lifestyle so this was an enjoyable experience for me.

If you are planning on traveling to B.C. and would like to have a serene stay in a solar powered cabin in the woods check out this wooded retreat in Mara HERE

I talk about the Sweet sound of silence HERE, grab a coffee and have a listen.

Just a reminder that the W.I.S.E. Principles for July are Welcome, innocent, special and enjoy. I hope you are welcoming new and exciting experiences, seeking innocent and guiltless adventures and quiet time to rejuvenate. Treat each moment as if it is special and unique and live in the moment fully before moving on to the next.

Be W.I.S.E. friends. Chat soon.

 

xo Michelle

 

Ordinary Day! -W.I.S.E. Project 2016

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June. Where did you go? You were full of endless days of tripping the light fantastic and electric summer nights catching falling stars in moonlit fields. Crackling campfires and long kisses on the end of weathered piers, toes in the water as I sought advice from the man in the moon. I blinked and you were gone.

Sometimes I have a tendency to overcomplicate things. It’s all very simple really. Everyday the sun rises in the East, this usually happens way before I am ready for the filtered sunlight that peaks in through the bent slat on my bedroom blinds, before I am quite mentally prepared to embrace the gentle song of the birds, put my big girl pants on and adult. The certainty is, ready or not it comes like clockwork every day. I try to get myself and everyone else out of the house with a chorus of “I love you and have a good day” instead of frantic yelling because we are all running late. We all go to the places we have to be, not necessarily where we would choose to be if we had been born rich instead of so damn good looking, but we try to go with a gracious heart and a kind soul and the choice to make it a good day. Even the good days are tiring and mostly they fly by too quickly. Before we know it the moon has replaced the sun and the darkening sky welcomes it’s best friends the stars. The birds are lulled to sleep by the mystique of it all and out come the crickets to play their favorite summertime melody just as we are pulling cool sheets around our ears and settling in for a hopefully long and dreamy nap. A similar version of this happens on repeat everyday without fail, with some filler in between.

It all goes by so quickly. I just have to remind myself to look around more, breath more, be thankful. Remarkable moments are all around me, it doesn’t have to be about what I look at, but more importantly what I see.

More realistically, June was made up of a bunch of ordinary days and some subtle extraordinary moments,  many that I may have failed to see because I was too busy searching for these moments that would take my breath away, instead of just breathing and being in awe of the simple, wonderful moments that make up my life…the filler.

My principles for June are WOW, Incredible, Serenity and Enthusiasm.  I definitely had a bit of a setback  this month because instead of recognizing the Incredible WOW moments when they found me I went on a desperate search for them. When I didn’t find these ground breaking moments of wonder my enthusiasm quickly subsided. I neglected the whole premise of my own project, being mindful and focusing on the present moment to create a deeper experience of joy. I forgot to practice gratitude and in turn I caused myself a lot of unnecessary stress.

A former boss once said to me “A day doesn’t make a week, a week doesn’t make a month and a month doesn’t make a year”. That being said as June winds down and July lies in wait, I did learn some very valuable things about myself during month six of the W.I.S.E. Project and I have been reminded once again to stop complicating things.  I need to give up on my urge to fix things and as much as I can just let things be. If I spend too much time focusing on what is going to happen next I am missing what is happening now.

Those moments when I am blown away by the candy pink sky or enthralled by the uncomplicated relationship between the moon and the stars or I see a glimpse of my children’s budding character and the people they are going to be in the future, those things are gone in an instant but will find me if I am being mindful.

I am still finding out who I am and who I want to be. The W.I.S.E. Project is my Journey. May the crooked roads it leads me down be paved with white gold and swiss chocolate, curiosity, patience and gratitude.

And may it all slow down just a little bit….

never been kissed

 

Saturday in the Park

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Hurt, fear, anger, disappointment, pain.

It has been an incredibly sad and emotional couple of days and though I wish I could numb the cruel sting of it we cannot selectively numb pain because when we shut out the darkness we also shut out the light. We have little choice but to feel the emotion, the fear and the discomfort of the uncertain days to follow.

John Lubbock said that happiness is a thing to be practiced, like a violin. It is times like this, when tragedy strikes and innocent lives are lost that I have to be reminded. I am embraced in sadness and disbelief over something I have no control over and even knowing how important it is to not let hate win, happiness in this moment feels wrong.

To all of the wounded and heavyhearted souls in Orlando, I see the wreckage that you are staggering through, you are achingly overburdened with grief and sorrow and so many of us wish we could help. Losing a loved one has it’s own anguish, losing a loved one to violence is unimaginable. When your loved one is murdered for simply living a life without boundaries, for being themselves, for loving freely and wholehearted there is simply no words I can offer to ease the pain or make any sense of it. The LGBTQ community is in mourning, the world is in mourning. We share in your grief.

I wish I could help you navigate your way through the horror, to take the weight off your chest, to tell you that someday you will smile again.

 

I feel helpless and you feel hopeless.

We have to remember to breath.

I promise to use my voice to share hope and not give hate an audience. I need to recognize the helpers because that is where I will find love and  peace.

I am going to take five minutes to pretend it is Saturday, in the park along the river, just you and me and the falling stars…

In that five minutes I will seek light in the darkness. I hope that someday soon you can do the same.

“it’s the kind of heartache you can feel in your bones”

 

I’ll keep your memory vague-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

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I love memories. They are powerful. I think memories would be one of the most difficult things to ever have to give up .

Memories for me are not just about people I have met or places I have been but sometimes it is a feeling the memory arouses.

I have this special place that I like to go and I always wish I could capture the feeling of that place, that feeling of being connected, wholehearted and deeply and madly free. Memories, like feelings are sometimes fleeting, fading as quickly as they came. Others are enduring and they survive our greatest attempts to exile them.

Memories can warm you, like a roaring cabin fire on a dreadfully cold February day. They can recapture a time, a place, or a feeling, and envelope you in a delightfully toasty embrace.
Unfortunately just as quickly they can tear apart your insides, and rip open old wounds as if you swallowed a bucket of rusty razor blades.

Ironically bad memories come to us with greater intensity than pleasant ones because the memory is not about a place or a person as much as it is about the feelings the memory evokes. Sadly, feelings of hurt, anger, heartbreak and hopelessness can be crippling, even years later.

I told you just recently how excited I am to be in such a good and warm place in my marriage. That wasn’t always the case. Like a lot of couples, just because we have always felt like we were meant to be together doesn’t mean that it has been an easy road.

The other night in a conversation with a friend my husband brought up something that surprised me. I was upset but tried to brush it off and suceeded for a short time. It seemed out of the blue to me and I was a bit shocked because it obviously came from a place of pain and I most definititely missed the part of the conversation that made the timing relevant.

The next day I had an appointment for a ninety minute float at the Floatique, to melt away stress and clear my mind. About 60 minutes in I had an aha moment of sorts. The thing about floating and sensory deprivation is that once you have cleared you mind and relaxed sometimes things that have been mired in the mud of stress and noise pop into your brain and you get it immediately. It’s mental clarity. I had that moment and it was a comfort initially, feeling like I had found the answer to an equation.

That response was short lived however. The emotional response that I had to the memories that came up that day hit me square in the face the next morning. I was catapulted to a time of sadness and uncertainty in my marriage. I tried to refocus. I tried several times to no avail as tears that I tried desperately to hold in spilled out of the corner of my eyes. It wasn’t the memory of the time, the place, the people or even the events, it was undeniably the feelings. I fiercely wished for an override button to bring me back but it wasn’t possible. I think the only thing worse than living through those feelings the first time is living through them again and again.

A lesson I have learned from doing the W.I.S.E. project is how important it is to live in the present. The past is gone, I can’t change it, I have this moment, this very one. I can’t have yesterday and I am not promised tomorrow or next week. I have now. I knew I didn’t want to feel that pain again, I knew better than to dwell on it but I also know that our emotional memories are sometimes cautions.

Have you ever had a drink of sour milk? If you have you remember it and you never want to drink it again. This memory stays in the back of your mind and cautions you. You check the date on the carton, you smell the milk if it is close to expiry, you are vigilant about it.

I feel like that memory, that moment… those feelings; were a caution of sorts. Reminding me of our indomitable spirit, our incredible love and our valiant vulnerability. Reminding us to keep moving forward. There will always be another hurtle, another roadblock to stumble over, another fork in the road that we will have to face together and forge on.

Memories can be a holding tank of your greatest pain but they can also be a place of peace, of passion and of solace. I have learned that memories will come and go like the wind. I get to decide which memories I give power to. Some I may hold unto longer than others, feel their soothing warmth like hot sun on my face on a July day. The feel of my lips swollen from my very first kiss, the joy of falling in love, the soothing embrace of my children. The sound of the ocean, the soaring heights of the mountains, the feel of summer rain, those are the feelings I will hang unto.

Other memories may hit me hard and fast when I least expect it, bringing feelings of fear and sadness. I will let the wind carry them away just as fast.

“Memories are made of peculiar stuff, elusive and yet compelling, powerful and fleet. You cannot trust your reminiscences, and yet there is no realty except the one we remember…”

~Klaus Mann

Be. W.I.S.E. friends.

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Take on me-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

Photo credit: Louie Schwartzberg
Photo credit: Louie Schwartzberg

Beauty and seduction are nature’s tools for survival because we protect what we love. ~ Louie Schwartzberg

You may have noticed that a lot of my blog titles are also the titles of classic songs. Yes this is on purpose. I love music and usually the title is something that just pops in my head very quickly. Take on me from the Norwegian band Aha is out of the 1985 vault. That is how I feel today, telling the universe to Take me on, because I am happy and nothing that happens today is going to change that.

Often when I write to you I have these A-ha moments and yesterday I said that I was once told that you will be what you think of most of the time and I always wanted to be happy. In seeking out those opportunities to create happiness every moment of every day it changes your entire focus. It doesn’t mean that I am never sad or angry but it means I know what happiness feels like and though I experience sadness  like everyone else I no longer dwell on it. In the dictionary dwelling is described as a place of residence. Do not dwell in a place of sadness and anger. These are places you visit quickly and leave.

Once again this  months W.I.S.E. Principles are WOW, incredible, stimulate and enthusiasm.

I found just the thing today that was expressive and awe-inspiring, it encouraged further interest and activity and I intensely and eagerly enjoyed. Not bad for day two of June.

Nature’s beauty is a gift that cultivates appreciation and gratitude.

~Louie Schwartzberg

I want to share it with you and I am asking you to take ten thoughtful minutes and watch this. It will stimulate your brain, bring beauty to your eyes and calm over your entire being. If it doesn’t you are cold and dead inside and I cannot help you. Not that I can claim to help you anyway, I am not a doctor. As a regular person giving advice to another regular person here is my prescription for joy today. You’re welcome!!