We have just been on the most amazing trip to Canada - a journey within a journey. I feel like I am returning home a different person, probably the result of 12 yoga classes, a lot of time in nature and surrounded by trees and the wonderful people I have met and experiences experienced over the last few weeks.
I love travelling and I have missed travelling the last year, not that we haven't travelled, but more so that we haven't travelled outside of Europe and there is much joy in slightly longer haul travelling (not in the travel itself per se, especially with children) but in different cultures in different parts of the world.
Vancouver was great, the perfect tempo to transition from the craziness of life on Guernsey to the slower pace of Vancouver Island and our life as we calmed down without work and home responsibilities - very liberating! Ewan was a star and I managed 4 yoga classes at the amazing Y-Yoga studio downtown Vancouver - I had studio envy most definitely.
Vancouver Island is fabulous especially as one of my best friend's lives there, Sami. Sami was actually one of my first yoga students all those years ago now, almost 9 (where did that time go and how much our lives have changed in that time) and helped spread the word because yoga helped her so much in her life, which found her changing her life and leaving her settled life in Guernsey for life in Vancouver Island, a place that had captured her heart many years before.
It all worked out well and she is married to Derek and they have two beautiful children, Rosie and Elliott. They have a fabulous property surrounded by trees and looking towards the mountains in the distance and Sami's parents (who also emigrated from Guernsey) living below them so that they have family and help on hand.
We had a fabulous time staying with the Haynes, and hour and a half from the mainland the Island is beautiful despite the fog, which meant we didn't get to see the views! Still we had lovely friend and family time and we braved walks in the rain and I was able to get to a lovely yoga class at a studio I visited a few years now. This was most definitely studio envy time, I loved it with all the plants and the wooden vibe, bliss!
From Vancouver Island we took another ferry, only 35 minutes now, to Salt Spring island. Wow. I could move there. Amazing place, just LOVED it. The Island is about 3 times larger than Guernsey but has only 10,500 people (in the winter). It is absolutely full to the brim with trees and a fabulous alternative vibe. People assumed we were locals, fitting in rather well as a tree surgeon/gardener and a yoga teacher.
I managed 3 yoga classes with a lovely Swiss guy who has his own studio over there, it was a little bit too yang for me (and still no inversions, absolutely no inversions in class the whole time and very few forward bends, interesting for me, suspect it may be the safety issues and liability...) but I was grateful to Ewan for the opportunity to practice and feel cleaner, more energised, clearer, stronger (the list is endless) etc etc in the process.
We walked trails (with fabulous fairy and elf doors), we swam, we visited the sites, we enjoyed organic and fresh foods, we laughed, we stayed in a log cabin in the woods, we played table tennis, we tried to take Elijah out on a Canadian canoe on he lake (he didn't like the life jacket) and we watched a lot of the BBC world news reporting on the massacre in Paris...talk about the news becoming reality TV, and the darkness of the world.
We didn't want to leave...
But alas the next stop was pretty good going, back to Vancouver Island, meet with the Haynes family and another ferry back to the mainland and from there a couple of hours drive up to Whistler and the mountains.
Amazing again. I love mountains. And while I did indeed love these mountains I am afraid that I struggle to get as blow away - awe inspired - as I do in Nepal, I have indeed been spoilt with fishtail let alone seeing the sun rise over Everest (even if I was half dying with altitude sickness!). But we loved our time in Whistler.
Sami and I went skiing one day which was terrifying. I have only skied for half a day previously and after a turn on the nursery slopes we decided that I would be okay on the green run. Big mistake. The whole "feel the fear and do it anyway" did not really work for me. I try to overcome fear but this fear was all consuming...I honestly was not quite sure how I was going to get down the mountain because skiing down it appeared impossible, arghh!!
I did make it down, just. After some time for contemplation and a good talking to and falling a few times. Back to the nursery slopes for a good hour or so and then back up and down an easier green route...still incredibly scary so I had a few heart in mouth moments and a little bit of annoyance that it was all such hard work and frustration at not taking lessons and knowing what to do...
But I did feel great later that evening, all that fresh air and snow and sun and breathing and trees and mountain energy.
We went snow shoeing one day and I stood on a frozen lake for the first time. I also got to go to a couple of yoga classes, lucky me, the classes were super busy too, I was impressed with the commitment, ideal though for a stretch after a day on the slopes.
We had an afternoon in Vancouver before our flight home and I managed yet another yoga class which was amazing, the teacher was really good, I learned lots from the session . We also chanced upon a café with the most amazing soy chai and the Banyan bookshop which is full of all things I love - crystals, angel cards, yoga stuff, incense, candles, spiritual books, music, singing bowls. We went to the botanical gardens at the University of British Columbia, which are incredible and made Ewan very happy with all its giant red woods (western red cedars).
Back in the UK and we have a few days in Brighton with our friend Charles, which is a good transition before home. There are some fabulous independent cafes here with the vegan/vegetarian/fresh/organic options that we have gotten quite used to having in Canada...and I managed my final yoga class before home, Bikram, not my favourite, incredibly hot and hard work but makes you feel amazing afterwards.
So all in all this has been an amazing trip and I most definitely feel a different person now to the one I was when we left 3 weeks ago now. I have thoroughly loved and indeed relished the opportunity to spend all this time with Ewan and Elijah, it will feel so strange going to work without them!!!
I came across some marvellous quotes on my travels, one that sticks with me is this one...
"The central epiphany in every religious belief occurs in the wilderness. Buddha had to go to the wilderness to experience self realization. Mohammed had to go to the wilderness to have his central realization. Moses went into the wilderness for days to experience his divinity for the first time. The wilderness has always played a critical role. It's where human beings most easily sense the divine". (Robert F. Kennedy JR)."
I have to say that sending time in the wilderness has helped me to heal and provide clarity, to strengthen and release...happy times...very grateful and delighted we took the plunge and stepped beyond the fear of 9 hours on a flight with Elijah. And grateful to Ewan that he was happy to look after Elijah (and eat pastries) while I went to yoga. I believe we both feel lighter for the experience.