Largely just unpacking and trying to find places to put things. This house and garage are slightly smaller than our place in Seattle but we also have tenants that live in the suite downstairs so we are Marie Kondo-ing the hell out of our stuff.
Whenever we need a break we take the dogs and head out to explore the neighbourhood – Hastings-Sunrise – in a new direction. It has historically been an Italian neighbourhood and you can’t go a block without passing an urban farm covered completely in tomatoes, grapes, runner beans, huge fig trees, and at least one mature olive tree. We’re walking distance to Rupert park, New Brighton Park (and pool!), and an excellent cafe and coffee roaster. All the delicious restaurants and small grocers on Hastings and Commercial are within reach as well and getting out of the city is so easy. We (dogs included) are so stoked.
We celebrated being moved in by going to see Rebirth Brass Band perform at the folk festival in Jericho Beach Park and it was so great to hang out in the sun with our friends, listening to great music. The night unfortunately ended with me losing my phone, getting a parking ticket and discovering that someone had hit my truck in the parking lot, but our happiness remains unaffected. It is so good to be home.
What was beautiful:
Our new house and our neighbourhood are basically the best but seeing the sun set over the city from the folk fest at Jericho Beach Park – as well as this rad split-window VW bus – was incredible.
What I’m reading and listening to:
Nothing new. The paper books were all packed and I lost my iPhone so no audiobooks either.
Our neighbour is a very accomplished ragtime pianist so we’ve been enjoying hearing him, and it seems our tenant also plays guitar.
Creating intimacy – how to do it and why we need it so badly, but also includes this gem that feels very true:
“Friends are those rare people who ask how we are, and then wait to hear the answer.”― Ed Cunningham”
Hacking your creativity – “particularly creative people have higher levels of alpha activity, the brain waves that are associated with a relaxed and “ready for anything” state of mind. And how can you encourage this alpha activity? Meditation.”
Well first and foremost, we are still in the midst of moving to Canada and while there have been some serious snafus this week, we are getting past the point of no return. MANY papers have been signed, the car has been sold, all of our worldly possessions (excepts animals, plants, paint and some other stuff the movers won’t carry) has been packed onto the truck and we are camping out. We head north in the morning.
Seattle, we will miss – and especially our friends – but we will be back often and hopefully people will come to visit. But I am feeling the sadness of leaving this house. It was the first property that I owned and we were not planning to move so it will always be the place where we got Tyler and went through his bilateral knee surgeries, quarantining him in the bedroom so that he wouldn’t run or jump and carrying him down the stairs to pee. And then the hours I spent recovering from my motorcycle accident and subsequent surgery staring out the window at the pear tree. There were the raised beds I kept putting in (until we ran out of room at 7), and the stone walkway that I did myself, and my plans to level the yard that ended in the discovery of the surprise well.
Also where we built a free library and cooked paella over an open orangewood fire – although that didn’t happen until our going away party last week
But prior to the whirlwind of packing and paperwork, I took a quick trip down the coast with my Triumph, almost to LA. Partly I was killing time until the movers arrived, and staying out of Matt’s way while he cleaned up his garage projects, but it was also a chance to visit the remaining locations in my McMenamins passport and some other points of interest. So down to Portland then hopped through McMinnville, Salem, Corvallis, Eugene, Roseburg to arrive in Grant’s Pass.
Then through the Redwoods where I passed many trees much larger than my motorcycle – and actually drove through one , down Hwy 101 to the sea glass beach, past otters and sea lions and an elephant seal rookery, through all the twisties to the top of Bolinas Ridge, then down over the Golden Gate bridge, up and down a crazy San Fran street hill that I shared with a streetcar, through Big Sur to Morro Bay where I spent two hours in a cafe courtyard feeling warm for the first time on the whole trip. I decided I didn’t have enough time to do all the things I wanted to do in LA so saved it for another time and went inland to Bakersfield (almost immediately becoming way too warm). The next day I didn’t want to hang out on I-5 so got up early and barreled 830+ miles north back to Portland and home the next day via the newest and most beautiful McMenamins property in Tacoma.
Normally I do not stop in big cities when I’m on a road trip with limited clothing and makeup but I’ve been wanting to visit the Musee Mechanique in San Francisco since the last time I drove through there (20+ years ago) so rode my motorcycle right onto Fisherman’s Wharf and started exploring. It did not disappoint.
And now that we have some downtime between moving events, I have started planning a dive trip to the Arctic. I was so cold on my moto trip to Cali that I think I’d better get this booked ASAP. The most likely option is this one but if I win the lottery or fall in love with ice diving, this one (hosted by the company that made my drysuit) sounds like a dream.
Plus Airbnb has launched an Adventures page, where you can book whole trips like this amazing one around the world. So now I am updating wish lists and travel plans.
What was beautiful:
So many beautiful things from my trip but the collections that struck out were the vintage neon and ghostwriting (usually in smaller towns), beautiful wildflowers blooming everywhere (plus gorgeous succulents in SoCal), the treasures and art in various McMenamins locations, but mostly I fell in love with what I came for – the trees and the sea – and what I brought with my – my motorcycle.
On adjectives – https://medium.com/@JessicaLexicus/adjectives-you-want-to-hear-about-yourself-f15e1c14e9bd. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately – how other people must see me and it’s interesting because it is such a rare thought these days. At some point, I did really stop caring or at least considering it. Sure, I conform. I get all the subliminal messaging about culture but I don’t often stop to think about how I am perceived. Even when I am looking at photos I am judging myself, instead of seeing a new angle. But I have been thinking that I am not well liked and trying to figure out why that is…how I am categorized. What certainly doesn’t change is that I will continue to try to be a good person and try to be kind, because it is the right thing to do. “Kindness isn’t an investment in a specific person, but the kind of world you want to live in.”
On marriage – “This is what marriage does better than anything else. It forces you to look hard at what you want to be and acknowledge that someone else, someone you love, cannot give it to you. Even after spending 25 years with that person, the only way to get there is to change yourself.”
Reversing the scarcity mindset – “scientists have found that loneliness can induce a scarcity mindset. Being narrowly focused on what we don’t have erodes our capacity to make choices that serve us long-term”
Oooph, it’s been busy! We had a party where we (finally!!) made paella over an open, orange wood fire and it looked, smelled and tasted amazing. More importantly, no one caught on fire and even more importantly, many of our friends came to see us off on our next adventure moving home to Vancouver.
Then I rode with my Rainier Ravens and Dykes Who Ride (aka Dykes on Bikes) in the Seattle Pride Parade. This was an amazingly joyous and beautiful experience but also triumphant because it was my CB400’s re-debut back into the world (in grand style) after we crashed into a truck.
And then to celebrate Canada Day, I went to visit the wolves and their friends at an animal rescue. What an amazing experience.
Seems like a long time ago but Matt and I also went to see El Dorado at the Can Can and laughed our asses off. So funny, and sparkly!
Now I am planning to go on a bit of a road trip to kill some time before the movers come but I’m exhausted and sore and not packed and it’s raining so not a lot of progress has been made there yet.
What was beautiful:
This article about my cousin’s project in the Straight. It’s a couple of years old but really good, especially in context with the musical component.
This story by Flying Edna. “It’s too easy to get caught up in the big death, she said, but it’s the little deaths that kill you.”
Breaking the booze habit “For drinkers who have become alcohol dependent, taking a short break is likely not an option. Many people who drink heavily have not had an easy road in managing their relationship with alcohol.”
“All my drinking was really centered around community and wanting that connection so badly with other people,” he says.
I had a free weekend with nothing on the calendar (tough to come by in these Seattle summer days!) so I hopped on the motorcycle and headed east. Well first south to Portland to collect some McMenamins stamps for my passport, then over to Hells Canyon in Idaho, up Lolo Pass into Montana and then back home, stopping in the town of Wallace (and fell completely in love with its quirkiness), Palouse Falls, and the Ginko Petrified Forest – so many things that I’ve been meaning to visit or that have caught my eye on the way to somewhere else.
Also trying to cram in some dog training so the dogs won’t bark in Vancouver and of course, finish off my online Psychology classes and grad school application.
It has, however, been a bit of a throttling exercise. In between late nights painting and studying, daily dance practices and dog walks, we’ve had long stretches of time to kill, trying to enjoy the early summer.
What was beautiful:
I’ve been really in love with my garden this week. The early heat has brought out all the irises, lilacs, lavender and rhodo blooms – and with it all kinds of birdsong. Our house is also the most beautiful it has ever been, due to being staged for sale and so we have been spending quite a bit of time in the yard. I am loving noticing the changes throughout the day, from all the different vantage points.
We also spent the weekend at an airbnb in Strathcona, a historical area of Vancouver and I delighted at the row houses, quirky artist studios and coffee shops, not to mention the riotous colors and smells and sounds of Chinatown.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak. They’re filtering everything through their own paradigms, reading their autobiography into other people’s lives.”
““Anger is a moral response.’ But then it’s what you do with that anger…it’s not fair [that it] is a fundament of morality and of activism. So how do we walk that line between demonstrating that and also helping ourselves and our children live wisely with those feelings and those observations of life’s unfairness?” “…I remember my father, who is now long gone, hearing me teach about transforming anger into work in the world, doing something. He’d say, “I need my anger, Sylvia. It motivates me to do all the activism that I do.” And I’d say, “Well, you do need it, Dad. You need it just to alert you to what needs attention. But you don’t need to carry it along with you to keep refueling you.” As a matter of fact, if you keep nurturing the flame of anger, it confuses the mind and maybe we don’t respond as wisely as we ought to. But I need the anger as if I had 104 fever; it would be a sign that I need to do something about it…But then you let it — well, I hope that what I do is I recognize the anger as a response, actually. It’s a response, I think, to what I feel underneath it, which is a fear. Things really aren’t fair; this is not right that this and this is happening in the world. And I think it responds to that fear, which is basic. The human response is to lash out at it when something frightens us…So I think that the anger is on top of the fear. And to be able to say I am frightened, because in the world these unjust things are happening, what can I do and how can I have a mind that’s energized to do something about it, but not reacting in anger, but responding in firm kindness? But things need to be different. Things need to be different.”
Having just turned 43, I suppose I am no longer the answer to life the universe and everything – but I do feel as though I am honing in on what that might be for myself, and moving away from things that I know have not been good for me.
5 years ago as I prepared for the year, I wrote, “it’s going to be busy. We’re getting a dog and moving to Seattle. I’ll be travelling … I’m working on a new art project, will probably start grad school in the fall and already have some exciting ideas about What’s Next.”
And now we are prepping for another big, goal-changing year; we will be moving back to Canada and I’m leaving retail project management to be a therapist! It’s all coming together, after months of prepping our house for sale, sorting out Matt’s work, taking several undergrad classes online, applying to grad school, quitting my job, looking at houses in Vancouver, and – as an unrelated bonus – practicing for my debut flamenco show.
We’re so tired.
And yet somehow we keep finding the energy to move forward. A large part of this is due to 1000 task lists and energy drinks and the glorious sunny days that seem to have appeared out of nowhere while we were painting but it also feels really good to be putting energy into known good things. We will miss Seattle and our house but we’ve made many good friends here, acquired another amazing dog and had a lot of fun adventures.
The Anais Nin quote seemed initially like the theme for the year but sitting in the garden and thinking about all the work that has gone into this move – the internal work to figure out what is good for me, the work on our marriage to determine the conditions where we thrive, the work on dog training to develop good canine citizens, the community and relationship work with friends to build lasting connections, never mind all of the work on the house and school and jobs and even the mound of paperwork ahead of us – the quote seems very flingy and insouciant. Do instead I picked this one:
“Leonardo da Vinci said that Genius is Energy plus Will. Energy plus Will gets you into the Pacific Ocean. Da Vinci said nothing of Talent. Genius does not depend on Talent. Without the snorkel of Energy and the fins of Will, Talent is the bather who from a dune watches the sun set.”
– David Barringer
The new life is a gift from the old self and it doesn’t come without both a cost and a tremendous amount of energy and will. But we are built for growth, not stagnation and so we press on.