Found It

looking around cornere

I have spent the past two years searching for My Thing through this blog.  I think I may have found it.

In hindsight, it was pretty much staring me in the face the whole time.  Yup, I know.  I can be a bit thick sometimes.  So while I may never write the great Canadian novel, I think it’s safe to say that my creative outlet is putting pen to paper.  Or perhaps fingertips to iPad would be more appropriate.

There I said it.  I love to write.

Some of the most satisfying moments in the past months have been the ones just after hitting the publish button.  It’s an odd rush of “Yes, I’m done” and “Wow, I finished another one”.  It’s interesting to see how my writing style changed over the months.  My first couple of posts were pretty wordy and involved long descriptive paragraphs.  The later ones are a bit more choppy.  I’m not sure if it’s just how my thought process changed or if realized that it was just easier for people to read it that way.  Whatever the reason, I have enjoyed every minute.

But I’m not going to lie.  I have wished, more than a few times, that more people read my posts.  That’s when my most trusted adviser gently reminded me, that wasn’t why I was writing.  I was writing to explore my life and express myself.  (Ya, I know, sometimes I expressed myself a little too much)  But it felt good.  It felt right.  So I kept doing it.

Oddly enough, since having this epiphany about writing being my thing, I’ve been stuck with no ideas and nothing flowing in my head.  I started numerous post but never got past the first sentence.  Panic started to set in.  What was happening?

Some would call it writers block.  I call it damned annoying.

And worst of all, I just couldn’t figure out why.  It was infuriating and caused hours, perhaps days, of gut wrenching soul searching.  (Okay, a bit of an exaggeration). I tried to work through it by spending some time drinking wine in Whistler and heading out for numerous runs. Trying to nudge the process along.  I was willing to do whatever it took.  I’m dedicated that way.

But then I remembered that this was something else that I’ve learnt these past two years.

Everything comes when it’s supposed to.  And it did.

I realized that the time I have spent with friends and acquaintances in the past two years learning about them, and in turn me, has been enlightening and rewarding.  Not to mention a lot of fun.  I’ve seen what it means to be passionate about something.  Truly passionate. I’ve been given advice and I’ve give some out myself.  I’ve rekindled friendships that had faded and realized that people I hardly knew were wicked interesting.  Despite already being middle aged I’ve grown up.

But here’s the kicker.  Now that I’ve come to this momentous conclusion, I’m  feeling like I need a change. Don’t worry, I’m still interested in exploring the Best Things in Life.  I just think that it may look a little different.

I’m not exactly sure how…..but that’s the Best Thing in Life.  You don’t always know what’s around the corner.

 

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Miss Sam

dance-teacher

If you are very lucky in life, you get to combine two things that you are passionate about into a long term career that you can do anywhere in the world and can easily fit into an already busy family schedule.  This is my dream.  This is my friend Sam’s reality.

And the kicker is that it is such a beautiful thing that she does.  Sam is a dancer who took her love of dance and married it with a strong desire to teach and voila, she became a dance teacher.  Yup I’m going to admit this up front.  I am incredibly jealous.  If she wasn’t such a lovely person I could maybe hate her for having not one, but two, clear passions in her life.  And a supportive husband and three great kids.  Wow, maybe I should hate her.

Sam started dancing at a very young age in Scotland. She started with ballet then highland dancing then added tap and eventually jazz. She danced right through until she was 17 competing in highland dance and completing her RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) exams in ballet.  When she finished school she was thinking about becoming a teacher but she still found it hard to move away from dance and ended up doing a three year dance program in her home town of Edinburgh.

As we walked in the beautiful fall sunshine, with her sweet little dog Dougal, she told me how she trained in Edinburgh and eventually auditioned in London for a job dancing with the Princess Cruise Lines.  Although she still wanted to become a teacher, this opportunity was not one to turn down.  Being paid for doing what she loved and seeing the world at the same time.  Who wouldn’t?

FYI-none of these pictures are actually of Sam

cruise ship dancers

So this shy girl from Edinburg took a plane from London to LA and started training for work on the cruise ship line.  She worked for them for a number of years, eventually meeting her husband and making life long friends along the way.  Although she loved the work, when an opportunity came up back in Edinburgh for her to get her teaching degree she took it.  She was able to go to school during the winter and continue working on the ship in the summer.

I’m starting to think that this women may have a fairy godmother in her back pocket. And yes I’m still jealous.

For the next ten years she taught primary school, ran her own dance school and had three kids.  That would have continued had her husband’s job not brought her and her family here to Vancouver.  And that’s where we met.

Sam, or Miss Sam as the girls call her, is teaching my daughter ballet this year and I couldn’t be happier. When I asked my daughter how her first class with her was she said “Great, but Miss Sam is pretty strict”. Yes, I thought, that’s perfect.  I know that being a good dancer does not guarantee that you will be a good dance teacher but I sense that her approach will work well with my girl.

“Everybody, every child, learns differently and so the way you teach them needs to be different too”.

I came away thinking how incredibly lucky she was to have been able to take her loves and this great approach to teaching and have something she will be able to do for years.  But then, as it usually does, it came to me. Wow, she is a good teacher,because I just learnt something.  The Best Thing in Life is not to be jealous of somebody else’s life but to learn from them and admire their passion.

Still Looking

It’s been almost a year since I first started this blog.  I thought that it might be a good time to look back at WHY.path

I recently left my job. I had worked for the same company for eleven years and while I liked the company and the people, I didn’t really like my job. Sales was never really some thing I was good at or aspired to get better at. My oldest child is graduating from high school this year and getting ready for college (fingers crossed), my youngest is navigating the grade one playground and exploring every activity we will allow her and my husband travels a lot. And I mean a lot. So when the opportunity presented itself I decided that this was just the right thing for me to do at this point in my life.

I had been thinking about what I would do with my time now that I am a lady of leisure. I’m almost fifty and with the kids in school I have a few hours every day to fill. While running and yoga will be high on my daily list of things to do, I feel that having another focus might be a good idea. So I thought that I would join the thousands of others out there and create a blog. Only problem is I wasn’t sure what to write about.

I don’t really have a “thing”. I’ve often wondered what my “passion” is. Never found my “niche”. Getting the picture?  I do, however, have an abundance of friends who do have a thing. From high school friends to mom friends to family acquaintance; I seem to know a lot of people who do really cool things. If ever I need advice, products or just a connection to another friend I know exactly where to go. The majority of these people have managed to create a business from their passions and are thriving in life. Whether creative or practical they are doing what they love with amazing dedication.

So where does that leave me? It leaves me with a wealth of stories and connections for great people and cool jobs, hobbies and passions. So here’s what I’m thinking. I’m going to spend the next few months (maybe years) exploring those connections and those people. This may involve lengthy conversations over coffee or on the running trails or may even involve some wine. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to find out how they knew what their thing was and where it’s taken them. Maybe they didn’t know right away and have some cool back story about the day they discovered it. Then I’m going to share it with you.

I’m also going to try and discover what my “thing” may be by exploring all that life has to offer.  New experiences with family and friends are definitely in my future and, of course, will be well documented right here.

Here’s to discovering what the best things in life are

P.S. I would love your feedback and comments.

Coincidence or Kismet?

piano

Do you every think that things are just meant to happen when they happen? That the universe has a plan and you just don’t know about it? Today was one of those days for me. At a time when I was lacking motivation, questioning my decisions and wondering if the direction I was going in was leading me the right way, I had an Oprah moment. You know the one. The quintessential “aha” moment. I wasn’t unhappy, I was just unsure of where things were going or if they even needed to go anywhere. Should I soldier on or reevaluate and make a change? I felt I was lacking a focus. Then I had lunch with a very wise and lovely friend that I had been trying to connect with for months. Coincidence?

A classically trained pianist who grew up in, of all places, Prince George, Stephanie and I met when our kids attended the same pre-school. She started playing the piano when she was two and her piano teacher recognized her talent early on. By the time she was fourteen she was flying down to Vancouver once a month for lessons. She was accepted to Juliard, Peabody and Eastman – the creme de la creme of music schools in the US. After choosing and studying at Eastman she was destined for a career as a concert pianist. She, however, had a defining moment when her panic attacks started to get the best of her. She also never felt the pull that many performers feel for an adoring audience or a standing ovation. Many performers continue for the ego boost, but she realized that the direction she was heading was not meant to be. What was meant to be, was to bring the pure joy of music, that she felt, to others. As a teacher.

Her approach to teaching is truly organic. As I ate the delicious spicy Mexican soup she had made us for lunch, I listened to her explaining how learning music is not just about the notes and the technique, but the feeling you get from playing. She has been known to tell a student to “go and watch water”. The point being, to teach the lightness and finesse of playing the notes. To mimic the way the water flows and bubbles. “Some kids get it, some don’t”. She went on to say, that teaching young kids comes with a unique opportunity to mold the way they approach playing and practicing. Most would start with the easy stuff and go on from there. She encourages them to start with the most challenging part. That is a difficult thing for anybody to do at any age.

water

The most important thing she tries to instill in her students is that music should come from a place of happiness – not from a place of ego. You could win a hundred music competitions and still not understand the meaning of the music you have played. Some of the best musicians play for the pure love of it. If they are able to make a living doing it, then it really is just icing on the cake. The need for a gold star or, in my case, verification that somebody is reading my blogs and that I am making a difference, is a huge stumbling block for me. She reminded me that perhaps there was somebody out there reading my blog and thinking “wow, that’s exactly how I’m feeling too”. I could be making somebody think a different way or see a different side to something. Maybe I’m just allowing somebody to steal a few minutes from their day, read a story and enjoy the way it makes them feel.  Like a piece of music.

As usual I went into this situation with one idea and came away with a completely different point if view. I started out being envious of my friend’s passion for music and the way that she had been able to take that and use it to teach children and left feeling like maybe, just maybe, I too had a path to follow. An opportunity to catch up and learn about her music career turned into a life lesson for me. Go figure. I left her house feeling inspired, rejuvenated and happy to have reconnected with such a kind and insightful friend. Even if nobody is reading my blog, I am doing what makes me happy. Perhaps I am not “over achieving” but my family is happy too. I need to live my life for the joy and not for the gold star. The Best Thing in Life is just letting things happen the way the universe wants them to happen and enjoying the kismet.

Get a Job

working man

As my seventeen year old begins his search for a summer job I got thinking about all the jobs that I have had over the years and what they have taught me. Jobs, I think, are not always about learning how to build things, or add up numbers or serve people. They can be full of life lessons without you even realizing it. Simply having a job teaches you responsibility, time management and economics. It can also teach you how to deal with disappointment if you were to, perhaps, lose said job.

My first job was at the Fish and Chip Shop in the shopping area close to my home. I was probably thirteen years old. The owners were a lovely British couple named Rina and Paul. (I think…c’mon it was 36 years ago). Arriving for my first day of work I imagined that I would be taking orders and serving the much loved fish and chips. Nope. The first task I was given was pulling the bones out of the fish in the back of the kitchen. After a few weeks I was elevated to washing dishes in addition to pulling fish bones. Eventually I got to take orders, but it did take a while. I learnt that you need to start at the bottom.

When I graduated from high school I was pretty sure that I wanted to work in the hotel business and I think I know why. A close family friend was a VP with C.P. Hotels. He and his wife lived in a suite at the Hotel Vancouver and had wicked parties catered by hotel. I assumed that this was were I would end up. With his connections, I got a job as a bus girl at the Banff Springs Hotel. The dining room was huge; like football field huge. Breakfast shift started at 6:00am. Huge tour groups would flood in, eat and then leave to catch their buses. Dirty dishes, heavy bus pans and sore feet became a regular part of my life. I learnt that a lot of hard work is required before those great parties can happen. If they ever do.

Over time I realized that hotel/restaurant work was not my destiny. I took a two year Business Administration program at the local technical school with the hopes of getting into the business world. I was fortunate to get a job with an actuarial consulting firm as their office manager. For those of you who don’t know, actuaries calculate the future incomes of pension plans. There is a lot of money in actuarial consulting and the firm did really well. It was all very L.A.Law. Partners meetings, extravagant Christmas parties and lots of office politics. I learnt that some people really do use the math they learnt in grade 12 to make a living.

In 1995 Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment was where I met my husband. It’s a bit of a funny story. When I started working there I was married. When I left, three and a half years later, I was divorced and the mother of a three year old who was dating a co-worker. Talk about office gossip. I worked in the finance department helping with payroll. My future husband, worked in arena operations. It was a very dynamic place to work. Lots of young, energetic employees, exciting basketball games, concerts and the occasional Russian hockey player sighting. What did I learn from this job? I learnt that if you can open yourself up to new opportunities that great things can happen. Also, that NBA players are very highly paid.

When I went for my next interview I didn’t know that the company I was interviewing with was Starbucks. What a crazy experience. The job was Administrative Supervisor for Western Canada. It was pretty intense. To start, I was trained to work in a Starbucks store and had to complete a certain number of hours as a Barista. Regular trips to Seattle included a tour of the bean roasting plant, meeting Howard Schultz and numerous coffee tastings. I spent the first few months learning the Starbucks language. At Starbucks it was never half way. You were either all in or you weren’t. I learnt that some companies want your heart and sole and if you can’t give it to them, it’s not the right job for you.

My most recent position was with a small business software re-seller. It started out as an admin position but eventually I ended up in the sales department. I loved the company and the people were great, but sales was not my thing. If they didn’t want to buy it, they didn’t want to buy it. Who was I to change their mind? The hours were flexible though and the owners were understanding of the fact that my husband traveled and sometime I just wasn’t available. From this job I learnt that sometimes you can’t have everything all in one package. You have to take the good with the bad.

So what advice would I give my son as he goes out into the world looking for a job. I know that my advice should be “Do what you love” or “Follow your passion”. But the truth is that he just needs to get a job. A job that will teach him that he needs to be on time. Every day. That he needs to be able to follow procedures and rules. Even the ones he disagrees with. That he may not like his co-worker, but he still needs to get along with them so that he can do his job. That the government will take a potion of what you earn whether you like it or not. Really, he just needs to get a job and know what it feels like to work for a living. Or in his case. Gas money.

Divorce – Good, Bad or Ugly?

I’ve been through a divorce. Many of my friends have been through divorces. In fact, when I thought about it, I realized that quite a lot of my friends are divorced. Thirty five in fact. Some recently, some many years ago. “It’s an epidemic” one friend said. As all relationships are different, so are all divorces. So what makes one divorce good and easy and the other stressful and horrific? Or are they all just bad? Are divorces good, bad or ugly?

I left my ex-husband 17 years ago when our son was 3 months old. Mine fell into the “stressful and horrific” category. I was hurt after discovering that a past friend and co-worker was involved with my husband. When I think back, what I most remember was the overwhelming desire to broadcast to the world (preferably by a large, well lit billboard) that it was not my fault. For some reason it seemed really important to me. Was that normal? What is normal in a divorce? With so many questions running around in my head I felt the need to write.

I started by asking my thirty five friends to tell me what were the worst and the best things that happened during or as a result of divorce? The feedback was so interesting and passionate. Obviously this is something that gives rise to a fair amount of emotion. It’s not a simple question. There is so much more to it and clearly the women I know aren’t shy about giving me their opinions on how things went down.

For one friend the worst part was that her kids have been so affected by what had happened and they really had nothing to do with it. “They didn’t ask for this to happen”. They weren’t responsible yet they have to deal with the fall out. They are collateral damage so to speak. I think that is something that we would all agree on. Missing the kids was a big downside for a lot of people. Those long lonely weekends spent counting the hours until they came home from their dad’s. In hind site, it was a blessing that my son was so young when my divorce happened. By the time he was old enough to sort of understand what was going on, most of the bad behavior (not on my part of course) was over. Don’t get me wrong, we still don’t see eye to eye, but at least there are less issues to deal with than there were when he was little.

For those of us who have older kids graduating from high school or in university, I got the feeling that there was a huge sense of accomplishment. I think maybe divorced parents need to work a little harder in that department. Now before you get your knickers in a knot, I’m not saying that we are better parents than people who are still married. I’m just saying that we have more hoops to jump through in the parenting department. It can be hard enough to parent a teen within a solid marriage but having to do it with somebody you may not trust, respect or even like, can be a major challenge. To come through it with well adjusted kids is a major coup.

Some found that a year or two down the road they are better friends and closer to their exes than they ever were. This is not the norm I discovered. It is quite rare and, in of some circles, even frowned upon. Particularly if there was some sort of infidelity involved. That’s a whole different animal from just growing apart. Yet for some that’s really how things have worked out. “We’ve made mistakes, we’ve survived, we’ve moved on and we’ve discovered happiness.” Are they the lucky ones? One friend is even in the process of getting back together with her ex. Can you go back? I guess she’ll find out.

More often than not there is animosity, distrust and well, dislike. What’s odd, to me, is that even with these feeling raging inside us, our exes are still able to incite very strong reactions. Some might even say passionate. After a disagreement with her ex, one friend had a particularly strong reaction. “I got home and I stormed around the house and cried and yelled and when it was all over I was okay.” (Come on, we all did it at some point). We’ve yelled, sworn, cursed the day we ever walked down the aisle (in my defense I was foggy from cold medicine and Tylenol). You would think that we would know that it shouldn’t get to us. At some point you loved that person and perhaps it takes a while for the strength of those feeling to go away even if those feelings are anger.

I find it really funny that by far the best thing for most divorced women was that they now get to cook whatever they want. Or better yet, not cook at all. They felt free and independent. Able to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. (Midnight McDonalds run anyone). Don’t get me wrong, these women were not in relationships that were oppressive. These are strong, capable women. “Neither of us knew how stressed we both were until he left. It was a huge relief.” Perhaps we were working so hard on trying to make the marriage right, that when we finally gave in, the freedom was a sweet release.

As an old friend and I were catching up over a couple of large glasses of wine in a noisy restaurant, I realized how deeply she felt her divorce. “I felt a huge sense of failure”. And she wasn’t alone. Why is it that even though our actions had not directly caused the split (and by this I mean that we weren’t the ones that slept with our secretaries) we still felt immense failure. Even marriages that ended simply because they grew apart, incited feelings of failure. Of course it doesn’t help when people’s first reaction is “I’m sorry”. We are so programmed to believe that when we marry, we have to do everything in our powers to make it work. It took me a long time to realize that I wasn’t really worthless and a bad wife, my ex-husband was just an asshole. Go figure.

Without question every friend I spoke to said that the best thing to come out of the divorce was the huge personal growth they experienced at the end of the day. Would they have felt this way if they hadn’t gone through a divorce? Hard to say. I know lots of emotionally evolved women who are happily married. I know this; the end of a marriage forces you to look not only at your relationship, but at yourself. You are on your own in the big wide world. Therapy, friends, family and wine were all cited as coping mechanisms in the first year. And while you may feel lonely at times, as one friend pointed out, you make it through. Sometimes it happens quickly and other times it takes years, but we’ve all made it and are, dare I say, better off?

As all people are different, so are all divorces. I’ve learnt that there are some common threads but, for the most part, we have all dealt with the end of a marriage in our own unique way. I for one, have learnt that nobody can make you happy but yourself. Others have discovered that they can love again. All have found a strength within them that they maybe didn’t know was there. Today I find happiness in the fact that I have been happily married to an amazing man for 13 years. They’re good, they’re bad and yes, they are ugly, but divorces happen. It’s what you do with them that can be The Best Thing in Your Life.

Time Heals All Wounds

I’m starting to believe this saying is true. Three years ago I ran the Hood to Coast relay. A 200 mile relay done by a team of twelve. Now, inexplicably, I have signed up for another relay. As I think about starting to train, I found this piece that I wrote just after finishing the Hood to Coast.

The alarm went off at 4:30 am on Friday, August 26, 2011. After two days of beautiful sunny weather we were a bit surprised, and concerned, that the skies were now full of lighting and rolling thunder. By the time we were loading the vans and heading out the door it was raining. After a quick drive up Mt Hood to Timberline Lodge the skies had cleared and we all began to feel the excitement mounting. Twelve ladies from Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa and San Jose had come together to run 197 miles from Mt Hood to Seaside on the Oregon coast. With our support vehicle drivers Jo and Jen ready to go, our coolers filled with ice, water and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Canada flags flying proudly, The “Eh Team” was as prepared as we would ever be.

We piled out of the vans and headed to the check in booth and our first (of many) trips to the port o pottys. After checking in we stood pinning on our numbers and checking our watches in anticipation of our 7:15 start time. Sharon was interviewed by a local tv station, Andrea snapped some photos of the sun bursting through the clouds and Aimee and I hit the Cliff Bar sample table. Fifteen minutes before our start time, the skies darkened again and rain came in buckets. As we all retreated to the vans Sharon (runner #1) bravely headed out to the start line. Once again the weather broke and we were able to see her start. So exciting to hear the count down and see Sharon fly down the hill with Canada flag cape flowing behind her.

And so it had begun. None of us really had any idea what we were in for but were willing to give this our best effort and deal with whatever came our way. Van 2 left to go back to the condos and clean up. They wouldn’t start for another 5-6 hours. Van 1 headed down the mountain to our first exchange point still a bit clueless as to how this all worked. It didn’t take us long to meet some fellow Canadians and learn how to get parked, find the Port-o-Potties (POPs) and get to the exchange zone ready for runner 1 to come in. As the volunteers called out team numbers, Donna waited by the side line for team 228. Within minutes they called it and our first exchange was done. Piece of cake. And so it went all morning. Run, exchange, drive, POP, and repeat.

Within a couple of hours the temperature has soared to 30 degrees or more. By the time we met up with Van 2 at the Safeway parking lot in Sandy, OR runners were coming in soaked in sweat and guzzling water. Rosa’s first run started at 11:30 ish and when she finished she was so hot she said her head felt like it would explode. Never a good thing. Robyn took the wrist band from Rosa and headed out. Van 2 was now on the road and running through the afternoon. We would see them in 5-6 hours under the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland. It was a bit weird doing a race as a team but not seeing half of your team for more than a few minutes at van exchanges. Never the less, there was lots of support and multiple texts back and forth.

Van 1 now headed into Portland to find our exchange point and have some down time. Parked in a parking lot in the blazing sun we tried to rest, hydrate and dry out our sleeping bags that had been soaked in the mornings rain. After re-fueling on fries, coke and chocolate (sorry Leanna) we readied ourselves for the next 6 legs and some night running. A few tense moments followed when we couldn’t find our required vest flashers but $15 later we were all set and waiting for Moe to exchange. We were off again and Van 2 had a well deserved break which I hear included a Mexican dinner.

My first leg had been a pretty easy 4 mile down hill run at 8:30 am. I now got ready for a 7.25 mile run on rolling hills starting at about 7:30pm. While it was sunny and still pretty hot when I started, darkness came quickly and I switched on my headlamp about half way through. I made friends with a guy named Gill from Salem who was running for 4-5 minutes and then walking. By the time I had passed him for the 6th time we were chatting away. A lot faster than I thought, I spotted the weigh station sign. One mile to go and I felt great! Just before passing off to Aimee I thought “Wow, I can do this.”

I think my darkest hour came after our next exchange with van 2. It was after midnight and we had just experienced our first traffic jam and had kind of vague directions to our next rest point. As we drove for over an hour along a dark country road that curved and twisted and rolled my stomach dip flip flops and I thought I might heave. This was the only time in 32 hours that I thought “this really sucks” But as van 2 ran through the night we reached our destination and bedded down to try and get some sleep. At this point we were well into the countryside and had lost contact with van 2. I can only imagine how it was for them. They had run in the heat of the day and now as the temperature dropped to 10 degrees they ran in the pitch dark on windy and occasionally dusty roads.

So it is now 4:15 am on Saturday morning. I wake up to hear Rosa and Sharon (who slept outside) laughing hysterically at the guy who was wandering around the field at 3:00am trying to find his team. We knew that Moe would be coming in soon so we packed up and got ready for our last legs. It was cold and dark and we were all groggy but eager to go. Unfortunately, Moe is a tad faster than we anticipated and was left waiting for us at the exchange for 15 minutes. General discussion at the POPs revealed that this was pretty standard for this exchange as there was no way for the vans to communicate expected arrival times.

As van 2 headed off for some rest, we looked forward to our final legs. Helen’s final leg was a doozy. Three and a half miles up hill. And I mean UP hill. And then 3 miles back down the other side. She is such an amazing runner and finished with a smile on her face. And then we were done. It was hard to believe but we had finished our legs and had nothing left to do but head to Seaside to meet van 2 and cross the finish line.

Van 2 on the other hand had not only the longest run to complete but a traffic nightmare waiting for them at the end. Orianna’s last leg was just over 8 miles long. I can only imagine how hard that was after 30 hours but she did it and then some. Once they realized that they probably wouldn’t make it to the finish line in time to meet Moe if they stayed in the van, they decided that they would ALL run the last leg together. So Robyn, Andrea, Jen, Leanna and Orianna hopped out and ran 3 miles to met us on the beach. Orianna had just run 8 miles already. Sweaty and tired they found us and we all crossed the finish line together.

I realized while we were waiting for them on the beach that for months we had focused on running. Training, talking about our respective legs and how hard or easy they might be. Running at night, in the morning, up hills and down hills. Running, running, running. But in the end the running became secondary and what really became the challenge was the adventure. Finding our way in the heat and the dark to places we had never been before on limited water, food, sleep and patience was what made the race what it was. Meeting amazing people and finding great friendships. My husband asked me on the way home if I would do it again. My answer…probably not, but I will NEVER forget what we accomplished in those 32 hours.

So here I am, three years later, and I’m doing it again. What can I say. Some of The Best Thing in Life just need to be repeated.

Wendy

Not many people would disagree with me when I say that one of The Best Things in Life is a really good massage. The kind that leaves you rejuvenated and yet melting into your car seat on the drive home. The kind you get from a true professional. Just thinking about it is making me want to pick up the phone and make an appointment. You see, I’m lucky enough to have a massage therapist on speed dial. Not because I’m a diva, but because she’s my friend.

Wendy has known since she was in grade 9 that she wanted to be massage therapist. A competitive rower for a prestigious private school, she was always giving her teammates massages after long days on the water. The feeling of satisfaction she got from that, hooked her in. She loved that she was making other people comfortable and easing their achy muscles but most importantly, she was making them happy. If there is one thing in life that Wendy strives for, it is to make others happy, sometimes to her own detriment.

After a year working at a job she didn’t like, she returned to college to get her prerequisite classes and then in 2002 started the three year course to become a registered massage therapist. “Three years of hell” is how she described it. And at the end of those three years came three written Board exams and then a hands on, live exam. Imagine doing an exam with an instructor as your client and three other examiners standing around watching. Holy crap, talk about intimidating. Massage therapy is a physically and mentally demanding job. Many therapist burn out after 5-7 years, I’ve learned.

She passed, of course, got married, moved to the Sunshine Coast and got pregnant. So, sometime things don’t go quite as planned. Anyway, once things got back on track she set up practice in Gibsons and built up a healthy clientele. Another baby later and Wendy and her family found themselves back in North Vancouver. She currently works at a practice in Lynn Valley. “Choosing where you want to work is a lot about being comfortable in your surroundings and finding the right fit with the practice” she told me. What she likes about the practice she works at, is that it is a multi-disciplinary practice. This gives her the opportunity to consult with other experts in physiotherapy, homeopathy and pre-natal, just to name a few.

“Does the line ever get blurred between massage therapist and just plain therapist?” I asked. “Absolutely”. She often gets people on her table in really difficult situations looking for some relief through massage. And they start talking. Without going into any detail, lets just say that Wendy has had some horrific and traumatic things happen to her in her short life. As horrible as that has been, it has given her a certain perspective on life. That perspective allows her to be completely open and honest with her clients, in the hopes that they can use her experiences to help themselves. The expression “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” has never been more evident to me than in my friend Wendy. Her passion is to truly help people and that doesn’t just make her a great massage therapist it makes her an exceptional human being.

Few times in my life have I talked to somebody who really loves what they do. Who honestly enjoys their job. What a concept. But it’s not just that. When we talked about how Wendy’s past effects her work, the conversation, at times, became emotional and difficult, but when Wendy talks about the joy of helping somebody feel better and improve their life through massage therapy, you can hear the sincerity and caring in her voice. There is something unique about the way the she approaches her craft. It’s honest and vulnerable; just like her.

So the best things I see in Wendy? Knowing what your passion in life is, overcoming life changing obstacles and using them as a powerful tool to take that passion to a whole other level.

Finding my Thing

I recently left my job. I had worked for the same company for eleven years and while I liked the company and the people, I didn’t really like my job. Sales was never really some thing I was good at or aspired to get better at. My oldest child is graduating from high school this year and getting ready for college (fingers crossed), my youngest is navigating the grade one playground and exploring every activity we will allow her and my husband travels a lot. And I mean a lot. So when the opportunity presented itself I decided that this was just the right thing for me to do at this point in my life.

I had been thinking about what I would do with my time now that I am a lady of leisure. I’m almost fifty and with the kids in school I have a few hours every day to fill. While running and yoga will be high on my daily list of things to do, I feel that having another focus might be a good idea. So I thought that I would join the thousands of others out there and create a blog. Only problem is I wasn’t sure what to write about.

I don’t really have a “thing”. I’ve often wondered what my “passion” is. Never found my “niche”. Getting the picture?  I do, however, have an abundance of friends who do have a thing. From high school friends to mom friends to family acquaintance; I seem to know a lot of people who do really cool things. If ever I need advice, products or just a connection to another friend I know exactly where to go. The majority of these people have managed to create a business from their passions and are thriving in life. Whether creative or practical they are doing what they love with amazing dedication.

So where does that leave me? It leaves me with a wealth of stories and connections for great people and cool jobs, hobbies and passions. So here’s what I’m thinking. I’m going to spend the next few months ( maybe years) exploring those connections and those people. This may involve lengthy conversations over coffee or on the running trails or may even involve some wine. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to find out how they knew what their thing was and where it’s taken them. Maybe they didn’t know right away and have some cool back story about the day they discovered it. Then I’m going to share it with you.

I’m also going to try and discover what my “thing” may be by exploring all that life has to offer.  New experiences with family and friends are definitely in my future and, of course, will be well documented right here.

Here’s to discovering what the best things in life are.

Susan

P.S. I would love your feedback and comments.