Occupying Myself with the Right Questions

Last night I stayed up and chatted about some of the happiest days/times/moments of my life.

The conversation was first sparked by someone asking “What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?”

I used to let this question play on my mind on a daily basis, I’d find myself chopping vegetables for dinner and asking myself, I’d find myself sitting on the lav, pondering… what was the worst thing I’d done that day, week, month, my life. These questions were a waste of time but I couldn’t escape them for many years. I wondered how I’d got to where I had – how my mental space had got so clouded and my heart so heavy.

I took a long time to transition from these questions and to adjust  from those low times in life in general. Those low periods of which I’m sure we all have the capacity to endure, no matter what hardships (or seemingly lack of) we face.

More recently I try to occupy myself with the right questions. What’s the best thing I’ve done today? What thing big/small can I aim to achieve? All these questions keep my mind open to the present and to the future.

It hasn’t been easy to get to this point. Where you wake up with  purpose. And that purpose doesn’t come from a search for something higher, something above and beyond yourself or even out of your reach. It’s not about getting that job, embarking on that relationship or carving out a solid path.

It comes from you, your core purpose is to wake up and just be your beautiful self, learn what you can from the day and find balance in whatever way you can. Everything else is just a bonus I suppose.

One of my happiest days I spent dressed as a bug running around a muddy field covered in face paint, beer and ketchup. I spent this mostly with strangers I’d met that day.

Another happy day I spent at Niagara Falls with travel companions I’d met two days before.

Another again, Anna, Holly and I spent the evening sipping cocktails on a long table in Paris. Speaking mostly pure nonsense with complete strangers.

My happiest days to come, who knows? I think a little family reunion in Seattle could definitely be up there. A date night in Victoria?

I’ll be content with some happy moments, I don’t need the whole day. Drinking sparkling juice in the shadow of The Chief sounds like a great start.

The Ever-loving Abigail

xx

 

 

 

 

Goodbye Squamish

It’ll be just over three months in Squamish when it’s time for me to leave in ten days.

I left the hostel last night, my first Canadian home and my first ‘Canadian’ (international) family. I’ve tried some new things, met some B E A U tiful people, for reals, special souls, and I’ve gained a lot of weight.

I thought it’d be a lot harder to leave, like ripping off a plaster. But moving to the campsite for ten days or so means I can transition a bit more slowly from my hostel life. I’ve been slowly saying goodbye to its residents over the last month or so, so it’s not my first rodeo.

There are a few people it’ll be a little harder to say goodbye to than others, but it’s alright. They’ll be around this part of the world for a while. A fair few have dreams of NZ too, just like me. Marcel, Raquel and Doug will all be heading that way, and Sam too eventually. Not anytime soon, but it’ll all be fun and games in the years to come.

For now though, it’ll be a chance to spread my wings and embark on a new adventure with ma kiwi boy. It’s been a bit of a scary prospect. Starting something with someone new. But I think I’m in the right head-space now.

I’ve learnt how to do me, so I suppose there might be room for someone else now. I’ll keep you posted ;).

To Victoria, Vancouver Island I go, 27th August. Watch this space.

 

The Ever-loving Abigail

                                                      x

 

 

 

The First Quarter

An update on the superhero that is Alessandro. Despite falling to the deck from 50ft (onto his back from a solid-ass rock). The Italian baby is alive and well.

So no serious goodbyes just yet. Just the family parting very soon. My Squamish family will soon be moving their separate ways and on to other things.

I’ll head over to camp at The Chief for a few weeks and then head on my merry way. Wherever that will be.

I’ve been in Canada for more than three months now. Still pretty sweet sailing

The Ever-loving Abigail

Alessandro Fell

I don’t really know what to do right now besides write. I’m sitting at the hostel twiddling my thumbs and feeling shitty.

Our poor Italian baby, Alessandro, has been airlifted to Vancouver hospital after falling about 50ft from his climb over at the Smoke Bluffs. His legs were moving apparently, and his head seems okay… But I can’t really say. I wasn’t his climbing partner, I wasn’t there and I don’t know what state he was in. The other volunteers, my friends have headed to the hospital, approximately 50 minutes down the highway 99.

I don’t have a Canadian cell, so I can’t call them. I can just wait on facebook and hope that someone has the sense to update me on how our poor bubba is.

The risks with being an adventurer, from pushing yourself to the limits, is that these things happen. I’m surrounded by vulnerable travellers. Traveller’s for whom a steady hike doesn’t quite give them the thrills they’re after.

This reality check isn’t just reminding me of how much those around me are putting themselves in difficult situations on a daily basis. But it’s reminding me of how much of a family we are. My heart’s pounding in my chest and I just wish I could be there with him, with them all. I feel maternal for this boy, as though, while his Mama n Papa are back in Italy, we have some sort of responsibility for him. To be with him and to look after him.

These aren’t fleeting feelings of travel companionship. I love my friends I’ve made here these past few months and I’d do anything to protect my new family.

We’re all wanderers, joined so strongly by an invisible connection. Most of us have families and aren’t short of loved ones, but for some reason, we’ve all ended up across the world to be here at this time together. Away from what we knew, we’re learning and seeing new things every day.

I feel like I should just keep on writing until I hear some news… I don’t know what else to pass the time. Alessandro surfed for the first time yesterday and now he lays in a hospital bed. This afternoon we laughed together and spoke of his plans to head to London for a few days next week.

I shall go and be with my family now.

The Ever-Loving Abigail

 

Sorry It’s Been so Long… I’ve Been Having a Canada Moment or Two

Gaaaaad, it’s been ages. I’m sorry pals. I’ve been busy becoming a bloody Canadian I reckon. But not really, but sorta.

In the last month I’ve seen my first bear, I’ve swam in a whole bunch o lakes and I’ve been camping. I’ve also starting adding maple syrup to my coffee at work and saying sorry a little more than I’d like.

I’m not sure where to start but there’s a real quick summary.

I suppose I’ll start with the bears. I waited a whole two and a half months before seeing one. I was sitting on a chair lift heading up Blackcomb in Whistler. We were off up for another one of  our fam (familiar) tours, free trips for those of us in hospitality so we can experience cool shit and tell all our guests about it. Since starting at the hostel I’ve done a whole bunch of these: I’ve been on a free guided hike, a rafting trip, BBQ in the Squamish Valley and most recently, the longest zipline in North America

The sun was shining and our legs were dangling, three bears were grazing beneath us. Shiny coats and big wet looking noses – basically adorable giant dogs waiting for me to come say hello. Needless to say I did not. I headed up to do the zip, a zip that has been recorded to go in excess of 100km/hour (or 62mph). I really felt the speed, my face flapped about in the wind as I span around looking at some of the greatest mountain views I’ve ever seen.

That was a good few weeks ago now, a great trip with the group up to Whistler. I don’t think I’ll be heading back too much though, it’s basically like Disneyworld (but not super cool), it seems like a movie set. All built up at once pretty much, all matching in style and totally surreal feeling. As though the Stepford Wives might live there or something…. if they were in to a bit of boarding or something.

Since this time I’ve also done a mini-hike up the Tunnel Bluffs.

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I stopped in a fire pit for a nap while the other two girls went up to the top. I was pretty content with this little spot just here over Lion’s Bay.

I think it was that same day we went camping at Cat Lake, I’m not entirely sure. That’s the thing about having fun. I’m really losing track. I jumped in the lake under the stars, they were sooooo much better at the lake than in town. Silly light pollution in town ruins the stars but out at the lake they were B E A Utiful. The lake was warm, we played on logs, swam around and then I dried myself by the heat of the fire. We adopted a long haired stranger from Calgary and he sang to us until the early hours.

Even more recently has been CANADA DAY – THE BIG 150. I dressed up in ma dungers (gingham overalls), put my hair in bunches tied with ribbon and bloody belted O Canada, just O Canada though, I don’t know the rest of the anthem.

We day drank, I cut out maple leaves for hostel decorations, played pin the tail on the beaver and ended the night with fireworks, bit o burlesque and a hella lot of cheesy dancin’.

To summarise: Bears, hikes, lakes, camping, maple leaves and dancing.Canadadaydreams.jpg

O Canada. I’m always going to celebrate Canada Day.

 

The Ever-loving Abigail

 

 

 

Beginners Bouldering n Drunken Climbin by Night

I finally made it to the Ground Up Climbing Gym the other day – with thanks to a British bud of mine with a car, handy stuff.

It was a little tougher than I thought. I figured with my background as an Outdoor Pursuits Instructor I might have some level of natural talent. But I felt like a true beginner.

I threw myself at it and have got plenty of raw skin and bruises to prove it. I’m really looking forward to getting back at it and conquering some of the more basic routes.

I stuck to bouldering this time, equipment wise it’s a lot cheaper. I borrowed some climbing shoes, nabbed a free day pass from a monthly member and I was set.

After an hour or or scrambling about on the baby routes we went for a beer and some pizza at the BackCountry Brewing.I tasted a whole bunch of beer before settling on their pale ale. Here I continued to spend no money as I was treated by my British companion who worked there – great stuff.

I drank free beer into the afternoon, heading over to Ian’s apartment for a few before going back to the hostel to get ready for a little staff do. We’d been invited out to Squamish Rafting’s annual bonfire bonanza at Fergie’s.

We arrived as it was getting dark, just enough daylight to still be able to recognise all the local faces all over the shop. Girls from work, local adventure instructors and just general friends of friends. Real tight community here in the ole Squam.

I danced the night away, ‘n’ climbed up on to a batting cage to sit for a while. Gotta love being up high.

Ever-loving Abigail

 

When the Fairies went Rafting

This past week there’s been an enchanting birthday party and a river rafting trip.

There’s not too much to report from the party. We dressed up as fairies (and a few cow boys) and we took over one of the hostel dorms for most of the night. We headed out onto the town as the place we call home enforced quiet hours at 11pm.

squamish fairies Dorm room fun for Raquel’s Birthday, Anais left, Myself right

With $30 spending money from our darling manager here at the hostel we went and got a drink at the tackiest (only) night club in town and danced the night away. Despite having the entire club to ourselves the DJ seemed to be having a party of his own and took very few of our requests – the rascal.

A few days later a bunch of us got the opportunity to head out on a rafting trip with Squamish Rafting. The day trip took us down the Elaho River, about an hours drive from where I am now.

I’ve been a little wary of water since a little incident about ten years ago. Despite feeling like somewhat of a water baby, I have grown to understand that us humans have very little agency over our great oceans and rivers. No matter how much I’d like to believe I’m some mermaid creature, destined to be forever by the water, the water can still kill you if you become complacent.

As the water rushed down the river in front of me I began our trip a little anxious. Our guide discussed in detail what to do if one of us were to take a dip and how the rescue would take place.

The moment I got on the water I remembered how comfortable this feeling was.

Images courtesy of Squamish Rafting: Available from squamishrafting.smugmug.com/Elaho-Whitewater-Experience/June-4-2017

We rafted, I cliff jumped in glacier fed water and we barbequed. It was a beautiful day.

 

The Ever-loving Abigail

 

Upcoming Reunions in Van

Music is blasting and I’ve got a glass of red in my hand – so to speak, I type with both hands so there’s time for sipping breaks.

Currently, Squamish is still my kingdom of choice. Still not in a rush to go anywhere. However a short trip back to Vancouver beckons as two travel pals find themselves heading my way: Saskia who I met the first time I was in Canada back in September, is back from a little road trip with her boyfriend and soon to begin a three week trip with her family. She’s staying in Vancouver for a few days and ready for a little reunion.  Lolo has also returned to me, another German has found his way across the states and all the way over in Van.

So many catch ups await me. I shall return to Vancouver and back to stay with my old work buddy, another Brit whom I stayed with last time I was in the city. Matt and his partner, a very hospitable duo, are welcoming me back to their place as an unpaid guest once again. I’m so blessed to have such lovely friends.

Mate, I swear if I ever go on my tour of Germany I’m going to have so many places to stay – so many lovely travel companions from this country.

My travel bucket list hasn’t changed too much since being out here. I’m still eager to tour Germany and Ireland in full. And NZ. New Zealand isss hiiiighh on that list.

International friendships are the best – all da perks 😉

I’ll have more to write about tomorrow after a day of being a fairy for Raquel’s birthday. The day should include: canoeing, enchanted creatures and sparkling wine. What a life ae?

Fan dabby dozey.

The Ever-loving Abigail

x

A Feast on First Nation’s Land

A Morning of Tannin ‘n’ Plannin

As I began scribbling my first draft of this post I was sitting in my back garden with Anaise and Raquel. For those of you who’d forgotten or are unaware – this is my current back garden:

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Another pretty blurry photo of the Stawamus Chief, I shall invest in a camera at some point…

This Tuesday just passed marked one month in this mountain town. I didn’t celebrate it in any particular way – not that it’s not worth celebrating – it really is, but I feel I celebrate it every day. My summer home is lush. Despite being besides the Sea to Sky Highway I can barely hear or see the road to the right of me. To the left is the Mamquam Blind Channel at low tide and in front is the bloody towering Stawamus Chief. 

What a way to spend a day off. Tanning and planning on this May morning. The temperature has been in the late twenties and the sun has been blazing down through cloudless skies. In typical British fashion I have been worshiping it’s arrival.

Many of my sunny days so far have been spent hiking under the cover of trees or working away in the kitchen at the cafe so for the last 48 hours I have been completely determined to tan and plan. Mostly tanning with a moderate level of planning… Where next is the question? I’m not in any rush to move away from the mountains, rivers and lakes but it would be nice to get a sense of what’s next for this Brit on the move.

I’m thinking late summer and the fall (Autumn 😉 ) will involve buying a big car, shoving some bikes and kayaks on the top and getting back on the move – in magical company of course. I’m not picturing a job in this plan so I’m gonna be working pretty hard over the coming months to make sure I got ma pennies. And theeeeeen….. Where’s best to spend a white Christmas in Canada? SUCH A BLOODY EXCITING QUESTION. Snow for my birthday, what a bloody treat.

I never got round to any concrete planning but I’ve done a little research and am super excited for what the near future will hold.

Green Moustache Fundraiser

In the evening I went to my work do: a three course meal based on the Gerson Therapy; a dietary-based alternative cancer treatment.

The food was delicious, the talks were on the most part inspiring and convincing – although there was a little medication shaming going on from time to time which was horribly problematic – but I kept schtum for the sake of the company I was keeping.

The location was amazing. It was my first time up in Whistler. The drive up there was beautiful and the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre  was an amazing setting. Here I found myself on First Nations land, being welcomed with song and blessings.

 All images courtesy of @greenmoustachesquamish on Instagram
We bowed our heads for a traditional blessing and thanked those watching down on us for this amazing food in front of us, for those who farmed the land and brought it to us and those who prepared it. We also gave best wishes and safe travels for those on the move this summer and our host spoke of us returning well to our families. I couldn’t help but feel a longing for my own family and remembered how far away they were – how far away they are. My heart lurched in my chest. I wish I could share these amazing moments with you all more closely and hope you know how much I think of you all often.
I’ve worked very hard to be where I am today, taking this adventure, but I can’t help but feel blessed to be on this journey. Hearing these First Nations songs reminded me of how privileged I am to be on their sacred land and for them to be sharing a little of their culture with me. Magical experiences like this can’t always be shared with those I love but I hope that through my writing you can understand a fraction of my experience in this beautiful country.
I really am a soppy so ‘n’ so, but it’s bloody great.
I truly feel like I’m seeing, touching and feeling things for the first time. My senses are heightened and I’m more aware of myself and my place in the world around me. I touch everything, I breathe it all in and I swear I hear sounds I’ve never heard before. I’ve even started to regain something of a sense of smell too. On my hike the other day I could smell the trees around me and this morning I could smell the bacon cooking in the kitchen.
My skin is tingling from the sun and I’m in love.
The Ever-loving Abigail