Week Three

IMG_0380Week three was a little trickier than the first two weeks. It was the first week that I felt a little squirrely, and nervous, and a bit of “how am I going to do this”. Which is fine. These kinds of feelings come up in every move. It just means that it’s time to start figuring out my Sunshine Coast routine. While I’ve gone for a bunch of walks and bike rides, I haven’t really explored a ton of trails yet, and I think that part of my weekly routine for the rest of the summer is going to be finding some new hike or trails to explore once a week. I’m going to start doing headspace every day again, and going for short runs at least 3 times a week (foot issues permitting). It’s also maybe time to look into where I might be able to host a Wednesday Writing//Coworking Wednesdays type morning here in Gibsons.

I need to add some structure to my days. I love and am so thankful to stay with friends, but I am also eager to move into my own place in the next few weeks to start setting my own schedule, and habits, and such. On the other side of that, I’m also nervous to move into my own place because won’t I get lonely? It’s not necessarily the easiest to just swing by someone’s house on the regular, or to meet up for a quick coffee. I mentioned in a previous post that 99% of the folks who I know up here have small children, so their routines are a little more set or also subject to naps and things going as planned. Plus I’m still new. Patience, right? All of these things will take time.

To counter my mild antsy-ness, Friday night, I went and read over beer at Persephone Brewing. Then I went into the city on Saturday for Sunday Cider’s first Summer Sizzler, and it was great. Hung out with Matt Milligan, and ran into a lot of folks who I hadn’t seen in ages and ages, as well as some other Coasters.

 

Afterwards, MM and I went to La Mezcaleria for dinner, then did a quick swing by Dude Chilling Park before I realized I had to leave or risk missing the last ferry back to Gibsons. I left East Van at 8ish, and didn’t make it home until 11pm and it was the first time that I wished for a car. That being said, I still feel the need to emphasize that though the commute was long, it was still 100% pleasant. I got a snack. I read. I watched the sun set over the ocean. It was fine.

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Sunday was spent catching up on emails, and some work projects. Then today I finally filed my GST for the first time ( a teeny bit late) and ended up with a bit of a not great tax surprise. I won’t get into that here, but uggggggggggggggh. Ended the day with sushi in the park and then icecream on the waterfront, because this little guy turned 3 today.

I can’t believe how big he is. And how much I love his goofy grin, and his funny little bouncy run. If for no other reason, I am so glad that this move back to the coast will allow me to be more a part of his life as he gets bigger, and that he’ll know me and that I’ll get to teach him things, and walk him to school, and take him to the park and all of those things that aunt’s do. Happiest birthday, Theodore.

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More lessons learned so far.

Certain groceries and eating out are more expensive than on the mainland. This one should have been obvious, because of course they are. Cheese and tofu are more expensive. Hummus is RIDICULOUS. Farm fresh eggs are cheaper. Most produce is about the same.

People are v friendly. Also because of course they are. It’s true what they say about people banding together in smaller towns, and supporting each other, and wanting to chat, and just being super kind.

It is hard to eat out on a Wednesday. A pal and I tried to go out for dinner on Wednesday night and made the rounds at 4 different places before finding somewhere to eat. Lunitas was closed. The food trucks at the breweries aren’t open on Wednesdays. We went to Absolutely Thai, which is apparently really good, but it would have been 45 minutes for food. So we ended up at The Gumboot. Apparently most things are only open Thursday – Sunday, so good to know for the future!

Not really a lesson, but so excited for all of the different coast berry seasons. I used to eat all of the salmonberries, and huckleberries, and thimbleberries in my youth, and they’re all slowly blooming and coming into season and I can’t waaaaaaaaaaaait.

PS. This type of signage is a regular part of my life now.

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I love you even in the rain.

IMG_0452.JPGToday was one of the first rainy days since coming to the Sunshine Coast. If it continues for too long, I may regret saying this, but it was actually a nice break from all of the sunshine.

I also had my first kind of stress-out this morning. It’s a stress-out that will garner absolutely zero sympathy from anyone. It was because I was offered too many great apartments. That’s right. In what I have heard is an unbelievably stressful rental market, I was offered 3 places to live this week. They were all great. And the landlords were all great. It’s a ridiculous problem to have, and I’m going to chalk it up to me being extra charming in my enthusiasm for moving to the coast. Pretty sure that I’m going to end up being friends with at least one of the sets of landlords whose apartment I won’t be living in.

To clear my head a little, and stop myself from overthinking my decision, I went for a long walk in the rain. The sunshine is wonderful, and I love summery days so much, but I also absolutely adore rainy, windy walks in the cold.

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I stopped grabbed some sushi from Nagomi and took it over to Gibsons Tapworks to have a pint and read for a bit. Afterwards, I walked home in the rain. The thing about Gibsons is that behind the network of streets, there is also a hidden network of forest trails patchworked across the town. Some of them are obvious, and some are pretty subtle and hidden. I could have probably walked the entire way home through the forest, but I’m still learning. At the moment, half way through the forest will do.

Going Coastal – Week Two

IMG_0250.JPGThis week was the first stage of settling in. And a lot of cycling. A lot. I wish that I’d Strava’d that shit. I’m getting used to the hills, and the gravely shoulders, and the way that traffic works here. I actually biked to Davis Bay to see maybe the most adorable beach cottage ever to potentially rent. It was an hour long ride along the Sunshine Coast Highway, which was mostly fine, but every now and then felt a teeny tiny bit treacherous. There were just moments when the generous shoulder narrowed to almost nothing, and this was usually only if there was a very sharp turn in the highway. A little scary. I found out later that I could have taken the Lower Road for most of my journey, which is less busy, but that is not what Google suggested. LESSON LEARNED. Regardless of minor treachery, the bike ride was still very very beautiful (surprise!) as everything is here. Also, when I biked home after dark, I got to test out my reflective backpack cover, which was amazing, and there were only about 5 cars the whole way home. Woo!

I said no to the beach cottage, because Davis Bay is just a little too far up the coast for my first home up here, but oh god, did it ever hurt my heart to turn it down. I’m not even going to bother sharing photos or it, or the view, because y’all will die. It is magic.

Moving on…

I’ve looked at a few other places this week, and they’ve all been really amazing, with wonderful landlords. I should be hearing back about them in the next day or so, so send me all of the posi vibes you can muster.

Other things.

Made trip to Hopkins Landing with Jac, Theo, and Jess Robson. Then jumped in the ocean for the first time this year.

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Popped into the Gumboot, and the Roberts Creek Legion.

Had some pal dinners.

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After dinner fam walks.

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I also took my first trip into the city for meetings, and it was pretty great. I had meetings with a few fellow freelancers, and a potential client, and they were all pretty lovely and just motivational, and good feeling. They felt really organic, and supportive, and exactly how you want meetings to feel. Also, just in case I hadn’t made it clear how beautiful it is out here. There’s this…

These are some photos from my ferry commute and then when I got stuck in Horseshoe Bay because the ferry was late. Like, are you kidding me? I wasn’t even mad that the ferry was late, because I got some sushi to go and then sat and ate it on the waterfront. Yes, I was home pretty late, and it was a super long day, but like, whoa.
Things continue to be really nice, and I have a very good feeling that I’ll have a place to call my own by the end of next week.

Oh, I also did a bunch of yard work, like lawn mowing and weed whacking. This might not seem like a big deal, but it has been a really long time since I’ve done this kind of physical labour, and like everything it’s really novel and satisfying at the moment.

Also, one more thing. This morning I walked through the forest to go to a roadside farm stand to pick up fresh eggs for bfast. NBD.

The end.

Going Coastal – Week One

IMG_0204Without thinking about it, I inadvertently picked just about the best week ever to move back to the coast. Months and months of rain finally gave way to summer sun. It’s also the long weekend, so the days have been filled with pal hangs and long table dinners. It’s pretty much been a perfect week. So it’s been a nice welcome home, but it’s also not 100% reflective of what life will be like all the time. Or maybe it is? So far, it’s certainly been how I imagined/described it in all of my best versions of what I thought that coastal life would be like.

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I’m staying at a friend’s house at the moment, which I am super thankful for, but it also means that it doesn’t quiiiite feel real that I’m living here yet. I’ve spent a month at a time visiting these pals, so part of my brain is probably still viewing this as a vacation, rather than a new permanent place to be. I’m going to see a few apartments this week, and I think that once that’s sort of settled, it will all start to actually feel real.

A few observations so far…

Hills
Holy moly are there ever hills. It’s good. But also, like, holy shit Toronto is super flat, and I am v aware of how out of shape I am at the moment. The good thing about it is that I can already see how cycling here is going to just whip me into super shape by the end of the summer. My foot/ankle is still an issue, but I’m starting to incorporate little 3k runs into my routine a few times a week. It’s a humbling, but good feeling.

Singledom
Most people that I know here are couples. And the majority of those have children. Which is fine. I’m comfortable being the only single around, but it’s also kind of a weird feeling when literally everyone that you meet is in a long-term, stable partnership. I can definitely see how if I don’t break it up every now and then with single pal visits from/to the city, that it could start to feel a little isolating and lonely. It’s also definitely a lot more apparent that I don’t have kids. (Aside – as if they internet knew, it sent me this today) Again, it’s fine, but just one of the most striking shifts from the city.

Rentaldom
I’m also pretty much the only renter. I can’t help but feel tiny pangs of anxiety over not being in a position to buy something, and the ever-rising cost of real estate on the Sunshine Coast. It’s the next hot spot, and the cost of housing is sky-rocketing accordingly. It’s funny, because owning has never been something that I’ve wanted. But suddenly it seems like something worth wanting. That being said, there are options. I’ve had a few offers from friends to put a tiny home on their property, which is so kind, and makes me feel very loved and welcome. It’s also kind of ideal, because in reality, the idea of taking care of an actual huge property or proper sized house of my own is still just not appealing to me. At all. In fact, the only reason I have interest in owning anything at all now, is just the dwindling rental market. It’s scary to be at the whim of other people when it comes to your housing. A tiny house of my own seems to be a good in-between solution.

Dating
I reactivated Tinder when I got to the coast, just out of curiosity. There are definitely 500% more photos of dudes holding fish that they caught. There are also 500% more outdoorsy photos. I’m definitely curious to see what dating will be like in a small town. I put dating on the back burner during my last year in Toronto, but I think that I’m ready to make it a priority again.

New hobbies
Before coming to the coast, my list of desired new skills/hobbies included biathlon, shooting guns in general, more swimming, riding a motorcycle, gardening, trail running, and all of these things seem well within my grasp within the first year. I actually know people who do, or are interested in all of these things. Maybe I’ll also take up canoeing? And definitely sailing at some point. And I know that I already write quite a bit,  but there’s something about being out here that is especially conducive to more writing. I’ve never really considered fiction as an option, but I’m thinking about it more and more these days. I’m also considering longer projects that I’d never considered before. And that’s really exciting.

Walking
When I say that I’m going to walk somewhere, I have to remind country folks, that I’m from the city and a 20 minute walk is really no big deal. That being said, I had a good reminder last night to always carry my headlamp in my purse just in case, because it really is SO DARK at night. Also maybe I should get some bear spray just in case of dangerous wildlife?

Kindness
Every person that I have met out here so far seems to be super interesting, self-driven, generous, and kind. Generous with their skills and time and knowledge, and just willing to help out another human finding their way on the coast. Everyone has the shared goal of building a nice community and life that is healthy and thriving and doing cool shit. Not a bad place to be!

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Many more observations to come.

A few more things to share for this week that were v typical beautiful coastal vibes moments.
Foraging stinging nettles.
Buying fresh duck eggs from an unmanned roadside stand.
Going to the dock to hand-pick freshly caught spot prawns direct from the fishing boat.
Outdoor wood-fired pizza oven party, including crab that was freshly caught via crab trap and paddle board (not by me) that day.
Bonfires.
Views.

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More photos from Week One

Day One

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Yesterday I finally hopped on a plane with my bike, and the kitties, and trekked on back to BC to live on the Sunshine Coast. It feels both completely brand new, and like coming home, all at once. I’ve spent a lot of time here. I’ve got friends here. But there’s so much newness in actually living here.

The journey itself was a little hectic – bumped flight, delayed bumped flight, amazing airport >> horseshoe bay rescue by my pal Matt Milligan, ferry ride, and late evening pick up by Jac, but made it with the kitties and all of my things in one piece, and it’s so nice to have this feeling of home.

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I spent the day getting settled. I got some things for Rosemary and Thomas, answered emails, put my bike together, touched up my roots, and did laundry.

Before dinner, I biked to the store to pick up beers, icecream, and salad things, and riding my bike out here felt so nice. I’m sure that over time, there will be things about cycling on the side of a rural highway type road that will irk me, but for now I am just relishing the lack of city traffic. I am relishing the extreme chill West Coast vibes in such stark contrast to cycling in Toronto.

It is beautiful here, and it is magical, and I know it’s gonna’ be just great.

 

Why adults should be watching 13 Reasons Why

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I started watching Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why yesterday afternoon thinking that it would be another teen drama. A day later, I’ve binged the whole series, and I can say conclusively that it is actually like no other teen drama that I’ve ever seen.

13 Reasons Why is based on a book of the same name about a girl named Hannah Baker – Hannah commits suicide, and leaves 13 tapes behind, one for each person who contributed to her ultimately killing herself.

It spoke to me in a way that I did not anticipate. I’ve dealt with depression on and off for my entire life, and I struggled with suicidal thoughts often in my youth. I have never seen a show or movie that dealt with depression and suicide so honestly. 13 Reasons Why does an incredible job of exploring the interplay of depression, peer pressure, harmful gender roles, sexual assault, bullying, grief, and the loneliness and confusion that one can feel as a teenager. And I think that sometimes people forget this about adolescence – yes, it can be fun, and exciting, and carefree in the days before “real” responsibility, when everything in life is still brand new. But it can also be lonely as hell. It can be hard. And too often, adults can minimize the overwhelming feelings of adolescence. It’s easy for us, on the other side, to overlook the very real struggles that teenagers deal with. It’s also easy to gloss over things. In my time working in health communication this has happened so many times. I pushed and pushed to create brutally honest resources for parents and teens on issues like sexuality and mental health. I remember once talking to a team who wanted to create a resource on teen suicide, and one of my supervisor’s felt that even saying something along the lines of “to prevent them from committing suicide” was too graphic. Too horrible. It would make people uncomfortable reading it. I wanted to write a piece on talking to teenagers about sex and consent, but was met with the same pushback. We don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable. But here’s the thing – we are not doing teens thinking about killing themselves any favours by sitting in our comfort.

Suicide should make us uncomfortable.

The teens in 13 Reasons Why frequently skirt around having awkward conversations with their parents and each other. They say that everything’s fine, despite how incredibly obvious it is that things are not. They avoid. And in the end, their avoidance of discomfort leads to tragedy.

Every parent I’ve ever talked to has said that they “want their kids to be able to talk to them about anything” even things that are really hard. But how can we expect teenagers to open up these conversations when we’re so afraid of them ourselves. It is too horrible to imagine that our own children could do horrible things, and so we avoid even openly acknowledging that these horrible things exist. It is not helpful to simply tell a depressed teenager that “things will get better”; but it might be helpful to open up to them about a time when you also felt hopeless and alone, and how one day things changed.

13 Reasons Why tells a story of teen suicide without talking around it, or romanticizing it. It’s beautiful and compelling. Some scenes are very hard to watch. It’s a little slow in places. And it has a really amazing soundtrack. But more than a good show, I think that it’s an important show. And especially for parents of kids coming up on teenagehood, people who work with teens, and teenagers themselves, it’s a show that can open up those difficult conversations, and take us out of our comfort.

 

Hello, from your friendly neighbourhood writing coach

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It’s interesting the way that life evolves when you start out freelancing. You think that you’re going to be offering one set of services, and then it slowly evolves into something slightly different. I knew that I would be working as a writer, or mostly long-form work for clients (whether articles, blog posts, internal communication docs, or proposals), and I knew that I would be doing some research, but the branch of work that’s evolving that I didn’t anticipate was writing coaching.

I’ve been running these writing workshops to help people get their writing off the ground, and doing writing on behalf of other people, and along the way people started asking if I could help walk them through writing that they absolutely need to do themselves. Not everyone wants to hire a writer (or ghost-writer), and not everyone should. While I don’t think that everyone should try to write professionally, I do believe that writing is something that everyone can do.

I think that one of the biggest hang-ups when people first start writing, even just for themselves, is that they worry too much about perfection. They worry about voice, and sounding smart; they have all of the voices of other writers in their heads, and they are comparing their very new writing practice to the writing of all of their favourite professionals, and wondering how they stack up. The best advice that I can give anyone just starting out is to just start writing. Brain dump. Don’t think about it. Don’t think about your voice. Don’t think about grammar. Don’t think about your use of similes and metaphors. Don’t think about sounding interesting. Just write whatever comes into your brain without judgement. Write until you think that you’ve gotten everything that you need to get out of your head onto the page, and then stop.

Then walk away. Get up, shake out your hands and feet, and go for a walk around the block; go for coffee with a friend; run an errand. Then, when you’re feeling refreshed again, come back to your desk and read over what you just wrote, WITHOUT JUDGEMENT. I know that this is hard. Especially if you’re not used to writing, you’ll probably have some pretty negative self-talk going on when you read over your first few pieces. “This is so repetitive” “Ugh. I used ‘very’ 7 times in that paragraph” “This is so boring” “What was I thinking when I wrote this?”

I urge you to try your very best not to listen to these thoughts. You wouldn’t expect to run a marathon your first time out for a run, and you shouldn’t expect your first attempt at writing to be a Pulitzer winner.

When you sit down for the second time, think about the things that you’re really trying to communicate with this piece of writing, and start to edit out the parts that aren’t in line with that. You might have to cut some sentences or paragraphs that you really like, and that’s fine. Keeping a sentence in that sounds pretty but doesn’t really add to your mission is kind of like putting on a beautiful wool coat in the middle of summer. It might look nice with your winter outfits, but in this context, it’s out of place and anyone looking at you can see that.

With each consecutive re-read, you’ll get a better sense of your piece, and structure will start to fall into place. Don’t be afraid to edit.

Finally, you’ve probably heard the phrase “Perfect is the enemy of good”. This is very true in writing. The ability to edit is essential, but it can also be your worst enemy. At some point, it’s important for a piece to just be done. Decide that it’s finished. And then put it out into the universe. I know that sharing is scary, but it’s how you’ll get better. And eventually, it will be less scary.

The more you practice, the better you your writing will be, and the closer you will get to finding your own voice. Eventually, your fear and apprehension will lessen, and you just might find that writing is something that you relish.

But getting back to where this post started. Writing coaching. You need it? I offer it. Let’s get writing together.

(www.altairanorthe.com)