Last week I closed another short chapter in my life. I sold Arvey. For those of you who have just joined me, Arvey (say it with a French accent) was my little motorhome. She took me through Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, down the Pacific Coast through the States to Mexico and back. We did a little detour through Nevada to Utah to spend time volunteering at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary before heading to Mexico. She was my home for the better part of nine months, though I did stay with my daughter, Hope, and her boyfriend, Mark, for a while during that period. And I rented an apartment in Ensenada, Mexico, as it was cheaper than staying in an RV park, or at least the ones I found. We spent nights in obscure locations, at the side of the road, down back lanes, halfway up the side of a mountain, in rest stops, truck stops, Walmart parking lots, anywhere and everywhere.
And we stayed in a swanky RV park just outside San Diego, complete with swimming pool, though who needs a pool when you can wander down to La Jolla, Pacific Beach or Mission. Of all the places I have visited in my life so far, San Diego is my very favourite, even over Costa Rica. There isn’t the abundance of wildlife, but there is wildlife. The climate is perfect, in my mind, with the average low at 10ºC in January and the average high in July being 24ºC. While I was there in February, there were days of 24ºC. That’s when I went to the pool. The vibe is more laid back than farther north, I found, and there are some decent hikes in the area. The tide pools are the main attraction for me. I could explore for days and not grow weary. In fact, I did. I haven’t snorkelled anywhere in San Diego, but my guess is it would be spectacular. La Jolla is the place to snorkel, with Garibaldi fish and leopard sharks, stingrays, octopus, turtles and more lurking below the surface. One day…….
The travelling I did is fuzzy in my mind. At some point, I need to go back through it all and savour it. It was indeed an adventure, with many hills and valleys, both geographically and spiritually. As I sit here, pondering my meanderings, it seems like a lifetime away from where I am now. Costa Rica is quickly becoming a blur. It seems I have been running for far too long.
When we are living a steady, predictable life, the unfamiliar is what we long for, some kind of change. Yet, my experience is that we genuinely need stability. We need to have that period of time in the future to look forward to, as in a vacation, but too much of a good thing transforms it into just another day. When you are on holiday but are longing to be home, that’s a sure sign. There are definitely those who thrive on the unpredictable, the excitement of the unknown, but the majority of us need, at the very least, a home base.
So I want to encourage those who feel their lives are humdrum. The grass is not greener on the other side, it just looks that way because you are underneath a cloud. Once the cloud passes, the grass is the same shade on both sides of the fence. Wandering around Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, spotting animals in the wild, I was ecstatic, but the local folks thought nothing of it. People visiting Calgary from out of town are captivated by the beauty surrounding us, the parks, rivers and mountains. We are genuinely blessed to live in such a place. I marvel every time I look out my window to the mountains in the distance. May it never lose its charm.
I visited several city parks last week and revelled in the aura engulfing me. The glow of russet leaves fluttering in the breeze and crunching beneath my feet, the aroma of earth and wood mingling together and the soft, calming air gently caressing my being soothed my aching soul. While I am entering a new phase of life, the scars of the past remain. Nature is a healing balm.
I spent a few hours at the Women’s Centre last week. What a privilege to be able to offer assistance to those in need! Not only do they offer immediate aid in the way of food and warm clothing, but there are also workshops, discussion groups and activities such as yoga and art, with registration through the events calendar online. This is a safe place for women to visit, with childcare offered, access to computers and refreshments. This is what I am really skilled at. I did this for my family for so many years. Ask me for something I can supply and I will do it, and if I can’t supply, I will find someone who can. I felt very much at home in this place.
I’m thankful for the standard of living we have here in Canada. We can most definitely improve the way we treat our land and the creatures on it and I urge you to educate yourselves in ways to protect our natural resources. If each one of us took it upon ourselves to make small changes in our personal lives, all of us would benefit. Try refusing plastic bags at the checkout, instead, bringing your own, or adopting from a local animal rescue instead of from a questionable breeder. We can support local animal sanctuaries such as The Alice Sanctuary, Free Spirit Sanctuary and Robin’s Refuge. We can cut animal products out of our diets or personal use. Did you know that there is shark oil in cosmetics? I encourage you to watch the documentaries “Sharkwater” and “Sharkwater Extinction”, the latter being in theatres right now.
The director, Rob Stewart, gave his life to educate us about the plight of sharks. He was the most inspiring human I have ever met and lost his life while producing “Sharkwater Extinction”. What does the elimination of this apex predator have to do with us in landlocked Alberta? Everything. Without sharks, we upset the balance in the oceans, these same oceans that provide 70% of our oxygen. What does the consumption of palm oil have to do with us when the plantations are in Indonesia? Take a look at the ingredients in the bread, pasta, cereal, cookies, margarine, ice-cream, chocolate, soap, detergent and shampoo that you buy. You will likely find a palm oil derivative in all. So, the destruction of orangutan and tiger habitat in Sumatra is thanks to our consumption of palm oil. For those of you who feel that your efforts won’t make a difference, you are so wrong. It is each of our small contributions that come together and change the tide. If not for yourself, do it for your children. Give them a future with healthy oceans, endangered species on the rebound, nature preserves and, most of all, compassion.
I realize I sound like a bit of a hypocrite after travelling around the globe in gas guzzling modes of transportation. None of us is perfect but we can all do something. My brother reminded me of a few things I had forgotten. He reuses everything, wastes nothing. That comes from years of scarcity. We live in such a rich country sometimes we can be frivolous and wasteful. I’m not sure I will ever become as practical as my brother but I can improve. And as I navigate this new life of mine I’m quite sure I will have ample opportunity.
Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth. This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. One thing we know: our god is also your god. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator.