Sometimes, when the going gets really tough, and you feel like you don’t have someone available to go with you, you just have to say yes to an invitation to go on an adventure. That’s what I did this past week and I am so grateful I did.
My heart is swelling, and my body still feels like it is rolling on the gentle swells of the ocean.
My mind is smiling, and my soul still breathes in the salty sea air.
My cup is filled up, and I am able to show up fully in my life in a way that feels true to me.
Two weeks ago, my dear friend asked if I had 4 days to take her and her son on a kayaking trip. I said yes, and I am so grateful I did. Let me wind the clock back another two months. Two months to the day ago, my partner got a broken leg. I received a text at 8 am that my partner was in the hospital waiting for surgery for a broken leg. My heart sunk, my mind raced, and every other important thing in my life was dropped. I drove to the hospital right away, and my emergency response mechanism kicked in. Everything changed from that point on. During the first 4 weeks, the hardest weeks, I had to re-prioritize my life. I didn’t attend the year-end production I was responsible for, we canceled our tandem bike trip, we canceled our flights to go on vacation, we canceled both of the camps I was running this summer. Everything canceled. Everything slowed down. And on top of it, we had JUST sold our tiny home, and I had to move us 5 times until we could finally move into the house we currently reside in. WHOA. When I look back on those days, I realize that I was on auto-pilot mode. I just did what had to be done and slept when I could. I was exhausted, I couldn’t handle it if anyone asked me how things were going. But one thing that I knew was growing in my heart… Family is most important to me, and everything else comes second.
Caring for someone with trauma gets easier.
It gets easier, caring for someone with trauma, and sometimes it helps to take a break. There were times where my spidey senses had been on for too long, and I wasn’t functioning properly anymore. When I could finally get-away, and not be responsible anymore, I felt so relieved, and yet it was bittersweet because this was the time that we were supposed to be going on our holidays together. This was when we were supposed to be on a tandem road bike, exploring new places. The whirling internal conversations clashed in my mind, and yet, taking a break and going on an adventure was a good idea. I found peace in my heart again. I fell back in love with myself, I took care of myself. I am ok again.
It was a gift to travel with a companion who not only was a pleasure to travel with but who also had a partner who was recently injured and in a wheelchair. We talked about what it’s like being the able-bodied partner who was constantly on hyper-sensitive mode, to catch, open doors, carry, clean, pack, bring, give, handle, support, and take over when we recognized that they were unable to do this for themselves. I assume that this role is as full-on as “parenting” and as exhausting as it was, it was what we both continually chose over and over again, because of the strong bond of love that we each continually feel for our partners. We both wonder whether spirit was challenging us “do you really mean you are committed to this person?” It was so sweet to witness and be heard in a space where we both stated our love and commitment to our partners. This is true love. Through thick and thin.
I get that as much as everyone is always asking for ease and grace, we just need to “Embrace the Suck” as Brene Brown says. Embrace the awkward hugs, the sense of missing spontaneity, missing our partner’s ability to gently reach out and caress the small of our back in the kitchen. Missing the ability to wrestle each other into bed, and accepting the world of just getting to bed, as painful as it looks. The inability to really hold each other’s bodies in the same way, the intermittent spasms of pain that jolt them from that sweet present moment. The endless interruptions at night, or even sleepless nights.
I feel so bad for my partner when I drive away, and my partner can’t even get out of the house, can’t drive, relies more heavily on others to do so many things. It must be so incredibly frustrating, and yet… if I continue to hold that belief that everything happens for a reason, there is something in this for my partner, and for me. I have a new level of compassion, patience, and forgiveness. My judgments are much less. I feel like I have become more of a responsible adult, a deeper human, a more realistic decision-maker. I can prioritize more efficiently now. This is a good thing. And with these teachings, it’s okay to take a break and get lost in The Nature for a while, to find my soul.
A 4 day kayaking trip was just what I needed.
We packed the truck and headed to Quadra Island. We had heard from a few friends that paddling around the Breton Islands, off Heriot Bay was highly recommended. Minimal wind, beautiful sights, and rustic camping. Perrrrrfect.
It was hilarious how much stuff I packed. My boat was over-loaded, yet I had everything I needed, and then a whole bunch of stuff I wanted 🙂
Awkward – yet Awesome!
Our whole mission was to find Joy and Magic and it started before we even got on the water. This sweet little corner had one of those fish-eye mirrors that we played with and laughed at how we looked, and this precious little toy box and community library – adorable. I am definitely putting this on my dream property.
It was lunchtime and our good friend had left us with a gift of a – get this – Manifold Meal, check it out, it’s actually a thing! What the heck is that? Yep, we heated up a pre-cooked dish on the manifold of the truck on the drive to the beach. Freaking hilarious. I had never heard of this and I am TOTALLY going to do this in the future!
It was like Magic, and totally filled my heart with Joy!
Once we had our boats packed, it was time to head off. Proud of being confident, capable, and truly blessed to be able-bodied. Pushing off from shore was a rush of both exhilaration and sadness. Joy for the adventures yet to come, and sadness that my partner couldn’t join me. It always felt this way, every time I went off on my own, and I just let myself feel the feels because it is what it is.
We heard from a local friend that heading out to Dunsterville Islands was a good place to head.
We got into the groove of paddling and arrived at around 6pm. The rawness of this tiny island was fascinating, and the comfort of finding a drift-wood bench sitting around a fire-pit was oddly comforting. We pulled our boats up onto the rocks and driftwood and set up camp. Damn mosquitos though, holy cow, I think I got 75 bites just around my ankles in one night. I pulled out my dinner and started cooking.
I pondered a few things about food prep:
HOW DO YOU GO ZERO WASTE on a Kayaking Trip??? What do I do with all these zip-locks? What if I can’t find all of my handy-dandy dry bags?
Having EXACTLY what I desire is AWESOME, and slightly excessive haha. Maybe next time I could do a few more dehydrated things.
Get food cooking AS SOON AS I ARRIVE, so that I can enjoy the scenery for the rest of the evening, instead of being trapped there until dusk.
PUT HEADLAMP ON BEFORE IT’S DARK – I knew this, and still… it’s a good reminder.
Thank you to THESE GUYS for creating an inspiring blog post so that I prepped my food in a way that worked for me. I prefer the Labelling by Meal, rather than date approach.
Here was my meal plan for 4 days, and then you can read what I learned about this plan.
Day 1 – Monday
Breakfast: Smoothie and Tea
Lunch: Veggies and hummus, Apple, Banana, Granola bar
Snacks: Granola Bar and Chocolate
Dinner: Steak Potatoes
Day 2 – Tuesday
Breakfast: Hot Cocoa & Honey, Potatoes, Eggs, Sausage
Lunch: Lettuce boat with salmon and capers, quinoa and mayo, tortilla chips
Snacks: Granola Bar and Chocolate
Dinner: Prawn Stir-fry
Day 3 – Wednesday
Breakfast Tea, Quinoa and nuts and seeds & Almond Milk
Lunch: Veggies, hummus, Apples, Peanut Butter, crackers
Snacks: Granola Bar and Chocolate
Dinner: Quinoa, Salmon, Capers and Sundried Tomatoes
Day 4 – Thursday
Breakfast: Hot Cocoa & Honey, Granola & Almond Milk
Lunch: Granola Bar, Veggies and crackers
I learned that it could have been more simple, I could have packed smaller portions, and that cooked Quinoa doesn’t last 4 days.
I could have packed half the amount of food and still had lots. I could have started with fresh then brought food that just needed to be boiled. The pre-cooked quinoa was great day 1 and 2, but for day 3 and 4, I should have brought raw and boiled it. I brought a small yet environmentally friendly cooker, a cutting board that was WAY too big. I LOVE my little portable kitchen sink though. I saw this once on a trip that I helped out with and found it very handy to pack dirty dishes down to the water’s edge. Oh, and I didn’t boil any hot water for hot beverages, it was just too hot.
I packed enough water for the trip, yet I wish I was able to pack it in something other than plastic, AND I should have packed distilled water (because it’s better for you than cheap water for SO MANY REASONS). I don’t think I will ever bring potatoes or yams and cook them for nearly an hour gaaaahhhh, never again!
The Joy and Magic we found was endless.
From little moments of sweet connection with my dear framily (that’s friends who I have adopted as family), to the way the moon light would dance on the water. The incredible and mystical beings that graced our presence, many seals, sea otters, birds, gulls, mozzzysssss oh mosquitoes, oh and the precious sun and moon.
The sweet sprinkle of rain, just as we found a secret cove when we Circumnavigated Bold Island (say that out loud with an epic voice, it makes us seem so bold and epic when you say it out loud). Just after we saw the most curious sight of a mama seal balancing awkwardly on the top of a blue barrel, and her sweet pup continually popping its head up and then down again in fear. So precious.
The two turkey vultures who sculked on the shore around a stanky carcass ignited a sense of curiosity, pungent wonder, and the oddly satisfying reality that we were not alone. That this was not our land, and that we were being watched, as we watched.
We saw humpback whales and porpoises, and although I didn’t catch a quick enough photo, the utter calm and sense of awe I felt as the porpoises were about 10 meters away from our boats was so precious. The humpback whales were spotted from shore, and it truly was incredible.
I took myself on a journey to Whale that night, and just as I met these majestic beings underwater, a huge wind filled the leaves of the trees above my tent and I was spun into an Otherworld reality. The message whale had for me was that Winds of Change were coming, and I need to stand tall. It repeated over and over again, and I knew in my heart what this meant, and I am living in this way.
OH, AND I THINK WE WERE IN THE PRESENCE OF A SASQUATCH!
We heard the weirdest call/moaning sound, and it moved from our left to our right, and all over for hours that night. I had the bear bangers by my head all night, and the endless smoke from the fire was reassuring. Who knew what that noise was (and I know a lot of nature noises)… I’m still curious!
What people don’t talk about when it comes to long trips and personal hygiene and gear care:
Swim as often as you can.
- Pooping below the high tide line and your toilet paper: Ok, so it might seem controversial, but we had an in-depth, visceral experiment with our poops out there, and I gotta say, if I had to choose between digging a hole in the earth on a small island where I don’t know how many other people have dug, VS squatting below the high tide line, I highly recommend pooping in the ocean. For many reasons, we discovered that it takes about 30 minutes for the wind, the friction, the salty water to dissolve the masses. Yes, it is NOT a substance that the region is used to, yet they are super adaptable, and it doesn’t seem too awful. I mean yes if I were to eat a tonne of toxins then yeah, don’t poop if you are toxic. But, seals poop too… and it’s in the ocean. It cleans it away within hours, vs. MONTHS on land.
- Pack a ziplock bag for toilet paper (if you need it), AND pack a second baggy inside that baggy to keep your freshly used poop rag. Just do it, it’s not that gross. it’s better than leaving your dirty rag in The Nature!!
- Don’t just poop and wipe, REALLY clean yourself. Bring baby wipes if you need, or really spend extra time in the ocean cleaning your pooper, or else it will get raw. I am speaking from experience because I used to do this when I was a teenager because it was embarrASSing. So, take care of your body!
I hope you have enjoyed this post! It comes from genuine love and interest to get out, have adventures, then tell the world! Please feel free to share your stories, offer thoughts and words. May this post light up a spark inside you to take care of yourself, and let Nature guide you on your journey of self-care.