Tuesday, December 30, 2014


© Nance Thacker 1991
It's 17 months into my husband's retirement, our move to Vancouver Island and scaled down lifestyle.

Over the past few weeks the implications of this reality is finally settling into my bones. 17 months ago we stepped off the treadmill and into the kind of life that many of my friends have repeatedly told me they "can only dream about".

Yet, I've resisted the "R" word. "My husband's retired, not me", I'd protest. But, the reality is that I'm not exactly employed. I've given workshops and classes here and there; many of them for free. I haven't been able to transplant my business here as effortlessly as I'd expected. I've spent more time in developing and promoting my projects (something I don't enjoy) than actually presenting them (which I love), that's the reality of starting over again. And, it's bummed me out, but clearly, enjoyment is tipping the scales against what I don't enjoy and desired financial gain.

I've railed at the idea of retirement until one day it hit me. What am I doing? What am I fighting to maintain? My aspirations for success - what I have striven for all my working life - has been defined by others and has only served to keep me discontented and clinging to a value system that I never embraced. I'm still reaching for the carrot at the end of the stick.

Wait a minute…I've got Stockholm syndrome!

I'm finally freed from my captor yet I keep on defending their notions of: value, self-worth, and responsible engagement in our social, cultural and financial structure.


Many of my friends are envious of us. How we could just pack it in and drop out? We've always lived simply and been mindful of where our money goes. It's not like we had a lot of bucks at our disposal compared to what financial analysts proclaim one needs to retire "comfortably". It is a matter of dropping all those misconceived notions of having enough.

If we waited until we "had enough" money to retire, we'd still be back in Ontario, doing what we were doing. Face it, you'll never "have enough", until you "have enough" of the striving to "have enough" and realize that you have all you really need.  It's not "freedom 55" but it's enough and that's pretty good!

We came out west while we are in good health, able and young enough to do things we enjoy and discover new things along the way. I'm in the discovery phase and I can proudly say that I'm retiring my old value systems.

I'll still offer workshops and classes until I've had enough and I'll keep exploring and developing other special areas of expertise in this realm of retirement.

I used to think life was a school and so I received many lessons; now I think of it as a place to have fun and I'm enjoying it a lot more.

Retired one definition I found includes: (of a place) quiet and secluded; not seen or frequented by many people.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

My Love/Hate Relationship with FB

No posts here since Sept 11th…wow! Where does the time go?
I've only written 3 entries since then on AWAKENING CHOICE DREAMS. Where have I been?

On that time-sucker Facebook, that's where.

Since my last entry I've been involved in a lot of "real life" stuff; really I have.

I've been stared at by Maya, a lot
I came across this little Stonehenge at one of my fave places
at the beach…AND, I repositioned 3 that had toppled over.
A man is holding back his kid from throwing stuff at it as I take the picture.
I don't know just how long others resisted the urge to destroy it.
Just last Saturday I went skating at the Empress.
The new owners have erected this tent which takes up one half
of the front lawn. You can rent skates, hats and gloves. The far end
is open to the view of the harbour. No stale, sweaty, mildewy arena smell here!
View from the outside, very festive.
They have music and hot chocolate and treats at reasonable prices.
I've had earth-shattering, life-changing thoughts; realizations worth sharing with the world. But…there's FB. Little "dings" emanate from my phone at random moments. Someone's out there reaching out, seeking connection with you. Come on, just check it out. You know you want to, you're soooo far away…

And, I'm snared. Just see what family and friends from all over the world are up to, have a "conversation" with them through comments, share a tidbit from your life, post a pic or 2. In the shake of a rabbit's tail you'll be done.

HA, ya right!?

I get sucked into the world of FB and I become less discriminate as the minutes tick by. Tick, tick, tick. Initially, friends' shares and comments link me to informative videos and newspaper articles. I get involved too! I sign petitions; I share them embellished with my own comments. I don't donate. One could go broke with the number of sites out there begging for donations. But, I'm proudly, socially informed, responsible and engaged, for a while…

Gradually, usually while I'm reading up on crucial news-rich entries of the day, my eyes begin to wander to the great supplier of brain candy; the sidebar. Little snippets caught at the corner of my eye begin to gnaw at my innards until, suddenly, I can't stand it anymore, I JUST HAVE TO KNOW. I HAVE TO KNOW about: the 10 Celebrities' Faces Most Botched Up From Plastic Surgeries, Celebrities Who You Didn't Know Were Related, Celebrities Who Live In Modest Homes Despite Having Millions, "Celebrities" doing or being this or that…

Educational nature, environmental and science entries supplied by my most learned, scholarly, friends, somehow have shifted over into the realm of cute animal videos: dancing penguins, piano playing cats, talking dogs, until the witching hour descends upon the members of my own animal kingdom - Flippy and Maya. Leaprotic* frenzy breaks out all around me, stirring me out of my FB-induced stupor.

I pull down the task bar. It's closing in on 1 a.m. and, though tired, I can barely pull myself away from the clutches of this most engrossing material.

Well, no more! 

After reading a discussion between 2 very creative friends about FB, on FB last night, I vowed to follow their lead. I'm pulling back, people!

30 minutes allowed today. I set my timer. Dig in and scroll down. 30 minutes; time is precious. I read only the most compelling entries. I comment on a selected few. I share only 3 items, my original limit when I first got on FB but which has since grown over time to 8 or more entries per day.

My phone glows as I write this. The latest FB comment directed to me appears on the screen. A thank you, I think, sent in response to a Happy Birthday message I'd sent to her. Does this glancing count as time used. I didn't enter into FB to get the info from FB, it just came…hmmm. 

A scant few moments after I'd signed off with…Damn! I was just about to check the exact wording that I'd used on FB, by going in but I'm going to resist. Let's try this again.

A scant few moments after I'd signed off on my status, to the effect that, I'd reached the quota I'd set for myself today, so I'm done; my longest-time friend (who's on vacation in Mexico…so far away but she's connecting with me) made some comments. I know this cus the screen on my phone glowed, it "dinged" and I caught a glimpse of the text, just enough to know it was from her but not what her comments were about, before it timed out and the message disappeared.

Oh, the temptation!


I'm not even going to post this til tomorrow.


"Ya, we'll see how long this lasts!"

Who said that?
*       *       *

Follow up: It's now going on for 3 p.m. ( I know it says 6p.m., haven't figured out how to change the settings from Eastern Standard to Pacific time) the next day and I haven't gotten onto FB despite the fact that 19 messages await me. Another just came in, dropped it's way into the screen on my phone. 
This post will be one of my "shares" for the day so I needed to wait til I'm ready. Ready, here I go.

* LEAPROSY - Cats display a penchant for LEAPROSY - not to be confused with leprosy. One moment they are lazing around as only cats can and suddenly, as if a bee has bitten their butt, they jump up and as if possessed run around in fits and starts. This usually occurs at about the same time each day or night, depending on your cat. In Maya's case leaprosy hits just after we have gone to bed. She announces it with a brrritt, brrritt sound followed by stampeding through the house, bashing things about along the way, eventually pounding her little cat feet and skidding around the corner into my room, leaping onto my bed, running over my body, then catapulting herself (very appropriate for a cat to do) off of it to tear around the apartment again. An episode of leaprosy ends just as quickly as it begins with a sudden stop, and a look comes over their face (like you get when you way into a room and have forgotten just why you came in) followed with consolation bathing ( for the cat, not us, though this would be a good idea.)
INFO here taken and adapted from the original post NANCE'S WORD EMPORIUM

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cartoon Break III

click on cartoon to enlarge
© Nance Thacker 1984
Some things don't change. I was just thinking I "should" write something for my blog…but I don't feel inspired enough to write. And then my cartoon stash started calling out to me, as it sometimes does when a cartoon thinks it might fit whatever's going on in my life.

So, I went into the kitchen, grabbed myself a small bowl of Tostidos with a hint of lime "flavour" ( I know, can't you just taste the salty goodness in each bite) and a tea, plonked down in front of the computer, began browsing and… there it was.

Yup, that's about as inspired as it gets tonight.

Til next time sleep tight y'all.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


NOTE correction: Bahar Yaghoubi and J.r. Missoula started the challenge in Oahu on Aug 19th (a mere 17 days ago) and it is going viral! WOO HOO!

On March 2013 I sent this out on Face Book
FACE BOOK CHALLENGE - Clutter clear a park, a sidewalk and post it on FB. Let's see if we can get a movement happening.

…Ya, I know, not too inspiring. My sister-in-law, Diane responded.

BUT NOW over a year later, people are getting enthusiastic about keeping our parks, beaches and public spaces litter free and Face Book is providing the perfect forum for coming together, spreading the word, and sharing our passion with creativity and fun.

I have found my people…or rather they have found me.

I can't tell you how excited I was to see the Trash Bucket Challenge show up on FB. Bahar Yaghoubi and J.r. Missoula in Oahu on Aug 19th, inspired by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, set up this one.

- Get a bucket
- Go to a location
- Fill the bucket full with the garbage that you collect there
- With the hashtag TrashBucketChallenge post your video or pictures online of your bucket, location and appropriate disposal of garbage.
- In your video or text challenge others to do the same - 3 seems to be a popular number
- Timelines to fulfill the challenge range from 24 hrs to a week to open ended.

Here's what Bahar Yaghoubi wrote on Aug 19…
"We had the good fortune to spend a beautiful weekend camping on the North Shore, and walk along some of the most pristine beaches. However, on our walks we came across the not so pretty sights of humanity: trash, trash, and more trash (not to mention plenty of dead fish that probably ate some of the trash). On our walk we FOUND a 5-gallon bucket on the beach and in less than 30 minutes filled it up to the brim. We challenge you to do the same, post a pic or video of yourself with a bucket (or bag) full of trash you picked up from either a beach, a park, neighborhood, or anywhere that can use a cleaning and properly dispose of it. Don't forget to tag it: #trashbucketchallenge. Tell your family, tell students, tell your neighbors, let's do this together, and let's make a difference... It's Earth Day, everyday. I challenge YOU! #trashbucketchallenge

He posted a video to go along with it but I couldn't get it to appear so you'll have to go to the FB site TrashBucketChallenge. Check out the video that started it all (you have to go to the beginning of the site) and the rest. It's so amazing to see this happening as a world-wide movement!

I was thrilled to join the challenge with others who feel passionate about our environment.

I've always wanted to be able to put together something "film-like" so I looked on this as a FUN project to put together. Well, I can tell ya, it really challenged my limited tekkie skills but with A LOT (and I mean tons) of trial and error, and dogged determination here it is.

…the challenge now will be to remember just how I did this whole thing.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Trash talk

From Osho Zen Tarot
Consciousness - Ace of clouds
Thursday Aug 28th - I walk the streets of Victoria looking for places to post my flyers advertising upcoming offerings; feeling vaguely down.

I've just come from mingling with a community of yoga practitioners at a brief memorial tribute to BKS Iyengar at a local yoga centre. I was once an active member of the original group from which this one evolved. Many of those long-time, pivotal members of this vital community, are present today.  It's surreal. Detached, I watch them mingle and chat, a simple interaction so familiar yet so far away. We have all moved on.
"How are you doing?" a yoga friend/teacher kindly asks.
"Good. I love being here" I say. However, I surprise myself when, "but it takes time to settle in," spills out of my mouth. As I speak, this truth, the emotion of it washes through me and my inner voice asks Where do I fit in?

A little over a year ago I returned to Victoria but only in the last few weeks have I felt myself setting down roots. They reach, spread, and dig deep down into the soil of this island. It is a lonely, and of necessity, a solitary, visceral experience: painful, comforting, frightening, uplifting all at once.

My task completed; I continue my wandering. What else pulls at me? The faint voice of my inner whiner spins old, worn out, all too familiar stories of woe is me…doomed to failure…Blah, blah, blah, on and on, round and round getting louder and louder now that it has an audience. The wheel of samskara threatens to etch deepening ruts. I let her run on. No new insights to be found here. I know the stories she tells and how she drags me down and I am done with it.

What to do?

My hand brushes against the net, outer pocket of my back pack and the bags within crinkle to the touch as I reach Clover Point. Without a thought, I pull them out and begin clearing the litter in the park on the bluffs as the ocean waves crash below on a somewhat blustery day. Becoming absorbed in my task,  involved in something far bigger than myself, everything else falls away. Peace at last!

After some time a disembodied voice asks, "What are you doing?"

"Clearing litter," I answer as I straighten up to see the beautiful woman that is attached to the voice.


"Because I'm bummed." WTF, because I'm bummed? Really, you say this to a stranger!

Without missing a beat she exclaims, "Oh, ya me too. What are you bummed about?"

I skim the surface with a brief, vague answer.

She immediately confides in me not only the story and source of her suffering but the wisdom she knows is needed in order to let it play itself out: to listen to her whole story, to feel it, to see the judgment, the accusations, the finger pointing, the blame, guilt and shame, to take responsibility for her actions, her thoughts and her emotions but not take on that which belongs to another, to stand back and to surrender to what is essentially a state of no-mind.

I'm dumbfounded. She has come to me as if in a dream. Her story is my story; the personal, untold one that grips me most deeply in a life where everything has changed.

After considerable time spent conversing like two long lost friends we exchange contact information, hug, wish each other well and go our separate ways.

This is the information she gave me.
Take a moment to listen to GIVE ME A MOMENT by VERONICA IZA

Her words of wisdom echo the card I drew this morning from the OSHO Zen Tarot to gain some insight for the day as no dream was recalled upon awakening.

CONSCIOUSNESS - the state of no-mind "is available to all who have become a master of the mind and can use it as the servant it is meant to be…there is a crystal clarity available right now, detached, rooted in the deep stillness that lies at the core of your being. There is no desire to understand from the perspective of the mind - the understanding you have now is existential, whole, in harmony with the pulse of life itself. Accept this great gift, and share it.

Thank you Veronica. It was very nice meeting you and I'm honoured to share the gift of your beautiful voice.

Proving once again that one doesn't have to sleep in order to dream.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

NOT an Ashtray




This is what happens when I'm without the car for a week.
I'm sticking around town beachcombing nearby.

Background info: Surfrider beach clean up, Cadboro Bay, Sunday Aug 10th, I meet the woman behind the ash can installations that have been showing up in Victoria - 20 as of July 20 in the downtown area. For this clean-up I choose to focus on butts as well as general garbage. I don't remember what my count was that day but it got added to the tally at the end of the session.

224 butts  last week - collected on the land side of Dallas Road between 74 and Menzies St. = 8 blocks. It started out casual enough. I'll just pick up a few on my way to yoga class. It'll add 20 minutes to the normal 10 minute trip; no sweat. No sweat, ha! It was one of the hottest days of the summer and I had no idea when I left our shaded sweet spot that a virtual oven awaited. I arrived sweat drenched with fragrant eau de diaphoresis excreting out of every pore (which I'm sure endeared me to my fellow yogis) from all the squatting and bending under a clear blue, windless sky.
Other findings - cellophane from cigarette packages, the cellophane strip used to open the packages, bits of plastic, wrappers from junk food

Looks pristine, right?
Butts in the crevices; there are a lot of crevices.
800 butts  Wed Aug 20th - collected on the ocean side of Dallas Road between 74 and Oswego St. = 4 blocks. I decide to make a more concerted effort. This locale is perfect. Anywhere people park their butts they will chuck their butts. Prime spots for butt accumulation: park benches (there are about 3), bus stops (there is one), curbs, curbs with parking spaces (a vast expanse covering a few blocks). I quit about ½ way along the breakwater as the smell is getting to me - ugh. When I worked as a waitress and dishwasher, dumping and clearing ash trays was the thing I dreaded the most and made me gag every time.
Other findings - pretty much the same as above though more plastic straws

After the butt clearing I get a pop, take it down to sit on the rocks at the beach to enjoy the sun and waves. Only thing is, I have to clear the space of butts smushed and crammed into what is obviously considered by many to be nature's ashtray.

340 butts  Thurs Aug 21st - collected on the same area of the rocks, the surrounding area and the path up to the sidewalk which has 3 benches - 100 of the butts collected from the rocks themselves. Dismayed by my experience of the day before, I chose this as a 90 minute project; overseen by a resident seagull. There seems to be less than the day before. Perhaps people picked up after themselves but most likely seagulls gobbled some up or the wind blew them into the sea.
Other items - bottle caps of both metal and plastic, broken glass, bits of cellophane and candy wrappers, fast food packaging, and one plastic 6 ring pop can holder intact.
Bag of 340 butts

NOTE: I pick up butts using plastic bags, primarily from packaged bread, some grocery store bags (used for wet produce) that have been washed and reused multiple times. I use one for my hand and the other to put the butts and garbage in. I carry hand cleanser and use it at the end of the pick up or go to a washroom and wash hands thoroughly. I've also used an old pair of leather gloves as they fit better than canvas ones for picking up fine items.

Reactions from people:
- most give me a wide berth
- some thank me or say "good for you"
- one woman stops her pole walking and asks what I'm doing, what organization do I belong to. I tell her I don't belong to any organization per se, just doing it for myself but I pass on information about Surfrider and their monthly beach clean ups. I tell her that I'll blog about my findings - it may be of interest to some people.
- A man says, "That's a thankless task."
  "Not really," I say. He doesn't' realize that I'm not doing it so much for us as I am for the water and the land but I add, "People will still litter but maybe they'll be less inclined to dump stuff in a place that is litter free." That is my hope.
- Another man tells me he collected 1,000 bottle caps at a beach not long ago.
- A couple commend me for my actions and tell me that they used to do this at the hospital grounds across the street from where they used to live.

The ash cans are a great idea yet at the same time I don't understand why people can't just stash their butts in a tin they carry with them or as a friend of mine did, after getting rid of the ash - back in the pack.

Nature isn't our ashtray or our garbage bin it's someones home and it's our home too. Leave it beautiful for the enjoyment of others and the safety of all who inhabit it. It takes no effort to find the garbage bin or pack it back home.

Why am I so passionate about this?
I remember a time when beaches and parks in my hometown of Oakville and its neighbour town Burlington were clear of litter. Read these other posts and maybe you'll see what can happen here in this beautiful place unless we take action now…
A WALK IN THE PARK (Mar 10/13) - here 

Friday, August 15, 2014


Have you ever noticed that the TV show HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL revisits people who have made big moves within the first 6 months of their relocation? Have you ever wondered, why that is? They're still in the honeymoon phase of a major life passage. After that, reality sinks in. OMG we really did it yippee turns to OMG we really did it…what now?

These episodes always end with one last visit with the newcomers. It's the classic house party scenario.  Ah yes, our intrepid newcomer(s) graciously ply a kitchen full of chic, new-found, fast friends with their own hand-made gourmet hors d'oeuvres creations as we say goodbye to them with best wishes for a happy and prosperous future.

Well, it's a year now and no new found friends are pounding on my door for a snack let alone a 6 course meal. Dang, and we bought our first dining room table and chairs for just such occasions.*

As the excitement of newness wears off, we discover that we are the same people who we were before the move. Despite claims that we want change, we tend to gravitate towards habitual ways of being and seeing life. But our surroundings and all that supported those old ways has fallen away and we're adrift and the stress begins to show (stress is a natural state experienced as we try and achieve homeostasis in response to change whether that change is desired or other). It's a painful process that dawns on us that we can't live in another vastly different area without the veneer of our old life peeling away.

I'm not disappointed that we made the move, not at all. I love it here! We live in one of the most beautiful areas in Canada with so much to offer. All one has to do is walk out the door. People say they've heard that it's expensive to live here. It can be. But so much is free or costs little - it's in nature all around us. The other night a new friend (also a Shiatsu Therapist) and I sat at the bluffs overlooking Ogden Point chatting over a picnic dinner and beer while witnessing a golden sunset and, just a few days later, a long time yoga friend and I swam all by ourselves at a local seaside beach a mere 30 minute drive from our apartment.

It's these little things that ingratiate me to the place, not big sweeping changes, grand ideals, and aspirations.

Though born and raised in Ontario I always felt like a fish out of water there. When my much younger self came west in the '70's the land and the sensibilities of the people welcomed me "home". Problem is that by the mid '80's the island spit me out, as they are wont to do, if one isn't suited to take root.

I cried so profusely on the plane trip back to Ontario that people thought someone had died.

In a way someone had.

I slipped back into Ontario Girl's skin, adapted to the demands of living there, reconnected with childhood friends, met my future husband within a week of my arrival, thrived and grew through major life challenges but my soul could never settle in, my spiritual home remained in the west.

Last year I brought my ambitious, driven-self, back here. Armed with a bag of skills honed in Ontario I was ready and rarin' to go. I would finally have the career I've dreamed of, studied for, and worked towards for so long. I hit the ground running setting up wildly successful, exciting (and profitable) dreamcircles, workshops and events… only to discover that I'm in a time warp. Manifestation is lagging behind the  powers of my imagination.

My Ontario persona wasn't ready for this. Shock, anxiety and disappointment hit with a vengeance; old insecurities reared their ugly heads.

What MUST I do to change this? Ontario Woman demanded.

OSHO Zen Tarot -" Creativity is the quality
you bring to the activity you are doing."
Journal writing & sketching
© Nance Thacker 2014

And then festival season came upon us.

Everyone is out and about enjoying themselves. Even the in-demand, prosperous and profuse population of psychics are twiddling their thumbs. The message? SURRENDER to what is, throw up my hands, give up for the time being and join in. Get reacquainted with "Island Girl", the one I'd left behind 27 years ago.

As I settle back into her skin my time-pressured, goal driven, hyper, anxious Ontario self is falling away and I'm feeling more myself. Gone is the pervasive background buzzing that had insidiously wormed its way into my nervous system over the past decades to such an extent that I it became part of "me". A transmutation is taking place as positive aspects of both my Ontario and BC selves merge.

I'm feeling more rooted than before; considering planting different seeds but now with an attitude of water them, till the soil and see what sprouts. Very west coast I must say. And, so that is what I must do. It's all up for grabs.

Other newcomers say it takes 2 years to adjust to pulling up roots and relocating to a new place. What will have transpired by this time next year when the metamorphosis is "complete"?

I greet the future with a sense of curiosity; discovering Island Woman.

* Since beginning this piece our in-laws - father, mother, sister and brother - have visited and we finally got to use the table - yea!!!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Festival time on the Island


I'm going to ramble so keep with the program.

It's been a long time since my last post. The end of April marks the beginning of tourist and festival season here on Vancouver Island.

Yoga gathering on the lawn in front of the Legislative Buildings,
at the inner harbour Victoria on a lovely June summer night.
I don't recommend yoga in jeans after an iced coffee.
Had I borrowed one of their mats I could have gotten to keep it, dang!
My mat's older than most of the other yogis there
Ah yes - festivities; people out here love to party! Victoria is a festival city. We celebrate life, food, culture and our good fortune to be able to live here. So I've resigned myself to put other work and workshop plans aside, throw up my hands and join in :-) Not too hard to do. There will be time for leading dream workshops, dream circles and shiatsu treatments when the fall/winter season hits.

GAY PRIDE PARADE - festivities were in our neighbourhood. Great: fun, food and music! We walked out our door to see the celebrants pass by on our way to the Tibetan Festival where we sampled Tibetan food, sang happy birthday to the Dali Lama, meditated and I learned a traditional dance. Then we came back to the Pride Festival for music and more fun.

Festivities and protest go hand in hand here.
We are passionate about protecting the earth.
How can you not be when natural beauty is all around you!?
A beautiful fairie!
The end of the parade heading to the fair grounds for more celebrations.
I heard tell that some of the tour carriages were saying that this is a typical day in Victoria. LOL

There's still so much to explore and re-visit. The outdoors - the forest, mountains and ocean beckons. So, ask me, "Do you want to be on the computer or outside taking in all the activity?" and there's your answer and the reason for the lack of entries.
A view of Todd Inlet from the summit of Mt Work
We go up island every 6 weeks or so to visit family. A few weeks ago we went onto the mainland for a body building championship…No, I wasn't a participant but thanks for wondering about this if only for a fleeting moment. Sorry about that; just wipe that image out of your mind right now.**

Paul's brother's tent at Vancouver Island Music Fest up island in Courtney
We sat underneath and enjoyed the music from here on one of the hottest weekends ever.
Russell deCarle, Leela Guilday, Laura Smith, Low Rider and  the Mavericks
were part of an amazing line up playing on various stages and workshop jam sessions.
Bonnie Rait, singing under the light of a super full moon on a cloudless sky,
provided me (and everyone else) with one of the most memorable evenings ever! 
Where was I? 

Living on the island is all that I expected and more. It must be possible to love a place as much as I love people or I wouldn't be out here; my family and childhood/longtime friends are all back in Ontario. Due to the distance and expense, the prospect of visitors is slim but I knew that would be the case. I knew too that our visits back to Ontario and Quebec would take place every few years.

We drove the folks to Parksville so they could take in the Sandcastle competition.
This was our favourite.
Dropped in to the Carving competition at Willows Point on our way back home
Rites of  passage for family and friends have come and gone and will continue to do so between visits: deaths, weddings, birthdays, the birth of children, and changes in general. All is happening in the background of my mind and thousands of kilometres away. My nephew's wedding is coming up on Aug 3rd. I will not be there in body but part of my spirit is with him, his bride and the "Thackerlings" daily as Graeham and Keera's special day approaches.

Buskerfest - July 17 - 27th has been a big hit. Drop in a few bucks to help them entertain us.
Yes, I ate ½ of a grilled macaroni sandwich AND perogies on Friday…
still digesting them today. But, it was sooo delicious.
One of the offerings at the, very popular, Street Food Festival
and we get to do it again next Friday - yea
Saturday at Saxe Point - a happy accidental discovery.
We were off to the Afro-Caribbean Festival
but found instead what looked like a private function without the roti stands we'd hoped to find.
So we changed plans.
Take out from TRINI TO D BONE: Veg Roti for me and Goat and Roti for Rod
+ Ting (grapefruit pop which we'd loved in Antigua) - DELICIOUS!!!
We got drawn into this park while looking for a place for our impromptu picnic.
I read how technology and social media is distancing us from each other, distracting us and stunting "real" social interaction but my experience has been other. E-mail, phone, googlephone, Face Book, Face Time and Skype are all immediate life lines connecting me to people I love and miss daily. Yes, I am meeting new friends and re-connecting with people I met from the mid '70's and '80's. And I treasure my time with Rod's family - his folks, sister and her family.

But, those old and long-time connections never loose their hold on me. How different it was my last lifetime here when I ached to hear their voices, see their faces and get news about their lives. News took days to get to me, phone calls cost the earth and letter writing wasn't a skill that everyone chose to develop. This time it's different and I'm so grateful for the technology that makes it so.

Here I am, Sheldon Cooper-style (Glynnie in the background)
at Marissa and Irene's 60th Birthday celebrations.
The Council of the Sleepover members pass me around the table to chat
reposition me for a better view of the action.
It's a surreal experience to be sure.
On Thursday, after an hour's climb, a friend and I stood at the summit of Mount Work (Mt Work Park is just a 20 minute drive from our place) breathed in deeply the scent of the woods, eavesdropped on the conversations of resident ravens and crows, gazed over the waters, mountains and forests and marvelled that we are privileged and blessed to live in a place that feeds our souls. Places and times like this remind me that I am home and that this time here is so precious. I need to see and participate in the life that is happening NOW while I'm making other plans; maybe that is what it is to let go.

Summit of Mt Work the light rain that drizzled upon us gives us a break
and a stunning view.
Many more festivals are planned, more hiking, kayaking, yoga and knitting is to be done (I took a rescue course a few weeks ago - self rescue and rescue of another….in kayaking, not knitting. Lots of fun!). The dream unfolds night by night; day by day.

** Why were we at the BC Body Building Championships you may ask? Because our nephew Jeff Messenger was competing in the heavyweight division. I'm very happy to say he placed 3rd - yea, Jeff!
(Although I think his physique and presentation was worthy of first place - an unbiased opinion.)

Monday, June 16, 2014

To Mr Social

It is a bitter sweet day. Tributes to fathers everywhere are flooding in to Face Book this Fathers' Day.  My Dad was THE BEST.
Consider yourself blessed if you too can say this.

Dad, Mom and I on my wedding day 1986
Rod and I got married wearing noses and glasses, tails (Rod + a top hat), jeans and sneakers
Dad and Mom played along for this shot

Thanks Dad for:
- letting my childhood self climb up on your lap and snuggle in when you were watching TV in front of the fire
- tucking me into bed so tight it was as if I was "shrink wrapped"
- tutoring me in the fine art of throwing and kicking a football
- trusting that I was resilient as my child self threw myself off of high bars, flipped of furniture, climbed trees and did God knows what else
- standing out in those cold Canadian winters watering the ice rink for us and the neighbourhood kids
- taking us out to your skating pond on the marsh by the lake; getting warmed by a fire afterwards over a hot chocolate
- instilling in me an abiding love of nature; helping me to see and hear that that this is where "God" resides
- silent early morning paddles - dipping our paddles so gently and quietly into water, as calm as glass, that nothing was disturbed; invisible, we witnessed nature arising
- teaching me to respect the water, how to canoe, emerge from an overturned one and challenge my swimming abilities and then have the confidence in me to let me go out on my own
- sailing us out to the "middle" of Lake Ontario so that we could swim off the boat
- instilling in me a love of the west through stories of your adventures on the road
- being a great listening ear and confidant; allowing me to return the favour for you in your old age
- encouraging me to hone my "gift" for art and believing in me and my ventures
- respecting that, having taught me well I could make my own decisions and was responsible for their outcome
- accepting that I'm not  "9 to fiver", can't be pinned down and need to be free above all else
- letting me go
- letting me come back
- letting me test myself
- being there through failures, disappointments and successes with wise words, consolation, encouragement and being in my cheering section - "it's not about how many times you get knocked down…"
- your sense of humour and love of fun; the glint in your eye
- your curiosity about everyone and everything
- your open-mindedness, idealism, and ability to see the best in everyone
- your love of kids, genuine interest in my friends and being young at heart, being our biggest, oldest and one of our best playmates
- having a kind heart and empathy and teaching me about kindness by example and showing me that a real man is kind and gentle
- being the great old philosopher/story teller - "you can catch more bees with honey"… and so many more adages
- for being the top graduate and originator of the Norm Thacker school of dressing
- sharing the story of you and Uncle Lou playing "disgruntled customer"; years later inviting me to take the bait and play along with just a glint in your eye and a shift in body language. How could I resist?! What fun it was!
- freely expressing gratitude for a beautiful sunny day and innumerable seemingly "mundane", but really miraculous things in life
- being passionate about life; never giving up
- greeting me at the door with "NAN'SA DARLIN'!!!'" to which I answered as usual (as if surprised to see you) "DAD!!!"and then enveloping me in the best, most reassuring hug ever when I needed to see "my Dad" in you just one more time
- entrusting me/us with your most precious gift and expressing your love for her so openly and often
- still being a presence in my life, a support and guide though you left this earthly plane 12 years ago

Thanks Dad for being not only my Dad but my "friend"

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The mother to us all

Mom canoeing on her honeymoon
 Mothers Day seems to have lasted for weeks. We went up to Campbell River on the 29th (returned on May 5th) to celebrate 3 birthdays (actually 4, as our grand-nephew was born on the 25th) mine, my sister-in-law's and my grand-niece's, plus 4 Mothers for Mothers Day - my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, niece, and a "chosen" family member.

Our yoga class on Fri May 9th was filled with mothers and the mother energy is fierce in many of them. They honoured the "mother" of their class (absent that day), the woman who looks out for them all and keeps everyone informed; the connector and the nurturer. Session ended with a chant of gratitude and blessing for mothers of all traditions as we added in a different name with each round: Mary Ma, Tara Ma, Saraswati Ma… We silently added our own mothers names and those of the mothers we know.
Clover Point beach clean up

For days Face Book has been spilling over with pictures and tributes of love, appreciation, gratitude, sorrow and longing for Mothers alive and dead. Mothers lovingly cradle their babes in their arms and children in their laps revealing both the soft and fierce-heartedness of mothering; snuggle under the protective wing of a grown son; proudly stand up for their brood of adult children at rites of passage or simply enjoy a moment in time when maturity allowed friendship to break through between the generations.

I honour Mother Earth, the one who sustains us all, by participating in a Surfrider beach clean-up at Clover Point today. Bag in hand, knowing that people tend to stuff debris into nooks and crannies, I'm drawn to the rocky bluffs. The mountain goat climber in me enjoys getting a work out, navigating my way amongst the obstacle course of rock, boulder and driftwood. I poke into the spaces with a stick to clear spider webs so that I can retrieve bits of plastic, cans, snack food wrappers and…an object with a dull sheen - a delicate, broken rusted chain. As I draw it out with gentle care a tiny cameo dangles from it…and a clump of copper coloured hair.
Resting at the feet of the Buddha

I know this act.

It tugs at my heart.

In 2012 I scattered clippings of my mother's hair, along with hawaiian flowers collected from an altar at the end of one of Robert's dream workshops and scattered them into the wind off an oceanside cliff. A few days prior I'd set a clipping at the feet of a Buddha statue on the grounds of Kalani. Sheddings of my own hair reside under some rocks at Kehana beach; some of our DNA will always be a part of Hawaii.

Part of a soul rests here in this very special, sacred place.

I never noticed this rock carving at Clover Point before.
Respectfully I tuck the entangled item back into place, only deeper into the crevice away from prying eyes and poking sticks. As I withdraw my hand a small business sized card tumbles out - the kind found in flower shops everywhere, on it a deep red rose cradles the handwritten message…

"We miss you Mom. Love your children."

I send a silent prayer out for the mother with the copper coloured hair and those children missing her and to all those children missing their Mothers this day as I bury the card too, deep inside the protective outcropping of rocks, stones and driftwood so they may be held close to the heart of Mother Earth and hear her heartbeat.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Creatively United

On Saturday I Forest Gumped my way, to and through, the Creatively United For the Planet, festival.

"Nance look at the sign behind you." Candy said.
 I was talking about having found a context
for my workshop Flying - a Healing Meditation in Motion
I walked downtown intending to join up with the Earth Walk Parade, starting at Centennial Square, ending up at the festival grounds at St Ann's Academy but, my sister Face Timed me. I tucked into a storefront and sat down on the window ledge to get out of the noisy traffic flow around me. Our conversation included a very quick tour of the street scene and the exterior of the wool shop where I planned to spend "a few minutes to kill" before joining the procession. We chatted freely and easily. 30 minutes later, when we said our good byes, the parade that had started without me, was winding its way into the lawns of St Ann's.

Oh well, now I'm free for some serious window shopping at THE BEEHIVE. I indulge my senses of sight and touch, fondling every bit of yarn and knitted samples I can find. The colour and texture of the gem coloured balls of yarn tempt me. I gather a few up, dig into my wallet to find I've brought just enough cash for food and some entertainment OR few balls of yarn. Well, I'd had a sampling of JUMA'S most delicious creamy hummus the night before when I visited with Aidan's parents while he was setting up his food truck. Aidan is the owner/chef of Juma. His parents Jan and Jim who supply his truck with produce and chicken are former co-op mates of mine from 30 or so years ago. So, I was really geared up to sample some more of his fare. Food won out and my stomach and taste buds prodded me to head out with empty hands. I leave the Beehive for now but -  Tomorrow is another day - and I'll be back.

My stomach's rumbling as I pass by Armeni Jewelers on Humbolt St but I'm drawn in for more sensory delights. The proprietor/designer/goldsmith pulls out and proudly displays for me, stunning, one of a kind creations that he, his wife and daughter have crafted. Such beauty and, yes, more temptation…but I only have cash (thankfully) and food's calling my name - Tomorrow is another day

I make a bee line to JUMA. The inaugural launch of the truck has been a wonderful success; they've sold out of Chicken Creole and hummus but there's Dhal. I'm not normally knocked out by dhal, I find it's usually too bland, but not Aidan's, his is delicately delicious. I can't resist the sticky rice with coconut cream and fresh organic apples, that was supposed to be dessert for Rod and end up gobbling up the whole thing, so I have to go back for another serving to take home.

Jan and Jim were my inspiration for Cosmo and Moonbeam. I don't know if they know this.
© Nance Thacker 1984

After touring tents full of displays: educating us on the impact we have on the earth - and how to minimize it; promoting social causes and offering the opportunity to sign many, many petitions; offering weekly delivery of organic produce; showing lifestyle options such as co-op living and co-housing, it's time to dance.

The thumping, driving beat world beat music selections by DJ Nils and DJ Joshua vibrates through the grounds and before I know it I'm jumping and gyrating with all the other hippie, shrubby and free-spirited folk that populate festivals such as this…potential embarrassment factor is ridiculously high so it's probably a good thing that Rod decided to stay home.

After this, I'm no near ready to go home and take in a showing of THE CLEAN BIN PROJECT  and participate in the discussion afterwards. The documentary follows a couple who challenge each other to live as garbage free as possible for a year which means: staying away from plastic wrap, extraneous packaging, and bags for meats and produce AND no shopping - no buying "stuff". The winner gets…applause.

The film and the impact of the whole conscious-earth festival has me wondering what can I do?
I already clear litter on my walks, wash and re-use plastic bags, get my coffee in re-usable containers or mugs. Then I realized that I'm carrying a "doggy bag" of food in containers that, though compostable, will get thrown out. Meals are so big nowadays that I'm ALWAYS taking home doggy bags. In fact, if there's not enough for a complete meal, I'll use the food as a base for a full meal the next night and supplement it with veggies, sauces etc. I've got perfectly great stainless steel containers, sitting at home on the shelf, that I'd bought just for this purpose. Time to start using them.

And time to start spreading the word, so here it is.

Check out the film to see the impact that our consumer culture has on our environment and discover small changes you can make that, compounded by the efforts of others, have the potential to create great change. You'll be inspired during the brainstorming discussion after the film. I've got to look into sites for disposing of soft plastic here in Victoria and though I live in an apartment, which doesn't have composting, there must be other options. Maybe vermiposting? Oooo, more pets to feed but they don't need to be walked.

I step out of the auditorium into the cool night. The festival's wound down so I pop my head in to say bye to Aidan and his crew who are amongst the last to break camp and then head down the road with my container of sticky rice dessert tucked under my arm.

I ran into 6 people that I know from different venues: art class, Spanish class, a dream student, the art centre receptionist, as well as Jan and Aidan. Ah, Victoria's starting to have that small town feel again.

Don't miss next year's 4th annual Creatively United for the Planet festival - great food, inspiration, creativity, entertainment and education all wrapped up in one location!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Livin' like a local

SUITCASE DIARIES: week 2 Costa Rica

Day 8 - Tues March 25 - I'm so proud of myself. Yesterday, inspired by Florencia's example, I arranged, with my broken Spanish, our ride to Tamarindo with Michael via a connection he has down at the beach. Much cheaper than the shuttle van service from the Villa and, by taking a short, direct route, he got us there in just over 1 hour. In Tamarindo Michael arranged a trip to the airport for Sunday with a "legit" taxi driver. He cautioned us that a "taxi" sign on a car's roof doesn't mean the driver is legit, insured or even a licensed driver. Michael took us right to the inner courtyard of Domus Kahuna. Great service!

We enjoyed a siesta in our one bedroom apartment which we've been given for the duration of our stay.  There's a bedroom with AC, a balcony with a hammock that I've claimed as "mine", and a stove top ( which I never use during our stay :-). We've been upgraded from our bachelor suite due to scheduling complications. Originally we were going to be moved on Friday to a bachelor but I think Paulo took pity on the poor suffering gringo geezers. Either that or he wanted to keep us from infecting others - though we weren't infectious, we sure sounded like it; coughing and hacking.

I lay in the hammock, severely hearing compromised, hacking my lungs out. Separated from the cocoon that Flo and Jack provided us, a deep sense of vulnerability washes through me. I've never experienced illness in another country where I don't speak the language well, hear even worse and don't know what to do. Despite the application of my many healing techniques, things are not getting anywhere near better. I have to do something… I will have to see a medico soon. 

During our dinner at an outdoor patio a fine spray wafts into the dining area. Water for the plants? Nope, don't think so but I could be wrong. I gobble down my dish - yam stuffed with fish and a cerveza and then we walk on the beach and witness the sun setting so fast that steam should be coming off the water as it sinks into the sea.

Day 9 - Wed March 26 - We went to the very thorough, medico today. Diagnosis: throat and inner ear infection. I leave loaded down with drugs that I'd normally never take. But, here I say, "Never say never. Bring on the antibiotics, antihistamine, AND throw in that expectorant too. Let's blast this baby outta here". Best news since I got here is, since my equilibrium is good, my ears and lungs are clear I can go swimming, yea!

Our daily ritual has become: afternoon siesta and the ingestion of a pineapple, mango, banana, yogurt and fruit juice smoothy to soothe my raw throat ("Our" awesome blender is a godsend!) followed with a  beach walk around 3p.m., sunset worship and dinner out. Tonight we share a tasty grilled Mahi Mahi, veg and rice dinner. On our return "home" the delicious aqua blue waters of the little pool beckon me. Swimming underwater provides the only relief for my throbbing ears. I float under a starry sky peeking through the banana trees, thankful for this bliss!

Day 10 - Thurs March 27 - A light breeze provided us with a welcome cool night after some brutally hot days so I decided to sleep outside last night in the hammock under the stars. Crazy, throbbing drum rhythms and the shouts of ramped up revellers fill the night air from 10p.m. til 3a.m. finally driving me inside.

I arise early this morning and walk the beach, deserted (no wonder, I think all of Tamarindo was at that party) except for one lone yoga practitioner. When I feel better I'll follow her example. (This doesn't happen til my last morning here.)

Spinning their boards around in the waves, riding in while holding headstand, ducking through the pipe - the kids make surfing look like a piece of cake. I'm taking notes from a rare shady spot under a tree, psyching myself up for my own foray into the mix. Paolo has a connection with a surf shop and can rent me a board for $10 for the day. I won't have to go down with my ID and can pay by cash by giving his name, yea! He says the tides and times are promising for tomorrow. I've gotta give it a goand if I really like it I'll go again on Saturday.

Tonight we eat at a food court at the base of our street. Fish burger with fries and a coke for Rod and guac with salsa and a cerveza for me - cheap and delicious. Rod's ear became plugged on our way from the beach; we are now "speaking" to each other in a form of sign language. I get a mocha to go from Diego's stall and vow to return tomorrow for french toast to change up the daily routine, though appreciated, menu of gallo con pinto, huevos revueltos y pan tostado offered at Domus.

Anyway…the adventure continues and we're starting to get into our groove here. Livin' like the locals takes a lot of effort when you're not feeling well. It's a learning curve…


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring in Victoria - apologies to the rest of Canada

So we went for a walk on a spring day in Victoria

As we walk down almost any street in James Bay, this scene is repeated time and time again.
In the 1930's the local Japanese community donated money to the city of Victoria. 1,013 cherry trees were planted and a flowering-tree program was begun, and continues to this day. In Feb Pink plumb blossoms bloom, 8 varieties of cherries begin in late March with the White Goddess cherries, planted in 2002 peaking in May. (info from WESTWORLD magazine - In the Pink by Ryan Stuart)  

And, there are daffodils EVERYWHERE! Yes, even on the roof of this guy's garage. Some are in clusters gracing private and public gardens alike but they seem to grow wild throughout lawns and parklands. The first picture is a view of Beacon Hill Park. I omitted the pic of the guy walking to his car with a lovely yellow bouquet he'd just picked.

 Some other scenes of gardens we came upon on Monday as we walked from Ogden Point to Oak Bay Marina following the shoreline. Everyone was walking…with big grins on their faces, exclaiming, "What a glorious day!" We all know how lucky we have been this winter and spring as the rest of Canada has been experiencing a minor ice-age, buried in snow. Hell, most of us are from other parts of Canada and we don't forget where we've come from. I also know, from experience, that it is possible to endure 6 weeks of unrelenting rain and overcast skies that would depress even Princess Giselle (Amy Adam's version of Cinderella from ENCHANTED).

A lovely little beach we passed along the way. It was so warm and the beach so white, I felt like I was down south.

And today, Thursday, this guy must have felt like he was down south too because there he was swimming, without a wetsuit, in the ocean waters in front of the sea wall just a few blocks from our apartment. Not just dipping, swimming!

The turtles felt it too as they piled up on this log in Beacon Hill Park and craned their necks to cast their gazes upwards to the sun in thanks.

On my way back home there they were again, those amazing trees and…a song was wafting through the air. Seriously! Was there a radio on somewhere? I wasn't sure. As I gained on the woman with the walker in the picture. Yup, there it was. She was the songbird with the enchanting voice.

Ah, springtime in Victoria; there's no better place to be.