Saturna Island

This past weekend I sailed away again to one of my favourite places, Saturna Island.

Saturna is a mountainous island located in the Southern Gulf Islands about halfway between Vancouver and Vancouver Island.  One of the things I love is that it takes multiple ferry rides to reach Saturna, giving you that sense of truly sailing away from it all.

 

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From the top of Saturna’s mountain, Mount Warburton Pike, you get amazing views of the Canadian Gulf Islands and the US San Juan Islands.

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But my favourite thing to do on Saturna is explore the amazing beaches.

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At the very southeast of the Island lies East Point. This outcropping of land has amazing views over the water where two ocean currents mix and mingle in Boundary Pass, creating an upwelling of abundant nutrients that then attract a variety of marine animals.  From East Point I have seen whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, otters, eagles and oyster catchers.

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There are lots of deer on the island and other creatures who share the space.

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Fifty years ago at East Point on Saturna Island our relationship to Orcas, or killer whales, began to change. Once called blackfish, Orcas were thought to be dangerous monsters of the sea. In 1964, a young orca was harpooned off of East Point with the intention of killing it and studying it. However, the harpoon did not kill the whale but injured it. As the rest of the pod stayed with the injured whale, trying to keep it alive, the men tasked with killing the whale realized that these animals were not vicious killing creatures but something beautiful and amazing. The whale, Moby Doll, was towed back to the Vancouver Aquarium and studied for almost three months before it passed away. That experience forever changed our understanding of these beautiful creatures.  To hear more about this story, check out this program by CBC’s Ideas.

On our way to Saturna, as the sun set, we were lucky enough to be visited by small pod of Orcas from our ferry.

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Sailing Away

Sometimes, you just need to sail away for a few days.

I am incredibly lucky to live in a place where I can do that.  And, I am even luckier to have good friends to sail away with.

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There was a long run on my favourite running routes.
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There was lots of wildlife.

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There was one of my favourite beaches.

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And, there were good friends.

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And, then, on the ferry on the way home, there were two orcas. A momma and a baby.

I just don’t think it gets better than that.

 

Days that help me be myself

I think it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

I completely agree. Sometimes, it seems like each day is a struggle to figure out who I am, to remember it and to live and breathe it in my actions, my words and my choices. Days when self-doubt is the demon that requires repeated slaying.

And then there are the other times. Those all-to-rare days when I feel completely myself and completely at ease. Days when I know that despite the hard decisions, my heart and my life are in alignment. Days which replenish my soul and re-stoke my fires.

Days like this past weekend.

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Days away with amazing women who listen and support and never doubt for a minute that I am perfect just the way I am.

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Days spent exploring the beach, listening to birdsong and attuning with nature.

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Days spent listening, reading and eating good food made with love. Days of quiet solitude and burst of laughter. Days of story-telling, sharing wisdom and  confiding secrets.

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Days when I have time to stop, slow down, notice the little things. Time to consider things from another perspective.

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Days where all the worries leave me and I know that everything will be okay. That I will be okay.

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Days that help me be myself. Not just for the weekend but hopefully for all the days to come.

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No way out but through

I spent the weekend away with some wonderful women at a cabin on one of the Gulf Islands in B.C.  On Sunday, we hiked along a path that ended up at the top of a bluff overlooking a narrow passageway between our island and the next. The currents through this narrow passage are fast and there was a bunch of kayakers taking a class and shooting the rapid waters. Most of them headed right into the current, whooping as they hit the white water and were picked up and carried by the currents.

And then there was that one kayaker. The one who hung back and was back paddling at the top of the rapids to keep from heading into them. Back paddling but going nowhere due to the current.  Oh yeah, I thought, I SO get that feeling. Seeing the hard path ahead and not wanting to move forward, even as I am slowly pulled towards the rocks and waves.

Also watching the kayaker, one of my dear friends who was sitting next to me said, “there’s no way out but through”.

Ain’t that the truth! There’s no way out but through …

There are so many things in life that I have tried to avoid doing and feeling because they would stir the waters. Keeping silent to avoid conflict, not saying no for fear that people won’t like me, taking risks that might make me look stupid, being vulnerable in case my heart gets broken, admitting when I’m hurt or angry, numbing out with food so I don’t feel the loneliness and the pain and the sadness, letting failure stop me from trying again.  Frantically back paddling and ending up stuck in one place.

But, those things are really part of life. And, there is no way to get out of the pain and hurt but to head right through them. To take risks, love deeply, be yourself, speak your truth, pick yourself up after a failure and move forward armed with what you learned. Head into the rapids and paddle like crazy.

Not an easy thing to do when the pain is so sharp that you think you can’t breathe. When “one day at a time” turns into “just the next 10 minutes” or “just get up and make it to the shower” or “just wait to cry until you’re out of the grocery store”.

I keep waiting to “get over” the pain.  To be back to the way I was before the hurt happened.  But, I will never be what I was before. I have changed and been changed by what I have learned about myself and my world by these events.  But, by heading through the pain and hurt I can slowly moving past it.

And, as hard as it is to head into the turbulent churning of emotions, it’s also the only way we get to experience the thrill of the ride and to whoop with joy. To be in the current of life and not stuck in an eddy.

And, that’s what that kayaker did, too. Headed through the rapids, paddling like crazy, hopefully enjoying the ride, and then relaxing in the calmer ocean on the other side.  I’m planning to do the same.