It's really hard not to think about Vancouver and miss it a lot.
Is it possible to be soul mates with a place? When I close my eyes and think of the mountains and the clouds, the people and their kindness, the trees and the soul of the forest, it just brings me to a really happy place. I suppose that's a good thing. To have a happy place you can go to in your memories.
This photograph makes me laugh. We'd gone for a little walk that evening and stopped at the bottle shop to get some vino for the dinner that we were going to make in the apartment. Yup, we thought making dinner would be a romantic thing to do seeing as we hardly ever do it back in Singapore anymore! I love that the bottle looks like it's bowing its head in the same direction as Andrew. Deep in contemplation. You know, 'coz life's so hard.
Sigh. Is it possible to be soul mates with a place?
Loving every minute ‘coz you make me feel so alive, alive
Loving every minute ‘coz you make me feel so alive, alive
I find that hilarious – that our pastime of choice was sitting on benches. My theory is that sitting on benches is only for older people or those with children – it’s like a passage of time thing… The seasons of your life. I don’t ever recall us sitting or contemplating as much when we were in Scotland together. We were always off doing or seeing something.
I like it though. And I like that we do it together.
When you come back from a significant trip, it’s easy to talk about where you went, who you were with, what you ate, anything you might have bought.
But the truth is, I came away with a whole lot more than just memories of good food and couple selfies. The real souvenir was a mindset.
Vancouver is an amazing place. I have never seen a more socially aware or responsible society – Recycling is a big thing that everyone does and is conscious of and everyone is incredibly genuine and considerate. I have never seen people more concerned about clearing up after themselves and taking the time to give way or say thank you’s. I have never seen a place more engaged with the great outdoors. And we were only too lucky to discover it through the eyes of two great friends, Grace & Joe, who are living like the locals, biking to their hearts content and just taking in life.
Aside from spending a whole week in Whistler hammering down the bike park, we also had the good fortune of spending some time riding the North Shore with them – and met some of their friends & colleagues at Endless Biking.
Endless is a bike rental and tour company – They provide the gear and the guidance to ensure you get the most of your riding at all the different trail networks around North Vancouver. As soon as we arrived, we spent some time with Darren and Eli who gave us a clinic on cornering, and Ryan who took us through a drops session. Joe then spent most of our rides secretly progressing me by taking me to trails that he thought would challenge me to become a better rider.
And boy, did he challenge me!
Every time we headed out, I’d have this feeling of dread inside me. Oh dear, I’m not familiar with where we’re going. What if I can’t do it? What if I hold everyone back?
Joe was really good and super patient. He’d take time out to explain trail sections, re-affirm techniques I had learnt and reassure me sections were do-able. Grace would sometimes ride ahead of me to show me how very elementary it could indeed be. So I always felt completely safe and confident in my abilities – this meant I always did something new skill-wise whenever we went out and pushed myself to a new level each time. I really loved that! It just felt so gratifying to always improve. And both Grace & Joe would be super supportive as well, letting out great big woops and verbal pats on the back whenever I accomplished something. It made me feel so happy and fuzzy inside.
On one particular early morning, their lady boss friend Kelli Sherbinin came and rode Mt Fromme with us. I was all nervous since Kelli’s got really hardcore bike cred but just like Joe, she was incredibly supportive and patient in trying to get me to progress. Both Joe, Kelli & Grace – and Andrew too – literally waited ages for me to pluck up the courage to attempt what’s probably a very small rock feature to most at the start of Bobsled. And when I did… Well, I just felt I had to go do it again… and again… and again… and again… So I could get over the fear and know what I was capable of.
(you can hear Kelli whooping at me in the distance!)
Have you ever been so mentally caught up in your head that when you finally get through something, you burst into tears? That’s literally how I felt whenever I cleared something like that, whether it was a skinny bit of woodwork or a technical section. I’d quickly turn away from my friends so they didn’t see how choked up I was – They’d be cheering at me for doing it and I’d be a mix of happy and seriously overwhelmed… and scared! But I loved progressing. It was doing a lot more for me mentally than I could imagine.
One of the phrases they kept using was “Just peek and place, Janice. Trust yourself and commit. You’ve got this.”
It took a lot to do it, but whenever I did I realised how much I could accomplish if I truly set my mind to the task.
A week later, I found myself at a business workshop in Dubai doubting some of my abilities. And guess what the little voice in my head was saying?
“Come on, you’ve got this. Just peek and place, trust the rest.”
You take a whole lot away from the trail each time you ride. I think that’s why I love biking so much.
For a bit of Mummy inspiration, read: Mother Puckers on PinkBike.com
It seems like a lifetime ago that Hubba and I were in Vancouver on our first adventure together in 4 years.
In reality, we’ve only been back for about 2 weeks and I suppose this blog post is long overdue.
A month ago, we took the brave step of going on a two week holiday sans kids. The kids were with their beloved Grandparents and having a holiday of their own and almost every few days we’d get on FaceTime wherever we could to catch up. Prior to our departure, my head was in a complete mess. It had probably been a long time since I took a mental break and checked out of everything – and even right up till us getting on the flight, I was worrying about absolutely everything there was to worry about - Was everything at work sorted? Had I forgotten to pack anything for the kids? Was everyone in school informed that the grandparents were in charge? Had I assigned all home help chores clearly and fairly? Had I prepped both kids well enough so they’d mentally understand why we were not going to be around? Needless to say, I had a lot on my mind. So much so that I dare say I completely neglected Andrew – and of course, myself – over the two months prior to leaving.
And whilst Andrew was really looking forward to the trip – We were going to Whistler, after all. Mountain Biking bucket list and all that! And we were about to go see two really great friends too! – Until we landed in Tokyo for transit, I just wasn’t in the right head space and I just wasn’t that excited.
Look, I’m not going to complain and say I have a bad life and that it made me so stressed I couldn’t think straight.
The reality is I’ve got a good enough gig – The support we have from grandparents is just phenomenal and when we announced we wanted to take a couple’s holiday away, everyone was more than supportive. I wanted to cry when my Dad messaged me the day I left saying he felt I really deserved my holiday and to have a great time. In fact, I think I did cry. Sheez, I was probably crying at almost everything. What can I say… I think I just felt I needed to check out.
And check out, I did. I became a complete numbskull the moment the plane left Singapore. Hubba actually laughed at how dimwitted I was being about everything. It was almost like my mind decided I didn’t want to make a single decision, or think of anything at all.
Anyway, once we got to Canada we hopped right onto bicycles. The first morning of our trip we rode a few bits of trail, attended a bike festival, took a couple of bike clinics together and then attended the world premier of a biking movie. There was no such thing as ‘getting over jetlag’ – we just maxed ourselves out right away. And the next day, we were off to Whistler for a week’s worth of downhilling.
I rode 8 out of 14 days of the trip. And you know what?
It was fantastic.
I loved every minute of it. After the kids came, I spent all this time being afraid of the trail but I fell in love with mountain biking all over again. And most importantly, I fell in love with Andrew all over again. Everyone’s told me about how important it is to take the time to be the best you can before you can be the best mum that you can be. This trip really taught me what that meant – And I’m feeling really alive and in love with life again.
This couldn’t be just the one post as I learnt so much from this trip…. More posts to come. Watch this space :)
The countdown to going back to work has begun – So when Dad said the folks were going to Hong Kong to visit some of our relatives and asked if I might consider taking the girls along, I thought “Why not?”. I can’t imagine when I’d have the time again once I get back to the rat race.
Hubba wasn’t able to come along as he had some things to sort out so I braced myself for the trip. But you know what, there’s no better way to learn than baptism by fire, I reckon. I figured throwing myself into the deep end would be the best way to know if I could cope – the way I see it, this is my family now so I need to be able to do it alone sometimes. And so… I took a deep breath and did.
I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on what sort of travellers my girls are. They are so different in personality that it wasn’t a big surprise that they’re really different travellers too.
NAOMI is a very discerning little girl. She has an opinion on many things most of the time, and what amuses me is she’s just like her father when it comes to crowds and noise. She absolutely hates them. She’s not usually a stroller toddler but when she decides she’s feeling too over stimulated, she’ll retreat into the stroller and ask that I put on the snooze shade so she can sit inside in the dark and quiet.
Generally, she is quite a good little traveller I feel. But just like any toddler, she has her moments where she’s just tired and cranky and has had enough! The amazing thing though is that on this trip, she’d actually identify why she was melting down and tell me what’s wrong. “Mummy, I’m tired” or “I’m hungry”, which we could then address quite quickly. She’s not horrendous on the plane at all, but she does have trouble getting used to the cabin pressure. Although she did also say, “My ears. Painful.” I could then ask that she suck on her pacifier to make herself feel better.
I was quite worried she would meltdown when we were in any ‘proper’ establishments, but I was told she was very well-behaved and polite and that my colleagues at the hotel mostly looked forward to her arrival in the club lounge every morning :) So that’s good, right?
CHARLOTTE is a super non-fuss traveller. I guess it’s also because she’s only just turned 3 months, so there’s not much she can do but lie there anyway. But she didn’t get upset about the cabin pressure at all, even when she refused the bottle and pacifier ‘coz she didn’t feel like it. And she just watched the other kids around her melt down (her sister included), and with wonder too! I pretty much had to carry her all week in my Action Baby Carrier though, so Naomi could be in the stroller. She doesn’t like the stroller and was happy to fall asleep on me most of the time. Obviously, my back wasn’t very happy and I needed a big fat massage during the week!
Oh and she slept through to 7.30am (earliest) every single morning! I was so overjoyed. It was truly a holiday in the sleep department at least :) There’s something to blackout blinds…