This post is inspired by incredible driftwood art found on Gonzales Beach. I don’t know when the art went up, and I don’t know how long it’ll stand, as it’s on private property. I found it inspiring and helpful. There’s a photo at the bottom of this post.
A year ago this week was my first spent living in Victoria.
As a ‘70s kid in Vancouver, life was similar to Vic now. Without the stuck-on-an-island bit.
The other day I stood on Clover Point, looking up the beach, and remembered when Vancouver began to change for me: when they began grooming driftwood logs on the beach.
Unseen by most Vancouverites, heavy machinery rumbles up beaches in pre-dawn hours, removing excess driftwood to leave only big, pretty logs in nice, straight rows for people to sit against. Or did you think the driftwood fairies wrought order on Vancouver beaches?
By the end of the ‘90s I missed the messy shores of my youth.
From then on, my city exploded on the world stage.
But I’d never changed. Just a small town girl living in a big world, isn’t that how it goes?
Once I realized my unhappiness stemmed more from where I was geographically than where I was existentially, I decided to move.
Months of researching online what the “real” lifestyle of Victoria was had me hedging my bets that maybe, just maybe, I’d find the right life fit here.
I didn’t know for sure, though. Too much of its image is still fraught by the far-too-limiting “Little Britain” sales pitch of Victoria-as-Vacationland for one to really get an idea of real life over here.
As I told folks I was moving to Victoria, I was not prepared for the reactions. People who didn’t like Victoria really didn’t like Victoria. People who liked it, loved it.
A big complaint by the haters was, “It’s too slow. There’s nothing to do [downtown].”
A big rave by the lovers was, “I love the pace! There’s so much to do [outdoors]!”
So I was unsure about committing everything I had to moving here, because I couldn’t afford to undo it. I had to be all-in.
Then, Day 3, I walked six blocks and hit Dallas Road. With Holland Point staring me in the face, all this “buyer’s remorse” about whether I’d made the right choice just fell away.
Boom, gone. Yep. I could make this lifestyle work, I thought.
A woman told me it’d take two years to really “get into the Victoria groove” and I chuckled and said, “Nah, I’ll be a fast learner!”
A year in, she was right. I’m still learning the Jedi ways of island life. It’s not till you slow down you realize just how long you’d been going so fast.
Time management is my work-from-home nemesis, but I’m riding it out better. It’s easy to fake life balance when you live a few blocks from amazing rugged natural beaches.
Like yesterday. Despite having a super-productive day, I reminded myself that taking a bike ride wasn’t me shirking my responsibilities; it was me making responsible choices for my heart and my health.
That I’d be cycling on Dallas Road and enjoying some killer scenery was just a perk.
A short time later, I huffed and puffed as I pulled up to Gonzales Beach. Clearly I needed a breather, so I ambled down the path with a plan to sit on a log and enjoy the beach. The tide was so low my inner-kid demanded to explore and play a little.
That’s when I glanced over and saw driftwood art on the Gonzales Beach homefront spelling one simple word, “Breathe.” Each letter four-feet high, it’s a prominent message in a poignant place.
I recalled, before leaving Vancouver, a chiropractor taught me to breathe — expand the belly, not the chest. He told me 75% of people breathe wrong, sleepwalking through life without adequate oxygen.
I find I still have to remember to do it right.
Life in Victoria is like that for me. Sometimes I forget where I am, and I have to stop and look around. I breathe, enjoy a moment, and suddenly I remember why I do everything I do.
Luckily, taking that moment is easy to do, here.