When Was the Last Time You Did Something For the First Time?

Thing Two – Lara Grant – This will change your life

Here’s the amazing university you shall call home for the next 3 years – Keele University

img_2539

I guess if the degree in Physiotherapy doesn’t work you, you could always go for a Major in Magic.

 (I do know that by default Magic will simply happen anyway!)

img_2531 img_2530 img_2552

______________________________

You will learn Art of course – starting with the Art of Negotiation (4 young women sharing this toilet/bathroom space – need I say more?)

img_0164 img_0165AND I ask you – who exactly will replace the empty Toilet paper roll?

____________________________________

You will appreciate MATH when you read “2 for 1” and find this fits your budget perfectly and when it proves that you cannot afford a CAT!

You will learn that some people are put on this earth to test your Anger Management skills.

_______________________________________

You will sometimes find yourself in a tight squeeze – which is exactly what will be needed to fit your CLOTHES into this closet space!

img_2556

__________________________________

You will remember your Mother saying that your kitchen will ONLY ever be this clean once and that’s the day you move in!

img_2553 img_2554

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER

** You are braver than you believe **

** Stronger than you seem **

** Smarter than you think **

And Loved More Than You Know

Well hello YIN & YANG

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAZ3AAAAJDMwYzgxZjM2LWMyYTktNDYyYi1hZDIzLTFmMDFjNDc0ZWQxYQ

 

We (as in Dave and I) are 8 sleeps away from experimenting with a new found Wanderlust.   I’m excited and yet I have also come face-to-face with one other aspect that was honestly not on my radar too much leading up to this adventure:

 YIN and YANG

I have been hugged so long and tightly by friends and family in the last week that I am very much aware of what we are leaving here.

It’s not the physical stuff that sits in this house but our people!

Yes we will have the 6 Grants all within a one hour time zone of each other.  England, Poland  and all of the “Where in the World is Dave” places.   But… because that’s how life is, there is Dave’s Mother, sisters, niece, my sister, my nephews, this huge listing of friends that we share dinner, laughs and of course wine with.   We will miss the invites and being able to invite;  the last minute bbq’s.  The impromptu knock on the door and hearing “hey here I am, you must have missed me!”

And of course we will miss their hugs!

group-hug

 

“Where in the World is Dave?”

overstuffed-suitcase  14 MORE SLEEPS….

There is a purpose behind the title of this one blog.  Dave is off on an adventure that his adventure-loving wife tossed out as a ‘how about we try this?” idea.

I appreciate that as the only son in the Grant-clan of children, he will be away from his Mother.  He understood that fact and I know he appreciates that his two sisters, Jean and Teresa, happen to be living close to their Mother now.  Jean always has and up until 3 years ago, Dave lived within 5 minutes of their Mother.  Teresa had moved to be closer to her grandchildren and by default, is now nearby her.   I am personally grateful that they are both living close to her as I recognize the anxiety that is creeping in as she simply doesn’t know where in the world Dave will be.

We are off on the 19th of August, making today 14 more sleeps  before we are on a flight bound for London.   Lara is off picking up her passport this morning with a 5 year Visa that will allow her to be in England for school and perhaps a bit of working money in £££££ in summers.

Dave has been amazing with clearing out things to the thrift store and Habitat for Humanity so our place has space for the people moving in.  We still have an active business that requires maintenance and on-going shuffle to get things sorted so we are able to be physically away for 10 months.   Our closets are cleared of all excess clothes, shoes and boots and the only things that remain are that which will be needed for our trip.   The oven is cleaned and so I’m not using it in the next two weeks.  The BBQ gets steam cleaned 7 days before we go and will not be used.  So only stove top cooking and acceptance to eat at friends and family for the next two weeks.

Quite a lot of thought, planning and playing around with ideas to keep us interested, active and seeing our children and grandson, an idea has turned into a plan.

Buckle up…  here’s the DAVE BY DAVE listing…

  • Barton St. David, England
  • Torun, Poland * (3-Grantclan & our place)
  • Stoke-on-Trent, England * (Keele University where Lara will be in Uni)
  • Paris, France
  • Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Torun, Poland
  • Florence, Italy
  • Naples, Italy
  • Valletta, Malta
  • Vienna, Austria
  • Paris, France
  • Athens, Greece
  • Crete, Greece
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • CAMBODIA (Siem Reap, Battambang, Phnom Pehn, Sen Monorom, Kampot, Sihanoukville, Four Rivers Floating Lodge)
  • Portugal & the Rota Vincentina hike for 15 days from Santiago do Cacem through to Sagres in the Algarve

And…. then a ROAD trip that’s still in the works for April 2017 and the surprise of what & where we may find our adventures and the people and places we are pulled toward for May and June.

This is starting to get real!

travel-the-world

 

 

It begins with a thought on “The Friendly Giant & a Harpist”

friendly giant

Today’s blog starts begins with the TV program I watched as a child – The Friendly Giant and a Harpist.

I read an article called, “The Harpist and The Harp” by Annie Rosenberg.  She shared memories of her mother- The Harpist.  A Mother, who played her harp in Operas and ballets but was famous for playing the harp music in the opening theme music for the TV program: The Friendly Giant.

The writer shared that her friend’s parents came home at six o’clock and did ‘the grind’, as I call it: dinner, homework, TV, bedtime stories, laundry.  Her Mother sailed out of the house, often at 6 pm, lipsticked and perfumed, black skirts swirling around her, to play a show.  Annie Rosenberg’s memories of a Mother’s career and her lovingly moments with her, shared life having a different a mother compared to her friends more traditional parents.

Anyone reading my blog knows I’m a non-traditional parent having the role of ‘going to work Mom’ while Dave had the ‘stay home Dad’ role.  Not so uncommon today but certainly it was 15 years ago.

So what will my children say? What will my Grandchildren write?  All I know is that I have loved being a non-traditional Mother to my kids.  Our interesting life maybe leading us on a journey of new adventures, with a daughter wanting to be in Europe for school and a son and his wife already there.  We will have new adventures as their parents where they are the nucleus of the world(s) in which Dave and I swirl around.   Moving within their worlds of school, jobs, being future parents themselves.   It’s exciting to dream of what to do and how to manage our time and work life. So what does the next 5 years look like?

It starts with a dreaming list of places, ideas, ways.

  • Housesitting
  • Having a purpose like hiking; cooking with locals; slow travel; motorbike riding; learning
  • Train travel
  • Weather research
  • Eat out in locally own restaurants only (no chains)
  • Teach English for free for free cooking lessons
  • Wine: Portugal, Spain, Georgia, Serbia, Italy – to name by a few
  • Farmer markets
  • Coimbra – Skopje – Sibiu – Kosice – Kutna Hora – Cesky Krumlov – Ohrid – Nis

I know one thing for certain that my children (and future Grandchildren) will share – ‘her favourite possession was her passport!’

passportused passport

I missed the memo


silly motherinlaw

I missed the memo “Bring Wine, you’re having dinner with your Mother-in-Law (MIL).”

Apparently it was really a shitty deal for MIL that we 3 Grants went travelling for two months and shared one month as 5 Grants.

Did we send postcards? – YES.

Did we write emails? – YES.

Was it enough? – NO.

I have always known that MIL loves her one and only son more. His sisters have always joked he is ‘the favoured one’.   He (which includes me) have lived for 20+ years around the corner from said MIL and she loved having him close. I mean who else would take out her garbage? The last 5 years we have been within 45 minute drive away from her.  My husband, aka “the favoured one” did regular phone calls, lunches out, and helped solve TV remote control issues over the phone at 8 am.  He has been kind, patient and gracious and sees her at least once a week and pub lunches are abundant.

So… I sat there as MIL had at least a ten minutes rant about her abandonment by “us” – while talking at ME directly the entire time. Apparently, we can go away but only for one month at a time. (WTF? I thought we paid for this trip.)  I do believe it was said that there was no way I could understand not seeing your child for two months. (WTF? – my son lives in Poland).

I suppose I could have simply shut up and listened but I’m just not that kind of DIL.   Instead I reached for a glass of wine part way through MIL’s diatribe of abandonment and calmly acknowledged her feelings (See previous paragraph on how that went over.) When that didn’t work, I calmly reminded her that when she was in her 50’s, with children that were launched-adults, she and her husband travelled and did whatever, whenever, however.   I was politely corrected that travelling in a motorhome, going to Hawaii via a cruise and all that they did was NOT the same thing as our trip because we were in Europe. (again – WTF?).

Ahhhh family dinners?   Welcome home!!

===================

P.S. I may have to mail a postcard to MIL from the next trip that states the following:

nice mother in law

 

 

Will This Matter in a Year from Now? 5 Years from Now?

eye map    Day 4 at Chez Grant….

Our bed is decadent and I’m still in love with the city of Vancouver.  My stove has had a bit of a work out and we’ve already seen and fed family, caught up with a couple of friends and had neighbours stop by to welcome us back.

We are being asked “Are you Happy to be at Home?”  And the honest answer is “yes and no”.  We have family here and we also have family in Poland.  We had an amazing trip and there were things that went totally pear-shaped and things that were spectacular.  Whilst I’m not ‘quite’ planning another trip, I’m sure the day in the future for that event will not be too far off.

For those who haven’t followed the one post I made, we 3 Grants travelled to the following places:

  • Vancouver – Torun – Inowroclaw – Gizycko – Sztynort – Mikolajki – Warsaw – Oxford – Stratford upon Avon – Chipping Camden – Moreton on Marsh – Bourton on the Water – Winchcombe – York – Leeds – Macclesfield – Amsterdam – Split – Omis – Cavtat – London – Vancouver.

Travelling to foreign countries is not meant to make you feel at home. The country is designed to make it’s own people feel comfortable.  You can merely hope to not stand out in big white American running shoes (aka trainers) which scream “I’m American” and we all know my feelings on being mistaken for anything other than Canadian!

We are not meant to go to Starbucks for coffee in Split.  Instead we should sit at a local café and to order a cappucinno.  When it arrives, look at it longingly, smell it’s glorious smell, take the first sip and think “WTF is this?” <best answer – you are not in Italy honey you are in Croatia – comes to mind!!)

Buon giorno. Cappuccino?

Buon giorno. Cappuccino?

 

Yesterday morning, I was told how ‘great and relaxed’ I looked!?!  confused-old-woman  Which is a by-product of swimming in Croatia, walking in England, Sailing in Poland and truly waking up with a new agenda every day.   Sometimes the days were simply sitting and reading and wondering how Donald Trump is making out as a candidate in the US Elections.  (Yes, I am following our Canadian ones also but they are truly not as entertaining as we are missing a guy like Donald to ‘shake things up’ a bit North of the border.)

We are back in the Universe of Home.  It is lovely and we a front yard full of leaves which is means we are moving into fall.  Pumpkins, school, pencil shavings left from home work (opps not anymore she uses a laptop and hits back space!).  AND thinking of new adventures both at home and away.

The 60 days and 60 nights of our trip have given me a ‘calmer’ inner-self.  When we were away the affirmations of finding ourselves in a challenging situation and working through whatever happened – you are given a life lesson on either a) going with the flow or b) yelling at the flow.  I did a bit of both but mostly the going with won out.

The two month travelling  “Will it matter in 5 Years?” and go with the answer.  If we missed a plane or train – certainly the resulting answer was “no”.  If we missed celebrating a birthday with Lara and our Polish family – the resounding “yes” won out!

The world at home was almost just as we left it and we can jump right back into it. On reflection, I think we should keep the good bits we really love.   It’s going to be a bit of work but we garnered the ability to see what will matter in 5 years from now!

five

 

Once you get into it, you realize that it’s chemistry, it’s biology, it’s physiology

WATER….. WATER….WATER….WATER… WATER

IMG_1401

Seas and oceans, lakes and rivers, swimming pools and even our bathtubs.  There is emotional, behavioural, psychological and physical connection that keep humans so enchanted with water.

Did you know that actor Michael J. Fox made the career-changing decision to leave the hit show Spin City (and go on to launch the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research) after a surprise swim with a sea turtle?  Me either actually, until I looked up how water changes people and affects us.  

There is a great book that is written by author, Wallace J. Nichols, called “Blue Mind”. He is a marine biologist whose passion for our planet’s water goes far beyond the classroom. He urges us to get closer to water, not only for our own sake but for the environment and a healthier future for us all.

Why am I sharing this with you?  Because a long time ago I realized I have a deep connection to water and although I knew I would struggle to live “Landlocked”, I just didn’t realize how connected to water I really was, yet sitting here I can say it started along time ago.

I was born in Chatham, Ontario, which straddles the Thames River. I am the astrological sign of “Cancer” and crabs love water.  And I can share poignant moments when I began to realize how my love for water has shaped my decisions, feelings, behaviour, choices and lifestyle.

I am in Omis, Croatia sitting within 200 meters of the Adriatic ocean.  Yesterday, the 5-Grants spent 10 hours on the water with Marco Laura (he owns a lovely boat and can read the waves and ‘cut’ them).  It was clear his boundless joy in the freedom of a wide open, big blue space, is an irresistible draw for him and for us.

IMG_1414 <Our man – Marco>

I can share: 4 years ago, I stood on the beach outside our beach house (Parksville) and said out loud my intention for change.  It was a life altering decision that has allowed me (& 5-us) “time” to be here for 2 months, spending 30 out of 60 days with Tony & Kasia in Poland & Croatia on the water.

<<<< NOTE: Anyone reading this would not say I have a “less is more life” but less was less of the work/A-type/’work-driven Janine’ that I use to be and more of life with my family and friends. I am presently typing this blog as I am eating grilled local carrots and potatoes from an outdoor BBQ pit at 9 pm with a glass of wine as ‘2nd dinner course” after Kasia’s lovely prawn and monk fish soup I ate 2 hours ago – now THAT is more for less of the old bits!!!>>>>>>>

The author of “Blue Mind”, Nichols suggests that being close to water can make us not only happier, calmer and more emotionally healthy, but also more successful in life, relationships and even business. By tapping into an evolutionary urge that lies dormant in us all, we can access a powerful mental capacity for greatness and our bodies crave it!

I can attest that we all were calmer, happier persons after we getting off Marco’s boat after 10 hours.  We merely showered the salt off our bodies and calmly sat outside in the quietness of the evening at 9:30 pm and had cheese, bread, wine, water and pistachos for dinner,,, simply sharing more time in quiet calm because we were more connected.  It was a response to water that the author Nichols, shared in his book:

“Our response to water is deep. “It’s human, it’s about life and it’s about survival.”

IMG_1362IMG_1366                     <my two daughters>

 

rockin’ bliss

 

IMG_1395IMG_1344IMG_1348

the boys loves his water (& wife)….

And we simply….

IMG_1410 ARE

IMG_1350 FIVE

IMG_1375 WATER

IMG_1369 LOVING

IMG_1403 GRANTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel is more than seeing the sights

colour places to go

Often it seems easy to follow the crowds… I mean there’s a line-up outside “Anne Frank’s” house – so it must be good right?   Travelling is often a whole lot more than seeing the sights and following the crowds (which btw the Anne Frank house is wonderful and so is the Vatican and there are huge crowds for both!).

What we have learned from this extended travel is that we prefer to be “bubble off plumb” and have bought into the “slow movement” ideology for travel & food.

STAFF PHOTO BY CHRIS GRANGER Tuesday November 8, 2005 A slight tilt to the levee wall on the New Orleans side of the 17th Street Canal at the Jefferson Parish line.

Our idea of ‘bubble off plumb’ means not to be right in the centre of everything.  We are happily staying in our friend’s flat in the heart of Amsterdam – 3 blocks from Dam Square, 3 blocks from the Red Light District, right on a canal, restaurants, coffee shops and anything and everything you could ever need to consume.   It’s great for 3 day weekend but does not fit with what we have learned – being slightly off centre – outside of the plumb line – means we get to interact with locals, walk leisurely around a neighbourhood and not be in the thrust of human energy and crowds.

Slow Movement is a cultural shift to slowing down life’s pace.  We have experienced a two hour dinner, sipping wine, talking to the chef, waiter, locals as we wait for our meal to be prepared and cooked.  Shifting down several gears to walk slowly, not the harried pace of moving through crowds in the street, or trying to get to the front of a line.  Of course, choosing green space or water space for us, achieves the ‘slow down’.  First physically and then we find we shift mentally into the slower pace.

Locals, locals, locals – I cannot say enough about talking with them by putting yourself out there. Sharing our plans with them has given us better places to see, eat and stay.  You do not see the locals hanging out at the “crowded-tourist-must see sights”.

Here are some of those bits of places for us….

<a day early for the Olympic rowing practise>

IMG_1314

 

<Sunny day, Amsteelveen, locks and some great boats>

IMG_1295

 

<some slow food in Bollington, England>

IMG_2695 IMG_2696 IMG_2697 IMG_2698

 

 

<up close and personal with my hair sniffing friend>IMG_1210

 

Speaking of up close and personal – this was just simply funny:

IMG_0657

 

<short bread and side of the road, middle of no-where, stop>

IMG_2796

 

IMG_2575<heron taking flight>

 

<talked with a volunteer whilst visiting Treasurers House in York, we get a behind the scenes tour of the attic space – had to wear these helmuts!>

IMG_2765

 

IMG_1330 <green day on the farm>

Rushing means we would be missing the moments that are ‘right there’.   I might not take on the philosophy “Sit down, dinner will be ready in a month” but you maybe seeing a few more “2 hours for your dinner at Chez Grant” moments. Sounds great doesn’t it?!!?

<P.S. – there’s always wine while you wait!>

IMG_0592IMG_0590

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

28 Years of “Being Grant”

11223546_10153590887835452_6397549083375887116_o

When I woke up this morning I thought back to waking up 28 years ago, apart from the locale of Ladner to Leeds, I woke up then as a DeClercq and this morning, it was as a Grant.

28 years of “being Grant” has been quite a journey thus far. I am grateful for the gentleness of the young-24 year old man I married on August 8th. I appreciated then as I do now, his kind thoughtfulness, his unconditional love, his humour, his ability to always put one foot in front of the other and get on with things regardless of the challenge.   He remains just as his namesake demands, ‘stand fast’ with all that he does and those he loves. I simply fell in love and know that 28 years later, we love each more and are far more grounded.

Who would have 2nd guessed our jump into marriage, purchase of a house and being mortgage poor at 21 and 24? That our first trip for a month to Europe within our first year of marriage would lead to one of our biggest arguments standing in the streets of Munich. Or that I recall how many years we are married, by adding 5 to Tony’s age? We created two children: Tony who connected us and Lara who made us a family.

I have garnered so much being a Grant. I have a HUGE family adding to my ‘sisterhood’ that I share with Jana, with the addition of Dave’s 5 sisters. I learned what it is like to cook for over 15 people as a typical ‘family’ dinner.   I have lived up to the marriage vow “thou must know how to make gravy”! (No one said anything about making coffee, for which I am notoriously bad at!)

We have travelled the world together. We have family and friends that share our love of good food and wine. We shared the loss of Dave’s Father, brother, brother-in-law.   We watched our nieces and nephews get married and have children. We danced together, laughed together, got frustrated and angry together. Taught our children to “like” and “love”.   We rode the wave of ‘marriage’ which gives you all kinds of ‘moments’ of ups and downs, we chose to do that ‘together’.

Today we have travelled from Leeds, through to the National Peak District. Driving through villages with names Chapel-en-le-Firth, Stocksbridge, and Hope (and not the one we are familiar with in BC). We were walking once again through cow pastures to climb the high peak of Mam Tor and sat and watched hang gliders come off the ridge on a sunny summer day.

AND tonight we will put our heads down on a pillow sharing a bed on a farm in Macclesfield, after having a lovely dinner out that neither one of us cooked to celebrate all we have shared in 28 years.  We will be doing all of this together.

Whilst I do not have any clue where we will be in one year, two years or five years from now on August 8th, I do know that “being Grant” will be who I am, along with celebrating another year of marriage “being Grant” with Dave!

IMG_0002IMG_000410986502_10153327670222813_2357829695637393807_nIMG_1056