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

WATER….. WATER….WATER….WATER… WATER

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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

 

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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>

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

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<some slow food in Bollington, England>

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

 

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

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

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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!>

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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!>

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Give a Girl the Right Shoes and She Can Conquer the World

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Lara, Larry, Laroushka….

Growing up is by no means a bad thing. It allows us to make a difference in the world, to find out who we are, and to live the life we imagined as a child.  

Perhaps you dreamed of growing up when we you were laying your head on the pillow and looked up with wonder at the glow-in-the-dark stars stuck to the ceiling.  Did you wonder about the world beyond the one we so meticulously created for you?

As parents we watched you create the scars from running, falling and getting back up again – scars of honour of your persistence.  As our little artist you wanted to pursue what you wanted with out direction or the confines of what the teacher thought you should create – your confidence in your choice.

Now you are looking for Universities… planning your next steps in the world of a young adult…

Just remember that there is “no one perfect pair of shoes”!  A girl can never have enough shoes to choose from as she marches to the beat of her own drum.  <insert love here>

Two girls, one tying up shoelace

Shop assistant putting shoes on clients foot.

40 days and 40 nights

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We are now a full 40 days into our trip. This was an exercise in extended travel for our family of 3 Grants. How have we done?

– We watch a whole lot of NO TV. That has been great.  It did help that we were in Poland for the first 21 days.  Having said that, we watched a rather interesting reality show about Polish farmers searching for a wife.

– We still have had access to Internet in the mornings and evenings but do not ‘live’ with technology always available as we do when at home.  So we have been more active outside and had we not been in England for the last 19 days, we would have a great tans!

– We have learned to bathe in coin operated showers; correctional facility-type showers; showers with no flow when a toilet gets flushed; showers that spray water all over the floor; showers that are smaller than a phone booth and….. in TUBS – oh glorious tubs of hot water that make you stop and actually SOAK!

– Walking, which by now you have read about how much we have walked.  What happens to your body and mind when you walk is you actually connect with nature and are forced to simply slow down.

– Shoes.  Apart from travelling with 2 pairs each (and flip flops), we are programmed now to check the bottoms of our shoes because we have stepped in sheep shit, cow shit and horse shit.  Gives a new meaning to ‘shit happens’.

–  All that walking has lead to PUBS!!!  How do you walk through England and not find a pub? The beauty is the beer and cider are cold and even some amazing bottles of wine.  The food tasted better as we often sat outside.  We had locals talking to us and we were often educating them on the size of Canada.  I have to go back to one of my first blogs and when we are asked ‘where in America we are from’ and our Canada answer is given.  Everyone does view Canada differently than USA – so wear that Canadian flag proudly!!

– Packing, unpacking and re-packing.  Ode to the invention of Ziplock packing bags.  In our choice to travel with one suitcase for a full 60 days, the only way this has been possible has been to suck every last bit of square inch and millimetre out of the bag of clothes by stuffing them into these miracle bags, sucking any air around them and reducing them to the size of a piece of  toast.

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– Time management is a good thing when planes, trains and automobiles are involved.  I have really wanted to sleep in a few times in some of the glorious beds that we have slept in.  Time to go means the iPhone clock is set early and off we go.

– We appreciate the ‘don’t stress the little things’.  There has been many instances where we watched others around us totally bugged out over something that was beyond their control.

– Pillows, pillows, pillows… everyone who knows me will see the green pillow – travelling with me and on a bed:

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(this bed was wonderful and did not need my travel pillow)

 

 

Not every place understands the importance of how a person appreciates a PILLOW!

 

It’s been a fun and crazy trip thus far… 20 more days and nights to go and 3 Grants become 5 Grants again!!!

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28 Years of “Being Grant”

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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!

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Old City with New Friends

York, England… Old, Old, Old.  History abounds here.

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First off we are renting this amazing house through Claire with Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/6643331

Before we arrived, I was planning ‘cooking’ time and buying groceries, something that I have missed doing. We are staying just outside of the old city walls of York.  What an incredibly beautiful city.  As we walk into the city centre we walk by this every day:

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Clifford Tower

Our trip to “old” York begins the ‘new’ as we are here to start the exploration of the possible universities that Lara has chosen to visit for her journey after high school.   York St. John is a historical school that was established in 1841.  We also met with our new friends that we met on the Christmas/New Year cruise we were recently on.  They drove from their home in Scotland and shared this rental house with us for a couple of days.  We were given “Scotland” basket of treats and enjoyed several of them including Haggis and Bread pudding (best bread pudding with fish I have ever sampled – THANK YOU!!) As for the Haggis it wasn’t as unfriendly as I thought it would taste and we did enjoy it as part of our dinner one night.  Now the Whiskey was lovely as were the homemade treats Elaine made for us.

Together, we visited and climbed York Minister the lovely old cathedral.  David and Elaine shared their story of the last time they climbed to the top of the cathedral – she was pregnant with their son, Adam.  Now Adam joined the the journey:

 

We shared history of ourselves and family and friends.  We got to know our Scottish friends and we hope that they enjoyed getting to know their Canadian friends in the beautiful old city of York.