Cheese, wine, Switzerland

It’s good to be back in Switzerland, even if it was just for 3 days.

The idea was for us to come back here, rearrange our stuff, celebrate the 1st of August (Swiss national holiday) and spend some time with friends and family. Exactly what we accomplished.

We arrived by train at the train station where Guy, my father-in-law picked us up. I’ll spare you the broken record: it was hot, morning, day and night.

We dropped our bags, had a wonderful dinner with Luc’s parents, and then Luc, Vivi and Guy headed to the fireworks and I retired to my bed – I thought I was fighting a cold.

The next day was the 1st. We hunted for a box we left in the attic 6 years ago when we lived there for 6 months. After some brou ha ha, Guy found it tucked in a far reaching corner of the attic. It held so many treasures that I had forgotten about: towels, tampons, Christmas cookie cutters, Christmas wrapping, a pair of shoes, a curling iron, books, slippers… it was like a time capsule we got to reopen.

A neighbour to Guy and Camille invited us over to their pool for a swim. This neighbour has a daughter about Vivi’s age who we hope will become great friends with her. Unfortunately she was on holidays still but the pool was incredible to cool off.

Later that night we headed to Jouxtens for sausages, wine, bread, lentils, wine, and lots of friends and connecting – it was the 1st of August and the Swiss national holiday. Vivi made a friend on the play ground. It rained like crazy and thunder and lightening. So cool.

After that, we headed down to the field where there was a MASSIVE bonfire and fireworks. I’ve never been one to really dig fireworks and I find it interesting that it seems like the Swiss (and now I’ve witnessed the French – more on that later) really do enjoy watching the night time spectacle. They light up the sky for what seems like a half an hour. All I can think is “wow this must be so expensive”.

The next day was the 2nd. Time to look at everything we brought: store winter stuff, pack for the Cote D’azure for 3 weeks and the Camino for 40 days. Try not to forget anything. We downsized to a backpack each and one big backpack. Not too bad. Much fighting and arguing ensued for Luc and me.

After that, we headed to a friend’s house for a wonderful lunch. Let me paint the picture: first the lunch was about 4 hours (and I left early to catch up with a friend, my mom, and my daughter). We had some aperitifs under the tree in their backyard: baby tomatoes, crackers, wine. So lovely. Then we moved to the table in their yard where we had a pasta salad and tomatoes with mozzarella and basil as a starter. Then sausages  and green beans – more wine. So delicious and so spoiled. It was beautiful. We moved back to the table under the tree to have bread and 2 different kinds of cheese. I think more wine. Then we had a Turkish drink called Raki that tastes like Ouzo. Then a little tiny delicious coffee. I was a little drunk by the end of that meal to be sure.

It was such a wonderful time catching up with our friends and getting to connect with Luc’s longtime friend’s wife who speaks English. She’s a new friend of mine but I’m so happy to meet her and her two wonderful children.

Since Luc and I have been fighting like cats and dogs, I suggested that we take the opportunity, while we have babysitters, to go out that night on a date and try to reconnect. I wanted to go to Vevey where we lived for 6 months, 6 years ago.

We grabbed his parents car and headed out around 8:30pm taking the lakeside route from Jouxtens to Vevey. Just like how I remembered it.

We got to Vevey as the sun was setting over the lake. I immediately felt like I was home. There is something so special about Vevey for me. I had only been there for about 10 mins when I told Luc I could absolutely move back here in a heart beat.

We ate at our old stomping ground, Pizza Taxi over looking the lake. It was pristine. I couldn’t have asked to be in a better place at that time. It filled up my heart and spirit to soak it all in.

We slowly walked back to the car, I remembered the times we spent here, the different seasons, the snow, the Uno competition, the walks beside the lake pushing Violette in the pousette, visiting the town when it was Christmas, watching the leaves change as I walked Jaedyn to school…it was heaven.

The next morning we woke up and headed to the airport to take off for Antibes. It was weird thinking I wouldn’t be back in Switzerland until October. I’ll come back and the leaves will have started to change, it will be cooler (hopefully), Vivi will have been in school for over a month and things will be different again.

 

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C’est Paris!

Day 1:

We arrive in Paris with so much luggage. Two massive backpacks, one massive suitcase, three carry on bags, my purse and a car seat. Let’s back up… We exit the airplane and it’s HOT. Like I’ve never felt. We’re tired. We’ve just been on an airplane that left at midnight New York time and arrived at 1pm Paris time. Are you confused? So was I. All I knew was that I slept about 2 hours on and off in a sitting position.

We get through the customs line, out to the suitcase area. Voila! There is all our luggage. Phewf. We move into the next area and there’s wifi. Yahoo! Ooops! Guess what? We forgot the car seat again. So Luc takes off back into the area that says “Do not pass. You will be arrested.” or something like that.

He comes back, unharmed and we summon an Uber. Into the Uber we go. It’s 40 degrees. No shit, no kidding. We have no water and the Uber driver explains that it’s so hot his AC isn’t working. Are you shitting me? All the windows open and Vivi is melting in the back seat. She’s complaining she’s thirsty and I start to worry about her when she starts to fall asleep as she slept most of the flight so she shouldn’t be tired.

So I tell Luc we need to get water. The driver says ok, and about 10 mins later he finally finds a place. Luc runs in and grabs two bottles of water. Incredibly, they don’t have cold water. I wake up Vivi to drink and she hates drinking this hot water. Me too.

We get to the apartment and haul all the luggage upstairs in the itty bitty elevator (3 trips I think). It’s small but so quaint. No AC again. I didn’t have an expectation that there was so I’m less disappointed than I was for the car ride.

We instantly shower. The shower is really UNIQUE – up some tiny stairs into a little alcove… Pretty cool. Arno shows up and tells us all about the apartment, and the area. It starts to rain. A lot. Then it stops. Starts again a lot… Stops… you get the idea.

It’s dinner time now (time goes by so quickly it’s crazy – I guess that’s what a 6 hour time change will do to you) so we go out and look to find a place to eat. We passed by this really cool area with a very fine mist coming out of the ground everywhere. It was really nice as the heat hadn’t let up.

Then we found a great place to eat right beside the road (there are so many places like this with tables and chairs beside the road to take in the ambiance). The rain started to pour again. We had an amazing dinner with steak tartar with frites, and a massive salad with bacon and goat cheese and rose wine. The best meal we had the entire trip IMHO.

The rain came down, then hail then thunder and lightning. It was pretty insane. It let up enough for us to walk home.

Day 2:

We got a very early start on the day, 7am (probably due to the heat and time difference) and the streets were empty. It was cool outside. I was really refreshed and super happy to be able to walk the beautiful streets of Paris in the peace. It was so serene.

We first took in the Pompidou Centre which is an art museum. Some people think it’s ridiculous and others think it’s a modern art miracle. I was surprised about the empty bottles that were strewn everywhere in the streets of Paris. People are allowed to drink alcohol in the streets all the time. And the consequences of that are that they leave their bottles everywhere for other people to clean up. I was a little amazed.

We walked on and got to the Hotel de Ville (Town hall). A beautiful building.

Then across the Seine River, everywhere I looked it was stunning and hardly any people.

And over to the Notre Dame. Things were starting to pick up a little by this point with people. We arrived in front of the Notre Dame and there were a few tours. We went inside just ahead of about 100 people entering. What timing. It was immense. I’ve been here before but it really takes your breath away how immense it is and how it didn’t start out like that.

Vivi wanted to light a candle to remember all the past great grandparents.

We left there and headed over to get some breakfast. Two espressos, two orange juices, one croissant and 2 pain au chocolat. Delicious!

We then walked to Luxembourg Palace and Gardens. This place is absolutely stunning. I would spend a whole day here just meandering, exploring, people watching if I could. We were trying to get to the Catacombs. After what seemed like forever (Luc: “it’s just past this… it’s just past that…”) we made it only to find the longest line I’ve seen. Luc asked how long and the guy said about 3 hours to wait to get in. Forget about it. We were disappointed because neither of us had seen it before but we weren’t willing to wait 3 hours either. Another time. Something to come back to see.

We bought some goat cheese and took the metro to the Louvre. It was hot at this point, close to noon and the people were everywhere. I was beginning to struggle. We saw the outside of the Louvre and the pyramid. I’ve seen this before and it doesn’t disappoint. Vivi really needed to use the bathroom (I can’t tell you how much looking for a toilet takes of our time.)

We weren’t far from our place so we headed home to have an afternoon shower and siesta.

I coached that night so Luc and Vivi took off.

Then we had another dinner in the street just a couple of mins away walking from our apartment. It was a big day of walking. Versailles tomorrow.

Day 3:

Versailles!

We started our day a bit late as we had a 12pm ticket time at Versailles.

There was so much security everywhere as this was the last day of the Tour de France. On the way to Versailles we stopped at La Defence. This is the big archway seen in the photos below. Pretty cool to see. It’s huge.

Then onto Versailles. After the train left us off at the station we walked about 15mins (grabbing some lunch at the market) and hit the line up. Thankfully we had a ticket so our line up was still 10mins but not the mammoth queue if you didn’t have a ticket.

Into the castle and WOW! Incroyable.

Vivi kept saying how much she wanted to have a castle like that and that if it was her, she would share with everyone. Everywhere you turned was magnificent. It’s all you can really say about this place.

We had a walking recorded tour. It was so hot (I sound like a broken record) and there were so many people. We made the rookie mistake of going on a weekend BUT it’s not open on Monday and that was our last day in Paris so we had to go on the weekend.

After the inside we moved to the outside. I can’t begin to tell you how immense the garden (if that’s what you call it) is. Massive fountains with rows and rows of hedges and sitting areas. What they did with and in these gardens is anyone’s guess. Luc guessed a lot of fornication…

I realized after the visit that I wanted to learn a lot more about Versailles so here are a few links if you’re interested in Louis the XIV’s reign and more on Versailles:

We returned home and I coached again that night. I’m loving that I can create my business to work with me while I’m travelling. This is really my dream come true.

Day 4

Last day in Paris. Today was another day of walking in the heat. But I’m not complaining.

We got to visit the Eiffel Tower and the Sacre Coeur.

We took the metro to the Eiffel Tower and Violette really wanted to walk up to the second landing so we marched up the 700 stairs to fulfill on that goal for her. Luc and I have been to the Eiffel Tower about 3 times each. It’s still breath taking when you get up there and see the views over Paris. It’s hard to believe that it was built for the 1889 World’s Fair and was only supposed to be a temporary structure. Something that’s different than before is that you need to go through a bag check and security screening both before you walk onto the grounds and again have your bag searched before going up.

After that we walked over to a beautiful view point (I still haven’t been on the grass opposite the Eiffel Tour) and took some photos.

We were late (how could that be, we’re on holidays!) to meet a friend of a friend of Luc’s, Arno at the Sacre Coeur. So, off on the metro again and over to the Sacre Coeur.

This place holds a special place in my heart: it’s where Luc proposed to me about 11 years ago. If you want to hear the funny story, reach out to me and I’ll let you know how it went down.

We met Arno who brought the most delicious picnic for us. Red wine, cheese, bread, veggies, figs and tea. Arno is moving to Salt Spring for a year and is looking for a place to live on SSI starting in September. He’s going to be working at the Wolf School over there. If you know of a place he can live over there, don’t hesitate to let me know.

After lunch, he showed us around to some of the less touristy spots that locals go and we so appreciated him telling us about all that he knew. The photo of the tall brown houses below are some of the oldest in Paris. One other thing to note: the one on the right recently had some tenants leave. This was an establishment for swinging couples. They could visit this place. He assured us he only knew this because of common knowledge (not from experience).

We were spent after a full day of walking and stairs… so we cooled down with a shower and a siesta.

Day 5

We leave Paris. Another tremendously hot day. We pack up and leave our tiny abode via Uber to the train station. I’m feeling a bit sick (totally thought a cold was coming on) so I’m happy to just rest and get to Switzerland.

Things to note:

  • I’m feel like I’m understanding French better than I expected.
  • I’m feeling familiar now with France and Paris (not like it’s a completely different world). This is interesting because I’ve been here a few times now. Luc and I agree that it will be a while before we go back.
  • We’ve had more good experiences than bad with Uber. We will choose this again.
  • The heat is really getting to me. Unless I’m having a cold shower, there isn’t any relief. Not even at night. I yearn to feel cold.
  • Luc and I are fighting and disagreeing about stupid shit. More than usual.
  • I want to slow down. Like pronto. This pace of travel is way too fast for me, my body and my being. It’s nice to see so much but I’d like to just “BE” in a place to be a part of it.
  • Paris is so incredibly beautiful. You have to come here to see it’s beauty. Looking at in on TV just doesn’t do it justice.
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New York City!

Certainly a whirlwind. No time to actually write every day. I probably couldn’t do that even if I wanted to.

Impressions after a week: busy as hell, soooo many people, hot and humid, love, heart, power, beautiful, the ARCHITECTURE and the art are out of this world, Central Park was gorgeous, Twin Towers memorial: the energy. The city breathes with electricity.

Ok, now to the nitty gritty…

Day 2:

Time Square: intense, insane, lights, people. You gotta visit it but only once is really all you need.

After that Luc wanted to take us to the financial district so we went on a mini walking tour with Luc as the guide.

We stopped in at the Twin Towers Memorial where we explained to Vivi what happened on September 11, 2001. I got to recount where I was when I first saw on TV the first plane crashing into the first tower. The whole place had this energy… it’s really hard to explain it. It was a peacefulness and heaviness and it would have been easy for me to cry if I let myself. “Moving” doesn’t do it justice. Vivi was interesting to watch as she took in all the information. You could see that she was sad, introspective, wondering…

Then off to the financial district where we saw the New York Stock Exchange, the bull and Fearless Girl. Fearless Girl is an interesting story and how much disruption she has caused. I kinda love it.

Then to the Staten Island Ferry where we were off to a concert. We saw Lady Liberty from the boat. Onto a bus that a lady was very upset that we were making her late by putting in the bus tickets the wrong way. Oops! We get off at the stop that Luc has found and we walk through probably the worst part of Staten Island. Hypodermic needle on the ground, the loudest music in someone’s yard… I was suddenly wondering if we wandered into the wrong area of town. Nope, one more side street and we come out to the concert area.

We park ourselves on the lawn (hardly anyone there at this point). A little while later someone comes by to talk about voting for someone on Staten Island – a democrat. We explained that we aren’t from there but then engage with him to find out a little more about the political state of Staten Island. From what I gathered, Staten Island is probably the poorest of the boroughs. They are a republican area, but so close to converting to democrat. He said that it’s hard to know how close because people are afraid to put signs on their lawns and show who they will vote for because of the volatility and hostility. He also said that people were so sure that Trump wouldn’t get in (like a joke almost) that people didn’t go out and vote. It was interesting talking to him getting a first hand look at someone who is trying to make a difference and the struggle since people are holding their cards close due to fear.

More people showed up, the music started and it was awesome. We all got up and danced. What I was present to was the diversity with the people and ethnicities around me. I was also present to how un-diverse Victoria is with its British upbringing… The second act, Las Cafeteras, came on and they were so f’n incredible. They spoke of pushing back, police brutality, challenging the status quo… they definitely had some very strong positions and feelings. They are trying to make a difference with their music. So much respect for them. Their music was soulful energy. Goosebumps. The rain started to fall, we had to head home but I really felt moved by the music and the message that they were delivering. People are trying to make a difference in this world, let’s stand with them and create love, diversity and energy that the world is craving.

Day 3:

Walking across Brooklyn bridge. Wow. What a crazy experience. If you don’t like mass mobs of people that clearly can’t walk on the right, they stand in the middle, cyclists yelling at you, and not a stitch of shade, don’t go here. But of course do it once in your life as the view and experience is pretty cool.

After the bridge we split with Jaedyn and we headed down to the piers at Brooklyn Bridge Park. The piers used to be decrepit but they recently fixed them up and now each pier has a different theme. One that we saw was strictly basketball, ping pong, rollerblading, etc… The next one was a garden that you could walk through. The next one was a scocer pitch (more like 6+ soccer pitches), the last one was volley ball. The walkway to see the piers was beautiful. It was stinking hot. Vivi was hungry and Luc and I clearly weren’t agreeing. Patience… Always practicing patience.

We ate, doused our heads in the water park and took off we through the streets of Brooklyn. I liked Brooklyn and could see how you could spend a lot more time in this area of New York.

We met back up with Jaedyn in Times Square and bought tickets to see the Book of Mormon for the two of us.

We had time to kill so we headed to Strawberry Fields in Central Park and took in the Imagine mosaic.  Where we listened to some dudes singing John Lennon songs on their guitars. Looooooved it.

Luc and I wanted to get a drink and the girls wanted to get some food so Jaedyn scouted out a place called “The Ribbon” where we drank wine/beer, ate ice cream and everyone tried a $1 oyster. Mixed reviews from the girls. I thought it was delicious!!

Jaedyn and I headed off to the show and Luc and Vivi went their own way.

The show was phenomenal. Sooo funny. Singing and dancing on Broadway – it can’t get any better than that. I would highly recommend watching it. I learned a lot about the Book of Mormon! And it was totally inappropriate – so of course it was perfect for me.

Day 4:

Jaedyn wanted to head to MOMA and we wanted to head to the Museum of Natural History so we split for a good portion of the day.

The MONH was pretty cool. There’s A LOT to see. We also went to an extra exhibit called “Senses” that I would recommend. Only thing that was kinda crappy was you couldn’t bring your own food into the museum (I know, expectations again. Ugh…). We had about 4 hours in there before we were kinda museumed out. Too bad cuz there was sooo much to see. And it really reminded me of the Night at the Museum movie. I would have loved to spend more time in the dinosaurs exhibit.

After that we meandered through Central Park. This was really cool. I wish so much that we had rented bicycles and seen more of the park. It just turned out that the weather wasn’t that great when we were there so we were always expecting rain. You’ll see from the photos below where we visited. I REALLY enjoyed the park.

We went home that night and I coached for the first time while away. This is living my dream. I created a coaching business to have while we travelled around the world. This night was the first night that I got to experience exactly what I had set out to do. I’m thrilled that I did it and accomplished what I set out to do. One more example of setting a lofty goal (one year of coaches training and a trip around the world) and achieving that goal. This was not insignificant and I’m pretty proud of myself.

Day 5:

Hop on Hop off tour. We got a killer deal ($100 for the 4 of us) that I’m sure no one could negotiate again unless you had some set backs the day before. My suggestion is to talk to one of the people on the street who try to sell you the tours and get their number if you don’t want to go that day. The day before you want to go, contact them and let them know when you want to go and for how long. Ask for the rate. And then stick with that guy. They work on commission so show some love and humanity for this guy and stay with him. We had some small set backs trying to arrange meeting him and so he discounted our tickets from $150 to $100 for the 4 of us. When we finally went to meet him we were there early at the spot. There was another guy there trying to sell us tickets as well that would not take “no” for an answer. Finally our guy showed up and several other “sellers” came up to us and said that we were “good people”. I think this is because we stuck with our first guy and didn’t let the guy in front of us talk us into getting cheaper tickets (which he couldn’t because we had such a sweet deal).

Top View was our choice of Hop on hop off. It was a great little tour but waaaaay too long at some of the stops especially since we were sitting on the top of the bus sometimes in the blazing sun. What a great way to see all the neighbourhoods of New York in a day. We got off at the Guggenheim (to pee), the Empire State building (to see it and some lunch) and at the Highline.

I actually called in to a work meeting during the tour. There was some big organizational changes that were happening that day. Pretty interesting to see how things are changing and I’m not there. Feeling a bit disconnected now, but still the pull back to what I left is strong.

The High Line was really pretty. We didn’t walk the whole thing but how beautiful it was. If you haven’t seen this place, it’s definitely worth a stroll through. Pretty unique that they have transformed an old railway line into this green above ground walk way.

Luc left us there. He went to meet a buddy he hasn’t seen in years and me and the girls made it back home for me to coach again and be coached. When I was coaching, I was outside at this little park where I had already seen a marmot a few days before. While I was sitting there reinventing myself and all my projects, I suddenly saw a glimmer. And then another. Huh? What’s going on here? Suddenly I realize it’s fireflies. Sooooo cool. A few minutes later, what the heck is that scurrying on the ground? A FREAKING SKUNK. I shit you not. It scampers under a car where many people and dogs  walk right by it and have no idea it’s there. I suddenly start to think about the story of Curious George I’ve read to my girls so many times. A few minutes later it scampers back toward me. I’m in awe at the wildlife I’ve seen in this one park not that far from my place. The things that go on here.

That night I catch up with a few friends by way of phone. Fills up my happiness banks to be able to connect with people back home and hear what’s going on for them. I think the best thing is actually hearing their voices and their laughs. That makes me smile more than anything else.

Day 6:

A late late start as we had some paperwork and bills to pay. The insurance claim for the delayed luggage won’t get filed by itself.

We headed down to Grand Central Station and check out the enormity that it is. Then off to the New York Public Library. This building is immense.

We then headed back over to Brooklyn to visit with another friend of Luc’s, Celine. She used to live next door to him in Switzerland and has been here for the last 18mos. She shows us more of Brooklyn and we had some great talks about gentrification and politics. So interesting to hear about how gentrification benefits and hinders. Thank you Celine for being an amazing tour guide. I can’t wait to meet back up with you again at Christmas time!

After an amazing Indian meal, we said good bye to Celine and head home. Catching the last night time skyline in the park with the marmot, skunk and fire flies. Vivi rescues a fire fly in a spider’s web and it’s her first interaction with the glowing bug. The next day they saw the marmot and fed him cherries. The skunk was only for me.

Day 7:

We’re packed and ready to go with so much luggage. We leave the luggage at the Airbnb and head to the park for the day. Then onto our first Uber experience (Jaedyn is a pro so schools us at how it’s done). I’m sitting in the Newark airport right now writing this.

It was a teary goodbye to Jaedyn after we put her on a plane back to Victoria (we’ll see you at Christmas sweets!). We had such a good time with her. I enjoyed all the laughs and connection with my girl. It wasn’t all easy for all of us all the time (small place to live in for a week) but what a great memory we made in this last week together as a family. It’s not often anymore we’re together that much.

Jaedyn and Vivi saying goodbye.

Luc, being the best person to find you the best deal, got us some credit cards a while ago that had access to some lounge areas in airports. And wouldn’t you know, a lounge in this airport. So we’re sitting here in the corner, charging our devices, eating free food, there’s an open bar and I really couldn’t ask for more. I might feel like a celebrity right now. LOL!

I loved New York. I coached my first clients on the road here. We got to spend a whole week as a family. I’m so grateful for this incredible life and opportunity I’ve been given. I’m connecting with my friends back home and it’s absolutely awesome.

I’m a tiny bit concerned about the time change that’s about to happen (+9 hours) but I’ll trust that it will all work out as it will. You’ve got my back universe.

Onto Europe. See you soon Paris.

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The actual first blog post…

It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.

I wanted to post this first but since the fiasco happened, I thought I’d start with that as it was fresh in my mind. Let me start by saying, this blog is unique in that while I’ll tell you what we’re up to on our trip, I’m also going to share vulnerably what is going on for me. Meaning you’ll hear happiness, struggle, love, adventure, heart, fun, pain, fear, and possibly failures. I’m going to express what I’m feeling when I’m feeling it. I hope I don’t scare you away J

This blog post was written when I was waiting for our first flight out of Victoria.

——————

We’re sitting in the airport in Victoria. Finally it hits me, this is it. Years of thinking about this. Months and months of planning this. Planning is an understatement. This is one of the biggest projects I’ve ever undertaken besides having children.

Weeks of tying up all the loose ends. I should have blogged about what has gone into this trip. I will. But today, I’m so present to the fact that this is it. My dream, our dream, to travel the world for a year. All I can say is this is surreal.

These last couple of weeks have been incredibly emotional. It’s funny to think that for so many months/years I’ve looked forward to this trip. Excitement, joy, gratitude. Interestingly, I never would have anticipated that the last two weeks were the most challenging. Not because of the last minute stuff that had to get done (admittedly that was challenging) but because of all of the emotions I didn’t think I would feel.

I thought that “excitement” would carry me through to here and now. But it didn’t. It actually didn’t show up until I packed my bag 2 days ago and even then it was fleeting. What showed up was feeling sad, alone, heart break, missing out, and lack of connection. People said, “You must be so excited!” and “You’ll forget all about us when you’re out there travelling.” This has got to be one of the hardest things I’ve done in my entire life. Not just because of all of the organizing… it’s also the leaving. Saying good bye over and over and over again for me was torture.

I’ve worked so hard to get here, to this moment of leaving my current life and reality behind, to experience so many new things and now fear is showing up. It’s totally normal, I know. I’ll get over it, but for now that’s what I’m present to. Fear of the unknown, loss of control, loss of connection, what’s waiting for us out there…

It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting. I’m moving through all the emotions instead of pushing them down. Admittedly, I might be feeling guilt and shame for not feeling “excited” as so many imagine I would be. I have “pushed down” the emotions for years… and I’m choosing now to move through the emotions as this now feels more me. I don’t have to pretend I’m not sad. And I didn’t. I am. So why hide it. Instead I embrace the feels.

And now I sit here, waiting to embark on the trip of a life time. My dreams are becoming reality.

I’m choosing excitement starting now!

 

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Leaving and the epic journey

When I was 18 I returned from Amsterdam only to be greeted with all my luggage searched and a strip search (thankfully no cavity search). Ever since then, transitioning through airports has taken on a new heightened anxiety-riddled dance. Try as I may, I know my heart rate is elevated and I always seem to be breathing as if the room is depleted with oxygen. Of course, I try not to let anyone know how I’m feeling so I’m also trying to stuff it all down. Keep this in mind as you read this blog post…

We arrived at Victoria airport, and find out our plane is 35 mins delayed leaving. Alaska Airlines says, no worries for the connection. You’ll just have to go through customs but you’re golden. Then the call over the PA system for me. Up to the front we go and we find out that in actual fact we might not make it. We will be rerouted through Dallas and then on to Philly with an arrival time of 12:50am. AFTER MIDNIGHT.

At Victoria Airport

This essentially means that we will miss picking up the rental car to drive to New York and we will have to find a hotel. Since this is the air traffic controls issues in Seattle, the airline isn’t responsible so we’re on the hook to pay it all.

Welcome aboard, your journey starts now.

Luc and I start to talk about options about what we could do if the latter issue happens… but there isn’t really much we can do until we find out how it’s going to go down.

We arrive in Seattle. Touch down: we have 50 mins before our next plane backs out of the gate.

We’re ferried onto a bus. Then through a maze of walkways, into customs. There Luc goes one way (he’s not Canadian so he has to go somewhere else) and this causes me a ton of anxiety. Jaedyn, me and Vivi head to the check-in terminals. I’m literally shaking wondering what is about to happen.

We get our paperwork, and off to the first person we see. We have big X’s on our slips so we have to head down the yellow line… why? Cuz we’re a family. Phewf ok. Then to the customs person named Howard (how do I even know this?). I can barely breath and he asks “Final destination?” New York. Well Philly first. “Reason for travel?” I sputter “to visit” Vivi fills in “It’s a holiday” yes yes it’s a holiday that’s what I wanted to say. Stamp stamp stamp. Carry on.

I’m frantically looking for Luc; he is already down at the carousel collecting our bags. Together again – thank god. We grab all our bags (forgetting the booster seat – damn) and head off to the next stop which is another person who asks us more questions (I think). Then to another place to recheck the baggage. I have a ton of judgement about this process of collecting bags and the rechecking them again. Stupid stupid stupid.

“Wait”, I say to the guy there, “what if we don’t have enough time to get to our flight? What happens to our luggage”? He asks “What time does your flight leave?” 11:55. “What time is it now?” 11:25. Plenty of time he says. And off our luggage goes down the conveyor belt. This is now becoming and exercise in trust and “it will all work out”.

On the plane to Philly

We leave there and next stop is the second security check of the day. This time the shoes come off, it’s hot, pandemonium and this guy asks to see our boarding passes. We show him and he says “precheck boarding is upstairs”. What the heck does that mean? So I say, “what does that mean?” He says it again. Luc asks this time “Are we supposed to go upstairs? What does that mean?” he says “If you don’t know what that means, then it doesn’t matter” HUH? “So we stay here?” No answer. Ok, we’re going to stay here.

As we get closer and closer to the screening, the four of us are spread across 12 different trays/backpacks… I’m beginning to wonder what we’re about to forget. Then I’m ushered into the device that encircles you with your hands up. Jaedyn has the same fate. Luc and Vivi get off much easier. Is it the red hair? Why us? No time to think about that, we need to get our shoes on, pack up our 50 items and truck along to Gate D.

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, when we rechecked out baggage that guy told us it was two trains to get to gate D. Jesus. Time is ticking. Onto the first train. Off. Onto the second train. Off. Luc starts running for gate D. I have no idea how far away it is. Me and the girls start jogging. Clearly we’re going in the opposite direction as everyone else #swimmingupstream… then I see a guy driving a people mover…. I start to speed up until I’ve caught up with him and ask him if we can jump on and he can take us to gate D. “Sure!” he says. We get on, catch our breath and I yell out “excuse us!!” as people get in the way of the people mover.

Vivi working on her travel journal

We make it to gate D (American Airlines), thank the nice man and run up to the woman waiting there. It’s 11:44. Luc is there dealing with the fact that he has to get a boarding pass (so many problems if you don’t have a Canadian passport). We hand over our boarding passes. The woman says, “You’re going to need to check your backpack. And her backpack. And his carry on.” Say WHAT?!?

My heart is racing, I’m HOT, adrenalin is coursing through my body, and now I have to figure out what I’m taking out of my backpack to get on the 5 hour plane with. Out comes the laptop, the Euros, the American cash, the pens for Vivi to colour with. Luc grabs the iPads, the journal and activity books for Vivi.

The woman starts yelling at us, “you have to go or they will lock the gate. If you don’t make it there on time, they will cancel the flight.” Ok, now you’ve pushed me too far. I lash out “I’ve been moving for the last 45 mins trying to get to this gate. Do not pressure me into getting to the door of the plane. You can clearly see I’m trying here.”

Onto the plane… I don’t even know what seat I’m sitting in. Vivi and Jaedyn I assume are ahead. When I get close to our seats I see the girls in tears. I’m also close to tears. “What’s going on?” Jaedyn explains that the woman was also yelling at her “go go go! If you don’t hurry they will cancel the entire flight!” Jaedyn was trying to tell her that she didn’t want to be separated from me and Luc and the woman wouldn’t have anything to do with it.

That pushes me over the limit and I start sobbing… I mutter “horrible horrible”. I’m overcome with emotion from all the adrenaline, stress, pushing, lack of control and seeing my girls upset. Not being able to manage the unknown. I’ve literally been running and pushed for the last 45 mins trying to figure out my way through multiple gates.

One of the flight attendants comes by and asks me if I’m ok. “no I’m not” I say. He asks what he can get me. “Water please”. Thank you for showing me some compassion. It means a lot. Luc and Vivi are sitting beside me and hold my hand and fanning me. Vivi says “we made it. Just breath, Mama” and then she takes a deep breath like I do for her when she is upset.

She is wise beyond her years.

We made it.

I wonder if our luggage will be so lucky.

The journey has definitely begun.

After conversing with Luc, he says he didn’t experience the same thing. For him he says it was more like “it is what it is.” I feel like I have heard that one before.

UPDATE:

LUGGAGE DID NOT MAKE IT.

After collecting our bags that were checked at the door (thank god those made it), we waited and watched the spinning conveyor belt spin until there was no one left and it stopped spinning…

We walked to the baggage area where we spent the next 1.5 hours trying to locate and get the bags shipped to New York. We were starving and still needed to get to the car rental and then to New York (2 hours away).

I started to cry. Again. Overwhelmed by the day and knowing what was in front of me still.

We walked outside at 10:30pm East Coast time. We waited for the shuttle to pick us up to go to the car rental for about 30 mins. FOREVER.

We get to the car rental and they have a car for us. And a car seat. Hallelujah. I ask “Anywhere to eat near here?” the guys says “At this time? Doubt it.” It’s 11pm. So we take off for McDonalds. I can barely believe I ate there this morning – I think I was delusional.
I wanted to stay in a motel in Philly so that my night stopped and I could regroup. But Luc and Jaedyn assured me that they were wide awake and they would be capable to drive and co-pilot so off we went.

Stopped in at a store to go pee before our 2 hour drive to New York and one of the stalls had a hypodermic needle on the floor, one stall was flooded and thankfully one stall remained mostly untouched.

2 hours later and much of my heightened anxiety in the back seat, (yes I was your classic back seat driver) we arrive. Find the Airbnb, go inside, brush teeth and off to la la land we go.

What did I learn about today:

  • I probably need to do some completion around what happened to me in the airport when I was 18 years old.
  • Managing the unknown is exhausting.
  • It’s ok to cry and release on an airplane filled with people.
  • It’s ok to say that I’m not ok. I will get help.
  • My kids are more resilient than me. Damnit!
  • I need to practice letting go more.
  • The bigger the breakdown, the bigger the breakthrough
  • That this probably won’t happen again while we’re travelling.
  • That we have $500/person if we have delayed baggage to buy stuff with. World Nomads is our insurance provider.
  • Water and food are important and I definitely didn’t have enough of that yesterday (it was next to impossible TBH).
  • There are quite a few ways to look at what happened yesterday and I get to choose how I look at it:
    • Anxiety
    • Fun
    • Adventure
    • Incredulousness
    • It is what it is

Next time I will practice choosing differently.

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