All the light

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that it’s been a heavy, hard few weeks.

Between it feeling like the world is on fire, led by a Cheeto-hued man and some personal things I’ve been dealing with, it’s been a bit shit. 

​This morning I woke up early to get to the studio after a restless, anxiety filled sleep and my heart hurt. 

I stumbled through getting dressed, choked back tears in the drive thru for coffee and struggled with switching my internal track for the day.

I took a few deep breaths and let go of trying so hard to feel differently than I did in that moment. To just be with what was and not change it. 

As I crested the first hill on the backroad I take into town, the sunrise lit up the sky with the most perfect fire-orange hue. 

Doesn’t do it justice

I couldn’t help but think, how lucky am I to be up this early to catch this beautiful sky? To be able to see every colour and all the light? I wonder who else is sharing this moment with me? I watched in awe at this thing that happens every day whether we can see it or not. 

Boom. There it was. Exactly what I needed at the exact moment I needed it. 

Gratitude. 

It was nice to be reminded that sometimes its when we’re focused on the bigger, heavier, darker stuff it becomes difficult to see all the light. 

It becomes difficult to find reasons to remain grateful. 

But the best part about the dark, is the way you notice the light more when it does shine. It’s always there, even if not from our perspective in that moment. 

~ T.

Advertisements

Remember that time we used to blog?

WOW.

We literally took forever off.

Okay, well not literally. But it sure feels that way. Our last post is dated October 8 2015. Last year. Almost 8 months. That sounds ludicrous as I type it, but it almost seems further away than that somehow.

Tonight, I can’t sleep. Sometimes when I can’t sleep I try meditation, or I read, or attempt to wake up one of three of my pups to tell them I can’t sleep, or I stare into the abyss until I drive myself absolutely mad and can’t stay in bed any more.

So tonight I can’t sleep and this is where the not being able to stay in bed any more part kicks in and I found myself here in front my keyboard wanting to write, but not wanting to work at one o’clock in the morning.

We’ve been talking about our blog, our baby, a little bit here and there in passing, and a lot more lately in focus. We get the odd message too now and then from some of our loving readers (Hi mom!) that say they miss our posts. I figured, what better way to try to write my insomnia away than by writing a post committing us to it again?

We have had the most CRAZY, INSANE, OVER THE TOP break though. SO much has happened in the past seven-ish months.

I know each of the sisters would prefer if I not spoil their pool of blog post ideas as they are probably the most full they’ve been since we started; also I know that each piece of these past months will require and deserve their own posts.

So YES, we’re back!

However, each of our lifestyles have shifted in new ways, presenting new challenges – it is time for a change for us as a Sisterhood with this baby of ours. (Side note and just because I am a proud sister and AUNTIE again – there were literally babies during our break!!! We will for sure see posts from Jacqui and Kim regarding said babies – promise)

We’ve figured out a way that we can try to do it all – we do love our little community of readers and miss writing about our lives, and our thoughts and our ‘things’ that we deal with by sharing. We loved how connected it made us feel to each other too.

sisters

While we’re not quite set on a ‘schedule’ just yet, writing will happen! Keep an eye out for our posts – check out our Facebook page too if you’d like! Hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other.

There – I think I can sleep now.

Hope you all have the best Friday! I will for SURE need the most coffee ever.

~ Toni

 

A little local love

I need to do some gushing.

I know, I know, what else is new?

But no, seriously. Have you heard about Heather Baker of Photography by Heather? If you haven’t, you need to check out her space.

If you have, then you’ve been let in on one of the best small business owners Galt, Ontario has to offer.

Heather is an incredible family, child and event photographer, working in the Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge and greater Toronto area. As a small business owner, she gives back to her community, promotes what she loves – especially other small business owners in the communities she works in – and really is just an all around kick-ass human being.

Between her heart, her gift for the perfect shot and her ability to put her subjects at ease, she’s an ace!

I have had the pleasure of working with Heather on multiple occasions, in many settings and she never ceases to impress me with her growth in her art.

She’s shot me (with a camera and lens of course) and my sisters, and caught one of our favourite moments to date in frame:

399311_10152287946170635_828788048_n

I’ve worked with her in a more intimate setting as a gift for my future husband:

The 'Mike approved' blog shot - photo credit: Close Your Eyes Photography

971831_677748105585016_1714542535_n

She’s captured Julia’s growing family at almost every stage since she opened her business:

535988_516877541672074_1926936340_n

1187304_10153115465280207_1779577325_n

971286_718106124882547_1959730919_n

She was entrusted with Jacqui and Cody’s big day and once again caught some of the most memorable moments:

12038353_10156067481065335_8282722819930591936_n

12072775_10156067492865335_2837798764026147892_n

12119149_10156067485920335_7681775548727341186_n

12109128_10156067480700335_4763803269531726662_n

I’ve known for a while that Heather would be trusted with many memories and milestones to come for my family.

Just a few weeks ago, she stole our hearts with her generosity with our engagement shoot. While we only have a sneak peak so far, I already know we will love every picture in our gallery.

When she offered to pull a mini-road trip to a special spot to get the kind of shoot we wanted, I was thrilled. While there were some cues, and a few tuckings of this hair and untucking of this shirt, it felt as though Michael and I were on a date, surrounded by love the whole time, instead of posing for a picture. I feel she invested in our relationship, in our memories and in her work.

From planning our session, right down to the very last shot, she took her time to make sure what she knew of Michael and I and how Michael and I feel about each other, would resonate through our photos and be very personal to us.

I am so very happy you were the one to mark a special milestone for Michael and I, Heather. I love our sneak peak:

11935096_1190781924281629_5104086243332402966_n

I could tell you more, but I really think you should just have a consult or book with her and find out for yourself. To contact Heather, please email her here. I also highly recommend following her here and making sure to like her here.

~ Toni

An ode to Jacqui

WE’RE BAAAAAAAAAAAACK!

It may not be Tuesday, but Julia and I decided to pull a switch-a-roo so I could have the honour of writing a post to mark this day of our very own Jacqui’s birth.

JQ, my baby duck, happiest of birthdays to you. I hope you have the best day possible today, regardless of responsibility and have to’s required of you today.

I’ve got to say, getting to be your big sister has been pretty kick ass so far, as I am sure it will continue to be. Getting to watch you grow over these past 26 years has been a wild, rewarding ride.

I mean, I got to know you from this point:

Her pants are SO inflated with fart.

Her pants are SO inflated with fart.

And watch you grow into this:

BAM! (she's still 12!)

BAM! (she’s still 12!) [Photo credit: Photography by Heather ]

I can’t believe you’re 26 though. I mean, it really does seem like yesterday that we were much shorter, standing in our country home, getting into whatever shenanigan we could to entertain ourselves…

I love that this picture exists

I love that this picture exists

And now we’re all grown up, trying to navigate all of life’s crazy adventures as they come…I hope it goes without saying, but I’m really grateful I’ve got you by my side through all of them.

I have loved watching you grow into your own person and become even more ‘you’ these past few years. You’ve inspired the hell out of me with your strength in your battle with epilepsy and conquering a shit ton of obstacles to celebrate two years seizure free this week. (Seriously, you KICK ASS)

Last year's one year anniversary tattoo

Last year’s one year anniversary tattoo

I admire your heart, your incredible wit and humor – I seriously still vote ‘stand up comedian’ needs to be added to your resume – and your need for peace making. You’re brave, smart and gorgeous from your heart out.

I hope 26 is incredible for you in every way – with more laughter, love and magic than you can hold. I know you’re already off to the best possible start.

Sisters ♥

Sisters ♥

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, dear Jacqui! We LOVE you!

~ Toni

We’ll be right back

The Sisterhood is taking a mini-break from the blog to enjoy these last few days of summer vacation with our families, soaking up as much sun, fun and laughter as possible.

vacation

 

We hope you’re all having the best summer and are looking forward to catching up with you all the first week of September.

Love,

~ The Weather Vane Sisterhood

When love is no longer served

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as a soul sister of mine is not having the greatest time in her life. In fact it’s down right shitty for her right now.

With a tendency to absorb the hurt of the hearts I love, my heart is truly aching for her. It aches because I see so many of my own battles faced in her present circumstance and my empathy over flows for her. Her experiences have triggered some reflection of my own path and the relationships I have experienced, outgrown and moved on from. It is a bit easier from the place I am in currently to reflect honestly about each one and the person I was when involved in them. It is easier for me to see now what the root of the pain might be.

Without being too personal or airing details of their life that are not mine to share, the just of it is, needing to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served.

11330795_884894088251835_716774208_n

This is a bitter, hard, transforming lesson. It is a lesson that can leave your heart hard if you’re not careful and create barriers around yourself that were not there before. Or, it can soften you through finding the strength to demand the people and energies in your life be good for you, good to you and feed your soul. If you let it, can catapult you into the wisdom of some of the most evolved souls where you won’t settle for less than you really deserve.

d3260b1470e659cb5f811b4d88f7b878

Removing yourself from said proverbial table might need to happen anywhere in your life.

This could mean your job when your joy has been sucked from you and you no longer recognize why you do what you do. This could mean from a family member who refuses to work on the parts of your relationship that are weak and leaves you feeling abandoned more often than not, using words as weapons to lash out on you. This could be the emotionally draining friendship you’ve outgrown completely, yet continue to partake in only because of how long you’ve known each other. Or, it could be the partner who does not wish to look at their own demons in order to play kindly with yours and uses you as a verbal punching bag.

Whatever the case, you have to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served. Or if it never really was and you’re finally waking up to the reality and dynamic of the relationship.

Sadly, no amount of love, effort, compliance, or attention can ever get these people to love you the way you deserve. Some people are just not meant to be in our lives. Some people will never know or learn how to love us and understand us. You could kill yourself going to the ends of the earth trying to show them how incredible you are and how deserving of love you are, and it still won’t change a damn thing. Not one fucking thing. That is the hard, awful, real truth.

You do not have to make excuses for removing these people from your life either. There should be no guilt in cutting ties to those that do more harm than good. Yes, one thousand times yes it is easier said than done. But when you start to pay attention to your energy and who it increases and decreases around, and who leaves you feeling lifted, or drained, you become a little more protective of it. Especially, well hopefully, as you age. When it is apparent that time is fleeting and passing faster and faster, it becomes more precious and you become more selective with who is given the most valuable thing you have to spend.

a79ce9aa2fa53a0bbcb93793e92849fb

Some of these ties you will feel need to be cut with an explanation that is usually more self serving than for the party you are outgrowing. You have things you need to say to them, need them to hear, need them to feel because you do. The cold truth though is that if they really cared, the behaviour or issue would have been addressable. If they cared when you told them that they were causing you harm, they would have loved you enough to work on it with you, or walked away from you recognizing that they did not serve you. The walking away part is usually reserved for a relationship with a base of respect though and you don’t always get that lucky. It is because the biggest act of love is always the truth. The act of showing someone exactly who you are and being aligned with your words in your actions enough that allows the person you love to either accept you fully or choose to walk away. We’re not always this lucky. In fact, it is becoming more and more rare.

warren-buffett-honesty-gift-cheap-people-8j3w

On the other hand, some of these ties need not a single word explanation and you just need to rip off the band aid by shutting the door in silence. This is the most powerful message that you can send, yet is not guaranteed to be received at all. They may not even notice you’re not there anymore. Which, while sad, should also be the loudest response to confirm you were right in your stand.

I think I’ve come to the realization that not everyone deserves to be witness to my life. Not everyone deserves my love and attention. In fact, as I get older I realize that very few really have the right intent in seeking it.

I still battle with this of course. Cutting people out seems heartless and cruel, but vitally necessary. I struggle too in doing so with people I want to believe love me or care about me, the ones I want to believe have my best interest at heart and means me no harm. Mostly people I want to believe are good for me because of how I feel about them. People I absolutely need to learn to get up from and walk away from because love is no longer being served.

But just as I will, she will get there in this lesson too. I have faith in hearts like ours. The ones that learn the hardest way possible, just to make sure the resulting wisdom is good and ingrained into our being so we change a little more each time, being challenged not to shut off our hearts for good.

Soul sister, I innately know that these storms are just here to wash you clean. Have faith in what is to come, keep hope in your heart and stay open, the way you’ve always been.

And most importantly know your soul’s growth depends on this act of getting up from the table when love is no longer being served.

~ Toni

Just me

I don’t know if it is something that happens to every one, or even every woman, but at some point in this last bit of my 20’s, I’ve really grown to like me.

Just me, as I am. Right now.

I know it sounds silly, or like I am boasting, but I’m not. I have lots of demons and areas of myself that I know need a shit ton of work and things about my being that I would rather not have to face. But I do. And I am.

Constantly.

What I mean by really liking me, is that I really like who I am growing into. I really enjoy my own company and find myself craving more time alone. I am really comfortable with myself today, even more so than yesterday and even more so than the day before that.

11215789_776502755799835_5018324845689343848_n

It’s an evolution I am enjoying the more and more I learn and understand about life from a spiritual perspective, a topic which is sometimes met with eye rolls and sighs. A few that are closest to me have started to referring to me as a hippie when I speak about being more conscious and awake or the adventures I get up to – a title I am fine with because I know what they mean and that they mean it with love. I have come to the realization that people can only meet you as far as they have grown themselves and that is okay. I have also noted on this journey that when some people cannot accept you for who you are or struggle with who you’ve grown into, it is okay to know their time in your story might be coming to an end.

I am okay with not being normal or what is expected. I am aware that I am a bit different and it feels good to me. I am enjoying being in a place where I can look back and say, I have come so far from who I was and I’m getting even closer to who I really am.

In fact, if you met me last year and then met me again today, I would bet you would say, “You’ve changed”, and I bet I would laugh and say “Thank you”. It would be even more apparent if we were close in a past life and you met me today…if you’ve not been here for the past few years, you definitely do not have a clue who I am anymore. And I am pretty cool with that.

This whole idea began spinning in my head this past holiday Monday. A last minute change in Michael’s schedule meant our plans for a few nights away were no longer an option, leaving me to find my own entertainment for what should have been a holiday Monday for him too. The let down of Michael not hanging out with me definitely bummed me out, but I was not against a day alone.

Now, early 20’s Toni, I will admit, would have panicked a bit about not having anything planned to fill my day with or people to hang out with and it would have been a scramble to try to fill the space with shenanigans with a girlfriend or sister. Late 20’s Toni though, she’s got this. Instantly I began to think of all of the places I have been wanting to explore but either hadn’t made the time or had a willing partner.

Michael started work at noon, so we spent a lazy morning together in bed, had breakfast and coffee and then off to work for him and upstairs to pack a bag for me.

I had no idea where I was going to head, so I threw in a sweater, a sports bra, shorts and extra tank, a bikini, book, towel, earphones, some water and snacks. I grabbed my hiking boots, a pair of sneakers and threw on my flip-flops.

Instead of worrying about directions or a GPS, I just got in the Runner and drove.

I drove myself straight to the coast of Lake Huron and parked there for hours. I read, wandered, laid out in the sun and grabbed a beer by myself in a small town along the way. I didn’t pay attention to my phone, I didn’t take a single picture to capture the beauty of my day and I barely spoke a word to another soul all day.

It was perfect and peaceful and my soul felt full by the end.

During the drive home I started to think of how many other people I know would do such a thing on a day of freedom. I also started to think about how much I had enjoyed my day. How much I needed my day, and my very own company.

Just me.

It made me very aware that while I do love the companionship of my man, my friends and especially my sisters, there are just some days when you need to sit alone with yourself for a bit and be comfortable with whatever you find, good or bad.

As I was finishing up with this post, the most suitable email from Elephant Journal floated across my screen and it read:

“No matter where you go or what you do you are always yourself.
There is nothing you can ever do, nothing you can wear,
no story you can tell that will change the basic fact of who you are.
Instead of running from it, accept it, trust it, embrace it,
love it because it’s all you’ve got.
” ~ Kino MacGregor

I am okay with me.

Just me, as I am. Right now.

~ Toni

I implore you

I am a bit of a fitness/overall health nut…most days.

I too, like everyone else, am human and have days where the rules or guidelines I happily adhere to normally, go out the window. Whether it is work, my social circle, my fur babies, my man, my real(ish) babies or my super busy family, I am a pretty on the go person. Sometimes this means slipping up due to lack of carved out time to prepare what’s required.

I really do have a hard time sitting still though, so as a coping mechanism, it is my own damn fault that I am so busy. I try to have something planned for my day the night before – even if that is a ‘me day’ where I barely do anything with anyone else and soak up my own time with a hike or some other adventure.

Everyone knows deep down that staying active and eating nutrition-filled foods, in well balanced portions, is one of the hardest yet most rewarding ways of staying healthy. And when you start doing it consistently it becomes second nature and your body actually rejects the crappy, processed stuff and sitting still for too long and you suffer side effects like headaches and tummy troubles when you do indulge.

If you’ve ever been turned-on about something, I hope you understand that I speak from a place of passion and genuine love for this lifestyle I’ve pursued. I just want others to realize what I have come to understand about the body’s natural capabilities – no matter how limited that still may be for me in comparison to what is truly possible. Like I said, I suffer off days and harder days and days where the fastest thing is the first thing I eat because I am stressed, or have gone too long without eating, or have an insatiable craving that I just need to itch…the point is I am human too and far, far, far from perfect. So, so far.

I have a few favourite motivators for why I work out and am conscious about what I ingest – maybe they’ll kick your butt into gear, or maybe they’ll remind you why you get up and do what you do every day to stay healthy and motivated to workout/stay active. Either way, the intent is to inspire just one person to make a small change for the better and I will be the happiest girl in the entire world if that is accomplished.

1. It kinda kicks butt to be able to kick butt: I really do get a giddy high when I accomplish something regarding my health. It could be getting a handle on wheel, crow or a headstand in yoga, or running the side hills of McLennan Park in Kitchener at a faster pace each time.

Had writers block while writing this blog...so this happened for a change in perspective

Had writers block while writing this blog…so this happened for a change in perspective

Running a half-marathon or hiking steeper hills without struggle. Or, it could be the realization that I can mentally control certain parts of my brain when pushing myself through a challenging kilometer or workout set – this ability filters into everyday situations too. I feel more confident in my body’s physical abilities now more than I ever have in my life – and I can’t even imagine how that will feel when I’m 40, 50 and beyond. I love the look on Michael’s face when I clamp my legs around him on the couch a-la-monkey cling and he winces because I’m strong. Or when he trusts me to load our canoe with him because he knows I won’t drop it awkwardly resulting in injury of person or the vehicle. It really kicks butt to be a fit-chick.

2. Having a shit-ton of energy also kicks butt: Really – being up for anything because I have the energy is a huge plus for me. Needing to explore and create and exert energy physically is part of keeping me sane. Normally this might be hard on top of working 50-60 hours per week while balancing every other responsibility. Lucky for me, the circle of exertion and creation of energy is an amazing natural phenomena. PLUS, energy keeps you HAPPY and that’s good for every one, especially Michael – just ask Elle Woods.

Seriously though, if I am free and not ill and you ask me to go for a run, workout, grab a yoga class, hit up a concert after a long day of work, meet you for a beer, catch sunrise on a Saturday morning, play cards, grab dinner/lunch/breakfast/any food, any time, I am usually down.

That leads me to my next point:

3. FOOD: The majority of people really don’t know how FOOD is supposed to taste. I mean veggies – both raw and cooked, fruit, nuts, legumes, lean meat and seafood (if it’s your flavour – there is a huge movement that part of me wants to explore of vegan-ism…but I’ll save that post for another day), real fresh, filtered spring-fed water. Real, from the earth food. We live in a society that desires convenience over effort and with that comes the easy out – the microwave this, the packaged/prepared that, the greasy processed burger…you get the point. Yum, right? No. Not even close to what your food could and is supposed to taste like. On top of the DELICIOUSNESS of the whole foods, add in the perks of moving your buns and you get my most favourite reason for working out EVER – eating. I love food. Like a lot. Like there are only a handful of things that I enjoy more than eating – none of which are SFW enough to mention here. I eat to nourish my body so I enjoy the simplicity that it’s become, however this also means that I get hungry a lot and get to eat A LOT to fuel me and that’s pretty kick-ass.

4. Gettin’ down: I won’t elaborate as I know some of our readers blush easy (not to mention my mom is an avid reader…hi mom), but the increase in stamina, interest and desire when it comes to intimate things – working out and eating right do incredible things for your sex life! The added confidence when you feel good about your body and have the energy…need I say more? Seriously, try it out and thank me later.

reasons-i-work-out-healthy-living_407537

For me it’s all three, but this is funny

5. Life in your years, years in your life: The two go hand-in-hand perfectly when you are in control of your nutrition and exercise regime. If you add in an all around lifestyle geared to being health-conscious, the chances you’ll have a better life and longer one, increase tremendously. I truly believe with the right lifestyle, nutrition, meditation/prayer life and diet, an insane amount of the diseases that we are plagued with can be cured. Our lifestyles and diets are killing us – it’s a fact, not just my opinion. Google ‘Lifestyle Disease’ and see the numerous medical publications regarding the study. The more educated you become, the easier the choices become too.

I would not say I am afraid of not being healthy, but I definitely do not take my abilities or my health for granted – I know first hand those things can change at the blink of an eye, and if you don’t take advantage while you can I feel like you might be wasting a bit of your life. It is a definite motivating factor for me and probably an all around driver for the lifestyle changes I am slowly making.

6c87590ff46cd3756e9b77b24c24abb2

What are your main motivators for keeping active and eating right? I’m always looking for motivation and my inspiration comes from you too.

I’d like to leave you with this: if you’re considering working on you, stumbling through or are well on your way, I implore you – keep working on you. I promise you won’t regret it.

~ Toni

Hiking Ontario

If you know me personally, you know that it is quite hard for me to stay still. And by this I do not mean that I fidget and fuss, but that I crave adventure and movement on a scale that most people just don’t understand.

While up to and including this point in my life, travel on a grandeur scale has not been possible – whether monetary tightness or family obligations or school requirements, or, or, or, there has always been something trumping my wild heart’s need to run.

That being said, I have not let that stop me from getting my fix when I can and instead, has made me quite the well-rounded guide for trails and destinations within our beautiful province that just have to be tackled. On a weekend or day off I am often up before the sun and off – solo or with company – hitting the open road with a destination in mind, ready to feed my soul the nourishment she craves of nature, adventure and exploration.

Wanting to get your feet wet with some of the best treasures I’ve found so far? Here are a few to get you started:

1. Spencer Gorge Conservation Area: This location contains some of the best hiking within a 30 minute drive of Cambridge, Ontario and boasts gorgeous views of the escarpment.

upper tews

Overlooking the gorge toward Tews Falls side

There are well traveled paths already available for the less crazy than me type (which lead up to the peak, featured in the above photo), or if you are willing to be a little more daring, (and slightly…illegal), then you should prepare for a 6 hour hike down the basin into the gorge itself where you can meander your way to the bottom of both sets of falls. This area can be reached through a gated off access point on the Webster’s Falls side of the trail, or near the rail way tracks at the bottom of the hill heading into Dundas. Come prepared with proper, sturdy footwear, some water, snacks and enjoy a day playing at the base of waterfall giants. Michael and I did this hike last in the winter and while incredibly challenging in full snow gear, totally worth it to stand in awe of this:

Feeling so small at Tews base January 2015

Feeling so small at Tews base January 2015

2. Beamer Memorial Conservation Area: This beauty of a spot was first visited on a fall day where I was feeling particularly restless and needed a new perspective. Not knowing where I wanted to head, I Googled ‘best Escarpment vantage points’ and this beauty popped up in the search results. It really is something to take in.

Lake Ontario for days

Lake Ontario for days

Roughly an hour’s drive from Cambridge, this trail is located in Grimsby Ontario and is part of the Bruce Trail system that runs along the Niagara Escarpment. There are multiple access points (I have found 3 so far) boasting views of the escarpment cliffs, terraces, Lake Ontario as well as the upper and lower falls. If you’re a bird fanatic, try to visit during the spring Hawk migration (roughly March 1 – May 15) where you can catch these stunning birds of prey on warm sunny days between 10:00am and 3:00pm.
New to hiking? From the main gate the trail is fairly flat, roughly 1.9km and easy to navigate for even the most novice hikers. With multiple lookout points and even more challenging trails leading into the basin, this area needs a whole day’s dedication if you can manage. If you’re able and wanting a little more challenge, climb your way down from the back entrance or end of the top trail from the front; here you will find the upper and lower falls just waiting for you to explore them.

Linda and I reaching the top of the lower fall deck

Linda and I reaching the top of the lower fall deck

3. The Bruce Peninsula National Park: While the furthest of my favourites, clocking in the drive at just over 3 hours from Cambridge, this breathtaking wonder located in Georgian Bay is well worth the drive. A part of the 885km of Bruce Trail, this section offers hikers the unique Northern landscape, incredible turquoise waters and four trails within the park to choose from.

That really is the colour of the water

That really is the colour of the water

As it’s located in the heart of a biosphere reserve, you’re sure to see your fair share of wildlife and interesting vegetation, massive rugged cliffs and limestone barrens. Make sure you make your way down to the Grotto – a natural cave on the shoreline that was formed from the waves from the Bay washing in over thousands of years.

Dancers pose over the Grotto #yogaeverydamnday

Dancers pose over the Grotto #yogaeverydamnday

If you’re feeling extra adventurous and the park just isn’t enough for you (ha, yeah right), head over to Flowerpot island via boat and spend the day on an additional 6.5 km of trail, admiring the natural sea stacks, navigating massive caves and touring the historic light station.

Kelso: Located in Milton, just a 40 minute drive from Cambridge and easily accessable from the 401, Kelso is a location I would consider when I am looking for a slower pace, less challenging climb.

From the mid-point, overlooking the top

From the mid-point, overlooking the top

Still providing great heights for views, it also houses 22 km of hiking terrain which is also suitable for mountain bikers looking for a challenge, 396 hectares of camping, and a network of incredible caves to explore. With the perfect Western views, Kelso is a great place to head with a picnic, your favourite person and find a spot to perch while the sky gives you an incredible show at sunset.

Sunset at Kelso

Sunset at Kelso

If you’re wanting the same proximity to home as Kelso but a little more adventure, on the alternate side of the escarpment you’ll find Rattlesnake Point, accessible from Kelso or a short drive, which hosts three rock-climbing areas and an additional 12.7 km of looping trails.

These are just a few of my favourite spots in our gorgeous province of Ontario – I’ll have to write a few posts to fit them all in as there are still plenty of places in Muskoka, Niagara, through Huron and Bruce Counties, Sarnia, etc. to be shared. What are some of yours? Any different ones you might recommend for me?

~ Toni

 

The commute life

I’ve been working in my new role long enough now to have settled on a commute path that suits me. It may not be the quickest or most direct or even make sense to anyone else, but it is mine and I actually like it.

It took a few tries, different routes researched before attempted, then attempted and disliked, and attempted again, and again and then finally – I found the one that worked for me.

While taking the most straightforward route down the 401, eventually linking up to Hwy 85 into St. Jacobs can once in a blue moon shave 10-15 min off of my drive, this route means almost always being stuck traffic, surrounded by people I have noticed that do not pay nearly enough attention to the driving of the car and much more attention to the phone in the car, which means higher frustration levels.

textingdriving

It also means being in the car anywhere between 35 and 75 minutes depending on which lane is blocked by which obstruction and which areas are inexplicably jammed up. I took this route on my way in on my first day. This was also the last. I attempted the return route along the same roads, but didn’t make it past two exits before I bailed and began cutting across roads I assumed led me home.

They did.

I made it my mission to find a route that I could live with until our office relocates at some point this year – of the locations being reviewed by my boss and myself both put me well within 20 min from home, which would be a welcomed change.

When I finally did find my route, it meant taking just over 45 min to get to and from work. With the exception of getting into town to get to my neighbourhood which is so (not) conveniently placed in the middle of town, the meat of my time is spent on country roads. Leaving the city and accompanying traffic that seems to be outgrowing said city behind has translated into a peaceful, wonderfully paced drive that is keeping me sane… well for the most part.

I’ve taken note of a few common occurrences along my drive and I just want to be sure I am not alone in:

Conversing with other drivers – not to their knowledge of course: By this I mean sometimes thanking them. Usually for using their signal, finding the speed limit and maybe even taking a bit of a risk by pushing it, or finally being able to pass that tractor/horse and buggy that may be causing a small slowdown. Sometimes if I am super happy for them, I will applaud their achievement by literally applauding them. I hope they know it’s meant sincerely and from the heart. These drivers understand the point of taking the back roads and don’t mess around – I really appreciate you.

turnsignal

Conversing with other drivers – to their knowledge: My route is usually very peaceful and provides me with more patience then I normally posses when too many not so bright people gather in one spot in their vehicles on the highway. That is not to say though that I still don’t have my moments where I encounter the odd jack ass. Sometimes that jack ass is the person who does exactly the speed limit in the 70 and 80 km zones, REFUSING to give 10 or 15 over, but then flies through the 50 and 40 km zones pushing 80 through the handful of little towns I pass through, as if that is the only speed their vehicle is capable of. These people usually are conversed with through the use of my horn and maybe even a good lipping off to…from the safety of my own vehicle of course. The other type of jackass that I have encountered is the one that cannot for the life of them keep their speed and meander in a +/- 20 km range around the speed limit causing the worlds most frustrating conga line of cars that cannot pass because in 5 minutes, he’ll be riding up your butt because he a) has no control or understanding of the mechanics of his vehicle or b) is not paying fucking attention.

asshole

Celebrating the wins: When I hit all the green lights heading out of town, or two slower trucks split at a light turning left and right leaving the through way free for me to zip down, or when my chosen 8tracks playlist of the day KILLS it and gets me right in the feels for my mood of the day – I celebrate. A celebration can be any of the following: clapping, “whoo”ing or “yay”ing, raising the roof, or break out into a little dance. Which leads me to…

Car dancing: As you well know, Jacqui and I are professional car dancers and take this role very seriously. To aid in my car dancing career and deep love for music, my 4Runner is equipped with a competition quality sound system including sub and amp (yes, I am one of those people – and no, I do not care what you think when you see me rollin’ as you be hatin’). When Michael first told me his intent for the equipment was to be in my daily driver, I really wasn’t pumped about it…but now that I have it, I don’t know if I could live without it. I am no gangster by any means though. My choice of music ranges from good hip-hop like Jurassic5, A Tribe Called Quest or Shad, to contemporary piano, country, indie, electronic/chill wave and everything in between as I don’t discriminate – but I digress. The point being that I not only get in more car dancing because the length of my journey being increased, but also because with less traffic and wider, more open roads, one can feel that much more comfortable busting out their best moves. My abs thank me, I can tell.

Making Friends: Travelling the same route everyday has its little perks of familiarity and while I normally find routine monotonous and deadly, these ones seem to bring me a little bit of happy. I now know based on a few key vehicles that I see every day if I, or they, are running late or are on time. In addition I have made friends with a Great Blue Heron that flies over my truck’s sunroof on the daily at the same time, in the same spot by the river – his name is Henry and he is an incredibly majestic creature. There is also a very sweet construction crew that has been working on the road in one of the small towns I pass through for quite a few weeks – we’ve become such good friends that when they see me coming they will extend the slow sign for the reduced lane a few moments more to make sure I can sneak through before making my lane come to a stop, which always makes me smile.

On top of all of these wonderful things that may happen at some point on my drive, the bit of extra time at a reasonable pace has given me a lot of time alone to think – which my inner-introvert loves – or not think and take in my surroundings. Enjoying my commute has made the transition back into the working world even easier and I’m so thankful for this simple luxury. And to all of the hardcore commuters who have to deal with Toronto/401 traffic, and public transportation, my gratitude for my commute is present and the magnitude of this blessing is not lost on me – I promise.

~ Toni