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

Advertisements

Craving silence

I have to chuckle at the irony of my choice in topic for this post as it seems there has been a lot of silence from me lately here on the blog.

I refuse to complain and wallow, so I will not rehash the current, lasting WAY longer than I wished difficult patch I have hit in life. I will get through, as I always do.

Missing my blogging outlet got me thinking of the other fundamental activity that I have so dearly missed – silence.

Or rather, the act of sitting, reveling and centering myself in silence.

Tews Falls, Ontario

Tews Falls, Ontario

Some people wrestle with it, just can’t stop themselves from filling the gaps, the blanks, the pauses. They crave the noise, the distractions, the interruptions. It is as though they struggle with a subconscious fear of facing the quiet. I find that as I grow, mature and evolve, this is where I have began to thrive. I’ve realized there is a certain level of self-awareness that comes from being able to be absolutely still, quiet, in the moment, right where you are, without worrying about finding something to keep busy or become consumed by.

Being at peace with the quiet is even more rewarding when you are able to do so with another person. I had a hyper aware moment of this recently – driving down the 401, returning from a trip to Windsor, I could not help but note just how at ease I was with the silence between myself and my travel companion. I did not for one minute of that almost three hour trek home worry about what to say next to make the moments seem full, or feel the pressure to entertain someone else with banter. It was just them and me, the whir of the tires on the pavement and the shared love of the albums rolling through the iPod set on shuffle.

The trick that my generation – well the majority of North Americans in general, really – just cannot get right is that the quiet is where the fullness is found. The stillness is where the relief is found. Much like the rest in a piece of music that hits you at just the right moment, the pauses hold the golden moments.

IMG_0345-0

It has been easy for me to notice the  importance of silence recently. With my insane-o schedule, overwhelming, constant connection through technology, constantly being on and stress levels through the roof, the ache and nostalgia for the quiet has been sneaking up on me and getting stronger as these weeks carry and continue to pile on. The desire to spend time alone, or at least to enjoy simplistic moments together with those I consciously choose to spend my limited time with, has only gotten stronger.

It has recently had me forcing Michael to get in the car and drive over an hour to Grimsby so I could sit in silence at the edge of the escarpment for an hour. It has recently had me sounding like my father, complaining of the noise of the world blaring through the ‘idiot box’ when Michael instinctively flicks it on a minute after he walks in the door, while I have been home for over two hours alone, taking in the silence. It has recently had me crawling out of my skin, itching for my centre, wishing the warmer weather hadn’t gone so quickly, taking the beauty of the summer and fall with it.

Grimsby, Ontario overlooking Lake Ontario

Grimsby, Ontario overlooking Lake Ontario

I find I am better able to work through problems that are plaguing me when I am able to turn off, shut down and disconnect. I don’t even necessarily have to spend a moment thinking about the issue directly, and when I return to the somewhat unsettling state of modern ‘reality’ I am better prepared to deal with the conundrum because I took pause. I am better prepared to take on the every day hustle and bustle with a little more patience than normal.

I guess you could count this practice as a form of meditation, a time to spend with just myself. My desire to unplug I feel can only be explained by my rural upbringing, however it could also be chalked up to my ever growing distaste for our society’s ever so “evolved” lifestyle – limiting the time we spend completing and participating in the truly important things in life, and maximizing the time we spend at the office, or on our devices or staring at the TV. Even as I write this now, Michael is plugged into his iPhone, playing a game, with the television on in the background while I am curled up with a dog on my lap and laptop on my dog, trying to get this post out, before I a) lose the idea all together or b) get caught with my proverbial blog post-pants around my ankles and not have anything written come Tuesday morning.

IMG_0346-0

As the incredibly talented (read: sexy), incredibly enlightened (read: great voice), incredibly wise (read: very handsome) Tim McGraw once crooned, “what I wouldn’t give for a slow down, don’t ya know?

~Toni

*Update: Since the writing of this post my prayers have been answered and what I am trusting to be the new and correct direction for me has been revealed, allowing for plenty of stillness and silence.  I’ll fill you in more in the coming weeks; however, in the meantime, if you’re looking for someone to complete some freelance marketing work, I’m your girl! Contact me here via the comments and I will be sure to email you shortly. ~ Toni