West Coast Trail

The further aDSCF0448way it gets, the more I want to do it again.

Just over one year ago I hiked the West Coast Trail along the west coast of Vancouver Island with my friend Kelly and his two teenage sons. I am not so much a hiker as a canoeist, so in the months leading up to our July 1 start, Kristin and I did less canoeing and far more hiking than usual. I often carried a pack full of heavy books and some lead weight.

The day came, the hike started, and since we were going north to south, the trail began deceptively well groomed and easy to walk on. Just as we were about to leave the trail head a group that included and 80 year old lady was finishing up. “This should be easy!” we thought.DSCF0457

But then we hit some ladders, and the day was hot, and there was no water refill for the first 12 km, and then when we finally hit the beach it wasn’t the nice hard-packed pavement-like beach that there is at Long Beach near Tofino. It was soft and loose and slanted and exhausting. We went to the campsite at Darling River which made for a 14 km day. We were all a little dehydrated and surprisingly tired given how nice the trail had been for the most part.

Then came the mud and roots. When I think of the WCT, and the thing they really don’t talk about in the promo material, it’s the mud and roots. Miles of it. Every now and then we would convince ourselves that the next kilometer marker must be missing since “For sure we’ve gone more than a click since the last one!” Invariably another 200 or 300 meters and there it would be. We started to refer to them as “West Coast Kilometers” because they seemed so much longer than any other kilometers we’d ever seen.

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Reading a Book Beside the Lake

The story behind the picture.

As I was going through my pictures to find one that would work as an online poster, I came across this one of my daughter Danielle, taken many years ago while we were out camping as a family.

good bookIt was our first year in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. We decided to go up into the hills to go camping as a family one weekend and decided on a little walk-in lake called High Lake up the Oyama Lake Road.

Since we were now living in the warm, sunny Valley, we took our usual warm weather camping gear, notably our light summer sleeping bags. But we quickly discovered that once you went up into the hills, you were no longer in the Valley (duh!) and in fact were now in an entirely different climate. A 3000+ foot elevation gain will do that…

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Lessons from a World Record Sheep

In the past few days the one of the lighter news stories has been the story of Chris, the stray Australian sheep.

Chris, world record sheepHe was discovered roaming free in the wilds of Australia, in desperate need of a shearing. When he was finally brought in and given the long overdue haircut, he produced 89 pounds of wool, a new world record for one shearing. (The average is about 11 pounds.) However due to its condition, the wool has no commercial value.

Chris could barely walk and his life was clearly endangered. He likely wouldn’t have survived the year without the shearing.

This story got me thinking about what happens when we don’t give the world what we are gifted and able to give it. We all have something to offer, but if we keep it to ourselves we became bloated and unhealthy. Things we can offer today, because the time is right, if we hold onto them, become useless. We lose and the world loses.

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28 Years of Marital Bliss

Kristin and I just celebrated our 28th anniversary this past weekend. Kristin camping

How did we celebrate? Well, we went camping. Actually, we went moose hunting and stayed in a tent while we were in the bush. Yes, I am a romantic genius. Actually, it is interesting how this unique anniversary trip happened. (And btw, no moose were harmed in the celebrating of our marriage. Not yet.)

For years I have hunted and Kristin has not. We have always, since our courting days, canoed; more recently we began hiking.

One day this spring we were out hiking along the Peace River and I asked Kristin if she was enjoying herself. She said she certainly was! I pointed out that what we were doing- walking along through the gullies along game trails, looking for signs of animals as well as the animals themselves- was exactly what we would be doing if we were hunting, though in the latter case we would be carrying guns. I said “If you enjoy this you will enjoy hunting.”

Shortly thereafter, of her own volition, Kristin took the CORE course which gave her the right to buy a hunting license. We applied for a shared moose hunt and were drawn; hence the anniversary celebration.

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The Cork Board

Wherever I go I try to have the same basic layout in my home office. Motorized Geek Desk against the longest wall; printer and scanner to one side, file cabinet to the other; bookshelves directly behind; office supplies and active files on the desk in their eternally preordained locations, etc.

The one thing that tends to float around more than anything else from location to location is my cork board. Different rooms just have a different logical location for it. It needs to be both visible and easily accessible, ideally on the same wall the desk butts up against so I can easily glance at it when needed.

office cork boardNow, why do I need to glance at it? Well, a quick review of my newly repopulated board, pictured here, will reveal a mix of wisdom, humour and philosophy, as well as assorted trinkets of questionable value. These provide the following benefits:

  1. Like any wall hanging, this board and its slowly changing inhabitants provides an immediate sense of familiarity in a new office and helps me feel at home. We have noticed in our many moves that one of the things that changes a new house/condo into a home is the presence of OUR pictures on the walls. This board contains several dozen of my personal selections and turns any new office into MY office.
  2. I have often been blessed with very scenic office views. When this is the case, my first choice for thinking, taking a break or regrouping my thoughts in the midst of a project is to look out the window. However the view rarely changes and, as is the case in my current home office, sometimes leaves much to be desired. Enter the cork board, with its variety of stimulating words and objects. It provides both a mini-escape as well as an of-task stimulus that often triggers some relevant and even profound content related to what I am working on at that moment.
  3. Since the board contains many of the most concise summaries of wisdom that have caught my eyes over the year, including several that tap my deepest beliefs and passions, a glance at the board quickly reminds me what is important and ultimately why I am doing what I am doing or, in some cases, how I ought to be doing it. For example “Don’t trade what you want most for what you want today.” This often calls me back from low value, short term tasks to high value actions that may not pay off immediately, but whose payoff is more important to me than any short term reward. Another example: On the lower left area of the board is a postcard with two sketched figures, one holding their arms up and one holding them wide. I think the original intent of it was to address the need to be aware of both our vertical relationship with our Creator, and our horizontal relationships with people. However, due to other content at the conference in Chicago where I received it, it is for me a reminder of “head and heart”, the idea that to communicate effectively we must address both the head- logical issues, information, facts- and the heart- emotions, passions, core beliefs.

In a time when we could probably find all the distractions and stimulation and escape we need on the screen in front of us, I find it very helpful to step away from the desk, stretch my legs if only a little, and look at some non-digital content to renew my heart and mind.

What about you? Do you have a cork board? What do you do to take a mini-break in your office? I’d love to hear from you below.