I’d say please (please). I’m your man.

When we were young, my parents would take us on long winter road trips to Red Mountain and Silver Star. We didn’t do much as a family, but we skied.

The five of us would cram into our Toyota Turcel, packed to the hilt with equipment, clothes, blankets, pillows, and enough mandarin oranges to stave off scurvy for one hundred years. These trips also marked the yearly détente in my parents’ hard-lined approach to all things junk food, and over the course of the drive, my sisters and I would patiently await our gifts: a big bag of plain Ms. Vicky’s potato chips, Turtles chocolates, and homemade gingerbread cookies.

If heaven could be defined.

Other than the lingering smell of sea salt and a constantly queasy tummy (as the middle child I was forced to endure the middle seat), the thing I remember most about these trips is the music.

The wonderful music.

My family I would listen to tapes and tapes and tapes of Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and The Beatles. The Rankin Family and Stan Rogers. Boney M and Enya. Our tastes were eclectic as they were magic.

Because with so little to define us, they did just that.

I campaigned constantly for The Commitments Soundtrack, but my musical candidate was a consummate loser to Leonard Cohen. And every time I lost, I would beg the powers that were to “please.”

Please stop playing Leonard Cohen.

Unfortunately, they didn’t, and I suffered in silence.

I hated how his songs were too much. Couldn’t stand the way they made me feel. Drained of all emotion, and yet somehow still full to bursting. Slightly sweaty. Squirmy and shirty. Filled with a restlessness. An energy that was only exacerbated by the car’s hot and cramped quarters.

It was music that made me want to run away.

The only song that I could stand was “I’m Your Man.” I liked the synthy keyboards and the other moody instruments that, try as I might, I could never place. How it was more spoken word than song. The slow raspy voice. I liked how it had an immediate and sobering effect on my fellow passengers, forcing us all to pause.

To stop our frenzied fights. Breath life into our suffocating silences.

It made me feel warm. Cozy. I imagined dancing, slowly, as a grown-up.

But after grade seven we stopped going on ski trips.

After grade ten my parents divorced.

And I don’t know when I stopped listening to Leonard Cohen. I didn’t even think about him until after I started dating Marc.

We were up at his own parents’ cabin on the Sunshine Coast and we were looking through their record collection. We were trying to decide what to play next. We were slightly drunk and eating peanut butter sandwiches.

“We need something that we can dance too,” I said.

He pulled out Songs of Love and Hate.

“Not Leonard Cohen,” I heard myself say. I didn’t even stop looking through the other albums. “I hate him.”

Marc looked at me dumbfounded. “No one hates Leonard Cohen.”

“I do,” I said. “We used to listen to him all of the time on road trips. He’s depressing.”

Marc looked me in my eyes. Long and hard. And then he put the album away. “Okay,” he said. “We can play something else.”

And we did.

For years and years, we always played something else.

The Faces. Cat Stevens. Bob Dylan.

In the spring of 2010, I defended my thesis and bid adieu to graduate school. Marc and I celebrated on the Coast. Driving along the highway, I closed my eyes to the late afternoon sunfall. It felt like, for the first time in my entire life, I was no longer worried about school.

The next morning, I crawled out of bed and, alone, slid into the quiet of the house.

I tiptoed to the record player. Paused. Took out Songs of Love and Hate.

I held the cover lightly in my hands. Stared at the cover. Turned it over. Took out the record and placed it over the spindle. Set the needle.

And listened.

Live Out There Exclusive: “Hiking on the Sunshine Coast”

I love the Sunshine Coast.

It is one of the most beautiful, peaceful, and inherently centering places I have ever been, and I am lucky enough to have very generous parents-in-law who let Marc and I spend time up at their beautiful cabin in this area of B.C.

Even better? The hiking is amazing. Over at Live Out There, I have waxed long and eloquent about how much I love this (literal) neck of the woods.

The Sunshine Coast is one of the best places to hike in British Columbia. From Sechelt to Powell River, the possibilities for exploring the outdoors are many and varied. I first ventured up this way thirteen years ago with my now husband for our first weekend getaway. Some of my favourite things I remember about those three days were the fantastic hikes we did whilst there.

The best part about this area is that there is something for everyone: easy trails for the beginner hiker, mid-length routes for the more advanced, and multi-day overnights for the truly adventurous.

Read on for more!

Nothing to fear, but fear itself. (But also dying. That too.)

Want to know a secret?

This past week I ran away.

Well, not really.

On Tuesday night, I left behind the rainy streets of Vancouver, in exchange for the rainy shores of British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast.

(That’s a paradox, no? A rainy Sunshine Coast?)

For the next two and a bit days, I camped out in front of a fire and wrote, ran, read (and Netflixed) my little heart out.

It was the VWOZNOW solo retreat extravaganza of 2014!

You see, at my job, (which I love), I accrue quite a bit of overtime, and I am lucky enough that I am able to bank these hours and take them as time in lieu.

Which means that before the bell strikes twelve on December 31st, I am required to use up all of this vacation, lest it all be for not.

So being that time was a-ticking, and knowing how much I love the wild woods of our province’s eerily beautiful (and desperately sodden) temperate rain forest, Marc suggested that I take a bit of this time and have an adventure or two on my own.

Sad of course that he couldn’t join me, I did quite like the idea. I mean, how often is it that you are gifted with extra days off, combined with the chance to do all of the things you love so dearly?

So, after work on Tuesday, I jumped in our little car and drove to Horseshoe Bay to catch the 5:20pm ferry.

I arrived a little early, so I bought a chai latte and walked around the village, marvelling at the strings of Christmas lights, twinkling along the darkening waterfront.

Clutching my umbrella and trying my best to dodge the many puddles freckling the almost-empty streets, I wished that I had brought a pair of gloves and that I had thought to wear better shoes.

Once back in the safety and warmth of my car, I engaged in some Twitter tomfoolery with the CBC’s As It Happens, and was for a brief moment, a social media superstar.

When I arrived at the Langdale terminal an hour or so later, I hit the road in earnest. I swore it could have been two o’clock in the morning, what with how dark the evening had fallen. It was also raining like a raining thing, which forced me to be extra careful as I drove.

I stopped briefly in Sechelt to purchase some stuff for dinner and breakfast, as well as a bottle of wine and a bag of G.H. Cretors Chicago Mix popcorn, because, alas, I am addicted to this crack-cocaine (disguised as popcorn) life-ruining snack.


Anywho, I was soon back in the driver’s seat and on my way to the cabin. I had made three mixed CDs for the trip, and in between my loud singing jags, I listened to a number of interviews on the on-going botch-up of Veteran’s Affairs here in the Great White North.

(Hence the need for the loud singing jags.)

Eventually I made it to my home-away-from-home around seven o’clock, and I set about to settling in.

Unfortunately I was met with two, how shall I say, uncomfortable and unforeseen circumstances that needed immediate attending.

The first was that both of the cabin’s fire alarms were out of batteries and they were going off at different intervals.

Now, anyone who has ever before heard a fire alarm knows that their sounds are incredibly jarring and weirdly disturbing. Plus, one of them had a voice that kept announcing the same phrases over and over again: “LOW BATTERY – DISABLE” or “CARBON MONOXIDE – MONOXIDE DE CARBON” or “FIRE – FEU”.

(You’ve got to love living in a bilingual country as it affords you the curtesy of having the crap scared out of you in both of our official languages! I look forward to thanking my parents for all of those years in French immersion come the day when I burn to death in a very unfortunate Dark Souls-related candle accident.)

Anyways, the other unfortunate factor was that when I entered the kitchen – after putting my bags into the bedroom – I noticed that the second door (the one that opens into the kitchen) was about five to six inches ajar.

Meaning, open.

To the night air.


I stood there, frozen, feeling my blood run cold.

“SERIAL” and “KILLER” I think were the first two words that popped into my head.

Let me tell you, the fact every thirty seconds two separate fire alarms kept going off, announcing my impending and immediate doom, was one thing I really could have dealt without (especially at what seemed like a very critical juncture of my life.)

Grabbing my phone, I texted Marc.

He didn’t understand what I was talking about, so I phoned him and explained the situation as succinctly and as quickly as I could.

As he voiced his concern, I tried to find a sharp, easily wieldable knife.

“What are you going to do?” he asked.

“I am going to go room by room with you on the phone. With this paring knife,” I explained.

I looked down at the small blade in my hand.

“Good luck,” I told myself.

In hindsight, really, not that brilliant of a scheme.

As the hilarious Jackie over at Ambling and Rambling put it when I afterwards told her of my cunning plan:

Oh, so, [Marc] could hear you being murdered by the man who disarmed you?

To which I replied:


Anyways, I managed to swallow all of my thoughts of Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees, and searched the entire place.

Once convinced that I was, indeed, alone, I set about to finally quieting the damned fire alarms.

An electrician, folks, I am not.

However, I did eventually manage to silence my bilingual nemesis. I then made a giant fire and turned on the first Neil Diamond record I could find.

By this point I was pretty hungry, but between my shattered nerves and ringing ear drums, every single notion I had about cooking a meal had flown right out the window.

So I just opened the bag of popcorn and poured myself a giant glass of wine.

Which, all in all, was not a bad way to kick off a relaxation retreat.

(Oh, and the popcorn and wine helped too.)


For no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run

Hey dudes!


This weekend I competed in the BMO April Fool’s Half-Marathon on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.

Somehow I managed to pull out the best run of my career, finishing the course in 1:31:36, and coming 7th out of all women (3rd in my age group) and 29th overall (out of 537 participants).


To say that I am stoked would be a bit of an understatement, but I am very, very tired and as such, there is a bit of a competition between my exhaustion and my happiness.

So as I sit here in front of the fire, clad in nothing but an over-sized t-shirt and sweatpants, I am mostly just very comfortable, and very cozy.

And that’s pretty awesome.

Marc and I left for Gibsons on the last ferry on Friday night, eager as we were to avoid the Saturday ferry traffic, and just get comfortably ensconced in our race-weekend digs (the paradise on Earth hideaway I have so often written about) as soon as possible.

His parents were also up for the weekend, and were lovely enough to accommodate our late check-in. As such, we tried to be as quiet as possible when we arrived a little after eleven o’clock at night.

Despite our own knackerdness, the lateness of the hour had made us absolutely ravenous and we spent a good fifteen minutes loitering about the kitchen, stuffing our faces with the delicious sushi we had not been able to eat earlier.

If you haven’t had the chance to sample the Maple Roll from Okonomi Sushi, YOU HAVEN’T LIVED.

Then we went to bed and slept for nine and a half hours.

Saturday, in an effort to conserve as much energy as possible, I did pretty much zilch.

Highlights include: listening to a lot of good music, completing the NYT Saturday crossword, enjoying a beautiful jaunt about the harbour with my parents-in-law in their boat, and finding this record:



This is why I married a (half) Swiss man.

I mean, they are LITERALLY singing about ham.

IMG_20130406_202339 - Copy

I love it.

That night, after eating my fill of spinach and cheese ravioli, grilled veggies, salad, fruit, and rhubarb and strawberry cake, I read a little before falling into a rather (for lack of a more eloquent word) crap sleep.

My dreams I tell ya, they are CRACKED.

The next morning I woke up to my alarm at 6:15 and immediately checked the weather outside.

No rain.

Thank goodness.

Then I made coffee, and read the newspaper.

I’m pretty weird and slightly superstitious when it comes to my race-day preparations, so I like to do everything in the same order as I have in the past:

  1. Drink water.
  2. Drink coffee.
  3. Drink more water.
  4. Get ready
  5. Eat a banana with peanut butter.
  6. Leave.

We were out the door by 7:30, and although the day was cool and the wind was making its presence known, the skies were still clear.

This was a terrific sign, because I’ve never run a race without a pair of AWESOME and GIANT sunglasses, and I didn’t want to end this streak to end at this run.


To combat the cold, I wore my long lululemon running pants (I normally loathe ye olde cult of LULU but heck if they don’t make a cracking running pant), a long MEC running top (SO GOOD) and my ScotiaBank half-marathon shirt (for great memories).

The ride to Gibsons was about forty-five minutes, and to pass the time, Marc and I sang along to this sweet mixed CD I recently made. (Highlights included a raucous version of Sisters are Doing it for Themselves and Third Eye Blind’s Never Let You Go.)

Once we got to the community centre, I picked up my race package and then proceeded to go to the bathroom five times.

Phantom pre-run pee here people. LOOK IT UP.

Before I knew it, it was 9:15, and it was time to head to the start line with all the other competitors.

Marc, playing paparazzi, took a number of snaps of yours totally unaware.


Oh, and also this one:


(Of this I was aware.)

I like to start as close to the start line as possible, so I huddled up with all the other elite runners and counted down with the course marshal –

5…4…3…2…1…- and they’re off!

The first part of the race I felt that I was running really fast. I was a bit worried that perhaps I had gone out a little too quick and, believe it or not, I actually wondered perhaps if I should have peed one more time before setting off.


At around the four kilometer mark I felt as though I settled into a good rhythm. As we maneuvered in and around one of the town’s residential neighbourhoods, I tried to focus on keeping my stride as long as possible.

Around the six kilometer mark we were back out on the highway, which if I’m honest, was pretty miserable, what with the wind blowing right into me, and the traffic creating even more of a head wind.

But soon enough we were back into beauty central, running down side-streets flanked by gorgeous arbutus, douglas fir, cedar, and alder trees.

It was also around this time that the terrain began to get really hilly.

And we all know how fun that is, don’t we?

Kilometer seventeen was a mixed bag, because I felt absolutely destroyed after cresting a massive hill, but overjoyed because Marc’s parents were there waiting to cheer my on.


And from there, believe me when I say that it really did seem to be over in a flash.

My right foot felt very hot, so I knew that I had a blister forming, and my knees were a little sore, but otherwise, I felt great as I put the pedal to the metal for the last four kilometers.

As I ran past the final aid station at kilometer nineteen, all these little girls yelled out. “WE LOVE YOUR SUNGLASSES!”

That was all I pretty much needed to get me through the homestretch.

As I rounded the very last corner, I caught sight of the race clock, and I couldn’t believe that it said 1:31.

I sprinted as hard I could across the finish line, totally incredulous that I had run so fast.

Then I met up with Marc and his parents and had the chance to take many funny photos.


After, it was time to chow down on some cookies and yogurt, and head back to town.

So in the end, it was a really brilliant day.

I must give a HUGE thank you to my lovely cheering squad (the amazing Mr. M and his parents) and the fab organizers of the race.

I’ll for sure be back.

You can count on it.

All thanks to everyone; run runaway

This weekend we ran away.

We made our escape Friday afternoon: M commandeered the getaway car, stopping only briefly outside of my office building so I could throw my bags into the backseat, before sliding my little self into the front.

With the sun shining down on us, as well as lighting up the long-missed cerulean sky, we drove out of Vancouver proper and made our way to the, most aptly named, Sunshine Coast.

This, my friends, is a place filled with magic.

And I would like to share with you some snaps from our brief stint in paradise.











Sometimes I have great difficulty sleeping. I am either thinking too much, or I wake up in the middle of the night soaked in sweat. Whatever the case may be, my anxieties have a tendency to wreck havoc with my achieving the recommended eight hours.

Last Friday night, the night of our arrival, I slept better than I have for months. My head hit the pillow sometime around ten o’clock and I didn’t stir until eight the next morning. When I woke, I  felt clear-headed and refreshed, as if emerging from a warm, safe, (and oh-so snuggly) cocoon.

Marveling at the early morning sunshine, M and I drank steaming mugs of dark, sweet coffee, and watched the families of ducks as they dived and dashed about in the water surrounding the dock.

We would have sat outside had the temperature not hovered around zero degrees celcius. There are only so many blankets in which a person can be swaddled.

Around ten thirty I set out for my weekly long training run. It’s always a bit of shock to the system, the first few minutes of the run, as the fresh, cool, coastal air, rushes in my nose and down my throat, frost tickling my heart and lungs.

But eventually, as always, I adapt, as does my stride and pace – although never my hands. My hands ache from the cold, and warp into hard demi-claws, that chap red and painful.

I run facing traffic, although on a Saturday morning, there is little to be found. I often smile to myself, as I am fooled again and again by the strong wind in the trees, that I too often mistake for an approaching engine, or tire.

The specter of a car.

I ran fifteen kilometers that morning.

I felt as though I could have run forever.

It’s like I said. 

It’s magic.