Vancouver Island, and Victoria more specifically, has been, for my entire adult life, a place I run to for comfort, for security and for a place to rejuvenate my soul and bring clarity to my head when a decision is needed or emotions need settling.
The sights and sounds of Victoria and the surrounding areas are filled with memories of times past and the milestones of my life that are marked by these visits. Times of immense pain and turmoil in my life when I needed the calm of the ocean waves and the moon on the water…the winds (always blowing it seems on Dallas Rd!) to soothe my mind and allow my soul to focus on true clarity of needs and direction.
Also, times of joy and happiness… I don’t always use the island as a place to find peace from strife…many times it is also where I go to enjoy life and celebrate the happiness that I have found. Trips with my boys, the giggles (and screams) at the bug zoo… feeding the “wild” seals at the Oak Bay Marina… wandering the beaches and watching my children play in the same tidal pools and waves that held me captive in my youth – hours lost exploring and imagining! Driving around the town and pointing out my childhood memories…leading to chats and questions…. sitting in the car outside a past family home explaining skeletons in the closet and impressing upon my boys that we always have choices in life that we can choose to make that can enrich our lives and increase our happiness… we are in control of the directions our lives take for the most part.
Always when I went by myself for a “searching” journey, the boys would ask for a token souvenir… I would get them a little something each but always I would bring stones from the beaches…picked specially for them and unique to what they spoke to me as to which one was for which…. The ocean holds for me a magical quality that speaks to me on a most basic level of grounding and calm. The stones, smoothed and shaped by the waves hold that sense of wonder and the potential for change.
Last December I visited the island. My son was still in the hospital and I was needing a much long awaited chance to try to relax and get away from everything for a weekend and re-charge. With the stress of the last few weeks and months weighing heavily I decided to go for a run in Oak Bay….I adore running in Oak Bay; the architecture, the trees and the rolling beaches along the edge of the ocean are soothing to me in a way nowhere else is. On this day the sun was setting quickly as I headed out. I ran, as I always do there, with no thought to speed or distance or direction. I just go and follow where my feet and my heart lead. Turning corners and jogging at whim almost. Taking time to really see the houses, the yards and the trees. Stopping to stare up through branches of hundred year old trees and catch a sense of the history and the things that trees must have been witness to … if only nature could talk! I always have a sense of what direction the ocean lies and eventually meander my way to the shores and the beaches. On this night in particular, I went much farther than I had thought or intended to. When I broke out from the residential streets and came upon the beach I found myself a couple of kilometres further away than I had thought I was. The sun was completely gone by now and the moon had started to rise. It was huge and yellow and full and hanging low in the sky – reflecting on the water in the most amazing way! My body, for once, was feeling good and not sore from the run so I strode on…heading back in the direction of Oak Bay village.
I rounded a curve in the road and looked to my right to where the ocean was. I was stopped in my tracks by the sight… a tine expanse of beach, no more than 50ft across and maybe 25ft deep…. the waves softly lapping on the rocks of the beach and the moon so huge and reflected in the water…. I did something I almost never do.
I stopped my run.
Went down to the beach and took my shoes off… sat at the very edge of the water and looked up… the moon drawing my gaze.
I sat and I cried… for the sheer unfairness of life sometimes. For my son who couldn’t see past his pain and just wanted out….for my other boys who were being torn into pieces by it all. For myself as well. For how hard it was for me to admit that I didn’t know what to do. For the simple fact that I was doing everything I knew to and it didn’t seem to be doing any good.
I looked down and saw the rocks and started to pick them up, examining them and searching for rocks for the boys… this time with a difference though. This time, I knew the rocks were for me. Representative of the boys and myself. I would hold them close and they would remind me of this moment. The moment when I searched my soul, sitting on that beach, and decided that no matter how hard the choices would be and how much they would challenge me, that I would do what I needed to in order to have life make sense again.
After an amazing weekend that December, tempered with bouts of breakdowns and tears, I returned home and settled in to make sense of my thoughts. My desire to move to the island has been present for a long time now and was even stronger after that weekend but it was pushed to the back as we dealt with Willie’s mental illness and the impending holiday season (the Christmas that I just wished would go away to be honest!). The stones I had gathered sat on my bedside lampstand and I looked at them nightly; reminding myself that there had been those few moments of clarity on that beach and that it all would be OK.
It has turned out so far from OK…returned to the island recently and the same sense of calm, ease and peace surrounded me from the moment I drove off the ferry. Sometimes life sends you a message…it’s our choice to hear it or not.
The stones tonight… held in my hands during meditation… providing clarity and the sense of new direction.

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