1. It is ridiculously beautiful here.
I thought I'd lead with something very positive and very true. All the gulf islands in BC are stunning, and Cortes is no exception. Hollyhock, specifically, is gorgeous. All the rustic structures nestled in the trees...all the bright coloured flowers and sea creatures playing off the backdrop of sand and sea and forest. The bird chirping soundtrack is never ending, and some days you can hear the waves from the ocean up the hill where we work. It is no wonder people come here to heal.
2. Chefs are artists.
I suppose this is something most of you already know, but I'm not sure it really hit home for me until this week. I've been so worried about being without meat, but I'm on my 6th meat-less day, and I'm not even having cravings. And I think there is one very good reason for this: the food here is art. And the chefs that make it, artists. There is no other way to explain it. I never knew you could make a chick peas taste so good. I had no faith that a table of vegetables and grains and beans could be so FLAVOURFUL. All of us volunteers literally gasp every time we put the food into our mouth. Yes, it is THAT good. You must visit this place if only for that reason.
3. Vegetarian food does not necessarily equal skinny.
Even though I am loving the food, and I know that only the highest level of quality ingredient is going into my body (most the food cooked here is grown in the Hollyhock garden), I don't think I will lose any weight here. I put on some weight in March and April while traveling, and this diet isn't gonna be the way to take it off. That said, I don't think I will gain a whole bunch of weight. It should be noted, as delicious as they are, I think my body is happier when it isn't consuming this amount of carbs. I feel slightly heavy and sluggish, my digestive system is...okay...but not optimal. The food is so yummy, but after this month I imagine I will go back to cutting out most of the grains/beans/rice and add in my animal proteins, green smoothies w superfoods (OH how I miss them!) and healthy fats like avo and coconut oil.
4. My friendship skills are rusty.
I've become so good at being alone, that it is wild to suddenly have built in "friends" to do things with and talk with, etc. The other 4 volunteers that are here for this session are really, really great. I may not get to show you many photos of them, as they are all pretty anti-public-internet types. But I think we've all been blessed with a a "good lot" this month. Plus, when 5 people are thrown into an intense, sorta isolating experience eating and sleeping and working together, they bond quickly. I haven't really had this kind of thing in my life since Dawson City. And I adored Dawson, so I'm loving having it again. But I have to remind myself HOW to be in community. Not cyber community, but real LIVE community. I'm definitely rusty.
5. For someone who loves the internet/social media, I attract a lot of people into my life that don't live it at all.
All of April and May will be spent surrounded by people that resent/don't trust/have no interest in blogging or vlogging or Facebook or Twitter or posting pics to Instagram or any of it. Hollyhock itself gives very mixed messages about using the wifi that they've set up. First off, I don't have interest access at my accommodation, which forces me to use it at the main Lodge. But at the Lodge, they'd rather you only use it down in this dingy, cold cellar room in the basement. And even then, there are signs up trying to dissuade you from or "suggest" how you use the internet. Generally, the energy here is "why would you need to be online at all when you are surrounded by this kind of beauty?" And I suppose I can see where they are coming from. I suppose. But I believe all the healing that is done here is in an attempt to feel happy, peaceful, free, alive. And, for me, being connected online to my cyber community is NOT unhealthy. It brings me so much joy and happiness and is so much FUN. Why can't I go for a walk on the beach, have a real, intimate, authentic talk with a new friend over tea in the Lodge AND then spend some time on my computer writing a blog post? I think demonizing anything, including the web, is silly. But here I am, with no one to bond with about my love of social media, and that will most likely extend over the summer during Singing In The Rain. Conclusion? I gotta book myself into a retreat/conference/place where I find some internet soul mates. The thought makes me grin from ear to ear.
6. Just because you are a yogi who practices loving kindness meditation in silence all day long, doesn't mean you are happy.
Not gonna dwell on this, but just like so many Christians I know who supposedly follow the teachings of Jesus, but are mostly just mean, judgemental people, many of the Zen Buddhists who dedicate their practice to loving kindness are neither loving nor kind. Seems at the end of the day, we're all just human, struggling along, doing our best.
7. I'm a good sleeper.
The more people I meet, the more I realize that it is a rare and beautiful thing that I sleep so easily and deeply and consistently. Since getting here, I've been slumbering like a baby. The chores we do are tiring, and the food plentiful, and the fresh air intoxicating. Plus, learning new things every day takes it out of a person. So, when I go to bed, I sleeeeeeeeeep.
8. Sunrises are the only good thing about getting up at 5:30am.
I am here to unhappily report that I have my iPhone alarm clock set at a time that begins withe number 5. That in itself seem ludicrous. But the other morning, while walking through the woods on my way to wash dishes at that ungodly hour, I stumbled upon a sunrise that was entirely perfect. Night owls like myself don't experience sunrises. Ever. So, I have decided they will be the silver lining to what is definitely in the top 3 of My Least Favourite Things About This Experience...and I will my best to count my sunrise-coloured blessings.
I'll try to do this again in a handful of days with a new list, and possibly a few new pictures. I'm now off to a Mindful Movement session that the yogis have opened up to the volunteers to participate in. I have no idea what it is I am going to be walking into, but that seems to be the theme, now doesn't it? :-)