I sail. I cycle. I CrossFit. I am a language teacher, aspiring writer, still a yacht cook at heart, amateur art aficionado and unremitting traveler currently living in Chilliwack, B.C., Canada.
As a child I learned my second language, English, by watching Mighty Mouse, Superman and films noirs on tv, (the latter I am forever addicted to) and reading piles of comic books.
My family is from Estonia. They left the madness of war behind them in the 1940s when they chose not to stick around for the imminent soviet occupation of their homeland. Driven to start a new life elsewhere fate took mum, my aunt and my grandmother to Nazi-occupied Germany. Just in time to personally experience “strategic Allied bombing offensives” rain down around them.
Their narrative is not unlike the many millions of apocalyptic stories created by power hungry despots who invade and terrorize as it suits them. Although I’ve been spared the nightmare my family went through I have witnessed the effects on them in the aftermath. It helps to have a sense of humor for sure.
Labelled as põgenikud by those who were left behind, the Estonian “escapees” created new lives for themselves all over the world. My immediate family eventually settled in Victoria on Vancouver Island, the western-most Estonian diaspora in Canada.
I was born in 1951 in Sherbrooke, Quebec. My parents worked in the textile factories to earn enough money to move to Toronto and rejoin my father’s family. Eighteen months later a sister became my sibling.
At five I embarked on my First Great Journey. Short on cash, my resourceful parents “co-created” a small canvas tent for the four of us to sleep in during our drive across the continent from Toronto to Victoria. Early on in life I found comfort in the mesmerizing lull of a motorized vehicle taking me somewhere or nowhere. It made no difference to me. Caught up in the moment I was entertained by the endless march of the telephone poles flying past us one after the other for hundreds of miles.
I grew up amid the seismic beauty of the forests, mountains and sea of the Pacific Northwest . But it’s today where my REAL growing up is happening as I enter the sixth decade of my life. I’ve learned that the old adage “necessity is the Mother of Invention” will take you far in life. And when you add some panache on top for good measure, you have become a genuine “life style artist” . . . because style matters.
Be it in the way something is designed, expressed or presented: the story, the painting , the way you speak a language or the way you “float your boat”, your style amplifies your attitude on life. It is where your personality and your philosophy meet and make you unique and special.
When the Berlin Wall was demolished this new “hole in the wall” was my portal to connect with my ancestral roots. The reverberations of a new freedom were felt in all the soviet bloc countries including Russia so I knew the time had come to get my visa.
In the late ‘80s I flew from Istanbul to Helsinki and boarded the liner “Georg Ots” and sailed to Tallinn, bad head cold and all.
My subsequent 15 year séjour in this postage stamp-sized country perched precariously close to its powerful eastern neighbor provided me with countless opportunities to dig deep and practice that well worn mantra, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”. I learned to make do with very little, as my parents before me did, and learned how to get pretty good a recycling stuff.
Twenty-five years of living and working in other countries had provided me with the basic tools I needed to survive and thrive in a country that had been set back fifty years. I taught English and in 1995 started my own picture framing-art gallery.
While dropping anchor in ports of call provided opportunities to broaden my horizons ashore, the lure of adventure always tempted me back on my journey to take a peek around the next headland.
Whether it’s “heaving to” and riding out the stormy seas of a nor’easter or managing co-dependency, financial loss or other personal challenges, finding a way to add some creativity to a situation provided me with the inspiration I needed to get back on my feet, dust myself off, and get on with it. When we combine artistry with the spirit of entrepreneurship we satisfy our real self within and there are no obstacles we cannot overcome.
My intuition tells me my traveling is not over. The spiritual traveling is getting my attention a lot more these days and providing me with an increasing frequency of AHA moments. I sense too, that the Fraser River Valley will be my summer hangout while I seek warmer and drier climes in the winter.
I created this blog as a kind of log book where not only am I logging my current endeavors at entering my sixth decade with more purpose but also to record my memoirs before they become too hazy and disjointed. My wish is to make story out of life experience as the writer Christina Baldwin has defined it and share with others the particular route that I have followed with all its twists, turns and potholes along the way.
I look forward to your comments and links to your stories as well!
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list” Susan Sontag