My First 50 Years – Love Lessons

Love yourself first, all of you.   Believe in yourself. Everyone has self doubt, don’t let it sabotage you or make you feel like you are different.  Make yourself a priority.  Don’t take on too much, learn to say no – often.

Laugh.  Connect with your sense of humour, and don’t take yourself seriously all of the time.  Everything always works out.  If you wait long enough, almost any situation has something in it that you will reflect on with humour…. eventually.

Save some money for a rainy day.  Every time I visit my dad he says this.  Most of the time it just irritates me.  Why is that?  Probably because I don’t like to have a mirror held up to my shortcomings.  My response is always, ‘Dad, I am doing the best I can.’  The truth is, I wish I had listened the first time he told me.

Believe in something greater than yourself.  Whatever that looks like to you, you will know it is right when it feels right in your soul.  Thankfully, I have people in my life from many cultures and religions, and I have noticed that the happiest people are those who have faith in an energy that is greater than our singular energy here on earth.  We are hard-wired for connection with ourselves, each other, and to our collective existence.

Surround yourself with like minded people.  When you are enveloped by those who have the similar values, work ethics and social interactions, you are most at home in your environment.  You feel supported and connected.  You feel like you are part of a community that is committed to your passion.

People will reject you – and you will survive it. The notion that everyone needs to love and approve of us has made many of us so focussed on people pleasing, that we forgot what pleases us.  I have had a deep rooted fear of rejection most of my life. I realized that I was giving away my power, putting my worth in someone else’s hands.  I learned to accept rejection without emotion because I realized it had nothing to do with me, and the only unconditional love that I need to focus on is self love.  When I keep my attention there, everything else happens outside of me.

Let go.  Yes, even your children, especially the adult ones!  Live your own life and let them live theirs.  Embrace uncertainty, but trust that everything will work out with time.  Relax and trust in the process of life.  Let your children be who they are.  You be who you are. A good system for monitoring interference is to notice when you are upset with your child who is over a certain age; then ask yourself ‘whose business am I in?’  Be honest, even when you don’t like the answer!  When your young child triggers you, it is a cue to ask yourself why you were triggered by their behaviour. You can learn to recognise the trigger so that the next time it shows up you will have the skills to deal with it in a way that will be less stressful for you and your loved one.

Practice forgiveness; and sometimes it takes practice!  Strive to get to a place where you can look back and be thankful for the experience and what it has taught you.  Recognise that you are the person you are today because of your experiences.  It’s never too late to practice forgiveness, it is personal and doesn’t have to be shared with the person whom you are forgiving.  It is favourable to your health and will make it easier to live your happiest life.

What you give attention to you get more of.   That’s how life works. Many great teachers have taught this, including the Proverb ‘As a man thinks in his heart, so shall he be.’   There is a law of attraction that is always working.  If you spend your time focussed on another persons flaws, you can be sure that you will find more flaws the next time you see that person!  Likewise, if you believe all things work together for your highest good; you will continue to find the best vibrational frequency in every situation.

Be you – always.  Be sure that the person ‘you’ are is the same ‘you’, whether it is on line- in person- with the neighbor or with the Pope.  The easiest way to do this is to always be authentic, truthful and mindful.  Being ourselves is a progression.  We reinvent different aspects of ourselves, and our core values evolve as we learn to trust and love our true selves. You can trust yourself.

Feel your feelings.  Avoid numbing your feelings with distractions like alcohol, food, electronics or other addictions.  You will feel vulnerable and exposed, but let me assure you, that is where the knowledge, confidence and real learning reside, right outside your comfort zone.   Pay attention, be mindful, remember to breathe. Be brave and thoughtful about what comes next.  Practice self compassion. Be strong in the knowledge that the next time those feelings come up you will have a new confidence to deal with them.  You are more powerful than you think you are.

Follow your passion – no matter what obstacles you think lie before you.  Never stop learning.  If you keep moving with ambition, when the opportunity presents itself you will be ready to act on it.  I can’t emphasize this enough, stay true to your passion and your passion will make a way for you.

Life is a work in progress.  Some years we march forward steadfast in our goals and convictions, other years we take a time-out to re-examine who we are and where we are going, or sometimes just to rest. In each of those segments, we are doing exactly what we are destined to be doing based on the knowledge we have at the time.  We are more than enough, we are valuable, we are all teachers and students.  We are blessed beyond our comprehension.  Take time each day to acknowledge those blessings, each one is stepping stone to another.  Here is to another blessed 50 years!


Trail Tripping

What a magnificent fall we are having – warm days, cool nights, and lovely sunsets. Having just come back from a run on Mount Doug with my trusted four-legged partner, I am reminded that right now the autumn colours are at their best. The leaves form a carpet when I run, the crunch under my footsteps often the only sound I can hear – besides the happy panting dog beside me!

So as the seasons turn once more, I think of the many trails we can explore on foot – either as a brisk walk, hike or a run. We can choose to run by lakes, the ocean or through residential areas where rural trails are in abundance so let’s start with Mt Doug. It is the largest park in Saanich and has a myriad of trails at its base. All of the trails have excellent markers and there are maps at some intersections, so getting around is fairly easy even if you are directionally challenged. If you hike to the top you have a 360° view of Victoria. For runners keeping to the lower trails can still offer a challenge with many undulations and tree roots. It provides a good workout and your dog will love you for it.

The 10k trail that circumnavigates Elk and Beaver Lake is a gem in Victoria. On a warm day it provides shade and on a rainy day: shelter. It is ideal for running or walking as there are many places for your canine friend to cool off. Just beware of the algae warning signs. It has been particularly bad this past summer and your pet could get sick if exposed to it. The trail is marked every kilometre so you can explore by distance or minutes. Watch for others enjoying the trail, in particular horses. Dogs can be off leash as long as they are under control. And keep an eye out for the National rowing team who train on Elk Lake year-round.

Another beautiful place to exercise is Thetis Lake. Rated moderate to challenging by the CRD, this 834 hectacre park has an abundance of trails that intersect to you can make your journey as short or long as you like. Arbutus trees are a feature of this lake trail as is natural wildlife on the water. Like Elk and Beaver Lake there are areas for your four-legged friend to enjoy a cooling swim. The all-year round doggie beach is a particular favourite allowing your best friend to socialize with like-minded canines. If you like to run or walk early then you will see triathletes training as the main beach is a popular spot for swimming.

Victoria has two great urban/rural trails that intersect – Lochside Trail and the Galloping Goose Trail. Lochside Trail is a 29 km trail from Swartz Bay to Victoria and even though there are paved and road sections, the Royal Oak Drive to Sayward Road and beyond to Island View Road TRAIL tripping tips has some off road and is surprisingly quiet. It is a favourite for cyclists so if you are running with your dog then it is advisable to leash up. Ocean views are a feature of this trail.

Lochside meets the Galloping Goose trail at the Switch Bridge. It is 60 km of sheer delight for recreational athletes with many cyclists also enjoying the Goose. The pathway is now paved all the way to Colwood. However, beyond Colwood it is still mainly trail and stunning to explore – particularly around Roche Cove and Matheson Lake and all the way to the Sooke Potholes. This part of the Goose is surprisingly quiet and largely undiscovered so ideal for a quiet, solitary run or walk. It is marked every kilometre so you can choose to join the trail at a convenient spot and venture forth for as long or short as you like.

Other areas worth exploring are Horth Hill Regional Park near Sidney, Durrance Lake in Mount Work Regional Park, Francis King Regional Park in the Highlands, Goldstream Provincial Park and John Dean Provincial Park on the Saanich Peninsula. Whatever area you choose to explore, ensure you dress appropriately and carry ID and a cell phone if you are on your own.

Louise Hodgson-Jones is a media relations specialist, working with events such as the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon, TC10K, and Vancouver Island Race Series. She also coordinates communications for PISE and the Pacific Cycling Centre, and writes for IMPACT Magazine and Canadian Running.