Sightseeing this beautiful city in glorious spring weather
View of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club on a Perfect Spring Day
Pardon my excitement over cherry blossoms, but I am, well….EXCITED!!
Growing up in the Caribbean, I was accustomed to sunny, year-round summers. I had experienced fall and winter in Toronto and of course, winter in Vancouver, but I had never experienced the beauty and renewal of spring. I moved to Vancouver in November, 2012. Yes! Right at the start of winter! And whilst the cold was actually milder than I expected, but I was not prepared for the very short days, incessant rain and continuously dark skies. So like everyone else, I waited longingly for the first signs of spring.
And right on cue, they came! The first shoots from the earth and the new buds on the trees signaled that spring was finally here. And then they bloomed, and bloomed, and bloomed. Palettes of every shade of pink imaginable dotted all over the cityscape. Cherry trees blossomed with puffy clouds of the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen. After those dark, gloomy days of winter, Vancouver is finally alive with colour!
Many of the city’s 37,000 trees actually originated as a gift from Japan. And every spring since 2005, the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival has been held to bring the culturally-diverse Vancouverites together to enjoy the beauty of these trees.
But more than just heralding in spring, for me, the cherry blossoms are a sign of renewal, that even when times may seem cold, dark, rainy and gloomy, that the seasons will surely change, and new life, beauty and colour will be re-infused into everything.
I’m definitely looking forward to the weekend to take in some of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival events and the spring time beauty of this truly wonderful city. Or maybe, I’ll just stand under the canopy of baby pink blooms at the Burrard Station whilst I enjoy the most delicious shawarma I’ve ever had from Mr. Sharwarma’s food truck. Bliss!
What would you do if you knew you would not fail? That’s easy! If there is a guarantee of success, where’s the risk? But what if the path is less certain, untrodden? What if your inner self is calling you on a journey totally into the unknown?
I think Maslow’s theory is right, and that self-actualization is at the pinnacle of every human being’s desire. “What a man can be, he must be.” The realization of one’s full potential. Maslow describes this level as the desire to accomplish everything that one can, to become the most that one can be.
And we all have this desire to be our best self, to be all that we could be, to achieve our highest potential; whatever that ‘highest potential’ is to us individually.
This still does not mitigate the risk or the scariness of stepping out into the unknown, to leaving your comfort zone, the place and things you are familiar with to take a huge chance and trek out in pursuit of your ‘highest self’. The thing about it is that despite the risk, your ‘highest self’ will not allow you to get comfortable in a place where you can do more, be more.
After all, we only get one chance to live, and none of us want to live with regret. Deep within us is the fear of leaving this life with something undone. And we only get one shot at this thing called life. There are no dress rehearsals: this is our one shot!
“Go now and live. Experience. Dream. Risk. Close your eyes and jump. Enjoy the freefall. Choose exhilaration over comfort. Choose magic over predictability. Chose potential over safety.” Scary! That desire to quit your job and start your own business; to leave your comfortable home and travel into the unknown corners of the world; to take your chance on a new life elsewhere; to pursue higher education at a riper age; and yes, sometimes it is to leave a bad marriage.
But we have a duty, an obligation to ourselves to take a chance on life and pursue our best selves. To live happy, fulfilled lives. To pursue the dreams that lie deep within us; to bring them to the surface and go after them with vigor and determination. Will we fail along the way? Maybe. But these ‘failures’ will be lessons on our journey. And like all famous “failures”: Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Oprah Winfery, we will pick ourselves up and with resolute focus, move forward….again….and again.
What would inspire a girl from a beautiful, tropical, tiny island in the Caribbean to leave her family, job, comfortable, familiar life and the safety net that all of that brings, and venture into the western corner of Canada, to Vancouver, British Columbia, a place she had never been before, had no job, no family, no friends and no “Canadian experience” as she was told over and over? The desire to grow: personally and professionally; the desire to be the highest, truest form of herself.
A friend of mine explained it to me like this: “You had to break down everything that you were. You had to undo all that you knew and venture into unknown paths within yourself; that years before would be unheard of, that you had no reason to explore. You had to be the person you envisioned yourself to be; the person you told yourself you would be from young.”
He was spot on! Some people call me brave and courageous. Sometimes I think I was mad. Maybe courage and bravery does have a little madness in the mix. But what I do know is that I could not be stagnant. I had to step out, to grow, to move on to the next level, to that next step on my journey to be all that I was called to be.
It would be remise of me not to begin my travel blog without sharing my beautiful home with you, the island that gave me birth: St Lucia. Nicknamed the Helen of the West, its history is synonymous with that of the Helen of Troy, being fought over by two nations: France and England. It was finally ceded to the British by the Treaty of Paris in 1763 after 14 battles. Despite being part of the Comonwealth of Great Britain, the French influence is all over the rich, vibrant culture of this colorful piece of heaven, set down in the middle of the Caribbean archipelago.
With a variety of resorts, private villas and inns ranging from the pre-packaged, 5 star all-inclusive Sandals Resorts; to the global award-winning Jade Mountain with its private, infinity edged plunge pools with breath-taking vistas of the island’s world-famous Pitons; to the small, charming boutique cottages of Found Doux Estate (an old cocoa plantation), St Lucia is truly a vacation destination for the discerning.
With year-round topical weather, the Atlantic Ocean on its east and the Caribbean Sea kissing its western coast, St Lucia is abundant in natural attractions and beauty. White and black sand beaches, lush rainforests, the flora and fauna of life under the sea, breathtaking coastlines, and a dormant but continuously “yawning” volcano are just some of the natural beauty to behold on this island paradise. Plus its rich history adds another layer of attractions of old military forts used by the French and British to protect this treasure, its colorful carnival, to mark the end of slavery, Jounen Kweyol (Creole Day) in celebration of its Anglo-French heritage are just a few of the treats for visitors.
In 2013, the St Lucia Jazz Festival (amongst the top 3 jazz festivals in the world) was renamed the St Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival to give acknowledgement to the array or rich local talent added to the headliners, The Jacksons, Akon and R. Kelly. This is the ultimate, week-long party (‘fete’ as we say in the Caribbean) with main stage and fringe events all over this glorious island.
For more info, check out www.stlucianow.com or www.stluciajazz.org. For more photos, check out out my board on Pintrest http://pinterest.com/minervaward/st-lucia-simply-beautiful/, but let me assure you that no website, no photos, no blog can do St Lucia justice. St Lucia just has to be experienced….. first-hand.