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Who is J? - by J

Posted 6/25/2024

In response to T’s first post, I realize that I want to tell you more about myself. I’m not going to talk about my childhood, my career, or all my major life events. Instead, I will share one small event that helped me to see who I am, more clearly. Last summer, I found myself retired, an empty nester, and struggling to discover who I really was. After spending decades allowing myself to hide behind the title of Wife to T, and Mom to the Girl and the Boy, I was driven to find my own self. So, I booked an Airbnb in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia, learned how to load my kayak on my Jeep without any help, put my bike on the back, and headed out on a 10-day solo trip.

My goal was to find myself. My plan was to challenge myself. My expectation was to release the bohemian hippie that I had suppressed for so long.


Early in the trip, anticipating an epiphanyEarly in the trip, anticipating an epiphany


The Airbnb was a nine-hour drive away. I broke up the trip with a stay at a hostel in Golden, a first for me. I ate lunch at a small-town canteen overlooking a golf course and heard the music of Jack Johnson for the first time. I drove over the Rocky Mountains, through two National Parks, and onto multiple ferries. I stopped numerous times to check out glaciers, hike trails, and just listen to the sounds of nature. It was a bizarre experience to follow my own desires instead of coordinating with the desires of others.


The Dreamcatcher Hostel in Golden, BCThe Dreamcatcher Hostel in Golden, BC


When I arrived at the Airbnb, I found it to be everything I had hoped for. A tiny house overlooking Kootenay Lake with a separate office (or Art Space!), and a sauna. However, my first challenge was to learn how to navigate the extremely steep and cramped driveway and parking spot. This was a challenge I tackled multiple times throughout my stay, having to do a many-point turn in front of the tiny house, resulting in me going partly back down the driveway and reversing into my spot. I finally conquered the driveway when I became brave enough to do a tight, limited vision U-turn at the summit! I actually whooped for joy when I mastered that!



I spent the next eight days doing whatever I fancied. Some days I kayaked the lake, some days I drove the thirty minutes into the city of Nelson for lunch and groceries, some rainy days I never left the property and chose to meditate in the sauna or do a little ‘art therapy’. A couple of days I hunted for geocaches. Those were my real ‘challenge’ days. I had to truly push through my fears to drive up a steep mountain trail in search of one cache. I was sweating and shaking; my knees were weak. There were places where parts of the trail had washed away from previous rains. I kept telling myself it was ridiculous that I was going to plunge over the trail edge and die in a fiery explosion because I was too stubborn to give up on the search. (Also, once I entered the trail, there was no way to turn around!) I was elated to crest the top. I got out of the Jeep and walked around to stop the shaking and air out my sweaty shirt. I had done it!


I never found the mountain drive geocache, but I found this adorable mushroom!I never found the mountain drive geocache, but I found this adorable mushroom!


Another geocache took me across a tiny ferry and through the communities of Harrop and Proctor. This time I hiked a thirty-minute climb up another mountainside. It was very isolated; I didn’t see another person. I sang out loud and played some podcasts in the hopes that any grizzlies would be scared off. I’m not sure that I have mentioned that this was during the salmon run in bear county. As a female, I am also cautious about getting myself into situations where I may encounter nefarious people while alone. I was elated that I completed the hike up and down without giving into my fears.


I was the only person to cross on the Harrop Cable Ferry at sundownI was the only person to cross on the Harrop Cable Ferry at sundown


I found salmon spawning on a secluded stream, followed the call of a catbird into a small hidden nature preserve, and bought a pot of yellow mums to brighten up the patio. I ate Tim Horton’s canned soup for supper while watching Netflix, went to the Harrop flea market, and drove an interactive tour of the area I found online. I walked the back alleys of Nelson looking for their famous street art, laid on a secluded beach I found kayaking the lake, and listened to indie folk music while trying my hand at painting. I did a little meditation, I read some inspirational books, and I tried to discover the ’real’ me. I had an amazing time! But I didn’t have any epiphanies.


Private beach on south side of Kootenay LakePrivate beach on south side of Kootenay Lake


I came home on a different route, through the southern part of BC and Alberta. I splurged on a hotel in High River. I drove through the strongest winds I’ve ever been in north of Calgary. I stopped a few times to check on my kayak and tighten the straps but when I arrived home, the rack had twisted on the rails and the kayak had some indents from the straps. I was white knuckled and weak kneed again, but persevered. I was brave.


Mountain highwayMountain highway


After I had been home a few days, I wrote a snippet titled “Me”. It was a list of truths about me relating to my adventure. And writing this list brought out the epiphany. I am who I am. I am who I always have been. My discovery was really about who I am not. I am not the yoga-loving, sauna-taking, meditative bohemian that I thought I was hiding. I am just me. And I like me. I am learning how to take time for myself to do self care and just be me. I love to doodle, I love world music, I love to get dirt on my hands. I enjoy macrame, I am compelled to learn, and I need to sit in silence occasionally. I am excited to write again. Through this I am ‘finding’ myself.  And I am finding that I am Wife, I am Mom, I am Just J.


I am J - I am just J - I am Just JI am J - I am just J - I am Just J


For those who are curious, this is the list of truths I wrote about myself. This is Who I am.


I do not sauna

I do not yoga or exercise

I do not meditate

I have a need to be creative

I like to doodle

I do not like doing anything poorly

I do not know how to paint

I enjoy doing things slowly 

I am scared of many things in BC

I need someone to do scary things with

I need time to study nature

I have a need to improve things

I like quiet and need to sit/walk in it

I enjoy relaxing music

The boho/hippie person I thought was hiding in me isn’t there although parts of her are

I need water around me

I do not enjoy crowds

I am really good at being alone

I am curious

I am peaceful

I like being hot, I do not like being cold

I like to sit and listen

I am not my thoughts

I cannot do chaos


Just a doodleJust a doodle


Special Acknowledgement: There is no way I could have taken this little trip of self discovery without the support and encouragement of T. He used some holiday time to stay home and take care of the dogs and build us a back fence. While I lunched on Shawarma at Desi Donair in Nelson, T walked dogs and dug post holes. I am forever grateful that this is the man I am blessed to call husband.


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