WHAT DO YOU VALUE MOST IN LIFE?
We just returned from a trip to the west coast of Canada including stops in Vancouver, Victoria, Salt Spring Island, Tofino and Ucluelet. We both wanted to get away from work on projects, internet and social media, and simply get out and enjoy life. That is one of the things that is important to us … making the most of however long we have on this great big blue marble called Earth.
As the vacation went on, we both had time to reflect on the things that we value … and also reflect on things that we might be willing to release once we got back from vacation. So this blog is going to be about those observations … shared … for whatever they are worth. One thing is for sure … just taking the time to think about what we value, and how we express that to others was an incredibly worthwhile process … so in no particular order here’s what we discovered.
WE VALUE EACH OTHER
It is hard to fathom that we have been together for 16 years, but from the time we met, we knew we were soul mates. Staying together for that long isn’t just by chance. We truly value one another. And to ensure we don’t take that for granted, each night before we go to bed, we say thank-yous. We thank each other for a minimum of three things that were done earlier that day. It doesn’t have to be something we did for each other, it can be a kindness extended to another person, taking time to call a friend, or simply taking out the garbage. Doing this daily ritual, and saying it with meaning each night has helped us to communicate that we do truly value one another.
FRIENDS ARE AN IMPORTANT PART OF OUR LIVES
During our trip we tried to connect with our friends in the places we visited. The picture above is Pete and I with Mitch, one of Pete’s longest friendships. We had the opportunity to do three meals with Mitch and his partner Sean, and we valued every second. We also caught up with acting friends Janet and Wendy, life-long friends, Brian and Cori, theatre contacts and even a former co-worker of Pete’s. We wanted to ensure we made some time for them. In our daily lives, we do a lot of outreach through email trying to wish people a Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary, sending good wishes on theatre openings (even when we can’t be there) and simply making time to share laughter. It is amazing how a few minutes a day can keep friendships intact, make our friends feel valued and add value to our own lives.
THE BEAUTIFUL GAL ON THE RIGHT IS MY NIECE … WE TRULY VALUE FAMILY
Although it can often be hard to keep up with family, we wanted to ensure that our trip included a visit to Ucluelet where my niece works at a hostel. We spent a full day walking beaches, doing lunch and going whale watching … but most importantly … reconnecting. Although we can’t always do this in person, we ensure we are in touch on special occasions, find excuses for yearly gatherings with family in our area and truly try to reach out. We do regularly schedule phone calls to my folks and maintain contact with siblings around busy schedules by phone or email. As the fall dawns, a personal project is to reach out to Aunts and Uncles who I haven’t seen in some time. I need to show them that they are a valuable part of our lives.
WE VALUE NATURE AND THE MANY WONDERS OF THIS WORLD
It’s no secret that we love to travel, but you don’t have to go far to find nature. There are lots of parks and ravines to explore in Toronto, Calgary or any town you live in. We love when friends post pictures of their trips or daily walks through parks in their home town. On the west coast, there was so much on offer at every turn. The picture above was taken at 9:30 in the morning as the mists slowly cleared from the rain forest which came right up to Half Moon Bay … a 30 minute hike in from a road in Ucluelet. We were the only ones on the beach. As the mist lifted, the beams of sunlight streamed through the old-growth trees creating an effect that truly made us appreciate the wonders of mother nature. How do we value nature back? By staying on the path, picking up any trash along the way that we see, and by taking pictures and sharing them to show others that in a troubled world, there are still many places filled with awe and beauty and peace.
WE VALUE GOOD FOOD
When we take a vacation, it means that we have both worked really hard, budgeted out how much our trip is going to cost and made an effort to put that money in the bank before we travel. This includes budgeting for meals out. On Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island, we stayed in many cottages and cabins with kitchen facilities (allowing us to cook instead of going out), which meant we could venture a few times to fancier places, such as this extraordinary breakfast at JAM in Vancouver. There will be more on this meal in the upcoming travel blogs. We also value moderation … so this fancy meal was balanced with less extravagant food. And all of it was balanced by as much walking as we could possibly do each day. And at the above restaurant … we tipped generously, and thanked the staff and let them know that their attention to detail with the meal was something that we valued. Clearly others felt the same way. By the time we left, there was a line-up around the block to get in. The restaurant valued their customers, and in return they had built a booming business.
WE VALUE UNIQUE EXPERIENCES SUCH AS THIS ZODIAC TOUR ON THE PACIFIC OCEAN
Be it hiking in the amazing old growth forests of Pacific Rim National Park, or taking an extraordinary zodiac adventure miles out into the ocean to visit seals, sea lions, otters and whales in their natural habitat, we challenge each other to try new things, seek out adventure, and learn from those experiences. We value getting new perspectives that challenge our perception of our own limits. Sometimes it is scary, but almost always … it is worthwhile. We learned a new appreciation for the vastness of the ocean and the power of waves … even on calm seas. We learned how small we are in the grand scheme of things.
WE VALUE THE ARTS AND THE ARTISTS WE ARE PRIVILEGED TO WORK WITH
(Photo by Benjamin Laird Photography of Rennie Wilkinson and Guilly Urra in the Lunchbox Theatre production of Newfoundland Mary directed by Val Pearson with costumes by Marian Truscott, scenic design by Scott Reid and lighting design by Dave Smith)
We value the arts, the stories that are told through artistic mediums, and we truly try our very best to ensure that every artist that works on a project of ours is paid. If we can’t pay them as much as we would wish, then we ensure they are valued through food, wine, flexible rehearsals and always … extending thanks and gratitude for bringing our work to life. On our holiday we were able to reflect on the artistic highlights of the year, the above production being one of them.
WE VALUE OUR FREEDOM TO MAKE CHOICES IN LIFE
This sculpture was embedded in a rock near the harbour in Victoria. It shows a pair of hands holding onto a set of chains, rising out of the rock. This sculpture stayed with me, but perhaps for reasons that might surprise you. It made me think … what do I hold onto in my life that I believe I can’t let go of or I won’t survive? The answer that came back days later as I stared into the ocean surprised me.
FINANCIAL SECURITY IS SOMETHING WE VALUE MORE AND MORE AS WE AGE
Pete will be retiring in four years. He is fortunate to have a pension and I plan to continue working, but one thing that taking a big trip and budgeting forward makes clear … life is a series of choices when it comes to finances. I have never been one to prioritize money over life experiences, but in the upcoming years the meditation on what I want brought about some revelations. For the first time in some time I realized that I will really have to earn more money if we want to continue our present quality of life … and some of that will be achieved by simplifying or travelling a little less, but there were some revelations about my relationship to work and money and the arts.
The first revelation is that years of working as an artist have conditioned me to accept any and all work simply because when someone offers me work, it means they “like” me or approve of me. Seeking approval can be a slippery slope, because those who provide that approval sometimes inadvertently undervalue the work … because they know that you need it … at any cost. Like those hands in that statue, one hangs on to whatever is available in order to financially survive.
But upon reflection, some of those same employers have been paying me the same wage without an increase in over 10 years. Unfortunately, costs in Toronto have continued to increase. This year, looking back at my work, there were projects that I felt happy to do for less money … because I felt valued and I felt the work had value. But there were other jobs that brought neither joy nor much income. In fact … by taking many smaller jobs, I was less focused, my energies were scattered, and often the result was earning less money than I could have if I focused on marketing my own work, or taking on a more permanent job for a period of time with a stable income. On this trip, it became clear that I have to let go of some of the things I have done simply because I am accustomed to doing them, and start prioritizing projects that value me through increased payment, or give me nourishment through the work itself. Which leads me to the last item.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO VALUE YOURSELF
Every year, we try and assess where we can give the greatest value in life to others, and determine what we need in terms of financial value from those that employ us, but the most important thing to remember is simply that it is hard for us to be valued if we don’t value ourselves. So this past holiday we took time to reflect on our goals, our dreams, and determine areas of our lives where we didn’t feel valued (either through our own inability to express that need, or simply because … we weren’t valued and were too scared to express our needs).
So this fall, I am making a list of areas where I feel valued, and areas where I feel undervalued. In those areas where I feel valued, I will ensure that I express gratitude and let people know I feel valued. In those areas where I feel undervalued, I will express that and determine if the cause of my devaluation is my own perception, if there is something that I want that I can get through communicating my need to feel more valued, or if it is simply time to let go. There will be a transition into new work, retaining some work with previous clients, and possibly moving on from work that I have held on to for too many years. I suppose one should do this every year, like a fall house cleaning.
So our challenge to you?
Take a few hours sometime this month, and sit down and look at the things in life that you value. Take some time to examine how you express your gratitude for the times where the things you value are present in your life. But also take some time to identify where your life is filled with things that you don’t value or areas where you feel undervalued. Are there things you can let go of? If you feel undervalued, can you determine why and express that to those who don’t value you? And if you still feel undervalued, do you have the strength to let go, value yourself and make a list of the things that you really WANT and start figuring out the steps to getting them in your life? For us, the key to having the fullest life is knowing what we value, and taking action to ensure that we keep those things at the forefront of our lives.
WE VALUE YOU!
I have left one final thing of great value to the end of the blog. We value YOU for taking time to read or skim these blogs. Thanks for reading. I love to write, and your interest gives me a great reason to continue blogging. I hope that these blogs bring you joy, information, food for thought and a chance to go on our adventures with us. We love to share in the things we have seen.
In the upcoming posts, we’ll be sharing our travel adventures in greater detail. Be prepared for lots of food, friends, family, nature and adventure.
Until next time … warmest regards
Fenton & White