It’s that time of year again. Gossip Girl is back from its mid-season hiatus (nearly), the weather has turned that much wetter, and people the world over are writing down their goals and dream for the year ahead. I am no different, and this year I spent the flight from Dallas to Vancouver writing my very own list for 2012. Least year’s list was comprised of philisophical (and dare I say vague) life goals for my first year living abroad, and now I’m settling in for my second year in Vancouver I’ve decided to be a little more specific.
1. Keep a diary. Nice and simple. I haven’t kept a diary for a few years now, and I think it’s about time I started writing again. That, and the pretty notebooks in Cath Kidston were just too flowery to resist.
2. Travel. Specifically within Canada. And specifically to the Rockies (think Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise). I only took three days of vacation from work from February to December 2011, which was mainly because I was focussed on settling in and getting to know Vancouver, and my job. Now I’ve been in my role for a year (almost) I’m in a much better place to plan my holidays a little more strategically and make sure I see more of Canada in 2012. After all, that’s why I’m living here.
3. Save money.Easier said than done, but as well as focussing on travelling I would also like to end the year with some savings in the bank. I do have a number in mind, and I’m not going to tell you.
4. Ski/snowboard more.The first thing I tell friends and family about Vancouver is the close proximity to the mountains, but I only spent 4 days on the snow last season. Granted, I had just arrived in the country, but this year I’m going to make the most of my evenings and weekends and head for the slopes. In fact, I have already booked a series of snowboarding lessons for February; every Monday evening after work I’ll be heading to Grouse Mountain for a 2 hour group lesson, followed by a social session in the bar.
5. Have a targeted approach to work. I love my job and I like to think I always give 100%, but this year I’m going to be much more strategic with my projects and plans. There aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done all the time, but I can pick my battles and make sure I focus on building on my strengths and improving my weaknesses to really make the most of my 2012.
Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how I can simultaneously challenge myself, try new things and make the most of the beautiful Vancouver summer. The Grouse Grind was the first rung on my ladder to outdoor adventure, but this still wasn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong, getting up the mountain was hard. Very hard. But not in the same league as getting down the mountain strapped into an oversized kite. You got it, I wanted to paraglide. I knew the longer I thought about it the more likely I’d be to talk myself out of it, so when my latest visitors and I planned a trip to Grouse Mountain I got straight on the phone and shelled out $199 plus tax. Done. No backing out.
As it turns out, I wasn’t as tempted to back out as I thought I would be. It’s important at this stage to note that I’m pretty afraid of heights. I have trouble looking over high balconies, and sports like abseiling or bungee jumping scare the hell out of me. Tandem paragliding was my way to tackle this fear in a supervised, safe and hopefully fun environment. Being the research geek that I am, the first thing I did after booking my session (deliberately not before) was to Wikipedia paragliding. Apparently the paraglide is designed in such a way that makes equipment failure just about impossible. Good news. This does however mean that the vast, vast majority of paragliding accidents are down to pilot error. Hmmmm. I closed my eyes and prayed for a good ‘un.
The morning of my flight rolled around, and I was surprisingly calm. My stomach was twisting more at the thought of hiking the Grouse Grind for a second time (oh no, I wasn’t taking the gondola up or down the mountain that day) than of throwing myself off the side of a mountain. I didn’t even feel a twinge of fear when the time came to meet my instructor, Todd, and attach myself to a paraglide. I started to tell him how nervous I was that I wasn’t nervous, but he interrupted me to tell me to walk forward, and before I could finish my sentence we were in the air.