Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mini Getaway and some MaterPride

My son's convocation from University of Victoria was last Thursday, and we were there to watch him walk across the stage, kneel before the Chancellor, re-place his hat in that ages-old academic ritual. Very moving, as these events always are. That's the same stage I walked across six years ago for my PhD., so the layers of time folded together happily for me, layers that also included a little guy's first day at school, his clowning at an elementary school Christmas concert, a bigger guy's brave move to do Grade 10 in Ottawa, keeping his dad company during a work stint in that city, his graduations from high school, then from his two-year diploma program, then proudly wearing a suit behind a hotel desk in his first serious position, and now, another landmark.
We'd initially assumed I couldn't attend because the convocation was scheduled on a teaching day, and this is a supremely busy time of term. But I worked like a fiend getting my marking caught up the last few weekends, and then I posted enough work on Moodle to keep my classes busy, checked with my Chair and  my Dean, and packed my bag. Having cleared the day, and with Friday being Remembrance Day, we decided to book two days at the Laurel Point Inn in Victoria.
I've been caught up in the term's stress, not sleeping well, my shoulders stuck around my ears, and in dire need of a break. Arriving at the hotel after the ceremony, the moon was just rising across the water, and already the promise of calm enticed.
And checking into our room, the twilight view overlooking the harbour

the autumn-dressed leaves lit against the falling dusk, all insisted I slow down, breathe more deeply. Dinner at the lively, always-satisfying Brasserie l'Ecole after stopping for drinks along the way, walking the Victoria Downtown with a young couple who have made it their own over the past several years . . . overall, the day and the evening were reassuring, reaffirming reminders of what really matters. I get so caught up in the rhythms of my work, which never, ever feels done, but sometimes it's good -- and it's okay -- to take time to step off that whirling circuit.

Morning offered more clarity, more beauty, more calm, although the latter arrived after a very stormy night.

Note the pool's decoration -- the leaves stripped by the overnight winds.
Home now, I have to hurl myself back into that whirligig, catch up with student e-mails, read the play I'm teaching on Tuesday and prep the class, mark a few leftover papers, and finish a proposal whose deadline is the end of the month. Need to fit in my week's long run (two hours, a big time commitment), really want to make a leek-potato soup, wish I could catch up my Reading Blog, and possibly write a long-owed e-mail to a good friend. The shoulders are already creeping back up to their usual position as sentinels to my ears, perhaps trying to protect them from all the cries of to-dos, must-dos, should-dos. . .

But I've had a lovely break, an important reminder of priorities -- not to mention a fabulous in-room massage and facial AND an unheard-of sleep-in (till 9 o'clock, never happens!).

So I'm ready for the week ahead. I hope you've managed to find some downtime as well over the weekend, but if not, perhaps you can plan to squeeze a few hours for something important to you. The work will be there when you get back to it, I guarantee!


  1. It sounds like your break was sorely needed and very much appreciated! You must have been very proud - and what nice memories for you too, since you were walking across that same stage only a few years ago!

    I hope the memory of the weekend helps you through your work in the days and weeks to come! P.

  2. Wow what a wonderful weekend getaway.
    Congratulations to your son !

    Brasserie L'ecole is delicious and just thinking about that massage and facial makes me relax.

    Try to keep reminding yourself to put those shoulders down...I used to get that way too and once it got so bad I needed several intense (painful) massages to unknot my neck.

    Take care,

  3. Congrats! What a wonderful commentary on a) your smart kid's hard work and b) your parent fabulousness! What a beautiful hotel. Sounds like that break was well deserved.

  4. Congratulations to your boy. I imagine he was very happy you could come. And I do wish you some shoulder-descending days in the weeks to come.

  5. and it's been fifteen years since i crossed that same stage .. wow! .. i can almost feel your materpride .. how wonderfull for us all, really ..

  6. All this is yet to come for me, but I can imagine the immense sense of pride you had, I like you have to remind my self to pull back my shoulders which creep up as does the somewhat intense look I wear on my face.
    I enjoyed you comments about Daisy, clearly something good is there as when I spoke to her about a minor catastrophe she was celebrating her first anniversary in bed with a champagne breakfast! Seriously, why do I worry?
    I also really appreciated the feedback on my work, the minor catastrophe is that Mother saw what I had written, I had no idea the image I sent her was so clear.... Why? Why, did I let her see it?
    But yes, it is funny that my gut reaction when illustrating my Identity is through relationships, I guess it’s all that’s significant, not what I do or what I posses it’s just people that matter in the end.

  7. Congratulations to your son! Graduations are always so moving. I'm so glad you were able to attend and also enjoy a little get away time from your usual busy schedule.

    You are so right that the work will always be there waiting. I hope this week you'll find a little time for you.

  8. Patricia: And you know it won't be very long until your fellow is doing the same thing . . .
    Hostess: You know it! That knotted-up neck is tough to unwind -- I've had those same massages, much less pleasurable than the relaxation ones, but a relief just the same.
    K: Thanks! I love to think I deserved both the kid's success and the hotel break, but there's all kinds of luck involved as well (and awesome genetics? kidding!)

    Lisa: I just have to teach my shoulders some mindfulness. . .
    Jane: Really? I'm getting out my calculator. . . can time actually bend like that?! And of course, you remember the boy when he was . . . a boy!
    Alison: I remember that stage, when I'd spend time and energy on the phone working someone through their tears, giving reassurance, helping with solutions . . and then suddenly another call would come in, the tears would be gone, and whichever Daughter was involved would be on her way out the door with friends and our call would be speedily terminated. Gotta love resilience?
    As for your mom seeing exhibit, disastrous, yes, but I wonder Why you let her see it. You know what the F-man says about the unconscious, right? And perhaps some good will come . . .
    Susan T: Yes, and you would have appreciated this one -- did you notice that lovely pipe organ? Played professionally to bring the graduands in . . . Lovely!

  9. Mmm...Brasserie L'Ecole is fabulous!

    Congrats to your son! I convocated on that very same stage. :)

  10. Thanks, Sheila, I'll pass along the congrats from his fellow alumnus member. And yes, Brasserie l'Ecole is great; too many years since we were last there, but we won't wait that long again. The steak frites, yummmm!

  11. So beautiful! I've had brunch at the Laurel Point in, but haven't stayed there. Yet.

    You've got a great photographic eye.

  12. 1ww: Isn't it a gorgeous spot! We've been lucky scoring a Friends & Family rate, but their off-season rates are surprisingly affordable for the quality of the accommodation.
    And thanks re the photography -- some day I'd like to develop technical skills to match my eye, but 'til then it's nice to hear some encouraging words.


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