Every Thursday morning I pack Sam up into the truck and we head out for the beach. Sometimes we go to lonesome Mud Bay – a 17km path along the Pacific (we don’t do the whole 17km!). Sometimes, we head to Blackie Spit/Crescent Beach which teams with people through the summer and is empty in winter. But we always meet up with one of my bestest girls, Neysa, and her dog Charlie.
Charlie and Sam are the same age (2) and were acquired around the same time – they’ve grown up together. Along the way, Neysa had her first child, little Miss A, who often accompanies us on our ocean treks and it was during her mat leave that we started our weekly habit of hiking with the dogs. We chatter away about this and that and everything. Her friendship has been a godsend over the last year and a half. Last week she showed up with a stack of magazines and a book I’ve been longing to read – a small gesture to many, perhaps, but to me, it was huge.
Sometimes, in this day and age of twitter and facebook and blogs, it becomes so easy to get caught up in a world that’s not entirely real. Don’t get me wrong, social media and blogging have been HUGE in my life over the past two years: I’ve met some remarkable people, I’ve grown my business, I started a new business (with people I initially met on Twitter!), I got to meet one of my heroes in real life, when I travel to a new city, there’s always somebody there who’s willing to meet for a drink or a bite to eat. And most importantly, I’ve had the opportunity to interact and learn from all of you, who so kindly find some time for my little space on the internet in your daily lives.
But let’s face it, 140 characters is a huge filter to place over top of your life. You can hide your odd quirks, bad moods, family dramas and your annoying habits. We can all make ourselves look better than we are (and sometimes, the reverse is true and we can make ourselves look a lot worse than we are). People don’t get to see how you talk with your hands when you’re excited, or how you stutter when you’re caught off guard, or the guilty look on your face when you try to pass a little white lie, or the passion in your voice when you talk about doing what you love.
All of those things are reserved for the people who are there with you day in and day out “in real life”. They know how annoying you can be when you’re in one of your “moods”, or when you need a hug because things aren’t right – even though you haven’t said things aren’t right. They know the real you and they put up with you anyway.
This world of blogging and tweeting can sometimes make you forget that the most important people in your life are the ones who are present when the computer and smart phone are shut off. My closest friends don’t tweet, hardly any of them blog and my bestest chum in the world isn’t even on Facebook.
The last year and a half has been a bumpy one for my family and it’s resulted in me, for the most part, being a hermit. I haven’t been the most social person and I haven’t always been pleasant to be around and still, these people tolerate me and even seek me out and poke and prod at me to pull me out of my hermit cave.
When people thank their friends publicly, they always say “you know who you are”. But sometimes, they don’t. I was going to name names (just like Seinfeld!) but then I was afraid I would miss somebody! Let’s just say that most of you will never have heard of any of them but they are wonderful, kind, caring people who have had my back the last year, even when, quite frankly, they’d have been totally excused for turning their backs.
I will be taking some time off from the blogosphere over Christmas and New Years and limiting my social media activity. I have a few posts in the pipeline but I’ll be back full force the first week of January. In the meantime, I’m dedicating some time to the people who are there when all of you aren’t. I’m taking time off from work to spend some time with my camera, away from food, to wander the local beaches with Sam and to spend New Year’s Eve with dear friends, many of whom are the unidentified “you know who you are” people referred to in this post.
This holiday season, why not put away your iPhone or Blackberry, shut down Instagram and 4square and instead, be in the moment with the people you love – give them the gift of your undivided attention and time, free of keyboard tapping. It is truly the most thoughtful gift you can bestow. I know it will be the most treasured thing I will receive from my loved ones this year.
So, in the words of my favourite Christmas song from Emerson Lake and Palmer:
I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave new year
All anguish, pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear
*** the gingerbread photos in this post are from Gingerbread Lane at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Burrard Street in Vancouver. Local chefs, culinary students and amateurs show off their gingerbread skills and the results are spectacular. More photos from this will be coming in a future post!