As I wrote in my new book, “Love and Accept Yourself Now,” I try to live my life with an attitude of gratitude. Life is so much more enjoyable and healthier that way, and these last two months have given me a lot to be grateful for.
A few years ago I met a wonderful English couple from Leicester on a cruise. They always wanted me to visit them, and I finally did that last June. They treated me like a long-lost relative and drove me all over the lovely English countryside. We explored the famous Chatsworth palace (used in films such as “Pride and Prejudice” and “The Duchess”) and the young guide told us about one of the Dukes. He did not marry, but loved his niece very much and was devastated when she passed away. I nodded with a knowing smile: You can’t be happy without love even if you live in a palace surrounded by 105 acres of stunning vistas and gardens.
I went to Portugal for the first time just before I went to England and loved it. I met many terrific people on the in-depth bus tour that started in Lisbon and took us all around this fascinating country and am staying in touch with them. I also feel a strong connection with the Portuguese people; they had an empire, but their mournful Fado songs show a spiritual intensity that transcends power and riches.
A Calgary friend urged me to see the Stampede this year, and I’m thrilled I managed to go in spite of the flood disaster. I saw the whole down town parade on July 5, and was very moved and inspired by the crowd’s gratitude towards the emergency and rescue workers. They and Mayor Nenshi got the longest and loudest cheers, showing that the “we shall overcome together” spirit is intense and alive. I am happy I could show some support just by going there. The stampede grounds were also very exciting,and, even though attendance was down from the year before, the fun-loving and positive energy was infectious.
Soon after I returned home from Calgary, one of my Estonian cousins visited me for the first time. I drove him to Whistler, and his visit gave me an excuse to do things I hadn’t done before, like going on the Peak to Peak gondola from Whistler to Blackcomb. I took him to my home on Vancouver Island and we went on a zodiac whale-watching tour out of Tofino. We were lucky and saw several grey whales, sea otters and Steller sea lions. We also made it to the top of Mt. Washington and marvelled at the phenomenal view of the Island.
What is so amazing about his visit is that it was not possible for decades. My cousin was born in Estonia when it was part of the Soviet Union. He had to learn perfect Russian, had to serve in the Soviet Army, and wasn’t allowed to travel to the Free World. Now that Estonia is part of the EU and NATO, he is free to travel anywhere. I visited him several times, but this year I finally had the joy of showing him a bit of the paradise we call Coastal BC. Talk about being grateful!! We were both as happy as kids in a candy store.