Sunday, December 31, 2023

𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟯 𝗬𝗲𝗮𝗿 𝗶𝗻 𝗥𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄: 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗚𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗛𝗼𝗽𝗲

𝙄𝙩'𝙨 𝙢𝙮 𝙨𝙚𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙙 𝙮𝙚𝙖𝙧 𝙤𝙛 𝙡𝙞𝙫𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙞𝙣 𝘾𝙖𝙣𝙖𝙙𝙖 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙮𝙚𝙖𝙧 2023 𝙗𝙧𝙤𝙪𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙨𝙤 𝙢𝙖𝙣𝙮 𝙜𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜𝙨 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙬𝙤𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧𝙛𝙪𝙡 𝙢𝙚𝙢𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙨. 𝙄 𝙝𝙖𝙙 𝙢𝙮 𝙨𝙚𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙙 𝘾𝙝𝙧𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙢𝙖𝙨 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙗𝙚 𝙬𝙚𝙡𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙢𝙮 𝙨𝙚𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙙 𝙉𝙚𝙬 𝙔𝙚𝙖𝙧 𝙞𝙣 𝙖 𝙘𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙩𝙧𝙮 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙚𝙢𝙗𝙧𝙖𝙘𝙚𝙙 𝙢𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙜𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙢𝙚 𝙖 𝙜𝙤𝙤𝙙 𝙤𝙥𝙥𝙤𝙧𝙩𝙪𝙣𝙞𝙩𝙮.

The westernmost province of Canada, British Columbia is truly fascinating and I've seen some of its most breathtaking places worth visiting. I enjoyed the journey to places and being inspired by nature and the people. 

The year 2023 wasn't all about travel. It's been a roller coaster of events and a swing of emotions. Things happen swiftly and suddenly. We had joy on cloud nine, but also had seasons in the sun.

Chinese New Year in Vancouver 

We had a simple New Year's Eve celebration in Vancouver. A countdown and some selfies on our hotel room's balcony overlooking the Vancouver skyline. That was a cheerful way of welcoming the New Year with the greatest hopes and aspirations.

We also welcomed the Chinese New Year in Vancouver Chinatown in late January 2023. It was a surprise to have met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waving and greeting people on a parade.

I've been celebrating the Chinese New Year for years and it never fails to give me and my family some luck and prosperity. In 2023, I feel abundance coming in and it ignites optimism for greater hopes.

A Spirited Spring

I love Spring. It's the most loved season when everyone seems smiling and happy being outdoors after a long winter.

We traveled about two hours from home to spend our first Spring holiday in Harrison Hot Springs in the Fraser Valley. It's a healing place and highly revered by the local indigenous people. I felt the healing power of nature on its hot springs and probably the famous "Sasquatch" urban legend which is a spiritual creature that made several sightings documented.

Spring isn't complete without experiencing the Cherry Blossom Festival. This year, we celebrated it in Garry Point Park in Richmond and walked on a canopy of cherry trees. 

It's nice to see couples, children, and families enjoying the colors and smell of the Cherry blossoms. It's one of the most beautiful gifts the Asian people gave to North America. And in Garry Point Park hundreds of Cherry trees blossom magically.

There are more in Spring other than the Cherry blossoms. On May 22, 2023, in celebration of Victoria Day, I had my first Rodeo experience at the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair.

The best and award-winning Cowboys and cowgirls in North America showcased their Rodeo skills to the thousands of spectators from British Columbia and places in North America. 

The Rodeo event teaches us about the livelihood and lifestyle of the great Cowboys and Ranchers. What we see in the game is what happens in the real world of Cattle and any livestock industry. Rodeo is not only fun, but it teaches us about patience, endurance, and perseverance.

When the Summer Comes

Summer is full of fun under the sun. It's a great time for outdoor activities anywhere. The first event we attended was the Pinoy Festival in Burnaby at the beginning of summer on June 25, 2023. 

Pinoy Festival was the first ever and the biggest Filipino cultural event in British Columbia and we had the opportunity to meet and greet fellow Filipinos and watch their cultural performances.

That was also memorable to meet and hear the message of British Columbia Premier, David Eby who recognized the Filipino communities' great contribution to the Province and the country. 

Summer is best enjoyed when we travel a little bit far from home. On July 2, 2023, we had an hour's drive to Chilliwack to visit Minter Country Garden. It's where we found the largest selection and display of trees, flowers, and ornamental plants. We had lunch in their café and bought the finest tea in their shop.

The garden has a relaxing ambiance and it's worth the visit. I hope to come back in the future to buy some plants and bring a piece of nature at home.

In the middle of Summer, on August 6, 2023, we discovered a lake in Coquitlam after we failed to secure a parking spot on the beach that we wished to visit. After almost 2 hours of searching for an alternative spot, we had finally settled and had a pleasant picnic day on Como Lake. 

The place was surprisingly cooler than the rest of the metro and the early fall foliage was evident. I like the healthy lifestyle of the residents where they do fitness walks, fishing, and outdoor games.  

The best of Summer happened on my birthday when we had a trip to Bowen Island which is a 20-minute ferry ride from Vancouver. It's a romantic Island getaway that anyone can enjoy even on a day trip. 

We had a great time on a rocky shore in a marina just below the mountain and overlooking an Islet where small boats, jet skis, and ferries pass through.

It's a great feeling to unwind once in a while and our Bowen Island trip was one of the most memorable birthday celebrations I had. It's the best moment of contemplation and a heartfelt expression of gratitude for another year. 

Fall in Love

The colors of the fall season are truly magical. It gives a lovely vibe when you see the plants and trees change their colors and fall to the ground. 

At the beginning of the fall on September 30, 2023, we traveled to Lynn Canyon Park in North Vancouver to simply have some time in nature. 

The sound of the waterfalls was soothing to the senses as we crossed a suspension bridge leading to the trails. That was the clearest water I've seen up close on the stream. Several teens enjoy jumping off the cliff and splashing in an emerald pool of water. We simply enjoy the moment to take a deep breath and appreciate the breeze of nature.

A Sparkling Winter

British Columbia is known for its mild winter. But this year's season is warmer and we're not having snowfall in the metro for the holidays and before the year ends. 

Although we're not having a mountain resort adventure this holiday, we have enjoyed the sparkling lights of Christmas in the city. 

Our Christmas shopping in Richmond was special as we took a picture with a massive Christmas tree while hearing a festive melody. 

Our trip to the Vancouver Christmas Market was a wonderful experience. It feels like a real Christmas to be with happy and jolly people. 

The most meaningful moment is Christmas day and we celebrate it with joyful hope. We celebrated the mass and shared some fun and laughter at a family gathering. 

Back in my home country,  the Philippines, my family had the Merriest Christmas celebrations. I may not be present, but they're always in my heart every Christmas. 

The year 2023 has been a great year against all odds. We continue to hope and dream about beautiful things and meaningful life. And we continue to be grateful for all the blessings and graces we received. We end the year with love shared with our loved ones. We end the year with peace and joy in our hearts. 

©️ 2023 Del Cusay

Monday, December 25, 2023

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗺𝗮𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝗢𝘂𝗿 𝗛𝗲𝗮𝗿𝘁𝘀: 𝗔 𝗝𝗼𝘆𝗳𝘂𝗹 𝗛𝗼𝗽𝗲

𝙄'𝙢 𝙬𝙧𝙞𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙖𝙜𝙖𝙞𝙣 𝙖𝙛𝙩𝙚𝙧 𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙚 𝙢𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙝𝙨 𝙤𝙛 𝙡𝙤𝙣𝙜 𝙨𝙞𝙡𝙚𝙣𝙘𝙚 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙗𝙡𝙤𝙜𝙤𝙨𝙥𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚. 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙡𝙖𝙨𝙩 𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚 𝙄 𝙗𝙡𝙤𝙜𝙜𝙚𝙙 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙞𝙣 𝙈𝙖𝙧𝙘𝙝 2023 𝙖𝙛𝙩𝙚𝙧 𝙢𝙮 𝙗𝙚𝙡𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙙 G𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙛𝙖𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙥𝙖𝙨𝙨𝙚𝙙 𝙖𝙬𝙖𝙮. 𝙉𝙤𝙬, 𝙞𝙩'𝙨 𝘾𝙝𝙧𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙢𝙖𝙨 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙤𝙣𝙘𝙚 𝙖𝙜𝙖𝙞𝙣 𝙄 𝙨𝙝𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙢𝙮 𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙜𝙝𝙩𝙨 𝙖𝙗𝙤𝙪𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙚𝙖𝙨𝙤𝙣 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜𝙨 𝙄'𝙢 𝙝𝙤𝙥𝙚𝙛𝙪𝙡 𝙖𝙗𝙤𝙪𝙩 𝙗𝙚𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙮𝙚𝙖𝙧 𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙨.

Loss is one of the most painful human experiences and we all go through the grieving process from denial to acceptance. That's life, we have to move on and continue to live our greatest life.

Life is precious and it can be fragile. It's a God-given gift that we treasure. We had joyful memories, but we also had sorrowful moments. Despite what we've been through, we lift them to God who gives us life. 

It's my second Christmas celebration in Canada and it's not a white Christmas as what we had last year. It's warmer than usual and a bit tolerably cold that doesn't
need a layer of clothes. Different experience than last year, with a whole new scenery and vibe.

However, we had the first snowfall of the season in early December, though it melted so fast the next day. That may be the first and last snowfall before the year ends and so we enjoyed it before it's gone. 

Christmas season in Canada may not be as jolly as what we have in my home country, the Philippines. But our simple celebration here is meaningful and leaves a lasting memory to cherish.

Our trip to Vancouver Christmas Market was my first-ever experience of seeing and meeting people in a festive holiday ambiance and mood. It's a cool Christmas-themed village with surrounding skyscrapers, a scenic mountain backdrop, and coastal waters.

As Canada's most livable city, Vancouver never fails to amaze me with its natural beauty and wonders. And the Christmas Market with the Vancouver skyline is a wonderful and festive experience this holiday season.

Christmas will always be in our hearts. It's the most significant moment in our lives to celebrate with gratitude and remain joyful in hope.

There will always be light that glows in our hearts and we radiate it to people who are dear to us and the people we meet this holiday season. We are blessed and hopeful that things will be brighter and stronger than ever.

©️ 2023 Del Cusay