Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wishing you holidays filled with joy, laughter and love!

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Little More of Evrieheng

Last year I wrote out 25 things that I was grateful for. They are all still true so I thought I'd post them again...and I've added 25 more for 2010

25 MORE Things I Am Grateful For - October 2010

1. Waking up rested, before the alarm goes off. Hearing "Mom! I had the BEST dream last night!" before my eyes are even open.

2. Seeing runners push past their limits because they are raising funds for something they believe in.

3. Watching people shave their heads in solidarity with their peers fighting cancer. They put bad hair days in humble perspective.

4. Staying dry under the new roof at Archie Browning.

5. Knowing volunteers who stayed up late putting on the Esquimalt Lantern festival and then woke up early to put on the Esquimalt 5K. They demonstrate to my kids what it means to be a community.

6. Knowing that this Hallowe'en, like every Hallowe'en before it, my kids will be more excited to see their friends at the Bonfire than to eat their candy.

7. Having old friends that I don't need to tell my story to...because they've been there all along.

8. Making new friends that become a part of our story from here on.

9. Loving people and places who have left us this year. My life is richer for having known them. My kids' lives will be forever enriched by their memories.

10. Letting my kids grow. My heart cries out to hold them close...and rejoices in their independence. Nothing has overwhelmed or changed me like my love for my kids.

11. Finding slugs in the driveway and worms in the puddles. Those slimy little guys give us a chance to stop and wonder in the rain.

12. Living in a town so rich in history. We are surrounded by reminders of those who came before us...and what they gave for us to live here.

13. Knowing Firefighters, Reporters, Teachers, Police Officers and others that are willing to talk to my kids about their professions. They've helped them see that their world is filled with endless possibilities.

14. Sharing lunch at the Friday all you can eat Festival of Gluttony with friends who promise not to complain about their taxes.

15. Knowing people who are still willing to pick up the phone when they are angry or disappointed. The opportunity to find common ground and understanding is lost if the conversation stops.

16. Marrying a kind man who quietly goes about taking care of our home and our kids when I worry and work and fret and fuss.

17. Snuggling up next to my kids with our favourite books. I am forever indebted to the teachers who unlocked endless worlds of adventure for teaching them to read.

18. Counting my blessings as I hike in the woods....and never running out - no matter how far I walk.

19. Discovering new trails that instantly become old favourites. Hiking with new friends that become old favourites too.

20. Remembering that despite the aches, the injuries and the excuses...every once in a while I can still put the ball in the top corner.

21. Creating new recipes with leftovers. Cooking something that at least 3 out of 4 members of my family will eat.

22. Finally recognizing that the dress I wore to Thanksgiving dinner in 1999 is just taking up space in my closet. This year, someone else is wearing it. Knowing that if my waistline ever returns to that size, I'll be able to afford a new outfit.

23. Appreciating the power of time to heal and change.

24. Seeing snakes, owls, dragonflies, fish and more on "Good Nature Days" with the kids.

25. Hearing my children laugh out loud in their dreams. Sharing their thoughts when they wake.

25 Things I am grateful for in 2009 (and beyond...)

1. Writing what we are grateful for on coloured paper leaves and hanging them on the "gratitude tree"

2. Knowing children who believe in "the force". Their conviction that good should always win fuels my optimism.

3. Sleeping in.

4. Living in good health.

5. Enjoying warm meals surrounded by loved ones.

6. Having so many loved ones that we need to rent a room at the Archie Browning Sports Centre for Thanksgiving dinner.

7. Receiving a grant for the Archie Browning Sports Centre....and knowing that many more family celebrations will take place there.

8. Moving ahead on many projects in Esquimalt. While traffic may be backed up now, we'll be enjoying new sidewalks, bike lanes, roads and improved bus service next year.

9. Healing my children's wounds with a Sponge Bob bandaid and a kiss.

10. Witnessing my friends have the courage to set goals and the dedication to achieve them. 26.2 miles non-stop - thank you for inspiring me.

11. Meeting new teachers and coaches that have come into our lives since September. Thank you for sharing your talents with us.

12. Knowing teachers and coaches from the past who continue to show us kindness and caring. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do.

13. Having teachers who take the time to write notes that say, "Your kid had a great day today!"

14. Living in a community rich with volunteers who make events like the Esquimalt Lantern Festival, Buccaneer Days and the Hallowe'en Bonfire happen. You build the scenes of my children's fondest memories. I hope it inspires them to pass these traditions on to their own children.

15. Seeing my old dog find the energy to get up from his nap and greet me atthe door.

16. Knowing that my children can walk 5 minutes in any direction of our home and find someone who cares about them.

17. Losing track of time in a good book.

18. Drinking good coffee at Beans and Greens while I type on my new laptop.

19. Feeling friendship and love that have passed the tests of distance,grief, joy, and change.

20. Surrendering to the giggles in public.

21. Being a small part of something amazing. The colleagues I have at QA are all truly the best of professionals. They make it easy to come to work because it feels like we are doing something meaningful.

22. Discussing Esquimalt with all the interesting people I have met in the last year. I have learned so much and I am so grateful and honoured to work with each of you.

23. Receiving gifts of construction paper turkeys - made with the outlines of little hands.

24. Holding hands and sharing popcorn on family movie night.

25. Evrieheng

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Victoria News - Kitchen-scrap collection program seeks input

Victoria News - Kitchen-scrap collection program seeks input
I heard a LOT of support and talk for a compost type program like this while campaigning...please attend one of these sessions and find out more!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Wrong Plan

Township of Esquimalt - Sewage Treatment The Wrong Plan

Esquimalt has launched a new website! is designed to inform residents and taxpayers around the region that we believe the current CRD plan to treat Wastewater is the wrong plan. In fact, on July 7th, Esquimalt Council unanimously endorsed this statement:

We do not support the Liquid waste management plan as is currently stands.

We will do everything we can to change it.

We want the CRD to comply with the Minister of Environment's directives for;

*Appropriate public consultation.

*Reuse of resources generated offsetting revenue to reduce costs to taxpayers.

*Aggressively reduce GHG emissions.

We do not feel McLoughlin Point meets these provincial government directives.

Please check out our website. We need everyone to get involved in this debate. The economic and environmental repurcussions will continue for generations.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Township of Esquimalt

Township of Esquimalt

Thank you Esquimalt! It was a pleasure hearing from you this week. I am so impressed with you commitment and your engagement!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sewage Meeting Monday Night!

Township of Esquimalt We are all cutting short our Summer Recess because we want to hear from you about the current Sewage Treatment Plans. Our Council has a strong, unanimous position (see this article) but we want to hear from YOU! Please attend or write us a note to let us know what you're feeling! Hope to see you tomorrow!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Archie Browning Sports Centre Gets a New Roof!

Victoria News - Raising a roof over Archie

Here's a little story I'm THRILLED to pass on. Please check it out by following this link to the Vic News online.

The new roof at Archie Browning is ON time, ON budget and is good to go for another 25 years.

Even better, is that with energy efficient upgrades the costs to operate this facility will go down. Better for the environment AND better for the pocket book.

Well done to all the residents who have worked long and hard to advocate for the grant applications, political will and solid management to see this project through. You made this happen!

...and a HUGE well done to our staff. ON time and ON budget is a great thing to see in the news. PLUS my hat is off to the workers up on the roof today. I've been up there and it is HOT!!! Thank you for all you're doing for us in this weather. Be safe and know we appreciate it!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

CRD Open House in Esquimalt

CRD Open House on McLoughlin Point July 6 and July 8

When: Tuesday July 6 and Thursday July 8, 2010, 3 to 8 p.m.

Where: Esquimalt Council Chambers, 1229 Esquimalt Road

Dear Esquimalt friends and residents,

I'd like to personally urge you to attend one of the CRD public engagement sessions being held next week. While this is in Council Chambers, it is a CRD staff event. It will be an informal, drop-in, open house type format. You could bring your kids along with you if you don't have a babysitter. The CRD will have some information for you to look at and a spot for you to comment.

It may feel like I'm always asking you to attend something, or fill out a survey or provide some feedback. I am. However, this time, I'm also asking for your help. You may have read recent articles in which I was quoted as saying that I felt "blindsided". That is correct. A dramatic change in the Sewage Treatment plan from a distributed model (several smaller locations) to one centralized plant (McLoughlin Point) was made behind closed doors at the CRD with absolutely no input from Councils or their communities. I'm further quoted in the article saying that "we've tried to make our voices heard in every way possible." This is also true. Your Esquimalt Council has been proactive and strong on this issue. I also believe that we have some of the best informed, most articulate residents in this region. The Sewage Treatment Action Group and other residents have been involved and leading community engagement in Esquimalt. Unfortunately, we've all been shut out of the discussions. The article, which quotes several of your Council, is available here: I am asking for your help and your voice.

The volume and intensity of the emails and phone calls I have received this month about the CRD's Sewage Treatment Plans has given me some good insight into how many of you are feeling. You have well thought out and legitimate concerns. You have a passion for our community. I'm asking you to come and let the CRD know. If you cannot attend a public engagement session, you can send in some written feedback here: and here:

The CRD's information on this issue can be found here: Some local editorials and coverage can be found here: Please take a few moments this week to share your concerns and ideas about this issue.

Lastly, I want to address some of the feelings I've heard this week. Many of you have contacted me and asked, "what is the point?", "the decision has already been made" etc. Many of you have been working on this issue for years longer than I have and you're exhausted. I can only thank you for your commitment and your endurance...and ask for more. All I offer you in return is the inspiration I take from you. This week, I am looking to the roof of the Archie Browning Sports Centre and remembering a time, just three years ago, when we were told that "it needed to close" and "there was no other way and no time to consult you". With the grant money
the community insisted we pursue, the roof is being fixed and the facility will be enjoyed for years to come. That roof (and all the cool happenings inside like Team China curling, the Curling Classic, the upcoming Skate Canada Nationals...) are the direct result of your public input. Three years ago, we were told a decision had already been made...and we came out to say it was unacceptable. The Archie Browning Sports Centre will always be a reminder to me, that we CAN make change happen.

Thank you so much,
Ali Gaul

Monday, June 14, 2010

Victoria News - Buccanner Days attracts thousands

One word: FABULOUS! Great quote Sandy (and so true)!
Victoria News - Buccanner Days attracts thousands

Interest heightens for rugby on Island

It was a beautiful weekend for Rugby at Bullen Park in Esquimalt! I LOVE watching 7's. Such a fast and brutal game. The mini rugby was adorable and had a great time with the obstacle course and the root beer garden. Well done - a great addition to Buccaneer Days!

Interest heightens for rugby on Island

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pink Shirt Day

Below this post is a link to one of the articles about the initial Pink Shirt Day. Two Grade 12 students in Nova Scotia, David Shepherd and Travis Price, heard that a Grade 9 boy had been bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school. These two young men went to a discount store and bought 50 pink shirts to hand out at the school the next day. They went online and encouraged friends to join them in making the school a "sea of pink". They did...and now it has spread across the country.

3 years later, people continue to follow the lead of those bright young men. Firefighters, Police Officers, teachers, schoolkids and many, many people wore pink today and pledged to stop bullying in every form.

Pink Shirt Day inspires all of us to be as creative and courageous as David Shepherd and Travis Price. Without resorting to violence, they sent a clear message that bullying is not acceptable. We cannot allow bullying to continue in the playground or the workplace or online. Every person deserves to be treated with respect - every day of the year.

CBC News - Nova Scotia - Bullied student tickled pink by schoolmates' T-shirt campaign

CBC News - Nova Scotia - Bullied student tickled pink by schoolmates' T-shirt campaign

Monday, March 8, 2010

Aimee Mullins: The opportunity of adversity | Video on

Aimee Mullins: The opportunity of adversity | Video on

A 20 minute talk that is sure to inspire hours, days, months of discussion, reflection and thought. The Paralympic Games opens this week - why not take the time to listen to this record breaking athlete speak?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Paralympic Fever

My friend Stef has had the Paralympic Fever for months...and I think I just caught it! For $15 bucks each, I just bought tickets to see some pretty amazing events next month!

Also, the Paralympic Torch will be starting its journey in ESQUIMALT - at the Archie Browning Sports Centre no less! Check out the details here:

The Township of Esquimalt and the Defence Team from Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt are joining forces to host one of only nine official 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay community celebrations in BC.

What: Paralympic Torch Relay

Where: Torch lighting at Archie Browning Sports Centre, 1151 Esquimalt Road

When: Saturday, March 6th, 2010 at approximately 9:45 a.m.

The Torch Relay will be a celebratory lead-in to Canada’s first ever Paralympic Winter Games, to run from March 12th to 21st, 2010.

“We are proud to be a celebration community and encourage every one to come out and honour our Paralympic athletes and their remarkable achievements,” said Mayor Barb Desjardins. “Let’s get together and celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime moment.”

There will be a pre-relay celebration in the Archie Browning Sports Centre parking lot beside Bullen Field starting at 8:00 a.m. The celebration—co-hosted by Township Councillor Bruce McIldoon and Rear-Admiral Tyrone Pile, Commander Maritime Forces Pacific—will feature a free pancake breakfast hosted by the Esquimalt Lions, a bouncy castle for the kids, a performance by the Naden Band of Maritime Forces Pacific, and display tents hosted by representatives from local disabled associations. “I hope residents from all municipalities will come and enjoy Esquimalt’s hospitality and meet the inspiring guests and athletes.” said Rear-Admiral Pile.

After a fire creation and the welcoming ceremony by the local First Nation community, the Torch Relay will get underway at approximately 9:45 a.m. It will be lit at the Archie Browning Sports Centre parking lot, do a loop around Bullen Park then continue on to Ship Point in Victoria via the waterway at Westbay Marina. The Navy will transport the flame first using one of their Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB) and then turn it over to the Navy dragon boat team who will bring the flame to shore where the celebration will continue in Downtown Victoria.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Let the Games Begin

Sports have been a big part of my life since I was in Grade 6. Most of my travels have involved suitcases filled with equipment. My fancy jewellry has spent more time bundled safely in my mouthguard container than being worn. I met my husband on a field hockey pitch; so it probably comes as no surprise that gymasiums, fields and rec centres are the places where I've forged some of my closest friendships and learned some of my most valuable life lessons. However, my greatest sporting memory is not what you might expect.

Crossing the finish line at the marathon was pretty great. Winning a few trophies here and there in different sports was also nice. Drinking from the Stanley Cup was cool and made for some great photos…but it doesn’t top the list. My greatest sporting memory was a win that meant nothing to the rest of the world but everything to me.

I once played softball for the worst team in town. I was carefully selected as 3rd base, based on my skill of walking past the field just as the game was about to start. It was midseason, and in that Spring of Grade 8 many of the girls had begun to wander away from the ball diamond and into the Mall. The team needed someone to suit up or they would have had to forfit. The coach threw me an ill fitting, faded jersey that was probably older than I was. I tugged on mismatched baseball socks, grabbed a mitt, took a wild guess at what my blood type might be, forged my Mom’s signature and handed in the permission form.

Quickly, I learned why a 5 run limit had been established in little league. At 3rd base, I didn't have much to do but wave at the other team as they rounded my corner to home. In the bottom of the 5th, we were down about 21 to nothing. It was two out and runners were on 1st and 2nd. The batter slammed a ground ball right at me. I finally had a chance to make a play. I blocked the ball with all the grace of a field hockey goalie. Unsure of the forced play rule, I stamped my foot on the bag and then ran after the startled runner. Just to make sure she was out, I chased her down and tagged her with the subtle force of a raging rhino. “Welcome to the team kid” said the coach when he finally stopped laughing.

I WAS welcome. I was immediately taken into a circle of friends whose practice times consisted of seeing who could come up with the dirtiest joke and playing Full Tackle 500 Up. We were the team whose warm up consisted of eating Fun Dip and trying to talk the Umpire into giving us 5 more minutes to find another player. We rarely scored. We rarely made a play. We rarely stopped laughing. At 13, I was a tightly wound, anxious perfectionist. A competitive athlete in several sports, I took games seriously and frequently berated myself when I made a mistake. I had a sharp learning curve with this team. I had to simulataneously learn how to enjoy losing and how to forgive myself when I made a mistake. A lesson I am so grateful to have learned on the ball diamond...because I still need to practice it every single day.

The last game of the season began like any other - pooling the change we found in the couch cushions for a concession run. We were playing the best team in the league. Sponsored by a well known store, they were at the field in their freshly pressed uniforms long before the warm up time. They stretched as a team, strategized as a team and carried with them an air of expectation. An air of excellence hung about them. The only expectation that hung about OUR dugout was the expectation that we'd share our Big League Chew with everyone who had scrounged up a few coins. What I’ve always loved about sports though, is that on any given day, any thing can happen.

On this day – the other team couldn’t hit the ball. Batter after batter stepped up to the plate and struck out. The game carried on, much quicker than usual since we were weren’t waiting for the other team to score 5 runs to end each inning, and suddenly we realized that we were tied and it was the bottom of the 9th. The impossibility of this was commented upon in the dugout. Our coach spelled it out for us as clearly and eloquently as he could. I recall the pep talk being something close to "Oh my *&*(^%^!!! we could win this!”

The improbability continued. Somehow we ended up with the winning run waiting on 3rd and me safe at 2nd. There were two out and the smallest girl on the team stepped up to bat. She had been playing for years, but had probably not connected ball to bat since T-ball. She played the game because we were all friends and she was the friendliest of the bunch. Always kind. Always on time. When the rest of the team took turns punching each other and talking about cute boys, she tried to learn new skills and pay attention.

So there I stood, on 2nd base – right in the middle of field. I looked over at the dugout and saw my friends smiling with their arms around each other. I saw the disbelief and laughter on our Coach's lips. I realized that it really didn't matter that our worst hitter was standing in the batters box with the board lit up behind her. 2 out. 2 strikes. 3 balls. I was sure that we were not going to win and I was happy about it. I truly understood what it meant to play sports for the joy of playing.

Then, I looked at the girl in the batters box. I saw how bad she wanted this. Suddenly, I wanted to win this game for her. I wanted to win it because she had tried so hard all season and I could see the pressure on her face. I wanted to win it for underdogs everywhere. I closed my eyes. I held my breath. I heard the wood hit the leather and jumped off the bag in confusion. She had hit the ball.

I started running. I rounded 3rd in time to watch my teammate cross the plate at home. I knew what that meant. I knew that we had won but I absolutely could not process that information. I just couldn’t stop running. I ran till I felt my foot hit the plate. I ran till I felt my hands hit the wire fencing. I ran into the arms of my teammates who had rushed out of the dugout and onto the field with joy and disbelief.

Our win didn't change anything in the 1987 little league standings. We were so clearly the worst team in the league that nothing short of a miracle could have catapulted us out of last place. This win though, was the purest joy I have ever felt in sports. Something changed in me at that moment. I learned to love the midst of that improbable win.

As my kids and I sit down to watch the Olympics on TV, I know that most of the coverage will be on the medal winners. Their stories will be amazing. Their acheivements will be incredible. However, I hope that we'll also get to learn a little bit about the athletes who know that the podium is likely out of reach. The athletes who are there to realize a dream, to represent their country, ...knowing that they are consistently 1/1000th of a second slower than the rest of the competitors.

Every sporting event provides us with the opportunity to be inspired. I want my kids to be inspired to realize whatever goals they might set for themselves. I also want them to be inspired to play even when winning is not likely. There will always be joy on the podium. Let there be joy for the worst teams too.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010