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First of all, apologies for the hiatus in posting over the past couple of weeks. As Sarah has mentioned, our vacation in Newfoundland ended up also being a bit of a break on the Year of Austere front, at least in terms of writing. However, the trip itself was another example of family austerity, as we have kept our travel this year to a minimum. Points, care of Air Canada, made our seats possible, although I don’t care to think how many business trips I’ve had to make to rack these up in the first place :(.

Back now from the Rock, I find myself assessing the austerity of our trip in other ways as well. I never fail to leave Newfoundland without a measure of internal conflict. On one hand, I am sad to leave family, and the austere beauty of the place (I will share a few images next post). If you wish to escape from the hurtling speed and grind of everyday life, you couldn’t ask for a better remedy. But herein lies the issue, and the source of my discontent. As much as I love the “place” and the heritage, the apathy of present-day culture drives me completely nuts. It is one thing to “slow down” and live a more peaceful existence, yet another to live in a slow-motion funk, day in day out, forever. Here, especially in rural “outport” Newfoundland, there is this sense of chronic inebriation. This, of course, is not a criticism of the people, as Newfoundlanders are some of the nicest and most gentle people to be found. But there is to my mind a real austerity of energy and purpose within the cultural mindset that gets my type-A blood-a-boiling. A case in point: the province has spent a fortune on ads, and very effective ones at that, to market itself to the world. Yet, should you spend your thousands of dollars getting there you’d best come with a well-stocked lunch box, because good luck trying to find a restaurant anywhere outside of St. John’s when you need one. It’s a running Newfie joke:  “Finally found a restaurant the other day and it was closed for lunch”. It would seem that locals have not deemed it worthy of their time and effort to capitalize on this opportunity created for them.

As I give my head a shake, I also remind myself that it is not my place to judge, although I know that is what I’m doing. I view things through my own lens, but who is to say that this lens is any clearer or more focused than that of a resident Newfoundlander? I should also not forget that unless I am part of the solution, I should just stay clear of it.

This year has at least made me more aware of my critical nature. In the spirit of judgement austerity, I will leave any remaining criticisms behind. After all, you can find balance in all things should you look. With little to do but try to meld into the slow pace of life, we were able to spend almost two quality weeks together as a family. Can’t complain about that! And, I turned off my emails on my work Crackberry and didn’t look at a single email until my first day back on the job. Not one! Proof that even a Type-A can be retrained, given the right circumstances :).

Stay tuned.  Post #2 for the day coming shortly…