On what turned out to be a record breaking, STUNNINGLY (terrifyingly – off topic but I could rant about global warming for a while) warm April day, I met Charlotte on the top of Grouse Mountain, to take some portraits of her and her kiddies in a place that feels like a second home to them.
Here’s what Charlotte had to say about living in Vancouver, the community that she’s built, and what she loves doing with her kids!
I came to Vancouver “for just one year” on a Working Holiday Visa, 10 years ago from the UK, after I finished Grad School. I fell in love with Vancouver and never left! For the first 7 years, I lived in the Westend of Downtown. I loved the tree lined street and buildings, the abundance of restaurants on Davie Street, plus of course the access to Stanley Park. The lack of affordable family units, meant that we got to a point where we felt we needed to look elsewhere, and for the past 3 years we have lived in a co-op in Strathcona. We have an amazing community of neighbours in our co-op, and although many people are surprised; we find Vancouver’s DTES a great place to raise children.
I do have a romantic yearning to live on a Gulf Island at some point too.
My initial reason for coming to Vancouver, after Grad School, is still my top reason for living here: a city by the water and mountains, and all the sports opportunities this offers. As someone who loves watersports and snowsports, plus city life, I feel Vancouver is the perfect place for me. I spent some gap years working as a ski instructor and in the UK I would have had to give that up once I got a “real job”. Yet due to the proximity to the north shore ski hills, I have been able to keep instructing part-time, even when I was working full-time in an office downtown!
My second reason for loving living in Vancouver is the health and sustainable lifestyle opportunities, which I value both personally and professionally. I feel very grateful for the wide range and availability of stores, products, services, restaurants and practitioners available to us, who support a holistic lifestyle. When I first moved to Vancouver I was working in the Transportation Engineering sector, but since having my children, I have realigned my life to follow my values more. Professionally this resulted in retraining as an EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Practitioner and starting my own practice. I grew up in a community which placed a lot of importance on careers in very traditional professions, so making the leap to becoming an EFT Practitioner was really big for me. Being surrounded by so many people already working in alternative and holistic therapies really inspired me and helped me take that leap.
Since having my children I have become more and more interested in educational opportunities that suit them and their learning styles. I really value that there are so many alternative education opportunities available in Vancouver, and families who choose to follow more alternative education philosophies are so accepted. My oldest even has the option for Forest & Beach School days at school.
For me, community is about feelings of being accepted and belonging. I see so much of our community coming from our interests and values. We have community where we have chosen to live in our co-op and neighbourhood; at Karma Teachers Yoga Studio www.karmateachers.com where I teach and practice (Canada’s first free or by donation studio); and through the alternative education philosophy that we have chosen to follow.
Having children really brought up for me the importance of living my life inline with my values. As I have made these changes, I have really noticed how this has resulted in us being a part of tighter communities.
My main line of work is as an EFT Practitioner (www.charlotterwatson.com). I have always been fascinated by emotions, and our physical and cognitive connection to them, and for as long as I can remember, I have valued the power of empathy. I now feel so grateful for having a career where I can support parents, who are struggling and feeling overwhelmed, parent with more confidence and clarity.
I also teach Prenatal and Vinyasa Yoga (http://www.charlotterwatson.com/yoga), and work as a ski instructor (http://www.charlotterwatson.com/skiing) on Grouse Mountain, where I specialize in teaching women, especially nervous women and those who are returning to skiing after an injury. Someone once summed up my various jobs by saying that: ” I support people to be the best versions of themselves”!
For play we love skiing. I can take my children up to Grouse after school for a few runs and still be home in time for dinner. We enjoy getting outside to the many parks and beaches, going on bike rides and all the community events that Vancouver offers. I also feel like I am raising two little foodies, we love eating out!
For “me time” I love the sober dance scene offered by 5 Rythems, Ecstatic and Just Dance.
In the winter, my kids say that when it is raining in the city, it’s snowing on the hills, so we often go in search of the fresh snow. During the rest of the year you’ll often find us in our rain gear exploring the trails. I feel very lucky that my kids follow the idea that there is no such things thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing!
On sunny days you’ll find us at the beach, exploring farmers’ markets, playing around in water parks and sprinklers, or heading off on a camping trip.