I am not zen. I live by the work hard, play harder philosophy. Zen moments—that is moments where I am in the moment—are few and far between. Typically when I’m working I’m dreaming of playing and vice versa. The consequence is that I’m slightly frenetic. (I can hear the sniggering from here of those that know me well.)
Funny then, that I should learn to embrace zen moments on a recent excursion with Ford Canada, when they invited me along on their Back to Basics weekend in Mont Tremblant. Highlights of the weekend included a stay at a five star boutique hotel, Swedish massages, gourmet meals, a wine tasting, tea tasting, and of course, sweet rides. I admit I wasn’t really getting the connection at first. When I first heard Back to Basics I had visions of sleeping in tents, not nestling in a feather bed in front of a roaring fireplace.
Alrighty Ford, I’ll play along. Back to Basics you say? *wink wink*
Over the 24 hour period we spent together, I had several light bulb moments, which started with the drive.
As often as I make the drive to Tremblant, I am always in awe of the beauty on the way. Driving always has been one of the few times in my life where I have zen moments. After all, you must be “in” the moment when driving. I love that Ford is working hard to cut out distracted driving with technology like MyFord Touch™ powered by SYNC® that helps you stay connected through simple voice and touch-screen commands.
Upon arrival at the Hotel Quintessence, our group spent time using Active Park Assist and learning how to drive a stick shift. For the record, I haven’t parallel parked in over 5 years. I purposely go out of my way— like miles out of way—to avoid parallel parking. While it felt completely unnatural for me to take my hands off the wheel and let the car park (Hello Jetsons), it removed a ton of stress knowing the car was doing that whole spatial reasoning thing for me.
Next, we were told we were going to drive in a brand new 2015 Mustang. As a former Mustang Sally—I owned two Mustang convertibles in my pre-baby days—I was stoked. Then we were told it was manual—so not stoked.
I’ve never driven a stick shift and to throw a little pressure on a Nascar driver was going to teach me. I stressed needlessly, my teacher was a total pro and he only laughed on the inside I’m sure. I’m proud to say I only stalled the car twice. Since then, I have decided I am TOTALLY going to master driving a stick, because I’m very Type-A that way. I realize this is not a very zen-like quality, but you know what is? Learning new skills. It’s one of those things you must be totally present for in order to master it.
Oh yeah, I was starting to pick up on Ford’s angle here. Also, I drove a frickin’ stick shift! I am woman, hear me roar.
You know, this called for a Swedish massage because nothing screams Back to Basics quite like an expert masseuse kneading every ounce of stress out of your body. Roughing it is hard people, really really hard.
Driving done for the day, wine tasting was next on our agenda. Now this was an activity I could get into. Only it was a wine tasting which meant slow and tasting, not guzzling it back like I’m used to. I kid, of course. (I can hear the sniggering from here of those that know me well).
You could blame it on the wine, but I like to think it was the atmosphere of complete relaxation that our group of nine became fast friends over local cheeses from Mont Laurier and delicious wine from the Niagara region, while our sommelier, Sophie, shared wine etiquette with us, like sipping and smelling. Who knew?
Plans were made to meet in the hot tub overlooking Lac Tremblant and the breathtaking Laurentians.
Instead of feeling rushed, the evening moved along at a leisurely pace. Dinner was, as one would expect from one of Canada’s finest hotels, exquisite. The day was so perfect I suspected that the gentle snow falling around us, as we roasted marshmallows for gourmet s’mores at the end of the day, must have been ordered especially for us.
When I retired to my room for the evening, I decided there could be nothing more “back to basics” than a fire. So naturally, before I crawled into bed, I called and asked for one to be lit in my room. What? Isn’t that how they did it in the old days? Maybe I’ve been watching too much Downton Abbey. Ah well, when in the lap of luxury one must fully sit to enjoy it. So I crossed my legs and leaned back.
Morning came, and much like the day before, there was no rush to our schedule. The pace was relaxed and although we only had a few hours left to go I wasn’t looking at the clock with dread. I was truly enjoying each experience to the fullest, keeping my feet firmly planted in the present.
Even though I was hanging my head in shame, I thoroughly enjoyed our tea tasting—the first planned activity of our day. It was brought to my attention that milk and sugar are considered a no-no, and apparently boiling water does not fit all tea types. Also, there are steep times?! This is certainly not my experience with tea, which goes a little something like this; boil water, pour over tea bag, drink vats of sweetened tea before 9am. I am so uncouth. According to our most genteel sommelier, drinking tea is a process that must be enjoyed from the time you draw the water. I will admit that upon my return home, I ran out to grab a tea kettle that brings water to the exact temperature needed for white, green, oolong or black teas. I am working on the whole “enjoying the process” thing, but I’ll get there.
The final item on our itinerary took us to the summit of Mont Tremblant on a positively freezing -20C day—and believe it or not, it was the highlight of the whole weekend. Bundled up from the elements, we strapped on snowshoes and headed into the woods. I’ve skiied in Tremblant many times, but I’ve never taken the time to hike on the trails, preferring instead to race to the bottom before heading back up and doing it again. I’ve been missing out. The beauty found in the woods defies physical description. I can only describe it in feelings—serenity, calm, wonder.
As we were heading down the gondola I marvelled in all we had done in just over 24 hours? I was having another light bulb moment.
By not living in the present I am robbing myself of the most luxurious thing I have. Time. I constantly work against it when I am thinking ahead to the next to-do item on my list. No wonder it feels like I never have enough of it—my head is always an hour or two ahead of me. After cramming in so much in a short period, I realized that time can work in my favour if I just slow down to be in the moment.
So what did I walk away with after sitting in the lap of luxury for the weekend?
Bend time to your will everyday by luxuriating in the small things for a just a few minutes more. Sit in the tub five minutes longer, let your tea steep the exact amount of time, smell your wine, enjoy the ride.
Nicely done Ford Canada, nicely done.
It sounds like it was a fantastic trip! I want to learn to drive a stick shift but I’m too chicken, lol.
Little known fact: I can drive stick and taught most of my high school friends too! This sounds like an amazing time and the perfect reminder to slow down and enjoy the ride 🙂
Ahhh, my memories of learning to drive a stick just came flooding back. And even though I know in my head that I could if I really had to do it, I think my memories of how hard it was to learn holds me back from trying again. Now as far as the rest of back to basics…I love it! After trying until sweating during my last parallel parking attempt, I could have used that smart park technology. 😉
I can totally picture you as a Mustang Sally! Sounds like a wonderful trip (both fun and educational = winning) and your photography is stunning.
Sounds like a great time and the photos make me want to go. I’m a stick driver, always have been. It’s a control thing. 😉