As a person who grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (roughly 200 miles northeast of Toronto), I have an appreciation for the Ontario landscape. I am also one of the few people in the United States who views Toronto as south of home.
As I walk through the convention hall, I hear whispers of subtle frustrations with Toronto. Changing currency, no smartphone usage and a convention center that is set up like Hogwarts. OK, Toronto is not everyone’s favorite APA or vacation destination. Although I do empathize with some of these complaints, I still think a trip to Toronto has a lot to offer. I chose to drive from Ohio, and with this choice came some great opportunities. Whipping up the coastline of Lakes Erie and Ontario is as beautiful as it is adventurous. It allows for clarity and mindfulness that no workplace retreat can offer.
I was able to stop in Buffalo and partake of the original buffalo wings at Anchor Bar. The joint is filled with motorcycles, car parts and license plates plastering the walls like makeshift aluminum siding. The wings came and I enjoyed them with a cup of coffee. It’s an odd mix, but I needed to stay awake on my drive. Buffalo as a city is an amazing place. The combination of East Coast architecture and Midwest post-industrialism provides a unique yet middle American feel.
North of Buffalo, I entered Niagara Falls, one of the great wonders of the world. From miles out, you can see the mist floating above the city, giving it a majestic quality. Looking over the falls, you can’t help but feel small, insignificant. It makes your symposium seem unimportant in the grand scheme of things. It feels refreshing.
In Toronto,I have seen many sights and eaten some great food, but the highlight had to be climbing the CN Tower. As someone afraid of heights, I found this both a tourist destination and prolonged exposure therapy. I was able to walk to the edge of the tower and look over, but walking on the glass floor proved to be overwhelming. My SUD levels pushed too high and I had to back up. Again the feel of being small and insignificant washed over me. My concerns for making appointments and attending meetings shrank. Climbing the tower gave me a needed booster shot of self-care on a Friday afternoon.
Yes, your data plan is useless, it’s hard to find meetings, and image management is at an all-time high. But, just for a second, put down your non-working smart phone, forget APA policy changes, and enjoy this Canadian wonderland. For me, seeing the city and enjoying the landscape is providing some much needed energy during a very busy convention weekend.