If you had asked me 10.5 years ago if there was any one thing it was certain of it was that I absolutely would live my entire life in Calgary. I have always loved the city and the area (not a huge fan of the cold, but you can learn to make do). Perhaps in my future I could have imagined having a winter house on Vancouver Island, but for me Calgary was always the place to be. With the mountains, the prairies, the foothills, my family, my friends and my horses it really always met my every need (except for the fact that it gets so cold… have I mentioned the cold?)
In Junior High my parents *forced* me to go into the French Immersion program. I was so mad. There was no point in this you see, because even at the age of 11 and entering into grade 7 I was absolutely sure of two things: I would never, ever live in Quebec (therefore I would never need French) and I would never, ever live in the United States.
I suffered through the French and became bilingual almost in spite of myself. Still though, the only real use I had for it was getting easy A’s in my French classes in High School and in University. That is until 10.5 years ago when my husband came to me and said he’d been given an exciting job opportunity in Montreal and did I want to move? I was 7 months pregnant with my second child, our then 3 year old son was at a fabulous dayhome, and I was working a full time job. I was already exhausted and overwhelmed and unable to put together a coherent sentence. Although I knew I would have my year of maternity leave home with baby Jenna, I desperately wanted to stay home with the kids on a permanent basis. This move would allow this to happen.
So, off to Quebec we went. Their dad went first – leaving when Jenna was less than two months old – and the rest of us followed a few months later. I went completely insecure about my ability to speak French, but was relieved that the area we lived in was pretty bilingual. I quickly had my abilities tested when we had some French only speaking workers in the house putting in our air conditioning. The man came to me and said “On droit couper un trou dans le mur”. I stood there in mild panic thinking ‘he’s telling me something important, but it’s in French, what is he saying – holy crap – it’s “We need to cut a hole in the wall” I better smarten up and pay attention.’ Amazingly after that my French improved exponentially.
I actually loved living in Saint-Lazare. For an Albertain to say they love living in Quebec is a pretty big deal – but it is true – I loved it. We had an awesome neighbourhood where we had lots of friends, I was in an amazing book club, we had fantastic restaurants (my favourite being Anis et Marjolaine). It was a happy place to live.
Not even two years into living there, my husband came to me again and said that we were going to have to move to Rhode Island. Ugh. Where was Rhode Island anyway? We sold our house, packed up and moved to the United States’ smallest state -Little Rhody. After a rather chaotic move we actually ended up in a lovely neighbourhood. I made friends, had people I did my morning walks with, was invited to join a book club, had play-mates for the kids near-by – we started to settle. Remember how I said the other place I was certain I would never live was the United States? Well, there I was. And actually, there were some really nice things about Rhode Island. We made friends, we were less than a half hour drive to some pretty awesome beaches, we were an hour from Boston (and some really good food). Because we rented in RI we had to move two years into staying there – and moved to a “nicer” neighbourhood, but one that I liked way, way less. No social scene for me and the kids anymore, no walking companions, no kids playing out in yards. Lonely. I started to lose myself.
Two years after that we ended up moving to Roanoke which quite literally for me was the middle of nowhere. Small city in south west Virginia – what?
In Roanoke I literally found myself in the middle of nowhere, and in the middle of nowhere I found myself. This place was by far the most difficult place we have moved to. Most certainly the hardest and most lonely years of my life have been spent here. But, in that space and time of quiet I gained the ability to find myself. These quiet walks along the river, the evenings at home with the kids playing cards, laughing times driving them to and from their activities, time spent learning Ayurveda, learning to finally breathe into yoga poses, learning to sit quietly in meditation – all of this I have been able to do because in the middle of nowhere I found myself. Something that I would never have foreseen. Something I’m so incredibly thankful for.
Learning that I could be both the damsel in distress and the charming princess who rescues her has been a game changer. It has not been easy, but it has forever changed how I look at life. Learning I have the strength I have found in myself these past couple of years has opened me up to allowing wonderful things to enter into my life. It has allowed me to find the joy and happiness in small moments. It has given me the deep understanding that as long as I’m ok with myself and the choices I’m making that everything else will work out, as long as I can look myself in the mirror at the end of the day and know that I’m ok with myself, it really does not matter what other people tell me about myself, nor does it matter what choices other people make. Learning that we all have our paths to be on and that all I can do is walk my own path is freeing me up to actually walk (sometimes skip) on my path.
I spent years feeling like I was in quicksand with a hand stuck out hoping someone would grab it and help pull me out. What a huge relief to learn that I was capable of pulling my own self out of that quicksand. I am learning to be my own hero.
As we prepare to move onto the next phase of life, as I’m learning to embrace the uncertainty that all that brings, I am eternally grateful that I found myself in the middle of nowhere – because in the middle of nowhere I found myself.
Happiness moment of the day (day 18 of 44) came this evening with Jacob. He had his banquet for wrestling at his school. It was so heart warming to see him sitting at the table laughing with all his friends. It makes me so happy to see both kids hanging out with their friends. Good friends have tremendous value. Side happy-giggle was that they served fried chicken from the local Piggly Wiggly. As with getting a drink from the “bubbler” in Rhode Island, I can’t say Piggly Wiggly without bursting into giggles. *snicker*