Off the beaten path in Chase

I recently tagged along on Chris’s work trip to Chase, BC. The drive from Kelowna takes about two hours. The scenery along the way, as you can expect in most of BC, is beautiful. After lots of wonderful visiting with family and friends during the month of July, I enjoyed doing this drive by myself.

We stayed at Quaaout Lodge & Spa at Talking Rock Golf Resort for two nights. It is the deserved pride of the Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band. Located along the shore of Little Shuswap Lake on traditional Skwlax territory, the lodge is a serene retreat from the city.

Although we did not use either amenity, the golf course is reputed to be world class and the spa offers a full range of services. There is a self-guided trail on the grounds with information about Skwalax history and culture posted along the way, and the lodge also features a cultural program that includes guided walks and canoe excursions.  I spent my time walking and lounging on the beach, swimming, and floating on the lake. While Chris was working, I was content to hang out by myself in such a pretty setting.  The staff was, without exception, friendly and helpful.

The first evening, we ventured into nearby Sorrento for dinner. I haven’t eaten a lot of Greek food in my life, but the spanokapita at Stratis Mediterranean Grill was the best I have ever had. Our server was very sweet, and we had a charming, authentic experience.

Chase is a small railway and logging town that Chris and I walked around on our second evening. We had a meal at J.J.’s Asian Cuisine, which is a food truck on the front lawn of the owners’ home. The owner-chef himself is the main reason to go. He fully lived up to his reputation on Trip Advisor as genuine, enthusiastic, and entertaining! We had yummy Thai stir fry and pork dumplings under the shade of a walnut tree and watched trains go by every five minutes.

Mini trips like this are what I am enjoying most about living in BC. There are so many places to go and experiences to be had. If you appreciate places that are a little off the beaten path, I highly recommend visiting the area around Little Shuswap Lake!

One-Year Anniversary

Chris and I recently marked our one-year anniversary of moving to B.C. It seems like a good time to reflect on why we moved in the first place and whether we are experiencing what we came here for.

The ‘About Us’ section of our blog states”:

“Although Chris & Teri had a really good life in Manitoba, they were craving adventure, challenge, a milder climate, and a more active and urban lifestyle.”

So how is it going so far?

Adventure: The year has been an absolute roller coaster ride. We are living in our third apartment in our second city. We fell in love with Victoria and Vancouver Island while sight-seeing, exploring and hiking. We are just starting to experience what the Okanagan Valley has to offer. We’ve met many people, hosted visitors, become students, and started new jobs (twice).

Challenge: It has certainly been challenging. All the changes have been exciting but stressful. Some things we took for granted back home have been difficult in BC, like finding good jobs and affordable housing. We have questioned our decisions and wondered if we sabotaged our careers. We have been homesick for our family, friends, and comfortable home in Manitoba. At times we have been lonely and bored.

Milder Climate: We loved the mild climate in Victoria and Kelowna’s weather seems nice so far, albeit a bit grey this time of year. Avoiding extreme winter conditions continues to be very important to me.

Active, urban lifestyle: We had a very active lifestyle in Victoria, just as we imagined it. We walked most places and rarely drove our vehicle. I felt very healthy as a result. Living in a prime location in a world class tourist destination meant that there was always a ton to do.

Kelowna is very spread-out and car-centric, but with lots of beautiful parks, trails, and ski hills nearby, we can attempt to be weekend warriors. We are both working on courses and therefore spend a lot of time sitting in front of laptops. Since moving to Kelowna, I am about as physically active as I was living in Manitoba, so that is a bit disappointing. Chris has committed to exercising regularly, so he is in better shape.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunities we’ve had in the past year and the personal goals we have achieved. It’s been interesting to notice, however, how quickly our brains become preoccupied with things we no longer have. One day we may introduce a new blog that reads, “Chris and Teri are moving elsewhere in search of a place to live that is both affordable and comfortable, offers more sunshine in the winter, and provides them with a much-desired social life!”

Oh, the ironies of life.  At least, as long as we are willing to experiment, there are endless opportunities to learn, gain new perspectives, and grow.

Best of luck on each of your own convoluted life journeys!

y

Missing Out

When you move far away from all your family and friends, it means that you likely won’t always make it home for the holidays.  You may even find yourself celebrating a holiday all by yourself, like I am this Thanksgiving weekend.


I’m happy that Chris had the opportunity to fly home to Manitoba, and my weekend is actually going well.  (If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be blogging.)  But a few months ago, when Chris went to Manitoba for two weeks without me, I found myself wondering if it was possible for a person to actually die from loneliness.

Already we have missed two of my cousin’s weddings, all holidays in the past year, many birthdays, and a few funerals that we would have attended had we not moved away.  Just this weekend, Chris attended a party for our close friends who are going travelling for six months, and a party for his grandpa’s 100th‘ birthday.  He’s lucky that both events fell on a long weekend and he could take an extra couple days off work in order to go.  I’m disappointed to miss these celebrations and all the Thanksgiving turkey eating with family around a big table.


When I think about missing out on things, I also consider the little things.  For example, my nieces are growing up quickly and I’m not around for important milestones, like losing both front teeth or starting preschool.  Thanks to Face Time, I’m kept in the loop, but children connect through playing together much more than talking on the phone.

Going out for coffee with friends and aunts, chatting with neighbors on the street, all the friendly faces at the Legion, bumping into people I know everywhere I go… I miss these elements of being part of a community.


My desires for new experiences, natural beauty and adventure are always going to be at odds with my desire for community, connection, and belonging.

I believe I still am part of a community, just from a distance.  I am grateful for all my supportive friends and family and the opportunities I’ve had to take risks and try new things.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and if you also experience the inner conflict I just described, I would love to hear your insights!

First month in Kelowna


Chris and I have lived in Kelowna for five weeks now.  It feels longer because so much happened in September.  I am constantly analyzing this most recent move and comparing Kelowna to Victoria and Manitoba.  Even though I know it’s way too early to make judgments, I still want to share my initial impressions with you:

Positives:

  • The Okanagan Valley is exceptionally beautiful. Chris and I have really enjoyed going on drives along Okanagan Lake and into the hills where there are many orchards and vineyards.  The leaves are changing colours dramatically, and it’s becoming more beautiful every day.

  • No complaints about the weather: It has been mostly warm and sunny.  There is hardly any wind.
  • The condo we are renting is in a holiday resort, so the amenities are really nice. Our suite is on the sun deck and meters from the pool (now closed) and hot tub.  We are also thrilled to have a barbeque again and have been using it almost daily.  The fitness room is next door and at least Chris is getting a lot of use out of it!

  • We both have jobs in fields we are trained and experienced in. Sometimes I miss how easy my clerical job was back in Victoria, but it feels good to be challenged again and using my professional skills.
  • My position is a really good opportunity for me. I miss being a school counsellor in Manitoba like crazy, but here I get to be a teacher again, albeit in a very alternative environment.  The school just turned an unused classroom into a ‘Zen Den’ dedicated to mindfulness and self-regulation.  Among other things, I get paid to teach yoga to small groups of students with anxiety.  I love it!
  • Since moving to Kelowna, I started taking my first course toward my Master of Counselling Psychology and it’s going really well so far. Unlike massage therapy, this program feels like an excellent fit for me.  I’m very comfortable in it and look forward to opening up my books every day.

  • There seems to be a lot of outdoorsy things to do here. We haven’t scratched the surface yet, and I look forward to more hiking, biking, and eventually snowboarding in the Okanagan Valley.

  • Oh yeah, and there’s a lot of great wine here! We popped into three wineries last Sunday and it made for a fun and tasty afternoon.  It’s not a cheap hobby, so there’s little chance of us becoming winos.  But if you come to visit, we’d love to take you on a winery tour, if that’s your thing!


My cons list is at least as long as the pros list (so far), so stay tuned and I’ll save it for another post.

Thanks for reading!

Life is Sweet

What a difference a week makes!  I am feeling 100% better!

Thank you for all the prayers and expressions of support.  It was helpful to know that other people had confidence in me.  This past week, when I doubted my ability to do something, I reminded myself that intelligent people who know me well believe that I am capable.

I also repeated some of the wise phrases that were shared with me in the past week.  “You can do hard things”, and “It will turn out better than you think” were particularly useful.


Even without the valuable feedback, writing is therapeutic for me.  The act of writing gives my brain a chance to ‘catch up’.  Last weekend my brain was completely overwhelmed by the changes it needed to process.  I think that is the reason I couldn’t sleep – my mind needed the extra hours to work through everything it was being bombarded with.  Writing my thoughts helps my brain process.  I highly recommend it as a stress reliever!

This morning, I was reminded that my mother also kept a blog for a brief time.  She used it to update family, friends and acquaintances about her cancer journey.  (The last entry came up as a Facebook memory today.)  She was an excellent writer and coached me to improve my writing skills.  I like that we have this in common.


This past week, I connected with many friends, colleagues, and family members in Manitoba.  I feel blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life.  It also saddens me that people back home are dealing with their own tragedies and struggles.  Life can be so hard.  We really need to lean on and support each other.  As someone who has needed and accepted support, I can honestly say that it makes a huge difference.  I also want the people in my life to know that they can always call on me, and I am happy to listen and be there, even if I can’t help.

Now that Chris and I are becoming more settled into our new jobs and home, I look forward to being able to share more highlights of Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley in future posts.  We haven’t been out and about much yet, but I hope you enjoy the few photos I have taken so far.

Take care, and Namaste. (The light and goodness in me sees and honours the light and goodness in you. We are one.)


Grief Attack

I needed my parents this week. I know what my dad would have said that would have reassured me. I desperately wish I knew what my mom would say because I could really use her knowledge and wisdom right now.

This week has been stressful because Chris and I probably took on too many big changes all at once. I’m feeling panicky, I’m not sleeping well, and this morning I can’t seem to stop crying. If I could talk to my dad right now, he would say, “You know, it’s okay to come home”. And I would have a giant crying fit, feel comforted that I can always quit something and go home without judgment from my dad, and then feel calmer and more peaceful about staying where I am. I know because this is how he responded when I twenty years-old and went to Chicoutimi, Quebec for a five-week French immersion program knowing only about five words of French. He told me the same thing in my first year of teaching when I was living in an isolated, fly-in community up north. Both times, just knowing that he would still be proud of me if I didn’t stick it out, was enough to keep me going.

I have no idea how to do the teaching assignment I’ve been given. I’m out of my counselling element and away from my familiar school environment. I miss all my former colleagues who knew me well and whom I worked with so well. Everything feels foreign – not necessarily bad – but different, and therefore uncomfortable.

My mom taught alternative education and resource and was very gifted in terms of connecting with at-risk youth. All the students loved her. She was kind and gentle and calm and patient. She helped students believe in themselves and take risks because she always believed in them and saw their strengths in the face of many obstacles.

My mom was also a very dedicated educator who worked tirelessly to plan engaging lessons that also met the diverse learning needs of her students. She knew important stuff that I don’t know. Stuff that I really need to know for my new job. She could help me a lot if I could only talk with her on the phone. If she could, I think she would even fly out here and help me set up my classroom. And that would fun and I would relax. She would tell me that it’s going to be okay and remind me that I can ask her about anything at any time. She would take a real interest in my work and we would talk about it every day.

My mom was knowledgeable about special education because she kept taking university courses throughout her teaching career. She was always learning. I started taking a university course this week, and right away I am super frustrated because the professor keeps responding to my specific questions by sending the link to the assignment, as if I haven’t already read it thoroughly. I’m so frustrated I want to scream and say, “Fuck it, why am I spending all this time and money on a course with a professor who doesn’t know how to communicate?!”. My mom would be able to relate and empathize based on her own university experience, and she would also direct me on how to solve the problem instead of just getting mad and quitting.

In conclusion, this week was overwhelming. Mostly I am at peace about my parents not being here, but extreme stress triggers the deep-rooted grief that is never going to go away. I am grateful for my husband and his unfailing support and reassuring presence and love. And I am soothed by writing these words that invoke my parents’ wise, loving, and loyal spirits.

Thanks for reading.

Moving toward new opportunities


Considering how much I gush about Victoria, you will likely be surprised that tomorrow Chris and I are moving to Kelowna. 

The change of plans came about quickly and was provoked by job opportunities.

As much as we love the Victoria and Vancouver Island lifestyle, we also want to grow professionally in our careers and achieve a level of stability again. 

Kelowna represents a compromise between living in a beautiful part of British Columbia that has mild winters and continuing to develop professionally in careers we enjoy.


Our situation in Victoria was that I would be starting a position I was not very excited about because it was significantly less responsibility and salary than I was used to, and Chris’s employment contract was due to expire in October and he was potentially facing another daunting job hunt. Many may argue that getting established in a new city takes patience, and that it isn’t realistic to expect all the pieces to fall into place in the first year. I agree that if we gave it more time, we may eventually find satisfying careers in Victoria but our rent is $1900 per month and being patient feels financially irresponsible.


When I left massage school, I applied to school districts on Vancouver Island and eventually cast the net further and applied to Okanagan School District #23. Chris had already applied to BC Assessment and widened his geographical region to include the Okanagan Valley as well. When both of us received job offers in Kelowna in the same week, we decided to go for it – the timing was just too perfect to turn down the opportunity.


Our feelings about the move are mixed:

We are sad to leave the island so soon. It is just starting to feel like home and there is still so much we want to see and do. We have wonderful family on the Island who have included us in their lives and helped us feel welcome and at home. I expect to shed some tears tomorrow when we leave this magical place.

We are excited for our next adventure! New places and experiences give me a natural high more than anything else in life. Of course, we’re anxious as well, but Chris and I find security in each other and feel at home together wherever we are. I expect the next couple of months to be stressful but exciting, and hopefully wonderful as well as we move into our new home and start our new positions.

More to come…