Happy Canadaversary

Exactly one year ago, my dog and I came to Canada. Mold in my home displaced me, so I ended up moving to be with my husband before we anticipated. How have I been the past year?

Well let’s see. I married my best friend, became a stepmother, and now have an awesome family. I got my permanent residency. Per my last post, I’ve found that I don’t mean as much to some people as I thought. It’s a lot colder here. I’ve been treated like absolute shit by my stepchildren’s mother. I’ve been treated incredibly by everyone else. I had a horrible job, then got a really great one. I’m a lot less stressed. I’m healthy and happy. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve grown as a person.

Canada looks good on me. I’m thankful that I had the ability to pack it all up to be able to be with my husband so that we could have a new life together. Happy Camadaversary. It’ll be nice growing old here.

Move On and Let Go

If you ever want to know how much you do or don’t mean to someone, move.

Since moving to Canada and marrying my husband, my life has been infinitely better. My stress levels have been immensely reduced. I’m healthy. Hell, I’m actually happy. I can’t recall a period of time in my life prior to this where I was genuinely happy. It’s nice to finally feel comfortable in life. Sure finances could be better and it’d be nice for it to be less of a struggle for my husband to get time with his children. But in the grand scheme of things, my life is pretty stress free by comparison. It’s given me a lot of focus and ability to evaluate things that are important to me.

Of all of the people I thought I was close to in the US, only three people put forth as much effort into our relationship as I do: my dad, my old boss, and the friend I gave a surprise visit to last month. That’s it. I have one other friend that moved to Georgia a couple years prior to my moving here. We touch base on occasion in the same frequency that we always have since she moved first, so I suppose she counts too. Beyond that? I’ve found that I mean a lot less to others than they did to me. It was a harsh reality to face. I realized there were people that I tried to nurture and continue friendships with that it was only me trying. The last few weeks I stopped being the first one to reach out to those I cared about. Did many notice? Nope.

What’s frustrating is all of these people are on social media. I see them active in Messengers, posting statuses or whatever, but can’t take 5 minutes to simply say hi. It hurt figuring out that I wasn’t worth 5 minutes to many people. Especially since most of them knew about my father’s recent grim medical diagnosis. No one bothered to check up on it. And I guess when your self absorbed, narcissistic, asshole of a dad cares more about you than some of the people you’ve poured your heart and soul into, it makes you realize that maybe it’s time to stop clinging to what once was and embrace the present and bravely move forward.

Its tough. I’m a creature of habit. I always thought that I hated change, but moving to another country was a huge one. Getting married was a big change. Changing jobs – twice – were major. Maybe letting go of people who don’t show the same kind of care to me that I have to them is a change I need to embrace too. I still have the aforementioned couple of people back home that care for me. I have a great family here (albeit by marriage.) And I’ve started making new friends too.

Maybe moving forward isn’t so scary after all.

Exposure

I love my job.

I get to come in contacted with people from ALL over the world. I’ve met people from Greece, India, Egypt, Russia, and everywhere in between.

Recently I met a couple from, where I assume was, Saudi Arabia. They came into our storefront, the husband wearing jeans and a nice t-shirt, the wife donning a black Niqab, fully covering all but her eyes. Before really speaking, I tried to feel out the situation and vibe. My only experience with anyone from Saudi Arabia was in the US and in passing. They were very standoffish and reserved there, but I feel it was with good reason. There, anyone who looks like they’re from the Middle East are heavily discriminated against. Canada is a different story. Here, this couple was pleasant and friendly. Maybe they hadn’t been subjected to the same hatred, or maybe they didn’t carry that burden with them if they had been.

For the services they needed, they asked if it would be okay to lock the door. This is not uncommon for some clients, so I naturally obliged. The husband blocked the glass from any potential pass-byers as his wife slowly began to remove her headdress. I felt oddly honored to be a part of this moment. I don’t know much about the culture, but I do know that modesty is extremely important to them. There’s a weird sort of platonic intimacy in a moment like that.

We exchanged some small talk, laughing and enjoying the exchange. I asked if it would be okay if I asked a few questions, hopeful to not sound rude, but explaining that I was genuinely curious. They said of course. It was a perfect learning opportunity for me, and they seemed happy to answer my curiosities. I did wonder if the woman felt perhaps vulnerable or exposed removing her headdress in public, albeit that I closed the office for them, but I didn’t dare to ask because I felt it was a little too personal in a way. I was, however, able to get an answer to a question I’ve always been curious about…

“In the summer, is it overly warm to wear such garments?!” The woman kindly smiled and let out a small chuckle. I know I probably sounded like a typical dumb American, but I’ve always wondered. She explained that even though she also wears a full outfit underneath, the fabric is very breathable and not uncomfortable at all. She also noted that it provides religious and spiritual comfort as well. My curiosities were finally satisfied.

Canada is amazing. The US likes to try to have this reputation of being a melting pot of different cultures, but it’s still a truly racist country. I know there is racism everywhere, but at least here it’s not so blatant and wide spread. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be exposed to so many walks of life and to learn so much about others.

Til Ikea Do Us Part

“In sickness and in health, til death do us part.”

Maybe there should be something about insanity and Ikea added in there.

My husband and I live in a small, but comfortable, two bedroom home. Here they’re called suites, back home it’d be considered a duplex or a mother-in-law apartment. The house was finished being built about a year and a half ago, the price can’t be beat, and our landlady is amazing. The downfall is that my husband has 3 children, so things can be a little cramped when they’re home here.

When we decided to lease this place, I started the hunt for some furniture for the kids. I opted for the Tuffing bunkbed from Ikea. It holds twin sized mattresses, but is also short and low to the ground – tall bunks make me nervous from a safety standpoint. Plus, of the two bedrooms, one is quite a bit smaller than the other. We’ve had the two older kids in the smaller room and the youngest in our room, which was fine, but limited their play spaces. This weekend we opted to change the arrangements around and put all three kiddos into the larger room, giving my husband and I the smaller of the two so that the kids have more room to play, even with their little brother’s bed in there too. The final result is fantastic, but it was certainly an adventure getting there.

As I mentioned above, the Tuffing bed is great because it holds twin mattresses instead of kid sized ones and it’s fairly low to the ground. (I can make up the top bed without having to climb up there.) The downfall? It’s a major pain in the ass to put together. Even bigger downfall? It’s an even bigger pain in the ass to take apart and reassemble. But we did it. There was blood. But we did it. There was cussing. But we did it.

We did it.

And you know what? It gave me this odd sense of added security in our marriage. My husband and I have always worked well together, communicated efficiently, and BOTH put a lot of effort into our marriage. Tearing down a large piece of Ikea furniture ad reconstructing it together with minimal issue feels like an odd token of our ability to work together. Take that Ikea!

I hope the kids enjoy their new space as we try to save up for the ability to move into a larger home in the future ❤️

New Titles

So in Canada, employment contracts are pretty standard. In the US, (or at least in my experience and the states I’ve lived,) they’re not. Before I embarked on my jourey to the US, I signed a new employment contact for a new job. It was a little bizarre to me, but I suppose that it’s protective of both an employee and employer. I appreciate it in a weird way.

Back in March, I got my work permit and quickly got a job. The job itself was fine, and I made an amazing friend there. Everything else was horrible. Working for my boss was like constantly walking on eggshells. She was a difficult woman to say the least. Also, one of my coworkers really needed some mental help. His anger infused outbursts and quasi-death threats weren’t funny. I had to get the hell out of dodge. After a little over 3 months with that company, I understood my predecessor and no longer blamed her for how many things were just hidden and swept under the rug. I ended up sending her a text apologized for passing judgment. I understood why she just checked out.

I started plastering my resume to any HR department with a position that I was remotely qualified for. The difficulty in finding a new job was that I wasn’t a permanent resident quite yet. Despite the fact that it shouldn’t be, I know it’s a factor in the consideration of a new employee. In my cover letters I articulated that I was in the final stages of my PR. Eventually it paid off and I received a response from a local small business looking for a new office manager. I met for a couple of interviews and landed the gig. We worked out a contract that would work out for both me and the company.

Working for a small business presents a lot of challenges in comparison to the positions I’ve held in the past. You have to mind budgets a little tighter, put a little extra love into business relationships, and you have to work a little harder to help push the business forward. I looked forward to the challenge.

Unlike with my first Canadian job, my training was a lot more effective. Even though I had a fraction of the training time than I previously had, it was undivided attention and thorough training. The woman whom I replaced had been there for nearly 8 years in some capacity or another. And my main / full time employee has been there for 10 years. That was comforting to me because it told me that that the owner was at the very least tolerable on a long term basis.

I finished my first week on the new job. As I was closing the storefront, the owner gave me a huge compliment. He said that he found it hard to believe that I have only been here for a week, and that it felt like I’d been here for a year already. He’s already seen an improvement in morale and productivity around the office, and that he was impressed with how I was adapting. Now, I’m not someone that needs constant reassurance or a pat on the back, but I have to say, it was really nice getting that feedback and receiving that appreciation. Especially considering that I have literally four job titles. Here’s to being an office manager, project coordinator, marketing support, and location assistant. Here’s to having a happy professional life ❤️

Surprise!

On Monday, I embarked on a two day drive back to Kentucky. One if my closest and dearest friends went through a major life event that I wanted to support and show some love for.

The drive was exhausting. It’s a little over 1500 miles one way. My husband made that journey multiple times while we were dating long distance. It made me appreciate him so much more than I already do. Seriously. The drive sucked so bad. It was long, boring, and the last half of it was filled with a storm and heavy traffic. My husband did this many many times. Through rain, snow, and Lord knows what else. It was exhausting and I couldn’t imagine doing it multiple times no matter how much I loved someone. I would have flown if I were him. But it just makes me appreciate him so much more.

My friend had no idea I was coming. I coordinated everything with her other half and kept him up to date with my trip progression and arrival time. I parked a couple houses down with a gift in tow and he snuck me in the house. As I entered the house, her oldest daughter looked up and nearly squealed. I pushed my finger up, telling her to be quiet, and proceeded down the hall. “Ya know, the next time I decide to hand deliver a gift, I’m going to fly.” She was stunned and couldn’t believe her eyes. It was perfect. I enjoy making people that I care about feel loved. While I miss my home and my husband deeply, this adventure was important to me.

The next day, I got some work done on my car prior to selling her then proceeded to head to my old stomping ground of ten years. I wanted to see some of my coworkers, one of which is also one of my closest friends. They’ve got downtown torn up, so navigation was problematic. Plus, you couldn’t get down to security headquarters in the same ways you used to be able to, so I wasn’t sure how to get through the locked doors. So I went down to the other security office and started banging on the door. The look of surprise was a good feeling, and I secured an escort through the building for myself. We meandered down the back halls and made way to my old office. I really wanted to see my old managers. One looks more aged than I remembered, stressed from all of the company changes. My other was super excited and surprised. We had lunch together for old times sake, which was nice. I think I made him feel important. I hope so.

Eventually I sold my car. Not for as much as I’d like to, but I got it out of the way. Now I’m packed up and trying to rest a little before flying back to Canada in the morning.

This trip taught me something. Even though I miss a couple of friends, this place isn’t home. My birthplace doesn’t feel like home either. Canada. Canada is home and it’s the first time I’ve felt like that in a very very long time. I finally feel like I belong somewhere. And that’s an overwhelming, but secure, feeling.

At Peace

As I lay here next to my husband, listening to him breathe as he sleeps, I’m finally at peace. The last couple of months have been exhausting.

Back in April, I started a new job that I ended up hating. Well, it wasn’t the job itself, but was the culture in the office. I was surrounded by constant negativity and it was draining. The only good thing that came out of that place was meeting a woman who quickly became a very close friend. I ended up quitting with no notice, per the suggestions of a confidant. That made way for dialogues to open up about the culture and to hopefully make some lasting changes there. Thankfully, I start training at a new job tomorrow that I could see myself retiring from. I can’t wait!! The pay won’t be as good, but at least I’ll enjoy the position and the company.

Two weeks ago, my husband and I travelled a couple hours north. Why? Because I landed as a permanent resident of Canada! Everything went by fairly quick and was relatively painless. This past week I received my PR card in the mail, which will make travels easier. Though I had no concerns about our applications, I feel relieved. After almost 2 years of a long distance relationship, it’s comforting that I don’t have to ever be apart from my husband unless we are traveling by choice. Everything feels finalized and in order, like the puzzle pieces have fit together.

And finally, we had my stepchildren for almost two weeks straight for part of their summer break. It, for the most part, was amazing. But any time they saw or talked to their mother, the chaos reset and the kids spent that day (and sometimes part of the next) fighting with each other. I have no idea why it causes it, but I wish it wouldn’t happen or cause so much disruption. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to travel like we originally planned, but I feel like it was a blessing in disguise. The kids have otherwise been shuffled around from camp to camp, traveled, and have been extremely busy. They hadn’t really had time to just wind down and relax. So that’s exactly what we did outside of local family trips to the park and lake. We planned lots of fun things at home like board games, painting sessions, and did things as a family. We even did a theater night at home that they absolutely loved! My oldest stepson did not want to leave, which broke my heart. Every time he has to go, he grows more and more bitter about it. So many things with him remind me of myself when I was his age, navigating my own parent’s divorce. I don’t want that for him. It’ll lead to resentment when he’s older, and I truly don’t want that for his mother either. He’s a smart kid and even though he’s a few months shy of 8, he’s already figured so many things out about the dynamics of what’s going on. And I have no idea how to protect him from being bitter. I just try to do what my step mom did and just be loving and supportive. I listen. I think that’s the biggest thing… I listen.

I look forward to having the time to blog again. And I’m thankful for being able to feel like I can breathe again.