Thursday, 15 September 2011

People in my neighbourhood

I love my hood. It's tree lined, has lots of old (and expensive) houses and young families, and is, for the most part, quiet. I especially love the fact that most people will smile and say hello. This morning I caught a preteen girl glancing at me and when we locked eyes, she smiled brightly and I smiled back. When she looked away, I continued to assess her and noticed two things: 1) she had a Blackberry and 2) there was a Coach backpack at her feet (I didn't even know Coach made backpacks!). It made me smile. These are the people in my neighborhood.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Inside a Marriage After an Emotional Apocolypse

When Dave and I met, he was 22 and I was 27.  We met in one of the most foreign and beautiful countries on earth and we fell in love.  We had fun.  We laughed.  We swam in oceans and ate delightful things.  We sent long emails to each other and talked about life after Japan.

Then we moved together to England.  We had a transitional phase (read, we fought a lot) then we adjusted and grew into each other.  Adjustment gave way to confidence and acceptance and we became engaged.  We travelled to Rome and I discovered Europe.  Again, we ate breathtaking food, walked hand in hand all over the country and met Chuck D.

When we moved up to Scotland, the ease that had accompanied us in our preceding 3 years together disappeared and tension was a more constant companion.  He hated his job, I didn't like mine.  We lived in a good flat in a bad part of town.  I commuted 3 hours a day and hated it.  But the love was still there and while we had no social life, we loved our time together.  We planned a beautiful wedding and had a mini-moon.  But our hearts were not as happy as they had been.  Despite this, we planned for a baby.  Perhaps it wasn't the best of times, but it worked like a charm and we looked forward to her while being sick of life in the town where Dave was born.

Then she died.

And we've been tripping over our feet ever since.

The last 15 months since we lost Isla have been so indescribably difficult from an emotional, physical and psychological point of view. In regards to our marriage, we never dreamed of being where we are when we sunned on rocks by the river in rural Japan.  There have been times over the last year where we have been sick of each other.  That connection we felt so sure of has been strained by our grief.  It's a strange thing - to be simultaneously comforted by the person who understands you and your loss better than anyone else in the world and also want to be as far away from them as humanely possible.

The old us have gone.  We are completely different people.  There are shadows of our former personalities we can illuminate when we need to, but fundamentally, we are strangers to ourselves and to each other.  We have had some raw discussions, words and feelings that feel like bare-knuckled hits to our hearts.  Dave's eyes are no longer as shiny as they used to be.  My self-confidence ebbs at a low level and consequently, I need him to prop up my ego in a way that embarrasses me.

Marriage is hard, yo.  People say it all the time.  It's true.  It's about give and take, being high when he's low.  Watching your words.  Being kind even when you want to choke each other.  It's about thinking about the other person all the time and loving him all the time (liking him all the time is optional).

We're not going to get a divorce.  That's simply not an option nor has it ever been a consideration.  We're just starting over.  We've been together in Toronto now for 4 months.  We've transitioned for the last time.  There is no talk of "when this happens" or "when that happens".  It's just now.  We're working on ourselves and our relationship because it's the most important thing to us right now.

I finally read "The Happiness Project"as per Anna's recommendation and because my boss had a copy.  I didn't love it  because the author was already happy; she just wanted to be happier.  I think I'd be more pleased if it had been written by a person who had been devastated then learned a few things to be happy again.  I did, however, take away a few tenets that I've moulded to fit my life now:
1) Be brave.
2) Be kind.
3) Cut people slack.
4) Be selfish when you need to be.
5) Breathe.

I have been trying to remember and applying these things every time I talk to my husband.  He in turn is relaxing more which makes me relaxed.  We hug each other longer and sit closer together on the couch.  I'm listening to him more.  He's the father of my daughter and my partner in life.  I vowed to always save him the big piece of chicken and to be his safe place, and he vowed to unball his socks before throwing them in the laundry basket and to love me always and forever.  I love him more than anything.  I've decided to add his last name to my own.  We are a family.  I couldn't imagine going through all this with anyone else in spite it all. 

Thursday, 18 August 2011


I couldn't find the right image, so just remember the episode when Homer decided to suppress his rage.  You remember the one - when Bart drew a cartoon called Angry Dad because of Homer's episodic bouts with anger.  In an attempt to control his emotion, he decides to swallow it and as a result, he grew lumps that turned out to be boils.  His anger was manifested through these boils.

Now that I've set the scene, I can say that this is basically what has happened to me my whole life.  My pain, my anger, my stress manifests itself through my body.  I'll spare you the details, but I've had a very traumatic life.  I don't like to think about it or talk about it, and therein lies the problem.  I met with a homeopath for the first time tonight and we talked about a lot of stuff.  She took my history and said "ooh" and "ahh" and promised to get in touch with some remedies in a few days.  I don't usually think about all the terrible things that have happened prior to having Isla, but unfortunately, they're all connected.  My latest physical issue is connected to the birth and a culmination of how I deal with stress and trauma.  When she made this assessement, something clicked.  She said I'm intellectually capable of expressing myself, and I do a good job of it, but I'm emotionally suppressing and there is enough evidence to connect the dots that the mental, emotional and physical are all connected.

Of course, this can all be conjecture.  Of course, I can be so desperate for a "cure" that I'm willing to grasp on to anything.  I guess, we'll see.

I had a bad day today.  I really toughie.  I reached out and D caught me.  It's so hard sometimes, going through this thing.  Thanks for being there for me D, my sista from another mista.  Love you.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Goodbye Cable

Dear Rogers Extended Cable Package,

When you came into my life 5 months ago in the form of an offer of 6 months free, I really couldn't resist you. With over 900 channels including movies and music, you hit all the right spots. After 6 years away from American/Canadian programming , I indulged in your variety and overdosed on your banality. ANTM, The Bachelorette, nearly every program on HGTV-I lost hours of my life plugged into the inanity. But Movies-on-Demand, Boardwalk Empire, Spartacus; I anticipated my escapes into fantasy and history.

Despite the good, you're not worth the $96 a month. For a long time, I wished I could quit you, and now I will. In your place, I aim to sew and knit more, read more and study for my classes. I hope to have more meaningful conversations with my husband when he's not killing zombies on the Xbox. Perhaps we will get Netflix or Zip to continue with our addiction to films and dust off the old Scrabble to engage in some hardcore competitiveness.

So, so long Cable. You will be missed sometimes, but hopefully not all the time.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Flying Solo

I went to see Harry Potter all by my lonesome last night because no one wanted to see it with me and you know what?   I had a nice time flying solo. 

I arrived just as the commercials were starting and didn't have to shop around for seats for 2, which was nice as the theatre was close to full.  I just plunked myself down next to a couple of chicks exactly where I wanted to sit (about 4 rows from the top, right side aisle seat) and enjoyed the show without feeling weird.  When the credits started rolling at the end, I hopped out of my seat and was the first one out of the theatre.  It was just freeing. 

It was a cool night and having dressed in jeans and a light sweater, I sauntered home, thinking about a few things and processing a few others.  I had such a nice walk, I walked a bit further before eventually heading home.  I like spending time alone and I like just being within myself.  My friend had mocked me earlier in the day when I told her I was planning on flying solo to the movies, but it's nice to just be responsible for yourself once and a while.  My thoughts are often consumed with a future baby and I am so aware that hopefully very soon, it won't just be me and Dave running out on a moment's whim and being free.  So while it's just us for the next while, I plan on hanging with just me as much as I can.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Summer, Summer, Summertime

It has been that kind of summer, one that helps with the grieving. I feel my daughter everywhere I look - through the rustling leaves, in the fluffy white clouds and when I see squirrels running around doing their squirrely business (for some reason, I know that she'd be wild about animals). Last summer, in the thick of my grief, I cursed the sunshine and the long, bright days. Now I revel in them because they make me feel closer to her.

Things are ticking along well in the Big Smoke. We both have jobs, there's a world of adventure at our doorstop and our laughter moves from room to room in our lovely flat. Someone is still missing though, but we say her name and keep her with us in every thing we do.

We have fun a lot. I think we have to.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Finding faith

Beautiful sakura right near my work.
After a trying a couple of weeks ago, I feel like I want to return to having faith.  Don't get it twisted - I don't feel like that thing called God and I can be BFF right now, but I feel like I can't carry the load on my own anymore.  I am a ruthlessly inefficient over-thinker and I have been for most of my life.  But I started to change this is Japan when I decided to let some things go and hand it over to the "universe".  I would wake up in the morning, sit in seiza while looking out at the moutains and give thanks for my life and all the gifts that had been bestowed upon me.  At night, before falling asleep, I would give thanks for the lessons I had learned that day, and prayed for blessings for my loved ones. 

When I moved to the UK, I stopped meditating in the mornings, but I always woke up and fell asleep giving thanks.  Unfortunately, my bad habits slowly returned and I would overthink and get stressed out by my precarious position in the UK, when honestly, things weren't that bad.

When I became pregnant with Isla, I gave thanks morning, noon and night, happy to have her inside of me and feeling like each day was a gift.  But then she died.

And I haven't been the same since.
Sakura will always remind me of Isla.

After nearly a year of walking this spiritual past aimlessly and blindly, I know I need to give up some of my anxiety to faith. 

Faith that I'm not alone.

Faith that I'll be happy, fulfilled and free.

Faith that I'll get pregnant again and carry a baby to term.

So I'm trying.  I give thanks when I remember and let things go when there is nothing more I could possibly do.  I don't expect to have the blind faith I had before any time soon, but I do believe I'm ready for the universe to carry the load when it feels too heavy upon my shoulders.

A couple of years ago I wanted to get the word faith tattooed on my wrist.  That got veteod by Dave so I'm going to try to tattoo it on my mind.

And so it begins.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
(or a really rocking pair of flats)

Monday, 2 May 2011

Remember me, remember her
Today is International Baby Lost Mother's Day.  It recognizes all those mothers who have had to say goodbye to a baby or  babies, and who have a wound in their hearts.  She might be your friend, your neighbour or even your own mother.  Please take a moment to think of her and to wish her nothing but love, joy and happiness in the future.  If you're reading this post after the day has passed, don't worry.  Just close your eyes, think of her, and send her good vibes.  There, you're done.

Thank you.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Big, fat update post

It's been a whole month since I last updated and things have progressed.  A lot. Rather than turn this into a monster post, I'll break down what's been happening in manageable bites:

This was before the beard came off.  I loved that beard..
On April 5th, Dave touched down at Pearson and we were finally reunited after 83 days of living apart.  He breezed through immigration and into my arms and he hasn't left them since.  I can't really describe how it felt to see his beardy face after nearly 3 months of infuriatingly haphazard Skype chats and broken up long distance conversations.  I can't get enough of his kisses, his voice and his smell.  This is the closest to feeling whole in about a year.  He has been working hard at settling in, putting together furniture for me and applying for jobs.  I'm so happy he's here and we can truly start over again.


Our apartment is coming along now.  We have hung up items on the walls, personalized furuniture and purchased a new home entertainment unit.  There are items missing like a rug, a coffee table, a sitting chair and odds and ends, but we're here for the long haul.  All that stuff can wait until we found the perfect accompaniement rather than running out to buy something just because I want the finished look.  I plan on posting a few before and afters because I'm really "in like" with our home and happy with where we live.


These ads are ridiculous. Love the grafitti.
Due to the graciousness of a great friend, I met up with a holistic therapist who came over to my house about a month ago to talk about our loss and healing.  I never got the chance to talk to a therapist after losing Isla, and after all the months that have passed, I feel like talking it out is the best thing for me.  Rebecca communicated with me from the point of view of a naturopath and spiritual healer and I did feel lighter and more hopeful after we talked, and luckily, I have been riding that wave ever since.  She also diagnosed with me with having too much acid in my body which has led to some unpleasant side effects ever since after I gave birth.  Based on her suggestions, I've undertaken a fairly strict diet where I have cut out dairy, sweets (including most fruits), wheat and everything delicious and fattening in an effort to balance my body out.  While I was focusing on ridding myself of my oh-so-annoying affliction, I lost weight without even trying.  I have gone down two belt sizes and my clothes are all looser.  I have a more athletic build right now with abs and smaller hips, which is a bit weird.  Dave thinks my body is rocking and I'm pleased, but I want to be better on the inside as well.  This is month 2 so we'll see if I'm "cured".


Since arriving in January, I have had two jobs and have been interviewed 5 times.  I can finally say that I will be starting a third job next month, which, happily is permanent.  That means I'll have benefits, vacation, security, and one less thing to worry about when planning about the future.  It has been a struggle to get to this place.  This is a topic I'll probably revisit in the future.

Extracurricular Activities

As I mentioned a couple of months back, I got elected to the executive of the JET alumni organization here so I have been out to meeting and activities, which have been a really great way to meet new people and get out in the city.  I also got the opportunity to write a restaurant review, participate in a fundraiser for the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami and try my hand at rock climbing.  It has been taking more of my time than I anticipated, but that has been good.  I've realized though that my focus right now is on pregnancy losses (duh) and connecting with other women who have suffered.  I think that's probably something I'll get more involved in as time goes by.  In the meantime, I organized and participated in a meet up for other baby loss mommas in the GTA and our first meeting was great (well, as great as can be when you're talking about the babies that you lost).  It helps me have an outlet for the pain I still and will always have.  We're meeting again in a few days and I can't wait.

Social Life

To put it briefly, my social life has been rocking.  I have such great friends here and I feel like a fun outing is just a text away. I have peeps here from university and an old job, as well as my old friends, the Pinay crew.  I cannot say how much I laugh when I'm with my friends.  When we get together, we are 18 years old again, and I savour those moments.  On the flip side, they have also cried with me when I've had my down days.  I love them so much.  Toronto would not be the same without them.


Thoughts of my daughter are, of course, are on my mind every day, just not all day any more.  I think of her frequently and it always reaches fever pitch around the middle of the month.  My brain subconsciously marks the time of the month when we lost her last May.  She was born on the 17th and without fail and usually without me realizing it, I go down that deep pit of despair for a while.  I remember things vividly and I cry and feel lost and empty.  I am coping with these dark times better and better though.  Her birthday is coming up and I have been racking my brain thinking of coming up with a good way homage to her life?  No, that's not it.  Acknowledge her presence here on earth?  Hmmm....getting closer.  It's just hard.  One of my BFFs gave me a cracking idea - pay it forward.  She told me about a friend of a friend who lost a baby and who honours her baby's life by buying various baby items and donating it to the maternity ward of a hospital.  That's nice but I think I rather donate to other mothers who are going through the same thing I went through last year.  One thing that struck me when they brought Isla to me was that she was dressed in a very lovely outfit.  Someone, most likely a woman who had to say goodbye to her baby too soon, took the time to sit down and make clothes for really small babies.  Isla weighed 1lb 1oz when she was born.  And she was decked out in a lovely pink knitted dress and a pink and white knitted toque.  And she looked lovely.  Someone gave her clothes when nothing you could have bought in a store would have fit her and I'm grateful my baby had something made just for her.  So it seems right to do that for someone else.  With just a few weeks to go before her birthday, I won't have enough time to knit something that is of good quality, but in the months to come, I swear I'll do this and send it to the hospital in Isla's name.

And that's where we are.  I plan on having a lot of fun this summer and being really, really busy having a life.  Toronto is truly a great city and I'm sorry I never gave it a good chance till now.  Here are a few scenes from our walk this past weekend:

Underwear found in Kensington Market.

Dave is apparently quite a well known artist in Canada.  Google it.

Ramen mascot on Spadina Ave.

I think they suit him.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


Hi y'all.  I feel like I haven't had a chance to blog in a while and I really want to, but alas, I'm without internet right now and blogging at work is kinda tacky, huh (sheepish grin)?  Things have been moving forward and I have been feeling better than I have in a long while.  Things are in a little bit of a transition right now - emotionally, physically and spiritually, but I feel (dare I say?) happy.  I have been learning a few things and I have so much support, so I'm going to try to make this last.

Until I can write a proper blog post, here are a couple of lovely things I found:

This makes me thing about Dave and I, but then again, everything does!  I can't wait for him to get here.  TWO MORE WEEKS!

This article also made me smile.  It's all about finding love abroad, which as you know, is truly close to my heart.  Thanks to Loverly for having such a sweet story (and blog)!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011


I realize the last post was pretty heavy.  I got some concerned phone calls and emails, and I'm so grateful for all the love I have in my life.  I've written a post that is honest and hardcore, but I'm not ready to share that, but I promise I will one day.  I guess I just want to be even more honest about what I've been feeling regarding being a baby loss mama.  One day.

Lately, I've been on an upswing.  I went to a local support group for grieving parents and that helped immensely.  While I have friends who I can share so much with and who cry and grieve with me, there is something calming about being in a room full of people who have also lost a baby or babies.  It just feels like I'm less of a freak and that my tears/rage/sadness is NORMAL.  So yeah.  That was very intense, but cathartic as well.  I've also made contact with another group that will be closer to our new apartment and should start in the summer.  Hopefully, that will be successful too.

I'm also very happy that the countdown to Dave's arrival is now on! 4 MORE WEEKS!  I can't wait to kiss his beardy face again.  In the meantime, I have been driving around this sprawling megapolis securing furniture, furnshings and supplies for our new apartment, which I will be moving into on Saturday.  I have been finding inspiration everywhere and I can't wait to make it our own.  Our stuff that was shipped from Scotland should be arriving in a few weeks and it'll be great to have all our stuff we've collected from Japan and Scotland here, under one roof.  I plan on blogging about making our apartment a home, so that will be different, and hopefully good.

I've also taken a risk in terms of my job/career and I'm hoping it will pay off.  I don't want to say much more right now, but it was very uncharacteristic of me to say no even though I would have jumped up and down saying "YES" 8 years ago.  Well, we all know that that girl is dead and gone. I guess the biggest thing I've learned through all this stuff is that life is risky, life isn't guaranteed and take advantage of every good thing when you have it.  I'm trying.  Holy crap, I'm trying.

Sunday, 27 February 2011


I have to be honest:  I'm a liar.  A lie nearly every day.  I lie through my teeth when people ask me things and I lie by withholding my true feelings.  I'm a dirty, filthy liar.  And I can't stop.

I wish I had the power and the guts to say "No, I'm not okay" when someone asks me how I am.  I wish I can answer truthfully and tell them I cried my eyes out for hours when they ask me what I did last night.  I wish I could wipe that stupid, pasted on smile off my face when all I want to do is grimace and moan.  I'm so scared that I'll alienate everyone in my life by telling a simple truth: that I'm grieving, I'm depressed and I sometimes have "bad thoughts".

I know I'm getting better but in some ways, I feel like this grief will never go away.  I so wish this wasn't my life.
I just don't know what to do.

This woman is honest in a way I wish I could be now.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Toronto thus far

I've been in Toronto for a month now, and so far, I've been digging it.  Yeah, I go through this every time I initially settle some where (well, except Scotland truthfully), but since this is now my home FOREVER, I feel like I'm digging in more.  I mean, I have to like it and thankfully, right now, it's coming pretty easily.

Toronto is a sprawling metropolis and is a bit intimidating.  It's really disconcerting being away from your native country for so long and then returning to find that everything is more expensive than you remember and things are just so different.  Thankfully, even though Dave is across the ocean, I'm not alone.  I have been living with my sister who has been helping me navigate this new landscape, and my friends have been helping me settle in to a social life.  I've been getting to know some new areas and I've been trying out new restaurants.  I am also trying to get more involved. By all accounts, things are going well.

My gorgeous pal, C.

Pretty horticultural society building.
I've been literally walking all around the city when I'm out to a) save cash and b) see more of the area.  Even though it has been brick freezing (-28 one day!), I loved looking at buildings, taking note of cool looking restaurants and stores, and just feeling my way around.  In between the hours and hours exploring, I have also been looking for an apartment, which I'm happy to report, I've found.  It's in the hip Yonge and Eglinton area (nicknamed  Young and Eligible) and the apartment is right in the middle of the well-to-do neighbourhood, Forest Hill.  I've been back about 5 times and I'm still in love with the place.  I've managed to pick out a kick ass couch and bought a very comfortable mattress set, and I'm so excited to turn a nice apartment into a really sweet home.

The living room.  This house has some good bones and I love this space.
I mentioned that I've been getting involved and I've been doing that by becoming more active on the JET alumni association scene.  I'm really happy to say that I got elected to the executive and starting in April, I will be the conference organizer!  It's pretty exciting since I'm such a big planner and have big love for my time in Japan.  Plus the members seem pretty awesome so I'm looking forward to hanging with them doing some cool things.

I also decided to throw my hat into the ring and volunteer myself as a group leader for Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope.  It's a really amazing place online where women who have lost babies at all stages of pregnancy can go on and tell their stories (and read others) to gain a sense of community and support.  I've said so many times that losing a baby and grieving is such an isolating process, so it's nice to find that you're not alone (as heartbreaking as that is).  Anyway, the founders of the site recently had a lightbulb moment - they invited members of the community to set up face to face groups where people can get together with others who share a similar fate and I thought it was such a great idea.  I've mentioned that the SANDS support meetings probably helped to save my life and I was desperately looking for similar in the Toronto area.  I haven't found anything yet so I thought this would be a great thing.  Now, I'm not the most seasoned of baby loss mamas but I feel if I can help support someone who is grieving, like I was supported by SANDS in the early days, then that would be a very great thing.  Plus, I'm, hoping that I can get support as well.  All in all, a pretty good thing.  I've thought that since losing Isla, I'm trying to be the kind of women that would have been an amazing mother to my daughter.  I'm really trying to live my best life and she is my motivation.

And with all that stuff going on, I landed a temporary job at the number 1 place I wanted to work in.  I'm hoping one good thing can leader to even greater things so here's hoping.  I start next week!  So Toronto, cheers!

Monday, 31 January 2011

Epic Success!

I meant to post this a little while ago, but we were in the midst of going through it.  So now that Dave has booked his plane ticket (April 5th!), it seems like the right time.

Under normal circumstances, I hate filling out application forms.  They can be so tedious and boring: getting the dates right, looking up addresses and contacts, dotting all the Is and crossing all the Ts.  Funnily enough though, I was downright excited when Dave and I started his application for Canadian permenant residency. 

Make no mistake.  It's a freaking monster of packet.  I'm sorry, but reams and reams of paper were printed in order to get my husband from here to there.  A moment of silence please.

Where was I?  Oh yes, it's a freaking monster.  So in order not to bore the lot of you, I'll break these down in manageable steps.

The first thing I did was read the Citizenship and Immigration Canada site thoroughly.  I mean, we became BFF.  It's a lot of information, some of it confusing and sometimes a bit vague, but overall, it's easily understandable.  I did, however, use my other BFF (Google) to read about other people's experiences and what I should do to avoid common pitfalls.  The site I found the most useful was particularly the discussion forum.  I would urge, no push, anyone going through this to go on a forum and read what others have done in order to save yourself headaches and anxiety in the long run.

After reading the site, I printed out the application guides as well as the application itself and Dave and I sat down together to see what we needed to do. As it turned out, it was quite a lot. The application is in two parts: the first part is for the sponsor and the second part is for the applicant. As I'm the Canadian citizen, I would sponsor Dave, thus being financially responsible for him for the next three years. In order to get approved at a sponsor, I had to show that I wasn't a drain on the State and that I had ties to Canada since I have been living abroad for the past few years. I had to complete a 5 page application form and provide information about myself and my sponsored person and basically promise to look after him while we live in Canada. I also had to sign a sponsorship agreement and a sponsorship evaluation to ascertain if I was rich enough (i.e. not on benefits) to take care of my man, as well as a sponsor questionnaire that entailed me answering questions about my past jobs and addresses as well as my master plan when I arrive in Canada. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. In total, this part of the application was about 11 pages, plus my birth and marriage certificates, and tax and financial documents.

The second part was a little more...involved. Dave and I worked on this for about a week. This part of the application focused on him and his history. He had to answer the usual questions: address, height, weight, if he has ever been involved in an act of genocide...what??? Yes, there were several questions about any criminal activities he may have taken part in.  He also had to provide details on what he has been doing and where he has living since he was 18.  It took a little while to remember all the details but we got there.

Last but not least, we had to go through the whole history of our relationship including dating, proposal, wedding and honeymoon, and provide pictures of us over the last five years.  We had to provide details of when and where we met, if our close friends and families knew of our relationship and if and when I met any of them, who proposed to whom and where and when, describe our wedding and honeymoon, and how we communicate when we're not together among other questions that are just too numerous to list here.

We gave ourselves a deadline date to finish the application, made copies of important documents, printed out photos and checked each part at least 3 times.  I forgot to mention that while we were sorting this out, we were simultaneously ticking off other boxes, namely obtaining a medical certificate and criminal checks for each country Dave has lived in for over 6 months.  So in addition to the $1040, we paid £190 for the medical check and around £30 for the police checks.  We kissed it goodbye in mid August and it reached the Mississauga offices on the last day of August.

And then we began the waiting game.

On around the 30th of September we received notification that I had been accepted as his sponsor.  Yay!  That didn't take too long, as the members of indicated.  At this point, we were dead set on moving and I booked my ticket to leave Scotland.  We fully expected this process to take around 6 months, which seems to be average.  I hoped to hear back earlier but I wasn't about to hold my breath.

Maybe I should have.  Because at the the beginning of November, we got a request asking for Dave's passport!  We dropped off his passport in London when we visited at the beginning of December, and a week later, we received his passport with his brand new permanent resident visa.  Soooo, my husband has been accepted as a future immigrant to Canada.  Yay for speedy bureaucracy!

Saturday, 29 January 2011

So, I held a baby

Yeah.  Last weekend, I went to my friend J-La's place for a late Ukranian Christmas and I decided to come earlier to catch up with my pal.  My sister dropped me off and came inside to say hi and we heard the unmistakable screech of a baby.  I was stunned.  J-La didn't realize but my sister immediately knew that maybe this was not a good thing.  She left and I went to the kitchen to meet my friend's friends.  And there he was, Z.  A very cute and very vibrant baby.  There were introductions and some chit chat and I heard my phone ringing so I went in the next room to answer it and it was my sister asking me if I was alright.  At that moment I knew that I wasn't and I just burst into tears.  I started crying because 1) someone cared about my feelings and 2) there was a baby I wasn't prepared for and I was pretending I was ok.

My sister offered to come back and pick me up but I decided to stay.  I figured I was going to be meeting babies of friends soon, so I guessed NOW was as good as time as any to break myself in.  I called J-La to the room and told her I was freaking out.  I couldn't stop crying but I managed to tell her babies still really, really freak me out and I was having a hard time.  She rubbed my leg and tried to comfort me.  I asked her to tell her friends about what happened because I couldn't pretend any longer.  I cried for a while longer, pulled myself together and went back into the room where the baby was.

After some talking I asked to hold the baby. Yes, I asked to hold this baby.  And I did.  It wasn't so bad.  He was an easy baby to handle and big too.  I think he was 7 months old.  I tried not to think of what Isla would have been like if she made it to that age.

I don't know.  I think it was a wall I had to climb over.  But it was hard.  Happily, after they left, I had some amazingly strong and delicious gin and tonics and laughed the night away.  I'm feeling my way through this.  I'm trying my best.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

9 to 5

After hours of job hunting, a well-deserved break.
I have been looking for job opportunities in Toronto while I was still in Scotland and even applied for several, but I haven't heard so much as a peep.  I didn't worry too much about it because I had provided my Scottish contact details so I probably wasn't selling myself as a candidate who was immediately available.  I became aware of this and applied for a couple of jobs with my sister's contact details before Christmas.  I took a little break and now I'm back on the job hunt full time.  As my sis said, looking for a job and working out are my jobs right now.

So I've been looking and searching and browsing, tweaking my CV here and there and writing completely new cover letters for the jobs I have applied for and I can't help but feel the familiar questioning: what kind of a job am I looking for?  I know what my strengths are and I know where my interests lie, but like many, many people, I don't have a passion for many things.  I love eating, cooking, exploring and learning new things such as designing and making new things, but nothing that really translates to what I would love to do between the hours of 9 and 5.

Right now, I'm trying to reconcile what I want out of life and I think it's safe to say that finding my OMG job is not the first or second thing on the list.  Maybe not even the third.  So with that in mind, I'm trying to get comfortable with pursuing jobs that I'd be really successful in, and unfortunately, they are not as glamourous as I'd like them to be. I guess deep down, I want people to be impressed with my job.  I know it's silly, and I've never admitted it to myself before, but I guess being a success, career-wise, is what many people aspire to, and that success usually entails doing something that makes people say "wow!".

One of my good friends posted a quote on FB yesterday: "All labor has dignity."  I didn't know it at the time, but it was said by the late, great MLK, whose birthday was yesterday.  I googled it and found the full quote:  "All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence." It's really true - if you're working to support yourself and your family, no matter how menial the job is, you should hold your head up with pride and be the best you can because you're doing something great.  I need to apply this to my job search.

I have a university degree and through my varied jobs, I've learned that I am at my best when I'm coordinating, planning and putting things together and the jobs that I'm drawn to combine all those aforementioned things.  They aren't the sexiest jobs in the world, but I shouldn't be ashamed of that.  If I could find a job that keeps me on my feet and keeps me energized, I think I would be happy, no matter what the job title or industry is.

I have until March 1st to find a suitable job.  Today I applied to two potentially interesting but not "awesome" jobs.  The jobs I applied for were for executive assistant positions.  I know I would do well in those jobs but I can't help but feel a wee bit embarrassed, but I really need to get over that.  I know what I want out of life now and they can't be found during those hours between 9 and 5.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Personal turbulence

For the past few weeks, I've said my goodbyes and looked at things a little more closely for I know it might be a long time before I cast my eyes upon them again.  I shed some tears and hugged people more closely and made promises to keep in touch and visit again, vows I intend to keep.  In some ways, it was difficult to say goodbye, but in many ways, it was liberating.

On Thursday, January 13th, I kissed my husband many times, knowing I'd be lacking in cuddles and kisses for nearly 3 months, and went through the gates of security.  At the last minute, he gave me a postcard that he had written on and told me to read it on the plane.

I cried a little while I waited but held it together...until I saw that I was going to be sitting right next to a baby.  A very, very  young baby.  And my mind and body just.shut.down.  I started looking for escape routes and I started sweating.  My fight or flight instincts kicked in but my rationality came back to me.  I haven't seen or touched a young baby since I held Isla, and I wasn't in any rush whatsoever to be near one.  But I've been considering it since I found out a friend just gave birth.  (Aside - I didn't know this friend was pregnant until I clocked it on FB.  I emailed her and asked her if she was because she didn't announce it or anything.  She told me that she indeed was - 38 weeks so!  She said she thought it would have been insensitive to tell me in the months following Isla death and then time just marched on.  We've talked about it and I appreciate that she didn't want to hurt me.  Now, I'm wrapping my head around seeing her new baby when I visit Montreal.)

Anyway, so yeah. Little babies are on my mind, and thinking about holding one is at the forefront.  So as I stood there in the aisle considering whether or not I should change seats, I decided I would try to ride it out.  I calmly sat down and said hi to the little family sitting in my row.  And then I started crying as I sneaked looks at the little baby, a little girl named Annabelle, trying so hard to calm the rising hysteria.  She stared at me with her unseeing blue eyes and I realized that she wasn't a threat.  I didn't want her like I wanted my own baby.  She was there, living and breathing, the miracle that she is, and I didn't hate her.  I touched her little hand and looked at her closely.  I felt ok.  I made small talk with her proud parents and found out that Annabelle was 9 weeks old.  We chatted about Scotland, Canada and Japan and our plans.  It was ok.  Then I read the hell out of The Scotsman, The Toronto Star and Psychologies. 

It has been nearly 8 months since we lost Isla.  Time keeps marching on and we keep moving on. I read that very lovely postcard that Dave wrote while I was on the plane and he mentioned the time when we were happiest in our lives, which are highlighted in the pics I posted in this blog.  It was our first holiday together and we went to Tokashiku, an island in Okinawa.  He taught me how to swim on my birthday and we were so happy.  We want to get back there.  We're trying our best.  I know that most people would hate sitting next to a baby on a 7 hour flight  for obvious reasons, but sitting next to a baby was a good thing for me.  Another step on this weird, winding, dark road.  On Thursday, January 13th, I was grateful to little Annabelle.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Letting go

“When you find yourself stressed, ask yourself one question: Will this matter in 5 years from now? If yes, then do something about the situation. If no, then let it go.” Catherine Pulsifer*

For the past few days, I have been thinking about the past and the future.  I'm starting to think in order to give myself and my future a fair shot, I have to let go of a few things that have been mainstays in my past.  I downloaded a motivation visualization track from Amazon in an effort to focus my sometimes hyperactive mind and I must say, it got me pretty excited.  The intro mentions the idea of letting things/ideas/people go in order to receive new and better things/ideas/people and I'm all about that!  So in an effort to practice this law of the universe by putting it back into the universe, here is what I'll be working on in 2011:

  1. Letting go of people who talk the talk, but unfortunately, can't walk the walk.  This is a major thing for me.  I expect a lot from myself, and consequently, I have high expectations of others, particularly those who are close to me.  I am very fortunate that the people I gravitate towards are selfless, generous and kind and while I can get disappointed when my normally accurate instincts are fooled, I usually pick good people to share my life.  I hope by letting go of those who do too much taking and not enough giving, I will invite those who want the services of a good friend (moi).
  2. Letting go trying to always make other people feel comfortable.  This one has been getting easier and easier.  Having lost Isla nearly 8 months ago, I've learned that a lot of people get freaked out by grief.  Well, that's their goddamn problem.  If I feel like mentioning the fact that my baby died within context, because, thus far, it has been the biggest thing that has ever happened to me, I'm going to do it.  If people can't stomach it, it's not my problem.  I hope that this will help me accept what has happened to us and learn how to live with it gracefully.
  3. Letting go of societal pressures and aspirational ideas.  By now, it should be bloody obvious that I march to the beat of my own drummer.  I haven't settled into the mould that society says I should, so why do I still feel bad about it?!?!  As much as I would love to be a homeowner, I am moving to the second most expensive city in Canada where even the average down payment won't buy you a heck of a lot.  So for now, I'm just going to forgot about it.  My priority is to rent a decent, clean, bright flat in a nice neighourhood very close to the heart of the city.  I'm a city girl; I might as well live as close to it as I can.
  4. Letting go of the purse strings.  Dave and I have saved a lot of money over the last few years and we've sacrificed a lot for it.  Now that we'll soon be starting over in a new city, I think it's high time to spend some bucks.  We're going to have to buy furniture, a car, brand new wardrobes, loads of bits of pieces, and we're taking a vacation FOR FUCK'S SAKE, so it's time to relax some of that unrelenting self-control I've been brandishing and spend for a while.  I will always save as that's my personality, but if I want to get something pretty and useless from Anthropologie, then so be it.
  5. Letting go of complacency.  This can be in all areas of my life: my personal grooming, exploring new places, trying new things, and even just taking more pictures.  I need to stop being lazy in order to make the most of my life every day, even if the most I can manage is stopping at the florist and buying a pretty bouquet of flowers for my home.
I really believe in the power of positive thinking.  I haven't slept well since early 2009 and I know that bad sleep can shorten your life.  I am a stress consumer and it radiates through my body and manifests itself physically.  I am hoping that by letting go, practicing positive thinking, exercising, eating well and playing well, I will blossom into this new person I've changed into.  Cross your fingers for me.

* Image and text was taken from here.

    Saturday, 1 January 2011

    To a very happy, healthy and successful new year!

    I have been holding off posting for some time because I've just been waiting for 2010 to be over.  And now that it's officially done, I feel lighter.  The weight of this last year has been oppressive and now I have a new year to look forward to.  I know today is Day 1, but it's a beautiful thing.  I'm listening to "Auld Lang Syne" and thinking of my wonderful friends and family who have really supported us over the last 12 months, and my eyes tear remembering the love that has held us up.  And I think about my husband and I'm sure he saved my life.  With everything we've been through, I know I still have things to be grateful for.

    Now that we both have departure dates for our flights, I can't help but feel excitement.  We are starting over and while it's tough, it's a future we're both looking forward to.  I don't know what our lives will look like, but I aim to be more open, more patient, more loving, and to take each opportunity as they come to me and seek out the pleasures and joys in life that are there if you look for them.

    Happy new year to all of you.  I wish you all the wonderful things I wish for myself.