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.