Monday, April 19, 2010

5 year plan

When we first decided we were going to move to the North, we had a 5 year plan. We were going to save every penny we made, and high tail it back to Nova Scotia to continue the life we left. We assured everyone, including ourselves, that when we left we would be moving back in 5 years. We made a promise to each other that even if we hated it, we would stay for at least the first 12 months to give it an "honest try". Well, within the first month I was ready to pack up and move back. I was so lonely, we had no internet, and for the first time in my life I was the victim of racism on a daily basis. We were the minority. It was made clear to us that we were "tolerated", but would never be accepted. Then something changed. We made great friends in the manager and his wife, who stepped into the role of surrogate grandparents for our kids. They took us under their wing and protected us. And something else was beginning to happen. Rob and I, for the first time in a LONG time, were actually spending time together. Albeit, he was working A LOT of hours at the store, the boys and I were able to walk over and physically see him. This is something our lives were missing. When we lived in Nova Scotia, we literally passed each other throughout the day. I went to work 2 hours before he came home, and by the time I came home he was sound asleep. This was our life, and we accepted it because there was no other option. It wasn't feasible for me to work days and put the kids in childcare, as my entire paycheck would have been paying someone else to raise my children. So I had to work nights, because we needed both incomes.

If I knew then what I know now, would we have still moved? Without a doubt I would answer yes. People have asked me if I regret moving when we did, seeing my dad passed away 6 months after that. I spoke to my parents everyday when we moved, either on the phone or webcam. My dad would webcam us every morning to talk to the boys. As selfish as it is, I am glad Colby has the memories that he does of Dad, the ones before he got sick and ended up on oxygen.

If, at the same time, someone would have told us that we would end up in a community that welcomed us with open arms, that we would make friends that are just as close if not closer than family, I would have laughed. There is no way I would ever believe that an aboriginal community would accept the "white family", and support us through good times and bad. (We had so much support from the community when our house was broken into it was amazing). I have landed an amazing job, thanks to the encouragement of the women who work in the building that I do. Rob has earned the trust and respect of the community, and everyone says how happy and proud they are to have him running "their store". He has been asked to be part of a focus group here in town, a group that is trying to promote Ile a la Crosse and increase employment. I have earned the reputation as a really good photographer, and I now have people that won't let anyone else but me do their pictures (including people that live out of town). My boys have surrogate grandparents here, and I have women in this community that treat me like their own daughters. We have amazing friends here, so much that we have planned a 3000km journey this summer with them throughout the west coast.

This June marks the 3rd anniversary of us living in the North. In that time, our family unit has grown stronger than we could have ever imagined. Our children are independant, strong, beautiful boys who are non-judgemental and accepting of everyone. They know what it is like to be discriminated against because of the color of their skin and I hope that this has instilled a tolerance and acceptance for everyone. I see it everyday with Colby, and I hope as Joey grows he will be the same. Our marriage has never been stronger. We have learned to rely on each other for everything, and I feel I am a better person for it.

The point of this ramble, you ask? Well, I dunno actually. I started this post with the intention of showing off "the beast". Rob has always wanted a truck, and with the new toys we have acquired through some great deals ($300.00 for a skidoo, hello!) we wanted something to be able to haul them around. Rob has become quite the negotiator, and has managed to negotiate a deal for the truck (brand spankin' new, full warranty!!) for almost the same price as we were paying for the Explorer.

The one thing I have learned more than anything else over the past 3 years is to enjoy life. Our kids are only going to be young once. We only have one chance to make lasting memories. People think I'm crazy sometimes for never leaving the house without a camera. I'm not taking pictures, I'm capturing memories. The boys and I often look back through pictures we have taken over the past few years and talk about them. It keeps the memories alive.

Do I see us leaving in 5 years? Not at this rate. We have an opportunity that many don't get. We have jobs that we love. We get paid good for them, and we live in a beautiful area where if we want to, we can drive a quad down the middle of the road to go to the store. People don't honk if you stop to talk to someone on the road, they just go around, and if there is a line up at the store when you're buying groceries, well, you at least get to find out the latest gossip. People don't get mad if you forget something, and hold up the line while you run back and grab that one thing. We love this town, and it loves us.

"The Beast".


Matt, Kara, Hunter and Cavan said...

Beautiful post Tina (and nice looking truck too).

We have the same sentiments about the family time you get when you live in the north. The pace of life is so much better and life just seems to get more rewarding.

I am glad your family unit is so strong and happy!

Valentina said...

Wonderful post, Tina! I am so happy you found this beautiful place in your life that is clearly the best for all of you. I think all of us need a little bit of "the north" in our lives from time to time... ;) xoxox to you and your boys

OHN said...

Sometimes life has a way of surprising you. I can't tell you how many times that I have thought I would want one thing, when another turned out to be the perfect decision.

The truck looks loud :)

Clem and Chandra Schraefel said...

Well said! We have so many parallels in our lives, Tina. Although I grew up here in small-town Sask, we lived in Calgary for 10 years. I came back kicking and screaming, thinking in the back of my mind that he would come to his senses and take us back to civilization. I was so wrong, and soon after we moved, I realized we were "home". Thank you for reminding me of that!

Mary Lou said...

Wonderful post. life is good and yes we all need to take time and look around... thanks for sharing hugs ML

jeannine said...

Okay; I cried - #1 because I am very very happy for you, and #2 because it means I don't get to see the family (o.k. you can read boys) as much. Guess it means trips out west.

Way Way Up said...

When I first left Ontario for the North I too thought I'd be up here for a year, perhaps three at the most. That was almost 10 years ago now and in that time I've seen some incredible sight and had some of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Demeter said...

So nicely put! I am so happy for you, for having found such a good place in your life where people around you are so warm, and so accepting of your family. What you are talking about is what all of us strive to achieve and the photo taking, I totally get it. I feel the same way. Capturing memories through the lens of your camera will pay off in the years ahead. I never tire of looking at pics of my kids.