Boxing Day

It’s been a year.

Dec 26, 2013 was the day our family embarked on a nine-day trip, 6000 kms west and north, to an uncertain future in the Yukon.

The move was a long time coming, but the 26th was the day we made the leap.

Since then, we’ve changed careers, provinces and dwellings a few times including a memorable but not-to-be-repeated month living in a tent. We’ve been hopeful, scared, triumphant and desolate. 

Now, our future has a clarity we couldn’t have imagined a year ago. It looks like we’re going to be gainfully employed, productive members of society. Thankfully, it seems we landed on our feet.

For me, boxing day will always be the day everything changed. It’s a day to take your life in your own hands, take responsibility for your own existence, realize your own power to change your life… and leap.

So, from me to you, happy boxing day. 

Heading north

We want to hire you.

I stared at those words. My jaw dropped. The email was regarding a graphic design job that I had applied for at a publishing company in the Yukon.

We want to hire you.

It didn’t seem real. If this was a Hollywood movie I would have given myself an exaggerated pinch to make sure it wasn’t a dream. As it was I just stared at those five words on the screen, eyes narrowed, unable to completely quash the suspicion that they were about disappear at any moment. They remained.

This was going to change my life.

Gradually I became aware that my computer was ringing. It was my mother on Skype. Shortly afterwards my future employer called. From there, plans began to take their shape. The idea of those five words quickly exploded into reality and fragmented into hundreds of details.

The last week has been a flurry of preparations; car shopping, apartment shopping, plane ticket purchases, daycare arrangements, road trip preparation and packing. My mother will fly out and join Oscar and I for the four-day journey on remote, snow-covered roads and Richard will drive up after his teaching practise. The more details that get ironed out, the more real it feels.

When I think back to the odd series of events that brought us to the Yukon almost a year ago I feel like fate showed us the place we belong. 

We’re going home.


Good-bye... and hello

It's the end of one of the most life-changing chapters of my life

Beautiful and heartbreaking, one of our last sunsets from the window of our home in the Hamlet of Mount Lorne. Photo by Christa Galloway.

I came to the Yukon a different person than the one who is leaving now. 

I'm a bit tougher. In the winter I've found myself saying, "it's only -20C, let's go skiing while it's warm," and in mid-August I've scraped the frost off my car before work. 

I'm a bit spoiled. I used to admire photos of beautiful mountain landscapes, now I see one out my window every day.

On a personal level, I've changed drastically. Where I used to rely on my husband for everything from driving to grocery shopping to answering the phone, I am now used to getting myself around, going away on business trips and bringing home the bacon.

I like myself more than I did before. I'm more independent, less afraid and stronger.

Things that may not seem like a big deal to a lot of people but used to make me nervous, like arranging car insurance, driving long distances, or going away for a business trip by myself, don't faze me anymore. I answer the phone like a pro star. I can even do the looney thing in the shopping cart now, no problem.

The other day I realized that for the first time in 14 years, my friends are people I met independently of Richard. It occurred to me that they must actually like me because of me. Part of me always assumed people hung out with me because I came as a package with my charming, social and guileless husband and not for myself. I've taken a good hard look at myself and I think I'm actually moderately cool to hang out with, albeit in a awkward geeky way.

Now it's time to say good-bye to the place and the people that changed me so much. Yesterday I worked my last flight for Air North. I thought I would be relieved because it's been a very busy summer with few days off, but I was almost overcome with emotion. My two trainers happened to be there and announced to the passengers that this was my last flight. They said very nice things which had the effect of making me happy while at the same time turing beet red with embarrassment.

The people here are what I will miss most about the Yukon. There are the Air North flight attendants. Erin's quirky good nature, Angelica's vivaciousness, Jessica's toughness, Michael's kindness and energy, Wini's sense of humour, Susan's sassiness, Derek's in-flight baking skills, Sonja's enthusiasm... the list goes on and on. Then there are all the people who have helped us along the way, our neighbours, co-workers, teachers and friends. Maybe its the fresh northern air, or being away from the rest of the world, but Yukoners are a different type of people. Richard likens them to people from Yorkshire in England, they are a little tough at first but once you're accepted you see they have a heart of gold.

Soon, ironically, we will be on the road south. I'm excited for the future. My life will change drastically. For four months I will be a stay-at-home mom living in a city apartment with no vehicle, all new for me. This time, we do already have one friend near our new home, and we've already been invited for Christmas!

We visited Red Deer yesterday and absolutely loved it. We got a very good feeling from the area and everyone we spoke with was amazingly friendly and went out of their way to help us. Red Deer has many beautiful parks and trails, nice buildings and rolling hills... and conveniently there appears to be a liquor store at just about every street corner. Like Whitehorse, the winters will still be damn cold, so I'm in no danger of going soft.

Also, like Whitehorse, Red Deer would be a great pub name, so it totally fits.



Adventures big and small

WARNING: This post contains sappy, lovey dovey, squishy and otherwise sentimental sentences which may cause fake vomit noises in some readers.

Nine years ago today, I married Richard. It was one of the best days of my life.

Richard and I sitting on the dock on our wedding day. Photo by Simon Furlong.

Our friends and family all got together on a hot sticky summer day at my Aunt Sue's house on Georgian Bay for a wedding with an outdoor ceremony and reception, a constant threat of rain and no tent. 

Our wedding ceremony. Photo by Simon Furlong, friend and photographer.

We were lucky enough to have my Aunt Nonie and Eugene provide beautiful music and we were married by a family friend and minister, Ian Stuart. Rich and I promised to be together through adventures big and small. 

Our wedding day. Photo by Simon Furlong.

The whole day was documented by our friend and photographer, Simon Furlong.

Post-wedding fireworks on the beach. Photo by Simon Furlong.

After the food, drink, speeches music and dancing, the official part of the day was capped off with fireworks. Although it threatened to rain all day, it stayed dry, but we did get wet. It might have had something to do with the open part but at some point several of of us decided a swim was in order. The best man, Shaun, used his Italian leather boots as water shoes (they came out remarkably unscathed). Some people opted for (much) less clothing. We discovered that trying to fit 16 people on a small raft was hilarious fun. Fortunately my Uncle Andrew was keeping an eye on us and providing flashlights for people coming in and out in the pitch dark. I was torn between worrying someone was going to get injured and having the best time of my life. In the end, I just went with it and I have never laughed so hard in my life.

You know it was a good time when the best man is passed out on the beach in his suit but inexplicably without a shirt. (Sorry Shaun, had to post this. Consider it payback for the wedding certificate incident.) Photo by Simon Furlong. (Kudos to Simon for taking an in-focus photo at this time of the evening.)

In the nine years since that day, a lot has changed. Rich and I are now parents to a wonderful little boy, we've both changed careers twice, Richard's dad is no longer with us and is dearly missed and we've moved to a new territory. The adventures big and small proved to be an apt line in our self-written vows, we have had those aplenty. We are lucky that we are both the type to embrace those adventures.

I've learned a lot about my husband. Yes, he may like his tea prepared a certain way, but he is by no means a snob. One of my proudest moments was when he took a job as a bus driver when we were struggling financially. He is an amazing, hands-on father. He is also a talented teacher. The letter of reference he got from the principal of Jack Hulland Elementary School was the most glowing I have ever seen. Recently I learned what I always suspected, he is very smart. He has always disparaged his own intelligence but his 94% and recent 100% grade would prove otherwise.

Richard is an amazing, hands-on father. Photo by Christa Galloway.

I've learned a lot about us as well. We provide each other support when we need it, a kick in the a** when it's necessary and love constantly. Rich has even turned around a bad situation by saying the exact wrong thing and making me laugh. When Rich has a dark cloud, I'm able to give him perspective. After a bad day at work, when my self-confidence has been deflated, Rich always reminds me that he and Oscar love me, and I have value.

Our family on a camping trip to Dyea. Photo by Christa Galloway.

Our trials have often brought us together. We've been through  illness, the loss of friends and family, financial and business struggles, a newborn baby and sleepless nights, moving and starting over. Yes, we've had our rocky times, but in the end we've come through it stronger. Together I know we can tackle anything, including our next move. A new province, university, apartment hunting and a job search lie ahead for us, but I know we can handle it.

Nine years ago I followed through on one of the best decisions I've ever made. I married my best friend. I look forward to all of our new adventures, big and small.

Happy Anniversary Richard, thanks for being you!