Bust a move- W.I.S.E. Project 2017 #tenacioustuesday

l-371798

 

I have promised to inundate you with a tale of my personal struggles.

The problem with posting a video on your social media saying what you are going to talk about the next day is that you are committing to it, so even though I have gone for a float, my head feels rather clear and I would rather eat my Finish chocolate and listen to audible; I have promised to inundate you with a tale of my personal struggles. Sounds incredibly exciting, I know.

If we are talking personal struggles I could talk forever about how unfair it is that when I wake up and pluck all the grey out of my eyebrows that I am left with half an eyebrow that I have to fill in, only to discover that I have three brow pencils in my make-up bag that are empty, so I consider using the color stick that I use fill in the greys that grow in between colorings along my hairline. Oh middle age; *I shake my fist at you*. It is sad really that in our twenties we have shiny hair and taut bodies but we really haven’t a clue about self care and emotional well being. Now that we are at an age that we are figuring it all out, the things that really matter, we have to worry about leaving the house with half an eyebrow and our clothes on inside out. Life is not perfect, but it is a journey and we are responsible to make it the best one possible, even with half an eyebrow.

I know that my situation of struggle I am about to share is not unique. I know that a lot of people have been affected by the Boom and Bust of Alberta’s economy. To many who work in the energy industry, the current downturn is the worst they’ve experienced.

I moved to Alberta in the summer of 2008, I was originally not so thrilled about the idea but my husband started working in the Alberta Oil sands in the fall of 2007 and at one point we spent over 6 months apart. It was the best decision for our family and nobody in their right mind would move their family across the country without putting in a great deal of effort to make it work.

There was some negativity surrounding our move, from family and friends alike, the same negativity exists today, almost ten years later; and it is based on a lot of assumptions about our lives and what would be best for us. The truth is that we have worked hard to do the best for our family, we have had great times and great struggles. Geography has been one of the greatest struggles, not just being away from our Nova Scotia family, but being away from each other!

In 2008, I sold our rural Nova Scotia house privately and spent weeks packing up our belongings before my husband arrived to sign the papers for the sale of our home and pack up the U-Haul. He drove across Canada with our belongings and our dog, I flew with our 7 and 3 year old girls and our cat.

In July of 2008 we moved into a house that I had never seen, not even in pictures. My husband had seen it once and determined more than anything that it was a safe Edmonton neighborhood for his wife and children as he would continue to work over 400 kms away.

In 2008 the Alberta Oil sands was experiencing existential growth. Workers were coming from all over Canada and when companies could not keep up with the demand they were hiring foreign workers to work in the service and construction industry for much lower wages.

We were able to live a life that wasn’t possible in rural Nova Scotia, opening up a world of opportunity for our children

We were able to live a life that wasn’t possible in rural Nova Scotia, opening up a world of opportunity for our children, seeking and nurturing the sports and arts activities that they were passionate about. Life was busy for both of us, my husband running a crew and working 80 hours weeks, sometimes working 21 days in a row in remote parts of Alberta and B.C., away from his family and me as a mother and a wife with a full time job, volunteer work and children in extracurricular activities, missing my husband.

I am sure our story sounds very similar to many  people who came to Alberta to work and raise their families. It wasn’t an easy life but it was a different kind of struggle than we had back home. In our beautiful province of Nova Scotia we were no strangers to financial struggle but the boom mentality was all new to us. I was way too caught up in the in the thick of it to consider that what goes BOOM, also goes BUST!

We bought a house when the market was at an all time high; it seemed a waste to keep throwing money away on astronomical rents.

For someone who came to Alberta very unsure I was able to navigate my way very quickly and make a place for myself here. Though I will always consider Nova Scotia to be my home, I am proud of the way that we dug in as a family, put in the hard work, and built a life.

There have been hardships all along. We have no family here and at times that can be very difficult. Being away from your significant other is a challenge as well , and as bad as it is for me, I recognize that he is the one that misses his children’s milestones as he moves place to place, saying goodnight via text in a different bed that is not his own.

Then when he came home we tried to jam the two weeks we missed into a 4 day visit. This sometimes meant spur of the moment trips to the mountains for relaxing time because otherwise you were inundated with things that needed done around the house and the four days were stolen from you in a flash.

Before things went completely bust there were hiccups, company issues, growing pains, last minute job changes and getting by on our savings during the down times. When we got through it we high fived each other as we have several times over the years because, once again, they couldn’t keep us down for long.

Then things go to BUST. It happened really quickly. The Alberta economy was devastated and though it started primarily in the Oil sands you learn pretty quickly how that trickles down, how many sub industries depend on the oil industry.

We had already depleted our savings and good graces during the hiccups. We found ourselves sadly unprepared for the bust. Even then we tried our best to be optimistic.

My husband is a fighter, he didn’t take more than a moment to feel sorry for himself, and he went out and started drumming up work in the residential construction industry

My husband is a fighter, he didn’t take more than a moment to feel sorry for himself, and he went out and started drumming up work in the residential construction industry. In a short time he landed some commercial work as well and his work ethic led him to a new career in the commercial restaurant trade. Diversifying your skills in this economy is essential. The money was a lot less but it meant being home more and being a part of a growing company that did not depend on the unpredictability of the Oil sands.

My husband being home more seemed sadly short lived. As with any growing company, the work area expanded to take him once again throughout Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. My husband spent almost eight months away from his family last year just to try to stretch the two ends of the rope to meet in the middle. Everything about our lives seemed to be hanging in the balance, relationships are strained and financial struggle is imminent as you are trying to keep up with mid boom debt on a post bust budget.

Once again, we reached deep within yourselves and decided that we will put in the fight of our lives, personally, professionally and financially.

Once again, we reached deep within yourselves and decided that we will put in the fight of our lives, personally, professionally and financially. We were committed to putting in the hard work because the promise of extensive work at home and being together as family full time was worth that effort.

Unfortunately, elsewhere; someone else is succumbing to the burdens of mismanagement during an economic downturn and my husbands hand was forced , once again to change jobs quickly. He believed in the potential of his company and promise that his hard work and sacrifice would reap the reward he desired, being with his family full time.

I could tell how torn he was to be returning to an industry and a life that he had hoped to leave behind.

He packed his bags on  Sunday night and said goodbye to his children. I could tell how torn he was to be returning to an industry and a life that he had hoped to leave behind. Realistically, one can look at the situation as an outsider and say we should be grateful. We are grateful, for many things, we are not grateful however for the time we spent apart and we have heard the “no money is worth that!” We know that too. It is not about “money” at all, except that we are trying to keep a ship full of holes afloat on a stormy sea.

We bought our house during the boom, to sell now would mean we would most likely lose any equity we put into the house. To go back home seems like an ideal idea when you think of it in terms of family and friends. The thought of the easy relaxed lifestyle we could adopt is very tempting.  However,  if we stop to construct a plan we can’t help but realize that we have over the years romanticized the idea of “going home’.

The thought of coastal drives and Sunday family barbeques brings a tear to my eye.

Being with all of my children, watching my grandkids grow up and being close to family and old friends is one of those ideas that make your heart swell with longing. The thought of coastal drives and Sunday family barbeques brings a tear to my eye.

Then I am forced to think of the fact that if we sell our house right now we could lose all of our equity, our girls have on countless occasions flat out refused to move from the only home they have known for ten years, and we would be jobless in a province that is not bursting with economic opportunity.

So, even though it feels like we have been on the same uphill foot path forever, maybe our miracle is on the other side of the mountain. We need to make healthy decisions regarding our financial future and keep moving even though it feels like we have been stuck in the same spot way too long.

We are grateful we are able to maintain close connections with most of our family and friends even though we are on the other side of the country, our hard work has afforded us some great opportunities and we have made great memories. Perhaps on the other side of this we will once again high five each other and remark how we couldn’t be held down for long.

I can’t even begin to imagine what the future will bring, it seems best to just focus on today.

I know that we all face our own personal and financial struggles. I am interested to know how you cope during times of stress. Do you believe in retreating to safety or do you just keep swimming in the hopes of one day moving forward? When you can’t get ends to meet no matter how far you stretch them are you able to keep a cool head and do the next best thing or does it tear you apart?

I believe that we can help each other. I look forward to your input!

 

 

 

Where do I belong? W.I.S.E. Project 2016- Journal Notes

“Love the one you’re with”

NS
Photo Credit to: canadaclass10.wordpress.com

In 2008 we headed West, packing our lives into a U-haul, our hearts overflowing with memories, leaving behind the only home and lives our kids had ever known. After spending our growing up years and the early years of our marriage on the East Coast surrounded by family and friends I am surprised at how deeply and quickly our roots sunk in here. My husband and I credit our jobs and a few close friends for firmly rooting us in this Western life but for our children it is their home, their friends that have become family, their sense of community and the opportunities they have been afforded to do the things they are passionate about.

 

It was the summer of 2008 when we arrived at our new home in Alberta and because we had a good reason for being here it began to feel like home remarkably quickly. As a family we had been apart for eight months while my husband worked in the Alberta Oil Sands so geography seemed like a reasonable thing to try to overcome to be able to be together as a family as much as possible. But even so, the sense of belonging to a place, the feeling that where we are is where we were meant to be, still depends just as much — if not more — on our attitude about the place as it does on the place itself.

Edmonton is not my home in the sense of heart and family. I am proud to have been born and raised in the fair province of Nova Scotia. I love the ocean and will always be captivated by salty air and crashing waves. Lakes, long coastlines, beaches and sand between my toes. I love my family and nothing can replace seeing them as I often as I would like but the thing about being from a family as close as mine is the security in knowing that you are only a thought away. I credit being close to my family as the reason I was able to move across Canada and create a life. When everyone else was full of warnings about everything I would hate in Alberta it was my family that said to me that they knew that I was strong enough to assemble a life anywhere.  They would miss us at the family gatherings along the shore, for every imagined reason we could think of to get together and eat good food and tell tales but I would be in their hearts, on their minds and definitely on the tips of their tongues because with family, no matter where you go you never get left behind. There is an inclusion that happens within a family like mine that cannot be touched by time or distance. Instead of making it harder to leave, this made it easier really, knowing that they wished us well and had nothing but good thoughts and high hopes for our journey ahead. The vastness of the land between us would never sever our bonds.

That all being said eight years have come and gone since we landed in Alberta. I remember like it was yesterday how my husband whisked us off to Jasper immediately because he knew I would be enamored with the mountains and it would alleviate the heaviness in my heart. I was awestruck by the majestic Rocky Mountains, standing proud and tall and on guard, touching the sky with their monumental peaks and reminding me just how small we are in this great big, phenomenal world. Lakes of Caribbean blue that mirrored the lofty, snow capped summits made my heart ache for my ocean playground a little less. Like a John Green novel, slowly at first and then quickly all at once I fell in love.

There was a moment last summer that my husband and I decided it was time to move home to Nova Scotia. We want to be close to family and lead a simple life, watch our grandkids grow up. We were very excited and started planning a timeline and telling family, trying to convince the girls.

As it often does, life happened and almost another year has passed since making that decision. The bottom fell out of the Oil Sands and financially took a lot of our immediate choices away. The timing wasn’t right when things were good and it is even worse now when things are bad. Funny the wrenches that get thrown into your life, but I am a firm believer that there is a reason for everything that will reveal itself in time.

Looking back to last summer after we made the decision to move home we had taken a trip to our favorite spot in the East Kootenay’s along the shores of the Upper Arrow Lakes. It is our spot for calm and clarity, to unplug and unwind and remember the things that are really important. When I step onto the little ferry that takes us to Burton, British Columbia it strangely feels like coming home. I remember staring up at a starry sky over the lake and being overcome with emotion wondering how I could walk away and never see that place again. My husband took my hand and said “I get it”, knowingly; because his heart was ravaged as well.

 

Like a time aged tale of being torn between two lovers my heart is divided and may always be, no matter where our story leads us.

 

Unfortunately living your life and making a living sometimes pulls you in entirely different directions.

 

It reminds me of a saying,

“Wherever you go, there you’ll be”

 

Indeed here I am, and what am I to do but make the best of the story that I am in the middle of?

 

Another fitting quote if you will allow me,

“Wherever you are be the soul of that place”

 

I will be. I am committed to it.This place has been good to me and my family. The people have been warm and kind. The community has embraced us. We have had good times and great experiences. I know that it is not my forever but it is my right now. Like a line from the 1970 hit by Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills and Nash, “Love the one you’re with” 

Attitude is everything!

Nakusp 2

 

Working Man-Building a strong family

image

I don’t really believe that there is women’s work and men’s work. I believe that gender roles should be equal but that being said somehow in my marriage we fell into more of traditional roles and I have been lucky enough to not have to get my hands dirty changing my oil, changing tires or taking out the toilet all three times our children decided to flush something that didn’t belong.

About a year and half ago I quit my job. My husband and I thought it was important that I have more time for our children with him away. Initially trepidatious I agreed it was for the best.  I do some work from home and I am a volunteer board member for a local league.  I am a full time wife, mother, cook, taxi driver and role model.

Do not misinterpret this to mean that I love picking up dirty socks or dirty dishes.  I don’t and I can safely say that though my family does not readily change their heathen ways it is not from lack of trying. My displeasure is known and though it would be easier I don’t do it for them. If I have to ask ten times it gets louder everytime and eventually the socks will get picked up.

My husband is away for work more then he is home and I know when he is there everybody wants a piece of him. His phone rings steady, people are in his ear and he is responsible for a crew of young guys that he affectionately calls his kids.

One day last week I was on the phone bitching to him about trying to get our daughter out of bed for school and he asked if I would like to trade him and get five thirteen year olds out of bed in the morning. I changed the subject of the conversation. 

Both if us have our roles and he is exceptional at his and I handle mine. Sometimes we struggle silently because part of our roles as husband and wife is too lift each other up, not weight each other down with complaints. When you live apart from each other sometimes part of supporting each other is learning to lean on yourself.  It’s a unique situation for certain and I don’t know that I will ever master it but I know that I won’t stop trying.

I know that my husband doesn’t tell me everyday how lonesome it gets living up North, how hard it is to miss your childrens special moments and get up and go to work each day, everyday knowing how many people are depending on him.

In turn I try to make sure that all the business here gets taken care of. The children are fed, educated and active, I volunteer at their school and their league, the business paperwork is done on time and I teach our girls about hard work, about integrity, about accountability and about the value of a dollar. I try to have a little life for myself because it is important for me and for them to see.

Our roles are very different but equally important.  I know I miss Kirk somedays more then I say and I definitely appreciate him more then I could ever express. I know that he makes our lives possible  and in turn we make his possible. We are all doing our best and continuing to learn. I do not define him nor he me but I believe that we make each other better!

Our kids are growing up with a family that doesn’t all get to sit down at the dinner table together every night but they are being given opportunities that neigher my husband and I had as children.

Families don’t fit into a little box like they used to. That perfect fifties style family with the Mom serving dinner in a dress to a suit and tie dad while her well groomed children say their prayers and talk about their day over meatloaf and pie!

Tell me about your unique family!

image

Posted from WordPress for Android

Total Package

Daily Prompt: A Friend in Need

Posted by michelle w.Finish this sentence: “My closest friend is…”Photographers, artists, poets: show us FRIENDSHIP.Please note that comments are always closed on daily prompts. Pingbacks are always enabled; if you link to the prompt post on your blog, a link to your post will appear in the list below the prompt.

image

My closest friend is my husband Kirk. Sometimes he infuriates me and sometimes it takes some time for us to fit into each others lives. We live a unique lifestyle but certainly not unusual for anyone who works or has a spouse who works in the Oil Sands of Alberta. Kirk works away for a minimum of ten days and then he is back for four days. This past run he was gone for 17 days. He lives in work camps and works in remote parts of Alberta. Our daily lives are very different so when he comes home the two of us often mix like oil and water. With patience (which admittedly I lack sometimes) and a bit off tongue, we eventually work through our conflicting personalities and that is when the fun starts. Once we decide that we don’t have to talk over each other and compete to see who has had a worse week we are able to breath, relax and laugh together. Nobody in the world can make me laugh like Kirk and when I am laughing I am relaxed and free. Unlike other couples we don’t have the luxury of time so when we are thrown together we have to jam all of our niceties and good times in a couple of days. My closest friend is a loud and opinionated.  I sometimes have to fight him to get a word in edgewise. He obviously likes the sound of his own voice. My closest friend is the hardest worker I know, often carrying a huge weight on his shoulders. He is conscientious,  strong and he has an unusually brilliant mind. He encourages me always and tells me I can do anything I set my mind too. My closest friend loves me passionately,  he makes me feel safe and important in this big bad word.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/daily-prompt-friendship/