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It took me four years, but I’m finally doing it. I’m finally getting back on a stage!
Moving to a new place is always a little bit tricky, but moving to a new state or a new province is positively daunting. Especially when there is no family nearby to lean on and you don’t have any friends. So you dig in and you work (or look for work, as in my case) and you feel isolated and lonely and of course start to doubt all kinds of things, and then, as if by magic, you start meeting people.
Then you start making friends. Then you find your “other family” and it starts to feel like home. That was our experience with moving out east. Peppered, of course, with a bunch of other factors, but it pretty much took nearly three full years for us to feel like this was our home and now four years in I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I love it.
Life in New Brunswick is like sticking a city right near Algonquin Park in Ontario. There are forests and wildlife everywhere. In fact, I have often commented that it seems the city’s and towns in New Brunswick were built to accommodate nature, and not the other way around as I so often found in Ontario.
However, with that adjustment period and the “finding” period of the move, (and of course, the necessity of health) we circled the wagons a lot and didn’t do a lot out, besides explore the nature trails of course. Which means I wasn’t doing any theatre, a favourite activity of mine that took up much of our five years in Tillsonburg, some of my twenties, all of my teen years and even some of my childhood. I’ve acted on stage and on camera and, well, I missed it.
I auditioned for a huge musical in the city (1 of over 200 who auditioned) and didn’t get a part, which didn’t really surprise me since the cast was of only 22 and there are some great actors out here, so I auditioned again this past summer for a show out in the valley where I live.
And I’m in.
We’re doing Sister Act (not to be confused with the movie, this is the musical). I wasn’t actually very familiar with the stage production but I gotta say, I’m loving this. The music is beautiful, fun and exciting and, in typical farce based form, there is a chase scene. We’re doing choreography based on the US Broadway tour, so it’s all move, move, move. I can’t remember the last time I danced so much. At the end of the show, we have a number with 6 part harmony. Honestly, this is an experience on stage like no other I’ve had. And it’s a great way to get my toes back onto a stage again.

If you’re local, and you want to see me as a nun, which, is kind of hilarious if you know me personally, Sister Act takes the stage August 9th.

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Here’s something I “thought” was super smart.  I booked a flight that left at 1am thinking that I would sleep On the plane and wake in Montreal fresh and ready to fly home.  Here’s something that didn’t happen. Sleep. 

I had a middle seat for the flight home and the dude on my left was asleep before we even took off.  I suspect he had chemical help.  I mean, he was out, COLD.  I tried, I really did.  But I just couldn’t do it, plus, he had left the window open which meant by half way through the flight, it was nothing but a continual sunrise out the window and it was too pretty not to watch.  Very surreal to realize that you’re not only crossing the country, but also crossing timelines, and essentially the sunrise was following us.  So I landed in Montreal and had just under an hour to connect to my flight home.  Another hour and forty five in the air, another hour forward in time, and I landed in Saint John, happy to exit and see my family.  Happier still for the knowledge I could go nap in my own bed.  

While I had been away, Shawn took the kids for a day of hiking at the Fundy trails park and they were all dying for me to go too so, that weekend, after a short three days back at work, we went. 

I mean, can you even?   

Sometimes Shawn and I will be in the car driving somewhere and we will notice how particularly beautiful it is out that day and he will ask me, “are you bored of it yet?”. Meaning, have we lived here so long now that the views have become mundane.  Ordinary. Unremarkable. 

The answer is always no.  I have never lived in a place so breathtaking. New Brunswick is often referred to as “the drive by” province.  Meaning, people pass through on their way to the more glamorous places like PEI or Nova Scotia, and it’s a real shame.  Because there are such gems here. And we’ve really only scratched the surface so far.  

Besides, nothing makes me happier, whether it’s on a provincial trail, or in our own yard, than to see my teenaged children revert back to the small kids they were, ten, eleven, twelve years ago, when we took the camping in Algonquin Park.  

I loved my trip to Edmonton.  It was everything I had hoped it to be and more. And I hope I go back there again someday.  Or to BC, or Gatineau, or St.Catherines or Orillia, or Guelph or Canning or Kitchener.  I even hope to explore more of my own new home province. 

But I’ll always love coming home the best.  There’s no family like my family.  And home really is where my heart is.  

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Well, well, well. I made it all the way to Edmonton, went to a wedding, and came back to tell the tale, only a little worse for sleep habits.
My baby brother’s wedding.
First of all, the week preceding the wedding was great. I mean completely great. It was exactly the perfect amount of independence I needed in order to go home in full appreciation of what I have and who I have in my life.
You all know I managed to avoid actually buying anything in the designer stores, which was practically *saint-like* patience on my part. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t self-indulge at all.
On Thursday I went out and got a mani-pedi. First time I’ve done that in over five years. I usually don’t want to justify the cost, since I’m a bit of a penny pincher (with the exception of course of the odd pair of ballet shoes). I had forgotten how good your feet feel when you leave the salon after having this done. The lady who did mine even gave me a hot stone massage on the bottoms of my feet. Talk about relaxing!
I decided, since I had time that day, to find the house my parents had rented, so that I would not get lost on Saturday when I went out for the BBQ. It’s a good thing I did, too! I got hopelessly lost. Edmonton is laid out so…uniquely. I needed to find 133 st. HOWEVER, there is more than one 133 st. I also found out that if the house is in the north-west end, you have to find the street number that corresponds with the first three digits of the house, THEN find the 133 that shoots off that. How did I discover this? The very nice lady who lived on the first 133 st who offered to get in her car and have me follow her to the correct address. So kind. It was a total comedy of errors, with me panicking, my GPS telling me the place I wanted did not exist and a kind woman whipping me through a very brand new subdivision. It’s okay though, she needed to go to the grocery store anyway.
I spent a little bit of time visiting and went back to my friend Allison’s house to get ready for that night’s dinner.
Around nine years ago, I started reading blogs and I got hooked on a couple of specific ones, including Brittany Gibbon’s blog, at the time, The Barefoot Foodie. It was smart and funny and everything you want in a quick afternoon’s read. That blog eventually became The Curvy Girl online magazine (which, I wrote for a couple of times) and then eventually, just Curvy Girl Guide (along with her media company which also produces pod casts called Girls’ Girls and is the funniest fricking thing ever). I’ve been a part of CGG since the beginning, as has my friend Allison, although, we had never met in person. A funny thing happens though when women form friendships independent of any male interaction and we bonded quickly, as did many of the women in that group at the onset. We’re the old guard now, as the group has over 6000 members from all over the world. And, as luck would have it, a bunch of them live in Edmonton. So we planned a dinner out.
I can’t remember having such a good time with a bunch of ladies. The restaurant was so much fun. The DJ played a lot of throwback music to our high school years (I won’t say how long ago that was) and amid the raucous laughter and hilarious conversation, there were frequent pauses to sing along and dance in our seats. I couldn’t have asked for a better night.
Friday was another amazing opportunity to sit with women who are an important part of my life. The managers at the Edmonton branch of my work invited me to lunch. I frequently email with these women as we work so the chance to sit down and really build on the working relationships with a face to face was a blessing. Nevermind the fact that they are wonderfully smart and funny ladies!
I had thought to myself, the building they are in is pretty easy to find, and, according to google, the coffee shop my brother works in is pretty close, so why not try to find it since I was going to be right in the heart of the downtown? Well I got lost. Again. Because those streets, man!! Nothing is where it appears to be. You have to find the main street, then the offshoot. It’s confusing. I wound up asking a police officer for directions and I did eventually find it but the “I’m lost” texts were becoming a bit of a source of humour for my husband back home.
I braved the north-west side once again that afternoon for the rental house, which, I found slightly easier than the day before. And reunited with my nieces and nephew. Oh the chaos of children all under the age of ten. Made me almost nostalgic for the days when my own crew of five were little. Almost. Smartest thing I did for myself on that trip was to get a rental car and stay with a friend. I love my family to pieces, but that was a whole lot of nutty in one house. I feel like I did my time already and got out, if not on good behaviour, then at least on time served.
On Saturday I picked up my third sister at the airport, a last minute surprise as she wasn’t sure she’d be able to come. At last, all seven siblings in the same place at the same time. For the first time in six years. Time certainly does fly. We spent Saturday afternoon/night with most of us together having dinner and playing cards. If you asked me why my sister Niamh and I felt that our Irish accents only helped with the game of Euchre, I couldn’t tell you. I only know it was funny as fuck.
Something else I learned about Edmonton. It says light for a long time. I offered to drive my brother and sister in law and their baby to their air BnB for the night, since I had a vehicle and could save them the cost of a cab. This turned out to be brilliant because my one year old niece Saoirse only is cute when no one is looking (says my sister Angela) and was ADORABLE on the ride until we got stopped in traffic (because we forgot it was CANADA DAY) and she was grumpy. So, we sang her the opening of Hamilton. The only baby in the world that I know that is calmed by the sounds of “How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore” emanating from adults in perfect tandem. I mean, we were pretty damn great.
Our stellar performance aside, here is what I forgot about Canada Day, especially in a major Canadian city. It’s busy. EVERYONE was out. Some streets were shut down. A drive that should have taken me twenty minutes to get from downtown Edmonton to Devon, took me over an hour. I arrived back at Allison’s that night just after midnight, tired, sore and ready for the wedding of my baby brother.

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I’m 42 years old and I’m on the first solo trip away I’ve ever taken IN MY LIFE.  

Earlier this year I was all set to go to Ohio this summer and meet a big bunch of ladies I’ve known online, some for as long as eight years.  And then my baby brother got engaged and my trip plans changed from Ohio to Edmonton.  So I jumped online, sold my ticket to the first venue, sadly, and booked flights to go west.   Enter my amazing friend Allison who offered me her home as my west-rest.   Allison and I have known one another for six years online.  And now we know each other in “real life” as well.  

I left Saint John on a 5:45am flight Wednesday morning and, after a quick change of planes in Montreal, landed in Edmonton at just before 11am their time.  For me it was already after two.  Another online friend I’ve known for years, Brianne, picked me up and after many squeals and hugs, we hopped in her car and toured the city.  Edmonton is quite lovely.  It’s a much bigger city than I’m used to, as my home base in the Maritimes is actually quite small as cities go, but the architecture here and the views are really gorgeous.  Because I’m a tourist, we of course went to the west Edmonton mall where we had lunch and did a bit of shopping.  

I was able to steel myself to looking only in the designer stores, but it was hard.  Honestly it felt wonderful to just be wandering in and out of them.  Brianne and I walked and talked for a few hours and then she dropped me off to pick up my rental car.  I was given a free upgrade to an SUV, which is what I love to drive anyway and I got myself to Allisons. We talked for four hours last night, catching up on our families, remembering our own personal history and back stories and it was exactly like I knew it would be.  

This week is chock full of wonderful plans.  Dinner tonight with all the local community from my online group, lunch tomorrow with work colleagues, a BBQ and a chance to see siblings and meet my new sister in law and a wedding.  A swing dance wedding.  Who could ask for better?? 

Today I’m doing a walking trail and getting a pedicure.  

I miss my family dearly, because at heart, I’m a family girl.  But my daughter called me this morning and it’s like she was snuggled right up beside me in bed.  

I haven’t taken any pictures yet, but I’m sure they’re coming.  

Kisses, Shawn and kids.   I love you so much.  I’m having a great time.  

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A funny thing has been happening for the last couple of years.  I’ve been happy more often than angry. More often than frustrated. More often than sad. I mean, I’m just happy most of the time.  My kids have noticed.  Shawn has definitely noticed.  

I think a lot of it comes from letting go of the conflicts in my life.  I don’t harbour things, I speak on them. And I don’t keep trying to please everyone else. And I stopped obsessing about needing everyone to like me.  I let go of people who are mean, or rude, or careless with my feelings or the feelings of my loved ones.  It’s beautiful and liberating. 

I’m also living in the moment more.  I’m enjoying my home, which I worked hard for, my children, who continue to amaze me all the time and my marriage, which has never been better.   

Today was actually a perfect day.  I spent the day with my family laughing, cooking, dancing, playing, singing and walking.  I’ve been happy all day.  Shawn and I went out to meet some friends for coffee this evening and although it took us a few years, we’ve really found our community of friends here and they’re wonderful. 

As I get older, I’m getting better at recognizing the value of seizing the moments of joy and bliss in life and living as much in the moment as possible.  And the more I do that, the more I model it for the kids. 

I’m in the best place in my life that I think I’ve ever been and I can’t help but sharing. We never know what tomorrow will throw at us. 

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Burning out

I’m pretty sure every adult I know knows what is meant by the term “burn out”. Simply put,  it is running out of gas physically,  emotionally, mentally  or a combination of all three.   I know the platitudes,  I tell them to my kids often.  You can’t pour from an empty cup, you can’t effectively help others if you don’t help yourself,  etc etc.  But, also a trait of many adults,  I’m better at dispensing advice than I am at following it.  

Except for today.   Today I am burnt out.  Today, I recharge my batteries.  

Rest, read, recoup.   And take my time. Tomorrow I can fire on all cylinders again.  Today, I say no to everyone else and yes to me.  

100% best thing I’ve learned to do as a woman in my forties.  

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When I was little, grade school little, I did ballet in summer school.  That was back when there was more to do in summer school than just make up classes. You could take dance or gymnastics or second language classes.  I think I only did it one summer, because I would up eventually doing gymnastics and then soccer, then Irish dancing. But I remembered the ballet.  

My cousin Monica had a poster in her bedroom wall of a ballerina leaning down to tie her slippers and man, I wanted to be that girl.  The photo was blown out with light to make it all glowy and ethereal and it was so beautiful.   In my head, I would take it up again, put on those pointe shoes, and immediately be as good as Karen Kain.  I was sure of it.  

But life had other plans for me and I did not become a prima ballerina.  Nor a broadway star, famous singer, fashion designer or famous writer.  (Im still working on that last one). Instead I had a family.  I watched my own children find which stars they wanted to hitch their dreams to and I helped them whenever and however I could. 

A funny thing happens when you get older and the kids start being adults. You start getting nostalgiac. And I did.  All those old dreams have come slipping back into my thoughts and now, instead of oh well, I’m starting to think, why not? 

I asked my hubs about buying me a pair of ballet slippers as a gift.  He wanted to know why and I simply said, because I want them. Okay not simply, we had many discussions over a few weeks.  He thought I was kind of kidding. Or being silly.  So one day I posted on Facebook that I wanted him to buy them and my friends all chimed in that he should. I know, I could have bought them for myself.  But, something inside me wanted him to do it.  (I also bugged him for tap shoes, but, as it did when I was young, ballet won).  My friends responses were wonderful and that night we went online together and picked out a pair of soft shoes and a pair of pointe.  

Since I had posted about this on Facebook, it became the topic of discussion among some of my work friends. So naturally, the day they arrived, I sent pictures.  

What a day!  I had to put them on of course.  I immediately changed into tights (nude because I didn’t have the pale pink ones) and a pair of bike shorts, because I don’t have a leotard.  I didn’t break the box first and I laced them wrong but they were mine and they were on my feet.  And I was so happy.  I even stood up on pointe for a few seconds. 

The other day, as I was leaving work, my friend Christie asked me the question I’ve been asked a few times now.  Am I taking lessons? Nope. Then, why the shoes? 

Because they make me happy.  

If I can have a few moment of that childhood dream, why wouldn’t I? Why wouldn’t any of us?  I think as we get older we sometimes forget it’s still okay to be a dreamer. Who can blame us?  There is just so much to be serious about in today’s world. There is so much to worry about, to stress out over and to get angry, offended or cry about.  So I’m trying to make an active effort to choose happy as often as I can.  I choose dreams and silliness and laughter. 

I choose to dance. 

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