Is this your first visit? Here’s the story so far: Continue reading
Is this your first visit? Here’s the story so far: Continue reading
I thought I knew how to create and maintain a reasonably balanced life.
After all, Sweetie and I had moved across the country to completely change our lifestyle, from the fast-paced, competitive, vibrant, opportunistic city of Toronto, to the seasonally sleepy, remote, fantastically wild rural Ucluelet. I loved the change.
And I loved life in Ucluelet. There are elements of life on the coast which I constantly appreciated, which never ceased being spectacular or fill me with joy.
The sea lions in Ukee bark all the time. You can hear them pretty much all year, these mighty animals, bears of the sea, jostling for a piece of the dock, for dominance, for just pure magnificence. Occasionally their barking would inspire me to dream about them, to join them in their bodies as they flew and twisted underwater, where most of their life and the greatest dangers existed. I miss them.
Bald eagles are everywhere up there. I would see them nearly every day, and it never got old. Sometimes I could coax one to fly over me and check me out, with my poor imitation of their cascading, flute-y salutation whistle. I miss them.
The wilderness pressed in from all sides. Humanity’s mark was everywhere, yes, but the forest had reclaimed itself, and the massive provincial parks sheltered thousand-year old trees, endangered species, miles of beaches which would whisper secrets of wolves, cougars, changing tides. It felt *right*. I miss it.
It had really seemed as though I had achieved a beautiful and balanced life. Part time hospital job in a community where being part of the hospital became a part of my identity. Friends at work where there is a strong culture of hugging. A team of people I admire, the nurses and docs, the lab folks, the housekeeping staff, mental health, admitting, administration – all working together, sometimes at significant personal cost, bonded by the isolation, the challenge of acute traumas, the work ethic, and the dedication it takes to be a part of rural health care. I miss them so much.
And my psychic business, of course – thankfully, one of the few things I was able to take with me.
All of it together was a beautiful, balanced life – or so it would seem… See, it was never actually balanced. Not really. I am still struggling to reconcile that.
Our housing in ten years had never really stabilized. Even living in our rental house, I knew it could be pulled out from under us at any time. It was getting tiring, having that hang over us. The cost of living was inflating every year, and we were still living in an area with seasonal work. In planning for our long-term future it was pretty clear we were not able to save enough, or make more, and we had seen what happens to locals who lived the shifting Ukee life for decades and hit 65 with no retirement savings. Insecurity became greater, dark uncertainty yawned ahead, until one final inciting incident would painfully limit their options.
We knew we should make a change, and in fact we had been tentatively planning to leave the coast in September after our wedding… but we couldn’t agree on where to go, so we decided to stay. After all, it was hard, choosing to leave what we had behind.
I am grateful for every day we had on the coast. I never stopped appreciating it’s beauty, and our good fortune to live there for 10 years.
Y’all, leaving it behind is so hard.
Now, I’m working a full-time, year-round job, so is my Sweetie, and we are living in a pretty awesome city. There are a lot of things here that I enjoyed about Toronto, and missed, and there is still access to beaches, big city parks, and I can still walk from my place to go on a whale watch. As far as cities go, this is a spectacular choice.
Victoria is one of North America’s oldest cities, and it feels like a city. It will take me a while to adapt, to try to find a new sort of balance here, which is why I’ve been thinking of balance so much lately.
My life in Ukee was superficially balanced, but there was strain at the seams. Sweetie and I didn’t have much time together due to our work schedules, and when one of us was working the other didn’t typically have the car, so we hadn’t been accessing the beaches and more remote areas as frequently. The balance had been wobbling for a while.
We have cleared many hurdles to make this change. My new job is *so different* from my TGH job, but there is a lot more potential for growth.
I don’t have a balance here yet, everything feels like it’s taking a lot more effort, and through this adjustment I’m carrying the background mantra of my grief. I miss the sea lions, the eagles, the trees, and all my friends. I can’t help it. It feels selfish or spoiled to be sad to move here to Victoria, a dream destination city which seems like a great balance between our new life and the old, and loss is a part of life. This isn’t a bad thing, this change, it’s just big, and it’s asking a lot of me. I try and often succeed in pep-talking myself back into my preferred positive mindset, but I don’t force it. So I might give voice to some of that here, because you my friends, have always been kind and compassionate readers of my not so secret diary.
Superficially, my life is very imbalanced right now. I went from a job of colleagues and friends, to an office setting physically removed entirely from patient care and care teams, from a place where people hugged me, asked how I was, and meant it, to an office with constantly rotating staff and a crisp, saran-wrap separation of professionalism between each of us.
I think I can see some opportunity to move into positions that may bring me back in closer proximity to patient care teams, or to have a bigger impact in supporting those teams.
While I don’t have balance right now, what I do feel is… a forward momentum.
My friends, I threw my back out last week. I was a bit behind on emails before this happened, and while the lovely office goddess is handling what she can, I do need to respond to a number of your emails.
If you have emailed me about a lost pet, an appointment rescheduling, or a class question in the past two weeks, I apologize for the delay in my response. I will get back to you, just as soon as I have dealt with these physical “technical difficulties”.
I think it’s the stress of the changes of the last six months finally showing in my body. The last time my back really went out was after I’d visited my mother after her chemo and radiation. It’s just a quirk of my particular physical model.
Please bear with me! Thanks!
Well, we’re here!
Boy, that happened fast!!!
It’s going to take me time to get used to living in a city again, but Victoria is a *nice* city, of 94k people or so. It feels smaller than the 60k+ city I grew up in, and FAR smaller than Toronto, city of 6 million at the time. The people are friendly, letting each other merge in traffic, smiling at each other generally.
The cultural transition from rural small town to city where no one knows us has been tough on me, and I dearly miss the friends I left behind, and my hospital job. It has been a complex emotional experience – but I am also deeply grateful for the opportunity to live here. Victoria is undeniably a beautiful, charming, welcoming, clean city which gives us so much opportunity for growth, and in all honesty we did need this re-potting!
The important details went well – the move itself, the parking situation, all the absolutely necessary things fell into place.
Sweetie even got four job offers the second she dropped her resume online.
We are absolutely better off in Victoria, and I have everything I need here, to be happy.
We moved from a 3-bedroom duplex with a huge yard – the largest place by far we’ve been lucky enough to occupy, to a 500 square foot 1 bedroom apartment. I have stayed in larger hotel rooms (upgrades, but still!). That’s not a bad thing though!
I’ve always heard people who downgraded from a house to a condo talk about how easy it is to keep a small place clean – and I find myself raving about the same thing!
We vacuum every day, but it takes 5 minutes. We have a tiny corner kitchen, but it’s well-designed and actually functions very well. I don’t really like cooking anyway. Literally everything you need to make food is within arms’ reach – which makes food prep and clean up fast and easy too.
Most importantly, our place is bright and quiet. We were very lucky to find it. It’s on the top floor, so no one is walking overhead. The living room is south-east facing, and the huge windows fill the place with light.
We have divided the living room into three spaces: a tv / relaxing area with the cat tree and a plant shelf, and our reclining couch, my office corner with my phone & recording setup, laptop, and my office Christmas cactus, and Sweetie’s studio corner with her easel.
We also got lucky being able to get three small storage lockers in the basement – two of which were filled up with Kat’s studio stuff (paintings, canvas roll, market supplies etc.) and one locker for things like suitcases, cat kennels, Christmas decorations etc.
It’s cozy, bright, clean, quiet, and functional.
And I’ve been nesting.
I chose to leave behind most of my plants, rehoming them within the neighbourhood, because in my experience, moving plants into a different climate can really set them back, and if they are well-established and adapted to the humidity and light on the West coast, moving them to the drier south coast, in a building with an HVAC system, into unknown lighting conditions, can really stress them and cause them to die back or become susceptible to pests.
My giant peace lily had to go, as I knew I simply would not have room for it in the new place, and I doubted I’d be able to find a spot where it would receive adequate light to maintain its foliage – so I’d have to witness it yellow and die back as it adapted.
Watching my plants struggle to adapt after moves can be a bummer, as their caretaker I DID THIS TO THEM. I had a beautiful ficus tree I’d grown from a diseased little twig I bought on sale to a thriving five foot tree that felt like it was lovingly embracing our living room – drop nearly all its leaves and sicken over months when we moved from the boathouse cottage in Ukee to a dark ground floor suite in Tofino. I eventually gave it away to another ficus fan who assured me she could bring it back.
Now, I only bring plants with me when I am positive they will thrive in the new place, and as the only plants who survived the last two moves, we arrived just with my Christmas cacti, Sweetie’s 20+ year old philodendron pothos, the only plant we brought from Ontario.
Just like I need animals in my home, I need plants too. Plants are a big contributor to the spiritual health home for me. They are aware, in their omnipresent sensitive way, that they are being cared for, and while I don’t believe they experience emotion in the way we mammals do, I think we can all agree that plants do have happy and sad states. We will name them without realizing it, saying it’s happy in this location, or with the repotting, and a struggling, wilted or overwatered plant we frequently describe as “sad”.
I’m glad I rehomed my previous plants, and it’s been really fun investigating what plants are available in this city.
Raising plants is also a great opportunity to practice intuitive perception. One of my new plants is a gorgeous escargot rex begonia – which I was thrilled to find, but was troubled from the start. I noticed spots on it’s leaved and intuited it had resulted from spots of water sitting on the leaves – then made the logical leap that it must have resulted from Sweetie misting her pothos. I moved the begonia to where it wouldn’t be near the misting area, but unfortunately the plant has not thrived, and the spots have gotten larger and more numerous.
After some more research it appears the spots are actually a bacterial disease, spread by… splashing water from other diseased plants. This plant could have picked up the disease from the nursery, or it may just have been propagated from a diseased mother plant, which I hope not!
Even so, the intuitive sense that this plant hates water on it’s leaves is true, and that the water caused the problem is also likely true.
I’ve moved the poor escargot begonia again so it’s away from my other plants, and I’ve had to remove all the leaves showing signs of spotting – which was most of them! Poor thing only has a few baby leaves on it now, but it’s the best chance I can give it.
The cats are doing well, but Rupert is convinced the entire building is “our new house” and he has no idea why 1) we confine him to these few rooms and 2) why so many other people just walk in and out of “our house” like they live here! There is a gorgeous Cornish Rex cat who lives directly across the hall from us, who meows loudly when she hears us come home from work in the afternoon – which sets Rupert off, so we have two cats meowing at each other through closed doors!
Mikey has adapted pretty well, but it was a stressful adjustment for them too. We live in a pet-friendly building, so pretty much very unit in the building has a dog, cat, or combination of animals, and neither cat was used to hearing so many animals so close by. I picked up some Feliway from the pet shop – it’s a calming pheromone released in a glade plug in apparatus, and it helped ease their transition a bit.
Sorry I don’t have photos this time, I’ve been working on this post in bits and pieces as I have time, and I thought it was better this get this up now.
So that’s the quick update – we’re here, we’re settled, and we are figuring out our new life!
Well friends, we have successfully installed ourselves in Victoria.
It has been an incredibly eventful week.
On Wednesday May 8, I worked my last shift at Tofino Hospital. Many of you know just how much I *loved* my job there. The workplace culture is exceptional, the team spirit is strong, and as a hospital employee you know you are an important part of the whole West Coast community. I am dearly going to miss working there.
I have also had to say some heartbreaking goodbyes to amazing, and now lifelong friends. I am a tenacious friend, once we have bonded. It’s brutal to say so long for now, but I have a small handful of lifelong friends, and once added to the ranks of lifers, I find that we can always pick up where we left off with Skype / FaceTime / old fashioned phone calls, and in-person visits.
So Wednesday was hard… but something amazing happened that day.
It is hospital tradition to have a pot luck when a staff member leaves. It so happened that my last day was also the last day of another long-term employee, who felt gutted as well to be leaving but also had to go for reasons beyond his control. We were could understand each other’s feelings – accepting necessary change – optimistic for the future – but deeply grieving the losses.
The staff made poems for us to show their appreciation – I’ll post that in a later entry. There was cake and so much delicious food. Retired staffers came to bid us good luck! It’s such a special place!
And then, unbelievably, someone looked out to the ocean – pointed – and shouted “WHALES!”
Tofino Hospital faces an ocean inlet visible from the helipad, next to the picnic area. I have eaten lunch there for YEARS. I have heard of whales being spotted in that part of the inlet but never seen them… and guess what species?
The third time in my life that I see orcas, it’s my last day at TGH.
The first time was on a trip out of Tofino shortly after my grandmother died. The second time was on my honeymoon – and was the same pod, T109s, hundreds of miles away from my first sighting outside of Victoria.
This third time was on my last day at Tofino Hospital, my last week living in this place I have lived for 10 years.
Orcas. My magic whales, there when I’m joyful and sad, there to say hello from heaven, and everything will be fine.
Orcas, making a kill – every time I have seen them, they were eating, animated, thriving.
I couldn’t confirm exactly which pod was there, but checking in with local whale watchers groups, it seems likely the pod to bid me farewell was the T023s, who had recently returned to Tofino after several years’ absence.
Here is an older photo of a couple members of the T023 pod aka “Motley Crew” by Tofino Photography
Maybe one day, I’ll return to Tofino too. Maybe. I’m not going to shut any doors.
Thursday was a day of packing and gentle, occasional weeping.
Friday the movers showed up early! We were ready for them! They worked so quickly it was thrilling – but we still had a six-hour car journey ahead of us.
The movers wouldn’t be delivering our stuff until Saturday, (working hour regulations) so our plan was to drive down Friday with the cats, air mattresses, and a bare-minimum of stuff to get us through the evening and following morning. Our little car was STUFFED. Cats, cat food, litter box, litter, air mattresses, bedding, pillows, overnight bag – it filled up our compact Chevy Sonic very quickly! Sweetie even had a food bag stashed between her feet.
It was also record-hot on Friday. 30 degrees Celsius which is significantly hotter than it usually gets, and much too hot for a stuffed car with two cats and no air conditioning.
We ended up stopping by Sproat Lake in Port Alberni to wait out the hottest part of the day. Mikey was panting from heat and stress, and we were worried about him. We got both cats to drink water, and put two cold bottles of water in Mikey’s kennel which would sweat condensation for him to lick and helped cook the air around him, along with the cool breeze coming off the lake. Fortunately that worked – our backup plan was to take him into the concrete-build public washroom and change room which was several degrees cooler than outside, but the break proved to be enough to get him calm and cooler.
We arrived in Victoria at 845pm, and made our way to a friend’s house. She had saved the day by picking up our apartment keys for us, because the building manager wasn’t available after 5 pm (reasonable). If our friend hadn’t picked up our keys, and been willing to meet us at potentially late evening, we would have been obliged to stay in a hotel! Stressful for the cats, expensive for us, and we would need an early check out to beat the movers to our apartment! She saved us from a very stressful Saturday!
And she lent us a can opener to open the cat’s food, because of course I forgot to take the can opener with us.
We unlocked our apartment door by 9:15 pm and had our car unloaded shortly afterwards. We inflated the air mattresses, ordered food, and konked off to sleep by 11:00pm, interrupted every couple of hours by an anxious cat mashing his face against ours.
I explained to the cats that we were moving territories, because the territory we were living in was no longer meeting our needs, and I had found better territory.
Rupert had decided we were moving because our rental house, our old territory, was being “invaded” – which is how he interpreted the busy times of viewings where complete strangers let themselves into the house when we weren’t home, and did stuff like talk loudly, walk all over, and leave the front door open. Yes, they freaking left our front door WIDE OPEN. With our indoor cats inside the house.
It did feel invasive, so I didn’t correct Rupert’s interpretation of our situation at all.
Both cats understood why we were moving, but of course they were still stressed.
Sleeping in the empty apartment was eerie, and it took the cats most of the first night to settle down.
Saturday, with glorious efficiency, the movers arrived. They had our stuff moved in swiftly and were gone – worth EVERY PENNY. I’m so grateful we were able to hire movers this time.
We all feel MUCH more at home with all our familiar stuff around us, and since we didn’t have to bust our butts moving boxes, we had energy to unpack.
We successfully downsized from a 3 bedroom duplex with a large yard to fit into a 500 sq foot one bedroom apartment quite nicely!
The cat enclosure we had build for the old place we gave to Ukee Scat (Stray Cats About Town) a local cat rescue group who had recently fundraiser enough to build a shelter! Our cat enclosure will enable rescued cats to safely access the outdoors. We donated one of our indoor cat trees to them as well.
We had sold many things, gave away things that weren’t selling to people we liked, put a LOT of stuff for free on the curb, and shockingly, we filled an entire dumpster with stuff we couldn’t give away or donate anywhere.
I call that “the crapification of things” – when your chosen belongings can’t be sold, donated, and there are no takers – they literally become trash.
Here it is, Sunday, and we fit quite comfortably into our new place. I can’t clearly remember everything we didn’t bring, aside from a few distinct objects. It’s very clear we have what we actually need.
Tomorrow, I start my new job. I still work for the health authority, but in a completely different capacity, and I think I will consciously exclude those details from my blog. I’ll just say it’s going to be complicated, challenging, and I think I’ll be *very* good at it!
Wish me good luck, my friends!
I feel sooooo much better now that I have successfully found us an apartment in Victoria, BC.
My friends, this was a big change these last few months. When we received an email from our landlady about their intention to list the house we are renting for sale, I immediately knew where this was heading. Eviction.
We’re also in a different position than we were when we moved out here from Toronto in 2009. We’re in our fourties now. We are less comfortable flying by the seat of our pants, because we’ve lived through some tight and tough times, and we want to be able to save for a rainy day, and one day – retirement. We just can’t make that step here in Tofino / Ucluelet, so we have to let it go.
And you know what? I’m completely on board now! In February – March, I could tear up quickly when I thought too much about the up coming move, part of it stress, part of it sadness. I decided to make a list of all of the worries in my brain, so I could get a handle on them.
Here’s what the list looked like:
Things on my mind
I need a new job.
We need someplace to live.
DEAL WITH THIS LATER.
This list kept branching out and needed re-writing as I applied for (so many) jobs and didn’t hear back, re-worked my resume, kept calling colleagues and friends I’d make in other departments, and the weeks, then months ticked by.
The MOST uncomfortable space for me is when I don’t know how things are going to turn out!
Then, at the end of April, after 9 weeks of active job hunting, it happened – I got a job offer! Thank goodness! Cross that off my to-do list, and suddenly, finding an apartment became URGENT because my new job started in THREE WEEKS.
Frankly, it was getting urgent anyway. In the middle of April, when we became aware that there was an accepted offer in on the house, we knew we had less than 90 days to get out. I was starting to think we might have to rent an apartment before either of us had a job, which is what I’ve had to do in previous relocations. It’s not ideal, and the sort of landlords that accept unemployed tenants aren’t always the best people to rent from.
So job offer accepted, I went to Victoria this past Easter Weekend with one mission: find us a *pet friendly* place to live!
Of the 20 + inquiries I’d sent out, I got only TWO viewings in pet-friendly buildings. One in a corporate-owned building, and one is what I called “the haunted building”. Behold, the text-message thread between Sweetie and I:
To put it frankly, I wasn’t a fan of the haunted place, and I was going to see it only because I didn’t want to put all of my hopes on this one corporate-owned building.
Well, when I went to see the haunted building, I was pleasantly surprised! It wasn’t *bad haunted* it was simply 100 + years old and had a lot of character. The super turned out to be the owner who had inherited the building and had been running it her whole life. It was a purpose-built boarding house, and actually quite beautiful, in a slightly faded, Grande Dame sort of a way. I was surprised to like the building as much as I did.
It turns out that the couple who had lived in that unit before, were disliked by the other tenants because they had loud, screaming fights, regularly. Everyone was happy to have them out. That explained the “bad haunted” vibe I had been getting from the photos. They had been out less than two weeks, and the unit itself, along with the building, felt open and kind.
The trouble turned out not to be the potential haunting. It was that Sweetie and I are just in a phase of life where we need *amenities*. There was only one washer and dryer for the *whole building* and it was down an extremely sketchy flight of wooden steps. There was no parking. At all. And the nearest paid parking lot was $300 / month. YIKES. Really, this place would only work if we sold our car, which we had considered, but as my new job’s hours are 4pm – midnight, I really need my car to get back and forth from work.
There were quirks about the unit too. The bedroom was just the size of a queen bed – meaning a queen bed would press against all four walls. So it wasn’t really a bedroom. We need a bedroom, because of my aforementioned work schedule. We expect that Sweetie will get a 9-5 type job, so she’ll need to be able to sleep through my late homecomings, and I’ll need to be undisturbed in the mornings. There was a communal porch just outside the unit windows, meaning any of the other tenants could sit right outside our window and smoke, and talk on the phone or whatever. It was much more of a commune feeling than a typical city apartment building.
Honestly, I really wanted the straight-forward, 60-page lease of a corporate owned building. I wanted parking, storage, and a decent-sized laundry room. I wanted privacy and a degree of removal from my neighbours. We need convenience, not additional challenges. I didn’t need to commit every Saturday for the foreseeable future to a laundry mat, and circle the neighbourhood every weeknight looking for street parking, competing with every other person with a resident sticker. Oh, the resident sticker was an issue too, as the building was allotted only 4 permits for the whole building, and there was a line just for street parking. I really couldn’t see a solution to that problem. Without a parking permit, you are only allowed to park for an hour at a time.
So the “haunted” building, as charming as it was, with it’s wainscoting, ceiling molding, brass hardware, stained glass, and busy colony of rufous-throated hummingbirds, just wasn’t going to work for us… so we took a leap of faith and let the unit go before we received confirmation that we were accepted by the corporate building. Fortunately, the corporate unit came through for us. 500 square feet of James Bay, Victoria.
We will be moving in early May, so the next update will be from our new digs!
And the neighbourhood is full of houses like this:
It reminds me so much of Cabbagetown, in Toronto, where I lived for 8 years. I am really going to enjoy living in a neighbourhood where the gardens are constantly changing, where there is just so much to observe.
I stayed an additional day in Victoria after I viewed the haunted place, so review the 60 page corporate building lease and get that sent in, to be available in case any of the 18 other buildings called me with a viewing opportunity, and to walk our potential new neighbourhood. I really needed that time to get my brain aligned with this change. As much as I’ve worked to go with the flow, and focus on the practical thing I need to do next, I was not completely on board with the change until last weekend. Cities have a lot to offer, but I had wanted to leave Toronto for years. I didn’t like the crowds, the noise, the pollution, and the sense of competition for limited space. I knew Victoria was our best option, but it was a brain decision, not a heart decision. Moving out to Ucluelet / Tofino was a heart decision, and getting evicted felt like a breakup. It felt like getting dumped.
When the sunshine came out on my third day in Victoria, and I spent several hours walking around, I felt my heart finally come into alignment with this change. I needed the time to see what I was going to love about Victoria. There’s theatre and comedy, grocery stores that stay open all night, and food delivery! We haven’t ordered food to our home in 10 years.
The miles of charming Victorian buildings, beautifully landscaped parks, and public waterfront just a few steps from our building, I started to internalize what my new life would be like… it will be good.
We received our eviction notice yesterday – believe it or not, that’s good news.
Earlier this week, I was offered a new job, with my same employer, which is fantastic news – and means we’ll be moving as soon as possible. I’ll be going to Victoria in a few days to find us a place to live. What the timing of the eviction notice means is that we’ll be getting the month of June in our old place, rent free, which gives us until the end of June to move out entirely. If the sale of the house *hadn’t* closed when it did, I would have had to give 30 days notice the next time I paid our rent, meaning we’d have only until the end of May to organize our relocation.
This way, we can relocate in stages, over the next 10 weeks if need be. I doubt it will take us that long.
What *will* take me some time is *re-branding* my business. Back when I hung out a public shingle, and went from sporadic word-of-mouth referrals to a business with a website, I decided on the moniker “Tofino Psychic”, with some reservation. After all, my colleague in psychic arts, Karen Hagar, dubbed herself the “Fog City Psychic” for San Francisco, and had to relocate to Michigan over ten years ago. Michigan is far from a foggy city! I knew all along that I might not always be the “Tofino Psychic”.
I choose “Tofino Psychic” because I thought most of my business would come from people literally searching for a psychic on their vacation – and every year I do get session requests from people doing just that. It’s why I’m so busy in the summer. But now, I’ll be in Victoria. I guess I’ll transition my branding as I have time.
I will continue to do Sunday sessions, and my booking schedule won’t change. I will not be nearly as available for “last-minute” sessions, though I will continue to do my best to accommodate animal health emergencies.
There are still quite a lot of balls in the air, so for all of you praying and holding positive visualizations for us, please continue to do so! I still need to find us a place to live, and I hope to accomplish that in the next few days. Wish me luck!
I am not 90% Stoked and only 10% choked about our up-coming transition. I am 100% positive this is going to be a good move for us, Sweetie is openly celebrating. There will be a *lot more* available to her as an artist and an academic than there is here, and leaving the rural west coast is something we’ve discussed previously in order to give her more opportunity, and for me as a psychic and a hospital employee, well, I’ll be just fine and there will be a lot of opportunity for advancement within my healthcare organization in Victoria.
We. Will. Be. Fine.
I was watching a livestream camera in the Johnstone Straight yesterday, which is where many resident orcas travel to in the spring, because the salmon bottle-neck through the straight to access their spawning grounds and the orcas – well, they just swim around with their mouths open. This area attracts the mighty transient orcas too, who hunt the sea lions who eat the salmon. There is *so much food* for the orcas right now, they spend a lot of their time rubbing their butts against the floor of the shallow beaches. (If you had only a month each year to scratch your butt, wouldn’t you enjoy it too???)
Here’s the highlight reel of the stream I was watching:
I realized while watching this that I will *not* be leaving my favourite mammal behind when we move to Victoria. In fact, just a few months ago we *literally saw the exact same pod of orcas in Victoria as we saw in Tofino.*
I realize now, that event could also have been foreshadowing our upcoming move. Life is really cool when you start noticing these messages, even in hindsight.
I feel a lot better about moving to Victoria when I remember that I am actually not leaving what I love about the west coast behind. It’s not like we’re going back to Toronto. There are still orcas and eagles in Victoria. We are not that far from bears. Wolves and cougars are not that close, but it’s so incredibly rare for me to see them anywhere, and I’ve been lucky to see some in my lifetime. Maybe I’ll see more, but it’s wonderful that I’ve seen them at all during my 10 years here. I’m already so lucky.
And Victoria will be a place of amazing growth for us both!
I’ll admit there is still a small part of me that needs to process the frustration of working as hard as we have, and being unable to stay in the Tofino / Ucluelet area, but I’ll let that go when I’m done with it. I think that 10% might actually be helping me to separate from this area that I have loved so deeply. Yes it’s amazing, beautiful, energetically healing – but it’s impossible for us to do well here. In all honesty, we’ve considered leaving a few times, not just for Sweetie’s sake, but because the housing situation has never been stable for us. I will be *so unbelievably happy* when we finally own a little place of our own, and I say that with humility and gratitude, because that would not even be a possibility without this whole psychic adventure. Blessings, I count them.
Anyway, this transition will be the big theme of this year, and I’ll keep you updated, but I want to make sure I’m actually talking about *psychic stuff*. Our house is still getting shown to people once or twice a week, indicating there isn’t even an accepted offer in yet, so we have at least 90 days from today, possibly longer. I’m hoping I can get a job that’s a “step up” from what I do at the local hospital here, I’ve gotten some resume advice from colleagues and a former boss, some advice on contacting managers, and I have a few calls to make in terms of networking with some folks I’ve had a friendly working relationship with over the years in the organization. All this will take a while.
So for the time-being, I want to go back to talking about Freddie Mercury!
This fellow is just *exploding* right now, thanks to the Oscar-winning performance of Rami Malek in the hugely successful movie Bohemian Rhapsody. Sweetie and I just saw it for the first time at our friend’s house – she has a brilliant big-screen tv, it was like watching it in a theatre, except there were dogs mooching our snacks! (Which for me is better than a theatre.)
Freddie of course *shows up* while we’re watching the movie and added a bit of commentary, including a complement of my friend’s cat who he called a “lovely pussy”, and a comment about how Elton John wants to produce his own bio-pic while he’s still alive because he is a solo act, and Freddie is lucky enough to have his own character in Bohemian Rhapsody be heavily influenced by his band family and friends who genuinely knew him. It wasn’t a comment against Elton at all, just an acknowledgement that Elton has endured a lot of loss in his life, and will be met by many of the people who love him best when it’s his turn to go. Freddie’s communication was an appreciation of how many people who loved him in life are still alive and still care about his legacy.
I had a conversation with Dr. Lana a while back about mediums communicating with famous people in the afterlife, and how we know that:
1) we aren’t just making it all up to inflate our own egos and
2) what makes us “special” enough to talk to them in the first place?
Here’s my thought on that, which I’ve returned to multiple times over writing this blog.
1) The nice thing about talking to famous people in the afterlife when you know very little about them, is that confirmation is *everywhere*. You’re never going to get a “clean reading” on a celebrity the way you would with a client because a celebrity’s influence is so pervasive in our culture, we all know things we don’t think we know about them – so just let go of that idea, and instead be in the moment with the conversation. A lot of good usually comes out of it. It’s up to us as individuals to keep our own egos out of it, to not be possessive of the people we talk to, nor critical of other mediums talking to the same folks. Which brings me to point two:
2) You don’t have to be “special” to have these encounters or conversations with a celebrity in spirit. These folks spent their lives working to reach *millions* all over the globe. Why on earth would they stop reaching out in the afterlife? That’s why they *are* so easy to talk to, they practically do all the work for us, and all we have to do is stumble upon them!
I had a client ask me if she was crazy for feeling so close to Freddie in spirit – of course you’re not crazy! The whole point of his art, of his life’s work, was to reach out to people exactly like us! Of course, with this movie in particular, he’s *incredibly engaged* with the people who love Queen’s work, and love him! This is exactly the way it’s supposed to me, in my humble opinion.
Just remember to check yourself, make sure that your friendship with people in spirit does not imbalance your life as an incarnate being. Have incarnated friends. Have a healthy outlook on life. Participate in life, create things for yourself, be free with your enthusiasm, wise with your energy, respectful of other people’s choices and beliefs. Let spirituality be an enrichment to your life, and keep your brain and common sense plugged in. And if you’re asking yourself the above two questions, that’s actually a good sign you’re keeping grounded.
F: Wearing a white spandex uni-tard with white feathered football shoulder pads and a long crepe-y material hanging from the back of the shoulder pads in a sheer, flowing cape. At first I think he’s wearing a tall white crown like the ice queen from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but then I see it’s his energy pouring from his head upwards in a crown that is like a hologram transitioning to rising smoke.
It’s my Angel Look, darling, and aren’t you marvellous?
He immediately welcomes me into his space, which is unusual, as my own awareness tends to stay in my body as I type, but instead my awareness is welcomed up out of my body and into Freddie’s world, where I feel tall, ephemeral, and I don’t seem to have legs – I’m more of a genie in a bottle, my skin shimmers in warm gold, pink gold, white gold shades like a hologram, and I’m wearing something that seems to change as I look at it, sheer, flowy, shiny, feathered, (no birds killed for fashion here my dear!) and my body is pretty neutral, neither masculine nor feminine, the clothing feels comfortable, fun and fancy all at the same time.
Do you mind if I get personal first, my friend? (Of course I don’t.) Your name is not Kate, that word does not embody all who you are. You need additional names, if you insist on using Kate, as I used Freddie my whole life. It was the “Mercury” which connected me with the ethereal.
K: What about the Sitka? (Sitka, for those who don’t know, is not my legal name, but the name I use in my psychic practice.)
F: NOT GOOD ENOUGH! Not powerful enough! How modest of you turning to the elements, the trees, the flowers, the birds, but you ask others to dismiss you, look past you, take you for granted with that name! Embrace your place among the stars! Let your name be your touchstone, the combination of sounds which forever reminds you of who YOU are!
Aside: Okay, I’ve been thinking of legally changing my name recently, not in the immediate future but after we have this whole housing thing sorted out (I don’t need a name change in the middle of all that legality.) But once we’re all settled, I’m going to change my legal name, which is something I’ve really wanted to do since I was a teen – and not just the last name, all of it. This is what Freddie has picked up on, and why he’s chiming in, and I really do appreciate it, because I think I was thinking “small”. I actually did have a middle name in mind which literally means “star” and is connected to memories of riding horses, which is a great energy I’d like to carry with me through my life. Without realizing it though, I did intentionally keep my name considerations “small” and acceptable. Regardless of what I choose, I will always be Kate here on the blog, and in my real life.
K: Thank you for the naming advice –
F: And don’t hide your beauty and power in middle names. Announce yourself. (He says this with a slight upward jerk of his chin, and slightly purses his lips, like this naming power is a sexy secret. He suggests I take a completely different last name.)
K: I may. I will think about it seriously for another year.
F: That’s all I ask! And how about that *fucking fantastic* piece of work (the movie) my friends assembled?
K: Do you have any additions, context, corrections?
F: YES! They were FAR too easy on me! (Shows me he did a lot more cocaine than they implied in the movie, how it affected his personality, and how much his bandmates and friends put up with.) I was a DIVA, but they were kind about it. They implied that point without DRIVING it home! (He playfully did a hip-thrust with his half-mic stand.)
K: Well, of course your friends are going to want to protect you. They wouldn’t want to show too much of your vulnerability, because they would want the work you all produced together to be what people focus upon.
F: Oh there was much discussion on how much to show. Sadly, they had to be concerned with the (management, network?)’s opinions on what the public would accept. Out of kindness, but also concern that the movie and the backlash would reject all of our work retroactively, they ended up stepping away from much of the suffering and indignities of the procession of AIDS through one’s bodily systems, as well as tipping the hat to my addictions and my lifestyle rather than throwing the curtain completely open to the bright light of day.
(Freddie and I had a quick discussion about “lifestyle” because, as a gay person myself, I’ve had people tell me they don’t agree with my “lifestyle”, which… what the heck would you say to that? It’s not up to anyone to “agree” with my life. Freddie clarifies that in his time, it was very much a lifestyle, and for him, a promiscuous one he fully-embraced for many years. Jim (Hutton) was the man who got Freddie out of the lifestyle, and into more of life that he needed.)
K: Did Jim do anything different to get you out of the lifestyle than what they showed in the movie?
F: Oh, he shined a light. You should read his book. (Second time he said this to me – I will I promise!) He never criticised me – oh correction, he DID criticize me for being an asshole, for conducting myself below a certain standard of behaviour which he reflected back to me – an unbecoming reflection which was not at all me, never mind what I felt at the time. He got through to me, and they showed that in the film. (Love for how they represented Jim.)
K: So did the production team decide to tone down the gay, to avoid – what? A backlash?
F: You know that President Trump played our song at his hateful rallies? He’s been doing that for years, the band only recently found out.
F: Oh yes, they have a PR firm advising them on this situation, and the film. They are well aware this movie, if handled incorrectly, could have caused further divisions. I am not at all critical of the choices they made – I simply wish to make additions for the right audience (flirty wink!)
K: And some of these additions are that they could have been harder on your character?
F: They could never be as hard on my character in the film as I was on myself, in real life. They did hint upon the darker times where I felt abandoned, angry and alone. All the “A”s, painful. It all came around though, when I knew I was dying and surrounded myself with the people I knew truly loved me. I was the luckiest man on earth at that concert. (Live Aid). I was the luckiest man on earth to be protected and fiercely loved for exactly who I was in the last year of my life. I do not wish illness or suffering on anyone, but I do wish that fierce love and acceptance for us all. Vulnerability, humility, is necessary to receive love.
K: Yeah, I agree. Is that all for now?
F: We’ll chat later, darling! (Dons dark cat-eye sunglasses and sweeps away!)
I just love Freddie. If you have questions for Freddie, about the movie or otherwise, please leave them below!
So it’s looking like Sweetie and I are going to take the leap and relocate. This seems like the best of all of our options, and for the most part, I’m rolling with it.
I mean, I could really use your good vibes, your thoughts, your prayers, your reiki. I am putting some effort into rolling with this. It’s taking some focus.
I just want to take a moment to talk about how to sit with the discomfort of uncertainty.
Friends, my life is about to *change*. Big change. And I don’t know what it’s going to look like… and that’s hard! It’s hard for me, and I know I’m not alone in this, when you either feel you need to make a big change and you don’t know what, or the change is happening and you don’t know what your life is going to look like after the shift.
For me, this is where faith comes in. There is so much I can’t control here. I can influence things as much as I can, get my resume together, make calls, network, focus on getting that job. That’s a positive thing. I can obsess about how difficult it is to find a place to rent when you have two cats – that’s not a positive thing, the worrying, because come on Kate, we only need *one* place to live.
I don’t think I’ve written about how we tried to buy a little cabin/trailer home over the summer. We tried, but we were unable to get reasonable financing. Now I see it’s just as well, because when we received our eviction notice, it threw a different light on our life here in Ucluelet / Tofino: Why are we fighting so hard to stay here? We’ve enjoyed this area for 10 years. I’m happy with my job and community, but Sweetie is quite limited here, and we have talked, really over the past 5 years, about relocating and starting over (again) so that she’d have some more options.
We decided to just embrace this push, and move to an area that has more opportunity for both of us.
But it’s going to be a *big* change! I would have loved to be able to stabilize our housing with this move, ie, be able to buy a condo in our next town. We’ve been doing everything we can to save money so that we can buy a place and have more control over our destiny – not to mention have something paid off by the time we maybe hopefully are able to retire. My 40th birthday is coming up next month! For a couple of weeks we’ve been optimistic, based on what our mortgage broker was telling us, but even though we have, what for us, for a lot of people, is a significant chunk of change saved for a down-payment – more than the 5% which is all we’re supposed to *have to* have for our first home purchase, this down-payment combined with my income just isn’t enough to buy anything. Partially this is because a significant portion of my income is from my psychic business, and anyone who is partially or fully self-employed has a tougher time getting a mortgage, hence the need for a bigger down-payment.
It’s frustrating too, because I’d like to start progress towards a university degree, but I can’t put thousands of dollars into tuition while our housing situation is still so unstable and costly. We’re putting everything we can towards that all-important down-payment, and it feels like we can’t move forward with other goals in life until we are paying a mortgage…
Which means we have to rent again, and no matter where we go we’ll be paying 50% more than we pay now, which is such a waste, but we just don’t have a choice. I really, really wanted to buy a home, for so many reasons.
Letting go of that want is a part of sitting with the discomfort of uncertainty. It’s not going to happen for us, not this year. Big breath. It’ll be okay. Hopefully, if we can find a rental that isn’t 50% more than what we pay now, and still be able to save towards a down-payment.
But there are so many unknowns. Until we know exactly what our income and expenses will be, there’s nothing for my brain to hold on to in terms of *what is going to happen*. Though it does make me chuckle to think that just last month I said to Sweetie, I have *never* been able to accurately predict what my life will be like five years in the future.
That’s my life cycle, my friends. I have a 10-ish year pattern between major life changes, and I have significant shifts every 5 years.
So far, Sweetie and I have been able to figure our way through these changes, and I do know that at the end of my life, I’ll be thinking about all the ways these changes showed me I was supported and loved.
That’s where I have faith. I have faith in myself, in Sweetie, in the people who have the ability to help us – that they’ll see we are worth helping, worth hiring, worth renting to… because we are worthy.
I think these big changes tend to tap on my fear of abandonment. It must be tied to some basic survival instinct, because it comes up when I’m feeling vulnerable.
And that’s where all these skills come in: the self-discipline, the self-regulation, the meditation, the focusing on just one thing at a time, the letting go of that which I can’t control or change.
Michelle Obama, in her book “Becoming” calls it “The Swerve”. Yeah, I’m swerving. Just keep looking at where you’re going, breathe through the g-force, and you’ll get through it.
Sitting with discomfort, I’ve learned, is a measured self-discipline. Act, rest, act again, lean into the swerve, focus on the destination and nothing else.
Four years ago, I took a couple of my friends out along a lesser-known trail to “the blow hole” – a formation of rock cliffs which funnel the ocean waves up and into an impressive spray, like a whale’s blow hole.
It was a magical day, with a sobering footnote: that’s the day our crap-box 1986 Toyota Tercel started to struggle with hills. We could not afford to repair it, so we very quickly reconciled ourselves to life in Tofino without a car. It was the beginning of a 2.5 year financial rebuilding phase which saw us biking through all weather, all year long. It was tough, but we didn’t resist the change. We embraced it, and our friend commented on how rapidly we made the mental adjustment, with little outwardly expressed stress.
This, our housing situation, reminds me of that day, when we embraced the inevitable and sold our car for $500 before it broke down completely.
We have learned to weather these transitions in this way because we have become aware of how much resistance drains energy and compounds stress. We don’t need or want that, and once you’ve really mastered the art of letting go, it becomes a reflex.
It’s like you’re swinging on a vine, and you feel it start to give. You could grip to it all the tighter, bemoan the reasons for it breaking, try to repair it before it gives way – or you can focus on the next vine… and leap.
I’m not a big fan of phrases like, “leap and the net will appear!” This has not been our life’s experience. Leap and learn how to land. Leap and learn how to roll. Leap, aim high, and land strategically.
That’s what we’re doing here.
I’m amazed at the mental shift this change has caused for me. When the vine is breaking, and you KNOW you’re going to leap, you stop thinking about whether this spot or that spot might be better to swing to. When you have to make a decision *now* it’s a lot easier to sort through your feelings.
There is *nothing* for sale, or for rent, in our local market, that we can afford. That could change, we might get lucky, but it very well could be the breaking vine.
We may have to return to civilization.
For ten years, we have lived without easy access to mainstream retailers. The pharmacy closes at 5pm, and the grocery store at 8pm. If your car needs a repair, they can fit you in sometime next week.
It’s a town where few people lock their doors, and many still leave their car keys in the visor or dash. Lots of folks go on unemployment in the winter, and everyone tries to sell their stuff at the same time to drum up cash.
It’s also beautiful. It’s wild! There are eagles, cougars, wolves and orcas! There are thousand year old trees, and the billion year old ocean! In our ten years here, NONE OF THIS has gotten old for me! I love it just as much now, as ever.
But Ucluelet and Tofino requires sacrifice to stay here, housing is a big sacrifice. If we were determined to stay, we could probably rent a house with roommates… but we have done that already. We just are not that determined. We have already sacrificed quite a lot to live here.
We are getting comfortable with letting go, getting excited for our new adventure. It will be an adventure – a return to society after ten years in isolation. A return to a job market with multiple options for both of us. A return to a place with other queer people, with academia, and *food delivery*.
When we started adding up all the ways our rural isolation is consistently challenging in basic survival needs, let alone flourishing enough to plan for retirement one day, we realized that the bloom is off the Nootka rose. Perhaps we are being pushed because it’s simply time to go, and we’ve been resistant to making this change of our free will.
Every time I feel into the future intuitively, I see my spirit family there, smiling and reassuring, giving me optimism and encouraging me to let go…
It’s been an eventful week. On Tuesday I received an email, which felt to me like an earthquake:
I am sending you this email to let you know that (my husband) and I have given this considerable thought.
We will be listing (your house) for sale. I’ll be giving (the realtor) your contact information. (The realtor) will contact you and give you Notice, when she needs to walk through your home to do an Evaluation and also for future showing.
I would like you to know that you are our Tenants as long as we own the property. When there is a new owner, according to the Residential Tenancy Rules of BC, they must give you a minimum of Two Month Notice to Vacate if they want you to vacate or
the new Owners may want to keep you as Tenants. The decision is theirs to make.
If you have any questions please email me,
Sweetie and I are in for a big change, but we’re not sure what that’s going to look like yet. We have *loved* living in our house these past few years, and our landlords are straight up the best landlords I have ever rented from, in 20 years of renting. I have no resentment towards them for placing the house for sale – they have been so good to us! This event was not unexpected, we figured it would happen eventually, which is why for the past few years we’ve been doing everything we can to save money so that we can buy our own house.
In fact we attempted to buy a little place earlier this year and we were unsuccessful, so we resolved to stay put for another year or so before trying again.
Well, now we’re probably going to get evicted by new property owners. It likely won’t happen for at least 3 months (the house has to sell, and then they must give us notice) but three months isn’t a lot of time, really.
The realtor last night said she has sold this place 3 times in the past 20 years, and it’s always been an investment / rental property, and that no one has had to move before… but honestly I think she was just saying that so we wouldn’t be grumpy to prospective buyers. (We wouldn’t do anything to impede the sale anyway.) The real estate market has spiked in our area, and our landlords have every right to cash in… but there is no way the new investors are going to want to keep us on, paying the rent we’re paying, when they could evict us, renovate the unit, and rent it for double what we pay. Yes, that’s legal, and known as a “reno-viction”.
It’s not a surprise that this is happening, we were just hoping we’d have some more time before it did.
The last time we moved, in 2015, life felt pretty chaotic. We almost left our beloved West Coast. Rental housing is extremely difficult to come by, and what is available is ridiculously costly. We lucked into our current housing because my friend bought her first house, and we slid into her rental at her rate, because the landlords liked us and didn’t want to bother listing it. It’s why we bought our car, which was a whole other ordeal we could barely afford at the time, but it was the only way we’d have a shot at renting our current place. It’s been my favourite place to live. I *love* this house.
And I love living here, on the West Coast. We are so blessed, so fortunate. We could not have done this without my psychic business, either. My friends, you are all a part of this.
We do want to stay here. If we can’t find a way to buy a place, or a rental we can afford, our “worst” case scenario is to leave the area and start again somewhere new. People have to do this in life, sometimes, and where we end up if that happens will depend upon what hospital job I can find. That’s another potential loss as I *love* my hospital job.
But we’re not at the job searching phase yet. We’re in the investigating and listing possibilities phase.
As I was driving through the provincial park this morning – the world’s best commute, by the way – I was thinking about how this earthquake of an event has cracked open our insulated little life here, and is showing us many different possibilities. Because a change in the near future is *necessary*, it has shifted our frame of minds to see every possibility, and assess them pragmatically, even though there are powerful emotions surrounding *all* of them.
I’m a grounded, and sensitive person. I would really have preferred this change to happen on our terms, when we’re ready, when we are moving *on purpose*. But that’s not how life always works. I have never once been able to accurately predict what my own life would look like 5 years down the line! I like to be flexible and embrace life’s possibilities, even while I grieve the potential change.
Ugh my friends, I don’t want to leave!
I have really appreciated all I’ve invested in therapy in the past 3 years. I haven’t written a lot about it, but it’s been a big part of my life. When my mother got sick, and my life became all about making as much money as I could so I could visit her a few more times before she died, the anxiety (on the heels of losing our coffee business, by the way) pushed me to a limit in my brain. For the first time in my life, I found myself struggling to cope with anxiety and normal life challenges, and all I could do was shut down. It was scary for me, and even after our life stabilized, my mother passed, and we were safely moved into our wonderful house, I found myself struggling to manage my anxiety, and I wrote about it a few times. I also developed an eating disorder, which I’ve written somewhat about, and I developed symptoms of PTSD which I got some effective therapeutic help with. Oh yeah, and I dealt with chronic pelvic pain, and had a major surgery. I’ve been busy, sorting out my brain and my body!
It’s all been positive. It’s been worth it too, because I know if this notice of high potential for eviction had come through even a year ago, I don’t know if I would have coped without panicking.
I’m not panicking. And I’m marvelling that my nervous system is handling this uncertainty so well! Somewhere along my self-healing journey, the part of my brain that felt broken by the overwhelming challenges of 2012 – 2015 has healed, and I’m back to the me I remember from my 20s, where I wasn’t afraid of change, or a challenge. Hello there, old Kate! I so appreciate this realization.
I mean, this could potentially result in uprooting our *entire lives* – which we sacrificed so much to create – and start all over again in another community leaving behind our jobs, our friends and support systems, and our beloved wild west coast. This would have turned me inside out if this had happened any sooner.
But here we are, and I can honestly say that nothing bad is happening here. We are healthy, thank god! There is a lot of good in our lives, and maybe, just maybe, we are being pushed because we need it.
Maybe we will be able to buy something, and then we’ll *really* be living our west coast dream. Or maybe we’ll find another “miracle” rental that will buy us another year or two. Or maybe we’ll move somewhere else and start over, and if so, there will be good things about wherever we end up.
There’s a lot of Buddhist practice I notice coming up right now. We are going to be proactive and prioritize what we *want* to happen, and make sure we do everything we can to make that happen, but the outcome isn’t guaranteed, and we can’t become overly attached to our most-wanted outcomes. Attachment to outcomes can really be a motivator for action, like it was for our coffee business, like it was for our cross-country move to BC, but what really counts is the action we take, and my own ability to regulate my energy, my attachments. It’s so helpful.
So stay tuned, folks! 2019 is going to be a big transitional year for us! Send us good vibes!
And hey, I just launched a special discount for Blog Friends, my “Friendship Circle” mailing list. Sign up here and you’ll get $25 off your next session with me. It’s my thank you to you for caring enough about my story, and my writing, to subscribe. Make sure you’re on the list!