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.
2 thoughts on “Dancing with Change”
Kate, I can so relate!! As much as I wanted – even longed for – our life on the road, I still went through a grieving period for what I left behind. Adjusting to a new normal takes time, and a lot of energy! I don’t think it’s selfish at all, I think it’s normal to miss the special aspects of your life that you had to give up in your move. Finding your new balance will just take time, and not a little effort. Life certainly isn’t easy!! Please be extra good to yourself during this time of tremendous transitions.
Lots of love, Mary Beth
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You’re so sweet, Mary Beth. Thank you.