Re-Invention

(Me about 1 year ago on Long Beach, Tofino, BC)

I am so looking forward to moving day! Jan 8!

Only in the past few weeks, since the purchase of our new home went through, have I started to feel settled in Victoria. Remember when I wrote about looking before you leap, leap and learn how to land? Well until we had our housing situation locked down, Victoria wasn’t a permanent home. It is scary to see rent skyrocketing, even in just the six months we have been here. There is a unit listed in our building – smaller than our 500 sq foot one bedroom – for $1800/month.

It’s crazy. Renters are more vulnerable than ever before.

We are so, so lucky to have been able to buy a home, and bring our cost of living back down and stabilize it at a reasonable level. With that sigh of relief, I finally lifted my head up and looked around at this place we have landed. Victoria. We live here now!

My friends, this is a really amazing city! I am a country mouse, I will always fondly remember and miss the ocean, the expansive unaltered beaches, the rainforest, the prolific, wild, powerful omnipresence of wildlife.

Ukee became a part of me. So did the hospital. It was tough to say goodbye, in no small part because I was leaving a part of my identity behind. My life on the coast defined me as a person, through my choices, sacrifices, and values.

But let’s be real here: I knew two years ago that we would probably need to move on. As much as I loved my hospital job, it was part time and the math on a part time pension does not work out in our favour. Not only that, but there wasn’t much opportunity to develop professionally, only a distance-learning university, which made little sense to invest in at the time, knowing that eventually, our housing would de-stabilize, and our entire future really depended upon getting out of the ballooning rental market and into a mortgage. THEN I could think about school.

And now we’re here! I suddenly have access to a couple of colleges snd an excellent university. Which brings me to the next delicious, heart-fluttering question: WHAT DO I DOOOOOOOOOOOOOO?

I have been given an opportunity to reinvent myself. Ukee Kate is a part of my story, and Psychic Kate will always be me, don’t worry. I’ll be doing sessions even after I retire from the general workforce. Sessions on Sundays is my church.

Now, what about the other six days?

I still work for the health authority, and my job is OK. It has a lot in common with the job I left in Toronto, ten years ago. It’s an office, the work is necessary and important. I am truly grateful for it. Not only did the transfer increase my income, but my schedule is potentially a lot more flexible, as this job needs staff from 5am – midnight.

The main thing I have in common with my new colleagues is that many of us came to work there while in a transition in life. New graduates or current students, quite a few people going through breakups, more than a few veterans of the west coast, people who lived and worked in Tofino for a year or two.

This is a really small island, folks. Not geographically, it takes 8 hours to drive from tip to tip, and four hours to drive side to side. But the community is pretty much continuous, which is comforting.

So, what do I DO?

I think that’s my big question for the next year. I mean, technically, I could probably stay in my current job the rest of my working career, but I think doing do would be doing myself a disservice. One of my Tofino Hospital friends said that staying where I am long term wouldn’t be working to my full potential.

I agree.

So what DO I DOOOOOO?

This is a luxurious question!

Maybe you can help me out – if you have any thoughts or advice, please feel free to share them here in the comments, or email me if you prefer.

One of the potential directions I am thinking of is social work. I don’t think front-line social work would be the best fit for me, just like primary care nursing was not a good fit, but you can do a lot with a degree in social work. Even more with a masters.

I may start out with taking a single course and seeing how that goes. I have no interest in taking out student loans, so any continuing education would be part-time. I was originally looking at healthcare administration, but social work would also prepare me for an administration position, and open up job opportunities not just in hospitals but in government, in care homes, in corrections, and in outreach programs. A close friend of mine is becoming a parole officer! I don’t think that’s for me, but it does go to show you that there is satisfyingly work to be done all over the place.

I feel like I want to better arm myself to not just make a better living, but to have more of a positive impact over my lifetime.

I also found a counsellor who has multiple BAs and IS actually a social worker, so I’m hoping consulting with him will help me with my next steps.

Who knows where life is taking me next? Victoria will become a part of me too. I wonder who I will become?

Black Forest Cake from Heaven

Well folks, I’m ready for 2020, how about you?

This past decade has been one of incredible transformative change for myself and my wife, but 2019 really topped this decade off with a bang.  In the past two weeks alone, we have experienced such intense contrast of simultaneous joy, stress, sadness, grief, and gratitude, which seems to bring all of our life experience from 2009 to 2019 into sharp focus. 

This past weekend, my Sweetie lost her brother.  It was such a shock as he was a young and healthy man.  We thought we’d be travelling to Ontario, but as he passed in a foreign country where he lived for years, there will not be a service in his home town in Ontario in the immediate future.

This happened right on the tail of us buying our first home – finally achieving housing stability after a decade of being tossed around in the volatile rental market.  (We have rented for over 20 years, but the past 10 years have been completely off the chain in terms of expense and unpredictability.)

When my brother in law died, we were pretty sure we’d be travelling to Ontario, but we hadn’t finished closing on our condo – so I asked the realtor and lawyer if there was anything they could do to help us sew things up, so that Sweetie and I could travel if we needed to.  

This pushed the final signing of all of the paperwork to yesterday, December 12, which is my mother’s birthday. 

That alone was nice, to be starting a brand new, more secure future on a date we have traditionally celebrated in our family.

Before my mother died, she said “I’ll send you schnauzers,” as a way of saying hello from the other side.  I said, “That’s great, but can you please also send birds too?  Because there aren’t a lot of schnauzers around.” 

There aren’t a lot of schnauzers around in general, but Mom has found ways to put schnauzers in my path over the years since she died – and she found one to send my way on Dec 11th, right after booking the final appointment with a lawyer.  It was an unusual white schnauzer too, who had deep brown eyes that reminded me of my childhood dog, Heidi.  I figured that was Mom saying hello.

Well darn it, I got to work and one of my coworkers had brought in black forest cake for no reason.  She said it just “jumped out at me!”  So she bought it on impulse and brought it in. 

I love black forest cake, mainly because it’s the official birthday cake of our family.  Every time anyone in our family had a birthday, the request for black forest cake was happily met, and even years after my sister and I left home, we would continue to make black forest cakes on our birthdays and send each other photos to share our celebration across the distance. 

It wasn’t until I had actually eaten a piece of the cake, which reminded me of all of these childhood memories and how many birthdays and other big life celebrations had been marked with this cake, that I realized what had just happened.

I was eating black forest cake ON MY MOTHER’S BIRTHDAY in celebration of our first home. 

WOW!

And then I started crying at work!  It was a special moment. 

10 years ago, Sweetie and I moved from Toronto to Ucluelet, to start a brand new adventure together.  Adventure it was!  Filled with growth and uncertainty, surrounded by the savage wild beauty of beaches, ocean, apex predators and rare migratory birds.  It was a spectacular place to live for a decade, where I developed my identity as a community member, a hospital worker, and a professional psychic.  I feel like Ucluelet and Tofino gave me the space and community to grow into who I became, who I am now.

Here we are now, just arrived in Victoria, able to make a permanent home here.  We are so lucky!  The city is growing on me, and while I still keenly miss the wild west coast that felt like home from the first days I discovered it, I know that it is time for us to return to city dwelling, and grow anew here.  There are a lot of things I enjoy about Victoria which I missed living in a remote area.  I missed movies, art galleries, museums, comedy clubs, and I missed shopping options.  There is a lot to enjoy about city life.

And Victoria is such a beautiful city, surrounded by ocean, harbour front, bike paths, and gorgeous architecture.  There are centuries of city-history visible here, and thousands of years of First Nations history to discover.  I still see eagles, blue herons, and deer – not every day, but often enough that I can still feel connected with the nature I adore.  Annually, I do plan to get on a boat and go out to visit the whales too.  They’re still here as well! 

It is a comfort too, to know that we can take a direct flight from the Victoria airport, to Toronto or Ottawa to connect with our family back there, if needed.  Travel to Ontario will no longer be a two-day venture, but a completely manageable 12 – 16 hour journey.  

I think, six months in, I am settling into Victoria.  I love our neighbourhood where we bought our condo, and I won’t have to deal with the busy highway on a daily basis to get to work anymore.  I’ll be able to bike to work when I feel like it too, which is great because I need the exercise.  

We will be moving in to our new permanent home on January the 8th.  Sweetie and I send you all warm holiday wishes, and we would really appreciate your thoughts and prayers for her brother, and our family as we grieve his loss and remember his life and love.

I hope you all have a beautiful December, and remember that winter solstice is just around the corner, so the daylight will be coming back soon! 

 

 

 

 

JOY!

It is with great joy and gratitude that I can share Sweetie & I are buying a little home!

This move into home ownership means so much to both of us. We’ve been experiencing housing insecurity for nearly 10 years, culminating in our eviction from our home in Ucluelet, because our landlord sold the property. This event caused us to make the decision to move to Victoria, as there were better employment possibilities for both of us, and whereas the housing and rental markets had doubled in our ten years on the wild west coast, the potential numbers looked a lot better for us in Victoria.

Since the move, I have focused fiercely on getting us a permanent place. I’ve been taking all the overtime I could get at my new job, because I needed to show potential mortgage lenders that I can make mortgage payments. There is a conservative “stress test” you need to pass, and the higher your employment income, the better your chances of being approved.

Well, now we have a home. YAY!

We can paint the walls and hang our wedding pictures. We can invest in some furniture solutions, like a litter box cover, a desk, a dresser.

We can save for the future, and enjoy the stability of affordable, long term housing, in a lovely “up and coming” neighbourhood.

I am so full of joy and gratitude right now!

Typically, I would be running a promotion for my annual “New Year Report Cards” right now, but seeing as we will be MOVING in January, I am going to hold off on running a promotion that typically fills my schedule up for months.

I WILL run a special for New Year Report Cards after we have moved and actually settled into our new HOME!

New year, brand new future!

Happy Halloween!

Lots of people have been asking me, “How are you settling into Victoria?”

Well, the truth is, I’m not quite settled, and likely will not be for some time. We are working hard to open up some more options for the future, and when these things start coming to fruition, I will absolutely update you all. Meanwhile though, I’m working a lot of overtime at my full-time job, which is a big change from my part-time job at Tofino Hospital these past 8 years.

So if you’re popping in here to see how I’m doing, that’s what we’re doing! Nose to the grindstone, knuckling down, focused on manifesting our future here in this beautiful city.

Today, Sweetie and I went on a walking “Ghost Tour” of Victoria, which was a lot of fun. A crazy coincidence was, we ended up in the SAME HAIR SALON that my friend Carly spoke about in her guest episodes of the Joyful Telepathy Podcast!

Here is the link to the first episode.

Here is part 2.

I can’t recall which episode she told the hair salon story; all her stories are fantastic so I think you should listen to both episodes.

When I heard that the room we were visiting used to be a hair salon, I briefly paraphrased Carly’s story of the terrifying, six-foot dark shadowed figure she saw in the hallway. It turns out, the story of that very site was of a large, dark figure who is believed to be the “enforcer” of the brothel that used to be in that building. If any of the women tried to run away, he would follow them, and either bring them back, or kill them.

No wonder his presence is so menacing to those who witnessed it!

That’s my quick update for now. Happy Halloween, and give Carly’s episodes of the Joyful Telepathy Podcast a listen!

EDIT / PS: I am happy to share how much better I’m doing physically, nearly *two years* after my surgery I’m back up to a full day of walking! Walking is one of the primary ways I enjoy life, and until recently, I was only able to walk an hour or two max, due to some muscle and alignment issues secondary to the chronic pelvic pain I experienced before surgery.. I hit a wall with physiotherapy a year after my surgery and was getting discouraged. It turns out, massage was what I needed. I’m very fortunate my benefits covered the care I needed, and my body is finally functioning in a way I can just join in with activities like walking ghost tours! I walked six hours today! Yay!

(The tour was only 1.5 hrs, but I walked pretty much the whole day!)

I miss you my friends!

Oh my goodness. Change is still afoot, and I’m afraid it leaves me with little to no time to do the cool stuff I’ve enjoyed doing here on the blog with you since 2012.

This is a temporary situation.

Having gratefully landed in a new city I’m getting to know, both Sweetie and I are looking for further opportunities to improve our circumstances – and we are finding them. A lot of them. The only limitations are really the time and energy available to invest in the process of creating change.

To give you an idea, I started aggressively job hunting in February, and received my first job offer in mid-April. I probably invested 15-20 hours a week, so a minimum of 160 hours invested to get that change to happen.

And its a great change. But we are not done.

Thing is, we are now both employed full time, so investing a further 20 hours a week in the change isn’t easy or always possible. Which is okay. We are doing what we can when we can.

That brings me back to this blog, and the podcast.

In this time crunch, I can’t do everything I did before, not for the time being.

I am still doing sessions on Sundays. That’s not going to change. As always, you can book a session here: https://www.tofinopsychic.com/book-a-session.html

In particular, I want to be sure I’m taking care of existing clients. I will no longer do sessions on Mondays or Thursdays, so my calendar is starting to fill up a bit further in advance again. I am no longer advertising for new clients, but I am taking referrals – my existing clients friends or family.

I do intend to come back to writing here, and producing the podcast, and I will do what I can, as I can, and as it feels good.

Meanwhile, go watch Yesterday. It’s a movie in theatres now. John popped in while Sweetie and I were watching it, and I’m positive he approves of it… and it’s just fun to watch! Take a friend.

Have a fabulous day everyone! Keep your eyes out for my quickie posts.

Snail email

I am so behind on emails. I am so sorry if you have sent an email and I haven’t responded. I am doing my best juggling all the balls of our city life, and there may yet be new developments to write about soon-ish? Maybe? We have some irons in the fire.

Anyway, I do sincerely apologize if you are waiting on a response to me. I’m actually getting anxious because we, the office goddess and I, are so behind on our maintenance tasks.

Sometimes life keeps you busy, and you just can’t do all the things.

Thank you so much for your patience.

Dancing with Change

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.

Please stand by… Technical Difficulties

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!

Feathering the Nest

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!