So here I am in Canada, all set up and nothing to do. Moving here with my family, was my radical dream! But now that we're here, also awfully scary. Not everything is how I imagined - being here, without work is like falling off the grid, with no safety net.
More than just a move, this is a struggle with identity.
The kids are in school, they are adjusting. My husband is at work, he is adjusting. I am at home, with my yard and trees and fireplace and books and yoga- everything I wanted. Adjusting? To what? Who am I over here? What is my 'new normal'? How can I create this scary new path over here and all alone?
The first weeks were the hardest. Now that all the busy-ness of our move had eased up, I was suddenly confronted with long stretches of unclaimed time - something I was absolutely not used to dealing with. I had idealized the idea of being a stay-at-home mom for years - the kind that packs really great lunchboxes, and has activities planned for after school and everything all organized and orderly. Now that I could do this, it felt less fulfilling than I imagined. I was able to do all these things in the past, and so much more, I thought. All the busy-ness / business was missing.
My identity was so tied up in work, and even worse - in being busy - that it was hard for me to adjust. It was the first time in a decade that I was not running full out, that my day was not scheduled, that no one was counting on me for anything. Who was I, and what was I doing here? It felt uncomfortable.
With these radical changes of leaving my company and moving to Canada, I needed to live 'on purpose' more than ever.
On the path to purpose
To discover what gave this new life purpose, I started at the end - what would we want to remember about our time here? What makes Canada special and different to living in Germany for me, and for my family? What do I want to get out of this year? What stories would we tell about this magical year when we returned? It was up to me to set the tone on this year for the entire family.
Starting from the end, challenged me to look at each day as a gift, and to be intentional with where I put my time and energy.
I needed intention, structure and follow through - and I needed to do it myself. This is the list I came up with:
- Access to nature: This is THE thing that brought me here, that I was missing in my days and in my dreams. The smell of wet pine that is all of Vancouver. Living in Berlin for so long had got me feeling disconnected from nature - this is where I get my strength! With this is mind, I use my free time to plan hikes, trail rides and other outside adventures to make this this happens.
2. Time with my Canadian family: After being away so long, there was a lot to make up for. I wanted to just drop in for a coffee or have Sunday dinners together. Relationships are built on contact. I wanted to radically increase the points of contact I had with my Canadian family and show up for them in this year. I was surprised in a good way, by how much they wanted to show up for me too. This was the heart connection that I had been missing in Berlin.
3. Prioritizing health : I want to come out of this year feeling stronger than ever. And I know what is good for me - yoga, sports, meditation and biohacking. Whereas in the past, I had known all of these things, and not followed through on them consistently under the guise of being busy, now there was no excuse.
This didn't stop my mind from trying to sabotage me - I don't have a car, the gym is closed, I don't know what to do, or where to go...
Nonsense. I yelled back at my mind. One step at a time. Start and stick to it. No excuses.
I started with the challenge to myself to meditate for 12 minutes a day. From arrival through the end of the year - with Michaela Aue's Kundalini meditation, with Peter Riedl's Online Meditation course. I added sports, trying new things like the Infratrainer - which satisfied my interest in Biohacking as well. I walked my kids to school every day. I jogged the trails behind my son while he was mountain biking. I followed my yoga teacher Steph on Zoom to 'Get through 2020'. I joined Runtastic. There was not a day that went by where I did not take one small step toward better health.
4. Supporting my kids in their interests: My kids both took up drum lessons in Berlin, and have been practicing only on a small and uninteresting 'practice pad' ever since. In our apartment in Berlin, a drum set was not possible - because small apartment and lots of neighbours. Know what's possible now? Full and loud drum practice, thanks for a very small investment in a drum set via Facebook Marketplace.
My oldest son wanted to take up mountain biking - so, naturally I sourced and set up a bike rack, and scouted trails for him to ride with me trailing behind on foot. My youngest loves animals, so we went to Jericho Beach, where the bunnies will come out of their rabbit holes to be fed carrots.
5. Learning new things: Starting with why : What did I want to teach my kids about Canada? Aside from skiing and biking and enjoying the best nature in the world? What is unique to this country? Starting with this question, led to me focus on learning more about the Canadian history of the First Nations peoples. Not only would this be something unique I could contribute to my children's learning and understanding of the world, I also had the idea that traditional First Nations culture had a lot to teach us about how to deal with the huge and urgent sustainability and climate issues facing us. However, I first needed to educate myself on First Nations history, culture and traditions to pass this on to my children. I just had no idea where to start - but incredibly stumbled upon a free Indigenous Studies online class from BCIT, and there I was again, a student at 40 years old.
Everything fell into place, as soon as I was clear about what I wanted to get out of this year, and started to put some time into looking.
I committed myself to these goals - and communicated them to our family. This helped to align us all on why we were here. There were still the shouts - 'It's your fault, you wanted to come here' but less often. We were on the same page. And it relaxed me on those days where I felt like I was going nowhere, I had not accomplished anything. Because sure enough, I took small steps towards all of these goals on any given day. These small steps were forging my new path.