Returning to Canada from 3+ years in Viet Nam has been one of the hardest adjustments that I’ve ever made. Everything here seemed very foreign to me, after time away. As well, I was starting from scratch, with housing, employment, career, family life, and recreation. I still had my car, and a few personal possessions, and I also shipped back some books and household goods from Viet Nam. For the first year, I worked half time as a Starbucks barista, since the job offered a healthcare plan, paid vacation, and great deals on coffee and food. Nevertheless, it was a very challenging job for me. At the same time, I rebuilt my ESL teaching career, while completing my Diploma in TESOL from Mount Royal University. Sometimes I had a lot of teaching work, and other times, I had none. It took time for me to move out of my daughter and son-in-law’s place into my own apartment. The first year was really stressful, and it only got a little bit easier during the second year “home”. Even the third year was still really hard.
Fortunately, I’ve been able to keep busy and active, and I’ve worked really hard to find and continue activities I enjoyed. Meetup and Couchsurfers have been fun social groups for group meals, movies, and outdoor activities. After the first couple of years back in Canada, I started camping on weekends, and I did some hikes with clubs. in 2013, I joined Ceyana Canoe Club, and I did an overnight camping trip at Maligne Lake in Jasper (with another group), as well as a river trip, from Rocky Mountain House to Drayton Valley. This was really thrilling to me! At the end of the summer in 2013, one of my running friends from Boston visited, and we did some paddling, as well as a race. We learned about some crazy club called November Project Canada, who met for outdoor exercise, 3 mornings/week at 6 am!! Luckily, I convinced my friend to come join me for my first visit, because I’m sure that I would have stayed in bed, otherwise!
During 2014, my participation in November Project, Ceyana Canoe, Meetup (various groups), and Dead Runners Society (an online group of runners from all over the US, and a couple of other places) has been really important to me. My year has been really full of exciting activities, and most of them are possible because of the support and teaching from these 4 groups.
I started 2014 in Victoria, BC, with my dear sister and her family. We toured Vancouver Island, as well as the breweries of Victoria for the week between Christmas and New Year. I began some indoor climbing, and did a lot of hiking and snowshoeing on the weekends. There have been various running races at least monthly. In March, I joined my friends from Dead Runners’ Society in San Diego. I stayed downtown, and saw plenty of sights, and tried plenty of great food, while renewing my acquaintances, and completing a half marathon.
As spring came to an end, I started doing more longer hikes, including the Iron Horse Trail, between Waskatenau and Smoky Lake, Alberta. I completed the 50K ultra at Blackfoot Natural Area. By the end of June, I was starting to camp outside Edmonton almost every weekend. I was able to paddle and take several canoeing classes with the Ceyana members, and I joined the board as the Social Media person. Lakeland Provincial Park was a heavenly place to paddle, and I loved a couple of trips on the Athabasca River. My good friend Helen and I spent the August long weekend in NE Alberta, where we again hiked on the Iron Horse Trail, this time between Heinsburg and St. Paul, Alberta. In September, I joined the Ceyana crowd in Jasper for the weekend, and then went down to Lethbridge to do the Lost Soul Ultra, 54K of coulees through the day, and into the night.
My teaching schedule has been full, and satisfying, with a class of cooks from Mikado Restaurants for the first part of the year, and several different classes at CCI/LEX, where I’ve been teaching since my return to Canada. As well, I’ve had a very interesting group of private tutoring students, who want individual help to achieve their goals. The schedule means that I usually have very little free time during the week, but I’ve enjoyed a bookclub at Woodcroft Library for a couple of years now. There are so many books that I enjoy, and it’s lovely to have a group to discuss them with.
The absolute highlight of every week is the time that I spend with my darling grandson. Usually, he comes over 1 evening/week, and sometimes, he comes to stay with me overnight, so that we have plenty of time for adventure in the morning. He is such a cheerful and curious little person, and he’s happy to try anything and everything, especially if it means that he can do some running, jumping, and climbing. We’ve enjoyed museum trips, swimming, skiing, sledding, and picnics in parks all over the city. He’s talking more and more about what he wants to do, and that’s usually almost everything.
There have been some rough patches through the year, especially when I recently fractured my right wrist. I needed to spend 3 nights in hospital waiting for, and recovering from surgery to pin the wrist. Luckily, it seems to be healing very well, and I’m very excited about some time to spend outdoors, enjoying this great city and area over the holiday season. I would still prefer to have a group of friends to enjoy activities with, but I’m slowly building relationships in the different clubs, and people reached out to be helpful when I was hospitalized.
Life is quite different from the way that it used to be, but in almost every way, I would say that it is better now than it ever has been.