Live Aloha

So what does the tropical paradise that is Hawaii have to do with moving from one cold place to another, slightly colder, place?
Not a lot really, if we’re talking about what Hawaii means to most people.

As I said in my previous post, things felt good in Calgary. There were lots of things to do, and we did them all.
There was swimming lessons, and soccer, and dance class. Art camp, and ballet, and play dates. All the things that we, as parents, were “supposed” to get our kids to do. We focused on keeping them busy.

And shortly after getting to Hawaii for our first trip together as a family, we quickly realized how little all of that mattered.

Know what the kids really like? Playing on the beach until they pass out.
Best swim lessons ever? Swimming for 4 hours in the pool.

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Seeing how happy the kids were with nothing but each other to play with gave Kelsey and I pause. Perhaps we didn’t need so much stuff at home. We’re very fortunate to have very loving families that LOVE to spoil these kids. We still have things from Mackenzies last birthday that she hasn’t opened.
And we realized that for all the things we have, perhaps all we really needed was a chance to hang out with each other more.

The pace of Hawaii certainly helped with that aspect. “Island time” as it’s known is something that should be adopted everywhere.

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Here, thinking about that idea, that maybe we all just need to slow down a little, is foreign.

Seeing that idea in motion is beautiful.

Driving down the highway, doing 10mph UNDER the speed limit to look at baby whales breeching and realizing that no one cared how fast you were going is amazing.

Kelsey and I vowed when we left that first time to “Live Aloha”.
But getting back to Calgary, that beautiful idea was short lived.
Doing the speed limit here, never mind below it, is enough to incite road rage in the majority of Calgary.
Again, we fell back in to our old routines, and found ourselves with so much to do, it felt like we didn’t have time for each other.

Yet, each time we stopped those crazy schedules and took off somewhere, whether it was the cabin (Hi Erin!) or sylvan lake, we found ourselves completely overcome with the happiness that slowing down brought us.
And each time we vowed again to bring that back to Calgary with us.
And each time it failed.

But we knew that was what we wanted, and we knew that somehow, someway and some day we would have it.
We would HAVE to have it.
And it became clear to us that likely, we would have to leave to get it.
It became the inside joke of the family. “Where do the Clarkes want to move now?”

The list of places we thought about is quite varied. I was more serious than Kelsey, and would’ve gone in a second had she said yes once. It’s probably for the best she didn’t, school in Costa Rica is quite expensive for foreigners…
B&B in Costa Rica
or PEI
or Newfoundland
Computer repair in Hawaii
or Kamloops (Hi Erin again!)
or Salmon Arm
Keep my current job but move to Sylvan Lake
or Newfoundland
or Grande Prairie
Among these (semi)reasonable ideas was my grandest of all. Sell the whole shebang and buy an RV. Home school the kids and travel the continent for a couple years before settling somewhere.
I’m still not sure that the last one won’t happen if Crossfield doesn’t pan out.

And the more we talked, the more we were able to gain insight in to why we wanted to move. We realized that what we really wanted was to spend more quality time together, instead of focusing so much on trying to keep up with every one else.
The biggest things, I think, that kept us here are a good job that I enjoy doing, and our families. Both of those are hard to leave, so we knew we had to try to bring more aloha into our lives here, and gave ourselves some permanent reminders to help:

Derek - tat Kels- Tat

It’s been tough, but we’ve managed to do it a little. We spend more time focused on doing things together, and making that time quality. But “living aloha” in a city the size of Calgary is tough, when no one else wants to play along. And so, our search for a place to move continued…

Until, out of no where, came Crossfield. A place that was small and laid back. A place where the kids could walk to the park without us worrying (too much at least). A place where maybe, just maybe, we could finally live aloha without having to give up everything to get it.

As I said before, Hawaii changed our lives and made us think “There’s more to it than this?”

So what does the tropical paradise that is Hawaii have to do with moving from one cold place to another, slightly colder, place?
Everything, once you realize what’s important…

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There’s more to it than this?

I grew up in St. John’s NL, a fairly small city.

As a kid, I enjoyed a pretty good freedom in life. Eat breakfast, leave for the day, come back for supper maybe.

We built some pretty sweet cabins in the woods (had a few hauled out by the fire department for working wood stoves), we drove our bikes and quads and skidoos as far as the paths (and quiet roads) would take us, we played hockey in the middle of the road (stupid drainage bump was the out of bounds marker) and got into some wholesome trouble (like raiding vegetable gardens).

As I got older, the size of the city didn’t really bug me. I knew there was “more” out there from visits to Halifax and Toronto, but I felt comfortable. The local restaurants were good for a night out, and the downtown scene, while never a big part for me, was great. When my 2 best friends up and decided to move to Calgary, I can remember looking it up on Google because I had no idea what Calgary was all about. I looked at it on Google mapsĀ  and saw A LOT of brown. I can recall asking them if Calgary had any hills, because from over head it looked like buildings in the middle of a wheat field.

brown

What the shit is this?

I know now that Google must’ve scanned the city the day after all the snow melted because there’s a ton of green space here, but at the time I wondered just what the hell they were doing. But they seemed to thing it was the best.

“So much to do!”

“Best place ever!”

“Come Visit!”

But as hard as it was to have my best friends gone, the thing that ultimately drew me to Calgary was the same thing that caused a lot of Newfoundlanders to leave at the time.

Work.

The job market in St. John’s was pitiful, and I was tired of managing a staff of 20-25 and making barely enough to get by. So I decided to up and leave one day. Just on a whim. Had a shitty day at work and bought a plane ticket.

And once I got here, I was blown away by this city and what it had to offer.

Camping, mountains, cool theaters, relaxing parks.

Lake Louise Sightseeing Moraine Lake_L

Sun without wind.

The peace and quiet of Newfoundland was suddenly forgotten, and replaced with concerts and hockey and “OMG! Is that a real hooker??”.

And for a few years, that was enough. I met my wife, bought a house, had some kids.

We enjoyed how busy it was all the time. A mini “city that never sleeps”. Well, more a city that parties hard until about 7pm and then rolls up the sidewalks but that’s a different story all together. There was amazing food and flashy billboards and free lunches. Stampede and after work events and and and…

And then it happened.

Hawaii.

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For the first time in my life, I started to actually think about my life.

For the first time in my life I thought, “There’s more to it than this?”

Moving out of the city

So, after much deliberation, and many years of false starts, pipe dreams, and wishful thinking my wife and I have decided to finally do it. We’re leaving the city!

And for some reason that has made me quite thoughtful. And in turn I feel like I need to write those things down. I’ll go back, give some history, and hopefully put into words the feelings and thoughts that lead to a decision like this.

It may not be for everyone. Come to think of it, it might not even be for us yet. But too late for that! To the country!!

Let’s start with the facts:

I’m Derek, and my wife Kelsey and I have 2 beautiful daughters together and 1 equally beautiful little lady from a previous relationship.

We are currently living in Calgary, AB but those days are numbered.

I work in IT for a large company, and Kelsey stays home to raise the kids. She works weekends, mostly to keep her sanity.

Here’s a rather nice shot of downtown Calgary. My wife has lived here her entire life, and I’ve called it home for 8 years. The city has been good to us for the most part. Look at that spectacular view! Calgary has over 1.1 million people and the same size footprint as New York City proper (~780 sq km). The community I live in, Tuscany, has 18,000 people alone. Now let’s look at where we’re going.

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Crossfield, Alberta. Population ~2,800 people. Size 12 sq km.

Wow.

It’s cute though. LOOK AT THAT CUTE BANK!!!

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It’s a big change, no doubt. But somehow I’m not scared. Maybe it’s because we’re not THAT far from Calgary. And I’m keeping the same job. But for as much change as there will be, I’m oddly at peace with it all. Kelsey on the other hand…

I’m out of time today. Have to get home and continue to pack. Which is a whole other post to come. I have some work to do on this site, but I’m glad to have started it. See you, which is currently only me, later.