Cleaning and listing and neighbours OH MY!!

It’s been slow in a news sense, and crazy in a work to do sense, so I’ve been pretty quiet on here.

But! there has been progress.

We took a trip out to the house last weekend to peek at the framing in the basement. It’s going to be huge, with lots of room in my office and a nice sized room for my Mom and another for Jenna.¬† It’ll be nice to be able to store things properly, rather than having to play a game of Jenga mixed with Tetris every time I need my suitcase.
Nothing new to report upstairs, which was a little disappointing lol I get more and more excited every time we go out and I just want the move to be done already.

While out there, we took a walk around the street and scoped out some of the completed homes. Of the 4 completed homes on the street, at least 2 of them have younger children, so we’re pretty excited about that. Hopefully we can find a bunch of fun young families that had just had enough of the city.
We also had a chance to meet a nice couple that moved into the very house built in that new development. They’re not in our cul-de-sac, but are across the street from us the other way.
They were quite nice and excited to finally be getting neighbours after being alone since last June!! They had lived in Cranston (SE Calgary) for 12 years and got sick of the commute in to downtown form there everyday. So, moving 30 minutes north of Calgary makes for an easier commute into downtown than living IN Calgary.

Go Figure.

We’re listing the house today, which will be a huge weight off our shoulders once it’s sold. We’ve had to gut our house, and have put a bunch of stuff into storage to make it “showhome ready” forcing us to live in a “Zen” state. Toaster oven? Apparently fancy asses that buy houses don’t use those. Who needs a coat rack? Only chumps have things in things on their shelves. It’s caused us quite a bit of stress because we still have to live there and we’re dismantling our lives to fit in this catalog picture.
That being said we’ve come to a startling realization…

We have too much crap.

We’ve near filled a 10×20 storage unit and we have just about a reasonable amount of things in the house. Some of it I’m sure is a gradual collection of things over a span of 8 years, but really, we just have too much stuff.
So that’s another part of our move. A clean slate, where we have a place for everything and everything will be in its place. Quality over Quantity.
Do I really need 4 monitor cables? Prooooobably not.
2 IKEA bookshelves in the living room? Well, really 1 would work.
The amount of toys the kids have is embarrassing. I’m thinking there’ll be a lot that don’t make the cut.

but, as we stand back and survey the clutter we’ve eliminated, we realize we’ve also eliminated it from us. We’re starting to quite like the open spaces we’ve created and the peace of mind that comes with an uncluttered environment.

The time for cleansing is here!

We can learn to live zen!

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Tom Petty, how right you were…

The waiting is, by far, the hardest part.

At least this weekend, I got to feel like SOME progress was being made on my end. Saturday was spent replacing doors and Sunday was moving boxes into storage. We have a half-ways clean house again, so hopefully we can get it listed soon.

With the box fort conquered and brought to storage in Crossfield, I had some time to have a peek at the house. I was hoping I would be able to get in, and see the framing work that was completed in the basement but it was locked up and a muddy shit show around the back so I was left sadly disappointed.

One thing I noticed out there this time is the quiet. How nice it is to be able to take a minute and hear nothing but the wind blowing. That happens so rarely in Calgary.
Here, there’s always a car driving near by, or the sound of construction. To be fair to Calgary, these are the normal sounds of a city, and they are ones I enjoy from time to time.
But lately, I find my self enjoying the sound of silence more and more.

Because the things that make up my current day to day life are consuming.
Perhaps it’s my phone, always on and always there. Ready for a quick game.
Ready to let me know when there’s a new email. Or text. Or status update.
The internet, full of pictures of cats and funny videos that demand watching.
I have to check Reddit, and my RSS feeds. The news and, again, facebook.
Netflix and torrents of TV shows that have we simply HAVE to keep up on.
Recaps, and discussions.
A steady clip of information.

All these things on all the time.
All these things, and more, designed as quick escapes.
Designed as ways to relax and unwind.

All these things.
Completely and utterly.
Exhausting.

I get that they’re, mostly, necessary.
A function of my job is email connectivity. I have to be able to respond to an email or answer a text.
My days are spent in front of a computer, and the occasional night too. And with that comes surfing, because it’s tough to NOT look.

When I occasionally get forced into dropping off the grid, I love it. It’s one of the most amazing things about a vacation. We carry our phones with us, as they’re handy cameras, but we don’t sit and stare at that 3 inch screen. And I think that’s why the need to drop out of the city hits us so hard when we get back from a vacation.
We’ve spent a week or 10 days at a very slow trickle of data and its refreshing.
And, as I said in my “Live Aloha” post, we always return with the promise that we will keep it up.
I turn off my phone notifications.
I vow to surf the internet less frequently.
We usually end up giving up on a show or 2.
And it always creeps back in.
Suddenly, there’s a new show we HAVE to watch (OMG House of Cards amirite?)
I’m waiting for an “important response” so I turn notifications back on.
It’s a slow day, so I surf the web to pass the time.
And I’m right back where I started.

So, there are rare perfect moments, where I find my self in a bubble of depleted stimuli.
A couple heartbeats while waiting for the bus, when it’s too cold to have my phone out and I’m headed to work early enough that the stream of cars hasn’t really picked up.
The wind in the trees, a couple random flakes darting around the street lights.
And then, just as quick, it’s over. A car comes up the hill, engine chugging and belts squealing.
But in that moment, when it’s just myself and my thoughts I always find myself in awe of the quiet.

snowy-street

I know that a move won’t fix all this.
I know that we’re not going to the middle of nowhere, becoming hermits in the process.
I know that a good movie, a funny post or someones uplifting status can bring happiness with it. We’re not looking to drop out of society.

And, I also know that we will have to work to change our reliance on a never ending stream of collective consciousness.

But in Crossfield, without the background noise that comes with the city I know that, at least sometimes, we can chose to be quiet.

To stop everything.
And just listen to the nothing.

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…

lilo

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 maps¬† 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.

IMGP1904

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.