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.

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.


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.


(Drill)Bits and Pieces

“I love moving!!!” Said no one ever
I think I’ll be happier when the box fort that has taken over our living room is gone.

At least we’ve started with some of the fun stuff, like picking colors for the counter top and flooring. Well , I saw “we” in very general sense. Kelsey and her mom have started telling me which colors we’re having 🙂 I think they’ll do fine, lets just hope it doesn’t end up looking like:


Kelsey got a reminder yesterday of WHY we’re leaving the city.
At coffee with a friend of hers, she enjoyed a grand tale of the 100 different things her kids were registered in for the summer. Camps and classes. Then some classes and camps.

No thanks

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
But, I’ll take some running around the back yard and finding all the walking trails in our area any day.


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.


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.


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…



Zen Pencils – Bill Watterson

Before I continue with what happened in Hawaii, I thought I’d share this webcomic I found last year.

I’ve loved Bill Watterson for years. Calvin and Hobbes is the greatest comic ever.

The attached comic is drawn in his style, and the text is a speech he gave to his old college.

This comic touched me fundamentally, and helped change some of my outlook on my life.