A Dozen Years A Million Memories

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12 years ago I embraced a new adventure. On November 12, 2007 this excited Canadian stepped off an Air Canada flight from Toronto into a new life in Sydney and into the arms of the man I was totally, excitedly and passionately in love with. This was the beginning of our life together, physically living on the same soil.

This was it. I had sold many of my belongings, my house, found a new home for Briggs, had far too many teary goodbyes, packed up some furniture and took a few suitcases stuffed with my warm weather clothes and off I went.

I left a cold grey November in Toronto and swapped it for a clear sunny Sydney summer’s day. And, while I was exhilarated and slightly apprehensive, I knew it was I had to do. I had no idea what lay ahead, who I would meet, how Chris and I would fare, where I would live, what I would do, see, experience, what would define my new life, but that was strangely fine with me because I was going to be doing it all with the man I so deeply loved.

It was surreal at first. I flipped back and forth from feeling like I was on vacation to feeling like an imposter and living someone else’s life – but I wasn’t. This was my new normal.

It took a lot of adjusting, but the change was exciting. Everyday was filled with new experiences, from exploring a new neighbourhood, to noticing a birdsong or flower I had not experienced before, to new embracing new smells, to meeting new people. It was intoxicating in its novelty. And, I was sharing it all with Chris.

I missed a lot of my Canadian experience in the first few years here, but those gaps were ultimately filled by the many new experiences that my great Aussie adventure was serving up daily.

What I missed the most wasn’t actually the ‘what’ it was more the ‘who’. I missed my incredible dad, I missed my sweet sister and my lil brother and his family. I missed my wonderful neighbours, my dear friends, my Ingenium workmates. My heart ached realising how much I missed Mr Briggs. I missed the change of seasons. I missed snow. I missed the confidence that came from knowing where to go for what. I longed for the familiarity of a route to anywhere, the best place for <insert object here>. I missed Canadian shopping and products, and driving on the other side of the road, the Canadian vocabulary, and most of all I missed the feeling of home.

Over time, I felt more at ease here. I enjoyed the many sweet moments as well as the adventure of seeing stunning new places, taking picturesque drives to explore another area. I got to know my new family and ultimately made a few new friends.

Chris and I made lovely homes together in a couple of different houses on the same street. We welcomed guests from Canada and around the world and made memories with our visitors. We enjoyed making new friends together, we embraced travel and adventures together and we made a nice life for ourselves.

The adventure over the past 12 years here with Chris in Australia has been bursting with incredible highs and gut wrenching lows, not unlike most adventures anywhere I suspect.

I am grateful for all that I have seen and experienced and lived in the past dozen years living here on this rich red soil. I have had incredible heart expanding moments, moments that have tested me to the very core, moments I am incredibly proud of, moments I’d far rather forget, moments of sheer exuberance, moments of intense sorrow, moments of inspiring awe, moments of immense gratitude, moments of self reflection, moments of learning, moments of vulnerability, moments of intense anger, moments of overwhelming contentedness, connectedness, calmness, curiosity, and comfort.

I am immensely grateful for my life here is Australia with Chris and all that it has brought me. 12 years ago I didn’t know my extended Betcher family. I had never met my now good group of Aussie friends and acquaintances, I didn’t even know, let alone have friendships and shared memories, with half the people who now make up my Facebook friends list. I also had never met those who have brought such great pain to my life. I had never even heard of companies like Teacher’s Mutual Bank, ABSA, LiteracyPlanet, Paperless Warehousing, or Vie Insurance. I had never started a business anywhere other than Canada. I had freelanced before, but never with so many or such diverse clients.

I have experienced incredible life-altering milestones whilst living here: I published my very first novel, and even wrote some poetry and even a song. I lost my incredible father and my dearest aunt. Chris and I got engaged and later married in Hawaii. I developed content and spoke at conferences. I climbed the Harbour Bridge, saw an Opera in the Sydney Opera House and kayaked in Sydney Harbour. We both held roles in the Canadian Australian Club. We fostered three Golden Retrievers and had the joy of sharing our lives with our beloved Buzzie for almost 7 years. I started this blog. I participated in an adventure race and ran the City to Surf a few times. And, I became and Australian Citizen.

This past 12 years provided some incredible travel opportunities for Chris and I. I’ve done a great deal of travel within Australia where I’ve been to 7 of the 8 states and their capital cities. I’ve bush camped in the Brindabella Ranges, walked dozens of Aussie beaches from Perth to Queensland. I’ve driven and seen from the air, The Great Ocean Road. I’ve snorkelled, boated and flown over the spectacular Great Barrier Reef. I’ve been deep sea fishing, whale watching, jet boating and sailing in our surrounding seas. I’ve hiked to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko and through various national parks and rainforests. I’ve caravaned around New Zealand, visiting her major cities. I’ve also been lucky enough to take trips to Hawaii, Indonesia, Thailand, New Zealand and seen so much of their incredible beauty.

And, I have maintained my Canadian ties to people and traditions that I hold dear. New people in both countries have entered the world. There have been some heartbreaking goodbyes as too many others I love have left this earth. But I am heartened by how, even from so far away, I have been able to re-connect and build some wonderful people from my past and make new friendships with new people back in Canada.

With all the wonder of the past 12 years to reflect upon today, it hammers it home to me what in my life holds the most importance – in order they are: 1. The interesting and incredible people who I am humbled to share life’s journey with.

2. The experiences we share together (even if that’s a great chat over a coffee or a messenger exchange)

3. The spectacular beauty this world has to offer us regardless of where we’re viewing it from.

So, 12 years and a million memories later, I am glad I embarked upon the adventure. People tell me that it took courage and strength to do it. Maybe. But, for me, it was that the love I felt for Chris provided me with whatever it was I needed to make the move. Upon reflection, I think I was also probably at my strongest, most confident and most authentic self when I met Chris, fell in love, and made the decision to come to Australia.

Today, sadly, I am not in that same space. In fact, it scares me how far away from that person I feel at times. But, I know with immense clarity now that my efforts over the next while need to focus on returning myself to that version me. The next adventure I take needs to be one focused on rediscovering my best self or reinventing a Linda that is even stronger, more loving, more adventurous, more resilient, more joyous, more confident, more authentic and more grateful for this incredible gift of life.

2018 – A Colourful Year of Progress

One word to describe the colourful year that was is, “progress”.

This year I made progress on a number of fronts. relationships, in battling some ongoing challenges – some physical, some personal, but more importantly I made progress in improving the overall quality of my life. My business life experienced some hiccups, but finished the year strong and shows positive signs for 2019. My photography skills have improved, my friendships have strengthened, I achieved a number of personal milestones, I made some wonderful new friends, reconnected with some I had not seen in a while and created some fabulous memories and connections with them and with Chris. I’ve been a Roman goddess and attended a Great Gatsby party as a roaring 20’s flapper. I climbed all the way to the top of Mount Kosciusko. And, I tried my hand at resin artwork.

As I look back over my photos from this past year, I see a colourful life, wonderful people and lots of smiles – that to me is progress. Some additional highlights of my year include my longest trip back to Canada yet, celebrating my sister’s 60th birthday with her in person and my own in Canada for the first time in a decade, attending my first conference in many years, to sharing a fabulous week of personal development, friendship, adventure and with one of my dearest friends, Marina. I travelled – Gold Coast, Melbourne, Canberra, Sunshine Coast, Newcastle, Hunter Valley, Port Stephens, Toronto, Montreal, Cleveland and a few road trips around and about. My business is growing in remuneration and personal reward. One soaring highlight was my first-ever visit to Wings Over Illawarra for the most incredible air show I’ve ever seen. Then I saw the Airshow at the CNE in Toronto.

My marriage is stronger and more positive at the end of the year than it was at the beginning so that too is progress that I am very proud of. I met some of my heroes and was disappointed by the actions or lack thereof of some people who I know are better than their behaviours. I attended a variety of galleries, museums, and festivals and took a trip back in musical history exploring the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

My gorgeous friend Wanda came for a visit and the effervescent Lauren dropped in every few weeks for some gal time. I had a wonderful woman’s weekend away with Amy and Effie and another one with Marina, Joanne, and Donna. I ticked a few goals off my life list – got my first ever tattoo, became an Aussie citizen, stood under a waterfall, rode a bicycle on the beach, and refreshed my French knowledge, just to name a few.

I am so proud of many of my friends and family who have achieved some incredible accomplishments this year. Alex graduating Uni and Kate making her big screen debut. And, I am pleased with the progress I made in 2018 and I plan on building on it and expanding this progress in 2019. I suspect that improving my health, and expanding my creativity, and advancing my understanding of the world through travel will be featured throughout 2019.

Bring on 2019 – I’m ready for you! And, to be honest, I’m excited about the possibilities you offer!

Happy New Year – may you make it a colourful one!

Trust The Next Chapter

I trust the next chapter

It’s been almost a year since I’ve written – publicly anyway.

My story continues, with all it’s swings and roundabouts, all its hits and misses, all its lows and highs, it keeps unfolding.

The plot expands, surprises, and progresses. New characters make their entrance. Conflict happens. Scenes start and then they end..

Each paragraph provides perspective, each chapter, clarity.

Sometimes this story puts me to sleep. Sometimes it’s riveting, and I am eager to turn page after page.

One short year ago these pages were dark, foreboding and heartbreaking.

Now each page breathes a new life. They have become bright, invigorating, hopeful and engaging. It’s hard to believe they are all from the same book, but they are.

This book is my story, my life.

I am the author of my destiny.

Unforeseen plot twists aside, I like where this story is heading.

 

 

 

Be Careful What You Wish For

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So about this time last year, I set out on a mission to make my life different than it was.

I felt that I had gotten into somewhat of a rut and thought that if I challenged myself to do something different every day throughout 2017. Here’s a quote from this year’s initial post where I introduce the concept,

 By challenging my own personal status quo, I’m hoping to shake things up and jolt myself out of my all too familiar comfort zone where I’ve felt somewhat trapped for too long.”

I started the year strong and did different things each day – some small – shopping in a different store, taking a different route to a familiar place, trying a new food, adopting a different pastime.

Some of the bigger accomplishments included: starting to learn a different language, applying for jobs, accomplishing a bucket list item (or two), firing a client, trying new things like going to Mardi Gras and doing my first Amazing Race event. Getting over my fear of motorcycles, making new friends, to reconnecting with my favourite teacher… ever! I wrote a song, spent a whole month in Canada, travelled a lot, found a great job, applied for my Aussie citizenship and made, even more, new friends.

It was a heck of a commitment to expect to do something different every day, so I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t able to do that. However, in my defence I had some very big things happen to me that were out of my control and certainly constituted “different”.

My marriage hit an ultimate low point a few months back and I thought it was over. I was told I needed gallbladder surgery. And, our beloved Buzzie died just two weeks ago.

So, when I think back on life a year ago, yes, things are very different today. My life is considerably different. I am different. And some of these changes are positive and life-enhancing and some of them are challenging and require some big adjustments.

But, if my goal was to shake things up a bit and get out of my status quo, it was certainly accomplished.

Most of it I’m happy to have had changed, some of it, I’d be happy to have skipped thanks. Some of it, I’ll just have to get used to.

I guess that is life. There is good, there is bad. Some things improve, some get worse. There are wonderful accomplishments and huge setbacks.

The only guaranteed constant in all of it is change.

Don’t get me wrong, I love change. Just not all of it!

So, what will I do this year? I don’t know yet.

Any ideas?

 

 

 

Life Will Be Different Without Buzz

 

IMG_5779I came down the stairs this morning and his blond head and shiny eyes did not acknowledge me. His tail did not wag in the excitement of his first pat of the day.

I looked at the mound of stuffed toys that were so lovingly played with one by one, with each new one receiving its own inaugural sole attention before it joined the growing crew.

I rattled the paper bread bag and I did not hear the “tap tap tap” of his too long nails echo in rhythm across the tile floor in anticipation of a bread nub.

I stood there eating, alone, with no big brown eyes glowing with anticipation and a chorus of “drop it, drop it, drop it” being chanted in his doggie mind.

I dropped a piece of my toast on the floor and it just stayed there as I stared at it in disbelief. Our furry vacuum was not there to inhale it.

I crumpled the empty treat bag into a ball before I put it in the bin yet today it did not act as a magnet to draw our blond boy, ears perked, to my side hoping for not one, but two treats as he always got.

I picked up his blue lead and collar and its chain rattled, but I was not greeted by the puppy-like enthusiasm of going for a walk to discover new smells, new things and new people around the old neigbourhood.

I looked at the empty water bowl and I knew that the distinctly familiar, “lap, lap, lap” “lap, lap, lap” was now just a signature sound that was already fading into my future.

I went outside and saw the empty plastic crate that would not take another road trip to visit his favourite people or doggy friends.

Then I looked in the mirror and I saw the sadness that I knew was going to be here for a while. I saw the face of love and loss and the distinct pain that comes from a final goodbye. I saw a woman who was lucky enough to be honoured by the presence of a gentle soul.

I will forever cherish the time with my gorgeous golden boy. And, I will be forever thankful for the incredible people who added joy to his life and to the incredible people at Golden Retriever Rescue for rescuing us by introducing us to the perfect dog who quite literally picked us.

Our first days with Buzz – July 31, 2011

With all our love Buzz, thank you for the paw prints you’ve carved into our hearts. Our lives are better for having loved you.

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A Long Overdue Update

Today is the 10th of December and the last time I posted here was July 26. It’s been four months since I’ve posted here. I am disappointed that I wasn’t able to last the year and that my quest for doing it different had to end so abruptly.

But, sometimes, that’s what happens in life. Sometimes something so big, reaches up and smacks you right between the eyes and has a way of cutting through to the core, forcing an urgent evaluation of priorities and the discarding of things that are not absolute imperatives.

As much as I enjoy it, this blog is a non-imperative. And, as such, the writing of it has suffered. It’s not like things haven’t changed – it’s not like things aren’t different. Many things are. My life today is very different than when I arrived home full of sheer joy from my month in Canada with loved ones.

What’s different?  I’m a year older for one. Our Buzzie is having good and not so good days and I’m concerned about the boy and how long he has left with us.  I landed an ongoing contract/job with a great company and have been with them now for over three months. And, I hope it continues long into the future. And, I finally got up to visit with Amy and James in their lovely new home in Queensland where I met their new addition – Harley. I celebrated 10 years of living here in Australia, have applied for citizenship and I repainted and updated my home office. One friend from here has moved back to Canada and that makes me sad. But, another from Canada is coming to Australia for an extended stay, so that makes me happy. There have been some positive changes for sure.

Overall, I’ve experienced a very challenging few months and I don’t suspect the challenge is completely over yet. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that it has been an incredibly difficult time – for Chris and I.  I’m not sure how things will end up – even now.  I just know it has taken a great deal of time, effort, emotion and communication to get to where we are. So hopefully, the worst is behind us.

Regardless, I didn’t want any more time to pass without updating this blog. It has been a great initiative for me. And, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the past few months it’s that we need to cling dearly to those things, activities, behaviours, and people that support and serve us well.

This blog has been one of those things for me.

I hope things in your life are going exceeding well. And, if they are, don’t forget to stop, even if just for a moment, and be thankful, for all too soon, things can change.

 

30 Days of Socialising in Canada

So, this doing things differently initiative can be the precursor to creating lasting change AND it can also be a lot of fun.

For the past 30 days, I’ve been “actively socialising”. I’ve seen at least one friend per day and done something enjoyable with them – road trips, dinners, drinks, adventures, shopping, bus tours, boat tours, visiting tourist attractions, and so much more!

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No, this is not something I am able to do very often. And, yes. It helps that I’ve been on vacation. I’ve spent the better part of the past month in Canada.

I love my trips back to the homeland mainly because they give me an opportunity to visit, reconnect, share, and make new memories with those dear friends of mine that I don’t see very often because they live there and I live in Australia.

I arrived in Canada on June 26th and left there on July 24th, losing a day across the international date line and arriving home on July 26th. In between, I had a fabulous time socialising with a wide variety of awesome folks who I have been lucky enough to form friendships with over the years.

I always try to learn from my “do it different” projects, so, what are the take-aways from 30 consecutive days of socialising?

Mine are these:

  • I am blessed to be friends with such an amazing group of people and am truly humbled that they have chosen to befriend me.
  • You think I’d be tired from so much activity, but the reality is that it is actually envigorating and I am pleased by the energy these interactions have provided. (I guess that means I am truly an extrovert)
  • I miss these people dearly. Living so far away – too far to grab an occasional coffee, drink, or visit, puts different demands on a friendship – some survive. Some don’t. I’m happy to report that I’ve had few casualties in the decade I’ve lived here in Australia.
  • Being on vacation is fun and necessary for ongoing sanity, especially when it shared with people you love.
  • It’s easy to forget the influence these people have on my life when I’m back home in Australia. Seeing myself through their eyes does great things for my confidence, my outlook, and my sense of purpose and overall wellbeing.
  • I am blessed to be able to afford in both time and money to do a trip like I just have. Much of that thanks goes to my wonderful husband who supports me in realising how important this is to me.
  • I am now no longer just these people’s friend as I have now earned the title, “My friend from Australia”.
  • To accomplish a lot and cram as much into 30 days of socialising as I did, takes lots of planning, a bit of flexibility to ensure that I maximise my time away,
  • It’s fun to share little pieces of Australia with those back in Canada and vice versa. I feel like a true ambassador for both countries.
  • At this age, I am still learning about my country, it’s towns, cities, history, changes… and it continues to fascinate me as I become prouder and prouder of my Canadian roots.
  • I need to create a business that takes me back and forth either more often or for longer periods of time so that I can continue to reap the benefits of this dual citizenship. (Love to hear any ideas you have for this.)
  • There is no feeling like the feeling of being home. Whether it’s being with the people who care about you, sleeping in your own bed or just the security of the familiar. Seeing the world is great (and I highly recommend it), but the comforting feeling of being home is one that goes straight through to the heart.

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Now that I’m back, what should I do for the next 30 days?