My first blog post! How exciting..
So, I just happen to start this blog on our 3 year wedding anniversary, and so I figured it would be fitting to center my first post on a place that my husband and I both hold very dear to our hearts: St. John’s, Newfoundland. As we made the big move to Malaysia several weeks ago, I’ve been in somewhat of a reflective/nostalgic mood, and writing about our first “home” together seems to be a fitting way to celebrate the place that became the context and background of the 3 years we’re marking today.
Like any change, moving to St. John’s was met with some anxiety, but that didn’t last long. I chalk that up mostly to the nicest, most welcoming group of Canadians around – Newfoundlanders. This is totally my opinion here but many have agreed, and I’m sticking to it. The easternmost part of Canada, Newfoundland has a rugged, rocky landscape surrounded by the majestic, freezing cold Atlantic Ocean. I have to add that the weather was a real downer: year-round grey skies, drizzle, and fog can really take its toll on you and deplete your vitamin D stores, as well as the whole “stuck on an island” isolation factor. Regardless, St. John’s being the oldest city in North America, welcomed us with its colorful jellybean rowhouses, charm, and ghosts.. because if it’s that old, it’s haunted.
I spent the first few months writing my Master’s thesis but once I was free to pursue work, I quickly realized how unemployable I was as an Art Therapist in a small city. I knew I needed to keep busy as my husband was working offshore, and so, I wasn’t going to sit around in my PJ’s all day watching daytime television and waste what I hoped would be some of my best years of my life. Okay I admit, I did plenty of that too.. more than I’m willing to admit on this blog. After enough sulking, I wrote proposals, applied for grants, did presentations and eventually got myself some Art Therapy work with the St. John’s Women’s Centre, where I ran art therapy groups for women survivors of violence. I also dabbled in some part-time work at the Newfoundland Chocolate Company, both for chocolate hook-ups and to learn the magical art of chocolate-making, and taught art to children at the Boys & Girls Club. I became a Board of Director for an awesome local youth arts charity, For the Love of Learning, and even worked for some time as a Volunteer Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity. I set up a space for painting and although I didn’t get around to it much, I did produce some works I am proud of. I also taught myself basic knitting and crocheting, and discovered a love for hiking, which I blame on the gorgeous coastal trails. Last and definitely not least, I made beautiful friendships that quickly became my lifeline during those years.
My experience there taught me to be flexible with my expectations for myself, to be realistic, and to be adaptive. Life changes, and so should a person along with it. My vision for my life in St. John’s had to change with me, and in the end, I have no regrets – in fact, I’ve got a nice little toolbox of tricks I can apply to any new location. I also learned the value of independence, how to create a life rather than fit into a life, and that true friendships outlast the limits of distance. The best part though, besides the fresh ocean air and amazing seafood, was sharing it all with my best friend. Upwards and onwards!
P.S. Here’s a good ol’ tourism commercial for Newfoundland… cheesy, I know, but I couldn’t help it. Career change idea: work for a tourism industry.