Monday, April 2, 2012


In 2008 this made me cry
In the fall of 2008 I cried the entire drive through Edmonton to our hotel. All I wanted to do was go back home to Ontario; I could not believe I had to live in this treeless, lakeless landscape of oil refineries and wheat fields. The first three months of living here was terrible. I hated living in the pseudo-suburb that is the base.  I was used to my Ottawa life style; my car-free, abundant local shopping, slow-paced, Byward Market lifestyle.

I spent the first three months of living here pining to go back.  It must have been awful for The Man because at one point he suggested that I take G and go back to Ottawa and he would "catch-up" as soon as he could. I realised then that I was really being a child about the whole thing. With my outdated degree, bizarre resume and little work experience in my field, I could not be the breadwinner of the family and expecting The Man to stay in Alberta while we resumed life in Ottawa was ridiculous and unfair. I didn't want our little family to live separately so I decided to suck it up and like this place.

I made it my mission to stop complaining (at least openly) about the things I couldn't change. I needed to drive everywhere in the city, there was no farmer's market within walking distance, no yoga studio a block from my house and I felt like a lefty hippie outcast.

Prarie winters are quite beautiful
I set out to actively cultivate community. I joined a yoga studio and started attending playgroup at ASAC and when G was old enough I enrolled us in Parent and Tot at the local Waldorf School . I met some really amazing people at all of those places, found the other hippie nut-bags who secretly hide out here and found regular folk that didn't seem to care about me being a lefty hippie nut-bag.

One of the things about community is you need to use it or lose it.  However small, you need to participate in what is going on, stay in the loop and at the very least talk to people or you will end up alone and out of touch. Facebook or other social networks are a great way to stay in touch with local and far away communities. That being said, online communities, faraway friends and relatives and friends who are strictly online friends are a boon to well being but a physical, local community is a life essential, one that life online cannot replicate.

The community I have built and that has risen up around me knows me, knows my kids, really gets me because unlike online friends they get all of me. They get to see me and my family interact in person and have chosen to hang out with us and join us on the journey we are on and have invited us to share theirs. We are all the same in some way and in others very different and we all offer something to each other and each other's children.

1. Soccer party  2.Childcare 3. Childcare 2.0
4. Getting Crafty 5. Lending gear for apple sauce 6. Field trips!
Polucks, birthday parties, hang outs, helping out, playdates and just generally being a presence for each other are all part of the joys and the job. It takes work to build it, it takes work to keep it but when you have it and you need it, your community will pull through for you.

I have seen my community move into action during a crisis and they are quite the force. During The Man's deployment I had an incredible amount of support from everyone. I knew that I could have emergent childcare on a moments notice or that if things got to be too much someone would swing in and help.

Community takes work though, you need to at first figure out where you fit and who you can trust and a community can change entirely or evolve over time. People move and lose contact or their life changes so much that they drift away or abruptly leave a community (hopefully building a new one). My life when we moved here and for the first year is very different from now; it took a year for me to fit just right into the variety of places I have put my loyalty (and oh boy did I make some mistakes along the way).

I really hated this place when we moved here and now we are waiting to see if what They are saying is true. We are waiting on our posting message to find out where we are going (likely Victoria) and though it took almost three years to love this place, I love this place and I am not ready to leave. I don't want to leave the most amazing community I have ever had and I am not looking forward to that lost feeling, the navigational sort of lost and the social lost. Social woes and isolation only cured by making us vulnerable, putting all our weirdness out there so we can find the freaks that we mesh with; all the while trying to keep alive the strong relationships we made here. Sigh, I am not so sure how cut out I am for this nomadic life.


  1. Moving is so hard. Hopefully you're able to find playgroups and mom's clubs and all the other things that helped this last time around in your new area.

    1. I hope so too, the hardest part right now is the not knowing! We don't know if we are or when we are moving. I feel like I can't plan beyond next week!

  2. Bravo, Amanda! Well-said! I'm impressed with your eloquence and can feel your heart for the community you've become part of. I was so relieved to see the support around you when Ian was deployed. So glad you were not alone in a crowd! You are an amazing woman/mom and Ian is blessed to have you in his life--and vice versa!

  3. Amanda, I am forwarding this post to my great-niece, who will be moving to Japan in December to join her sailor husband. I always coach my nieces that you can find community wherever the Navy sends you, but YOU have to find it. Well put -- but you would love Victoria!

    1. Thanks, with this being posting 3.0 I am not sure if I am a vetran at this yet but I know I will find my niche in Victoria and hope your niece does too.

  4. Its helps that you are an amazing person! This post speak the truth. I'm am not looking forward to the day when we get handed a posting message, I have amazing friends and an amazing network of support here.

  5. Look at us amazing peeps finding each other. You are pretty damn amazing yourself there Sam! When you guys get posted you will totally rock fishing up a new community. I dread having to leave everyone when and if we get that message, there will be tears, that is for sure.