When I think back to New Years Eve’s in the past, I recall only a few that stand out in my mind.
I remember one time getting so drunk I passed out and woke up in a panic feeling like I was going to die. I remember the Y2K New Years Eve, I was in a townhouse in Worthington but I can’t recall any positive memories from that place.
I remember celebrating with friends when I was a teenager, having a sleep-over at one friend’s place in his attic rec room. Oh my god, I just remembered, one time when the three of us were up there partying we started throwing pretzels out the window. One of the pretzels got caught on a branch far enough from the window it couldn’t be retrieved. Now those memories those are good ones.
New Years Eve used to hold meaning to me as the time you would write resolutions for the coming year. That was, until I discovered like most people that I did not keep any of the resolutions I had written. It felt like a waste of time and it was. Now you may be saying ‘goals’ are the same as ‘resolutions’, as I have come up with four goals for 2019, but they are not the same thing.
The Dictionary tells us that “resolution – a firm decision to do or not do something”, whereas a “goal - the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result”. For example, a resolution is like saying “I resolve to always be on time for work”. This is a firm decision with a definitive outcome, either you are on time for work or you are not.
Whereas, a goal could be “My goal is to eat healthy meals at lunch”. There is a number of variables involved that affect whether or not you will reach this goal to eat healthier. There is no immediate punishment for not eating healthier, unlike being late for work which comes with a penalty.
Resolutions, to me at least, just seem to be something you want to place on the most common things in life, your schedule, your behaviour around others, your firm unwavering actions. Goals are something you ‘want’ to achieve to improve or enhance the conditions around you.
The point is, I don’t set ‘resolutions’ for myself on New Years Eve anymore. And, because of the traditions that stuck with me following my neo-pagan years, I now set goals more often throughout the year and particularly on October 31 and December 31. The first, in October, is more a look back at the past year, and tweaking what I can before the entire calendar year has concluded. Those set in December tend to be more life path goals, while those in October tend to be more spiritual goals.
And then there is the periods of transitioning, those months or years when things are just to unstable in my life to set any goals for the future. This past October was one of those times, and, unfortunately, it leads to uncertainty and a state of contemplation that never seems to really be resolved.
When I returned to Ontario in April 2017 it was after a year of negativity in my life. There are so many people out there who seek to do nothing but treat you like crap, to boost their egos, and to do their best to ruin you. I wanted to stay out west but take this cloud of negativity and add in the almost ten percent unemployment rate to the mix and I felt I needed to ‘come home’. Well, now, about eighteen months later and I think I have recharged enough to pick up my proverbial backpack and set off walking down my path again.
I need a better pair of ‘shoes’ for this journey, in the virtual sense, for example when I take to writing in my blog or a roleplay, I now play videos of meditative study and concentration music on YouTube. This helps me to concentrate by freeing my mind of worldly distractions like my smartphone or noises of people moving around upstairs.
Another foundational (footwear in this metaphor) task is to not be laying down in bed while I’m trying to read or write – it’s just not successful. I will usually occupy my mind with other things until finally I am too tired to process words or thoughts and I will fall asleep with the task incomplete. I found out recently I am not the only person to be plagued by this, and I told them the best thing to do when you want to write is to use music, when you want to read find a place that is uncomfortable – for me that’s the front seat of my truck. It might be nice to lean the chair back and put my feet up on the dash but it’s still not a bed or reclining chair and that’s enough to keep me alert and focused on the book.
Music has started to play a bigger role in my life again, and not the Top Ten horribly repetitive crap you hear on the radio on the drive to work. I am talking meditative music, instrumental piano and violin, music to write with or study or sleep to. I’ve tried that a few times now, playing music designed to help me sleep. I didn’t stick with it, it was more like a sleep aid, once I got my sleeping patterns back on track, I was able to fall asleep naturally with just white noise in the background (usually a fan).
I am listening to music right now while I write this. The video includes a slideshow of a variety of nature images to accompany the motivational piano. Right now, there is a picture of snow-capped mountain peaks and in the foreground a deep lake reflecting the clouds and rock. I would love to download hours of this type of music onto my smartphone, so I could just listen to it and relax whenever I need to or write whenever I want to.
I guess that’s it for now, have a good night!
This is going to be an interesting blog, at least for me, interesting in what I will come up with to write about. In 2019 one of my goals is to write in this blog, at least, once per week. I do not know if the content will be inspiring or just plain boring. I plan on going with the flow, which is a bit of an oxymoron as 'going with the flow' implies you do not have 'a plan'. Yeah, this is going to be interesting.
Let me begin by writing about 2019. It is going to be a year of change for everyone on this planet. A good year, a great year, a freaking positively awesome year! Finally! Those of us 'old folks' who have had to wade through the social crap of the last couple years will finally begin to see the world awakening to a new dawn. All I can say is - thank goodness! I know, I know, you all expected me to say 'thank god' but that would mean I identify 'god' as a being separate from everyone and everything. I do not. I am a Pantheist still, and 'god' is all around us and within us and is us. That's the long and the short of it.
I have decided on four main goals, or things to carry in my backpack, on my journey down the path I will take in 2019. First, as you know if you know me, my "work / career" is not really important to me. My "job" pays the bills and that is all. I am tired of the drama, the backstabbing, the stress that is involved in management, and while some day my life may again require me to enter into the ranks, for now I have no desire. I work simply to pay my bills to enjoy life and to pursue those things I want more out of life - my four main goals.
Goal number one - my writing.
I have been told for many many years that I am somewhat of a good writer, particularly creative fiction (or roleplay as many know it as in my circle of online friends). I have, at the same level, rejected it from being a significant part of my life. Not so much the roleplay stories but writing itself.
And there is a reason for that.
It is my allowance of negativity and drama to enter into my life through the game I play online, the one that for several years I have written roleplay stories about. Too often, and my closest friends will attest to this, people bring their petty dramas and opinions into the game and try to influence people's writings to suit their own likes and dislikes. And allowing myself to be affected by this is not staying true to my convictions as a fictional writer.
This will change in 2019.
Goal number two - my photography.
I am, once I can afford it, seriously considering getting a newer camera. I currently own a Nikon Coolpix P510. The P510 was released February 1, 2012, around the same year I bought it. It has been an awesome camera and has served me well over the last 6 years. But as the time passes the quality of pictures seem to be declining. It could be from age, or from the pixels. It has about half the pixels of many smartphones today and it shows. I just checked the price of it online, Nikon has archived the model info by the way, but it is selling on Amazon for about half of what I paid for it years ago. This past Christmas I opted to use my smartphone, a Samsung S8, to take many of the photos of holiday cheer in the house, instead of my camera.
A new camera will cost me in the range of about $650 (to make it worth it). I have been considering the Nikon D3500 but I just don't have the money right now to invest. I know you will read in this blog I recently donated about $300 to a variety of groups, but to me those were "worthy investments". I will be able to afford this camera by summer, probably when I will want to take a camera outside again and take pics. This summer I want to travel to a number of the more 'spiritual' locations throughout south-western Ontario and a decent camera would be helpful. Maybe I should crowdfund? Just kidding!
Goal number three - mentoring and teaching.
About a month or so ago I met a young woman, yes I am attracted to her but it goes far beyond the ego and physical. After a couple brief conversations we discovered we share a lot of the same beliefs and views of the world and the future of humanity and ourselves. She is in the process of trying to write a book about her life and I have offered my assistance, both with the writing and the organization of her thoughts into a draft people will want to read. Of course they will want to read it, the topics we have discussed are fascinating and I think people will want to read how these things have shaped her life into the person she is today. Aside from that is my ability to share my thoughts and experiences with her, in a mentoring type role. To achieve this role that the fates have placed me in, I will simply talk about my life and my experiences, and in doing so, learn more about her (and myself).
The reason I mention this goes back to the late nineties. It was way back then that I had an albeit brief, job as a trainer at my workplace in the US. I would conduct instructional classes with new employees on the ins and outs of the company they had just applied and been accepted to. It was a great job and I found out that my style of teaching the class inspired one of the employees to not only stick with the company but to excel into a career as a manager. I loved walking into a classroom of eager minds all wanting to know what I had to teach them about the policies and procedures. It was a dull course overall but I tried to make it fun and open. I think I succeeded.
I would love to find myself in that role again, maybe not in a workplace environment (since most trainers are being replaced by cold impersonal computers with sad versions of reality in five minute clips). I am talking more in a guiding and listening role. Not a professional position, just an ear, a soundboard, a friend for people to talk to, and, hopefully in doing so, they will resolve their problems or see a new path to walk down in life. I don't want to just hear about boring day to day work related crap either. I want to, even if for only fifteen minutes, get to know them as a person. To hear and respond to their concerns and to provide a view from 'outside the box'.
And goal number four, which takes some of the qualities of mentoring/teaching, is - politics.
Now I know I have avoided this topic from around 2010 until 2017 because it is filled with so much drama, bias and backstabbing. I quite frankly do not want to get too involved, say as a candidate or the like, but rather as the role I have now, a group president or leader. Now here's the rub. While I don't want to get 'too involved' I am, maybe my own opinion, pretty darn good at it. I can do things like create campaigns, write marketing ads and documents, and, when motivated, walk into a room of people and introduce my ideas and information to them.
I think I should have continued to pursue a career in politics years ago but there is a part of me that doesn't want to stay in one place or one path for too long. I get, you could say, bored, and need to find new things to experience. It is why I took a job in Nunavut, and why I packed up a van and drove to Pacific Rim, and why I quit my job of six years and started a bookstore by following signs and the law of attraction. There is so much more to life than just work and money.
Those are my goals for 2019 - to pursue, to explore, to develop, to learn, to conquer, these four things I will load in my backpack for the journey.
It's about better banking!
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RSP SAVINGS AND TAXES
So yes, I decided to withdraw from my RSP savings to put towards all my common expenses, except food, gas, cat and truck repairs for the next 12 months. It was all money I had contributed to it in 2017 and before when I was out west. I kept what I contributed in 2018 in the account. So, I’m taking the savings from my years out west to put into my next year. And, in turn, my paycheques can go into savings, both to offset taxes through a 2019 RSP contribution and as a buffer.
Either way it takes a lot of stress out of things. It was a tough decision for me because for over a year I had kept that money in case I needed to buy a vehicle. Now, that risk hasn’t gone away, but I think I was meant to use this money this way. After all, if I hadn’t saved it I would be in the same position as if I had it and spent it all.
So yes, log onto www.tangerine.ca and explore their account options, like INTEREST bearing personal chequing (I was paying $11.95 a month at RBC), and, RSP Savings account. But first, look into a TFSA account, get those savings started and THEN look into an RSP. I say that because when you teach yourself to save, then you can lock those savings away for bigger things. RSP contributions reduce your taxes.
If you are reading this and don't have an account at Tangerine bank Canada please consider using me as a referral. Yes, if I get enough referrals they pay me and I give half of that money to my charity. It's a win-win! My Orange Key is 51866092S1
As I explained, say you make $10,000 gross income and pay 10% in taxes ($1,000).
Well let’s assume your personal tax rate is 8%, this means, 1000 - 800 you will be receiving a $200 refund.
Now, let’s calculate it with an RSP account, let’s say you put $1,000 into an RSP, that’s only $2.74 a day (less than most people spend on coffee).
You still made $10,000 but with the deduction of your RSP contribution your taxable income is now $9,000. But you still paid taxes on $10,000 from your paycheque.
When you file your taxes, you will pay personal income tax rate of 8% on the $9,000 or $720. You’ve paid in $1,000 in tax. Your new personal income taxes due would be $720 instead of $800.
This means you will get $280 back in tax return instead of $200.
Otherwise, say you put the $1,000 into a regular savings account. At the end of one year you have about $1,010 (1%), plus your $200 tax return. If you put that money into an RSP savings account you'd have $1,010 (1%) plus $280 tax return (which you could put into your RSP and save even more on your next year's taxes).
So, in addition to the $1,000 you put into your RSP you just got another $80 more back in tax return. That’s the advantage of an RSP savings account. And it keeps building.
There are two ways to reduce your tax bill due when you file your income taxes.
How did I calculate how much I needed to pay in?
Calculate what you paid in the 3 taxes on your paycheque (Fed, EI, CPP). For each person this is a different rate, but I set mine to be 18% minimum due. This is based on my past paycheques.
Well, Walmart is only taking 15% or so from my cheque, this means I am short paying on taxes 3%. In my theory the government will want this money in March when I file my taxes.
So, I calculate 3% of my gross income and this is what I need to pay into my RSP. This reduces my personal income from a rate that 18% gets deducted from, to a rate 15% comes from.
So, this year I paid about $3,000 in federal taxes. If we use this calculation, then I’ve underpaid $900. So, at minimum I need to pay $900 into my RSP before the end of the tax year (for RSPs this is March 30th). It doesn’t guarantee a return, but it reduces the risk I’ll owe taxes.
Personally, I like to set my “personal tax rate” at 20% (Federal, CPP, EI deductions). So, I take 20% of my gross pay, deduct the taxes I’ve paid in, and the result is what I need to put into my RSP savings.
The risk? No different than your savings. Your principle RSP savings contributions are FDIC insured (the interest is not), just like your regular savings account.
I suggest having a TFSA account, and an RSP savings account. You contribute to the TFSA first, gets you almost the same interest rate and you don’t pay taxes on the interest you gain (you can contribute up to $5,000 a year, but as noted if you haven’t had an account this maximum is around $55,000).
Then, when you are financially stable, you transfer the funds from TFSA to RSP, before the end of the year. Your income tax return, since you now must file it online, will tell you what your maximum RSP contribution can be for the next year? It doesn’t matter, it’s usually in the multi-thousands. This RSP savings contributions for the year becomes a taxable income deduction for you.
If you take your RSP money out, you pay tax, at most 25%, so it’s best to take it out or ‘borrow it’ only for buying a house, an education OR when you have very low income that year (under $35,000). As 20% or so you will pay out in the Fed taxes will likely be more than you would owe on it that year. But, it’s best not to take it out, and slowly let it grow. It’s a nice … well, take me for example. If the universe allows my RSP withdrawal covers all my expenses for a year. That’s how helpful it can be, just like equity in a house.
If you are under 35 then I totally recommend you do this now,
1. open a chequing account at Tangerine (no monthly fee and they pay you interest!!)
2. open an TFSA account at Tangerine
3. open a RSP Savings account at Tangerine (not mutual funds, investments, JUST savings)
Start using your account, and when you have money you can save put it into your TFSA account. Then, at intervals, say, 3-6 months, decide if you can lock those savings in. Take the money you can really save and transfer it into your RSP Savings. Don't transfer it all, just transfer what you can afford to save.
Think of your future, do you want a house, an education in later life, or just to some day take a year and pay off all your expenses lifting a great weight off your shoulders.
It's this easy!
$1,000 = $ 2.74 a day or $19.24 a week or $81.19 a month
$2,000 = $ 5.48 a day or $38.48 a week or $162.38 a month
I did some more math, I spend $2 a day on coffee, five days a week, that's $520 a year just on a cup of coffee at lunch. Take a serious look at your spending, you can squeeze $2.74 a day from somewhere I'm sure.
OK, there’s my non-professional financial advice for you.
I find that the biggest challenge with keeping this blog up to date is content. There is so much I could write about but I have a personal obligation to protect others. I can not write about work, except to say that I am glad the Christmas season will soon be coming to a close. I can not write about friends, to do so would compromise their confidentiality. I will say that I greatly respect and honour those few people in my life that I consider "true friends" and I hope they will be with me for years to come.
Some good news in my life, I was able to make a decision that will help me financially in 2019. It has helped to take a great load of stress off of me, at this the most stressful time of the year, and for my past frugalness I am grateful.
Yesterday was a day of heightened anxiety for me while lasted until around 11 pm. It was triggered by stress caused by a friend who decided quite rudely and abruptly to leave my life. I was not, on the surface upset by this as they were proving to be immature. But then it snowballed with a persistent headache and other health issues that are all caused by stress. Now that I have resolved some of the financial challenges in my life I need to start working on the spiritual side of me - the side that stops me from getting caught up in the drama around me.
2017 was a horrible year, 2018 was a year mostly focused on politics, and while 2019 will have a lot of politics in it I need to think more about where I want my path to lead over the next five years. To me, work, the work for a large corporation, is just what pays the bills. That is all. I have done my 'management' stint in life and it has gotten me nowhere but several trips to the hospital from stress and other symptoms. I will do my 'work' to pay the bills and that is all.
That being said, there is so much more to life that I have ignored these past five years. I was once quite fluent in my spiritual side of life, and I am not talking god. I am, as I have said before, a Pantheist. Perhaps I will need to explain more what that means, in the next blog.
I would like to focus more on my website work, to perhaps turn it into something that generates more extra cash. It is still a hobby to me, but that does not mean that hobbies can not pay a little more.
I am exploring the idea of writing a book with a friend. I have always wanted to write a second book, and while my contributions to this one would be as 'second fiddle' it is still a way to share my knowledge and experience.
On the subject of knowledge, my dream for many years has to be an instructor, trainer, or teacher in some capacity. I am exploring this further, though in a non-official capacity, during the next year.
I think what I need to do more with this blog is to share those life experiences. I have no intention, personally, to pursue my past idea of writing a 'full' book on the subject. I am quite content with helping another to achieve their goal in this regard. So that means, in here, in my blog, I can share the ideas and thoughts I have that everyone can incorporate in some way into their own lives. Because life, real life, is not about work, about paying bills, about politics, or about careers. It is about how you live the moments.
2019 I am going to start living those moments again (starting now).
It was a great first meeting for the Huron-Bruce EDA Initiative the other night. I had the opportunity to sit down and talk about a variety of issues.
I had the opportunity to go for a walk on Thursday morning to a conservation area near Lucknow. I remembered to take my camera and I will be adding the photos to my Flickr albums later in the coming week. I have three days off during each of the next two weeks. I would like to think it is a nice break from work but instead I will be busy with prep work for the PPC EDA and other projects.
I do not like when companies think they can take advantage of their employees and exploit them to do jobs that are not part of their job description. We are in a work environment today where employers are now desperate for employees. Employees need to empower themselves to not be treated poorly by their employers. They do not need unions to do this, they just need to see that in our job rich environment employers need their help a lot more than they realize. This exploitation must stop.
Someone tried to break into a cottage a few blocks from where I live. They were caught on security camera and now the police are looking for the suspect. This is the wrong community to try and break into. It might seem like an isolated cottage community but there are a lot of year round residents and neighbours talk to neighbours. They will get caught.
The weather has turned crappy lately and they keep mentioning flurries, I guess it had to come some time but it is still too soon.
I am trying to find more routine and stability in my life these days. I have a number of side projects I want to work on but finding the time is key. It is hard when you think you have something arranged and then someone else messes it up. My request for a regular schedule that I filed two weeks ago did not get registered until yesterday so that has complicated things. Fortunately I talked with my boss yesterday and they are working with my schedule to bring me some stability.
In addition to work, my political endeavours, and my photography, there are some online courses from Coursera I would like to explore. I discovered the service earlier this year and there are a lot of free courses that interest me.
I came across an amazing product a few weeks ago, actually it was on sale at Canadian Tire. It is called Auto Glym Vinyl & Rubber Care. It conditions and protects all interior and exterior plastics and rubber, according to the print on the bottle. And it does! It is amazing! It blows Turtle Wax and other cleaners out of the water. I sprayed down all of the vinyl and plastic inside my truck about three weeks ago and I did it again about two weeks ago as a 'touch up' (mostly to get the spots that I missed the first time) and it continues to look brand new. It is amazing stuff and worth the money. If I can find more of it next time I am in town I will buy a couple bottles. I will include a picture link for it below.
The weather has been beautiful this week, too bad I do not have the time to get out and take photos of the fall colours. I hope next week my schedule affords me a day I can just drive around and take pictures.
I am back to work today after having five days off. I had a bad tooth extracted last Wednesday morning and, today Monday, I am still not feeling one hundred percent. It is not the first tooth I have had to have pulled out and, unfortunately, will not be the last. It is my genetics, bad teeth with strong roots. Ouch. I was quite pleased with the results this time. The dental surgeon knew what she was doing and had it cleanly removed and it is healing nicely. My visit took less than half an hour.
It is holiday Monday here in Canada, Thanksgiving Day, and likely a busy day at work. I had Thanksgiving dinner with friends yesterday. The food was delicious and the company like family to me. I do not really celebrate holidays anymore but it is still nice to have a day off to enjoy things in life, other than work.
I spent the last couple days working online promoting the People's Party of Canada and updating all of my information. I am looking forward to the first meeting of the Huron-Bruce PPC this Thursday in Goderich, should be a great turnout. I shared the event listing on Twitter and it has over thirty re-tweets and fifty likes in just two and a half days. Wow. I have been working with Justin (Justin L. Smith, organizer of the Huron-Bruce EDA) to prepare for the meeting on Thursday. I hope we get people to sign up for the People's Party of Canada and get a feel for the concerns of local constituents.
I hope my schedule has been sorted out. I really need Sundays and Mondays off in order to manage things like the PPC, plus be able to have two days off to visit my father more. I do not like the single day off strategy of having one day off, a day or three on, then another off, then two or three more on. I am exhausted over half way through the week and get almost nothing done on my days off.
I decided it was time to re-focus myself and make a fresh start online. I have re-created my Google Plus and Twitter accounts, and, as you might know, my Facebook account is back. My ethics and opinions have not changed but I felt my Twitter account had become too focused on the analytics instead of the content.
I am going to spend more time on my political interests and less time and energy on people who simply want to troll me. It is time for change in Canada and we are not going to get ahead without better communication and unity. Diversity is entropy and it is time Canada gets back to its culture and beliefs that made our country somewhere people wanted to run to in times of peril.
I can not promise this blog will be only politically motivated, from time to time I am certain it will explore personal thoughts and feelings a little. But, in the end, it is me and my view of the world.
THIS IS THE ENTIRE FOUR PART SERIES THAT WAS PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED IN MY BLOG.
Quest for the West
April 15, 2003 Orillia, Ontario
I have made it to Orillia in my quest westward. I stopped in Owen Sound, Barrie and now here. I should rest here for a few hours before I set out on the highway again. I parked on the wrong spot to afford myself any privacy though. Despite all this park must offer people seem content to loiter around their vehicles.
March 31, 2017 – remembering back to this night I ended up forgetting to turn off my headlights when I parked. It didn’t get dark until after 9 and no one bothered to tell me my lights were on. Fortunately I had auto club and called them after 11 to come out and give my van a boost. It was worth every penny.
April 16, 2003 Parry Sound, Ontario
Do you ever wonder why I censor things from myself? This journal won’t be reproduced verbatim. Tonight, would be a good night for the Fates or spirits or angels to watch over me. I’m parked with the back of the van to about a thirty-foot vertical drop. I was going to park over a bit but it leaves me sitting out in the open. This spot I chose no one is going to come up from behind – unless they have climbing gear. The brakes are engaged and the wheel turned so if I rolled back (which I won’t) it’ll hit the curb. The spot is almost perfectly level too – I am not worried.
March 31, 2017 – I can still remember the view out the back window of my van. The city laid out before me just down below and the sunset in the distance. I think it was Parry Sound or maybe Sudbury where some young man asked me for change for “a bus ticket home” he claimed. I gave him the $5 I had in my pocket, he probably went to buy cigarettes instead.
April 17, 2013 Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
I’ve arrived in Sault Ste. Marie. It’s a hazy but sunny day and plus 5 Celsius. I’m at a park overlooking the river. Across the river is Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, I know not very original name eh. I could cross here, take the state highways back up to Winnipeg but not high on my list. I’m going to see what weather they’re expecting up there; up here they are calling for snow, wet snow and rain for the next two days.
March 31, 2017 – I remember going down to a park along the river, you could see the dirty buildings of Michigan across the way.
April 18, 2013 Somewhere in Michigan
In Michigan after a twenty-minute vehicle search. They moved a lot around but happy that’s all, they could have trashed my van and said no. I hope this isn’t the way it will be every time I pass through into the U.S.
March 31, 2017 – As usual they didn’t bother to tell me why I had been pulled over. I guess they didn’t like the fact I was using the US as a drive thru and had no intention of really staying there for more than what was necessary. I checked my border crossing file this year but everything had magically disappeared from it during an “upgrade”. Yeah right, so then why did they stop me when I was entering AND leaving the US? It’s not like they weren’t expecting me in Manitoba, I’m pretty sure the Michigan crossing flagged me to make sure I left.
April 18, 2013 Wisconsin – Michigan State Line
If I get to Duluth at least I have more options than here in the middle of nowhere. With the wacky off beaten path route and deer yield I’m going for it, 89 kilometres that’s two hours. Ugh. Hugs me!
It was a hell of a drive from Ironwood to Duluth, one to three inches of snow, speed was 60 kilometres per hour at the best, I was the only one westbound Ironwood to six or five?
March 31, 2017 – The GPS took me down some road numbered 13. It was basically a country lane that cut a few kilometres off taking the main highway. I remember driving along one stretch of highway and a couple places where cars were in the ditch. I stopped for one, a woman who put her Grand Prix into the ditch but she was okay and had already called a tow truck so I continued my way.
April 19, 2013 Duluth, Minnesota
Snow, snow, and more snow, about three to five inches. I booked a hotel room in Grand Forks, North Dakota, it’s about forty percent of the way to Manitoba. Not bad, used my free night from rewards club so a $120 room cost me $11. Had a nice hot shower, first one in almost a week.
Duluth was beautiful with its snow dressed trees. It looked like a Christmas card when I woke up the next morning and headed out of town. I should have taken some photos but I was worried about getting stuck in the snow.
March 31, 2017 – I can still remember driving down one of the streets near the hotel trying to find the interstate out of the city. The trees, cars, houses, everything had at least six inches of snow piled on them, all of which had fallen the night before. It was like the inside of a snow globe or something magical. It was like a painting.
April 19, 2013 Grand Forks, North Dakota
The recession hit the southern states, like Florida but in this area of second homes I saw a lot of them for sale and for rent, lots of places, were they summer homes or foreclosed? And what’s with the train, one town had rail cars parked for two miles with breaks for driveways.
Is a hotel room bed better warm and fuzzy or cold and crisp? This one is warm and fuzzy, Duluth was cold and crisp.
Quest For The West part 2
April 20, 2013 Winnipeg, Manitoba
Drivers here are crazy, they just seem to act without awareness of others, the people are the same as they walk about too, they walk outside the lines.
April 21, 2013 Winnipeg, Manitoba
Park was ok, til 1am, then security showed up (even though the park was listed as a 24/7 park). He gave me until 5am to catch up on some sleep. I slept from about 11:45pm to 1am and then 1am to 4:45am at the park in my van. Then I drove over to a nearby shopping centre and slept there from 5:30am until 10:00am.
Fears about sleeping in my van – I’ve found I’m more “afraid” (for lack of a better word) of having to explain why I’m sleeping in my van than the act itself. In six days I’ve only had to explain it three times – two of those were to border patrol. I found it ironic that the only place to boast 24/7 parking was the only place with security. The shopping mall I went to, while busy, still seems to have the best parking. There’s the grocery store lots, as alternatives, but they are not as massive as the mall lots.
Did I make this trip too early? It’s quite cold still but if I had waited two weeks it would have cut my savings by another $400. When I crossed the Maple River, was it, going up to Parry Sound I felt “something” which got buried by the stressful border crossing. In Duluth though I “felt” it again. This morning I woke up in Manitoba and seeing the snow I felt dread for the first time.
I could use another “sign” to tell me this is right. When I wondered if I’d cross into the US I passed a “Pentagon Street” road sign in Ontario. And today I felt a bit homesick I saw an “Ontario” license plate at Chapters. I “feel” I’ve made the right decision, I just need to get over the “flight” instinct.
April 22, 2013 Winnipeg, Manitoba
Winnipeg continues to be a city I would not want to live in, it’s very dirty here. I must really watch my spending from here on in, while $100 per day was budgeted that only covers 19 days and 7 have passed already. I need to get that down to $50 a day. Last night as I was bedding down I asked for a “sign” that it was safe to go to sleep. Suddenly, the street lights down the corridor went off for about two to three minutes til I settled down a bit and then they came back on again. The signs are all out there, I just must watch for them.
I tried to go to the Museum on the 17th but there were no street signs to find it. I stopped and took pictures at Heritage Park of the mounted fighter places. Only to be reported to security as “some guy taking pictures”. Well dug it’s supposed to be a tourist attraction. I wrote a scathing review for TripAdvisor and noted that the park is not tourist friendly. The security guy told me about another museum two blocks away but I stopped for a Timmies first. I didn’t bother trying to find it though, he had directed me to another secured gate with Military Police on patrol – umm hell no. I left the area.
April 22, 2013 Winnipeg, Manitoba
I went to the Manitoba Legislative Building and took lots of pictures outside. Inside I wandered for an hour until Question Period started. I understand it now. Before it was just one person talking and everyone heckling over them. At least that’s what I thought. But now I see that one heckler, while annoying, represents the choice of tens of thousands of people. When they point out something it is the democratic “challenge” of the details being given. While they could be a bit quieter they are a vital part of the democratic assembly. What I find interesting is how the NDP, PC and Liberals appear to agree behind the scenes to remove public discussion from any issues. In todays’ case the desire of the party in power to raise the Provincial Sales Tax without a referendum.
April 23, 2013 Winnipeg, Manitoba
In the back of my mind there’s a voice calling out, telling me that my next adventure lays westward. I’ve had my stay in Winterpeg but now it’s time to continue my quest. I’m spending the night in Headingley. Why am I doing this? I feel that I must. Nights are cold, a travelling companion would be nice. I see the moon, a sliver from full, blue post lamp, light above, trucks idling, dinner was a cordon blue chicken burger with ham on it yuck. The burger at the last museum was better and half the price but no fries. Where will I sleep tomorrow in Regina? Bear sleeps with me and protects me. The vultures, starlings, and ravens guide me on my journey. I saw two eagles while I was driving in the States and deer met me along my path.
Quest for the West part 3
April 24, 2013 Regina, Saskatchewan
Talked with a girl in the clothing store. In half an hour I got a pretty good idea of just how screwed up the company is, according to her, in regards to their Saskatchewan stores. They’ve had four District Managers in three years and the current one doesn’t even live in the province. I met two people, no names, so far. In Winnipeg I met an exchange student touring the museum and here an employee in the mall in Regina. Regina, not downtown, isn’t dull like Winnipeg is, albeit old the buildings still have colour.
April 25, 2013 Saskatchewan
I’m a creature that can migrate, but on the way, finds locations to seek refuge in. While I’m sleeping over at the Husky I am going to the same library to access the internet, the same parking lot to sit and relax and write in, and the same place to sleep at night. If I stay a third night here though I may have to choose another travel center to park at, I have a bad feeling it might be in the industrial park though. Qu’Appelle Crossing was symbolic for me, a crossing from the old life to a new one.
This spot I found resembled an old abandoned gas station lot. When I looked at that hold in the ground and wondered what was there I tried to imagine it was a small service station. There was evidence of brick and stone and a photograph of a building, not a gas station, laying in the mud. I couldn’t tell what the building was but it appeared to be from the early 1990s. My interest in history was renewed when I went to the Legislature in Manitoba. I think I would have liked to be a History teacher. Instead of decreasing my budget it’s still out of control at about $84 a day, I need to get that down to $50.
April 28. 2013 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Centennial Mall, Saskatoon, is probably the second most desolate mall I’ve been to ranked after the one I went to in downtown London, Ontario. Spring is here and dust and sand are everywhere and in the air. So when I was a kid and we saw the trains going through Chesley and Bentinck the cars that always caught my eye were the “Canada” ones. I used to imagine the trip they must take across the country to get there. There was a feeling of pride with the CN (Canadian National Railway) cars and the more exotic CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) cars but here was CANADA in bold print for everyone to read. Saskatchewan is nice, but not a place I feel “at home”. I think I need to be near mountains or the ocean facing the sunset. In Ontario that’s Kincardine or anything west of the Blue Mountains. I wish to have a wake, like a town party, a celebration, but I want to be cremated and my ashes released off my favourite spot in Old Baldy so my spirit may soar with the eagles and hawks, for now. No funeral, no pomp and circumstance, but still, a party, figure that one out.
April 30, 2013 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Louis Riel was a bit nuts, okay, a lot nuts, perhaps bipolar or the other. He started out sane but by his thirties he was off the deep end and fortunately some key people saw it or there would have been a war. Museums are dying out in Ontario but out west it seems like every town has one of some sort and the cities all have very good ones or more than one. I had that “feeling” again today, I can’t put my finger on it. Interestingly the character in the movie “The Host” chose the name “Wanderer”. I am that, sort of, a wanderer drifting from place to place searching for a home, perhaps? History is a lot more real when you walk inside of a real soddy and see what it must have been like for the early settlers living in the west.
Two questions received from readers. The first question “Do you drink coffee at night?” The answer is yes. I grab a coffee from the Husky before I go down for the night, it’s my way of paying for the parking space for the night. And, next question “Are you camping or sleeping in the van?” I guess that would be yes and both. I am living out of my van now except for the two nights in the US I spent in hotels rooms. Could I live here in Saskatchewan? No, the winters are too nasty. I mean seriously it’s just spring this week! They are expecting their first day over twenty Celsius on Sunday for the first time in eight months. The winters are brutal here.
May 2, 2013 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
I started into “The Gunslinger” by Stephen King. I’m on page fifty out of three hundred and four. It’s been plot building so far, other than good writing style it’s been passive. It’s interesting how the bartender trades sex for information, I guess a good lay is worth more than gold and silver in the middle of nowhere. Here, in Saskatoon, I’d opt for either currency.
Today I am touring the Wanuskewin Trails. I am on the Trail of Discovery, it has a splendid view of the Valley and several benches to sit and think and reflect. Two Canadian Geese flew within a few feet of me to say hello and my brother the raven flew over and encouraged me to finish the almost four hours of trail walking. Today was the first real reconnection I’ve felt with Gaia in a long time. I wish I could do that more often, hopefully I will now with Spring.
May 3, 2013 Lloydminster, Alberta
When you are young and tell people you are taking a road trip across Canada I think you get the same reaction as when you are mid-life. Some people think you are crazy to take such a risk, while others are envious of you. I don’t know all the reasons “why” I had to go on this latest venture I just know that I needed to. I think the idea of rotting away in a one-horse town waiting til the day I could get overcome with joy at the idea of landing some boring dead end job sickened me. I had explored all over the area and seen everything there was to see. The lake, the sand, the cedars, the park, none of it is going to change any time soon or ever. It has been almost three weeks since I left and nothing has changed.
May 5, 2013 Lloydminster, Alberta
I am the gunslinger and this is my desert. The raven he watches me from across the road, near but far. Bear watches me as I sleep. Husky leads me down the path. The geese they speak on nothing to distract me. They seagulls long to take what little is mine and make it theirs. The wind coaxes me from the west to continue. The sun embraces me to sleep to rest here a wee bit longer. “No hurry” she says “no hurry, rest”. No clouds, no rain. Do they lead me, or follow me?
I wondered, near the end, did she speak of me, of my journey, of what I would see. I think when I see her picture I might lose it but for now there’s a blankness, the tooth has occupied my thoughts today, that and the dullness of this city.
May 6, 2013 Edmonton, Alberta
There’s a train passing by this shopping district within sight of my van, on the outer edge of the shopping centre parking lot. I felt the small storm approaching earlier, the first one I’ve felt in ages. I miss that connection to Gaia I had before. I’ll have it back again soon, once this tooth issue passes I’ll be free to explore it.
Tonight chickadee spirit is with me, I hear his song comforting me.
I noticed a tree ring at the museum, growth of the tree was strong, until the white man first explored the region and then the rings grew thin. I wonder if the other trees are like that, this tree was over four hundred years old.
May 8, 2013 Edmonton, Alberta
I’m here at the Grand Trunk Park about to watch a slow pitch game. I haven’t sat and watched a ball game since I was barely a teen, not counting the games I went to in high school as those were field trips. I mean baseball down at the diamonds in Chesley. I can hear the train cars coupling in the yard a couple blocks from here. The whir of the wheels on the tracks and cracks like thunder.
May 11, 2013 Edmonton, Alberta
I heard the train horn tonight as I stepped out of the Husky and it took me back. I paused for a moment and felt the cool breeze. It’s been a long day of doing nothing. I went and saw a movie tonight.
May 15, 2013 Cline River, Alberta
It feels, well I was going to say it feels longer than thirty days have passed but not all of it does. Some days, some experiences, seem to pass by with barely a thought while others time slowed to a crawl. This morning went by fast because I slept it away but these last two hours have pleasantly lingered on.
Yes, one must conclude when it comes to drawing I would fail miserably as a Voyageur. There’s a trail running all the way along this ridge, right down to Lake Abraham. This end of the lake is devoid of any substantial water. It’s mostly mud flats as far as the eye can see. The sun is hot but there’s a cold wind blowing. Some of the mountains have pines half way up, some all the way. Some are barren granite rock but out of the eleven peaks that I see only one is now free and three have enough to ski on – if you were insane enough. The pines behind me are about forty to fifty feet high. In the small part of the valley below me, in view, I’d estimate five to six thousand, that means I can see over half a million pines in my view.
May 15, 2013 Cline River, Alberta
Storm, if there is any, appears to be settling either on the western side of the mountain or skipping over me to land beyond Lake Abraham. I hope it does that every time. I have two thirds of a bundle left, should have bought five and not two. It’s hard though when you realize that every stick of wood is one dollar literally going up in smoke. The radiating heat brings some comfort but not enough to counter the nine-degree Celsius chill in the air. I miss the space heater. I saw a mosquito a short time ago so I have one of those coils burning, or trying to, the wind keeps putting it out. If I can think of a safe way to do it I’ll put it near the tent tonight. I’m going to work on the book some tomorrow I think, perhaps the dark one, perhaps a fluffy nature one. I’d like to merge this journal and the nature poetry, a life journey. I remember the mosquito coils and that night at the lodge back in 1989.
The heavy clouds have moved east leaving thinner streaks across the sky from west to east. Sunlight reflecting off the clouds, continues to be visible above the north-west pass. I can hear the helicopter out there too, he came in to land an hour ago and then took off in that direction.
This is not the end of my journey. As beautiful as it is here and with my brother and sister raven and deer to talk to it is certainly a great place to recharge. But my home lies to the west, I think perhaps in Vancouver. Now the log burns, snap, crackle, the flames flicker from the underside.
I found out that the police services in Kincardine saw my video documenting the traffic issues west of Tiverton at that one intersection. They want the video sent on to the offices of the Mayor and the Bruce County roads.
May 18, 2013 Cline River, Alberta
I think I need some sort of plan before I get to Vancouver. Yes, by then I will follow the synchronicity and I’m sure “something” will be provided, but even a trusting Saint has a plan. You know, just in case, the plan IS the plan.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
It’s hard to believe that almost four years have passed since I began my “Quest for the West”. It was in the chilly spring of April 2013 that I set out in my 2003 Pontiac Montana with only the Pacific Ocean as my goal. You can look back recently into my blog to se my stops that I made as I traveled through Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. My blog entries don’t mention my completion of my goal because of a four month “layover” at a resort in the summer.
I would like to write today about the reasons I made this trip out here and explore what my future options might be. Let me begin by making it clear that I am currently looking for work here in Alberta since being laid off from my full-time management job back in February. If I found another job here that would support me I would be more than eager to consider it. This isn’t about where I am “actually factually” ending up, just a journey into where I am “spiritually”. If someone reading this has a job I would be suited for here in Alberta please feel free to email me.
Now, why did I come out here to Alberta?
To answer that question, we will first go back to 2013 to explore the “practical” reasons that I came out here. I had been working up north in 2012 until the building I was working in, along with four others, burned to the ground and I got laid off permanently. I have since inquired about whether they plan to open the store again and they do not which is too bad as it was a part of the community. I went onto unemployment which paid me very well because my job up north made me a lot of income.
I was lucky, many people are not, and whenever I could I tried to save that money away just in case. I lived in a couple places near Kincardine and looked all over the area for work in my field. Unfortunately, we were deep into the recession by that point and jobs were impossible to find without a vehicle. I had lost mine when my business went bankrupt and I didn’t have the funds to replace it or pay the insane insurance rates. And because of those limitations, in a small remote community (job wise) I went for 10 months without finding a job. I was about ready to lose my benefits when I made a life altering decision.
I say that now “life altering” but at the time it just felt like another decision. I had already been married, divorced, moved to a foreign country, worked in the far north and lived on my own. It wasn’t a really life altering experience since my life had already been filled with experiences that altered it several times. To me, as significant as it was, it just felt like something I had to do.
I was unemployed, I had about $2,000 in savings I think after I bought a van and insured it and I needed to leave. My mom was dying of cancer at the time but it wasn’t that I was trying to escape. She had been diagnosed two years before and now it was winning. I remember telling my mom about my plans “I can be a stock clerk in Owen Sound or Calgary” I told her and it was true. I didn’t have to continue living in Ontario until every dime I had was gone. I had always wanted to see Canada and this was, perhaps, the only opportunity I would have to do it. I didn’t make the decision lightly. I had thought about it and planned it for a couple weeks at least. It wasn’t like I hadn’t been far away before. I was unemployed after my store went under and I took the job in Nunavut. That adventure involved packing up my life and moving to a remote region where the nights could hit minus seventy with the wind chill in October and the only way in or out was by plane or summer freighter.
I planned, I scraped together what money I could and packed my life into my van. I still had about half a dozen boxes in storage but they could remain there until I got settled somewhere. I left for “the Pacific Ocean or Alberta or bust” on April 15, 2013. I saw my mom just a couple days before and at that time I was told that she wouldn’t be leaving the hospital. She lost a two-year battle to cancer on May 4, 2013. I think there are a lot of reasons why I started my quest for the west and none of them were to escape from the reality of my mom passing. I won’t go into any more detail about my relationship with my mother right now because that’s not what this blog is about.
To be continued…
PART ONE UPLOADED
This is the continuation of a previous blog entry about my Quest for the West, I’ll end up repeating a couple things in this part so try not to get too bored.
The first reason was my financial situation. I was unemployed, I had limited savings. I had no prospects for work at all and the next option would be welfare. I decided, this time, that I would do something about it before it reached that point. I have been unemployed in my life in the past.
In 2011 or so when my business went bankrupt I didn’t have any money paid into Employment Insurance so I was forced to go on Social Assistance (Welfare) to pay rent and buy food. I had lost my car to the bankruptcy so I luckily didn’t have any expenses like insurance, plating and fuel. I still had my drivers license at least.
I remember that on welfare you were required to “work” seventy hours a month (I think it was a month) to receive your benefits (which barely covered rent and food if I recall). I didn’t mind that at all because I hated just sitting at home doing nothing and where I was living at the time was not a healthy place to be. I volunteered so often for work detail that the supervisor told me to stop because a couple of the other people were supposed to be working and were not. He wanted me to do less so he could force them to do more. If I ever had to go on welfare again I suspect I would find myself doing the same thing. I don’t like welfare but sometimes it just can not be avoided.
I will make it very clear at this point that I believe only about a quarter of the people drawing welfare really don’t need to. I can’t really say for sure whether that’s because they have chosen to give up looking for work, they’ve had too many kids and can’t work and support them, or whatever the reason. I am not going to psychoanalyse anyone or their situation because I just don’t know all the facts involved.
Welfare, or the more politically correct name “social assistance” comes when you have no other choice but to go on it. You work, you pay into EI (employment insurance) but that only covers you for so much so long and then it runs out and if you are self-employed unless you make a lot of money you can’t afford the benefits (pension, employment insurance, et cetera). When your employment insurance benefits run out you still must pay rent, hydro, food, transportation, all the expenses that make life possible while you continue to look for work or support your family. You will hear a lot of people say that “people on welfare are bums who are bleeding the system dry”. That statement is, for the majority, false. I have known a couple people in my life who were forced to accept social assistance and all of them wanted to work, had families to support, and did it because they had no other choice. I do like the idea of being required to “work for the county” if possible while on welfare, it helps you to keep your resume up to date and your body and mind active.
The government doesn’t want you to be on welfare even though they get cheap manual labour from you. They try to help you to find work but sometimes it just isn’t the best time economically and they give you the basics in health care. The government paid for moving expenses for me to leave Ontario and take the job up north. I know, I was a little surprised at the time too that the province of Ontario wanted to give me money to leave, but that’s how welfare works they want you to get back to life and get working again. That job up north was the best one I’ve ever had financially. I got a very good salary, three meals a day, company vehicle, company housing and airfare including two trips “home” a year.
After working up north for almost ten months I had accumulated enough to qualify for employment insurance benefits. I moved back to a small town where I could find a cheap place to live, unfortunately the job market was decimated. The recession had finally creeped into all the corners of Ontario and there just wasn’t any work available including part time. I lived off my benefits for as long as I could and exhausted them at the same time I decided to head out west.
To be continued…
PART TWO UPLOADED
This is a continuation of the second part of my blog entry about my quest for the west, you might read a few things that repeat from previous entries or you might not I really don’t know yet.
The second reason was the need for adventure. I have always been one to choose the rockier road when it comes to choices in my life on where and how to live. I can not say I’ve chosen anything exotic mind you but the choices were substantial just the same. I do get bored easily, not so much with the people I know or the job I am at so much as the place I’m living in. I imagine that if I fell in love again and stayed with them I might be content to live out the rest of my days in Small Town, Canada but until then I’m a wanderer.
In 1989, I went off to college in Barrie, Ontario leaving a small town behind, this was immediately following a summer in which I worked up at a resort near Parry Sound, Ontario. I left college in 1990 and went back to the small town until opportunity knocked in Brampton, Ontario. I moved there, lived there for several years, until I met my ex and after a six-month struggle with the U.S. government moved to Ohio. I lived in about four different suburban towns in Ohio for almost nine years. When I separated, I moved back to Ontario and ended up in Owen Sound briefly. I found a job in Kincardine for a few years. I left that company and I decided to go to Hanover to run my business. When that went under I moved to Inverhuron until I accepted a job up north in Baker Lake and Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. I was up there almost a year and then returned to Inverhuron where I spent almost another year before deciding to pack up and leave for the coast. In total, city to city, town to town, I have lived in about fifteen communities and moved about twenty-five times since age 18.
I have seen more of this country in the last fifteen years than most people I know have ever seen in their entire lives. Sure, some people have traveled outside North America to places like Europe and the Caribbean, Asia, the Pacific and Africa but I’m betting a lot of those people haven’t even seen half of what Canada has to offer. I don’t consider flying from Calgary to Las Vegas and back to Calgary to be counted as “worldly” any more than going by plane from Toronto to Vancouver and back would be. I’m talking ground travel, road, rail, travel where you “see” the country or the landscape as more than just patchwork quilting below the clouds. I concede that if that is my standard then I can’t really consider my trip up to Baker Lake, Nunavut to be traveling in a worldly fashion however I will add the exception that when no roads are available and the only means of travel is by plane then it counts. And, while I lived up in Nunavut I did take the opportunity to ride a quad out onto the land a couple times to explore the otherworldly landscape of the tundra.
Getting back to seeing Canada, you will have read in a previous blog that I stopped at many cities across the country when I drove out here back in 2013. I remember many of the things I saw while driving the roadways that you just can not possibly see from the air. The landmarks I visited included the world’s largest coin, the nickel, in Sudbury. I think I might have been near the worlds largest Canada goose in Wawa Ontario but I can’t confirm it. I did see the world’s biggest egg, in Vegreville, Alberta, a monument to the Ukrainian settlers in the region which for some reason was not on the Reader’s Digest listing that I could tell. In Lloydminster, Alberta/Saskatchewan I found the tallest border markers in Canada that, geographically, do not actually mark the true border between the two provinces. Since moving here to Alberta I only recently went down to Drumheller and visited the world’s largest dinosaur.
I did see monuments to the Toonie and Loonie in Ontario but they weren’t really that big and I count Big Bruce in Chesley on the list even though I didn’t see him while driving west. And if we extend the list to trips across Canada then the big beach chairs in Kincardine are a well known tourist attraction, along with a famous inuksuk monument built just outside of Baker Lake, Nunavut. I vaguely recall a giant Muskoka chair outside a business near Neustadt, Ontario and in Vancouver there was a building in the harbourfront with grass instead of shingles. I have been up the CN Tower, Toronto, Ontario, a couple times when it was still the tallest freestanding structure in the world, since then I think it has slipped down to something like fifth place? For naturally occurring monuments we can include the Rocky Mountains range, the Hoodoos near Drumheller, Alberta, the caves around southern Georgian Bay, a sulfur bog near Durham, Ontario, a magnetic hill near Brampton, Ontario and the mysterious striped hills near Caledon, Ontario.
And then there are the things that aren’t monumental in size but certainly in local and national history. I visited museums and provincial legislatures in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. The museums covered everything from art, to geography to local history. The legislatures added three more to my list having seen the Ontario one back when I was in school.
To be continued…
PART THREE UPLOADED
And finally, continuing this blog entry, the third reason for my quest for the west was a spiritual one. This part will drift significantly from the topic of moving out west to explore my more spiritual side of my life. It will not be the entire and last thing I write on this subject as it is too complex and layered to summarize within a few paragraphs.
I have pursued many religious paths in my life but not actually committed to any of them, to explain better let’s look at how I was raised. In my years growing up I associated our family with the Anglican faith however my parents never made me go to church. I recall that for several years, until my early teens, we did attend Christmas Eve Mass but it was never mandatory for me to go. They believed that I should be allowed to explore my own beliefs and to make my own choices when it comes to religion.
When I was a young teenager I labeled myself as “agnostic” believing in a higher power but not any one specifically. I had a lot of experiences treading along the line between darkness and light and I had, though I have not used it much in years, the ability to sense or read emotions in others. Those of you who are fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation will recall the character Deanna Troi. She was an empath with one human and one empathetic parent, so a half breed if you will. I can’t claim the same upbringing but I do know that my abilities in the realm of empathy were quite strong but unstable.
In my late teens at the end of high school I met up with other friends who were exploring the Christian faith. I will write more about my experiences another time but one of them was too bent on “if you are on the fence you are on Satan’s side” and that was just too much for me. I don’t believe that God forces people to believe in him and the “you’re either in or you are out” attitude is not free will – our most precious gift from our creator. I used my free will and went out, way out, and leaned towards agnosticism and even close to atheism at one point, pushing me is not the way to get me to go along with an idea.
When I moved to Brampton I tried to go to mass one Christmas but I found church after church after church CLOSED on Christmas Eve. I didn’t even think that churches closed. These were Christian churches, ones that believed that Jesus Christ lived and died and that Christmas was a time to celebrate their god. I finally arrived, on foot, at one on the east side of the city, but got there just as the program was ending. I was offered a ride but instead I walked all the way home, about three or so kilometres. It gave me a lot of time to think and reconsider exploring the Christian faith any further. It was the last time I pursued attending church for Christmas Eve. I realized that you did not have to attend church and sit in a building to find a connection to God unfortunately my emotional state was still quite chaotic and this new knowledge would not benefit me for another decade at least.
I had always had a certain connection with nature, animals, and the world around me without having to label it as one religion or another. I would talk to animals, many times in front of other people, and a few times with witnesses that the animals “appeared” to understand me. I remember standing outside of a hospital in Columbus, Ohio with someone and we saw a couple deer come out of the trees near the street. We were standing about a hundred feet away and, while the parking lot was full of cars, there was no one else nearby. I was concerned they would be struck by a vehicle that might come into the lot so I raised my hand up to my waist level and said softly “go back it isn’t safe here” and the two deer, standing looking at me, turned and bounded back into the trees. Now, one could say they just reacted to seeing motion and I would accept that if I hadn’t had probably a dozen other examples since. Yes, I have another example. I was standing outside of my work with another co-worker. A raven flew overhead and I waved up at it. My co-worker kind of looked at me jokingly until the bird circled over the building and came back for a second pass over and changed its flight path. He believed me after that I could communicate with animals particularly birds.
It was around 1999 or so that I was introduced to neo-paganism and it felt very familiar to me. While the idea of paying homage to gods and goddesses was not overly appealing to me it did seem to explain a lot of the other experiences I was having from talking to animals, my empathic abilities in the past, and the visualization and transference of energy between plant, animal and humans. My first “soulfriend” introduced me to the belief structure and it became a part of my own spiritualism and still is today. I have two “soulfriends” and one “soulbrother” by the way, in case you were wondering, people for whom I have or have had a very close spiritual connection with almost like we knew each other in previous lives.
Since that time, I’ve learned, though not enough I see, to follow my “gut instinct” when it comes to where I should be in the world, literally and spiritually.
And now, where am I? I have evolved past neo-paganism to believe in something called Pantheism. I have found that most Christians have no clue what Pantheism is so I will explain it in the simplest forms. First, Pantheists are not atheists because we believe in a higher power than ourselves. Second, Pantheists do not believe in Hell, Hell is just a place in the Christian world. Third, Pantheists believe that we are Gods, not in the sense of Gods and Goddesses but that our very being is a part of the bigger picture. We are at one with everything around us, as I say, “we believe that everything is connected and a part of the spirit from paperclips to planets”. We see energy in everything around us and some believe that with practice we can manipulate that energy.
When I traveled out west I had a single goal in mind. Yes, you can say it was to find work and move here but that’s not a spiritual goal so much as a necessity. Financially I could have remained in Ontario for a few more months but it just didn’t feel like the right thing to do and that is where the spiritual side comes in. The single goal I had in mind was to reach the Pacific Ocean. To complete life long “bucket list” item to “see the ocean” and to feel the energy associated with it. I will go into detail more in another entry, but for now I will say that I completed that goal and in that sense, I don’t have a reason to remain here. That being said there are many layers to that comment and it’s not the final decision or final answer to everything. The goal was to reach the ocean. The ocean is in British Columbia. I have been to British Columbia several times and I think that the goal to reach the ocean stemmed from two things. When I was working up north I took a vacation in Vancouver, BC, I was very close to the ocean but never actually went there so in that regard it felt like I had to go back to finish what I started. And second, I had heard about the ocean so much growing up that I just wanted to see it. I would have settled for the Atlantic Ocean but then you factor in the mountains and opportunities at the time and the Pacific became my goal. And I did.
There’s a lot more I want to write on the spiritual side of my life, so I think I will end off this blog with what I have written so far. I believe that a blog, like a journal, is a mixture of questions and answers. When you read it and you look into another person’s life, their struggles, their achievements, but most of all their questions. I don’t wrap my entries up in pretty little paragraphs meant to be mini-novels. I write like a journal entry, what blogs were once based upon, and from that you walk away with answers to some things and new questions to others.
The ending remarks for this story would be that I have achieved my goal in coming out west and I’m now preparing for the next adventure wherever that might be.
FINAL PART FOUR UPLOADED
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