March 11, 2012

We've come a long way, baby!

A (slight variation on a) Virginia Slims slogan that was coined in the late 1960s might seem like away a unique to begin a post, but I woke up this morning with those exact words at the forefront of my mind.

Yesterday, March 10th, is an interesting and important date to my husband and I, for it was on that day six years ago exactly, that we left Ireland for Canadian. While I'm Canadian (born and raised) myself, my husband - hailing originally from Italy - is not, and so fulfilling our dream of moving to Canada together for the first time was a monumentous occasion for us.

Though a hefty tome could be written about all that transpired before hand to make such a move possible, and an even thicker volume on everything it took to ensure we could remain here. For the sake of brevity though, I will not go into great detail about such topics.

My husband and I married (by modern standards) fairly young, two years prior to arriving in Canada. I was twenty, he twenty-four. Our wedding was, to say the least, extraordinarily humble and low key with a nearly non-existent budget, taking place just a few months after we met (to say we had a whirlwind courtship would be a substation understatement).

While not lavish, those initial beginnings were more than enough to cement our relationship however, which proved critical in the face of the myriad ordeals life would throw our way in the coming years.

Today however it’s not the trials and tribulations, the hardships or the sleepless night that I wish to focus on per se. No, it is the moments of accomplishment, the milestones and triumphs.

On that frosty day in March when we landed in Toronto six years ago, we each owned a couple of pieces of luggage to our name (having sold or given away our other possessions to help facilitate the cross Atlantic move), and little more.

Our first lodgings in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) left a great deal to be desired, and in those early years it seemed every day was presided over by a cloud of uncertainty pertaining to (my husband's) immigration.

By 2008 however, things had picked up a fair bit. My husband, Tony, received his Canadian Permanent Residency and, come summertime, we were able to move into a better apartment. Though my health (which has already been in decline for several years) took a dramatic nosedive that year, 2008 also saw a major positive milestone when Tony published his first book.

In the ensuing years since then, and some of the ones that proceeded '08, we each launched various websites and blogs (some of which are now important income generators for us), founded businesses, advanced our careers, and grew both as individuals and a couple. Though neither of us were tenderfeet when it came to living in the "grown-up sphere" when we married, the world - and how you opt to handle it - look very different when you 20, 25, or 30.

Last year was an extremely busy one for us for many reasons, not the least of which was because Tony wrote his second book (Technical Blogging: Turn Your Expertise into a Remarkable Online Presence), which - as with his initial book three years prior - I was the first line editor for.

As 2011 wound down, we made put our life under the microscope then whipped it over to the dissecting table, where closer inspection revealed - or helped to further highlight - areas that needed to change and/or improve, one of which was that we felt was that it was time for us to leave Ontario.

The rest, as regular readers of this blog know, is history. Once the decision to move from Ontario to British Columbia was firmly made, we wasted no time in channelling all of attention into that project. In late February we reached our new town in B.C., and this coming week move into our new home (a thoroughly lovely condo on a pristinely peaceful street, which by sheer coincidence alone, I was actually living on at the time back in 2004 when I met Tony - talk about a small world!).

{While online vintage photos of our new home town, Penticton, B.C., seem to be fairly scarce, I've found a few so far, including this charming 1950s postcard feasting a shot of the beach at Okanagan Lake - one of the areas loveliest attractions and ,most popular summertime haunts. Image via Neplains.}

Though many renovations have already taken place, there's much unpacking to do and arranging of belongings so as to create the groundwork of our new home. I'm extremely eager about the prospect of, over time, finding additional pieces - both big and small - to help decorate our home further, especially those of a vintage nature (yard sales and second hand shops, here I come!).

As if these points alone weren't wonderful enough on their own, yesterday, exactly six years to the date from when we hopped off the plane in Toronto, we bought our first car. Another coincidence which certainly did not go unnoticed by either of us.

This incredible step forward is one that I know will only further improve our lives and which will help grant us a new kind of freedom and independence as we settle into life in a picturesque town in the heart of B.C.'s sunny Okanagan Valley.

I don't share these things with all of you to gloat, but instead because I think that it's crucially important for all of us to take stock sometimes of just how far you may have come over the span of a few years (or even a single year sometimes). This, I feel, is especially true if you've juggled both highs and lows in your life, as the darker moments often have the ability to cloud the positives and push them to wayside.

On that late winter day in 2006, I don't honestly recall where I foresaw our lives in six years. At the time, all I could think about was how elated I was to be in Canada again, while at the same time stressed beyond measure about Tony's immigration. Life back then was heavily focused on survival and laying the groundwork for the dreams and goals we believed would form organically as time went on.

One thing you learn as you get older is that life will always throw curveballs your way. No amount of success or money, not the fanciest home, biggest portfolio, fastest car, largest circle of friends or any other achievement can protect you from the unforeseeable. I believe however, that something far greater than any of those things - the inner strength you develop as you age and build up a wealth of different experiences - can truly help make tackling the unpredictable substantially easier.

Where then, one might ask, do I predict our lives to be in another six years? That's an excellent question, and while I'm more certain of the future today than I was in 2006, lacking a crystal ball, I really cannot say. I hope that more great things come our way, that we'll be able to stay in our new house for several years, and that most of the unexpected events that occur will be positive ones.

So, looking back at the last half a dozen years and reflecting on the abundance of changes and accomplishments we've made, as well as where we're at today, I think it's more than safe to say - with a smile on my face - we've come a long way, baby!


  1. How totally exciting, Jessica!! I am rejoicing with you and Tony on all these good things.

    In my own life, as I look back on the last 6 years, in some ways, I see much moving forward, in that I am no longer bound by the nearly-incapacitating yearning to have another baby. Surrendering that longing brought peace to my life (since, as you know, I have been hit with unexpected fertiity issues); however, I also see moving backwards as well, because, unlike you and Tony, our family is still no closer to moving back home. We continue to live far from family in a place we do not want to be.

    I am, though, tremendously excited for you and Tony! Abundant blessings await, I am sure!!

    Love and hugs, my friend,

  2. Congratulations Jessica. What kind of car did Tony buy?

  3. Hi Jessica,

    Such a lovely post, I'm so happy for you and Tony that you have been able make a move to a lovely new home that you both love. Wishing you both every success and happiness for the future, it sounds wonderful. Love to see some pictures of your house sometime as you and Tony make it into your home.


  4. Very exciting dear! You are just over the next mountain. :) Wishing you great enjoyment in setting up your new place and well done on all you have accomplished! xo – g