Monday, December 31, 2012

The Year Of 2012

I can't believe how fast this year has flown by. Here we are ending 2012 which was an interesting year with many ups and downs, lots of great memories, and a lot of new friends that I am truly grateful.

The year started off a bit rocky since my mum had a mini-heart attack and was in the hospital for a week, but thankfully she made a remarkable recovery.  The day that she was coming out of the hospital was the same day we had a bad snowstorm in Victoria.  I was at work and Chad had a very important job interview at a place called Smart Dolphins.  Even though driving to his interview was out of the question, he took a big step by walking there in about a foot of snow.  I'm so glad that he did because now he is working full-time at Smart Dolphins and seems to really enjoy his job.

We also had a family member pass away at the beginning of the year.  He already knew ahead of time that he only had a few months left, so we did our best to make sure to visit him as much as we could.  It was definitely a hard time for all of us, but especially for my mother-in-law since she was his primary care-giver and his common law partner.  Its hard to believe that it is almost one year since he has passed away.  I'm really glad that I had the opportunity to get to know him, and I have definitely missed him over the last year.  But we will always think of him and remember all of the great times we had as a family.

Over the last few months, my mother-in-law and I have built a better, and healthy relationship.  I no longer feel like I have to hold back my feelings of what its been like losing my dad, and we seem to understand each other on a more personal level.  I have definitely become a lot closer to her and I know that this will continue for us for many years to come.  

By the time March came around, things started to look up for us.  Chad had now been working in his new job for a while and was really enjoying it.  I was so happy for him since I knew this would make a lot of changes for us financially and it was the best thing that had happened to him since he had finished his schooling.

Later in the month Chad and I went to San Francisco for PRS Field Trip 14.  That was a lot of fun. I met some amazing people who have become some of my closest friends.  Going on the USS Hornet and doing investigations throughout the night was incredible, and being able to stay overnight on the Hornet was a lot of fun too. We had a lot of great laughs and created some life time memories.

Then we went to Alcatraz, Chad and I were really excited about this, and we enjoyed the walking tour around Alcatraz while listening through the headset.  I would still have liked to have stayed overnight and investigated but at least I can say that I have been there, and it was something else that I could check off on my bucket list.
I really enjoyed the EE sessions that we attended, and a few of my friends (Mercy, Robin, Irene and Jeni) and I won a dinner auction with Ryan and Sergey.  It was so funny that during the auction all of us weren't on the same page as to who was going to bid and we were all trying to outbid each other and then finally one of us said, I thought we were all in this together LOL! Going to the right restaurant for dinner turned out to be another adventure for us.  We started out in the hotel restaurant, we all sat down, looked at the menus and then we realized that we didn't want to eat there anymore so we all randomly got up and walked out.  LOL! Then we started to walk around San Francisco to find another place to eat. We stopped at a few restaurants, some were busy, some were pricey, and nobody could really decide what they felt like eating.  I felt like we were walking all over San Francisco but then Ryan found the perfect Italian restaurant.  We all sat down and had some good discussions.  The food was really good and just having some of my closest friends there was so awesome.

In the evenings, Chad and I hosted a couple of hotel parties in room 1126.  Amazing how I still remember my hotel room, LOL! We played games, socialized, had snacks, and plenty of drinks to go around.  Overall, Field Trip 14 was definitely one of the best events that I have ever been to, and it was really nice that Chad and I were able to go together since he usually has to stay behind to work.

This was my second year working at Zellers, being a part-time Cashier.  For the most part I didn't mind my job, but a lot of changes were being made in the store and I wasn't as happy as I used to be.  I liked most of the people that I worked with, so that usually made my days go by a little easier.

Then an opportunity came up to apply for a new clothing store coming to Victoria, Banana Republic.  I was hoping that this would be a good change, since I was tired of always being behind the counter and I wanted to help customers on the floor.  I went to the interview and I did get the job so I ended up quitting Zellers.  Unfortunately working for Banana Republic didn't turn out the way I would've liked.  It caused me a lot of stress, frustration and anger in a lot of ways, but one of the reasons was I was never paid on time.  I definitely learned a lot about myself during this time. No matter how unhappy you may have been in your previous job you need to look on the bright side. For example, the people you work with, being scheduled to work, and always being paid on time.  I also learned to stand up for myself. As much as I don't like to bug people I realized that in order for things to change sometimes you need to get up, go in, and bug them until you are satisfied with the outcome.  As I'm sure most of you have guessed by now, I decided to leave my job at Banana Republic and find something else.

Even though Zellers is now closed, I still stay in touch with most of the people I worked with who have also become my friends.  We like to go clubbing, watch movies, go to the beach, and play games.  I hope that it will continue for us in 2013.

By now it was almost summer time, and even though I wasn't really working a steady job, I was getting some on-call work for childcare centres.  It was nice to have a break from retail and not have a set schedule so I could still do the things that I wanted to do.  Around this time, I also donated my hair to BC Childrens Hospital for children who have cancer or a certain type of disease that prevents them to grow their own hair.  I did this in honor of a few family members and a friend who have or had cancer.

In July, I decided to fly down to LA and spend a few days with a dear friend of mine, Irene who I met at Field Trip 14.  Over the last few months we had become really close, and I was really excited to spend a few days with her before heading off to the first PRS Bureau retreat with Robin.  During the few days I spent with Irene, we went to Disneyland and met up with a couple of other girls that we had met online within the Para-community, but this was the first time we were meeting them in person.  We went to Hollywood, did some shopping, walked around and went on one of the Hollywood Tours that took us to the sign, around the homes and downtown.  Robin came over one night and we had Chinese.  Before we knew it, the days were up and it was time for me to meet up with Robin and head over to the PA PRS Bureau retreat.

The PRS Bureau retreat was another great event.  It all started off with Holly's awesome road trip to the retreat location, LOL! We had a special birthday celebration for Ryan with cake and gifts and Mercy, Holly, Robin, Ginnie and I performed a Lady Marmalade special for Ryan that we had worked on over the last few months.

Even though Ginnie and I had met briefly at Field trip 14 and even ate at the same dinner table at the Hornet, we never really got to know each other until this event.  We definitely got to know each other a lot more. I still laugh at the Boat Shenanigans that happened at the pond, LOL!

Our friendship sort of started off in an argument because she said the boat was sinking and I insisted that it wasn't so I got in the boat anyway and start paddling away and then I look back and see the water coming in very quickly and start yelling at Ginnie, "okay, you were right, the boat has a hole in it" LOL! Luckly, I wasn't too far out so I was able to get the boat back to the edge of the pond and Ginnie helped me get out.  Describing this in words doesn't do it justice, you just had to be there!

Of course with the many shenanigans we had at this retreat, Ginnie and I have become best friends.  It is a little scary how we can read each others minds, and think the same thing before saying anything to each other. I also met a lot of other great people who I have become friends with and still keep in touch with today.  I'm so grateful for the PRS Bureau for this reason.  This retreat, along with the Binaural Beats that Sergey introduced us to, helped me let go of some of the frustration I had with previous things in my life.  I'm not really an outdoor person, but I really did enjoy the scenery, the ponds, and going out for walks everyday through the trails.

In September, which is also my birth month, I turned 27.  I had a couple of birthday dinners with family and friends.  Then at the end of the month I went to Orlando with some friends.  We went to Disneyworld, Universal Studios, Horror Nights, Senor Frogs, Fun Spot Attractions, Cassadaga Spiritual camp, and Barnes and Noble. Some of us went to the Mystery dinner, went shopping, hung out by the swimming pool, participated in the NOH8 Photoshoot, and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning on the hotel rooftop.

I came home for a few weeks and then at the end of October I went to North Carolina for the PRS Halloween Retreat! I'm sure for many of us this was one of the best times we had in a long time.  It was really interesting being there the whole time while Hurricane Sandy was happening; it was very windy with lots of rain.  It was neat to see a group of people reunite and meet for the first time and feel like family.  We all took part in decorating the hall for what turned out to be an awesome Halloween Party.  Many of us dressed up in costumes and won prizes.  We watched some scary movies, X-Files, played board games, went for a walk in the woods, decorated our own cabins, and socialized with each other.

When I got home from North Carolina, I started to get a lot more on-call childcare work and it was time to start thinking about Christmas.  It came up so fast for us this year. We almost didn't have enough time to finish our shopping.  Unfortunately, the holidays wasn't that great for a lot of people since many of us seemed to be getting a cold or a flu one after the next. 

Here we are on the last day of 2012.  Even though there were some ups and downs, I am very grateful that I have met some new friends, had some awesome adventures, learned more about myself, had some great times with Chad and I can't wait to see what 2013 will bring for all of us!! I wish each and every one of you all the best in 2013.  For those of you who have hopes, dreams and accomplishments to be fulfilled I hope 2013 will be your year :) 

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Best Gift Ever!

I can't believe we are only a few days away from Christmas, one of my favorite holidays that I always look forward to every year.  This year will be different since there have been so many tragedies that have happened within the last few days in December, so as a huge favor I would love for all of us to take a few minutes to ourselves and remember those families who have lost their loved ones.

Christmas was something I looked forward to every year when I was a kid.  My parents had a family tradition of going to midnight mass, relatives visiting, watching my mum decorating the tree to a certain theme while counting all of the decorations as she placed them, socializing, playing games, baking, making gingerbread houses, cooking a big turkey dinner, wrapping presents, and watching movies.  In the morning I was usually the last one out of bed. I know that seems crazy to some of you since most children are up so early, eagerly waiting to open their gifts.  I have a Christmas video to prove this.  My mum would have to wake me up several times before I actually got out of bed. As an adult I still have a hard time getting out of bed.  LOL!  My dad would make us tea, and then all of us would gather around the tree in our pyjamas or comfy clothes and open presents.

I know some families with children don't get a lot of gifts at Christmas time, but my parents always did their best to help those in need by donating food, clothing or toys to a shelter, church or someone that they knew could use some help.  We were very lucky that my parents were able to support us.  After our presents were open we would have brunch and my mum usually made waffles with strawberries and whipped cream and then for the rest of the day she would be prepping dinner.

 About four years ago, sadly this all changed.  My dad who I was extremely close to, passed away.  It was a huge shock to the family, friends and community who knew him and I never realized it until now, but he was the one that held everyone together.  He was the one that would do anything for anyone before himself.  I feel bad that I didn't realize this until after he had passed away, or maybe I did but I didn't realize it until now.  The Christmas traditions stopped. My mum no longer felt like celebrating anymore, which is completely understandable.  I remember the first year having to go through all of the holidays without my dad being there was really tough.  I haven't seen some of the family members in the last few years, because we are not as tight as we used to be.  I miss that.  But, I discovered there is nothing much we can do except try to be grateful for what we have in front of us and not give up hope.

A few years ago my life changed again but this time a prayer was answered.  I finally found my birth mom and family, which I had been searching for for 5 years.  My parents told me from a young age that I was adopted, but I didn't really understand what they meant until I was in my teens.  They would remind me all the time that my birth mom loved me, and that she even gave me the name Je t'aime, which means "I love you" in French.  I thought this was a pretty cool name, and I still do.

I started searching for my family as soon as I was legally able to which was at the age of 19.  I never gave up hope, and I didn't tell many people that I was looking in case things didn't work out the way I had planned.  I wrote ads in the paper and did a passive search through the Adoption Reunion Registry, but every attempt came up as a dead end.  Life went on.

In between searching I got married to my best friend/soul mate Chad, went to school, moved out on my own, and started working and saving up money.  Once I had the money to continue searching, I did just that.  I filed for my original birth certificate which would give me a crucial piece of evidence that would eventually end my search: my mom's middle name.

I would check the mailbox daily.  After several months had passed my birth certificate finally arrived in the mail.  I was so excited and was about to look into what the next step would be to find my mom.  But then something inside of me was telling me to check Facebook, since most people had been using the social website for a couple of years and I figured, whats the worst that could happen? If she doesn't have Facebook, I will just continue on.

I went on the computer, logged into my Facebook account and entered the name that was written on the birth certificate.  A picture came up with the name.  I clicked on it, and was looking at it thinking to myself, is this her? I got really excited, but I didn't want to get my hopes up too high just in case it wasn't.  I immediately asked Chad to come over to see for himself and passed on the picture to other family members to get their opinions.  They all agreed that she looked just like me.

I sent her a message over Facebook, but I could tell that she wasn't very active so I decided to send messages to other people on her friends list and hoped that someone would let me know or let her know.  Chad also helped me with this, and he was the one that got the call that yes in fact she was my mom.  I remember he called me at home, and I just happened to be home from work since I was sick that day and I answered the phone and he told me the news.  It is hard to describe how I felt. I just had all of these emotions hit me and I couldn't wait to meet her and find out if I had more family members out there.  Later on that day, I called her and we talked on the phone for hours as if we had known each other for years.  

Found Birth mom on Facebook - Interview with Chek News

We met in person on Mother's Day of 2010. I met my mom along with her common law husband, my Aunty and cousin.  I was so overjoyed and excited that I had never given up on my search.  It was so awesome to have both of my moms in the same room.

A few weeks later, I met the rest of the family.  They all knew that I had been adopted and it was for certain reasons but they all said the same thing, that they hoped I would find them one day, kind of like finding the missing piece of the puzzle and now the puzzle is complete.  Looking back on this I know my dad had something to do with this. He knew that I wanted to find them, he knew that I wanted answers, and to be a part of my birth family.  They have all welcomed me with open arms, and now I am very much involved in a lot of the family functions that take place.  It was definitely an exciting, overwhelming and emotional time and to this day I am still very grateful.

First time meeting my birth family.  Mom on the left, cousin Kyle and Aunty Diane on the right.

Christmas started to become an exciting time for me again. Having family dinners, celebrating Christmas, playing silly games and even though it may not be the usual family tradition that I grew up with, I know deep down that my dad knew that I wanted and needed my birth family in my life.  To not only find myself and have all of my questions answered but for them as well since I was the missing piece of the puzzle.  I can't wait to see what else lies ahead for us as a family. 

Christmas with my birth family:)

I hope this blog gives you an insight into what my journey has been like. I hope everyone has a great Christmas and when you are with your family, look around and be grateful for what you have.  Christmas is not just about getting gifts under the tree, it can also be the gift of a lifetime that can forever change for the better.  

Some of the family gathering for Aunty Grace's wedding!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My thoughts on the Connecticut tragedy

Over the last few days I have cried so many tears for those children, staff, families and friends for those who have passed on and for those who have lost their loved ones.  I can't even imagine how they are feeling especially when we are so close to celebrating Christmas which should be a happy time for all of us.  I have been so affected by this latest tragedy, and I know that many people say the shooter had a mental illness, but to me it doesn't matter.  The fact is he killed SO many innocent, beautiful children who were between the ages of 5-7 years old and were just starting their lives.  This has torn me up to pieces, and I'm not even a parent.  However, I am an early childhood educator sub and I have also been looking after children for a VERY long time.  I so badly want to hold all of my babies that I look after extra tight and I can't wait to do so next time I see them.  I can't even begin to imagine how the parents are feeling losing their children right before Christmas, not being able to open presents with them.

I hope those children who did survive will get the help and support that they need to cope through this properly.  I fear that many of them will have PTSD for the rest of their lives :( I so wish I could take it for them.  They should not have to suffer.

I don't even know how the teachers, staff, parents, and children will be able to step back into the school knowing that this has happened.  I mean what do you do in that situation? You can't build a new school can you? Do they relocate? Some of those children lost their friends, siblings and teachers.  I've tried to vision myself in their situation as to how they will feel, and I cannot comprehend it.  I don't think I would be able to live with myself knowing that one of my best friends died in a school that I have to continue going to, to learn.  It just makes me so sad.

I'm sure many of you have seen the pictures of the children and staff who lost their lives.  They were all beautiful people, you can tell just by looking at their faces.  My heart aches so much, that I am just completely overwhelmed.

This tragedy has shocked many of us all around the world, and even though many of us are sad, angry, frustrated, and keep asking ourselves the questions as to why...We need to pray that those who have been left behind will get the support and necessary counseling they need to hopefully be able to move on and I hope the parents will sit their children down and answer any questions they may have as to why this has happened.  They need to know and understand that this was not their fault, and that sometimes in life things happen and we don't always know why, or what the reason was but that they will do everything in their power to help them cope  Even for those children who did not attend the school and may have heard the news, I still think the parents should have this conversation with them, because we don't want to create more fear for them.  School should be a place where they feel safe, and to learn.

Over the weekend my mother-in-law and I were talking about this, and I was telling her how upset I was and she said something to me that surprised me and actually made me feel a lot better.  She reminded me that my dad who passed away 4 years ago and I was very closed to will do everything in his power to hug each child and protect them, just like he did while he was here with us.  I said to her, you are absolutely right and I never thought of it that way.  It made me feel better knowing that even though I may not have him here, at least he will do whatever he can in Heaven.