Just passing through......

Musings of a lowly pilgrim
Humour | Life lessons | Mental Health | Photography | Stewards of our planet | Travel

Decisions, decisions…..

August 11, 2018
Sunset from my balcony

When I gave up my relatively stable life last year to pay down debt and travel, I didn’t just plan to travel. I also wanted to travel write and become a stock photographer as a means of making a living. And, having never travelled in an RV alone before, I also needed to learn how to do that, where to stay or not to stay. While on the road I was constantly afflicted with trying to locate a safe place to park. The worst place I parked in was a lot in L.A. where some crack smokers pulled up next to me at 5:00 am. Though I learned that most locations were perfectly safe, that came afterwards. I also discovered that, although travel writing is fairly easy to do, getting paid for it is not when you are starting out. And it isn’t too difficult to have photographs accepted on stock sites, but unless you are established or find a stock site that pays really well, the income is a mere pittance. So, while I would love to write and take pictures, that won’t support me for a very long time.

Bee in a hollyhock
Bee in a hollyhock

Then, having discovered that settling down in a foreign country, far away from my family, was not for me, the cycle of starting all over again began, for the umpteenth time since Greg left us. Back in Calgary for three and a half months, I have found a nice little apartment, furnished it, acquired a part-time job nannying, but am still on shaky legs as to my future. My resources are getting precariously low. But did that stop me from signing up for a photography workshop in Bali in January? Nope! By the time I get back, I will be well and truly broke.

So, in constant panic mode, I find it extremely difficult to focus on anything. I’m jumping from idea to idea, like those kids you see running a parkour obstacle course. And that is exactly what my brain is performing inside my head. While I know I should probably resign myself to babysitting for the rest of my life, I can’t do that full-time. My chronic fatigue won’t let me. I can’t work a full day. I’m too exhausted and need to sleep, smack in the middle of my shift.

Smokey skies

But, as Fagan in the musical “Oliver” said, “I am reviewing the situation”. Everything is playing out as I had intended at the commencement of my trip. My goal was to face my demons and come to terms with Greg’s death and my life. And isn’t that what I am doing? It’s not a simple task to dig up emotions and memories from the past or to find your place in life when the foundation has crumbled beneath your feet. I am literally on the edge of a precipice, staring into a gaping, inky black hole. Even so, all is well. This is a time to discover what I am truly made of. My daughter’s partner, Mark, who is a professional Muay Thai fighter quoted Einstein recently by saying “Adversity introduces a man to himself.” How true that is. Despite all of my whimpering, I will rise from the ashes of my torched, scorched life and be so much more grounded and strengthened. This is all meant to be.

Mark. yellow gloves (Photo by Williams Paul/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

I visited my amazing friend, Naomi, this week in Red Deer. We met in Flin Flon, Manitoba, where we both attended high school, many, many years ago. Flin Flon was where my parents relocated from Eire (Southern Ireland). That was a real eye-opener for both my parents and myself. I was such a naive child when I arrived, heart-broken and longing for the Emerald Isle. We were both new in town, though I had arrived before her.

Naomi has been to hell and back with her health and is fighting an uphill battle in recovery. And here I am, of sound body, for the most part, boohooing about everything. Naomi is a social worker and gave me a lot of good ideas to follow up on. I just have to decide which way to go. Last week my body sugaring practitioner gave me some great ideas as well. And I did follow up on one of those and joined eight Calgary Meetup groups! I considered, but then decided against, joining the naked yoga group. ? I will be doing some research into the information Naomi gave me as well.  More on that when I have something to report.

Smoky dusk at Forget Me Not Pond
Smoky dusk at Forget Me Not Pond

About the conversation on self-worth in connection with who I am as opposed to what I do. Truthfully, though I don’t love my outward appearance, I really do have a lot of faith in who I am. I know I am a fairly intelligent person and have many life experiences to draw from, but because I have been absent from the workforce since my twenties, with the exception of a couple of years recently doing menial tasks, my value as a human on this particular part of the planet is extremely low. I keep hoping that somebody out there will recognise my skills and offer me employment in a field I would be qualified for, even without some sort of piece of paper. But that would be too easy. And I do believe that something will come my way, but I have to go out to meet it. Therein lies the problem. Which “something” should I be going out to meet?

Peace Bridge over the Bow River

My best friend, who lives in Three Hills, Alberta, came out last weekend for a visit and a trip down the Bow River. This lady has known me since I first arrived in Calgary and has put up with me through all of my transitions. From pot smoking hippie to cultish Christian to not pot smoking hippie, from married to divorced to married to widowed, through thick and thin, she has stayed friends with me. I don’t know how she has managed it because I was not the nicest person while in that church. Funny, that, how I’m a nicer person since departing from the place where love should have been in abundance.

Kathy on the Bow (pun intended!)
Kathy on the Bow (pun intended!)

The weather was probably the worst in quite a while, with gloomy grey skies and, if not drizzling rain, then the threat of it. But, me being me, if I make a plan, I want to follow through, and so we went regardless. (Well, I went regardless, I’m not sure about Kathy!) We rented a 4-man raft from Lazy Day Raft Rentals for $94, including two life jackets and a shuttle service to the river with a pick up at the end. I was happy with the deal. No driving two cars and dropping one off and struggling to get the raft blown up and into/out of the water. This was on Kathy’s bucket list so she can cross that off now. I still enjoyed being out on the river and enjoyed more the sound nap I had afterwards. It was delicious. What a treat to fall into such a deep sleep, even if it was just for an hour or so. Too bad I can’t paddle down the river every day. Sleep might not be so elusive. And, of course, I enjoyed having my friend stay over. Yes, we had a sleepover.

Tour de Bowness
Tour de Bowness

Tour de Bowness

On Monday, which was a civic holiday, I wandered around at the street festival in Bowness, where the annual “Tour de Bowness” was taking place. I ran into some old friends and enjoyed listening to the rockabilly sound of “Peter and the Wolves”. Frontman, Peter Cormier, was in band class with my daughter, Hope, when she was in junior high school. He has definitely made a name for himself as a multi-talented musician, with several albums under his belt. It’s wonderful to see young people do well.

Peter and the Wolves
Peter and the Wolves
Bowness Street Festival attendee
Bowness Street Festival attendee

The weather mid-week was fantastic, in the mid to high 30ºs Celcius. I spent one morning slowly toasting my body at Riley Park while everyone else was hunkered down under shade trees. Am I the only person who likes to soak up the sun, or is it a case of me being stupid while the rest of the population wisely stays out of the sun for fear of contracting skin cancer?  I was literally the only person in the area exposed to the sun’s rays. There I was with a huge green space all around me while everyone else, except those who were splashing around in the pool, was crammed into the little bit of shade available.

In case you haven’t detected a change, I am improving. I have tried to contact a therapist in town, but she obviously doesn’t need the work because she never returned my call. Then I went to my doctor in the hope of getting some help from her. She did give me some numbers to call, but there is a wait list of two months before I can talk to anyone. Honestly, though, I really believe I am going to be fine. I am slowly untangling the knots in my stomach. The ache in my heart will likely always be there. I can live with that. I think just getting out and seeing people is all I really need to pull myself out of the slough of despond. Actually, a well-paying job that I love and can manage would set me right, but this will do in the meantime.

The Slough of Despond by William Blake
The Slough of Despond by William Blake

I am reading “12 Rules For Life” by Jordan Peterson, who I will be listening to in a talk in Saskatoon next week. I now understand what all the hype is about. This man is phenomenal in his broad and in-depth understanding of the human psyche. Needless to say, I am loving the book. I am also encouraged as I think I could actually write a book now. Never will I be capable of writing something so scholarly and well-informed because, well, I don’t have the education. But as far back as I can remember I have been fascinated by the infinite workings of the human spirit. I ponder it daily. If I could afford it, I would be back at school, learning and be working towards some sort of degree whereby I would finally find employment. How awesome would that be, studying humans?

Thought for the day: If what goes around comes around, what does that say about me?

mkjlo;p (That’s Nerah’s answer!)

Just hangin'
Just hangin’


Author’s note: Some of my recent pictures convey how widespread the fires in B.C. are, with the smoke hanging over the neighbouring province, Alberta. Here is a link to some advice if you are travelling in the area:

Forest Fires in BC | Travel Advice | Travel Resources | Travel British Columbia





  1. We have so much in common, Tina. I think we have a lot to talk about in 3 weeks. We’ve both been through the mill but we’re survivors if nothing else. As I keep saying, “I’ve never died yet”. We have 124 years of experience and survival skills. You can’t get that in a college! We may have been separated by 6,000 miles for most of our lives but I feel closer to you now than ever. Love from across the world.

  2. Terrific!!! You are changing, and I know it is hard. I too have changes to make and employment is one of them. Coffee soon!

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