Updated: Apr 20, 2022
I constantly promote the idea that in life we are faced with two options — you’ve heard me write about this before but indulge me again; we either choose to make the best of what is OR we choose again.
I might be just about ready to choose again. In my eternal optimism, I see the beauty in winter but what I also see is that every winter I am faced with the same looming feelings. Maybe not since I was born, but I’d say for a good 16 years I’ve felt this way. I can remember it, 2004, having just returned from 6 months frolicking on Australian beaches to the dead of Ontario winter and thinking shit, why do I live here?
So 16 winters now. And I’ll remind you, winter in Kingston Ontario is somewhere between five and seven months long. SEVEN. MONTHS. LONG. Sounds dramatic doesn’t? “No no, winter doesn’t officially begin until the end of December and spring is here in March!” I hear you. But we can’t subscribe to that when there’s snow at the end of October and yet more snow at the end of April. My birthday is April 27th (mark your calendars) and last year, it snowed. Now, I was away in 2019 on my RV travels, blissfully on the west coast of the US where, though it was not quite warm, it was a heck of a lot warmer than here. I have documentation for your consideration:
Wasn’t sad to have missed this
So here is what’s also true and has me wondering about further options…
I’m facing this feeling again, this unsettled feeling that comes in the bleakness of January/February. And I brush it off, I think “I’m Canadian!” And I put on another layer. Yet I’m yearning for something and it’s something that isn’t possible in my current reality. Ooo. What do we do with this? I’m gazing out my one south facing window, trying to capture some of the hazy, barely-there sun on my winter-pale face and I’m thinking of settling my bones into the warm sand. I’m imagining the snowplow I’m hearing is really the crush of waves on a beach.
Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica 2018
I can live there — I can easily live in the imaginary space that I’m creating in my mind and this can give me a reprieve of sorts from what I’m feeling; a deep restlessness that resounds throughout my being. That would be making the best of what is. OR.
I can choose differently.
What if instead of spending 50% of my life, taking into consideration the long-ass winter I face year over year, pretending that the snow I’m drudging through is sand, I actually went to where the sand is. It’s radical because it’s what every Canadian dreams of, in fact we already have a term for these people, Snow Birds. Generally thought of as retirement age, possibly living in an RV in Florida, it’s a bit of the golden egg of being from where I’m from. But what if I didn’t wait until I was grey haired — actually, hold it, if I’m waiting for that, job done! Have you seen my hair of late?! #grombre
Steve and I start to have this conversation a little bit more seriously. We’ve often skipped out on winter — before we had kids we spent months in Costa Rica, trips to Mexico and Nicaragua, Barbados and Dominican Republic. And then after kids Hawaii, more Barbados, more Costa Rica, more Mexico and eventually a 3 month south facing adventure in our RV. It’s a totally realistic thing, if we change our perception.
We live here in Kingston mostly because we were born here, we’re established here in our community, we’re comfortable here. But comfort is not a compelling enough reason to stay, my friends. And that’s what we’re exploring right now. We don’t have our answer yet but we know it’s completely doable. With a shift in our priorities, a jolt outside what feels ‘normal’ and a bit of homework, we can make some pretty spectacular options appear.
We’re in consideration mode and there are many things to mull over. + WHERE? What sunny, beachy place is calling us? + MONEY? Can we afford this lifestyle change? What are the costs associated and how do we fund it? + SCHOOLING? What options can we find for our kids education that fit with our family values and philosophy?
Even if we were only relatively miserable in our winter lives for 3 months (January, February, March being particularly shitty), that’s still 25% of the year. That will make up 25% of my life! I know many of you consider this foolish but I’m not subscribing to a life that is 25% not the way I want it to be.
So this is where we are, in the grey space, as I often find myself. Nothing is cut and dried and what feels good right now may change again with more information. Are you curious to see this unfold and what we might choose? Let me know in the comments and maybe I’ll keep sharing this unfolding tale.
*UPDATE April 7/2020, this isn’t off the table. Timing may change due to circumstances beyond my control but the dream can still be fostered!