Coming Full Circle In Life


It all began as a Facebook post early last August from my oldest daughter.  She was living in New Zealand to study for a year and travel a bit during her breaks.  The picture was of her on one of the swing bridges on the Hooker Valley trail in Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand.  I was in awe by the picture and told her how incredible this was.  My daughter was spreading her wings to have the confidence to get out on these hikes and I told her how proud I was of her.  She replied “Come visit me dad and we can hike this together”.  I replied of “How cool that would be”, but was reluctant to commit anything or say anything more due to the costs of flights.  Little did I know that after our Facebook interaction my daughter was researching airfares, and messaged with some prices that were far cheaper (but still not cheap) than what I come up with.  A bonus if I did come, I would be able to attend her graduation from teacher’s college.  I could tell she really wanted me to come.  When I mentioned this to my wife she replied, “You should go.  It really would mean a lot to Naomi!”

My daughter on the Hooker Valley trail last August

My daughter on the Hooker Valley trail last August

My daughter’s free spirit brought back memories to the times when I was her age when I was spreading my wings.  Just like in the way she was becoming.  When I was 26 I had travelled to Alaska to volunteer in a remote youth camp.  Following that, I enrolled in an intense 3 month mountaineering instructor training program based in British Columbia.  It was the best 3 months of my life.  Worked for a few months until I got an invite from a peer from the course, “Let’s do some adventure together”.  We hiked in Death Valley, backpacked in the Grand Canyon and climbed in the High Sierra of King’s Canyon.

Mountaineering training back in 1984. :)

Mountaineering training back in 1984. 🙂

That fall I met the young lady who would one day be my wife.  She came from New Zealand, a country I really wanted to visit.  People who had visited had glowing stories of their adventures of endless hiking opportunities, superb mountaineering and pristine deserted beaches.  As our dating became more serious, to my amazement plans were coming together that not only was I going to visit New Zealand, we were going to get married down under and live there.  It was such an exciting time.

My fiancé went ahead of me, while I returned to Alaska to spend another summer at the same youth camp, this time heading up the wilderness outpost division.  We ended up being apart for 7 months, a great test for our relationship.  This was 1988, before computers, the internet, cell phones and social media. And with phone calls between North America and New Zealand costing over $3.00 a minute, nearly all our communication was hand written letter.  Letters that would take 2 weeks to arrive each way.

Three years to the day after I was captivated by this 19 year old New Zealand girl, we got married! :)

Three years to the day after I was captivated by this 19 year old New Zealand girl, we got married! 🙂

I arrived in New Zealand two weeks before our wedding, meeting my future in-laws for the very 1st time.  The recommended route to get my New Zealand paper’s in order was to arrive with a visitor’s visa, and once married promptly apply for my residency.  It was a process that would take a couple of months, and then I could legally work in the country.  And while I waited for that residency to process we embarked on an epic seven week backpacking honeymoon of the South Island.

Graph showing how the New Zealand unemployment rate skyrocketed from 4% to 11% in a matter of months. This caused my residency application to be "frozen". Image source treasury.govt.nz

Graph showing the New Zealand late 1980’s unemployment rate skyrocketing from 4% to 11% in a matter of months. This caused my residency application to be “frozen”. Image source treasury.govt.nz

Unfortunately there was a problem.  New Zealand was facing one the biggest recessions/economic crises since the Great Depression.  Their currency was worth about 60 cents Canadian.  Businesses were going bankrupt.  Interest rates were around 23% and the unemployment rate soared into the double digits.  But the biggest thing for me was the government “freezing” applications for residency and work visas which directly affected me.   What was originally to be two months, became three, four, five, six months of waiting.  At six months I extended my visitors visa.  My savings was plummeting at an alarming rate.  At seven months I had a job offer back in Canada and within days we had airline tickets bought to arrive back in Canada within two weeks.  All our belongings and wedding presents were shipped back to Canada.  And in a strange twist of fate, the day before we were to leave New Zealand, my residency arrives.

We followed through with our return to Canada.  I started with my new job, purchased a car for my commute and we found an apartment.  Four years into our marriage our first child was born.  Ironically the birth of my first child was going to take place around the same time my residency was going to expire. I HAD to return to New Zealand in person to renew it, but it meant possibly missing out on the birth of my 1st child.  And I could not do it. My residency did expire and I would have to go through with the process all over again.

From the archives from over 21 years when my 2nd child (oldest son) was 1st born. Parenting is such an enormous responsibility. Praying for God's strength and guidance in raising this precious child.

From the archives 21 years ago after the birth of my 2nd of my 4 children.  Each child is very precious.  So proud of each one

Eight months after my 1st child was born we purchased a home.  And it becomes harder and harder to pull up stakes.  We have settled in the same home for 24 years in a wonderful small community.  It has provided stability and wonderful friends for our four children.  I love my family so much and have tried hard to work hard and provide for them.  I have been very blessed.

Many wonderful family memories from our 24 years in the same house.

Many wonderful family memories from our 24 years in the same house.

Perhaps I analyze too much, but often I will dwell on the “What if’s”, with the biggest one being, “What if my residency had come through just one month earlier?”  “Would we still be living in New Zealand?”  “What would I be doing?”  “What kind of friends would my children have?”  The exciting thing with my wife being a kiwi/canuck (New Zealander/Canadian) all 4 children do have dual citizenship.  They can live and work in either country.

My wife's liscence plate "CANUKIWI" for Canada?New Zealand

My wife’s licence plate “CANUKIWI” for Canada/New Zealand. I’m the only one without the dual citizenship.

Deep questions in which there is no real answers.  But deep down there have been no regrets.  However the “hamster wheel” of the”societal norm” thing has been difficult.  The house, the car, the job stress, the commute, the bills and everyday stresses both real and imagined. It all never seems to stop. Is this just me?  Are there other people out there that struggle with this?  You play the part that all is well, but feel that you are graying from the inside out.  Working for the weekend, but then there is so much to do on the weekends.  Then when I do get 3 or 4 days off I am stressing out because I can’t relax fast enough.

While some people allow the hollowness of their lives to consume them until they are at zero, so blank they merely exist, others rebel and pursue some of their passions. While faithfully maintaining their family responsibilities, job, marriage and friendships, some men might restore a collector car. Others might take up photography or woodworking.  Others might be passionate about having the most lights decorating his house for Christmas, or take pride about having the most beautiful lawn in town during the summer. Others might engage in recreational activities such as golfing, skiing or fishing.   Sadly some men might break the family/marriage trust and have an affair, or get pulled into destructive addictions such as compulsive gambling, drugs, alcohol or pornography.

Have so much admiration for people who have the know how and patience to painstakingly restore a vintage car or antique car such as this one. Car is at a car lot called Turners in Christchurch, the largest car lot I have ever seen. The majority of cars like this antique are up for auction.

Have so much admiration for people who have the know how and patience to painstakingly restore a vintage car or antique car such as this one. Car is at a car lot called Turners in Christchurch, the largest car lot I have ever seen. The majority of cars like this particular antique model are up for auction.

Running has been a help for me.  It all started very innocently when I joined a running club 4 years ago at work. In the past 2 years I have transitioned into trail running.  The cool thing about trail running is you need to stay focused.  I can’t be thinking about hydro bills, my personal struggles and my work while running. If I don’t stay focused I’ll end up with a sprained ankle or get banged and bruised from falling flat on my face.  Running helps lower my blood pressure and has a therapeutic effect on my stress and anxiety. The challenge is fitting my running into an already busy schedule. Getting out in the woods with a hydration pack full of water, some on the go energy food and a bear bell to let the neighbourhood bears know of my presence while fitting 2 or 3 hours of running on a Saturday has been a blessing.  I am so fortunate I am able to do this.  The ultra events, though very tame compared to the allure of the high risk activities I craved for in my 20’s are my “fix” in this stage of my life.  Pushing boundaries to see how far or how long I can go, and once attained to push these boundaries even further.  It puts me face to face with my bare soul in a way that does not happen with my everyday routine.

Running the second of four 50k Ultras in 2016. The North face Endurance Challenge

Running the second of four 50k Ultras in 2016. The North Face Endurance Challenge

So when I shared this possibility of flying to New Zealand to visit our daughter for her graduation and some hiking adventure to my wife and she replied, “You should go.  It will mean a lot to Naomi”, it would end up being my 1st real holiday in 12 years and the 1st time back in New Zealand since we got married over 28 years ago (my wife has been back I think 5 times).

First holiday/first airplane trip in 12 years. Forgot how HUGE these jumbo jets are

First holiday/first airplane trip in 12 years. Forgot how HUGE these jumbo jets are

It is incredible how this trip would take me full circle to the land I started off my married life with.  And the very daughter in which I did not want to miss the birth of was saying, “Come and visit me dad, and I’ll take you on some incredible hikes”.   It felt so wonderful to be missed and wanted.  It has been an epic 3 weeks where we toured a lot of the South Island.

Beautiful weather to start the 1st day of our road trip!

Beautiful weather to start the 1st day of our road trip!

We traversed snow saddles and hiked up mountains. We got drenched in the remote west coast rainforests. We hiked sea cliff trails which ran just a few feet beside unguarded edges which dropped precariously to the breaking ocean waves a few hundred feet below.  We ventured into virgin unlogged forests oozing in their chlorophyll choked glory. We witnessed lots of wildlife in their natural habitat.  We visited numerous parks, reserves and conservation areas.  I fell asleep on a wild, windswept deserted beach, waking up burnt like a lobster. Each day was a clean sheet adventure.

One example of the amazing wildlife found in New Zealand.

One example of the amazing wildlife found in New Zealand.

I ate like a “kiwi”, becoming addicted to their mouth watering, artery clogging fish and chips.  I ate sliced beets with everything (beets are great for the heart)…and had them in sandwiches, on burgers and as side condiments (much like we add tomatoes in Canada).  And slowly savoured every smooth, creamy spoonful of the kiwi classic…hokey pokey ice cream.

Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

It did my heart so much good to see how well my daughter has done for herself.  To be at her graduation.  To stay in the cozy little home she is renting with a peer from school and to meet her.  To meet the friendly neighbours and to experience the community she is living at.  To see the school she will be soon teaching at.  And to travel, explore, adventure and bond together so spontaneously using a map and the sun to guide us. It was all so wonderful and put my heart at ease.

It did my heart good to see my daughter's neighborhood. Many neighbors have spectacular gardens.

It did my heart good to see my daughter’s neighborhood and meet some wonderful neighbors. Many neighbors have spectacular gardens such as this one.

I did not bother with the internet or my blog or social media during those three weeks except maybe for one Facebook post and one Twitter post near the end of my holiday.  Out on the trails and in the mountains and forests the electronic gizmos all just seemed so foreign and distracting.  So empty and out of place. However I did keep a hand written journal and took close to 700 photos, the best photos will be part of 5 or 6 upcoming travel/photography blog posts.

Parting of the clouds, and a rare view of Mt. tasman and Fox Glacier. This area receives 5 metres of rain a year.

Parting of the clouds, and a rare view of Mt. Tasman and Fox Glacier (often shrouded in clouds even on a non-rainy day). This area receives 5 metres of rain a year.

And for the first time in many, many  years I was really able to truly relax and push all my cares aside for days on end.  During the 2nd half of the time there I was actually able to sleep a solid 8 years night after night after night.  Something that literally has not happened in years.  Content, at ease, and coming around full circle.

Having that extra block of time allowed me to relax in a way that I have not been able to in years.

Having that extra block of time for my New Zealand visit allowed me to relax in a way that I have not been able to in years.

 

Categories: FamilyTags: , , , , , ,

37 comments

  1. Hi Carl, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year!

    I so enjoyed reading this post and could relate to a lot of it. Trust me there are plenty of us out there who feel like we are living for the weekend and sort of “fraying out from the inside”. I too take get fulfillment from outside hobbies; mine being writing, photography and anything to do with being in nature.

    That’s fantastic you got to come “full circle” by doing this trip with your daughter. You’ll never regret that and sh will treasure that time together.

    Keep doing what your doing Carl. I loo forward to seeing your travel pics!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhh, thank you so much Tricia.

      So glad I am not the only one who struggles with normalcy, and is why our hobbies are so very important. Love your writing and photography that you share on your blog.

      Still amazed about the “full circle” bit. Who would have thought I would end up visiting my daughter in New Zealand. Lots of memories I look forward sharing over the next few months.

      Thank you for reading Tricia and sharing such a generous comment. Wishing you a tremendous 2017! 🙂

      ~Carl~

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great post and what an epic adventure! And now I’m hungry for fish and chips and ice cream.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved reading about your adventures Carl! You never really know what life has in store. I too, thought I would be living and raising a family somewhere else, but all has worked out well. I am where I am supposed to be. Your trip sounds lovely! Glad you were able to take this adventure with your daughter. I know you and she both will treasure it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. And so glad everything has worked out for you as well in the end. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be…lol.
      It was an amazing adventure and am fortunate to have been able to do this with my daughter.
      Thank you for reading and sharing! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy you had a great time in NZ! Loved reading your adventures and looking forward to reading more! My brother emigrated to NZ a few years ago and loves it there. My aunt and uncle I think they did the same 10 years ago.
    Wishing you a great Happy New Year! 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Loved this post Carl. I’ve always struggled with ‘working for the weekend’. We spend our entire lives working it seems. I’m so happy you took some time and visited your daughter in New Zealand. What a story of what could have been! It seems all the helicopter pilots up this way are Kiwi’s or Aussies and I always enjoy hearing their accents and listening to their stories about their countries. Take care! Can’t wait to see the photos!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Angie. Amazing to hear about the helicopter pilots working up in your area are Kiwi’s and Aussie’s. Scenic flights transporting tourists has become a very big business in New Zealand. We had a flight booked, but it was called off due to heavy cloud cover. Ended up travelling into the mountains a few days later on foot It was breathtaking beautiful, plus that sense of accomplishment makes it much more special!

      Always wonder what could have been (if I ended up living in New Zealand), but I guess it was not meant to be. Been very fortunate for the life I have had! 🙂

      Thanks for reading and sharing. Have a wonderful New Year! 🙂

      ~Carl~

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a wonderful walk with you down memory lane, Carl! New Zealand is a bucket list travel place for me. How lucky to visit there now and be there for your daughter. I’m in warm, sunny San Diego and on a bit of a blogging break, playing with my new camera. Happy new year to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Terri. Wow, sunny San Diego. I had an 8 hour layover in LA airport, that airport is so big and busy. But also very warm comparing to all the snow we have now in Canada. New Zealand is a must bucket list on anyone’s travel destination. Such a beautiful friendly country. And clean, no litter anywhere!

      Glad to hear of your blogging break. So important. I stayed off my blog and pretty much all social media in New Zealand, and it was wonderful.

      Happy New Year to you as well! 🙂

      ~Carl~

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is such a beautiful piece! Loved every bit & the pictures are so loooovely. My goodness NZ is such a beautiful place, wow! the beautiful tapestry of nature; I think I’ll be adding it to my list of place I’m gonna be visiting.

    To have had such a beautiful time with your daughter is invaluable I’m really glad you could go & thank God for your wife acting as a catalyst… Complement of the season and I’m wishing you a Beautiful and a Happy New year Carl right here from West Africa, Nigeria… I know God’s got plenty of things lined up for His children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Itofa, New Zealand really is a beautiful country. You would really love it. The people are very friendly, and except maybe in the major cities, it has a slower pace than in my area of Canada. And I repeat….extremely beautiful. My wife was so wonderful to let me go.

      Thanks for dropping by and sharing your wonderful thoughts. I wish you a tremendous New Year yourself.

      God’s blessings,
      ~Carl~ 🙂

      Like

  8. Wow, Carl – great trip and enjoyable write-up….glad you had such a great time with your daughter!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Such a lovely piece, Carl. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You came back after 28 years??? Indeed a complete circle 🙂 three weeks in Kiwi country must have been amazing – almost like getting to know her all over again, especially after such a magnificent moment of her life. I hope you and your wife are able to make another visit and make new memories to cherish 🙂 Looking forward to your travel blogs – I am looking at 2018/2019 for NZ – It is #3 on my list!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was so cool going back. Twenty eight years is over half my life. It was really amazing going back. Thanks for sharing about 2017/2018. I am sure you are really itching for it to board that plane!

      As always thank you for stopping by and sharing! 🙂

      ~Carl

      Like

  11. There is so much to respond to in this post about family, adventures, love, longing, and oneness with nature. Wow! My dad has always been fascinated with Australia and ended up marrying an Aussie woman after my parents divorced. I can remember the $3 per minute phone calls. Now, I can use Google Voice and it costs me one cent per minute. (A great perk of today’s technology.) One of my 2017 resolutions is to say “yes” more often. We will see what adventures that simple word will lead me to!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Definitely no 2 hour phone calls at $3.00 a minute back then Debbie. Although prices have increased in other areas it is amazing how today’s technology has decreased prices in many areas. And so cool to hear about your dad and Australia. Just like with my fascination with New Zealand!

      That is a great resolution Debbie. Saying “yes” more often just might open up some exciting new doors for you.

      Thank you for stopping by and for your tremendous comment.

      Have a wonderful New Year!

      ~Carl~

      Like

  12. Sounds like a wonderful trip – I can’t wait to hear more about it and see pictures! My sister did her study abroad in New Zealand, and my parents were lucky enough to be able to visit her for a few weeks. They loved it (as did my sister). One of my childhood friends is an MP there now as well (she loved the place and never left once she got there!). I would love to visit someday. I’ll enjoy living the trip vicariously (for now) through your pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This one warms my heart through and through Carl. Lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Carl, thanks for checking out my blog article on mindfulness and running.

    I really enjoyed reading about your history and through your trials and tribulations . In the end love prevailed and you are quite blessed with such a loving family.

    Thanks for sharing your adventures. I look forward to reading more.
    April

    Liked by 1 person

    • April, thank you so very much for stopping by to read and share your kind words.. It did my heart a lot of good to write down a bit of my life history. I am indeed a very “rich” person with a very loving family!

      Thank you!

      Carl

      Like

  15. What an incredible post and what an epic enterprise! Furthermore, now I’m eager for fish sticks and french fries and frozen yogurt.

    Liked by 1 person

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