After 4 months in Abbotsford...
Breaking Dawn in Abbotsford
January 18, 2012
More than 4 months have passed since I moved to Abbotsford, and I'm still jobless, and my husband is still in Saskatoon. He came to visit in November and he's coming to visit again soon, but it's no fun when he leaves again... It leaves us both (and our daughters as well) feeling empty, incomplete, and we have to go through that process of adjusting again without each other. For him it's worse, because he has to go back to an empty house.
In the meantime I have started taking a computer course at the UFV to brush up my basic MS Office skills, and learn more about the 2010 version. I have also been attending some workshops at the employment centre and I'm hoping all of this will help me land a great job where I can feel good about myself.
Even though Fall was a little depressing with all the rainy days, the Fall colours were beautiful, and whenever the sun would come out, the city's scenic views would take my breath away! (On a sunny or less cloudy day, whenever the mountains are visible, I always find myself distracted by them while driving... My eyes keep lovingly scanning the mountainous horizon and adoring the snow-capped Mt. Baker and other snowy peaks... But not to worry, I still focus on my driving, I just take peeks at all the glory whenever possible.) Even the migrating Canada Geese were quite a sight to behold in the Fall!
Winter here is much more acceptable than it was in Saskatoon! However, the past couple of days we have been hit by a blast of snow and cold temperatures, but the fun part is, the kids also get snow days here! Not since Atlanta have we had those. It took a blizzard in Saskatoon before the schools finally decided to close down for the day... but only after being open for a couple of hours. That was some adventure! I'll never forget that chaotic day! I thought either Canadians were crazy or I was being a wimp for not wanting to take my kids to school that day. I dropped them off anyway, trying hard to adjust to "Canadian Winters" (our first in Canada, and we got this blizzard!), only to be called later by the school to go pick them up again. I promptly got stuck in the blasted snow, but thankfully someone else gave them a ride home... I admit that I'm a wimp when it comes to winter-driving, which is why I'm not complaining to be living amongst
other "wimps" in the Lower Mainland. :) In any case, the Valley looks beautiful with all the snow, and I appreciate it even more knowing that people here in the Lower Mainland are considerate and won't force you to bring your kids to school if it's really bad out there.
This past weekend I also experienced the beautiful moment of seeing Trumpeter Swans flying by!! I was sitting on the sofa watching a movie, but I happened to glance out the window... and sucked in my breath while my eyes popped out as I realized I saw a swan couple flying by! I screamed with excitement, jumped from the sofa and nearly threw myself at the window while a big grin spread across my face and I kept staring at the beautiful giant birds as they got farther away from me, heading in the direction of Sumas Prairie. I didn't realize that my eyes were wet until I automatically wiped away at them, and my daughter (older one) asked if I was crying... I felt really silly, hehe... But I had been waiting for this moment eagerly, and frankly I had given up hope of seeing them fly by. Shortly after that moment, while I was excitedly telling my husband about it over the phone, I saw another pair flying by, this time at a greater distance. I squealed again with joy. :)
I felt so happy for the rest of the day, and from then on I kept scanning the skies for more sightings. I can't be sure, but I think I have seen a few flocks flying by in V-formation in the distance, also heading towards the Sumas Prairie, but they could just as well have been Canada Geese, unless those don't come here in January. While standing at the window scanning the skies again the other day, I saw a big bird heading towards my building... I could tell by the size that it wasn't the regular seagulls I always see, but I couldn't figure out what kind of bird it was, until it flew overhead and I saw the white head, black body and white tail... It was a Bald Eagle soaring over my building! Wow! I just love BC!! :)
Even though I miss my husband a lot, and I'm still job hunting, I don't regret coming here! And I know that someday (soon, hopefully) everything will be fine and my dream will be complete. Looking forward to that day...
(For more about life in Abby, click on Abbotsford on the nav-bar on the left under Personal Journey.)
After 4 years in Abbotsford...
High Street Mall
January 31, 2015
Someone approached me through my Facebook page to ask for information about Abbotsford, and I realized that in the four years since I've been here, I've learned a lot more. So I decided to post all the information I provided to that person, as an update to my Abbotsford page here:
It's beautiful here, scenery-wise, with all the surrounding mountains; but the city itself is a little boring. It's a mixture of farmland and urban development (hence the slogan "City in the Country"), but depending on what you like, this might not bother you. I like the farmlands, but what is a thorn in my eyes is the downtown area. It's not really much of a downtown, it's more a historic downtown with older buildings and lots of homeless people. Montrose Ave looks nice though, with its quaint little shops. They often film here for TV movies (mostly Christmas movies: The Christmas Secret (2014); On Strike for Christmas (2010) and more).
I don't like shopping here that much, but I'm happy with the new big mall that opened in 2013 on the west side (High Street Mall), which also has a Cineplex theatre. Abbotsford is growing gradually (which is a good thing, because rapid growth would probably bring over-development). Thanks to the ALR (Agricultural Land Reserve) development is being kept in check. I like the smaller city size, although there are the few things I mentioned that bug me (infrastructure is another one of them), but I certainly wouldn't want this city to become another Vancouver. It is nice though, to have such a metropolitan city in just an hour's drive away from here for occasions when you want more big city amenities than what's available here.
Jobs in Abbotsford are not that easy to find (I'm still jobless). Housing here is reasonable I suppose, compared to bigger cities, but they're not that cheap either, especially if you're looking for newer homes. People are generally nice here. There is a big Sikh community, which is the largest ethnic group here. Canada's oldest Sikh temple is in Abbotsford (it's a national historic site). The weather here is nice, I'd even say winters are ridiculous, it's more like fall that goes straight into spring. I do miss snow sometimes... it snows very little here. It rains quite a lot, but that keeps the Valley fresh and lush. Summers could get really hot. Overall I love it here, but I'm looking forward to this city becoming a little trendier in the future.
In the recent municipal elections (2014), homelessness, joblessness and debt were the 3 main issues in Abbotsford. Also, Abbotsford is considered the capital city of the Fraser Valley and it's the 5th largest municipality in Greater Vancouver and the largest in the Fraser Valley Regional District. The beautiful Mill Lake is in the heart of the city, and there are many other parks and trails around the city. If the city planners manage the growth of this city carefully, meaning finding solutions for the 3 main issues, developing better infrastructure, and creating better opportunities for a vibrant nightlife, then this city will be really attractive, and not just for the surrounding mountains, parks and trails.
Oh, another thing: the police department here did a great job turning the mostly gang related crime around. When I first arrived in 2011, Abbotsford was considered to be the murder capital of the country at that time (thanks to the notorious Bacon brothers). Within a year they managed to bring the number of murders down to 0! That's quite a feat! But in 2013 the city also earned the less pleasant award of being the 4th most boring city in all of Canada... Here's hoping that that too may change in the near future...
Some useful links about the possible future of Abbotsford:
Montrose Avenue: Abbotsford’s one-time centre looks to reclaim its place
The End of the Strip Mall – Abbotsford
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Help Me Bring My Husband To Abbotsford!
Bring Me My Hubby
Here is my ongoing story:
It's been 4 years since my daughters and I took the step to move to Abbotsford from Saskatoon. If you'd like to know the details about what brought us here, please read this page: Living in Abbotsford
In short: We came here, because my older daughter was about to start university, and the younger one was going to start high school. The University of Saskatchewan didn't offer a Fine Arts program at that time, so I grabbed the chance to help my daughter find a university in British Columbia in order to move away from Saskatoon along with them and finally live by the mountains in the city of my dreams! I thought it would be easy to find a job and that my husband would be able to join us soon.
Not so... Four years and a lot of heartache later we're still living apart from him and he's living all alone in Saskatoon, working his butt off to provide for us. In the meantime, when I discovered it wasn't that easy to find a job here, I took up classes and a Bookkeeping course in my first two years here. However, it didn't help me land a job due to lack of experience. I eventually gave up looking for a bookkeeping or admin job and went back to applying for anything else. So far no luck. We've been applying for jobs for my husband as well, to no avail as yet. (I'm honestly starting to think someone must have cursed us, lol!)
Meanwhile we've somehow managed to keep our marriage going, although it's been very hard. To still keep each other company while being apart, we try doing certain things together: We record Hawaii Five O every week and watch it together by keeping the phone on speaker and pressing play on the recorded program simultaneously; we watch movies together on the weekends in the same way, as well as some hockey games and whatever else interests both of us; we often keep our phones on at night just to have a sense of being together while being asleep (it's comforting to me to hear him snore... go figure...).
We do visit him every summer and winter break (if we can afford it), and he visits us every 2 to 4 months for a short week if our budget allows it. Although quite tough, the first two years still kept us going strong; not so much ever since. The relationship has been suffering for the past couple of years and getting worse. If he can't come here soon, I will have to bid my dream goodbye and return to Saskatoon before my marriage deteriorates even further. :(
I am in the process of writing a memoir about our story, but I want my story to have a happy ending... If it's in the power of my readers to somehow give me my happy ending, please help me bring my husband to Abbotsford! There is a job opportunity currently at the City of Abbotsford that matches my husband's skills and experience! It's for the position of Recreation Maintenance Coordinator and the job posting closes on June 3, 2015. My husband's experience in the Facility Operations and Maintenance field spans over 20 years! If it's in your power to help him get this job, please, please, let me know by contacting me through this website or sending me a comment on this post. You can safely include your contact information; I won't share it. (Also, if someone wants to offer me a job as well, please do! I would love an admin position, but am open for anything else with reasonable pay.)
Thank you so much for reading, and I remain hopeful that someone can help us out. Let's get him over here! :)
5 1/2 years later...
Jobs, jobs, jobs
I would like to share another update to my story after my last post—a plea I wrote here: Help Me Bring My Husband To Abbotsford!
I haven't been doing much about my website in the past number of years, but I was recently contacted with a question and I noticed this post of mine. I decided to at least write an update.
A lot has happened ever since I wrote this last post. I did manage to find a job in the meantime, just shortly after I wrote it. But right before I finally got a job, I was seriously planning to move back to Saskatoon. We had to move out from our cute condo anyway, so I packed my stuff separately from my daughters' stuff. The plan was to leave them here on their own to continue their studies while I was going to return by myself.
I saw an ad online for a receptionist at a Real Esate company, and I decided to give it one last try... And to my amazement, when I called to follow up after dropping off my resume, I was able to convince the manager to give me an interview! She was actually not planning on continuing with the hiring process, because they were considering to take the company into another direction. She asked me to call back in another week, but I told her that it would be too late then. I guess because I felt like I had nothing to lose, I basically just told her briefly about my situation... over the phone. And she decided to let me come in for an interview! Of course I was nervous when I went in, but I nailed it!
However, within two months after being hired, they still decided to go with that other approach that they had been considering before hiring me, and they let me go—along with another girl who had been working there for over a year. I was devastated! It happened on a Saturday... I was so in shock that I didn't want to talk about it to anyone. I just came home and distracted myself with a movie and inspirational YouTube videos. I didn't tell my daughters about it until late Sunday night, only because they would notice me not going to work on Monday. And I didn't tell my husband until a week after it happened.
I was quite upset that I had to start job hunting again. But I applied halfheartedly at some places, one of which was another Real Estate company. To my surprise, I received a phone call from that Real Estate company just the following day after sending that application (I sent it on Sunday night, a week after having been let go from the previous short-lived job). I was called in for an interview on Tuesday, and by Wednesday I was working there! Within 1 1/2 weeks of losing the other job! I stayed at this job for a full year, loving my job, loving the atmosphere, feeling blessed and grateful for finally doing a job that I loved.
I was hired there by a female manager, but she quit working there within 5 months of me getting hired, because she couldn't convince the male manager (her senior) to give her a raise. After a year of working there, I also left that job, because my boss wouldn't give me the review I had been asking for. I felt that I deserved a raise, for I was basically running the office more as an admin than as a receptionist after the previous (female) boss quit. But he kept stalling. So with a year of office work experience under my belt I started looking for another job—again.
Then, the female boss who had quit contacted me to let me know that the company she was working with now was opening a branch in Abbotsford and she wondered if I was interested in joining her. I was thrilled, because I had enjoyed working with her previously. But I wanted to know what the pay would be, because I was only going to quit if I would get something with better pay. I still loved my job and didn't really want to quit, and if the boss would have just given me a raise, I would have stayed.
I went to talk to the manager and she agreed to give me a significantly higher pay rate than what I was making at my then job, because she knew how dedicated I was. So I took the job offer. And now, after 6 months there, I still love my job!
As for my husband, though... no improvement on that front. He's still in Saskatoon, although there have been some opportunities. But they were either not paying enough, or he didn't want to risk quitting his job in Saskatoon to come work as a contractor, for fear that it won't be a steady income. In the meantime it's been more than 5 years that we've been living apart, seeing each other only about 2-3 times a year. Ever since I started working full time, we don't go to Saskatoon for the long summers to visit him anymore. Last time I was in Saskatoon was just before I started the new job. He is the one who visits us mostly, but he stays only for about a week. Although he did stay for 2 weeks this past Christmas holidays (2016-2017).
Well, in the meantime life goes on, and I have basically just let go of my wish to see him move here. I decided to just wait and see where life will take us. Que sera sera...
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