Saturday, August 24, 2013

Looking Back and Moving Forward.

*This post was actually written on Wednesday, August 21st while I flew from Fredericton to Toronto but with failing Internet at the Toronto airport and only getting Internet connection tonight in China I'm only getting to post it now. Enjoy! 

Here we go! 

7 weeks have come and gone in a flash. As cliché as it may sound, time flies when you're having fun! I got off the plane from Calgary on July 1st and remember thinking over and over again how awesome it was that I got to spend 7 weeks back home in the Maritimes. It seemed like so much time! And I certainly had a lot of stuff to cover on my to-do list before departing for China. So, naturally, the summer flew by! I often wondered if I made the right decision coming home early from Calgary before leaving for my new adventure in China. I loved living in Calgary and can't WAIT to go back and visit my new home. But I couldn't leave for China without spending time with my family and closest of friends first. So that's exactly what I did.

I covered a lot of ground in 7 weeks. First, I spent a few days exploring PEI with Amanda. I probably haven't been to PEI prior to this spontaneous adventure for probably 10ish years. I had forgotten how beautiful of a place the island was. Beaches, water, country roads, red dirt, seafood, seafood, seafood, and the sun! The scenery is just breathtaking, and I felt so relaxed every minute that we were there. Two days wasn't quite enough time to fully take in the beauty of the island, but it was fun nonetheless! 

I took in two concerts while I was home too! What were the chances that two of my favourite bands would be playing shows in NB while I was home? I saw Hey Rosetta! (for the sixth time) in SJ with Kathryn and Katelin and then Tegan and Sara in Moncton (for the third time) with my bestie Sara, Amanda, and Lauren. The shows were nothing less than perfection, both bands played all of my favourite songs, and I got to see them with the people I love the most! I've written before on my blog how much I love going to see live music, and these two bands know how to put on a show! Think they'll be in Beijing anytime soon? 

It just so happens that this year was the year of our family reunion as well. Every three years, the Howatt family gather for a weekend to catch up, see how we've all grown, and reunite for laughter, fun, and good times. This year the reunion happend to be in Ottawa at my Aunt Sally & Uncle Ed's house on the Mississippi River (yes folks, Canada has a Mississippi River too - I'm not making this 
up. Google it!) It was a lot of fun! You (or maybe it's just me) sometimes forget that while I'm growing up, so is everyone else. So all of my cousins who I had an image of in my head had also grown and changed over the last three years. We tended to have a lot more in common and honestly, I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. It will be a wonder to see how we've all grown again in another three years!

On our journey back home to NB from Ottawa, my Grandmom, my Great Uncle David, and I took the long way home through the GaspĂ© Peninsula. Holy beautiful! For the greater part of the two day drive, you are literally driving on the coast. Like the water is RIGHT THERE. You could almost reach out and touch the mighty St. Lawrence. I highly recommend that everyone take this beautiful drive. It just empasizes what a uniquely beautiful and vast country we live in here in Canada. 

But honestly folks, I think my favourite part of the whole summer wasn't the sights I saw, the concerts I took in, the mini vacations that happened, or the relaxation that occurred. It was being in the 
presence and creating new memories with the people who know me best. My family and my friends. From the friends I've had for years, to the ones who helped shape who I am today. The people I associate with my time in Fredericton, to the people who make home home. Laughter, reminiscing, sharing stories, catching up, seeing how we've all grown. Like my friend Craig so poetical said only a week ago at "Corked" - to the things that change and the things that stay the same. 

And now, here I am on this long and grueling flight to Beijing thinking back to these 7 weeks. These 7 weeks that allowed me to grow comfortable with the decision I had made to move to the other side of the world. These 7 weeks that made me appreciate where I come from. 

To my friends: Thank you for always being there, through thick and thin. I'm so lucky to have you all 

Lin my life!

To my family: Thank you. It's really hard to express and convey how much your support, encouragement, and love have truly motivated me to try these new things and feel comfortable embarking on these new adventures. You support my need to see the world and my desire to try new things. Even though I often find doubt in myself, you remind me that I can do this. You don't let me give up and you push me forward. I'm forever thankful for that and remind myself frequently how blessed and fortunate I am to have you all as my family, always and forever. 

Here we go!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today is a special day in our family. Today is my Dad's birthday! Last year, I wrote a blog post on his day that shared with everyone why my Dad is the best Dad in the entire world: click here. On your birthday Dad, I want to remind you how much you are loved and cherished in our little family.

- Part of your charm is your willingness to help anyone at anytime. You put so many people ahead of yourself and you just have an innate ability to fix almost any problem. You'er my superman! 

- My stressy-self needs a calm, cool, and collective mentor to keep me on track. You are that person for me. When I get all "the world is ending because stuff isn't going the way I planned," you step in and take action. You remind me of the simple solutions and get my head out of the sky. You're my superman! 

- Laughter is the best medicine, and you are my supplier. Sometimes I wonder where you get some of the stuff you come up with - never change. You're my superman! 

- Thank you for giving me such an awesome childhood to look back on. The memories I have of growing up in small town New Brunswick involve you a lot of the time. Singing Michael Jackson's "Jam" to your own lyrics ("Jam! I love my toast and jam. Give me my toast and jam!"), camping at Jellystone park, teaching me how to drive (and how to parallel park INCORRECTLY! but now we both know haha!), Boris the spider, oh the memories! 

- PS: did I mention you're my superman? Well, you are! Thanks for digging me out of so so so many holes. 

Happy Birthday, Dad! I'm so happy I get to be home to help you celebrate your 51st year. I'll miss you terribly while I'm on my adventure in China, but I wouldn't have had the courage and strength to commit to such a feat if it weren't for your support and encouragement. Thank you. 

Love you, always and forever! 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

It's Official.

Last night I received the confirmation email, and folks it's official! I will be departing from Fredericton, New Brunswick at 11:45am on Wednesday, August 21st for my year long adventure to Beijing, China. 

Lots of people have been asking and have been very curious as to when I would be leaving. And my response would usually be "Well, that's a good question!" Initially, I thought I would be leaving around August 17th just based on hear-say. Then, after attending my orientation about two weeks ago, I was given an itinerary of things that we should expect to be doing during our first week in Beijing. This gave me the idea that I wouldn't be leaving until closer to August 21st. Then yesterday during one of my routine email checks, I saw an email titled "Ms. Melissa Margaret Dickinson E-ticket Itinerary" and my heart began to race. And I have to tell you friends, this is really the first time since all of this started rolling that it all feels real. Not to say that it hasn't felt real before, it just never seemed official maybe? I'm not quite sure how to explain it. And even now it doesn't seem real. And probably won't until I'm on the plane and enduring this 12 hour flight to Beijing (also - what does one do on a plane for 12 hours I'd like to know?!)