On Life Changes and the Thousand Goodbyes

Cherry Blossom Bursts, Vancouver BC 2016 © Alex Hurst

It’s hard to know where to begin.

Of course, if you’ve followed my blog for any appreciable time, you know that I’ve been very much away from social media for the last half year. Part of the distance came from the overly personal nature of the events that unfolded in my life, and the other part was needing a break while I discovered where the next steps of my life were headed.

I’m happy to say that the program I applied to for a Masters in Publishing at Simon Fraser University sent me an acceptance letter on April 1st, so I’ll be back in school and learning all about the industry starting in September. Words can’t express my excitement at this opportunity. I’m currently knee-deep in learning Illustrator, since graphic design is an area I can definitely improve on before classes begin. Expect a lot more posts in the future here to deal with my education there, and images from all around British Colombia.

Being in British Colombia has been interesting. The weather is decent, maybe a little too cold and cloudy for April (my Californian heart withers) but it has a lot of great points, too. The house I am staying at is within walking distance of a library, a movie theatre, a gigantic department store, Deer Lake, and SkyTrain, so I perceive that I’ll have plenty of reasons to get outside, get active again, and explore like crazy. The last year in Kyoto I spent far too much time indoors dealing with rib pain, which has strangely evaporated now that I am in Vancouver. I blame the heavy oil Japan uses in all of its food.

However, coming to Canada meant saying goodbye to Japan, and that was hard. Really hard. The last two months have been nothing but goodbyes and a ton of bad luck. A toxic online acquaintance, my father breaking his hip (he’s okay), the death of my grandmother (I didn’t know her well) and NJ’s grandfather (I knew him much better), and a critical lack of decent applicants for my replacement (to be described in a post down the line!) left us mentally exhausted to the point of being unable to process anything from the last 60 days. To make it even more stressful, I had to work full days while having the flu, because I couldn’t miss any of the last week of school.

All this, while deconstructing our home from the last six years, saying goodbye to our bird Pika, and ending one of the best work relationships I’ve ever had. I’ve been jokingly suggesting that the full scale of what has happened won’t hit me until June. In reality, it might be August.

Unfortunately, with the death of NJ’s grandfather, our arrival in Canada has been a somber one. It is hard to grasp at the straws of prospect with so much heartache around us. I know that, eventually, NJ and I will seize our new life and go running down the path meant for us, but at the moment, I am in a strange, muddy limbo, knowing the only steps to take are forward. Now is the time to grieve and pay our respects.

At the very least I didn’t have to miss the cherry blossom season in its entirety. It turns out Vancouver has some of the most beautiful cherry trees I’ve ever seen (in Japan, included). I’ve found it rather fitting, this goodbye and beginning during the time of the cherry tree blossoms’ passing. As cliché as it may seem, the petals symbolizing the transience of life really has meant a lot to me over these last few weeks––life must change, and preferably like the cherry blossom, gone before spoiling, changing before taken for granted, leaving peacefully and with smiles. The blossoms aren’t just about death. They’re about life. Living. Relationships. Dreams and virtues.

Cherry Blossom Petal Rivers, Vancouver BC 2016 © Alex Hurst
Rivers of Petals. Burnaby, BC © Alex Hurst

Hopefully, all of you out there will be patient while I get back to a regular schedule here. I’m not participating (obviously) in A-Z this year, but will at least try to put out a post a week going forward, and finish my Archetypes series. Just a few more to go!

42 thoughts on “On Life Changes and the Thousand Goodbyes

  1. I love that puffy blossom picture at the start. It looks like a cloth pattern, you know?

    Things are stressful now, but only because we’re still floating. Once everything works out I have confidence we’ll be skipping merrily along again. Until then, I’ve got your back and I know that you’ve got mine.

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  2. Wow, many changes indeed. High highs, and low lows. Congratulations on being accepted! And I’m so sorry for your losses, Alex and NJ. I wish you both well, and I wish you routine. You’ll get there. 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Linda. It’s definitely been a bit of a roller coaster! I am, at least, very buoyed by the acceptance, even though that means having to figure out immigration earlier than I expected. Routine soon… Just one more week of craziness and then everything will be normal again (or so I keep telling myself. 😛 )

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  3. I love the picture at the beginning. It is very appropriate to mark the cycle of change.

    Don’t worry, Alex and NJ. You will find your own new order of things. And it will be good, I’m sure. That’s one thing we can always count on about you two. 😉

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    1. I love the picture, too! I can’t believe my phone took it! Thanks for the vote of confidence, Renee’. Always means a lot. 🙂 Good luck at your conference this weekend!

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  4. Thanks for sharing the recent events, both good and not so good, of your life with us. Best wishes for your exciting new beginning, and we look forward to hearing about your new experiences. Even if you are too busy to write about them, we know you are having them!

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    1. Thanks so much, Marilyn. It’s been very heartening to see that in my absence, I haven’t lost the community I’ve found here! Good to know I can walk away when I need to. I’m hoping to have lots of new stories to tell you all in the coming months!

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  5. Wow. That really is a lot to go through all at once. I’m really happy that you were accepted into the Masters in Publishing program, and I also know your and NJ’s sadness about losing your grandparents. It’s great to see you back… But take your time, too, and we’ll come back whenever you post something new. 🙂

    Also, the cherry blossoms are a lovely analogy for what you’ve gone through lately. The photos are lovely, too. Where was the first one taken? (Japan, I’m guessing? I noticed the second photo is from Canada.)

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    1. Appreciate it, Sara. 🙂 I’m hoping I’ll be back swinging by the end of April (I’ll have at least until the end of A-Z to get some posts lined up and the blog back on track.)

      The picture is actually from Canada! I was pretty surprised by how puffy and big the cherry trees are out here. The trees in Kyoto are very delicate and minimal (beautiful in their own way) but I am simply in love with the two-tone blossoms on the trees out here in Vancouver. (Best part? No tourists to try and shoot around!)

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  6. So interesting to see your post hit my inbox because I was just thinking about you earlier today. It had been so long since you had last posted and I knew you were planning to move.

    It sounds like the transition was so very difficult. I hope things only get better from here! Welcome to Canada 🙂

    btw – the first photo is magnificent!

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    1. There is nothing quite like a transcontinental move! I think if you are planning to keep a lot of your belongings, it can be very stressful, especially without a car. But… if you live lightly, it’s more doable. We did not live lightly, haha. NJ often trumpeted, “No book left behind!” and so, no book was left behind… (I think the Vancouver post office hates me!)

      Thank you regarding the photo. Hard to believe just my phone took it. I was pretty surprised by the depth of field.

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  7. Please allow me to convey my sympathies for your losses, while wishing you many joys in this new episode of your lives.

    (And congratulations on your acceptance to the Masters program)

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    1. Thank you so much for your thoughts. They really do mean a lot. 🙂 I think the most frustrating thing is most of the time in my life, I’ve been able to hit the ground running, but this time it’s like being on a rocking horse during a thoroughbred race…. and the horse isn’t even cute, or the right height. 😛 Hard to find the positives, but I will…. hopefully long before the school year starts!

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    1. Looks like we just missed the snow, though some of NJ’s family mentioned it. We did have hail a couple of days ago, though, haha! 😛 In any case, happy to be back… will pull through the rest. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, as always, Patricia!

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  8. Having lived in Vancouver for for quite a while I can tell you, you’ve landed in one of the best parts of the GVD! … There’s some great bike paths throughout that area … if you’re into biking! 😀

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  9. Sorry to hear how tough things have been for you. That last paragraph & picture of the cherry blossom sums everything up beautifully, as to where you are in you life now. Sad farewells and new beginnings. I lost a very dear friend from a sudden illness last October, it really knocked me for six, and made me reavaluate things. Wishing you all the best for the future, you sound in a really positive place now, sure everything will work out ok. Sounds like a lovely place there in Canada 🙂

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    1. I’m really sorry to hear about your friend, especially that it was sudden. Hopefully now you are in a better head space. 😦

      I really do appreciate you taking the time to comment, Paul. It is lovely here, and I’m looking forward to hitting the town, once it gets a couple degrees warmer.

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      1. Thank you. Yes, I’m ok now, it was a shock at the time and I still miss her dearly. You’re welcome, glad to hear you are settling in and getting used to your new town in Canada 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Jeff. 🙂 I think you’re one of my earliest connections here on WordPress. I love that we still read each other’s blogs. Best wishes to you and yours, as well, and thank you for the advice!

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  10. So happy to see a post from you. I have been in the same home for 44 years so sometimes I cannot even imagine a move – up until my crazy neighbors do something stupid and then I am ready to fly away. seems like there were just more things happening in your life at one time than anyone should have to deal with. Hope you settle in soon. Congrats on the acceptance letter.

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    1. Thanks so much, Denise! I’m hoping we eventually find the place where we will settle, and have a happy life with our own personal home to decorate. I think this move has taught me not to bother with furniture too much until that’s a reality! Whew.

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  11. I’m so sorry for your loss and the heartache you are both going through. I lost my grandfather during Christmas, and still miss him now.
    You’ve really been through a lot. I’m glad to hear that you hung in there and made it through, and now you’re accepted into Masters in Publishing!

    I’ve never been to Vancouver, but I’m thinking I want to tour there sometime during the spring just to see those gorgeous blossoming trees live in person! Absolutely beautiful.

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    1. I’m looking forward to exploring the city, for sure. Thank you for your sympathy. It’s been a huge adjustment for the family here, I think, as he was the true patriarch of my partner’s family. We’re finding our rhythm, though, thankfully. 🙂

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  12. It’s so good to see you again. Having made a couple of transcontinental moves myself, I know what kind of hassle that can be, even when uncomplicated by other issues. Or books.

    That first photo is spectacular, but it doesn’t look at all like I imagine cherry blossoms to look like. Is it possiblel that it’s actually flowering almond? It surely does look like it. That was my favorite spring bloom when I was young, and it’s nice to be reminded of it, even if the tree is, in fact, a cherry.

    I’ll look forward to reading you again — on whatever schedule suits you.

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    1. I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it’s a hybrid form of cherry blossom. There are similar ones in Japan with the proper tree shape, but I’ve never seen the blossoms so big. Also, from what I could see on Google, flowering almonds are mostly upward growing branches, while this one had the characteristic weep of the cherry tree. Still, I could be wrong. 🙂 Regardless, it was so beautiful to stand under.

      Thanks for the thoughts, too. I’m carving out my only little space over here, now. Took me a while to relax enough to simply recover from all the airplane flights… but now that my body seems to think 10AM is a decent time to wake up, it’s time to start setting the alarm again. 😉

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  13. I’m so sorry for your and N.J.’s losses. It’s been such a difficult time for you both. I hope things smooth out for you soon. Congrats to you on your acceptance in the Masters of Publishing program. Sending thoughts and prayers your way for peace and healing.

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    1. Thanks so much, Lori. We’re getting there. 🙂 How is your book release going? I’ve been meaning to pick it up and review it for a while now. Hopefully I’ll have a chance this summer.

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      1. My second book should be out in a couple of weeks. I’m finishing up the final work on it now. If you have a chance to do a review that would be wonderful. I’d really appreciate it! Good luck with everything!

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  14. So you’re in Burnaby.
    I was in Vancouver for a few days for the long Easter weekend. I’m so glad cherry blossoms bid you good-bye in Japan, but greeted you, along with magnolias in Vancouver BC.

    My blog post with photos of this yr.’s beauty:
    https://cyclewriteblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/13/magnolia-and-cherry-blossom-cascades/

    May NJ’s heart heal over time.

    My partner is busy as a subcontractor for implementation of Vancouver BC’s first bikeshare across the City of Vancouver this summer.

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    1. The photos are gorgeous, Jean! And I love the new blog layout. Very classy. 🙂

      That’s really cool about your partner. I’ve noticed so many awesome trails in Burnaby, so I’m looking forward to going on a run, as soon as my runners arrive in the mail. 😛

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      1. Thx so much Alex. I just have to now post even bigger photos for certain areas of theme.

        I only assume your classes on top of Burnaby Mtn,. where the university is located. Beautiful views and some interesting Ainu totems from Japan.

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        1. Actually, I’m in downtown! But I’ll be making visits up the mountain because I’ve seen the views once before and I want to see them again. 🙂

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  15. Moving countries is difficult enough without life getting underfoot and trying to trip you up, which it always insists on doing, because god forbid any of us just get a break for once. I hope the worst of the transition will be behind you soon.

    That said, welcome to my neck of the woods! Looking forward to your inevitable photos; I always love seeing this city through a fresh pair of eyes.

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    1. Very excited to be here!! It’s going to be a blast, once we settle into our rhythm more fully. 🙂 I’ll be heading downtown more frequently once I get my UPass… transit is really expensive here! 😰

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  16. I like your observation that the transient existence of a cherry blossoms petals parody the varying stages of human life. We all wish the coldness instilled in the head (whether caused by the loss of a loved one, career failures, or a change of scenery) to be short-lived. It seems as if you’re sufferings are turning around. For this reason, I say, “Congrats!”

    Keep writing. We’ll keep reading. 🙂

    -Joe

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