I am geographically challenged.  I miss my sister.  I miss my nieces.  I miss my parents and brother.  I miss my friends.  My family lives in Nova Scotia, and yet here we are in Ontario.  And I can’t lament the challenges or homesickness I still feel after 14 years of leaving, simply because I am the one who left.  I am here by choice.  And yet, that doesn’t make it easy.  Even as I write and open the door of emotions, my heart starts to ache.

I grew up in a family that I truly adore, with an awesome childhood, close relationships  – not to mention the beauty of Nova Scotia.  Even my in-laws are far away in Alberta (I know lots of people who would be okay with that, but I love Dean’s parents) I have been blessed with some of the most wonderful friends – some of which I’ve known since my pre-teen years.  If I pegged a map with where they are, there would be pins in Stratford, Halifax, San Diego, and Australia.  So missing people is a regular part of my life.  I am grateful for technology, skype, email, Facebook… and airplanes.

My children have lamented living so far away from everyone – which is particularly hard on Audra.  She can be what I call very “Audra-centric” – meaning her world revolves around her -but with an enormous heart, she includes in her world-sphere all of her family, both near and far.  So my geographically challenged emotions are often amplified by her crying to me “But Mommy, why do we live so FAR away from everyone in our FAMILY?!”  (Although now, at 7, she occasionally switches her tune away from ‘I wish we lived near family’ to ‘I wish everyone in my family lived on MY street.’)

So if one of my mantras is FOLLOW YOUR HEART, why am I still here?  The truth is that I like my life, I like the town of Beeton where I live.  I like the practice I have built.  And we may leave it all one day, but I am complete as long as I have Dean, Ethan and Audra with me.  I think at some point in time the ties gradually shifted from the family I grew up in to the family I am raising.

Our family of four is like an island that is tethered to anchors across the country, but I would be blind if I neglected to see how this has cemented us together.  I see how being here without grandparents to help out has made Dean and I more resilient, how being each other’s best friend and source of support has strengthened our relationship, and how “family days” and holidays are close and intimate.  Our life is peppered with visits from family, and trips to Alberta and Nova Scotia.

We have effectively opted for quality time instead of quantity time.  I don’t take for granted any of the time I have with all of those people I love, and neither do our kids.

So, are we geographically challenged?  Yes.  But with the perspective given to us by distance, and the time that passes between visits, our love and appreciation for everyone that we love has only deepened, and the time we spend with them is maximized.

My message to anyone who has family nearby:  don’t take it for granted.   You have the option for BOTH quality and quantity time.  And sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.  I choose to see the gifts in my geographically challenged life – the price tag is simply that of missing the dailiness of life with those I love who live far away.  Our moments together, however, fill me up until the next time we connect… (and December just doesn’t feel that far away right now – our countdown is ON!!)