Author Archives: iamkaren23

About iamkaren23

I am a Canadian writer currently living in Mazatlan, Mexico. I published When Glad Becomes Sad in 2009. My second book, Alive Again, was published in March of 2015. Both are self-help books. I am currently working on a third book, this time a work of fiction.

On This Day

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On This Day

Facebook has this remarkable feature entitled “On This Day” where I am reminded of what had gone on in my life by the posts I had made on that particular date. These memories are amazing. Some of them I can’t believe I had the audacity to share on Facebook while others are absolute treasures.

For example, this past week I saw photos of Mother’s Day celebrations with my kids in Winnipeg. This photo goes back to 2013 when I had returned to Winnipeg for knee surgery. Another photo dates back to 2015 when I had returned to Winnipeg for my book launch of Alive Again.

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A post from 2009 has me teaching an aquafit class at the West Portage YMCA and then going to a church service followed by lunch with friends. In 2011 I was in Culiacan, enjoying my first year teaching in Mexico. Back in 2015 Donna and I had gone on a tour of the Legislative Building in Winnipeg.

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In 2016 I was in Mazatlan and in 2017 I was here in Leavenworth. And I wonder where I will be next year at this time.

On This Day is much more than a conglomeration of posts and events. It is the story of my emotional and spiritual growth. It depicts the trials and tribulations of being single again after thirty-six years of marriage. It hits on some of the more sensitive experiences and awesome adventures I’ve had in the past ten years.

Of  course there are numerous posts I could have written about my life, but the more personal issues are not things I care to share with the Facebook world. Much of my life will always remain private and will be known only by those closest to me. And that’s the way it should be.

The past ten years has seen me living in three different countries and in seven different cities. And yes, Kyle, your mother is still a nomad. Even U.S. Immigration has adopted that term in my conversation with them last month when I returned to Washington.

I think a lot about the meaning of life these days. I guess that comes with growing older. Time is precious and life is to be lived. The life I have chosen involves extensive exploration, exciting discoveries, constant change and adaptation. It is not the conservative, conventional life that I once so tightly embraced. It has drawn a magnitude of criticism from family and friends. Nonetheless it has become my mantra. And I’m sticking to it.

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On This Day, I reflect on all the remarkable people who have shared in my life in the past and continue to do so today. I am truly blessed to have friends wherever I may go. And I always look forward to the new friends I will meet on my journey, wherever that may take me.

And now it’s time for a Facebook post……………

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Nomad On The Move Again

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Nomad On The Move Again

For someone who despises routine, I apparently do have one that includes packing, moving and unpacking. And it seems to be done on quite a regular basis. In the past month, I have repeated this process on my journey to Leavenworth from Mazatlan which included stays in Culiacan, Frankford and Toronto. And I have just moved again here in Leavenworth. While I am getting more efficient in organizing this whole process, it’s nice to finally unpack with the idea of staying here for a longer period of time.

My room is quite comfortable and is bright even on a gloomy, rainy day like today, a day very conducive to writing. It’s nice to slow down after a hectic week of packing and running around. Once I get this post up on my blog, I hear my characters calling in my current work in progress.

I once again joined the Bavarian Book Club at the Leavenworth Library. These meetings will be held immediately after my memoir writing class at the Methodist Church, so Mondays will be busy days. The book we are currently reading fits right in as it is a memoir of a family and culture in crisis entitled Hillbilly Elegy by author J.D. Vance.

I spent all day Tuesday at Grace Lutheran Church in Wenatchee with other fitness instructors. It was a most informative professional development day with presentations by physical therapists. It was also a great opportunity to interact with other SAIL instructors from across the state of Washington. The SAIL program is aimed at seniors and focuses on preventing falls as well as remaining fit.

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Wednesday was moving day in the morning followed by lunch and bridge at the Leavenworth Senior Center. And then it was major unpacking and organizing my bedroom. No idea where I found the energy but somehow I got it all done.

Yesterday I unexpectedly taught the fitness class in the morning as the scheduled instructor was unable to teach. Then it was off to Wenatchee to do some shopping in the afternoon. Dinner with a friend rounded out the day. We ate outside and to our delight saw a deer wander down the street.

The rain began last night and has continued throughout the day. It’s a great day to stay in and write. Skies are predicted to clear tomorrow so I intend to pursue some outdoor activities.

The view from my bedroom window at sunset, just a tad different from Mazatlan.

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Have a great weekend!

 

Maifest and More

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Maifest and More

We’re halfway through May and I’ve been back for two weeks. My calendar is filling up but I found myself fully immersed in Maifest over the weekend. This is a festival to celebrate May Day. Downtown Leavenworth was a sea of both tourists and locals for three days.

Friday featured a parade in addition to music and dancing. On Saturday afternoon I found myself down by the gazebo enjoying Alpine music and the Tyroleon dancers. Sunday there was dancing around the Maypole, followed by more music and dance performances.

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Yesterday was also Mother’s Day, a bittersweet day for me. Last year I was in Winnipeg with my son. But this year I’m in Leavenworth and my children are back in Canada. How I longed to hold my new granddaughter in my arms………

My life is a flurry of activity here in Leavenworth. I enjoy having lunch at the Senior Center with my friends during the week. There are fitness classes, craft afternoons and bridge games. I’ve joined the Bavarian Book Club at the library and next month will start a memoir writing class. Tomorrow I’ll be in Wenatchee for a professional development day for instructors in the SAIL program. Planning meetings for Vacation Bible School in July are now underway. And I’m moving on Wednesday.

I’ll leave you with a few photos of the town that I took on my walk today.

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Ontario

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Ontario

I arrived in Toronto around 6 am on April 11th. With the time change I lost 3 hours and felt completely disoriented as it felt like 3 am to me. My Interjet flights were wonderful and my bag was one of the first off the carousel. Customs and Immigration was a breeze and a half hour later I was at Tim Horton’s sipping a much needed coffee.

My daughter picked me up and the gloom of a rainy day was brightened as I saw my granddaughter for the first time. Soother firmly gripped in her tiny mouth, Maddie was half asleep in her car seat. Such a sweetheart!

We headed for a mall and I finally got to see Maddie and hold her. I had hoped to wheel her around in her stroller, but the trunk space was needed for my suitcase. Kimmy had a type of shawl she wrapped the baby in but Maddie was a little fussy being carried around in this manner.

We had lunch at Moxie’s and Maddie slept through the entire meal. This was very different from my experience when Kimmy was a baby. It seemed like wherever I was and whenever food was put in front of me, my baby always wanted to nurse.

Our next stop was to pick up my son-in-law who had been writing an exam for his pilot license. We then headed for the 401 and the drive to Frankford. The dreary rain continued and a couple of hours later we were home.

The days flew by. I held Maddie as often as I could despite my daughter insisting that Maddie could sleep very well in her crib. When I wasn’t holding her I watched her in her swing when we ate, or sat with her in the back seat of the car when we drove.

When it was time for me to leave, I totally fell apart at the train station. Maddie had a firm grip with her tiny hand on my finger, and it was just too hard to tear myself away from her, not knowing when I would see her again.

My daughter has requested that I not post any photos of Maddie on my blog posts, so you will have to take my word for it that she is the most beautiful baby in the whole wide world.

This is a photo I took out of the living room window. Rain had turned to an ice storm and then snow. How I missed Mexico!

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The weather did not deter us from going out. One afternoon we checked out a couple of wineries.

 

 

By the time I got to Toronto, there was no evidence of ice or snow. I stayed with my friend Deborah whom I hadn’t seen in almost three years. We had a lot of catching up to do. She lived right on the lake and there was a beautiful trail close by that ran along the water.

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One afternoon I wandered around downtown and visited Queen’s Park.

 

 

We also went out to Woodbine to see the races one day, and of course we headed for a shopping mall.

 

 

It was now time for the final leg of my journey to Leavenworth, Washington. 

My Last Days in Mexico

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My Last Days in Mexico

Easter came early this year on April 1st. Although I am not Catholic, that morning I went to the Cathedral for the mass. Later that day I went out for dinner with my friends to Al Chile, one of my favorite restaurants on the malecon. We enjoyed chicken mole instead of the traditional ham served up north.

On Monday I had lunch at St. Lorenzo with a friend. Then we went to El Recreo to see a movie. A walk along the malecon and hanging out with my neighbors in the evening completed the day.

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Tuesday was supposed to be a beach day. But the morning fog was thick and I settled for a walk on the malecon. The tedious task of packing began that afternoon. Dinner with friends followed.

On Wednesday my first stop was Telcel at Gran Plaza. I had to renew my phone plan. Next was a badly needed haircut. Then we headed to the Gold Zone for one last dinner at Friends. The band that night was great as well.

Wednesday also marked the start of Moto Week, an annual event that attracts thousands of bikers.  

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On Thursday I once again attacked packing. It’s amazing the stuff that accumulates in five months. I met a friend for lunch and went to one last movie at El Recreo.

Friday once again was a major laundry and packing day. I went to my friend Koren’s for one last Friday lunch. Koren is a caterer and on Fridays we would still have lunch there although the mixed market never really did fly this past winter. In the evening I once again hung out with some of my neighbors.

On Saturday we went to Casa Arabe for an amazing dinner. Then we headed to the malecon to watch the motorcycle parade. It went on for hours and it was interesting to see all the customized bikes.

The following morning I closed up my bags and took an Uber to the bus station. I was off to Culiacan to spend a couple of days with my Mexican family. Juan and my three grandsons were waiting for me at the bus station, and we went over to his brother’s house where the kids enjoyed time in a wading pool.

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All too soon it was Tuesday and Lucila drove me to the airport to catch my flight to Mexico City. A few hours later I boarded a flight to Toronto.

Adios Mexico until the fall.

I’m Back!!!!!

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I’m Back!!!!!

It’s been over a month since I’ve written a post. That’s what happens when you travel and are distracted by things to do and limited internet access. But at least I remembered to take photos, and I am now in the process of organizing hundreds of them.

Here is a Coles Notes version of the past month. In future blog posts I will expand upon my adventures. But I did want to assure my readers that I have not merely dropped off the face of the earth.

I left Mazatlan on April 8th, the final day of Moto Week. The night before I had been hanging out with friends watching the motorcycle parade. Thousands of cyclists converge upon Mazatlan annually and the roar of engines is constant.

I arrived in Culiacan and spent a couple of days with my Mexican family. I enjoyed watching the kids frolic in a wading pool that first afternoon. The following day spring break was over and everyone was back at school. On Tuesday evening I found myself at the airport and boarded a flight for Mexico City.

I had a two hour layover before boarding the next flight to Toronto. I arrived in Toronto at 6 am to gloomy, cloudy skies. By the time my daughter came to get me at the airport, the rain had started. But my spirits brightened when I caught my first glimpse of my new granddaughter asleep in her car seat.

We headed to a mall for a while before heading out on the highway to Frankford. Once at my daughter’s home, I finally got to hold my granddaughter for the first time. It was amazing! This sweet little face gazed up at me with questioning eyes. Who are you? Why are you holding me?

After that any opportunity I had I held her in my arms, whether she was awake or asleep. My daughter is nursing and had expressed milk, so I even found myself giving Madeline a bottle in the aisle of Home Depot one afternoon.

The week I spent with them was a fleeting dream, and I soon found myself on a train heading back to Toronto. The hustle and bustle at Union Station at 5 pm was a tad overwhelming, but I found the next train that took me to a station close to where my friend Deborah lives.

My visit with Deborah was round three of an emotional journey. The first part was leaving my Culiacan family and the second was leaving my daughter and granddaughter. My friend Deborah almost lost her life last year to an infection last year and defied all odds by surviving emergency surgery and then learning to walk again. The time we spent together was special, but I soon found myself back at the airport.

I flew to Vancouver and then on to Seattle. It was a short two hour drive to Leavenworth. The three hour time change took its toll. I crashed for a few hours and then dove right into my usual routine. Exercise class, lunch at the senior center and then a craft afternoon.

Suddenly it’s Saturday and my first week back has flown by all too quickly. Only one photo for this post but many more to come in future posts. So stay tuned.

The Second Decade

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The Second Decade

There was so much hype about the new millennium. Would all our computers really crash? Would an earthquake cause California to fall into the ocean? Would the world as we know it come to an end? Thankfully none of these crazy predictions came true.

The first decade in the millenium was an ugly one for me. Plagued with both physical as well as mental health issues, I also faced the loss of my beloved dog Koal followed shortly thereafter by the ending of a more than three decades old marriage.

Along came the second decade of the millenium and life became amazingly brighter. I embarked on a new career in a foreign country where I immersed myself in the culture and learned a new language.

And the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been and the adventures I’ve had! These totally crowd out the two knee replacements and the cataract surgery during this decade. However, the new knees have enabled me to walk for miles pain free. And the eye surgery has eliminated the need for glasses. So even unpleasant experiences have resulted in an increased quality of life.

This decade also marked the marriage of my daughter and the birth of my granddaughter. Tomorrow I am on my way to Ontario to meet Madeline and I am extremely excited. She will be just over six weeks old and this abuelita can’t wait to hold her!

In my travels and throughout the years I am frequently asked “Where’s home?”  I’m never quite sure just what to say. My son’s words echo in my mind constantly. “You’re a nomad.”

Culiacan was where I spent my first year in Mexico. Juan and Lucila came into my life and adopted me. Their children have become my grandsons and I can’t imagine a life without them. I visit them often and always feel “at home” when I stay with them. I’m actually writing this post from Culiacan and am sitting in their living room right now.

Guadalajara was home for almost four years. If the city had an ocean I may never have left. This was also where Pedro came into my life. What are the chances of an orthopedic surgeon winding up in my conversation club shortly after my second knee surgery? Our friendship developed and it was Pedro who found me the opthamologist who did my cataract surgery. Pedro and his wife welcomed me into their home when I had the surgery as I was commuting from Mazatlan (indeed their daughter even gave up her bedroom to me on more than one occasion) and that meant the world to me. So that’s another home here in Mexico.

I’m just finishing year three in Mazatlan. It’s been great but I also don’t feel that this city is home for me. Next fall I plan on traveling for a few months and not really settling down in any one place here in Mexico. I will miss the malecon and the ocean, but I can always come back to visit.

I’m well into this post and you’re probably wondering why I don’t mention Winnipeg as a home. After all I lived there all my life until about eight years ago. And my son still lives there. But each time I return for a visit, Winnipeg feels less and less like a place I’d like to call home. The city has changed and so have I.

This then brings me to Leavenworth, another place that feels like home to me. In the fall of 2018 I was at the Vineyard Church making sandwiches for the dump tour. Across the table from me was Steve. Sandwiches done, a few of us went across the street for coffee afterwards. Steve told us he was from Leavenworth, a town just outside of Seattle, a town I’d never heard of before.

The following summer, my two week visit to Leavenworth turned into four months. I became active at a church there and made a few friends. And I was totally captivated by the splendor of the mountains.

I returned to Mexico for the winter and then went to Winnipeg to spend Mother’s Day with my son. Next stop was Leavenworth where this time I stayed for six months. Not only was I active at the church, but I discovered the Senior Center and all the activities it had to offer. I also got certified as a fitness instructor and began teaching classes. Friendships grew stronger and I look forward to spending several more months there this year.

But the idea of putting down roots again is scary and intimidates me. I have lived in a variety of different places with an interesting assortment of people during this decade. I’m really not sure if I’m ready to settle down yet although it’s getting more and more difficult to say goodbye to people when I’m uncertain as to where the next path will lead me.

This decade is not over yet so I will continue to live in the moment and live my life to the fullest whomever I may be with and wherever I may be.