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Our Adventures Five Years In

Five years ago I met the man of my dreams. In fact, as time has passed, I realized that he has surpassed the man of my dreams on so many levels. Is it possible to feel as if we just met yesterday yet also feel like I’ve known this person my whole life?

When John and I met, we both felt all sorts of strong emotions that neither of us had ever felt before. After all this time, those strong emotions have gone away… but only to become fiercer, more intense and stronger than ever before!

When we first met, we were young. I was finishing up university and John was three weeks into his career. We happened to work for sister companies in the same building downtown and only three flours separated us. Since I was still finishing up school, I only worked part time but the days that I did work we would each leave our houses at the perfect time so that we could meet before work at our special spot and walk the few blocks together hand in hand. We would meet for lunch at least once a week and our coworkers would both make comments to us about how cute we were when they saw us together. We still meet each other for lunch once a week, even if that meant that a 12 block walk or a train ride just to see each other for twenty minutes and for that midday smooch. Since day one, we’ve never been able to get enough of each other and I’m so happy to say that we still can’t.

We have gone through so many life changes together and I can’t imagine what our life will look like when we get to a decade. Over the past five years, between the two of us there have been five moves, five jobs, three vehicles, two countries and a puppy! There have been ups and downs, positives and negatives but the one thing that has never wavered has been the love and respect for one another.

Although our looks and hair have changed a bit over the past five years, the way we feel about each other surely has not. We are celebrating this weekend by doing five things that we have never done before… today we kickstarted the “events” by going some place new for lunch.

Sticking with the “five” theme, here are five photos for each year that we’ve been together to highlight some of our favourite memories together:

2010:

Our First Road Trip

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Our First Calgary Stampede Together

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A fancy dinner and evening at the Calgary Tower celebrating our 6th month anniversary

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On “our bench” we discovered our on our first trip to the mountains together. This is where John eventually proposed. EEE!
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At Heritage Park in the fall time. Being our silly, sassy selves.

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2011:

Pre St. Patty’s Day Green Beer Chugging

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A helicopter ride in the mountains to celebrate one year together

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Christmas at my parents new home

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My University Graduation

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BBQ’inq and drinking beer in our backyard

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2012:

We had a stay-cation in Calgary and went to Calway park for the day (amusement park for kids)

 

IMG_0465He put a ring on it!
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We “I do’d”

 

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We mini-honeymooned in the Mountains. This is canoeing on Lake Louise

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An autumn stroll in a park close to our home

 

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2013:

Watching the sunset together in Whitefish, Montana

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Enjoying our honeymoon in Punta Cana!

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Just hiking n’ stuff in the mountains

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ERNIE!!!

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A trip to Edmonton

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We ran stairs here ohhhh too many times to count. The view was always worth it at the top.

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Just a typical Saturday…

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Walking in the provincial park right next to what was supposed to be our Forever Home

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Celebrating Christmas in said Forever Home

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2014:

Hiking in Palm Springs and keeping an extra cautious eye out for snakes

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Leaving our Calgary life behind for our Chicago life

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Drinking beer at our favourite place

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One of many “selfies” of us on my favourite bridges in Chicago

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Deeeeeeeeeeep Dishhhhh

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We’ve been to 2 Cubs games and 2 Sox games… we liked the hot dogs equally

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What our summer Saturdays typically look like now

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2015  has already been an amazing start and we are SO excited to see what else we can get up to in the next five years! And fifteen years! And fifty years!

Thank you, Lovely, for taking the time to read and celebrate with us! Cheers to you!

I love you, Honey, and I wouldn’t want to go on this adventure with anyone but YOU!

Enjoy,
L

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My Husband IS NOT The Man Of My Dreams

When I was a little girl, and even into my late teenage years, I used to dream up the perfect man who I was going to marry. Can you be a hopeless romantic when you’re 5 years old? I surely was and I still am.  I used to wonder what his name would be. I used to wonder how tall he would be. I used to wonder a lot about him and about us. I used to watch all sorts of lovey dovey movies and just imagine what a love like that would feel like. *dramatic sigh*

These are some of the qualities that my dream man would have:

– Loyal
– Honest
– Intelligent
– Loving
– Funny
– Caring

I really didn’t think that I was asking for too much. Once I entered the dating world, I understood better why I was told that this man only exists in fairytales. Finding a honest and funny man who loved me for me deemed to be more difficult than what my child and teenage self could have ever imagined. I dated people who brought out the worst in me, who made me question my own self, who wanted different things out of life than what I wanted. I was told at one point that the love that I wanted didn’t exist and that there was nobody else in the world who would love me as much as the person I was currently dating would. I was told that the man I was longed for only existed in fairytales and that I needed to be more realistic. I knew in my gut and heart that the kind of love that I was looking for surely wasn’t too much to be asking for.

The first time I met John, I knew that there was something different about him. I instantly felt something with him that I had never felt before. We laughed and talked for three hours straight. My face had never hurt so much as it did that night – my cheeks were on fire from smiling so much and my stomach hurt from laughing so much. I couldn’t remember ever feeling this way! The first time we met, we talked about absolutely everything you could possible talk about. We talked about everything you’re not supposed to talk about. Everything from religion to finances to dishwasher etiquette and absolutely everything in between. It was amazing that we had so many similarities and common interests. If John hadn’t had hockey that night, I’m not sure we ever would have left.

As time went on, I knew that there was something special between us. We both knew. We couldn’t spend enough time with each other and saying ‘bye’ to each other at the night of the night often times took hours. I had met somebody who brought out the best in me, who made me want to be a better person, and somebody who just understand me on a level that nobody else ever has before. Early on into our relationship, John sent me a message that said “LJFL”. I asked him what that meant and he said “Lisa and John For Life”. Still to this day, we sign many cards with “LJFL”.

When John tells me that he loves me, I can feel it. He doesn’t just say the words out of habit or because he feels like he should, every single time he has told me that he loves me, I can feel that he means it. And I him. I can’t exactly put my finger on any one quality of John’s that makes him so perfect in my eyes, but there are somethings in this world that words don’t have to define.

Each time I have been sick or unwell, John always goes out of his way to make me feel better. He always does something just to make me feel special. By the way that he takes care of me, I can see what an incredible father he will someday be and nothing warms my heart more than that thought. John is the man who will surprise me at the airport with a bouquet of flowers. He’s the kind of man who will give me a back massage solely because he knows how much I love them. John is the kind of man who will go out of his way to ensure that I know that I will always come first to him. He is the kind of man who used to commute 30 minutes each way just to surprise me at lunch time to see me for a few minutes during the day. John is the man who would do anything to be my everything. He’s the one who always gives me the last bite of dessert when we share. He’s the one who can make me smile and laugh when I don’t want to. John is the kind of person that I want our future children to look up to.

I did not marry the man of my dreams. I did not marry the man who I envisioned spending my life with. Who I envisioned growing old with. Who I envisioned having children with. No, I did not marry the perfect man from my dreams after all…

I married John and he is a man who I could have never dreamed up in my wildest dreams. He surpasses any version of a man who I had ever hoped to marry.

John is my real life fairytale.

I love you, I didn’t know what true love was until I met you.
LJFL xo

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Enjoy Life,
L


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We Chose To Chase Our Dreams & This Is What Happened

When John and I started to dream about what life would be like in the US, it was so exciting! It almost felt as if we were kids playing “make believe”. Do you remember that game MASH? If you don’t know MASH, it’s a pencil and paper game that kids used to play (maybe there’s an app for it now haha) that would predict one’s future. By playing the game, one would find out who they were married to (if they were married at all), how many kids they’d have, the car they’d drive, what their career would be and yearly income. As the emails and phone calls fell into John’s lap, I couldn’t help but feel as if we were playing a grown up version of MASH.

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Maybe we would end up in Texas! Then we could have a huge brick mansion and drive to Mexico!

Maybe we would end up in California! Then we could live along the beach!

Heck, maybe we would even end up in a place neither of would have ever imagined!

It was fun playing make believe with John. We didn’t tell anybody about the opportunities, as we weren’t entirely sure what the outcome was going to be. We weren’t entirely sure if we would end up actually moving out of Calgary or not, especially since we just bought a house a couple months prior. We also didn’t want to be swayed by others opinions, so we decided to just keep it our little secret.

After way too much googling, we discovered just how difficult it actually was to obtain a working visa, so we didn’t want to get our hopes up too, too high just in case nothing came of this. But, I couldn’t help it… my hopes were up so high that you would have to climb Mount Everest to knock them down. I have a tendency to get myself over excited about things and this was most definitely one of them.

I could not stop thinking about what could be. The unknown was a delicious mystery to me. Usually, John and I both love a plan. We like to know how things are going to be, when they are going to be, etc, etc. But for some reason, throwing our plan out the window seemed so exhilarating to me! I could not stop daydreaming about living in a new city, living in a new country, living a life that we never would have ever mapped out in our plan.

There was something so exhilarating about selling ALL of our things, getting rid of everything and starting from scratch. Starting fresh! We both knew that if we remained in Calgary our lives would be pretty predictable. We had a pretty clear idea of what our lives were going to look like in five, ten and twenty years down the road. We likely would remain in the gorgeous house that we just purchased, we would have had two kids, we both would have eventually climbed the ladder at our jobs. Our weeknights and weekends would likely look the same, with the exception of different kid activities. We would have spent so much of our time doing house and yard maintenance. We would have likely got Vietnamese for dinner from the same place every single Friday night because by the end of the week, I could hardly keep my eyes open until 8:00pm. Saturdays and Sundays would be running around doing errands, doing laundry, squeezing time in to see our friends. And if we were really lucky, we would be doing something nice one night just the two of us. But we would be too tired and exhausted to enjoy ourselves, and what we both really would have wanted was to be sitting on a couch with our feet up. We were only in our late twenties and we had a really tough time envisioning doing the exact same thing, in the exact same house for the rest of our careers. It seemed so boring to us. So conventional.

And so when we played “make believe” together, we dreamed. We allowed ourselves to fully let our imaginations run wild. We allowed ourselves to think of how we wanted our lives to look without thinking of reasons as to why they couldn’t look that way. We let our minds run freely and we discovered that the life in Calgary was not the life that we both dreamed of. We dreamed of having free time together. Of exploring more. Of trying new foods. Of going on road trips to new places. Of doing things that we would never do if we lived in Calgary… like get into tennis, like paddle boarding, like kayaking…. We wanted to be alive and not let chores hold us back from living our dreams.

And so, when the opportunity came to move to Chicago, we realized that this was our chance to live the life we wanted to live. To throw our “boring” life to the wolves. To live on the wild side.   This was our chance to do everything we talked about doing. This was our open door to lead us to a life that we weren’t able to predict. A life that would offer us more time for just the two of us. A life that would lead us more time to actually live.

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And so, we jumped in face first. We dove right in. We weren’t sure that we would ever have this chance again and we were not going to miss out on it. Maybe we dove too soon, maybe things moved too quickly… but in retrospect, I would not change the way things happened for us in any way.

When John’s offer was finally unconditional, we only had two weeks to move. We only had two weeks to sell all of our things, to quit our jobs, to rent a U-Haul trailer, to deal with selling a house. We only had two weeks to pack whatever we could bring with us in our car and trailer. Two weeks to get the proper paperwork in order. Two weeks to renew our passports so they didn’t expire before our visas would. Two weeks to close shop in Canada. And every single day, there was always something new that we discovered that we had yet to do… such as get a letter of compliance from our vehicle’s manufacturer. And without the help of two friends in particular, we are unsure if we would have been able to do it. Two weeks isn’t a lot of time when you are both still working full time jobs. There really are only so many hours in a day, and we hardly slept for those two weeks.

Those two weeks were when everything suddenly everything became real. We were no longer playing MASH, we were dealing with real life. With real life consequences. At one point, we were homeless and jobless. That is terrifying for people who like to have a plan. The moment when I realized that I had actually quit my job and that the house we were living in was no longer ours was so beyond strange and scary that I can’t come up with words to describe those feelings. We were a bundle of emotions that I have never felt before in my life. All at the same time, I was overwhelmed, beyond terrified, stupidly excited, stressed out of my mind, anxious, yet thrilled at the thought of what was to come our way.

But alas, we did it. Somehow, we did it. We finished our last day of work, came home and run around like sixteen chickens with their heads cut off. We slept for only a few hours that night (if we slept at all) on an air mattress. We both knew that in the morning, we would be leaving Calgary. We would be leaving our home. Our lives that we were comfortable living. Our lives that were “safe”.

And so in the morning, we did a few last minute things and we were on our way. On our way to living the life we dreamed of. Living the life we didn’t think was possible. Living a life where we had no idea where we would be in five, ten, twenty years. Living a life that wasn’t necessarily “safe.”

And today, I am happy to report to you, that we are both living a life with a whole new purpose and meaning. We are living a life where we had no idea it was possible to be as happy as we are. We are living a life where we only buy groceries for the week. We are living a life where we literally spend hours upon hours of quality time together. HOURS OF QUALITY TIME TOGETHER!! We never would have had that in Calgary. Our weekends are FUN! We DO things together. We explore, we go on adventures, we walk mile upon mile until the bottoms of our feet are raw. We smile so much more, we laugh together, we try new things. We feel like we are dating again. We are more in love than ever.

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We dove in feet first, hand in hand, and we are happier than we have ever been in our lives. We have only been here for just over two months, but we are going confidently in the direction of our dreams, and living the life that we imagined. Although it was a scary decision and we miss our friends and our family, we have absolutely zero regrets. Isn’t it true that in the end, my lovely, we only regret the chances we didn’t take?

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Enjoy Life,
L


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Why I Gave Up the 8:00 to 5:00 Corporate Career

I had no idea how many people were interested in my career, my job, my 8 to 5 until I gave it up. I quit. Gave my two weeks. Totally doneski!

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I gave up my corporate career at one of the most incredible companies to work for in not only the city, not only the country, but the CONTINENT! A company who was a regular winner of all kinds of awards. What kind of awards you ask? Oh you know, the kind that you would kill for your employer to win such as:

– Canada’s Top 100 Employers (a winner of this award for over decade)
– Canada’s Best Diversity Employers
– Alberta’s Top 65 Employers
– The 2013 Achievers US Most Engaged Workplaces

And I left. Did I have another job in place? Nope. I know what you’re thinking… and no, I am not some spoiled fund baby, nor am I lazy, “new age”, or “one of those…”. Nope, not any of those at all in fact. I have always been ambitious, tend to bite off more than I can chew, and I have the highest level professional designations that you can obtain in my field.

What I am, is a loving wife who has always made it loud and clear that my family is first. It’s funny, TONS of people say it, but I’m uncertain how many people actually mean it. I am actually walking the walk… and I’m getting super judged for it. However, that’s okay, I’m walking side by side with the love of my life and I could not be happier.

And no, I did not come from some slack job where “I just don’t get it”. I came from a real career where I was surrounded by people who were glued to their phones during meetings, who were glued to their phones when they finally went home late at night, glued to their phones on their weekends. It’s absolutely incredible how many people will check their email first thing in the morning, prior to making their children breakfast or making sure they are ready for school. Check their phones while on vacation and find a local Starbucks in some far away island just to make sure that they can connect to Wifi to check their emails. Am I bashing those people? No. In fact, I likely would have become one of those people if we didn’t move to the US.

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Which brings me to why I quit my above average salary job. My husband is the most incredible man that I could ever dream up, and I am grateful every single day that I am able to call him my husband. My other half, my better half. My husband, John, was offered an opportunity of a lifetime to move to the US for his career. To start with a new employer, a new company, a new area of business. Simply put, John is a genius. Now, I’m sure as he is reading this, his face is the colour of a lobster, because you see, John is very, very humble about his career and his intelligence. I am so incredibly proud of how hard this man works and how far his hard work has taken him and I am that proud wife who occasionally shouts this from the rooftop, much to his absolute embarrassment.

I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!

I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!

Moving to the US meant that our lives would change forever. Even if his visa is only good for three years, those three years would impact the rest of our lives. As soon as John started getting these incredible opportunities dropped at his feet, I encouraged him to at least see what these opportunities would look like. He was hesitant at first, but after he talked to the first person, neither of us could stop dreaming of ‘what could be’. We knew things would be different, we knew that we would have to sell our 2,500+ square foot home and live in an apartment, we knew that we’d be kissing my sweet pension and benefits ‘bye bye’, we knew that our five year plan would be taking a real detour, but you know what? That’s okay. Isn’t life about living after all?

So we decided to go for it, fully aware that I would not be able to have a career in the US. I tried to see if my employer would allow me to work from Chicago, but the reality is is that it’s simply easier for them to replace me in Calgary. So they did. You see, a Canadian is unable to simply drive across the border and start looking for jobs as if they were still in the same country. The simplest way for a Canadian to work in the US is that you have to be on a list of professions through the NAFTA agreement. It is a privilege, an opportunity quite rare for a Canadian to work in the US.

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It’s really quite complicated and I will spare all the boring details of why I am unable to work in the US. The main reason behind is is that the unemployment rate is SO high in the US that I would be taking a job from a capable American. I would be thieving a job from right under the country’s own nose. Ridiculous as it seems, I can’t even work at a coffee shop or book store. I. Cannot. Work. Anywhere. Really!

When people found out that we were moving and that I wouldn’t be able to work, there was so much judgement. People can’t wrap their brain around that thought. Some hide it better from others, but I felt each and every single one of those eye rolls and smirky faces. Many don’t understand the simple fact that I am unable to work. Suddenly, mostly everybody who we encounter has plenty of career advice and has taken such a keen interest in my career. Few even knew that I obtained my Fellowship, hell few even KNEW WHAT I DID AT WORK (yes, I’m partially to blame for that as I do not like talking about myself.. strange that I’ve started I blog, isn’t it?!) Yet, they feel entitled to offer career advice. Thanks.  (Let me be clear that there were a select few who were very supportive and encouraging from the get go, and I’d like to genuinely thank you… you know who you are)

John or I are often asked why I don’t change my career and become a profession on the NAFTA list… well there are a few reasons in fact:

1) I don’t have any desire to be an Astronaut
2) Neither of us have any desire to fund my non-dream of becoming an Astronaut and pay the foreign tuition premium
3) We both knew that I wouldn’t be able to work, we decided to come here anyhow and WE ARE HAPPY! Happier than we could have imagined. We made this decision together, we stand by this decision together, so all those who want us to make another decision… sorry, not going to happen. Unless you would like to fund my non-dream of becoming an Astronaut, then maybe I’ll consider it.

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Both John or I will get comments such as:

“what is she going to do..?!”
“she’s going to be so bored!”
“she has to work… she just has to work”
“she’s using you for your money”
“she’s going to go stir crazy”
“she could be a nanny”

…. and you know what, neither of us have had the balls to stand up to these comments yet, but I am going to start.  I am not the nanny type – I would never nanny in Canada, so why would I start here? And I’ll answer those questions of “what do you do all day” in another post… because I am actually quite fun and my adventures deserve a post of their own. 🙂

Am I gold digger? No. I was the one who was the more diligent investor in our early relationship. If I were a gold digger, I would go after a man who doesn’t keep a spreadsheet  of our finances. But I love my spreadsheet keeping man. I love him more than all of the dolla bills in the world. Sure, my husband’s new job pays substantially more than his old one, but we are still a married couple on one income. Neither of us feel like it is “his money” and he has made it very clear to me from the start to never feel that way. And I don’t.

So although I agree that it is strange for a young wife without children to not have a job, it does not allow you to judge me, my husband, or OUR decision. Maybe what some people don’t understand is that I value my family over money. I value my family over my career. I value my husband becoming the best that he can be and achieving his dreams. I get more validation by being told by our doorman that I’m a nice person than by receiving a 20% bonus. And if that means living on one income, so be it.

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In this feminist whirlwind that we are living in, where “women are competing in a man’s world”, where “women are taking a backseat to men”, where I hear whispers of “she’ll never have it all”…. well, you know what? I already do have it all.

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Maybe I will work again one day. Maybe I won’t. Maybe our journey will take us to places we never would have expected. But, I know that no matter where we go, we will be together, we will be happy and we will always do what is best for our family no matter what that means.

On our wedding day, my husband and I didn’t have a conversation about writing our vows. It was just assumed that we would. When I wrote my vows, I put a lot of heart and thought into them. I knew that when I was going to look my husband in the eye at the altar, I was going to mean each and every single word I was saying and that I would forever stand by my vows. Below, I will share with you part of those vows that I said to my Husband on our special day:

“I vow to be by your side through whatever life may bring us and I will be honored to experience life with you side by side. As long as I have you next to me, I will know nothing but pure bliss and true love. Today and everyday, I give you my hand, my heart and my love.”

My Everything

My Everything

And that, my dear lovelies, is why I gave up my corporate career.

Thank you for reading. A “share” or “follow” is the biggest compliment of all and I appreciate each and every single one of them.

Enjoy Life,
L