Hello there, my name is Samira, I am 17 years old and my family and I are currently posted to Ottawa Ontario. I was born in Edmonton, Alberta and have moved about 7 or 8 times in my lifetime.
I am known as a Military BRAT. (Born, Raised And Transferred). My father retired from the military in 2017 and resides in BC. My mother is still serving as a Master Warrant Officer, Medical Technician Trade Advisor.
Growing up it was easy moving around a lot. I would make lots of new friends, all while getting to see most of our beautiful country. I got to experience what it was like living in big cities, I got to live by the ocean and even faced Ontario’s harsh cold winters.
Although it wasn’t till I got older when I started to struggle with the postings. I was about 10 years old when we first moved to Victoria, British Columbia, from Borden, Ontario. I found it harder to leave my friends and struggled in school with the different province curriculums.
Once we moved to Victoria, my family and I decided to live off base in a town called Sooke. My parents commute to work took an hour each way. They would leave early in the morning and come home late just so my brother and I could go to a school close by. Which resulted in my brother and I staying over at friends houses a lot after school till our parents got home. My mother was on the HMCS Calgary at the time so she was away lots. She is like my best friend, so I struggled with that a lot as well.
While my parents were at work, after school my brother and I would always go over to our friends house down the road. They were our closest family friends. Their mother was like a second mother to us while my mother was deployed. She was always there for me and helped me feel better when I missed my mother.
After 4 years in Sooke, we moved back to Ontario. I found the move here much harder than when we left Bodern because I was much older. I was a freshman in high school, with no friends, in a new town.
I was so upset about moving, on top of my parents recent separation that I began to fail some of my classes. I would stay home a lot and actually ended up missing 42/93 days in one semester. I was then placed into therapy and that next semester I only missed 4/93 days that semester and am much more focused on graduating now.
I have been through so much being a Military BRAT but I wouldn’t change it for a thing. There have been ups and downs but it is because of those postings and experiences that made me who I am today.
Dad, besides being a postie and a “regular” pastor was also padre of the North and West Vancouver Legions. He also served as a Radio operator and lineman in WW II and was wounded near Caen. When he lived at New Horizons Community of Care, he gave this talk at their Remembrance Day Service in 2009.
“Lord God of hosts, be with us yet, let we forget – lest we forget. Today is Remembrance Day, a day of which we remember. Remember what? I suspect that the most difficult task we will have is to remember that it is Remembrance Day.
Today, if previous customs hold true, in many of the newspapers throughout the country there will be published lovely pictures of places that we have decorated and forgotten. There will be large fields of white crosses, graceful stone monuments, flowers, flags and fountains. Most of us find it rather easy to look at such things without remembering too much. Rows and rows of white crosses don’t do much but form a rather attractive geometric pattern against the green grass. It makes for pretty pictures. But for many of us, it is rather difficult for us to forget what’s under those crosses. The memory is seared too deeply into heart and mind ever to be erased. I must apologize if I find it hard to forget. If I did not stand here on this day and remember, if I did not speak a word of these who died, if I did not say the things that I am sure that they would say to you, then I would be defaulting in a sacred trust, the most sacred trust that one man can place upon another – his life.
How will we remember? The simple face is that most people won’t. For most it’s just a holiday, a day of recreation, or simply another business day. But those who do remember, how will we do it?
When I was a school boy, we used to hear it or recite it every Remembrance Day:
‘In Flander’s Fields, the poppies grow, Beneath the crosses, row on row, That mark our place, while in the sky The larks still bravely singing fly, Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, loved, and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from falling hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders Fields.
Some people today have never heard those words, nor know what they refer to, or where Flanders Fields were. I wonder why? Could it be that the words sounds a bit silly and sentimental, even a bit ominous – ‘If ye break faith with us who die’ or is it that we would hate admitting the uselessness of that terrible sacrifice with so many wards coming one after the other – so many wars that we had to start numbering them.
What shall we say then, this remembrance day? Shall we say that the sacrifice was stupid, useless, and senseless? Shall we, with the ultimate cynicism write the whole thing off as a bad show? Shall we give each grave a consoling pat with the comforting words, ;Nice try Buddy. You gave it everything you had, Too bad it didn’t pay off.’ No! In God’s Name , no!
Winston Churchill wrote in the preface of one of his books on the war years: ‘I have called this volume ‘Triumph and Tragedy’ because, so far, the overwhelming victory of the grand alliance has failed to bring peace to an anxious world.
Yes, there is always the tragedy. We have failed so often. We have so often broken faith with those who died. Why did they die? So we could eat apple pie and boo the referee? Hogwash! I think I know why they died. They knew that liberty is not a destination, it is a journey. There was in each one of them a strong sense of mission. They sensed that their mission was not just to protect their own skins or the skins of their countrymen. They had a mission to all the enslaved people of the earth. Their fight was not just an isolated moment in history. It was part of the main stream of the human story, a mission of bringing God’s freedom to all the enslaved of the world.
What shall we say of those who died? That history has not yet vindicated their sacrifice? The fact that we have not yet brought peace to the world? The fact that we have broken faith , again and again, with our honored dead? The fact that we no longer grieve nor remember?
All of this does not alter one iota the magnificence and the selfless nobility of their sacrifice. Our Lord carried the efficacy of their sacrifice into His World: ‘Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’
Disparage it as we will, minimize it as we will, forget it as we will, they know why they had fought. They knew why they were willing to die, and that cause will be forever victorious – truth, liberty and right!
If the tragedy of all these words and all of these dead has done nothing but finally convince the people of the earth that no one, no nation, can gain anything by war, and that we must begin in this world to talk to each other instead of shooting at each other, then all of their sacrifice has not been in vain.
Day 14: Canmore to the BC Border . . . . Woke up to views of the mountains (a top 10 fave view to wake up to) and then finished the drive up to Banff for an early start. Walked around the town and was on Bane duty while the crazy old ladies did some shopping, which I didn’t mind because he garners a lot of attention and we all know I love attention (even if it wasn’t directed towards me specifically). The exclamations of passersby ranged from “Awww so cute” and a smile thrown my way to a small child coming right up to him and shouting “Oh Boy, now that’s a BIG dog!”. There were only 2 ignorant people that didn’t control their dogs and were rude about it, but their dogs weren’t as pretty as ours, so jokes on them anyways. Then we went out to Lake Louise and Lake Moraine, which was absolute mayhem Covid-wise (we found small openings in the throngs of people to take mediocre pictures before running back to the van), before trucking on to a campsite just on the other side of the AB/BC border. . . . . Nan got stuck climbing out our hotel window (rather than walking through the lobby), had quite a long conversation with a Magpie (which was cute), and refused to brush her teeth when we were trying to get her in to bed (and then refused to stay in bed just like a little kid).
Days 15-18: BC Border to Kamloops – Merritt – Jasper – Avola . . . . Pretty much freezing our tits off in the mountains to sweating our balls off in the valleys. We woke up freezing cold and decided to go back to Kamloops to do some laundry. Went to the ghost town at 3 Valley Gap and saw a classroom for 8 grades that looked exactly like Nan’s school, along with some old cars, and a lot of info on the opium trade and usage, as well as some lookout spots over Revelstoke. I was nursing a concussion and was in denial for a while about it but it all came to a head (literally) when I smoked my dome on one of the cabinets in the campervan (I’m alright, but it’s a fun #12 for sure. Leave it to 2020 to ruin an otherwise lovely roadtrip [covid aside]). I stayed in our dark hotel room whilst Mom and Nan walked around Merritt, and then we drove out to Jasper and stayed at Mount Robson Provincial Park during a wicked thunderstorm and Bane was super afraid. Gave Bane a lake swim in Jasper (which was super cold), Mom and Nan spent some time in Jasper whilst I slept in the van (and later that evening Nan decided to join me wearing sunglasses in the dark), and now we’ve crashed at a rest stop outside of Avola. . . . . Some fun quotes from the last few days:
Nan: “You just dropped something out of your pocket…oh it was your hand”
Me: “What’s the point of mosquitoes?” Mom: “They feed frogs” Nan: “How do they eat frogs? They’re so little” . . . . Ngl, idk if I got the order right, and I’m sure I missed a bunch of stuff, but hey, I’m concussed, I have an excuse.
Days 19-21: Avola – 100 Mile House – Clinton – Loon Lake – Juniper Provincial Park – Lac La Jeune – Kamloops . . . . Avola to 100 Mile House – No sleep from mom and the dog fighting over the floor, Nan flopping around and being startled by the passing trains, and my usual night carryons, but hey, at least the passing trucks were rocking us back to sleep, MTL won, and I slept a lot.
100 Mile House to Juniper Provincial Park – Nan liked the shower at the hotel in 100 Mile House and has decided that she’s going to change her “flower head” when she gets home, we stopped at a big chasm, with quick stops in Clinton, Loon Lake, and Klaassen Farms for some yummy fresh foods, and then Juniper Provincial Park where the park attendant was absolutely lovely and from Logan Lake.
Juniper Provincial Park to Kamloops – Bane wouldn’t share the floor with me and none of us slept from either heat, trains, snoring, or Bane. Had the breakfast of champions in Sparkling Rose Lemonade, Blueberries, and Double Chocolate Cookies. Spent the afternoon at Lac La Jeune (I spent most of it in the van) and then had to take Bane to the vet clinic cause he was whimpering and limping (he’s now on some pain killers and flopped sleeping soundly. The vet couldn’t find anything wrong). And to cap it all off, MTL lost (what a waste of a good draft pick, but hey, was pretty decent hockey at least). Now it’s bed time and hopefully my brain with be better tomorrow. . . . . Nan drinking out of a bottle: Geez, someone put Orange Juice in my Water”, Mom: “That’s because it’s orange juice”
Days 22 – 24: Kamloops to Logan Lake . . . . Knutsford RV Campground: Had a nice flop outside on the grass all day. It was a big step in the realm of concussions to be able to be outside and not cooped up in the van. Was glorious all day, but then we froze our nips off that night.
Kamloops: Spent the day at Lincoln’s apartment, and I slept a lot. My eyes were all bruised from wearing my sunglasses all day everyday for a week, and God my face and head hurt a lot.
Logan Lake campground: Sat around playing cards and listening to stories from Nan about the old days, saw the biggest buck just chillin across from our site, widdled some wood and split a log like Captain America (I felt pretty badass not gunna lie, even if it was partially split), had my first campfire in over 2 years and I managed to light it without a lighter (Trip Logistics Intro’s still got it), locked ourselves out of the campervan and had to call BCAA, and for the first time managed to take my sun glasses off as the sun started to set. Here’s to a mostly healed brain. . . . . Nan: Looking at her corn “Hey, get out of here” Mom: “Who are you talking to” Me: “Her friend the Sasquatch” Nan: “No, a fly was trying to eat some of my corn, and I wasn’t about to share”
Day 25: Logan Lake Campground . . . . It was a pretty good day today, and I was incredibly productive for camping, from dealing with the government and the bank, to a minor existential crisis spurned on by a week of being in the dark with my thoughts, to lovely chats with 2 of my fav humans. Had a bit of a nap ’cause last night I tried sleeping in the Rav to give Nan and mom more space in the Van and to get some privacy away from Nan’s snoring – and God that was a bad idea as it got SUPER COLD. Over dinner we had a lengthy conversation about the British Monarchy and the British family, went on a long walk with a pent up Bane who found and destroyed multiple sticks (and a bottle), and ended the night with a nice campfire and marshmallows (Nan hasn’t had a marshmallow at the fire in a long time, and she thoroughly enjoyed it). Now I’m sitting at the fire, listening to blackbear’s “everything means nothing” album, and having a good think about life. . . . . Nan: “It’s 8 O’Clock at night, why am I freezing to death? It’s not like it’s October. Geez” Me: “May as well call it Aug-tober eh Nan?”
Meh, I think I’m Funny.
Days 25-26: Logan Lake Campground . . . . Had 2 long nights and very long days with my anxiety going thru the roof, but I managed to take time to settle down with some colouring, writing, copious walks, taking Bane for a drink in the lake, phone chats wih friends, and 2 nice long fires. The weather kept fluctuating, so we had to change every few minutes, and Bane was very distressed by the fact that Nan and Mom were eating marshmallows right off a stick (and how dare they have a stick when all the sticks belong to him to chew on). Some noisy youths (honestly all probably my age) pulled in across from us yesterday night, which was annoying, but they were mostly chill after 11 and are gone now, and a big Buck came and chilled near me in the calm of the night at the fire last night. . . . . Mom and Nan have no patience roasting marshmallows, and it hurts my soul. Also, on concussion watch, symptoms are all gone, and I went the full day with regular scheduled programming. Just in time for moving into the house tomorrow!
Day 1 (July 28th – Aug 1st): Campbell River to Golden . . . . Well, we sold our house and Mom, our new pup Bane, and I are now living in a camper van touring around Western Canada (making sure to still stay safe amidst Covid) until we get possession of our new house. So here’s the first of many updates and photo dumps detailing the trip. . . . . Pictured: Initial move with the cats to where my stepdad is living in Kamloops, the drive from Kamloops to Golden, and plenty of pics with the pup.
Day 2: Golden to the Saskatchewan border. . . . . . We blazed through Alberta, stopping along the way for a quick, spur of the moment, socially distanced visit with 2 of my fav people and old roommates before setting up shop for the night on the Saskatchewan border. Got in a nice workout and then tried to awkwardly have a shower with my long appendages smacking the walls and head hitting the ceiling. . . . . 1 fun speculative sighting: 2 cars meet at the Saskatchewan/Alberta rest stop. 1 from SK, 1 from AB. They are having a romantic picnic trist. Their love is forbidden, just like Romeo and Juliet. Let’s hope they have a better fate.
Day 3: Saskatchewan Border to Moosomin, SK . . . . It’s Saskatchewan… not a lot happened. But we did see a salt field that looked like snow, and we decided to actually get a proper campsite for the night so that’s cool. . . . . . In case anyone was invested, Romeo and Juliet showed up again in the morning for what looked like another day of forbidden romanticism. I hope they find happiness, and I will think of them often. 2020 be real trying times, and I’m rooting for them.
Day 4: Moosomin, SK to the Manitoba/Ontario border. . . . . It was a very long day without much to get excited about. We drove thru Manitoba only making 1 stop in Winnipeg with the intent of buying a new tent at MEC. Long story short, driving in Winnipeg is a nightmare, and apparently a $600 purchase in Winnipeg is weird enough for my debit card to get frozen, so that’s fun. . . . . Mom couldn’t pull over when I was leaving MEC, so I had to run out of the store into 3 lane traffic to jump into the moving vehicle wearing flip flops
Day 5: Manitoba/Ontario border to Thunder Bay . . . . Been a long day and our little lake time got cut short from some rogue, off leash doggos that wanted to cause a ruckus (so we didn’t get any good pics out there), but apparently our boy Bane, an Akita, loves water. Our old girl Tala didn’t even like stepping in a puddle let alone a lake, but here Bane was lapping it up (literally). . . . . Today we saw identical twin construction workers holding signs at a roadside construction site, saw a Moose, and currently, our generator isn’t working, so that’s all cool.
Day 6: Thunder Bay to Sault Ste. Marie . . . . Got absolutely no sleep last night, and mom started driving at 4am, but we ended up havig a fun little beach break with Bane. He loves the water and the beach, but isn’t quite sure what to think about the waves. It took a lot of coaxing to get him in, and he absolutely shot out when a wave hit him in the face. . . . . Capped off the night at a campground to connect to some electricity and wifi (I had a lot of hockey stuff to catch up on).
Day 7: Sault Ste Marie to Parry Sound . . . . We didn’t do a whole lot today, and I had a massive headache and slept most of the ride, but feeling very grateful for being able to make the most of not only being without a physical address atm but a Covid era summer. Very lucky to be safely travelling across this beautiful country we call home. . . . . Also grateful for good conversations with friends, and hockey, tho I’ve yet to decide whether I’m happy that MTL upset PIT or sad that they lost out on the Lafreniere sweep stakes. EDM for another #1 pick?!
Day 8: Parry Sound to Sault Ste. Marie . . . . Picked up the Nan and Bane loves her. We’re not exploring ON much since we’re all from here, but there’ll be tons more content in future stops. In the meantime, enjoy pics of my Nan scolding me for who knows what. . . . . I also doubled up my money and won $2 on a hockey bet, so that’s cool. Also had some wifi to get in a healthy dose of tiktoks to keep me going for a while. . . . . Update: it has taken us 45 minutes trying to figure out the bed situation. I am sleeping on the floor with the dog while the old ladies get the bed, and Nan has promised not to walk all over when she gets up to pee during the night. We’ll see how this goes.
Day 9: Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay . . . . After “sleeping” on the floor last night, I was super tired and felt like garbage, and it was super rainy and thunder stormy during parts of the trip, but we managed to get a few fun moments into the day spending a bit of time with Bane at the beach again and seeing where the original Winnie the Pooh was from. Staying in a hotel tonight, so time to take some melatonin and clock out. . . . . Also, TO chocked in the playoffs again and CBJ is set to face TBL again in the 1st round and I think this is so funny.
Day 10: Thunder Bay to Winnipeg . . . . We all got good sleep last night, and woke up super rejuvenated, which was a good thing because we had a super long drive today. We made a few stops, such as the Centre of Canada, but we mostly spent the drive harassing and razing the heck out of each other, which made for a real fun ride (until Winnipeg that is. Man I have a strong dislike for this city), and I think Bane is tired of our craziness lmao. We also saw those identical twin construction workers again, which was neat. Oh and it was super windy. Like all day, no matter where we were. Was kinda crazy at times. . . . . According to my Nan, life is all about “pissing your pants and having a good time” and I think that pretty much sums up our trip so far with the amount of laughter going on, half of which doesn’t make sense to even try and explain on here let along in person.
Day 11: Winnipeg to Moosomin District Regional Park . . . . Well we did the stupid thing and stayed overnight in Winnipeg, which has got to be the worst city ever and we spent 30 some odd minutes trying to navigate out of the city as the gps kept saying to make an “illegal u-turn” when there was a grass median separating the 6 lane highway… buuut we ended up having a hoot of a day once out of Winnipeg – we taught Nan to play cards (she was never allowed to play cards) and were just all around goofs all afternoon and evening. . . . . Some fun highlights: Nan “smiling” after mom gave her crap for never smiling in pics (whilst I munched on a juicy peach), laughing at Nan for wanting to go to a “Butterfly Aquarium”, teaching Nan Go Fish, fixing her purse strap in 3 seconds that she’d been fighting with all day, her seeing and being startled by a “GIGANTIC Turtle” and me sitting on said plastic gigantic turtle, the massive Moosomin Park chair, and trying to fit in the bed horizontally instead of vertically (legitimately thought I broke my leg).
Day 12: Moosomin District Regional Park to the Saskatchewan/Alberta Border . . . . Well, to start the day, Nan and Mom decided to get up and going a lot earlier than I would have liked, especially given all of our lack of sleep. Mom even started to fold the bed up on me, of which I was not pleased. I slept a good portion of the day but we got stops in at the World’s Tallest Moose in Moose Jaw (the Prairie Dogs were going full Lion King 1 and 1/2 with all their scurrying, sniffing, and flinching) and the Red Lake Water Fowl Observatory (where Bane decided to start chasing Prairie Dogs – that was fun to reign in a puppy that weighs more than me) before making camp at the same SK/AB border rest stop as last week (we’ll see if Romeo and Juliet show up in the morning). Got in a good workout and am now more than ready for bed. . . . . Apparently Nan is certain she saw Sasquatch roaming in a wheat field on the drive, and who am I to argue with a semi blind, crazy old lady?
Day 13: Saskatchewan/Alberta Border to Canmore . . . . We woke up to 2 reasons to being cold this morning – the temperature, and our hearts full of sadness – I can only assume Romeo and Juliet have met their untimely death after not seeing them resume their romantic trist in the morning. All jokes aside, we got some much needed groceries, and continued our drive into AB, stopping off for some time at Dinosaur National Park where I almost stepped on a snake and a cactus in flip flops, made an accidental stop up Three Sisters Blvd where we encountered a herd of Elk, and ended up in a hotel where my eyes have barely left the screen from my first taste of watching 2020 playoff hockey. . . . . I need to learn what to do with my appendages when I’m not holding anything.
I wish I could say that I am sorry for not keeping up on my weekly blog posts, but I’m not sorry. Things are crazy, and sometimes we just need to step back and do our self care!
Even before the pandemic, I recognized the signs of burnout and stepped back to do some much-needed self-care.
During the pandemic many of my creative friends are finding it hard to be creative and that’s okay. On days when I struggle, I do a workshop! There are some great ones online right now.
The SCBWI has a great series right now that you can register to join live or find them in the archives later. I prefer the archived ones because it allows me the freedom to do them when my schedule permits. So far my favourite was the one with Lin Oliver and Henry Winkler!
On the book front, I am loving my new developmental editor. He actually writes middle grade fantasy and reads it. So he is helping me take my good book and making it great. My mentorship year taught me how to write a good book, and I learned so much from my mentors, but it is making a world of difference working with someone that loves fantasy and loves the premise and characters like I do!
I also make sure to spend lots of times with these two little monkeys! They think they’re great editors, but they’re better at telling me when I need a break.
I hope you are finding time to do your self care and that you are giving yourself grace for the days you aren’t feeling like being creative.
I haven’t written a blog post since December for several (good) reasons. The first reason you will be excited to hear is that I was focusing on finishing my edits to my middle grade fantasy and my picture books and then focusing on re-editing as I heard from beta readers.
The second reason the jury is still out on whether it is a good thing, (I am joking!) my husband was nominated for a bishopric position within the Anglican Church of Canada. In January he was elected. This means a move and huge changes in both our personal and professional lives. This is very exciting and a chance for us both to explore and grow in different ministries!
One advantage of being a writer who works from home most days is that showings, packing, or quarantine don’t affect my ability to write. Over, the past 4 months my mind and time was and will continue to dedicate my time to polishing my books and packing to prepare for the move so I may not blog as often as I was or should be.
Speaking of quarantine, did everyone remember to stock up on books to read? Sadly, I packed my to-be-read pile, but since I live with a bookworm, so he had no objections to buying me a few more! With the schools shutting down, this was the perfect time to send my fantasy out to young beta readers. I think I am more worried to hear from the kids than I was to hear from the adult beta readers. No, that’s an understatement, I am terrified to hear from the kids.
In the devotional Everyday Blessings, Inspirational Thoughts from the Published Works of Max Lucado, Max writes that while we may not yet realize what we can learn from the struggles in our lives, we will come to know that there is purpose in our pain. Last March, a seemingly innocuous bump on the head that I sustained as I got into my van brought me down the road of post-concussion syndrome. I struggled for months, attempting to work as a Worship Coordinator and play music with my band and look after normal everyday tasks including doing bookwork for the construction company my husband and I run. But my family, my employer, and my health team realized that I couldn’t continue in that manner. I wasn’t getting better and I really wasn’t able to fulfill the expectations of employment. So, in October of 2019, I left work for a one-year leave of absence.
I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. Grief and depression set in. In therapy we worked through how I felt that I wasn’t contributing in any meaningful way. My therapist also pointed out that at this point my creative expression had shifted from music to art. I was spending time almost daily in the art studio and rediscovering joy in the materials that I used when I studied Art in college.
I have come to call this my year of Jubilee. Much as the Israelites would leave their lands fallow in the time of Jubilee, I am leaving off my regular activities and letting a time of rest blossom into something new. I still don’t know what purpose God sees in the pain that I experience daily, but I am more confident that this time will be fruitful.
Nicole Ensing is a wife and mother, a musician and an artist, living in Guelph, Ontario.
We’re officially 5 days into January 2020 and I’m breaking my social media hiatus to share my goals and an update on my writing.
New Year’s eve was amazing. I kissed 2019 goodbye by writing 12 picture books and welcomed 2020 by writing and editing a picture book I’m going to query!
Although, I’m not one to set resolutions, I do set goals and personal challenges.
This year my writing goals are:
query my middle grade fantasy, query two of my picture books, write book 2 for my middle grade fantasy.
My ministry goals depend on where we are living, but I would love to offer more retreats, and classes.
For my personal goals, I will continue my healing journey by being gentler with myself when I have set backs. I know that Cptsd takes time to heal from. My little snuggle buddies are a blessing, they rescued and I give thanks for them every day.
Everyone keeps asking me what my reading goals are this year, so this year I’m trying something different. My goal is to read books that breathe life into me!