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In my last message, I told you about how I started doing yoga at my fire station in Canada and how different firefighters I worked with tried it out with me. This next chapter in my story is how the process of getting to New Zealand started, and how our lives changed immensely in 2010. This is the start of my story and how I ended up in New Zealand.

At this stage, I was practicing yoga when I could fit it in, either at Yogalife Studio or with a DVD at the fire station or sometimes even both.  We were living a great life in Canada and yet, I was searching for something more…

In November 2010, Sonya and I took a trip to Roatan, Honduras. We took little Owen with us, but we left our girls in Canada.  We felt pretty comfortable travelling this way. This trip turned out to be a significant catalyst for some massive changes in my life.

We spent the week in a tropical paradise. I learned how to dive, and despite the weather not being great while we were there, we had a fantastic time.  November in Roatan is a slow time, so we went to a beachfront restaurant for dinner, and we were the only ones eating there that night.  We walked in, and I observed a man sitting at the bar, having a drink.  He was the only other person in the restaurant beside the staff.

This man at the bar, Frank, turned out to be our chef, and he was an ex-pat Canadian living on Roatan.  Frank was semi-retired and worked as a chef when he felt like it.  As we were the only patrons that night, he made us whatever we wanted and told us “don’t worry about the menu”.  It was an amazing meal!  After dinner, he came and then sat with us and told us his life story.

Frank’s life enthralled me.  He basically bought restaurants that were in great locations but were failing. He turned them around and then sold them a few years later for a nice profit.  I was fascinated with his story of courage and doing the unconventional. Through determination and hard work, he was successful.

Frank’s story planted a seed. Upon returning to a long and cold winter in Canada, I told Sonya I wanted to move our family to Roatan and live on the island.  Diving, fishing, living in the Caribbean, sending our kids to Spanish school, and living the best life; it seemed like paradise to me.  Being much more practical on this occasion, Sonya was against this idea and said, “I don’t want to raise our kids in a third world country, but I would move to New Zealand”.

I was astonished, New Zealand, really!?

So, I should back up for a moment and describe how New Zealand was in her mind.  In early 2010, we had travelled to New Zealand to attend a wedding of some Kiwis we had met in Canada.  I met Scott at a firefighter training course I was teaching about confined space and trench rescue.  Scott had come to Canada with his partner Gina to do a firefighter exchange.  Scott and Gina were from Whangarei (coincidentally where we live now).

The couple lived two blocks from our house, and we struck up a friendship for the year they lived in Edmonton.   Scott even came to some hot yoga classes with me.  When they invited us to their wedding, we jumped at the chance.

They arranged a place for us to stay in Taurikura, Whangarei Heads and to say we had a great time was an understatement.  We enjoyed two weeks at the beach, had excellent hosts to show us around, and the weather was terrific.  It was a beautiful place, and in a random conversation one night, Sonya said, “if I could move to New Zealand, I would.”

I brushed off the suggestion as I was not interested in moving or leaving my job as a firefighter.  I was highly trained, we had a great life, and Owen was about to be born.

Well, as I mentioned above, our trip to Roatan was profound, and I had caught the bug of doing something revolutionary in my life.  I didn’t want to die within 10 miles of where I was born; I wanted to go out and see the world!

So back to the end of 2010 and Sonya saying she would live in New Zealand.  I scoffed at the idea as I wanted to live in the Caribbean and never face another Edmonton winter, but something resonated this time about New Zealand, and I started to see if we could move there.  It didn’t look too daunting, we knew some people there, and maybe we could do it.  We had three kids under five, but this notion didn’t seem to damper our spirits.

So, we decided to take part in the Firefighter Exchange Program, which gave us a chance to live somewhere else for a year.  We chose New Zealand as our desired location and got to work trying to find someone willing to exchange houses and jobs with us for a year.  I wanted to live by the ocean for a year so that I could dive, surf, and breathe the salt air every day.

We were open to anywhere in New Zealand but hoped since we had travelled to Whangarei and knew a firefighter family here; we could find someone in Northland willing to do it.

Well, I will leave the story here.  Next time I’ll share how this whole process went. It was anything but smooth or easy, but we just kept taking one step further with every obstacle we faced.  Our hearts were set on doing something revolutionary, and this seemed the perfect opportunity to do it.

Read Yogafire Origins – Part 1 – My Journey Begins here.
Read Yogafire Origins – Part 2 – My First Yoga Class here. 
Read Yogafire Origins – Part 3 – Firefighters doing Yoga here.
Read Yogafire Origins – Part 5 – The Immigration Quagmire here.
Read Yogafire Origins – Part 6 – Almost Arrested and Other Obstacles here.

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