Photo: Canadian Publishing
Author Colette Stone 2020 is photographed on Wednesday 23rd December in Toronto High Park.
The COVID-19 epidemic has uplifted the lives of Canadians across the country, causing many to lose their jobs or careers, or often adapt to a new life spent at home. Some, however, are prone to disruption, however, and use these uncertain times as a starting point for major life changes that they do not accept. Here are some of their stories.
Christina Chu, 41
Eventually, it took only six weeks for Christina Chow and her partner to cover up their lives, sell their wares and move to Nicaragua.
But the change has been in production for months, since the first wave of the epidemic brought his life to a standstill as he ran an event production company, he said in a new interview in a recent social interview with Hagenta Iguana. Pacific coast of the country.
When Ontario was locked up last winter, Chao initially planned to ride it out, leading to organizing online events and volunteering the rest of the time. But as several months passed for his bread and butter-like events, Chao decided to step back and take a serious break for the first time in about 20 years.
“I’m a little more lucky because my business is cyclical … so I always have savings set aside for that period (when business is slow) so I had … things to pursue, plus CERB, through infection,” he said. .
“I’ve always worked so hard, I’ve always been like ‘go, go, go’ – this is the first time in my entire life that I can really take a step back and evaluate my life for what I want, what makes me happy, what doesn’t make me happy . “
Around September, when the second round of closures appeared immediate, the couple began to think of ways to avoid spending another winter in their west-facing Toronto apartment, Chao said.
During the previous lock-up, they joked that their isolation would be more bearable in a hot climate, and suddenly the couple began to explore possible locations for a move, he said. His partner, a musician, works at an entertainment company that allows long-distance work, he said.
“Now is the best time, somewhere cheap, we can live a very cheap and slow way of life,” he said.
He said he moved to Nicaragua in 2017 and then had an affair with a Canadian woman in that country. In the fall she contacted him again, knowing the woman had airbnbs and asking about long-term rent. The woman agreed to keep them as tenants because COVID-19 has dramatically reduced tourism, Chao said.
The final decision to move was made over Thanksgiving weekend, Chao said. Over the next few weeks, the couple sold possessions worth about $ 5,000 and then placed the rest in the basement of Chavez’s mother, he said. They flew to Nicaragua at the end of November.
There were some setbacks on the trip – anyone coming to Nicaragua needs to show proof of having tested negative for COVID-19 in the last 72 hours, and there is a risk that flights will be canceled or delayed, Chao said. They flew to Costa Rica and hired a driver to take them to Nicaragua.
These days couples go to bed early, get up early, and then start a walk on the beach before returning to other activities such as long distance work and Spanish lessons, Su said.
“We have a pond outside, a beautiful forest area, and we have a two minute walk from the beach,” he said.
Chau works with a life coach who turns to a career in that field, which he started before a move, he said.
The couple is committed to staying for five months in a bungalow they share with their friend. Beyond that, if they want to stay in Nicaragua, it may be time to find their own place, Chao said.
“We want to see how Kovit works, we definitely want to enjoy life here, we want to see what it is,” he said.
“We love this so much, but I don’t know what five months will be like … and I don’t think it makes any sense to come forward or plan to do anything right now.”
Colette Stone, 45
Like the big Montessori schools he saw running out of spacious old homes on the west end of Toronto, Colette Stone had long dreamed of opening his own school.
It always seemed financially unattainable, but the idea of leaving on its own after teaching in public schools for almost two decades was on the back of his mind, he said in a recent interview.
Last winter brought a great upsurge in Ontario’s schools, with teachers suspending COVID-19 person learning as they were forced to highlight online teaching.
The epidemic exacerbated many of the problems within the education system, and the opportunity to return in the fall with these additional challenges gave Stone the impetus he needed to give his dream some serious thought.
In July, he began to see himself taking unpaid leave to leave on his own, he said.
Stone then set up his business over the summer, a company based on a training model, and hired an accountant to handle the funds.
The program, called Elevate Literacy, began in September with online math and language classes from kindergarten through 6th grade and one-person, distance, outdoor education courses at Toronto’s High Park.
“It’s like being on a field trip every day, I used to do it once or twice a year with my class when I was initially a homeroom teacher,” Stone said of the outdoor components.
Currently, eight to 10 children are enrolled in math and language classes, while outdoor education groups have fewer than five, Stone said. However, he had to appoint an additional teacher to continue the need for online teaching, he said.
“I think there was already a need to support children learning outside the classroom (before the epidemic),” and it only increased if given how much children lose in the light of restrictions, Stone said.
Eventually, when health guidelines allow, Stone said he hopes to start programming in person at a rented location from the park.
Ideally, the project will one day become a franchise with locations across the city, he said. But it was still early days, and he said he would see next year if he could extend his absence.
“I have the security to go back (to public school) in September, and if I have, it’s a very lucky situation,” he said.
Still, “It’s not even four months, and even though it’s not over for a long time, I think it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”
— Step Payne, 33
Stephen Payne and his partner attended a massive party with hundreds of people in 2020, marking the closure of their company’s high-speed art installation project in West Toronto.
Payne, the creative director of their company, Monto Pharma, said the project, known as Funhouse Toronto, has been running for several months and the couple hopes to export it to Singapore. They got a grant to travel to Southeast Asia and elsewhere.
While COVID-19 was grinding their projects, they traveled to six countries for more than six weeks and attended conferences and other events.
The couple stayed with Payne’s parents in Texas for a few months as they left their apartment in Toronto to travel, he said.
That’s where they began to seriously consider – eventually planning – to fully embrace nomadic life and end up with a house on four wheels.
A recent trip to New Zealand introduced them to so-called “van life” for many Canadians, Payne said, and the idea was firmly rooted as the epidemic tightened its grip on North America.
“The Toronto rental market was not just crazy and affordable … Also, the work was completely remote, so we weren’t really tied to our location, naturally we were both nomads,” he said.
“I think in times of crisis you will return to your normal very real self. It seemed like the best time to do that – if not now, when?”
They watched countless van replacement videos on YouTube with the initial goal of returning to Toronto, buying a van and replacing it.
Instead, Payne stumbled upon an already modified 1985 vintage van while searching an online resale site, he said. All it takes is some reconstruction work, and the couple over a period of a month – again with the help of YouTube tutorials.
They re-installed the entire plumbing system and solar panels so that the van would be completely off-grid, he said.
“I’m a plumber now … after so many mistakes and a lot of YouTube videos, I want to say with confidence that I can fully install your kitchen sink for you,” Payne said with a laugh.
In late August, they left Toronto in a newly refurbished van, nicknamed Sunny, forcing them to stop for three months with closed borders across Canada and mostly winter weather.
On the road, morning coffees in daily life involve watching the sunrise, then two hours of work and emails before finally going back to the hike, he said. They had a loosely planned route, but traveling on a vintage RV means you have to be prepared for breakdowns and other unforeseen events, which is hard to stick to, he added.
Not only did they get the freedom and adventure they wanted, but the couple also halved their monthly expenses, Payne said, and financial benefits were an “important” part of their decision-making.
Sunny The RV is currently stored outside Vancouver, while Payne and his partner are spending the winter in Texas, he said. But come spring, they plan to go on the road again.
“Everything has definitely changed,” he said.
“I feel that work is not my primary focus right now. It’s become a secondary thing, and nurturing other areas of my life like my family, my friends, my relationship with myself, my relationship with my partner … is very important.”