Friday, June 21, 2024

From Canada to Cabo Part 2: Time for a change

To read writer Christina Whiteley’s story from the beginning, go to Part 1.

Sixteen months have passed since we decided to take a break from our lives in Canada and re-evaluate how we wanted to live our next chapter. It’s been a year since we took the leap and decided to make our time in Mexico more permanent. Although we couldn’t be happier here now, it wasn’t an easy decision. 

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic period, I don’t think anyone got out of the experience unscathed. We lost people in our lives, not just to death, but to division. Systems that were already broken were put to the test, and all the cracks in health care, education and public policy came to light. Many small businesses closed down for good.

Christina Whiteley
Christina’s salon business suffered setbacks during the pandemic. (Courtesy)

2021 was a really difficult year for us. I suffered not one, but two miscarriages. People always praise Canada for the “free” public health care system, but I saw something very different. During this time, my doctor left town and was replaced by someone I had never met.

When I first thought I was pregnant, I called to make an appointment and he wanted to refer me to an OB-GYN, but there was a 2-month wait to see her. I opted for a midwife, and was offered a phone appointment, time and time again due to COVID policies. Although I was very sick, I stayed home to keep myself, the baby and our family safe.

At 13 weeks I went for my first ultrasound – by myself – because my husband wasn’t allowed at the hospital with me, and this was when I found out that I had lost the baby. I called my midwife in the parking lot sobbing and she walked me through how I would tell my 4-year-old daughter that she wasn’t going to be a big sister.

I had no idea the pain that I would have to endure at home by myself. I suffered from postpartum depression, yet I continued to try and push through, for my family and business. When I requested to see a specialist after my second miscarriage, I was told it was a 6 month wait…for yet another phone appointment. 

I can’t help but notice a huge contrast in healthcare services that are offered where we live today. In Mexico, locals and residents have an option to use public or private health care.  Unfortunately, many locals can’t afford private insurance, but for those who can there are a variety of options, including private international coverage. Our family is very grateful to have access to such options. 

I was shocked by how quickly I could be seen by specialists here in Cabo, and how much time and care they would take in the appointment to address every one of my concerns, then walk me through the process step by step. Furthermore, every doctor we have seen has given us their personal phone number to text in case we need anything during our aftercare. This kind of care or service would be impossible to get back home.  

In Canada, we felt like the walls were closing in on us. On top of our disappointment and grief, we saw our daughter who was happy, outgoing and smart, starting to become worried, frustrated and anxious.

We were also concerned about the age-appropriateness of some of the topics that were being discussed in her Kindergarten class, so my husband and I made a point of attending the PTA meetings (which were then being held on Zoom). We quickly realized our presence was just a formality and that the school wasn’t interested in parental involvement, nor was it welcome unless it was to bring in money. 

Child on the beach

We knew we didn’t want these precious young years for her being shaped by people who didn’t have her best interests at heart. We knew that we could do better as parents, so we decided to pull her from school and bring her home. Which also came with its own set of challenges.

Not only did the restrictions and lockdowns change our quality of life, economically, it crippled small businesses like ours. It was a perfect storm. We were fortunate that a few years back, after many conversations, we had already started our journey to professionally reinvent ourselves.

If we wanted a better quality of life, we would have to evolve or go broke. Back then the cost of doing business kept rising, so after years of hard work as a salon owner, I shifted my focus to online business because I knew we could leverage our time and make more money if we upgraded our skills.

Men working behind a bar
Christina’s husband, Ryan (left), managed a bar in Canada. (Courtesy)

I know now moving forward that adaptability, purpose and uniqueness in experience will be a huge shift in focus over the next 10 years as many jobs will be taken over by AI in this new technology-driven economy. 

My husband Ryan and I have always had conversations about leveling up our lives. We make business decisions based on who we are and what we believe in. Six years ago that took us from city life to country life, and about a year and a half ago it was our turn for another adventure: giving up our 10 acre hobby farm on Vancouver Island to chase the sun in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. 

Ryan and I had many hard conversations about our belief system, how we wanted to raise our family, how we wanted to support our daughter, and what we wanted our lives to look like.

As soon as we landed in Cabo, we felt different. The energy here was different. We felt happier and the daily anxiety dissipated as soon as our feet hit the ground. We realized very quickly that taking a break from what was one of the hardest years of our lives, was actually the greatest gift we could have given ourselves. This balcony view of our lives had proven to be just what we needed to find clarity in the next right step for us.

Christina Whiteley, founder of Life Transformed, is a bestselling author, speaker and business strategist who leads the 6 Figure Profit Plan Mastermind and hosts corporate retreats where she resides in Cabo San Lucas. She and her husband Ryan, who is a realtor, live for road trips and weekend adventures with their daughter and their dog, Larry.

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