Turns Out, I’m a Glutton for Punishment

The Mind Unleashed posted a great article about 18 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be and when I first saw it I thought well, this is going to be pretty stereotypical stuff. How wrong I was. I mean, then again – I should’ve known… It is The Mind Unleashed.

Of the 18 things on the list I’m actively doing 11 of them – hoo boy, glutton for punishment. And as a writer 8 of these are detrimental to my career:

You let others make you feel guilty for living your life. 

I remember almost a year ago I was at my Grandma’s memorial service, standing with a few of my mom’s friends who I hadn’t seen in a while. They asked me what I was up to and what my plans were now that I was finished University. I told them how I was unemployed – having just gotten out of a bad job that made me unhappy – and I was seriously considering pursuing my dream of being an author while I had the chance. And one of my mom’s friends said to me “oh, well I’ve had plenty of jobs that I hated but at the end of the day you just get on with it and do the job because I didn’t have the luxury of living with my mom who paid for everything for me.” And I felt 2 centimetres tall because basically he was telling me I was exactly what was wrong with the kids of my generation: overprivileged, entitled and lazy.

This struck me really hard because never in my life have I ever identified with kids my own age. In high school I worked 2 jobs, was on the student government, organized prom entirely by myself, was a mentor, did the morning radio show and was an active member in the drama club while also being in Girl Guides outside of school and managed to maintain a 90% average. I was an overachiever and suddenly I was at a point in my life where I had nothing left to achieve toward and I was being blamed for it. This guilt settled deep within me and since then I’ve always really felt like the adults that surround me are judging me because I refuse to take a job just for the sake of money. Maybe I am being entitled because I feel I don’t need to take a job to pay my bills, because Marc will pay them for me but I also don’t want to turn out like the adults in my life who are nearing 50 and still work jobs they find no fulfilment in. Sure, I feel obligated by my mom and my mother-in-law to get a job right now and maybe I will. But it’s not going to be a career, it’s just going to be something part time so Marc and I don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck if we don’t want to.

In the end, I want to be 50 and look back on my career and be proud of myself. So if that means I have to be selfish at a time in my life when people are going to judge me harshly for doing so, so be it. I’ll live with the guilt… Even if it eats away at me.

You assign negative intent to other people’s actions.

This is especially bad for my career because on top of that guilt that eats away at me every day I have that overactive imagination that reads into things a lot more than it should. Marc still hasn’t read the second book in my series, and frankly I’m not even sure my mom has. So in my head there’s this voice that tells me it’s because they hate my writing and this is their passive aggressive way of telling me because they love me and don’t want to hurt my feelings. Great.

Then there’s the fact that months ago when I had my story up for a competition I had tons of friends going online to write reviews in my favour so I would win this competition – which I didn’t – that now when I ask people to write reviews on Amazon or Goodreads no one does. So were they lying earlier this year and just trying to be nice? I mean, how hard can it be to post a review to help my sales if you did actually read the book and enjoy it? Obviously they didn’t, says the voice in my head. 

You are too worried that people will steal what you have. 

I go into better detail about my feelings on this in this post: Nothing is Original.

You’re trying to compete with everyone else.

I think most authors struggle with this, naturally. We read a lot of books as part of our process. We have to keep reading to be inspired, to learn, to better ourselves and our prose. But the double edged sword of this is that we read other’s work and think to ourselves “I can’t write like this.” “My work isn’t this good.” And we compete and compare ourselves to other people’s success. I talk more about this in another post from last year in a NaNoWriMo Update.

Then there’s the authors whose writing isn’t that great. – Okay, I know this is a horrible thing to say but we’ve all been there at some point: we’ve read something and thought to ourselves how in the world is this person successful? But that just goes to show how fickle the publishing world is… You don’t have to be Earnest Hemingway to succeed you just need an audience to believe in you and seeing someone else find success with something mediocre makes me sit back and think to myself “I’m never going to be able to do this” because I continue to compare my (lack of) success to someone else’s.

You focus on every point in time other than now.

Mostly with my life I do this more than my career but on the flip side of this with writing I focus on the now too much. I want success now, I want people to be reading my book now, I want a publishing deal and an editing team now. And the trouble with this is I can’t look toward the future where there is still a possibility of all these things if only I focused on the things I can control in the present. And I think that’s the valuable point here. If you concentrate on the things you can’t control (the future, outcomes, etc) you lose sight of the things you can (growing my audience for future success, working on my next book for the handful of people who are looking forward to it) and like The Mind Unleashed says you focus too much energy worrying about things that you lose sight of what’s right in front of you. 

You are stuck on your mistakes.

I was selecting an excerpt of my book that is going to be published in a magazine next month and as I was reading through it I found I had – somehow – capitalized the word “day” which obviously isn’t a proper noun. I was horrified because obviously this oversight is in the copy that’s on sale. It occupied my mind day and night – “if there’s that mistake what else is there? Is the book riddled with grammatical errors? Is that why it’s not doing well? People are reading it and after two pages turn away in disgust because I’ve so poorly edited it?” On and on and on….

I mean, I still haven’t done anything about my mistake but it’s there in the back of my mind sitting on top of all those other worries because I just can’t afford a professional editor right now and I had to rely on myself. I tell myself to trust that if the story is there and people enjoy it they will look past errors – I do it when I read books. And I tell myself there is no perfect book out there, that every book is flawed in some way whether I notice it or not and so my one mistake (that I know of) does not make me special in the grand scheme of epic-fuck-ups.

But still, it’s all I think about most of the time.

You have an “all or nothing” mentality.

I have always struggled with this mentality. When I want something I want something as soon as I set my mind to something and having to go through the ups and downs to reach the inevitable is just frustrating for me. Things either will or won’t work out and I simply want the results without having to deal with all the filler that comes with it.

Part of the problem with having such a mentality is like when I decided I wanted to change schools, not only did I want to change schools but suddenly – in my head – the school I was attending was mediocre. It was unacceptable and it didn’t fit with the plans that I had so it wasn’t good enough. I couldn’t wait to go to my new school and anything between that time and now was a hindrance to that goal.

My world, sadly, works in black and whites however conscious I am of this. And being a writer this can cause you to struggle. I am an author but I want to be an author people are talking about and no one is right now. I want it all, or nothing…

You keep thinking about worst-case scenarios. 

Finally this last one has more or less been made clear to you throughout this entire post. I have a tendency to overreact in situations and imagine the worst. Even if Marc hasn’t read my second book yet doesn’t necessarily mean that he hates my writing – because he doesn’t – but in my head that’s how it goes. This also goes hand in hand with the all or nothing mentality. Either it’s all good or it’s all bad and this is really something I struggle with day and day out that contributes to my depression.

Nothing ever seems good enough and usually when something comes up as a roadblock to whatever goal I’m interested in I imagine it’s the worse possible thing that could be. Maybe it’s because my own personality would never let something small stop me from doing something for someone if they asked me so I can’t understand why others would let small things hinder them or it could be something entirely different. I could probably psychoanalyze myself for days but it’s not going to change anything. The only thing that does need to change and will only change if I commit myself to it, is stop imagining the worst possible things in the world. Nothing is as bad as it seems (except murder, that’s really bad). So stop dwelling on the negatives Ky.

Of the list how many do you relate to? Which ones are holding you back as a writer or in life in general? Let me know in the comments!

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Nothing is Original

I’ve recently been trying to get myself into a sort of routine for my mornings and part of this is listening to a few TED talks each morning while making breakfast/eating it/etc. I came across this one and it immediately resonated with me. One of the biggest arguments I use against my writing is my fear of being compared to previous works – i.e. writing a vampire novel and it being compared to Twilight, writing a witch novel and it being compared to Harry Potter. The trouble is no matter what I write it is always going to be compared to something, be it the last book someone read or a book the reader finds is similar.

It’s taken me a while to come to terms with this idea but I still feel that mental block when I come up with an idea and I have to ask myself – “did I think of this because I read/watched —?” I find it’s constantly a struggle to get past this idea that I’ll get in trouble if I borrow some fraction of an idea from something when really this isn’t the case. Look at 50 Shades of Grey which found success from it’s inception as a Twilight FanFiction. Obviously the author had to change everything when it got published but there’s still similar ties to Twilight seen in it’s characters and plot.

One of the things Kirby says that resonated with me was: “Our creativity comes from without and not from within. We are not self-made we are dependant on each other. Admitting this isn’t an embrace of mediocrity [...] It’s a liberation. ” This is so absolutely true. Especially as a blogger and a blog-reader I know how true this is. I see something on a blog I follow and it inspires me to try it – this is creativity. I didn’t think of this idea myself but absorbed it from an outside source. Perhaps I don’t follow the recipe I found on Pinterest to the letter but remove or add ingredients as suits my needs and my whims. There’s nothing wrong with this and it should not be considered “copying”.

One thing I used to hate that my mother would tell me as a kid was “copying is the most sincerest form of flattery.” I was so opposed to being copied by my peers I would corner myself so no one could see my projects until theirs were finished. It’s childish but I hated the idea of someone stealing my creativity. As I’ve gotten older I’ve begun to realize that these “unique” ideas I thought I had possessed were merely reflections of things I had seen/heard/done in my life and no more unique than anything else in the world.

We live in an age where everything has evolved from something and nothing is truly unique but I think that’s what makes creatives unique in the first place. We know we have a saturated audience and yet we continue to push ourselves and strive to create something that might one day resonate with someone else and from our own work someone else’s creativity bursts forth.

So I challenge you – never forget that nothing is original and embrace the remix!

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Four Week Get Fit Challenge!

I mentioned last week for Weigh-In Wednesday that I was starting a new challenge this week. I thought it might be good to do an introduction post on what’s happening and details of how to join in!

Starting today a group of strong ladies have banded together on Facebook to do a Four Week Get Fit Challenge from tone-and-tighten.com. I’m really excited to be doing this because since arriving in England the only routine thing I’ve been doing is running 3 days a week. I started doing a couch to 5k with my sister in law which then progressed to her and a friend which then became me and the friend. But in this time I’ve completed 7 and a half weeks of training which means that this Saturday I will be running my first 5k.

In celebration of this new lifestyle I wanted to do something to go out with a bang this summer. Using tone-and-tighten.com’s Get Fit Challenge it encourages you to drink your 8 glasses of water a day, stop eating before bedtime, get in fruit servings and veggie servings, stop eating sweets, keep a food journal and exercise for 5 days a week. Completing these tasks give you points and at the end of the week you add up your points and compare with the other competitors.

Since taking up running I haven’t lost any weight but I have gone down in inches, as I mentioned last Wednesday. So I’m hoping that with this challenge I’ll get back into weight training (through free-weight pilates/HIIT training) to help further convert fat to muscle so when I do cardio it is burning the fat. I also know I’ve had a really bad sweet tooth lately so I want to curb this and get myself back to a point when I’m not craving sugar. Eating crap food is not helping with my depression and I only feel guilty after eating it, sluggish and all around unimpressed satisfaction-wise.

Ideally I’d like to get to a clean eating regime but I think I just want to focus on eating healthy in general this month and switch up the challenge to clean eating next month. I like challenges because they focus me and help me compete to do my best.

This week I’m also starting writing again, picking up with book 3 of my Grace of Gods series. Book 2 should be coming out in the next month or so, if everything goes to plan. If you’d like to check out Book 1 you’ll find it on Amazon. If you’d like to stay up to date with my writing career I’m starting a monthly newsletter you can join. I promise your emails will not be sold and will DEFINITELY not be spammed.

If you would like to join in my Get Fit Challenge, please leave a comment and I can direct you to our Facebook group!

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ModCloth Isn’t Just About Dresses (But Their Dresses Are Cute!)

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. 

Marc and I have been recently looking at places to rent because we’re both starting to get antsy and want a place of our own – it’s time. The trouble is we have a lot to take into consideration – rental price, council tax, gas prices, electrical bill, cable bill, internet bill, cell phone bill… I’m sure there’s more but as you can understand it’s finding a balance between what we want and need versus what we can comfortably afford because on top of all this we still need to be banking at least 600 pounds a month to afford our wedding come next April.

That’s a lot of money. Not to mention on top of both these things we still need money for food and hopefully one day a car, and if we ever want to do anything with our lives… play money.

The trouble we’re really having though is finding a place that’s the right size for us but doesn’t break the budget. So we’ve been weighing the pros and cons of finding a place that comes furnished because another problem would be having the money for first rent, deposit, credit checks and then… affording furniture since we have none. I have ways of finding cheap/practically free furniture through resources like FreeCycle but you don’t want to get a free bed from someone because that’s just cringe.

So with all this on my mind lately it’s been a little frustrating and worrisome that I’ve turned to a past-time that helps me relax a bit more: online window shopping. You know, where you go to your favourite sites and put things in your shopping cart you won’t actually buy but it scratches that itch mentally without hurting your bank? Yeah, I do that a lot. So today I wanted to share with you a few of the things I’ve found recently for our new “place” – that is, if we ever get one – and let you know that right now ModCloth, my favourite online store, is having a 20% off home decor sale! No code needed, so just shop ’till your heart is content and there really will be no place like your home! Hurry while it lasts!

Contemporary Cabin Pillow Sham Set

Polychromatic Cuddles Throw Blanket

Constellation Bias Doormat

Dreaming Porch Quilt Set in Full/Queen

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Weigh-In Wednesday!

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I normally do a feature on Wednesdays about my wedding planning but since moving to the UK my plans have been temporarily halted until we have some more money in our pockets. Which is fine because I was starting to overwhelm myself with things I needed to do. It’s nice to step back and focus on one task at a time – right now being getting money to do an engagement shoot. Once we have some spare cash to do that I can finish off the wedding website which then translates into sending my save the dates. FINALLY.

I also would like some money because I’ve decided I’m just going to get my invites printed myself because after a failed attempt at making them (I had a spelling error Marc only caught after I had 60 invites printed *cries*) I don’t have a color printer anymore to make them not to mention having NO idea where I could find vellum paper in the UK to start again. Oh well… Count my blessings, right? (Like Marc finding it before the invites went out).

So, that being said this is the only update I have for the wedding until later on so until then I wanted to try another serial focus on Wednesdays so I can start having a little accountability in my life.

Weigh-In Wednesday

Since coming to the UK I’ve been going on runs 3 times a week training with Couch to 5k. And I am on week 7 people. Yes! I can actually run for almost 2 and a half miles now without being winded, my legs hurt normally but that’s because we live in a hill-y area. I have 5 more runs left until I do my first 5k and I’m actually really excited about it. I’ve started seeing changes in my body. I haven’t lost a ton of weight, mostly because I’m not running for incredible lengths or times, but I’ve been losing inches which is what matters.

So here it goes – in total I have lost:

  • 2 inches on each arm
  • 1 inch on my bust
  • 2.5 inches on my waist
  • 2.5 inches on my hips
  • 1 inch on each thigh
  • 1 inch on my neck

I’m really excited about that, it’s always encouraging to see these numbers because it goes to show even if you don’t notice the changes they’re still happening. Next week, myself and some friends and family are starting a 4 week get fit challenge where you need to move 5 days a week for either 30 minutes or 45 minutes. I’m looking forward to this and I’m really going to push myself because I would love to see some great changes come September.

If you’d like to join in on the challenge leave a comment and I can give you the details!

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Introducing Miss Hera

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 3.18.54 PM You’ve met Hera before, no doubt. She makes occasional appearances in my post but most frequently when there’s doggy things involved. She loves reviewing Bark Boxes and Bugsy’s Box, she’s looking forward to trying her paw at a few British dog boxes next.  But I figured before any of that, perhaps I should introduce you to the little light of my life. Then maybe she can start making more frequent appearances on the blog. So, this is Hera. The photo is blurry because when she was a puppy she just wouldn’t sit still so every photo we took for two months was blurry because she just wanted to love everyone up all the time. She’s still like that, she loves attention and kisses. Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 3.17.31 PM Her all time favourite activity is giving Daddy lots of kisses. It’s borderline showering because she licks him from one side of his head to the other and back again. She also enjoys any orifices – nose, mouth and ear. She’ll get in there and clean that out nice and soft. She often helps Daddy go to sleep by licking his head. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 3.14.14 PM Hera also loves road trips. Any time we’re going out in the car she just has to join. She, also, enjoys being in the driver’s seat. It seems dangerous but there’s just enough room for her to curl in your lap and not be in the way. But sometimes she gets kicked into shotgun and she doesn’t like that very much. You can tell when Hera’s been in the car though, there’s always an abundance of little nose prints all over the bottom edge of the windows. Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 3.14.40 PM Hera loves going for hikes, not walks. The longer the better. For a little puppy with little legs she has a great deal of stamina. I think she prefers hikes because it’s out in the woods which means most of the time we take her off the lead so she can explore with us and it helps with training. The only way you’re going to get a dog to learn to stay with you is trust it not to run off. She’s very good at keeping close. On that note, Hera also loves to go camping. S’mores are her favourite. And squirrels. Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 3.16.45 PM Hera’s also a little weird. Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 3.15.04 PM Okay, a lot weird. But we still love her. She thinks she’s a cat, she makes weird faces when she sleeps and sometimes she gets into one of those toddler “silly hour” moods where she just wants to roll around on her back and flap her legs in the air like she just don’t care. Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 3.16.07 PMHera also loves to sleep, especially in warm places… Under a blanket, against your body, Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 3.17.51 PM near the fireplace, Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 3.15.41 PM in the summer sun… She is a lover of hot, hot, hot. She’ll lie out in the sun until she’s panting because she loves it so much. It’s a far cry from other dogs I’ve ever owned who always shy from being too warm. Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 3.13.33 PM Hera also likes taking things that don’t belong to her. Her preference is items that belong to Mummy, but sometimes Daddy gets the chew too. Things Hera has destroyed: 2 Macbook charger cords, 7 iPhone charger cords, 3 pairs of high heel shoes, a lip balm, earrings, the cover sleeve for records, a toilet water line, playstation cords, candles, a wallet and a purse strap. Yeah, there’s a chewing situation over here. But she understands the phrase “is that yours?” when you catch her with something. She’ll put it down and go find a toy that is, actually, hers. Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 3.12.43 PM She’s my little baby and she knows it. She’s a big sucky-poo who has never met a person who didn’t love her instantly. She just has a direct line to everyone’s heart. She’s a cuddly little bug who is so full of energy and adventure. I hope as she makes more appearances on the blog you’ll come to love her too.

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Getting My Hopes Up

One of the pitfalls of being a creative is my overactive imagination. Sure, it’s the source of my inspiration. The cause of why I’m able to create fantastical storylines and craft them into something enjoyable… But it also romanticizes everything in my life. Especially when I set my mind to something.

The dangers of romanticizing something comes in the inevitable disappointment that always follows when it doesn’t work out as I planned. I have a trail of broken dreams in my past where I have worked things out to be more grandiose than they turned out to be. Or worse still, I keep getting my hopes up by romanticizing the outcome of something that I longed for.

I’ve romanticized England, I’ve romanticized job prospects and now I’m romanticizing my writing career. I have too many hopes and dreams, I bounce from one idea to the next without settling down for just one. There’s just so many things I want and I want to do that the first opportunity that comes around for success makes me jump for it with all my being. But the truth of the matter is I really don’t know what I’m doing with myself.

A few weeks ago my best friend messaged me about a job opening at her work. It’s back in Canada but she said they were open to me working from home. I thought this was a great opportunity, if I were to get it. All my paychecks would go into my Canadian bank account and I wouldn’t have to worry about transferring funds for the wedding. Any extra we made would just go right into saving for when we wanted to move back and get a house of our own. Plus, having a job in Canada would make Marc’s sponsorship a piece of cake.

But of course, I didn’t get the job. Despite spending three days researching for the position and putting together a mock report as well. I was completely shattered when I got the email saying I didn’t get the job. And I was angry. It didn’t seem fair, I was qualified for the job I just needed someone to believe in me.

That seems to be the excuse every time though. I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in my life and now I’m paying for it with a lack of career. I should’ve been smarter with university. It’s no longer good enough to just have a degree, it needs to be a degree worth something and “Liberal Arts” is nothing. No one gives a shit about liberal arts. Not that I blame them. I just took stupid, fluffy classes that suited my interests. It didn’t teach me anything.

I want to go back to school, but I don’t have the money for it. I need a job to do that but retail work just isn’t cutting it for me anymore. I’m stuck in this slump and I don’t know how to pick myself up out of it. I could just get student loans and go into debt to go back to school but then, I don’t want to have more debts to pay off before the first are. But that just seems like the only way to get myself into a better position than I am right now. Then again, going back to school requires me figuring out what I’m going to do with myself and I’m back to square one.

You know, all those hopes and dreams and not being able to pick one?

What’s meant to be will be, and all that jazz. I need to stop romanticizing everything and come up with a dream that can be a reality. I really need to sit down and come up with solid plan and with that plan take concrete steps toward dreams that can come true. No more disappointment, broken dreams and let-down hopes – right?

And I’ll try to stop being Marlin.

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Ode To The Queen (My Debut Novel) Is Now Available on Amazon!

Ode To The Queen by Kyleigh Castronaro

 

I can’t believe it’s finally here! After months of editing, worrying and a ton of butterflies I have finally decided to self-publish my debut novel. It’s been a little surreal since doing it, my life hasn’t changed drastically except for the fact that I can finally say “I’m an author”.

That, in itself, has been a moment I have been waiting for my entire life. I honestly can’t remember a time I wasn’t writing but I can tell you I never actually thought this moment would come.

So, let me tell you a little bit about my book: it’s the first book in a series called “Grace of Gods” which recounts the adventures of these humans who have found out their Greek Gods reincarnated. Each story ties in with the last but with a different narrator each time. In Ode to the Queen Savannah is our narrator and it follows her story as she learns about who her Goddess is and all the trouble that comes with her.

Here’s the Amazon synopsis:

Savannah has been kidnapped. By a man who claims he’s a Titan and she’s a Greek Goddess. It’s a little farfetched and she wishes it isn’t true but the evidence is piling up against her. Except, she doesn’t know who her Goddess is and no one will tell her. 

Instead, Charlotte is happy to make her life a living hell and the friends she does make turn to enemies. And then there’s Aidan: the arrogant and mysterious King of the Gods. Savannah finds herself drawn to him despite her best efforts not to get involved with another guy. She doesn’t need this kind of trouble when her life is already upside down; being a Goddess is hard enough. 

Driven by fate and a past she knows nothing about Savannah tries to navigate her new world as one of the Twelve Olympians. Is history going to repeat itself or will the New Olympians write their own myths?

I class it as a paranormal romance, falling somewhere in between YA and NA. There are some sexual tones but nothing explicit. My 15 year old cousin was my beta reader and she wasn’t uncomfortable with any of the content so that’s why I still classify it as YA. (She also passed it along to her friends so… It must be up their alley).

If you’re interested in reading it you can purchase it on Amazon. And if you love it, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads! Thanks so much everyone <3

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How To Screw The Banks Over (or, How to Get A Bank Account in the UK)

Getting a bank account – it seems like the simplest thing there would be to do. When Marc came over to Canada we went to the bank together and I added him onto my account as a joint holder. They asked to see his passport, added him on and we went on our merry way. Three days later he had his bank card.

Doing the same in the UK was going to be cake. Right? Wrong.

We walked into NatWest, asked to see someone about adding a joint bank account and they sat us down to wait. After about 20 minutes someone brought us over to their computer and started the process. They took my passport and my visa, they gave me paperwork to fill out and then they asked for proof of residency. Sorry, what? Proof of residency = a utility bill (????) or a bank statement (?????????????????).

Sorry, did you miss the part about how I arrived in the UK less than a week ago? Apparently that doesn’t matter. I’m supposed to get my name on some kind of utility bill (water, gas, heating, something) or I’m supposed to give them a bank statement.

Well, first of all… I’m living with my in-laws at the moment so they’re not going to temporarily put me on their utility bills. And even if I was renting I would have to have a job to rent and to have a job I need a bank account. But I can’t get a bank account without proof of residency which I need a bank account for.

Yeah.

So, how to get a bank account in the uk – or, as I prefer, how to screw the banks over at their own game:

Find a bank that doesn’t need proof of residency.

Does that exist? Of course it does. England is riddled with internationals, they just can’t not have a bank somewhere that has such strict (stupid) policies. I googled. Apparently Lloyd’s TSB has an international account for those fresh off the boat. Excellent. So off I went to the bank to sign up. After an hour on hold on the phone, yes in the bank and the entire time sitting in awkward silence with the CSR across from me, I was finally directed to someone who could help. She wanted to know how much money I would be depositing into the account today. I said “£20?” And she was silent. Then she said “do you have any other money?” And I, embarrassed at this point, said: “well, I’m hoping to transfer my Canadian funds into the account once I have it.” And she says: “oh good because we require a small deposit to open this account.” …………………. “of £25 000.” I choked and said “thanks, have a nice day.”

Okay, nevermind that.

I’m not a swiss national trying to move fraudulent money you know, I’m just a normal person who used to work part time.. Yikes. Back to the drawing board. I did more research and found that Barclays doesn’t ask for proof of residency for Canadians because they have an agreement with Canada to simply accept Canadian passports. I don’t know the politics of it but it worked. I know how a bank account with Barclays and after a week of stressing about this all was simple as I had once expected it to be.

So save yourself the trouble, just go to Barclays and then ask for weekly paper statements. They’ll send one to you in a week’s time and then you can go to any bank you want to sign up with them and you’ll also – fun fact – need proof of residency for any jobs you go for too. Yeah… I just don’t understand it.

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Bringing a Dog from Canada to the UK

Hera all ready in her rain coat for her trip to England.

Hera all ready in her rain coat for her trip to England.

One of the biggest hurdles (visa aside) we faced when moving was bringing a Dog from Canada to the UK. As anyone who has read this blog previously knows, or is an IG follower, my dog is my baby. I’ve had many a conversation with people about how dogs aren’t like children and what I feel for my dog is nothing like what a mother feels for her child and blah blah blah… Well, let me tell you something – you’re probably right. However, as a woman without children currently the one thing filling that void for me is my dog. And because I have no children to compare her with I have an overwhelming sense of protection and love for my furry, four-legged creature whom I didn’t birth but have feed, loved, bathed, slept with and worried over every single day since she joined my life a year ago.

But that isn’t what today’s post is about…

Today’s post is going to be a lot more informative about the process than yesterday’s was because when I was looking for someone’s account of their experience I was coming up blank. I didn’t necessarily need thorough information but I just needed guidance of some kind and that’s what I come bearing.

When moving Hera while security was one thing I was worried about, I was also concerned with money as we were very limited in our funds and simply couldn’t afford thousands of dollars in fees to bring Hera to the UK. So I started doing some research to see what was the cheapest way to fly her over.

What I was also considering in the fees was the price of both mine and Marc’s flight as well since all three of us would be going together. I wanted to keep the full price under $3000 because that’s all we had left in terms of travel budget. We ideally wanted to spend less because we knew we’d need some money to keep ourselves afloat while over in the UK until we got jobs but, if we had to, we agreed to bite the bullet and use all the money we had left.

The first thing I looked at was going with Air Transat whom we flew with normally when we were going to and from the UK. They offer the cheapest flights and they fly into Manchester which is a shorter trip to Nottingham than it is from Gatwick. (Marc argues this isn’t true but it is, it’s shorter by almost 3 hours and cheaper too if planned accordingly… Which we couldn’t this time around). Manchester also worked out to be cheaper for the time we were flying at, flying into London was more expensive because we were coming into summer. So I checked out how much pets would be and from what I could find it was going to be around $500 for Hera’s ticket and the price of her crate for cargo. Looked good to me.

So I rang Air Transat up to ask a few questions. I was redirected to Air Cargo because “Transat doesn’t deal with pet transport.” Air Cargo informed me they do fly pets but they have to be flown through a pet agency. Well… Pet agency = $$$ in my eyes. So I cringed, hung up and went back to the drawing board.

Air Canada allows pet owners to take responsibility for their pet’s boarding and arrival, they also charge around $1000 for both pet and crate however plane tickets for humans were coming in around $1200pp (this was a one-way ticket price) and as you can tell this was over our budget, so I scrapped that and moved on to British Airways.

They were charging around $2000pp (also, one-way) for the flight so I just left their website all together and tried to find someone who was a known airline but not a “big name” like Air Canada and British Airways. I couldn’t find anyone… Part of the problem for flying pets into the UK is that the UK requires pets enter through approved air routes which meant only certain airlines flew these routes and you were limited to using only these airplanes. No matter what I did it all came back to Air Transat for being the cheapest for human flights. So, the next thing I did was start researching Pet Agencies that specialize in international travel.

After a quick Google search I had three options: Worldwide Animal Travel (great reviews on most ex-pat sites), Airpets and Lyon Pet Mobile Services.

I went onto the first two websites and filled in the details of my carrier and Hera’s height, length, and weight waiting for a quote. Within 24 hours Airpets replied to me letting me know that any quote I receive from a competitive service they will beat – not exactly the information I was looking for. I was still trying to figure out if going this route would be cheaper than Air Canada or British Airways. So I deleted the email with an eyeroll. Then I waited. And waited. And waited until finally my patience wore thin and Worldwide’s promise of a 48 hour quote had been sufficiently surpassed I called them. The receptionist took my information and assured me I would hear from someone by the end of the day. Did I? Of course not.

So I called again Monday, again I was promised end-of-day – nothing. Finally, I called back Wednesday (cos I gave them the benefit of the doubt for Tuesday) and demanded I speak to someone because not only had 48 hours passed but I had called twice before and was both times brushed off. I know you’re busy but if you guarantee a quote… you need to guarantee the quote gets to the quotee. So I spoke to the agent in charge of my account who claimed she had her assistant call my Friday and then promised me they’d send me the quote right then. I made her stay on the phone until I got it.

Worldwide Pet Travel? They quoted me $2500 – despite the fact I was: providing my own carrier, bringing the pet to the airport myself, getting the certified vet health paperwork myself and she wouldn’t be staying overnight in any facilities. I laughed. Out loud. On the phone, in her ear. And then I said goodbye.

So, thoroughly miffed by this entire experience I called up Lyon Pet Mobile because they didn’t have an online quote. I ended up speaking to Lorna on the phone for 30 minutes while she took all my information in great detail, heard about what was happening to us and that we were looking for the cheapest option, gave me her opinion on how to make the whole thing cheaper and finally she said she had to leave to take another pet to the airport that night but promised that I would have my quote the next day.

I did.

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Yeah, the grammar is a little bit cringe and it made me wary when I saw it but I promise you – this is a 100% legit business. I wouldn’t be blogging about bringing my dog to the UK if she had been dognapped right? So as you can see I was quoted $1275 and she laid out exactly what I was paying for (which I liked). I ended up actually paying $1300 because once we booked the flight I was charged a $25 “after hours” fee but my OCD liked that we rounded it all up anyways.

The next thing I had to do was get all the paperwork done and ensure Hera’s vet checks were all done in the right order. And before I begin telling you these steps I just want to explain one thing to you. Vets will tell you that you need “months” to get your pet ready to go over to the UK because of the strictness of the rules but I can assure you this is not the case if you are on top of everything. I got everything done in under a month because I had taken pre-emptive steps.

First and foremost your dog needs to be microchipped before you go about doing anything. Your dog should be microchipped anyways just in case they get off their leash or something worse happens. It’s in your best interests and most Vets only charge $40 for the procedure so it’s not a hefty thing. We got Hera’s done when she was spayed because we were already paying for anesthesia which is where the price gets hiked. So if you’re going to do it, do it when they’re a puppy and you’ve gotta do what’s right in the first place.

Once your pup is microchipped it’s a fairly breezey ride from there provided your vet is nice. The next thing you need to do is get a rabies booster. Make sure when doing this that your vet scans the microchip before doing the booster and marks this down on the paperwork you receive. This is necessary for CFIA; they are hardasses. Rabies shots must be done at least 25 days before you leave. It doesn’t matter how long before you leave as long as it’s at least this time and your rabies booster isn’t over a year old.

The next thing you need to do is get tapeworm treatment up to 72 hours before you leave. It cannot be before this so what we did is we got it done the day before. Yes, this makes it tough on your vet for scheduling because it’s a last-minute appointment but the staff at Burgess Animal Hospital in Cambridge, On are amazing and consistently helped us out. We had to accommodate but coming in right when they opened and were squashed in between other’s appointments but they stayed with us as long as we needed and didn’t rush us.

At this point it’s important to bring your paperwork, it’s the Non-Commericial Movement of five or less dogs, cats, ferrets form from the CFIA website. Now I will tell you exactly how to fill out this paperwork so you don’t have to do what we did – that is, go back to the CFIA twice, one time on the DAY OF flight. It was stressful.

I shall bold this points so you don’t miss them.

1. Your vet must fill out everything (including the page numbers on the bottom of the form, yes… I know), the only thing you sign is your signature. That is all

2. Item I.28 – the species name must be scientific. Do not put “dog/cat/ferret”. Also, after listing the animals the vet must put a diagonal line through the rest of the box. 

3. Item II.2 this is an either or statement and your vet must cross out the statement that does not apply. For going to the uk it’s the “or” statement (the animals come from or are scheduled to transit through a third country). 

4. Items II.4/II.5 – .4 again have your vet cross out diagonally the section they do not fill in. .5 the “either” statement is what they cross out (the dogs have NOT been treated).

5. Ensure your vet stamps the veterinary stamp with their address on every page he signs (pages 1, 2, and 4). 

6. The only bits of this paperwork that shouldn’t be filled out when you’re done is item I.2 which is a reference number the certified veterinarian at CFIA gives you and then that vets signature on page 4.

It costs $20 to get your certified check and they only take cash so don’t forget that when you go to the CFIA. I highly suggest if you’re trying to cut costs with your travel to do this part yourself. It’s not hard if you know what you’re doing and if you follow the above steps to the letter you won’t have any problems.

Don’t forget to also get a letter on your vet’s letterhead stating your animal is fit for travel and bring that with you along with proof of rabies, microchip and their tapeworm treatment. We didn’t have proof of the microchip because it was put in with her spaying so we had our vet state in the letter when the microchip was administered and what the number of the chip was, the CFIA accepted this.

Everything needs to be signed and stamped. If it feels your paperwork isn’t riddled with stamps… You’ve done something wrong. You need stamps on everything, even letter heads.

From there it was easy, we dropped Hera off in Markham on the morning of our flight with the pet agency and she took care of her for the day by taking her for walks and feeding her. I was a nervous wreck on the plane, I harassed the flight attendants asking them to check if the pets had been loaded. The flight attendant was understanding and kind, she personally went below to check and let me know that my puppy was on the plane and happy. I breathed easy for the rest of the trip.

When we got there we had to go to the cargo section of the airport to pick Hera up. But by the time we were through customs and had our luggage, found a cab and got there she had already been processed and was making everyone there love her. I was thankful we didn’t have to wait long for her, I think this was the best part of going through Manchester – they are fast. Heathrow quoted me a 6 hour wait while Gatwick said 4. There was no wait at all for Manchester so we were on our way.

Now, carrying a massive crate (for a ridiculously small dog) and three huge suitcases and two carry ons through Manchester Airport and on two train connections… That was the worst bit of all. But we all made it in the end.

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