Dear friends and family,

We thought that using the blog would be the easiest way to contact everyone at the same time and give you all an update.

First of all, we’re heading to Italy for the month of March…

Italian Vipassana Centre – view of the country side.

No, we didn’t win the lottery. And yes, we still very much need to find jobs in Toronto. So let us explain…

We responded to a request for North American teachers to conduct a couple of Vipassana courses in Europe. It was pretty urgent because without teachers to conduct the courses, the courses would have to be cancelled. Canceling courses is terrible for so many reasons: As many of you know from experience, it is challenging to find the time to attend a 10-day course. You have to rearrange your work schedule, rearrange your family life, and you have to summon the courage to say goodbye to your family and friends and face the hard work (in silence) for 10 days while you learn to meditate.

It was not an easy decision to pick up and fly to Italy for month. Now, now… we can imagine some of you rolling your eyes, “Yeah, right. So hard to decide to go to Italy [groan]…” But… we were a little nervous about spending a month in Tuscany instead of looking for work in Toronto. However, after a long discussion, we decided it was the most productive thing we could do with our time.

We have access to the internet, so we can continue to look for work and apply for jobs. Job search takes time. It can take weeks for the interview process to even begin, then there are first round interviews, second-round, etc. We are eager to return to work, but each of us wants to find the best fit. So we know March could be spent with not much happening on the job front aside from making applications. And we’d hate to arrive at the end of March, having made a decision to stay in Toronto, but knowing 150 students had their courses canceled. If what you have to give is time, go ahead and give it freely. Better to go there and be of service to others, than stay here and do nothing. Plus, whatever we’d do here, we can do from there, almost as easily.

We do want to state for the record that being back in Toronto has been wonderful.

Despite the bitter cold, we love it here.  And we do find it bitterly cold (brrrrrrrrr!) There is no doubt this is our home [with sincere apologies to friends and family in BC]. We’ve been to many great cities in the world.  Canada is a great country and we think Toronto is the best place to live.

So what have we been up to?

We started off  with service at the Ontario Vipassana Centre. We had found a new apartment with a move-in date for February 1, so time spent at the Centre turned out to be perfectly timed. We moved back to a new apartment in our old building on February 6th.  We spent a grueling week painting, hanging curtains, trying to make a home again.  We now have a nice three-bedroom flat which means we have a committed guest room! Keep this in mind if you don’t live in TO and are visiting TO.  You always have a place in our home.

We’ve had a lovely time catching up with friends.  We are just so amazed at how lucky we are to have such wonderful friends.  We even had our very first guests, who came all the way from Quebec!

Many days have been booked solid with visits.  Our friend Ron had a 65th birthday party dinner at the ROM.  A fancy black tie affair. We decided to go a little more fashion-forward rather than traditional black tie. Anyone who knows us is laughing right now. We’re pretty conservative. So this was pretty bold. But when you’re unemployed, what else are you gonna do, right?  Ha. Ha. The real reason we wanted to go to the ROM was to celebrate a really lovely person who had put so much time and energy into a really lovely event. It was much less a celebration of him than it was his own celebration of all of his friends. Very classy and very generous.

sitting

standing

It was a great night. In fact, even Jean Chretien was there.  Sitting right behind Karen.  The sad thing was this is our first time to the ROM. And we just had dinner! But it inspired us to visit the museum in daylight hours.

Mr. Jean Chreitien speaking at Ron's birthday.

The Right Honorable Jean Chretien.

Now we’re off to Florence tomorrow.  We will be at the Italian Meditation Centre (click Italy’s Vipassana Centre).  The centre and courses that are held there are no different than the meditation courses that are held right here in Toronto (click Ontario Vipassana Centre).

Curious about where we will be for the next month?  Here is a video that was done by the Italian centre.  It gives an overview of what Vipassana meditation is, with the Italian centre as the backdrop. The first 30 seconds is in French with subtitles, but the rest is in English…

We are conducting two courses from March 5th to March 16th and then from March 21 to April 1st. During the break, we’ll visit Florence. When we accepted the volunteer job we didn’t realize that Scott’s cousin Shannon is actually living there.  Shannon is a very successful artist in Europe with gallerists in Berlin, Germany, London, England and Toronto! One of her works hangs in the National Gallery. Click a review of her work.  Here is a link to some of Shannon’s work in the UK – Click Here.  In fact, some of Shannon’s work can be seen on the wall of Scott’s father’s apartment in a previous post…. here is the photo:

Shannon's art is on the wall behind Sue (who is wearing the purple top).

Shannon’s art is on the wall behind Sue (who is wearing the purple top).

We haven’t seen Shannon since 2006, and we haven’t met her son yet!  We can’t wait to see her and her husband Danni.  This is just an excellent surprise for us and we’re very excited.

With that… we will post again, at least twice from Italy.

And remember friends and family…. WE ARE STILL LOOKING FOR PAID EMPLOYMENT.

with all our love and kindest thoughts,
s.&k.

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