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Reviews

5 Star Review- Breaking the Cycle of Abuse: My Journey from Victim to Survivor by Hannah Reinbeck

Reviewed in Canada on January 23, 2020

Format: Kindle Edition 5-Stars

 

Black Sheep, Family Matters, Speaking from Experience

2019, Year-End Review

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Welcome back blog readers,

With the holiday season in full swing (today is Christmas Eve), I know that many of us will be enjoying time with our families/friends while many others are excluded for various reasons.

If you are part of the Black Sheep, Scapegoat, Loner club (myself included), then this portion of the post is for you.

With so many toxic people living on this planet, it only stands to reason that some of them are our family members. While we can’t choose who our biological family is, we can choose who we consider family. Maybe you have a few very close friends, maybe you have a few awesome co-workers, maybe it’s just you and your dog. All of these are very good options if those you surround yourself with bring you joy and have your best interest in mind.

You are under no obligation to spend time with family that is toxic, if they are always negative, insulting, putting you down or make you feel uncomfortable in any way. I know it’s natural to crave the attention/affection from your family, but when they only cause you to stress, heartache, anxiety, and you’re walking on eggshells you’re just setting yourself up for another disappointing encounter. You don’t need that negativity.

Find your TRIBE, find other outcasts and misfits that can relate, but more importantly, want to be there for you and genuinely enjoy your company. If you haven’t found your tribe, that’s okay too.
If you don’t want to be alone for the holidays you can,
* Volunteer your time preparing/serving food at shelters, VFW, churches
* Spend time at a nursing home playing card games or Bingo
* Volunteer at an animal shelter, they need company and a meal too. Plus it’s a great way to destress. A good option if you have social anxiety and just don’t like people.

The point is, that there are so many people (homeless, veterans, elderly and animals) that are also just as lonely and don’t have a family. They would love the company/companionship for a few hours.

If you are going to attend a family holiday event and feel that you can’t participate in the gift-giving, that’s okay too. The gift-giving should really be just for the kids, in my opinion. Know that your presence is a present in itself. Don’t worry about the adults if they are the ones giving you grief, go and spend time with the kids. The kids are more likely to be in better spirits and less judgemental. Help them get their new toys out of the packages, help them put batteries in the noisemakers, play their new board game or console game because the other adults will be “too busy” to spend time with them. Kids won’t remember what they got for Christmas a few years from now, they will remember that you took the time to play with them, you were the cool adult.

Those of us that have endured trauma or suffer from PTSD/C-PTSD are more likely to also be “people pleasers” for the sake of keeping the peace. I can relate to that. You don’t have to say YES to everything. I know it’s hard to say NO, but for the sake of your sanity you must learn. You are allowed to set boundaries. You are allowed to be firm that when you say NO, you are respected and don’t cave in. It took me decades to be comfortable enough to say no and mean it. I’m better through text and email when I have more time to think about my response. Doing it in person is harder, but I have a few successes under my belt. Each one builds more confidence.
Those the get upset when you say NO (adults, not kids), they are NOT your friend or have your best interest in mind. Those are the ones you have to be firm with and not give an inch. Those that care about you will understand and might even acknowledge the fact that you are sticking up for yourself. It’s quite liberating when you say No and there is no confrontation, it’s just accepted for what it is. Gets you thinking why didn’t I do this sooner.

Anyway, whatever your situation is at this time of year I hope that you surround yourself with people that bring you joy. You are not alone! You don’t have to be alone, get out there and find your tribe!

Happy Holidays, wishing you all the very best in 2020!~Hannah

Cruises

Full Review of our 5 day cruise:

Welcome back blog readers,

Yes, I know it’s been a while since my last post.

This post will be done a bit differently as it will contain daily updates and reviews from each day of my journey.

I’ll continue this series as one post just to make it easier. You’ll see ***** at the end of each post to indicate the end of day.

Let’s get started.

Sunday December 8, 2019

I’m traveling with my husband, we arrived at the Ottawa Airport to start our journey. My husband was able to check in online, there was a message stating that I had to check in at the airport. A bit odd, that’s the first time that’s happened.

The agent at the kiosk let me know that I was randomly selected for extra security for this trip. If the inability to check in online wasn’t a giveaway, the stamped SSSS on your boarding pass is.

My extra security didn’t take place in Ottawa, it would be during the connecting process in Toronto. I was curious as to what I should expect, probably shouldn’t have done that as it only caused emotional distress.

From what I’ve read and witnessed some travellers going through SSSS don’t get the same treatment.

I can only speculate based on each travellers past experience. Some may be completely random, some might have a history of packing items that go against TSA policy.

Once you’re identified as a SSSS, you will be going through the line that has the body scanner. Your belongings get tagged and separated from the other travellers. I was given a pat down right after coming out of the scanner, then waited to be processed further.

There was a guy, early 20’s being processed before I got there. Seems the agents took more time with him and they also had a report to fill out and asked him what he did for work.

While I was waiting my turn, I was making myself helpful by stacking the empty bins. Figured I may as well keep the process flowing. If I make their jobs easier, maybe they’ll go easy on me.

They verified that the two bins waiting were mine, they were. I was asked if there was anything sharp, pointy, or liquids exceeding the carry on allotment. There was not. I was asked to take my cell phone out from the case, turn it on and open an app. They opened my carry-on bag, sifted through things and checked the pockets of my sweater. My boarding pass was stamped, my guess to indicate that I was processed and I was able to proceed with the other passengers.

Normally we book our vacation s through Air Canada, this time we got a better deal through WestJet. The layover flight offered free drinks. The longer flight offered free snacks and no meal service because it was just shy of the 4 hours.

We were disappointed because we didn’t have enough time during the layover, thanks to the extra security to grab a bite to eat beforehand. Snacks for dinner it is.

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Monday December 9

We checked out of the hotel and arrived at the cruise port early. It’s currently 10:57am as I’m writing this at the cruise port terminal. We won’t start boarding until noon.

As luck would have it, we were able to board early. This was the most efficient boarding process we encountered thus far.

Most passengers head right to the buffet once they figure out which deck it’s on. We are no different. Once we finished refueling, we did a bit of exploring. Most passengers find the nearest bar and enjoy the sun while they wait for their rooms to be ready.

Day One on all cruise ships entails spending most of the day at the port as the ship is getting restocked, passengers are getting on, luggage is being loaded on and most passengers are navigating their way around.

Before each cruise ship leaves the port, all passengers and crew members must take part in the Muster Drill. Your stateroom key card has bits of information on it, one being your Muster station. In your stateroom on or near the door will be a visual aid to help direct you to your Muster station. Once you arrive, seek a crew member for further instruction.

These drills are to help prepare all passengers in case of an emergency if we have to leave the ship. The best thing you can do is know where to go, have your key card with you, follow the instructions and be patient. All passengers must be accounted for before you will be allowed to leave not only the muster station but the port as well.

Now that I’ve had time to experience some aspects of the Majesty of the Seas, here are my thoughts.

Normally we book a balcony room, this trip we booked an ocean view, no balcony to save a few hundred dollars. One thing we’re missing is the mini fridge, not necessarily for the mini bar, but simply to keep our drinks cold. You are allowed to bring alcohol onboard, we don’t, but if you, do don’t book any room that isn’t a balcony or better.

This ship is an older cruise ship from the Royal Caribbean line. It’s still very nice, not overly outdated like the Carnival Legend. This ship still allows smoking onboard. There are several designated areas and until January 1, 2020 you can still smoke in your room and on balconies. Going forward for those non-smoking passengers, book your room on the Port side/ left (odd numbered room). All of the designated outdoor areas are on the Starboard/ right (even numbered) side. If you have a balcony you will not be able to enjoy it.

While booking this cruise online, we talked to an agent from the cruise line that assured us that we could book a table for two during our My Time Dining in the dining room.

Apparently that request didn’t go through, not just for us, but many guests as well. We showed up at 5:30 expecting a private table only to be directed to a large table of 10. We were directed to the manager outside of the dining room and the line up started. Most people had the same concern, while others were following the herd and assuming they were in line to get seated.

Seems all of the seating was reserved, no tables for two were available, but we could come down at 6pm and hope that a table opens up/ guests don’t arrive. That was the suggestion to all guests the requested a table for two, or we could wait and reserve a table during the 8pm seating. PASS. In most cases they serve the same dinner at the buffet and you can easily sit by yourself. The bonus, I don’t have to dress up to eat. 😛

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Tuesday December 10

Day at Sea, heading to Key West, Florida.

Here are a few pictures.

We are still at sea, making our way to Key West. We don’t have any excursions planned, we’re just going to wing it. More than likely we’ll walk around the touristy area, check out the shops and I’ll pick up a Christmas ornament to add to our collection.

We did manage to get some people watching in. It’s not as creepy as it sounds.

I had a daily budget in reference to the onboard spending. I’ve exceeded my budget in one day.😒 All I have to say in my defense is that the casino is not cooperating. I seem to have a knack for playing on a machine next to one that pays out. So much for my Irish Luck.

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Wednesday, December 11, Key West

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Today we had the chance to explore Key West, Florida. I had been here 20 years ago and I remembered there was Ripley’s Believe it or not attraction.

My husband had never been there so we made a point to check it out. If you are ever out that way, I highly recommend it.

There is so much to see and do at this port, it’s really worth getting off and exploring.

I’ve been told there is a bar called Garden of Eden, a clothing optional bar. It’s not my thing, but for those that are curious, check it out.

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Thursday, December 12. Day at sea.

There’s not much to tell. Above are pictures of the daily itinerary that gets delivered to your stateroom and a visual of the ship’s layout.

I left two copies of my book at the reading nook onboard. One book is signed, the other was not.

One fellow cruiser took the unsigned copy and never returned it. No complaints. Hopefully, they liked it enough to leave a review.

On this day we were on our way to Nassau, Bahama. It was quite windy and the seasickness was getting the best of me, as well as many other guests.

Getting yourself to any midship location helps. I’ve been told to focus on the horizon to help get a visual and the inner ear to work together.

That bit of advice doesn’t help me. Getting to midship helps, focusing on the horizon, not so much. I got myself back to our room in case I get sick. Closing the curtains and laying down helps me. After a few hours, I started feeling better.

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Friday, December 13 Nassau

The first thing I noticed looking out from our window was the tourist area was fully gated.

In our experience from places like Haiti, Jamaica, and Mexico is that security is heavy because the locals are heavy on haggling.

As soon as you get through the security checkpoint you are bombarded with locals wanting your attention to sell you their services and goods. It can be a little overwhelming.

On another note, if you enjoy gambling you may want to check out Atlantis. Just set an alarm, don’t lose track of time. Atlantis is shown in the picture above with the two very large buildings in the distance.

Shortly after leaving the Port of Nassau we were alerted that one of the engines was not functioning at full capacity. We were expected to arrive at Fort Lauderdale at 6am, the new ETA was 10:30am

After an hour, a slight adjustment was made and a new ETA was 9am. Just one more reason to consider booking a later flight home. I suggest anytime after noon just to be safe.

Overall, I rate this cruise a 7.5 out of 10.

The Majesty of the Seas is an older ship from the 1990s and some aspects show.

Key West was the better port. Nassau made me feel anxious and less friendly.

We gave up on the My Time Dining and ate at the Windjammer for every meal. Here’s a tip. Once you get your food, take your plate upstairs where there is extra seating and more food options.

Sorrento’s pizza is up there, FREE and the Compass Deli also FREE. We met Alfonso from Mexico, he works the lunch shift. Super nice guy, very polite and friendly.

Well, that concludes this blog post. I’m happy to answer any cruising questions.

I hope you enjoyed my five-day cruising recap and review.😎

One last thing.

Here are the Christmas ornaments that I picked up on this cruise. Yes, I know one is a keychain, but I will turn that into an ornament.

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Reviews

5 -Star Review left on Goodreads

It was amazing 5-STARS ·  review of another edition
This is a heartfelt, well-written account of an awful trauma and the after effects. Hannah is a very courageous woman for telling her story and for working to heal herself. No innocent child should have to suffer this kind of terror in their life. From what I could understand, she was able to work through the trauma enough to finally find happiness in her life. That doesn’t mean she can forget what happened to her. It just means she decided to not let it destroy her. I wish for her every success in taking her life back from this trauma and to know she is loved and more importantly worthy of love. Well done, Hannah.
#MenToo, #MeToo, Crime/Punishment, Criminal Justice, Not the Popular Opinion, Sexual Abuse, Speaking from Experience, Stigma/Taboo, Victims of sexual abuse/sexual assualt

Coming Forward, Are you ready?

******* TRIGGER WARNING*******

This blog post will touch on topics of coming forward, speaking up and what that means as a survivor of sexual abuse/assault. While I won’t go into detail, the topic in itself may be triggering for many survivors. It is not my intention to trigger, only to inform. Continue reading at your own risk.

 

I’m feeling inspired this morning after I came across a social media post from a survivor seeking advice from those that have come forward about their abuse. This person is seriously considering coming forward, filing a report against her abuser and is looking for support.

My personal thoughts on this matter, I fully support her decision and know first hand just how difficult this is.

Could you imagine if all survivors took immediate action against their abuser(s)? A society where we could come forward, be believed, not have to relive our trauma over and over as we explain in full detail the vile acts that we were forced to endure. A society that wasn’t corrupt and the sexual predators weren’t protected but rather all given a minimum of 15 years in prison with no chance of early release, no special privileges. Imagine if that punishment was universal in every State, Province, and Country. The same sentencing should be imposed upon those who knowingly make false claims.  I do imagine this and I think the acts of sexual violence would decrease because of harsher punishments with no wiggle room to bribe down to a lesser sentence.

The reality is, that’s never going to happen. Greed and corruption exist, not all humans possess the qualities of integrity and accountability; sadly I don’t see things changing for the better anytime soon.

The best opportunity for a survivor to come forward is within 48 hours of the encounter. This small window of time is the only chance to retrieve any evidence that may be present/left behind. Having the courage to get yourself  (or get someone to drive you) to the local hospital is your best chance to ensure that your abuser(s) gets taken into custody.

Without evidence (physical, video, audio) a witness or another survivor that is willing to speak up, the odds of a survivor being taken seriously rapidly decrease. It’s now a matter of a “He said, She said” scenario and it becomes more difficult to prove/prosecute.

Coming forward is especially difficult if there is a Statute of Limitations that prevents survivors from reporting the crime against them after 7, 10, 15 years after it took place. It is frustrating when we process trauma differently and for many of us, our brain has protected us by hiding that trauma for 15+ years. We weren’t aware that a crime against us had been committed until it’s too late. Where’s the justice in that? There isn’t any!

Coming forward within the 48-hour window doesn’t ensure that the brave survivor is granted a “happily ever after” ending. Coming forward doesn’t just affect the life of the survivor, but in most cases affects the lives of those around them. That idea alone is enough for many of us to not come forward at all, especially when the abuser is a family member.

Does coming forward about the abuse you endured make you selfish? Absolutely NOT!

Does coming forward about the abuse you endured come across as “Seeking Attention”? Absolutely NOT!

Yet so many of us are made to believe the opposite is true. That’s because those that are making us feel that way are scared, afraid and don’t want to deal with the aftermath, the judgments, the whispers, the rumors and the hardships that will most definitely follow.

Should that guilt be enough for us survivors to stay quiet and keep our mouths shut? That is up to the survivor. I can’t answer that and speak for everyone.

I was told that there would be “consequences” should I choose to speak up and tell my “story”. I was 9 years and my mother who walked in on my last encounter with her boyfriend was in complete denial. She didn’t believe me even though she witnessed it happening. I knew that this moment was my opportunity to speak up and tell her everything. That wasn’t enough, she was still siding with “him”. I was told that if I was ready to deal with the “consequences” that she would drive me to the hospital and that I would have to endure some very uncomfortable tests and there would be questions that I had to answer truthfully.

I knew that I didn’t do anything wrong, I wasn’t the one lying to my mother about what she walked in on. I had no reason to be punished. I knew that if I couldn’t prove to my mother that I was telling the truth, the abuse would continue and her boyfriend might actually follow through with the death threats he made against my younger brother and mother. How could things get worse for me than they already were at that moment?

The testing and procedures performed at the hospital to collect the evidence took place, not one of my favorite moments. I still have a hard (emotional) time at every OBGYN appointment some 30+ years later. But I knew it had to be done, not just to prove my abuser wrong, but to help protect myself and my brother from possible harm. Also to ensure this bastard doesn’t hurt another little girl. I couldn’t live with that guilt, knowing that I could have done something and didn’t.

The consequences of coming forward appeared shortly after, while still at the hospital. Due to the nature of the crime, me being a minor and the doctors were convinced that my mother was not going to break off the relationship (they weren’t wrong); Child Services were called along with the local police detectives. Long story, short. My brother and I were placed in foster care that evening. What was supposed to be for the weekend, turned into a few weeks, that turned into a few more months. I entered the foster system at age 9 and never got out until I aged out of the system.

Sure, I pressed charges against my abuser and had my day in court. The evidence was tested and obviously came back as his, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. A small victory for me. My younger brother was completely innocent, had never been abused, had no idea what was going on. He didn’t know what was happening or know why we couldn’t go home. I fought for him, pleaded that he should get to go home.

Being 9 years old and not fully understanding the whole picture.

We later learned that our mother was still visiting her boyfriend (my abuser) in prison. It was those secret visits that caused her to lose her parental rights. We were close to coming home (after 4.5 years). After the proof, after all that I endured and sacrificed to protect myself and my brother, this was how I was rewarded. This was my consequence and my brother was an innocent bystander.

Was Justice served? YES. I got to the hospital, evidence was collected and used to put my abuser away for 10 years. One less sexual predator out in public.

Was the outcome what I had hoped? Not in a million years. I can only be accountable for myself, and I did just that. I didn’t do anything to be ashamed of. Just ashamed to have a mother that didn’t believe me and kept putting my abuser before her kids.

My mother has failed me on several occasions, but that’s a story for another day. The best thing she did was to allow me to make my own choice and drive me to the hospital that morning.

While the situations are similar, there are many variables to consider if you are thinking about coming forward/speaking up about the abuse you endured. As much as I love the idea of all survivors coming forward, I know that many can’t, some aren’t aware that they should. All of which is okay, just know that I support your choice.

For anyone considering coming forward:

  • Do so when you are ready, not because you are feeling pressured.
  • Be prepared to relive your trauma and share your story several times to several people. It’s mentally exhausting.
  • Without evidence or witnesses, filing a police report is still helpful. Should another survivor report the same abuser, that might be enough to prosecute.
  • Most importantly, Know that you didn’t do anything to deserve this. The abuse you endured was not your fault in any way.
  • Start your healing process when you are ready, not because the court mandates it. When YOU are ready.
  • You are not alone. There are many support groups that you can join, even online to help you process what you’re feeling. There is no shame in seeking support. Nobody understands better than someone who’s been through it.
  • For the Parents of a child that comes forward- bring them to the hospital- be supportive no matter the outcome- Protecting your child comes FIRST- Be the adult they need you to be, hold the abusers accountable, no matter who it turns out to be.

Coming forward and reporting the abuse that you endured isn’t easy on so many levels. The courage and bravery required to speak up doesn’t come easy. When you finally do, it’s possible that your claims aren’t taken seriously or they are dismissed as a misunderstanding, especially without proof/evidence. Even with proof and there is no shadow of a doubt, the aftermath is unpredictable. One thing is for sure, you won’t get a Thank You and your efforts won’t get recognized, because it’s not seen as heroic when it most certainly is.

If the TV and Movies have taught us one thing, it’s that in this world, there are Heroes and Criminals/Villians. Heroes help to put the Criminals away, Heroes protect the innocent. This seems to be an acceptable norm, except when it comes to sexual abuse. Sexual Predators are often disguised, hiding in plain sight right under our noses, posing as heroes. Sexual Predators have infiltrated many positions of power and they use that position of power as a means of protection. Now, these Criminals are able to protect other criminals and the Heroes are the ones that suffer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Educate Yourself, Immigrants, Just the Facts, Refugees/Asylum/Immigrants

The FACTS about Refugees getting “Free Money”

Welcome Back Blog Readers,

In this post, I’d like to dispell the falsehood of a popular meme that has been spreading across the internet.

Here’s the link to the topic for today:

https://www.politifact.com/facebook-fact-checks/statements/2018/nov/21/viral-image/meme-makes-false-claim-about-refugees-social-secur/?fbclid=IwAR0M6sKKDVSBUUThLJfY1PfcA4jcSXshmavQH84vO0B11UVRJF6woKKV49U

Just a reminder folks, anybody can create a meme about anything; it doesn’t mean it’s true. While there is an abundance of great information on the internet, there is also a great deal of misinformation.

It only takes one second to share false statements; why not take a few more seconds to verify the information before you share it.

Here are the FACTS as it applies the refugees in the USA:

https://immigrationforum.org/article/fact-sheet-u-s-refugee-resettlement/?fbclid=IwAR1tLY-3M5lkKjtYu9rV0sis1Jx0dw6IjlZG4cuv2Eo9O1fUF_DUZ-q5o7U

Here are the FACT as it applies to the refugees in Canada:

https://ccrweb.ca/en/refugees-social-assistance

Here’s a PDF that breaks down the amount(s) and length of time that the various payments are dispersed to eligible refugees and their family.

http://www.usccb.org/about/resettlement-services/upload/Refugee-Assistance-2.pdf

Do refugees receive financial assistance? YES, many of them do if they qualify and are eligible.

How much money do they get each month? That amount varies from State to State and Province to Province as well as other factors.

How long are the payments received? Depends. Sometimes it’s a one time only payment. Eight months is the cut off for most, but in some circumstances, refugees could receive payments a bit longer.

Do refugees receive payments right away? NO. In many cases, refugees have to obtain proof/documents and meet certain criteria before they are deemed eligible. Each family and reason for their refugee status varies.

If you have any further questions, I encourage you to do a bit of research. Google is your friend.

Learn to think for yourself and stop feeling obligated to jump on the refugee/immigration bashing bandwagon. That mentality doesn’t make you more “patriotic.” If it weren’t for immigrants/refugees like your grandparents/great-grandparents, you wouldn’t be able to call yourself a proud American.

 

 

 

 

Citizenship, Immigrants, Immigration Process, Permanent Resident, Speaking from Experience

On the path to Citizenship

Depositphotos_49557547_l-2015

Welcome Back Blog Readers,

I know that it’s been a while since my last post. Life happens, being an adult means doing things like working to pay the bills and remembering when the important identification cards are about to expire.

That’s what I’ve been dealing with lately. By dealing with, I mean acknowledging that these are tasks that I will focus on, at some point very soon. Just not today.

My Drivers License, Health Card, and Permanent Resident Card all expire in 2020. Naturally, they all require a new updated picture so I can’t renew them online.

One task that I do need to focus on is reading through the Discover Canada study guide and finish filling out the application to start the process of becoming a dual citizen. Since the application time for Citizenship is unknown, I will have to renew my PR card and pay the $50 fee just to be on the safe side. I do have until April 2020 before my PR card expires, but I don’t want to take the chance of having my Citizenship application/test/interview/Oath run longer than that. It’s not worth the risk of having my PR card expire when it’s something I have to hand in during the process.

For those of you that don’t know, a Canadian Permanent Resident card has to be renewed every 5 years. I’ve already renewed it once back in 2014 and being the procrastinator that I am, I thought that I would have already become a Canadian Citizen before having to renew my PR card a second time. Like I said before, Life happens.

What will becoming a Canadian citizen mean for me?

I won’t have to fill out applications or renew a PR card ever again, yay.  Once I get a Canadian Passport, I won’t have to renew my US passport, yay.  I will have all of the same rights as a natural-born citizen, included the chance to vote and serve on a jury (something I can’t do up here). Becoming a Canadian citizen doesn’t automatically mean I’m no longer a US citizen. That’s where the DUAL part comes in.

I can hold both passports (but most likely won’t). I will be able to vote for both US and Canadian elections. I will be able to apply for any benefits that I am eligible for when that time comes. I will still have to file a ZERO return for the USA as well as the Federal/Provincial taxes in Canada every year.  Sadly, filing a US Zero return is required even though I left the US in 2009. It doesn’t mean that I owe, nor do I get a refund. It’s a 1040EZ and another form that basically states that I made nothing for the US to tax me on and I owe nothing. The only way to get out of that is to renounce my US citizenship and pay a hefty fee. No thanks, I’ll pass on that option.

Anyway, that is the news for now.

If anyone has any questions about the US to Canada immigration process, I’m happy to answer and provide links to help you learn more.

One last tidbit before signing off….

For those of you going through the process, DOCUMENT all visits outside of the country. Keep a journal and log each trip, the dates, where you went. Same with all of your addresses going back 5 years and where you worked/studied. this information will be super handy when it comes time to renew your PR card or apply for citizenship later on.