“Some say that our destiny is tied to the land, as much a part of us as we are of it. Others say fate is woven together like a cloth, so that one’s destiny intervenes with many others. It is the one thing that we search for, or fight to change. Some never find it. But there are some who are led.”
-Merida, Brave (2012)
Life is like a chess board and each of us are all like pieces on that chess board. Every choice we make and even those that we have no control over affects us as well as those around us. This week, I was able to get a picture of that very chessboard by speaking with Christine Dubois, a student who resides in Vernon BC with her husband and son.
Christine was born and raised on Vancouver Island and spent most of her life near the ocean. However, she moved to Vernon BC five years ago when her husband was injured, medically discharged, and released from the Navy.
“We had to leave military housing and I was very pregnant at the time. We had to make some tough decisions about what to do, and eventually decided to move to the Okanagan, where the housing market at the time was much lower than Victoria. It was very difficult for us to move far away from my family in my condition.”
Christine has been a nurse for around 10 years and currently works as an LPN at the hospital in Okanagan, “I am currently taking my Bachelors of Nursing through Athabasca, while working close to full time and caring for my lovely but very energetic five-year-old. During my degree, I will have to travel to Alberta to complete my practicums and stay for about 2 months away from my family.”
“My goal is to finish my Bachelors of Nursing then pursue my Nurse Practitioner credential after because the Okanagan is incredibly short of practitioners. We have a lot of rural communities that are underserved, and I hope to help contribute and do my part for my community.”
When asked if it was her childhood dream to become a nurse, she replied laughingly, “I wanted to become a mermaid when I grew up, but nursing was a pretty good option too.”
When she’s not studying, Christine likes to explore her creative side by painting and playing music, “I recently learnt a little violin because I have always wanted to learn it. I have been taking violin classes for the last 2 years and I’m on level 5 now.”
Her love for the ocean and childhood memories enticed her to bring a part for her childhood home all the way to Okanagan. “I love Ocean art. I have lived on the island most of my life and ocean is something I have always seen everyday, but in Okanagan there’s no ocean, so I have painted my living room Robins egg blue. I’ve got a big painting of the ocean and I put some real sand into it. I’ve painted a mermaid, a sea horse, an octopus, a whale, a shrimp and a lighthouse; all different paintings; in my living room.”
Christine took her creativity a step further and combined her love for mermaids with her son’s imagination about dragons into a book, which she later published. She fondly recalled,
“While I was painting pictures with my son, I decided to turn our paintings into a little story book for him. While I was working on the story book, I thought of getting it published and use the income earned as a fund raiser for my tuition and travel. Due to Covid restrictions, event restrictions, bake sale restrictions, I had to get creative and think about what I could do to earn some extra income without having to add anymore to my plate. The title of the book is Dragon Meets a Mermaid.”
“I had invested some money from my credit card, while not fully believing in myself, having lots of self-doubt, and questioning if I made the right call. The day my book was released, I woke up to find that it was listed as #1 for hot new release on Amazon, and #5 for the soft cover version for hot new release, and so many friends and family had shown their support by ordering it. I am incredibly lucky and grateful for everyone that has shown their love and support for my idea.”
Christine’s family, especially her spouse, had the greatest influence on her desire to learn and continue pursuing her life goals. “My husband was in the Navy, but he got injured, and Veteran’s affairs pays him. But I don’t know if they will pay him forever. I wanted to go back to school so I could earn more income and have financial stability in case the government proposes changes to pension plans or ceases his payments. I wanted to make sure that my family is taken care of, and I used creativity to help finance my future plans.”
Christine likes the flexibility and convenience that online learning has to offer and is self motivated to keep up with her course schedule. “Its great! I can learn at anytime of the day and anywhere I want. Whether its early morning readings, listening to the audio e-books on my tablet during appointment wait times, or even while doing the dishes or late-night assignments, I can be my own manager at home! When my son gets off from school, I can pick him up or drop him off without having to worry about rushing back to school. If I was attending the local at the college here, I would have to drive 45 mins to reach school. I also have to arrange for daycare as well as a nanny to look after him after day care hours, which would be quite expensive. I would need an assistant to run my entire life.”
The only thing that she finds a little inconvenient is wait time to get answers from tutors. “Sometimes it takes a day or two for teachers to answer a question depending on how busy they are, but most of the time, I can find answers on YouTube, online forums as well as various study groups.”
While making a decision to continue her education, Christine had doubts about online learning. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through Athabasca with a university here, so I started upgrading. Since my son was still young, I had decided to wait until he turned five and started school so that I would have the option to choose which university I wanted for my bachelor’s degree. Meanwhile, I invested my time in completing prerequisites for nursing school. My math class was a flex class, and my chemistry class was online. I also spoke to my colleagues, fellow nursing students at the local university, as well as my manager. Due to COVID restrictions, colleges and universities were already facing difficulties with online classes since the curriculum was designed for physical attendance. My manager also reassured me that degrees from Athabasca University were recognized and would assist me in climbing the career ladder. It was then that I made a decision to attend Athabasca University. Since I’m pretty motivated and tend to be a self learner, I stick to course schedule and avoid procrastination.”
Christine’s pet peeve is “Shopping carts left on the road, as well as a little excitement/ anxiety felt after submitting the assignment and waiting for the marks to be posted. It’s always exciting to see how I did on an assignment.”
When asked about which famous person she would like to have lunch with, Christine told me about a very rare event, “My brother and his wife went on a trip somewhere to another country and there was a painting of a woman who looked a lot like me. It was a painting of Lady Recamier in 1777 and she looked almost like my twin. It would be interesting to sit opposite to a look alike and have lunch with her.”
As for the most valuable lesson she learned in life, Christine jokingly answered, “I still haven’t learnt my lessons.” We both burst out laughing.
On a more serious note, she said something which I haven’t heard in a long time and it replicates my own thoughts and ideas. “I guess to avoid gossip and just keep to yourself in groups of women. I feel the need to focus on myself and my goals and not of what other people think of me. I work with a lot of women, and most of them have a lot of opinions, and I think its good to just be confident in your choices, even if they end up being bad choices, they are your choices. And, as the millennials say, YOLO.”
Christine cherishes every accomplishment in life and is proud of every achievement. “I have a lot of proud moments but sometimes my proudest moments are not the most exciting ones. When I learnt how to use a drill, I was pretty excited. When I got a letter in the mail stating that I’d got in the nursing program at Athabasca University, I was proud. Every time I finish a painting and it turns out good I feel great. When I level up in violin, I feel proud of my hard work. When I got my own car, I was extremely excited—my husband and I shared a vehicle for the longest time. When we lived in Victoria we had one family car, but since the bus system was really great, I didn’t necessarily need a car all he time. When we moved to Vernon, had a son, and I started working at the hospital, life became busy. I had just paid off my student loan, credit card bills and line of credit so I went out, put myself in debt again and got myself a new car.”
For her television guilty pleasure, Christine enjoyed watching Love is Blind and is waiting for season two.
She is also writing another young-adult book about mermaids (Of course!) which will be published next year
We chatted about children’s books and we both found we agreed on one thought, “A lot of children’s books nowadays have hidden messages, propaganda and hidden things,” she said, “and I always think that can’t kids can be just kids? Does every story need to have a lesson in the end? Can’t we just let them imagine and dream?”
We agreed that experience and life teach us lessons in its own way and all of us are destined, through our choices and our fates, to end up being the people we are today.
I want to thank Christine Dubois on behalf of The Voice Magazine for her time, her efforts, her literary contribution, and her future goals. And I pray that she succeeds in every aspect of her life and continue to fill our lives with her creativity.