From the blog...

Hi everyone!!! Happy New Year!!! Wishing all of you health, wealth and happiness for 2013 ☺ I have a feeling it’s gonna be a splendid year for all of us.

Well it’s back to school for many of you, for my part I am finally back home in Toronto, after what felt like a tornado of a holiday lol. Those of you who closely follow me on social media already know that I spent Xmas in Afghanistan this year, with my friend and collegue Richard Petit. Let’s start at the beginning and let me walk you through my journey.

November 25th – Richard calls me one afternoon and shoots me this question: “I just got a call from my contact at National Defense. Would you want to go perform for our troops in Afghanistan?” I said yes right away. “There’s only one thing though… it would be from December 22nd to the 27th.” Oh boy. I immediately and instinctively thought “Absolutely not. There is no way on earth I am going to miss Xmas with my family and go out of the country! That’s absurd!” Xmas is a sacred time of the year to me, where I can feel like a child again, and pretend nothing else in the world exists but my family and the simple magic of Christmas. Our tradition in the Gougeon family (Suzanne Gougeon is my mom, I have two last names ☺) is to rent out a cottage somewhere beautiful, and this year we opted for Mont Tremblant. We spend 5 whole days at the cottage and the whole family wakes up together on Xmas morning. Such wonderful times playing games, cooking amazing dinners, making angels in the snow… Nothing else matters and it’s magical. I was beyond excited and looking forward to it, after all it’s my absolute favorite time of the year.

Then Richard told me I had 24 hours to think about it, because our contact at the National Defense needed an answer from us asap. So, needless to say, I had a long night of hard thinking to do. I told myself I would sleep on it, but sleep was a hard thing to do with my mind racing so much. The next morning it was clear to me, I needed to do this. I think my subconscious must’ve spoken to me in my sleep, because it’s almost as if I’d had a revelation. I’m given the chance to commit a great act of kindness and compassion, toward hard-working men and women who truly need it, especially at a time like Christmas. I also thought, I’m at a point in my life where I’m ready to live new experiences that are exhilarating, perhaps challenging yes, but that would also help me grow, on a personal and professional level. This was it. This was a golden opportunity to do something totally selfless, for people that truly need support while they are working very hard and away from their loved one for months and months. Ok, so I miss Xmas this year, but my family is so tight-knit, we see each other all the time, all year long ☺

So I called Richard, and told him “I’m in”. And the adventure began! The following weeks were all about passports and visa applications… can’t say it was an easy process lol, but it all worked out. It kinda felt weird to see my face on a visa for Afghanistan, I gotta say…

Dec 22nd – Our departure was from Montreal. There was a total blizzard that night, the winds were violent and the whole city was covered in snow. Richard and I met Captain Marie-Ève Labonté (who was traveling with us) at the airport who gave us our etickets. Then we went through security and met up with the other 5 generals who were joining us on the trip. Two of them are retired, but it was important to them to go to Kabul and support their soldiers. So we meet everyone and chat a bit, then we are called to board the plane. We took off about an hour late, because of a very difficult passenger who just wasn’t cooperating. When we finally did take off, I watched a movie (Hope springs, with Meryl Streep – hilarious!). Was not able to sleep though, because I just cannot sleep in transportation. Like, ever. In cars, planes, buses, you name it, if it’s movin’, I’m not snoozin’! haha, bad joke. No but seriously, no matter how tired or sleep-deprived I am, to this day I haven’t been able to get some sleep on a vehicule. Since I’ve been a child that is, because when you’re a kid you can sleep anywhere. Anyway, so after a smooth yet sleepless red-eye flight, we land around 8am in London, UK…

(to be continued…)