Dose of Awesome # 256

1. Awesome is my backpack.

Eight and a half years ago, tired of my unfulfilling call centre job, fed up with my chauvanistic boss and a cycle of crazy roommates, and in desperate need of a change of scenery, I opened my mind to the possibility of an adventure in the Yukon. I don’t know how much time had passed between the night I began to entertain the idea, and the day I actually booked my ticket to Whitehorse, but I do remember the day I bought my backpack.

Walking home along the Halifax waterfront one day after an especially defeating day a work, I took a detour to the Mountain Equipment Co-Op. I just wanted to browse, and I was there for quite awhile. But the longer I stayed there, the stronger my desire for an adventure grew. So did my realization that an adventure was what I needed. Before leaving the store, I bought myself the pack that’s still with me today.

My pack has been with me through 3 summers in the Yukon. It came with me to Alaska. It’s been to China, Peru, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and many places in between. It’s been my portable “home” by day, and pillow by night. It’s challenged me (it can get pretty heavy), and it’s given me hope.

As I await boarding my flight for Iceland, I look forward to another few weeks of awesomeness. My pack is coming with me.

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2. Awesome was a productive and fun few days in Montréal, where I ate good food, drank good wine and even better coffee, and spent time with friends. I even went to my first Shakespeare play in a park.

3. Awesome are new books – especially the real, old fashioned kind. This morning I finished the book I brought with me from home (Tilly – A Story of Hope and Resilience by Monique Gray Smith), so I came to the airport early today to book ahop and relax. I am now reading Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese. Just twenty pages in, I can tell this is going to be a powerful read.

Dose of Awesome # 255

1. Awesome was a weekend camping and hiking trip in Kuururjuaq National Park. We camped at Qurlutuarjuq, on the Koroc river, which is approximately 25 minutes by plane from Kangiqsualujjuaq. The weather, though questionable upon departure in Kuujjuaq (lots of fog, drizzle and wind), turned out to be perfect in the park. And despite a superabundant mosquito and blackfly population, we enjoyed two beautiful hikes on the land – the first, a five-hour scramble up and down the mountain overlooking the camp, and the second, a three-hour bushwhack to the chutes Korluktok.

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Our chartered plane on the landing strip at Qurlutuarjuq.

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The camp.

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The view from the camp.

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Bug nets saved the day, even way up high.

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Koroc River from the mountain.

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My boyfriend and I – so happy we got to do this together.

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Inuksuk leading the way to chutes Korluktok.

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Chutes Korluktok – worth every scratch, bruise and bug bite.

2. Awesome are early morning bike rides – something I’ve been doing a lot lately. The temperature is perfect, the traffic is minimal, and there’s no better way to wake up than some post-coffee physical activity. Also awesome is coming home to find a cup’s worth of coffee still warm in your french press.

3. Awesome are boat rides. Recently I was invited on a boat ride on Stewart Lake. Though freezing (it gave me a chance to test out my new hiking gear), it was my first time out on a boat since moving to Nunavik. I’m hoping for an invitation on a sunny day.

Dose of Awesome # 254

My life as of late is at the same time free, yet stifling; simple, yet as complex as my own thoughts. I’m on summer vacation. Everyone’s gone to their respective places with their respective people doing their respective vacation things, except for the few who are here working, doing their own thing. I’m leaving in six days on the vacation of my dreams, but in the meantime, here I am.

When I lived in Tasiujaq, I learned, more or less, how to be comfortable being alone. While I like to think I’d always been independent in a lot of ways, in Tasiujaq I became socially independent. I spent most of my time knitting, sewing, drawing, reading, doing yoga, or hiking. Alone. For the most part, I enjoyed it. Yes, occasionally I was lonely, but over time, I came to value my own company. I never kept myself waiting and I never had an excuse not to do what I loved. I never held myself back and I never let myself down. If I wanted to hike six hours in search of muskox herds and photo opportunities, I did. If I wanted to bundle up in my warmest of warm clothes and lay in the snow in the dark waiting for the northern lights, I did. If I wanted to read a book or knit a scarf from start – to – finish, I did.

But after three years, I needed something more. I didn’t necessarily want a change of scenery, but I needed balance – balance between socialization and independence, north and south, rural and urban. There’s a big difference between introversion by choice and introversion by force, and I was starting to feel suffocated by the latter. I yearned for the opportunity to be a little extroverted sometimes. Without renouncing life in the north that I’d really grown to appreciate, I wanted to live in a place where I could do all the things I loved to do in Tasiujaq, while also being able to volunteer and get involved, listen to live music, participate in community events, join a fitness class or even just go to a gym, drink a beer at a bar or eat a meal in a restaurant. As beautiful as Tasiujaq is, and as much as I love and miss it, it offered me none of those things.

I moved to Kuujjuaq for this balance, and I found it. But over time, in the midst of the surprising hustle and bustle that is the life of a teacher in this northern village-metropolis, I’d forgotten how to be alone and enjoy it to the extent that I’ve been required to over the past few weeks. I’ve struggled to find the same pleasure in my hobbies. I do them, and I enjoy them – every day I read, I draw and I exercise. Some days I even exercise twice. I’ve even found new hobbies. But what lingers is this constant craving for human interaction; this anticipation for the telephone to ring or a message to pop up on my computer screen. This is a feeling I thought I’d grown beyond.

As difficult as this has been, awesome is this opportunity to re-learn how to be socially independent, and enjoy my own company again. Awesome is the opportunity to relish this time in which the only direction I’m being pulled in is my own. This time won’t last forever – soon I’ll be traveling (alone and with others), and after that a new school year will begin so hectic and full of newness it will have me longing for some time alone – but in the meantime, I’ll think of this as a learning opportunity. Quote

Dose of Awesome # 253

I have been showered with awesome lately!

1. Awesome is surpassing my second weight loss goal – more than 10 pounds lost. Approximately 10 to go!

2. Awesome was a phone call informing me that I’d won a spot on a chartered plane to Kuururjuaq Qurlutuarjuq park for a weekend of camping and hiking near the Torngat mountains. even more awesome is being able to bring a friend. My boyfriend and I will be going in early July.

3. Awesome was the opportunity to train with a student named Sasha from Inukjuaq for Le Grand Traverse – a 1000 km bike event in the south of Quebec. Though I’m not actually participating in the event, I met with her each Saturday and Sunday (and one Friday), for a few weeks, for a few hours of intense cycling on computerized stationary bikes, which were programmed to mimic actual popular bike routes around the world. With Sasha, I biked more than a challenging 300 km over Mallorca, Spain, and the countryside of France.

4. Awesome is teaching a beading workshop (which Is a twice-weekly, few week long pilot project, which I hope to expand in the new year). With the help of myself and a few colleagues, students are learning how to make traditional beaded earrings, like the ones pictured below. Though space is limited at the moment, the kids who have been coming are loving it, and I can already tell we will have more than enough interest next year.

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Earrings made by my student Anauta.

5. Awesome was officially finishing, and sending off the grade 6 regional English exams – thus ending what is probably the craziest, and perhaps most stressful time of my year.

Dose of Awesome # 252

1. Awesome was reaching my first weight loss goal this week – 5 pounds. I can feel, and see a difference already.

15 to go.

2. Awesome was experiencing a huge leap in my cardio workouts. Recently, I decided to try jogging/sprinting intervals (something I’ve always been a bit afraid to do, having always jogged long distances at a steady pace, for fear that I’d get tired too fast and not run long enough). It seemed like in no time I worked my way up to alternating between jogging and sprinting (1 minute each) for 20 solid minutes. I like to top that off with 20 minutes of spin bike intervals and some ab exercises.

3. Awesome is seeing great things happen for someone you love. I’m really proud.

Dose of Awesome # 251

1. Awesome is the right perspective.

Sometimes – when my workout doesn’t go as well as I’d like, or I eat something I feel guilty about later – I get discouraged with myself.

I forget that there was once a time that I weighed almost 250 pounds. I never worked out. I walked to and sometimes from work, and that was it. In fact, once, 8 or 9 years ago, I walked an hour up a mountain and cried because I was uncomfortably winded. It took me about 3 hours to get to the top. That was the only time I hiked it that summer. The next summer, I hiked the same mountain week after week, until I could do it in less than an hour. Now, I can hike for 10 days up and down mountains five times higher, and still crave more.

2. Awesome are celebrations with friends – this time in the form of baby showers.

3. Awesome are signs of spring – be it through the birds chirping, the snow melting, or the fact that, even though the temperature is still hovering around the -20s, you can definitely feel the heat of the sun. In fact, Even though I was wearing my parka,  I still managed to get a bit of a sunburn on Friday, during our annual school spring picnic at Stewart Lake.

Dose of Awesome # 250

1. Awesome is the moment a trip starts to really feel real. Today, I experienced that moment when I booked my flight to Reykjavik, Iceland!

2. Awesome is feeling healthy and in control. Two weeks ago, after straying away from it ever so gradually over the past year and a half, I re-familiarized myself with Weight Watchers. Thankfully, there’s not a whole lot of damage to be undone, but I do want to go back to practicing more strictly some of the healthy habits I’ve let slide. I’ve tried to do this before, but never got very far – letting loose a little more after forgettig each attempt.

This time, however, I’m determined. I feel it is going well.

3. Awesome is a new and exciting challenge.

I enjoy what I am doing in my job. I’ve been teaching grade 6 for four out of my five years of teaching (two years in a multilevel class setting, and two grade 6 alone). However, after some thought, I decided that I would really enjoy teaching grade 4. I feel that the style of teaching required to teach a younger grade better fits my personality and my own style of teaching, and I feel like the challenge of changing tasks comes with good timing.

So, I put in the request – learning just before my vacation started a little over a week ago, that my request was approved.