Dose of Awesome # 276

My favourite time of the year has arrived in Nunavik. It’s spring, but it still feels like winter. It’s -30 degrees, we have tonnes of snow, and there’s more coming. I love it because after enduring an average of approximately -45 for seemingly forever, -30 feels mild. I love it because it stays light out longer – long enough that I feel a notable boost in energy each day, but not so long that it causes you to miss the northern lights. I love it because I know it’s only a matter of weeks before the snow melts – and it will melt fast. Then I’ll be able to go hiking, and biking. But in the meantime, I appreciate the snow and cold all the more because I know it will soon be gone.

I love it because it’s the perfect time for snowshoeing.

1. Awesome was 2.5 hours of snowshoeing yesterday, by myself. It’s been a long time – since my third year in Tasiujaq, in fact – since I’ve been out on the land by myself. I forgot how peaceful it is. I forgot how liberating it is to just drop everything and go (my plan for the morning involved doing laundry and reading, until the sun started beaming through my living room window), without having to wait for, or answer to anybody.

Yes, company is nice. But, every once in awhile, so is this…

Yesterday, I went through Nuuvuk Bay and then toward the marina – making a huge loop up and down the hills and back the way I came. Further awesome was finding my own tracks again as I neared the start of my loops – a definite boost to my confidence in my own navigational skills.

2. Awesome was another 3 hours of snowshoeing today. Only this time it was with friends. Today’s route took us through Nuuvuk Bay toward the marina, and on a loop back down to the Koksoak River, which we followed back to where we started.

3. Awesome was time to catch up with friends this weekend, through phone conversations and dinners. It’s crazy how busy life can be – time can really slip by if you let it!

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Dose of Awesome # 273

At the beginning of this weekend, I found myself overwhelmed by a lot of different emotions as I tried to begin processing the loss of another community member and student. This is the sixth suicide since Christmas – the second this week. Though I didn’t know this person personally, I’m faced with this constant worry that grows each time, and my heart hurts for the people of Kuujjuaq who are effected, as well as all the people working so hard to provide any support possible in this seemingly unrelenting time of sadness, confusion, and pain.

But now is an especially important time to focus on the awesome things in life, because, as hard as it may be to see, they still do exist during tough times. One of them might be the only thing getting a person through a day. I know I would have struggled a lot more this weekend if it weren’t for these awesome things:

1. Awesome is a discovering a new outdoor activity. This sunny afternoon, a friend and I went cross country skiing in Nuuvuk Bay. It was my first time. Though I like to think I did quite well for my first time, it did take me awhile to catch on to the technique, and required a lot of concentration. Not only was it a good 2.5 hours of exercise, sunshine and fun, it was a much-needed distraction from all the stresses life has thrown my way as of late.

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Older photo, but same place. 

2. Awesome are adventurous meals with friends. Yesterday evening, I went to a 6-course gourmet Scottish dinner party, where I tried both haggis and black pudding for the first time. On the menu were scotch broth to start, cod fish cakes with home made tartar sauce, black pudding with caramelized apples and whisky sauce, haggis with turnips and potatoes, rabbit kidney and steak pie, and raspberry custard and short bread for dessert. I’m still full.

But that wasn’t my only social meal of the weekend. I’d also joined some friends at the restaurant for dinner on Friday evening, and some other friends for brunch this morning. Again, there’s nothing like coming together with friends for some laughs and relaxation over delicious food during a difficult time.

3. Awesome is massage therapy, and starting an amazing Sunday with an hour-long deep tissue massage. If I were rich, I’d start every day like that.

Dose of Awesome # 271

Life has entailed a lot of change and loss as of late. From a break up, to loss of community members and co-workers, life has brought its fair share of challenges – some unlike any I’ve experienced before. But, in the process of grieving, I’ve found myself dealing with things with a surprising amount of grace. I’ve also found a lot of positive and some wonderful awesomes.

1. Awesome are the people I’ve met, and the things I’ve had the opportunity to do over the past two months. I’ve had the opportunity to experience a whole new social side of Kuujjuaq. I’ve met new people and tried new things. I’ve found support from some amazing people, created boundaries where necessary, and I’ve learned tons about myself and what I need and want for myself. I’ve also reconnected with parts of my life I’ve lost touch with over the past couple of years. Awesome is feeling healthier, happier and stronger.

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Snowshoeing in Nuvik Bay. 

2. Awesome is showing someone the north for their first time.

After six years of trying to convince her to come, my mother came to visit at the end of January. While she was here, we went dogsledding, saw the northern lights, made bannock with my students, saw the land, experienced a Kuujjuaq Christmas party, and a low-key games night, among other things.

Whenever I go on vacation and tell people about my life in the north, I always experience a re-kindled love of all the things my life has come to be over the past several years. But, showing someone the north for the first time is even greater. And for such a reminder of why I am where I love to be, I couldn’t have asked for better timing.

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Dogsledding with George Kauki.

3. Awesome is learning something new. During my Christmas holiday, I gave in and bought myself a violin. The violin is right up there with the harmonica as the world’s most beautiful sound, and for years, I’ve dreamed of being able to play. Upon returning to Kuujjuaq after my holiday, I started taking lessons and, though it’s slow-going, I’m making progress and can actually produce sounds that resemble something other than a dying cat. I can even play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” (on a good day). Perhaps I will be ready to perform at Kuujjuaq’s next Aqpik Jam?

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I realize I’m holding it wrong, but it was my first time trying my violin 🙂

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Dose of Awesome # 238

1. Awesome was an evening of beading, painting nails, and ’90’s music with friends. I finally learned how to make beaded ulu earrings. Here are my first:

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2. Awesome was snowshoeing, despite shitty snowshoes. I had to have tripped over my own two feet at least 9 times (4 of which included the times one of the snowshoes flew off my feet because the buckles refused to stay tight). I’m not going to lie, this made me grumpy. However, I am thankful for the mild weather and another opportunity to go.

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3. Awesome was putting up, and decorating our first Christmas tree. Not only is this our first Christmas tree together, it’s the first Christmas tree I’ve ever put up in my own place.

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Dose of Awesome # 236

I went snowshoeing this afternoon with some friends. It was -33 degrees Celsius with windchill (and winds blowing at least 50 km/hour). We managed, most of the time, to be hiking away from the wind. However, we couldn’t avoid walking into the wind for ever.

1. Awesome was the moment, after 30 minutes of hiking blind, that my glasses unfrosted – revealing a world in which I would no longer trip over my own two feet every third step; in which I was no longer forced to move in slow motion, and could hike at a normal pace. Despite the cold, it was a beautiful 3 hours of snowshoeing.

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2. Awesome are spontaneous funny theme nights with my boyfriend. Like meatloaf and Meatloaf.

3. Awesome is a lucky streak. I’m not one to buy lottery tickets or play BINGO. I never go to casinos, nor do I really gamble in any other way. On the rare occasion that I do, however, purchase raffle tickets or enter my name into a draw of some sort, I never win. However, this week I did. Four times – three 50$ gift certificates (one for the restaurant and 2 for the local art store), and a card with a 50$ bill inside. Perhaps I should try my luck more often.

Dose of Awesome # 232

1. Awesome was surviving what was literally one of the most demanding endeavours I’ve ever involved myself in. And not only that, I did so with some great memories, a desire to do it again next year, and some ideas as to how I can help it run more smoothly if I do. Le Grand Dèfi Pierre Lavoie took myself, another teacher (from Kangiqsualuujjuaq), and 30 secondary students from 5 villages on the Ungava Coast of Nunavik to Quebec City this past weekend. From there, we ran the 270 kilometres to Montréal relay-style.

After an opening ceremony, we began our relay at approximately 8 AM Saturday. We ran constantly as a team until about 7 PM – when we took a 3-hour break in Trois-Rivières. Then we started up again and ran straight through the night, until approximately 5 PM the next day.

Kuujjuaq 116Team Nunavik in Quebec City

Kuujjuaq 119Team Nunavik on the news.

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2. Awesome was reaching a new record – running 20 kilometres in 2 days – thanks to Le Grand Dèfi.

3. Awesome was one last snowshoeing adventure of the season, before everything melted away literally within a couple of days. I’ve definitely found a new passion.
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4. Awesome was the end to that “too soggy to hike but no snow to snowshoe” phase of spring, and a 4-hour hike on the land yesterday afternoon.

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Dose of Awesome #231

1. Awesome was the cumulative 10 hours of snowshoeing that I had been able to enjoy this past week. Prior to strapping on a pair of snowshoes last Saturday afternoon (a pair that were given to me as a gift several years ago), I’d never tried it before, and Saturday’s 3-hour excursion had me hooked. I went out again the next day the weather allowed for another 4 hours. And today, another 3.

Why I hadn’t dusted them off and taken them out sooner, I have no idea. They’re perfect for right now, when the weather’s mild enough to actually enjoy outdoor activity, but the snow’s just soft enough to make hiking on the land miserable. I hope to make it out a few more times before the land turns to soup.

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2. Awesome was the opportunity to start running outside again, while at the same time getting involved in the community. I have been helping to train a group of secondary students for Le Grand Défi Pierre Lavoie – specifically for the relay run that will take place during the May 24 weekend. Three times per week, for 6 weeks, we train, and on May 23rd, we will fly to Montréal, take the bus to Québec City, and run the 275-ish kilometres back to Montréal relay style.

3. Awesome was a successful re-start on the Weight Watcher’s program. Slowly, but surely, I’m getting back to my goal (which is now only about 12 pounds away), and hope to be there by summer solstice (plenty of time!). In the meantime, I’m enjoying the creativity and the structure, and, as a result, tonnes of delicious meals.