Improvising. Like The True Small Town Girl That I Am.

Hello !

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Here I am beside the Yukon River, with not my snowmobile- but the Doctor’s snowmobile. (I was on my own for the month of January, with a broken down skidoo- so he graciously lent me his Bravo so I could get to school and back in the cold temperatures- “my contribution to your education” he calls it. Very thankful for all the helping hands in Dawson City)

For school – we are to write about our experiences and art created at Yukon School of Visual Arts. Well, as some of you may know- My experiences at SOVA have not been of a quality that I am willing to post about on my blog. Challenges are good, yes, but this circumstance has become more of a burden than an enjoyment. More of a heavily medicated experience than an invigorating one. I don’t work in the studios unless I have too. I don’t spend time at that school unless I absolutely have too. Believe me when I say I try to enjoy every shred that I can while floating through the semester on anti-anxiety meds. Definitely not what I thought Art School was going to be like, but hey, what can I say- this is just a bump in the road, I will learn something from this (I have already learned many things while overcoming this) and I will keep on producing art. Preferably in a less medicated manner, as I do not like this whole icky, floaty, strange feeling. (But it was that or super depressed/panic mode – so I had to prioritize)

So like any small town kid would- I looked to my family, friends, and community (both Fort St. James and Dawson City) for help when times got lonely, confusing, and stressful.

Sure you could say that SOVA brought me to Dawson City- But the people who call Dawson home, that is what has really made this whole crazy first year of art school experience really worth it.

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The VICTORS – Snowshoe Baseball team that I was lucky enough to be apart of!

So thank you, everyone who has held out a hand and let me grasp it and really, well, pick your brains and gain such rich and inspiring knowledge that has influenced my art and myself not only as an artist, but also as a well-rounded, strong young woman on the journey to self-healing through the practice of making art.

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At the Traditional Feast- gifting a painting I created at a painting workshop at Myth and Medium to a very inspiring and talented Nunavut Artist- Mathew Nuqingaq

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I have worked very hard to be successful at art school. Knowing that I learn best in a one-on-one teaching environment – I took advantage of any opportunity that presented itself. Including when my father stopped by from driving down from Tuktoyatuk, where I got to spend a weekend with one of my favourite people, being tutored to help me with a difficult project, I spent that day learning about gears, motors, and general mechanic knowledge that became very helpful for me to create my kinetic sculpture.

Hopefully- I will get the marks saved for posts regarding SOVA put towards posts that showcase the fabulous people and resources that have been available to me in Dawson City, outside of school. My fighting argument is well- if a student is struggling in Math class, he/she is allowed, even encouraged to get a tutor. So when an Art student is struggling in Art school, and feeling that her expectations are not being met, what is so wrong about turning to her newfound community for assistance? Here are a few events, places, and people who have been such amazing resources for me during my school year.

  • Myth and Medium 2014
  • Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Community
  • Dawson CIty Community
  • Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Heritage Department
  • KIAC
  • Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre
  • Robert Service School
  • Mayor of Dawson City
  • The countless people I’ve interviewed for my short documentary
  • My family in British Columbia
  • My close family friends in Whitehorse, Yukon
  • Elder Victor Henry, as well as many other Elders of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in community
  • My inspirational roommate
  • My supportive friends
  • Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Heritage Department Library
  • Community Library
  • Dawson City Medical Clinic and their wonderful staff
  • Visiting artists as well as local artists
  • My Sweat Lodge family
  • My Yoga Community down in Vancouver
  • My pen pals
  • My neighbours on the Old Dome Road

So you see, I would not have moved to Dawson City if I knew that school was going to be such a brutal experience, but then, I would not have discovered that an organic approach to gaining a well-rounded education of not only the required “foundation year” curriculum, but also the land, community, and local artistic practices does not start in the classroom, it starts with the first hand you shake, the first time you acknowledge whose lands your lucky enough to live on, and the first time you get the wool pulled over your eyes by a cheeky elder. SOVA is a young school- I have hope that they will adapt and evolve to recognize and include such experiences and opportunities for future students, I know they will, change takes time. We all know that. This experience has given me a lot to think about and a lot to smile about, and it simply reminds me that yes, it does have to get pretty dark to be able to see the beauty of the stars that the universe has gifted you to see. And the stars I have found! Oh how thankful I am.

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I am also a Canine Companion and Dog Walker- this is Ziggy. Who helps me by providing smiles, howls, and laughter every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Thank you, Musi Cho, Namaste

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What is Myth and Medium You Ask?… Well, Sit Down and Lend Me Your Eyes.

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Myth and Medium is an exploration of First Nation (FN) and Inuit stories and the many ways one can celebrate them. Visual and performance art, as well as storytelling, has always been a very important part of FN and Inuit cultures, used to communicate with each other as well as the natural and spiritual worlds that surround us. FN and Inuit objects and actions are not utilitarian, rather, they symbolize powerful legends, myths, and history. These people of the land are powerful storytellers in their own right, who are slowly regaining their strength that has been tampered, even destroyed, with the arrival of european of settlers. By investing time, interest, and support, we all can create a vibrant and healthy environment where we can celebrate the rich culture of FN and Inuit people.  I was lucky enough to join in on this fantastic celebration. The goal of this gathering was to explore the saying- We have a story to tell 

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Photo above: Myself, Georgette, and Elder Percy Henry at one of the Lectures (I am completely in my happy place- soaking up all the amazing information!)

FN and Inuit culture is not dead. Trust me, it is very much alive, but not like the “old days”. I admire and respect the elders that went through residential school, and the drastic changes of their livelihoods, and send healing thoughts their way. I am excited for the youth, who are given the opportunity to turn back to their elders, to gain a better understanding of their culture, and I send strength and clarity their way, as youth (not just FN and Inuit, but youth of all cultures) are faced with many obstacles to overcome, like drug and alcohol abuse. It is this community of young and old, wise and innocent, this mixture of new and old that will help FN and Inuit communities Canada-wide heal. I am no expert in these matters, this is merely my intrinsic feeling about the situation. 

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Photo above: Myself and Elder Victor Henry, having one last dance at the Traditional Feast

This week of lectures, activities, film screenings, performances, and workshops open to everyone was held in Dawson City, Yukon Territory. And I was lucky enough for it to land on my reading week break! Thank you universe for gifting me such a wonderful week with so many amazing people.

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Photo above: Han singers and dancers take to the floor to amaze us with wonderful song and dance. (My favourite was the Grandmother song)

Mahsi Cho (Thank You)  to all the organizers for hosting such an amazing gathering!

Stay tuned for more posts about this wonderful gathering !

Heading North.

Hello dedicated blog subscribers – and to the innocent reader that stumbles upon my blog.

I’m sorry.

A lot has happened since last time I sat down to write.

So let’s have a quick re-cap. (In the most non-naracisstic way)

My summer was spent in Fort St. James – My homeland.

I left Vancouver with mixed feelings.

Knowing that it will be a while before I call the rainforest home again – (if ever) – I left with a tinge of sadness, mixed with the excitement of knowing I’ll be charting unknown waters in the months to come.

At this point- I had no idea what or where or how or why or when. I did not know what the universe had in store for me come September.

All I knew was that I was coming home. And it was a beautiful and frightening feeling.

Gone are the Vancouver supermarkets and chaos,

to be replaced with the Vegetable gardens I grew up in and my silly puppies greeting me with wet noses and waggy tales.

I had put out a question to my friends and family in the Fort.

“Would you attend yoga classes if I was to teach?”

The response was amazing.

The interest in yoga blossomed in little Fort- and I was so thankful to be able to share the gift of a gentle, holistic Hatha yoga to those who had come searching for it at the gym, the classroom at the Enterprise Centre, the health unit, or at Kwah hall and at the tale end, the beach. My goal was to make yoga accessible to my community and what an adventure that was.

This was exciting and anxiety triggering – I loved the feeling of stepping out of my comfort zone, and stepping on to the instructor’s mat at the front of the room. But could I do it? Were my students happy? Was I skilled enough? Can I do this?

Yes. I can do this.

and by the end of the summer- I wished I was teaching yoga full-time (in a perfect universe this would make enough funds to get me through Art school…) as I had such an amazing and enlightening time with my students. It was as if every time I stepped onto my mat to teach, I myself walked away with a new lesson learned.

This little community I discovered by teaching yoga really opened my eyes to the beauty of Fort St. James.

If you have been, you will have seen the lake, trees, mountains, snow, wildlife, etc.

But that is not the beauty I am talking about.

The beauty I found was within all my students. Every single one- even if they just did one class- they helped me open my eyes to all the amazing people I was surrounded by. It gives me the warm fuzzies just thinking about it.

Every class I taught- I felt more and more whole. Working with your community does that.

*I just can’t help but get all mushy – it’s what I feel and what drew me into the life of a yoga teacher… ALL THIS LOVE!

Teaching 5 yoga classes a week as well as working as a Customer Service Representative at Hub International (Insurance Office/ICBC mini branch) was a big commitment. But in both jobs- I learned so much and worked with amazing people.

I was very busy- the summer went by too fast it seemed.

Summer seems to always slip through my fingers- I’m sure you can agree with me on this.

The weekends where I could simply lounge in a hammock and read my novel, whilst indulging in the sweet breeze drifting off the neighbour’s field were few.

But that does not mean the Summer was meaningless.

The quality time spent with my family, friends, puppies, co-workers, and students made this summer something out of this world. No, I did not lose enough weight to prance around in a bikini, but I was able to plan and execute an Art Show, Apply and be accepted to Yukon School of Visual Arts, and run a mini nomadic yoga business while learning how be a good employee at Barton’s. Mixed with family dinners, laughter, bonding with brothers, meeting the older brother’s lovely girlfriend, campfires, sweat lodge ceremonies, and a healthy dose of dog walking. Somehow looking at it that way- I don’t think I would of had the time to “prance” around in a bikini because life had handed me a plate full of responsibilities. And I took it with Gusto. I also learned that one piece bathing suits are PERFECTLY FINE.

Just have to make sure you stay away from the frumpy ones.

So yes- in mid summer or so I learned that my next journey in life would be heading north.

Dawson City.

So with the help of family and friends I packed up all my things, said my goodbyes and thankyous, and gave each of my dogs a big, long, teary emotional hug. (Just thinking about them makes me tear up right now. My little darlings. I miss them so much.)

Mom, Dad, Daniel (younger brother) and I then hit the road- It was a fantastic road trip. I am so glad I was able to drive there instead of fly- as it was a great adventure for all of us.

That trip deserves a post of it’s own –

When we rolled into Dawson City- we hunkered down at Klondike Kate’s in a little cabin. The next few days were spent touring around my new town- since the tourist season was winding down- we caught some of the last tours of the season.

Time once again went by too fast. And soon I found myself moving into a little cabin by the Yukon river and saying goodbye to my family.

Once again the tears, turning into sobbing and consoling each other and those hugs where you don’t want to let go of each other ensued – That was my mother and I. I may or may not have seen dad shed a tear, as I was completely immersed in a bear hug surrounded by dad’s soft flannel work shirt. I then really broke down into a teary, snotty mess when hugging Daniel. The youngest of the family is also the tallest and broadest of shoulder, so once again I felt completely surrounded by his hug. Being siblings and being a teenage boy- getting a hug from Daniel is a very special, rare thing. So I made sure to get the most I could while I had him there. Which also meant he climbed back into the pickup truck with a rather soggy, snot covered shoulder. I could tell he was completely grossed out- as now he would have to drive back to Whitehorse with his older sister’s snot on his shirt. Oops.

I am not a glamorous cryer.

It did not matter how many times I hugged my family goodbye. It felt like I needed another hug, another kiss, another confirmation that yes, I could do this. I can do this. I will do this. All that fear of being on my own hit me like a in the gut. And I think my family could see this. So the hugs continued. More kleenexes were handed out. And more kisses were given.

When the pickup pulled out of the driveway, and drove down front street, I watched it until my family disappeared into the horizon.

Back to B.C.

Taking a deep breath in – the fear parted like ripples in water to allow my excitement to come out of it’s little hiding spot.

I may be scared, but I CAN do this I thought to myself.

Once in my little cabin, I unpacked my pink afghan, sat on my bed, and looked out my window.

That’s when I realized my cabin slightly tilted to the left.

I couldn’t help but laugh.

Most buildings in the Yukon that are built on permafrost have a quirky tilt.

I slipped off my sandals and snuggled up under my pink afghan, looking up at the ceiling.

Before drifting off to sleep (saying goodbye to the most important people in your life is a tiring ordeal) – I could hear the Australians next door start to play the guitar and sing.

With I smile, I let myself relax.

I could hear the chugging of the Dawson Ferry cutting through the strong current of the Yukon River.

My eyelids began to close, the chugging ferry becoming a purr, the yodeling of the Aussie next door turning into a soft murmur.

Another deep breath in, and the little smile turns into a toothy grin.

“Welcome to the Yukon” I thought to myself as I let go of my fear and slipped into a little afternoon nap.

xx

Photo below: Boo and I 🙂

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Denying homesickness only makes it worse.

I once felt sheer hatred towards this town.

I once felt so alone in this town.

I once felt I was slowly dying in this town.

I once felt that I would never, ever, come back.

The thing with depression. When you hit rock bottom, you feel like you are at the bottom of a dark, damp and cold pit crawling on your hands and knees, stumbling blindly amongst your worst fears and thoughts that reside in the darkness, and to make it worse you are chilled to the bone, your naked and shaking, with a heavy sopping wet wool blanket engulfing you. It’s scratchy, smells like wet dog, and is the only thing you can find in that pit to keep you comfort. The blanket makes it hard to move forward, for you keep stumbling, scraping the palms of your hands raw on the unforgiving rocks, slowly scraping away your sanity, your strength, your soul.

That is what depression feels like when you are truly at your worst.

For me, I felt like an injured fox, cornered in a dirty cage unable to fight back, fight for my life, when I was stuck in this town.

And when I say “stuck” I mean I was still attending High School.

Even though my family surrounded me with love, support, and fought for me to see the best doctors that little voice in my head, like a knife slicing through innocent soft skin, kept reminding me.

You are alone.

Some people don’t understand how this mental illness works.

You slowly surrender to this voice in your head, could be more than one voice, could be just a feeling, but you’re hostage in your own body.

The person you used to be slowly fades into just a faint memory, while your body slowly shuts down.

It is downright scary to be a witness to your own mental breakdown.

And I can only imagine what my family went through as I slowly slipped into a very very deep pit.

I can never repay my family for what they did.

They never shunned me,

never stopped trying,

never gave up on me,

even when I felt like that was the only option.

My younger brother used to see me curled up on the couch crying, and he would bring his colourful blankets from his bedroom to keep me warm as I zoned out watching tv.

My mother and father never left me- wether it be checking in on me, taking me to the hospital, dealing with a suicidal daughter, or forcing me to eat when I refused to eat.

My older brother was away at university for the worst of my depression- but when he came home- his hugs-still on my list of favourite things.

My family accepted my weakness, and slowly brought me back to life with the help of multiple counsellors, drugs and doctors.

My family made me realize; this weakness, that I had hidden for so long.

Was one of my biggest strengths.

When I moved away from this town- I felt liberated.

It was a major step in my therapy to leave what I thought was sucking the life out of me.

I felt like a bird, a bird breaking free from the cold metal cage, shattering the locks and bolts, and never looking back.

North Vancouver, where I live now has many positives.

Art class is going well,

Yoga school is life changing,

But a month or two ago I began to feel homesick.

As soon as the sadness hit me I boot stomped that emotion deep down inside me.

Me? Miss Fort?

NEVER!

But day after day,

each struggle became harder,

and slowly I realized what homesickness really was.

I missed the safety, the sacred space, the nest I had up north filled with unconditional love, and mom’s cooking.

My letters and phone calls home made it apparent I missed my family.

A lot.

My Mother and Father’s encouragement trickling through the phone as I broke down in tears helped me through the last few weeks.

After my wisdom tooth episode, my body decided it was time to heal

But as usual it made a big fuss about it and it wasn’t until I got home that I truly felt better.

Funny how subconsciously my body knew where it was meant to be.

Sunday night after class I took the skytrain to the airport

Ever since my mom had booked me a flight home, my heart warmed at the thought of being in an arm’s reach of my mother, father, brother, and family friends.

I made it through the mid-term exam, the anatomy quiz, the workshops, the lectures, and before I knew it I was speed walking toward the skytrain station. I would have ran, but my bags filled with yoga homework, clothes for cold weather and sugar cookies I had made the day before for my family weighed me down.

I was going home.

For the first time since I moved away.

I was going to see my two dogs who last time I saw was in the rear view mirror driving away at a kennel when I drove down to Vancouver with my mother in the summer.

I was going to sleep in my bed, stay in my room, shower in my shower,

be surrounded with familiarity.

My soul healed just at the thought of this.

As I tugged off my muk luks and emptied my pockets at security I became more and more excited.

What was the first thing I was going to do when I got home?

Raid the fridge?

Fall into bed?

Snuggle my puppies?

Sitting at my gate I chatted with the gentlemen sitting near me

We were all heading up north

All for different reasons

All from different backgrounds

Fort St. James, Burns Lake, or Vanderhoof,

We all knew where each other was going

That first feeling of community,

from two strangers.

I smiled to myself as I boarded,

I pulled out my mittens and adjusted my poppy,

turned off my cell phone, and buckled in to my window seat.

Said goodbye to the city lights of the night

and for the first time in a very long time I was happy to be on the plane, I wasn’t fantasizing about missing my flight, hiding in the bathroom as they announced my name over the sound system, or closing my eyes and trying to get this over with as soon as possible.

For the whole 50 to 60 minutes I chatted with one of the gentlemen from the gate

We soon became friends.

It was a nice way to start off my time home.

Arriving at the Prince George airport I could see my parents pressed up against the glass of the windows waving, I couldn’t help but smile.

I didn’t get far into the airport before I was engulfed in a mom hug then soon a dad hug and was ushered out to the car- to some yummy dinner!

The two-hour drive home was filled with chit-chat, laughter, and catching up.

It felt different,

I don’t know how to explain it exactly-  I was “visiting”

Something I had been wondering what it would be like for so long- to visit my parents, like my parents do with their own.

First thing I did when I got home was drop my bags and bear hug my two dogs Boo and Humphrey. It felt so good to hold them, the feel of their wet noses sniff and nuzzle my face, their tails wagging, their bodies leaning into me so eventually I was flat on the ground in puppy heaven.

Best. Anti-Depressant. Ever.

I then got a tour of the fridge.

Mother had gone shopping for her IBS daughter- gluten dairy free glory cluttered the shelves of the fridge. The fridge was practically a treasure chest of sally proof food.

Walking into my bedroom I noticed my room had been cleaned, flannel sheets had been put on my bed, and extra blankets lay folded at the foot of the bed.

Mom had lotions, shampoo, conditioner, a towel, and cozy sweaters for me to borrow while I’m here.

Even wool socks sat neatly in a pile in my room.

As I went to look for a toothbrush- I turned around and found what else mom had put into my room for my arrival.

Let’s just say…My family-

loves Halloween.

My mom knew I was sad to have missed celebrating with her, so she decided to leave some of the decorations up for me to see.

Of course she put the shrieking midget that pulls its face off to reveal its skull and bulging eyeballs in my room. I giggled to myself as it howled with pain and grumbled about brains as I pressed what I thought was the off button.

Little did I know that when I reentered the room- that I didn’t turn off the creature, so when it shrieked for a second time- it really did get me.

This was about 1am in the morning…

I dragged the monster up to mom’s bedroom begging her to turn it off.

You got me I admit, and for good reasons I haven’t looked under my bed yet.

Once the adrenaline worn down to a mellow whisper, I peeled back the soft sheets and slipped into  my bed.

I had forgotten how comfy this bed was, how plush and magical it seemed compared to my bed back in the city.

I slept until 1 in the afternoon that day.

I woke up with a smile, and have been doing so since that Monday morning.

This is what I was “homesick” for.

It truly should be called “familysick”

But it just doesn’t have the same jingle.

This is one of the views from my home.

xx

“Do not operate heavy machinery” – That includes pants, microwaves, and washing machines.

The world is a lonesome cup of coffee… At least thats what Abbey Lincoln thought. My thoughts on the world right now are fuzzy and dull. Similar to looking through an old shower curtain when your showering, trying to remember what you were doing there in the first place. 

Ah, drugs. You make my life hell. 

Last Friday I was chosen by the evil gods of pain to get my wisdom teeth ripped out from their plush rose coloured cradles a.k.a my gums because well frankly, since one is causing pain, why not tear all of them out and have a bloody party. 

I was put out for the blood fest fortunately, but unfortunately I have to be awake for the recovery part.

I was lucky though to have my mother fly down from up north and fuss over me while I was still drooling and swollen up like a chipmunk. Everyone needs some motherly love. It’s the best form of healing I think.

But that ended Sunday when she flew back to the wilds of my homeland. And I was left in the rain puddles trying to remember what colour pill to take next and how many hours to wait in between tylenol doses.

I am a great example of a young adult who when is sick- becomes very much like a baby worm and loses all brain function. 

I thought I had it in the bag- I really did. 

But then Monday morning I woke up, missed my alarm, and had 15 minutes to get ready for work. 

I should have called in sick when I found myself getting confused on how to put on my pants. 

The label on the pain killers said “do not operate heavy machinery” – 

Having to coach myself to put one leg in one pant leg, step into other pant leg, then shimmy up to waist, felt like operating heavy machinery. I was in a pathetic state.

I left work early Monday.

And Today as well.

“Grinning and bearing it” technique of healing is not working.

So I am resorting to “hiding from the world and licking my wounds” technique for tomorrow.

Between the pain resonating from the four empty sockets in the back of my mouth, the side effects of the drugs, and having IBS (which makes taking hard drugs super tricky- due to weak stomach and intestines) I feel like a big ball of goo unable to process anything.

I was expecting the pain from the wisdom teeth, but having my stomach and intestines throw up their arms in protest to anything with codine in it…

Not helpful.

It is really a shame that you can’t set up a meeting with your stomach, preparing it for what is to come, for example: “Hey stomach, I am going to have t3s to help my mouth heal, life isn’t about you so don’t be so fussy”, sort of like preparing cats for when you will have a baby, you know, making sure the cat doesn’t decide to suffocate the baby, being comfortable with you not paying attention to it, and yes, teaching the cat that the play pen that cost a couple hundred dollars from IKEA is not a litter box. My stomach can be compared to a tom cat- who doesn’t give a rats ass whether I’m on a date, in class, or at work etc. to let me know how its feeling. 

I don’t mind cats…

as long as I don’t have to own one. 

My tom cat of a stomach also can speak english it seems, because what can be more annoying than a cat who can win a swearing match. 

. Right now I picture my stomach with a thick east coast accent, yowling in protest, because for a few years now my digestive system has been pushing itself to the front- always getting the attention. I can picture it planning an “occupy wallstreet” movement with my small and large intestine, clearly not paying attention that all energy needs to be focused on the four pulsating pink sore mushy masses in the back of my mouth covered in stitches.

Again; another similarity to cats and my stomach:

They have this wild idea that my job is to serve them.

My digestive system and I have a love hate relationship.

Right now I hate it.

Maybe my intestines would have different accents.

 

But still rowdy cats. 

The stomach definitely has some anger issues.

I don’t need the therapy- my cat.. err… stomach does.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Valedictorian with Anxiety Issues.

Please feel free to take ideas and inspiration from my speech, but don’t plagiarize.

On June 8th I was one of 43 or so graduates to successfully complete five years of high school in my small town. I was voted Valedictorian by my fellow classmates, I was so excited! The public speaking part was peanuts, I had taken workshops and practiced many times during high school. But finding the right words to represent such a diverse and unique class was the challenge. I felt great completion and satisfaction reading this out during the ceremony, I felt honoured and most of all happy that this moment that I had been waiting for for years, had finally come.

You could say this speech unlocked my cage, and I was able to spread my wings for the first time letting myself breathe in all the compassion, love, and support and all the excitement, joy and pure happiness I was immersed in that day. My anxiety level was through the roof at the beginning of the ceremony, shaking, tearing up, the whole 9 yards of panic attack. I had wanted so desperately to make my class and community proud that everything before the speech felt like a blur. I didn’t realize I had just been awarded around $5000 dollars in scholarships, awards, and bursaries, the camera flashes, the applause, it was like I was on a merry go round, unable to stop and seize the moment. But once it was my turn to take the mic, everything slowed down to a smooth, tranquil serenity. Like swimming on a hot summer night, you dive in letting the darkness and unknown surround you, the water warm against your skin as you surface and face up towards the night sky, you feel alone, but surrounded at the same time by huge amounts of beauty, zen, and acceptance. My extra large font i used for my speech calmed me down, for just glancing down I was able to pick up my train of thought immediately in my head and with one deep breath I began my speech. The silent darkness in front of me, the smiling parent’s faces, and my class to my left gave me strength and confidence. The words flowed beautifully, and i was even able to add comic relief on the fly when needed. Having my mom and dad hug me and tell me how proud they were of me, hearing my peer’s compliments, and being stopped in town by parents and community members saying how touching my speech was; was and still is one of the best feelings ever. I set out a goal to make a speech that people may not remember the exact words, but will walk away with a good feeling, a feeling that leaves both the graduate and parent proud, that fuzzy heart warming feeling. I put every once of passion and sincerity into my words below, and I am proud to say that  I accomplished my goal. I hope you enjoy. 

xx

 

 

I would like to begin by thanking my fellow classmates for giving me the opportunity to speak on their behalf.

*looks at class

I am very honored to represent all of you.

*looks back to the audience

 

In these caps and gowns we are one. A part of each other’s lives, learning life skills, achieving goals, and even failing Ogi’s surprise math tests. We did it all together.

 

But if you look closer, under those caps and gowns are individuals. Unique, talented young men and women who have dreams and the potential to succeed. I have been lucky to know some of these people since kindergarten, while more friendships were made during our 5 years of high school. We have grown up together, shaping each other’s lives.

 

However, none of us would have been able to get this far without the love and support of our community. When I think of Fort St. James, an African proverb comes to mind. “It takes an entire village to raise a child”. My peers and I wouldn’t have been able to weather the storms of life without some very important mentors.

I would like to thank the administrators and teachers, for giving us the gift of education. The coaches, community members, and employers for giving us skills to make the adult world a little bit easier to step into.

The family members and friends, who nurtured us and gave us the opportunity to grow.

 

But I can’t forget the parents.

 

Talking with my classmates this past week, I asked them “what do you want to thank your mom and dad for?” It was the little things, the everyday things that we are so thankful for. Here are a few of their Thank yous:

 

To all the Moms:

Thank you, for driving us EVERYWHERE.

Thank you, for making our lunch everyday.

Thank you, for supporting us through thick and thin.

 

To all the Dads:

Thank you, for reading us those bedtime stories and checking under the bed for monsters.

Thank you, for teaching us how to drive.

Thank you, for giving us strength and courage to face our fears and conquer our dreams.

 

That love kept us strong, through failed tests, life changing decisions, our first heartbreak, and the arguments. That love remained unbroken, unchanged, and unconditional.

 

And that has made all the difference.

 

So as you watch your child graduate today, feel proud of them, but also…

 

Feel proud of yourself.

 

Ernest Holmes once said:

 

“We cannot lead a choice less life.

Every day, every moment, every second, there is a choice.

If it were not so we would not be individuals.”

 

My fellow graduates, we have made many choices and still there are many more to make in our lifetime. Choose wisely, for we are able to create our own path and find our calling. Let’s step beyond our fear of failure for I know every single one of us has that spark to live the life we have always dreamed of. I challenge us to never forget the lessons we’ve learned during our time here at High School. I’m not talking about calculus or Shakespeare. I am talking about the experiences, the challenges, the memories; both good and bad that helped make us the people that we are today.

 

I know many of you are unsure, nervous, or afraid, gone are the days of being a teenager. We are young adults now. Take into consideration AA. Milne’s words: “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smaller than you think.”

 

We may not see each other for quite some time, we may grow apart, but this isn’t goodbye.

 

It is simply,

 

Until we meet again.

 

Thank you

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Do you turn the shower on before you step in? Or after you step in?

Something to think about ladies and gentlemen,

personally, I like to turn the shower on before I step in because as long as I have been taking showers (probably since like… forever), I will always flinch like a cat thrown in a cold bath when the water spurts out at my face if I stand waiting in the shower for it.

Graceful creature I am, don’t you think?

Same thing applies when it comes to writing for me. Not flinching like a handicapped cat with a fear of water, but when it comes to being marked on something, something must be done the best it can be possibly done. Yes I’ve got perfectionist issues… And turning on the shower so it is at the RIGHT temperature when I step in is just the beginning.

Usually I just write, write without boundaries, without rules, or even a without a care if it will ever be read. My blog is a place for me to just mentally vomit my thoughts. Because honestly, I thought no one would be interested with what I would have to say but recently with my writing and english courses I have had the demand to sharpen up my techniques. I had to face it… A blog doesn’t get marked or evaluated, but my homework does. Uh-oh.

So I have started reading up, forcing my brain to act like a sponge, since honestly having a book in my hands is quite satisfying, and if it can make my writing better, hell why not. No offence internet, but my eyes seem to go cross eyed when I have to do any sort of research on the computer for more than 3 hours…

Curious about what this weird kid is reading?

I am reading “On Writing” by Stephen King

and

“The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

These books were recommended by my English teacher.

-if this was alcohol that we were talking about, I would be literally “Double Fisting like a mother fucker”, but since I do genuinely care about my brain cells I prefer to read two books at once instead.

Go ahead average high school party animals, smirk and laugh at me but I am pretty sure my priorities are straighter then your finances at the moment.

 

This is when the haters stop reading,

and when the people who are openminded keep reading.

My plan is to fully understand the concept of writing, and how to write great works and compose great poetry. I feel like I can do it, which is exciting, because I really hope that I don’t have false hope in hoping that my writing does have potential. I want to be able to know the rules so I can break them.

Oo I am so rebelious.

I wanted to mention some really inspiring people here: I am not looking for brownie points. I just want to acknowledge them.

Teachers, and Cowboys and Swedes.

My family is quite artistic, in a hidden way. Storytellers, writers, artists, poets, singers, crafty nuts, I am so thankful to have them all.

My small town has been blessed with many smart and talented english and art teachers as well, and I am so thankful I am not the kind of kid to skip class and miss out on the opportunity to learn from these people.

Some of the things that have made the biggest impact in my writing career, (oh how young it is, could qualify as a premature baby in an incubator)  is to have SUPPORT, INSPIRATION, and POSITIVE CRITICISM. There are many other things but these were the first things that popped into my head.

That’s what I have gotten from my family and teachers.

and LOVE.

Can’t forget love.

So, if you have any recommendations for resources, books, or recipes for gluten and dairy free mac’n’cheese please subscribe and comment.

xx

 

 

 

 

 

People can and do recover from Depression, and so can you (:

It’s no secret, and I’d rather not hide behind a mask.

So any family members reading this, don’t be shocked this is me just being me.

Maybe if I take the mask off it might help someone who is unable to face tomorrow.

Ever been depressed?

Its kind of like having your heart broken but a little bit more tragic, really no words can describe the pain you feel, personally I’d rather have my heart broken by some boy then feel like you’re disappearing into the shadows of your own life.

You lose control in a way, like you are trapped inside your body. Your thoughts are not your own it seems, they are scary, violent, twisted in ways.

People sometimes commit suicide because they don’t think they will ever escape that feeling. At one point I thought I wouldn’t escape either.

Interesting that they call it “committing suicide”. My thoughts on this, (or at least in my experience) it is not a commitment, it is a surrender. You are surrendering to the pain you carry within you.

You do not want to die, you just don’t want to live like that anymore.

Trust me, I know what that feels like.

I chose to write about this tonight is to make my voice heard, I am not trying to get attention but simply the opposite. I want to GIVE attention to a matter that people do not want to talk about. Hello, this is not the 1950’s. I am just a teenager, so why pay attention to me, well you are already reading so really, how long will this take out of you time? 10 minutes maybe? All I am asking you for is to listen to what I have to say and maybe it will change your thoughts about depression.

First of all, whether you know it or not, you probably know somebody who is affected by this mental illness. Some people choose to talk about it, while some keep it hidden. I used to keep it under wraps, but that did more harm then good in my situation.

Second of all, Depressed people ARE NOT SICKNESS-RIDDEN ZOMBIES so don’t treat them like one, because  really thats just cruel to do that to somebody.

Third of all, Depressed people are not just selfish childish human beings, telling them to “be a big girl now” does not help. Do you think I’d be crying if I could help  it? No. Have some compassion and empathy for these people.

Educate yourself whether you are a coach, teacher, friend, mother, father, goldfish. I don’t care how old you are or who you are. I am not speaking for all the depressed people in the world but there are triggers, there are days when its a struggle, and there are days when you feel like you’re doing okay. Its different for everyone, so that is why I think Depression should be treated like a sprained ankle, broken arm, or even a concussion. It is not something to be afraid of. Just because it may be a bit more tricky to deal with does not mean it should be kept a secret. Coaches know how to wrap a sprained foot, so why shouldn’t they know at least a few tips on how to coach a player with a mental illness. Even just saying “I am here for you” really is such a beautiful sentence to somebody who feels so lost. Picture this, you give a kid an ice pack for when she has twisted an ankle, think of giving empathy to a kid when she looks like she is struggling.

I used to hide from my friends and family but in the end I was so desperate for someone to talk to. This is me healing. For I would never had told a soul other than my close family about my Depression a few months ago…

I used to think my depression was my weakness, it was something to hide from friends, boyfriends, family, teams,etc. It was something to hate and to despise that I had it. But that took up so much of my energy there was no energy to live life the way i wanted to: True to myself. I felt like i was living a lie, unable to admit that I have a mental illness,  that has become a  great challenge for me. I am not saying I am completely healed, for I have a long journey ahead of me, but I will say that I have made progress.

For now I look upon my Depression as a strength.

A challenge that was not easy,

harder then any video game

no gold coins gained, just a lot of tears lost. But I am still alive, I have seen the darkest moments but I held on to the wisp of colour and life that was left inside of me, and like a seed, when you nurture it. It can grow into something beautiful.

Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I truly believe that. And for all of you that are dealing with Depression. Hold on. Life has so much to offer, and don’t be afraid to ask for help, there are people that are there specifically for that. Mothers, Fathers, and if you can’t talk to them, go to friends, counsellors, a teacher, anybody. Because there are people out there that truly care about you so don’t feel like you are giving someone a burden.

take a few minutes out of your day and educate yourself.

http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/cd-mc/mi-mm/depression-eng.php

http://www.depressionhurts.ca/en/symptomchecklist.aspx?WT.srch=1&DCSext.srchsrc=Google&DCSext.sitetrg=&DCSext.loctype=search&WT.mc_id=FY12_DepressionSymptoms&WT.seg_1=symptoms%20depression&DCSext.adid=9085124190

http://www.depressionhurts.ca/en/recovery_journey.aspx

People can and do recover from Depression, and so can you (:

xx

 

An interesting way to spend my last night in Ontario… Locked outside…

so its 2:56 am and guess where I am?

think hard…

if you say Ontario, you are half correct. If you say she’s in Ontario, locked outside on the screened in porch of a friends house.. Then you are completely one hundred percent bingo on the dollar correct.

Don’t laugh at me, I didn’t mean to get locked out

maybe I’m not even locked out.I havent checked the doors in desperation. Part of me doesnt want to get excited about the chance of going back inside to a comfy bed and a toilet.. Oh did I mention I have to go pee?

So yes I havnt got up to check the door; it made a satisfying click while the host closed it, tuned off all the lights and went to bed I am pretty sure he dosn’t realise that one of his guests is outside on the screened porch…. so I mean really its like going up to an obviously pregnant lady and asking if she is pregnant.

I will kick myself if I later find out it is unlocked.

anyways I found a laptop outside and thought.

hmm I could make use of this solitary time to actually write about something since I havent  blogged in quite a while.

So it is my last night in Ontario,

what is the opposite of homesick?

Is there even a word for that?

because that is what I feel right now,

sadly I am pretty sure most kids are excited to come home see their friends,

party,

ya know

your average stereotype of a teenager.

well frankly my dear im not your average teenager,

one: I stand out like a black sheep at a dog show,

two: I’m one of those artist kids, so as you can see I was somewhat doomed  from ever being normal ever since I ditched the party in my mother’s womb.

but really why would you want to be ?, normal that is, I would never give up my artistic talents even if it meant that I could have an extra toe.

three: I have successfully locked out myself but I am too lazy to check the door to see if it’s actually locked. Maybe that is a normal teenage thing, not sure. Will have to check that one out.

So it is my last night in Ontario, every time I come back here to visit family and friends I always hate the time when it comes to say goodbye.

it’s a pang of sadness, knowing that it will probably be one or even two years until  I see them again. and it’s not like they are annoying or crazy… they are amazing people who are very hospitable.

So as I listen to crickets the thought struck me, why do I feel more at home when I am not at home?

like not the feeling of you know walking around in your underwear and hitting up the fridge at 2 in the morning.. that is different, I mean the feeling of acceptance, the feeling that you can just blend in, that there are people with more similarities then differences, and that you feel happy when your there.

people may think I am lame,depressed, or maybe just some retard you likes being locked outdoors… But it is true.

I am a retard that likes being locked outdoors…

Just kidding.

when I went to Kamloops to visit my father’s side of the family I felt at home there. the unconditional love and beautiful energy that surrounded you constantly was a wonderful reminder that these were your people. I do get that feeling from my immediate family and close friends at home but I don’t know,my town puts such a damper on things. Its like having a wet towel to dry off when you hop outta of the shower, it can really piss you off at times.

There is something howling in the forest now, so I might as well make myself comfy on the chaise lounge and enjoy the wilderness. Somehow I find that more awesome then getting dinky soaps that smell like a wet dog at hotels. So thank you Rick for locking me outside, it was a pleasent surprise and an excellent exuse to blog at an insane time. Sometimes retarded artistic abnormal teenagers need to be locked outdoors overnight. It can inspire them to write about stuff, and also confront their fears about being locked outside in the dark, becuase really, it wasn’t that bad.

xx

Macey, myself, and Spencer ( The host’s adorable dogs )

 

Taking pictures of my brother… Annoying for him, fun for me :]

So this is my family,

A truck driver for a father, a mother who works in an elementary school, and two brothers. I always get asked, would you rather trade in your brothers for a nice set of sisters? A small version of Tina Fey chatters in the back of my mind. (I have comedians in my thoughts, and sometimes black and white 50’s commercial advertisers, you know that crackly deep stereotypical man voice… don’t you?) Anyways back to Tina Fey chattering mindlessly in my brain, “What the hell are we talking about? Brothers aren’t used cars! I think not!”. I have completely enjoyed growing up with two brothers. I am a middle child, stuck between a 19-year-old and a 14-year-old.

* This was last year, at Nick’s graduation. Daniel is now way taller than me btw.*

Having brothers I believe is a godsend, at least having two very different brothers. The older of the two you coud say is a true redneck.A nice redneck though, he doesn’t care much for the city, it’s the small towns and the wild that calls him. His passion for the wildlife and nature is admirable, it has steered him into a career of becoming a conservation officer.I used to cringe at his cowboy boots, belt buckles and his “baby” (his truck).  But then I realized; hey it’s what makes Nick, well… Nick.

*Nick before he went and picked up his prom date, our dog growled and barked at him because he didn’t recognize Nick without his everyday uniform: jeans and a tee-shirt*

I’d rather have an old school gentleman for a brother then a druggie, and I never had to worry about him burning my Barbie dolls and ripping their heads off with his teeth. (I feel truly sorry for girls everywhere cursed with awful brothers) The younger of the two a technological marvel, I like to call my big little brother. Why you must ask? He has size 13 feet and is the size of an ox. A gentle ox, for he is the most caring and compassionate little brother money can buy. Oh wait, babies don’t come from the grocery store, anyways you know what I mean. Anyways I am dedicating this post for Nick. My little brother Daniel will get a post of his own.

So when I stumbled up the stairs one early afternoon I was greeted by my big brother dressed in Carharts sitting at the head of the kitchen table. He seemed to be quite content, eating a sandwich stuffed with bacon as well as cheese whiz and god knows what else. I just had to take a few pictures, couldn’t resist.

I’m pretty sure what was going through his mind was a version of “Jeez, my sister is sure wierd…If I ignore her long enough maybe she will go away” Hah. Think again buster, your little sister will keep clicking until she finds a picture that she likes.

I sort of felt like a National Geographic photographer, photographing a wild animal in its habitat. Wanting to take advantage of having something interesting to take photos of I switched to black and white…

Being a big brother and not a professionally trained male model Nick somewhat froze when the camera was on him. I kept saying ” Just act normal, just act normal, keep eating or what ever you’re doing…” Again his thoughts of thinking I was a complete whack job I could see were getting stronger.

This one made me laugh, this is what us siblings love to hear when we are pestering our older brothers. “MMMOOOOOoooooooooooooMMmmmmm Sally is annoyinnngggg meeeeee” My mom is on the phone at this moment, looks over at her children puzzled, and gives us both a look like “really? You’re almost young adults and your still acting like 7 year olds?” I let out a giggle, thinking how I can’t wait to upload these photos to my blog…

I’m not sure whats going through his mind now, maybe some annoyance but also some curiosity?

I soon find out that my camera is not wanted at the kitchen table. Ahh don’t you just love the subtle hints that brothers give?

I protest and say ” One more picture, come on just one…” I try to be original and include the chocolate milk jug in the picture I just thought maybe the angle would look cool. I actually like this one the best to be honest, something about the anonymity, how his hand covers his face. How raw the photo feels. You can see enough of his ball cap, his short hair cut, his carharts to see that it still is my brother. but it hides something as well, it hides the personality of Nick the little things, like how adoringly protective he is of me, or his sense of humor. It makes you wonder about who he really is deep down inside. I can tell he has begun to ignore me, so stop taking photos and begin to review my collection of pictures. I make sure to show him my favorites. Not every picture has made it on to this blog. Some had to be deleted, he insisted. But I admire that he let me take some pictures of him, he very well could have grabbed my camera and got up and left. Or he could have pulled the “big brother is angry” card and scared me off like a deer. But he has learned to tolerate my weird artistic moments. And he sat patiently, like a lion in a cage while the little girl on the outside observed him and learnt a little more about the marvelous creature that he is.

xx