Community Project: Dawson City Hospital

Think about it.

When admitted to hospital, having doctors and nurses keeping watch over you, providing a calm and safe place for you to heal… Do you stop to say how truly grateful you are for them?

Do you acknowledge that these people, in the health and helping sector also have lives, their own people to take care of, and also have themselves to nurture?

All the countless hours of helping strangers, in all sorts of stages of life and health, at any time of day or night- being ready to not only provide medical care, but also a kind and thoughtful approach to you and your health.

Yes, I know, it is their job. But still- shouldn’t we still voice our gratitude once in a while?

IMG_6993I really like this photo of my Doctor’s Office. I sneaked a photo when I was waiting for her to come back from checking on some paperwork.

Recently spending time in the hospital, I spent two nights in the new Dawson City Hospital- and I must say, what a beautiful centre as a brand new building, but also as a community of doctors, therapists, nurses, and pharmacist.

IMG_6841Late night trip to the ER- I really do hate hospital gowns.

Gone were the fears of strange hospitals, with cracking paint and scuffed floors, and that awful lysol/sickly smell of unwell people. What I found were beautiful murals, spacious rooms, and wonderful staff. Because of my situation- I had to have an eye kept on me, so I got to know some of the nurses quite well- (on a patient/nurse kind of terms I guess) 

IMG_7112My nurse let me pick out some tea once I got settled in- David’s Tea at that! How special- 🙂 

IMG_7109Yes, I was painting the closet. After they gave me a dose of my anti-anxiety meds. I just felt so chill and all I could really focus on was the closet- Soon fell asleep after the third closet.

The genuine humour, laughter, and interest they had shown in both myself and my artwork was so wonderful. I immediately felt safe, calm, and content in my room. It is amazing how your environment and mental state can affect your quality of sleep. – even sleeping on a hospital bed- (a.k.a. – a bit like sleeping on a block of wood)  I slept like a rock, and woke up in a calm, almost meditative manner. What a wonderful change to the not-so-good nights I had been having previously.

So- To thank all these wonderful people. I decided to create my Community Project into something that would acknowledge all the special people at the Dawson City Hospital. (At least- the ones that I was lucky enough to have as providers of care for me) 

How I did this was I began to knit.

I love knitting- and have always found it very therapeutic. Lately, I have been making these little pouches, “Marsupial-satchels” I call them. To carry special things that one may find dear to their heart.

IMG_7046                     Here is one I made for a dear friend of mine for her little mouse named Candlelight.

Using beautiful yarn my mother had sent me in a care-package, I began to knit and crochet thinking of all the caring people who I had met when I was at the hospital. With every stitch, I silently said thank you, with every little detail, I silently reminded myself how grateful I was to have crossed paths with them. It was a very healing and meditative experience to create these little pouches. I knitted eleven pouches. And then included a little letter within each one. Here is a quote from the letter:

“Just wanted to say thank you for all of your help and patience over these past few weeks. To be able to have a safe place to go to when on cannot provide that for herself is a blessing. Therefore ~ Thank you, for being YOU! As part of my Community project for SOVA, I would very much appreciate any comments, feedback, etc. on what you think of your homemade marsupial-satchels. I wanted to give a token of appreciation, ~ you may keep, give away, switch, as you like with these little pouches. Just wanted to show in my own little way, how thankful I am for crossing paths with you ~ as you have made it a more positive one to walk.”

IMG_7224A photo showing all the little pouches with letters inside~ ready to be dropped off at the hospital! 

IMG_7225A close up- I hand wrote the letter, and made photocopies, providing my email and blog address for people to check out this article, and maybe even leave some feedback about what they thought about it all! 

IMG_7226Here I am wearing one – to show size and where they would approx. rest on the body. – This pouch was made for one of the amazing doctors I am lucky enough to see once a week to help me through this all. 

So far, I have not heard back from any of the medical staff on what they thought about their little marsupial-satchels. I hope to hear via email, or face to face, what they thought about it. Even if I don’t hear a peep from anyone- I know that I myself felt love and joy making and giving these away to those that had helped me, so hopefully, that loving energy will be passed along with these pouches to the 11 gentle souls who made my life a little easier to cope with this past month.

And that is my Community Project.

 

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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

Jeff Lemire – Graphic Novel Shenanigans

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Currently- I am reading Essex County by Jeff Lemire for my English Class at Yukon School of Visual Arts. As you can tell by my forced formality- This is a homework post. So far- I have read book one: Tales from the Farm, and started into book two: Ghost Stories. And so far- I have just not been reeled into the story. No biscuit. No cheese. Nada. I absolutely LOVE the illustrations, truly, illustration ENVY. I was also intrigued by the cover art and choice of colours. Feeling like I was missing the boat on something, since it seemed like everyone else was enjoying the graphic novel ~ I did a little research via CBC. And here is what CBC had to say:

http://www.cbc.ca/books/booksandauthors/2010/10/essex-county.html

“Jeff Lemire’s Essex County is composed of three interconnected graphic novels — Tales from the FarmGhost Stories and The Country Nurse. Winner of several major awards in the world of comics, including a Joe Shuster Award, it was hailed by reviewers as “the comics medium at its best” (Booklist) and “a quiet, somber, haunting masterpiece” (The Oregonian). The minimalistic though intensely emotional trilogy gives form to the author’s inspired vision of what it means to live, work, dream and even die in a Southwestern Ontario rural community.

The population of Lemire’s fictional landscape is represented from childhood to old age through the characters of Lester, Lou and Anne. Their external world is rendered in stark black-and-white lines. The vividness of their interior lives, however, is what gives the graphic novel its colour and vitality.

After the death of his mother, 10-year-old Lester, the central character of Tales from the Farm, is sent to live with his Uncle Ken, a rural bachelor and a man of few words. For the sensitive boy, comic books and superheroes are a welcome distraction from the painful circumstances of his life.

Lou LeBeuf, protagonist of Ghost Stories, is an aged hockey player living out his last days alone at his farm. Isolated and full of regret, he replays the turning points of his life once again.

Anne Quenneville is the focus of The Country Nurse. A travelling nurse in Essex County, she has seen her share of suffering. Perhaps that’s what makes her such a force for good. Through Anne, the trilogy finds resolution and its heartbreaking characters find much-needed connection.”

I caught myself thinking something was wrong with me to not be enjoying this book. But then again- what I am reviewing is how I am engaging with the image and text, rather than the creator’s work. And to be frank- where I am at with my depression and anxiety, I feel like I just cannot and will not allow myself to absorb any more suffering if I can help it. Enough already- the thoughts in my mind do not need inspiration for regret and suffering. Even if it isn’t relevant to life events that I have gone through- depressing stuff just adds to the ever-growing laundry pile of anxiety triggers and a feeling of being uncomfortable. Sort of like sitting in a bath too long. Not my idea of enjoyment. I would not have read this if I had a choice, at least at this particular time in my life. I am sure that there is possibility to enjoy it, but not in the situation that I have found myself in right now.  It was the same with the other books assigned in class- full of heart wrenching  psychological ponderings, uncomfortable periods of self loathing, and a sense of negativity but also a cryptic secret commentary on politics, society, you name it. And I just could not focus, I tried, but there is nothing worse than trying to write an educated blog post on a graphic novel that you feel not so sparkly about, let alone an essay on a final exam. But I am not the kind of human to give up, so I will keep reading, and try to step into the world of Jeff Lemire.  Where are the positive books? Okay Okay, I don’t expect cotton candy and happily ever afters. Hell- Where is David Sedaris? Now there’s an author I admire. (Don’t get me wrong, I like reading books that have an edge of darkness to them, but it depends on how the author communicates it to the reader. And so far with Essex County, no cheese. I like a Humorist’s approach to dark matters)  Where are the authors who delve into less dark matters? [Would that be considered Grey matter?]  This is an improvement from Beautiful Losers, but I still find myself knitting my eyebrows together when asked to “make a comment”. So I conclude: I liked the illustrations. And like any other homework assignment which makes pulling fingernails off with pliers look like spa treatment- I will carry on. Maybe my opinion will change once I finish this book- who knows.

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Photo of David Sedaris 

 

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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Sunday Scribbles- I am my Mother’s Daughter

Today is a beautiful Sunday in Vancouver- yes the sky is grey, but there are no raindrops darkening the driveway and as I glance out the kitchen window- I observe a neighbourhood cat trek through the front garden. Most likely picking a nice warm spot to relieve itself.

Listening to CBC this afternoon I am hit smack in the face with some melancholy. Oh how I miss my homeland and family. Even though the flowers are blooming and the grass is green here on the coast, a part of my heart still houses a love of the snowy driveway that trails through the boreal forest to my home, the delayed spring, mom’s tuna casserole… There are so many things I miss- I think that is what is making it easier for me to prepare myself in regards to moving back to Fort St. James for the summer.

Family has been such a important part of my life that it seems that everyday I go without family contact my soul cringes- deep down I thrive on the unconditional love my family shares with me, and I with them.

Soon my mother will be coming to visit me- and I am thrilled.

She is my best friend – we share something so beautiful that living away from her felt strange.

But the distance gave me the space to grow, to find who I was and who I wanted to be, I was able to make mistakes, make gooddecisions, all by myself.

And now, when we get together it seems like nothing has changed but so very much has changed all at the same time. I can’t describe it in words- it’s a feeling. Nobody ever told me that this was a part of growing up.

I am still my mother’s daughter, but I have become my own woman as well.

I am so happy I will be able to celebrate Easter with my best friend.

Yoga, dark chocolate, and good food are in the plans for this easter holiday.

Happy Sunday Lovelies,

xx

 

Naked people and Fuzzy peaches…

Today was my first class ever with a nude model- I loved it! The human body is such a beautiful thing. 

Four hours of life drawing and I am drained of any comprehensible thoughts. 

I joined my roommate, landlord, and friend at the movies to watch Jack the Giant Slayer- it was nice to not over think and just relax and let my mind get lost in the fantasy world with the rather cute Jack.

My dinner consisted of French Fries and Fuzzy Peaches. 

I was tempted to not write that down in my food diary… Because it would look bad. 

hah. 

Well, I’ve had my sugar and junk food for the next few weeks- 

Tomorrow I have a final project to finish for Silkscreen Class. 

As well, Sunday is always Pancake day… 

Better do some yoga and go for a few walks tomorrow. 

Wow – My blog post really is quite stale and boring tonight. 

But I’ve spent all my energy on staring at a lady in nothing but her birthday suit all day- trying to capture the movement and grace of the human body with charcoal and pencil. That is an exhausting task. So really- I do need a good night’s sleep to recover. 

One thing I love about myself today is: 

I dreamed a dream – and now I am living it. Maybe not as easy and fluffy as my dream, but if you strip away all the obstacles, pain, and frustration- there lies a silk coin purse filled with dreams just waiting to be turned into goals, and eventually, achievements.

 

Goodnight xx 

 

Artistic Frustration.

Is it better to be frustrated with your artwork rather than give up completely on it?

The one thing besides my antidepressants that I have at close reach that keeps me from slipping off the tracks is my art.

But when my pen graces virgin paper- I feel like I am destroying, wasting time, and really just doodling like a fucking eight year old.

There is a reason I do not allow people to see my sketch books.

It’s like a weather report of how much my depression is affecting me.

Right now its cold, damp, and sleeting sideways, with a risk of insomnia, self-doubt, and struggle.

xx

Jesus, I’m miserable.

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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

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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