Day 62 – 85: The importance of keeping fit and keeping sane, because we all get by with a little help from our friends.

A week from today, at this exact time, I will be getting ready to head to my last day of my education internship. Everyone has been saying, “You must be so excited!” and “I bet you can’t wait!” I get where they’re coming from, but those two things couldn’t be further from the truth. These past three months have been insane, and at times extremely overwhelming, but honestly my most amazing adventure yet. I have had the time to teach some phenomenal students, who have taught me a lot. I am a firm believer in being a student as much as I am a teacher. Who would ever want to stop learning?! I am saddened when I think about this time next week, and how hard the end of the day will be. I’ll have to hug all them, with their smiling faces, and try to share with them every piece of advice and inspiration I have in mind (mind you that would take forever!) Whoever said leaving the first kids you ever teach is one of the hardest parts of being a teacher sure knew what they were talking about. As I approach next week and time flies by, I’m trying to focus less on how sad my final day will be and how extraordinary my time here has been and comes to be. I had the pleasure of meeting tons of new people, and seeing lots of new places I had never even heard of. My cooperating teacher has helped me a lot with some inner turmoil. It never ceases to amaze me how someone new can give you advice and it changes the way you look at things. We were lucky enough to get Robyn placed in our class as the replacement TA shortly after I had arrived. Both of them have been amazing friends and confidantes, through the best and worst days. Moving anywhere alone can be hard on your mind and body. You can slip into a bit of a rut and it can be hard to get out of. When I first arrived in High Level, it was great. I was swept up in the newness of northern Alberta. The way the sun rose in the sky later than ever before, how the cold could take your breath away, and just how flat and wide this new land was. I am still amazed by new discoveries every week, but for a period of time I felt like I was drowning. I let my mind and body slip for a while, and sleeping was my best friend. Then it hit me. This is my life, and I’ve got to live it one day at a time Cliché, I know, but it’s hard to live in the here, in the now. I decided I either had to smarten up and get myself out of the rut I had put myself into, or I’d have a lousy three months in Alberta. With the help of some amazing new friends, I’ve been having the time of my life. When I’m not lesson planning and correcting, I’m walking, volunteering, grabbing Timmie’s with a friend, or out to the Flamingo or Mirage with a number of them. Life is what we make it. Here’s to making it the very damn best we can, here’s to whatever comes next!

Day 57 – 61: It’s a bird, it’s a plane…it’s the Northern Lights!?

IMGP5844 IMGP5847 IMGP5858Sunny and -15 has never been something I looked forward to, but here in High Level sunny and -15 is too gorgeous to pass up. The sun is up on my way to school and even there to keep me company on my way home. It’s shocking to think that when I first arrived we had as little as 6 hours of sunlight a day, and now this. I’m bummed out I won’t be around for the days where the sun is never ending and remains in the sky even into the early morning. I guess that means I’ll have to come back!

I realized I didn’t say much about my adventures down south a few weekends ago and thought I would throw in some facts to remind myself of in the future. I got to road trip it to Calgary (roughly a 12hr drive) with some pretty awesome people, thanks Sandi and Jake! We got to explore Calgary (China town was AMAZING. We had the most amazing baked goods at this adorable little bakery, and I tried dim sum for the first time. Overall it was a great experience, and the food was all beyond delicious (photos for proof!). I got to wander and take lots of photos with the photography master himself, Jake. We explored downtown Calgary and even made friends with a spunky, little squirrel.

Then we had a day trip to Banff to visit the Rockies. We got to visit the shops, eat at the fantastic TeX Mex restaurant, Magpie and Stump, and even hit up the hot springs! Something about being in a pool full of geyser water outside in freezing temperatures was so exhilarating and felt amazing on the body. I recommend everyone do it at least once in their lives. We also got to take a trip up Sulphur Mountain on the famous Banff gondola. Needless to say, I didn’t realize just how high we were going until we were on our way up the mountain. I have a fear of heights, so I felt pretty victorious when I reached the top (going back down was an adventure…) I made sure to snag a shirt and sticker from the gift shop afterward, both well deserved in my opinion.

After our amazing trip to Banff, we said goodbye to Calgary and traveled to Edmonton. I was lucky enough to catch a nasty bug while there so spent most of the time at the convention or in bed. On the plus side, I got to eat French toast for breakfast almost every morning at the hotel restaurant (seriously the best breakfast food.) We made sure to visit the West Edmonton mall, and even caught the sea lions after a show! Although it wasn’t my first time there, it’s still like a giant maze with all those stores and sections. I’ll stick to the malls back home. Then I hitched a ride home with some lovely people from the school and got to relax and recover for the rest of the weekend. Overall, an amazing trip. I’m excited I got to explore even more of this beautiful province.

In more recent news, last weekend I had the pleasure of going out with some wonderful friends and eating the most amazing food since I left home (closely tied is the dim sum we had in Calgary.) I ordered the lobster Mac and cheese. I know, sounds like it could be a disaster. Yet it turned out to be a delicious and beyond filling meal. After packed away most of it, we all bought dessert. I had the most heavenly, out of this world pecan pie EVER. It was topped with fresh fruit, homemade vanilla ice cream and chunks of chocolate (did I mention the pecans were soaked in brandy?!) I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be going back for another before heading home.

Lately things have been so hectic that time is moving even quicker than usual. I have only five weeks left here in High Level and then I grab my flight back to St. John’s. I was afraid I would head back out East without seeing the Northern Lights, and then Saturday blew me out of the water (in this case, the almost non existent water of northern Alberta). Around 10:30pm on Saturday night, the sky exploded with the color green. I was so awestruck that I stood outside with my camera in the cold for a while simply staring. The way they move and ripple reminded me of the ocean.

Here’s to the things that take your breath away, here’s to whatever comes next.

Day 34 – 56: Why me time is the hardest time, and how taming a mammoth is relevant in the 21st century.

The streets of Banff!

The streets of Banff!

From the top of the mountain!

From the top of the mountain!

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From the top of Sulphur Mountain! The Rockies :)

From the top of Sulphur Mountain! The Rockies 🙂

The hot springs in Banff!

The hot springs in Banff!

Northern Alberta can be picturesque, adventurous and a complete winter Wonderland. It can also be isolating, lonely and frigid. That being said, if you can stick with it and get used to being alone often(if you come alone, that is), soon enough you’ll get used to it’s northern ways. Don’t get me wrong, High Level has become like a home to me. Yet I would be lying if I said “me time” is my favorite time.

I had a conversation with another teacher about the ups and downs of living up north. There are vast differences between here and there(there being Newfoundland). One of the hardest things for me to get used to is the remoteness and isolation that comes with living here. I know, I know…I’m not in the Arctic circle or on some boat floating around Baffin island, but change is change.

Living in St. John’s, Newfoundland (for those of my readers who aren’t from back home) means lots of hustle and bustle. It’s no New York city, but it has enough people and noise to keep a girl content. Being in your head can be rough, especially if you’re an over thinker or worrier, much like myself. I find the sound of traffic, chatter of a crowd or hum of nearby buildings to be soothing. With not even a traffic light to be found in High Level, there is no hustle and bustle, simply silence.

I was happy to finally meet people I could relate to and talk with easily last week. High Level is a very transient town, lots of people come and go like the wind, so most people don’t take the time to get to know newcomers. Therefore being new to town has been hard. After meeting some new friends and getting used to time on my own, I feel accomplished.

I had a week off to attend teachers convention in Edmonton, and even had time to visit Calgary, Banff, and see the Rockies for the very first time! There will be pictures included, but most are blurry because I could barely contain my excitement. I got to visit so many new places and see so many new things, life is too amazing. Perhaps one of the most amazing experiences was getting to see Taylor Mali live. Mali is one of my favorite slam poets, and he just so happened to be presenting at the teachers convention. Needless to say, I was in utter shock as he stood not even five feet away from me as he walked on stage. He had me laughing so hard my stomach hurt, and get so emotional I had to go to the little girls room for a time out. The man is a GENIUS! If you haven’t already, check out his stuff on YouTube and prepare to be blown away!

Now…onto the mammoth! I know, mammoths aren’t exactly a problem in the 21st century, but that’s where you’re wrong. I stumbled upon this amazing article online (http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/06/taming-mammoth-let-peoples-opinions-run-life.html) and found myself engrossed in it. When I finished reading I sat back and realized, damn…I have to tame this mammoth! For those of you not wanting to dedicate that much time to reading the article, I’ll give you the short version. We all have a mammoth, an internal voice that we have had since way back when that demands we seek approval from others in order to survive. The article points out that even though we do not rely so heavily on how people view us nowadays (we can survive if people dislike us or not, it doesn’t mean we’ll be cast out of the tribe to starve to death!), a lot of us can become obsessed with how others view us. This mammoth demands we feel down and out when others view us poorly, and even reinforces the paranoia we can experience over people potentially not liking us (But…do they REALLY want to hang out with me?)

I love the idea of a tangible mammoth poking around in my head making me paranoid about others not wanting to be my friend, but even more than that I love that someone was able to put all of those ideas into such an awesome article. We all struggle with how others view us and how we view ourselves. We are often our own worst critics, and we have it tough enough sometimes without stressing about what others think. Truth be told, people are usually so worried about themselves they don’t notice if you’re having a bad hair day (sorry, but it’s kinda true!) I’m not saying we give up caring what others think, because it’s important to maintain friendships, create positive relationships, and even get a career! Heck knows that we focus on it too much though, so the taming of the mammoth starts here!

Here’s to the taming of imaginary beasts, here’s to whatever comes next.