When you look at me…

bodydismorphicdisorder2

I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember.

And by struggle, I mean I have spent my life running (usually red-faced and sweaty) in an attempt to catch up to the image I have for myself. But the truth is, this image did not come from deep within myself. I wish I had realized this years ago, when I was in my teens and trying to stay afloat amidst anxiety attacks, the deepest, darkest hours of depression, and the endless hours of asking “When will I be skinny? When will I be BEAUTIFUL?!” Instead, I spent a great deal of time dedicated to trying to be the “best me” that I could be, while letting everyone else decide who this “me” should be (Apologies for all the rhyming).

This ideal image, of body weight, proportion, complexion (you NAME it), came from years of looking in the wrong direction, and listening to the wrong people. I realize this now, in my twenty-fifth year on this planet, and feel little relief. While this revelation means I can start to begin looking elsewhere, and listening to myself, I still feel utterly lost.

I truly need to rediscover (or perhaps redefine), all over again, what beauty is.

This word we put so much weight on, one that we write poetry about, and some dedicate their lives trying to create, capture, or simply taste.

A coworker/friend of mine had approached me early last week and remarked on how I had stopped working out, because…he decided this was imperative to know…he could tell. Knowing exactly the kind of person he is, I realized immediately that I should not take offense or get upset, but see this as a kind of caring on his behalf. I should see it as more of a “Hey, time to continue on your journey of weight loss!”, and less of a “Hey, time to stop being so fat and disgusting!” But honestly, I am not strong-willed enough to be able to stop that second feeling from drudging in and just devouring the first. After trying to laugh it off and insisting I was trying, I walked away feeling utterly defeated.

But then something happened.

For the first time in my entire life when someone commented on my weight, instead of feeling defeated and disgusting, I felt angry. I was angry that this person could not see beyond my chubby cheeks, my large chest, and my size 14 dress. I was angry that the first thing this person saw when they looked at me, was what I had to fix, instead of what I had that was already so intact and beautiful. I was angry that I had spent the past twenty five years of my life letting other people’s words and actions towards my size make me cower, cry, or conceal myself.

I am here to say that I have in no way figured out how to solve these problems. I am here to say I am still working toward being a better me, a me that is happy and healthy and still understands that my size ten feet and size fourteen dress may or may not fit into that equation. I am here to say that epiphanies are amazing, and life is amazing, and I am so sorry if anyone has ever made you feel like less of a person because of how you look or the kind of clothing you wear. I am here to say that when you look at me, or anyone for that matter, please be aware of all their pieces and parts.

(To be continued)

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In high school, and throughout the first half of university, I never stopped writing.

I would write poems, stories, journals; and send them out into the universe. If you asked me at the time, I perhaps would have played coy. But I can honestly say, I wanted more than anything at the time for people to discover them. I felt like I had been writing forever to try and get these feelings out. An attempt to try and tell the people I wanted to talk to the things I wanted them to know.

Music blaring, I would plug away noisily night after night. Waiting for the right person, to find the poem, story, or journal that I had written for them. To tell them that I was sorry for that time I fucked up. To tell them that I was still around, in case they were wondering. To tell them…this is me. I am right here. Please, come find me. Now.

I never truly saw this as a sign of loneliness or desperation, but merely an attempt to reconnect with people I had lost. People I still cared for a great deal, but had lost for whatever reason. I know I have always had an exceptionally hard time comprehending how we are supposed to meet people, get to know them, and utterly fall in love with so many parts of them (romantically or otherwise) and then simply…let go. Why would I ever want to let go of someone that I had grown so close to? Even if we were bad for each other, even if things just didn’t work out, even if we just drifted apart as time went on. They are a living, breathing, person. The idea of letting go of them has always seemed ridiculous.

Perhaps this notion is exactly why I struggle so frequently with thoughts of the past. Biking to work, marking papers, falling asleep. When suddenly I am reminded of them. Not just one person, but a mixture of pieces of them. Pieces of everyone, here and there.

G’s shaggy hair, brilliant smile, loving embrace.

A’s leather coat, watchful glances, beautiful guitar playing.

M’s blue eyes, playful laugh, wrestling escapades.

All of these, beautiful and sometimes sad things, start to weigh me down. As if I am trying to swim but my feet keep getting stuck along the bottom, drudging up all of this mud. My head starts to spin, and I feel like I could lay down with these thoughts and sleep forever.

I have heard of so many mantras, about living in the present and focusing on the now. What it must be like, to maintain a focus on the present day for longer than a few moments at a time. I realize this is symptomatic of my depression, and my anxiety. But I like to believe that there is some positive part of this all. That I am just a person who struggles to let go of others, of their memories or the thoughts of their presence, because it kills me so.

But on the other hand, at what point do I stop dragging myself down? At what point do I finally decide that these crates are important, but not important enough to let the whole damn ship sink.

 

 

 

The problem with cycles is that they are hard to break.

Think about stopping your washer mid-cycle, to throw in an extra pair of socks. Welp, depending on how contrary your washing machine is, it can just cause the poor thing to go off the handles.

Depression is a cycle, or at least for most. You have the time of your life. You wake up early, you work your butt off all day, you manage to squeeze in a run, and then make the most amazing supper for you and your significant other (who is even more amazing). Then you lay down for the night, knowing everything has been taken care of, tended to, and now you can rest your head to prepare for another amazing day.

Until it hits you. The thing is…it can sometimes take you a long time to figure out what “it” is. Is it food poisoning, is it exhaustion, or are you just anxious for the next day to begin? You start to think, and then pretty soon you’re laying awake at night unable to sleep because…well who knows?

After battling depression for years as a teenager, I had convinced myself I had mastered the art of fighting back, and had eventually kicked it to the curb like a bad habit. Unfortunately, it kept creeping back in. I began looking for every open window and door, trying to figure out exactly how it had managed to crawl it’s way back into my life. After many failed attempts, I became frustrated, wondering if I was just “meant to be” this way. Perhaps I was always depressed, but at times SO depressed, that I never even realized that I was depressed (as you can probably already see, the cycle is a vicious one to begin with).

Then, before you even realize that this creature, or entity of some kind, has taken hold of you, you’re piggy-backing it around town. You bring it to work, to the doctor, the grocery store, heck – you even bring it out dancing with the girls. Over time, you start to feel exhausted, irritable, and overall lousy. Sometimes, you are able to take a stand and say that you have had enough. You shake it off (in this case, some Florence and the Machine can sometimes help), and manage to escape its grasps for a while longer, even if it continues to stalk around you, just a pace behind you. But sometimes, you aren’t able to get away.

Sometimes you run until you are so exhausted that you finally just lay on the ground and give in. This can lead to you feeling completely, utterly, and totally stuck. When this happens, I tend to feel a whole lot of nothing, and then small spurts of a lot of everything. Sounds healthy, right?

And then you start to ask yourself, “Am I just making excuses?” “Why am I making excuses…when I could be doing work, heading out for a jog, making supper, etc…”

To be continued… (being a teacher is busy work!)

Let’s talk. (A letter to 16 year old me)

Zooming through the Japanese countryside my phone’s music player shuffles to an  Our Lady Peace song, “Innocent.”

“I remember all the feelings and the day they stopped.”

This line had resonated with me the most in the early 2000’s when I was having a hard time being okay with who I was, who I thought I would become and everything in between.

I turned 24 this last August, and I think there are a few things I would like to say to 16 year old me.

First of all, those feelings will never stop completely.
I know hearing that sounds depressing and defeating, but trust me when I say that it happens to be part of the beauty of life. Remember that thing mom said about your experiences making you who you are, let’s just say she was right (again).

Growing up you’ve felt trapped, attacked, and often times beaten down by the things you think and feel. There were and are going to be mornings, nights and sometimes entire days(even weeks) when you can’t get out of bed. There will be days when you lie to stay home from school, days you hide in bathroom stalls, days you think that there is no way in the entire world you can pick yourself up off the floor and stop crying long enough to make it to the bed. There will be days when you can’t see beyond how empty life makes you feel.

Those times when you cried, screamed and said horrible things to the people who love you the most, or those times you hurt yourself (mentally and physically) because you felt like there was something terribly wrong with you and no one could help you figure out what it was or what it was doing to you. And that has got to be the most frustrating thing ever (because it still is at times.)

For a while you are going to feel sick. Not always sick in the nauseated sense, but in a way that makes you feel like there is a parasite living in your brain, in your heart and your lungs. One that steals your memories, eats away at your desire to live and cuts your breath short time and time again when you feel like you are drowning and all you really need is time to breathe.

It is going to take you days, months and even years (don’t worry, you’ve got time), to begin to figure out what it really is. Even though you’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression, it doesn’t mean anything to you. Because everyone says that being depressed is normal, it’s something everyone goes through and you just have to grin and bare it.

Well let me say this, you don’t ever have to grin and bare something that makes you wish away your life. You don’t ever have to feel like everyone experiences this so it’s normal and you can’t complain and try to get help because someone, somewhere else in the world, always has it worse.

Fuck that.

You’ll realize that what you’re experiencing is not normal. It’s scary and horrific and sometimes people aren’t able to fight back, they aren’t able to pick themselves back up and keep going, because depression isn’t just something that people have. Depression isn’t the common cold of mental illnesses. When people try to force you to sit and behave, you tell them that depression can be a god damn life sentence. It can tear your life apart and make you into someone you no longer recognize. It has taken too many amazing people from this world (earlier than they should have ever left us), and making it seem like the person had a choice in the matter is unacceptable. They did not take their own life, it was taken from them.

So you stand tall and keep your chin up. You experience those days, you have those feelings, you can cry, scream and sometimes even think that it is all too much and carrying on isn’t even possible.

Remember that what you’re experiencing isn’t normal or acceptable because you’re unwell. You have to push harder and fight longer to just be okay sometimes. Those feelings will never fully disappear. They still creep and crawl in the dead of night, or appear suddenly when you’re on a sunny beach with close friends. Even though you feel burdened and isolated by a diagnosis that seems to do more harm than help, remember that you never have to be ashamed of things beyond your control.

Just remember, you made it. You make it each and every single day when you get up and put your socks on. When you wake up and aren’t able to drag yourself to work, or finish that paper due in a few hours, remember to take a deep breath and realize that you are fighting back against a disease that attempts to destroy every part of your beautiful, brilliant mind. Yet you are still able to wake every morning, regardless of how far you make it from your bed, and constantly fight back against those thoughts and desires to just give up.

I won’t tell you that you aren’t alone in this pursuit, because depression tends to stick you alone in your own dark corner while you blindly wander, hoping that you’ll find your way out of this maze. I won’t tell you that everything will be okay, because sometimes it is going to be dreadful. Things are going to happen that make you question everything, that make your inner being so deeply saddened that there are no words to express how you feel.

But I ensure you that it is all going to be worth it. It will be an uphill journey with the best freaking view ever, because you’ll never stop fighting and moving. It doesn’t matter if you have to stop and catch your breath from time to time, but depression will not be your beginning or your end. It does not get to decide anything anymore (and if it does, you can always change your mind.)

“One day you’ll have to let it go. One day you’ll stand up on your own.”

Here’s to the smallest steps

I’ve been home for a few weeks now, but I can feel it creeping up on me. Soon it’ll be full blown and out of control. This desire to get up and go, to see new things, meet new people, and eat amazing new foods. This wanderlust.

Northern Alberta was truly amazing. It was an experience of a life time, and I was able to shake myself up and get moving once again. We all fear being stationary for too long, as if we’ll seize up like Dorothy’s Tin Man. The truth is, we’ll be just fine. As long as we continue to move forward, take steps, however small they may be.

When my father died I feared I had lost the desire to wander anywhere. After completing my Bachelors degree I came to a screeching halt. He passed away days after I had completed my final exams, and it seemed to cause my mind, body and soul to simply say, “This…this is enough.” So I worked at a call center and floated through both Autumn and Winter of that year, none the wiser.

When Spring approached, it was as if something snapped. I glanced back at the previous months and was shocked to realize I forgot to be present, in my own life! I decided instead of feeling sorry for myself, I would do something about it. I completed my TESL, drove across the country with some friends, and gave myself a proper slap across the face. So often are we driving down the highway that is life and realize, “Damn…I think I left me at a rest stop some 50km back.”

We never go back, we never turn around and decide, “Hey, that rest stop was actually pretty swell. I think I’ll stay there for a few months longer.” When we do we risk toppling over entirely. But if it so happens, as it has to me, that you rest for a bit too long, or end up toppled over, we can start again.

I’m on the verge of completing my teaching degree now and feel the wanderlust setting in once again. China, Japan, Africa, Alberta? Who really knows. What I do know is this, we can be lost, we can wander without even realizing it, but remember as long as we move forward, we are headed somewhere.

Here’s to the smallest steps, here’s to whatever comes next.

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.

Days 27 – 33: When the going gets tough

I’m an animal lover, and have lived in a house full of animals of all sorts for as long as I can remember. I believe adopting from a shelter or pound is definitely the way to go. Being in northern Alberta on my own was getting lonely, so I decided to foster a dog from the local shelter. After much thought, I became the proud foster-parent of a husky/German shepherd cross named Macy. Now, don’t get me wrong, fostering a dog is a wonderful idea. She keeps me company, snuggles with me at night, and is the perfect companion for a morning walk. Unfortunately she enjoys eating things she probably shouldn’t, and honestly it’s an issue I have never encountered with a dog before. It began with tablecloths, garbage, and the occasional lip balm. Last night it progressed to my fancy, new Nike sports band that was only ever taken off to get a shower or wash the dishes. I thought at first it must have been a mistake, but then I realized it is most certainly out of spite. I’m horrible at punishing animals, any advice?

Teaching has been both amazing and stressful all in the same breath. I put a lot of work into preparing lessons and thinking of new ways to interest my students. Yet we all know things don’t always go as planned and sometimes shit happen. All of the outbursts and classroom management issues have taught me even more so that I need to choose my battles, and never EVER underestimate your students. Even when you think you have them figured out, prepare to be shocked! Even though I’ve had my share of headaches and points where I have to use my “teacher voice,” I love it up here. A kid asked me, “Why do you even want to be a teacher?! You just get yelled at all the time!” I’d be lying if I responded with some heartfelt response of how I always dreamt of educating young people, cause that would be a lie. Honestly, I’m still trying to figure it out.

Everyday I seem to stumble upon another hidden gem in this wondrous place. I have been struggling with some health issues since arriving here in January, but the fact I get to get out and explore when I’m feeling better makes it even more exciting. I stumbled upon a magpie hopping around in the snow on my way home last week. For anyone who has never seen one, they’re worth looking into. Not only are they gorgeous birds, but they are also extremely intelligent (the only bird to recognize themselves in a mirror!). I also realized that Bear Necessities, the store run by students at HLPS, sells comics and tons of amazing video game and nerdy merchandise. I can see quite a few purchases there in the future.

Overall these past few weeks have been insane. I’m trying to update as often as possible, and since my health issues are clearing up I think it will be a lot easier now. This weekend I am heading down to Calgary with Jake and Sandi before Teacher’s Convention. I’m hoping to see lots of new things and get to poke around Calgary before heading to Edmonton on the following Wednesday to attend the convention (and hit up West Ed!). It’s hard to believe the first month of my three month internship has ended. I look back on everything that has happened and am shocked by how fast time flew by. I can’t wait to keep teaching my kids, have more cooking and art adventures with them, and especially explore new places. I just wish time would stop moving so fast and let me soak up as much as I can these next two months.

Here’s to the end of my first month as an intern, here’s to whatever comes next!

Day 24, 25, and 26: The perks of being an adventurer (Road trip to GP!)

After a hectic week of teaching, I was relieved to travel to Grand Prairie for the weekend. Jake and Sandi came to spend the night on Friday, where we had some much needed conversation and relaxation. Saturday morning we hit the road for Grande Prairie, the closest “big town” to High Level.  Roughly five hours South of High Level, the drive consisted of endless prairies and countless cow farms(all of which saddened me, they look SO similar to bison!). We arrived around lunch time, checked into the Super 8, and went shopping. It turns out having 5% tax instead of 14% makes a world of a difference. I was lucky to catch some amazing deals (Got me some Converse!) and even get the chance to eat at the Wok Box there(Ginger beef is THE best).

Sunday we had the chance to browse the local Costco. It was awesome to get the chance to stock up on things you spend a little more on up in High Level. Back home I drink tap water, when I lived in Germany I drank tap water, practically everywhere I have visited/lived…I have drank the tap water. There is something about High Level’s tap water that gives me the heeby jeebies. It looks gross, it smells gross, and it most certainly tastes just as foul. I realized within my first week that I was not going to be able to drink straight tap water for the next three months. Therefore a trip to Costco meant purchasing two large crates of water (a total of 64 bottles). Hopefully it will last me the next two months!

I was delighted to learn that Grande Prairie has their very own Pizza 73. For those who have not been lucky enough, or graced with the delicious and tantalizing tastes of Pizza 73, add it to your bucket list. They make the best pizza I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. Their donair pizza, dear lord. Thinking about it makes my mouth water and head fill with thoughts of eating nothing but Pizza 73 during my trip to Calgary and Edmonton in February. I will make sure to include photos in the future for reference.

I had hoped  to get out and do some trail walking and maybe even some jogging while in Grande Prairie, but unfortunately the snow was in the process of melting, and everything was ice and mud. Not my favorite two things to run in. Therefore the majority of our trip down to GP was spent shopping, deciding where to eat out, and discussing how our internships were going. I am happy to say we all have great things to report (albeit some not so great thing as well).

Being positive has always been extremely important to me, and at times very hard. I realize as someone who interacts with young people on a daily basis, for the majority of the day, it is especially important for the outside to be just as positive as the inside (and some days, fake it if you have to!) Having a positive impact on the lives of those you surround, regardless of how long your presence is for, is crucial. After studying the Six Pillars of Self Esteem with my grade seven PLS (practical living skills) class, I did a lot of thinking. Self-acceptance is so important, and how you carry and portray yourself in front of young minds is SO very important. As a teacher, I want to be a good role model. Heck, even just as a person, I want to be someone that young minds can look to and draw from. Be positive!

Here’s to being positive, here’s to whatever comes next.