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Thursday, July 23, 2015

create with love and it will taste better

I wasn’t quite aware of just how much I needed this creative retreat, until I was well into my second day of the Land and See workshops.
On a whim, back in the winter, and upon the urging of my wonderfully supportive husband, I signed up for this, too good  to be true set of photography workshops that would be held in the summertime on Prince Edward Island. Yes, the place that owns my heart, that place.
I had my reasons for wanting to go. I needed professional development, and this is what professionals do, they attend workshops. But deep down, I knew that there were other, more deep and personal reasons for why I wanted to be there.
These past few years in our isolated community have taken a toll on me. I used to feel guilty for admitting it, but denying my feelings of creative suffocation and loss of my authentic  self, didn’t help anyone in my family, especially myself.
For two years, my personal needs were on hold, as we lived in Beaver Creek for Winslow’s work. And while I love being a stay at home mama, and see a great many wonderful things about it, I also began to feel some resentment, as my needs, dreams and photography were put on hold for us  to be in there. It’s ok to be honest. This is part of our story, and one that I would never change, but I know that I seriously needed to get back in touch with my self.
Enter the crazy idea of attending a 5 day photography workshop, all on my own. It seemed luxurious and somewhat frivolous. Some people mentioned in passing that maybe it would be best to pass it up this time, but I knew, deep down that this was something that I so desperately needed to do.
Preparing for the trip was one hell of a headache. Logistics, an impending transfer, child care. As the hurdles came our way,  I began to have my doubts that this trip was meant to be. Yet still, this quiet yet determined voice inside of me was telling me to not give up on my dream, and I am learning that is so important to honour and listen to own voice.  To ignore your voice is dangerous, it is saying something so true and we must all listen to ourselves.
And so, after arranging flights, car rentals, child care (thanks to Grampy for coming up to help Winslow) and more, there I was, on my way. Nervous, scared, excited and elated, I made my way across the country feeling a sense of gratitude, openness and readiness, for something I hadn’t realized that I needed so, so very badly.


There I was, day 1 at Land and See, all on my own not knowing a soul.  As I found my way and pulled up to the beautiful country property of Dave and Erin Brosha, I just knew that this setting was magical and unique. Rolling hills of farm fields, big round golden coloured hay bales, green green grass, bright blue skies and the fluffiest white clouds – these details stood out for me, a stark contrast from the mountains and endless wilderness of the Yukon.  I made my way over to the groups of people who were all waiting outside of the 100 year old barn, where the workshops would take place.
One familiar face popped over to say hi, Caitlin Cleveland, a photographer who I greatly admire and respect. Our shared experience in the past brought us closer (we had the opportunity to meet each other last May, when I was in Yellowknife), and I was very much looking forward to hearing her speak and to learn from her.  Right away, she gave me a big hug, which put me at ease, and there I began to feel  that this was going to be a transformative experience  for me.
The days that followed were a nice balance of inspiring artists’ talks, slide shows, break-out sessions (where we followed a mentor of our choice, through their creative process), and hands on free time to work alongside fellow attendees and mentors.  It was hard for me at first to accept these gifts that were mine  for my taking. I kept asking myself, when was the last time that I had this much time to devote to learning and creating, and when was the last time that I had been surrounded by so many creative types. I quickly began to feel mixed emotions (cue pregnancy hormones). It had been 2 long years, of not experiencing those things, and here I was, with as I said, these gifts before me. I was overwhelmed with gratitude.
As it is to be expected, at the beginning of the week, there were many nerves and shy faces. By the end of the time there, the mood and comfort level had changed completely. It didn’t take long for hugs to be exchanged (freely), and for real emotions to come forth (think a room full of adults in tears). Many of the artists shared some really personal stories and experiences with us. Love, was the repeated theme of many of the talks, so was compassion and empathy. We heard about how photography acted as a form of therapy for one artist deals that with PTSD through his work as a paramedic.  The messages and topics were far beyond the parameters of what I expected we would learn about, they were life lessons, on how to live a true, authentic life. How could someone not be moved?

As I made my tired and weary way back across the country, I took the time to reflect on just how I had been impacted by this week. I think if I had to sum it up, I would say that I truly feel a sense of connectedness (with myself and the others that attended the workshops), and that I needed that sense so much.

I will leave off with this quote shared by a Cape Breton artist, Jon Brown. It spoke to me in many ways.

~ Remember to listen to your heart. When we create with love, it always ….. always tastes better. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

tender heart

Last night I needed quiet and space, oh so bad.
We had plans to have neighbours over to play a board game or two, but during the process of putting Noah and Katia down, I nearly fell asleep myself, and decided that I needed a quiet night, just to myself to collect myself. With Winslow at the detachment, working on our truck, I took the opportunity, listened to what my heart and soul really needed, and found the space that I was craving.
My book, some calming tea, the wind blowing the aspens outside of my window. I needed a quiet moment, where I could just allow myself to be.
My heart has been feeling tender lately. It seems like a lot has happened over the past few weeks, and I am trying to process it all.
A few weeks ago, my mother (who lives so very far from me) underwent open heart surgery. It was frightening and left me feeling so helpless and small, and the truth is, is that I am still dealing with it. Feelings of loss, feelings of time fleeting, feelings of loneliness. Who do you share your truest feelings with, when the person you once counted on, is not able to be there in that way anymore? I miss that connection with her, so much.
On top of this, I have been coming to terms with the fact that we are leaving our beloved territory, the Yukon. I have talked at great lengths about this here, yet, still deep inside, I feel a sense of loss, as we begin to move forwards from this very special time in our lives. I feel as though I am desperately trying to hold onto the memories that I have from here. The sights, the views, the friends, those moments in time. I understand that new beginnings are good, and that it is not healthy to hold onto the past, but still ... my heart does not want to let go. Not yet.
And so here I am. Two more days left here in Beaver Creek, and I well up with tears when I think about it. For so long, I wanted to leave this difficult and isolated place, and now I cling to the memories and feelings of this community. There is so much that I want to capture still.
My plans for the next two days are to take pictures and to walk the trails that I have done for the last two years. I want a picture of us all in front of our house, and I want a pregnancy shot of me and the fireweed that is in bloom right now. It's important that my heart says a proper goodbye.
This week I did my best to find joy and happiness in the most simple of things.
If there is one thing that I learned to do while I've lived  here in Beaver Creek, it is to enjoy the very simplest of life's pleasures. Like making bread. I made four loaves this week. Or reading my book, with a travel mug full of coffee, while watching the kids at their swimming lessons. The simple things, like walking our loop on the firebreak, keeping our eyes open for fairy houses and mushrooms And picking a bouquet of abundant fireweed flowers, and then displaying them in my living room.
Today I am feeling tender, and I am honouring those feelings. It's part of the process, I keep reminding myself.

Friday, July 3, 2015

it's ok to be sad about saying goodbye

I'm a bit of a mess tonight. Okay, that's an understatement. I am full on ugly crying my heart out.
And the reason is, is that it has finally hit me. After the months of planning and talking about it, we are going (in a matter of 2 weeks), and it's not going to be easy on me.
5 years. 5 years in this beautiful, vast, magical, big and lonely territory... and now we are packing up and moving on. This is how it goes with RCMP families, and even though I have done it a few times now, I can tell you, it doesn't get easier.
We moved to the Yukon in the summer of 2010, when Noah was just 11 months old. At that time, I was so nervous and hesitant about this big life changing move of ours. I truly had no idea, just how amazing it would be for our family.
In 2011, we welcomed our sweet Yukon girl into the world, and our lives felt so complete. Being at home with my two littles was a joy and a job that I took seriously. I look back on those days with such fondness. The playdates, the coffee/tea dates with friends, the big Northern family holiday dinners.
The friends we've made, the exploring we've done, the photography that I've taken, the family memories that we've built,  it all happened here. How do I say goodbye? I can't even begin to start.
Tonight, while crying my heart out, a friend let me know that it is perfectly ok (and good) to feel these feelings. That it's good to feel it now, and I couldn't agree more. I certainly don't want to say goodbye, but I know that I must begin to find the closure, in order to move forward. It's a process, and I must honour it.
At the end of the day, as I go through the file of memories that I have stored away in my heart, I like to remind myself, that we very well may find ourselves back here some day. The Yukon is a magical place, that draws many people back to it. I will leave that possibility open in my heart and let it out to the universe. Just incase it ever happens... you never know.
But for now, we move forward. We move to another part of this beautiful country of ours and continue our journey as a family. We have many great things to look forward to, many adventures, new friends, and a new babe to join our family. It's going to be good. It always is. We're blessed.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

these moments

In just weeks, our time here in Beaver Creek, and the Yukon, will be wrapped up into one precious and beautiful package of memories, that I will slip away into my heart.
While talking to a dear friend over the phone the other night, the conversation came up about what I would miss most about our time here. I started to think, and immediately wanted  to slow down and just feel the simplicity of our life here. Simplicity is what I will miss most about here.
The simplicity of going for nature walks, all on our own, just steps from our home.
Being able to walk to the school, the park, the pool, the library, the post office ... all in just a short 5 minute walk.
The time that I have to make food. To make bread, from scratch. To make and can jam in an evening. To make healthy (and creative) dinners from what we have on hand.
This, I think, will be one of the most important lessons that I take from Beaver Creek. To remember not to load ourselves up with commitments, activities and busyness. To slow down and continue our simple way of living.


On our way home from the park the other day, Katia grabbed for Noah's hand and they ran all the way home together like this. It was hard for me to catch up, but when I did, Noah turned to me and told me that by holding Katia's hand, she would keep on walking and wouldn't get so tired.
I have been reflecting lately, on this amazing and strong friendship that these two have together. They are getting older, and in turn, seem to be getting along better than ever. They make up games together, go on adventures, and just basically live their days together, but so closely.
I really believe that our time here in Beaver Creek, has really helped to strengthen their relationship. Neither kids go off for long periods of time apart, or spend much time with anyone else, and while at times I wished desperately for them to have more options, more friends, more activities, so that they could live somewhat more individual lives, I now see that their bond is the way it is because of all this family time that we have had together. It's been a true gift.


Thoughts on this pregnancy:

I am now 15 weeks along and am finally feeling more normal and like myself (although the hormones came out full force this week- sorry hubby).
At the beginning of the pregnancy, I was having terrible headaches and nausea. I would feel dizzy and needed to lie down often through out the day. I am happy to report that I am now feeling much more energetic, and able to do physical activities. I went to aquafit this week and went for multiple walks, which feel so good. I still do get tired, and find that I like to go to bed early and even catch a nap if possible.
This week I've had CRAZY pregnancy dreams, that are so far fetched, yet very realistic and vivid. I always wonder what they mean.
The kids are super excited for this wee babe to come along and so are we, but still, I get very nervous about how something could go wrong, and how devastated we would all be, if God forbid! I know it's not good to think like this, but it's just my honest feelings.
Food cravings: none, but I wasn't able to drink coffee for the first 12 weeks due to the smell- it was way too strong for me and I had a big time aversion to it, now, I am able to have a cup every now and then, which is nice when I am feeling tired in the afternoon.


Today is Canada Day, and we have some very excited little ones on our hands. We are hoping for a short break in the rain (even though the land so desperately needs it), so that we can proceed with our small town parade and bbq :)
*update - the rain held off, and the kids had the parade :)


Thank you so much for all the kind words of congratulations on our special news.
It means so much to us.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

it's official


I suppose it's not really official until you tell the online world your news.
And so, without further adieu, we are excited to announce that we will be welcoming another sweet little soul into our family, late December. Yes, a Christmas baby.
I feel like I've been walking around with my own personal little secret for the past few months, but now that I am at the 14 week mark, I am ready to share the news with everyone else.
It's been a busy, exciting, overwhelming past few months, what with our house sale, house hunting trip, transfer and of course, pregnancy. But we are thrilled and happy to be having a wee babe join our family. We are all filled with excitement and anticipation.
Some fun facts, for anyone taking notes, we have a little reoccurring pattern that seems to happen in our family. Whenever we buy a new house, we also happen to be expecting a baby too (Hamilton, Whitehorse and now Kentville). Also, this baby will be born in Nova Scotia, which means that we have had a baby in each of our 3 posting provinces/territory (Ontario, Yukon and now Nova Scotia).
And so, here we go (once again!). We are truly thankful and blessed for this little one growing in my tummy ... and for anyone wanting to know, we will not be finding out the gender this time.

Friday, June 19, 2015

taking it all in

Our days have been filled with the most simple of activities, yet, at the end of the day, we are all happily tired and satisfied. We haven't experienced boredom, nor have I had to provide endless amounts of activities for the kids. No, summer is providing us with all that we need.
Quintessential summer things, like swimming lessons, nature walks, impromptu park play dates, trips to the library, garage sales, campfires, bike rides to the gas station for ice cream, summer reading clubs.
 It feels so nice to have so many options, yet I am thankful that we still are managing to find a slowness to our days, and that there are no big pressures or commitments on our calendar.
We are able to walk to and from the pool, stopping to pick up rocks and pick bouquets of wild flowers. I like the slow lazy days, this is the true feeling of summer and I am happy to share it wth Noah and Katia.


In about 2 weeks time, I will be embarking on a very exciting and important journey in the development of my photography craft.
Last winter, I got word that there would be a 5 day photography workshop taking place this summer in no other place than PEI (be still my heart!).
The line of of guest speakers and mentors is beyond anything I could of ever dreamed of, and after talking about it with my business partner (and life partner), we both agreed that this was something that I needed to do, in order to further myself.
Recently, there have been a string of events in my personal and family life, that have had me question whether this is the right thing for me to be doing.
The logistics of getting there, and finding child care while I am gone have been giving me headaches. I'll admit, I have had my doubts and have had people feed those doubts too.
But I am happy to say that after collecting myself (and after a few good phone calls to my cheerleaders), I am now more than ever excited and stoked about this opportunity.
I'm ready to be inspired. I'm ready to learn. I'm ready to step out of my comfort zone, and to try new things. I am ready for this and am so thankful for the opportunity.
To learn more about the workshops that I will be attending, see here.


And finally, as soon as I return from my trip to PEI, we will be hitting the road and beginning our 20 day trip across the country, to our new posting in Nova Scotia. At this very point in time, I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, I've wanted this move and transfer (to this specific place), for such a long time, and I am excited for it to happen. But on the other hand, I am scared to leave the comforts and familiarity of the simple lives that we live here. Walking down that path, daily, as we head to either the school, community club, library or pool. Knowing that I will see Winslow at lunch and dinner. These are things that are about to change, and I know I will miss them.
But onwards we march. New adventures await us. New friends, new hobbies, new sights. We are ready and we'll be just fine.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

lakes, creeks, books and balance

These past few days have been a mix of summer living, strategic planning and nursing a nasty cold. 
Our summer plans are up in the air, our departure date is up in the air, I have a workshop in PEI that I must (and want to attend), it's all happening at once and I've been stressed just trying to figure it all out. 
I am trying to find balance, while life seems to be throwing curve balls and changes to our plans. 
I am reminding myself that there are things I can control, and things that I cannot. It will all come together. I repeat, it will all come together. 
Last week saw the school year come to an end, and with that, we witnessed our sweet little guy "graduate" from kindergarten. There was no big ceremony (I guess some schools do this), but the two graduates did receive certificates, nice cards  and a bag full of Yukon/Alaskan storybooks. 
Noah also received a certificate for his accomplishment in his Upper Tanana (language) class, as well as a citizenship award. Super proud of our sweet and smart cookie. Noah, you're moving on up! 
With an unexpected night off this past week, we decided to take off over the border and do some camping for one night in Alaska. We spent the night at a beautiful little lake called Moon Lake (isn't that romantic?), and we stayed nice and cozy inside our new camper. We were also fortunate to bump into our Alaskan friends, and had fun with them at the lake. 
Today was spent down by the creek with our little buddies from Beaver Creek. The creek is bone dry right now, which makes for fun rock collecting. My friend and I, enjoyed being able to wander off (don't worry, not too far), while the kids were completely engaged in building towers with rocks and sticks. There's nothing like letting nature take it's course, and letting children be at one with their surroundings. 
And finally, on our recent trips across the country (for our house hunting trip), I realized that I had no good books to read. I go through fazes in my life, where I can sometimes find the capacity to engage in reading, and other times where I simply cannot muster the concentration that it requires to follow along in a book. 
I chose these three books: Bringing Up Bebe, Hold On to Your Kids, and North of Normal, based upon some recommendations and some of my own research. I'll let you know how I do with my summer reading list. 
Off to read now. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

down by the creek

I love how summer opens up new opportunities for us. Winter (as I'm sure you all know by now), is long here in the Yukon. And with that, we lose space and places to go in our community during those long cold months. With summer, there are new places to go, which can be such a welcomed sight, when we've been limited for months on end with only a few places to go. 
Today, as a family, we drove down the road to the creek for a walk and snack. We brought Ryder along for it, and he seemed so happy to run through the woods, and dash through the rushing creek. 
With the sounds of the water, rushing along the stones and pebbles, we sat and ate a little snack. Poor Noah was feeling under the weather, so he opted to be held by either Daddy or I. 
It was just a short trip down to the creek, but exactly what we all needed. A change in scenery, the sights and sounds of nature, and a dose of fresh air. 
Have I fully expressed just how happy summer is making me feel? The wild roses? Sigh. So beautiful. 
Happy summer days dear friends.