york boat

Not the Captain

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I’m back after a week on the York boat, this time as a simple crew member instead of Captain. What a difference it was to not have to make every decision and feel the weight of responsibility for everything that happens on the boat. I felt so much more relaxed than I did last year and it really was like a vacation. Jae was the captain, and it was interesting to see him act almost exactly as I did last year – a bit like looking in a mirror. I could see him considering the best place to come ashore, the best way to set up the oars to be bridges to shore, the best route in the river, looking for the best current and making a hundred other decisions about things that happen over the course of the day.

You know, it was stressful to be Captain. Responsibility weighs heavy on the person in charge. But if no one was ever willing to take that on, who would lead? I suppose the people with the most ambition or the most nefarious plans would be happy to take it on, and they would probably not even feel the responsibility of making good decisions, leading the group to the best possible outcome and with the most safety. I am really glad that Jae was willing to take this responsibility on when I couldn’t, and I know it was a heavy burden and a lot of work!

In a similar way, we can sometimes be unwilling to take responsibility for what goes on in our own lives. We can easily fall into the trap of thinking that things happen because of fate, or the government, or for no reason at all, rather than admitting that we have made the bed we lie in, and if it’s lumpy and uncomfortable, we have no one else to blame. The responsibility for our lives doesn’t have to be a heavy weight – we can consider it a great honour, a puzzle or interesting challenge, or game — it’s fun to think of creating our designer life! And it is easier to stay lighthearted if you take it in small portions – one day at a time, or even just the morning drive, the morning at work, the afternoon, and the evening. What would you like your day to look like? Smooth flowing traffic? Interesting work? Productive times and good interactions with coworkers? You can think about what you would like, and when you believe it is possible, it’s a good deal more likely to occur. If you can focus on it so intensely that it’s all you see, and there isn’t any way for it to possibly be different, then it is as good as done – it’s only a matter of time!

Anyways, just a few ponderings for now! Pictures from the York boat trip will have to wait while I find the cable to my camera… Go have some adventures!

2011 in Review

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Every year, I like to do a summary of how the year went, what was good, what was bad and what I’m looking forward to. So here goes!

The Fire Department

I have been really active on the fire department, particularly in the winter and fall (paddling off-season). I’ve literally lost count of how many calls I’ve been on, but it’s a lot! I’ve been to MVCs, building fires, a great mock-accident at the High School, a few fire alarms and medical assist calls. I spent nine hours on the roof of Extra Foods for a fundraiser, and yes, I can add that to the list of Weird and Unusual Places I Have Peed (that will have to be another post)! I’ve helped out with some fire hall tours — I always have fun with the little people. I’m not a newbie any more; we had eleven new recruits start in fall, so I have actually been giving some advice and help to them, both in the hall and on calls. I’m in that netherland between newbie and experienced firefighter. I’ve gone to lots of training, and I now know enough to be dangerous! Seriously, I have learned a lot, but there is still so much more to know. I started taking the Emergency Medical Responder course, but unfortunately had to drop out. It was a good course, and it covered a lot more than I expected. Even though I only did about a third of it, I’m glad I went — now on medical calls, I have a much better idea of what the EMRs and EMTs are doing, and I can help out more. I’m getting fairly good at a few simple tasks, but I am still challenged on virtually every call, which is why I joined the department in the first place! Never a dull moment — and that’s what’s life’s all about! | Fire Dept posts |

Personal Life

I’ve got to say, my personal life has been great this year. I’ve been surrounded by friends, and even when I was stressed about deadlines and completing the York boat on time (photos here), I still had people around me, notably my friend Michelle’s parents in Calgary, who gave me a place to stay for two weeks, fed me, and were so amazingly generous and kind. My relationship with my husband has been great, and we’ve been connecting better all the time. I enjoy our late-night pillow talk; we just chat about whatever has been on our minds. When I am stressed, I can tell him about it and we figure out something that will help. I am so loved by friends and family, sometimes it just amazes me… I am so full of gratitude and appreciation!

Business Success

Flow North had a great year! After doing the Paddling the Peace River guide for GeoTourism Canada, I was hired to run the York boat project, and then I got to be the Captain of the boat on the big, 18-day expedition. It was fantastic! I couldn’t have asked for a better crew, although at times, looking for a crew stressed me out the most. In the end, it worked out so incredibly well, one could only say I was blessed. I’ve got 5 more best friends than I had before the month of June. Beyond the York boat, I got to run a couple of canoe camps, several canoe parties, expeditions, and had lots of fun at our weekly “Family Canoe Nights” as well. What a *great* summer we had! It didn’t hurt that, as usual, we had the nicest summer weather of the province, and perhaps even in all of Canada! Not much rain, lots of sun!
canoeing on the Chinchaga river

A Few Struggles

That’s not to say it was all sunshine and roses. There were a few struggles in the fall, with some bills from the summer piling up and expenses from the York boat not being paid. Things got a bit slim, but that’s what happens some times when you’re in business for yourself. We have exchanged time freedom for money freedom — we have plenty of the first and less of the second, whereas most people have very little time freedom, but more money to work with. We created a few websites in the fall, which was great. I’m really quite proud of what we did: Northern Express, Fox Haven Golf and Country Club, Patrick Cameron
Even though we have time freedom, I still felt the crunch of not enough a few times. I am still volunteering as the secretary of the Northern Lights Forest Education Society, which is developing new trails and busy with various other activities. I am also a board member of the Mackenzie Frontier Tourist Association, which has taken up a bit of time on web development and other duties (I’m not ready to share that website yet — it still needs a lot of work)! On the other hand, I stood up for myself when the workload was getting too big and said “I can’t keep doing this for free. Normally, I charge for this work.” There is always good in the bad!

The Coming Year

There are lots of changes a-coming, which I won’t go into right now. But my vision for the year includes:

    being more consistent in exercising
    planning our meals better so I feel more organized
    continuing to learn more about fire fighting
    getting a part-time job doing radio work, either dispatching or in air traffic services again (woo hoo!)
    expanding my business and being amazed at my success, yet again!
    doing lots of fun things with my husband and friends!
    being more carefree and playful (and helping my friend publish a book all about play!)

So, most of the time, I am excited and eagerly anticipating the year to come. When I’m not? When I get caught up in the business of life and my to-do list. Nothing new there! Stay tuned for more adventures!

Too Much Reality is Not a Good Thing

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One unexpected negative side effect of the scientific revolution — the way that science has crept into every part of society — is that we have become quite analytical about reality. We want to measure things, inspect or observe things, quantify and describe things, and generally try to get a good handle on the objective reality of the world around us.

The problem is, we get so caught up in examining what is there, we forget that we have the power to imagine what we want and create our reality. We also tend to take a pessimistic approach to what we see, and this makes us more likely to get into a rut, or worse, a downward spiral.

For example, if you watch the news, you may hear about various aspects of a recession that is going on. They’ll give stats or anecdotal stories about how it isn’t ending yet, it’s worse in this sector or that area of North America, or whatever. But that is such a small part of reality! In lots of areas, things are looking up, business is increasing and people are prospering! I’m as busy as ever (hence I haven’t been blogging much, sorry about that), and this winter is predicted to be a really busy one. While there might be unemployment elsewhere, that sure isn’t the case around here. In our local newspaper, they reported that the only limit to our “boom” this winter will be staffing shortages. And I can’t help but think it’s partly because we don’t give too much attention to the “reality” that is talked about elsewhere. I’ve heard that US news is still very heavy on the the recession, while Canadian news is not. Could that be why it hasn’t hit us as badly — because we don’t give it as much attention?

I wonder what would happen if we went on a “news fast” and stopped listening to stories about other peoples realities, and just focused on our own? What if we spent just 2 minutes every day, imagining how our lives will be in 6 months? I bet that in 6 months, we’d be exactly where we envisioned ourselves, especially if we did this imagining or envisioning consistently.

Let me give you an example. I was able to manifest an incredible crew on the York boat last spring, once I got incredibly clear on what I wanted in a crew. I was very specific; I had a list of about thirty things that I wanted. After I got that clarity, the crew just worked out perfectly — and I mean perfectly — even though people still cancelled and I could have reverted to my mode of being stressed out about it. But I didn’t. I believed that the perfect people for the crew would be on board. Whenever I was tempted to feel stressed, I just reminded myself about the clarity and fanned the spark of faith — faith that I would end up with a great crew. And let me explain what I mean when I say “after I got that clarity.” I am not speaking of divine inspiration or a profound message of intuition. I just sat down and in my rational brain, with a hearty dose of imagination, said and wrote down exactly what traits I wanted/needed in a crew.

They key to it all was getting past my current reality. I was two people short. One guy could only do the first 4 days — then what?!? Who would I find to do the other 14 days? I only had a confirmed crew of 4, including myself — I thought it wasn’t possible to go with less than 7. It turns out we ended up with only 5, but they were the perfect 5 and we didn’t need anyone else. We managed superbly, so well in fact, I’d say we thrived. So even though the photo above looks like we are working hard, we were actually having the time of our lives! You just can’t tell by looking and you just can’t believe what someone else says is “reality.” Get your own!

**Look closely at the photo above, and count how many people you see. See 6? Extra people came out of the woodwork when we needed them, and we actually did have 7 people for about 2 days. Although it worked, we were a little crowded. So, you see, all that time before hand I was stressing about finding a crew of 7 when all along I only needed the perfect 5.**

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Having the time of our lives...

Farewell York Boat

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It’s hard to believe it’s been over a month since I came off the water from the York boat expedition. Time flies! I’ve been wanting to blog about it for weeks, but the trip was so amazing, it is difficult to put into words. I spent a couple of days after it was over at home, barely even aware of where I was, I was daydreaming so much. I was continually slipping away into the past, remembering things that happened on the boat.

All of us on the crew got along amazingly well, and we’ve formed such strong friendships. We were each other’s only friends, family, soul mates and work mates for 18 days — two days longer for the crew members who helped prepare beforehand. It was a bit of an adjustment getting used to having other people around, and although we did have people visit us along the way, we ate, worked, joked, and slept together all the time, so we became very connected. Some of it was the phenomena of bonding in a crisis, but most of it was simply kindred spirits living in pure friendship and adventure.

So, as always, life goes on. Everyone went back to their old jobs, or started new ones, and I’m back at juggling multiple projects, running my business, and volunteering. Ideas abound — some relating to the use of the York boat and some unrelated — and I am trying to decide which ones to follow up on and which to leave alone for now. Some times it’s tricky living in the present, because I still wish I could go back to those fun, inspiring times.

I will leave you with a few pictures of our trip! There are plenty more on the Flow North blog – York Boat Photo of the Day! Enjoy!

This Blur Called April

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Wow, I can’t believe it’s been about month since I posted last! What a month it has been!

Fire Conference. I got to go to the fire conference in Peace River! It was a great time, although a lot of work and I’ve never worn BA (breathing aparatus) for that many days in a row. It’s heavy! But when I take it off, I feel so light, it’s wonderful. We got to meet lots of neat people, from other volunteer fire departments across Alberta, as well as some professional fire fighters. It’s great comparing departments and telling stories! At the various training sessions, we learned some new techniques and methods for escaping buildings in a hurry (see photo below) and how to get through a mess of wires. In fact, we learned too much to really go into here! We also helped run the phase 1 flashover chamber, where fire fighters get to see a fire develop to the flashover stage and practice the nozzle technique to prevent the fire from flashing over. It’s neat, and hot. Our job was to restock the chamber once a group was done, i.e. all the fuel was burned. We’d put the BA on, because it was pretty hot and smoky, shovel all the ash and whatever wood was left out, and then put new wood in the burn barrel, MDF sheets on the sides and roof and the back wall of the burn chamber, so that it could be lighted up for the next group. We worked hard, and several of the groups complimented us on how well we ran the chamber. :) After the conference was over, we had the trainer come up to teach us how to use our brand-new phase 2 flashover trainer, which I also got to be a part of — not as an instructor, just to practice. It was great! And really hot! There was so much fire and heat in there, it was unreal. The first time I went in, I was totally overwhelmed by all the things I had to do, it was a blur. The second, third and fourth times, though, I was able to pay attention better. What an experience!

Bailing out of a window onto a ladder
Phase 1 chamber with Phase 2 behind

The York Boat. I’ve been working a LOT on the York boat expedition. Lately, I’ve been doing the trip planning, food planning, as well as buying supplies and getting costumes made. Well, I’m still looking for a seamstress, but I have a few good leads now to follow. Yes, we’ll be decked out in voyageur-type clothing as part of our attempt to be historically accurate! :)
The York boat has been taking up a lot of my time and efforts, and although it’s generally great, I get a little discouraged at times. I’m going to blog about this more tomorrow. There are still a couple of spots available for the trip, if you’d like to come (or know someone who would like to join in)! :)

The York Boat Factory in Cochrane, Alberta (a pun on York Factory, the Hudson's Bay Company's headquarters for many years)

Check out the rudder on the York Boat! This is one BIG boat!

Check out GeoTourism Canada’s facebook page!