Relaxing

I lost my step-father at the end of January. As soon as I found out about it, I knew that I needed to visit my Mum. That was the easy part of course.

Over the last two months, my Mum & I have been trying to sort through so much of their life together. It hasn’t been easy to say the least. It has been stressful, tiring, wearing, exhausting and mentally draining.

University needed to be placed on ‘pause’ and I had to depend on the support of friends back home to make sure things kept running smoothly whilst I was away.

However, I have been incredibly fortunate to have friends on this side of the world that offered to let me stay with them for about 2 weeks before returning home. The whole idea is that I let myself have a ‘holiday’ from what I’ve left behind so that I can prepare myself for the recovery that needs to take place once I get back into the UK.

The purpose of relaxing is not lost on me, but I actually think this is first time that I’ve been consciously aware of the fact that I am actually capable of it. Even after I started to ‘chill out’ I started to question what I was actually doing with my time. There was a sense that I ‘should’ be doing ‘something’, although it’s pretty clear that there’s nothing I can do from here that will fix anything that needs to be done once I get back to England.

So, I’ve been attempting to really relax, and it’s been liberating and also a little telling. There are still a lot of ‘thoughts’, I worry about this that and the other, what impact my actions and words have on the other people around me and what I’m thinking and feeling and most importantly why? In the end however, I did concede and ended up purchasing myself a Bullet Journal so that I could take some more control of my life. Perhaps it’s a step backwards, but I can say that since I bought it, and started using it to log my much smaller day-to-day chores and events I feel much better about the whole thing.

Being able to look back and see what I’ve done is useful, and to give myself smaller goals that will help settle the uneasy feeling in my head has actually worked! It’s simple stuff too, less planning months and months in advance and more accepting each day as it comes. I’ve set myself little goals, ‘have a shower first thing’ or ‘put laundry away’ or ‘mail postcards’. It’s definitely easy to forget that these seemingly ‘simple’ things were at one point or another really difficult to accomplish – but just ordering my life some how has given me a greater sense of purpose.

Weird, honestly – because I was already doing those things, but it felt increasingly like I had to open myself up to a new project or plan some huge ‘game plan’ for the future.

The truth is that I have decided on a few avenues to follow once I get back home, and there are definitely jobs that I will need to ‘get done’ when I get there. Not that I’ve written them down! I have a feeling that will happen on my return to England on the plane, maybe? It’s a long, overnight flight – but there will definitely be time to take some notes and make a few lists.

Mostly, I’m just glad that I’ve been able to take a deep breath and just ‘be’. It hasn’t been easy, and I still struggle to ignore that nagging doubt and the constant questioning but it’s all practice isn’t it?

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Whales

Today was something really awesome.

My Step-Dad and I took the boat out on the bay today. The weather was perfect for it, the water was incredibly still, and there was no hint of wind, the cloud coverage was, as is so common in Cold Bay – awful, but there were hints of sunshine!

It’s been a long time since I last went out on a motor-powered boat, and that was driven by someone who had years of experience manoeuvring boats like this one. The last time I was on a boat, of course was in San Francisco when I crossed the bay to Alcatraz.

To say I was feeling apprehensive is an understatement. There were so many different noises that I was trying to determine the function of, and although I wasn’t scared, I was alert.

It didn’t take long to get up on my feet after we saw this.

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Humpback Whale. It was really exciting just to be able to see one from a distance like this. I don’t recall having seen marine-life outside of captivity before, so to be able to see a wild whale like this was an amazing feeling. A humpback whale. I’ve seen a humpback whale in the wild!!

Slowly, but surely – we got much, much closer, and I found a sudden courage and faith in our not-so-little vessel. Perched on the very front of the boat I did my best to stay steady despite how exciting it was to be so close to this whale.

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Of course, then it was just a matter of taking as many pictures of them as possible!

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Just as we were leaving, after about 30 minutes following this one whale, I reckon it wanted to say goodbye. =D

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I came away with over 100 photos, and an experience I don’t think I’ll be forgetting any time soon! Exciting times!

When peas descend.

Hi everyone!

I wish that I could explain what it is that’s made me feel so very different from how I have been the last few weeks but today feels like an incredible successful day when actually I haven’t done much of anything. Which isn’t true, and I recognise that right away but I felt like it needed mentioning.

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 19.00.14Anyway! Today I’m going to babble at you about life at my Mum’s house in Alaska.

Cold Bay’s population fluctuates through the seasons, but is about 100.

When I visited last October the weather was not awesome. When you visit a place called ‘Cold Bay’ the clue is pretty much in the name as far as temperature goes. As part of the Alaskan Peninsula, Cold Bay is the last real ‘stop’ before the Aleutian Islands.

Whilst I was there, all of my Geography ‘nerdism’ was pinged. There’s an active volcano across the bay from my Mum called Mount Pavlof. I’ll never forget when she casually took a photo of the volcano and posted it on Facebook. It’s not until you actually get there and see the distance, (or google it!!) that you realise just how much water there is across the bay that separates Cold Bay from the volcano.

Mount Pavlof

Whilst I was there it was inactive, but I still managed to see and do plenty despite staying during a quiet period of time. The bears were already making themselves scarce, as I would have done too were I exposed to the elements. I’ve never been anywhere SO cold before, but it’s mostly the wind that does the most damage.

Despite our rather frequently hunts for bears, I didn’t see any, but there were plenty of foxes and birds that were interesting enough to watch from the ‘relative’ comfort of my Mum’s home. They really know how to insulate up there.

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I did go fishing though! I’d been once before, on board a catamaran-style blow up boat. In the middle of a lake in August in Washington State somewhere that he’d taken us before. I didn’t catch a single thing, but I imagine that had more to do with my impatience and the fact that I couldn’t just sit still on the water.

it's not swan lake

Fishing off a dock in the middle of the bay was a very different experience. Different in the most obvious sense that the water was open, there were no disruptions on the surface, I had bait on the end of my line AND the expert advice of a seasoned fisher at my side.

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The easiest part of fishing this time was catching something. The difficulty arose when you attempted to bring whatever it is you caught OUT of the water. It takes a lot of courage (this is me talking) to climb down a ladder over the edge of a high dock, centimetres above water you know is FREEZING COLD to snag a Flounder and haul it back up the ladder. My step dad did this at least 3 times. Whenever something got loose off my line I think he was secretly grateful. Besides the huge flounder that we caught, some Irish Lord, and a bunch of seaweed!

The dog helped.

The best part of my trip was probably the views. I loved them. We would often go out for a drive in the truck and even if we didn’t come across anything that we thought was particularly ‘interesting’ I loved nothing better than to give thought to exactly where I was, out on the peninsula, in the middle of nowhere in a place that was relatively untouched by humans. (When you decide to forget about everything that happened there in World War II – but I think the point is the same.)

 I will definitely be visiting again, hopefully before my Mum & Step-Dad move away from Cold Bay, and again – I’m hoping that it will be during the Summer months when I can actually get out and do things more suited to a place like this when there are things to see and do in abundance.

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