The end of one year and the start of the next is a time when I always like to take the time to reflect upon the last year, and to look forward to the next one. I like to see my life as a process, a work of art in progress, if you will. What about the last year stands out as memorable or significant? And what intentions can I bring to the year ahead to improve upon the work, to make it more beautiful, more resonant, more and more a reflection of who I am, and who I strive to be?
So here is my random list of what comes to the top of the pile of experiences over the last year:
1. Well, today is the coldest weather I have experienced in my life. In fact, the whole holiday season has been unusually cold, with several nights and days of -40 degrees Celsius. This morning it was -43, with a wind chill or somewhere around -55. Check out this fun video that Martin and I took a few days ago, with a pot of hot water.
(Did you hear the frozen water hitting the ground? How fun is that?!)
2. I diagnosed my first case of tuberculosis in the Yellowknife ER. It is not a disease generally seen in Canada, except amongst the first nations and immigrants. In fact, this past year in general has been a very interesting one professionally – I’ve seen many conditions I never saw down south, and took care of some very sick people, both old and young alike. I will never forget the small child who died in the ER, although we worked all night to save her, or the young woman who came back after very prolonged CPR. Ever time I am involved in the care of someone critically ill, I learn something that I can take forward to the next patient. I work with a great bunch of people, including nurses, specialists, and hospital staff, who give me so much support to do my job. Its refreshing to work in an institution where patient care is the number one priority. But one of the best parts of my job is that the patients in the ER in Yellowknife are just very lovely people – patient, kind, appreciative and friendly. I am so lucky to have a job that I love.
4. I had my first Michelin 3 star restaurant meal. We went in San Sebastian Spain to Akelare, one of the three Michelin 3 starred restaurants in the city. ( There are only 6 in the whole country.)
I had no idea what to expect – I mean how good can such a meal actually be? Based on cost alone it would need to be 5 or 10 times better than a very good meal at a very nice restaurant. And is that even possible? Well, it was a wonderful experience. It was so much more than a meal, it was living performance art. I am not sure if all 3 starred meals are like this one – molecular gastronomy, where food is broken down into its components, and then recreated. Take this dish for example, a small piece of meat served heaping with salt and pepper:
Really? Well yes, because its not real salt or real pepper, it just looks like it. A little joke on the diner. Imagine a whole meal like this, multiple courses of things which are not what the seem, and one can see where the expense comes in. There are some 20 steps alone in making those fake pepper corns.
5. Spending two weeks in San Sebastian this fall with 10 of our favorite Canadian friends was a trip of a lifetime. We blended rural cycling in pastoral green scenry, urban culture, AMAZING shoe shopping, the San Sebastian International Film Festival, and the best food culture in the world. We also spent time with our dear Spanish friends and my wonderful Spanish relatives. What’s not to love about such a trip, and such a place?
6. We chartered 2 float planes this summer. One for sightseeing around Yellowknife, and one to take us on our kayak trip to the East Arm of Great Slave Lake. I love flying close to the ground, at the level of the birds, yet with a great view to the horizon as well. I could seriously get used to chartering planes! Perhaps Santa might bring me my own plane next year?
7. I experienced the incredible bounty of a pristine wilderness. On our kayak trip to the East Arm, we could catch a big fat trout for dinner in only a few casts. It’s hard to believe places like this still exist. We are very blessed upon this earth.
8. We bought a big grown up motor boat ( a 16 foot Lund with a 90 HP engine, if you really want to know) and I learned how to drive it, in all kinds of weather, and in all kinds of wind. Heck, I even learned how to parallel park it. What is interesting to me about this is that I am entirely uninterested in motorized things ( except for planes!), but here I am, learning how to drive a boat. And very glad to have it too. It was a life changer this summer in rough and windy weather.
9. I visited my 93 year old Grandma! I have always felt that one of the biggest gifts of this lifetime has been to grow up with my four grandparents, Roy and Inez Wilkinson, and Bill and Violet Fleming. I spent all my holidays and summers as a child with them, and knew them both from my childhood and into adulthood. I am so very lucky to have had the tremendous gift of their presence in my life, and I’ve learned so many lessons from them over the years. Now I have one remaining Grandma, who at 93 still lives on her own. What a wonderful time it was to visit her this fall.
10. In my second job, which is with a medical education division at the University of British Columbia, I have led the development of an ultrasound course for rural doctors practicing obstetrics. I have a passion for bedside ultrasound as I see how practice changing it can be, how its use can save lives and improve patient care. Its an experience close to having a 6th sense – being able to see something you could not see before. Imagine the power of this rurally, where previously this skill did not exist. The course has been up and running for about a year and a half now, and its close to becoming a solidly great course (in my humble opinion). I am very proud of this course and pleased to have been a part creating it – the first and only one of its kind in Canada. There is great satisfaction in seeing your vision made reality.
11. We celebrated my dad’s 70th birthday this summer. Martin and I saw my mom and dad several times over the year, which is always great. They came up for Christmas again, although for some reason they say they won’t be coming back next year! (See item one, above.)
12. On the visit home to Armstrong for the birthday bash, we also went to the Armstrong Interior Provincial Exhibition, one of my all time favorite farm events. Five days of all kinds of horses – jumpers, heavy horse pulls, heavy horse driving and halter classes, a rodeo, the vegetable growing competition, the tractors for sale, the baking and preserves competitions, the parade. Nothing says Armstrong, or farm country, like the fair.
12. I had an amazing third annual girls weekend with my old friends Kim and Mary. There is nothing like having 2 or 3 full days to connect with old and dear friends. And these two are not just dear, they are both very wise, very loving, and extremely inspiring. I always come away from these weekends absolutely filled up. I’ve been seen and heard, and loved for who I am. What more does a girl need? Okay, we go shoe shopping too…
14. I held a beating heart in the palm of my hand. Stay tuned for a post on this event.
15. I remember that this past year my brother Scott would have turned 45. Its now over five years since he died. Life continues to never be the same. Indeed, I continue to never be the same. Scott, I remember you.
16. We returned to the Kootenays last spring to see my step-daughter graduate from the Kootenay School of Fine Arts. I am so proud of Jasmine, and what she has accomplished over the past 2 years. She makes the most amazing and creative jewelry, and it’s really heart warming to see her grow into her talents and gifts.
17. I entered two short story contests. I am very pleased about this. It’s not really winning the contest that drives me, (although that would of course be wonderful – are you listening, judges?), but having a deadline and producing something that I am proud of was really satisfying.
18.I skied 45 km through a cold winter day in the country around Yellowknife. And it was fun!
19. The Spaniard and I have successfully survived one and half years of houseboat living. Its been challenging at times. Houseboat living is about expecting the unexpected, and being flexible, as one never knows what will break down next. But its also been a life full of wonder – peace and quiet, and a life close to the splendor of nature. (today there are fresh wolf tracks just outside, and last week a curious fox came right up to us on the doorstep). I give thanks to my beautiful husband Martin, who makes it all possible.
19. I live a life rich in family and friendship. I am blessed to be surrounded by many wonderful people, my husband, my family, and friends old and new. I continue to be supported, encouraged and absolutely inspired by these people. Life wouldn’t be worth living without such relationships. You know who you are. I love you guys.
20. WordPress tells me I posted 34 posts this year, and had some 11,000 views of my blog. Thanks to all of you dear readers, for your support and encouragement, and for reading. It means so much to me! Happy New Years to all of you. I’m wishing you all a year filled with opportunities to be fully that who you are meant to be.