I am going to rewind a bit to a few months ago, when I was first making the decision to apply for AmeriCorps positions and then ultimately accepting the position here in Coffman Cove. I started looking at AmeriCorps postings in April, as graduation was looming nearer and I was finding myself unsure of what my next step would be. Unlike many people in my graduating class, I was not ready to settle down into long-term career mode just yet. I wanted some time to process, to get my feet back under me, and to get myself where I could feel that I had a bit more time to figure out my next steps with a bit more purpose. I also felt, I think, the need to slow myself down.
The last semester of grad school had been the most hectic, most of which was self-induced. In addition to my coursework, internship, and graduate assistantship, I put a lot of things onto my own plate. I helped do the awards and a bit of side work for the two races put on by Pickled Feet. I went to New Orleans for a long weekend to run a 126 mile race. The following weekend I went to San Francisco for a week for the Annual Meeting of the American Group Psychotherapy Association. I went to Portland for a wedding. I ran 100 miles at Pickled Feet. I paced a friend for her first 100 at the Bonneville Salt Flats. I went to Riggins to visit friends. I took two weekend courses. I attended meetings for the Idaho Society of Clinical Social Workers. I ran a 50 at the Grand Canyon the weekend after graduation and flew to New Orleans a few days later. Do you think I had a free weekend anywhere in there?
I loved every single last thing that I did over the course of the semester, but I found myself trying to catch my breath the whole way through. I had lots of great opportunities come my way, and I couldn’t imagine turning down any of them. Looking back, I don’t know how I would have done it differently, but I know that I need to learn to tone it down a bit. To relax. To enjoy stillness. My final trip after graduation- my trip to New Orleans- was supposed to be this time for me. My aunt (who recently moved out of the country) invited me to come spend six weeks with her family after I finished school. This was a help to her with the two young ones, but was also meant to be a time for me to decompress. I slept in. I snuggled with babies a lot. I ate lots of delicious vegan food (my aunt, her husband, and her kids are vegan). And it was good. It felt good to reconnect with a less frenetic bit of myself.
While I was in New Orleans, I got calls to interview for the AmeriCorps positions. I had nearly forgotten about them, but after I was reminded of my own interest a few months earlier, it sparked excitement again. I applied specifically for positions in Alaska. On my ever-changing list of ideas of Things That I Want to Do in My Life, living in Alaska has always had a place. I had never been to Alaska before, and I knew that my desire to see Alaska would not be satiated by a vacation. In particular, I was drawn to living in a rural area, partially fueled by my intrigue regarding social work practice in rural settings, which has many different complications. Partially, however, I think that I liked the idea of being in a place where I HAD to stop spreading myself so thin. As I said to my former supervisor before I left Idaho, it is funny and perhaps a bit troubling that I have to move to a tiny town on an island in rural Alaska in order to make myself slow down.
|Kisses for Gracie after a long run.|
I wake up in the mornings, do some yoga, and take a walk with my dogs. I have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast pretty much every day, and head to the library (a five minute walk) with lots of tea. I usually come home for lunch and another walk with the dogs again. After the work day is over, I come home and take them out again for either a walk or a run. I read books, I journal, I cook. I thought that being vegan would be tougher up here, but I think I am actually eating more healthfully than I ever have. If you want to be vegan in rural Alaska, you’ve gotta start from scratch. No vegan doughnuts, rice cream, or soy chick’n nuggets up here! I eat a lot of beans, rice, and veggies. I have upped my knitting game from scarves to little dolls. If I am tired at 7:30pm, I go to bed, though I only did that once! It feels good to slow down.
|Sunrise over Luck Point.|
I have still had plenty of good adventures and made some friends, even in the newfound quiet of my life. I went to a few cross country meets on other parts of the island, which are a big deal here because the communities are so small and it is a sport for all ages of children. I also had a big day of exploring around on the north part of the island, finding some big glacially carved rocks, petroglyphs, and boardwalk trails through karst. In the process, I learned what karst is! I have begun to learn a bit about mushroom hunting and am keeping that in mind as I poke around in the woods. I also have been continuing to run, and I took myself out for a 31 mile run on the roads around Coffman last weekend. Even that was a new experience, as I realized while I was out for the run that I have never done such a distance by myself, even in all my years of long-distance running.
So, that is my update from Month One. I have continued to be busy in that I am not sitting at home wishing I had more things to do. But I have also had plenty of wonderful time to myself. I am finding my center again, though I didn’t realize until I got here that it needed to be found. I am looking forward to a year of continued growth, self-awareness, stillness, and adventure.