Last week, Holocaust survivor Eva Olsson visited Vermilion, giving talks at local schools. She travels throughout Canada & the United States, & has shared her message of peace & acceptance with thousands of students, teachers, & community members. Oh, & she just turned 92!
During her visit, I was presented with an incredible opportunity; an opportunity that won’t be available to the next generation. As a teacher, I was invited to join Eva for dinner before her evening presentation at Lakeland College. Of course, I jumped at the chance.
But how does one go about preparing themselves to meet someone like Eva Olsson? &, what does one say upon meeting her?
- What does one say to a lady who directly suffered under the Nazi regime, a regime that you so passionately teach your students about, explaining that we must learn about history, & that we must pay attention to history, so that these events do not happen again?
- What does one say to a lady who was not allowed to learn to read & write until she was a 20-something living in Sweden because of her fundamentalist upbringing?
- What does one say to a lady who found acceptance & happiness with her husband, then had to stand by & watch him suffer for over a year before passing away, after being struck by a drunk driver in Ontario?
- What does one say to a lady who is a real life, flesh & blood example of why your Grandfather joined the British Royal Marines all those years ago?
- What does one say to a lady who possesses degrees of humanity, strength, & dignity that people of my generation cannot begin to imagine?
One says, “Hello, Eva. It’s so nice to meet you. Thank you for sharing your message with my students today.” Then, she will take your hand, & smile. You’ll drink tea, & hear about her grandchildren, & listen to stories about the students she has met in her travels, & the letters she has received from people who have been impacted by her actions. You’ll sing her “Happy Birthday” because she turns 92 tomorrow, & then you’ll share a piece of Black Forest birthday cake.
You’ll attend her presentation & hear her testimony. You’ll bear witness to a first hand account of horror, & cringe at the graphic images on the screen in front of you. You will never forget how her voice cracks when she says, “Every day is my Remembrance Day.” And you will remember why your job is so important.
“Geocaching is using multi-million dollar satellite technology to find tupperware hidden in the woods.” Such was the text of a meme I recently came across online, & it cracked me up . . . because it’s true!
I first tried geocaching a few years ago, & my most memorable find has been discovering a cache in the tiny Inuit hamlet of Kimmirut, Nunavut on my trip to the north in 2013. But geocaching isn’t just for remote locations. We spent some time in Nanaimo during Spring Break last year, geocaching our way around the harbour & on our honeymoon in Quebec City, we discovered a cache that was a cannon ball, fired into a tree hundreds of years ago! Geocaching gets you outside, walking, & exploring your surroundings, which is exactly why I enjoy it so much.
It makes the perfect micro-adventure too. Last winter, we spent our Valentines Day searching for geocaches & had the best time. It’s definitely not about the plastic toys & trinkets you are likely to find inside, although when I taught a day camp one summer, the kids loved the temporary tattoos they discovered. Instead, it’s about the thrill of the search, & the patience & teamwork that are required for that search to be successful. There’s also something really magical about knowing that just outside your door there are hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of these little treasures hidden just out of sight, & that you are one of the few people that even knows they exist. It’s strangely satisfying to find a cache that other people unknowingly drive or walk by everyday, missing out on this little treasure because of the busyness of everyday life.
Well, winter has come early to Alberta, & it has struck with characteristic intensity. It’s hard to believe that Halloween is still two weeks away, & I’m trying my hardest not to start thinking about Christmas. But every time I look out the window & see the snow, my mind turns to baking & decorating & warm fireplaces & . . . almost anything but running! When I started this run streak at the beginning of October, there was snow at my Mom & Dad’s, but not here, & I was able to enjoy one lovely night run wearing capris. Part of why I wanted to start the streak was to motivate myself to get out into the Provincial Park & enjoy the gorgeous fall colours. While those plans have been thwarted, I have finally been making use of my gym membership again (silver lining!) &, pausing to reflect on day 16, I am pleased with the streak so far. While I haven’t completed any runs of significant length, the obligation to continue the streak has helped me to rid myself of excuses & just get it done.
Last winter, while I was having a really difficult time adjusting to life in a new place, with a new job, & missing my friends & family terribly, going to the gym for a run to train for my second half marathon was such a welcome escape. Its nice to be back in a place that brought me so much comfort, & to settle into that routine again. With 15 days remaining of this October Run Streak Challenge, I hope that my running habit is really solidified, & is something that carries forward.
This month, I’m taking on a different type of running challenge. I have 3 races left to complete my goal of #16racesin2016 (the race re-caps for races 7-13 are coming, I promise), & I need a kick-in-the-behind to get back to running more than just on race day.
The objective: To solidify a running habit, & get moving. I read Canadian Olympian Clara Hughes book Open Heart, Open Mind in January, & have been following her on social media every since. She regularly posts using the hashtag #movementismedicine, & that idea has really resonated with me. So, here’s to a movement filled October!
The rules: (they’re simple!)
- Each run must be a minimum of 1 mile in distance or 15 minutes in duration.
- Run every single day in October.
They don’t gave to be pretty, & they don’t have to be fast. They just have to be completed & logged. I’ll be spamming my instagram feed with daily updates, (& shelooksforadventure with occasional ones), so head on over & follow along with my progress.
“This is the real power of habit: the insight that your habits are what you choose them to be.”
― Charles Duhig