Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Explanations...aka, the Prologue.

aspens along the mackenzie highway... en route to Hay River from Edmonton

As nurse Heather Rose once said "The north has always fascinated me, ever since I was a little girl. Its wilderness...its mystery...". And so it has been for me. My parents lived up in Island Lake in northern Manitoba while my dad worked for Indian Affairs (before I was born). Then when my parents moved back to Winnipeg, my dad worked for Environment Canada and was always traveling to various weather stations in the arctic. He always brought back a doll, a carving, or a beaded leather something-or-other....and so the arctic was always in our home.

some nice inuit handicrafts to welcome us to our B&B here in Hay River. Eugenia would be proud.

That was the first explanation for why I'm here now.

The second explanation is that Heather Rose re-kindled my childhood interest. 5 years ago I was cast in a one-woman show called "The Occupation of Heather Rose" written by Wendy Lil. Lots of you already know this...most of you have seen it. But for those of you that haven't, the story tells of a young nurse that, upon graduation from nursing school, is recruited to work on a reserve in northern Ontario. With an admirable amount of enthusiasm to contribute to the quality of life at Snake Lake, she starts her job with gusto (mixed in with a heathy dose of fear). But gradually, as a result of a lack of community and accountability (among other things), 
she becomes someone unrecognizable to her fresh-arrival self. As an actor embodying & living this story, I I really knew what I was talking about, but in a weird way that only actors (or maybe writers) can  understand. It happened quite often that audience members would come and talk to me after a show to thank me for sharing the experience with them... they were nurses (or doctors or teachers) up north, and that was THEIR story, almost exactly as it had happened to them.  And I would always feel a bit like a fraud, because I'd never REALLY lived it. I mean, I guess as an actor that's the whole BE something but to not necessarily know first hand. Well, unless you're into the whole method-acting thing. haha. Which I guess now I am, since I'm here, trying to live it. double haha.

   me as Heather Rose this summer, in Pat Braun's back yard.

Soooooooo.... Heather Rose - in my brain and on my heart for the last 5 years - has deepened my curiosity and penchant for the north. But there's a 3rd explanation:

I'm suppose .... I'm a busy person. Too busy, according to some. Incomprehensibly busy, according to others. Or admirably busy, according to...well, few. It's time for a change of pace. A forced change of pace. In order to make some space in my life, I recognized that it was time to discipline myself into non-busyness. But the only way to do that was to leave my "natural" environment...that is, the environment that likes to ask me to do things, the environment that I love to do things in...the environment that I can't say "no" in, simply because I really and truly want to do it all!  I have so many things I want to think through, and I need to create space - in mind, in heart, in soul, in space - to even begin to work it out.

So  there/here   I/you    am/are (all and any combinations of the aforementioned words), in the North, with not much of a plan to start with (which I'll get into, eventually). I'll try to keep things updated on this blog, because blogging will be a great start to practicing the discipline of writing, which is something that I really need to start doing. Maybe now that I'll have time, I'll discover that I'm really good at it!!! Here's hoping'...


  1. Hey Joanne! Vicki showed me some photos yesterday and today I received your email with blog info. No, I am not envious of the snow, as it is cold enough here and we will see it soon enough! Enjoy the north. We lived in Ft. St. John one winter, but that's as far north as I've been. We enjoyed it! I never did get to see Heather Rose (yet)! Laura Harris