Hello all! So, as most of you know I have been in Alaska for about six months now and I thought it might be good to do a halftime report of sorts for my year as a JV in Juneau. The transition at the beginning of the year was challenging and I definitely did not know how intense various aspects of the JV experience would be, but at this point in the year I am feeling more settled in Juneau, in my community, and at the school at which I serve. Before I delve into my life in Juneau more, I am going to rewind a little bit to my cherished time at home over Christmas break. At our Orientation in August, many of the JVC Northwest staff advocated against leaving for Christmas and since I have never been away from home for Christmas, the thought of being in Alaska during a time that is filled with so many deep-rooted and well-loved traditions for my family and me made me anxious months in advance. What would Christmas be like without my family? How could I get through the holidays so far away without all of my favorite Christmas traditions and favorite people to celebrate with? After looking at the prices of plane tickets early in the year, I tried to mentally accept that I would likely not be going home for Christmas. After multiple conversations with my parents, looking at the Alaska Airlines website more than what seems healthy/normal, and considering getting a loan from the Irish mob to fund my trip, we found tickets that were somewhat reasonably priced and it was finalized that I was able to travel back to the East Coast for some Yuletide merriment! The best Christmas gift that I received this year was my plane ticket home to New Hampshire and the opportunity to see my family and friends. Going home and seeing my loved ones rejuvenated me and their support helped me to realize that I could get back on the plane returning to Juneau and finish my year of service. I was ready to call it quits and being reminded of how much my friends and family love and support me is what will get me through these next six months. I am so grateful to all of you who have been supporting me throughout my time in Alaska. Please know that without all of your love and kindness, I could not have overcome the obstacles of the first six months and would have likely called it quits early on. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
After getting back to Juneau, it took a little while to get back into my groove. The weather here was rainy, dark, and depressing and it made the transition from my sunny, snowy, joyful Christmas break even more difficult. I noticed myself having no tolerance for any kind of malarky from my students at school, (and as some of you may know I’m always game for some malarky and shenanigans,) I was coming home constantly in a odious mood, and I had trouble finding joy in the pastimes that normally had a way of grounding me when something was awry. Needless to say, I was not myself and something had to change. I couldn’t figure out what it was at first. Did I need more sleep? Did I need to meditate on a more regular basis? Did I need to floss more? Did I need some dark chocolate? (just to be clear: the answer to this question should always be yes, regardless of the circumstances) I knew changing some my habits might help to make me feel more like myself again but in a completely unrelated conversation with my parents, they brought up the idea of joining a gym/health club in Juneau. I toured a gym in downtown Juneau called the Alaska Club and after talking to both trainers and other employees, I decided to join. Because I joined the gym during the New Year’s Resolution frenzy that occurs every January in gyms across the land, I received a glamorous package of benefits which included a session with a personal trainer. Upon making my appointment with the trainer, I became nervous and anxious that my health and fitness report would be nothing good. When I met with the trainer, Tony, he was supportive, excited that I wanted to make a change in my life, and gave me advice to help stay motivated and to get results. He also helped me to realize that I needed to change my relationship with exercise and fitness and that I should think of exercise as a positive part of life instead of something that I dread at the end of the day. After working out regularly for about a month, I have noticed multiple changes within myself both physically and mentally. Now the gym is something I not only look forward to but I have noticed if I don’t exercise, something feels off and I don’t feel as well. This was a mini-breakthrough for me and I am excited to keep working towards my goals and discovering all the things I am and will be able to accomplish.
At my placement, things are going really well. We just finished a Spirit Week that included various dress up days, a healthy dose of competition, and to conclude the week there were multiple contests to earn points and win a pizza party. I was hesitant at first because the students aren’t exactly the most interested in school-related group activities but they surprised me this week with their willingness to get involved and help their advisories earn points. It is almost the end of the quarter which means Spring Break will soon be here! I do not have any exciting plans but I am excited to have a bit of a break before the last quarter of this year. In other school related news, I am co-teaching a class next quarter that is a girls group about healthy relationships, healthy self, and overall wellness which I can’t wait to start. It feels weird that there is only one more quarter and then the school year is over. It seems like there is so much time left but in reality, these last few months are going to fly by.
Overall, things in Juneau are going pretty well. I have been focusing on doing things that bring me a lot of joy and I have been doing more in the Juneau community which has been quite life giving. Recently, I have volunteered for concerts, gone skiing with the adaptive ski program, gone to plays and other cultural events, and have just tried to be more active and do more things outside of the house. I was always so busy and active in college and while having down time to reflect, relax, and reenergize has been wonderful and caused me to realize that I need to make time for taking care of myself, I was feeling a bit trapped by Juneau because I wasn’t as active as I had been the last four years. Just the simple act of doing more outside of the house has allowed me to get out of the rut I was in and begin to appreciate Juneau in new ways and through a different lens. These next few months, I am going to focus on taking in all that Juneau has to offer, deepening my relationships with all the incredible people I have gotten to know this year, and try to appreciate as much of Alaska as I can before the end of my year as a JV and my return to New England. I am still looking forward to moving back home in August (hopefully with a puppy in tow) but I am now realizing that I am only here for a few more months so I should be present and appreciate all I can before I depart and move on to the next stage of life, whatever that may be!