Day 315 - Chelsea (1st person I approached)
November 11, 2014 - It was deceptively cold outside today. I left the house thinking I’d go for a casual walk and meet a stranger somewhere outside, in the sunshine. Lesson one - I didn’t have enough clothing on. Lesson two - pay more attention to the actual temperature outside. I resorted to one of my favourite handy indoor ‘stranger resource centres,’ a local deli. I spotted Chelsea in the crowds of people, who may have all been trying to get in from the cold. She was having something to eat, and sitting alone. Chelsea nodded her head ‘no’ while saying ‘yes’ she would speak with me. Our conversation started with a mutual laugh.
“It’s what I do when I’m thinking,” she explained.
Chelsea was born in the northern interior of British Columbia (BC).
“I grew up in Kimberley, but we lived in Cassiar and Whitehorse, before that. I was about three when my mother, older brother and I moved down to Kimberley,” she said. Kimberley is a small city in southeast BC, near the Rocky Mountains. Besides world-class skiing and snowboarding, it has the largest urban park in Canada.
“My mother was a skier, and I just grew up knowing how to ski. I got into competitive skiing, and travelled a lot while I was in high-school, for competitions. We skied with the national team, but I didn’t compete with them. I competed in moguls, or bumps and jumps as I called them, especially when I was teaching small kids. Moguls are so hard on the body. I’ve had four knee surgeries,” she said.
“The only reason I stayed in school during grades eleven and twelve was because my school had an outdoor careers program. We skied and camped and made quinces (snow shelters). It was a great program to have and was relevant to where we lived. Far more useful than math, for me anyway. When I missed school for competitions, the teachers, who all skied as well, would say ‘Good luck with the competition!’ I never felt any pressure to work harder in school,” Chelsea told me.
Her mother got sick just after Chelsea graduated from high-school.
“I took a year off of skiing to stay home and look after my mother. She had cancer. I was working three jobs, teaching skiing, and working in a restaurant, as well as looking after my mother. I didn’t have time to ski,” she said. When Chelsea was eighteen, her mother passed away.
“Everyone kept asking me ‘What are you going to do with your life?’ I had thought about training in massage. When my mother was sick, I would massage her feet, and I figured I’d be pretty good at it. I always enjoyed getting a massage after competitions myself. I enrolled in a bodywork course here in Vancouver for six months. It was my first time alone in a larger city. It was sort of scary at first, I didn’t know anyone,” she said. Bodywork is an alternative medicine, combining manipulative therapy, breathing and awareness of the bodymind connection.
After finishing her course, Chelsea took another year off from skiing and went travelling.
“I went to Australia and Southeast Asia. It was a good experience to get away. I travelled by myself and didn’t give much thought to skiing,” she said.
“I came home to Kimberley and got a job doing massage at a ski lodge. I did that for about three years. I would work for a season and then travel and then come back and work and travel. It was a good balance for me. I took up skiing again and got right back into it. Although I travelled every winter and went to hot climates. My favourite country that I went to would probably have been Spain,” she said.
“It just fit in well with what I was doing, and the balance.”
“I tired of the lodge lifestyle after about three years. It was time to do something different. I moved to Vancouver and went back to school to study holistic nutrition. I was here for two years. Then I bought a house in Kimberley with my boyfriend and we moved back there. We got a dog. I opened my own business. I’m doing massage, bodywork, and I offer food courses as well. I’m making my own natural deodorant and teaching yoga,” she said, smiling.
Chelsea is currently back in school for four months in Victoria, (Vancouver Island, BC).
“My boyfriend is home with the dog. I’m doing this course and then I’ll be heading back to Kimberley. I like travelling. It’s exciting and I like meeting other people. But I always look forward to going home to Kimberley. I love living there and I’m so glad that I was able to grow up there as well,” she said. I mention that it seems like Chelsea is happy with her life. I asked her if she likes where she’s at right now.
“Yeah, I am. I’m trying. I never would have thought my life would be where it is. I’m very happy.” #notastranger