Day 334 - Raelene

Day 334 - Raelene (2nd person I approached)
November 30, 2014 - I got excessively bundled up and headed out with the intention of getting some sunshine, no matter how cold it is for Vancouver! I walked over to Main Street, and ran into a long-time friend that I’ve not seen in ages. It was nice to catch-up and we meandered up Main Street, neither of us having an exact destination. We’re friends because we have a lot in common, and even though we’ve not seen each other in forever, we still had more of those moments of 'YEAH, me too!' Sometimes, with the route unknown and the willingness to just wander, life takes you right to the best surprises.


I had some writing work to do, and thought I’d head to one of my favourite coffee shops. I planned to sit at the window, like I’m apt to do, watch the world go by and finish the task I was working on. Before ordering anything, I looked around to see if there might be someone to chat with, and I spotted Raelene. She looked like she was studying, with a notebook, text book, coffee and pens all around her.  When I explained what I was doing, she said she’d chat, and of course like everyone does, asked how long it would take. ‘Five minutes, more like ten if you’re really interesting’ I joked.


“I was born and raised in Calgary (Alberta). I have two younger brothers. One is a year younger and the other is four years younger,” Raelene told me. She went on to say that her parents divorced when she was four years old.

“My brothers came into my life when I was about thirteen. Their dad married my mother. They’re my step brothers,” she said. I told her I thought it spoke volumes about the connection she felt, that she introduced them in the conversation as her brothers, and not immediately as her step-brothers. She smiled.

“I felt like an only child on occasion, but I had lots of friends so it was okay,” she said. Raelene lived with her father, but spent time equally, with both of her parents.


“I liked school, actually,” she said.

“I was heavily into sports. I played basketball and rugby in school. My Dad was very outdoorsy and from a young age he had me doing activities too. I’ve been skiing since I was about four years old. I like rock-climbing and hiking. All outdoors stuff. My Dad was my activity buddy, and still is. Although he lives in Calgary, and we don’t get to do things as much as we used to. My grandfather was also outdoorsy and active as well,” she said.


After graduating from high-school, Raelene worked in a summer activity camp for youth.

“I did that the first summer, and then went travelling. I headed to New Zealand and then Australia with a friend,” she told me. Raelene wanted to travel some more and her friend didn’t want to, so she went on to Thailand and Japan by herself.

“I travelled for about five or six months. It was extraordinary. I liked travelling with my friend, but I enjoyed travelling alone as well. It was a great experience and a good way to meet new people,” she said.


“I came home and moved to Vancouver to go to UBC (University of British Columbia) to study kinesiology.

“I went to school, and then worked during the summers at the youth camp. In my third year of university, I went to New Zealand to study for a year, on an exchange program. Because the semesters are scheduled differently, I had two months off before I started studying in New Zealand. So I went to India with a friend. Then I spent a year studying. I came back to Vancouver and finished school, getting my Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology,” she said. 


When she graduated from UBC, Raelene moved to Mexico with her then boyfriend.

“We intended to travel around, but I got a job, then a house and then a dog. So I didn’t do much travelling while there,” she said with a laugh. She spent about five months living in Mexico.

“I came back to do my eighth year of working at the summer youth camp. I lead a group of youth, ranging in ages from fifteen to seventeen years olds, on a canoe trip. With another leader and this group, we canoed from northern Alberta to the Northwest Territories. We met people who lived in extremely remote places, some accessible only by plane or boat. The trip was an annual event and you had to get from point A to point B in a certain amount of time to meet the flight home. Of course you have a planned route but there are many variables along the way. We carried all our supplies, gear and canoes with us. It was an incredible six week trip,” she said. 


Raelene is currently studying to upgrade some classes, with the idea of going back to UBC and getting her Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology.

“I not exactly sure what it is I want to do. At first I wanted to be a teacher,” she said with a big smile.

“I’m not ready to commit to exactly what I want. Maybe working with youth. I've done a fair bit of that before. I try to keep my options open. I want to be open to allow other things to happen, instead of setting a specific path and then missing out on opportunities,” she said. We spoke about a book called ‘The Geography of Bliss.’ 


“In one part it talks about the idea that it’s okay to have a number of careers over the span of your lifetime. I feel like I’ve already had a few careers, and that’s okay. I’m open to things presenting themselves. I’m an extrovert and I like to be connecting with and relating to people. But I’m also seeking a deeper connection,” she explained. 


I asked Raelene if she was aware that at twenty-five, she’s done a lot more than many of her peers might have typically done by her age.

“It’s not even about my peers. I’m aware of the privilege, of being able to study, to travel, being educated and financially able to do what I’ve done. I want to stay open to new possibilities as well.” #notastranger