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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

guest blogger series-lindsay

Hi all!! I’m Lindsay from No Invitation Required and I am super excited to be doing a guest post on Birds on a Wire. I always enjoy reading Johanna’s posts...she motivates me to examine the things around me and find the beauty in them – I love the super positive feelings I always get after reading her blog! Over on my blog you’ll find me trying to show the beauty in a place that not a lot of people get to see,Canada’s arctic, and my stories of living there with my husband and two kids.

When Johanna started writing about trying to find balance in her life, and trying to find ways to get and stay organized, I got where she was coming from. I have always been someone who loves to be organized…I am even one of those people who get up in the middle of the night to write something down, because I know I will never fall asleep until I do (Don’t worry, you are not the first to groan at ‘my
kind of people’!). When I was working, every morning I started my day with making a list of things I wanted to accomplish by the end of that working day – it brought me a lot of pleasure when I got to cross something off my list. At the end of the day, whatever was left on my list would start off the list for the next day…it was a great day when there was nothing left on the list at the end of the day (or, even better yet, an hour before the end of the day…nothing says extra blogging time like an empty to-do list).

But my organizational skills have never been put quite to the test like they were when we moved to Canada’s arctic, Nunavut territory. Let me paint you a picture – we live in a community of 750 people, we have a health centre, a rink, a school, one grocery store, and…..well, that’s about it. Now, I know a lot of people are thinking that that is not unlike some small towns that they have lived in before, but here comes the difference. We don’t have any roads. Ok, correction, we do have roads that lead to houses and our one grocery store. But that is it. We don’t have any roads leading anywhere other than the airport and the dump (which is a favorite hang-out place…anyone from the north will understand that!). To get to or from the community you have to go by plane. Which means that any supplies, food, hardware etc. for the community also have to come by plane (or boat, once a year). There is no running to your closest mall or Walmart to pick up an item you need – it needs to be ordered in advance so that in a flew weeks, when you do actually need it, hopefully the planes have been landing and you have it on hand. You do crafts? Better have your projects organized so that you have all your materials. Dye your hair? You need to bring
up enough hair dye with you when you fly up to get you through till your next trip south, because there is no place here to get that kind of thing (definitely no local barber shop!). Need to eat? Better plan out your meals and ensure that you have ordered everything you need to be fl
own to you, because that one grocery store is not that well stocked, especially if it has been a week since the last grocery shipment landed in town.
So back to my passion of lists – they get a lot of love up here!!! At any given time I have a number of lists going – a list of food to order from food mail (we can order groceries from a grocery store in Yellowknife and get them flown here…the tough part is trying to think of what you want without getting to wander up and down the aisles!), a list of things that we need to buy the next time we are on vacation down south, and a list of things that I need to either buy online or get someone to buy down south and ship up to us. If I didn’t have those lists I think I would go crazy. When we lived down south I used to pick up something just about e
veryday – some groceries, and item or two I needed at Walmart, a certain piece of paper I needed for scrapbooking etc. (I was organized down south, but I also loved to shop!). But here, those stops aren’t an option. We order our dried groceries a year at a time and they arrive on a ship in the fall. Do you know how much toilet paper you use in a year? I do. I also know how many diapers I need for the following year, the sizes, what I need for canned goods…you have to be organized when you really only get one shot to get it all right.
Here’s a picture of our ‘barge room’….this is where we store all of our groceries that we order once a year on the ship. It’s like having a grocery store right in your house!

But, on the other hand, I have also learned to do without. Down south, if I was making something for supper from a recipe, I felt like I needed to have every single item that was listed on the recipe. Now, I do a lot of substitutions, or just figure out a way to do it without that particular thing. (Yes, I do have a list of things I can use to substitute!) I make up games for my kids using whatever I can find in the house (you would be amazed at how long you can keep two kids entertained with a pile of unmatched socks!) And I have learned not to crave what I don’t have and just can’t get. I think that that is actually what has helped the most. While it is great to be organized and on top of things to ensure you always have what you need, realizing that you can do without kind of takes the stress away that comes with always trying to stay on top of everything. So while I still try to stay organized and have everything I need, I’ve also learned to cut myself a break – that’s how I found my balance.


  1. What an important lesson to learn! I wonder how different our part of the world would be if more of us learned to do without even some of the time! Thanks for your unique and lovely perspective Lindsay.

  2. What an interesting post! Really makes us appreciate the amenities that are just a hop, skip and a jump away.

    Just a note - unfortunately, I can't see the photos....not sure if it's just me or not.

  3. It's so interesting to read about your life in the arctic Lindsay. You must be an expert on 'making do' with what's available. Lists are a great way to keep on top of things and I know the feeling of not being able to sleep 'till you jot that thought down. I keep a little note pad and pen in my bedside table drawer :)
    You must have to use your imagination in many ways every day, especially with young children.
    Thanks for your tips and an insight into life in the Canadian arctic.

  4. Wow! Thanks for this insight -- I can barely plan a week or a month... a year though.. you're amazing!


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