Sean and I first scouted the land that would become Arctic Hive back in April of 2019. We had backcountry skied/splitboarded our way in, found the property markers and surveyed the estimated boundaries from a paper map we carried with us.
After over an hour, he looked at me — huge grin on his face — and basically oozed the words: It’s perfect. We’re doing it.
I was shocked.
Sure, I'd agreed that I would love to live in a place like Norway, our favorite place in the world — and Alaska's Brooks Mountain Range definitely looks like that without the fjords. But we were standing in a grove of tiny Black Spruce trees, on a hillside covered in tundra (and thus, permafrost/ice below), with no road access, located about a mile from a village of 12 people, 7 hours north of the nearest grocery store or hospital.
Had he gone mad?
I couldn’t see the vision, BUT — of course there was a but — I’d been married to Sean long enough that I knew one thing for sure: When he decides on a direction for life, it’s gonna be good.
It’s not that I’m not involved in our choices… of course I am. I’m fiercely independent and (to a fault) refuse to be told what to do.
I just know myself… I lack the initial spark of wild adventure that runs through Sean’s veins. He lights my fire, and that’s why I love him.
Here are a few examples:
1. When Sean had the idea that we should try living off-grid after staying at (and learning to love) a small remote cabin in the Yukon Territory, it was less than a year later that we uprooted our life, moved north to Montana, downsized considerably and found a property off the road system that offered incredible views from the perfect off-grid build site.
2. When he decided our first off grid home would be a yurt after our particularly inspiring ski expedition to Kyrgyzstan that same year, we magically found one for sale just 15 miles away.
3. When the Discovery Channel approached us to build a small off-grid cabin on that same property, Sean decided that despite our minimal construction skills, we were capable of teaching ourselves and calling on friends when needed. We amassed most of the carpentry and general contracting skills we’d need to build Arctic Hive years later.
4. When he decided it was time to move north again — to Alaska — we found the most idyllic home in less than three days: an off-grid, off-the-road-system log cabin on the Kenai Peninsula, exactly in our price range. The owners (who were in their 80s) sat us down around their kitchen table and showed us the scrapbook of how they hand-built it in the winter, in their mid-60s.
Their story inspires us often, still today.
5. So there we were, in 2019, on the precipice of a new adventure in the Alaskan arctic… and Sean had “seen the light” again.
Who was I to say no?
(I mean: Only 7 more hours north and we’re at the Arctic Ocean… so I was pretty confident this was the last move north!)
The rest was history — or at least, a story for another time.
Everything came full circle for me during the first retreat we ever held in March of 2021. I was seated at the front of the Igloo on my yoga mat, hands layered over my heart. I looked out with a deep gratitude at the six amazing people in my first yoga class here on site.
Tears pricked in my eyes, and it all sunk in.
So turns out I don’t have a fear of heights… but I do have a deep-seated fear of falling. After building so many structures with Sean, it's mind boggling that I’ve never been the one actually ON the roof installing the sheathing. Somehow I've never needed to get up there because I'm usually ripping plywood.
But you know that feeling when you KNOW you need to do something, and… your brain says, “Noooo don’t make me do this!”
But your heart says, “You’ve GOT this. It’s time.”
This was my day.
Sean got the first row started, and then it was my turn. I donned the harness, and climbed the ladder, peering over the edge to see what I was getting into.
As I tentatively placed my feet on the roof for the first time, I was surprised to feel waves of panic moving through me. Despite the fact I was roped up safely, I couldn't shake the terror. I immediately got onto my belly and slithered to the edge where we were installing the outside beam — my stress response reached a fevered pitch.
As tears pricked in my eyes, I told Sean I needed a minute.
He looked at me, in shock (with no idea about my panic until this moment) and asked, “Are you ok?”
Then I had a good pause, and a good cry, right there on the roof. Not because I couldn’t do it — because I DID end up doing it, for 8 hours! To me, crying either means I’m exhausted (which in this moment, I was not) or it means I’m releasing something.
On this day, I released whatever irrational fear my brain was clinging to all these years… and I slowly eased myself into the challenge of learning a new skill. I was safely tethered to the front wall the whole time, with Sean coaching me from below and feeding me up the tools and supplies I needed. I’m so grateful for his patience and guidance.
I gained comfort leaning over the edge, screwing in the blocking, and then lifting piece after piece through the rafters, locking them into place, and nail-gunning each row to each beam. I rolled out each row of underlayment and secured them in place… 30 minutes before the rain came, of course.
(and although it seems like we're building a house with no windows below, that's not true. It's just not time to cut them out yet — we have a ton!)
Cheers to learning new things, and DOING THEM! I'm not rushing to get back on the roof to install the metal, but when the time comes, I'll be ready :-)
Hope this email finds you happy and healthy, wherever you are.
OH! And I need to tell you: If you've been eyeing SHEWild Yoga Teacher Training, we launched a brand new set of dates in APRIL 2023! It's one of the most amazing times of year to visit the Arctic, and the retreat portion is a little shorter (7 days instead of 12)... we know it's tough to get away from home for two weeks, so we're hoping this new model works in your schedule! Here are the details. Hit me up with any questions...
Arctic Hive Co-Owner/Founder
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