If you missed Part 1, about finding Arctic Hive, click here.
If you missed Part 2, about how my cousin Jamie inspires me, click here.
It was always part of the deal marrying Sean that we’d need to live in the mountains.
Growing up in the Midwest, my only concept of “mountains” was from a few memorable ski trips with extended family in the 90s. If you know, you know — my family wore matching crew-neck sweatshirts screen-printed with the year to commemorate our trip “out west”.
I had very little idea of what lay beyond the Rocky Mountains.
Alternately, Sean grew up out west — all he knew was mountains. In his mind, everywhere has been a stepping stone in the direction of the 49th state.
I think I wrote it off and laughed, “We could never do that!” so many times that I’d blocked it out as a possibility all together.
When I told an intuitive friend that we’d found our forever home in Montana, she told me: “I don’t see you staying there. I feel like you’ll go further north.”
“Further north” in my limited mind meant somewhere between Whitefish, Montana and the Canadian border, 1 hour drive north... that didn’t leave a ton of options!
But by 2016, everything started to become clear...
Sean had experienced a number of strange, seemingly unrelated medical issues. We were building a life off-grid at the time, and while the hard, outdoor labor likely flared his symptoms, it also fueled his drive to become incredibly in tune with his body and with the earth. I remember so many healing days we spent in our straw-bale garden, herding our 40+ chickens, ducks and turkey’s, and building our first off-grid cabin.
It was hard work — and we loved it.
Sean did what he does best — research, and advocate for himself to get the care and the diagnosis he knew was within reach. He suspected Lupus before he ever heard a doctor say it. By the time they officially diagnosed him, his research had reached a fevered pitch. Unbeknownst to me — or anyone that doesn’t live with a chronic disease — Sean was carefully calculating the reality of life as a professional snowboarder with Lupus and deciding how to heal himself from the inside, out.
What Sean did next amazes me, to this day. He told me with complete conviction: I’m moving to Alaska.
After years of hearing this phrase, I knew this time he meant it. It was the epitome of Warren Miller’s sentiment: “If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do.” Mountains are his healing place — and after years living in Montana in close proximity to Glacier National Park where we were always the “odd ones” living off grid, that place had served its purpose... and he knew it.
Like the thousands of species of birds, caribou and other creatures that set their course to migrate to the arctic tundra, Sean intuitively set his own inner compass to find healing in Alaska.
(Below: Sean with our sweet senior Weimaraner, Daisy on that first journey north! Below that, our “starter” mounted to the roof with smiling Glacier and Powder.)
Despite years of telling myself (and everyone around me) that we would never leave Whitefish, I finally realized that wherever Sean was is my home. All the yoga studios and quaint resort towns in the world would never fill my heart the way Sean could.
So I followed my best friend north.
It took us a few years, and it took a lot of imagination (as I explained in part 1!), but we landed at the (literal) end of the road here in the Brooks Range. As life would have it, Sean wasn’t the only one who found healing in these mountains. The personal growth and life wisdom I’ve earned creating our life in the arctic was something I never anticipated as a part of this journey.
Turns out, the path was calling me just as much as it called to Sean.
And so, we arrive back at the idea of “I could never do that...”
If I’d clung to that statement, I’d still be in the place I thought I wanted to live without the one person I wanted to live there with. “I could never” was a a self-imposed limitation keeping me from all the possibilities on the other side.
The truth is: If we keep saying “I could never,” we keep believing it.
And I’m here to tell you (as is Sean) that on the other side of “I could never,” there is self-confidence, wild adventures, and inevitable healing to be had.
Sean now lives his best, healthiest life, despite T1D, epilepsy, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Lupus. Instead of allowing these autoimmune diseases to keep him from living life, he has learned to find harmony with his body and peace in his mind — which I’ve been fortunate enough to learn through him.
There are days he has to take it easy, just like there are days I have to do the same! Our partnership has become stronger through the mountain of challenge we’ve overcome.
All the while, the Brooks Range peaks sit here — as they’ve always done... quietly observing life unfold.
If you’re telling yourself you could never do this, or that... it’s time to stop and consider — if even for a moment — what if you could? No pressure. Just see what happens next.
Sending lots of love. Thanks for following along on our journey.
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