Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Landscape Quilting in Inuvik

This will be a quick and easy Blog Post this week. The Inuvik Quilting Guild received a 2013/14 funding grant from the NWT Arts Council to bring quilting instructors to Inuvik. This past weekend was the first of our two weekends of classes and it was an amazing experience. By Sunday night I was mentally, physically and creatively exhausted; it felt like I was put through the ringer but in a good way.

The class was taught by Donna MacDonald and Hazel Wainwright from Yellowknife. Donna travels extensively for quilting classes and works frequently with Gloria Loughman from Australia. Donna is now approved and able to teach the Gloria Loughman ‘Landscape Quilting’ class. Participants all got a copy of Gloria’s book ‘Radiant Landscapes’ to follow along with and we were even able to buy some of Gloria’s hand dyed fabrics as we worked on our projects.

As you can see Gloria’s technique involves a fused, tiled backdrop and then building up a foreground to support this backing. It is inspiring, creative, methodical and meditative at the same time and we all LOVED it. I have worked previously with Gloria Loughman and I believe Donna did a great job of expressing Gloria’s approach and ideas. Huge kudos!

 Here are the pics:

Yukon Paddle by Shona Barbour, Inuvik, NT
Stormy Sky by Janet Boxwell, Inuvik, NT

Street Sign by Anick Jenks, Inuvik, NT
So with that I leave inspired and with inspiration AND I have a whole week coming up of watching the Scotties Canadian Women's Curling Championships to set my sewing machine up for!!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Teammates and Team Dynamics

So the last few weeks have been me turning into a stress ball trying to determine my partner for the 2014 Yukon River Quest (YRQ). The YRQ is a 750Km marathon canoe race from Whitehorse to Dawson City, Yukon. This is 12 day holiday canoe trip that teams RACE in approximately 55 hours (69 hours is the maximum when you are pulled from the race).  So when the going got tough for this paddling decision, who did a turn to: my ex-curling teammates of course and mostly Kerry Galusha (my curling teammate of 18 years). There is no one I know who knows more about forming teams and teammates than Kerry! But what I learned in this process is picking teammates is a fairly similar process across sports, the stresses and thought processes are not all that much different.  And what better a time to discuss team dynamics and teammates than an Olympic year; teams parting ways after disappointment, new teams forming for another 4 year training cycle and of course championship teams forming for Sochi.


I LOVE team dynamics! For me a team is more than just looking for success in a specific sport or towards one, single performance goal. I play sports for experiences, challenges, goals and personal growth and I pick teammates for those same reasons. Curling coach, Bill Tschirhart from BC, outlines his formula for a winning performance as;
P = SL+E+C-D+/-TD+/-PF&N+/-L+A
In Bill’s formula; SL= skill level, E= experience, C= confidence, D= distractions, PFN= personal fitness and nutrition, L= LUCK and A= attitude. All of these are dependent on your choice of teammates and what you bring out of each other and it shows the depth we need to look in choosing teammates.
Kerry Galusha and I played as curling teammates over an 18 year span. We have chatted about this before and I know Jill Officer (Team Canada- Sochi) expressed these same sentiments after the Olympic Curling Trials about herself and Jennifer Jones; after that many years you begin to feel like sisters and not teammates. Sure, you have disagreements and some frustrations now and then with teammates like this but Kerry is the one person who I never doubt during a game, I know has my back and at the end of the day will be standing beside me win or lose. Granted, I lived with the Koe family for many years which meant she couldn’t get rid of me too easily! But at the end of the day this is a teammate that the majority of the time we have shared a competitive drive, similar goals and a way of understanding either other that moves beyond discussions and planning. It is a relationship that is intuitive at times.
I also chat a lot about a team I had while attending the University of Alberta; Lori Olson-Johns, Natalie (Morgan) Halloway and Tiffany (Odegard) Game. All four of us have had great curling careers and continue to have success. Lori and Tiffany were both participants in the most recent Alberta Scotties Championships and with Lori losing the final game! This was a team that was young, full of ‘piss and vinegar’ and stacked with big personalities. I remember at one point getting in deep with one another and not even knowing if would have a full team showing up at the next game. We had passion, attitude, drive, determination and we were too young to know when to use things to our advantage and when to back off a bit. At the end of the day, we beat Team Cathy King and Team Heather Nedohin, both Canadian Champions, to move on to provincials in our home club! These were teammates I will always be appreciate of and have friendships with. We got the best out of each other in ways only each of could!
There are many other curling teammates that I could go on to mention; Heather McCagg-Nystrom, Dawn ‘Dawny Mo’ Moses, Wendy Miller and others who I am appreciative for in terms of performances and also personal reasons.
In picking a YRQ teammate I looked to similar qualities; someone who could push me and I could push them to our limits and challenges, in a pairing I had to know that I was putting in my 50% and sometimes more of the effort, someone who could see me cry and at my weakest and not judge, and of course someone who would work with and compliment my sometimes OCD and type A personality. This is not necessarily the fastest, most experienced or fittest racer/paddler but like Bill’s formula, it is teammate that you can get performance, adrenaline and thrill with! And there were technical reasons too; I needed someone who was heavier than me to go in the back of the boat as I was NOT prepared to take on that responsibility.
So with teammates and partnerships in mind and now determined for me and 2014 YRQ, I am excited for the next stage of team dynamics… becoming a team or working towards cohesion. Technically referred to as Tuckman’s Model of Group Development, and casually chatted about as FORMING, STORMING, NORMING and PERFORMING. Besides being able to hang out with cool teammates this is the process of sport that I love more than anything else. We form together as a team, we go through our difficulties and storming, we learn our systems and start norming, and then (and we know championships are built on this) we learn to peak when we need to and perform. I LOVE it all and even writing about it gets my adrenaline going. The challenges and tough moments are always worth it at the end and as athletes we know that through these challenges comes success. I remember at a World Curling Tour event in Lloydminster, being so frustrated during some stormy times that the tears would not stop. Even having to walk the cold golf course to get the tears to stop. But that turning point became a weekend of our first WCT qualifying event and we would go on to win the NWT/Yukon Championships that year.
So with all of this information and the joys of team dynamics and forming team I wish everyone success in their own decisions. Know that any stresses you feel in picking teammates is normal; you are not the first or the last athlete that will go through all of this. Know that you will have doubts at times but when it comes time commit there will be something deep inside you as an athlete that knows the right decisions. Learn from these experiences and when we are old these lessons will become good rocking chair stories. But more immediately we should just be able to become better people through these sporty- experiences.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Scotties Predictions- Heartbreaks and SweetHearts this Weekend

The stage has almost been set now for the 2014 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, only Quebec is still to be decided. I always feel for the Quebec teams leading into the Scotties has they have a week less to prepare and to recover from provincials and I wonder if some of their showings reflect a bit of burnout by week’s end at the Big Show. But we now know the majority of teams and one thing stands out; this is YOUNG field of teams. I put on Twitter that I don’t mind seeing these young players winning as long as it doesn’t mean I am getting old!

But for now we have a couple weeks until the Scotties begins and then 10 days of competition, also remembering that Sochi is going on at the same time, and all this can mean time for celebrating women’s curling! On the weekend Sportsnet aired Alberta, BC and Manitoba provincials plus updates and scores from ALL the other provinces. Thank you, thank you, thank you to those decision makers who made this possible! All this tv coverage showed that women’s curling is alive and well in Canada.

From Twitter, Facebook and texting it looked like women’s curling had people’s attention on the weekend, even more so than the men’s Skins Games on TSN (in my opinion). It also proved to me once again why we love the game of curling; when a berth at the Scotties makes me more excited and on the edge of my seat, than the men throwing a draw to the button shot for $37,000.00. When it came to the money you somehow knew they would both hit the button in some shape or form and that chances were high they were also somehow splitting the money under the table (or with bar tabs and bets!). But the history, provincial pride and emotion of a Scotties is so much more.

So as we continue celebrating women’s curling, I am putting it out there and making my Scotties predictions:

1.       A 6-5 record will make tiebreakers as the field is fairly even and anything looks possible. Expect tiebreakers and lots of them. I think many teams will still be alive come Wednesday night and moving day.

2.       Expect some upsets and close games but also expect a few blowout games when stress comes in and mistakes happen. I think we will see at least one team start out with a bang and then falter mid and end week and move out of the running.

3.       I think the week will be aggressive in general. Rocks in play, dynamic shots and will mean that sweeping will play a major factor in team successes. Figure out the ice fast!
As for standing (and where my money is):

Winner: Homan/Team Canada- Team Canada usually makes playoffs and this team is as strong, if not stronger, than last year. I think without the likes of Jennifer Jones and Kelly Scott not here this team will rise to the top.

Playoffs: Saskatchewan/Lawton, Alberta/Sweeting, Nova Scotia/Smith- This will be a good top 4, probably with Sweeting making it through to the final. Keeping in mind Alberta needs to pace themselves as this has been a long season for them

Tiebreakers: Manitoba/Carey, Ontario/Flaxley and New Brunswick/Crawford- I am always cheering for Carey in one way or another, watching their Manitoba final losses has been heartbreaking but I don’t know they have the nerves of steel in their rookie year at the Scotties. Scotties experience is a huge factor in success. Ontario and New Brunswick with have a strong, steady week.

Others: BC/van Osch, Yukon/Kolton, , Quebec, Nfld/Strong, PEI/Dowlan- I hate to make this type of category as I have always been placed down here and it sucks! And this year is even worse as we have relegation hovering over us but some teams needs to be out of the playoffs and I think these teams will be. PLEASE use this as motivation and prove me wrong, especially Kolton, I would love to see at least 4-5 wins out of this team!
So with that; best of luck to all the teams participating and for my curling friends who are either somewhat retired from the sport or lost out along the way… let’s have a glass of wine or a cold beer and continuing celebrating these players and the state of women’s curling. We have a lot to hold our head’s high over! And for those friends who suffered some bad losses, don't be shy and shed a tear or two into that drink and remembers as always... there is always next year!


Monday, January 6, 2014

We Win Some and We Lose Some

I was waiting until the 2014 NWT/Yukon Scotties Women's Curling Championships were over before writing this Blog entry. Now on Monday evening I can officially say it is over, and unfortunately Team Kerry Galusha did not come through as the winner. But rather we will be cheering on Team Sarah Kolton from Whitehorse, Yukon at the 2014 Scotties in Montreal as she leads her team as Team Yukon/NWT. I will let the newspaper report on how many years it has been since a Yukon team won and also what other curlers have the claim to fame of representing their province at a junior and women's national championship in the same year. Kudos to them.

These wins (Team Kolton) and losses (Team Galusha) has made me think of a few little tidbits over the course of the championship. As many of you know I made the decision in the spring to take a year (or 2) off curling and so this year has given me a bit of an outsider perspective on things. I have also learned that watching curling is far more exciting when you are not curling; you actually pay more attention and get way more swept up in the thrill of it all! Loving it all and now onto my 'tidbits':

Curling is not life. I know we all say this but what makes the big difference is to really believe it way down deep inside yourself. This is so hard to believe as a young player and takes a bit more time to learn when you do not have a children and are a single gal like me. We live and die for the sport when we are on the ice but when you walk of the ice there is so much more out there to experience and focus on. I have learned to get my adreneline rush elsewhere (canoe racing), I have learned to enjoy the little things in life (Hawaii taught me that) and I have learned to slow down and be grateful (thank you yoga!).

Life lessons learned. When deciding not to curl I thought of all the things I have given up and sacraficed to curl but now I feel the opposite; it more like reviewing and reflecting on all the lessons that you have gained from the sport. How to lose, how to get back up from defeat, how to push yourself, how to set goals, how to train, how to be active, how to visualize, how to dream, how to be a temmate, how to build relationships, and the list can go on and on.

Create an identity. They say that mental health issues/rates amoung retired athletes are high and I think it is due to your identity so closely being connected to your sport. We think that without the sport we are some how diminished and this couldn't be farther from the truth. In taking a step beyond the sport we learn that we are so much more than athletes! Our sport can help build us into a person that we don't always acknowledge nor see ourselves as. Something really powerful. We don't need the big show to tell us we are a champion!

Yes, we are getting older. I still bring my ID with me to a bar in case I get asked to prove my age; reality is that this is never going to happen any more. We are no longer the young guns or the youth of the sport. But this means we can still compete, be competitive and be champions but it also means we have a new generation of athletes and people behind us that are pushing the envelope just as harder, if not harder. We gotta LOVE this!

I can PADDLE! This is much lighter tidbit as I also learned that my front end sweeping skills, my mental toughness and my super competitiveness have transfered perfectly into being a sprint and marathon paddler. It is also a good reason to keep up with a gym and fitness routine. And when planning a support team and individuals who will force you back in a boat when you really don't think you can take another stroke, my invitation to sent to my old curling teammates. LOL

But seriously, what we learn is that doors never fully shut and that new opportunities always arise. Whether it is a loss, a year off from the game we love or full out retirement there always seems to be a new challenger in front of us. Curling teaches us that we are not people who sit around and watch the world pass by around us, we tend to be the people who keep jumping right into things!   


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year and Resolutions...

For the first time ever New Year Resolution is NOT to stop biting my nails as I actually acheived that in 2013. Mostly, thanks to the Dentist who informed me I had damaged my front teeth due to nail biting! Crazy news and enough to get me to quit. Enough about that as there have been lots of changes to my life in 2013; I took some time off curling, spread my wings and started traveling and got myself deep into the new sport of canoeing/paddling. All good changes and no regrets. The one thing that has stayed consistant is my quilting (for creative and mental health reasons!).

So my New Years resolution for 2014 is to blog more. Plain and simply to add more entries and use this as reflection time for the activities and occurances during the year ahead. People always ask me, 'what's new?'. I dislike this question as I have come to a point in my life where things are usually fairly stable, little drama occurs and I just keep trucking along from season to season. I am hoping more frequent blog posts will show a little insight into my not-too-exciting- or thrilling activities!

Until next time here are a couple quilting projects from my absense on the blog for the last few months.

Hexagons- 2013 Inuvik Quilting Guild Annual Summer Quilt Show
by Shona Barbour

October 2013- Dyeing with Sue Brenner at Maiwa Textile Symposium in Vancouver
Details of New Year Baby Quilt- Inuvik Regional Hospital
by Shona Barbour

 take care of each each, be kind to your neighbours and be gentle with yourself.