10 – Curiosity Conversation

For my final stretch quest I spoke with a colleague of my father Astrid Gagnier who runs her own communication business. She has done work for numerous clients and has loads of experience in the field of communications.

I met with her and inquired about the roles of an information designer in the communications world and where that might take me.

Her advice was to continue to develop multiple skills in the areas of writing, video, photo, graphic design and it will allow for the most flexibility in future career paths and make me a more qualified and capable candidate for future job positions.

08 -Applying for an Internship

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My stretch quest for this week falls into the professional category. The past few summers I’ve spent my time toiling away at dead-end jobs landscaping, cutting grass at golf courses and bussing tables at restaurants, but I’ve decided enough is enough! I want to find a position where I can work towards my long-term career goals while still getting to enjoy my summer.

So this week I decided to apply for a media management internship at The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Here is a sample of the résumé I came up with…

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I stumbled upon the position while surfing the web for jobs one day and it struck me how great of an opportunity this would be. Firstly, I love Banff – it is one of my favourite places to visit and I can only fantasize about what it would be like to live and work there. Secondly, the position seems like it would be right up my alley – working as an intern to develop and manage content for The Banff Centre would be a professional dream come true for me.

I’ve spent countless hours working on a résumé and cover letter that I am pleased with, In the process I have consulted multiple people for use as references and my technical writing professor Richard for advice on the résumé and cover letter to get my best chance at getting an interview.

My hope with this is that I can at least get an interview, but even if I am unsuccessful I am happy that I took the steps toward finding a job that relates to my field of study and I will still have a great document that I can tweak to suit other potential positions.

Wish me luck!

06 – Mike Shaw “Grateful Everyday”

Mental Stretch Quest

Level of Discomfort: 3/5 

The next stretch quest I have chosen to focus on falls into the mental category. It is a story about my friend Mike Shaw – a former freestyle skier and coach whose life changed when he was involved in a ski accident that left him paralyzed from the neck-down and wondering if he would ever be able to ski, walk or even enjoy life the same way ever again.

I find his story both inspiring and relatable, as I find myself going through difficulties both physically and emotionally in my own life.

For Mike, the day of his accident started out like any other; meeting his team, loading the chairlift and lapping the terrain park. As the day progressed the level of energy became heightened and Mike decided to join in with his athletes to demonstrate a trick off of a park feature. It was a trick he’d done countless times and was confident in doing; however, upon landing the trick he pitched forward onto his neck on an icy landing and at this moment his life changed forever.

Instantly Mike knew he was paralyzed and was immediately stabilized and brought to the hospital for assessment. He had underwent multiple procedures and the doctors couldn’t say whether or not he would ever recover.

After an intense year of physiotherapy and with the help an incredibly positive mind-set Mike was able to make a full-recovery and on the anniversary of his accident skied with the surgeon who performed the procedure.

For myself, I have found Mike’s story to be one of inspiration that I hope to use in my life as been dealing with injuries and the emotional stress that comes along with them.

Over the course of the past two years I have torn my ACL in my left knee and dislocated both shoulders – all three of which will require surgery and intense physiotherapy. It has been somewhat difficult to come to grips with it lately and I’ve had to re-evaluate my plans over the next couple years.

With any kind of struggle it is easy to fall into a negative spiral of anxiety and depression, but it is from Mike’s story that I find a lot of hope and inspiration.

In his video he talks about how life’s ups and downs are relative: “Being grateful for the highs, because you can’t have a high mountain peak without a low valley bottom.”

He also mentions how when we are at a low point it is about putting things into perspective, being grateful for the happy memories, trusting that we are going to get better.

My favourite point he makes is that “If not the old mountain peak, then perhaps a new one.” This idea captures a lot of what I have had to go through recently in my own experience with injury. As someone who used to be a high-level ski competitor and as a coach I have lost my ability to compete at a high-level and even coaching is putting a lot of strain on my body. I have hit a low point and realized it is time to think about putting my life as a skier and coach on hold, allow my body time to heal and focusing my energy towards my schooling and career as an Information Designer.

For more on Mike Shaw check out his documentary “Mike Shaw: The Healing Agent”

https://www.redbull.tv/film/AP-1MSKNX6KN1W11/the-healing-agent

02 – Backcountry Ski Touring

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Physical Stretch Quest

Level of Discomfort: 4/5 

The Rocky Mountains are a wild, dangerous and awe-inspiring place – somewhere that for me truly feels like the last frontier. It is a place that attracts me like a magnet and I find myself drawn to the mystery and adventure that awaits out there.

Towering stone peaks and snow-covered slopes above are both stunningly beautiful and treacherous for those who decide to explore them. As a long-time freestyle skier and coach I have made the mountains an integral part of my life, spending almost every weekend of the winter there amongst the towering peaks.

Lake Louise has become sort of like my home base, I know the mountain like the back of my hand and i’m often well within my comfort zone there. That being said, the vistas that I often find myself gazing into might as well be another planet because beyond this sliver of comfort within the bounds of the resort I am in the unknown.

Recently, I have decided to embark on a new chapter in my skiing career that being the world of backcountry ski touring. Ski touring is essentially a cross-country ski ascent zig-zagging up a mountain and a downhill ski descent back down.

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For the first time I went out with a group of friends – some with experience and others like myself with none. There are a lot of things that scare me about being in the backcountry and it is important to be conservative and logical when it comes to decision-making. Avalanches, cliffs, becoming disoriented are just a few of the dangers that face you in the backcountry.

I was all ears for my peers who educated me on snowpack, terrain traps and other hazards to be avoided. Physically it was a challenging ascent that demanded proper technique and good cardio (something I have been lacking lately). I was able to push through keeping up a steady breathing rhythm and at times leading and setting the pace for the rest group.

All said and done it was a great first experience in the backcountry and I feel like I pushed my physical comfort-zone significantly. Although in the grand scheme of things it was a small first step I am both excited and at the same time nervous to explore new areas and learn more about safety and the techniques of backcountry ski touring.