A Message to Teachers

"One of the most influential people in my life was my 9th grade Latin teacher, Tamara Velde.  It was during a troubled time in my life that she asked me to come and meet with her after school one day.  During that heart-to-heart talk she planted the seed in my mind that would take me much farther that I ever thought I could go.  She told me firmly but compassionately that I should try to accept what I could not change and to not let sad circumstances weigh me down.  But the most valuable lesson she taught me was to take control over my emotions, look ahead and make my life as positive as possible.

At the age of 14, it seemed like a hard lesson and a tall order.  But Tamara Velde didn't just give me a lofty order and then walk away.  Over the four years of my high school career she often talked to me and encouraged me to stay positive.

Developing a positive attitude didn't happen overnight.  In fact, it didn't happen over those four years.  I have learned it is something to be worked on over one's entire life.

During my 22 years of dog mushing, keeping a positive attitude has been absolutely necessary to deal with the many challenges my dogs and I have faced.  I have been fortunate to have taken several journeys with my dogs.  When I participated in the Iditarod Sled Dog Race in 1983, the trail was well-groomed, mainly on land, and supplies were readily and frequently available. However, most of my expeditions have been far more challenging, over sea ice and only partly on land, with little or no trail, and supplies were available only at remote Arctic villages often located several hundred miles apart. The teams have varied in size and, by Iditarod standards, they have been small.  I am proud to say I have never lost a dog on any expedition.

I hope that as students follow my dogs and me on our journey across the arctic, they will see that as we encounter many things beyond our control, we do not let these problems weigh us down. My talk focuses on the need to keep a positive attitude, to always try my best and to help the dogs to do their jobs well. The same lessons Tamara Velde taught me long ago."

-- Pam Flowers
Talkeetna, AK






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