Waking Up In Canada

Time Out Just To See

My day December 21, 2011

Filed under: Abundance,Doing what you love,ski — wakingupincanada @ 5:11 pm
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So I awoke and drank Camomile Tea and ate my porridge. I met my friends on the bus and headed for the hill. I decided to invest in a helmet, everyone else was doing it so I followed along. We started on our usual hill and then, with a little help from a Golden Couple, we skied, well, nearly everywhere. We aimed for beginners’ hills, blue hills, and it was fantastic being on different surfaces, a new challenge, a new view, and, oh boy what a view. There are no words for the hills at Sunshine Village, the white valleys, the trees wading in snow.

We were back at the chair lift before lunch when I realised, this is a green run. We did a green run?? We did a green run!  Sometimes ignorance is bliss. There were times I looked down the stretch of snow below me and wondered what the hell I was doing here. I parked the fear in the deep pockets of my superb ski jacket and went for it. I fell a few times, once I went over my head, to land on my head: It was a good day to start wearing one. The pain was bad enough with the insulation around it. I watched my friend do a flip too, she shredded so much snow with her that I have no idea how she fell, I only saw a cloud of white and then her lying, still. There was a moment of panic as I rushed towards her, which for me on skis, is quite slow. Eventually the white helmeted head lifted of the snow. From now on she knows, after a tumble, do not take a moment to lie still in the snow. By all means, stay down and enjoy the view but please, shout or swear or lift something, even if its one finger.

When I came home, I was connected to the internet again. It has been 2 days but it was a tough 2 days with Christmas away from my family looming at the weekend. I’ve showered, snacked on coffee, peanut butter and crackers, and now I head to yoga and then some Christmas shopping.

I look at my day, a normal day and think, I love my life.


play your own tune December 20, 2011

Filed under: Doing what you love — wakingupincanada @ 6:18 pm

A couple sit opposite me in Starbucks, playing Scrabble, the actual board version. They sit facing each other, the board in the middle and their letters in front of them. I have never considered bringing a board game to Starbucks. A journal, a book, a magazine, a friend, but never a board game. How original, maybe I should try that sometime. I’m not sure if I have any friends who would come to Starbucks with me to play Scrabble. There are also the spelling differences between Canadian English and English. Maybe Snakes and Ladders would be an easier starting point.

I love it when people live life their own way, set their own rules, or set no rules at all other than the conscience of their soul. Those lofty individuals who play their own way, wear their own clothes, laugh at their own jokes and take off on a minute’s notice to wherever their heart takes them. It reminds me that by being yourself, truly happy in your own shoes, you encourage others to be truly happy in their’s. I can’t think of a better gift, to give or receive.



One of those days November 26, 2011

Filed under: Doing what you love,Uncategorized — wakingupincanada @ 8:48 am
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I am waking up groggy and tired. I’d like to go back to sleep but I have too much to do before work. I have already put the gym idea in the bin. I have to post, to write another few thousand words to keep in with a chance of winning the NaNoWriMo Challenge, do some laundry, grocery shop, and look for Christmas gifts. I have 2 hours. I know this list needs to further edited. I don’t have a time machine of any sort to slow down time nor do I have the energy to work faster than where I am at.

I genuinely would love a duvet day. Despite the massive word count remaining, I can see the end of Nanowrimo ahead and a guilt free day of nothing looms ahead. It’s Saturday morning and I dream of my old 9 to 5 job, 5 days a week, where I could happily flop down on my pillow for another hour. Oddly, when I have the time to sleep in, I rarely do. It’s like my body fights the idea of getting up but when it is allowed to stay in bed, it finds something better to do. I must remind myself that I chose this challenge, this place, this lifestyle out of love not necessity, that the mornings I wake up wanting to dive back under the covers are less in my new world and that, you know, it’s breakfast time and I do love breakfast time.

I edit my list in my head further. The laundry is not necessary right now and the groceries can wait until after work. Christmas shopping I can spend time thinking about before hitting the shops, and so I am left with eating and writing, and really, what a lovely way to spend a morning. My body is not truly convinced, but I will fake it ’til I make it. So I am about to place one foot on the floor, followed by the other, get up and get on with it. It’s always easier when you are out of, isn’t it?

How are you spending your Saturday morning?


Just an evening November 18, 2011

Filed under: Books,Doing what you love,Uncategorized — wakingupincanada @ 7:10 am
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I popped into the post office last night after my book club meeting. There were 2 letters sitting in my mailbox, leaning diagonally across the square metal pigeon hole. Both had Winnie The Pooh envelopes; envelopes I’d left with my niece to draw on. It was dark. The snow came down beautifully yesterday afternoon. Snowflakes hovered over and back, and down to the ground faster than before, and for longer. I shovelled snow outside our store for the first time yesterday afternoon. People make conversation when they see you shovelling. It was a pleasant trip outdoors. I digress.

I walked home in the dark along the white sidewalk, clutching my 2 letters in my thick gloves. I felt childlike, the letters clumsily grasped. I am not used to the thick padding. I was on a high from BookClub at the wonderful Banff Library. Last night’s theme was World Authors and so I talked about my favourite two: Nadeem Aslam and Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I took down new recommendations. I must state, even if I never read any of the recommendations, my love for the BookClub would not lessen. Sitting around talking about books and listening to others’ opinions and descriptions to me is like biting into really good fudge: soft, sweet and warm with endorphins rising up from mere anticipation, shouting for joy. I won a book last night. There are weekly draws for books. I did not get my first or second choice but I will give “Solo” by Rana Dasgupta a go in December. I was happy to win a book.

As I weaved my way past the congregation of the Korean Church making their exit through the corner of Banff Avenue and Wolf Street, I noticed I was happy. It wasn’t the simple happiness of a pleasant life, for which I am grateful daily to God. My happiness was a ball of joy in my gut on a cold, dark, snowy evening. 2 letters in my hand, a prize book, an entertaining evening; I am happy.


Routine and Risk November 2, 2011

Filed under: Doing what you love — wakingupincanada @ 12:02 pm
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By now, one can probably tell I am a creature of habit, and that is the way I like it. I enjoy routine. I can do spontaneous, but it is usually within the unplanned sections of my day rather than throwing my usual out of the window. Our Halloween Party, as great as it was, threw out my Tuesday morning spin and my Tuesday evening yoga. Sitting on my mat this morning, after 18 hours in my bed, I was genuinely grateful to be there. My body needed a sound session to get fresh blood pumping through my system, waking me from my heavy slumber. Today, our focus was core. Our charismatic instructor reflected on the importance of our core for stability and growth, both our physical selves, and our own values. I delighted in pushing further today, knowing every part of my body needed re-energising. My weekend falls on Wednesdays and Thursdays in Banff and my Wednesday morning class is core to my feeling relaxed, refreshed and renewed. My upward dog came along well, and this has placed me in a better position to fully engage in my downward dog. There is something about being right in one step that strengthens you in moving forward, both inside and outside the studio. “Yoga helps us to be strong in our foundation, but more importantly, strong in our love” she said. When I do something I love as much as yoga, it leaves me smiling for the rest of the day, bringing love into all my weekend activities. I enjoy being strong in my core, my routine, my day, knowing my next step and enjoying getting there.

Then she threw a spanner in the works. She placed the word “excitement” beside my mat. Excitement? I eyed the card like I would an approaching stranger I only know off by his dangerous reputation. Excitement is not something I seek. I prefer the slow release of new experiences, taking them slowly with reflection and time out, rather than jumping into the unexpected head on. I was excited about leaving my job, preparing for Canada, actually leaving, but it was intermingled with nervousness and a peppered with fear and I breathed slowly through all 3, taking them all as the same. I believe my shunning of excitement is packaged within my love of routine; when I arrived in Toronto, I kept working out in the mornings, and have done since, part of a routine of a former self, something of a time before that allowed my to feel more calm in a strange country. In my mind, I compare the Banff National Park, Canada to Ards Forest Park, Ireland to seek out the similarities between them, finding a little alcove in the woods here that reminds me of a tiny little spot there. I have found my favourite cafe and compared it to its sister in Donegal. I embrace newness in as much as I can compare it to the older version.

Excitement to me invokes memories of Christmas Eve, where I sat secure in the knowledge that Santa would come, because he always did before, and in the morning there would be something new awaiting me. I was excited about the whole magical night, even when I tried to figure it all out in hot summer days. I was safe in the knowledge that I wouldn’t be let down. Now, older and wiser, I realise that every event that brings excitement can also bring disappointment and failure, and I wonder will I ever experience excitement as I did as a child.

Embracing excitement now means accepting the risk that comes with it. It means accepting the fear of failure, the disappointments that may come with it, the changes it will bring. It means being strong enough to push through all of this and attaching myself to the excitement and saying “that is what I want, and I am going to get there”.  Maybe choosing to stay up all night at a party is my starting point to throwing caution out the window and embracing a little excitement.



Passion October 11, 2011

Filed under: Doing what you love — wakingupincanada @ 6:02 am
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Passion is a quality I adore in other people. For films, books, jiu jitsu, faith, football, work, whatever the method, passion shines out brightly from them. Personally, I feel these people are more interesting for it, and they inspire me by their drive and the commitment.

A few months ago, I met a friend for lunch.  She told me she was singing again. “Again? I didn’t know you sang”.

Many years ago, she sang at school concerts and church choirs. For some reason, she stopped. She told me why but I can’t remember. What I do remember and have carried with me was the smile on her face about restarting. I was intrigued. How does an adult, not on X Factor or with a recording studio, sing?  She practiced regularly, she took lessons and she sang. The more she sang, the more she was approached to sing. The lesson in this for me was that, even with talent and love, without practice, you are not even going to the ball game, let alone playing. It was a big lesson. I just assumed the people who were good at stuff were just good at stuff. Sports I knew you had to train for, I’d learned the hard way. But I didn’t think of the dedication it takes to play piano, to write, to cook, to collect stamps or go train spotting. It was also a wake up call not to simply invest in my career, but in the things I loved.

I e-mailed her recently after my yoga instructor commented in class, “We will only do our best when we are doing what we love”. Was she still singing? Her response: “Yes, I had to fit it in at 11 pm last night”. 11pm, singing? Are you allowed to sing that late at night? I began soul-searching: What do I love these days? I made a list (I am good at making lists):

  • Empowerment
  • Love
  • Running
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Organising
  • Getting lost in a task
  • Watching films
  • The West Wing
  • Planning
  • Yoga
  • Developing ideas into something concrete
  • Working with young people

A few weeks later, my yoga card was “Passion”. I felt as if I had never seen this word before; I was seeing it afresh. I had a gut reaction of “Yes! This is what I am looking for”. That day, I moved around on the internet, and somehow came to the Post A Day campaign. I don’t know how I got there, but I’m glad I did. I knew what it was I wanted to do. To write. To make time every day and write. I had tried since coming to Canada, spurred on by a friend and artist. I was unfocused, lazy. Pieces would begin but never got passed the mid way point. I would write in my head while standing by the whirlpool at Niagara Falls, amazed at the beauty or looking out of the turret at the Casa Loma like a trapped princess in a fairy tale. It never got translated onto paper.

The Post A Day Campaign gave me a goal and a method. To start writing with passion, I would start a blog. I went to the WordPress site, and there, snuggled nicely, was advice on how to start. I began. I realise that any skill takes practice, and I cannot wait to be a good writer to write. You wouldn’t become a good cook without cooking; you don’t run a marathon without training. To become a good writer, I first need to write. My biggest fear is criticism. Then I thought on my God-daughter and the message that would give to her.

So I am writing. I welcome the comments and criticisms, advice and ideas. I am a writer in training. Let the PASSION begin.