Waking Up In Canada

Time Out Just To See

Goodbyes November 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — wakingupincanada @ 7:17 am
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Banff is a tourist town. It is not just the customers in the stores, hostels and hotels, but those that look after them when they come. The majority of staff in Banff and its surrounding areas are tourists also, with jobs to allow them have an extended holiday in the middle of the mountains. Since being in my job for 9 weeks now in a store of 8 to 10 people, 6 people have left, most moving into their winter season jobs or back to university. Between now and Christmas, another few are leaving. Last night, we dropped into the leaving party of one of our darling colleagues as he moves on to pastures new. It feels like Banff is the ultimate transition town.

The downside to this is of course the oft endured goodbyes as friends head of. The upside is one meets new people quite often. Bounding into the store and staff accommodation with fresh energy and a new perspective come the newbies. It is surprising how quickly the newbies become the oldies. With the coming and going, you listen to how each is working on a dream, a plan, and here it is usually different from the norm. Why else would they give up their “normal” lives to come here?

For some, it is time out. It could be between school and university to figure out what to study rather than throwing themselves into a course they don’t like, and the resulting fees, or saving to get into law school. Then there are the people who are seeing the world, taking the time out of their lives to do something different. They are in Banff because of the availability of casual jobs or the snow season or the peacefulness of the place. They may travel further or travel home and while their overall plan of life may not change, their perspective on it and knowledge of themselves probably will. From these people, I have learned how to look at life from a different perspective. They are stepping off the path for a little time, so that they can be certain of the path, and the way they want to walk it. As they  reflect, they share their wisdom generously.

For others right now, Banff is about skiing and snow-boarding. These are either coming back from all over the world now just as the slopes opened or settled here for the summer waiting for the snow. They itch at the collar, waiting to get back out there. Some of these will work evening shifts every day and get on the slopes first thing every morning. Others work as instructors and the like so as to build their entire day on the slopes. Snow is their passion. Watching them is inspiring. To build their lives around that which they love teaches me the importance of following your heart. It reinforces in me the notion that if you do what you love every day, you will be smiling.

Some people come into our lives and make themselves comfortable for a long time. Others walk in, blast you with their energy and go.  As I say goodbye to another new friend, I realise I have learned from him a fun approach to life, work and happiness. He has showered us in laughter and love and as he heads onto his new adventure, I wonder where his footprints will wander next. I hope he walks more confidently in them from his time in Banff.



Roots October 14, 2011

Filed under: Friendship — wakingupincanada @ 7:33 am
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I'm holding on

Walking along the Fenland Trail, I noticed that a lot of tree roots intermingled. None, however, were as forceful as this couple. Along the river bank, many of the trees were leaning diagonally out of the soil, bent over the Bow River. Some had fallen in.

This couple stood out. They rose magnificently together. I saw in them love, friendship and support.

Sometimes people think I’m courageous and brave travelling alone in a different country. They don’t see the roots wrapped around me, from thousands of miles away. These roots fed me with love, care and advice, particularly when I first arrived and I was not yet grounded in Canadian soil. They gave me support and showed me I was not alone, wherever I stood. They listened to my fears and grumbles, draining my worries from me and replacing it with hope and positivity. They stayed up late to keep me company.

When I first happened upon these trees, the stronger tree stood out. Then I saw the root of the thinner tree clasping over and under its stronger mate. It is the thinner tree that provides the support. It helps the stronger tree to flourish, to counterbalance it to grow straight rather than stoop over.

I am travelling by myself but I am not alone.


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.


My park bench October 7, 2011

Filed under: Inspiration — wakingupincanada @ 7:43 am
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One day, I want to have a bench with my name on it. I wonder, what will it say?

I was on my way home and decided to walk a different way. Seeing the sign for the river, I took a dander. It was a beautiful day, cold but sunny and a slight breeze was whirling up the fallen leaves. By the river stood 2 benches and I took a seat. The sun was making golden a river bend up ahead, the snow lay on the mountain peaks and the only noises were a bird above me somewhere, the bubbling river, the laughs of a gentleman across the river and traffic crossing the bridge further upstream. I concentrated on stopping and listening, just letting go and enjoying the spontaneous seat by a river. Oddly, my feet did not touch the ground at all. I am shorter than some, but usually my tip toes reach, but here they swung freely, and I felt like a child.

Jumping off to leave, I noticed the inscription:

“Bonnie Wiegele

Athlete, Philanthropist

Living Inspiration To All”

Immediately, I wanted to be her. How does one become a living inspiration to all? It sounds a lot better that inspiring after you have gone, which in itself is a sign of a useful life. Walking home, I thought on Bonnie Wiegele. Athlete? I wondered did it count that I ran, not fast, sometimes far, but with consistency and with joy. Philanthropist was definitely one I needed to work on so I checked the (online) dictionary as a good starting point.

Philanthropy: 1.the practice of performing charitable or benevolent actions

2. the love of humanity

While I do love humanity, I am  more empty-handed when it comes to performing charitable actions. Did one have to be a philanthropist to be a living inspiration? How could I practice performing charitable actions  regularly? And I realised, by having this inscription on a park bench, this lady, whom I never met, was inspiring me to become a better person. Furthermore, it did not seem out of my grasp. I realised that a living inspiration means, to me, someone who looks at what she values in life and goes about doing it. I may myself be the only person I inspire, and that is ok with me. I took time to think up some things I could do simply to be the person I wanted to be. What did I want my park bench to say about me?

Firstly, I bought re-useable bags for my grocery shopping, stopping the conflict in my head over whether I could afford them anymore. I believe in reducing plastic bags and this is the best way I know to do that. Next, I bought free run eggs. They again cost more, but I wanted my eggs to come from happy hens, and while they might not be as happy as the hens my mother keeps at home, they are no doubt happier than being raised stuck in a tiny nest night and day. I decided to do an act of kindness daily, and to put thought into these actions, and I stumbled upon the kindness girl blog to help me. I decided to pay attention to where I put my money. This means trying to become a more ethical shopper and a more generous donator to charity. The ethical shopper is hard and I am only beginning. All advice would be gratefully appreciated as I begin to look at what I spend my money on. Any ideas where to start?

“Kellie Gallagher

Lives the life she believes in”

(Thank you Bonnie, for your bench and your inspiration)