Waking Up In Canada

Time Out Just To See

Thank you bebe April 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — wakingupincanada @ 8:25 pm
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It is one year since I moved in with Kurtis.

This one year mark signifies a new status in Canada, at least by Immigration and Revenue; common-law spouse. This one year outshines all others: the first kiss, the first date, the first “I love you”. I have had butterflies and swells of happiness, rising in the pit of my tummy reaching right into my throat and my smile. I once wondered if I would ever fall in love. I lived the perfect single life. I never knew falling in love was easy, and it is.

Over the past year, we had a number of moments of wondering how hard this could possibly be; challenges we faced together like when I was told my Irish license wasn’t valid (it was with an international permit easily purchased from Ireland) and I was not eligible for a Canadian license (I found out a week later I was, and now have it); Heart-wrenching arguments against each other about cutlery drawers and visiting friends, washing machines and wall decorations. Genuinely, the fights that cut deepest in hindsight seem absurd, and yet I would never presume to undermine the depth of feeling they still retain.

We have learned to fight better; we work to listen rather than be right, sometimes. We remind each other, “I love you”. I try and remember that when he forgets to phone or tells me how to do things his way or falls asleep on the couch rather than come to bed. I try not to nag, I try not to be lazy and I try to respect his ways of doing things.  

What means the most, is that he helps me be a better person. He encourages me to run, to write, to rest. He reminds me of my values when I speak in anger. He, an atheist, brought me to Mass, when I didn’t have a license to drive myself.

 I see in his eyes my future. He asks about my family and listens to what is going on at home today. He tells me about his dreams. He put a photo of my favourite on canvas and hung it above our bed.

Tomorrow, I will go back to mock sarcasm and the usual Irish condescension I normally use for our relationship to outsiders, but for today, on our first anniversary, I thank Kurtis for us.


My life, today February 11, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — wakingupincanada @ 11:49 am
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I started this blog in a small room I rented as part of my work package, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, in the town of Banff, Alberta. I was alone, but with a team in Ireland keeping track of me and an international squad of salespeople, ski instructors, rock specialists, musical stars, party animals, yogis and snowboarders and lawyers-in-waiting, even an ultra-marathoner to get to know, I was kept from falling.

In having little I recognised it is in simplicity, we have abundance. In being  alone, I opened up to having company; that solitude can be too much. I would eventually realise, no woman is an island either.

It was an amazing experience.

I am now building a home with a beautiful man in the Alberta Prairies. Instead of a ring of mountains I have fields as fas as the eye can see. My horizon has never been so far away. Back then, in my small room and small world, I was finding out what I loved and who I was. I stopped looking at the future and lived in the here and now. Now, I am with he whom I will spend the rest of my life with. I becomes we.  This is my home now, my future, my world.

I wash the dishes, knowing how much I love having a clean kitchen to wake up to, but then spend an age inside my head, working out if it was my turn, if it has become my chore, if I am compromising my feminist values or satisfying my inner need for order. If he washes the dishes because I have asked him, does that count? Nobody wants to do dishes, but should he not want to do them so as to please me. Then I wonder why it is about me, when he benefits just as much from washed dishes and clean laundry and a full fridge. When he does wash the dishes, I cringe at the running water, the deep attention to detail and a 5 minute task taking 15. I often leave the kitchen and distract myself. 30 minutes of chores sometimes become a full weekend of a life dilemma, but in the morning the kitchen is clean and that is good.

His laid back attitude gets on my last nerve when we are grocery shopping or late to a party but it is heaven to go camping with or walk by a river or hike a mountain with. His attention to detail kills me as he rinses a knife after washing, but I am delighted that he keeps my car in great working order.

He brings out the best and worst in me, and he loves me, for them or in spite of them I am not sure.

It took me 30 years to work me out and find my voice. Now, one year in, I am coming to terms that I am someone’s other half. I am in a real and proper relationship which involves finances and dishes and underwear on the bathroom floor. I am working out who I am as someone’s “other half”.

I often wonder, how does he put up with me? God love him.



Sentimental dedication November 9, 2012

Filed under: family — wakingupincanada @ 7:23 am
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I have this little sister; well actually I have 3 younger and one older, all fabulous; but this one in particular, who is the heart of the family. Somehow she keeps us all together. Quietly, she acts like the centre of the web, with all the threads cast out from her, holding onto us, keeping us attached. We all have threads weaving between us, in all directions and at odd angles, but it is her’s you can always count on to reach us all and to hold tight in the wind.

Before our other sister went to Thailand, she posted her some “Bats”, Thai money. Including postage it cost less that £20, but the thought and the time were priceless. She forced me to book hostels in advance of travelling around Canada, and to write these all down for her so she could keep track in case I went missing. It was her map that guided my boyfriend and I this summer on a 7,000 km road trip from Southern Alberta to Mount Rushmore to Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan and home. The waste company send her the text to remind my parents to put out the recycling, even though she lives in a different country. She Skypes, Facetimes, phones, texts, e-mails; she remembers little things like a long run, or her nephew’s first day at playschool, or what her niece dressed up as 2 Halloweens ago.

For some reason, she inherited more of our mother’s features than any of us and I always believed that is why my father loves her more. She has a kindness I have neither the ability, energy nor fullness of heart to imitate. She is working on her Masters while helping out at Brownies, training for a half marathon, and wonders if she is giving enough. When we say, “we should do that sometime”, she comes back with a time, date and place.

She also manages to eat small portions of food and to thoroughly enjoy every (little) bite. This, for me, is like a superpower, and I often just watch her and wonder how. I also take the opportunity to grab a fork and eat her food.

I’m sure growing up we fought though the only memory I have of her ever upsetting me is biting my bum when she was 1. She was just old enough to stand, and somehow walked up behind me, aged 6, and bit. The shock still gets me, 24 years later. For her first week of primary school, aged just 4, she cried her heart out, and I was allowed to have her sit beside me in my classroom. Then one morning, Miss. Ferry lifted her from me. I cried until I could check on her during our 11 o’ clock break. She had survived, and from then on she went to her own class.

On her first day of secondary school, my friend advised me that my worrying was pointless; the fears I had for her may come true, but I was unable to protect her, and she would deal with them as the rite of passage we all must endure.

So, instead I watched as she grew up confident and capable, kind and caring. She has kept the goodness and grew it to wisdom. She ran a 10km with me and then a half marathon. I say with, but she was out in front, leading me on. She introduced me to the wonderful world of Harry Potter and it was apt that our goodbye before my travels was a midnight viewing of his final movie. I sometimes make a stand based on principle; she rolls her eyes and advises with sense.

I told her I was struggling with writing and she challenged me to give her a story reminiscing. So here I am Lou, reminiscing about you.

See you at Christmas, we’ll read Harry Potter again.


The love of falling March 24, 2012

Filed under: life — wakingupincanada @ 11:44 am
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Skiing this week, we were ploughing through deep powder. The hill looked different, the snow re-designing the trails we knew well, re-shaping the landscape. Knowing our days are numbered as we enter Spring,  we were also trying some unfamiliar runs.

3 runs in, we aimed to avoid a questionable portion, and headed down a simple slope.  Without warning, I was deep in a hole full of snow, with my legs somehow tangled beneath me, one ski inexplicably intermingled with the other, and my mouth full of snow. I laughed, my friend laughed, and with some exaggerated gesticulating of my legs, I managed to eventually get out.

Further down, we decided to give a black diamond a go. We did a bit, did a bit more and then saw the cliff and opted out. We hiked back up to a green run, collapsing in the snow bank to catch our breath and cool down. Ski boots are not made for hiking. When we saw the cliff from the bottom, one of us thought no way, one of us thought maybe, none of us wanted to try it again.

When you fall, it is best to just let go. If you tense up, you can do more harm. Falling in fresh powder doesn’t hurt really, and after the first fall, you lose the fear and enjoy the ride instead. You might lie a little longer than necessary and get your breath back, you might jump right up and on, or you may have to untangle yourself, work out a way out and do your best to make it through.

It seems to be love is very much the same.

If you are happy to fall, and know that falling is part of it, then it becomes about the journey, not seeking the destination. The falls might be playful or they may see you land awkwardly or hard, head first. Seeing love as fresh powder gives a soft landing, a cushion, a resting place.  One of my friends believes that if you don’t fall, you are not trying hard enough.

There are times it is easier and more relaxing to take it easy down a simple green run, enjoying the scenery around you. However, there is a sheer excitement in upping the stakes, in mastering a tough run that works your legs, your balance and your courage.

We are surrounded by risks. There might be an easy way and a more difficult way but often we can only either hike back out carrying our stuff, or we  face the cliff.

I’m going to face the cliff.







Listening to the music January 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — wakingupincanada @ 12:20 pm
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A friend is making me more interested in music. It’s a hard task. I am tone deaf and the culture part of my brain skips over music. I was told I couldn’t sing when I was 9, and my music teacher quit trying to teach my guitar when I was 15.  I enjoy music, it can calm me on my mat, it can motivate me to run faster on the treadmill, it can be a welcome distraction in a nightclub. After hearing it though, even before the last note, I will have forgotten it. I texted him a line from a really good song I heard at yoga, thinking he was someone who would understand. He asked who sang it, I didn’t know. What was the name of the song? I didn’t know.

So I’ve worked a little harder. The songs I love I’m trying to listen to more, to understand why I love them, to hear the words and the melody together, not just the lyrics alone which is what I usually do.

One song is by Adele, Make Me Feel My Love. I loved this song, loved the soft melody and the deep honesty. I thought she was a little crazy though: “I know you haven’t made your mind up yet, but I would never do you wrong, I’ve known it from the moment that we met, no doubt in my mind where you belong”. At best she’s being a little cocky, at worst, desperate and clingy. I listened and re-listened and maybe it’s about timing. Now I see someone who is confident in her own feelings, and trusts the person she loves regardless. You’ll never do a handstand if you’re afraid to fall over.

A new entry in my favourite list was Heather Blush’s Not Gonna Settle. This one to me is more about the music. The words tell me of someone who won’t settle for less, and won’t let him settle either, but it is the sounds that I love. The music reminds me of home, of a pub, not one of the so-called-Irish pubs around here. It sounds Irish, it feels Irish.

I flick through my I-pod at songs from my past; my friend played Step By Step by Whitney Houston the day I left my first “career job” to start working with young people on a daily basis. Kryptonite will always be Sunday night Karaoke in Banff and Ego by The Saturdays will always bring me to the Donegal Youth Council Advisors. I Will Always Love You reminds me that sometimes love comes in different forms and you have to bow out gracefully. Wind Beneath My Wings will always be my big sister and Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad will always bring me back to cleaning bedrooms with my best friend 13 years ago . Christina Perri’s Jar Of Hearts will be my baby sister helping me get ready to leave for Canada. Don’t Stop Me Now will always have me sprinting as will Katie Perry’s I Kissed A Girl, despite me prudish self disliking the lyrics at the beginning. Yer So Bad will be the sweetest gift I have ever been given. There’s a lot of work to do, but I am trying. I listen and keep with the music and not write, dance and talk through it. I am following up on good songs and downloading them and see what I make of them. I’m also trying to listen to older stuff, the “cooler” stuff, the stuff the newbies build on. This will need to be based on trusted references. I’m trying not to get caught up too much in the words but feel the music too.

I realise as I write that there is already a soundtrack of my life building and growing. I guess right now I’m just allowing someone else to advise me on how to improve it, enjoy it and feel it.



Hamstrings do not define me January 25, 2012

Filed under: life — wakingupincanada @ 4:06 pm
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According to my yoga instructor, tight hamstrings do not make you a bad person. Apparently, it is ok if you cannot fully extend your leg into the air.

My hamstrings are actually pretty good, which, of course, does not make me a good person.There are other places though, that I can apply her wisdom:

  • Tensing up when I think on the future does not make me foolish or short sighted.
  • Having a weakness for chocolate and wine does not make me a glutton.
  • Taking the drama out of situations does not make me boring.
  • Forgetting to send my sister a Leaving Card does not make me a bad sister.
  • Not focusing on “career” does not make me lazy.
  • Being kind does not make me a pushover.
  • Being lost does not mean I am missing.
  • Not being pretty does not mean I can never be beautiful.
  • Being quiet does not mean I am not participating.
  • Being angry does not make me wrong.
  • Being sad does not mean I made a mistake.
  • Crying does not mean I regret one single thing.
  • Being afraid does not mean I will not take the risk.






Patience and Peace January 19, 2012

Filed under: life — wakingupincanada @ 4:13 pm
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I am doing a challenge with Rocky Mountain Yoga here in Banff; for the next month, I will attend yoga 6 times a week. Today was Day 5, and I went twice. The Thursday morning instructor always asks us to have an intention for the session, a reason to be on our mats. Mine came to me today effortlessly: “Peace in the midst of chaos”.

There are many things going on now, mostly really fabulous things. It highlighted to me that my life is moving from my Zen-like holiday into normal life again: girly shopping trips,  a visit from family, a girls’ night out, a meal this weekend and Facetime dates. My housemates are now my friends and my co-workers are my gym buddies and with all this comes the usual pull and push of friendships, relationships, life.

On the mat, I felt the need to sync the first and second phase of my travels,  to keep me in that fresh, wondering, light space while fully engaged in life, work, family and friends. In focusing on my breath and my body through my positions, it brought me to realise that the world does not revolve around me, and that to fully engage with people, I need to look at things more from their perspective. I got a new lesson in kindness.

When I came back to my mat a few hours later, (Thursday is the only day I am on it twice, don’t worry), the word “patience” ran through my mind continually. As I struggled through some plank exercises, there it was, whispering in my ear. I looked out to the snow covered mountain and felt it’s presence, standing strong through the tests of time.

I’m not sure if it was telling me to be patient with others, with my yoga practice or with my own personal goals. Perhaps it was all 3. Some things take time, time to grow, time to heal, time to change.

I cannot rush headfirst and expect others to be my side, agreeing with me and my ways. Patience will teach me the kindness to accept things as they are, the strength to know that we all need to time to heal and grow and the love to smile through it.