Waking Up In Canada

Time Out Just To See

Another Year Over December 31, 2011

Filed under: New Year,Travel — wakingupincanada @ 4:28 pm
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And what have I not done? It has been a heck of a year.

As I look back, it is like an adventure unwinding. It began with meeting a new best friend in the early hours of January 1st. The month wasn’t over when I had the dream of running away, and I knew I was leaving Ireland for a while. I spent 2 wonderful months in Dunfanaghy, my hometown, under the refuge of my parents, enjoying it in a way I had never done before. I hung out with my 2 nieces and learned the importance of play to a happy life. I spent time with old friends. And, when I was ready, I booked my ticket and flew away.

I cried at the airport, was amazed by Casa Loma, walked the streets of Toronto and looked down at a baseball game from the CN Tower. I soaked myself in the spray of Niagara Falls, and took a long hike out to the Glens and got a little lost, finding the most beautiful view of the Whirlpool accidentally. I talked to strangers and made friends for a little while in children. I drank a peanut butter hot chocolate in Montreal and ran along the water’s edge. I was asked to go swimming by a man my father’s age in the middle of a park. I saw an outdoor adults’ gym of sorts, so easily done, I will bring the idea home with me. I wrote to my old colleague of the Bio-Dome and promised to work harder for my environment. I spent a day in the Museum of Civilisation, a day that was too short, and promise still that I will go back there. I ran below Parliament Buildings and looked out of the Peace Tower and fell in love with the Capital City.

I prayed in cathedrals and little churches and found my faith grew on a yoga mat. I wrote home to friends and family in texts, e-mails and letters and made new friends, slowly but surely but strong and sweet. I realised that my needs are much smaller and more easily met that I ever knew, and that there is something comforting about sufficient rather than substantial.  I fell down a hill on skis, and then learned to ski. I did headstands and handstands and ice-skated. I dressed as a Forest Nymph, the first time I took part in Halloween Dress Up since I was a child. I ran my fastest 5 miles.

I felt more deeply the love of family by taking time apart. I had wonderful chats with my nieces and nephew. I wrote and I read and I sat drinking coffee, watching the world go by. I walked on a frozen river and lay in Central Park under a hot sun.

My year is a photo album of memories. I’m not sure what my intention is for 2012, but on the 31st of December 2010 I would never have predicted being on the far side of the Atlantic Ocean. So perhaps in that lies the way ahead: I will say yes to the opportunities presented to me, and enjoy the blessings granted to me.

Slán agus Beannacht


I got nothing… December 29, 2011

Filed under: writing — wakingupincanada @ 9:17 pm
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I sit here tonight with nothing, no etch of creativity, no angle. I am between Christmas and New Year’s, my traditional time for hibernating, and really, barr the essentials that is all that I am doing. I read. And read and read. And eat. A lot.

One of the things I need to decide is, when 2011 ends and this Post A Day Challenge with it, what happens to this blog. Now, I know it isn’t good to talk about process, but this blog is my meandering musings about taking time away from my normal life, and this blog is part of the time away.

So, I sit here, 2 more days to go until the bells, and wonder, what becomes of Waking Up In Canada? I know it will continue. This page allows me to write, no, more, it encourages, motivates, inspires, challenges, freaks me into writing. I am grateful for it. I want to become a better writer though and, just like the Novel Writing Month, writing every day is more about seeing it through, about consistency, about routine. I now want to see how I can look at quality, and I think that may mean posting less, although writing more. I want time to draft and redraft, tweak and delete.

I am not sure. Again, I find more questions that I have answers for right now.


And peace to all people, all people on earth December 25, 2011

Filed under: Christmas — wakingupincanada @ 1:53 pm
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The child is born and hope wins over darkness, joy triumphs over despair and across the world for even just one day, we believe in something better, for ourselves, for our world.

I have spoken to my family to the point they have nothing left to say to me. I sit with my housemates and our adopted brother and parents, my Christmas pyjamas on at 2 in the afternoon. I will dress for dinner.

There is no denying the hard moments haunting many hearts in the past 24 hours in Banff. Perhaps those most homesick were those who didn’t expect it and there it was, as Christmas Eve turned to Christmas Day, that sinking feeling that they were far from where their soul felt they should be.

What is heart-warming as well as a little heart-breaking is the strong realisation  that it is not about place, but people. When people tell about their Christmas customs, there is no mention of the size of the fire place or the view of the beach. Nobody has discussed the quality or quantity of gifts. They talk about who makes breakfast and who they spend lunch with. They talk sadly about estranged family and excitedly about the kids. They recall their parents, their grandparents, their cousins, second cousins, cousins who are not actually related. They talk about the food they eat and how their mother cooks it best.

This is what Christmas boils down to, whether or not you go to church or not. The decoration is just like that on the Christmas Cake, it looks good but lies at the side of the plate as we savour the rich fruit cake. We stop. We enjoy. Together.

Happy Christmas folks.



Christmas Eve Eve December 23, 2011

Filed under: family — wakingupincanada @ 1:17 pm
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My parents’ home is full.

They are all at home now, and my sister-in-law and 2 nieces were also visiting when I spoke to them all. Sometimes the kids wanted to speak to me, sometimes they had other things to do.

I may not be there but I feel the love and happiness of that family feeling, the feeling of re-connecting, enjoying each other. When I take off my rose tinted glasses, I know things can get manic and loud and busy, and yet, even with it, it is that feeling of “we are family”. I will argue with you, shove you, drive you insane, but it is ok, we’ve got blood in common.

As I looked on, things were just the same, the way my sisters each have their own way, their own posture, tone, jokes, habits, way with the kids. The kids are growing and jumping and singing, becoming more of that person that they are. My parents were as they always were, my Dad talking breifly, my Mum talking about the little things and making sure I was warm. I thought I would find this hard, them gathering together while I watched on from a distance. Not so. I could feel the love, the fun, the madness of Family at Christmas. I am part of it, even if I am not there right now.

I remember a poem I studied in Irish class about the ties that bind, to a community, to family. I don’t know if I even understood the words but the sentiment seemed to be that of binding, tying down, holding back. I wonder what went wrong for him. I am in a different country, 7 hours ahead and I feel those binds holding me steady. When my family are all together, I feel them a little more snuggly, a warm hug on a cold day.

I say a prayer we will always have this.


My Big MOUTH December 22, 2011

Filed under: life,Uncategorized — wakingupincanada @ 6:02 pm
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I have a habit of speaking.

I speak too much. Too much detail, too much information, too much truth. I rarely lie or exaggerate. I don’t need to. I do enough damage without fabrication.

When my sister confided about her frustration with a lecturer, I lectured her on empathy and understanding and confronting her problems through dialogue and honesty. She just needed a listening ear.

When my housemate felt hurt at a friend’s comments, I advised her to stop being so sensitive. She just needed a hug.

When I accidentally texted a certain handsome someone a draft I’d written months ago, I nearly died. I went red. I wanted to reach out into cyberspace and grab it back. I stood in a snowboarding store wishing to fall into a large hole in the whole ground. But words, especially in the form of text messages cannot be pulled back, just like arrows. So I swallowed it. I let my mistake be. Someone was not in my life anymore. And I laughed.

BUT of course, a reply came. Instead of sitting silently, I burst out exactly what happened and why and shared my embarrassment. Why? I do not know. My love for the truth, for plain speaking, for an understanding that will not come?

In part, I blame technology. It allows me a medium for a quick response. I need the opposite. I need to be slowed down, stopped, forced to reflect.

Sometimes less is more. In make-up, for example and in jewellery. Less advice is more listening. Less judgement is more understanding. Less reaction is less embarrassment.

Lesson learned. For now.


Do not fear. There is no way Someone would ever come across this rant.

Is there?






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.