Waking Up In Canada

Time Out Just To See

Hello, walker February 10, 2013

Filed under: life,Run — wakingupincanada @ 10:14 am
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A lady sits across the cafe, and her long sleeved cotton t-shirt reads, “Running is Cheaper Than Therapy”. I smile, longingly. I agree; the roads and paths and trails and beaches that I have run on are strewn with my issues, worries and concerns and I picked up instead humour and perspective and peace.My hip is sore and it has been 2 weeks and 3 days since my last run and I miss him, my run. I miss my out of breath-ness and my rhythm, my focus and my time out. I miss him, my therapy called Runner.

I walk now. I need to do something, it doesn’t hurt (much), and it gets me moving. I am trying the slower pace of life. I have to work harder to stay focused or I lose speed and then I am just dandering around the countryside. I only like dandering around the countryside when I’ve planned to, and I don’t plan to. Not as an intention, I am not sitting here thinking, I will never dander around. Simply, it is something I don’t make plans to do. Perhaps it would be nice to.

In my 4 walks, I have managed to knock almost one minute of my mile, quite an achievement but not really, it’s more about oiling the wheels and remembering to push it, and now a runner with her blue headband comes in, purchases a coffee, or a green tea to go, and leaves.

I am sure there is a lesson in this. “Life is not meant to be run through” perhaps, or “slow down and savour the journey”. Perhaps it is simply, “Do not run 8 miles on a Saturday when you have barely done 8 miles in the past 2 weeks”. That, though, isn’t likely to make it on wall hangings or fridge magnets, but it should: more practical. Maybe it is, “Even when you can’t do it all, do some”

So I am a walker now. It is more empowering that injured runner. He is not quite the therapist my runner was, but maybe we will become friends.


Slow down February 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — wakingupincanada @ 6:55 pm

On the chair lift, I watched a skier come down the hill. His skis were parallel and he was fully in control. He looked as if he were going slow, yet on that hill, with his skis narrow, I knew he was doing a good speed. He looked slow because he was in control. He knew what he was doing, maybe instinctively and was able to enjoy the ride. Me, on the other hand, still fought the hill. My skis often pointed uphill to slow me down, along with tight turns and ploughing the snow,yet  feeling as if I were speeding down the hill.


It took me to wonder about life.


I cannot believe it is the 29th February. I am now over 6 months into my trip, and yet it still feels new and fresh and sometimes, scary. I look at my day to day, the simple places where life happens. I struggle to make it to yoga as often as I want. I struggle to make it out for a run and up to the gym. I struggle to write and fight myself over whether to or now. Work is 8 hours of my day and yet I seem to let it expand and take more time and energy than I am paid for. I put of texting people until I have more time and suddenly I realise it has been weeks since I last got in touch. I see new relationships that I want to invest time in, and wonder what I give up to allow me this.

Through all of it, I feel guilty and rushed.

At yoga this morning, we focused on balance. Learning to balance in our bodies, we can begin to look at balance in our lives. Where is energy being leaked?

I think on the skier who didn’t fight the mountain, but gave in to its slopes and enjoyed the ride, holding his body balanced and strong. When he slows down his own instincts and allows it to come naturally, without fighting, he looks calm and serene. He looks like he is enjoying it.

There are 24 hours in a day, or 1440 minutes. From today, I will look at spending them in the best way possible. Sometimes that will be sitting, staring into space. It will be using an idle 30 minutes to run, rather than seeking a free hour. It will be sitting to write instead of always sitting to read, or eat, or follow Facebook.

I realise that it is not about cramming every last thing into my day, but giving gladly to that which I do, letting go of that which I can’t and not allowing time to slip idly by. By being in control, I can slow myself down. There are times when I know I need a run, instead of thinking, I don’t have time, and taking time to work out if and when I would have time, I should take the time, be it 15 minutes or 90. Who said it had to be all or nothing?

 It will be fighting the urge to be dull, and instead aim to be effortless.




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


Learning December 6, 2011

Filed under: Travel — wakingupincanada @ 6:06 am
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I felt like I belonged. I was walking home with my skis and my ski boots and my poles. All mine. No more renting for me, these are mine and I no longer have to come home, tired and heavy and troop back into town, a full 5 minute walk, to drop them back to the store. I felt like I belonged just like those people we see all day walking up and down Banff Avenue with their skis or snowboards.

Now, we are planning our next day on the slopes. I hope my skis are ok, and I wonder would I know if they are or are not. I am still very green. The gleam of last week’s success glows inside me yet I wonder what this week will bring. I am learning again. As my time at yoga has taught me, learning is not a linear trajectory but curves upwards and downwards, and even backwards as it moves forward. My driving instructor once said that learning to drive was about moving from unconsciously incompetent to consciously incompetent to consciously competent to unconsciously competent. Or put simply, from not knowing how you are doing it terribly wrong to not thinking about how you are doing it right. So the more I learn, the more I know that which I do not know. I wonder what I will learn that I do not know this week. I hope I always remember how to get up after I fall, and after that I guess I just have to keep pushing through.

Isn’t it strange that it has been a long time since I learned new things? I tried Spanish but quit. I tried philosophy but just did one term. And here, I am now trying yet another new skill. I am quite proud of that. As much as I would love to just keep running and reading, I love that when I get home I can talk about this new stuff I tried. Me, who likes her routine, her usual, her traditions; I am trying new things.


December 1, 2011

Filed under: NaNoWriMo,writing — wakingupincanada @ 8:15 am
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I suddenly have a lot of time on my hands. I have just had an extra hour in my warm, cosy bed, which may be the ultimate item of a life of luxury.

When you are struggling to fit something new into your life, try fitting in another bigger project for a few weeks. When the bigger project ends, suddenly the smaller project can have a lot more time devoted to it. I sit here writing thinking of how little writing I need to do today. Even the days that I didn’t write, at every free moment, I knew I could, and should, be writing.

Instead, today I am going back to the hills. My rental skis are outside in the door waiting for me, and I am determined to spend more time on my feet this time. I look forward to yoga tonight, having given up 2 sessions already this week to focus on writing. Tomorrow, I plan on hitting the treadmill hard, not to recover from skiing, but because I have missed running. In my head, the sign “resumed normal service” has been posted. I will read again. My books are sitting waiting, lonely and hurt at the neglect. My alarm clock will go off an hour later from now on.

Somehow, sometime, I will look at how I can give a little more to writing. A little more time and energy, a little more criticism and review. I still read words and wonder how beautiful a collection of jumbled letters can be, how small little words can hold meaning and inspiration, love and motivation. I wondered if writing 50,000 words in one month would crush my love of words. This would have been a worthwhile lesson in itself, but no, instead it re-affirmed my love of story-telling and sentence building and letting my imagination go. I will stop writing about writing for a while.

Life resumes on December 1st. It resumes from a prouder point, a higher level, a happier spot.


Doing it better November 9, 2011

Filed under: Run,Uncategorized — wakingupincanada @ 7:38 am
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I am thinking about my run today. How long? Where? How fast? I remember the morning run I would do on Fridays at home. I loved that run, a 4 mile loop of the town, and I chose it because it was the only area that had any traffic at that time of the morning. People were friendlier. One morning, I helped an older lady cross the road. She was on her way to the hospital and we talked. She lifted my mood for the day and inspired my soul to kindness.  There were mornings I would head out in the dark and meet the sunrise en route.  Sometimes I ran alone, sometimes with my run buddy JK. It was the best way to start the day. I’d be home in 45 minutes and the idea that it was less than an hour helped me out in the morning.

It was the “easy run” of the week, 2 miles downhill, just under one mile flat and the rest uphill. We joked that we wouldn’t bother putting on our trainers for 3 miles. The 5 mile route we did in the evenings, that was the standard.

Here, my runs are sometimes 5 miles, and often are 3. 8 has been the furthest. 3 has not become the easy run because I run it hard, trying to find a speed I’ve never had before. I have not become lazier or busier. I’m actually faster, as my Winterstart Race on Saturday proved to the world and my sister. It strikes me that all that has happened is a change of perspective. I think what I am realising is that further is not better, that there are more than 2 ways of skinning a cat, and a change is as good as a holiday.

There are many clichés thrown in there. My point is though, sometimes we compare what we are doing now to what we did before. We think we should do more. We forget to wonder if we can do better.

We are always told we should mix up old routines to keep our bodies and minds working. I thought this meant going heavier, faster, longer.

Today, I am going to see if I can just do it better.


Waiting for snow October 30, 2011

Filed under: Run — wakingupincanada @ 10:26 am
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It is 10am and the sun is beginning to shine down on the garden outside my kitchen window. I am sitting drinking hot coffee, in big socks and a blanket around my shoulders, slowly thawing out. I headed out in my running gear as soon as it was bright enough and ran 5 miles along a white sprinkling of snow. I didn’t realise what the ground looked like before I left the house, and I am glad or I may have stayed in bed.  Instead I enjoyed this morning’s scene. The cold was bracing. It isn’t completely white, nor even close. There is frost and, here and there, patches of snow. It was as if the snow was inside a giant shaker, the kind that sprinkles the top of brownies. A ridiculous gesture I think as the brownies are sweet enough and the fine powder doesn’t really do anything to enhance the taste. But the snow sprinkles this morning are beautiful. Some places have a gentle layering, others not a trace. At a couple of points the footpath seemed slippy but I ran on trails mostly and the snow was just perfect; white enough to appreciate, thin enough to run on. A few people were out and about, walking along, taking photos, smoking a cigarette while watching the river. After 5 miles, I ran towards the road, and there standing in a little green space along the path was an Elk. Standing tall and proud, he looked at me. For a split second, I thought he may ram me, or bolt in front of traffic. No. He stood still and calm and just looked. I ran home.

I know my days are numbered. Soon, the ground will be too icy to let me run, and then it will be the gym or the slopes. I came here to appreciate a long white winter and it is only now I realise that I will have to give up the running to accommodate the snow. I’d never thought of it like that before, perhaps I never realised running was something I don’t want to give up. I used to love good excuses not to run. I’m not sure when running stopped being about exercise and started to be something that brought me back to who I was. Somewhere on those trails, regardless of place or time or events of the day, I get my quiet head space and hear myself be me. We are waiting for snow in Banff. I think I’ll run while I can.