Waking Up In Canada

Time Out Just To See

Me on my Mat January 26, 2012

Filed under: life,yoga — wakingupincanada @ 9:20 pm
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It is Day 12 of the 30 Day Yoga Challenge.

I have committed to 6 classes a week for a month. I like my challenges: my fastest 5 miles, my Novel Writing Month and now, it is yoga’s turn for an intense period of dedication. My Mother would probably appreciate if I gave as much attention to my faith but in my defence, I do believe in living my faith through all my activities.

Now nearing the end of week 2, it is interesting to look at how far I have come. I am definitely stronger in my upward/downward dogs. I am managing a version of full wheel more often. I am balancing a little better in my half moons and reverse moons and aeroplanes. It is in my attitude that I am growing.

I arrived to my mat on Monday groggy and went through it. I felt stiff and boring and listless. I felt groggy still on Tuesday and then I remembered, I love this class. Tuesday evening Ashtanga is the start of my 2 days off. I smiled and moved and breathed. I love the instructo’s humour and hands on corrections. Wednesday was Flow and I went twice. It was a challenge in the crowded room, one fall over would have brought down at least another, and again I found myself digging deeper, softening my face and remembering my love. I loved this instructor’s wise words for contemplation in the midst of stretches adn balances. Thursday was Ashtanga and we were brought back to basics. It is amazing how little I know about the simple things and the wonderful opportunity to look at my foundations.

Why is it that when we commit to something we love we worry we will fail? As if the failure will bring with it punishment and condemnation. It rarely does you know, except from ourselves. Committing to something we love is saying yes to happiness, yes to enjoying the moment, agreeing to stick through the tough times even when it means putting our heads in the mat and just breathing in the energy to continue. Commitment means that at that moment, you show up. It does not mean that you are perfect, or that it will always be easy, or that things will work out the way they should like in a fairytale. Commitment is not something imposed but voluntarily given. You give because you love it, because the rewards, be they in emotional support, in health, in laughter or in love, outdo anything that you can give. My mat asks nothing more of me than to be on it, just as me.

I will be on my mat. I will be present and fully engaged. I may be stiff and tired but  Iwill be me, at that moment. I will be grateful for the opportunity to practice what I love.


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.



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


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.


Ah, rest December 8, 2011

Filed under: rest — wakingupincanada @ 11:44 am
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How happy I am! I awoke and wandered to yoga, I moved through my positions loving each one and then those beautiful words: Savasana. She told us after activity, we need rest and I smiled, as that was my day in full: Rest.

I have had a busy week, a busy few weeks, darting here and there, writing, skiing, living. Today though, is just for me. No plans, nobody to meet, nothing that has to be done. It feels good. I made a list of the things I want to do today. I like lists, you see. All that is on there is the nice stuff. My favourite cafe, read a book my friend is co-writing, maybe e-mail some people. I’ll pop into the library and re-charge my Kindle.

I look at the people around me working 2 jobs, sometimes 3, and I wonder where they get the energy. I love my skiing and working and socialising and writing but here, in the rest afterwards, this is where I glow.



Happy to be me December 7, 2011

Filed under: ski,Travel — wakingupincanada @ 10:22 pm
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The morning on the slopes was fun, it was ok; I learned more about skiing and balance and speed and turns. Then, after lunch, at the top of the chair lift, we took the plunge and went left instead of right. By the base, we were in love. We had found the bug, the thing that brings people back day after day, sees them move to these hills for winter. There it was, on those wide open white runs, in amongst the half-pipes and trees and drops and inclines.  Letting go and soaring along, working my legs to speed up and slow down and turn and laugh and fall over and stand back up, I found what the others had told me about. This week it wasn’t about doing it; it was about loving it.

I arrived at my mat after a short nap, happy, tired, at peace. The bamboo is not jealous of the oak’s strength, the oak not jealous of the bamboo’s beauty, and I breathed through yoga, happy to just be me, right now, right here. The wise words of my teacher move through me hours later as I think back and say thank you. Whoever or whatever guided me here, wow, this is the life.