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Don't expect words of wisdom or earth shattering revelations, just my thoughts and observations about living in Ottawa, being a public servant and trying to live life every day to its fullest

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fighting for what I deserve

I have made it clear ... I do not do new years resolutions. I believe that if something bothers you, you should be proactive and change it - not waiting for some artificial day on a calendar to start working on a "better" you. However this year, my epiphany happens to coincide with the change from 2011 to 2012, so it might be a little like a resolution, but I think it goes deeper than that.

I walk home a lot. And today, despite the -17C (-21C with the windchill) I walked home. I needed the time and quiet to think. To contemplate everything that has gone right and wrong this year and evaluate where I am, or where I am not. I thought I would be somewhere else by this time ... I am not sure where that was, but I am pretty sure it wasn't here. And yet I am here. I have been lulled into the easiness of this life and I have been complacent.

Emotions are a positive thing. They allow you to feel alive, even if they are emotions like sadness, anger or fear. I have been afraid of feeling, emotions are a sign of weakness, they show you care - and therefore that you are vulnerable and can be hurt. So I don't show emotions, I prefer to work it out in private and conquer them. By hiding my emotions, I have been going through the motions instead of feeling life, letting life happen to me.

By hiding, it easy to pretend that you have everything you want. But there are things I want and I don't fight for them. If I believe I deserve them then I need to make it known. I need to let people know I care and that not getting them hurts, that I do feel. That doesn't mean whining and holding a grudge when you don't get what you want. I does mean fighting for what is mine.

When I joined the public service, I heard a lot of long-term employees complaining that they had hit a wall because they didn't speak French. They were not doing anything about, they were whining. And recently I have found myself whining as well. I have become "one of them". Part of the reason is because I feel like I have been dealt the short end of the stick, but I suppose the truth is part of me is scared. Scared of trying and not succeeding, of making an effort, of having people put their faith in me and me being a failure! Not speaking French for me is the ultimate indicator that I am stupid. I need to make this a priority and I need to embrace the fear. I need to fight for French. But I am not sure I know how to fight.

In high school, university, grad-school, things came easily. I never had to fight for anything. And to a certain extent, I have been very lucky with a lot in life and it has come easily; a great job, fantastic friends, a nice house, the perfect cat. The few time when things got out of hand, there were people to show me an easier way. I have made a career of figuring out how to do things, quicker, cleaner, better - easier! Life is good ...

... but there is more. I deserve more. I deserve to be able to share all of this with someone. I have never chosen to be alone, it has been where my apathetic life has taken me. I have not fought. I have not stood up and told that special someone that they are what I want, what I deserve, and that they would be dam lucky to have me. It is time for me to fight for me. For me to stand up and say that this is what I want. It is time to stop being afraid of being rejected and the emotions that come with it (because the emotions are better than nothing) and it is time to take control for my sake.

I am going to learn to fight. I am going to start fighting. I am going to start feeling again.

Friday, December 9, 2011

On the road again ... and home again

For the last decade, whenever I started a trip, I would sing "one the road again ... I can't wait to get on the road again". It was something Donkey sang to Shrek and have not been able to get it out of my mind since. The song speaks to adventure, the unknown and the journey as much as the destination. So where have my destinations been over the last four-plus weeks and what have I learned along the way?

I was in Lac Carling (Quebec) for a week, helping to teach a course; I was in Toronto for a friend's wedding; I was in Paris and the Alps for some much needed R&R; and then I was back in Toronto for work. I have been in six different airports (some numerous times) and have rushed to make connections. I have dropped the cat off and have packed hurriedly late at night. I have left work early to get to the airport in time and stayed late at work to not have too much time to kill at the airport. I have removed my boots, belt, earrings, necklace and bracelet to clear security more times that I wish to remember (I am wondering why I wear so much metal ... by now I should know better) and I experimented with e-Boarding cards. I have driven 20 minutes to get cell phone reception and swum in a Canadian lake in November. I have wandered mountain paths at midnight in the snow and taken the subway at 10am on my way to the party, all dressed up.

In Lac Carling I learned that no matter how tired you are, the energy from the people you are supporting in their learning journey can keep you going and inspire you to push yourself to learn more too. In Toronto I learned that love can really triumph and that beautiful weddings can be planned in a few short months. In Paris I learned how much you can see and do in two and half days (all with the support of good transit and an even better bike-share program). In the Alps I was reminded how much hiking at altitude hurts and that sometime sitting still and watching the snow fall is just as important as running to the next museum. I have learned I like whiskey, brandy and steak tar-tar, and that if you want to go to Europe as a tourist, early December is a fantastic time to visit because no one else is there. I have also learned that you can not count on GoogleMaps for directions, or the boys in the car to help you find your way into the Quebec mountains, but that a decent map in Paris means I can even give locals directions. I learned that I make a decent guide and still know my way around Toronto and how to scout a decent dumpling shop. I learned that the line up for the Mona Lisa isn't as worth the time as the line up for the summit of the Eiffel Tower, and that old train stations make stunning spaces for art. I now know that duty free alcohol isn't always a good deal and that having someone drive you back from the airport beats a taxi any day of the week. I now know that clean up well when given the right dress and accessories, that even when traveling light extra layers are still important, and that I can do the over-night business trip with everything stuffed into a handbag.

I have also met and spent time with some fantastic people along the way. Some of them I have known for a while, but was able to slow down and spend time getting to know them, others I met for the first time and was inspired or challenged. The new guy at work and the not so new guy at work,my sister and her boyfriend, the bride's best friend, the groom's cousins, my friend's husband, the expats living life in the Alps, my parents. There were also the people that I thought about one quiet afternoon in a Montmartre coffee shop while writing postcards.

But the real destination was home. I am home. Home sweet home. It has been a hectic four week. I have an unknown stretch of the future here - and I am sure the cat is as happy about it as I am. The real journey is a reminder that as much as I have wonder-lust for new adventures around the world and the opportunities out there, the learning, the friends and the experiences, I like my place; my space; my life here.