Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Canadian Style

I think I forgot what Thanksgiving was having lived in Australia for the last 17 years.  But I have been quickly reminded while I have been here.  My senses have been awakened in the last couple of weeks with the smells and sounds of Thanksgiving.  

Walking not far from my sister’s home I was reminded of why autumn is one of my favourite times of the year!  The leaves on the trees were starting to change and the smell was fantastic.  I can’t really describe the smell, other than to say it was earthy and crisp.  It was wonderful walking through the forest; it was so quiet you could actually hear the leaves falling from the trees.  You could just stand and watch the squirrels foraging for food and hear the ducks on the lake.  It was absolutely calming.

Thanksgiving is all about being thankful for the life we have been given.  We never chose the life we have been dealt but we do have a choice as how to live it.  I have been very lucky to be born into the life I have and this was brought home to me when my whole family got together for Thanksgiving dinner (minus a couple of people).  It was so wonderful to sit back and listen to the laughter and the chatting of  parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, and uncles, this I am so thankful for.  But more so I am thankful to the most amazing friends I have, that made this trip possible because without their generosity and kindness I would never have been able to remember what Thanksgiving means.  I am blessed and humbled by having my friends in my life.

This has been such a world wind of a visit home, not expected by me or family and friends, but one that has been truly magical!  This was further reinforced last night when I met up with old friends, some I had not seen in 37 years!  Yes the age of 13!!  And funny enough it seemed that we just got together and carried on like there had never been the years between us.

This has been such a joyous and positive visit that it has reminded me how blessed I really am.  My batteries have been recharged and rejuvenated and I head home today looking forward to the next year.  I feel energized about what I believe I can now accomplish and look forward to pushing myself.

As for family and friends in Canada, adios, stay safe, healthy and happy.  I will miss all of you terribly but will see you again in the near future.  

Australia…here I come!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Coming of Age

As most of my friends will know, I am not one for feeling old.  Age to me is just a number and should never limit you no matter what the number is.  Well the other night for the first time in a long time I felt old!  Not because I was doing something that made me feel that way but it was during my nephew Chris’ graduation from high school!

You see I left Canada when Chris was 10 months old.  It certainly wasn’t easy leaving my family behind to start a new life.  But I was not only Chris’ aunt but also his godmother and I lived with my sister and her family, so not getting to see him grow up was really hard.  Sure there were visits home, visits by them to Australia and phone calls.  But they are never the same as being there.

Well thanks to my birthday present I was able to go to his graduation!  It was amazing to see him all dressed in his gown and cap with 154 other students and I must say I was a bit teary as he received his certificate on the stage.  I don’t think I have ever felt such immense pride as he walked back to his seat.

These young men and women have their whole lives ahead of them and that night was filled with so much promise and possibilities.   They are standing right in the middle of life’s great and valuable opportunities.  Sitting there listening to the awards that were handed out was utterly amazing.  We hear so much bad stuff about the young people of today but looking at those 155 graduates and hearing what they had accomplished I have no doubt that our future is in the hands of some remarkable  young people.

So yes on this night I felt every one of my 50 years!  Not in a bad way, but in quite a few ways really:
  • Sad, that I hadn’t been able to see all his accomplishments with my own eyes,
  • Happy, that he had made it to such an amazing milestone,
  • Proud, of the man that he has become
Congratulations Chris, thank you for being an important part of my life, I love you!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Love Surprises

A lot of people don’t like surprises, but I love them!  At my 50th birthday this past August my friends got together and gave the present of a lifetime…a trip home to Canada.  Boy I am lucky to have very nice friends!  It was the best surprise I have had in a very long time.  But with everything going on in my life I wondered how I was ever going to get there.  This was just before my trip to Denmark and then with London calling next year training was foremost in my mind.  So once I was back from Denmark I realized that the only time I could really take to visit family was right now.  I figured that this would give me a good few weeks to get my head together, have a break and be ready to put everything I had into my training for next year.

But as I said, I love surprises so thought “why not surprise my family”?  I am known to show up out of the blue but I seem to recall the last time I did that I was strictly told not to do it again.  It got the hearts racing a bit too much.  But this was too good to waste! (No I never did listen to what I was told!)

So I am now able to write about “The Surprises”.  And no doubt this blog will surprise the rest of my family and friends in Canada I have yet to tell!

I arrived in Canada last Wednesday and was greeted by a friend, Carolyn, whose home I stayed in for the night.  The next morning she called my mom and invited herself for a cup of tea.  About 10 minutes from my parents place I called and mom realizing that it would be the middle of night asked why I was calling and not sleeping.  Explaining that I couldn’t sleep and thought I would call she told me about Carolyn coming for a cup of tea, but she wasn’t sure why.  I then told her I was thinking of coming for a visit.  As it is close to Thanksgiving, she asked me if I was coming for that and my reply was “No I was thinking in about 10 minutes with Carolyn!”  Bugger me if she didn’t believe me!  I actually had to put Carolyn’s mobile on speaker phone so she could prove that I was really in her car.  Needless to say there was a lot of “Oh my god’s” and “I can’t believe it”.  When I arrived at the condo we both, mother and daughter had the same thought….take a picture.  As I walked towards the side door with my phone out ready to take a picture, she was holding her camera taking a picture.  Great minds think alike!

Since then I have spent a few days surprising other family, my sister – at a dinner she was having with friends, me just walking in.  My niece at her father’s, her mouth open and staring at me saying “Wha, wha, what are you doing here” and today my aunt at lunch.  I have even had a visit from my Australian niece Jamie, who married a Canadian, so is living in Montreal.  There have been tears, laughs, smiles and hugs and it has been so worthwhile!  It is hard living 16,000 km’s from my family and even though it is easy to call, Skype and email it is certainly not the same thing as a hug.
So as I said earlier, I have very nice friends, in fact the best friends that anyone could have and I have realized that sometimes life is too short.  If you get the chance to spend time with family, especially if they are so far away, you make the time.  You have to fill your life with richness and focus on what truly matters!  So thank you all my wonderful friends who have made this the BEST surprise that has been not only for me but has extended to the rest of my Canadian family and friends!