Category Archives: Life Lessons

Tomahawks and Giddy Up

‘If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come’ ~ Arapaho

Hay bales line the streets. Restaurants and bars take on a saloon-like appearance. The crowds, a sea of cowboy hats. Dusty boots, clicking spurs and faded-worn jeans walk the streets. I never realised what a big deal Stampede would be to Calgary, not only is the city transformed into a metropolitan version of the Wild West for the tourist invasion but I got a real sense of genuine local pride for the cow-herding, gun-slinging heritage of the province.

On Friday I went to the Stampede Parade, spectators lined the streets awaiting parade floats in the 31ºC heat. I love parades and festivals, on the condition I get a decent standing place in the crowd (I’m a little 5’3”) to watch the colourful celebrations. I love how the music fills the air and everyone is in high spirits and there to enjoy themselves. I love the dancers, the marching bands, flag wavers, balloons, bejeweled costumes, the horses. Maybe I’m just a really excitable person? Here’s a few of my favorite images from the day:

Perhaps this is the appropriate time to tell you that back in the deep dark dawn of time I bought Horse & Pony magazine and replaced my Transformers wallpaper with my Little Pony. Even now I have to say, horses are quite beautiful animals especially when they’re in motion cantering and galloping.

The parade lasted for about 2 hours, so I was shifting between standing and sitting, doing a little jig on the spot to keep my legs awake. I finally got to see the Chinese Cultural Society do their lion and dragon dances which was worth waiting for. Now cowboys are rootin’ tootin’ and all, but Native Americans are pretty awesome. Totem poles, tomahawks, dreamcatchers, battle cries, potlatches and pow-wows. Brave warriors and hunters of the old West.

So what else has been going on?

  • I have caught up with snail mail, so instead of online activity I’ve put pen to very pretty paper, mailing postcards and dusting off those air mail envelopes. I love the thought of my friends’ faces lighting up when something drops into their mailbox and they know I’ve thought of them. Now to tackle that scary looking pile of emails.

  • Uploaded nearly 1000 Banff photos, intrepid traveler tales will follow.
  • World Cup withdrawal. I get sucked in by world sporting events – the passion, the frantic flag waving, crowd eruptions and goal celebrations. I had backed Spain since England came crashing out, the final was very physical and tense. But I did cheer when Spain won especially after the Dutch ninja-kick foul that never got red carded. Must add to Bucketlist – Will attend one World Cup in my lifetime.

  • Becoming more and more demoralised by the job (or lack of) situation. I’m trying not to question my achievement and self-worth, but I see so many things I lack the requirements and experience for. Applications I’ve made (via job sites and speculatively) are hardly setting the place alight.  Should I reassess my career dreams? Should I go to graduate school? I’m really asking myself these things. If I don’t find employers willing to sponsor me to stay in Canada I will need to return to the UK by March. I graduated almost 1 year ago and it’s really denting my confidence that nothing has worked out. I don’t know how to sum up this year with a positive tone that recruiters will drool over. I have really been trying but it feels like I’m running out of steam. Limiting my job search to Calgary is really frustrating, maybe going back to England wouldn’t be such a bad thing. The term double-dip recession scares me, but maybe we’ll be out of it by then. It’s so tough. Especially when David has got a nicely paying jobs here.
  • Volunteering – been enquiring about tutoring in homework clubs for Grades 1-12, an internship at Shaw TV (something a bit different!), becoming a member of Big Sisters and having conversation meet-ups with Korean students wanting to get to grips with English. Not exactly career-related but I’m not one to sit around and do absolutely nothing.
  • Getting excited about Shark Week on Discovery next month. My first ever science career dream was shark and marine mammal research.
Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Building my CV, Calgary, Canada, Career, Graduate, Life, Life Lessons, Musings and Aphorisms, Nature and Planet Earth

Not Great Expectations

‘I am not in this world to live up to other people’s expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine.’ ~ Fritz Perls.

Panicked. Anxious. Questioning what I should doing and where I am now. There was I hoping my twenties would be a carefree existence with the distinct joy of finding myself and my place in the world. The moment the pressure lifts from academics, then the job search/be successful pressure hits full throttle. I feel guilty not knowing what I should do with my life with absolute 100% certainty, I’m chasing ideas and running with them (stong pull:fertility lab). But if something isn’t happening, when do I decide to give up and try another avenue.

The Daily Mail released an article today. It’s crazy how many of us fledgling adults are slumping into a ‘quarter-life crisis’, and sad that the pressure of life are getting to us at a time in our lives when we should be enjoying our newly found freedom and be full of hope for our futures. Instead many of us are directionless and uncertain. I remember a few months after I graduated feeling this way, I read the quarter-life crisis section of the Prospects.ac.uk forum and was shocked at how low some people felt. I remember one girl who had graduated in 2007, had been working temp jobs and just felt like a robot, sick of living with her parents still and wondered how long it would be til something came her way that was even loosely related to her degree. One guy shockingly felt so down that he had contemplated jumping in front of the train as his life felt so static, lacked meaning and had spent so much time unemployed and feeling useless that he thought he would never get employed. My heart broke for these people, would I feel the same if nothing had worked out for me years in the future? A shade of failure and inadequacy.

As the article suggested – take a break from the rat race and do something meaningful to lift your spirits. Which is precisely why I’m in Canada – avoiding stewing in my anxiousness and an unstable economy (plus the small matter of love). I have dipped my toe into the volunteer realm, the thoughts of making a difference at the dog shelter and getting started in a new project freed my mind from the worries of what I should be doing, but happy to do something I wanted to do. If it takes me longer to find my calling (scientific journalism? creative writing?) or be given a chance in the working world (Health Service hire me!) then so be it. It’s hard to say that and I do worry, especially when I see the busy streets and roads at 7am of people making their way to work and thinking ‘Shouldn’t this be me?’. What if my untapped potential fades away? What if no opportunity presents itself even though I keep my ears a-prick? What if I’m out of employment too long, does that make me a loser? Should I go to graduate school?

Something that always hurts when reading these articles is the insensitivity of some of the comments. Claiming Gen Y are a bunch of whiners and feel we are ‘entitled’. I certainly worked hard to get my degree but I never feel like I was owed anything. I think if it was known how many resumes some graduates have sent out to secure a single interview, the number of young people working for free just to get experience for the hope of an entry-level job in the future, the competition, the moments of feeling worthless. The vicious cycle of ‘needing experience, but needing some experience to compete for the experience opportunity’ plus the curse of student loans, maybe they could understand the upset.

The authors touch on pressures from the celebrity lifestyle. This certainly isn’t me, I love a new pair of shoes and something sparkly to add to my accessories carousel  as much as the next girl but if need be I can live minimally and on a budget. I think we’re bombarded with images of what ‘success’ is and by some mystical osmosis we start to absorb these projections. Which is the source of unhappiness. Success is purely subjective, it’s where you want to be. Expecting something unrealistic is only going to lead to heartbreak and stress. I’m still trying to figure out my definition of success (with happiness leading the list) but it certainly won’t be shaped by anything other than my wants and desires.

4 Comments

Filed under Building my CV, Career, Graduate, Life, Life Lessons, Musings and Aphorisms, NABLOPOMO, Personal Development

No Second Rate Substitutes

Why would an orange try to change itself to become an apple?

Just because there are more apples?

By doing so, it negates its own value – Vitamin C.

A fruit analogy to display just how important it is to stay true to yourself.

Never negate your own value and try to be something else because if you do, you’ll be nothing more than a second rate substitute. Brian Kim

Now I’m not too familiar with a fruit analogy telling me to be myself! But here are some things I do know…

When we are children, we are told to be nothing but ourselves, people would like us better that way. But as our childhood gets stripped away so we begin to hide ourselves away, maybe confused about what we think we should be and losing ourselves in the process. Well not losing, more like hiding who we are. I’ve always felt an internal demand not to reveal my true colours too suddenly but let them out in slow, controlled trickles. But lately I’ve been letting my guard down and they tend to burst out in pulses, uncovering who I am through gestures, conversations and expressions. No longer being chipped away at, more like stripping off layers. I will accidentally let my quirks and strange sense of humour out the bag and the best thing is people don’t seem to mind that. And I’m even surprising myself when I shine. Feeling good to no longer masquerade.

Before I was about 19 when I met new people I would either be really quiet (often mistaken for being cold and aloof, even though I was listening to everything being said and very interested, thinking of questions to ask) or I would feign super confidence and feel utterly exhausted for playing this character. I really didn’t know who I was. I have no idea which stone my confidence has hidden under or who paid its ransom but it finally found its way into me, better late than never. I have less qualms about saying what I really think in conversations, giving my views on controversial topics and slowly the awkwardness of revealing my true self is dripping away. Even feeling more comfortable taking the spotlight when it falls on me, when did that happen. The best part about it is I don’t have to fake the confidence it’s radiating externally and through my being because I’m more sure of myself.  I have always had so much to say and finally I’m voicing it.

I’m breaking down walls and resisting building new ones and I know people like me for being me and not a part I’m playing. I love meeting like-minded people who I connect with instantly, we understand each other from the beginning in an unspoken-but-it-will-show-soon way. Maybe through a passion for animals, books, science, life, living, making a difference, a whole myriad of things with a hope for it to run deeper over time. I might have the occasional moment where I feel a bit wobbly and uncertain of myself, but I just need to take a good look in the mirror and remember this.

It’s taken over two decades to get to this stage, but the more I realise THIS IS IT. NOW. The more determined I am to make the most of life and be a first-rate me.  Wouldn’t it be sad to go through this life as a unique, one-of-a-kind person and the world never to see that. To have all these hopes, dreams and desires but be too scared to live them out, to let fear run your life. You can’t let this happen. In us all is a confidence we need to find and as Oscar Wilde said, ‘Be yourself; everybody else is taken’.

3 Comments

Filed under Life, Life Lessons, Musings and Aphorisms, NABLOPOMO, Personal Development

Wings of Freedom

‘The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage’ ~ Thucydides (Ancient Greek historian).

I thought…

Gazing up into the sky, eyes transfixed on flocking birds. Sometimes darting unpredictably, other times in synchronous formation. Sometimes dropping through the sky, confident in their recovery. Dispersing and swarming. Encircling.

Fighting the oncoming air currents, riding determined, battling to regain their freedom.

So much space, so much sky. Their playground limitless.

I scribbled this down today in my sketchbook. We can’t sprout wings but I think we can learn a lot from birds – the importance of traveling together and learning from others (the reason birds can effortlessly switch direction is their movement influenced by those beside them, this following allows them to move in an interconnected network). They can make us pine for more freedom and fill us with wanderlust to up sticks and traverse the continents. We may question what boundaries prevent us from being truly happy and content. Birds illuminate the truth that you can go where you wish, you are not tethered, you can go where the wind takes you or let determination drive you to where you want to be. They remind us we are each battling our own air currents so we can open our metaphorical wings and glide on the breeze.

A favourite Postsecret, making a very good point.

2 Comments

Filed under Life, Life Lessons, Musings and Aphorisms, NABLOPOMO, Nature and Planet Earth, Personal Development

Down by the Lazy River

‘When you arise in the morning,

think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive –

to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.’

Marcus Aurelius

Just a reminder to live in the NOW and to appreciate our presence on Planet Earth. More than lucky.

1 Comment

Filed under Life, Life Lessons, Musings and Aphorisms, NABLOPOMO, Nature and Planet Earth, Personal Development

Creative Mind Never Sleeps

‘Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.’ ~ Edward de Bono.

Last night as I was staring into the darkness my mind was busy assembling a scene. It was raining heavily, smog encircling a lone figure and there was an immense feeling of loss and regret hanging in the air. Normally I’m busy untangling thoughts that have seeped into my unconscious during the day, rerunning a conversation or telling my mind to dump because its constant babble is keeping me from sleep. But last night it was weaving a creative piece and I couldn’t stop it. I promised to write it down when I woke up but upon the sunlight creeping through the window it had slipped away with the night. I was pretty frustrated as it was really going somewhere, or at least it was a starting point.

Science has been at the forefront of my mind, everything from critiquing research to coming up with investigative questions and experiments to lead to some answers. Trying to piece together concepts to get a full story, thinking of possibilities and applying research to the real world. This was something I found difficult at first but my brain slipped into these thinking patterns and being able to think for itself in a scientific way. I felt more like a scientist and less of an imposter playing pretend. I always got the feeling professors and teaching assistants  knew who was just winging it. It started to be natural and not forced, to an extent I had to think out the box and be creative, but it involves a lot of being able to think critically, with a splatter of abstract thought and logical inquiry.

Creativity keeps the world interesting

With my mind having been conditioned to focus more on the science-y stuff I thought other subjects may have got lost on the way. I got back into languages after graduation, what’s stopping me from getting back into writing creatively? Something I haven’t really done since I was in English Language classes – age 16. Something I don’t think I was really encouraged to do since primary school, I would write short stories with some really unbelievable and zany goings-on that my favorite primary school teacher Mrs De Val would coo over and tell me I would be a fledgling author. Then again when I performed in a theatre group (age 11, no teenage confidence dive yet) I was written a thank you letter from the producer/writer lady telling me an Oscar lay in my future, no gold statuettes thus far. Miss Bell, a maiden of physics, said a Nobel Prize could be in my future (I got the feeling she said this to every student pursuing science in higher education). So I don’t expect prophecies of greatness to come true when my name is involved, I just assume people are being encouraging to reach for your dreams and giving you hope and fire inside that you might achieve what you strive to be  – which is nice all the same.

Four things put me off a little from writing:

  1. I’m pretty conscious of the public reading. The main reason I took my journal public was because I was secretly reading many blogs and wanted to see if I could do it too, I have met some wonderful people blogging and love reading about their lives, that is enough to keep me going. I don’t want an earthquake of traffic but I love having those bloggers that matter and are genuine, I’m less wary of posting what I think here because I want people to know the real me. Isn’t it always pointless to not be the real you?
  2. I find it hard to take a leap from the diving board, not scared to commit or lacking determination, but I often feel that when I don’t instantly feel a small victory or I falter in my attempts I can get very defeatist and feel like giving up a little before I’ve begun. This is something I desperately want to overcome, I will write more about this and endeavor to change this attitude as I think it could stump any talents I try to develop. If I hadn’t neglected girls football, netball, kayaking, cartoon drawing, electric guitar and bass (some as I sucked, others due to costs or time) who knows where I would be now. I would love to feel passion for these things again.
  3. I don’t know if I have what it takes to piece together a story, develop characters and have all the glue needed to hold a novel in place. I’m not even sure this is something that can be taught. I suppose I don’t think I will have the continuity of ideas or a strong enough idea to carry through. I think I’m more a ‘moment person’, if I transport myself to a place in my mind, I can imagine the dialogue and the setting but lack the follow through to make it anything more than a moment.
  4. It’s too late to start. Though my rational minds say it’s never to late to start anything. Ever. Period.

Life is about applying what you know and learning some. Maybe I need to act on this.

Given the blessing/curse of having some time on my hands. I was tempted to try my hand at a children’s book, my boyfriend even offered to illustrate! We’ll see, I have a ridiculous mental list of stuff I want to do in my life and so many interests I would love to delve deeper into – maybe being an expert in certain fields someday!

This daily blog post challenge has certainly kept my journaling in shape. Sometimes I get to 11 pm and I’m still wondering what topic or thoughts to reveal to the world. But so far I’m managing, I’ve discovered daily blogging is exhausting but satisfying. I will probably do small posts over the weekend as I really want to catch up with everything online and off. This past week has been so energy-draining – Worry? Stress? Dull skies and rain? Silly insomnia? Maybe a case of all the above.

1 Comment

Filed under Arts & Culture, Career, Graduate, Life, Life Lessons, Musings and Aphorisms, NABLOPOMO, Personal Development, Science

Keep Moving

‘Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach’ ~ Tom Robbins

Thank you from the bottom of the heart for all who gave me their 2 cents with the decision issue. It caught me very off guard and I appreciate the encouragement. My main problem is making up my mind and not staying static and just blindly worrying. So after a weekend of not assaulting my brain with options it seemed to come almost to its own conclusion. Which seems to be how my brain works, if I take some pressure off, get outside and away from the computer it seems to work its neural magic and get me back on track. Like when you forget a name or the vital part of a fact, and somehow it will come to you in the shower and it’s a ‘A ha!’ moment. What precious grey matter! I am back.

Just making a decision is important. The very ability to be able to come to a decision and a calculated one at that is a skill in itself. The ability not to over think, stress and wrestle with a decision but to stay cool, collected and confident in your choice.

The scariest thing is facing the unknown, wondering how another choice would have played out and how different your life would be with this path in motion, there will also be the struggle with challenging the existing balance of everything and embracing change.

This is what I did. On Sunday night I emailed the laboratory director and explained my situation – the work permit 3 hours rule, which I suggested I could adhere to whilst waiting for medical clearance to be allowed to go beyond work experience and actually be employed in that environment. So after a decision has been left resting with me I’ve volleyed it back. I should also mention that the job was part-time with no benefits to speak of, but as far as getting my foot on a ladder and something of some career relevance, it works. And did I mention the cryopreservation area was awesome?!

This doesn’t chain me to Calgary forever, life happens and all you can do is make the best decision that is right for you at the time.  As well as thinking about what you want you need to be realistic and take into account the economy and job market. I hear the coalition government in the UK are cutting a lot of jobs in the public sector and things will get worst before getting better, wouldn’t it be foolish to not at least attempt to make the opportunities here work for me? So I wait for her decision now, if she says 4-6 weeks is too long to wait then I will make a mental note of ‘not meant to be and tried’.

Like the quote commands, flexibility. Your choices don’t have to encase you in concrete, stuck.

About two minutes ago I applied for a temporary job at the University, working full-time two months on cell lines and their response to therapeutic agents. Unfortunately the post has a strong internal candidate but hey, I am not standing still. Definitely still watching from my lookout post.

Still moving.

3 Comments

Filed under Building my CV, Canada, Career, Graduate, Life, Life Lessons, Musings and Aphorisms, NABLOPOMO, Personal Development, Science