Have fun when you can. Think all the time.

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August 23, 2012

Lessons from The Velveteen Rabbit

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.

But the Skin Horse only smiled.

August 17, 2012

In Love

"It was in love I was created,
and in love is how I hope I die"

-Paolo Nutini

August 2, 2012

A Favourite

“with your name on my mouth
and a kiss that never
broke away from yours.”

― Pablo Neruda

Forca Portugal!

"In 9 days I leave for Portugal with my entire immediate family. I am very excited for this trip for a plethora of reasons. Firstly, although I've never been there Portugal is a very special place to me as it's where my father, uncle, and grandparents were born and grew up."

I’m a little (okay, okay, a lot) over due on this post. In March, I travelled with my family to where my father was born and raised. Portugal. Travelling with my family made me a bit nervous, as the majority of my travelling has been done solo, which offers its own challenges, but allows you to do what you want when you want, without asking the group for their thoughts or opinions. My family also hasn’t been on a ‘trip’ since I was 13 and we stayed at an all-inclusive resort in Dominican Republic and Sierra was only 4 ½ (she’s 16 now), so it would prove to be...interesting.

This would be a much different trip. 14 days of my family of 6, in a giant rental van, driving all over Portugal to visit relatives I’d never met, beaches on the coast, ruins, historical sites, Fado clubs, and the small village my father grew up in without running water or electricity. On paper it sounds like equal parts disaster waiting to happen, and an adventure I certainly couldn’t wait to partake in.

After a layover in Ottawa and a delayed flight (which everyone took with stride) we were off! When we landed in Lisbon, Portugal I had the weirdest feeling of ‘being home’ considering I had never been there before, and never before had Portugal been on my radar of places I wanted to visit.

Throughout the entire trip I felt like things began to make sense. Pieces of the puzzle began to fit together and I started to understand myself better. Why my grandparents were the way they are, certain mannerisms that my father had passed on to me, even my fathers specific way of interacting with people. I saw people that looked like me, people that behaved like me, and everything became clearer. I didn’t realize, until I was there, how much could be answered by just being in a certain place.

One of the most emotional moments of our trip, was meeting our family still living in the village my Grandmother raised my father and uncle while my Grandfather worked in South America and Europe to provide for them. People in the community that hadn’t seen my father in 8 years (since he had been back to the village, and 30 years before that!) recognized him, they embraced each other and openly cried. Family welcomed us into their homes, sharing so much love for us that it was hard to believe it was our first reunion. Jao, and his family live in a 2 story home, made of particle board, heated by a wood stove, with no electricity and no running water. The village is slowly becoming a ghost town, as a nearby mill was shut down and the economic situation has forced many people to leave the area in order to provide for themselves and their families. Every second or third home is empty, abandoned by families who now only come to visit once a year. The village is surrounded by mountains and forests, and the fog rolled in, creeping over the hills making our joyous reunion feel somber and chilling.

We walked around the town, playing soccer in the streets with our young cousins unable to communicate verbally, they took us to the local hang out spot where we drank espresso and Super Bock, played pool, and visited the school my father attended until he left for Canada. Jao and his family cooked us the most delicious rabbit stew, and the homemade wine didn’t stop flowing until late into the night.

My Grandmother has always been ‘hard.’ I’ve found it hard to have a friendly relationship with her, and although I love her, I’ve often found myself jealous of my friends who have a personal connection with their grandparents. Seeing where she raised by Dad and Uncle, alone, apart from my Grandfather, seeing the fields she worked in the day after giving birth to my dad, because it had to get done, and being able to get a glimpse of what her life was many years ago has given me perspective to why she is the way she is. Why she had to be ‘hard’ to survive. Why she always wanted the best for us, but couldn’t necessarily articulate how much she loved us in a way that we could understand.

All in all, the trip was amazing. Portugal has been added the ever growing list of places and people that own a little bit of my heart, and I know that I will be back, to visit family, to spend more time, to explore, to (hopefully) learn the language, and to explore more of my culture as well.

While the rest of my family stayed in Portugal and travelled North, to Porto for an additional week, Brady and I started our 27 hour journey back to Canada. We had an overnight layover in Frankfurt, and decided to forgo going to sleep early and resting up for our last leg, and headed downtown to have some of the best beer Germany has to offer (why not!)

We were sitting in the most ‘German’ looking tavern, having ‘German’ sized beers, and feeling pretty good about life and about ourselves for choosing adventure over R&R, when we were approached by a local, saying that he had overheard us speaking English. He then asked us if we believed in God. What an odd way to start a conversation with two complete strangers. When we both answered that we believed in something, but weren’t quite sure what he seemed delighted. Apparently we passed the test. He congratulated us on “not being American,” and we went on to have a somewhat philosophical conversation about religion, Americans, and relationships. He then invited us on a walking pub crawl to give them an opportunity to welcome us to Frankfurt, because "we were his guests." Brady and I looked at each other, and immediately accepted the invite. What a better way to spend out 12 hours in Germany.

We had one drink at each place, and went from a smoky, laser filled electronic club where we had fermented apple juice (a German specialty I’m told, sour for the men, sweet for the women), playing ‘Crocodile Dentist” drinking games with the barkeep in a tavern and drinking cheery liquor, to a ‘beer fest’ type venue playing German metal, and lots of chest bumping. Our last stop was a club, where our 5$ cover got us entry and a beer, and the song that greeted us was “Barbie Girl” by Aqua. Brady got ‘roughed’ up by someone who recognized his Jet’s jersey and wanted to give him a hard time which ended in laughter, we danced, had some Jager, and hoped back into a cab so we could pack and rest for an hour before heading for the airport. After some minibar snacks (nowhere was selling food at the time we got downtown, so our adventure took place on an empty stomach), and some brother-sister bonding, we were woken up by our wakeup call 45 minutes later.

The rest of the trip was not my most enjoyable time spent on a plane, but well worth the fun and new found friends we made in Frankfurt.

With more pieces to the puzzle and a few good times later,
Delaney C.

“Someday, somewhere - anywhere, unfailingly, you'll find yourself, and that, and only that, can be the happiest or bitterest hour of your life.” (Pablo Neruda)

Me, at “Cabo da Roca” (a cape which forms the westernmost extent of mainland Portugal and continental Europe)


There is a German word, Fernweh, which means "crave for travel; being homesick for a place you've never been." What a beautiful word that so accurately describes how I find myself feeling more often than not these days, and have for the majority of my life.

Even as a young child I was inquisitive, thoughtful, always thinking and always imagining what was happening in other people lives, in other places, in other cultures, and how exciting it was to catch just a glimpse. I’ve been so lucky in my short 24 years to be able to have seen and experienced some of the things that I have. To have had the opportunities to travel to corners of the earth not plagued by mainstream tourism, to speak with locals about serious issues effecting their livelihoods, to work and collaborate with respected local organizations working with people in the area to change the future of their own countries, and to be able to focus on the moment at hand.

A year ago I decided that I would try something new. I would put down some roots, make some commitments, take some chances, not go anywhere for a while, and see what would happen. A grand experiment with my life so to speak. It’s been challenging, more challenging than I first expected to ‘stay put.” I find my mind wandering constantly, to the next adventure, to the next far away place, back to the places I’ve been, and the friend’s I’ve made.

I re-signed a lease on an apartment for the first time, meaning I’ve made a commitment to ‘stay put’ for at least another year, and while on one hand its comforting knowing that I have a place to lay my head, a stable long term job that I love, and a circle of friends that add so much my life I can’t help but feel that part of me (a very important part of me) lays dormant and in wait for the next time I can dust off my backpack and jump into the unknown.

I’m happiest when I am pushed out of my comfort zone. When I’m forced to try to make sense of what’s going on and have been given very little clues. I love the rush that comes from trying to figure out new surroundings, new people, trying new foods with names you can’t pronounce, overhearing new languages, new scents, and new environments.

I’ve been trying to keep busy in Winnipeg. Volunteering with community events (Jazz Festival, Fringe Festival) and community organizations (Elizabeth Fry Society) which has kept my monsters at bay as there is always something going on, something new to learn, and something new to see, however it hasn’t helped me find a balance, and I feel that as soon as I stop packing every day with excitement and high energy activity I’ll book a one way plane ticket to Istanbul and not look back (for at least 6 months anyways).

In the next year, I will become more comfortable with what is familiar. With what I know. With routine. I will work on finding a balance, on slowing down, on appreciating ‘down time.’ I will continue to actively participate in my community, to learn the finer nuances of my job, and to find ways to explore and adventure in my own back yard.

"If you learn to love, you might love life"
Delaney C