February 1st was Saint Brigid’s Day or Imbolc, the Gaelic festival marking the beginning of spring.
It’s also a halfway marker between the winter solstice and spring equinox. It’s traditionally a time to feast, receive blessings and clear out the old to welcome the new.
We have a Brigid’s Cross/Brigit’s Cross/Crois Bhride woven from rushes made by my husband’s relatives in Galway, which we have brought with us over the years from our homes in Naas, Ireland to London, England and now Ottawa, Canada. It’s also meant to ward off evil spirits.
My great-grandmother’s name was Bridget and I was meant to be named after her…but I guess the name didn’t quite stick with me as a baby!
However, I find it interesting (and serendipitous) I ended up marrying an Irishman and living for a year-and-a-half in Naas, Co. Kildare, which is the original home of Saint Brigid…they even have the woven cross as part of their County crest.
While it’s the beginning of spring in Ireland, it’s still mid-winter here in Canada.
If you’re not into seasonal living, celebrating occasions or the idea of serendipity that’s cool…but I think you should keep reading as I talk about other topics below.
I’ve been thinking a lot about honouring my ancestors lately and in particular, how I can honour my grandmothers (and great-grandmothers).
I’ve been thinking about these women because of the opportunities surrounding us, which they didn’t have access to at my age.
The opportunity to vote.
To work. Alongside their children if they decide to. Or outside of the home while others care for their children.
To voice their opinions (safely).
To speak freely.
To create because they can. To create because they want to.
To make money from those creative abilities, if they so please.
I know I am fortunate and not every woman has access to the same opportunities.
I recently attended two events in January which further cemented my desires to continue honouring my ancestors and living in ways they could not during their lives.
One was a talk given by Carlo Lombard, a newcomer to Canada–now a Canadian Citizen–about public speaking and using your voice effectively to tell your story.
Many people in the audience were also newcomers to Canada–as my husband and son were a few years ago when we relocated from Europe–and were there to learn how to communicate more clearly in order to articulate the vision they have for their business ideas. Many did not speak English as their first language and were also using the session to practice public speaking.
I felt my privilege as a Canadian Citizen by birth and English as a first language speaker, as I sat in that workshop. The presenter had just received his Canadian Citizenship three months ago, after having lived here for the past decade.
My husband does not have the ability to vote here (yet) and he must travel to and from the country with his Permanent Residency card at all times. However, for the most part we have felt the transition into life here has been straightforward as he also speaks English as a first language and had previously lived, worked and travelled in Canada before me met.
But little things do remind us we’re a bit different: Having to provide details of when we arrived in Canada in order to register our son for school. Owning different types of birth certificates and medical records for our children. Maintaining multiple passports. Keeping up on news in different countries where we still have ties.
I am fortunate to have been able to move back to Canada and bring my family with me (for a fee and after completing the required immigration applications and screening requirements). Not because we had to or were forced to but because we decided to.
When we arrived, we were greeted matter-of-factly by the customs officers as we detailed our family plans (including a new baby!) and our belongings accompanying us but we did not feel like we weren’t welcome. We were nervous. Apprehensive. Hopeful we had remembered to complete everything properly.
It is easy to forget how it felt to wait for our immigration application to be assessed and approved over a period of months while we were living overseas. The alternate scenarios we had discussed in the event the application were to be rejected.
The uncertainty of waiting on someone else’s decision to dictate your next steps followed by the feelings of freedom and possibility as you start to build your life in a new place.
Last week, I attended the latest CreativeMornings Ottawa talk on the theme of ‘Roots’ where the speaker, Ian Campeau (also known as DJ NDN and Migizi Bebaayaad), explored the history of his people and their connection to the land, in particular the meaning of their language and the stories behind their words. He is Anishinaabe from the Nipissing First Nation.
It was a powerful and moving talk, full of raw emotion and challenges for the audience to unpack.
How can we honour the history of a place?
Give back what was taken?
Go back to the old ways?
It stirred something in me, as he spoke of reclaiming his language, which he was never taught by his mother, as his grandparents didn’t teach her for fear of the physical punishment she would receive at school if caught speaking it.
But he wants his language back.
So he’s driving 8+ hours to study the language in a church basement near where he grew up, as there isn’t access to his language and culture in Canadian urban centres.
Once his talk is posted on CreativeMornings Ottawa’s site, I implore you to watch it.
Both speakers touched on the fact, once you are ‘successful’ or ‘making an impact’, you can draw attention to other community groups and issues you would like to shed light on.
You don’t have to be wealthy or famous in order to begin the process of understanding why things are the way they are, telling your stories and taking steps towards positive changes.
There are parallels between their community-building efforts, personal experiences and the work they are creating…because they can.
I spoke with both of them after their talks about the work I am doing to advocate for parent-friendly professional development and how it has evolved over time.
These experiences shed light on my thoughts and recent activities around:
- Honouring my ancestors by living my life to the fullest
- Practicing gratitude for my privilege
- Using my privilege to create safe spaces in the community
- The power of sharing my story (and of you, sharing yours)
- Vulnerability as the ultimate connector and change-maker
- The act of creating…because we can.
Over to you:
I would like to know:
- What are you creating?
- Have you been resisting creating anything lately? If so, why?
- How can you honour your ancestors in your present life?
Send your comments to me below or via email: contact[at]amymaureenlynch.com.
Some things I am creating…because I can.
Handbuilding pottery pieces. I’ve taken a workshop and a couple of classes at Hintonburg Pottery, a local shop and studio, and am slowly building up my own personal collection of handbuilt pieces. It’s therapeutic, relaxing, inspiring and fun!
Parent-friendly professional development spaces and experiences. Babies, Business + Breakfast encourages primary caregivers to invest in themselves alongside their loved ones in a safe and inclusive space, with a focus on providing access to business and industry resources and connections.
Using my experiences, storytelling and intuition to help others with self-reflection more regularly. Call it self-care, personal development, life or business planning…I call it getting back in touch with yourself and listening to the inner voice we so often question or silence completely.
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Looking for more posts about using your intuition?
Read these previous posts about how I listen to my inner voice in everyday life and the services I’m currently offering: