Life

Winter Wonderland

img_0740

 

Some of you are probably not going to like this post, and that’s okay. But it seems that Christmas Day is the one day everyone wants to see the scene in the picture above, and most of the time (at least where I am) it doesn’t come. The white stuff seems to be plentiful once the holidays are over. Which isn’t convenient because we are all back at school, work, etc. By now, some of you are depressed from all the snow and the thought of listening to any song praising snow and winter just makes you want to punch something – or someone.

Here in the Great White North, we are accustomed to long, cold and snowy winters. Many decide to head down to the all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, while others less fortunate opt to hibernate and binge on Netflix and the like. Nothing wrong with that, however, I choose to embrace winter. That’s right, I actually love seeing the snow, though I hate it when I have to drive in it. But I mean winter is part of what makes my country unique. There is something celestial about hearing the snow crunch under my boots, gazing at the white stuff while inhaling the frosty air. And I want to share a few things to help you embrace winter since you can’t always rely on the possibility of an early spring.

Here are some of the ways you can enjoy winter. For those of you living in warmer climates, feel free to laugh or share this with friends in colder climates.

  1. Skiing – my favorite winter pastime since I was eleven. It’s great exercise and it really gets the adrenaline going. You don’t have to go to the Rockies or the Alps to enjoy skiing (unless you want to). Even a local ski hill will do just the trick. I am fortunate to be within 100 miles of at least six ski hills, and I currently have a season pass to one of them.

img_0742

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Skating – another favorite of mine, and often a more economical winter pleasure. There are bound to be lots of indoor and outdoor choices near you, and if you don’t own skates, you can rent a pair for a modest fee. Plus, it is a great thing to do as a couple or a family. You can even indulge in hot chocolate afterward.

3. Snowshoeing – if skating or skiing isn’t your thing, snowshoeing can be a substitute. All you need is a pair of snowshoes and access to a forest or hiking trail. You might even spot a few furry creatures along the way, such as squirrels.

4. A simple walk through the woods – no equipment needed, just simply take a long stroll down your favorite walking trail. I am also fortunate enough to live close to a mile-long trail that cuts through a forested area. It’s good exercise, fresh air and a chance to get in touch with nature. One thing I love about winter hiking is no mosquitoes, which means a relatively peaceful walk.

Now you don’t have to do the following every day. With our daily grind, it is just not possible. But just once a week is better than nothing. It would be a shame to spend all winter cooped up, soaking up screen time.

One way to bring calmness into your life is to appreciate the present moment. We often get so caught up with what lies ahead, we forget to pause and reflect on what is happening right now. Instead of hating winter and wishing it away, it is better to appreciate it while it is here. Spring will eventually come around.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reflecting on 2019

untitled design

 

So first of all, I want to thank those who commented on my last post about Poland! I wasn’t expecting such a huge turnout! Funny how things happen when we’re not expecting them!

I’d also like to apologize for not posting as much on my blog as I normally did in years past, as well as for not being active on Twitter. I will try and make the former more of a priority. As with the latter, well…my plan is to come back to that when my debut novel is finally finished. I just don’t like to brag as much about my personal life as other authors.

Anyway, with 2020 just days away, it’s time look ahead to the potential fortunes of the new year. But before you do the countdown and crack open the bubbly, try and look back on 2019. I mean once it’s gone, it’s gone. A friend once told me that it’s good pause and reflect on the recent past and present. It helps appreciate what has been accomplished. We often get so caught on looking ahead to the future, we don’t stop reflect on what we have already achieved. What were your biggest achievements of 2019? Was 2019 not your greatest year? No worries! It might be a good idea to look back on what didn’t go so well so that 2020 can be better.

I thought I would share some of my top fives of 2019:

  1. I successfully completed my teaching contract in Poland
  2. I voluntarily created a LinkedIn page for my former school
  3. I helped a woman get home after she found herself stranded in my town
  4. I visited new countries: Hungary, Croatia and Turkey
  5. I made significant progress in my novel (ten chapters written)

 

Unfortunately, this year saw the end of five-year friendship. Actually, this friend lost me. After enduring months of his toxic attitude and jealousy towards me, I had to kick him to the curb. As much of a relief it was, it caused a lot of pain since we had been friends for such a long time. A lesson learned: any friend who is constantly jealous of you, criticizes your actions and holds a grudge for petty things is NOT a friend! The good thing that did come out of this is that I learned to stand up to people that rub me the wrong way (a weakness for many years).

Sadly, my uncle passed away this year at the age of 85. He was a wonderful man, always treated me like his own son whenever I visited him, and a tireless worker, father and husband.

I challenge you to look back and write down five of your biggest accomplishments of the year, and even one of two things that didn’t work out for you. Think of it as saying ‘thank you’ to 2019.

And on a final note, Happy New Year to all my loyal followers!

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , ,

A Town Called Radom

 

I thought I would talk about this town I have been living in for the past nine months: Radom. Since last September, I have been teaching English to children and adults in this small city of about 200,000 inhabitants. Radom is located 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Warsaw. To be honest, it is nothing to look at in terms of touristic appeal. It is considered a working class town where a lot of locals actually commute to Warsaw for work. In fact, my Polish friends in Warsaw – and other Poles I’ve met in my travels – ask me, “Why are you in Radom?” “Well, I know it’s not the prettiest place,” says I, “but what’s the big deal?”

“The city is cursed,” they tell me. Cursed? At first, I had no idea what they were talking about, but later I learned that Radom staged a revolution against the communist government in 1976. As a result, the government stopped supporting the city, leaving most Poles believing the city is cursed.

But in all honesty, Radom isn’t all that bad. The cost of living is much cheaper than that of the bigger Polish cities, it has a lovely high street full of cafes, restaurants and bars. There is also a huge shopping center where most of the locals congregate on weekends. It has a bus and train station where I can be in Warsaw or Krakow in under three hours.

So how did you end up in Radom?

It all started over a year ago when I was living in Ottawa. I was unhappy with my current situation and looking for a new job. I had a mutual friend who was teaching English in Radom, and suggested that I apply to the school, which he was teaching at. I did a little research on the city, mainly relying on Wikipedia. My friend was blunt. He told me the city wasn’t much to look at, and that life there can get boring really quickly. Nonetheless, I applied for a job, had an interview with the director a week later. Another week later, I was offered the job, and promptly accepted it.

What do you do there in your spare time?

Wind down from a long week, walk around town, work on my novel in a café, and go to the gym. Most weekends, I travel around Poland and during the holidays I travel around Europe.

Anything you particularly don’t like?

At the time of writing, the city doesn’t have an airport (well it does but there are no flights in operation). So if I need to fly somewhere, I have to use Warsaw Chopin Airport, which means carefully timing logistics so I can make my flight. The city is beautiful in the summer months, but during the winter it’s a ghost town where many bars and restaurants close early. What really irks me is that during the winter months it gets dark at 3pm! It’s also not great looking at the many apartment blocks in the city.

How do the locals perceive foreigners?

Some are genuinely curious about them, others wonder why I am even there. I have even be told once, “We don’t want you in our town!” I simply took that with a grain of salt. I have come to accept these negative opinions, but I also remember that I am here providing an invaluable service.

What do you like best about it?

I can walk everywhere. In fact, it only takes me five minutes to walk from my apartment to work. I wouldn’t have this if I lived in Warsaw or Krakow.

Would you recommend other foreigners to follow your path?

Radom, for me, will challenge even the most seasoned of travelers. One must be fully independent and able to entertain themselves. They will also have to be able to sacrifice certain creature comforts like Starbucks. At the time of writing, there isn’t one in the city. However, there is McDonalds and Pizza Hut.

One thing that foreigners would find interesting is that Pope John Paull II once visited Radom and prayed at the intersection of the place where the revolution took place. Kind of nice if you are a history buff. And Pope John Paul II is revered here (he was Polish himself).

Just to be clear, I am not criticizing Radom. I am simply sharing my reflections on my time here. I am glad I came because it has made me stronger professionally and personally. I now feel a greater sense of gratitude for my own country and community. This is something that so many of my countrymen take for granted. Perhaps Radom will grow and maybe become a booming metropolis like Krakow or Warsaw.

 

Categories: Life | Tags: , ,

Blog at WordPress.com.