16 February 2008

Seeing green in Ottawa

Today was a good day. Unlike most Saturdays, when hubby and I typically slave over housecleaning, we went out and enjoyed ourselves by digging a little into our ancestral roots.

As part of my volunteer work as Chair of Communications for the Irish Society of the National Capital Region, I had to attend a fundraiser event for the Ottawa St. Patrick’s Day Parade. One of the largest undertakings of the ISNCR is the organization of the parade (March 15th) as well as Irish Week - a prelude of various events celebrating Irish heritage and leading up to March 17th.

Today’s fundraiser was held at the new Heart and Crown pub located at 353 Preston Street, right in the heart of Little Italy oddly enough. Despite the strange location, the pub itself is beautiful - very much reminiscent of the classic Victorian style pubs in Dublin. Pat Kelly, the owner, seems to spare no expense when it comes to building his pubs and creating that all-important cozy and welcoming atmosphere; with three other successful Ottawa pubs under his belt, he certainly knows how to capitalize on that Irish charm. I could easily see myself hanging out at the new H & C on a cold winter’s night, far from the typical hustle and bustle on the city’s trendy Byward Market. It strikes me as a pub without pretense and I like that.

Ceol agus agus craic (music and fun) seemed to be the order of the day and, thankfully, we seemed to have a packed house for the fundraiser. Guests were treated to the zany wit and humour of local singer/entertainer, Michael O’Reilly. Even if you’re not one for folk music, Michael will be sure to have you singing and laughing at his razor sharp comments - don’t you dare stand up to leave; he’ll call you on it! Definitely a funny man to watch, especially aided by a few good pints.

Perhaps the biggest draw of the day was a presentation from the Sue Fay Healy Irish Dancers – a group of the sweetest-looking little girls you’ll ever find. Don’t be fooled however, many of these young little sweeties are already seasoned Canadian and International Dance Champions. These girls train very hard and they also play a pivotal role in promoting Irish culture with their many community performances and dance-outs. If you have never had a chance to see Irish dancing, I highly recommend catching a performance. The girls are beautiful in their traditional dresses and it’s always a joy to watch them. It makes me wish that I had the opportunity to start Irish dancing when I was younger, as opposed to starting in my adult years. Sadly, Irish dance wasn’t popular in Ottawa during my youth; in many ways we have “Riverdance” to thank for its sudden proliferation.

Today’s event was just the first of many “Irish Week” activities to come. The more involved I become in my community, the more surprised I am to discover just how strong the Irish roots are in Ottawa. Even more promising is the fact that many second and third generation Irish-Canadians are joining societies like the ISNCR to help preserve their heritage, many never even having set foot in Ireland.

It’s difficult to explain the Irish Diaspora. There are an estimated 80 million people throughout the globe who claim to be of Irish decent, however this figure is over fourteen times the actual population of Ireland itself. Needless to say, there’s something about Irish culture that seems to appeal to the masses, whether it’s the cheesy North American fabricated image of “the merry drunken Paddy and his leagues of leprechauns” or a deeper appreciation for Ireland’s true cultural assets – “playwrights, poets, story telling, music and language, etc.” No matter how you slice it, being “green” seems to be a source of pride for many.

14 February 2008

Life as a Fashion Icon...

People repeatedly ask me, “How do you do it?” They are, of course, referring to my enviable style and class. For years now, Hollywood’s top A-List celebrities have been turning to me for hair, style and fashion advice. It’s not an easy job, but someone has to set them straight! My “look” is so highly regarded that some people even deign to copy me outright. Here are just a handful of my many students…..

From “beautiful and bright” to “boring and bashful.” I tried to help Katie out as much as I could, but she still fell for that psycho hubby of hers.

Paris often begs me for style advice in that ingratiating little voice of hers. Here she emulates one of my best looks…sadly, she needs a little more makeup to pull it off. We can’t ALL be natural beauties.

Charlize Theron is known for her poignant roles and her sleek style...all due to me, of course. Here she gets it right with my signature choppy textured bob.

From beauty to just plain “Biel.” Jessica is always copying me, much like an annoying little sister.

And the Oscar goes to….Me!

Youth and enthusiasm Vs. age and experience. Who will you vote for? Either way, both will lie to you!

09 February 2008

Woes of the rambling redhead

In short, I had a crap week. I lost out on a job competition for the posting that I really wanted and my overall confidence took a bit of a nosedive as I realized that maybe, just maybe, I’m not as faultless as I build myself up to be. We all fail and loosing out on this opportunity was a first for me. Maybe I was overenthusiastic to the point of being inarticulate or maybe it simply wasn’t meant to be; either way I’ve learnt an important lesson - nobody is perfect and we can’t always be first pick at everything. I’m disappointed in myself but I’m moving on and keeping my eyes open to new opportunities.

These next few months are going to be immensely stressful. I have volunteered my time and communications expertise to help out with the city’s Irish Week activities in March in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and will be using the bulk of my laughable leisure time to write/send news releases to all the local media outlets. As if things weren’t hectic enough on the personal front, I also have to plan several large public outreach activities at work. Here’s the real kicker - as of April 1st, I don’t even know if I’ll still be working for the Government. My term is coming to an end in March and I have just been informed that HR will have to run a full-on competition for my job in order to make the position indeterminate. To their credit, they do seem to want to keep me on and finally make me permanent, but this is the only way that policy will allow them to make the position indeterminate; it is the security that I have dreamed of for well over 5 years as a contract/term worker.

So there you have it - my full plate or woes and worries for the next few months. While I always try to write about the lighter side of life, I think it’s also important to let some of those fears off my chest. A good vent session is therapeutic and, if anything, some of you will at least understand why I’ve been acting “less than charming” lately.