Are You Clumsy or Just Lazy?

Stumbling along the fine line between careful and careless.

When I meet someone new, there is a race against the clock to get a wide-sweeping disclaimer out there in the open: I am very clumsy. If we go for a walk, I will trip often. If we go out for a meal, I will spill food and drinks.

It’s nice to say it out loud a few times to lay a good foundation for when an accident inevitably happens. Oh, you’re surprised I knocked this whole display over? You really shouldn’t be seeing as I’ve already told you at least once a day for the last three weeks that I am a Clumsy Person. A stumbling, bumbling, butterfingers…

I once heard a comedian make a joke about not using napkins in his lap (lapkins? anyone?). He said that as a grown man, he believed in himself enough to get the food from his plate to his mouth. Me on the other hand, well, if it were socially acceptable for adults to wear bibs in public, I would.

Case in point: Yesterday I cut my top lip while aggressively eating an avocado right out of the peel. Was I really in such a rush? No. Was it that good of an avocado? Yes, but not enough to stab myself with a spoon.

But it goes beyond tripping over my feet and spilling coffee everywhere and always. I’ve had a few incidents that have really put my health at risk: setting my hair on fire, getting electrocuted, etc.

My problem is that I am often absent-minded, not day-dreaming exactly, just that my thoughts can wander elsewhere. I barely give a second thought to the menial tasks of everyday life: eating, walking, etc, and it gets me in trouble. I am quick to blame it on being “clumsy”, and I am now afraid it is just a myth. Claiming to be clumsy all the time is a cop-out. I fear that I’m actually just lazy and careless. If I could re-align my priorities, I’d focus on being present, conscious, and intentional in all things. If anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing well, no matter how menial it may be.

Real Maggie is clumsy, Ideal Maggie is careful.

Are You Clumsy or Just Lazy? first appeared on Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra.

Image source: 1.


O Canada…

The True North Strong and Free.

Parliament Hill - May 2013

We are in unchartered territory and I don’t really know where to begin. A situation that is still ‘fluid and unfolding’. My beloved Ottawa, my home for four years, in lockdown and under attack. One of the longest days. Watching, listening, following along feeling helpless and horrified. And now, more than twelve hours later, we are still in the dark.

War Memorial - Nov 11 2009

My former journalism student instincts have never really gone away. I love Twitter, and I continually browse headlines during the day to keep an eye on things. It makes me feel like an adult to have a basic understanding of and ability to form a valid opinion on current events. I have taken to reading news on the CBC website, one, because it’s still free, and two, it seems mostly free from partisan bias. Around ten this morning I gave the CBC home page a quick browse, and felt my stomach plummet. Quickly pulling up Twitter, what followed was one of the darkest hours I’ve ever experienced, filled with misinformation, graphic and disturbing photos, and several first-hand accounts from Canadian politicians and journalists on the ground. This whole day has been surreal.

Parliament Hill - Nov 11 2009

I am lucky to follow some truly fascinating people. Their collective commentary during any major event, be it an awards show, the Olympics, any major breaking news, Ferguson in the last few weeks, and now today, is always on point. My carefully curated group of journalists, politicians, key contributors, and news makers, and those who they follow, are always witty and informative. After spending four years in Ottawa, I am following a lot of folks on Parliament Hill, and too many of them were caught up in this fray today. They provided terrifying and viscerally real accounts of what they saw and heard. For me, Twitter is not filler, it is often the most up-to-date and reliable source of breaking news, much more than cable tv or radio news. These people are on the ground and they take their jobs seriously.

Canada Day - 2012

I checked in with my friends who are still in Ottawa and who spent the day in lockdown (thankfully, they were all okay), and admired the quiet authority of Jim Watson, the Mayor of Ottawa, during the RCMP press conference. My news feed was overflowing, and I couldn’t refresh fast enough.

Canada Day - 2012

My Parliament Hill has a stray cat sanctuary, and free yoga on the front lawn, and concerts on Canada Day with accompanying light shows and fireworks. My Ottawa has a free skating rink running through the middle. My Ottawa is clean, beautiful, vibrant, and safe.

Parliament Hill - Gold Medal Celebration 2010

I had hoped that these foreign threats would never touch our shores, and now twice in one week, members of our armed forces have been singled out and murdered. We must watch in fear and feel helpless as our enemies walk through our front door. I feel flashbacks to the first few days of grade eight, when we came in from first recess with whispers of an attack. Where my teacher, Mr. Mele, sat at the only computer in the classroom trying to access CNN’s website. The computer was big, white, and clunky, and the internet was fledgling and slow. We couldn’t get beyond the homepage. We had no access to information and no updates and we were totally in the dark. When I got home from school, I sat in front of the TV in disbelief for hours, simultaneously mesmerized and horrified by the loop footage of the Twin Towers.

Today, I rushed home from work and have been watching television coverage for the past few hours. I am older, but still feel afraid. Unable to take my eyes away from the footage of my beloved Ottawa under attack.

Canada Day - 2011

I am of the generation called the Millennials. I am the post 9/11 generation. Raised on Harry Potter and MSN Messenger. Early adopters of new technology. Living under the looming threat of terrorism. You don’t have to tell us to ‘stay vigilant’. We get it. We’ve already had it for a long time. We’ve been maintaining constant vigilance since Moody warned us about the Death Eaters back in the day.

Doubting myself, wondering if my unfortunate heavy double dose of patriotism and sensationalism was causing me to overreact, I felt isolated and alone today. Nobody in my immediate vicinity seemed to know nor care about the situation unfolding in Ottawa. I feel like I need to divide the people and influencers in my life by our shared values. Today was an exercise in that. My close friends, and some fellow former journalism students on Twitter, shared my concerns and I felt comforted by their shared reactions.

I want nothing more right now than for Peter Mansbridge to fold the nation in his warm embrace and tell us all that we’re going to be okay, and that everything will soon be well.

Canadian Flag

❤ Ottawa ❤ Canada ❤ you too, Toronto

Tomorrow is another day, and we must remain the True North, Strong and Free.

Canada Day

* My apologies for disconnected and incomplete thoughts. Written after a stress-filled, anxiety-ridden, very emotional day, while flipping between CBC, CTV, Global, and TVO for six hours straight, heart aching, head pounding…

The de Barra-Electric Eel Coalition for the Prevention of Electric Shocks

Electric Shock Safety and Prevention Week runs this year from November 18-22.


Exactly one year ago today, I shocked the nerves in my right hand up to my elbow as I tried to pull my lamp plug out of the socket with wet hands. I spent six hours in the hospital.

Let this serve as a reminder to you to think consciously about your actions, to live in the moment, and to remember that no amount of corner-cutting or time-saving is worth risking your health, of the health and safety of those around you.

Most importantly, always dry your hands before you leave the washroom, and turn the lamp off using the switch as it was meant to be used.


New Maclean’s OnCampus Post

A text message that could save your life.

I just hit publish on a new Maclean’s OnCampus blog post about my school’s new Emergency Notificaiton System. Check it out here.

The Bike Cycle

Safety and the Great Glebe Pastime

I almost had a panic attack while riding my bike to school last week. I was on a busy street without a helmet.

I was trying to be aware of my surroundings, heightening my senses almost to the point that I think I evolved into a higher species.

It’s the stigma of the helmet that just wont go away. I thought they looked lame in elementary school, and I guess not much has changed. And don’t get me started on helmet hair.

But the issue of bicycle safety is literally one of life and death.

I don’t point and laugh when I see somebody riding a bike wearing a helmet. I doubt the general public would point and laugh at me.

Peter Conway of McCrank’s Cycles said, “It’s the people who don’t wear the helmets that you notice.”

But really, what’s the point of wearing a helmet? If you were rammed by a Mack Truck, will a piece of foam help you walk away?

Perhaps full body armour is the next bicycle frontier.