Into the Story


p35_northern _lights_acingles

Episode 36: A Story About The Northern Lights

Nivel: Intermedio
Acento: Canadiense

La Aurora Boreal (The Northern Lights) es un fenómeno lumínico y visual que se produce en el cielo durante la noche, especialmente en el polo norte y el polo sur. Cuando ocurre, el cielo se ilumina con formas y colores variados y cambiantes. Brigitte, nuestra invitada de hoy, ha presenciado este fenómeno en dos ocasiones muy distintas que han marcado un antes y un después en su vida. 

Today’s episode of Into The Story is about two powerful encounters with the Northern Lights. Mientras escuchas a Brigitte explicando cómo descubrió el poder místico de la Aurora Boreal, presta atención para entender el significado de expresiones como ‘stay put’, ‘uproot’, y ‘First Nations’. You will probably notice Brigitte is a great storyteller; esto es porque es  la fundadora de Women Talk, y actualmente se dedica ayudar a la gente a contar sus historias en The Story Warrior. ¡Escucha hasta el final para descubrir la clave de cómo contar una buena historia!

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[00:00:00.610] – Bree
When I contact people to be guests on this podcast, I explain that I want them to tell a true personal story. And it’s such a simple concept, something that humans have been doing since we were living in caves. But neuroscientists have actually seen that when we listen to an interesting story, we feel good and our brain releases dopamine. Dopamine is known as the feel-good neurotransmitter, and it also helps us remember things. That is precisely why we can remember vocabulary better when we hear it in a story. Today’s Storyteller Bridget has a business that helps brands and individuals create and share their stories. At the end of today’s episode, she’ll give us tips on how to tell better stories, so make sure to stick around until the end.

[00:01:13.470] – Bree: Introduction
Hi there, listeners. Today, Bridget is going to tell us a story about searching for the Northern lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. In English. We all feel a bit lost and alone sometimes. And when Brigitte was 17 years old, her family lost everything. So her father decided to move the entire family from Quebec, which is a French-speaking province in Eastern Canada, to a city in Northern Alberta, which is a very cold, very English-speaking part of Western Canada.

[00:01:47.750] – Brigitte
We were so close to the North Pole that the sun would be up in the skies for maybe four or five hours a day. That was a real nightmare for an outgoing teenager like me.

[00:02:01.720] – Bree: Introduction
Now, nearly  forty years later she again find herself in a similar place, feeling lonely and lost. Let’s find out how both times, the Northern Lights helped Bridget feel more connected and helped her find her way.

[00:02:17.550] – Bree: Vocabulary Section
Before we listen to Bridget, we’re going to look at five words and expressions that she uses in her story. Firstly, we have the verb to uproot. To uproot literally means to pull up an entire plant, the roots included. It can also be used to talk about a person being uprooted, which means they move away from their culture or their country. Bridget talks about her father uprooting the entire family and moving to a new city. To uproot next.

[00:02:55.030] – Bree: Vocabulary Section
First Nations First Nations is a term used to refer to certain groups of people who are Indigenous to North America. First Nations are Peoples who lived on these lands thousands of years before Canada even became a nation. Today, Bridget talks about First Nations belief, about the Northern lights.

[00:03:19.950] – Bree: Vocabulary Section
And then we have pitch-black or pitch-dark. So both of these terms mean completely dark. It’s used to describe a place with no light at all. Some people can only sleep in pitch-black or pitch-dark, so they close the curtains. Pitch-black.

[00:03:41.430] – Bree: Vocabulary Section
And now we have a phrasal verb to stay put. To stay put means to not move position. So when I’m in a parking lot with my son and I have to put things in the car, I tell him to stay put, which means do not move. To stay put.

[00:04:03.030] – Bree: Vocabulary Section
And finally, the word dim. So if a light is dim, it means it’s low. It doesn’t give or have much light. So in a fancy restaurant, the lights are dim. Bridget talks about the Northern lights being dimmer when she tries to find them as an adult. Dim.

[00:04:24.330] – Bree: Vocabulary Section
In addition to these words and expressions, you have an extended vocabulary list, the transcript, and a quiz on our website, acingles.com. You’ll see a link in the show notes. Okay, let’s get into the story.

[00:04:40.590] – Brigitte
Sometimes we need a little magic. And twice in my life, I witnessed the mystical powers of the Northern lights. In 1982, my parents lost everything: their home, their business, all of their investments. So my dad decided to uproot our family and move from Quebec to Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. Now, these two provinces are part of the same country, but their cultures could not be any more different. Quebec is a French speaking province and has European roots, and it’s even sometimes referred as Parisians of the north. While Alberta is English speaking and with many resemblance to the American cultures and values that revolve around oil and gas.

[00:05:38.550] – Brigitte
So I was 17 years old. I had just graduated from high school. I had to leave behind my boyfriend, my friends, my large extended family. And I did not know anyone in Fort McMurray and did not speak a word of English. And no one, and I mean no one, spoke French except for my family. That was a real nightmare for an outgoing teenager like me.

[00:06:09.090] – Brigitte
And then things got even worse. When winter arrived. It was unbelievable. Often the temperature would dip below -40 degrees celsius. Some days, the air was so cold that a thick fog would freeze, making it difficult to see anything or even cross the street. It was so cold that the tires on my parents car would freeze to the ground. And then when we would start driving, it was as if you had square tires. Clunk, clunk, clunk. We were so close to the North Pole that the sun would be up in the sky for maybe four or five hours a day. It felt like it was dark all the time. I missed my beautiful hometown so much. This place was frigid. It was dark, and I was lonely and depressed.

[00:07:12.570] – Bree
Bridget finds herself in this very small city with subarctic climate, surrounded by boreal forest. Even for a Canadian, I can tell you that Fort McMurray is a very cold, very isolated part of the country. She’s feeling disconnected and misses her hometown a lot.

[00:07:33.750] – Brigitte
One night in December, I bundled up and went outside for a walk. The air was so cold, it froze the hair in my nose, and my eyelashes formed icicles. But then I saw the most spectacular lights in the sky. I had never, ever seen the Northern lights before. The magnificent colors waving and dancing in the skies were absolutely stunning. I stood on the sidewalk freezing and mesmerized by the lights in the skies. They were bright blue, pink, green, all dancing and blending together and illuminating the skies. They were so bright now. I had studied Aurora Borealis in school, but I had no idea they were this beautiful and colorful. It touched my soul, and I started changing about how I felt about this place. I later found out the Northern Lights actually have spiritual meaning. First nations believe that the Northern Lights are created by our ancestors trying to communicate with us through the Northern Lights. They believe that we can feel their presence and know that they’re still here with us. I was only 17 years old, so I never had lost anyone close to me. And although the legend touched me, I did not fully understand the deep meaning of it.

[00:09:19.290] – Brigitte
But what the lights did do was make me see the beauty of where I was, and it became home. Now, as a kid and a teenager, I loved public speaking and storytelling. I was even a DJ in my high school, but it took me years to master English, but I eventually built enough confidence to become a speaker and a storyteller again. In 2012, I created a company called Women Talk, where just ordinary women would come and share their stories. By 2019, I had 13 locations across Canada hosting monthly events.

[00:10:02.850] – Bree
The beauty of the Northern Lights had helped Bridgett find a feeling of home. It then took years of mastering English, but in 2019, she had reached a lot of success in her business. Bridget felt happy with where she was in life.

[00:10:20.190] – Brigitte
And then BAAM COVID-19 hit. I lost it all. History was repeating itself. By the fall of 2020, I once again found myself lonely and depressed. COVID-19 had closed my business and isolated me once again. I went from seeing hundreds of people every week to seeing no one but my immediate family.

[00:10:51.450] – Brigitte
So in October, I heard that the Northern Lights would actually be visible from my new city, Calgary. So the following day, I got up at 04:00 a.m. Searching for the Aurora Borealis. I got out of bed and snuck out of my house. I jumped in my vehicle and drove outside the city and onto a gravel road where no lights would interfere. There were no other cars on the road, and it was pitch-black outside. I veered off the road and parked in a farmer’s field. I turned off all the lights and got out of the vehicle. The air was cold and there wasn’t a soul in sight. I was all alone. I could feel my anxiety bubbling up. The only noise I could hear was the crunching sound of the frozen grass under my feet as I walked onto the field. I started scanning the sky for the Northern Lights.

[00:11:59.610] – Bree
Brigitte is in the dark, looking up at the sky. She’s feeling anxious and alone, just like she had at 17 years old. And then she realizes that she’s not all alone.

[00:12:13.530] – Brigitte
And that’s when I heard . . . Yep coyotes howling. And now anxiety was accompanied by fear! But I stayed put, standing alone in the middle of a farmer’s field in the darkness, searching for inspiration. And I was scanning the sky back and forth and back and forth, and I saw a wave of pale grey and bluish tint in the sky. At first, I wasn’t sure if they were the Northern lights or not, because they were significantly dimmer than what I had seen in the past. So I stared and stared and waited and waited for the lights to get brighter. But they didn’t. I felt so disappointed. I wanted to see and feel that same brilliant dancing light that had inspired me almost forty years ago! But the lights stayed barely visible. After thirty minutes of waiting and watching, I suddenly remembered hearing that with age, your eyes cannot see the colors of the Northern lights as well as they used to. But if you take a picture with your camera, it will capture the vibrant colors. So I grabbed my cell phone, lifted it up and snapped a few pictures. And with my hands shaking from the cold, because by then I was frozen.

[00:14:00.150] – Brigitte
I looked at the photo and there they were. Blue, green, pink. The pictures were awesome. I once again lifted my head and looked at the skies. And although my eyes could not see the vibrant colors, I could see all the beautiful souls that have now left my world. My dad, my grandparents, cousins, friends they were all there in the skies, dancing and trying to communicate with me to let me know I was not alone. Now my 17 year old eyes had sharp sight, but they did not possess the depth of my 56 year old eyes that could see the mystical powers of the Northern lights.

[00:15:04.190] – Bree
Even though Bridgett’s business and her entire life really have been totally changed by COVID , she is optimistic. After all this time of having to keep ourselves closed up and alone, Bridgett thinks that we’re going to now experience an era when people want to live intensely and experience the beauty in this world. She’s currently working on a new business, mixing her love of travel and storytelling. And as promised, here are her tips on how you can tell better stories.

[00:15:38.570] – Brigitte
So the first thing is always the obvious. In a story, there’s a beginning, a middle, and an end. So for it to be a story, something has to change. If you don’t change or something doesn’t change in your story, then you’re just talking. And then I write the story and I kind of like just daydream about it and look up meanings of words and research like the Northern lights, what do they mean? And all of a sudden it will pop out at you like it just jumps at you the direction that you have to take. And then record yourself and listen to it and then all of a sudden it will take a much bigger meaning than what you had first intended.

[00:16:23.390] – Bree
If you want more information about Bridget, her company and podcast, you can find a link on our website acingles.com. To stream 35 episodes of Into the Story subscribe now on Spotify Apple podcast or wherever you listen to podcasts. Okay everyone, until next time we hope you have a good time or at least a good story to share.

Complete these sentences with a word that you hear in the podcast.

In 1982, Brigitte’s parents…

After moving to Fort McMurray, in Alberta, Brigitte…

It was hard for Brigitte because…

The winter in Alberta…

Seeing the Northern Lights for the first time…

In the end, Brigitte…

When she went to see The Northern Lights again, she…

After a while, Brigitte…

Quote of the episode

“The air was so cold, it froze the hair in my nose, and my eyelashes formed icicles, but then… I saw the most spectacular lights in the sky”
– Brigitte

Wonderful Words


A series of pleasant thoughts that
distract one’s attention from the present.

1. Pull (something, especially a tree or plant)
out of the ground.
2. Move (someone) from their home
or a familiar location.

(Of a light, colour, or illuminated object)
Not shining brightly or clearly.

Friendly and socially confident.

Excellent Expressions

Indigenous peoples that are original inhabitants
of the land that is now Canada.

Completely dark.

To not move or go anywhere.

To dress warmly.

Brigitte, chilling behind an ice wall.

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10 comentarios

  1. Hi everyone, my name is Jose and I live in Murcia as well, in a town of Murcia, or rather. I discovered ‘Into the Story’ by chance and I listening these podcasts to improve my English listening. I love your story Brigitte! Good job guys for your podcasts, I love them! Keep it up!

  2. It was such an honour to share my story on this fabulous podcast ❤️

    I have enjoyed some of the other stories as well and.

    I am also learning Spanish

    I visited Spain 20 some years ago and thought it was beautiful and hope to be back soon.


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