This past weekend has been filled with friends and fun adventures. The one that stands out the most was an evening we planned to go out for dessert with friends. We met at our place and had decided to try a little pub on a nearby corner since I had heard good things about their food. We were hoping for a particular dessert which we had heard they carried from another friend so we were quite surprised when the waitress didn’t mention cheesecake in her list of desserts for the evening. We were surprised and a little confused as to what to do next. She gave us a moment and, as we deliberated, we decided to make a break for it. Silly, I’m sure, but as we walked/ran out of that restaurant there was a delicious giddiness that overtook me. The joy that comes from sharing adventures with good friends. It’s a feeling that I believe happens often as a child but as one grows up we seem to forget about it and it lies dormant, buried under responsibilities and duty until, in a moment it is again in the air in all its anxious and excited glory.

It was just a small thing. We decided that the restaurant didn’t have what we wanted so we left to try somewhere else. But in that action we found ourselves back in the car giggling and high on adrenaline and excitement. In the same way I have been trying to live my whole life as an adventure. Sure, not all of it is as dramatic as talking to strangers or even running out of a restaurant (which is a big deal for me because I don’t want to hurt the waitress shrug) but there are so many bits of excitement and joy to be found. Whether that means making a new meal for my wonderful husband or chatting with agood friend. I am once again excited to learn from the people around me and look forward to growing from it.

This is something that I feel my brother and sister do well, especially my brother. He seems to find adventures under every rock and lives like there are new things to discover when things don’t go as planned. My brother is the guy that everyone wants to hang out with since they know that he will find something fun to do, even climbing grain elevators (which is probably illegal so I don’t recommend it). But when I have hung out with him I have had all sorts of good times and adventures I wouldn’t have had alone, including the rail bridge incident pictured to the right. This is partially due to his outlook of exploration but also due to the thought he puts into hanging out with people, planning ahead of time what would be fun to do with that particular person. And even though there are times I am a bit afraid for him I still admire his adventurous spirit and the care and thoughtfulness he puts into his time with people.

What are the ways that you find joy and excitement and adventure in your own life? Are there certain people that bring those experiences into your life?

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It seems that there has been a lot happening in our lives over the past few weeks. In mid September my parents rented a cabin in the Manitoba Whiteshell Provincial Park and invited all of us to spend the weekend together. Everyone was available and we had a great weekend together, with a few adventures thrown in.   

We did a little hiking, some geocaching and B shaved on the dock while my sister jumped in the freezing cold lake to wash her hair. I even have a picture to prove it. All in all we were able to spend a lovely time exploring the area, canoeing across the lake and taking some time to enjoy a slower pace of life.

When we returned home I began to really think about where I am right now and what I am doing. I know that questioning one’s place in the world is something to be expected when transitioning and I sure have experienced transitions over the past year, including getting married (!!) and completing my Master of Counselling degree. All this has left me asking “where to now?”

I have spent a lot of time thinking about my place as well as what the future may hold for our family as well as for me personally. I have thought about this as I have spent time working to create a wonderful home for B and I have thought about this at times of loneliness and loss and I think I have finally come to an answer, for now.

I think that right now my job is to be available. Now I know that may seem strange or just plain lazy (just being at home and waiting to help?) but I really feel that right now it is important that I am present in the moment and available, not only for my husband and my family but also for whomever needs our help. I have found that in the face of the recent tragedy in our family I have been able to help out a bit making food and talking with people and generally just being there in the midst of it. The freedom that I have has enabled me to reach out to people in ways I couldn’t have if I were working too.

This idea only came to me the other day, as I was responding to an email from a friend, but I feel that in some ways it is my calling from God. I am to be here, living my life and enjoying it, cooking, baking, having fun, but with eyes open to the needs around me, ready and willing to lend a hand wherever needed. And in this way, though perhaps unconventional, I have a place in the world. I belong wherever I’m needed.

So if you’re around here and need a little help, you know who to call.

Today I am captive to this:

It has been a long time since I have been this drawn to something besides the people around me but since I heard this song, this morning, it has filled my day. I can’t explain exactly why I’m drawn to it. Perhaps it is the simplicity, the way they layer instruments, the lyrics or something I can’t identify. All I know is I am drawn to it and it is nice to be pulled into something creative again.

This song has brought me a taste of past lives, times when I have poured myself into something, just to be there. It reminds me of how much I love music and has brought me back, even if for only a time, to my piano, recalling days when I would play for hours, as I have today. Time has melted as I have worked out this song, listening to it, figuring out the chords and notes played, writing down the lyrics, and transposing it all into a key that I can sing. It has been a lovely morning and, perhaps, this means music is coming back.

Maybe my music is coming back from wherever it went when it got buried under homework and reading, socializing and dating. Maybe it’s returning from wherever it went when it got lost in stress and housework, tears and summer road trips. It seems somewhat interesting that music would come back with winter and not with the intuitive new beginnings of spring but it seems that this is how it it is coming, as a gift, maybe it will keep me warm. Whatever it means, I am enjoying it a lot and looking forward to how it will grow again.

What is something that you have loved to do but haven’t been able to lately, perhaps because you don’t have time, because you have forgotten it or something like that?

If you’ve known me for any length of time, say and hour or more, you probably know that I have not lived in Canada my entire life. In fact, though I have lived most of my life till now in the same general area, I still feel that in some ways I spent a huge chunk of my life away from here and therefore I do not belong anywhere. I will probably explore this more in another blog but I wanted to bring this up because this experience has impacted me in an interesting way. Because of the moving I have had a hard time feeling completely at home, anywhere.

In the past many years I have been working through a lot of those feelings of loneliness and aimlessness, feeling like I don’t belong or more so, that people don’t think I belong or don’t want me around. Growing up I would dream of a place where I could be myself, where people besides my family would want me around and love me as I am. Perhaps this is something that doesn’t completely exist in our broken world, something that we will only truly experience in heaven, but I think we can get glimpses of it if we look around. And yesterday was one of those times, a peek in the door, if you will.

When I was growing up, once we moved to Canada, occasionally our family would take an afternoon to make donuts. Now for me this is normal but as I chat with people, and when my husband found out about this, most people, including him, are surprised and somewhat intrigued since they have never experienced it before. But for our family it would be a project we would do together, sort of. My mom would make the dough and get the donuts cut and onto pans. Then someone would fry them in hot oil in the garage to keep the smell out of the house, I used to do it but then my sister started taking over once I headed to college. While they would be preparing the donuts I would make a glaze so that as soon as they were fried they could be dunked in the sugary goo. Many donuts were eaten by whomever happened to be around, but they were also passed out to the neighbourhood. That was my dad’s job, mom would keep him running with full paper plates lined up to be brought around. It was always a good day when we made donuts.

When B heard about this he wanted to see it in action so last Christmas during a storm that snowed us in we made donuts. It was great. Everyone did their jobs and by the end of the day the whole neighbourhood was full of the sweet goodness of fresh donuts. Once he had seen it he asked if we could make donuts too. Eventually I got an extra electric frying pan from my mom and we decided that yesterday was going to be donut day. And what a day…

We started thinking of a few people who might like to come over, when Mom makes them there are tonnes to go around so we cut the recipe in half but wanted to make sure they got eaten fresh, since they’re the best right out of the oil and dunked in sugar glaze. B invited a coworker over, warning he he would have to help make the donuts. I invited a friend too, so I wouldn’t be outnumbered by guys. B had invited another friend too and so he came by with his wife after she was done work, and I had randomly texted a friend I knew would not turn down fresh donuts, he brought my cousin along too.

Needless to say it was a full house, well, apartment. But just that morning we had picked up a great find on Kijiji, four dining room chairs, and they were put to use right away. So our afternoon was spent with friends, eating donuts just out of the oil and chatting a lot and enjoying each other’s company. It was a motley crew, people from very different backgrounds, experiences, and at different places in their lives but it was wonderful.

I’m not sure how I can explain it any better but it really felt like home, like our home, like community and caring and fun. The donuts seemed to make everyone relaxed. I didn’t try to host, I just welcomed people in an gave them space to be themselves, and they let me be myself too. B made delicious Transcend coffee and people helped themselves. It was so neat to see everyone interacting and people getting milk out of the fridge for their coffee, comfortable, like they would if they were at home. Sounds cheesy, maybe, but it made me feel a bit more at home too.

So what makes you feel at home? If you were to pick one memory that epitomizes home to you what would that be, I would love to hear it. 🙂

In the past few weeks it has gotten cooler around here. If you look closely you can see fall peeking in around the edges of a fading summer. Everyone is heading back to school again, that or they have been there for a while now and life is taking on a new routine. This is the first time in three years that I will not be returning to school at all and, in all accounts, I may never formally be going back again. This is bitter-sweet to me.

I love to learn and, since I enjoy interacting with and learning from other people, I consequently love school and all the people I get to meet. While the three r’s of grad school, reading, writing and research, sometimes seem to drain all the fun out of life I still liked being ‘forced’ to spend time growing my mind and changing how I think. Now, if I want to continue to intentionally learn something specific I will need to be self motivated to take the steps to read and think.

Life has changed a lot for me in the past year. Not only have I completed a two year graduate program in three years, I have also gotten married and moved to a familiar but new city, I completed my term at the part-time job that was helping me fund my education, and am now trying to figure out where to go from here. Ultimately, I am in that endless process of transition that is part of being human. This time I am transitioning from being an independent student/employee with a regular schedule and a school full of friends around me to being the wife of a shift worker with a non-static schedule living in an apartment building where we know only a few people.

Lets just say that life has changed completely for me in so many ways. Now before you think I am complaining or that I hate my life please know that I feel so blessed to be right here, right now. I have been given a wonderful husband who has taken such good care of me in so many ways. He has been key in giving me the opportunity to do what I am doing now, something that I have desired since I was a girl. It is really because of his hard work and support that I am able to be home and have the opportunities that I am blessed with because of it.

It has been neat to see the opportunities that have been given us to connect with people and each other over the past few months as I have finished with school and work. Since B has such a crazy schedule, sometimes working long days, sometimes working all night, it was difficult to see each other some weeks when I was working and studying. This was super tough in our first few months of marriage and brought up some things we really had to work through early on. In those weeks, when we could not count on seeing each other, very often it was difficult to think of reaching out to others as well. That was our story at the time and so we worked in that framework, and we made it through.

Now, with me at home most of the time we are better able to connect with each other and we are able to connect better with the people around us, building friendships that we are so excited about. I’d like to think that it also helps that I love to bake and cook so when we hang out with people there is usually (good?) food around. I am also better able to support B in his work and work with him to figure out how we can live a full life even with shift work taking so much of his time and energy.

For those of you who have ever worked shift work you know what I mean by that last sentence, and for those of you who have lived with someone working shift work you also know what I mean. One of the biggest things we have had to work on in our marriage of almost a year is how to function with shift work. It was really tough at first, who am I kidding, even now there are times when it is really tough, especially since there don’t seem to be many resources for living in community with shift work. It seems that the most helpful thing many shift work resources suggest is just to become friends with other people who work shift work too and hope your schedules allow time to get together. This isn’t always possible so we have been exploring ways to be as ‘normal’ as possible with a very abnormal schedule.

The best thing is that B loves his job, which is helpful if you’re working different hours. It allows me to support him in it and helps us work together to find solutions to combat shift work’s control over our lives. It is also helpful that, because of his hard work, I am able to take time to be home and do some of the things that need doing differently because of his schedule and not feel pressure to find a job. I have always wanted to be able to have a home that is open to those around us, a place for people to come and connect and feel comfortable for a while, a place with good conversation and good food, a place to rest for a little while. I feel that right now I am able to do this in some small way with what we have and I have been so blessed by the many friends that we have been able to spend time with.

And that is how I feel right now. So blessed. I want to enjoy the moment and experience the feelings and events as they are happening. Through my studies one of the things that we talked about a lot was how important it is to just be. In a world where it can be easier to live in the future, perhaps in a place where we are judged by our output or busyness I think it is intensely important to ‘breathe in the moment’ as it were, to be in the here and now, experiencing it as a gift. Easier said than done, I know, I have often lived my life in the future or the past, fearing what the present would bring, but now, right now, I want to be here, I want to experience what is now. I want to revel in the many wonderful gifts and blessings that are all around me and work through the many fears, stresses and difficult times that come with really living life. I guess I’m just saying that I want to live.

And you? How have you changed or been changed in the past year? What are the blessings that you have been given?

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