Archive for the 'Friends' Category

Le Update

It’s saturday morning and I am sitting in my livingroom staring out my bay window at very green trees.  I think that summer has finally come.  I still feel the need to pinch myself because I dreamt of this moment all winter long and was starting to believe it would never come.  I don’t know about you, but this past winter felt so very long.  In some ways it was like I took a deep breath in November– the way you do when you are about to get a needle in your arm–and didn’t let it out until i saw the first buds on the maple trees, sometime in early May.  Six months is a long time to go without breathing.

But i am alive and i am well, and i have been told i am so very neglectful of my blog!  I have been waiting for something grand to report but it turns out that changes in life are mostly gradual–seldom happening all at once.

My roommate moved out last month and I have decided to move into an apartment just upstairs at the end of summer.  It’s nicer but a bit smaller which will be great because I have decided that I would like to live alone for awhile.  This is my attempt to bring some sort of balance into my own life. I can be a social butterfly and a people pleaser and if I don’t force myself into contemplation it may never happen–a tragic thing as those moments are among my most treasured. I am also hoping to start my Master’s thesis in the fall so I will need all the help i can get to concentrate!

In other news I started gardening. I don’t consider myself of the domestic sort and have never grown a thing in my life but I am actually enjoying the process.  It is a test of patience.  I like to see immediate results and I am not good at waiting but  I think there is lesson in this.  The more time and space and attention i give the vegetables, the better they grow.  If I am patient and responsible, i will see the reward of my efforts.  We are not used to waiting for things in our culture. We are not used to bearing the responsibility of producing that which we need to sustain our lives. We are only used to consuming it.  But there is this strange freedom and ownership that comes along with knowing that I CAN do it–that we all have that ability because we were meant to be connected to our land. I think the more we are connected and actively working with the land, the less we are inclined to abuse it.  But that is a blog for another time…

ON IRELAND…

I promised to keep everyone updated on my plans to go to Ireland.  The short story is that i still have not heard news from the research grant I applied for.  They said it could be as late as the end of June when i would find out…i was just hoping it wouldn’t take so long!!  But I am making plans to go either way. The grant will determine how long I can actually stay (probably 5 or 6 weeks if i get it, but only 3 if i don’t).  I have done a great job at compartmentalizing it all so far, but as the departure date draws nearer (2nd weeks of july, hopefully) the more anxious I am getting about it all.  I worked so very hard on the proposal and in many ways it is like the seeds i planted in my garden. It is a small action that represents a bigger hope.  For me this is more than just a trip, it’s part of a bigger dream.  Perhaps the only dream that is fully mine that I have ever dared to pursue independently–therefore, in many ways, it is like I am on the line, not just  a cool opportunity.

But I have had overwhelming encouragement and support which I will honestly say has been the only that has gotten me this far. I am so inclined to doubt myself and lose confidence so quickly.  People’s prayers and support have been like the wind that keeps me in the air. I am reminded daily that I can do nothing well when i am fully alone. I need people to help me “grow” my dreams, and I need to help others do the same.  I am learning that the things I deem worthy are valid and I have a right and a responsibility to pursue them.

So, despite the fact that I was overcome with anxiety last night and unable to sleep thinking about logistics and how I am going to make this possible if I don’t get the grant, i am stating with confidence that i WILL  go. Someway, somehow, I will be in Ireland a month from now.

If you are DYING to help me I could use all the prayer and encouragement i can get. If you want to donate, I actually have found a way you can do this and get a tax receipt.  You can donate to an education fund for me through  a non-profit organization within St. Stephen’s University  called “St. Stephen Association for Christian Education” (SSACE). Anything received for me will go toward this trip.  Unfortunately you cannot be an immediate family member (no parents or siblings…sorry mom!).   Make cheques out to SSACE (with my name in the memo) and sent to: SSACE; 8 main st.; st. stephen, NB; E3L 3E2….

or you can call toll free to donate: 1.888.call.ssu.   FYI this can be done for any student at SSU, in case anyone out there is interested! It is registered in both canada and the US as well for all you americans 😉

Well, thanks for following along in my journey and pushing me to share my life with you on this blog (i am still stunned that people want to read about my life).  I hope you, too, are enjoying these new summer days!

A Decade in Review…

I reached a milestone this week–a day that I never actually imagined would come, and yet it is here and gone already. I had my ten year high school reunion (gasp! gag!). I know what you are thinking…aren’t you too young to have been out of high school so long? YES! That’s what I thought too!! But it turns out that ten years is, in fact, a decade, no matter how much you try and rework the numbers. I figure this is as good a topic as I will ever get to blog about so I might as well take advantage of it.

Rightly so, I have been spending a great deal of time lately in reflection. What have i learned? Where am I going? What the heck have I been doing for ten years? I think it’s actually really great to have these moments in life…these milestones that keep us in check and encourage us to go forward. My reunion was actually (to my surprise) quite poorly attended. I figured Facebook would have come through for us, but I suppose even Facebook isn’t strong enough to overcome the utter dread that some people would have felt in attending such an event. Fortunately (or stupidly) I am not one of those people. Sure, I approached it with some anxiety, that is to be expected, but I found I was really looking forward to seeing old friends, acquaintances, and strangers. Those who know me have probably figured out by now that I love social events. I figure I don’t have many marketable skills, but one is that I love to socialize so I might as do it to the best of my ability. In fact, in my graduating year i was even voted “Friendliest Girl.” …and no not in the way YOU’RE thinking. I think many people are insecure in their life status, which, I would like to say right now is completely silly. One thing I realized this weekend is that we are all at totally different places in life and no one is better or worse than another. Some people are married with three kids, while others have just started post-secondary school. Some have been in school since they left, while others settled into a career straight away. Some have travelled, others still live in Summerside. Some are married to their careers, while others still have no idea what they want to do. I cannot stress enough that there is NO MEASURING STICK! Who makes up these ideals anyway? My philosophy is “screw them!” (…and no, not in the way YOU’RE thinking…).

O.k…that is my rant to those who did not come to the reunion because they felt inadequate. For those who did not come because they are bitter, I say, “get over it. Life is too short.” To those who could not come but wanted to, I am sorry we missed one another. The truth is that I had a great time! I did not know what to expect but what I found were adults (when did THAT happen?) who were genuinely happy to see an old friend. Nothing beats that. We watched our grad video (YIKES) which was probably the most painful portion of the weekend. We read the prophesy that predicted where we would all be in ten years, which was humorous. I fell short of mine which predicted a nobel peace prize for international development in Africa. Give me another ten years…

So, that being said, upon reflection, here are the things I have learned in ten years of adulthood…

1. Everyone is better looking at 28 than at 18. WITHOUT EXCEPTION. It’s actually quite bizarre. I doubt I will say the same in another ten years, but hey, it makes me happy to be 28 right now which is a reason to celebrate and not give in to feeling old.

2. Bitterness is a poison you drink and expect the other person to die. A good friend who has had more than her share of suffering told me this and it has stuck with me. Hanging onto grudges is something that only hurts yourself. It might be the cruelest jokes of God…or life’s hardest lesson–that we have to love other people when they hurt us, but I firmly believe this is the secret to joy. My new motto is “I will do whatever it takes to let go of bitterness.” It’s hard, trust me, but the truth is I don’t want to look back on my life and realize I spent a huge percentage of it being miserable.

3. I am the luckiest girl alive. Every so often, I am completely dumbfounded by this simple fact. It’s true. I have amazing friends, and a family that loves and supports me. Am I rich? HELL NO. Not even close. But i love my job. I love my poverty-stricken town. I love my two bedroom apartment in a run down building. Last month I got to see John Mayer live in Boston. He has been my #1 favorite artist for about 6 years (judge me, it’s o.k.) and I finally decided that it was time to make one of my small dreams come true. How many people in the world get to see their icons? The fact that I am able to make that possible is astounding to me. I have been to 3rd world countries and I do not take the fulfillment of my dreams lightly because i know that so many people do not get to experience a fraction of the things I do. Going to the dentist is another thing that causes me to realize I am the luckiest girl alive. What percentage of the world’s population can afford to pay someone to clean their mouths? I suspect less than 1%.

4. Get Over It. Things don’t always work out the way you want…hope…expect, but there is no use dwelling on that which you have no control over. This goes back to the bitterness thing. I am learning that it’s important to find the support you need (however you need to do it) and to role with it. No one said that we would get everything we ever wanted. No one said that life OWED us anything. It does not. But hope for the best and deal with the worst when it comes. My colleague has cancer and she’s had to lose her breasts and her hair, but she teaches me all the time to tackle life’s blows with flexibility and joy.

5. The purpose of life is…to live. I think it’s that simple. My personal goal is to be good at living. When I die I want people to say “she lived and loved well.” I know i have A LOT to learn and I fall very short but I am working on it. I think joy and hope are also big factors in this one. My 2nd motto is “Do whatever you have to do to hang on to hope and joy.”

6. Friends are the family you get to choose. The point here is that we get to choose them. Your family, you are stuck with so make the best of it, but friends…you get to decide so choose wisely! My friends are like a big cusion that catches me every time life throws me off a building (life is mean). I am so grateful because i know without a shadow of a doubt that I would not be the person I am now without them. They have brought SO MUCH healing into my life…so much wisdom…so much support. I have seen other people whose friends are backstabbing and gossipy and suck the life out of them. This is not friendship but some twisted co-dependent relationship that they should run like hell away from. Once again…life is WAY TOO SHORT for this. I think this is the one lesson we should have learned in high school. I have somehow lucked out and found people that I can be real with which has been more important than even I will ever realize. In return I want to be a good friend.

7. It feels good to break the rules. I grew up Catholic and then was pretty Evangelical for awhile so I know a lot about guilt. Now I believe that God is a God of freedom and it’s a privilege to exercise that. There is freedom to try and fail; freedom to choose what we WANT. Shockingly, it turns out that I cannot fit myself so easily into a box. It is only by stepping outside the lines that I began to discover myself and God and you know what? I love it. It turns out that God hangs out past the lines we created to keep him in. He’s way more flexible than us. I spent far too much time afraid of doing the wrong thing. Now I figure I spend way more time doing the wrong thing but also way more time experiencing the goodness that God gave us in this life. Some people need to learn how to break those preconceived ideas of what their lives were going to look like in order to be happy.

8. Marriage is worth waiting for. I already know several people who have been married and divorced in a decade. Sure, I want to get married, but i haven’t met someone worth marrying yet…and to be honest, I was not worth marrying for a long time (it took me a long time to figure out what I wanted). There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. There is also nothing wrong with those who found the right person at age 20. I thought i would be self-conscious about this at the reunion. So many people starting families, and there is me who is on my own. But i wasn’t. I have no reason to be ashamed of that and neither does anyone else. Sure, some family members are starting to ask if I’ve ever thought of becoming a nun (I’m really not good with rules), and I wonder how it’s possible that i have 500 Facebook friends of which none are more than just friends (i need to meet MORE people?), but i’ll figure it out eventually. I am not worried. That’s a generational thing, i know. We are unconventional these days, but we can’t help it. We don’t know how else to be.

So those are my top “8”…i realize 10 would be a better number but I can’t think of 2 more things so this will have to suffice. I know it’s a bit sentimental and mid-life crisis-ish…but that’s just who I am. I don’t want to wait another 20 years to figure this stuff out. For now I will concentrate on the fact that my big sister just got engaged!! I am beyond excited for her and her fiance, Brian and they deserve a beautiful wedding (next September). I think it is time our family of four expanded and I couldn’t think of a better guy to invite in.

…and I will try not to wait until my next high school reunion to blog again!

March Madness

redneck ray and dave

yeah, i know. I haven’t written in awhile. But yes, i’m still alive, and yes, i still use this this thing.

End of term is approaching at SSU and with it always comes a rush of chaos which just about sums up my life the past few weeks. I will try and recap the month of March which for some reason is always such a crazy month for me. The month started out with a great weekend in Moncton with some girls I graduated SSU with. We had a spa and shopping weekend which was so much fun. I love that we all remain close still, making concentrated efforts to see one another. In another year we will have known each other for a full decade. I can’t believe I am THAT old…

Speaking of old…I celebrated my 28th birthday this month. It was so much fun! My sister and Future Fiance (see previous entries) came to visit for the weekend. I never cease to be surprised by her willingness to always meet me where I am at and celebrate my life. I think we lead such very different lives but somehow it has never been a point of division. She is always so unconditionally supportive. Having her and Future Fiance here was like delicious icing on an already fabulous cake because Kristi had already planned the event of the century! This girl loves to party plan and she is so good at it (which is great because I’m not so much). The day started with a great brunch with close friends followed by a party later that evening. I knew we were having a party, but had no idea what the theme was…as it turns out the theme was “Mardis Gras” (a very sacrilegious theme to have in the middle of Lent…) and everyone went all out with their hilarious costumes! The party was followed by a bigger “post-party” event at the local pub. I love having all my friends in one room! I think that was the best part of the night.

Kristi pulled off a great party, only to do it all again two days later for St. Patrick’s Day (her favorite day of the year). This party was a bit more low key, but included green beer and the movie “Waking Ned Divine.”

The following weekend was Easter and I returned to a cold, snowy Island to celebrate that, and my Dad’s birthday. Kristi came along as well and we had a great weekend with my family! It was also so nice to see people I haven’t seen in too long, but unfortunately just not enough time to really catch up. It never feels like there is enough time…My friends, Mark and Melanie just bought a new, beautiful house, and their baby is growing so fast! Other friends are going through major life changing stuff as well and I know I am missing out on some huge moments which is always so hard. In that way it is always bitter sweet to return home.

Last weekend had me in Halifax for work at a Christian conference. These are my least favorite events to attend as they are always full of crazy evangelicals who want to debate theology and let you know who is and who is not getting into heaven (and of course, some lovely people as well…they just get overpowered by the crazy ones).

All of the in between times can be summed up in one word: work.

My daily routine looks like this:

wake up
go to work
eat supper
work on my essay/presentation/assignment until the wee hours of the morning
go to bed.
Repeat.

I also bathe regularly somewhere in that mix (in case you were worried), and sometimes I even have these little moments of hilarity that keep me going. The above picture is an example of one such moment…my friends, Ray and Dave, who in support Mandatory Mustache March, are sporting their new look to go along with their disgusting facial hair. I will be laughing at these pictures for a very long time. Thanks guys for making my week way more fun!

So that’s my excuse for last month’s lack of blogging. Hopefully I’ll do a better job this month. I am looking forward to the term being over and finally having time to think…

Until then…*sigh.

My Old Man

 b17-aircraft.jpg

The past year or so I have been visiting an old man who lives on the outskirts of St. Stephen.  I originally got connected through Hospice, an organization I have been volunteering with but as I started back to school while still working full-time it seemed I could no longer give the time needed and I resigned. However, I asked if I may still visit ‘my old man’ as it seemed that we had become friends. They agreed and so, even though our visits were few and far between, I continued to see him. 

He was 82 this year. He had congestive heart failure and so was constantly attached to an oxygen machine. He never left his small bungalo house in the country and his younger wife enjoyed the chance to get out to the grocery store when I came to visit.  We would sit in his living (which smelled rather like a hospital) and he would tell me his stories.  He had immigrated from Eastern Europe with his family at a young age and settled out west. During WWII he joined the Canadian air force (he said it was because he noticed that the girls went after the guys with uniforms), and eventually became a pilot and then an aero-mechanic. Airplanes were his whole life.  He particularly like to tell the story of when he learned how to land a plane on an aircraft carrier. He was sent to Florida for training and learned along side a man who later became very famous. His name was Bob Barker! Then he would say “of course he was nothing special in those days.” 

After the war, he moved to the states with his family, though reluctantly. The Korean war was just beginning and he was afraid he would be conscripted.  Sure enough, he was and spent his time as a combat pilot in the war.  Painstakingly he would tell me about a day that would change his life forever.

He was given orders to bomb a village. He and another comrade weren’t given much hope of coming out alive.  He was given the coordinates and somewhere in translation something got confused. They dropped the bomb on the village only to find out a short time later that it was the wrong place.  His eyes would fill with tears as he related his responsibility in killing so many innocent people. I don’t know if he ever forgave himself for that mistake.

After dropping the bomb he was quickly pursued and shot at.  He remembers hearing his comrade radio him saying there was a guy right on his tail and then before he had a second to think his plane was shot down. The entire back end was blown off and he was ejected. He remembers nothing more but apparently he landed in the ocean where he floated for 20 hours before a Japanese ship picked him up and took him to Tokyo.  

He stayed in Tokyo for 11 months, most of the time he was in a coma. It took many more months to get his memory back.  He would speak bitterly of the US government often to me, and it seems with good reason. For when he immigrated to the US he had to sign a declaration saying he would not be a liability to the government for five years. He also had to give up his Canadian citizenship. This all led to the US government refusing to accept him back into the country and without a Canadian citizenship he was stranded. His parents ended up having to move back to Canada in order to sponsor him back into the country. He was forever grateful to the Canadian government for the good treatment he received. 

If you can imagine, this is just a small part of his story.  82 years gives you a lot of life experience!  The last time I saw him was just before Christmas. He told me he was going to build a plane piece by piece in his basement. He got out the blue prints and went over them with me (I pretended I knew what he was talking about). His mind was as sharp as ever! Unfortunately his heart wasn’t and just this last weekend he passed away. 

I am so grateful for the time I got to spend with my old man. I wish I spent more time with him and his stories and his wisdom. I wish I didn’t let my life become so busy that squeezing in an hour here and there was so difficult.  It is sad to me how we let the wisest people in our society waste away without notice.  How after so many years of triumph, struggle, action & adventure a man can sit in his living room day and night alone, just waiting to die.

I think the elderly are our greatest treasure, our biggest asset, and our best resource. I think that we are a lost culture in part because we have lost our connection with our past, choosing Wikipedia wisdom over personal relationships.  We have a lot to learn if we could only take the time to learn it from the people who know best.

 To my dear old man, thank you.  May you fly fast and high in your new plane.

Return to Paradise

 

For the fourth time this summer, I spent the weekend on Deer Island. This is a little island about 45 minutes away (i’ve talked about it a few times in my blogs so it might sound familiar) and a place I just discovered as a hidden, nearby paradise. It’s completely rural, you take a ferry ride through the Bay of Fundy past some islands to get there, and there really isn’t much to see except old houses (many of them falling apart), cottages, and tons and tons of fishing boats. Nope, nothing to do but relax and breathe fresh air.

I went for a girls weekend. There were 7 of us that rented a cottage to celebrate two friends birthdays: Andrea turning 31 and Shannon turning 30.  It was such a great time. The cottage overlooked a harbour and right off the front deck was a dock and a collection of boats. It was kind of picturesque actually.  The cabin, though kind of run down, was really quaint. We at a beautiful dinner and just relaxed and we all wondered why it took us so long to do this.

I love my girl friends. All of us varying in age (the youngest 19, the oldest turning 50 and the rest of us between 25 and 31). Considering my recent history with the male gender, I was happy to spend time away from them.  One friend bought a kiddie pool and we filled it with hot water to make our own hot tub…then we played some guitars and collectively wrote a song (not really appropriate to share on the blog) while drinking wine and eating cheesecake. Oh yes, and then there was the “back to the 80s” spontaneous dance party! Then this morning, after a fantastic breakfast, we went exploring the island and walked on the beaches which are not like PEI beaches–much rougher and less refined; full of rocks and nearly attached to the woods. 

While many wonder what would possess someone to actually LIVE on this island (population less than 1000), I am falling more and more in love with it. It is mainly inhabited by artists and fishermen, and after 9 p.m. you won’t hear a single car pass by. Everyone waves to you when you drive past and at night you can sit out on the patio and watch the sun set onto the Bay of Fundy.  We even saw a porpoise this morning!

There are times when I wish I had brothers, but all in all, I have to say I like hanging with the girls because you always have that sister thing going on. We girls gotta stick together I think. I figure that we’re going to need one another a lot throughout our lives.

 So happy birthday to two great friends and thanks for a weekend full of fun memories to everyone!

*sigh*…I wish ALL weekends were like this.


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