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Ten Years

10 Jan

Ten years ago I stood at a the edge of a canyon and jumped. I had no idea as to what lay ahead. I was young and naive and slightly damaged. But it seemed like the right risk to take.

I stand here, part of the way through the experience of that jump, and can say that it was worth it.

I never would have imagined that this is what the last ten years would have brought us. The joy. The love. The laughter…. so much laughter. The tears, happy and sad. The conflict, the struggles, the growth. But I am so happy with where it is guiding us.

I fell in love with your kindness. Your quirky sense of humor that very few appreciate; their loss as it is so precious to me…. and keeps me from slamming the door on more days than I can count. I fell in love with your unwavering sense of yourself. The man that you are and who you want to be.

I continue to love you because of your devotion to me, even when it’s not easy. Because you listen to my dreams and then bring me back to earth when I’ve floated too far away. I love you because of your warm heart and how everyone is just a friend waiting to be made. I love you because you try to remind me to keep things simple because that is what true living is made of.

I give you my heart everyday because you are the greatest father our girls could ever have. I am humbled by your consideration for them and desire to be a better parent because of you.

I fall in love you a little more each time we get to experience the world outside ourselves together. I know that there is so much more that we have yet to discover and I am excited for what that new love will bring us.

I love you because you are my best friend and you see me clearer than anyone else ever will.

Thank you for all that you do for me. Not a single thing you have done out of love has ever gone unnoticed, even when you think it is an act too small to be important. I would be lost without you.

To the next 10, 25, 50 years. May our love grow more than we could ever dream or hope it to.

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Feelings are Stupid

28 Oct

Last night I poured myself a glass of Riesling and then burst into tears.

It was the culmination of far too many thoughts and feelings. I am a little bit lost at the moment and I probably have been for awhile now.

Before I dive into what has been swirling around in my head lately, I should pause to say that I know I have a beautiful and wonderful and truly blessed life. I try my best in each day to be thankful and to never take a moment of my crazy schedule for granted. But sometimes the feelings are just a little too overwhelming.

Even before we received word that we had been granted approval for our adoption to move forward, my head had been full of stress and anxiety. And while we are thrilled that things are moving ahead, there has been no new news. I always try to be reasonable when setting my goals and expectation in terms of when things will be finalized and we can jump on a plane. By Christmas seemed absolutely possible….. but I’m going to have to let go of that dream. Of course my heart is heavy, but that leaves me with more to look forward to in the new year.

So again, we wait.

And life doesn’t pause or stop or slow down just because of what’s going on with our adoption. On the contrary, it zooms and flies around us with terrifying speed. I have made myself so busy that I have almost no down time. This way I don’t have endless hours to ponder the “what ifs” and the “maybe tomorrows” and there is no time to research baby bottles and carriers and cribs. This also leaves me with little time for the things that really matter; quality time with my girls, with my husband, time to be intentional about my own well being.

Minivans are cool!

I spend many hours each day with the girls, but they are filled with school, activities and appointments. And when they’re not scheduled to the brim, I am working. I have become obsessive about my jobs. I love each of them dearly and give my very best to every task. I want to help with our monthly income and some days I truly succeed. But mostly I continue to add to my own stress by feeling the need to do everything perfectly and all at once.

Working It

Wine and jewels, wine and jewels

Piles of clean laundry overflow beside my desk and the clean dishes never really get put away. I love having a clean space to think in, to create in and to simply be in, but I can’t seem to find the energy or the desire to change my surroundings. This causes even more stress and anxiety.

And to add to all of these feelings, I have gained 15lbs since June. Sure stress will contribute to that, but so will the glass or two of wine each night. I feel like I’m failing myself and none of my clothes fit. I make time to workout and I count my calories, but everything just feels forced and empty. My outlook on the world is constantly coloured by how I feel about my body.

I do not share these things to make anyone else feel bad or to find an answer or to have anyone else shout “me too!”. I know that I am not alone. I know that I am not the only person, mother, woman to have ever felt these feelings in the history of the world. Others have gone before me and endured these same things. But that thought leaves me with little comfort.

I have the best friends in the entire world and my family is exceedingly patient with all of my dizzying craziness. They listen to me over and over again. And I read blog upon blog about stress, anxiety, depression, adoption stress, body image solutions, healthy eating habits and so on and on and etc…. but none of this will be going away anytime soon.

We're cute.

At this very moment, my life is not what I desire it to be. It is full and amazing and I have so much to be grateful for. I will wake up again tomorrow and will throw myself into my day with reckless abandon, checking things of my ever-growing list. But something is missing. Some one is missing.

Will having this child in my arms fix every negative feeling that I have? I am not naive enough to believe this. Of course it will not. But it will end this feeling of limbo that I exist in. Maybe I will be able to plan for things again with great certainty. Maybe I will allow myself a day off to truly savour and enjoy. Maybe I will sit still long enough to re-evaluate my goals and dreams and priorities. Maybe I will feel a little bit of peace. Then again, maybe not. Emotions and expectations are tricky little bastards.

I know that I am the master of my own mind and feelings, and maybe this is why I feel the need to share all of my yuckiness. If I type these words into my computer and send them out into the abyss for everyone to read and criticize and analyse, or ignore, then the thoughts will now live outside of my body and they will no longer consume me.

Having said all of this, please do not read TOO much into my melancholy. I believe in hope and magic and the promises of rainbows. I know that joy comes in the morning and I do experience love and laughter on a daily basis. But sometimes the waiting is just too much and I break.

Be Kind

I won’t pour myself a glass of wine tonight, but I might just sob while destroying a few calories on the elliptical. And I know that that is okay. Maybe.

Shake It Out

3 Aug

In my day to day life people often stop me to ask how things are going. How are the girls? How is work? How is the adoption going…… any news?

These are fair and honest questions. I often have things to share about school, dance, new job opportunities and the few morsels of news we have heard from the adoption agency. But sometimes I have nothing. So I find myself sharing something else; something unexpected but also truly necessary. I begin to share with them what The Lord has been speaking to me, teaching me and guiding me through over the last few days, months or even years.

Allow me to preface this by explaining that I am far from being a perfect example of a “Christian”. I struggle to make time to read my Bible, I listen to music with swear words in them, I occasionally swear, I enjoy a drink from time to time….. I could do a lot to clean up my outward persona.

However, in all of my imperfections, there are a few things that I cling to in my understanding and my relationship with God. Daily, in my mundane and often frustrating existence, I constantly seek His voice. I do find myself in constant prayer, looking for Him around every corner and in every moment. I long to be close to Him and to feel His peace. My heart desires nothing more than to know Him better. And sometimes, in all of my mistakes and worldliness, I am fortunate enough to hear His still small voice and know that I am not too far off the path that He has for me.

This may seem bewildering to you. “How do you hear the voice of God?” And I wish that I had a defined answer for you…..

Sometimes, very rarely, there is something that moves inside of me. Something stirs in my very core, my heart and soul. It shakes me so hard that I cannot deny that THAT in fact was the voice of God. This was my experience when I received the call to pursue an international adoption. There was no denying what I felt and what I needed to do. I could not imagine ever finding a sense of peace within myself had we not decided to journey down this path. Of course it is terrifying and filled with unknowns, but at every fork in the road or obstacle, that moment with The Lord carries me through.

That type of experience has been rare though. And for the most part, I am glad. It is intense and earth shattering and forever alters the way you live. Most of the time I hear the voice of God in a much more subtle way. I hear the voice of God in music (yes, even the secular stuff, filled with hurt and longing for love) and in art. I see The Lord’s beauty and majesty in colours and in the absence of colour. I feel Him in nature. I think this is why I love the Spring so much. I find Him in deep and intimate conversations with close friends where the things I have been struggling with are discussed and my fears are reassured and calmed. It is in the everyday and the unassuming that I most frequently hear the voice of God guiding me and directing me.

So where am I headed with this? How about my tattoos.

Those who know me well know about my body art and my love for tattoos. Ever since I was 11 or 12 years old, I knew that I wanted a tattoo (or many, many tattoos!). And many of you also know my family. This desire has always been a struggle. I love my parents and understand their perception of tattoos (and piercings) so I waited a very long time before I did anything. But each of my tattoos has come from a very personal message or vision that The Lord has shared with me. Some are straightforward. My maiden name in honour of my Grandparents when my Grandfather passed was an easy, spur of the moment decision. I love my family dearly and I chose to grieve that loss by carrying them with me for the rest of my life.

Every time I make the decision to get a new tattoo or a piercing, I walk away feeling more like myself and the person God created me to be. I still understand why I am met by resistance and head shakes from my family (J-Sauce hates them too). But I feel like I am better equipped to face the world and to share my story. A huge part of that is my tattoos.

So this brings us to this week.

Life has been hard and difficult and uncomfortable and relentless…… as it often is. I feel as though I have been surrounded by bad news or conflict everyday. People around me receive bad news and I feel it so intensely. We find roadblocks or delays in the adoption and it is devastating. My natural inclination is to head to bed every night and complain to God that its not fair. But I find that reaction starting to change as He gently speaks to me and listens to my whining and complaining.

We were never promised that life would be fair. In fact Jesus promised us that we would constantly face adversity and hardship. So I find my new reaction to disappointment and bad news to be, “You only get a little time to be upset about this and then you must move on”. I am shocked with myself and, of course, this is easier said than done. But I do feel myself being able to grieve, to hand it over to The Lord and to move on with my life. My wonderful, beautiful, amazing, colourful and blessed life. I have so much to be thankful for that I truly have no reason to hold onto any disappointment for too long.

So in my very brief and punctuated grieving this week, I decided to get a new tattoo. This design is so completely me and I was thrilled with the outcome.

Years ago, while watching How I Met Your Mother, The Lord spoke to me through an episode and a song. (Yep, even in TV shows…..). Ted once again admits his love for Robin. But this time Robin denies his attempt to make something more out of their friendship. She instead asks him to promise that they will hold onto their deal – that if they make it to 40 and are still single they will marry. Ted takes a huge step and bravely says, “No. I can’t wait around and hope that one day I’ll win the lottery and that we’ll finally be together”. Essentially, as long as that deal stood, he would find something wrong with every other relationship he pursued. So long as he had a foot in the door with Robin, no one else would ever measure up. So he had to let her go.

As the episode ends, Ted is standing on their roof (with a fake New York skyline in behind him….. le sigh) and “Shake it Out” by Florence and the Machine starts to play. As Ted exits the bar later on, with the song still playing, it begins to rain. He takes out his black umbrella and opens it. As he steps out onto the street, everyone else walks past…..with their yellow umbrellas.

The yellow umbrella has been the long standing symbol of him finding “The Mother”. Because Ted has been willing to let go of any future that he might have with Robin, everyone has now become an opportunity. Anyone could now be “The Mother”. He can allow himself to fall in love with someone else and to truly be happy.

I cry as I type this out (and every time I explain it to people) because the message hit me so hard. When you let go of the things that hold you in place – regrets, past actions or relationships, hurt feelings and disappointment – everything else in front of you becomes an opportunity; an opportunity to love, to find joy, to be thankful, to share your story.

This message strikes so much deeper in my heart than I will ever be able to fully explain, but I think that this little portion is enough to express what God has been doing in my heart and my life lately.

I walked into my tattoo shop with just a rough outline and pure optimism. What Sasha created is more than I ever could have hoped for. (And a rainbow on Pride weekend! How perfect!) It is everything that I need and wanted it to be. I love it and am willing to share that part of my story with you.

Shake It Out

 

When life gets me down and things happen that break my heart, I have a good reminder to shake it out and hand it over to The Lord. If I let it go, I can then stand and wait for His still small voice to guide me towards my next yellow umbrella.

 

This song breaks me. She is amazing. I can’t get enough of this performance. That dress, her voice, the choir……gah! So good.

Boost! The Liebster Award

8 May

I am much less than a casual blogger. I have aspirations of grandeur related to my abilities of consistency when it comes to posting. And while I have much to write about these days, I find myself hesitant. So thank goodness for Scarlett over at Pretty Pinteresting!! She’s given me just the push I need (in more ways than one!) to get writing and blogging.

Scarlett has graciously nominated me for The Liebster Award. The Liebster Award is an accolade passed around by bloggers with less than 500 followers. It’s a way to give bloggers an exposure boost! Liebster is a German term of endearment that translates to  sweetheart, beloved, or darling. My German/Lithuanian heart loves this more than you could know 😉

Liebster Award

To accept the award, a blogger must:

  • Make a post about the award, thanking the blogger that nominated you.
  • State 11 interesting facts about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger that nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new bloggers with 500 or less followers 
  • Write 11 new questions for your nominees.

SO! 11 interesting things about me……. Let’s see.

1. I REALLY love rainbows. I am passing this obsession on to my children, whether they like it or not. 

My OCD Manifestation

2. I am deathly afraid of clowns. Deathly. Number 1 fear. I will touch any creep, crawly creature, but keep the clowns away from me. 

3. Almost all of my best friends name’s start with L. Almost. Seriously Calla and Borowko, get your crap together. 

4. Tulips are my favourite flower. Koukenhof, Holland

5. I will take any excuse possible to spend time in the city.Summertime in Vancouver

6. But I grew up on Country music and revel in long drives on back roads with the wind in my hair. 

7. I have a Degree in English Literature and an extended Minor in Visual Arts. I dream about doing my Masters in either Children’s Literature or Art History. Smarty Pants!

8. To date, I have completed two full, and one half walking marathons. Legitimately crazy.

9. I am desperately passionate about the plight orphans around the world and yet am often crippled by my own passion and desire to make a difference. Where do you even start? Also, does anyone have Bono’s phone number? I am suppose to work with him on this and also to address the issue of the eradication of HIV/AIDS. I have big dreams.

10.  I currently have 5 part time jobs. Mama be hustlin’! 

11. My kids are honestly the coolest, funniest and most loving people I know. I take absolutely no credit for this. 

Double Trouble

And now the lovely Ms. Scarlett’s questions…..

What is your favourite Colour? Yellow!! 

What is the longest line you have ever stood in? The line to get into the General Admission Floor space at the 360 Degree U2 show in Vancouver. Several hours in the rain. Totally worth it! 

Stupidest question that people ask you? But why would you adopt if you know you can have your own kids?

Oreos or Ice cream? Ice cream!! Until my lactose intolerance flares up and I immediately regret that decision.

The best vacation you have ever taken? There have been very few up until now. Soooo….. my honeymoon in Hawaii!! So warm and relaxing.

Hotel or camping? Both! 

Your ideal day is? Spent with my family, involves healthy but delicious food, some exercise both physically and mentally, allows some room for creativity and meaningful conversations that enrich and feed my soul.

If you had your last meal, what would it be? Ah!! So tough….. my recent favourite is the Beet Salad and Pulled Pork Poutine at Bistro 72. This and a very expensive and well aged bottle of red.

Blogging or video blog? Blogging, for sure. I think my personality translates better in written word. At least, that’s what I’m hoping…..

What is the one secret you never wanted to tell anyone? Hmmm, I try very hard not to keep secrets. They lead to nothing good. Wait!! Maybe how much money I’ve spent on tattoos….. J-Sauce can only guess at this point 😉

The best business advice you were ever given? There is a difference between your professional life and your actual life. Be careful with where you place that line. I’m continually striving to become a more professional person in my business life. 

So now I nominate…..

What Would Audrey Wear?         Kids of the King       When I Eat       Lesley Stefanski       Full Time Life      Becoming Daily

 Straight Up Sisters         Amanda and Stephen     Tootsy Pops       Seeking Savhannah         The Smithographers

And my Questions to you:

Favourite Movie?

Favourite Band?

Favourite Book?

Wildest Dream?

What’s stopping you from pursuing that Dream?

Winter or Summer?

Cupcakes or Macarons?

Signature Fashion Staple?

Who is your Hero?

What is your greatest Fear?

If you could start and fund a charity tomorrow, what would it be?

Enjoy the Boost my lovely Liebsters! Happy Blogging!

SPECIAL MENTION: Red Dog Blue Kat, who snuck in under the wire.

New Opportunities

1 Apr

I live for days where I slip out of my world in dreams and the first thing I am aware of is the light outside my window. There is a new warmth. There are birds chirping and calling to one another, letting their presence be known. The trees bursting forth with new leaves and the air is full with the scent of cherry blossoms.

Spring!

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19 NIV

I live for Spring.

I absolutely, 100% love our West Coast rain and mild Winters, but enough is enough after months of grey. I need sun on my skin and the reminder of new life.

The beginning of 2014 has been difficult for me and there has been little news regarding our adoption. What we have heard has been positive, but there is still no babe in my arms. So I will soldier on and do what I always do….

Find something new to throw all of my energy into!!

This time that we have to wait is for a reason and I know that I must take full advantage of it while I can. My first priority is my beautiful girls and giving them all of my attention while it is just the two of them. So we keep our days full and create our own magic.

Cousins

Craft Time

Painting

My next priority is to keep us in good financial standing as we continue through this adoption journey. I don’t know if you have heard, but international adoption is not cheap….. Ha ha. So I work.

I have many jobs, all of which I have been blessed with so that I can keep my kids as my first priority. I am so thankful for this time that I have with them and I know it will soon be over; they will off to school in the blink of an eye and I will eventually need to find a “real” job. But until then, I teach piano, I do part time bookkeeping, and I have recently taken on the job of cleaning our apartment building. While these jobs are fulfilling and allow me to be at home with the girls while adding to our monthly income, things still fall short with the bigger picture looming ahead of us.

J-Sauce and I have tried to be as conservative as possible with our financial decisions especially with regards to the adoption. We still enjoy a night out here and there and carry a small amount of consumer debt (we can all sit around and compare numbers at a later time 😉 ). However, we do have all of the administrative costs related to our adoption covered. What we still lack are the funds to eventually return to Africa and bring our precious baby home.

So I have prayed and reflected and sought wise counsel (and whined and complained) and researched and have made another decision regarding my employment…….. I am going to start a home based business!!!

I have had experience with this in the past as a consultant with Mary Kay. I learned a lot about how to succeed in such an endeavor. But more importantly, I learned a lot about how to fail at such an endeavor. So I have made my recent decision with much consideration and support with the hope that I will be able to succeed and to continue to provide towards our next trip to Africa.

I am so excited and proud to announce that I have decided to join the growing number of women (and men!) connected with Stella & Dot accessories as a Personal Stylist.

I have chosen Stella & Dot for a few reasons. I have been acquainted with the company for sometime now through a super fabulous and loving friend.  She has always been open about her love of building her business and supporting her family through Stella & Dot. I have attended a few Trunk Shows in the last few years and love the atmosphere of hanging out with a few friends while trying out some fun and beautiful jewelry. So relaxing and comfortable, unlike many other home based business parties I’ve attended.

Also, I love their products!! I haven’t taken much time over the last few years (save for a few evenings out or Sunday mornings) to put a lot of effort into feeling put together and pretty. Being a busy mom is wonderful and rewarding but I spend far too much time in my Lulu’s and sweatshirts. It amazes me how something as simple as a necklace or bracelet can motivate me to put in a few extra minutes of planning and allow me to tackle the day with a little more grace and confidence. This doesn’t mean that I don’t still love my sweats, I do, but I’m excited to be apart of something that will push me towards being a little more polished on a weekly basis.

My goal with this adventure is simple: connect with new people, help them feel beautiful and save towards our next adoption trip.

I know that there are those of you out there who have already been blessed by helping us out financially with our last trip, and for that we are eternally grateful. You are still more than welcome to press that little Donate button at the top of the page (every dollar helps!) but why not get something back in return?

With as much time as I have available to make this business work, I know that we may fall short of our goal of $7500. So please stay tuned for other opportunities and events to help us meet that goal!

In the mean time, I’m looking to fill up my calendar over the next few months with as many Trunk Shows as possible. If you live in the Greater Vancouver/Fraser Valley area and would like to host (and earn some free jewelry!!) all while supporting J-Sauce and I, drop me a line! I could not have made it this far in this journey without you and may need a little more support yet. Every day brings us that much closer to returning to Africa and our child.

Bracelets