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Stuff You Didn’t Mention

 

Some people walk into your lives and the blessings they leave behind seem to still shine even though there are a thousand miles in between.

The picture above is from my friend Catherine in an email that gave me the title for this post. Whenever I need prayers, I will send out an email to pretty much everyone on my contact list. Some respond and some don’t, but hopefully, all of them pray for me. The first email she sent me contained a photo of two (of four) of her children eating noodles off the floor, and of course, she added a cute explanation for what transpired for them to be eating off the ground.

A bit of honesty here, I didn’t think I would still be in contact with Catherine on any kind of basis. It’s been my experience most people – women in particular – disappear when they marry. I expected no less with Catherine, and yes for a year or two, she did, but she’s the only friend (who is married) who has maintained any kind of connection with me. Her eldest daughter just turned 9 years old. I remember her visiting me when she was pregnant with Lucia, who is just as beautiful just as her mother is.

Catherine is one of those people whose kindness and generosity shines through her heart in everything she does. We first met in 1999, she is from Saskatchewan, one of the prairies provinces in Canada. She moved to the city I live in because she going to university there, and wanted to experience life away from home.

When Catherine graduated from school she spent a year in Taiwan teaching to pay off her student loan, and I think it was a couple of years after she married. A lot has happened for both of us since we first met. She lives in a town called Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, and has two girls and two boys. I don’t see much or phone/email to her much, but when we do connect it doesn’t really matter that so much is in between us

Months earlier this year, Catherine emailed me and asked if it was possible to get together. She was going to a wedding at the beginning of June. Of course, I said yes! She has a wonderful spirit of persistence for people such as myself, who wondered in the beginning – why me?

I don’t take the role of friendship lightly. Even though five years may span between each time we see each other. Catherine still takes the time to include me in life as much as you can when she lives at one end of the country, and I am on the other end. I haven’t been able to visit her as I would like, but there’s a standing invitation that I hope I will be able to take her up on in the future.

 

 

 

 

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What’s your definition of being happy?

Everyone wants to be happy, but a lot of us don’t know what our definition of happy is, so we settle. Okay relationships, okay jobs, okay health, and o – kay everything. Don’t mess with what is working, even though it could be a whole LOT better.

My definition of being happy is not a textbook, but nothing about me or you is strictly a textbook, and so I suggest that you don’t settle for less. Part of our definition, and I say a collective ‘our’ because most if not all people equate to having ‘stuff’ to being happy. Somehow if by appearances we can show the world what we have and hide what we don’t have then were successful. But what are we really being successful about?

How Much Stuff Do You Have?

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine treated me (an early birthday gift) to a show called, The Minimalist. It’s comprised of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus who both grew up in Dayton, Ohio and who have also been friends since childhood. I won’t go into their stories which you can read on their website, and what led them to live a minimalist lifestyle and their definition of it.

I have one problem with living as a minimalist. It’s living without knowing God. Maybe you know what I am getting to but it’s the whole idea that less is more, but it’s a bonus, and I think it’s easier if you have God as your foundation. You see I know I don’t need all those supposed extras because I know stuff won’t fill me like God can and will. I know not everyone lives this kind of life with God, and maybe they’re great without Him, but could I suggest that it is easier? Before I got to know God better, I would buy tons of stuff that I thought would somehow make me a better person. We’re big on appearances but exteriors do lie

What I am trying to get at, is that most things that we do is to find a purpose, it’s just a fancy way of humans looking for God. We are looking for the truth because well, we were made to want the truth. It’s like looking for those earrings in the couch. You will keep pulling apart the cushion until you find it. Why? You know it’s there. This is where you want to insert value and meaning into what is called your life.

We Are Being Pulled In So Many Ways

We’re told to stock up, to buy in bulk, and were bombarded with sales flyers in between the doors. It’s easy to order online with the promise of free shipping and handling and arriving at our doorstep in two business days. Don’t use cash when you can whip out your credit or debit card.  By doing without, I have learned that stuff is not what I am looking to fill myself with. I think a lot of it has to do with how messed up a world we live in. It’s hard to pass by our faults, our sinful self that lurks in so much of who we are. By living with less we have the opportunity to experience more of His goodness. Somewhere in all the cobwebs, we discover a world that most don’t see or even want to. It is a life that may seem empty to some but is fuller than the kind of life you only think belongs in dreams.

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Walking Through Fire

 

 

 

I do not like numbers. I can add and subtract, I have my multiplication tables memorized, and I can get by doing long division. There is nothing about numbers that I find funny or interesting. Instead, they bring out all my insecurities – all of them in full colour. All I do is cry, well when no one is looking. For a long time, it was something that I tried to hide from. Normally, I tell people up front that I am not a numbers girl. I don’t see any kind of life with them.

On Saturday, I did some online banking, paid some bills, and moved some money into some of my other accounts. Items I’ve done plenty times before, except I couldn’t figure out why I was $ 45 in the hole. I ended up going to my bank and asking the teller to articulate to me what was going on.

Sometimes a situation that doesn’t seem all that bad to you can in a flash turn on you.

Next thing I know I am experiencing so many emotions that I just want to run. I don’t want to explain why I did what I did because when you’re like this you feel like an idiot. Why do you feel the need to expand on this one situation that has completely humiliated you? Cause no one likes to feel like a fool. No one likes being reminded that we’re not perfect, that none of us have it all together. It was a mini-melt down for me. I haven’t experienced one in quite some time, in fact, it’s been years. When I started using antidepressants and I was trying to figure out which one worked the best that’s when I would experience them. I would be out of commission for 2-5 days. I literally could not function because I wasn’t used to feeling all these emotions. I had gotten really good at pushing them away.

I’m exhausted, but not defeated because even though I can’t see it, I know there is still more. I might be just a girl, a woman in a process with her stuff but I am still so much more. I’ve told myself that for years, it was easy to be forgotten, easy to hide and blend in with the background because I am really good at doing that. I need to remember in the process of all things that who I am doesn’t change even though I may not feel the confidence that is placed inside of me.

The emotions that erupted in me last Saturday are still having far-reaching effects on me. Namely, I think the emotions of my past are in effect ghosting on my present and my future. I can sit back and twiddle my thumbs and think there isn’t anything for me to do, or I can decide that I don’t want to be a spectator while my emotions take over what little common sense and intelligence inhabit inside of me.

Like fear, I think God is asking me if I will make a trek through the anger. After all, I am in the right place, I been residing in the desert to walk and hope that these dead bones will come back to life.

 

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Travel and Tell No One…

 

 

Every Tuesday, I go to see Jose my only Spanish client, and fortunately for me, his Spanish-speaking Personal Support Worker (PSW) is also there. Jose has a habit of slipping into Spanish and he expects me to understand him, which I don’t. So while I am there cleaning or/and doing his laundry, Marta his Spanish PSW speaks to me in English.

In June, Marta found out that I was going on holiday because I asked her to translate to our client that I wouldn’t be coming to give him services that particular week. She asked me if I was going anywhere for my week off. I told her no that I wasn’t traveling any [exotic places] where for seven days. This seems to bother her because in her thickly accented English she asked, “Why aren’t you going anywhere?”

Truth be known I didn’t want to go anywhere, I don’t have any worthwhile savings, and I was only taking a week off. I might consider it if I was taking two weeks, but I regress because I don’t have any worthwhile savings. Oh, I also have a loan from school to pay off. Marta shook her head still not seeming to understand why I wasn’t going anywhere.

It was after this that she began to tell me she was going to Spain in January 2018. Marta is from Cuba and has never been to Spain. I realized as she spoke about this trip – and it surprised me – I have no desire to travel on a plane, which is another reason: no desire. I kept this piece of information to myself because I had a hunch she wouldn’t understand that either. Don’t get me wrong Marta is a very nice woman, but it’s one of those situations that I can’t literally run from. I don’t know if there is a typical Spanish woman, but if I were to typecast, I think Marta would fit that mold. I on the other hand not so much, though I have tried.

Not going anywhere for my holidays didn’t bother me as much as it did Marta or some of the other people who equated holidays to physical movement to another place with different weather. In my defence to you the reader, I have done some traveling aboard if you were wondering. I’m not opposed it, but right now God has limited my traveling abilities. My idea of a holiday [as of late] is to not go to work, stay at home, read, write, cook, bake, hang out with a friend, or go check out the  La Machine in front of my city’s City Hall last Friday.

I checked d out what the exact definition of travel was, and while physically traveling came up first there were other possibilities that were available. What I didn’t want to share was it’s nothing for me to travel to faraway lands via my imagination. It’s my belief too sometimes all this it’s all about appearances because my journey so far has enabled me to travel to areas of myself that I believed were impossible to find. For now, the only journey I am concerned with is the one that I am doing on the inside. The person I was yesterday is not the person I am today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spinster Is An Ugly Word

 

 

Spinster Is an Ugly Word

Recently, I watched a BBC video of Jane Austen narrated by Lucy Worsely. For almost an hour, Worsely explains what it would’ve been like for young women to live in the British social class of the 19th century. In short, Austen never had a chance at the life she dreamed of. Daughters were to be married off, but Austen mostly due to her father being a pastor couldn’t offer much in a dowry to any eligible man who had an interest in her. It was also a hard sell for women who wanted to write and sell fiction. As they weren’t taken seriously as a man would’ve been in her position. I suspect it wasn’t expected for women to dream of more than a husband and a family of your own. I wonder if she had married, would we still know Jane Austen the author who changed the world of literature.

At the relatively young age of 41 years, Austen died penniless, alone and a spinster. Never to experience the life and lavishness that the characters in her books did. From a quiet and unknown woman came stories that have and will continue to entertain and foster her reader’s appetite for the kind of life that she hoped and dreamed of but fell short because fiction isn’t reality.

Austen was so much more than just a spinster, she had written novels that would transform the world of literature and even beyond. Sadly, she was never able to see or enjoy the status her writing gained years after her death. I could say I have a lot in common with Jane Austen but I don’t. She didn’t live past her 41st year, she lived in the UK, and most importantly she in the 19th century. But as I watched this video, I realized how fortunate I am to live in the present. I don’t know where the ideas came from those women who in the eyes of that particular era had no potential beyond the roles as a wife and mother.

Dejected and Sad

That was the one emotion that fluttered its wings inside of me as I watched an actress play act out (in the documentary) what Austen might’ve been thinking or hope for. In her situation, hope was in low supply. She didn’t leave home to start university or, nor did she harbor dreams to live on her own, however, Austen did for a period of time. She worked on her writing and kept sending her manuscripts out to the publishers.

I’m single, and I am 41 years old turning 42 in less than two months. As I viewed this video, I didn’t see the similarities to Austen rather all the opposites. If I had been alive in the 19th century I might be more like Jane Austen relying on the kindness of others. Instead, I live on my own and I don’t rely on others to pay my rent, bills, groceries and any other extras. When I think about all I have compared to young women in the 19th century without a substantial dowry to catch the eye of an eligible man of the marriageable age. I don’t have a lot in savings, I have a school loan that I am slowly chipping away at. I would like to plan for the future but I don’t have plans for the single version of me. I have plans for the married version of me, and even that has grown smaller as I am trying to remain in the present, trying to enjoy myself now. I love living on my own and having my own space. In the last ten years, I have been able to see why it’s good to be single, and just do what I want and when I want.

Sometimes I feel this stigma of being single, even though statistics tell me that I’m not in short supply. But I am not a part of the hookup era, nor am I looking for a filler until the real deal comes in. I’m in this obvious meanwhile I wait phase, the place where you wonder, you dabble in things that you might not do when you’re otherwise married. This is my time to fly, to flourish but like Jane Austen, it is a hard place to occupy.

A lot of women like reading about the Regency era because it’s time period has this romantic element to it. It’s so foreign to our understanding. There was no rush, no time restraints as we experience them now. We have answers to a lot of what made life hard and difficult. I could list pros and cons to both periods. Most women want the romantic daydreams of their childhood even if no one is able to truly live up to those ridiculously handsome and debonair men.

And sometimes I have these tiny voices echoing all over the place reminding me that where I am and who I am isn’t enough when I know it is more than enough. Just being in a place and liking, even enjoying where you have been placed. Not worrying about society’s expectations. Don’t get me wrong it is important to keep those hopes and desires, but to many of us, it’s a heavy burden to carry as the years continue to pass. I’ve told God more than once to take the desires away, but they remain and so it tells me a couple of things…

Persist. Hope. Trust.

If you were in my interior like God is, you would know this not what I want to do. This is not natural to me because I have made living my life the very opposite of these three things. It’s slightly annoying but I think it’s a bit of an inside joke on me. I can’t see my potential but I am going forward blinded to what is possible. What is conceivable is that yes my prayers will be answered. If I have learned one thing about God it is that He isn’t in a rush. My perceived deadlines are just my impulse to want to control a situation that isn’t in my doable skills set. I don’t think I will next Jane Austen, far from it, but her tenacity to continue writing despite her situation is a token to me that hard work doesn’t go unnoticed to least of those.

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What’s Your Number?

God has a plan for my life. But I think it was seriously derailed when I was 13 years old.

My Bubi (Hebrew for grandmother) died. Up until that point, I didn’t know life without her, she lived right beside my family.  It never occurred to me that she wouldn’t always be with me. No one told me that grieving was a natural and healthy thing to do when someone dies. I kept playing scenarios in my head of how life would’ve been if she was still alive. I resisted the idea that she wasn’t coming back. All of those what ifs.

A year later my parents separated

This wasn’t what I expected. I expected my parents to stay together despite I knew things weren’t going well. They didn’t have loud arguments or anything that led me to believe they were going to separate. But they did.

For a long time have I was in this oasis of denial because the life I had in my head just didn’t look anything like in my real, real life. Sometimes the one that lives in your head is much easier to take. God had a plan for my life, and I kept thinking that I was waiting for it to take form, not that I was in it right now, living it out day to day. To be honest there was a lot of it that I didn’t like. Like a better earning job, my prince charming, etc.

A year ago, I stopped being friends with someone who on the surface seem like a keeper in terms of friendships. But appearances aren’t a good indicator of who they are on the inside. I was very hurt and disappointed at the turn of events over a year ago. So I started asking the question of why He would let this happen to me. I mean I’ve gone through a lot of people who I thought were friends only to realize that they didn’t really want to get to know me. It sucks. Another reminder that this life we live is unfair and hard.

Nine months later after losing this friend, the Lord brought up my reaction to losing my Bubi. After her death, I kept asking him how my life would’ve looked like had my Bubi still been alive and my parents separated. Would I see her much, would I make the effort to call her? When I was growing up it was easy to see her. I continued this kind of living in my perceived expectations into my adulthood. Why was I looking in on the life I thought I should be living?

He helped me to see that when my Bubi died, it was simply her time. It wasn’t a mistake that she passed away, her toe tag number had come up. People mourn when babies, children, teenagers or young adults die. We expect that they’ll live longer. Not all of us are guaranteed to live past our first birthday, much less your 25th birthday. We expect everyone to grow old, but that’s not what His plan always allows. I thought about how I had peace about my Bubi’s death, and how I had finally come to accept that it was her time.

I pray every day that the doors that are closed stay that way, so it allows the news windows of opportunity and the doors of consolation to open and breathe new life into our cobwebbed lives. I was truly blessed to know Muriel Petigorsky Flesher, my Bubi and to be so close to her. I didn’t really lose anything that I won’t gain again. As for my former friend, my best description of that period of time is it was a time of learning. I learned a lot about myself about what I need, and who I am, and what I am not willing to give up for a friend. True friends are hard to come by, but I have learned that I do have one, and she is a treasure.

I have lost many clients due to death

I have a client who celebrated her 90th birthday last month. Her parents and all of her sibling are gone, and I know she doesn’t want stick around any longer than she has to. She is in pain every day partly due to her age, but also because when she was in her 30’s, she was in a car accident and she suffered devastating effects. Some of her pain today is the result of that accident. She was literally crushed, but she has never given up. Neither her husband or the driver of the truck that caused the accident was affected such as she was. Despite all her sufferings, she has always persisted in anything she has done. She was the one who told me that her Dad would always talk about how everyone had a toe tag, and when their time was up, it just meant that it was their toe tag that was being called. Death is a natural progression of life. Just like the different seasons of life that we experience. We might not know just when we exit one season only to enter another.

A few weeks ago, I called one of my more quiet clients the night before I was to see him the next day. However, the next day when I went to go knock on his door he didn’t answer. I tried a couple more times. This man kept to himself, and I was probably the only person he would see in a whole week. It was weird because I knew for a fact, that if I didn’t call the night before he wouldn’t answer his door, but if I did call him and he was expecting me and then he would come to the door. So a couple weeks had gone by and still nothing. I told my program manager and she checked around and found nothing.

I found out early last week that he had passed. I realized that quite possibly that I was the last person to speak to him before he died. I wasn’t upset but God had thought to include me in his life. I always have the choice whether or not to accept the client that I am given. This man was a heavy smoker, and I am a non-smoker so I could’ve chosen not to keep him, but I continued because he let me do my work and he always showed me respect.

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One More Time

Forgiving other is probably one of the most important things you can do.  Jesus tells us to forgive seventy-seven times seven, so it’s big on his list.

Last week, I went to Madonna House.  For two hours, I spent some time with two of the staff members. For the last few months, I shared with the two ladies about what issues in my life that I was struggling with. I wasn’t surprised to realize that I needed to forgive my Dad again.

I wasn’t shocked that it was him that came up because my healing from the beginning has been what I have lacked from him. Granted no earthly father is perfect.

For those of you have seen the movie, The Shack you’ll know that it is about forgiveness, I won’t go into anything else if you haven’t seen it, but six days later I still felt raw(from going through from the process)  the revelation that I still needed to forgive my Dad. I know we are like layers of an onion, and it was just one more level to be peeled off, but in some ways, I felt discouraged after so many years that it was still there.

Honestly, I don’t know if forgiveness is just a way of reminding ourselves of how much we are loved, or I really just need to let go. I can’t go on judging someone or thing that I have no control over. Or maybe just another of a deeper understanding.