Happiness and sadness

We are camping on the west coast which is my favourite way to start a blog post or a day.

I think everyone has a place or places that make their soul come alive, more than it is anywhere else. For some people it is the dessert with all the warm colours and sparseness or the prairies with their crops blowing and never ending horizons or a restorative and warm lake that is contained by soft sandy hills.

The Canadian Rockies are like this for me, with their peaks that reach way into the sky but root you down into the ground, settled. The water that flows or is nestled between them, turquoise and ice cold in how it wakes you up, makes you pay attention. They make my soul hold still, which is fortunate for an Alberta girl as I can head there sometimes relatively easily when everything is blowing apart.

But then there is the ocean, especially the Canadian west coast. My soul has been singing here in the summers since I was a wee babe and there is nowhere else that I have been where I feel so myself, where my vibrations steady into an expansive and free song. My intuition tells me no matter where else I may wander in the rest of my days: this is it.

The west coast is brine and seaweed and seacreatures and abundance. It’s the essence of seafood but only the kind that has just been caught that afternoon and cooked that evening on an open grill, tasting like salt and a day well spent that ends in happy fatigue. The west coast is the deep smell of decaying old cedar and the bright chartruse of new things growing right straight up out of it. The west coast is sunlight on water and peace and goodness. The west coast is seeing God and knowing.

I got sick this winter, when we were on vacation in Hawaii with something that no one I have been to is still quite sure about. Since all their ideas have been ruled out I wait to see a specialist while, so, so thankfully as the months pass I also continue to feel better. Being forced to slow down and worry about long term things is not very comfortable for me, or anyone. It challenged my work ethic and perfectionist tendencies and spirit but I will say this: God was with me and so were other people who love me and turns out that is all I really need. 

As I continue to feel more like my healthy self I’m more grateful for the ability to move and swim and explore and have some energy than I ever have been before. So is true of all things we have faced the fear of losing.

This was one of our family’s year’s hard things. We all have these hard things if we live long enough. Hard things tie us into humanity and give us understanding that just as we all have joy, we all have our struggles. Even when our hard things aren’t as clear as the ones we see on the news; of refugees and violence and hate, they are there for everyone and they are all valid.

Hardness isn’t a contest where you aren’t allowed to struggle or get upset or seek compassion if your hard isn’t the hardest there is. We all are allowed those feelings, there is no scarcity or absolutes here. Remember there is more than enough to go around, there is only abundance.

One of the simple yet so complex lessons of my thirties is this: it is okay to be happy and it is okay to be sad. I’m allowed to be content and I’m allowed to have hard times in my very blessed and privileged, yet imperfect middle class life. 

Maybe you need to hear that you are too.

Now I’m at the ocean and I’m healing inside and out because I’m not sure I ever will not be again. After all I’ve got a lot of growing left to do and I believe in things dying to make room and in a God of new life. 

But also – I’m happy and grateful and safe right now and that is okay too.

I hope wherever you are with your happy and your sad or your sad and your happy there is space for compassion, being held. I hope there is room for love and hope and healing. I hope you can be somewhere where your heart beats like nowhere else and you feel peace and surity. And when you are ready I hope there will be room for something new to grow and one day you see something really beautiful come up from all that dirt and decay.

Posted in Alive by the water, Everyday holy, Life in the 30's, Mental health | Leave a comment

Summer flow

July for us was full of sports and camps and in most ways our days were much more on par with a school schedule than they were a summer schedule. We packed lunches and had multiple pick ups and drop offs at multiple places on any given day. We hurried to bed after getting home from evening practice (after the day training or camp) because we had to get up early the next day. We did lots of laundry and driving and ate a lot of take out and spent not much time at home.

I was pretty tired by the end of this and was needing a break and summer vacation of my own. We turned down a few more options for activities for the kids because I wanted some weeks where we didn’t have to be certain places at certain times. I strongly believe in allowing my kids to be their own selves and pursue their own passions but I also strongly believe in family connection and periods of rest.


So we had a few weeks to just hang out at home before we left on our family camping trip. We didn’t go anywhere much except for occasional visits to the outdoor pool and the library and biking in the river valley. We didn’t do much besides book reading and taking care of the garden and yard and eating meals outside together on the deck.


We camped in the mountains with Aarons’s family with zero cell service and the kids played and fished and whittled while the grown ups detoxed from our smart phones. 


My parents came to visit and we played games and watched Olympics and slept in and ate a copious amount of delicious peaches fresh from their orchard. 

Summer is my very favourite and it is home to some precious childhood memories. I remember lazy mornings and lots of time to read and bike and swim and really do whatever you want to a certain extent. I remember camping trips and bare feet and ice cream and zero urgency. 


As my kids get older and their worlds continue to expand I want to allow that for my family for at least a few windows of time a year.  Time for us all to fully relax and settle and just be. Time for everyone to strengthen connections. Time to get good and bored enough to discover something about yourself or your family or life or love that you didn’t know before.

Posted in Everyday holy, Life in the 30's, Living with purpose, Parenting, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hot and messy (anxiety)

Things have been a bit of a mess for me over here again the past few weeks. My anxiety flared up again about three weeks ago – starting over health stuff but peaking a week ago (Monday, it was a full moon) over everything.

If during depression ‘the mind lies to you and says there is no hope, there is only more drudgery‘   during anxiety the mind lies to you and says everything is a big deal, everything is overwhelming, everything is out of your control.

And so a week ago I found myself up all night, the accumulation of it seems like hundreds of tragic world events and some more personal events as well, leaving my mind racing with incoherent thoughts and worries, my body unable to take a full breath, heavy and tense.

I was anxious about the ‘world’, ‘humanity’, (it seemed like the human condition has never seen so dire of days), several people and situations in my personal life and also myself, for not being able to get my shit together and get my problems in perspective (again).

Often when my anxiety fire is burning high,  I begin to function from a place and mindset of scarcity. All my worries and fears about not enough (time, resources, forgiveness, acceptance, love, not being enough) that won’t let my brain rest are flung to the surface. I’ve said and thought many things that I have regretted in the past few weeks and it has felt pretty yucky.

One of my core beliefs is abundance: enough time, energy, love, enough acceptance, enough resources, a place for everyone. I feel at harmony and alive when I am functioning from this place and I want to always operate from this place, yet don’t. When I’m not that is when the yucky comes in.

So I strap on my bracelet to remind myself: beloved. It is a reminder that everyone has hard things going on I most likely don’t know about, even if it all looks shiny and pretty from the outside. It is a reminder that they love their people with the same fierceness I love mine with, and at the end of the day want them to be okay, safe, accepted, appreciated and loved, just like I want for mine. It is a reminder that this is how God sees all of us, God’s beloved children. It’s a reminder that, yes, me too. Even (especially) when I am a hot mess.

 

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Posted in God's love, Life in the 30's, Mental health | Leave a comment

I worked with the kids

I wrote this post almost four years ago and never published it. Today while reading through my drafts I found it and didn’t even remember writing it or why (unlike most of my other drafts which were pretty terrible) I didn’t publish it. My best guess is I wanted something more poignant and was dissatisfied with the ending.

Four years later it speaks to me in ways I couldn’t have imagined then; about change and progress and beauty. About who I am . Perhaps just as important I want to remember that day, that season when my oldest was seven and I still had a preschooler and a baby and how lovely life was. And how lovely life is.

So here it is:

October 2012

 

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I worked with the kids much of the day splitting and stacking our wood mountain. We don’t have to heat our house with wood (we have a gas furnace) but burning a fire in the stove on winter days adds a different sort of cozy to our house. So days when we are home in the fall and winter we keep a toasty fire burning. (And I love that burning deadfall reduces our carbon footprint.) It is that time of year for us when we are finishing all the outdoor jobs. Last weekend Aaron finished the new chicken coop and run, we dug up the carrots and beets from the garden and raked all the leaves to save for mulch for next summer’s garden. We are getting everything ready for winter. Today Aaron was tiling our backsplash in the kitchen, just one more step in our long list of our do it ourselves kitchen renno.

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We love to spend some days like this and it is one of the reasons we moved to the country. Real, hard work that leaves you tired in a good way and with a sense of accomplishment that can’t be gained any other way. Wood to burn over the winter, something concrete. Seven year old boys who help the most and feel really proud over their accomplishments in this real task, so unlike a video game or book. Noticing he grew so much since we did this job last fall that he could reach all the way to the top of the wood pile this year, remembering that last year he couldn’t do the top four rows. This year he is strong enough to work the wood splitter.

Then there was the tile fixed to the previously blank (and dirty) wall. Haven-Kate when she saw Aaron’s results said ‘You made the kitchen beautiful daddy.’ (Yes, she is only just two.) She was filled with surprise and awe at the change of what had happened while we were outside.

On days like today I am thankful for that wood from our own forest, for the food from our own garden, for the work my husband did on the house himself. For how everyone helped and felt proud to contribute. So often it feels like our life is so the same, when I am longing to make changes, but days like today I can see the differences. On days like today I am thankful for progress.

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(Also I have never once regretted taking too many pictures of my family in regular old daily life action. But I have regretted taking too few. Time to get out my real camera again.)

 

 

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