a year later

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On March 2nd, I celebrated one year on the job.

It’s funny how slowly and quickly a year can pass.

Time moves molasses slow when you are learning new skills and desperately want to be a master in a matter of days but at quitting time each day you lament to having nothing in common with superhero.

Times resembles a speeding bullet when your body has relinquished sleeping in.

Yet the passage of these 365+ days has shown me the value of days strung together allowing me to arrive at a different space than previously resided.

Bullet journals are all the rage right now, so let’s pretend this is a page from mine recounting a half-dozen or so takeaways from my first year on the job after a lengthy sabbatical.

  • Don’t diminish the change.
    I believe I spent roughly 3/4’s of this past year, pushing back against the fact that  a big change had occurred in my life and my family’s. I found myself saying these words, “I am only working part-time” or “20 hours a week shouldn’t make such an impact”, or further “what’s wrong with me, you would think I was working full-time?”
    With each uttered word, I diminished the change. I essentially wouldn’t give myself permission to feel weak or overwhelmed. I erroneously believed I had to be strong and in control always. And if I believed this for myself, I further translated it to mean the people in my life held the same belief. It was a sham. I am slowly recovering from this faulty belief system and the easiest way for me to test which path I am walking is to check out my neck muscles and listen to my response when asked how I am doing. My mouth and neck are the quickest indicators of whether I am holding my breath instead of letting air expand my lungs, or trying to hold control in a death-grip instead of opening my hands in acceptance.
  • Choose relationships over responsibility.
    During the first two weeks of work, I came down with a horrible cold/flu and missed two days of work. About a week and a half later, Carl’s sister suddenly passed away. We said goodbye to her Sunday afternoon and that night, I went to the store, bought everything I could think of for Carl and my children to meet with our nephew and niece and their families during Monday morning and afternoon. I went to work. I will emphasis,no one from my work said I needed to be there. I felt like I should be there. Carl and I had discussed it and we both felt since I would miss work for services, I should go. If places were traded, Carl would have been at work. We both value being responsible and dependable. But here is what I know now. I should have stayed home to be with my family. Yes I left some killer trays of food but I shouldn’t have gotten in my car and driven away. It was simply one day in a work week. That one day would not write the story of my work life but it did subtract a page from my family’s chronicle. On that Monday, I chose to elevate my work responsibility over my response to relationship. This was a mistake, I will not repeat.
  • Give yourself time and extend yourself grace.
    I kept waiting for one magical morning when I would wake up and every part of my life was put back into a perfect order. Or better yet, to spring out of bed at 6am without an alarm, full of purpose and joy. I grieved the loss of my old life and rhythm and it felt extremely painful to envision my days looking differently.
    I truly think it demanded a year of walking through the literal seasons and days to grasp the new rhythm. A year to realize I wouldn’t crumble. I missed (for the most part) being the boss of my days.  Well, at least thinking I was boss. But if I am the most candid with you, I was the most lonesome for God of my whole life. I have known wilderness seasons and sections of life I would never want to revisit, but this parcel of land was foreign like none I had ever known. Desolate.
    God was there but I missed having loads of time to just hang out in my house with Him. I experienced winter throughout spring and summer. Change is hard because it disrupts the familiar but God cannot be changed. Isn’t that good news?! The days look different but in God’s tenderness, He has helped me find Him in smaller tighter fitting spaces of time. I am grateful and a lot less lonely.
  • Learn to say no with an asterisk.
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    I stumbled upon this graphic when I was setting up to write this post. I hadn’t realized it had been nearly 2 months since my last post. It was interesting to see a year stacked in blog posts. The areas I said no with an asterisk this past year were: weekly blog writing, card writing, regular friend time, reading, making meals for others and gift giving. Saying no with an asterisk took three forms: No for now, yes but not as often and no to being on time. I said “no for now” to regular blog and card writing. Sigh. Both types of writing ignite my soul but unless I sense a persistent nudge rather than nagging guilt, it’s a no for now. The next “no” was actually “yes but not as often” for friend time, taking meals and reading. Friday is my day off. It took me a couple of months to realize the calendar square is quite small. I can’t grocery shop, see the dentist, chat over paper cups with a friend, clean my house,exercise,take a nap and finish a book
    without it seeping outside my planner. Friends have been patient and understanding and just like a boomerang initially labeled no, it has slowly returned with a yes more often. Last year was not a stellar year of book reading as I didn’t have the brain space for it. I could not read in the evenings. By year-end, reading moved to the big Yes column. Gifts are in the “no, it won’t be on time” category. I love giving gifts as well as sending cards but I have made peace with not being on time especially if mailing is involved. A gift is still a gift whenever it is received.
  • Ask for and accept help.
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    One of our neighbors delivered a card and a container of cookies to our porch during my first week of work. In every sense of the word, it was the sweetest gesture. It buoyed my weary soul. When I profusely thanked her, she reminded me of how I had made her family a meal when she had returned to work, soup when they were ALL sick and cared for them when while her husband was traveling for work. I knew this but had forgotten. The cookies were her way of saying thank you and remembrance of the early days of work. I have been carried by so many over this past year. The biggest area has been needing help with Caleb. I have sent out text messages which might as well been typed in all CAPS and had moms immediately respond with a “of course Caleb can hang out with us.” Caleb has been quick to let us know he is an extrovert among introverted parents. He needs his people. Before I could even ask, moms have given me a place for Caleb to be on no school days or late openings or school breaks. It simply makes me teary by how much this has meant to me, to us. Right now, it feels very out of balance and I have no way of repaying them. But then I remind myself how others were in the same position and I provided a soft place to land and it probably felt like a teeter totter heavily weighted on one side. Teeter totters rise and fall, thank you friends and family for lifting me towards the sky.
    And thanks for a husband who among other great things seems to always be bearing a basket of freshly laundered clothes. Blessed.

    • Make your desert island list.
      When life gets rearranged, essentials matter. What would you take if you were stranded on a deserted island?The question is designed to draw an arrow towards what is valued. I have thought about my loves and needs. I am going to change the question to: What would I take if I was working on a deserted island?
      I would take my God, my people, my books and my creativity. Actually God would be there, I wouldn’t have to ask. So my people in their various forms of family and friends because I see a big island. I envision a secluded place for my hammock where I refuel with solitude and a good book. Although, I haven’t figured out on the mainland a way to up my steps with lots of sitting at work,I think the island living would provide the right amount of fitness while I survey the beauty helping me to create.

      *****

      Cheers to the past year of change and a new year in which to sink deeper into all its many nuances. I am grateful to be on the other side of a year. Thank you for continuing to read this blog during the silences or lengthy posts. I deeply appreciate your faithfulness and friendship to no end.

an embarrassment of riches

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I meant to write this post several weeks ago.

Usually putting off writing a post is due to an inadequate amount of

time to tap my thought upon a keyboard or the words shouldn’t be shared.

Here’s hoping it’s the former reason.

In my last post, I wrote about our late August trip to the beach.

I mentioned our time on the sand, what I didn’t mention was our time

on land, more specifically the boardwalk area of Seaside, Oregon.

Allow me to back track for a moment.

Carl, Caleb and I had visited the beach earlier in the summer and during one of

the days, we spent a little time in an arcade.

We had accumulated quite a few tickets but it never seems like the number

of tickets compared to the “price” of the prizes lines up the way you hope.

Been there?

We huddled and decided  we would return before summer’s end

and Caleb could add to his ticket bounty and surely acquire the most

amazing prize 😉

So one Saturday, the three of us headed to the beach, for cooler weather

but this time we grabbed  one of Caleb’s friends Archie.

We were in a celebratory mood as only days earlier

Archie had finally traversed his way off the waiting list and would

be attending middle school with Caleb.

We spent a chatty 90 minutes in the car, drove into the beach town,

picked up some bagel sandwiches to round out our cooler full of

snacks, and headed to the arcade.

Not gonna lie, I was a bit put out that the weather was very warm (again) on

the coast. I will completely own being a Pacific Northwest hot weather baby.

I also didn’t feel like spending money for me to play games, just for the boys

and that included Carl.

Tickets were starting to leak out of the boys’ pockets

and Carl and I watched the boys play a game

throwing balls at rows of stuffed clowns.

Fabulous idea to me.

Two of these games stood side-by-side and once one

became available, Carl asked me to join him.

Despite my resolve, hitting clowns is right up my alley,

I grabbed a ball and we made a great

team and added to the ticket booty.

Carl slid his game card  to play a second game. This time Carl told me

to aim for the lower row (I took no offense at his direct hit at

my lack of height) and I consented to his strategy.

As the game started, I quickly dispatched of the bottom row and Carl

demonstrated his superb crushing skills.

I was able to assist as each row was resurrected to be clobbered once again.

I could feel a small crowd gather behind us, but we kept throwing and chuckling.

The game was over and we discovered we narrowly missed

the score to earn 500 tickets.

Carl suggested playing once more while I worried about the people waiting in line.

But he slid his card as the tickets continued to spit out from the machine.

And they kept coming out of the machine.

And they kept coming out of the machine without end.

Carl and I looked at each other puzzled and wondered how could this be happening.

We looked behind us and shrugged our shoulders and widened our eyes as the people

behind us began to peer over our shoulders.

We kept repeating that we didn’t win the bonus.

But the tickets wouldn’t stop.

Carl jogged over to the ticket counter and explained our plight.

The ticket guy calmly said,

“You must have gotten the high score and won the bonus which is 500 tickets”

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Carl came back and explained to me and the growing crowd.

We were surprised and I have to say a bit embarrassed.

Once the tickets f i n a l l y stopped, we told the anxiously waiting people

they could have the game we had already paid for because we were done.

My mood now matched Carl’s good one and I ran off to play one of my favorite games.

After my game fun, I found my husband laughing with a few fellow arcade dweller

and the boys alternately giving each other high-fives and giggling.

They had just played Spin-N-Win.

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One boy pulled the lever to spin the wheel and the other boy hit the middle button

hoping to hit the smallest of slivers marked 250.

Archie had just hit the 250 mark thus the cheering and the hand celebration.

This photo is their second attempt switching places and you can see the tickets from the

previous attempt.

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Caleb hit the 250 mark as well and there was more rejoicing and so many tickets.

They played the game a few more times and  never yielded the same results.

We turned in the tickets from both arcade outings, split the loot down the middle

and the boys each came home with a Oregon root beer mug and some candy.

I wanted to share this story not because we won 1000 tickets playing 3 games.

I wanted to share this story because of the two different responses.

Carl and I were shocked and searched for an explanation for this unexpected windfall.

Caleb and Archie were full of delight and joy.

Caleb and Archie didn’t ask any questions, they simply received with open hands.

Carl and I looked around, felt the pressure of the crowd and  were

a few shades of embarrassed.

Caleb and Archie had unabashed glee and everyone within earshot craned

their necks to gain a better view.

They didn’t care who happened to witness their victory dance.

They kept trying to recapture the wonder whereas Carl and I scurried away.

They never stopped smiling or saying it had been the best arcade day ever.

I’m not sure if Carl and I thought an arcade ticket cop would come and take

us far, faraway but we should have done a happy dance instead of a private

high-five off to the side of the arcade.

Where has my wonder gone?

When did I become so concerned with what others think?

Who taught me to question unanticipated gifts?

Perhaps I have taught myself this tragic opinion.

So today, I want to ask you:

Are you allowing wonder to be a part of your life?

Do you believe wonder is simply child’s play?

What has replaced your sense of wonder?

Are you able to embrace unanticipated riches without embarrassment?

Are you willing to open wide your hands and receive each and

every gifts you been given?

I don’t mean tickets made of paper but the totality of your life gifts.

Some gifts you can be held or hugged and others are simply a blink away

Seek, pursue and hunt for wonder in the corners of your days.

Spin the wheel.

Throw down your hand and allow yourself to

stop and gaze up at wonder.

Break into a merry dance even if you are circled by spectators.

Better yet spread the high-fives around the crowd.

Wonder deserves to be uncovered and shared.

When we left the arcade, we passed a couple who stood behind

us and then played the game vacated by Caleb and Archie.

They had witnessed the avalanche of tickets and shook their

heads in tandem with ours.

None of us could resist exchanging knowing grins and repeating

our shared sentiments of disbelief.

When you stumble upon wonder, it’s nearly impossible for it to remain contained,

it leaks onto others creating heart space only it can inhabit.

What ball do you need to throw?

What wheel do you need to spin?

What button do you need to press?

What mood do you need to release?

Allow wonder to be dispensed in a steady

stream pooling around your feet.

**photos by permission

friday joy (wonder edition)

Our summer rhythm of the last decade has been a bit upended this year.

The combination of my returning to work, the hot weather and life events  colliding with

routine  has made me feel like we have lived the past months literally

by the seat of our pants, well make that capris or shorts.

We came off of a few days at the beach back into routine and quickly realized

we had no plan for Caleb’s days.

Gulp.

Courtney was on a road trip taking her college best friend to her first teaching job

in Texas and Carlen was working as she should be.

We limped through Monday with Carl coming home at lunch to munch

and shoot baskets with Caleb.

I adjusted my hours to be home an hour earlier which also meant

a shorter commute time 🙂

and sent out few text message pleas (begging) and

friends helped immediately and into next week as well.

Grateful.

It was a triumph to get to Friday, my day off and what was on Caleb’s mind was doing

something outside of the house.

I definitely had my list of somethings as well but Caleb was the priority.

He began the day by FINALLY mastering the art of paper airplanes by reading

a section out of this book:

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Simple fulfilling joy.

We had a unhurried lunch at Chapel Pub.

I wanted to eat outside because we could but Caleb wanted to sit

in the air conditioning. I couldn’t argue as these days it is a gift

not to be covered in sweat.

Caleb is approaching 12.

There is still the little boy humor which I have been told

and seen plenty of evidence doesn’t evaporate…ever.

We have begun to have conversations richer in-depth and meaning.

We talked about how it feels to not have Mom always, for the most part, available

to his every need.

He expressed his excitement and nervousness for his new middle school but is

still really sad about how much he will miss his friends in other schools.

He’s holding his breath to find out if he will get to learn to play the guitar in

school next year as a year-long focus or one of his art rotations.

He talked about starting a band with friends.

He always politely declines when asked if he wants to see the children’s menu.

It was a first as he took his time over the menu and ordered something other than a

cheeseburger.

He snapped up my phone and took a picture of me.

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He submitted to a selfie I didn’t have in mind.

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This is 11.

We paid the bill and walked over to the library to grab my waiting book loot

and for Caleb to collect on his reading.

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Our next stop was a nickel arcade.

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We raced around and tried our best to amass as

many tickets as a $5 bag of nickels would allow.

I got to play several games of Centipede so my day was complete.

When it came time to redeem the ticket winnings, I found myself

wanting to direct Caleb to other prizes, better “deals”, you know more

bang for your buck.

If this was truly the case of getting a good deal, we should never have

set foot in the arcade as there really is no way to come out ahead for

any outlay of nickels.

In the end, he spent 490 of his 500 tickets on these items:

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A giant pencil and pen and a mini whoopee cushion.

The man at the counter told Caleb he still had 10 tickets to

spend but Caleb said that he was good with what he spent.

But then he decided to buy me two mini Tootsie rolls for 8 tickets.

The counter man said he could have three.

Caleb gasps and with large eyes said “thanks”

and it was the first time I saw the man smile during our visit.

Shared wonder.

We made our final descent towards home but not before

Caleb cashed in his summer reading prize with a  free Slurpee.

(This prize redemption has ceased to change it is always a free Slurpee.)

The days are long and often toasty.

Each moment can easily be filled with essential tasks but what if

now and then we allowed our seconds to be saturated by spending

time in the midst of wonder.

Or lifting our eyes from the relentless black and white lists and

beholding the magnificent shades of wonder which are everywhere.

I recently heard Rob Bell say:

“We need to make it our discipline to not lose wonder.”

I agree.

Wonder is an 11 year-old reaping the reward of the patience practice

of creating until  the first successful flight.

Wonder is found in venturing outside your usual order and tastes.

Wonder does not come packaged in perfectly posed and focused photos.

Wonder is recognizing new paths don’t obliterate the tried

and true ones.

Wonder might just be found while plucking the wrong strings

attempting to bring forth music.

Wonder can be found in a bad investment of nickels.

Wonder is getting something a little extra and puffing up with gratitude.

Wonder can certainly be slurped through a straw.

Wonder doesn’t wait until the house is clean, the fridge is well-stocked

and you are sufficiently rested.

Wonder comes when you let your lungs expand, hands unclench

and surrender to the call,

the practice,

the discipline

of scouting for wonder.

Still need convincing my Friday was full of wonder?

wonder (noun):

  • a cause of astonishment or admiration: marvel
  • a miracle
  • a feeling caused by seeing something that is very surprising,
    beautiful, amazing, etc.
  • the quality of exciting amazed admiration
  • rapt attention or astonishment at something
    awesomely mysterious or new to one’s experience
  • a feeling or doubt or uncertainty

When was the last time you experienced wonder?

Be a wonder seeker.

 

 

instagram reflections

The crickets have been chirping over here lately.

I thought I would post something long on photos and short on words.

Here’s a glimpse of the past two months in Instagram shots:

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A full bow over a Home Depot lot. I am not sure if there is a pot of gold here,
but I know we have emptied our pockets of  gold too often.

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Early Mother’s Day stroll for coffee and tea. No make-up so yep there is filter usage.
Is Carl not the cutest?!

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I complained of a sore throat. Carl brought home a solution.
Thankful.

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Nope…I cannot lie! This is hilarious. Thanks Leigh Kramer.

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Parting gift from a wonderful weekend. Necessary tea for the morning after.

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Favorite words from Caleb.

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Oh Coronado Island, you were beautiful but second to sharing 4 days with 3
forever friends. Bliss.

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Some of the soundtrack of our road trips.
Undisputed winners…Rend Collective and Journey.

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Father’s Day with my Dad.
Perfection.

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Our old girl Hazel ever hopeful that a treat is in the offing as she sits at Carl and
my feet. I am reading this slowly and as often as I can.

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Positive he grew a foot while he was away visiting his Grands. Positive!

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Sunflowers resting on my Grandmother Helen’s chop plate.
I miss all of my grandparents. Remembering how they served others
by their generosity and graciousness helps me keep them close.

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That magical third year delivers a bursting harvest of blue. Delight!

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This preciousness turned 21. No make-up. No filter needed. Ever.

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My Mom. My heart soars and sings and is filled with joy beyond joy.

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A healthy start to the morning.
A smoothie.
The Sermon on the Mount.
Check out this site.
#shereadstruth

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Bucket List shot for Carlen.

Some images have been captured and
others reside in my heart and mind.

Praying this summer will bring you all
a combination of both as well.

Make memories in print and in the heart.

Keep up with me on Instagram here
or check out the sidebar to the right.

 

making up for lost time

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I have packed 3 suitcases in 4 weeks.

4 if you count Caleb’s suitcase.

It has been a month worth of trips devoted to celebration of family,

friendship and milestone birthdays.

On either side of the miles traveled,

there have been beautiful meals shared

in terrain where infant pears clung tightly to branches

and bobbing and weaving between bites as

white puffs of cottonwood  filled the

air like cotton candy.

Selfie attempts were warranted and perhaps unsuccessful.

My heart is saturated with people and  conversations

and with unblemished joy of being numbered among so many I cherish.

The sights my eyes have beheld continue to replay in my daydreams and

I marvel at the hushed utterances of such grace, such blessed and sacred

time.

After the bags were unpacked and laundry piles began to subside,

I did what I always do.

I made a list.

A list of all that needed to be done.

You know the list I am talking about.

The list called making up for lost time.

I wanted to accomplish some chores but I also wanted

to rest up and refuel.

Caleb was away visiting his Grands so my week

could be more concentrated on the multitude of tasks before

my eyes.

Each day I crossed off an item or two.

Most mornings, I set a later alarm.

After several days,

I felt more tired than when I stowed away

my luggage.

Then I read this:

Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day.
You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.

~Dallas Willard
(as quoted in this book)

Despite my efforts to keep my days one part productive

and the other part relaxation, my pace had been a

hurried rush.

I was trying to make up for lost time.

I live my days if I am always making up for lost time.

But what is lost time?

Would I consider a trip to see family,

lost time?

Would I ever tell a friend,

“Yes, let’s get together for coffee

even though it will mean I am losing

time according to my grand list of to-do’s” ?

No, it is called spending time with others.

It is all about adding priceless gems to our lives,

not squandering it.

There is no such thing as making up for lost time.

Time is continuous and is meant to be spent.

Making up for “lost time” is as futile as trying

to gather sand in your arms.

There is simply today and the minutes

we determine to use in the course of our day.

Seems I recall Jesus saying to let tomorrow take

care of itself.

Don’t hurry.

Don’t worry about that which remains undone.

Caleb comes home today.

(Oh how I miss that boy!)

The last few days have been different.

I have slowed down.

In case, I didn’t get the message, I also have

a troublesome knee which makes me take

each step with care and gratefulness.

So what is your hurry today?

What’s your worry?

There will never been an end to laundry and

cooking and bill paying.

There will be another weed to pull as soon as I loosen

ten roots.

I apologize for stating the facts.

As much as I dream,

I will never read every great book written.

There is today,

a gift to be used and not hoarded.

A gift to be cherished and celebrated.

Spend it well and don’t deem it as

moments that demand being redeemed later.

Simply cash in every second with sweet abandon.

 

photo credit: Carl Washington