Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Sweet Stretch

I have managed to turn this birthday of mine into a sweet stretch of time that has filled me up in my heart, my soul and my belly.

It ended today with a lovely brunch with my sweet daughter downtown on a spectacular February day.   After brunch and long walk in the sun and some retail we took another shot at the Hot Chocolate Festival offerings, this time from Bella Gelateria and OMGoodnessMe - SO Good.  We sipped our sublime chocos in the sun, watching people and boats and feeling very mellow.

A wonderful end to a fine birthday run!

And so this first 9 days of February have been very kind to me and if they are but the smallest indication of the year to come I am set!

I have had 4 days off in these two weeks (my birthday, a stat and 2 days of vacation reclaimed from my dismal attempt to vacation at Christmas Break).

It is both amazing and constructive that a couple extra days at home can make SUCH a difference not only in my overall feeling of wellness but also in the ordinary everyday moments of running a home, being a Mom, wife, friend...

I cooked and baked and tried a few new recipes, mostly with success.  I feel like I have finally mastered the slow cooker and I think my managing of family nutrition in the next few months will undoubtedly benefit.

I tamed a pile of papers in the house.  Tax season approaches and I must be organised.  

I marked papers and assignments and got myself sorted for an upcoming conference.

Dinner with our squad downtown.

I had tea with friends and a good catch up.

Beer with another.

I finally made plans for a mini, budget-friendly-ish Spring Break Getaway.  Phew....it takes time to troll through VRBO!

I drove my kid to school...they were both with me so we drove the route we drove for most of their elementary schooling for old times sake.  It was super foggy but we reminisced.  Or to be precise I reminisced and they tried not to roll their eyes.

It's fun having Miss L home for reading break, especially as she has no reading to do!   On Monday the boys went fishing and she and I, with our dear friends LV and EV, headed up to Cypress to snow shoe.  It was early and the light was amazing and I tootled around on my own snapping happily while the other 3 headed to the peak!

We live in a breathtakingly beautiful part of the world and I am feeling a renewed sense of gratitude for it's peace and beauty....and the fact Spring feels within reach!

So the lovely, delightful, blessed birthday stretch ends here.

Next Stop Spring Break.  I can make it!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

One little word

One Little Word is a project to choose a word to live by or focus on for the year ahead.  Most people do it on the calendar year but I do it on my birth year.  

My choices for the last few years can be found HERE

Most often I have made, or had made for me,  a visual representation of the word which I put in a highly visible spot to be my fairly constant reminder to live out the word.

Lovers of irony will enjoy the fact that for last years word "witness" I did not make any such visible sign to witness!  Ha!  I am not unhappy with how I managed to live in "witness" to others, to my own life, in my faith... But I could have used a visual reminder from time to time.

Sometimes the word is hard to settle on and other times it is just there waiting to be given a chance to light the way.

This year it was somewhere in the middle.  

I went around it a few times.  

But I kept being drawn back to it.

In this 6th edition of One Little Word I have chosen the word COURAGE

It seems somewhat unoriginal given the hours I have spent in the company of some great women writers this past year who all have shone a spotlight on the critical importance of COURAGE in living an authentic, creative, vulnerable life. As a wife, a mother, a daughter, sister, friend, leader, activist, visionary.

I hesitate to put myself out there in pursuit of living a courageous life but I am also increasingly dissatisfied with anything less.

I am tired of second guessing myself based on what others may or may not think/like/approve of.  

I am done with settling for my current way of being / living  / leading as being the only way.

I am out of energy for the endless internal discourse of anxiety and "not good enough".

I am tired of silencing my truth for the comfort of others.

Am I ready to live with COURAGE? 

I sure hope so.  I will lean on the greatness of Glennon Doyle, Brene Brown , Elizabeth Gilbert and Shonda Rhimes and stand on their shoulders and act courageous until I am actually courageous.

This is no small thing.  But the time is right for me.  This is the year to have COURAGE.

Now to make myself a visual reminder so I don't chicken out of this tomorrow!  

Monday, February 1, 2016

Monday Birthday

The thing with a Monday Birthday is...well...who likes Monday?

So we did a little celebrating on Sunday night but the 6am alarm went off this morning as per usual. Boys had to get up for school and Allan is at UBC until late tonight.  But first they showered me with cards and gifts.

Like a big girl I had saved all the cards and gifts I had been given until today (#maturityforthewin) so as I stayed cozy for a few extra minutes this morning, I read some very lovely, kind words and got some thoughtful, generous gifts.   And that was before I checked Facebook - oh my!!

My heart was very touched.

I get my Birthday off work, as does everyone in our organisation.  So I had a day ahead of me.

After doing a few things around the house I decided to head out to my beloved Granville Island.


If there is anything the last year has taught me it is to take better care of myself and what myself needed today was some time on my own, walking, snapping pics, eating good food, drinking coffee, breathing fresh air and being contemplative.

Going slow.

Noticing details.

Feeling grateful.

I did my usual loop on the Island and then I watched the water taxi's for a few minutes.  And then I decided I wanted to take a little cruise so I hopped on one.  Best $7.50 I have spent in some time.  It was just me for the first hop and the driver took the slow scenic route.  It was like he knew I was in no rush, that I was enjoying taking it all in. The City and the Bay were looking so pretty as the fog lifted and the rain moved over the mountains....It was a blissful cruise. A gift.

I ran a few quick errands in the market and headed home to free the hound.

A perfectly lovely birthday present to myself.

A pretty great Monday too!

And I settled on my One Little Word...more on that tomorrow.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

36 years

36 years ago tomorrow, on my 10th birthday, my Dad started a new job.

To be more precise... he left a high flying corporate career and followed a call on his life to full time ministry.

A call he answered but, in truth, we all answered. 

We moved cities, took a massive cut in income, gave up the company cars and set about living life as Missionaries and Missionary kids.  
Leader, mentor friend
Michael Cassidy

The blessings that accrued from this step of faith have far, far outweighed the not insignificant hardships and challenges that invariably show up in life.

That journey, that career, that particular, and peculiar at times, work life ends today.

It surprises us not at all that my Dad (and my Mom) will spend the afternoon today at Missions Fest staffing the African Enterprise booth, making connections, dispelling myths about Africa, telling stories, hailing and being hailed by many old friends, sharing passion and heart.  I am also certain my Dad will be back in this booth as a volunteer for years to come but today it stands as his last work assignment.

I am so incredibly proud of my parents, for this was a journey they walked side by side.  Their commitment, integrity, passion, sacrifice and steadfastness to the work, the organisation, the people, their faith, is remarkable.  

They are ready for this new phase.


So tonight, at a family celebration, we will pause with gratitude for the gift of work and the gift of graciously laying down the work and courageously walking into a new stage of life where the same faithful God will continue to love and guide each and every day.

February 1 - a new day, a new chapter for Dad and for me.  Because if you were tracking the math from the opening sentence you'll know that tomorrow I turn 46.  We have long shared this day, my Dad and I, and many milestones along the way and tonight and tomorrow will be just one more.

I love you Dad.  Congratulations on your retirement.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

An unexpected life

Do you ever have moments when you seem to be outside yourself looking at your life and you find yourself surprised that THIS is you, your life...wondering how this all happened?

Of course you know how it happened.  Because you lived it.

But sometimes in the living, the busy living, the hectic pace, you don't actually see.

And then suddenly your little boy walks away from the car in a suit and bow tie.  

Bam.  Focus hits right when you least expect it and you SEE your baby is a confident, social young man in the home stretch of his school career. 

It left me a little breathless. 

Last night I picked up my girl from the ferry and we walked into a restaurant for dinner.  I recognised the hostess immediately.....from when she was a toddler....I hadn't seen her in nearly a decade.  I didn't say anything to her but a few minutes later her parents walked in.  Their shock at the change in Lindsay, the fact that she was at University, brought the passing decade into focus again.

And as Lindsay and I chatted as we had dinner, drove home, went for walk, it left me in no doubt this daughter of mine is growing into a smart, thinking, compassionate adult.

My children will be 17 and 19 in 2016.

It's cliched to ask "how did that happen?" though that very thought percolates through my head very, very often. 

The thing is I know how it happened.  I was there.

And I did my best to pay attention while it was happening.  To be present, to make memories, to guide, to care to feed , to love, love, love.

I have this very clear memory of once watching a family, in an airport I think, of two parents and three older teenage, early 20ish kids and thinking how cool that seemed.  To be a happy family with such big kids.  How far away, impossible and remote it seemed from my life at the time.

And now I imagine if someone saw us we would look remarkably like that family (minus that 3rd child).

So I guess as I sit in my quiet house this Saturday with a puppy snoring at my feet, as a birthday approaches, I am feeling at once the slight tinge of regret at how the years do seem to pass quickly, how the small changes sometimes elude us and then suddenly come into focus as big changes...but more than anything I feel truly, deeply grateful for this life I have been gifted.  

The kitchen is messy, the laundry needs doing, I should be cleaning the floors but when my beautiful girl wakes from a much needed sleep in her bed we are going to go out, and walk, and drink coffee and hot chocolate and eat and shop a bit.

Because we were given today.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Home Alone

Saturday night.

Dark and rainy.



Except for Spanner.

And the whump, whump of the dryer

And the hum of the washing machine

Cue the violins.........

NO WAIT....CUT, CUT, CUT......

Toss the violins people!

I am home ALONE!  

This never happens.  

This is incredible.

I can play Air Supply and sing into my hairbrush in front of the bathroom mirror without emotionally scarring any teenagers.

Without a bra on...... In my jammies....at 7pm!

It means I can have whatever I want for dinner - in this case a fruit salad and avo on toast.  

No,  I am not hiding the wine ..... I am on a cleanse for January.  It's hard and it sucks but I am doing it.  I have eaten 55 kale salads in the last 16 days.  At least.  I packed my lunch to work for 8 straight days...... a world record I'm sure. 

But my pants have stopped chattering and I'm feeling great. 

Except tonight I could use a drink.  Strictly for medicinal purposes.

Because anyone who tells you getting a tattoo doesn't hurt or "isn't so bad" is lying or they are a woman with "I-forgot-how-much-labour-hurts" syndrome.

I got some ink today and I am super, super happy with it "Ohana" means family, not just my biological family but all the people I choose to have in my life - my peeps - my Ohana. 

But it flipping hurt man.  Thankful the best cheerleader a girl could hope for was there chattering away to distract me....it sure helped.  Plus I wasn't going to cry.  Especially after Lindsay braved a whole sentence or two and I only got 5 letters. 

Anyhoo back to being home alone....now that I have checked all the doors are locked. Again. 

I am the captain of my own ship and the possibilities are endless!

I could clean, I could organise, I could read (but I finished a book last night and I'm not ready to dive in again...), I could watch TV (but that would be weird seeing as I haven't watched TV since the third season of Greys Anatomy), I could watch a movie, I could cook, I could bake, I could play bejewelled on my phone trying to beat AC and LC, I could work on my Daring Leadership course ( it is ah-may-zing)..... the evening is a blank canvas!

I sadly can't walk across the street to the Dairy Queen because the whole no bra jammie thing....and now all I want is  a peanut buster parfait...Ugh.  Oh right, I'm cleansing, nevermind.

So whatever you do tonight....

DO NOT feel sorry for me!

And do not ring my doorbell.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Into the Arena

I have been eagerly and anxiously anticipating stepping into Dr. Brene Browns "Arena"

She uses a quote by Theodore Roosevelt to preface her work...

No big deal right...... GULP.

It's been a long time since I invested either personally or professionally in myself.  

But after reading enough of Dr Browns work and picking up the Daring Greatly book I actually bought for Allan ironically....I decided to sign up for her online leadership course.

It started today.  

No ..... I haven't watched the video.  But I did peek at the workbook for session 1 of 6.


It's about to get real.  

Inside my head at least.

I'm ready to tackle some big topics for myself and for my work.  

I'm not sure if it's a new year, or my looming birthday but I am feeling dissatisfied with the voices and ever-longer conversations I have with myself.

I am both boring and exhausting to talk to. And there is very little, if any, perspective to be had in my head. And I am not necessarily all that kind or forgiving of my real and perceived short-comings.  I have cultivated being busy, pursuing excellence and extending love and care to others.  This stuff fills me up. It does.  But as I get older I am finding I need to pay attention to the internal gas tank that is sometimes falling faster than I anticipated.  

It's time to take a long hard look at some things.

If ever there was a year for me to ever so slightly take my foot off the gas at work, this is it.  It has been a bumpy but interesting road the last while and now we are in a relatively flat spot, an in-between space.  There is another hill looming and I need gas in the tank not just for me but for the whole organisation.  We have good and important and hard work to do and that is going to take a leader who dares greatly.  Who shows up and picks herself up every time she stumbles. 

That needs to be me.  

And I have so much to learn.  

I am proud of where we and I are today but I still get caught up in regret for things I handled badly, problems I didn't foresee, deadlines and documents I missed or misplaced (don't even ask about my VISA receipts!).  This happens in my personal life too.  I get caught up in busy and forget to nurture myself and sometimes those around me.

I am going in to the arena and I am going to slay a few personal dragons (fingers crossed).  

I'm going to shut the "not good enough" voices the heck up. 

So easy to type.  So NOT easy to do. 

Here I go....I am stepping in.... AND that is perhaps my first daring greatly act.