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Archive for February, 2012

Seven and half years ago, my dream job ended.

I’d spent ten years dreaming and planning and studying so that I could be a youth pastor.

I know. It’s not really what most people think of as a dream job, but it was mine. I’d known in a moment of crystal clarity that being a youth pastor was what I was created to do, who I was created to be.

Over 20 years later, I can remember the moment that dream was birthed like it was yesterday. It felt like I had been hit in the head with a 2×4. I was stunned.  It was everything I wanted and nothing I’d ever expected.  That’s a story for another day.

Maybe I should have realized that the dream was going to have its unpleasant parts with that sort of wake up call?

Whether I describe it like being hit in the back of the head or a floodlight being switched on, my life before and my life after that dream appeared were not the same. It took ten years for the dream to come to fruition.

My Dream Job ChurchTen years before I could call myself a youth pastor in a fabulous church with a great senior pastor in the cutest rural town you could imagine.

I loved it.

My dream was everything and more than I had imagined it could be.

But I lost myself in that dream.

I put aside everything else that mattered to me in order to be the youth pastor I thought the church wanted. I didn’t do it deliberately. It just happened. I was young and naïve. I was a single female pastor in a small town and everything in my life became tied up in that dream job. My close friends, the people I knew, practically everything I did with my time, all focused on that job. For almost five years, I lived my dream.

Then it ended. Hurt feelings. Disillusionment. A desire to run far away from anything that reminded me of that dream.

Looking back now, it’s not surprising to me that it ended the way it did. The great senior pastor had left to pastor another church and the balance changed. I found myself on the wrong side of those with power. Add to that my growing sense that I was heading down a different path theologically than would be acceptable in that small rural town.

Is it any wonder the ending was, well, bumpy?

I went back to visit that town during my vacation last fall.

It was hard going back. It raised a lot of issues. There are lessons I’m still sorting out six months later, but I finally feel like I’m leaving that life and those scars behind.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I still wish the end of my dream job could have been more gentle. Does anyone ever wants their dream to come crashing down around them? Who wouldn’t pick less hurt?

But seven years and a half years later, I know I am grateful it ended.

I can even say I’m grateful for how my world got turned upside down in the process.

That ending is what led me to move across the country. It’s how I ended up working for three years in call centre where I met one of my closest friends and where I discovered that there was something wonderful about working a job that didn’t take up my whole entire life.

It led me to treasure the time, energy and space that I now have to do creative things like writing, drawing, playing the piano and cake decorating.

It shaped me in ways I’m still discovering, but I like this me more than I liked the me before.

The ending of that dream job has led me to discover new dreams. Ones that are a better fit for who I am and what I value. Ones were I can be exactly who I am without feeling like I’m being pushed into a mould that doesn’t quite fit. Dreams that still allow me to make the world a better place.

I’m unexpectedly grateful for the end of that first dream.

If you’d asked me seven and a half years ago, I’d have been really grumpy with you for even thinking that I could possibly experience gratitude for having my dream ripped away.

Now, I can see that sometimes a bandage has to be ripped off quickly, even if it’s painful.

And I am grateful.

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Needing to Write

Can I be honest with you?

I don’t feel like writing today.

I don’t have something “profound” that I want to say.

I’d like to curl up in a ball on my bed and have myself a good cry.

But I made myself a promise in December.  I wanted to post once a week.  I missed one a couple of weeks ago.  I got stuck.  I’m okay with that.  I learned something important. Observe without judgement.

Today, I’m choosing to live that.

There will be time later for a good cry if that’s still what I need, but I know that  right now, while it’s what I feel like doing, it is not what I need to do.

I need to write.

I need to tell someone why I feel like crying.

And I need to do that without judging myself as silly or over-emotional or … any of the other negative words that come to mind.

We have cat. More accurately, until about noon today, we had a cat.Downloaded Palm Sunday 008

My niece would tell you that her full name was Skit Skat the Chit Chat Cat, but I just called her Skit.

Last spring, I noticed some tiny bumps on her belly that shouldn’t have been there.  We wondered if they were bug bites, but when they began to grow larger, we took her to the vet.

Mammary cancer.

We did the research and knew that even if we spent the thousands of dollars for the surgery and follow-up treatment, we might well only be gaining 6 months.  Of course, that 6 months would have been bought at the expense of her spending several months recovering from extremely invasive surgery.  Months of her favourite outdoor-time weather when she would been kept inside and worn the “cone of shame” in order to recuperate.

She’s worn the cone before.  It wasn’t pretty.  She was the most pathetic kitten you could ever imagine.

We couldn’t do it. As much as we wanted the extra time, it didn’t seem fair to put her through that for our benefit.

WP_000013Instead, we kept her at home. She had a great summer and fall, spending as much time outdoors as she wanted and getting lots of extra treats.  How can you say no to the cute furry face when you know your days with her are numbered?

As the weather started to turn rainy and the “wet coast” weather stayed true to form, we watched as she slowed down.  We knew the end was coming.

Today it arrived.

My brother and dad took her to the animal hospital this morning.

I’ll admit I distracted myself from that knowledge by focusing on my cubicleland-day job.

I knew that if I went straight home after work, I wouldn’t write.

I’d think about writing tonight before bed as I normally do, but I wouldn’t pick up pen and paper.

My room would have felt too lonely.

A Nearby Cat

I’m sitting on my futon watching tv … Hell’s Kitchen to be exact … when Skit Skat, our black and white cat, comes to join me. It’s a pretty common occurrence. She doesn’t really want to be petted. The occasional scratch of the head or chin is allowed. Mainly though, she just wants to snuggle in somewhere and be near. She doesn’t always stay long, but sometimes she settles in for most of the evening.

It always makes me smile. Her purring when I scratch her head or the little noises she makes when she sleeps are quiet reminders of her presence. But she doesn’t demand any attention. She just wants to know I’m nearby.

It’s a perfect example of what I recognized in Quirkyalone. I need my solitude. It’s important to me, but it is nice to have someone to share with and protect that solitude. I thought at one point I’d found a person with whom I could do that, but eventually I realized that it wasn’t the same thing for him. I need to have my own space, my own world that doesn’t require anyone else’s input or approval. At the same time, it’s important to have people who are invited in to join that world, who come for a short stay or who visit for a longer time, who influence and change my world.

But the thing is, I still need my solitude that doesn’t require me to be anything other than me.

 

WP_000438I wrote those words almost five years ago. That silly cat has taught me a lot and has often been my companion when I sit down to write before bed.

So tonight, I needed to write, otherwise it would be too easy to stop and, while I will miss her, life continues as it should.

But first, I need to say good-bye to a furry member of my family. I hope you don’t mind that I wanted to say it here.

Farewell sweet kitten.

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I’ll admit it. I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day.

Yes, I’m a forty-something, single woman, and, sure, that plays a part in my apathy, but even when I was in a serious relationship, I found Valentine’s Day uncomfortable.  There was too much expectation around how that evening was going to proceed.  Picking the right card at the card shop and trying to decide on a gift just about gave me hives! That’s almost five years ago now and thinking about it just now still makes me cringe.  Shudder.

I think we can all do with expressing more love in our life, but have you ever looked at a flower shop on the day before Valentine’s and again just after almost everyone has headed home on the hallmark holiday?

I took pictures on Monday and Tuesday as I walked to catch my bus home after work.

Here’s Monday…

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Fully stocked with more flowers than you could count.  In every colour, shade and scent imaginable.

I’ll admit those pink roses were ridiculously huge and gorgeous. Almost bought myself some, except for the extra special Valentine’s pricing.

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Tables upon tables of flowers ready to be assembled.

Beautiful.

Bountiful.

Overwhelming to the senses.

 

 

 

But wait 24 hours.

It’s a different picture entirely.

Here’s Tuesday … same time, same place.

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They’ve still got flowers, but for the person who waited until 5 pm to purchase, the choices are … well … picked over.

Not a huge, long stem rose in sight.

Wonder who “got in trouble” for not bringing home the “right” flowers??

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Different words come to mind.

Desolate.

Empty.

Disappointment.

Unmet expectations.

Loneliness?

Unfulfilled?

 

 

That’s what irks me about the way we tend to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

If you’re not part of the “together” crowd, you’re left out, uninvited, viewed as second class or immature, pitied, less than …

I’m single by choice.

I’ve come close to living long term in together-land.  Once a ring had even been purchased, though I didn’t know that until after.

But both times, I would have had to give up significant chunks of what makes me who I am in order to make the relationship last.  That’s not a sacrifice I was prepared to make back then.  The more I grow to know and understand myself, the less I am willing to compromise on the freedom to truly be me.

Do I think I’ll be single forever?  Maybe. It doesn’t worry me any more.  I am who I am.  I’ve learned to love and accept myself.  I’m not waiting for the “right” one to arrive.  I’m living my life.  Fully. Kindly. Lovingly. Freely. Boldly.

I’ll also admit.  Sometimes it’s hard.  Sometimes I need reminders.  They always seem to appear at just the right time.

I thought I’d share some of the ones that have touched my heart in the past months, just in case you’re in one of those spaces, on your own or in together-land, when you need to be reminded of how beautiful, loved and valuable you are and just how much the world needs you to be you. Just the way you are. No questions asked.  No judgment placed.  Fully accepted.  Embraced.

What a world it would be if we learned to remember and live that all the time!

Whatever space you find yourself in, I’d suggest starting with receiving one of these blessings from Rachelle Mee-Chapman at Magpie Girl. Close your eyes, listen and let them sink deep.  That’s what I did. A Blessing for the Single People, A Blessing for those with Partners or A Blessing for the Separated.

You can let your true self out.

You have permission – An affirmation mp3 and graphic from Goddess Leonie.  I finally listened to this the other day.  Almost started crying in the library.  It’s so beautiful and powerful.

Take back your soul – In case you haven’t noticed, I love what Pace & Kyeli are doing at Connection Revolution.  I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that getting to know them and learn from them has been life-changing.

Stories can speak so clearly to our hearts.  I love this fairy tale with a twist.  It makes me think of Robert Munsch’s The Paper Bag Princess but the one by drabblegrrl is a better reminder for me, ‘cause I know the author and she inspires me.

Sometimes looking in the mirror can be hard, but maybe we just need to look with different eyes and be gentle with ourselves.

Just for today, sometimes that’s all we can manage

Oh, can’t forget, anything by SARK.  I just finished re-reading Succulent Wild Woman

If you’ve got favourite reminders, feel free to share the links below.  I’d love to know what encourages you.

———-

P.S. In case you wondered, no affiliate type links here.  I just share what I love.  If that ever changes, I’ll be sure to let you know.

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I’ve been unsettled the last two weeks. Convincing myself to sit down and write has been hard.  Explains last week’s missing blog post.

It started on the Saturday before last.

It should have been amazing day, and in part, it was.

Suzy, the Molten Red 2012 Kia SoulFor the first time in my life I bought a brand new car. Her name is Suzy and she’s a Molten Red 2012 Kia Soul. I adore her. I get this really goofy grin on my face every time I get behind the wheel.

I know I made the right choice, but I never imagined the process would be so hard. It’s just a car. I’ve bought cars before, but they were used and the obvious choice landed in my lap with little effort required.

Not Suzy!

Her arrival was … traumatic.

We started the morning with a test drive of the number two vehicle on my list. I really liked it, and the salesman worked extremely hard to win my business so I had a great deal on a car I knew could be "my car". It was a good start.

After lunch we went to see Frank at the Kia dealership. I’d loved the car and valued how the dealership treated their customers. Even with the great deal available on the number two car, it seemed like it would still be an easy choice.

Out we went for another test drive.

In a Saddle Brown Kia Soul.

That’s what was available. Suzy was sitting, unnamed, in the back of the lot, waiting.

There was nothing wrong with the car. I still liked how it drove and how comfortable it was to ride in. It mattered that it was super easy for my parents to get in and out of. Even with my brother and I in the front seat, it felt spacious … and neither of us are what you’d call little.

But as I drove, and even more as my brother drove, I got sadder and sadder. There was an empty pit where my stomach should be (and no, it wasn’t because of the stop at McDonalds for lunch!) No matter how much I wanted it to, it didn’t feel like it could possibly be "my car". It felt like it could belong to my brother or my dad, but never to me.

I was stressed. I wanted to buy my car from the Kia dealership, but I knew I’d be grumpy every time a payment came out of my account if it wasn’t the right car. When we got back to the dealership to talk with Frank, I was on the verge of tears. Over what car I should buy!

We talked for a while about the price. While Frank was doing everything he could to earn my business, I couldn’t say yes, but I didn’t want to say no.

I was ready to go home and give up on buying a car, before I embarrassed everyone by dissolving into a puddle of tears in the middle of the dealership.

I felt stupid and useless. Who has this much emotional angst over buying a car?

Apparently, me.

I wish I’d listened to Week 3’s 52 Weeks to Awesome recording when it first arrived in my email. Maybe I would have remembered three important words.

Observe without judgment.

When I finally listened to the recording, a week late, after the car purchase was done, the words jumped out at me and gently slapped me upside the head. I immediately sat down to write.

It’s funny. One of the instructions that comes with each week’s email is that if you haven’t completed the previous mission to let it go and move forward trusting that it wasn’t time for you. I’m glad I didn’t pay attention. Instead I trusted something internal that told me I needed to listen even if I did nothing else before moving on.

Observe without judgment.

If I’d done that on car-purchasing Saturday, I wouldn’t have been comparing myself to how my dad or my brother would make a decision. We’re very different people and my process is going to be different from theirs.

I value different things and the way I felt about the two dealerships mattered to me. It wasn’t right or wrong. It’s just who I am.

The fact that I am prone to crying easily isn’t something to be embarrassed about. I feel stuff deeply and that’s also just who I am.

And apparently, the colour of the car actually makes a difference to me.

In the midst of the craziness, rather than walking away, disappointed, feeling I’d failed at something a responsible adult should be able to do (told you I needed the reminder about no judgment) I asked for what I needed. Even though I knew my brother thought I was being silly and was getting tired of the process, I spoke up and said I wanted to take the car for one more test drive by myself.

Frank agreed that was a good choice. We sent my brother and dad to take my mom home and I went back out in the Saddle Brown car.

The tears started a block away from the dealership. I started having a conversation with myself, with the universe, with god, with the car. I wasn’t picky I just needed some answers.

I imagined that the car was some other colour than a brown that reminded me of brown polyester pants from the seventies that I really didn’t like.

I went exploring in a part of the city I don’t know well.  I started to breathe. I began to find the joy in the process rather than being tied up with the numbers of what made a smart decision. I started to listen.

WP_000493I heard the answer I needed.  It could be my car. We could go adventuring together.  We could be bold and beautiful together.  I knew her name moments after I saw her.

Observe without judgment.

Ask for what I need.

It’s amazing what happens.

It seems I wasn’t done learning that lesson when I started to write this post last Thursday.  I got stuck again because I was stressing over something else. I’d signed up for an online course that I thought was the right choice for me.

It’s a great course and someday, I need to learn what is being taught.  But right now?  The process is causing me stress.  I’ve been feeling out of my depth and afraid that I’m going to disappoint people because I’m not ready for this yet. As much as I needed to, I haven’t been writing.  I haven’t been talking to friends.  I’ve been falling back to old patterns of closing myself off.  I was worried that stepping away from the course would be seen as the “un-bold” choice.

Embellished Enjoy the Process Calendar PageMonday, I found the other reminder I needed on my desk calendar from The Happiness Project.

Enjoy the process.

Learning doesn’t happen when I’m stressed.  I know that, but I needed to take a moment, breathe, find my center before I could ask for what I need.

I’m not ready yet for this course.  That’s okay.  It’s a journey and I need to celebrate where I am now and not try to be some place I’m not.  Today, I wrote an email to the instructors. I know them well enough to know that they will support my decision,

Observe without judgment.

Ask for what I need.

Enjoy the process.

Those are the lessons I need to remember as I continue to move forward.

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