Wednesday, 7 December 2011

So this is Christmas?

A glowing tree.

Stuffed stockings.

The Christmas Eve menu boasting on the fridge.

Family. (Of all descriptions)

Roaring fire.


Frigid winds outside.

Leafless trees.

Layers of clothing.

The smell of cinnamon.



Christmas movies.

Hopefully reading this list fills you heart with warmth. Even writing it has brightened my disposition. But there is a stirring of unease that mingles with the joys of the anticipated Christmas eve. Even in our greatest pleasures, there is still suffering. To our left or our right. A family member, a friend. Hardships, bad luck and consequences of poor choices do not pay tribute to "the festive season".

Perhaps the importance of ultimately enjoying Christmas in its entirety is to recognise, solemnly, the gifts we truly have. I am not enducing guilt by referring to the starving peoples of Africa, nor to the countless Americans who have lost their homes and belongings in this ravaging Tornado season. I would hope that most people do already give thought to these unfortunates and their difficult circumstances, that it instills instant gratitude and gives cause for prayer.

I am referring to the lonely friends, the divorced parents, the depressed family members, or workers who have been retrenched and are still unable to find work. I am referring to the homeless in our cities (despite the enormous wealth of our Western world), the grieving and the lonely and hopeless people we surely know.

For  me, this Christmas is a time to be open and unyielding in thanks for a home, a job, excellent health, a husband (who really really loves me), and a chance to bring together a family bitterly split for 3 years past. It is a time to give thanks to God for His unending love, everlasting faithfulness and utter wisdom in mapping out our lives. To seek wisdom in the hardships we're enduring, being thankful that we do not endure them alone. To find joy in giving. Real joy. Without complaints and without resentment. To be blessed by blessing others. And all these things are a cause for prayer. For the cliche of our lives representing a tiny speck is true, our lives and our hardships as insignificant to others as theirs have become to us. So give thanks. And do so sincerely.

This year, my Christmas will not be easy and it will not be smooth. But how blessed I am to have it be as near to perfect as my life allows.

May God bless you today and all your days with gratitude. For in our gratitude to Him, we find joy and peace.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The thing about friendship....

is this: you can't always get what you want. Or is that the thing about life? I can't deliberate on life at 10 o'clock in the morning so we'll stick to friendship.

I've always been fiercely sanctimonious about being a friend. A friend is a friend for life. Friendship is not a matter of convenience. And all that jazz. I'm sure you can assume that my friends are few. I do count them as quality friendships though. I have entertained the idea of being socially free and light hearted, but it just does not suit my personality. Of course I would like to have more casual acquaintances, but I'm mostly too unlikeable to be tolerated by casual friends. Therefore I focus on my foundation friendships. The sanctimony served me well. Until I found myself on the wrong end of the soap box - the bottom that is. I can vividly recall occasions when I have let good friends down. Some recently, some many many years ago. It still grieves me. Mostly because these women are still my friends, despite my selfishness at the time.

For this I am grateful. Muchly.

Back to the thing.

As people mature and their lives take different directions, it is expected that friendships will stretch taut and then ease up again as interests or location or life experiences change. Elastic in nature, the constant stretching and relaxing of a friendship can sting if stretched so far it snaps. With so many variables involved, it really is a marvel that some friendships do last a lifetime. So how do we get what we want out of friendship?

My newest revelation is to relax the expectations so as to allow the variables to stretch the friendship without additional strain.  Difficult to action. But I am determined to attempt it.

This blog's purpose is to honour my friends who have allowed me to stand on my soap box to my hearts content and love me despite it. And this softness I'm feeling today has left me longing for the company of some of my very good lady friends.
Lorraine, the ultimate running buddy - who's stubbornness matches my own but kindness abounds, and also 1 in 3 people who actually put up with my incessant complaining during a workout. (yes, I have had people run ahead just to avoid it)

Vanessa, my dearest friend who's life advanced while mine stood still. Who loved me though I failed to celebrate her wedding properly due to my egocentricity. Yet, she travelled across the Atlantic, leaving her children at home, to be my maid of honour. I was the one who was honoured V. This woman and I passed like ships in the night as I travelled back to Canada while she moved to Africa.

Sarah, one of  the most selfless women I know. The best shopping partner that never complains as we trawl through store to store. Easy going to a fault. And infinitely kind.

And Monisha, stubborn, outspoken, uncompromising, loud and unflinchingly generous and still, just a wonderful friend of mine.

Kate, my childhood friend who I miss dearly. Continents and oceans separate us, but we connect as if we've always only lived cities apart.

If I had a birthday party, the attendee list would be small. But it would be filled in the richness of friendship. I do count myself blessed.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

A Divorce

Someone I know has just decided to file for a divorce. The couple has been together for 20 years and have accumulated all the usual things one would expect from half a lifetime together. Home, assets, children, memories et al. He is angry, defensive. She is disengaged. I have a loose connection to this couple. But this decision still saddened me. It raised questions about the divorce statistic so often mentioned in editorials and news articles. What lies in the decision to get a divorce? Are the common complaints of

He doesn't listen to me
She isn't interested in making an effort
He doesn't make me feel special
She's only ever interested in the kids
He's always at work
I feel invisible


Can one person cause a relationship to completely break down? Surely the problem is created before the symptoms are presented? I confess my naivety, however, I simply cannot accept that the responsibility for success is not shared equally. A fair split. 50-50. Label at your leisure.

And with this naive, though firm belief, I think and worry over my brand new marriage. I worry that divorce is...inevitable. Two people, from two different backgrounds, two different personalities and experiences and views on life, coming together to start a new life. The kinks get worked out in the process. However, people change. We mature, we gain wisdom (hopefully), we change our dreams as we achieve our goals, we require different things from our partners as we go through life. Our partners, going through their own journey, may or may not be travelling at the same speed. They may not be maturing at the same rate, they may not find wisdom in those things that give us wisdom. They may find joy and excitement in things previously unexplored while we steadfastly pursue the 3,5, & 10 year plan.

And so, the question hangs, foggy and uncertain. Is it inevitable? Having a life long, successful marriage seems akin to winning the lottery. It happens, to be sure, but so rarely. It'd be foolish to assume that we too will win.

I pray, I talk (a lot), I make him talk (as much as possible) and I think (too much). I value what we have, I analyse it, I give thanks, and I hold loosely the fear. The fear of losing a relationship in the way so many others have done. I'm not fear mongering, I'm not over analysing and I'm not seeking out anxiety or drama.

The fear of divorce and late-adulthood loneliness is a valid one. I come from a family of divorcees. Not just my folks. My grandparents, my aunts and uncles too. Once, twice over. Wonderful people who just couldn't make it work. Wouldn't make it work? Its debatable. As the younger generation I really cannot make a judgement as I have never been privy to the details. It does make me aware of the way that people grow apart, the way that people put themselves first, the way that children's needs come before those of husbands, the way that discontent creeps in, settles itself and lies in wait until it can be joined by mistrust, boredom, selfishness etc.

So....what can be done in the face of certain unhappiness? I think the appropriate response is "damned if I know", but ironically it'd be a blessing to know. So there isn't much to do about the fear but acknowledge it and keep it at bay by being attentive, sensitive, open, passionate and humble. And I can thank God for keeping me humble. A double edged sword to be true, but what peace I gain from knowing that someone always has my back. Even when I don't know that I need backing.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Paralysing Expectations

I was one of the girls who's parents told her that she could be anything in life, that she could do anything she wanted with her life, that the world was her oyster.

I was one of the girls who believed her parents growing up. It was a healthy message, filled with promise: if there was something in life I wanted, I had to work hard in order to achieve/acquire it. I still believe this to be true. In some sense, the belief that my intelligence, work ethic, personality and education would combine with the modern view of the woman today and the global village, makes this quite plausible. However, for me, this meant expectation.

I'm not going to be melodramatic and blame my parents for expecting too much of me and ruining me forevermore. It simply wasn't the case. I was expected to try, try, try. And that's really all.

The expectation was of myself. I can be anything, I can do anything and therefore I should! The difficulty is...what exactly am I meant to be doing. I've read a few articles in the recent months about how this might be a generational issue. The expectation to be able to grab life by the horns and ride it until you're completely and utterly dead creates a lot of pressure to do just that. But where to start?

The adventure requires money, money comes from a job, a job requires an education, an education requires decision. Ah huh. The crux of the matter. Decision.

The modern woman can be dedicated to her career.
The modern woman can choose to be a domestic goddess.
The modern woman should enjoy life and seize the moment.
The modern woman can do triathlons, marathons, half marathons, spinning classes 3 times a week oh and yoga. (lest we forget the ever increasing mania over yoga and Pilates)
The modern woman loves her body, her mind and her self.
The modern woman is ambitious in her life's goals.
The modern woman is educated, financially secure, and socially apt.
The modern woman should be successful because she can.

Hm. Obviously there could be paragraphs written for each statement above, but the tip of the iceberg seems pretty large to me. It would seem that a modern woman, with the advantages of freedom of speech, freedom to vote, freedom of education, and social freedoms should somehow juggle every aspect of life, successfully.

Now some are quite content to focus on career. Others are happy to give Martha Stewart a run for her money. This woman wants it all. Is that so wrong?

I want a career, not a job. I want to further my education and continually learn. I want a well put together, modern, clean home that we can enjoy spending time in. I want two healthy children, that are emotionally and physically provided for. I want to be fit, healthy and toned (oh I want to be toned). I want a PB for my half marathon. I want to make more friends. I want to have fun with  my friends. I want to be able to afford to go on holiday with my husband. I want to be a good partner for my husband and a mini-Martha. I want to be able to cook an excellent roast. I want to throw together a baked dish with the ingredients that I have in the kitchen. I want to be financially able to support my family, save for my children's education, pay for house maintenance and updates, drive a nice car (yes, I do like nice cars), save for my retirement and go on holiday once a year. I want to please God with my actions and my intentions. I want to spend more time getting to know God. I want to be an expert at training my dog. I want to be able to install my own t.v. I want to be funny and witty. I want to be successful but easy-going. Is that asking too much?

Its laughable really. The idea of being everything to everyone, the notion of having it all. And yet, I cannot let it go. I feel the expectation to be all those things coursing through my veins.

And it paralyses me. Most days I can't decide what type of lettuce to buy. Spinach is high in iron and fibre, but romaine is fresher and better suited to sandwiches. Baby lettuce is nice and flavourful but goes off too quickly. I struggle to decide what to eat for dinner. I am a NIGHTMARE to take to a restaurant. Just ask my husband, or my sister-in-law, or my brother for that matter. I cannot decide on a menu item because I want little bits of most dishes. (PLEASE  do not comment on this blog advising me to attend a buffet...its not the point).

This paralysis extends to the decisions about our lives. Do I focus on a career, study university part time, start having children, focus on savings, go on a holiday while we have no children etc etc. My mother (bless her) sees a bit of this in me and offers advice along the lines of "prioritise". The problem. I think I can be everything. I really, in my deepest bone marrow, believe it. So there are no priorities, only a timeline.

I hope that others in this generation who face the same struggle have found some solice in their own solutions. My solution remains a flexible timeline that will allow me to fulfill these expectations in intervals. And may God bless me with time!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Blogging realised

So, today I checked my blog post "views" - yes, I am one of those. I saw that one of my previous blogs has today been read by someone in Russia. Russia! I don't know anyone in Russia. The fact that someone I do not personally know is reading my blog is really exciting for me.

Its not that I blog for the sake of views. My dear friend Vanessa and I discussed the benefits of blogging recently via Skype and laughed over how cathartic blogging can be for the blogger. Its wonderful to be able to think and type in whatever fashion without having to be concerned about boring or offending someone. And it works for me! Its like speaking to a wall, without looking odd.

So if I don't know you, but for some reason you find my blog interesting, thanks!

Friday, 4 November 2011


My husband and I are very good friends. Granted, women feel differently about this sort of thing to men, but to me, he is my best friend. We are also very good partners. We make a good team. It is the reason we've been able to slog through two manic years of redecorating, wedding planning, house selling and immigrating while avoiding the 50% statistic.

Yesterday I received a bit of advice that, at the time, seemed odd. I was advised to be diligent in romancing my husband to ensure that we don't become "just friends".

A bit of context is required here: I have seen many couples come together for the sake of children, finances, rationale or because they'd been dating for a period of time that deemed "marriage" as "the next step". I have also spent time with many couples who are happy together, but who are not friends. Before I met James, it was always a priority that whomever I dated and finally married, would be a friend, someone I can walk alongside for the rest of my life, after all, we've all heard the oft spoken words "the spark dies, there's more to a marriage than romance, you have to build a better foundation" etc etc. I really believed those words and put it in my mind that I wouldn't give romance a second thought. (Aha! Here I am giving it much more than just a second though.) The idea of "romance" was nice, but it seemed a bit cheesy and a bit superficial. After I met James, I reiterated my lacklustre for romance and I'm sure he was more than happy to oblige.

Now though, I am beginning to see wisdom in romance. Yes, it is superficial, and yes, it can be cheesy. But I'm starting to believe that there is something invaluable about taking the time to "woo" your spouse.

That being said, I have no idea how to be romantic. Candlelight, fireplace, music and wine just brings to mind an older generation and a vino-headache the day after. Watching the sunrise is something I often do when I get up early for a run, its not something I often share with my husband since he is not fond of early mornings. Romance still feels silly to me. Its not how James and I interact. We speak openly and often about all things, we connect when we're having fun and spend a lot of time with each other at the moment. I am starting to feel concerned that maybe we are missing an essential component in our relationship. But I remain stuck at the definition of romance. It has to be something that works for us.

Maybe, our understanding of romance is changing. Maybe we need to explore what romance could mean, rather than what it should.

This marriage lark is far more complicated than I realised - and I'm only on the first little bit!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The small things

I am so so thankful for the small joys in life. Superficial to some, obvious to others. I am not referring to the way my husband makes me laugh hard enough to have to "clench", nor to the roof over my head and warm winter kit or loyalty of my family. For these I am exceptionally grateful and very aware.

No, they are small, insignificant things that really do brighten my day.

An amazing nail polish colour.  (It makes me feel like a million bucks)

The smell of luxury hand wash. (Obscure, but it actually makes me feel calmer and more cheerful)

Clean bed sheets. (I partake in a full 5 minutes of glee when I first get into bed on "clean sheet night")

A perfectly ripe avocado pear. (With salt and pepper? *sigh* its....amazing)

Starbucks. (Specifically a Tall Double Skinny Caramel Macchiato)

A good hair day. (Out of my control and fully capable of putting extra spring in my step

Clinique's Chubby Stick in Cherry. (Its amazing. Its lip balm, with lipstick colour, without stick or chapping)

Lupa's waggy tail. (It has a kink and she wags it at a million mph - its unceasingly humorous)

Classical music. (Of course there are specifics, but it actually makes me feel lighter)

Hymns sung with African harmonies. (

Summer comic book blockbusters. (Muscles, damsels in distress, cheesy smiles, popcorn, 2hrs to tune out.)

And more and more! Thank God that I am able to be thankful for the little things.

My good friend Vanessa has mentioned a gratitude journal in our Skyping conversations. Its something I am exploring. The specific quote for motivation was unavailable, but its related to changing our perception from that of entitlement to that of gratitude. This can only be good. My recording journey will start with the obvious, and move onto the small, fine things in life that are often forgotten, expected or presumed. I have much that I am thankful for, and much more that I should be thankful for.

Sunday, 23 October 2011


Bloody immigrants, immigration, et al!

As an immigrant, from South Africa TO Canada, from Canada TO England, from England back TO Canada, I feel that I have the right to speak poorly of immigrants and of those who speak poorly of us.

Its fair to describe us as a sorry lot. We arrive in clothes that don't quite "match", we drive erratically, crossing over all the lanes while we adjust to new road signs, crazy local drivers and learn the unspoken rules of the road through trial and error. We settle by finding jobs that allow us to contribute to the economy and find our way in society but can generally only find customer facing, entry level jobs which enrages most locals and other settled immigrants because again, we don't quite "fit in" or they don't understand our accents. We attempt to arrange for loans and credit cards in order to establish a credit rating so we may purchase homes and cars and finally "match", "fit in" and "belong" only to be turned down for lack of credit.

And amidst all this, we feel it is important to hold onto a bit of our culture, which we left, not because we hated it, but because our government isn't as good as yours, our health care system sorely lacking and our education system less promising. We know that we are the minority, we do not need to have it thrown back at us time and time again. We know that we need to adjust to a new sense of humour, a new social value system, a new government, a new workplace and a new way of doing things.

But its hard. We have left good jobs, promising careers, partial education, homes, family and friends. We have made a commitment to start from scratch, wanting a life with more promise, as you do too.

So next time you see a crazy driver in front of you, please do not yell out "immigrant", (its probably a rich woman with a large car with very little spacial awareness). Next time we request to maintain a cultural value in the workplace or in a school, knowing that we are in a new culture by choice, please respect us for having values.

This is not an invitation to cite extreme cultural practices or to give one example of one individual's unkindness and anti-Canadianism. Its a call to patience. We impatiently seek to be settled so that we can get on with our lives. Cut us some slack and we'll have one less item to cross off the list.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

A bee in the bonnett!

Yesterday, in Dale Farm, United Kingdom, the council began to evict a group of Irish Travellers from a piece of land. Both sides had support from public, though the council had the heavier, riot geared kind - an advantage to be sure.

The situation occurred because a group of travellers purchased said land 10 years previously. This land was purchased 50km outside of London and next to another plot of land that had been purchased by travellers and built upon. At some stage during all of this, the Irish travellers began building on this land. While there were graphic photos and descriptions of the clash between the two groups, the media (who should be ashamed at their irresponsible reporting of the situation - biased and lacking appropriate research) does not explain whether or not the travellers ever applied for building permits nor whether said permits were denied or just not inquired about. However, it does raise an important question.

Why was the land sold to the Irish Travellers in the first place? Surely, given the nature of the community, and the location of the land (right next to another travelling community) it would've been understood that they would eventually begin building on the land?

Why did the media not research the information properly so that it could responsibly report on the situation, rather than fuelling the ignorant and negative views about this Irish community?

There has always been an opening for opinion columns and the like, however, I have noticed a serious lack of responsibility in the media recently. News is information, not based on agendas of opinion, war mongering, fear inducing, sensationalism or ratings. Why has this been allowed to change?

In a community of ever tighter time constraints, when reading bylines suffices for news updates, there should be even stricter guidelines on the quality of news being published/broadcast.

Why have I not seen/read/heard about others speaking out about this?

Monday, 17 October 2011


My husband has not yet visited The Toronto Zoo and on this blustery, cloudy, somewhat rainy day, we made the drive to remedy his situation.

The zoo, AMAZING. The afterthought, not so much.

The new Tundra exhibit has a massive space for Arctic Wolves and Polar Bears to roam and swim etc etc. A bear in particular was very entertaining as it threw a dog bone to itself while swimming from rock to rock.

The Urang utan and Gorilla exhibit left me feeling less entertained. And by time we reached the African Savannah exhibit, I'd lost interest.

I'm not going to get all Rise of Jane Goodall's Planet of the Apes on this, but the expression on the faces of the apes struck me forcibly and without warning. Yes folks, expression.
I still love the zoo, its joyful (mostly) to see the animals in such excellent surroundings (Toronto Zoo does a magnificent job). Its a wonderful educational tool for children. Its a great day out and there is a tiny bit of pacified conscience that tells us that many zoos rescue injured animals from the wild.

But maybe, maybe, not all creatures should be included. Maybe, not all beasts can thrive in a recreated habitat.


My vocal chords are strong, massive, bouncy, healthy. I am loud. (Though, I have quietened some since having lived in England...) But it means that I communicate many athing too loudly. I am loud when I am excited. I am loud when I am scared. I am loud when I am frustrated. I am loud when I am angry.

I shout.

A lot.

This is not something that I am proud of, and while some may find the tenor of my vocals amusing, most do not. I have been called a "fishwife" amongst banter. I have been called a "fishwife" and a "banshee" as an insult.

The truth hurts. Especially when its coming from someone you love.

So the endeavour is for a continual bettering. God give me strength.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The art of visiting

I haven't spent much time on my computer in the past month. It is directly related to spending more time with my husband now that we're both home all day. While my husband and I bond and connect in this unusual time together, I have fallen out of the habit of communicating with others. This is directly related to spending less time on the computer. I initially thought that I'd become callous towards the needs of my friends and my family but realised that I had actually just become techno lazy. It lead me to wonder:

how much quality time do we have to spend on the computer in order to stay in touch with those we care about?

a lot it would seem. My daily 10 minutes has left me completely out of the loop. The children of my dearest friends are growing up via blogs and facebook photo albums. My friends' moods and concerns are more clearly explained in their facebook status updates than you could garner from a 2hr coffee date. And this lead me to further explore the idea that our generation has lost the art of visiting. We find it simpler (and safer) to update our twitter and facebook accounts with our hopes and joys and frustrations rather than speaking in person. I have had friendships that involve in depth emails but have not been able to pass the "small talk" barrier when in person. Also, we are too busy to sit down and give someone our time which leads to constantly cramming visits into slots otherwise labelled "grocery shopping", "babysitting", "cleaning" and even "eating". And even then, our cell phones don't stop buzzing with text messages, BBMs and phone calls.

At the risk of being misunderstood, I am not referring to a leisurely lunch or dinner spent with others. Joyful, relaxed socialisation is not only brilliant fun, but very healthy. However, my generation does seem to have missed the boat on a very important aspect to the whole relationship thing. Time. You cannot effectively build on any relationship without putting in the time.

For me, it means computer time. Techno time. Managing time. Sacrificing husband time. However, if I want to know about my friend's lives and their children's development I'll have to spend the time clicking through online photo albums, reading and commenting on the captions. If I want to be able to stay in touch with friends and family (regardless of their location - this even applies to my father who lives 15 minutes away), I have to take the time to follow their interests online, email frequently, be available for Skype chats.

Yes, it is a shame that we've lost the delicate, but fulfilling practice of visiting. I do think that my generation suffers from "too little, never enough" which leads directly to bending to the social pressure to be everything all at the same time - socialite, spouse, friend, family, professional, running partner, parent...and the list goes on. However, this is how society has changed. My generation will continue to live the rat race because we've been told that we can, that its fun, that we should. So my choices are few. I love my friends, my family. Thus, I forgo the joy of sitting with another at home, drinking tea, enjoying the company unhurriedly and without distraction, and dedicate myself to spending more time online, starting with this blog.

Saturday, 1 October 2011


I don't know why the start of a new month requires a new blog post, however, I am inspired.

It is pretty darn cold outside, a balmy 9 degrees Celsius without the wind chill. There are tons of leaves on the ground already but the sun is shining and for me, that's good enough.

I feel excited for this month. September was quite a tumultuous time for our family, a lot of moving and adjusting and arriving and organising and settling. We're still trying to do much but we're getting settled with the act of settling. But October brings with it promise. Employment. Routine. Weight loss (though this is fixed permanently on the TO-DO list for each month). Quality family time. Direction and time lines. Yes, time lines, invoking a sense of security and purpose.

A Tall Double Skinny Caramel Starbucks Macchiatto in hand, and a job application on the table, I'm prepared to start on lists on time lines. Good times. Roll on October!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

On both sides of the fence...or pond...

While living in the UK, I struggled with the persistent grey weather and the seemingly impassionate people but revelled in the shopping, fashion and tourist friendly cities and activities. I longed for Canadian open space, highways that are more simple to navigate, people that speak plainly (or abruptly if you ask an Englishman) and SEASONS.

Upon my arrival in Canada I instantaneously missed the close proximity to the city centre we were spoiled with while living in Manchester. I missed the variety of fashion choices available within a 15 minute drive from home. I missed real, honest-to-goodness TEA. (I still do). And of course, I missed Marks & Spencers (who wouldn't!?). In short, I felt discontent...again.

These past few weeks I've become more comfortable in my new (old) space. I'm rediscovering Ontario. And I'm loving it. The ridiculously satisfying childish fun of being SOAKED on the Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls.

The vastness of Toronto City Ctr. The comfortable greens of trees turning to new bright yellows within a week. Aaahhhh Autumn. (Or "Fall" if you will). I have so missed Autumn. Warm sun, cool wind, the changing of trees. Some days pour rain and others the sun shines so reminiscent of the hot summer just passed. The weather here is goooooood. The shopping here is baaaaaaaad. And its just as well! And those big wide open spaces I so longed for? They are exactly as I remembered and so it costs a pretty penny for petrol to get anywhere!

I feel pretty blessed to have enjoyed the good and the bad in a few different places. And I see it as a blessing that life is in fact not greener on the other side...but pretty green either side of the fence...or in our case, both sides of the pond.

It means that I can remember parts of England fondly, and look forward to returning for visits, while embracing the positive things of Canada. It means I can come a tiny bit closer to being content. And this is good.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

On a lighter note...sharks

Last night I was described as "the shark lady" by friends at a dinner party. My husband finds my shark knowledge amusing. Most people roll their eyes when I ramble on about shark facts.

I can't help myself. Sharks, sharks, sharks. Great whites, hammerheads, lemon, ragged tooth, thrasher, mako, blue, grey reef tip, white reef tip, bull and on and on. Except the whale shark. For some reason, its too docile for my interests.

I remember on one of the first occassions when I met my dad (aka Mike, my step-father) and we sat in the lounge, discussing sharks at length. (Whatever can be considered "at length" when you're 9 years old). It was such an affirming meeting. I can geekily (and happily) research sharks and spend hours watching documentaries because my dad made me think it was cool. Thanks Mike!

I do so love Shark Week on Discovery, but I could watch programs on sharks on a daily basis. Its equal to my love for Starbucks and pizza.

Its fit for sharing as I saw at Chapters that Discovery Channel has launched a special anniversary edition DVD set of Shark Week.

My husband thinks I'm a nerd. I think he's lucky that I'm not interested in designers and makeup....though nail varnish and shoes are obviously in their own category entirely!

Actions v Intentions

I woke up, the day of my 25th birthday and felt older, no less wiser, yet, more responsible than I had the day before. I woke up knowing that my life was to be different from that day forward. Not in a theatrical sense, nor in a sense of futuristic knowing, however, there was an absolute certainty that I had no longer the luxury of excuses, nor the safety of ignorance. My future was my own and I had a lot of growing up to do.

A few months shy of my 28th birthday, I feel more experienced, yet wisdom remains elusive. And to be perfectly honest, I'm starting to feel a bit worn down.

I am aware that after living and learning through many challenges recently, I should feel proud and encouraged. I've in essence become an adult in 2 and a half years. My lack of wisdom and lack of maturity, perhaps more evident to me than it was before, in itself is a sign of maturity. Though the ability to be, what I'm expected to be, seems an impossible task.

These expectations I place on myself, derived from society and upbringing and lessons learned. The difficulty is in the fulfillment. It is daily. And it is costly.

I know what is required, but simply cannot make myself be a good wife. A good daughter. A good sister. A good friend. A good Christian. The requirements of communication and sensitivity and emotional investment and time while balancing each with the other and still finding time to develop as an individual is too great. For me. For some bizarre reason. I have friends and family that manage successfully. (?) Although, a part of me does wonder if sacrifice is required. One relationship for the success of another? I have been "advised" to prioritise. This is simply not possible. The needs in each relationship are diverse but all equally valid.

I feel exhausted. Stretched too far. With no results. There has to be a fault somewhere. I am lacking some knowledge, or some (aha) wisdom that will enable me to perform as expected and find peace in knowing I've fulfilled the expectations.

The expectations seem overwhelming but are quite straight forward: to love as I have been loved. To have my actions match my feeling for my friends and family. Why does it not? I endeavour to find answers.

But tonight?

Tonight I rest.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

And all these things shall be added unto you....

In our darkest hours and in our time of need, our focus is so often on self, on corking the suffering, pain, stress, frustration, anger et al. We find ourselves asking God for help and guidance and perhaps forgiveness. We ask for strength and courage and peace of heart. And He is a faithful God, a loving God and He answers, ALWAYS. We may not always have the answer we sought, it may not come when our schedule dictates, but He always answers. Because He loves us.

And then, He blessed me further. Because He loves me.

He has given me peace. And courage. And strength. Because He loves me.

He has given me forgiveness and joy. Because He loves me.

He has blessed me beyond my imagining. Because He loves me.

And yet I falter. Oh the fallible. And oh the grateful. For if we did not falter, despite His generous grace and blessings, we would promptly quit in our seeking of Him. And what a tragedy for us it would be.

So in my blessings and my yearnings and my fallible nature I continue to learn and grow because of His great wisdom. And I am SO thankful.

My focus now is to ask for a gracious nature. To love as I have been loved. And it is HARD. And so i will ask again for strength. And courage. And when I fail I will ask again for forgiveness. And when I am disheartened I will ask again for peace. And God will answer again. Because He loves me.

To God be the glory, the honour, the praise.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Anniversary (ies)

Today (in the UK...4 hours to go still in Eastern Standard Time) is our first wedding day anniversary. And we are not together. And....its ok. We Skyped until after midnight and it was a special moment to be able to speak face to face on our anniversary. I had a little cry, but it was not sadness, it was out of love and appreciation for this special relationship God has blessed us with. And after the moment had passed and we'd said our goodbyes, I started thinking about this anniversary business.

We have two anniversaries to celebrate. We had our legal ceremony on November 19, 2009 and our wedding ceremony with all our friends and family on September 2, 2010. And so, today we celebrate our first wedding day anniversary. And its important. And somehow, it does feel more special than when we celebrated our first legal anniversary last November 19th. It must be a result of the sentimental pertinence of being surrounded by family and friends when declaring your commitment and love to one another.

Not that it'll stop us from celebrating twice a year. We've decided that on our wedding day we will celebrate with gifts and on our legal day we will celebrate by trying out a new activity or having some quality time. I kind of like that.

But I digress, the importance of a public union...and it does lead one to wonder about whether eloping will have the same effect. Of course, the important thing on any wedding day is the commitment of one to another. However, perhaps there is something to be said for all the bells and whistles. It creates a comfortable, special atmosphere, a grand day that makes the time and energy and investment of others worthwhile (and lets face it, when its someone else's wedding day, it IS an investment of time and money, despite the joy of witness) and it gives you a sense of community. And perhaps that is the key. Community. Of course, we feel sentimental about November 19th and therefore will continue to celebrate it as it was a very significant point in our lives. But our wedding day?

September 2, 2010. Simply.

And so today, without presents and without a "date night" and without being able to wake up next to my husband, I still appreciate his kindness and humour, his gentleness and sincerity and above all, his steadfastness. A quality that I love about him more and more each day. There is no kiss and we cannot hold hands but within me, I feel closer to him today than I have since I left the UK.

If nothing else, anniversaries are simply an excellent reason to remember why we are in-love. And we are.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The art of?

I've had a writing bug since I can remember. It first manifest itself when I was in primary school - students were given the chance to enter a poetry contest and the winners would have their pieces published in a student book. My poem was chosen - naturally. It was melodramatic and far too complicated, but from then on, I was hooked.

I have a very deep desire to be able to artistically express myself. Being mostly tone deaf and unable to play an instrument or draw anything more complicated than stick figures, I feel that writing is probably the most successful outlet. I feel music deep within me and I have emotional responses to the world, its people, the mundane and trivial as well as life altering events. I know I am not unique in this, but I am desperate to find a way to express it.

I started journalling but found myself lamenting over family and boys and stereotypical teenage nonsense and therefore, gave it up after a short time. I was terrified that someone would one day stumble upon it and ruin my fame (I do intend to be famous in my chosen field at some stage in my life) by exposing me for a "regular person".

More recently I've dabbled in children's stories, but without direction or education I am fairly certain that the stories are entertained by family members purely because they are my flesh and blood. Have I found my calling? Can a life be made out of writing? And more importantly, how do I know if I have what it takes?

Am I as "regular" as I once imagined in this desire itself?

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Bittersweet Things

This evening, my husband and I successfully had our first SKYPE conversation. I wonder if Skype is in the dictionary yet? I read in the newspaper that "tweet" and "sexting" have now been added to the dictionary as they are so commonly used. How odd that our vocabulary has become so tech jargon specific. Anywho...

We had our first skype conversation, after a week of continual texts and phone calls. It was a very bittersweet moment. I was so excited to see his face, to hear his voice at the same time. I didnt expect my reaction to be so full. After chatting and feeling very much as if we were in the same room, it was time to log off the call. I said goodbye. I welled up. It felt like we were saying "airport farewells" again. In my innermost, a discussion was taking place over whether it is better to allow the growth of an emotional distance to ease our time apart or whether to revel in the short minutes of joy.

Of course it is better to suffer at the farewell in order to be connected as wholly as possible to this man - albeit for only short periods at a time.

It does make me realise that life is full of these bittersweet things. And that throughout my adult years I will have choices. Life would be so much easier if we remained removed, guarded or even aloof. But to have the blessing of a life thus enriched? Surely it is worth the bitter pill that sometimes will accompany it? For how can I experience this sorrow unless having first experienced the joy this love brings? So we continue to skype and I am certain I shall continue to cry at the farewells.

Please God give me strength to endure moments this sad, so that I may grow into a wise and courageous woman later on in life, able to face the other bittersweet things that undoubdtedly will come.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

New Beginnings

I'm starting afresh in so many areas, that I've committed to blogging in order to keep track of it all. Its just so much faster than hand written journals isnt it?

I never imagined 3 years ago when I sat in this chair that I would return to said chair after having lived in the UK for 3 years, having met and married my perfect match and having had my most intense maturity growth spurt to date.

I would not have guessed that I would have gained experience in redecorating, selling a home, immigrating with a spouse, learning to drive on the other side of the road and so on. I have learned to plan weddings, create (though the "stick to" bit still eludes me) a budget, train a dog, cook decent meals, effectively peel (many) layers of wallpaper, run through bogs and mud.  I have worked in great places and fairly crappy places, knowing that the most important thing is just to work. I have had my fair share of trips to the airport's departures and arrivals terminal, faced countless painful goodbyes and joyful greetings as I am reunited and then separated from family and friends.

I have, in short, become an adult.

And so, this new beginning, which brings me back to my most recent past at this place, feels utterly surreal. A woman sits here today, having become a grown up on the other side of the world, ready to start building her own life with more maturity but certainly no more wisdom than she had when she left.

My greatest joy is that I am not alone. I am physically joined by my husband, my team mate and I am more certain today of my relationship with God than I was the day I left. I am not alone. But that doesn't make it easy. It simply makes it...bearable. And so we begin...
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