Wednesday, 14 November 2012


This is my dog.

Correction: This is my husband and sister-in-law’s dog. I am merely her (the dog’s) keeper. *sigh*

She’s considered champagne and silver in colour. Bless her. She really is quite sweet in colour – when she’s been groomed. Sometimes she has expressions, like a human. I know all dog-lovers and owners say the same thing – but its truth. Dogs have expressions.

Her name is Lupa. She will also respond to Boobie, Sausage, and Darling.

Sometimes she looks at me and I know that she thinks me a fool for not responding faster to her telepathic demands.

Lupa telepathically communicates to let her lie in her nest of blankets

Mostly, she loves to have her head squished onto the carpet floor for a double face rub. I can’t explain this. I think it has to do with the way James and Natalie played with her as a puppy.

She is a picky eater, though I only feed her (much researched upon) dog food. She is also moody. Her ears point up like that of a bat. She smacks her lips when she’s hungry and curls her entire body up like a snail when she’s cold. She refuses to lie on the floor. Yes, she is a dog. No, you will not convince her of it. She will lie on ANYTHING but the floor. A towel, some clothing, a cushion, her bed, her blankie, her crate, she even once climbed onto a mountain overflowing from my sister-in-law’s handbag and settled, quite uncomfortably on top of it all.

As I said, anything but the floor...

She is, in short, a gorgeous little nightmare. And I love her. Even though she’s taken to eating second dinners in true hobbit-fashion. (doesn't she know we’re on a budget?!) And even though she adores everyone but me. I understand, I am the boss and we have boundaries, sweet Lupa and I.

Oh! I should say that I am so thankful to have her in this big quiet house. 

To annoy me and make demands with her eyes. 

To eat too much, and sleep too much and whine (in a way not dissimilar to a ghostly cow) if I look like I’m contemplating moving to another room. 

And to oblige me when I’m feeling lonely and need some affection. It’s amazing what this little champagne and silver creature can do for a lonely heart. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Learning to do without

I say "learning" to do without, not "doing" without, because after almost 2 months, I'm still pouting like a petulant child.

James and I have always regarded ourselves as a couple that enjoyed the simpler things. Spending time at home, with family and friends or without. Cooking together, playing solitaire on the computer, watching movies on tv on a Saturday evening with a slice of cake (yes, I know, most people eat popcorn, we prefer cake with icing, or custard, or if you're James - both). In fact, our friends (and some family) find us quite boring because we don't really enjoy getting dressed up for a night in town. I like a good dance and a martini as much as the next gal, but it just wasn't our lifestyle. We were quite content to have Nando's for dinner, then return home at around 7pm for a night of Guitar Hero or Lego Star Wars on Xbox.

This may sound awful to some of our generation, but it suits us just fine. So when we moved into our first home, we were in for quite a shock. And since James is away during the week, he's had a soft introduction into doing without. Doing without a tv, doing without internet, doing without a home phone. Yup, this means, no phone chats, no movies, no sports, no sport updates online, no streaming, no Skype and most assuredly, no Xbox gaming.

(We hit a few road blocks in getting INTO the housing market.)

Needless to say, I am on a daily journey of learning to do without. A house that isn't finished, rooms that have no drapes, bare walls and books that have no bookshelf to call home. The house is quiet, and its unfinished and it feels like a house, not a home. You may not find this depressing, but day in and day out, it is. I've started a running commentary of all my actions to our dog. "I'm just doing the dishes Lupa, oh I'm going to just pop this load into the washing machine in the basement for a minute! I think I'll turn the lights on upstairs Lupa, what do you think?" Just to create noise to fill the space.

We usually spend James' first night at home just enjoying each other's company and playing cards. By lunch time on Saturday we're generally chomping at the bit. If you can't afford a home telephone, you certainly can't afford to go out for the day. So we pack up our things and our dog's things (why should she suffer in silence) and schlepp over to my mum's place for some tv viewing and internet usage. I can see the value in this lesson, but to be perfectly honest, I think there is more to this than entertaining yourself in silence.

How did we become so reliant? Why do we constantly need to have background noise and activity? How did we come about an attitude of entitlement to these luxuries? And why on earth are they viewed as "simpler things" and not luxuries?!? And when you've done without, believe me, they are luxuries. Being able to watch the news, check the weather forecast, pop on a film on a quiet night or communicate easily with family and friends via email. My word! You don't know what you're  missing!

Some days I laugh at our materialism and the situation we find ourselves in.

Some days I think its a mercy to have to focus on one another without distraction.

But most days (generally Sunday evening through to Friday afternoon) I grind my teeth, feel sorry for myself and wish it was different.

We will never, EVER, again take these things for granted. Though I can't promise, I sincerely hope that we will never turn to our children and say "you have no idea how lucky you are," before going on a tirade of what it is like to do without. Its so unoriginal!

Thank God for small mercies - a mother with an open door policy, a dog to fill the space and free WiFi at Starbucks.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Lessons Don't End

I've had a crazy year of learning. That's a lie. We are always learning. But I feel like I've had 4 years of  intense, heart wrenching, wrinkle-inducing, grow-up-girl learning since leaving Canada and fleeing to the UK, the most literal application of escapism. I've had lessons on the cost of escaping, on the value of friendship and family, the growing up that comes from being alone and lonely - which are not incidentally the same thing.

I've learnt on forgiving, moving forward, covering scars, forgiving again, and again.
I've learnt to take chances, to plan what can be planned and pray and hope on the rest.
I've learnt that I'm so very often wrong, and that being wrong isn't bad. It just is.
I've learnt that I need to forge out my own individual relationship with God. One that is mine, authentic and not based on looking the same as others relationships with God.
I've learnt that God loves me, every moment of every day, despite my scars, poor attitude, fearful heart, and ever-ever failing faith.

This may seem like a simple thing, but reaching a point of knowing in your heart that you are truly and wholly loved, is quite something.

I've learnt about boundaries in relationships (which are far more important than I thought previously). I've learnt to love when I'm not loved, to accept help, to ask for help, to seek forgiveness and reconciliation and that saying sorry, doesn't make everything alright. In the adult world, there are consequences and sometimes when we make mistakes, our consequences can follow us for years.

And I really thought, silly me, that we were coming into a time of love and laughter and a bit of rest. But the rain falls on the righteous and the wicked, and we are just two people in a fallen world, figuring life out, one day at a time. So we have love and laughter, but I do not have rest. A blessing, to be sure, if I go to God for my rest and peace. Which I do not.

I've been thinking on this blog for a week now. I don't rightly remember how I stumbled upon it, but her raw confessions and unbalanced, seeking balance approach to life has just, embedded itself on my heart. I feel that I am just on the brink of some really tough spiritual lessons, another bout of "grow-up-girl" learning. My life as a follower of God, not just a person. My role as a daughter, sister (& in-law), wife and a future mother, my priorities, and my selfish selfish heart are about to be tested. My views are about to change. My lessons are going to increase. The first seems to be centred on fear. It's something that has always been a struggle for me, and something that I need to keep in check on a daily basis to prevent it from overwhelming me. The other will be on hope, where I place it and why it should be solely placed in God.

What now? Spend more time reading Scripture. Spend more time in daily conversation with God. Spend more time learning about what His love looks like, so that I can love others more fully. And then pray for peace and hope and faith. To let go. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

Blessings Abound

I just wrote a post in our baby blog about the intense amount of stress we're facing at the moment. Now, I know that there will be people who will read this and think, "it's just a move, what's the big deal". Please understand that I am no stranger to packing up a life into boxes and moving house. My parents moved quite a bit when I was younger, we immigrated to Canada when I was teen, moved around some more, before I moved to England and then had to face a similar procedure of immigration to get back into Canada years later. I have packed and taped boxes galore, arranged deliveries and appointments, insurance and cargo and storage. But this takes the cake. This is not something to be taken light heartedly. The money, the documents, the appointments, the logistics, the phone calls, the money, the lack of money - have I mentioned money yet?

And so today, on closing day, while I wait for the lawyers office to call and say that the keys are ready to be picked up, I am reflecting and blogging, rather than cooking or cleaning or crossing items off my very long to-do list. Because - it makes me feel better.

And upon reflection, my pulse eases, my frown softens (thank heaven!) and I start to feel like a human being again, rather than a rabid animal frantically rushing from point A to point B responding to stimuli. Again I say, thank heaven.

It always amazes me how taking time to reflect on the blessings that God has given, really does alleviate anxiety and fear and want. Reflecting on your blessings is a blessing in itself! Amazing! And our blessings abound. We are so excited and so blessed to be able to be home-owners tonight. Our very own home. And considering the difficulty and immense cost involved, we feel even more fortunate to be in this position at our age.

We are facing parenthood, but it's not scary. Maybe we should be afraid, but we're not. We're taking one day at a time and looking forward to having a baby boy to add to our family. And while we forage into the unknown of parenting, we are both really confident that our love for each other will help us forge through whatever difficulty arises. And we have no doubt that there will be difficulties, but we're a team.

Aside from the usual blessings of health and employment and the support of extended family (I am not making light of them, but just taking a quick line to acknowledge them), I feel unbelievably blessed to be this man's wife. I have struggled with his training away from home and I have struggled with getting ready for the move on my own. Last night I remembered that he has been sleeping on a tiny cot in a building that is not dissimilar to an army-barrack. He gets up at 5:30am every day, slogs through training and classes and meetings, studies until midnight most evenings and still makes time for a phone call or skype. Its too easy to get caught up in our own miseries and frustrations and forget the work and sacrifice of others in our lives. I am thankful to be blessed with this relationship. I am thankful to have been reminded of this blessing. And I am so proud to be able to call James my husband, build a home and family together and enjoy the riches of just living.

We will be spending our weekend painting and stripping wallpaper, tearing up carpets and taking down doors. And as an added blessing - one that we were not able to have while living in England - we are being helped by my parents and their partners, my brother and his girlfriend and my sister-in-law. An army of workers to help us make our new house a home!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

On the Act of Love

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; [b]bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails;

We celebrated our second wedding anniversary this weekend. What a change from last year! James was still in England and I was in already in Canada. In 1 year, we are settled, home-buyers with a full career and a baby on the way! What a busy year! But what a wonderfully enriching year. It's difficult to believe that the wedding was already 2 years past, but to feel at the same time that we have been together for most of our lives. I am so pleased that we were able to celebrate this anniversary together before James left for his training. We had to make the effort to carve the day out for ourselves and our whimsy, but it was so rewarding! A day, for us, and only us. Our last anniversary as a couple, our next will be as a family! 

I have posted blogs in the past about this, but following an email to my great-aunt today, I am reminded that I am truthfully, wholly thankful that I am married to the perfect person for me. The best match for my life. Not just a man, not just a friend, not just a relationship. Not just a "next logical step" or "relationship that ended up that way". Someone that loves me as much as I love him, albeit differently. My husband, my mate, my partner, who fills me with joy, and hope and excitement. And also, frustration, annoyance, and at times, exasperation! I have thought light-heartedly that God brought us together to test me, refine me and make me rely further on Him. Now I'm certain of it. 

As we struggle to settle in to our new routine - James staying away at college during the week, while I keep the home fires burning and attempt to do the necessary in regards to our new house - I have had a rude awakening in the meaning of love. 
The act of loving, which looks so different to the speaking of love. 
An abrupt teaching on humility at the same time. 
One of my worst flaws is my pride. I often speak of love, the evidence of actions vs words, the necessity for balance in marriage, the responsibility of partners in this journey. And the reality is that what I speak is truth. Unfortunately, what I have practised is not. 

I selfishly and unfairly expected James to provide his entire evening of free time to me, to support my need to discuss the house, our finances, my day. I did want to discuss his day, his interactions with people, but it was to satisfy my need for emotional intimacy. James is in a residence on his own, without any other members of his unit, while the other men are all of the same unit. He is experiencing isolation, unfamiliar surroundings and adjusting to a new routine, new studies and new expectations. My heart said "me, me, me" and I acted on that rather than what I know love to be - selfless, patient and kind. And I won. Rather than feeling close to my husband, supported and loved, I felt selfish and unfulfilled and realised that I'd been brought up short on my pride. 

Love is an act, not just a word. The act of love is selfless, and kind and patient and understanding. It endures, it hopes and it does not fail. God has loved me as such every single day. He loves me so much that He's taught me a fast lesson on humility and love, without causing too much pain. I am humbled, and hopefully, my husband's patience will continue as my learning continues. 

I suppose, with our 2nd anniversary just past (and what a lovely day it was!), and the uncertainty of the future settling in, I should start practising the act of the love much more fervently. We do, after all, intend to be married for a very very long time and I'd really rather be happy! 

Thursday, 30 August 2012

My husband is losing weight

...and its making me miserable!!

To be fair, he doesn't need to lose any weight at all. When we started dating he had an affinity for rubbish take-away kebabs (if you've not lived in England, you can't truly appreciate how awful these things are) and beer. Classic bachelor. I moved in, and we started eating healthier, balanced meals and drinking less, though the lure of Nando's Portuguese rolls with Peri Peri chicken breast, peri-seasoned fries and peri-naise (plus a side of South African Savannah Cider) proved too tempting once a week. Yes folks, once a week. Shameful and wonderful in one sitting. I digress.

About a year before our wedding - the ceremony, not the legal one - James started running with me. I've been running for approximately 11 years and it took James a few months to get comfortable with the idea of running, a few more months to learn how to run and very little time to be able to run alongside me on the 8mile jaunts. Running really transformed his shape and to be perfectly honest, I think it continues to do wonders for his self-esteem. He's finally getting the runner's high. And while I do so love to run with him - its our time to really connect, whether we are just encouraging one another, chatting freely or discussing an important issue - I'm finding that a rather nasty character has decided to make its presence known. My jealousy. I am so ridiculously jealous of James' progress this summer. His level of fitness, his ease and confidence, and the lovely changes to his body as a result, are enough to send me into a frenzy. And I'm not referring to the maritally appropriate kind. A frenzy of jealousy.

He has to slow his pace for me.
He has to take walking breaks for me (and belly).
He is losing weight, increasing fitness, and gaining confidence while I get bigger and more uncomfortable (and  my wardrobe options shrink and with them, my confidence).

To rub salt - the gritty sea-salt kind - into the wound, my husband's training in the police is exciting, interesting and will further his career. I spend my days cleaning, worrying about moving arrangements, doing groceries and generally fretting. I see James leaping forward in his life while I potter about domestically, the validity of which does not escape me, but is not something I'm familiar with. Its always been something that got done in addition to work and other activities. House hold chores, to-do lists, moving arrangements, purchasing furniture and endless phone calls and emails in preparation have now become a full time job. Its valid, its necessary, but I'd much rather be training to shoot a gun, or learning to roll an assailant off my back. In uniform.

Everytime my husband takes off his shirt to shower or change for bed, and I see his new defined abdomen, I get a tiny bit more jealous. And reach for a piece of chocolate. Or a biscuit. I have got to find my domestic mojo, and it needs to be done quickly! It's an amplification of a personality trait I've always possessed and presume to never be without. The need to achieve.  So yes, this ungrateful heart is feeling particularly jealous at the moment.

By God's grace, my jealousy is good-natured and I'm filled with love for James which allows me to be genuinely happy for him. Though, I have started making a list of post-pregnancy activities I intend to take up. Martial arts of sort to satisfy my rough and tumble nature and fencing, for my desire for precision, athleticism and fancy. In the interim, I suppose I could spend this time learning how to cook, a skill I'm sure my husband would appreciate far more than an Attaque au fer.

Monday, 20 August 2012

What lies beneath the surface

I thank heaven that we are made up of multiple layers. It's a spectacular way to delve into what is our very essence while allowing us to focus on the other traits and quirks that require maintenance. It means that I can be myself, while constantly working on being better and different. Which is something I really should be doing at this exact moment, rather than blogging about how fortunate I am to be able to do it. 

For at this exact moment, my very essence is filled with gratitude and hope and a bit of anxiety. But the other parts of me are simultaneously seething, stressing, self-loathing, and generally being plain old miserable. Yet on the surface, you'd think I was taking these days and changes in my stride. And that is because another part of me recognises the need to be supportive and loving of those around me. It recognises that life is hard, and complicated and that exerting emotional frustration will not change people or their opinions or their decisions. The only thing I can change is my own attitude and behaviour. If only I had more of that elusive grace! The grace I see in other friends, the grace I read about and hear about and pray for and long for. My heart and my spirit are wild and demanding and hungry; my mind, constantly reigning me back, soothing with reasoning. 

It's...exhausting! Thank heaven for God's grace. And chocolate. 

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Updates and Mandates

The updates:

I am almost 22 weeks pregnant! And its wonderful. Mostly. It was wonderful, and my belly was relatively small, although, this week I seem to be swelling. Daily. Its actually quite bizarre. I am so thankful to my sister-in-law who purchased some wonderful L'occitane Almond Oil for my belly when I hit the 16 week mark. I have been using it religiously. And praying that it will help. It does mean that I walk around smelling of marzipan (and consequently, baking) most of the time. I don't know if affects the senses of others, but thankfully the smell of marzipan does not cause me to feel nauseas in any way. Unfortunately, it does not taste of marzipan. Yes, I tried. Don't laugh, you would've too!

James started his new job this week. And he looks amazing in his new uniform. I hope not to cause any offense to the GMP, but this uniform is much sharper - and quite a bit more intimidating. I've never thought of myself as a lady that loved a uniform, but it would seem I was mistaken. RAWR.

(I apologise that the posts are becoming more basic. My brain is not functioning the way it used to and writing eloquently and interestingly will have to be rest on the backburner until after the baby is born, or I have less to do).

I am so pleased for him to have this opportunity and I am so proud of him for waiting patiently and preparing diligently for this role. Our expectations were dashed on more than one occasion but I have learned so much from the way he graciously handled every setback. In 2 weeks, he will be leaving for his studies at college and I am dreading the evenings on my own. Fortunately, James can come home on weekends, but it has been almost 2 years since he was in a unit in Manchester that caused me to spend evenings alone.

The mandates:

I am working hard to prepare myself emotionally for the separation that is upon us. While it is only for 3 months, I know that I'm going to struggle, but feel its imperative that I support James while he is away. Surely, he will miss spending time with me. He is so kind-hearted that he could possibly spend more time feeling concerned and guilty over leaving me alone, than he would do studying. This will not do.

Once he is away, I am going to throw myself into plans and projects to turn our new house into a home. I am going to excercise daily so that I feel good and healthy (and look good for his visits too!) and I am going to spend a whole lot more time reading. reading. I am really looking forward to reading my Bible, the Mark of the Lion series, The Voyager series and rereading the excellent Bringing Up Bebe that I've mentioned before in my baby blog.

An exciting time in store, but change does not come without its own challenges. Although I'd really like an easy few months with my husband before the baby arrives, I'm very thankful for the opportunities we have right now. Onwards and upwards!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Winds of Change

This title was actually a little joke between my husband and I following our camping trip, though, its suitable for this blog, so I've stolen it for its literal usage.

Woah, that title explanation turned out to be a lot longer than I had anticipated and a whole lot less interesting. Apologies.

As James and I prepare for parenthood (which you can read about in my baby blog), our general attitude is changing. We view time together more reverently, we gently adjust the boundaries in other relationships, and sometimes we sleep-in rather than going for our scheduled run. Our priorities are shifting as well, though, considering we're hunting for a new home, awaiting James' training start date and preparing for the addition of a baby, this shift is inevitable. Its a strange thing to grow from a couple to a family and to have our plans come together all at the same time. It's brought out the qualities in each other that we love and those we don't love quite as much!

With all the joys and excitement we are experiencing, we are accepting that there will be areas in our life that will require sacrifice. Neither James nor I feel begrudged in any way, but we are aware that these sacrifices affect others. We've had to decline on a wedding invitation in the UK for next Spring and we spend less time investing in some relationships than before. We have accepted that the phrases inconvenient and unreasonable are going to be temporarily stricken from our vocabulary as having a first child, being separated for 3 months while James is training, sharing one vehicle and purchasing and moving into a house (all to be completed within a 5 month span) are simply not convenient nor reasonable life changes.

Contrary to the expectation, this acceptance has left us feeling much more calm about the approaching months. It will be manic, and I'll probably get a few spots from the stress, and there will be a few tiffs, but we're feeling ready. And truthfully, we're a bit relieved that the time of settling in to life in Canada is nearing its end. We're ready to start living. Growing pains be damned!

Saturday, 30 June 2012

The blessing of experience

Right now, at this exact moment, I feel like I'm sitting in a spa, listening to a "soothing sounds of the tropics" disc. Incidentally, this experience is a repeat of my wake-up call this morning. I pushed aside the mosquito netting draped over our bed, opened the french doors facing our bedroom and walked out onto our private deck that hovers over a lagoon. Except for the birds and sea, it was perfectly calm and perfectly still. I was an inch shy of feeling that everything was perfect in the world and contently settled for everything being as perfect in our world as they can be.

Reclining lounge chairs with thick comfy padding, a wrap-around padded bench and an adorable table and chair decorate our deck. Muskoka chairs and a kayak with paddles sit neatly on the lower deck for our fancy. The beach bar is a 90second walk away, plays exclusively Nova Radio (an French station with an eclectic blend of reggae, jazz, motown and worldly beats) at the perfect volume. The pool is warm enough to enter with grace but still cools you down. It overlooks the small private beach, palms and Caribbean sea. This place, is real. It's what we - regular folk - dream of, imagine, laugh off and hope to experience once in our lifetime.

James and I are having a holiday at a luxurious boutique resort on a quiet northern coast in the Caribbean. We are keenly aware of how blessed we are to be able to have this experience before our lives are thrown into upheaval. We needed time to connect, space to breath and the freedom to put away any reminders of schedules, deadlines and expectations. With time to reflect, pray, talk, read and sleep, I am overwhelmed by this holiday. The surroundings, the timing, the company (and he does make such good company) and the anticipation of being able to look back on this experience with a joyful and thankful heart.

And after a short reflection, I realise that through our struggles and lessons, our successes and lovely little blessings, we are acquiring a vital factor for living well, wholly and thankfully. Experience. (Wisdom is in hindsight?) And its this little reflection that fuels me, the exact reason we booked a holiday, a time to draw wisdom from the circumstances in our lives.

Monday, 25 June 2012


Its strange to grieve an unconventional death. The death of a relationship. Its stranger yet to be sitting here analysing it. But since I process my thoughts and feelings by speaking them out loud or writing them down, I'm hoping this blog will assist me in making this big messy emotional thing simpler, defined and therefore manageable.

My husband and I are moving forward in our lives. We are on the cusp of finding our own home and he continues his career as a police officer, albeit in a new country, at the end of the summer. The process of waiting has taught us much. We have had a very stretching 10 months but have learned that we are in fact, excellently matched and wonderfully supportive of each other. We get it. We have learned the value of friendship and generosity and time and money.

(I speak plainly, but to clarify - we haven't left a lifestyle of frivolous spending and poor financial decisions, but have learned in this time without money, what we value most and what our money will be spend on in the future.)

We have learned the importance of seeking out time to communicate with those in our lives and as a result, have learned that not all relationships were made to stand life's changes. Accepting this lesson is something we're still working on.

And I have learned that regardless of my fears and anxieties and impatience, God loves us continually and will always provide for us. He gave me strength to support my husband emotionally when our plans were dashed not once, but twice. He gave me peace that our future was in His hands and that it was good. He gave me faith in His love and His kindness to push fear out of my heart. And He's still blessing me with wisdom - tiny little snippets of it as I learn many of life's lessons the hard way - the kicking and stomping and having a tantrum way. I have yet to learn grace, it can hold for the moment.

As we glean wisdom from our relationships and our priorities are amidst change, I have realised that I am mature enough to start making some difficult decisions. A decision to grieve the loss of a relationship rather than continue to fight for it. The relationship still exists, but it does not resemble what it used to be. It does not present what I need it to and I can no longer try and force it to develop. I have given up. The decision leaves me heartbroken. Not because I feel it is wrong, but because it is not the outcome I had so hoped for. We are at a stalemate and I have decided to give up, rather than stubbornly stand my ground, waiting for the other to give in. It is more complicated than I present it to be, but the details aren't necessary. I feel that its the only recourse to safeguard what is left of the relationship, my sanity (and my husband's) and my emotional well being.

Grieving the loss of this relationship is a necessity. It is the only way to let go of what was and what should be. I am heartbroken, and will be for some time. But the heartache will heal and a comfortable, albeit removed, relationship will emerge.

It will be better than none and it will be healthier than it is now.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Caught up

I noticed that I had not written a blog in weeks and felt guilty at first, then a bit pleased actually. I've been so caught up in living, that I've not had much time to reflect on it. My future blogs might be a bit more factual and a bit less introspective or philosophical. Its not a negative change, just a temporary one.

In the interim, the living has involved birthdays and camping days, work days, summer days, family drama days and resting days - which in all fairness cannot actually be described as "days" since resting is a rare and short occasion.

Our living is now full of current celebrations, career transitions, upcoming changes and serious lifestyle choices. Its a stressful and exciting time but most of all, we're happy to just be carrying on with living. We felt stale while working to settle into life in Canada. A busy life with advancement fills us with satisfaction, though there are many lessons we've learned in waiting and stillness - the most important being that our timing is not God's timing. And that this is not a bad thing.

When I reread this blog entry, I realise it sounds a little cryptic, but as our joys and plans unfold I will have the freedom to share.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Time for a change!

A change in my scenery, clothing, job, plans, attitude?

Probably attitude...with a bit of clothing thrown in the mix. I've been revisited by a good friend of mine - ticking time bomb (not very catchy is it?). It visits every so often to remind me of my age, achievements, plans, advancements and so on. Sometimes it gets personal and reminds me of the time already lost. Yes yes, I know the living happens in the journey, but it can't be wrong to occasionally expect results. Of any kind. It is afterall, the result which is measurable.

I was listening to an interesting sermon on the radio a couple of weeks ago which taught about our salvation being evident in the result of our living. It made me realise that I'd been measuring my outward life by the results I have (and more recently, haven't) been achieving and had forgotten that my relationship with God should also in time show results (or fruit for those of you who know). And it isn't. Neither my outward nor inner efforts are bearing fruit. Cause for concern? Absolutely. Like so many before me, I have been so focused on the way the result is meant to look that I've forgotten how to go about achieving it. Double cause for concern? Correct again.

The change I'll be focusing on is my attitude. (ok fine, I did purchase a pair of super cute rust coloured shorts for the summer - and post diet - from Club Monaco, but that's it!) My attitude towards my efforts needs to change so that I am focusing less on myself and my feelings (that's going to hurt) in order to spend that energy to focus more on people, God, and the other things that are happening around me. An adjustment in my attitude and my focus will naturally develop into results. I need to stop focusing on what the results look like and focus more on the way to achieve them. Heavens! Simple logic really and I still feel like I've been in an intervention with Oprah, Dr Phil and Pastor James MacDonald.

I actually feel a little relieved, and a bit excited. Change is going to be happening. Within me and around me. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Headaches n' Dilemmas

I have been told of late to prioritise my life, to take a stand and recognise that as a married woman, my life, my priorities and my energy should be focused on my relationship with my husband. I wholeheartedly believe in the truth that a couple not focused on one another will have greater difficulty in their relationship than a couple growing together, working together and connecting with each other.

However, are the two mutually exclusive?

I had thought not. I had thought that I could love and laugh and work alongside my husband, while dividing my energy and emotion where else it was needed. Surely, this is what mothers do? This is what women are required to do regardless of their esteem or history? My brain goes into overtime on this one - convincing me that either:
 a)all women do manage this and therefore it is an expectation of which I am not exempt or
 b)not all women can do this and therefore there is an expectation that I do what only a select few manage
 - which really is quite an unfair argument to have oneself.

I deliberate to frustration, headache and tears. And then I decide not to decide as inaction seems the safest choice.

Tamsin - a woman of inaction! Not something that would normally be said by those who know me. I suppose, I am waiting for the third option. The option that others haven't yet discovered. The option that will solve my dilemma, relieve my headache and allow me to act without feeling guilt or anxiety.

Before you comment on the futility of this indecision, rest assured that I do not really intend to stay on this position. I know that I need to make a choice. Take a stand - as they say. And hope and pray to God for His mercy that its the right decision. And pray to God for peace knowing that these days were laid out before I knew they would take place.

And while I wait for peace and hope and the salvation of a last-minute third option, I bake. Homemade pies, homemade pie pastry (!) and filling. Now that will assuredly exorcise some of my emotional demons. The concentration involved in creating pie, kneading, chilling, working without over-working, rolling, get the idea. I might even take a photo when it's done.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Food! Glorious Food!

...That's all that we live for! Well...not all...but its pretty central to my existence. Not in the "I need to fuel my body to survive" type of reliance, more the "I've already eaten this and that today, which means I still get to eat or want to eat or shouldn't eat" get the idea.

I wouldn't like to use the term "obsessed". It conjures images of crazed women, salivating, their eyes bulging over a slice of cake or posessively curling their bodies around a burger and fries (like the ones from Earl's..with avocado and basil mayonnaise).

I'd like to think that I am just one of those people that takes pleasure from cooking and eating good food. Though, even in typing that sentence my conscience tsk's at me disagreeably.

I suppose, if I were to be awfully honest, I take pleasure in shopping for food, preparing it, presenting it, serving it, as well as eating it. I do not however, take pleasure in denying myself the foods of my fancy. Especially since we have developed such a loving bond. When I'm stressed, it actually creates a chemical reaction that makes me feel calmer, relaxed and on par with the world. A chemical reaction! What a natural relationship!

 When I am in good spirits, it provides limitless options for celebration or simply socialisation.

Which brings me to the awfulness of my current state. A diet. (feel free to insert a "dum dum dum" at your leisure)

This is no ordinary diet. This does not involve "Eating well" or "cutting back on portions" or "limiting desserts to one per week". This is the no sugar, no dairy, no starch, 1000 calorie per day, rest your pancreas, burn your body's carbohydrate stores diet. This diet is serious.

The enormous amount of protein required per day leaves my hunger satisfied but mood, oh my
mood. My heart, my head and my body are LONGING for good food, for social meal times, desserts, and of course, the wonderful relief of stress. (I still feel that a slice of toast with peanut butter is far more therapeutic than a doctor's office). This diet is testing my will, my heart and my resources. But mostly its testing my motives and forcing me to be honest about my vanity.

Im still uncertain about how long I'll manage to stick to this diet, but the process is slowly eroding my misconceptions about body image, priorities and what my husband really finds attractive.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

An unexpected blessing

In the past 7 days I have had 3 specific accounts of blessing. It has been both unexpected and enriching. At the end of a fabulously long skype session with one of my dearest friends last week, she offered to pray for me. I love it when people do that, but it always makes me feel a bit...uncomfortable. I often feel that a person's prayer is personal, intimate and for God, not me. Not being in the habit of turning down assistance or kindness, I agreed. Once she had finished praying with me and for me, my heart was fulfilled, and my hope renewed. An instantaneous consequence of bringing my fears and concerns to God's feet.

A couple of days later, while at work, I ran into a woman I had known years ago. We had only been introduced once or twice. I should say that know of her, rather than being acquainted with her. She was the wife of the Youth Pastor at the church I used to attend. I helped her shop and we started chatting about our husbands, football (not the American kind) and settling into a culture that looks the same, but feels very different. It was such a pleasant and uplifting conversation. I felt refreshed and had a few ideas to take home to James to help him with his struggle in settling in to life in Canada.

And lastly, today I met a friend for latte visit. We bought Starbucks, chatted for ages, walked through her neighbourhood, chatted some more, sat in her backyard while her daughter napped, chatted still more until I had to rush home for the usual chores and errands run. We chatted about the strenuous, serious aspects of our lives, about the fickle and the funny. We chatted about blonde hair, babies, fat thighs, lattes, summer plans, the cost of windows and our husbands. I was blessed a third time by our time together.

Three unexpected occasions of blessing in the span of a week. If that isn't an answer to prayer, I don't know what is!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Heart Day

Yeah, its that time of year again. Commercialised? Sure. Ridiculous? Of course. Made-for-suckers? Absolutely.

Me? I love it. I don't decorate with hearts or bake heart shaped biscuits for my husband. I also do not hand out mini valentine cards with mini chocolates to my co-workers. I do not give my husband the printed list from the Tiffany's & Mulberry Registry (though I do sort of wish I could).

I do love the idea of love. I do love that an entire day is dedicated to love and loving. Life is busy. And its tough! Its a small blessing to have a day designed to remind you to treat your beloved kindly.

This year, my husband woke up to a gift bag with Garfield comics, TinTin, travel Scrabble and a heartfelt note written inside an adorable card by Papyrus. It cheered him up, gave him a tangible reminder of my love for him (and his interests) and gave us another activity to enjoy in bed - the scrabble tiles clip into the board. Happy days!

This evening, we gave my mom (a super gift I'm sure) double-walled glass Bodum coffee cups and a thank you card. It might be valentines day, but my mom is my beloved as well. And considering she's graciously opened her home to us (and allowed our Yorkie to take charge - mostly), she is very deserving of a loving reminder. It made her day and that made us glad.

I have thus far enjoyed it - despite my tedious work day. Beyond expressing my appreciation and affection towards my beloved, I have a further reason to really love this day.

I find a gentle humour in the way this day so openly displays my humanity. A day marked on the calendar, roared from rooftops, besotted by couples hoping for engagement, hated by singles (and bank managers), loved by retailers and chocolatiers. A day specifically set aside to remind people to show one another that they care. A stark contrast to the quiet, everpresent thrumming in my heart: God's gentle reminder to me that He loves and cares.
For me.
Every day of the year.
Without pomp and ceremony.

Now that is something to celebrate.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Twenty Eight is not a beautiful number

Disclaimer: For all my friends who are older than me, for my older and wiser family, I love you, dearly. This blog is in no way a reflection of my views of you, only the expectation on myself.

Twenty Eight.
Twenty Eight Years.

Heaven help me. Please, God help me get my act together I clearly am not being successful on my steam, with my own plan.

On the day of my 25th birthday, I woke up in my aunt's guest bed in Cambridge, England, feeling responsible and adult. I woke up knowing that the time for excuses and mistakes was firmly behind me. That I had reached an age where the world would no longer cut me slack due to inexperience or naivity. It was time to grow up. This revelation came to me in a flash, not a slow understanding resulting from introspection and planning. It was a shock. I think its one of the main reasons I stayed in England, and had a whirlwind of living these past 3 years.

During the week of my 27th birthday, I cried. A lot. There was pressure in having our lives on hold while we redecorated the house in order to sell, moved through the process of immigration and feeling like we could not move forward in life in England while waiting to start our lives over in Canada. I felt that at the age of 27, I should've started a career, started a family, or furthered my education. I felt that I had spend an entire year waiting rather than doing. 27 was not a good birthday. A few weeks after my birthday, I committed to having a better year. We sold the house, immigrated to Canada and planned to buy a house and start careers in the following year.

28. We are still settling down. My career path did not work out. My husband's is on hold. We are living with my mother. My mother. May God bless her for taking in her controlling, bossy daughter, her son-in-law and their Yorkie. And for not kicking us out when our plans went awry.

The week before my birthday I cried. But only once. This birthday has not been as harrowing. Thank heaven. My husband woke me up at 7am with a giant cupcake and lit candles glowing in the dark of our bedroom. By far, the best birthday morning ever. I spend this year with my family, eating gourmet burgers, and bowling. It was low key, it was easy, but being around my family softened the blow of getting older. Getting old. 28. is. old. 28 is too old to not have started a career, or  started a family or gone back to studying or working on decorating our first home, our new home. It is too old to be stalemated.

I am thankful to be around my family. I am thankful that I reached 28 in once piece. I am thankful that I have plans for the next year. But I am wary that nothing stops while I plan and prepare and wait and hold out and stand in indecision.

I really hope I get something accomplished this year or 29 will be bad. Very bad. (this is not an invitation to tell me about The Secret). I will pray for direction, decision, opportunity and patience. And if not patience, grace.  And a good wrinkle cream.


I write this blog with an eye on the clock. Considering everything that I must do and that I want to do, settling on writing this - as it happens to fit under both categories, thus allowing me to cross an item off both lists. Efficient no?

We seem to be firmly placed in a rut. Caught up the daily routine. The list (my husband hates my lists) is never ending. We follow the routine in order to feel like we can carry on with life. Yet, when we diverge from the routine of sleep, cleaning,  laundry, budgeting, work, running, groceries, cooking, (the list goes on) we feel harried and tired.

Our options seem thus: be productive, feel in control, stick to the list and be tired but with peace of mind or consider the list loosely, do what must, allow for spontaneity and be tired but also anxious. Yes, there is anxiety when we have not done what we set out to do.

This weekend, I booked 3 days off work to celebrate my birthday. (The awfulness of turning 28 is another blog waiting to be written). My idea of celebration involved sleeping in an extra 2hrs, running unhurriedly, and having time to write blogs and emails while still working through the daily routine. We diverged from the plan on day 1 and I can now feel the low burn of anxiety because of unwashed floors, sleeping in too late, skipping a planned a run, watching too much tv and drinking caffeine with abandon.

I know what you all will be thinking. That I am caught up with being in control, neat and tidy. Its not true, entirely. I keep thinking that if I can just manage to get on top of the list, I can relax in peace. I can have fun with a clear conscience. I cannot fully relax in a messy house. I cannot spend the day wantonly reading or watching films when the budget hasn't been tackled, the laundry hasn't been washed and the groceries for the evening meal not purchased. I cannot fully relax until after the list has been completed. It just seems that the list is never quite done.

I digress. We find ourselves caught. Functioning as required, with the "living" bit being left until we have time. Living requires money. Living requires time. Spare time. The formula seems simple to me. In order to have money and time, one must live responsibly, in preparation for the future. Well, the majority of us anyhow. Neither my husband nor I work in finance, we do not have connections to put us in preferential positions. We are the low flyers. Fighting and clawing and sweating to keep our heads above water and hopefully be recognised for upward movement in the future. Thus, we live responsibly, doing what must in the hope that in the future we can balance what must with what is desired.

Weekends away, dinner out, date night, shows/plays involve money or time and presently, they are in equal short supply. Hence, the rut. Ah, the solution surely is "balance". Life must have balance, relationships require balance, et al. In order to have balance, something from the present state will have to be sacrificed. And therein lies the problem. My husband and I have looked into the face of this before, and have decided to deal with it when we have more time. It is inked on the long-term to-do list.
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