Saturday, July 28, 2018

5 years later

On the eve of my 55th birthday, I am on wondering if it's time to look at this again. Is this something I should pursue and work on? Was it worth the endeavour? Let me think on that and I may, or may not, get back to you tomorrow. I'm actually in transit tomorrow, so will have time to work on it if I so choose.

Monday, August 19, 2013

My year is done, so now what?

My year is done. I have been 50 for 3 weeks.

I had a great birthday. I celebrated with a dinner out with friends. My kids presented me with a beautiful mother's pride ring. The kids also gave me a list of 50 things they appreciate about me.  But on the actual birth DAY, my husband, youngest son and myself were on a holiday in the States. We explored sand dunes, waterfalls and headed to Yellowstone Park. It was a lot of fun.

Now that I am 50, I feel like I am officially in the second half of my life. I have already made one life altering decision. I am going to have hip surgery this year. I have a date to meet my surgeon next month. This scares me, but as I spent this summer in a fair amount of constant pain and usually used a cane to assist me with my walking, I knew it was time.

I will continue to work hard at being a good mother. It's been a struggle lately, as I cut apron strings for 3 of them, but still mother a preteen. Sometimes I feel like I am cutting the wrong child's string, but am hanging on tighter than ever to the older children. This is a fine balance I am trying to maneuver. Fortunately my children love me and have a good sense of humour and a high level of tolerance.

I am still trying to work on my diet to help with weight and general well being. Cutting out sugar was working well until we left on holidays. I am crawling back up onto the wagon. 

I work out regularly, refusing to let the subsequent pain deter me from what I know is good for me.

I will continue to be actively involved in my church, knowing that a community of faith is vital to spiritual well being of an individual.  We heard a good line in a song the other day about it being impossible to love God without loving The Church.

I can hardly wait to begin my new job as a Kindergarten teacher in a traditional model school. I don't know how I will deal with just K's or with the traditional model, but I'm up for the challenge.

I continue to love my husband from the bottom of my heart. He is my support, cheerleader, butt kicker and best friend. I pray that I can be that for him, too.

I will continue to live deliberately. I will take care of myself physically, spiritually and emotionally. I don't know how much I will write here. I had hoped that blogging would be for me. I live with a family of wordsmiths. Surely, my children got some of that from my latent ability, but alas, no. It must all stem from their father. I will write as the spirit moves, but not force myself to. As those of you who know me personally can attest to, I love to talk and will gladly talk face to face or on the phone with anyone.

So thanks for coming on this journey with me. I bid you adieu.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What I like about Europe...what I miss about home

This is a very incomplete list of things I really appreciate about Europe so far as I have experienced it over the past week:
    1. Europeans don't just destroy something when it needs to be replaced...they restore it instead.
    2. The majority of cars we have seen are small. Mind you, there are some very expensive ones, too, but we have yet to see a Hummer, large pick up truck or old Cadillac.
     3. Europeans, especially in Amsterdam, use bikes a lot, and I mean, A LOT! Amsterdam was overwhelmingly so, and as we left that flat land, we saw a lot less, but still more than in our suburban neighbourhood.
    4. The flowers are everywhere! Window boxes, yards, lane ways, etc are all decorated with flowers. In fact, it is so common, that to see a house without flowers is the oddity. I love this about Europe
    5. Cobblestone streets. I love how they look, I love how they are kept in good condition, and I love the sound car tires make on them.
     6. The food....chocolate, cheese, bread, potatoes...all things I should eat less of and all things that are so good.
     7. Church bells. I could get used to living in a town where the church bells are heard constantly.

What do I miss?
1. Face cloths! How do they wash their face without a cloth?
2. Ice water. When asked, a waiter brought ice water to the table: 2 little cubes in a glass of lukewarm water....the ice didn't last and it sure didn't cool down the water as cold as I like.
3. Recycling. I was very surprised by this lack. I have seen very few places to put paper, cans, glass, etc. When asked, they just tell us to throw it in the garbage.
4. My queen size bed, rather than two twins side by side. It has been too hot to snuggle, but still, two beds side by side just doesn't cut it.
5. Free public toilets. We feel like a basic human right has been taken from us when we have to pay anywhere between 50 cents and 2 € for the privilege of relieving ourselves.
5. Air conditioning. It was been very warm since we have arrived, but the only place we have air conditioned comfort is in the bus. Not a restaurant or hotel room has had it.
6. Smoke free environments. There seem to be more cigarette smokers here and they are allowed in all outdoor places, including restaurant patios, etc.

Now, I only have 1 week's experience in this fair continent and so can only consider these lists first  impressions. I will probably be able to add to both lists after another week, so stay tuned!

July 9

Gareth and I were the "scribes for the day" for our group journal. This is what we came up with.

Tuesday, July 9
It’s difficult to reflect on a day when we both took some leadership. A leader’s experience is very different because we’re often distracted by details of preparation. Although I really enjoyed today, the rest of the group may have experienced things differently.
The day began with Cyndy’s meditation on 1 John 1:1-4 focusing on our witness of God’s work in our lives and in the places and events that took place in our forefathers’ lives.
Our first activity was a wagon ride from the village up to the place near where the Schleitheim confession was formulated. Some hardy souls in our group chose to walk up the hill imagining the path of those who first walked to this momentous meeting. At the top, Wilmer interpreted the monument placed there by the Reformed church of the area as an act of repentance for their part in the persection of the 16th century reformers. I found it moving that they would do this act of generosity and good will. An interesting discussion ensued about some of the divisions still present among Christians from different traditions, as well as within a local congregation. As we climbed off the wagon at the bottom of the hill, our host farmer was presented with a tip and Glenn’s hat with which we had collected it. The farmer seemed genuinely moved by this token.
The rural theme continued on the bus with farm humour, arguments over crops and Gareth’s story of the Hottinger clan. This conversation ended with our arrival at a beautiful stop for lunch. Reinfalls was a refreshing break from Anabaptist stories and farm themes.
After lunch we continued on our journey. Many of us had a short siesta. We were privileged to be able to share a bit of our faith journey with the group, as well, during our ride. We then also heard the story of Milchsuppe and stopped to hike up the spot where the potluck of soup and bread was shared as a peace treaty between warring Protestant and Catholic cantons.
We made a brief stop at Einsiedeln Monastary and Cathedral. Responses to this decorative cathedral ranged from “gorgeous,” to “gaudy!” This was in sharp contrast to our next destination: the Baretswil cave. The Anabaptists had difficulty because they needed to meet in secret. We had difficulty in getting so this spot as it was a fairly strenuous hike. It was a privilege for me to lead our group in a unique communion service at this spot. On the way home we heard about God’s guidance in the lives of Ron and Linda Penner.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Days 3 and 4 random thoughts

We've had two more very full days and as I sit here in my hotel bed and wish I could sleep, I'll write some more random thoughts.

Jet lag sucks! I was so tired today that every time we got into the bus to travel to the next place, I wanted to sleep. I did give in a few times, too, which is probably why I can't sleep now, even though its almost midnight.

There are some people who are very good at being hosts. We were fortunate to have two of them host us for the evening and night yesterday. The couple we stayed with were wonderful. They engaged us in conversation, they were proud to show us their gardens and farm and they left a light on in the hall overnight so I wouldn't trip going down the narrow, curved stairs to the bathroom at night. Oh, and the chocolate and freshly cut roses in the room helped, too! We talked about farming in Canada and in Holland, we talked about raising children, their granddaughter, faith, men's spirituality, education, and more. What a gift it has been for us to now say we have friends in Friesland!

There are so many bikes! This is especially true in Amsterdam. The bikes lined every street and seemed to rule the road. No one wears helmets and yet they darted in and out of traffic even while texting on their phones. While in Friesland, we met a couple who were spending 3 weeks of their summer biking throughout the country. They were from the US and surprise, surprise someone in our group from Illinois knew them. Small world!

It's amazing to think of the connection I have in faith to people, situations and places from long, long ago. How would my faith be different if people hadn't taken the stands they did way back then? Would I have had the courage to keep preaching if there was a price on my head? Or would I have let my husband keep on if he was the one under an arrest warrant for being against the government/church?

I have been using a cane to walk. My hip has consistently been degenerating lately and just before we left on this holiday I was so sore from a long walk that I could barely move. I think it's time to book surgery. The cane is helping a lot and I have very little pain. But I hate being an invalid and looking old. Guess that comes with being almost 50! Blech!

Okay, it's after midnight here and despite the party outside our window and in the adjoining room, I think I should try to sleep. Have a good one.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Day 1 and 2

Some random thoughts about our last day, or is it two days?

Hurry up and wait! Okay, when you travel by air, you need to be at the airport in plenty of time. So we were. And then the flight was about an hour late...

Airplane food really is not good, although they try. In many ways, it reminds me of hospital food. Trays of warmed up food, some of which is identifiable, some not.

It was impossible to get comfortable enough to sleep during the 9 hour flight. I may have dozed, but crying babies, people talking, constant aisle traffic and the time change were all working against me. On the upside, I actually watched a couple of movies; on the downside, they weren't very good. The selection was not great.

It was weird hearing German being spoken as the first language. I didn't mind, though and tried to figure out what they were saying, which was usually confirmed or corrected for me in the next announcement which was in English. I was very impressed with our flight attendants who switched between the two languages with great ease.

Frankfurt airport is huge, but it seemed illogical. We arrived at one wing and then had to make our way, our very long way, by foot, train and moving sidewalks to our other gate. On the way we went through security and customs again. It probably took us an hour to make it to the other gate, which was in good time for our connecting flight. As we went down the hallway expecting to be boarded onto the plane, we actually had to get on a bus, which in our mixed up, sleep-deprived brains, seemed to bring us back, after a 10 minute ride, to the area where we debarked from our first flight. Weird.

While we were in Frankfurt we met some more of our group who had come in on different flights. One couple almost didn't make it, and if it weren't for us saying we were expecting them and being very reluctant to begin boarding, we may very well have left them behind. What a relief it was to see then running down the moving sidewalk towards us. We were the last ones on the bus to go to our plane.

First impressions of Amsterday: it's wet and grey, something we are very used to on the west coast, but now that we were leaving sunshine and record warmth in BC, disappointing. But not a big deal. Amsterdam is flat and green, reminding me of southern Manitoba where I grew up. The lucious grain fields were a welcome sight for this prairie girl. What is different from the prairies is the presence of canals everywhere that are filled with water. A number of times it was obvious how land is below the sea level. Our first stop was at a restored historical village, complete with windmills and wooden shoes. It was informative and beautiful. The wet sea air is refreshing.

We are traveling in a large tour bus and all wear name tags. So now we are one of them that we can spot a mile away when we are at home. The restaurant where we ate last night was very gracious in accommodating us. The hotel complex is attached to a bird sanctuary, so if the jetlag hadn't woken me up early this morning, the birds definitely would have. I want to wander in the park a little more this morning, as I forgot to take pictures last night. It's beautiful.

Okay, time to shower away the jetlagged feeling. Have a good day!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Only one month left...

I am getting very close to the end of my year long journey. I have discovered a few things about myself, or maybe I should more correctly say that I have confirmed some things about myself that I already knew.

One, I don't like writing. I find this tedious, vulnerable, and confirms that I feel like I don't really have anything to say of value. I love reading what others say though, and have a long list of blogs I read.

Two, I find living a disciplined life difficult. I can always make excuses for my choices, such as eating a little extra (had an extra hard workout this morning), cleaning my house (the mess will still be there tomorrow), not calling my Aunt (have nothing new to say and she won't have anything new to say either!) and writing on my blog (again, nothing to say).

I don't like feeling like a failure. Every time I convince myself to write, I feel like I'm just exposing how lousy I am at what I'm trying to do. So today, as I re-read my very first post, it's hard to feel positive. But let's do a review and maybe it won't be quite so bad (or it may be worse....).

And, last but not least, I have discovered that I get far more readers if I put this on Facebook. If I don't, very few read my posts but when I do, there are a lot more readers and responders. Not sure yet whether I'll do it today or not.

My personal goal was to make healthy choices. This was hard. Every time I feel stress, I want to eat. Every time I am happy, I want to eat. Every time I'm bored, I like to eat. But, thanks again to my lovely daughter-in-law who is completing her natural nutritionist training, I am making changes. It feels easier to do it for her. I am one of her case studies. I filled in about a 1000 questions on a survey (Okay, probably not quite that many) and then she analyzed it and gave me many suggestions on how to improve my overall health. I am trying to follow the recommendations, and good news, I do feel better. I have not followed all of her recommendations yet as the whole list is a little overwhelming, but already, I have lost some pounds and I think it is helping my arthritis. I continue to work out regularly at the club and have added a few special classes to my routine.

Relationally speaking, finding the best in all people is not necessarily easy. But I have made a promise to myself that I will not react in anger or with sarcasm immediately in those times when it is easy to do. This is especially true in the home. I don't want to react with an argumentative voice whenever I feel wronged. I am trying.

How does one measure spiritual growth? When I was growing up, this was measured simply in time one spent in prayer and bible reading. And bonus marks to you if you did it first thing in the morning. Well, I read the bible quite regularly and sleepless hours at night have been used in prayer, of a sort, but have I grown? If anything, I feel less sure about matters of faith. Things used to be very black and white; others were either in or out; and Jesus was absolutely going to return premilleniuim and take me and only those others who had said the sinner's prayer. Those lines aren't quite so definite anymore. It was easier when I KNEW things.

Vocationally, I was forced to grow. For the first 7 months of the school year, I taught a challenging class of mostly Kindies and a few grade 1's. It was good and I figured out a rhythm. I had a few students with special needs that I had never encountered before, so I learned, observed and flew by the seat of my pants most days. And then, after Easter, I changed to a grade 2 class. I had never taught grade 2 for an extended time before and so I needed to learn a new curriculum, new class habits and schedule and again had a few student with diagnoses that were very unique and challenging. And yet, I have found this class to be of the best I have ever taught. Maybe it was because they were older, but they understood me and my quirky sense of humour. I enjoyed their interactions and sure wish I could teach them longer. I have laughed out loud every single day in this class. I will be sad tomorrow as I say good-bye to them for the final time.  I still don't know where I will be placed next year. There's a lot of movement going on in our district, and as a teacher with little seniority, I have to wait till everyone else is happy and then I'll get the leftovers. As I have said before, God has always looked after me and given me a job at the right time and so I trust and wait. I'm not saying this has been easy as it seems to get more difficult every time I go through this, but it is what it is.

And that's a wrap. How do I want to live the last month of my 40's? Continue to grow, learn and laugh. I start with a trip to Europe next week with my husband as he leads a tour of Anabaptist history. Should be fun. I may even post about it!