Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Monday With Lucie

A million years ago I used to be a teenager who loved to babysit.  There were two little girls who were on my "favorites" list.  The older of the sisters had ginger hair and freckles, while her little sister had dark hair and brown eyes.  Until they moved away, I got to watch those two little girls grow up, and I loved it.

Now I have a teenager of my own who babysits.  That older sister that I used to look after?  She has two girls of her own and just happens to live not too far from me.  Now my daughter babysits for her.  

Hannah fell in love with little Lucie the moment she met her.  She met her when she was drinking a bottle and was just learning to sit up.  Now she's two and she is precocious, adorable, observant, and full of silliness and chatter!  She also has a new baby sister at home, so the girls and I thought it would be fun to give her mom a break and have a day with Lucie.

We played...

...and built things.

We met some tiny new friends...

... and we snoozed away the afternoon with a soother and a stuffy under each arm.

And we danced.  We swung our arms from side to side and did the toddler shuffle while bouncing up and down.  We still remember how it's done.

I was the lucky one who got to lay down beside Lucie at nap time.  We chatted quietly until her eyes got heavy and breathing got slow.  I loved listening to her breathe and suck her pink soother.  I watched  her chubby hands gripping the necks of her stuffies and her little chest go up and down with each deep breath.

When she woke up the chatter began in earnest.  There was so much to say and so much to see!  I think those conversations used to exhaust me, but now they gave me life.   As I was making supper, my own three girls were playing and chatting with sweet Lucie.   I got to stand at my stove and just listen.  It sounded beautiful.  I could really hear what she was saying and take the time to savour the sound of her voice and her belly laughs.  And for a moment, Lucie faded into the background and the questions in my head became louder...

Did I laugh loud and often enough when my girls laughed?
Did I spend too much time getting them to play on their own when they only wanted a companion?
Did I stop and savour their words, their blossoming vocabulary, and the sound of their footsteps following me from one room to another?

I hope so.
Oh, I hope so.

I wish I could do it again... just for a day...

A Monday with two year old Hannah.  We'd sit and read book after book after book because she'd never tire of them.  Then we'd do it all over again.

A Monday with two year old Ellie.  We'd walk to the playground and I'd push her on the swing and hold her hand as she goes up the big big slide.

A Monday with two year old Sasha.  We'd color deliberately and carefully, just the way she likes to.  Page after page.

There'd be no hurry and I'd savour it all.

For now, I've got my days with fourteen year old Hannah and eleven year old Ellie and nine year old Sasha.  We do the things that need to be done and go for bike-rides and sit side by side on the porch, each with our own book.

My Monday with Lucie reminded me that the good stuff happens on any given Monday, of any given week.

I hope I see it and hear it - all of it - more fully.  Even the slamming doors and eye-rolls and exasperated frustration.  That is the good stuff too.

It tells a story of its own.
I don't want to be in too big a hurry to turn the pages too quickly.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (Or Perhaps They Haven't Found Me?)

I've often heard it said that "looking for work is a job in and of itself".  I think there are parts of that statement that ring true.  It takes effort, it takes diligence, and it's not a lot of fun.

I feel like I've spent the last year looking for work.  Last year at about this time I began my quest in earnest.  I wanted to venture out from teaching and look for a job that more closely matched my current area of study.  I perused job search engines, networked, and applied for a lot of jobs.  It was kind of fun at the beginning.  The world was my oyster and the sky was the limit.  I was sure there was going to be something that matched my skill-set and would give me great experience to combine with my master's studies.

It took a long time.

Finally, this past January I found what I hoped would be the perfect job.  It was half time, it provided me with clinical experience, and I believed in the work I'd be doing.   I breathed a huge sigh of relief that my job of searching for a job was over.  I quit checking my job matches on the search engines, I stopped checking the "Careers" section of the Free Press, and I was grateful my hunt for work was over.

Just over three months later, that search began again, in earnest.   It came along with disillusionment, sadness, cynicism, and heaviness.

I've been at it again for nearly three months.  It's no more fun this time around than it was the last time.

Anyone who has looked for work for a significant amount of time can probably relate to the varying emotions you go through when you think you've found yet another "perfect job".  After awhile, it doesn't even have to that close to perfect to fit the bill.   First there's the excitement of seeing something that piques your interest that you know you can do.  You're sure the job is meant just for you!  Anticipation builds as you picture yourself in the job.  You find out as much as you can about it, search your friends list for possible connections that can get your foot in the door, and begin the process of fine-tuning your letter and cv to fit the position.  After you spend hours perfecting both and securing references, you submit it feeling optimistic and confident, sure you'll get an interview.

You wait.  And wait.
And you don't.

It doesn't take long for rejection to hit like a  good old knock upside the head.  This is only amplified by the fact that you may have told people close to you about the great job you're SURE you're going to get an interview for, and out of kindness and curiosity they check in to see what the status is on the job.  Then you get to tell them you've been rejected.  Again.

It's a cycle that keeps repeating itself over and over.

Two weeks ago as I was about to hit "send" on my application to another one of those perfect jobs, I told Mike I didn't think I could keep doing this.  If this one doesn't come through, I don't think I can do this again.  

It didn't come through.
But this last week I did it again... because I have to.

After enough rejections you begin to look at that finely polished cv and the letter that highlights all of your strengths and you begin to doubt it all.  It almost reads like something you've made up, after awhile.  If it was true, you'd get the interview, you tell yourself.  You start to re-read it with a healthy dose of scepticism.   You talk yourself into it and write that next letter with a somewhat forced hand - as if you're trying to convince not only the potential employer but yourself that what you've written is true.

All I need is the interview, you think.  And so you do it again and again.

Maybe this next one will be "the one".
One of them just has to be.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Unconventional Wine Review

We were in church last Sunday evening.  It had been a few weeks since we had sat in the hard, upright wooden pew.  (Doesn't that sound inviting?  It's the truth though, our faith community meets in a very old, very beautiful Anglican church with the most upright backs on the pews.  There is no slouching, as slouching is not even possible!)

We sang and we sat and we stood and we passed the peace.  When we got up to take our place in the circle for communion, the familiar words rang out.  "Behold who you are.  Become what you receive."  They get me every single time.

Mike was playing violin, so the girls and I stood in our circle together, facing other parts of our community and took the piece of sweet spelt bread, then the pottery goblet in our hands and drank the (real) red wine.  It was just as it is any other Sunday night.

As soon as we got back to our hard, upright pew, Sasha leaned over to me and whispered in my ear, "I loved that.  It was SO good."  I squeezed her shoulder and agreed, yes, it was so good.

She was talking about the wine, you see.  We're hoping she won't become a lush, as our 9 year old really loves the taste of the communion wine at st. ben's.  To be fair, it is good.  It's sweet and rich and lingers long after you've swallowed.  Quite honestly, it's delicious.  And obviously, Sasha agrees.

That's how I want "it" to be and to remain for her.  Delicious.

"It" being shared faith experience.  Communion.  The body of Christ.

I want it to be free of expectation and hoop-jumping.
Void of regulation and exclusion.
Not about what she can't do and who she can't be.

I want it to be full of flavour.
Flavour on her tongue, yes, but flavours in her circle.
Heavy with differing expressions and the freedom to chase and pursue them.
Beautiful in variation and always delicious.
(It's the delicious part that will draw her back.)

I can't imagine better words to hear than "I loved that.  It was SO good."
May the wine draw her back again and again.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Just a Crack...

I have not been writing as much as I used to.  The word slow-down started when I began my job in January.  Suddenly, it seemed, there was no time for words.  I used to have space in my day and in my mind where words would take hold.   I didn't even have to try.  After I started working more, the spaces in my days and in my mind were taken over with "to do" lists and my client's stories.  So many stories.  It was almost impossible for me to write because the words of their stories took center stage.  

I missed the space for my words to find their place.

At the end of April it seemed there would be lots of time for words again.  My job was gone.  Suddenly the stories stopped.  Someone had pressed "stop" and "eject" without my permission.  Things came to a drastic, painful, all-consuming end, and I wasn't ready.  There were words in my mind and on my screen then.  Seventeen pages of words that described my experience with toxicity and confusion, and stories of others living in fear and repression.  I shared those stories and I waited.

Suddenly, I had lots of time again.

Sometimes the thing you need to do most is the very thing you oppose and push away with every morsel of your being.  It's often like this for me.  When I feel the most alone and am filled with sadness, I have an overwhelming desire to shut the blinds, lock the doors, and burrow myself into my bed, only coming out when I must.  When I have the most words to write, are the times I often feel paralysed to even open my computer.  The more I obey the feelings that isolate me, the more impossible it is to move forward.

Finally, this week, I heard stories again.  I saw people.  I heard phrases and expressions that gave way to my imagination.  The beginnings of blog posts appeared in my mind as my head lay on my pillow at night.  My consumption with the abrupt ending to the job I loved was shifting into the background.  It's still in the picture.  I can still see it in every view and every scene.  But it's no longer always in the foreground.

And so, I'll begin again.

I'll begin because it's good for me.
Because I have things to say.
Because I feel more alive when I do.
Because there are voices and stories all around me that need to be told.
Because I must.

This is my attempt at cracking the blinds open a little and letting some light in.
Perhaps,  I may even have a little light to let out.
I know there is darkness to let out;  I'll have to be ok with exposing that too.

I do know one thing.
You can't move forward unless you begin.  Again.