Tag Archives: dream

2012 In A Word

dream

My new favourite necklace – a gift from the talented Sheri Webb.

In 2012, I went against my instincts and ditched New Year’s Resolutions. I jumped on the One Word bandwagon: instead of an endless list of things to DO, we choose to focus on a single word expressing how and what to BE.

After an absurd amount of thought and prayer and contemplation (I think OverAnalyze is my default word), I picked my word of the year. I was somewhat embarrassed by it. DREAM seemed too hippy-dippy, rainbows-and-unicorns for a practical gal like me.

In the beginning it was a way to overcome grief, to find a new direction. It became a celebration and an exploration. I learned that the dreams in my heart are not merely selfish flights of fancy, they are clues about the person I was designed to be.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of you heart.” (Psalm 37:4) It’s not a promise. It’s not a backhanded sermon about desiring only spiritual things. It’s a song. a hope. a truism.

DREAM. Trace your joys and passions. Find your calling. Sure, there’s always some silly and some selfish in the mix (we’re only human after all), but when you dream your best dreams, you will see the image of God.

Creative. Loving. Adventurous. Generous. Brave.

I used to think that I should focus on God all the time. That the more one-dimensional I became, the better. Instead I am learning to delight myself in the Lord of laughter and wiggle-y children and rollercoasters and warm breezes. To celebrate with a God who is just as present at the playground and the kitchen table and the mini van as church or bible study.

Some of my most important dreams came true this year. To see my husband happy to go to work; once again in a career that means something to him. To adopt a child from foster care. To become a better mother and a better person.

Some of my icing-on-the-cake dreams came true too. To go back to university. To go on a trip to Hawaii with the family. To eat chocolate cake for breakfast.

So here’s me, a year of hippy-dippy dreaming under my belt, and all the better for it!

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37 Reasons to Celebrate

Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to me!

I sound just like one of my kids (B still wishes herself a happy birthday months later). By my age, most women are less enamored with the birthday process than I. They ignore, complain, avoid or simply celebrate “29” year after year. I’ve never understood that.

I’m not gonna lie. I do feel older. And not in the gee-I’m-so mature-and-sophisticated-and-sure-of-myself way. In the I’ve-never-felt-so-tired-and-out-of-touch-and-wth-is-that-cracking-noise-my-knees-are-making way. It doesn’t help that when asked, my husband tells people we are “almost 40” and reminds me that “by his calculations, our lives are nearly half over.” Such a ball of sunshine, that man.

BUT, and this is a big but,

(if you just heard Sir-mix-a-lot singing in your head, that’s a sign you are getting old, too)

I wouldn’t trade it. Not for extra time or a younger body or even the ability to start over. Because it’s been a good life and it’s only getting better. God has blessed me with an embarrassment of riches.

He does it so I can spread it around, make the world better, but also, enjoy what I’ve been given.

So Happy Birthday to me!

At the beginnning of the year I chose One Word to represent this year: DREAM. And though I chafed at the cheesiness of the word itself and the project, it’s forced me to see how powerful they can be. I have so many great dreams. And even though I may not achieve every one (especially all my travel dreams), each one is a reason to celebrate and look forward. It’s not the years under my belt that matter, it’s the ones still to come.

37 DREAMS for the years to come:

  1. Catch a fish.
  2. Try scuba diving.
  3. Write a Novel.
  4. Watch the Hobbit and all 3 LOTR in one sitting.
  5. Tour Europe.
  6. Publish a book.
  7. Watch the Anne of Green Gables play in Prince Edward Island.
  8. Go hang gliding.
  9. Snorkle on the Great Barrier Reef.
  10. Get a blog post on “Freshly Pressed.”
  11. See Les Miserables.
  12. Go on an African Safari.
  13. Finish my Psychology degree.
  14. Spend a weekend in New York City.
  15. Kayak with the whales.
  16. Walk the Cinque Terre (Italy).
  17. Attend a blogging conference.
  18. Visit my sister in Boston.
  19. Speak to a large audience about something I’m passionate about.
  20. Road trip with each of my children (one-on-one).
  21. Learn to crochet.
  22. Celebrate our 20th anniversary in Mexico.
  23. Eat chocolate cake for breakfast
  24. Ride a gondola under the Bridge of Sighs (Venice).
  25. Spend a weekend by myself, in silence.
  26. Take a painting class.
  27. Make my own salsa.
  28. Take the boy to Disneyland.
  29. Tour Israel.
  30. Lead the cheering section each time one of my children graduates/gets married/performs/gives a speech/wins an award/cures cancer…
  31. Go to Comic-Con.
  32. Go on an overnight white water rafting/camping trip.
  33. Reach my ideal weight (and stay there).
  34. Get a PhD.
  35. Become a Grandma.
  36. Ride a motorcycle.
  37. Celebrate our 50th anniversary with all our family.

So here’s me, tooting my own horn. Kind of obnoxious, but it’s my party so I’ll write what I wanna.

What about you? What dreams are on your bucket list? As soon as I cross a few of these off, I’ll need to add some more…


Today is The Day

So… today, this happened:

We added a new pair of shoes to the blog.

This sentence is meaningless to most people, but to us, it means that today is The Day We Have Been Waiting For, for three years. Today we became the proud parents of a bouncing baby boy!

Actually, a bouncing toddler boy, and I really must emphasize the bouncing… lots and lots of bouncing from our little live wire!

Today we brought the boy home. We filled drawers with tiny shirts and pants, unpacked baby snacks and plastic bottles, played a rousing family game of mini-hockey, and waited for it to finally sink in.

There is no one waiting for him to come back at the end of the day. No more schedules and no more handoffs and no more shared parenting. Only friendship and occasional visits with those who have carried him this far and are an important part of his story.

But this is his home now. The boy is ours. And we are his.

Because forever family goes both ways.

This January, I joined the One Word project, choosing one word to pursue for the year (a sort of abbreviated new years resolution). My word for 2012: DREAM.

I expected I would be finding a new dream for my life, since adoption was so clearly not working out. I expected soul-searching and Plan B’s and making the best of things. I expected less… less than I wanted and less than I hoped for.

Instead, I get everything I dreamt of and more. Instead, I get wrestling matches and grass stains and 2 am wake up calls and sticky hugs. Instead, I am overwhelmed with the depth and width of this dream come true – our very own boy.

So here’s me, tired and nervous… and so very grateful to God and foster family and everyone who gave us today!


Waiting is a Baked Potato

Last month was an ordeal. Our microwave broke… again.

There was weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I told my husband to suck it up and be a man.

Poor Glen. This is our third microwave. Not the sitting-in-the-middle-of-the-counter, edges-encrusted-in-crumbs, easy-to-replace version. Oh no, not us; we have the fancy schmancy over-the-stove-top-built-in-hood-fan model. Which requires a tricky installation, risking the sanity and daily bliss of anyone who is not married to Bob the Builder.

Glen the Good-at-Everything-Else had trouble facing ANOTHER installation debacle, and who can blame him? In fact, this microwave had been installed amidst many not-suitable-for-young-children outbursts only 7 months ago. Which is when we realized that it fell into that glorious category: Not Our Problem Due To Warranty!

Except it still was our problem, since we had to track down receipts, visit Home Depot, fax the documents to the manufacturer, connect with a local repair company, book a visit, and then wait 3-weeks-to-forever for the necessary parts.

In the meantime, we found ourselves in the dark ages of food preparation. Not a good place for our family. How to defrost? How to reheat leftovers? How to make popcorn in under 2 minutes?

Never have I been more cognizant of the fact that my culinary life revolves around fast and easy. The most glaring difficulty was my almost daily lunch option – the nuked potato. Throw it in the mic, add some veggies and a bit of meat – et voila, my favourite meal. There is no fast or easy way to cook a whole potato without a microwave.

In the meantime, we were wading hip deep in adoption angst. We’ve found a child we very much want to adopt. The social worker is on board. His foster mom is on board. The guy at the checkout in Safeway seemed to think it was a good idea.

We had asked the questions, heard the stories, explored the issues… We poured over every e-mail and revisited phone conversations late at night in bed. We have prayed about it. We have discussed it as a family. We have painted the pink room green. We’ve figured out a timetable for the transition. We’ve adjusted our plans for the summer.

But, there is no fast and easy way to adopt a child. Social services is not a microwave-esque industry. Nor should it be. The paperwork has been held up a number of times. Glen had a business trip. Meetings are hard to schedule. There are more questions to be asked and even more stories to be heard. And we can’t even see a picture of him, until everything is official.

So, his other family is tucking him into bed at night and singing him songs and teaching him all the important little lessons a toddler learns each day: how to hold his fork, how to pet a dog gently, and a thousand other things I can jealously imagine. And it feels like we are missing out. I’ve never met him. But I miss him.

In the meantime, I discovered something amazing. Potatoes baked in the oven for a long time are the BEST! I suppose I always knew that. I imagined my Mom was just a better cook and Wendy’s had a magical potato machine. Despite the wait, the crispy outer skin and the soft, even, potato-y goodness of a truly baked potato is SO much better than one nuked in the microwave.

How often are the most important things in life easy and convenient? Things like love, and learning, and parenting… They require something of us. Some patience. Some commitment. Some risk.

And maybe it won’t turn out just right. When I throw something in the microwave and it bombs, it’s easy to scrap it and start again. But where I have invested myself in a wait… there is no easy out.

In the meantime, I am learning that waiting is not such a bad place to be. I had braced myself for a great deal of frustration during the uncertainty. And I’ll admit, it’s not easy, but it’s not the waste of time that I had imagined.

Our pastor gave a sermon about “Waiting” just last week. It’s a powerful spiritual concept. Because this time between what is and what is promised is important. It is a time to learn, to trust, to prepare and to dream. And I’m better for it.

But those who WAIT/HOPE/TRUST in the Lord will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31 (from Msg/NIV/NLT)

Waiting is a Baked Potato. No shortcuts. No quick and easy. No fast forwarding the process. But worth it in the end.

So here’s me, in the meantime. Turns out, that’s not a bad place to be.


Friday Favourites 17

I know that many of you are eager for updates on our adoption process. I wish I could give some definitive answers, but right now all I can say is that it’s looking good! These things do not move quickly, not even when I attempt to use the power of my mind to leap forward in time. But we are cautiously optimistic.

And so we imagine and dream and make plans… just like any other expectant family.

Quote

We see with the eyes, but we see with the brain as well. And seeing with the brain is often called imagination.

– Oliver Sacks

Blog

Enjoying the Small Things has been recommended to me more times than any other blog. And it lives up to the hype. Kelle Hampton writes about the small moments of daily life and all that she is learning about love and life through it. She is heartfelt, genuine and ridiculously likeable. But the real treasure here, are the amazingly beautiful pictures of her family (she is a talented professional photographer). I may be biased, but I especially love the ones of her youngest Nella, because she reminds me so much of my little B. It’s not really fair how kids with Down Syndrome are so much cuter than all the rest…

I dare you to read  Nella’s birth story and not cry. A short version of the story is here, in the trailer for Kelle’s new book Bloom, which I can’t wait to read!

App

Last month L got herself an iPod Touch. After much debate (To iPod or Not to iPod: That is the Question) we decided to let her have her heart’s desire. She worked her butt off (Child Labour and Other Parenting Dilemmas) and saved up all her pennies. BUT she opted for a 3G, which means no camera and no photos, which was kind of disappointing.

Bump has been a lifesaver! When two devices have it, they can pass pictures or contact information by simply selecting and then “bumping” together. Not only is it easy, it’s kind of fun! And now each of us can have all the photos we want on our own phone/pod/pad. Everyone’s happy.

Book

My first “official” book review (posted here yesterday), but it bears repeating. You Are A Writer (So Start ACTING Like One) is both the shot in the arm and the kick in the pants I need. It is a toolbox of ideas geared specifically towards writers, but anyone with an artistic calling could benefit.

Jeff Goins premise is simple: “Believe you already are what you want to be. And then start acting like it.” I can’t think of an area in my life where this isn’t good advice – as a writer, in my faith, as a parent, or as a human being.

Video

This week my children have repeatedly watched Ode to the Brain! by Symphony of Science (cough*nerds*cough). It’s bizarrely catchy, educational and just a scooch gross… what’s not to like? A great place to start conversations about how our bodies were put together and how they work. The human brain is probably the most amazing piece of creation there is! Yet it remains mysterious; there is so much we don’t understand about it.

In the meantime, we will set it some of what we do know to autotune and be amazed that a wrinkly piece of flesh can produce a poem, a brilliant idea… or a weird YouTube music video.

So here’s me, seeing not just with my eyes, but with my brain as well.


My Little Possibility

Today you are a possibility.

Not even a probability.

A might.

A maybe.

A hope for what could be.

A month ago, I didn’t see you coming. After almost 3 years of waiting and wondering, we were ready to throw in the towel. I was finally prepared to give you up.

“Time to dream new dreams,” I said. I told myself I was ready to stop treading water. It was time to get on with my life. We considered telling them to count us out entirely. But some small shred of hope said, “what can it hurt?”

But I thought it was done. I grieved for you, my little possibility. There were tears and anger and numb acceptance. Some days I didn’t think of you at all. But every time I thought I had put you behind me, the cycle would start again.

It wasn’t pretty.

I choked on the hurt when mother and infant sat in front of us at church. I forced myself to pack up the baby toys, but I couldn’t give them away. The box is still there on the shelf. I put off meeting with an academic advisor or committing to a major. As much as I am enjoying school, it is not what I want to be doing right now.

I started praying again, like I used to during the dark days. Not out of routine, but because I need to. To get through the day. To keep my emotions in check. To remember how much I have been given. This is one good thing about grief. I am never closer to God than during times like these.

I knew it would take a long time to forget.

Then we got an unexpected email from our social worker. And you appeared on the horizon. But we had been there before and nothing had come of it. We threw our hat in the ring and carried on with life.

Then we heard from YOUR social worker. And the speculation begins… what exactly does “very excited about a possible match” mean? Did she say “very”? What percentage of possible are we talking? We have so many questions.

For the first time you have a name. There is a lot to be done. We have to know and understand and make sure that we are the right family for you. And so do they.

I am trying, desperately trying, to play it cool. Is it possible to be cool if you have to desperately try for it?

Because I want to bring you home. I want snips and snails and puppy dog tails. I want happily ever happy. I even want messy, difficult, overwhelming reality. As long as you can be mine.

So here’s me, praying that our little possibility will someday be our son.


Unspoken Things: Is This Grief Normal?

I’m like a badly dubbed foreign film. The words sound right, but the voice is all wrong. My lips keep moving long after the words are said. It feels laughably false, but they keep on watching anyway.

If I go through the motions, I may actually start believing what I say. It’s not lies or misdirection, simply an unspoken truth that lingers in the air.

I am desperately sad that I cannot have another baby.

There, I’ve said it. And very few will understand. It seems I am speaking a foreign language after all.

“ANOTHER? You want ANOTHER child? Seriously?” the woman shrieks at me, wide-eyed and astonished. I wish I had just left it alone. This is why I stick with the abridged version, the words they expect, familiar phrases that mean less than nothing at this point. No one wants to hear about this crazy hope I have been clutching for years.

Even my dearest friends, who love me and listen patiently, do not understand.

I love the life I’ve been given. I adore my three beautiful daughters. I have been absurdly blessed. And I feel greedy wanting more of it, but I can’t seem to reason my disappointment away. I have tried and tried.

I still remember the parade of doctors that came to my room: GP, OB, Nephrologist and even a few nurses. They began to cautiously broach the subject in the days after B was born. I had made no secret of my desire to have a big family, at least four (and a whisper in my head adds “or five, or six”). Add that to my “religious” demeanor and I can see why they were worried that I wouldn’t listen.

No more babies for me.

My kidney would not survive, and neither would I.

I didn’t give it much thought at the time. A twinge of sadness that I would not feel the wonders of pregnancy again; a sigh of relief that I would not feel the wonders of pregnancy again. Of course we would adopt. It had been discussed since we were starry-eyed teenagers planning our perfect life.

I’ve been holding tightly to the dream ever since. My husband, not so much. As we enter our third year in the process, almost a full year with our name on the list of approved homes, it has finally occurred to me that this may not happen.

No more babies for me.

After all the classes, workshops, paperwork, praying, homestudy, endless discussions, hopes raised only to be dashed again, waiting, waiting, waiting… we are near the end. We aren’t on the same page anymore.

He’s been good to do this for me, though now I wished we hadn’t even started. It was something he felt we should do, but had no actual desire for. But adoption is a team sport. And when push comes to shove… well, I just can’t keep pushing.

I know this isn’t a real tragedy. I’ve lived through that before, the complete and utter devastation of it.

But in some ways this is even lonelier. I feel guilty for being this sad about a normal thing. So I minimize the longing and paint a happy face on it. I’d rather keep it to myself. It’s so much worse when I share and they stare at me blankly. Or, worst of all, act like I’m crazy for feeling this way. Because deep down, I wonder if they’re right.

It’s time I face it, so I can move on. I want to dream new dreams, but first I have to grieve the old one.

We all must learn to lament,

otherwise “year by year,

as we deny and avoid the pains and losses,

the rejections and frustrations,

we’ll become less and less,

trivial and trivializing,

empty shells with smiley faces painted on them.”

Eugene Peterson (Leap Over a Wall)

So here’s me, and this is my lament. Because God hears my secret disappointments… especially when no one else understands.

What about you? Do you have a grief that people don’t understand? How do you mourn for hidden hurts?


One Word 2012

I am joining the One Word project today. Setting aside years of angst and agony over New Year’s Resolutions. I was very excited to pick one simple word to represent the year to come. I even let the God of the Universe in on the ground floor.

Unfortunately, we didn’t see eye to eye on the whole thing. Each time I prayed about it, each time I turned it over in my mind, each time I discussed it with my husband, the same word kept coming up. And it isn’t the one I wanted. At all.

It smells of patchouli and bean sprouts.

It sounds like New Age chimes and breathy infomercial announcers.

It tastes overly sweet and just all wrong.

It isn’t “me” at all.

But maybe that’s the point. I’m much more comfortable with goals I can see and touch and boss around. The idea of building my year around a word like this is disconcerting.

What does it mean? Where will it take me? How will I get there? It doesn’t involve strategies or schedules or measurable goals or anything concrete. But it is growing on me.

Instead of the usual grind of guilt vs. accomplishment, this year:

I will listen when I pray.

I will engage my imagination.

I will create margins in my life to think, to ponder, to breathe.

I will be honest and brave about who I am and who I want to be.

I will wrestle with reality, with my grief and disappointments to make room for new possibilities.

I will dream.

So here’s my one word for 2012: DREAM.

What is your One Word this year?


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