Tag Archives: one word

The Year of the Dead Eyed Shuffle

I was in a new year frame of mind last week. I even chose my One Word for the year. My annual weapon against resolutions and inevitable despair. A simple mantra and ongoing prayer all rolled into one.

I didn’t choose the words that first came to mind when I thought of the year to come, the ones that I try not to say in front of children. I may want to cross stitch this on a pillow some day. Though, come to think of it, that would be a kickass cushion.

But I was going for something more cheesy uplifting…

So here it goes:

2015, the year I will learn to “Treasure” what matters most.

Even now. Especially now. In the midst of all the horrible and crazy.

I was: Determined to be fully present, deeply grateful for each special moment and person in my life; Optimistic, filled with purpose, resolving to write/exercise/eat healthy/go to bed early/parent heroically… every single day… without exception; Deluded, convinced that I would, that nothing could hold me back.

The Crappy New Year of Cancer was not going to keep me down!

I am an Overcomer. Lover of Life. Maker of Lists. Unstoppable.

Did I mention deluded?

And so very stoppable.

It’s hard to say what tapped the brakes first. It was the culmination of a hundred little things. The stomach flu. Twisting my ankle. Traffic to and from the hospital every other day. A leaky toilet. Trying to keep a sick, needy boy separate from his immuno-suppressed, equally needy sister. My husband chipping his tooth on a brownie. A nightmare trip to an ill equipped local ER. A hole in my favourite sweater. A broken closet door. Another nasty infection landing B in children’s hospital after only three weeks at home.

Suffice it to say, my new year state of mind didn’t last long. Cue despair. Tears. Who was I kidding?

My prayers often start with one word. “Really. Really?”

This is our life. I can’t wish it, or manage it, or sheer positive will-power it better. I can’t even pray it better. I can’t do anything to change most of what’s coming our way this year.

But I can treasure it. Not in that phoney “let’s-pretend-this-shit-smells-sweet” denial way. In digging out what we can. In the glimpses of beauty, the sudden rush of fierce love and the bizarre epiphanies that only suffering supplies. In the everyday riches and common grace that slips below the radar. In the peach fuzz of a bald head, the passionate absurdity of a tantrum, the predictable rhythm of sibling conflict, even the easy comfort of an equally weary love.

I may not stride purposefully through 2015 as I hoped. I may not skip and dance in triumph. I expect it’ll be more of a zombie-esque lurch. One foot in front of the other. Sometimes I’ll stop dead in my tracks. But even then, through tears and exhaustion I’ll appreciate the smallest momentum all the more.

So here’s us, embracing life in all its magic and misery. What else is there to do?

Linking up to oneword365.com

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One Word to Rule 2013

It must exist. That magical combination of sounds and symbols which will inspire and motivate the new me.

The healthier, skinnier, more organized, kinder, wiser…resolutions list

not to mention hospitable, well-read, well-groomed, attentive…

DAILY: meditating on God’s Word, giving my husband massages, writing my blog and/or novel, doing speech therapy exercises, inspiring good behaviour in pre-teens, reading to and with littles, quizzing spelling words…

cavorting with unicorns, catching a leprechaun, giving up sugar…

the too-good-to-be-real 2013 me.

I was determined that this year’s One Word project would surpass last year. I combed through the words on other blogs and even cracked open the dictionary. I perused the many lists and goals and plans of attack I’d put together in years past. I kicked around words like: “Better” and “Higher” and “More.”

Glen laughed at my ideas of course. “That’s so YOU,” he says, and suggests I might as well pick “Should” or “Guilt” while I’m at it.

By the end of Day 1, I was deeply tired and discouraged. And I hadn’t even started yet!

I used to ride that wave of unrealistic New Year optimism for days, sometimes weeks. This is the time of year I buy my pants two sizes smaller. I stock up on baskets/organizers/folders and hum contentedly at the thought that soon my life will be streamlined and clutter-free. I prepare my answers for the “your kids are so well-behaved… what’s your secret?” conversations that will inevitably follow our newest strategies. I float through January on a cloud of beautiful, beautiful expectations.

But this year the cold, hard grip of reality refuses to let me go.

Stupid reality.

The vast majority of my best intentions come to nothing in the end. I get overwhelmed juggling the needs of others, the tasks of basic survival and my self-improvement projects. Soon I am crushed under a mountain of my own expectations. I focus on me, me, me. I am angry that God doesn’t just swoop in and fix my life already. I am disillusioned.

I reread the purpose of One Word: “One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live.”

ow468-look2

I do want to be better, to aim higher, to do more… but the harder I try, the worse I do. And I don’t have enough energy left to try even harder still. And I can’t fool myself any longer that the right plan or strategy or WORD will make all the difference. And I could so easily throw my hands in the air and give up: eat my weight in Christmas candy, scream at my kids until they shut up and stay in bed for the rest of the year.

God help me.

Then it came to me. I don’t need to conquer a lifetime of bad habits or wrestle a year’s worth of problems into submission; I only have to deal with TODAY.

I will live in the precious moments of TODAY. No wasting the now on what-should-be; instead I will live, enjoy, savour. No fighting the flow of turbulent, wonderful, imperfect reality. TODAY is enough.

I will handle the worries of TODAY. No beating myself up about yesterday’s faults and failures; TODAY is a new day. No fretting about tomorrow’s what-ifs and could-bes; I will trust God with my tomorrows. TODAY is enough.

I will do what I can get done TODAY. No pressure to be perfect; I will do my best, no more and no less. No expectation to be anything but what I am. TODAY I am enough.

Thank you to Melanie at onlyabreath.com for the graphic!

Thank you to Melanie at onlyabreath.com for the cool graphic!

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now,

and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.

God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

Matthew 6:34 (MSG)

So here’s me, one day at a time.

Enough about me… what’s your word/resolution for 2013?


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!


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…


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.


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.


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?


Outgrowing New Years Resolutions

Hello, my name is Christie and I am a list addict.

I have discussed this predilection before (The “Honey Do” List). If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m kind of a nerd. My absolutely favourite flavor of list has always been Resolutions.

There is something so intoxicating about this fantasy of future perfection. So, each year, I carefully craft a comprehensive manifesto for the year to come (okay, that sounds a little Una-Bomber-ish, but it’s an accurate descriptor). My administrative little soul shivers in pleasure at the thought of measurable targets and color-coded schedules. As if that’s not embarrassing enough, I’ve been known to alliterate the list categories: Health, Home, Happiness, Helping Others, Holiness… (a disturbing symptom of Sunday sermon brain rot).

This excess of order in the creation of my Resolutions has no actual benefit when it comes to their execution. I think the word is dissonance, as I cheerfully munch my way through a jumbo bag of sour patch kids while neatly formatting my diet goals for the year. In fact, the more time and energy I pour into drafting elaborate goals, the more I avoid any real action. I can ride the wave of optimism and good intentions for days, even weeks, before it all comes crashing down. And it always comes crashing down. The more elaborate the plan, the more spectacular the fail.

But this year will be different. No, I’m not giving up entirely. There is something inspiring about a new year and a new beginning. I am not willing to give that up, but I am changing my approach. Here’s a few things I’m trying to do different this year:

  • Let God weigh in. Too often I bring God a list of my objectives and plans, expecting that He will be thrilled that I thought of Him at all. Good things, valuable things that I’m sure will please Him, like a cat dropping a dead bird at her master’s feet. But my Maker has a better idea what I need and who I am becoming than I do, so why not consult the expert right from the word go?!
  • Focus on Being, Not Doing. Changing what I believe, my attitudes and my feelings, is so much more complicated than reading my bible each morning or eating leafy greens with dinner. But it is the only way for my resolve to outlast that early January idealism. It is more about my heart than teeth clenching, white knuckled willpower (which is good news, since I’m not so great with the willpower).
  • Keep it Simple. Instead of a long-winded list of Resolutions I am joining the One Word project this year. It’s such a great idea – find a single word to build your whole year around. In the next few days I’ll be posting my One Word 2012.

So here’s me, facing a year of change and upheaval without a mission statement or exhaustive list of goals. I’m not going to lie, it’s kind of relaxing! I should have done it years ago.

What are your resolutions this year? Do you have a structured timetable or cute acronym to keep them all straight? (Do you need one? I have years of experience after all!)


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