Sunday, January 5, 2020

2019 *A Year in Review*

I can’t believe 2019 is over.

Started this year in Texas with no plans. Created an elaborate plan to move to Alaska, Graves Disease hit and somehow I ended up in Chilliwack surrounded by mountains and friends and even a little family!

I think that might over-simplify the crazy year this has been. My emotions were all over the place, I don’t know that I’ve ever cried so much in one year but so many of those tears were tears of joy. I felt the support of community, even brand-new community, through the hard days. Had friends push me to do hard and beautiful things and watched at least 8 sunrises from peaks. This is a year in which I learned so much about myself and faith. Every hard thing that happened brought me closer to the wonderful things that happened this year and I don’t know that I have ever been lead so clearly in my life. Sure, I’m ending 2019 still a little confused and unsure, but where’s the fun without those feelings?

Maybe 2020 will be better, maybe it will be the same, maybe it will be even harder, all I know is that I’m heading into 2020 with a little more knowledge, a little more life experience, and surrounded by some really fantastic people. Goals and resolutions aren’t coming to mind quickly this year. I guess I’m just hoping to bear witness to more beautiful people living their lives and more beautiful nature. Cheers to a year filled with more adventures, peace and joy.

Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 *A Year in Review*

This year was simultaneously the longest year ever and the shortest year ever. It began with moving back into our home after Harvey and only went up from there. Weddings were celebrated, many friendships were strengthened and my student loans were paid off. I shortened my summer vacation and worked an extra month of the summer. With my remaining vacation I went on multiple backpacking trips in Colorado, living out of my corolla camper and visited my sister and her family. In late September I spent a week in Utah with a friend and over thanksgiving break I visited Big Bend National Park with my mom and finally hiked one of Texas' semi-real mountains. I haven't left the US (not even to visit Canada!) but being grounded here has had it's perks and I'll be starting off 2019 with a trip to Belize so change is in the air.

This year I've learned that I am capable of changing and growing. 5am runs?! I never would have thought that possible a couple years ago. Climbing?! Not something I would have been brave enough to attempt in the past. Actually considering choosing a career and going back to school?! Insane even if it hasn't happened. I've learned the importance of supportive friends who encourage growth without judgement. My love of reading has grown and I've enjoyed quite a few non-fiction books this year. Who knew they were any good?! Health has become a bigger focus in my life... not that I've stopped eating ramen but there's hope for the future.

This year I've settled into my twenties and I think 2019 might be a year to change that up... we'll see what happens!

My goals for 2018 were:
1. Spend every Sunday off Social Media (FB, Instagram and YouTube) and instead do some more writing. 
I did not manage this, though I spent most of December off of Facebook, Instagram and Youtube and it was truly wonderful. 
2. Run enough to improve my pace (a steady 9 minute mile is the specific goal in the interest of being realistic). Currently running about a 9:15 pace so I'm okay with that. Also started running at 5am and it has been a game changer. So good to start the day with something as satisfying as running, especially because I've always believed that people who woke up early to exercise were truly insane. Turns out it might actually be easier to start the day with a mindless run than it is to try to instantly prepare for the day without any warmup.
3. Attempt to make cheese. One batch of mozzarella was made and partially consumed. Definitely need to attempt again with a little more salt.
4. Build two bedside table. Only one bedside table was made but I also have a partially completed shoe rack in the garage that will hopefully be completed in the next 3 days so I'm counting it.

For 2019 I've decided to attempt 19 things.
1. Run a marathon
2. Move
3. Save $
4. Find a new job
5. Sell my car and buy a 4wd vehicle
6. Read the Bible
7. Work on sustainable fashion/buy carefully
8. Return to veg diet when I move out
9. Take a pottery class with a friend
10. Make a plan for sustaining important friendship if/when I move
11. Find a perfect pair of black boots
12. Practice photography - schedule a portrait session
13. Read 24 books
14. Print photos and create a nicer gallery wall
15. Build a bed or dining room table (if/when I move out)
16. 30 day pushup challenge
17. 30 day plank challenge
18. Watch 1 movie/month in Spanish
19. Keep running 3 times per week after marathon

Friday, May 4, 2018

May Musings

People believe in beauty. People want to pursue beauty. And beauty is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. So here is a list of some of what beauty is to me, right now, on May 4th, 2018...

1. Confidence - willingness to focus on who I would be if I was unshaped by my perception of how I am perceived by my peers. 

2. Time - willingness and patience to sit through the hard moments in order to make it to the mountain top, lungs grasping for air, brain surge of energy that comes after the break from our social lives.

3. Generosity - overcoming my own striving to have in order to give and understanding the goodness in others when they choose to give to me.

4. Nature - everything that somehow remains apart from the political, divided mess that humanity can often turn into.

5. Food - it unites us. who in this world has never had a craving, never experienced the perfect crunch or creaminess or their preferred delicacy?

6. Sleep - in its purest form it is the definition of escape... and the slow turn from wide awake to incoherently unaware is even more perfect than the sleep itself.

7. Vast Horizons - because to be forced to understand that you can never truly understand something is an excellent pride-reducing elixir.

8. Adventure - a synonym for change, a reminder that life does not need to fade into a series of identical mornings followed by identical nights.

9. Flannel - comfortable hygge and cozy useful with a touch of chainsaw strength.

10. Listening - it brings truth to the surface. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 *Year in Review*

Another year gone and another opportunity to reminisce!

This year, like most, has held highs and lows.

For possibly the first time ever I am fully satisfied with my completion of New Years Resolutions. I ran a 1/2 marathon and finished a tough mudder, built a shelf (it was supposed to be a table but I’ll forgive myself) and climbed a couple mountains.

In 2017 I spent two months traveling. It was a definite perk of working for a school but also a reminder that I am not built for long term tourism or even a pilgrim at heart but truly a bit of a homebody. Nevertheless it had its beautiful moments. I had opportunities to camp with friends from Texas, Washington and BC and even managed to squeeze in a road trip to Oregon and time in Banff. Friendships were renewed and many a sunset witnessed.

At home there was plenty to be thankful for too. High school friendships continued to be strengthened and small group was regularly a beautiful midweek haven of laughter. When Harvey struck I witnessed the strength of community and appreciated the many people who showed up. It might not be for everyone but I learned that the minimalist in me enjoys piling crap on the street and taking a sledgehammer to moldy walls. I also “got to” live in a hotel for the last three months of the year... 2018 and without a completed house can’t come fast enough ;)

On an emotional level I often felt unsure and unexcited about my future and struggled to find a new church home before giving up but this was balanced out with support from friends and family. Even the lows of 2017 came with growth and greater understanding of my interests and motivation.

I pray that 2018 might bring some answers but even if it doesn’t I think it will be filled with new opportunities for joy and new opportunities to achieve resolutions!

My goals for 2018 are:
1. Spend every Sunday off Social Media (FB, Instagram and YouTube) and instead do some more writing
2. Run enough to improve my pace (a steady 9 minute mile is the specific goal in the interest of being realistic)
3. Attempt to make cheese
4. Build two bedside tables

Who knows what this year will old but whatever happens I will continue striving to learn and grow and, of course, loosen my grasp.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Making Changes

I just got back from six weeks of vacation. Yes. It's crazy. Who gets that much vacation in one solid chunk in the middle of the summer? It was pretty great and somehow pretty needed.

I've come back with new goals and new aspirations. I want a different life than the one I've lived so far and it is going to take some effort to change.

First things first, I got an app. It tells me exactly how much time I spend on my phone every day and how many times I unlock my phone. It is disconcerting how many times I pick up my phone everyday... even when I'm on vacation and I don't have service. So I want that to change.

I pretty routinely come home from work, put on pjs and crawl into bed. I have realized that this is not actually normal and definitely not a good and healthy use of time. So I want that to change.

And, I have expectations for other people that I often don't live up to myself. I expect other people to befriend me before I befriend them, if you put yourself out there I will almost definitely reciprocate... but why would I need to put myself out there? Today I went to a new church, enjoyed the service, said hello to one person and left. I definitely could have been more brave. So I want that to change.

I'm on a kick right now, I can see how making these changes will be beneficial and I'm still motivated... but I know that will lag... so I guess here's to praying that these changes becomes habits and the habits influence who I am and eventually I become less lazy, and with all this new spare time I gain more skills and knowledge and awareness, and eventually the very core of who I am changes and that change has me looking more like Christ. I know... that's not going to happen overnight but if there is anything I've learned lately (over the past 5+ years) it is that people can change and that we all have potential for growth.

That's all, five months left in 2017 and I just want to use them well! <3 p="">

First concrete changes: I want to start building things and creating things rather than always being the consumer. From bookshelves and clothing to social media content I want to strive to create as much as I'm consuming. I want to put more effort into cooking and learning how to cook. I want to continue exercising, creating concrete goals, and maintaining my post-vacation, post-hiking fitness level. I want to keep my space clean, organized and comfortable. I want to not shy away from hard work or opportunities to learn a new skill. This ladder shelf was my first achievement and I can't wait to spend more time in the garage!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2016 Year in Review

2016 contained two very different chapters of life for me.

The first chapter contained many contradictions. Close knit community together with loneliness. Beautiful nature juxtaposed with longing. Confidence undermined by comparison and insecurity.

I'm still baffled by the experience I had in Uganda, the freedom and spontaneity of the entire experience. The dancing and the drinking tea in the dark were hi-lights of that chapter. Maybe one day I'll figure out what I really learned from the whole experience- for now I simply know that it was as good and beautiful as it was a time of longing for something more.

Chapter two brought me out of island time and into a fresh community but it also brought so many beautiful moments with old friends. It brought a job I really enjoy, a touch of stability, and longer term plan than I have ever had. It also brought many reminders of the brokenness of our society along with moments of hopelessness.

This year feels harder to sum up into words than 2014 or 2015 were. There are things I'm still working through, things I might never figure out that cropped up this year. Things that made me really happy to start a new year.

So here's to 2017 and the moments this year will contain.
Here's to running a 1/2 marathon.
Picking up my Bible a little bit more.
Building a table?
Climbing some mountains.
And not shying away from commitment.

"When you can invest yourself deeply and unremittingly in the life that surrounds you instead of declaring yourself out of the game... that's a good, rich place." -Shauna Niequist

"In the darkness I'll dance, in the shadows I'll sing. The joy of the Lord is my strength." -RC

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Solid Build

I spent last Friday evening at home watching Bridget Jones's Diary and drinking wine.

And I didn't feel sad. At all. I felt content, maybe even happy.

But I also want to connect with people. I don't want to spend every Friday night home alone watching movies. I want to make plans. I want to talk. I want to learn more about people. I long for those college nights when we cracked a bottle of wine and talked and it didn't matter how late we stayed up or how much we drank because we all lived in the same house or at least in walking distance of each other's homes.

Just like our cars and appliances and houses our lives aren't aren't really built to last. They're built for changes and transitions and transience, but they aren't built for the future, they're built for the present. At least that's the way mine is built.

I am 100% about living in the present. Up till now I've spent very little time planning for the future and if I have planned it's never been for more than a year ahead. I plan for the winter in the fall. I plan for the summer in the spring.

And I love living my life this way but I'm starting to realize that some of the people I admire the most don't live this way. They have retirement savings plans. They've bought houses. They've invested in communities...

In my current job many of my coworkers expect that I want to be teacher and work in a school for the rest of my life. They assume that being a library aide is a well thought-out career move. It isn't. But it is quite empowering to have people assume that you know what you want to do with your life.

I have more contact with people who have built their lives around one place and group of people through this job than I have ever had before. My co-workers aren't all looking for the next best opportunity. It's inspiring.

We'll see just how inspiring it is in about nine months.


p.s. The school year is over in nine months... I'm not pregnant.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Taking Stock [September 2016]

Making: plans for a trip to Canada in November... maybe my first vacay since high school that isn't simply transition time masquerading as vacation
Cooking: ramen + bean soup... a classic combo by Faja.
Drinking: caramel popcorn tea (surprisingly delicious!)
Reading: Ender's Game
Wanting: a glimpse into this time next year
Looking: T-Swift's instagram
Playing: Rummikub 
Deciding: what colour to paint my room
Wishing: I knew how to be a better friend
Enjoying: Sounds Good Podcast
Waiting: to feel more settled
Liking: hanging out with hs friends
Wondering: how I've already lost sight of the goals I made less than two months ago.
Loving: being in a supportive community
Pondering: how I can be more creative
Considering: enrolling in Spanish classes
Buying: work clothes
Watching: new episode of New Girl in 48 hours!
Hoping: that my current job will shed some light on what I should pursue in the future
Marvelling: at Cambodian acrobats
Cringing: ... wrecking a car...
Needing: a new active hobby
Questioning: myself
Smelling: a Christmas candle
Wearing: comfy leggings
Following: Jedidiah Jenkins (nothing new... but his writing is still amazing)
Noticing: how more life experience makes people more interesting and wise (I know, duh)
Knowing: this is where I'm supposed to be
Thinking: about the pursuit of happiness and natural talent, and the need for an understanding of both
Admiring: the kindness and generosity of people close to me
Sorting: through my closet
Getting: over certain fears
Bookmarking: outfit ideas
Coveting: squads
Disliking: scheduled life
Opening: an epic package from RachDH
Giggling: about the contents of the package
Feeling: sore
Snacking: waffle cones without ice cream
Helping: myself to some cheese
Hearing: ... nothing, the brick wall outside my window blocks noise incredibly well :/

Friday, August 26, 2016

Composing a Lifestyle

Coffee dates with friends.
Side hugs with almost strangers.
Warm beer in hotel rooms.
Skype dates with lovelies in four time zones.
Job offers that change all your plans.

Four states but only one province.
New obsessions [thrifting].
Food as art.
Late night video chats in the closet.
Patterned clothing moving to the back.

Allowing delusion.
Already searching for flights.
Language learning fears. Need to be faced.
Living in the present.

10 different beds.
Airport people watching.
Connection through technology.
New ideas, changing perceptions.

Being home is beautiful, testing, and honestly, sometimes lackluster but I wanted to put into words just a bit of what this first month (and a bit) back in North America has been for me.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Taking Stock

Making : new friends… sometimes it’s lonely living on an island with only 7 other people but sometimes somebody new shows up out of the blue and next thing you know you’re sorting beans together
Cooking : jackfruit pulled pork sandwiches. note: no pork was involved in the creation of this sandwich
Drinking : vanilla tea. shout out to Rach for making a solid decision on our last shopping trip
Reading: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
Wanting: a couple consecutive days w/o any bug bites
Looking: super pale, as per usual
Playing: Brandi Carlile
Deciding: where to live in 1.5 months
Wishing: my family and friends could all experience the beauty if this island in person
Enjoying: muzungu watching (because we finally have a steady stream of visitors!)
Waiting: for the weather to improve
Liking: running and swimming and being able to be relatively active
Wondering: what the future holds
Loving: seeing photos of my nephew
Pondering: how to find meaning in life
Considering: how sad it will be to leave Uganda again
Buying: a chitenge quilt
Watching: the lake start to sparkle as the sun goes down

Hoping: that some goodbyes aren’t forever
Marveling: at how incredibly green the trees are right now (you know, the type of green that just makes your heart happy)
Cringing: every time I look at a calendar
Needing: another project to work on
Questioning: what my next step should be
Smelling: beans and green peppers cooking on the siguri (charcoal stove)
Wearing: an incredibly frumpy outfit
Noticing: the bird that just flew inside
Knowing: it’s all gonna work out somehow
Thinking: that this list is really long
Admiring: how incredibly fast my co-workers can chop onions
Sorting: through my thoughts
Getting: pumped to have visitors come this weekend!
Bookmarking: the blog I found this list on (
Coveting: the talent of people who can travel here and look put together simultaneously
Disliking: papaya that is overripe
Opening: a word doc… time to revamp that resume
Giggling: about the obnoxiously loud Ibis on our roof
Feeling: fully hydrated
Snacking: on my last couple chocolate chips (yep two bags have lasted five months #success)
Helping: make food for the 45+ guests who are here right now
Hearing: BIRDS. I think I’ve mentioned birds a few too many times but Bunyonyi doesn’t mean place of the little birds for no reason!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

10 Things I’ve Learned (and Relearned) Through Four Months in Uganda

I'm over halfway through my time here. When I realized that I got scared... so I wrote this post to make sure that I've actually learned something. 

1. I’ve learned more about being present and communicating with people from a different culture. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s really hard and sometimes you just have to sit there and laugh even though you have not idea what people are talking about... In the words of Mindy Kaling, “I sat at the table listening and smiling and saying nothing, like an upbeat foreign exchange student who spoke very little English.” You just have to show up.

Sometimes when you try to go for a walk here people accompany you... 
these dudes were super excited. Don't worry, they weren't excited 
because I was there, they were excited because there was a football game.
2. PSsssshhh is the best sound to use to scare the birds away from the sugar bowl. I learned this before learning that keeping the birds out of the sugar is hopeless.

3. I’ve learned to appreciate the little things. Pancakes. Bug nets. Bird songs. Avocados. Unlimited guavas. JBiebs playing in the market.Tea time twice a day every day.

4. I’ve learned to rely a little less on affirmation from other people. I have only one person here who is truly my peer in all senses of the word and it isn’t her role to affirm me… that doesn’t mean I have to walk around in a cloud of self-doubt.

5. I’ve learned that there’s freedom in working solo. Sometimes you want to have a manager who is around, but sometimes it is super nice to work solo because it means the dock can be your office, or the restaurant, or that random bench that has a super good view of the sunset. Even the dreariest work is beautiful when you’re sitting outside soaking up the sun (while wearing sunscreen, of course).

6. Be like that beetle next to your desk that has been trying to turn over for three hours and don’t give up. Or be the person who helps the beetle turn over because it really needs a hand. (The real lesson: beetle analogies/puns might make people stop reading.)

7. I’ve learned how to make a mean curry… no recipe needed, just give me spices, veggies, a pot, and a single burner. I can even make it by candlelight if you’d like.

Peeling potatoes in the dark. #safetyfirst 
8. I’ve learned how to paddle a canoe in a relatively straight line. This might actually be the most useful skill I’ve learned here. I feel like now I can really be a Canadian. I mean, what kind of Canadian can’t paddle a canoe in a straight line?

9. I’ve learned that I’m not as independent as I thought I was and it’s okay. It’s okay to appreciate phone calls with your parents and Facebook messages from friends. It’s okay to accept that you need to be a part of a community, even if that community is halfway across the world and not right where you are.

10. I’ve learned more about development in the past four months than I ever could in a semester of Uni. To be specific:
  •  Having limited funds is quite frustrating and a part of almost all development endeavors.
  • People are human everywhere.
  • People treat the poor with more respect here, but just like North America, they aren’t going to, necessarily sacrifice everything for community development.
  • NGOs naturally rise and decline.
  • That trend where the entire goal of an NGO is to leave the community is good… but it does have it’s faults.
  • Partnership is good. (too obvious?)
  • Be careful before arbitrarily making tourism a huge part of an economy because tourists are unpredictable and tourism rides heavily on politics… also unpredictable.
  • Just because somebody else is doing it better doesn’t mean you should stop or give up…. Follow their lead and keep going.
  • Aid workers are strongly opinionated and tend to think what they’re doing is the best… this is simply an attitude that keeps them doing what they’re doing because uncertainty freezes people and that might be even less helpful than being convinced you’re right.
  • Don’t worry too much about other people’s opinions of your work/NGO/local organization because their opinions really don’t matter.
  • Just because a community doesn’t seem poor doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement… communities at home need development too.
  • Our plumbing, electricity, homes, roads, schools, churches- are the framework for our lives- improve those because they’re a lot easier to fix than the deeper issues… when these things improve the other, more complicated issues can then be dealt with.
  • Money matters, learn how an economy works and you’ll have a strong foundation to build upon.
  • Change comes from within but outside support is pretty great too.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Things I Love

Hiking and writing.

Hiking. Because when I’m on top of a mountain nothing else matters. The wind whistles through my hair and even if I’m all alone I’m in a place where it’s okay to be alone. There aren’t supposed to be other people on top of mountains. The tops of mountains are the places where not even the sturdiest of trees can survive. It's okay to be lonely up there and it's okay to not be perfect. It’s okay that I’m not who I wanted to be by now because I’m not even supposed to be there at all. There is nothing dignified about coughing your lungs up because you desperately need oxygen or sweating through your shirt. Some people say they like the climbing. I only go through that agony because I know that mountaintop high is coming. I know that there is something special in being someplace you’ve put effort into being. Maybe that is what I’m supposed to be learning from the rest of my life too. The friends you fight for are the ones you love the most. The job that requires the most effort is the most satisfying. Struggles make you stronger. Only when I’m hiking does the struggle lead so quickly to the satisfaction.

Writing. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because it’s the only thing I know how to do when my world, the whole world, is falling apart around me. (It’s what I know how to do when I spend my day at a preschool filled with kids who could definitely use a few more vitamins, when I witness fatal car accidents, when I’ve said goodbye for the last time to somebody I love, when I’m not going back, when I realize that global warming is literally killing people, that famine is no joke, that I am selfish and think the world revolves around me). I know how to sit down, open my laptop and let out a stream of consciousness. Sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it doesn’t but I know that in those moments of struggle, just as in moments of joy, my hands will make the thoughts flitting about into something concrete, something that can be sorted through and organized. Writing is the only way I know how to meet myself. When I’m writing I can begin to figure out who I am. I can see the common threads running throughout my thoughts. I can admit what is wrong. I can force myself to see what’s right. I can admit that the world is broken but I can also see where God is working.

I love hiking and I love writing because they make me love the world. They make me love the struggles, the successes, the failures, the belly laughs, the tears, the job applications, the job rejections, the daydreams. They make me love the mess of tangled chords that make up my life. Sometimes that mess is pretty damn hard to love so I think I just might keep on hiking and I just might keep on writing.

I wanted to post these photos but I didn't know where... so here's a little glimpse of the last mountain I climbed.
That in the background is Mt.Sabinyo, it took us 9 hours but we climbed all three peaks.

We didn't get many pics because of the rain but trust me, it was even more epic than this photo makes it look.

Does it look like I'm standing on the edge of a cliff? That's because I am. We spent about three hours climbing almost vertical ladders in the rain. It was terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

Johnson is in the DRC, I'm in Uganda and Rachel is in Rwanda. Not often a hike takes you to a country you've never visited before.

Within 30 minutes of finishing we had declared that we wanted to do it all over again. What a beaut of a place.