another look at the deep end

It took me three weeks to publish yesterday's post.

The lesson I thought I had learned on that last day of class evolved into something so different in the days and weeks that followed.

The idea of turning 40 this year has got me on this mission not unlike many of my friends to define and deepen the meaning of my choices, career, etc.  Taking that big plunge into the deep end of the pool that night seemed like a super-awesome metaphor for just doing it, trying new things, chasing crazy dreams, run fearlessly.  And maybe it still is and will be soon.  But I realize that, for me, for this slice of my life, the jump is about something less fantastic and less postable and has much less fanfare tied to it.

It's about admitting that I have been running on fumes for months.
It's about letting go of and delaying some commitments.
It's about nurturing a beautiful marriage that boasts a long tenure but is still so much a delicate, work-in-progress.
It's about pausing during sporadic, desperate prayers for my children and listening for how God wants me to be His answer.

And all this because it was time to get still, bringing leaning on God back to the top of my priority list instead of assigning the concept a hashtag, time for entering into hard, necessary conversations, making difficult decisions and understanding the truth of my past and current choices.

I stopped my Lenten fast two weeks ago.  What worked beautifully in the last two years was not this time.  With the season starting much earlier that usual, in the middle of a challenging job transition, my expectations were unrealistic and my motives were facing the wrong direction. (Since when do I post recipes?!)  It was doomed from the start.  And even the plan to stop had poor motives...I'll break it with a home-baked loaf of bread that I saw on Pinterest.

Come on.  Seriously.  I've never even baked bread before.  What was I thinking?

Sure enough, God called me on it.  I walked into church that Sunday, discovered it was Communion week, and was quickly corrected.  This was the bread He wanted me to have, and This - He - was enough.

I eventually did bake a few loaves of bread, by the way.

I eventually did bake a few loaves of bread, by the way.

I'm still walking through a valley and I don't really have anything poetic to round that off. The last two weeks have been more intentional and rich and rough and still a bit exhausting, all at the same time.  And maybe this is perfect timing. In absence of the unrealistic meal-planning, the five books I was reading at once (not kidding), unreasonable expectations of myself and the ones I love, and pursuit of my own glory over God's, I am assuming a more proper, humbler posture towards the amazingness that this coming week commemorates.

finishing well

I just finished my last day of work, after just over six years of service.  It is the longest tenure I have held in my choppy, colourful career.  

I start a new job today.  It is the first time I will be working at a job whose function and industry I was very intentional about pursuing.  Well hey now, there's my word for the year! Hurrah!  I am so excited.

But in these last two weeks, I did whatever I could to end this chapter well.

Transition to equip and empower - In the world of accruals, reconciliations, pivot tables and cross-continental Dropbox folders, everything can be learned from numerous resources. I decided to direct my training towards less tangible skills like how to manage the requests of fast-talking executives, the whys behind the how-tos, and the value of demanding excellence from yourself in every task. These were lessons taught to me by integrity-driven supervisors and peers over the years that needed to be paid forward.

Clean up - Purge physical and soft files that only I understand and will just confuse everyone. There will always be scrambling after one leaves.  Less painful for all when you delete the first four iterations of Schedule A from 2011.  With all humility, too, I did not shred the unfinished past project that would clearly be misaligned with the reliability I wanted to be known for, because I'll be honest, I thought about it.  The file folder remains in my cabinet, and I shared it with my successor. Oh Brene, it was tough but I was brave and did it anyway! Hashtag vulnerabilityisagoodthing

Get personal - I wrote personal thank you cards to each fellow employee.  Our workforce has been reduced to skeletal numbers so the task wasn't monumental.  But, I couldn't afford to underestimate this opportunity to give love (because in the music industry so many haven't been afforded the chance to leave on their own terms) by waiting until the second-last day and resort to a standard template because things got too busy in the end.  I wrote them on the day after I handed in my notice.  I wrote my all-staff farewell email the following day, which included illustrated instructions on the Excel formula I most frequently get asked about, maybe more for my own amusement, actually.

Leave a legacy of excellence, service, and care - I didn't want anyone to feel abandoned in my departure. There was no allowance for I'm-already-gone ball-dropping.  I sped up processes so they could be tied up by my last day, and asked other departments about current needs and going-forward concerns.  This stretched me beyond my wits, I confess, especially when the conditions I assumed would be ideal were far from it. At least three people told me to loosen my grip on what needs to get done, one of whom was Ben, who, with the kids, got the nightly aftermath of this tiring endeavour.  It made me think about Tsh Oxenreider's confession of her time writing about her simple life actually being a slice of short-term chaos.  I am ripping a band-aid off, I think, with this purposeful and temporary pain.  In the end, I had to surrender some of my goals, but while I now feel that they won't melt away if they have to learn some things without me, it was a matter of putting my money where my mouth is when I say I want others to feel loved by tying whatever loose ends I can for/with them.

So here I am, wide-eyed well before my new morning alarm, with a blank 100-page coil notebook downstairs in the foyer, eagerly awaiting the writing of a new story.  And the peaceful readiness I feel right now is a happy byproduct of a crazy but thoughtful two weeks of intentional transition.

Let's do this.

 

scared skinnies 101

I started swimming lessons last week.

If you're thinking it's a because-I'm-turning-forty thing, you are absolutely right.  I want to acquire the skill and eventually use it for exercise.  Plus I'm hoping to teach the kids after, since our previous attempts at lessons didn't pan out.

Forever and always...I'm always here.

Forever and always...I'm always here.

Lesson No. 1 - It's not easy to find the right bathing suit.  It's winter so you are confined to a single rack of mish-mashed variety in the sporting good stores.  Anywhere else is for beach-frolicking.  Uh, no thanks.  Finding a one-piece suit that doesn't hike up beyond my pelvis, provides adequate support for things that need support and doesn't cost a hundred bucks isn't easy.  I tried on over a dozen suits to no avail.  Then I finally found a Sears-branded (I'm too told to care about brands - just hold it all together, please) suit in candy apple red.  Basic, functional, cute.  And makes me look like I wish I was on Baywatch.  Oops.  Oh well.

Lesson No. 2 - The first class was great.  We started with blowing bubbles in the water.  I'm not kidding.  But hey, small victories create momentum, right?  We graduated to front and back starfishes and ended off the session with attempting to glide with kicking, which I guess is floating.  In true over-thinking form, I was convinced that I mastered the mechanics, yet when I opened my eyes under the water, I was barely moving forward.  I asked my "you could be my son" instructor to watch me try again and tell me what I was doing wrong.  In the kindest tone, he said it all.  Relax.  Story of my life, kid.  Wouldn't you know it, letting my knees bend got me moving.

Lesson No. 3 - Deciding to do new things requires you to...do new things.  We started learning the front crawl last night.  I came home exhausted.  The moving of the legs and the arms and the breathing was almost too much.  And I had a flutterboard.  But this is the necessary pain of starting something new, right?  It's unfamiliar and difficult, but just requires repetition - practice - and then your body stops working against you and goes with the flow.  Reminds me of when I was doing the write31days challenge (note to self: start writing again).

I suspect my next lesson will be about faith.  We are heading to the deep end next week.

the word for 2016

On my first morning back to work after Christmas, the freezing rain pecked at my face as I walked through crunchy new snow, reminding me every quarter-second that the dream of the unseasonably balmy weather going right into spring has died.

everyone else was smart enough to sleep in.

everyone else was smart enough to sleep in.

 

 

 

 

 

Only five days ago, on Christmas Eve, I was out for a run/jog, perhaps more of a jolly skip because its impossibility.  I had to stop along the way to take this:

minimum four swing requirement - check!

minimum four swing requirement - check!

Another awesome jungle gym has been added to our neighbourhood.  Even I am biting down hard in excitement to try the mini rock climbing contraption.

I can't, though, because there is a wire fence still surrounding it all.  Something about it is not quite ready.  I'm sure all the kids living in the homes along its perimeter are keeping a close daily watch on that fence, waiting for it to disappear and the fun to begin.

I thought about that fence that morning, wondering how this whole scene represents my life. But the fence isn't wire. It's taller and impenetrable, maybe made of brick. I can't see through to the playground.  But it's there.  I just need to get past the fence.

I can't believe we are at the end of 2015 already. The year really flew by and I am thankful for the whole thing. I read a lot of books, ran a lot, like I aimed to

update on 2015 goals...

update on 2015 goals...

 

There were things, though, dreams, I was so excited about in the early months that wilted away because of my self-doubt and fear. I gave up because I couldn't imagine the likelihood of awesomeness on the other side of the fence.

I assigned Community as my word for 2016 several months ago, without too much woo-woo Holy Spirit consultation. But then a couple of weeks ago, in the same style that Open came to me for this year, He spoke to my heart with Pursue.

Okay, then.

The coming year may get a little crazy, I suspect. I have a dog now, for goodness' sake, anything goes.  Maybe it's because I'm turning 40 or maybe it's because I'm fed up with chickening out.  But in 2016 I will trust God's promises more wholly and discover and enjoy the awesomeness on the other side of that fence.

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Phils 4:19-20)