Tuesday, March 31, 2009

no more excess baggage

I’m working on simplifying…simplifying lots of things. I am starting with just that, things. I have so many things. I am a definite packrat. I keep everything; old birthday cards, ticket stubs, handouts from classes I’ve taken, sentimental t-shirts, love notes, you name it. They are in boxes under my bed, in boxes at my parent’s house, on my coffee table, in my drawers…anywhere one could keep things, I have stowed things. These keepsakes have brought me joy or comfort in the past and that is why I have kept them, but do they continue to bring me joy and comfort, daily? No…Hmm…

In our bereavement dept meeting time, we talked about some client houses we have been to for home visits and how they have the tendency toward messiness or clutter. At the far end of the cleanliness spectrum, there are “path houses” with so much clutter piled up that there is literally just a small path in which one can navigate through the house. It’s a horribly claustrophobic place to find oneself. In my head, the idea crossed my mind that I could end up one day with a “path house” and I was immediately horrified, and I made a face to show it. I don’t want to be “path house lady” which is undoubtedly up there with “crazy cat lady” which means I definitely need to get my act together.

I’ve already started sifting through things to get rid of. I’m freeing up space. Not space to fill with more things, but space for breathing and living. The little bit I have done already feels nice. Though not outwardly noticeable, I have recycled many old school papers and unnecessary lecture notes and other random things from under my bed. Just knowing these things are no longer taking up space makes me feel lighter. I don’t want to be burdened by things I keep and I don’t want to put so much worth in them either; after all, they are just things and I can’t take any of them with me when I leave this place. I welcome this feeling of lightness. No more carrying around excess baggage of the material or emotional variety (but that’s a whole other can of worms).

Monday, March 30, 2009

geography of redemption

I realize I posted less than five minutes ago, but this quote is just too good and is speaking to me on so many levels right now. I'm letting this one settle in the depths of me.

"There is a geography to redemption, a way in which the ideals of
grace and renewal make themselves real in this world. all of creation
is groaning for its redemption, and we join in that chorus. we are
surrounded on all sides by the forest of our failures, our dirty feet
fighting the thorny underbrush. or we wander the used-up cities of
cement dreams and strip-mall seductions. this is where we live. but to
us who are weary and broken, the god of redemption gives the plains,
and a view of the land we have yet to claim, yet to sow, yet to reap.
here there is space, and a chance, to make all things new...the land
of redemption, where signs of promise abound, where the reptiles
witness, where the rocks cry out, and where hope stretches as far as
the lazy eye can see. this is where we, with trembling hands, toil and
subdue. and where the rain of grace pounds the dirt until life breaks
through the mud and reaches for the sun..."-Caedmon's Call

Thinkin' bout the city

"I'm thinkin' bout the city, and how it's living proof people need to be together" -Ben Lee

I feel like I haven’t written anything in a while. My mind must have needed a break after the intense paper writing that signified the end of Winter quarter…New York was fabulous. I didn’t see big touristy sights such as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building or the Met, but I did experience the feel of the city. I’ve never been one for guidebooks or plans anyway; I’ve always been a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl, letting the day unfold naturally. I walked the streets of the upper West side, East side, the village, Times Square, Brooklyn, Central Park, Midtown, Harlem, and the Bronx. I saw the buildings, fashion and skin color change from neighborhood to neighborhood. The personality of each neighborhood differs from the one before. I enjoyed acquainting myself with these new places.

However, acquaintanceship is enough for me. I don’t have the intensity and endurance to live in a city like New York. Being the introvert that I am, the thousands of people everywhere I look or turn made me completely claustrophobic and longing for my quiet Portland neighborhood. I still can’t get over the sheer number of people that live in the city, the packed streets couldn’t contain the crowds and many walked in the street side by side with the cabs and tour buses. And still there were thousands and millions more inside the hundred floor buildings in their tiny apartments and office spaces. My mind could hardly fathom so many people in one place.

Though, I wish I could have taken Central Park with me. I loved walking through the park, all crisp and sunny-like, brimming with charm and culture. So many people moving: running, biking and roller-blading, couples hand-in-hand taking a Sunday stroll, tourists from all over with their wide angle zoom lenses snapping artsy shots, the jazz band playing in the street and the guy dancing in front them in roller-skates, the smell of cotton candy and sound of horse carriages. I loved it all.

Here are a few pictures I snapped along the way with my non artsy zoom lens camera, but alas, they will have to suffice.

Central Park transportation

Sara always falls asleep on the subway, haha!

Times Square

John Lennon Memorial

Vendors outside the Met

Upper West side

Shadow Trees

"Presented to the city of New York and its music lovers"

Riverside park

The Poet's Walk, Central Park

Frozen hot chocolate, Serendipity

Shadow walks
Under subway tracks

Riverside Park
The Met

Outside Sara's apt

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New York State of Mind...

hello from the other side of the country! I am having a blast already. There is so much culture in this city and I'm already in love. It's refreshing. This city has so much character and charm; it's swept me off my feet in less than 24 hours. I could people watch all day and just take in the sights, the smells, the sounds...the man roasting nuts on the sidewalk, the man speaking about the love of Jesus on the corner, the sidewalk vendors selling everything you can think of, a boutique plant shop next to an African American hair salon, the thousands of people on the sidewalks after work in Time Square. It captivates me. I feel like I'm in another country. 

I'm proud of my navigation skills. I owe most if not all of this to my friend Sara's directions, but even with directions, I tend to get lost...I think I get so interested and swept up in everything and everyone around me that I completely lose track of where I am. But I found my way, through the streets of Harlem, along the subway (going the right direction) and then through the Bronx to Sara's school where she teaches. I get to watch her teach and it's so awesome. She is so good at what she does. She has a way with these kids that is so special. She gets them. She gets them learning and motivated to learn. Not every kid; it seems in every class, there is at least one student that remains checked out despite attempts to engage them. She teaches 11th grade math and at the end of the last class, she had the entire class up out of their seats, singing  and even dancing to a song to remember the quadratic equation to the tune of a Macy Gray song. I must say it's stuck in my head now, too. Throughout the day, I've heard kids in the halls singing this song; I love that. I love that Sara teaches here. She is made for this work. To quote Frederick Buechner as I do all too often, "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep joy and the world's deep need meet." 

There is so much going on, I feel as though my Portland pace and way of life gets lost in the wind. I also feel like I stick out like a sore thumb, as I am the only one looking at everything, looking people in the eye, smiling, looking both ways when I cross the street, wearing "northwest" attire (i brought as many nice clothes as i could, but it's rainy today-and the northwest knows rainy attire). 

All in all, I'm having a ball. Tonight we're off for some New York City pizza and watching the Zags game! 

Sunday, March 15, 2009

choosing gratitude

My mind needs a break from the intellectual life. All I have been doing these past couple days is attempting to pull out pages and pages of concise yet eloquent words of research and policy surrounding issues in child welfare. I am not used to intense intellectual thought for hours and hours and no break. If you were to walk past me any of these last days at Sydney’s, my coffee shop of choice, you would see an intense stare into my laptop screen, complete with furrowed brow and feet tapping below to the soundtrack my dear Pandora unrolls for me as I type, type, type away…

I’ve been thinking about Malawi a lot lately. For whatever reason, it’s come up in conversation with strangers, with new friends, with family and with someone becoming very dear to me. After I’ve been talking about it, then it seems as though all things remind me of my time there. From a website featuring a picture of the darling girls I got close to, to the smell of a conditioner I started using in Malawi, these little reminders set my heart on my loves a world away. It’s hard to be a world away from the people and place you love so much. I’m tempted to become melancholy and bummed, but I’m choosing gratitude tonight. I’m grateful to sit and recall the laughter, the jokes, the culture and the beauty of the people.

I’m grateful to have a place that brings my heart so much joy and so many memories worth treasuring. Instead of feeling torn between the northwest and a home in Africa, instead of feeling torn between these two places, instead of reliving or fearing goodbyes, I’m choosing to be thankful for two homes. In whichever place I physically reside, my heart will always be present and alive in both. And whenever I leave one for the other, I know there is a welcoming home, always a hello, a refreshing arrival.

I know in my heart that someday I will again feel that freshness of arriving on African soil. Someday…

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

be here now

Sometimes you know you need to get away, and last week I really needed that breath of ocean air. To be away from the city, away from school, from work, away from my noisy neighbor…it was such a gift.

And to be with such good company made it that much better. The weekend was full of good conversation, good food, good music, hiking sand dunes, walking on beaches, playing with the cutest puppy, naps, mini-road trips and just all around goodness.

I feel I have a community growing in
Portland, and I don’t think I could have said that before last weekend. I mean, to an extent, yes I have community. Maybe now I am just ready to invest in a community here. I’m still torn about whether to set my heart on Seattle or Portland or another city in terms of where a job may open up, but I’ve decided to just “be here now” as Ray LaMontagne sings.

I can be present now, even when everything in me is just jumping towards thoughts of the future and worries etc.
Life is about the here and now, the not knowing.

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity."
-Gilda Radner

I’m okay with the not knowing and with the here and now. That's what it's all about anyway.

Especially when it looks like this…

I think I will forever and always live near the water. I need oceans, rivers, sounds, and lakes.
It will be like an investment in mental health.

Make It Up - Joe Purdy

one of my favorites to listen to on repeat by joe purdy.

though today, i can't stop listening to "he said she said" by joe purdy but I couldn't find a copy of it to share. so check it out on itunes! i'm a lyric girl...so here are the lyrics.

Where are you going my one true love?
you understand me like no one does
so who's gonna save me now?
yeah, who's gonna save me now?

He said...
Going away love can't you see
I can't take you
and you can't change me
so I'm going to save you now
yes, I'm going to save you now

She said...
Well I got bruises on my feet he says
and I got cuts on my hands
so who's gonna help me stand?
Yeah, who's gonna help me stand?

Well I got wounds that won't heal she says
just as deep and just as long
so I'm going to make you strong
yes, I'm going to make you strong

well I can't sleep at night he says
when those lights go out
well who's gonna show me how?
yeah, who's gonna hold me now?

I have dreams of you she said
I see you hiding your face
So I'm going to make you brave
Yes, I'm going to make you brave

I'm going to save you now
she says,
I'm going to save you now
Yes, I'm going to save you now
I'm going to save me now

Save me now

(note: i don't believe any person can "save" another, but other parts of the song resonate with me and the melody is just so soothing and pretty)

Monday, March 2, 2009

you're sooooo good looking!

If you want to make a person feel better after they sneeze, you shouldn't say 'God bless you.' You should say 'You're soooooo good looking!'
-Jerry Seinfeld

it's genius. i would love it if someone said this to me every time i sneeze. especially if you have allergies or an awful cold, and just feel gross and probably look gross, having someone say, "your soooo good looking
!" just might be the cure.