Tuesday, May 26, 2009

counting down..

I am counting down…some have been counting down since we began the social work program two years ago. Others began counting down this year. I have held off, until now. This whole crazy time of theories and research and clients and service has whirled into this point of ending, of launching, of flying.

I am 17 days from graduation.
1 more grief support group
1 more big and dreadful research paper
1 lovely bite sized self-care paper
4 classes
3 more internship days
It’s all winding and whirling down…

As I always do with endings, I start thinking about them in step with beginnings. For better or worse, the second something begins, my mind fast-forwards to the inevitable ending. In some scenarios this may be considered healthy, while it others this may just be cynical. Anyhow, I can’t help it. I have been thinking about this ending for two years, anticipating graduation and walking away with an MSW, with a whole world of social work at my feet. And I still look to that world as it waits just a couple weeks out, but I hold hints of sadness at what I am leaving behind; the community, the breadth of knowledge all around me, and the support of professors and supervisors encouraging me, the whole womb of safety that is school. In all my transitional times of coming and going, of hellos and goodbyes, I find myself more and more aware of the simultaneous feeling of both joy and sorrow. I’ve come to acknowledge that there will always be both. There will always be something to rejoice and squeal for in excitement and always something to grieve and weep over, always life and always death. This is what makes life interesting and worth living.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Oh heavenly day...

I’m thinking about Malawi today as I so often do…one of my interns in Malawi had the lyrics “oh heavenly day” written as her status on facebook. This is my favorite song in the whole entire world. I feel like I say that about a lot of songs I love but it really is my favorite. If I had to listen to one song on repeat forever into eternity, it would be ‘heavenly day’. After I commented that ‘heavenly day’ is indeed the best.song.ever. She wrote back and reminded me that I would play it over and over in our kitchen in Chiwengo Village.

As I read those words, I was instantly taken back to that village, our little house, and our littler kitchen with the sun streaming through and Patty Griffin’s words echoing through our walls.

Tomorrow may rain with sorrow
Here's a little time we can borrow
Forget all our troubles in these moments so few
Oh we can right now the only thing that all that we really have to do
Is have ourselves a heavenly day…

Oh all the troubles gone away
Oh for awhile anyway
Heavenly day…

On any given afternoon, there would be several of us in the kitchen singing, dancing and preparing a dinner for ourselves and one of several short-term teams visiting Chiwengo. It was so familiar to be chopping, frying, stirring etc. in the kitchen and for several kids to come and visit with us in the kitchen or help us prepare or just make silly faces from outside the window. Or to hear kids in the next room playing cards, yelling Bodza (aka liar—a little take off of the game BS) or to see kids outside making tiny campfires for cooking over.
It’s those little moments that I miss. They are just little snapshots that make up an average day; they are so minute and so fleeting. Yet when you are so far from them, and take a moment to hold them up to the light, you can see the beauty of each piece.
And in doing so, my heart just aches for those little moments.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

26, I've decided you're going to be awesome.

I love birthdays. I don’t so much like being the center of attention, like during the singing, gah, the singing. A whole song’s worth of people singing and staring at you-awkward. But I do love the day. I always try and see as many of my favorite people as possible. When I worked at Richmond Beach Coffee Co. I always wanted to work on my birthday. People thought that was crazy, wouldn’t you want a day off?? Not so much. I loved all the people that came it and it just wouldn’t feel right to celebrate without them. They were that much a part of my day and life. Plus, when you work with your best friends, when a birthday comes around they can plan ridiculous stuff. Like when little old Ruth brought me the sweetest card. Richard brought flowers from his neighbor’s garden, haha. Kevin brought a cake at 6am. Ron brought balloons that sing opera…I know right?! Crazy inventions these days. I love getting to see the people who make up my world, a great way to end a year and start another. Birthdays remind me of how faithful God is and how he’s brought me through various trials and chapters of life and I can be thankful for the incredible people He’s placed in my life.

I had such a wonderful birthday filled with both family and friends-new and old. The sun was shining gloriously. I took my little Korean cousin out for coffee and toast at Blackbird Bakery, no better way to start a morning on Bainbridge Island. I went to Safeco with seven of my closest friends. I watched the Ms beat the Red Sox, yeah! We ate ice-cream on the Seattle Waterfront. I was serenaded by my Dragonfly Coffee House girls at 6:50am. I was reunited with old friends at UPC. I was honored to speak at the 7 o’clock service about my time in Malawi and since then and I didn’t even faint. It was a perfect day and I was surrounded by people I love, and you can’t ask for a better birthday present than that. They refresh me.

So hello 26. I’ve decided you’re going to be awesome. I had my doubts. I have always thought less of even numbered years. Call it a weird quirk, but I just don’t seem to be a fan of even years, 20? Meh. 22? So much change. 24? Well, that one wasn’t so bad. I just always feel better about odd numbered years. I envision them to be more adventurous, more edgy. I realize I am sounding like a complete goober right now, so I will move on…So even with initial dislike of 26 for it’s even numbered-ness, I feel good about turning 26 and I’ve decided it’s going to be amazing. I mean, I’m graduating, graduating. With my Masters in Social Work, whaaaaat? I will officially enter the world of professionals who have important letters following their names, MSW here I come. This will be one of the first things I do as 26 year-old-receive my long awaited degree-pretty freakin’ awesome.

I’m ready to say goodbye to 25, which was a rich year in both joy and heartache. It added a few more aches in my joints, a few more laugh lines, and hopefully all my experiences will distill into precious wisdom in the coming years. It was a good year, but challenging in so many ways and I am overjoyed to pack this year up and tuck it away. I’m ready for a new year with new pages to be written and cheesy pictures to be taken and a road to be travelled. I like where I’m at. I love Portland. I love all the people I’ve met in Portland and though I couldn’t tell you what life will look like in a month, I could tell you that with nothing less than absolute hope and expectation that I’m rolling on to something good.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lost in translation

My family from Korea is visiting Seattle this month and I am so thrilled to have them here, but also bummed that I am a three hour drive from them and am still in school, thus limiting my time with them to a couple extended weekends.

My Grandma, my Aunt and my cousin are so much fun and the good times roll especially since we can’t communicate through our words. It’s been a long time since I have experienced this extreme language barrier. In my trips to Malawi, language was hardly a barrier as English was one of the national languages and we were encouraged to speak in English to help the kids practice their language.

To communicate with my Korean family, we are both stretched. Communication comes in the form of wildly exaggerated movements and actions that looks similar to championship charades combined with even more laughter and head nodding, even if you have no idea what is going on. It is pretty hilarious. Even if we can’t have deep and meaty conversations which I so love, we can be in each other’s presence and bond over our many failed communication attempts and hilarity. My Grandma will talk to me in Korean just as if I speak Korean too, and for a few minutes. I have no idea what she is telling me, but I will talk to her in English for a couple minutes, too. If only my mom were there to translate the completely unrelated conversation we are having with each other.

I’m remembering my communications classes from UW and how 80% of communication is nonverbal. It’s amazing how much we can communicate purely through facial expressions and actions. I communicate through laughter and big grins. My cousin communicates through crayon colored picture gifts and enthusiasm. My Grandma communicates through back slaps, dancing and deep belly laughter. My Aunt communicates through charades and gentle laughter. It may not be the most effective communication style, but it brings us closer, which is all I can ask for.

Friday, May 8, 2009

my, my, my, it's a beautiful world.

Today has been a good day, a good sunshiney day ;)
I love days like this.
When I can go for a run, and keep running past the point where I usually turn around.
When I feel refreshed and energized instead of sleepy after waking up earlier than all normal people.
When I meet a kindred spirit.
When upbeat tunes give me what I need to finally put away all my laundry and clean my apartment.
When I can wear a dress without hauling around a sweater, just in case…

When I can walk through my neighborhood with a big ole grin, and watch it spread to others.

When I can look up through the trees and see the sunshine cascading through.

When I can drink my iced americano and read through a chewy book about the soul and the human spirit.

When I can watch the little leaves fall from trees like flower petals, but with a special helicopter-like twist.

When I read the exclamation of love etched in the sidewalk “love is us” or walk by the blue Jetta with a rose and a card under the windshield wipers.

When the old man playing the accordion in Jamison Park changes his melody to a happier one as I walk by.

When I read lines like, “I may not have the skills of a world-class musician, but I have the soul of one.”
When I realize that everything beautiful in creation was made from love and for love.
When I can hear the kids splashing in the fountain as they live their adventurous make believe worlds of play.

When a little baby, learning to walk, stops for a second and smiles at me, as he can hardly believe he is the mover of his own body.

When the playlist on my ipod seems to play just the perfect soundtrack for my afternoon stroll.

When I pass customers of the dragonfly waving hello on my walk home.

When I come home to a warm apartment filled with the setting sun.

When there is no doubt in my mind that we are so fully LOVED.

I’m grateful for days like this.

My, my, my, it’s a beautiful world.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

storms don't last forever

I experienced the worst drive from Seattle to Portland to date, yesterday. It was miserable. I knew I should have left earlier in the day, but my time is always so rushed when I visit the island that visiting friends in Seattle is a must, especially when they are long overdue… I was so thrilled to have lunch with Cameron and coffee with Angie. It made my week to BE with them. Telephone calls and quick facebook messages just don’t cut it with some friends and nothing replaces face time, nothing.

I moved along my afternoon happily and with a hearty grin on my face and the feeling of renewal in being with good friends. My grin flattened a bit when I missed the freeway on-ramp and then flattened some more when I ended up driving around downtown for another twenty minutes in rush hour trying to get to another on-ramp. Eesh…Finally, I made it to I-5, only to inch along around five mph and at most twenty second stretches of 30mph, but those were short-lived…TWO HOURS of inching along, that wore on my spirits. And I was delighted to finally get to Olympia, get out of the car, stretch and buy some chocolate-to lift my spirits, of course ;)

Once I got back on the road, the rains decided to POUR. Ugh. And for the next one and a half hours, I clenched my steering wheel for dear life because I could hardly see the car ahead of me in the downpour and hydroplaned every thirty seconds. It was awful. Every time my wheels slipped, by heart jumped. I was stressed out and just dying to be home.

I came around the bend toward Vancouver and was so delighted to be close to home, and what had been a dark and stormy drive gave way to huge bright sunshine. Oh hello sunshine, where have you been all my life? That’s what I was thinking, and I just felt my tensed muscles loosen in the slightest. And the most gigantic and ridiculously awesome rainbow was suddenly painted across the sky as I drove into Portland. I was so thankful for that moment and the reminder that storms don’t last forever. Thank God storms don’t last forever.

Friday, May 1, 2009

no words of my own today

I've been drawing and baking and talking and eating and running all day and at this point I have no words of my own to share so i will leave you with a couple photos...