the great balancing act

Three months ago, I wrote a list of 30 things I want to do before I turn 30. I really like the list I came up with, and I was feeling very optimistic about my prospects of meeting these goals, but optimism alone isn’t enough to get me there. Item number one, ‘run a half marathon’, is imminent at this point; but it’s taken a LOT of work to get there. A lot of work, plus some organization, plus some accountability. It seems to me that if I’m to succeed at the rest of my list, I need to take some cues from how this whole running thing has worked for me.

It’s easy in this life to lose our balance somewhere between the day-to-day activities and what we really want to be doing. Saturday morning rolls around, and the laundry, errands, or leftover work squeak squeak their way toward the front of the line, and the practicing, working out, writing or calls to friends get put off again. I’ve been letting things slide for far too long and not regularly acting on any of the things I say are the priorities in my life. Laundry is definitely NOT a priority!

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m picking three items from my list. They will be different enough to keep the spice of life abundant, attainable enough to keep me from giving up, and interesting enough to not bore you to tears. Then, I’m going to give myself a specific deadline for each, and make a plan. Finally (this is where you come in) I will be writing about my progress, struggles and victories right here. Accountability is key! And what’s more public than my very own bloggy blog?

Here I go to choose 3 things from my list! Anyone have ideas? Expect my plan by Saturday! Oh, and on Sunday, I WILL check off the first item! Wooohoooo!!! Wish me luck!

Does anyone want to join me on my goal-getting challenge? Let’s do this!

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why I’ve been a bad blogger

Here I am again, and it’s already been over 2 weeks since my last post. Sorry people! Seems life here is busier than I ever imagined. It’s busy in a good way, though… not just working and studying hard (which we are!).

We started attending our new church at the beginning of October, and it’s going really well. Neither Nate or I have ever been to a church this small (3o people on a good day) and our paradigm of what “church” is supposed to be is shifting quite a bit. As the new worship pastor, Nate’s only the second staff member, and even the teaching pastor is only part time. The focus is so much on community, and not so much on program, which is truly refreshing. Already, I feel like we are getting to know the other members and they really want to know us. It feels so obvious (like every other aspect of this journey so far) that this is where we are supposed to be for this time of our lives. I expect to learn a lot from being a part of such a small community, and I anticipate that God will use this time to prepare us for whatever is to come after.

We’ve also been busy with visitors, which has been so much fun! It’s been all too easy to get settled into our routine and forget that we live in a vibrant, beautiful city with so many places to explore, so when people come, we have to show them around! We’ve been to Stanley Park and Lynn Canyon, Kitsilano and Main, downtown and even along the sky-to-sea highway to Squamish. It makes me feel a bit less isolated to know that good friends and family have a sense of our home and where we are. More visitors are always welcome!

And, I’ve been busy with new friends! I’m blessed to be getting to know some lovely ladies from all over the world whose husbands are also studying at Regent. My new friends from South Africa have helped me put this transition in perspective: we still have all our belongings, our car, and the same time zone and currency name that we had before. Vancouver isn’t so far away from home.

In fact, it is quickly becoming home.

nothing's better than a visit from your best friend!

October sunshine

the beautiful Howe Sound

the little monkey I watch 3 days a week

good friends at Prospect Point

 

september in a nutshell

I’ve been meaning to write all this time, I really have. But somewhere between diving headfirst into multiple jobs, figuring out a transit system, and finding soy ice cream that fits my standards it’s been hard to find the time to distill our experiences the past four weeks into a little bottle of blog.

So I’ll give you the run-down: Our neighborhood is adorable, and our little basement suite is so cozy that I hardly wanted to leave it our first week here. It’s a perfect little getaway from the chaos of a new city and it already feels like home.

My jobs are great: bosses who treat me with respect and care about my well-being, not to mention financial security and emotional health.

I finally have a phone, debit card, social insurance number, driver’s license and our health cards are on their way. Looking back, I really wish we had given ourselves about a week to get all those details taken care of; it made for a very stressful couple of weeks trying to get all that done before, after and during work and school. But I can really say, we’re about as Canadian as we’ll get in the eyes of the government!

We’ve begun to really explore Vancouver now. We finally made it to Stanley park last weekend, and in the rain no less, making for a truly Vancouverite trip. I’ve been taking runs all through our area and finding the parks and some really cute houses (I finally signed up for a half marathon, by the way– more to come!). We even found a corner with a checkerboard the size of our bedroom paved into the ground!

It’s been hard to feel alone, because we’ve made friends at Regent already. There are some really wonderful couples I’m excited to get to know more. So far, it seems like a phenomenal place with phenomenal people; some who are a lot like us, but many who are quite different. It’s refreshing to be surrounded by accents and worldviews that aren’t exactly like everyones’ that I’ve ever known.

It turns out when I take a month off from blogging, many things crop up which I will need to cover shortly, so look forward to:

the amazing multi-cultural maze of Vancouver mass transit

my first running injury… while training for my first 1/2 marathon

beautiful, beautiful Horseshoe Bay where I nanny

the adventure of living on a student budget in an expensive city

photos to come too! toodles!

we all live in a yellow Penske truck

Said truck is parked illegally in the fire lane next to our nearly-vacant apartment. Inside it: everything we own other than the odds and ends that are left for morning (you know: the jar of pens, cleaning supplies, printer and computer sitting on the floor waiting to be swept up with the rest). Tomorrow, we brave the open road and hope that the Canadian customs officials don’t find anything suspicious about us!

I’m so tired, but it’s starting to sink in that tonight is really our last night in Seattle. We can’t go long when our silverware and my espresso machine are lost in a pile of brown cardboard boxes, can we? Seriously, this is it. All our hoping, dreaming, and penny pinching comes down to a leap of faith that begins tomorrow. I’m clinging to this truth tonight:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13

We appreciate all the prayers and support more than you know! I’ll keep you posted, dear readers, as we get settled into our new city, country, and lives. Here we go…

marital musings

I found out last night that a woman I respect deeply is in the process of becoming divorced. This was hard to hear, especially from her; they’ve been married for many years, built a life together, had children, and from the outside, it’s looked like perfection. After hearing her tell me that it’s been far from perfect, though, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a marriage solid and what I can never take for granted. Just because right now I can’t envision that happening to us doesn’t mean we aren’t immune to the innumerable things that can tear a relationship apart. The statistics alone are enough to instill some healthy anxiety (is there such a thing?) in me, even while in newlywed blissful dreamland.

I told this friend last night that I feel so lucky to be married to someone who truly makes me want to be a better person. The way he does this most is by drawing me deeper into my relationship with God. I believe that keeping God at the center of our marriage will strengthen us for the difficult times (which I know will come), but the “how” of this is pretty complicated. We pray together sometimes and worship side by side frequently (when he’s not playing guitar up front). On so many levels, though, we experience God so differently that it’s hard to do together. I expect it to become more difficult still when he starts seminary in three weeks and is immersed in an intense, academic view of theology, scripture and deity.

This friend encouraged us to keep a date night tradition, and to take picnics, even especially when life gets busy and everything seems to be getting in the way. I think this is some of the best advice out there, but so hard to implement on a regular basis.

You married folk: how do you do it? What have you done tangibly to strengthen your marriage and put your spouse first? Or if you’re single, what have you seen in marriages you admire?

30 things

I’ve been inspired lately by a few other bloggers’ lists. They have taken different forms and sizes, but all have something in common: goals and dreams. Since I’ve been thinking so much about goals lately, and having decent success with one in particular, I decided to take on this task. So, here we go:

30 things I want to do before I turn 30

1. finish a half marathon 11.21.10 in 2:14:13

2. audition for a real opera company

3. plant a garden

4. keep a garden alive long enough to harvest it

5. make new friends

6. keep the old

7. commute entirely by bike and public transit

8. read my Bible more

9. Develop a Rule of Life and stick with it

10. perfect my aria package

11. compete in the Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions and NATS Artist Award

12. have a baby

13. continue learning how to be a good wife to Nate

14. see the Aurora Borealis

15. hike part of the Pacific Crest Trail

16. ride the STP (Seattle-to-Portland)

17. start a music school (or at least write the business plan)

18. star in a local opera

19. raise a puppy

20. become a local-ivore

21. become more politically aware and active

22. cook my way through a classic cookbook- Julia Childs or Mark Bittman?

23. see NYC

24. attend a professional conference for teaching voice or Kindermusik

25. start a neighborhood gathering or community dinner in our home

26. become a better piano and guitar player

27. write songs and play gigs

28. discover how to live more simply

29. learn to live in the moment

30. write more letters and cards

We’ll see how it goes! 5 years and a few months. Can I do it?

P.S. I know you’re reading this… but I don’t know who you are! Leave me a comment, ’cause I want to hear about you, too! What’s on your list?

glacial refreshment

Last week, Nate and I took off in our Subaru for Alberta, Canada. This vacation went through many metamorphoses before it became a  trip to Alberta: first it was supposed to be the redwoods, then Yellowstone & Denver, then we finally arrived on Alberta. And I’m so glad we did!

Our first stop was 2 nights in Calgary with our dear friends Jon & Brittany. Brit, a wonderful old roommate of mine, made the move up north after she and Jon married in October last year, and I miss her so much! Those two are one of the few couples that both Nate and I connect with really, really well. I’d love to say that moving to Canada will fix the distance problem; but, alas, Vancouver and Calgary are still a good 12 hour drive apart.

B & J showed us much of their city, including a trip to the world-famous (?) Calgary Stampede rodeo. We ate hot mini donuts, saw big horses and chuck wagon races (a phenomenon I’ve never seen before, and probably never will again). We even heard the most recent Canadian Idol winner sing! Now I feel like a real Canadian! Earlier that day, the biggest excitement was an out-of-nowhere thunder storm complete with hail the size of golf balls. Let’s just say that Calgary definitely left its dent, at least on our car.

yee-haw!

Nate and I left early the next morning to hike in Banff national park. I was expecting it to be beautiful; I mean, it’s the Canadian rockies, people! But I was not prepared for the glory of this place. We ended up on a 4-night trek into Assiniboine Provincial Park, and through one of the most grizzly-populated areas of North America.

the sign at our trailhead

Although all the literature reminds us of how rare a bear encounter is, one has to think about the possibility. If it weren’t very probable, why all the signs? We both spent a fair amount of our first day nervous and expecting a bear around each corner. We never did see one, but we were quite rain-soaked for the majority of the day. The forecast had predicted this, but also several sunny days to follow, so we endured with the hope this would be the wettest we’d be all week.

Wednesday morning, we awoke to sunshine and packed up for another day of hiking, this time toward our ultimate destination. We passed through a gorgeous valley with peaks on both sides, climbed a low pass, and crossed into the most beautiful basin I have ever seen. I think heaven might look a little like this.

Mt. Assiniboine and his neighbors

With aching feet we set up camp at the edge of a lake. Backpacking in Canada seems to be quite, well, civilized. Each campsite along the way had an area for cooking with wooden benches and a pulley system rigged to make it easy to pull your food out of reach of bears when you leave your site. Assiniboine takes it to the next level, however: the basin is equipped, 16 miles from the nearest road, with a lovely lodge, backpacker huts, a hut for climbers, and outhouses in the camping area. We were hardly roughing it! A helicopter brings in hikers 3 times a week who want to explore the valley but don’t want to make the 32-mile round trip approach. I can definitely imagine Nate and me as an old, wrinkly couple helicoptering in to stay at the lodge. We didn’t see the rooms, but we did go for a beer at the end of our day hike on day three. That’s the best beer I’ve tasted in a long, long time–and at $7 a pop, I would hope so!

cheers!

In all, we hiked somewhere close to 60 km, which is around 38 miles. We finished with sore legs, heel blisters and nasty sunburns on our legs (mine was only above my gaiters and below my shorts, which is a very funny tan line a week later), but contented hearts. Being outdoors with my husband brings us so much closer together. We have to be a team and look to each other’s needs in a more pronounced way than at home. But more than that, we get to enjoy something spectacular together. As we near our one-year-anniversary, I truly feel like our marriage is becoming a beautiful partnership, and I’m so excited to see where life takes us.

One more thing: this trip really helped our imminent move up north sink in a bit, and I’m starting to get really, really excited. Canada is a beautiful country, and we have met so many wonderful people. Here’s to the real adventure, starting 6 weeks from today!

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