What Are You Thankful For?

Thinking of some things I’m thankful for this Friday afternoon:

Heat

There may be a deep freeze outside, but it’s always toasty warm in our apartment. The landlord keeps the heat cranked, and thankfully, we don’t pay for it. A nice change from the place I lived last year, where getting the hydro bill always made me shed a tear or two.

Our Apartment

I love our apartment. It may not be in the nicest part of town, and it certainly doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the inside is just what we wanted: spacious, big windows to let in the bright sun, hardwood floors, two bedrooms, and amazingly affordable rent. We love this place.

My Best Friend

Really, I had no idea that a guy could be my best friend, and that he would be my husband. Of course I always dreamt of it, it just didn’t seem like I was that “kind of girl.” What surprises me about marriage? How much I love spending time with my husband. I can’t get enough.

My Job

My writing opportunities are growing, slowly but surely. With more work coming in my goal is to be able to quit my day job in 2013 and be a full time writing consultant, working from home. I’ve dreamt about this since I enrolled in Rhetoric & Professional Writing at UWaterloo in 2002. Some dreams are slow in coming, but they are certainly on the horizon.

My Android

I was never really a phone person, but I got a Galaxy Nexus on my birthday (switching to the same plan as Simon saves us money) and it’s literally changed my life. It is organization in a phone. I have an app called “Timesheet” that tracks all the hours worked on my writing projects; I use “My OC Transpo” to know exactly when the buses I take are coming; email comes directly to my phone; I use a 5 megapixel camera to take beautiful photos (and Instagram them!), which then upload instantly to my MacBook Air using Dropbox; if I don’t want to write a text, I can just speak it; and of course, Angry Birds. Now I not only know what Angry Birds is, but I am addict. And to think, I almost said no to the Android because I thought my thumbs were too big for a touch screen.

Chocolate

We have a new standard in our home: to always have a steady supply of chocolate on hand. Mmm….

Goals

I started to really sit down and think about my/our short and long term goals and I’m excited to finally want something again.

That said, the day is speeding by. It’s time to get back to work!

What are you thankful for?

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Back in the Habit

I’ve decided that I should start blogging again but I’m not really sure about what.

When I started this blog I was 26, jobless, had little direction and a lot of confusion regarding my future. To top it off, I was living with my parents (duh).

I like to think I’ve evolved a little. I mean, I’m 28 now, I have 2 jobs*, I know what I’d like to do with my life** (becoming a wife simplified that) and thank God my husband and I aren’t living in my parents’ basement.

When I started this blog I was stuck. “Every wall is a door” (Ralph Waldo Emerson) was my mantra. Learning to have joy was my goal.  A lot of what I’ve written throughout Chapters 1-3 was characterized by learning ever-so-sloooowly to become unstuck, which is why livingwithmyparents seemed to fit, even after moving out. Now? I’m not so sure. I still need those life lessons, of course, but I don’t want to think of myself as stuck. I’m not. I’m free!

But until I figure it out, I’ll keep writing here. Heck, maybe I’ll never stop.

Perhaps I can write about all those new and exciting things I’m learning everyday about my spouse. Like the “concentration face” he makes when he’s washing his hair (so endearing!) or his stages of falling asleep.

Stage 1: breathing becomes heavy. Stage 2: teeth begin to chatter (so weird!). Stage 3: a large twitch, which usually results in me getting a chest thump. And Stage 4: snoring. That’s when I put in the ear plugs and roll over.

Joking aside, I love going to sleep with Simon and waking up with him. We’ve only been married for 2 weeks but so far my best friend and I have become even tighter. He’s the greatest:)

That’s all.

*In addition to working at the map store I’m also on a writing contract with the government. I get to work from home baby! Speaking of babies…(no not yet!) this ties in with **what I want to do with my life: once the babies come I’d like to be a stay at home mom, but also earn an income by writing from home. My hope is that this opportunity will lead to many more!

Dreams Change

This is the theme in my life as of late: dreams change. And that’s not a bad thing.

As Simon and I reflect on our future two main things that are wrapped up in that are finances and dreams.

It was very easy for me to dream as a single person. My dreams were lofty and whimsical and I achieved many of them. Some paid, others didn’t. And while I don’t regret the past three years of my life (touring with BUgirl and working in Bangkok) I am no better off financially because of those decisions. That’s reality. What’s also reality is that I started life in Ottawa when I did because of those decisions – and I met Simon. No regrets there.

The book “Just Do Something” has never been more prominent in my life than it is now. Do I still have dreams? Sure. Do I still want to be able to use my gifts and talents? Of course. But I am no longer expecting to find a job that will make that happen. Not only that, but I don’t need it.

My dreams now are for a family, for community, for owning a home that we can renovate…and future things that Simon and I will dream together. The Natalie of the past 10 years would have looked that those dreams and said they were worldly and selfish. Sound harsh? It is! Which is why it’s taken me so long to transform my mindset and accept the reality that I want those things, and that’s ok. I don’t need to live on the other side of the country or the world for life to be exciting. The most exciting thing about life is relationships, and as long as I’m invested in those I’ll always be living an adventure.

While my dreams have changed, my overall vision has stayed the same, and I think that’s what’s most important. The vision for the kind of life I want to live and the kind of person I want to be, and ultimately who I want guiding my life.

At our first pre-marital counselling session 2 weeks ago Kailen asked me how longed I’ve stayed in one place in my adult life.

“One and a half years,” I responded.

“How old are you?” He asked.

“I’m 28.”

“Does it intimidate you to know that this is where you’re staying?”

I thought about that question for a few moments and then responded honestly, “Not anymore.”

It’s true. I don’t have to leave anymore to embrace the exciting life. Because this new reality of “settling down” is the most exciting one yet.

Quitter! Who, me?

For Christmas I received Jon Acuff’s Quitter. And I loved it.

I can relate to this guy – in 8 years he went through 8 jobs, believing that his next position would finally be the one to satisfy him.

I can’t say that I’ve gone through that many jobs in as many years, but I’ve definitely shared the same mentality as Jon – believing that my job was supposed to fulfill me, and if it didn’t, then there was something wrong.

Jon’s book is all about closing the gap between your day job and your dream job. Here are some of the most helpful points that I took from the book.

1. Be Sober-Minded

You might have dreams of quitting your day job in order to pursue your dream, but dreams cost money. And on top of that they usually don’t pay anything. So now you don’t have a steady income and guess what? You have to go to the dentist. Or buy a plane ticket. Or heck, you just need a new freakin’ bra!

I don’t have regrets. I don’t. When I quit my job in British Columbia I had little regard for the financial risk. Though I saved a rather large chunk of money for a post-grad, I also had little knowledge of what I should be doing with it. And like I learned from those School House Rock commercials as a child – Knowledge is Power! It really is!

And because I had no knowledge I had no power. I quit my job and I took a “dream” job where I earned nothing. (I fund-raised a small portion but covered most of my yearly expenses on my own). Huge risk? Uhh…yes! My bank account dwindled and then when the chance came for me to work in Thailand (the job paid – but not much) I wasn’t positioned well financially to take on such an endeavor. But I did it anyway…because I have little regard for financial risks.

But like I said, I don’t have regrets. I have “it’s my faults”.

What do I mean? I mean it’s my fault that I chose to not be a good steward of my finances and that I am in the position I am at 28 years of age. It’s my fault. I take full responsibility. And while I maintain that it’s my fault it is not – nor will it ever be – my regret.

But there is happy news to report! Due to diligence and hard work (and God’s grace!), I am now debt free and building my savings account up once again. Yes!

2. Hustle!

If I want to fulfill a dream then I need to get off the couch. I need to make lists. I need to have a plan. I need to set goals. I need to stop thinking and start doing. HUSTLE. I’m not very good as hustling. I’m good at getting excited about hustling and thinking of different ways to hustle, but when it comes to actually doing the work, that’s hard!

When it comes to the Art of Hustling, I’m reminded of Don Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. His book is all about writing good stories with your life. Maybe you’re a daydreamer like me, and you can think of a 1001 great stories, but when it comes to bringing those stories into existence, that’s hard.

There’s no answer to this problem other than JUST DO IT.

3. Eliminate Expectations and Take Ownership

You walk into the office at 8:30am, flip on your computer, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and mope. And groan. And secretly check your email. And try to take a nap with no one watching. That was me. How come I’m not satisfied? How come this job isn’t everything I though it would be? Why am I so bored?!?

Well, that’s probably because when I packed my bags and moved across the country to the Mennonite land known as Abbotsford, I thought that was it for me. Surely such a big risk meant such a big reward, right? I mean, this is the job that I hoped and prayed for, so obviously I will feel fulfilled and energized by my work. Especially when my coworkers claim to possess that sentiment.

Wrong.

No job is perfect. There are things that are boring, laborious, annoying, and sometimes, just plain silly. But a magical thing happens when you remove the expectation that your job will fulfill you. You start to fill your life with other things that fulfill you. If you’re a writer, you begin waking up early each morning to pour out your soul into the blog that no one reads anymore. If you’re a cook, you craft up your newest recipe with tender care and serve it to your loved ones. And gradually, you are fulfilled. You arrive at work happy and excited about what you’ve accomplished, what you’ve got going on. And that “calling satisfaction” tank is already pretty full by the time you pour that first cup of coffee!

I wish I would have discovered that back in ’08. I’m embarrassed at the lack of maturity I demonstrated at my job. The way I would slouch in my chair and let out sighs of exasperation because I had to write the same stories over and over and over again. Didn’t they see how it was killing my creative process? I mean, come on!

Now this brings me to present day. And thank God, I can say I’ve changed. I have a job that I am extremely thankful for. I don’t make anything close to what I made at my job in Menno-land. But that’s ok. Because not only am I embracing this position with gratitude and eagerness to learn new things (like accounting!), I’m also realizing that with a good budget, it’s very possible to live on a little. And that’s exciting.

So thank you, Mr. Acuff, for serving up a dose of reality. I think that gap is getting smaller and smaller by the day.

The Balanced Life

My seasonal job at Lululemon Athletica comes with some perks: like free yoga classes. And while I’m busy shoving new information into my brain (even while I sleep, yikes), such as luon, circle mesh, luxstreme, and moisture wicking, I’m also remembering the reason why Lulu gifts their employees with free yoga.

Balance.

I’m sitting in my favourite chair in my parents’ house with the sun streaming through the window and some fresh snow sprinkled on the ground. This favourite chair is also my writing chair, and as I sit here I can hear all those voices from my friends asking why the heck I haven’t updated my blog in so long.

So here’s to more balance when it comes to writing (even if I’m not sure what I’m supposed to write about anymore).

It’s Getting Hot in Here

This is not a reference to Nelly’s Hot in Here, which was my dorm’s theme song in first year (ew, gross memories), but instead to hot yoga, which I experienced for the first time on Thursday night. (In hot yoga the temperature is set to between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit).

My friend Pip and I decided to begin our hot yoga experience with some French-Canadian cuisine called Poutine. For those non-Canadians out there, Poutine consists of fries, gravy, and cheese curds. Take a look:

poutine

Since we made it on our own, it looked a little bit different. We used sweet potato instead of regular potato, and grated cheddar instead of cheese curds. It’s all about balance.

We started walking to Rama Lotus with a bit of hesitation. Did we drink enough water? Will we faint in exhaustion? How hot is hot?

As the lights dimmed, the temperature soared, and we began a series of poses, the sweat began dripping from our faces and our arms, our pores emanating the sweet stench of onion and garlic mingled with beef stock. By the time the class was over and our muscles were fully relaxed, we looked in awe at the minimal amount of sweat across our stomachs and backs and exclaimed, “This fabric really is moisture wicking!” (We were wearing Lulu products, naturally).

We walked home from the studio, eager to engage in a post-hot yoga celebration of white wine and black forest cake.  Upon reaching Pip’s house, however, we chose to exchange the white wine for water and grabbed two forks to indulge in one piece of chocolate-cherry goodness.

Like I said – balance is key.

I am Not Going to Israel

It’s Friday.

I’m not a woman.

Translation: I didn’t get the job.

So I’ll remain in girlhood adolescence for the time being, all the while repeating my new mantra:

“I am not going to Israel. I am not going to Israel. I am not going to Israel.”

A few weeks ago my friend Jen B came to visit. We have a similar thirst for adventure and have spent much of the past decade living in various cities/countries/provinces. Both of us agreed that it’s time to stop moving around and start making some roots, even though that’s hard for thrill-seekers such as ourselves.

It was just a couple hours after we had this conversation and after I had committed to sticking out the year in Ottawa when I received an email from my friend Heidi. Heidi told me that she knew of a family in Israel who needed some help with the children because the mother was sick. She asked if I was interested.

Umm…hello?  YES! Who wouldn’t be interested in Israel!?

I relayed this new information to Jen, who instantly burst my bubble.

“You can’t go to Israel.”

“Oh. I can’t? But I have a lot of Jewish friends…”

Then she gave me this little nugget of wisdom (paraphrased):

“I often find that whenever I make a decision – and it’s a good decision, but a hard one – it seems like the next day I’m faced with a number of different options that seem so much more romantic. They’re a temptation, because they’re easier. They don’t require endurance and working through the hard stuff. They’re more like an escape route.”

Urrghh….I hate how right she is. I know that this is a season of sticking it out, enduring, persevering…and I know it can only better prepare me for whatever is next. But honestly – it still sucks a lot.

The Israel option has passed but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t scouring the Thailand job boards moments after receiving my rejection email today. It’s a lot harder to say, “I am not going to Thailand. I am not going to Thailand. I am not going to Thailand.”

A lot.

But I am remembering the good things here. Old friends. New friends. Lots of new friends. Family.

It’ll be ok…right?

Grow Up!

Every time I log onto WordPress.com a banner across the top of the dashboard tells me “Be the master of your own domain! Buy http://www.livingwithmyparents.me (.com is taken) for just $24 a year!”

To which I say NO.

I don’t want to blog here anymore!

I want to grow up!

I want to be an adult!

I want to stop living like I’m stuck and move on.

I recently read this article by The Office‘s Mindy Kaling called Why You Need a Man, Not a Boy*. And I was like, Amen! I want a man!

But then I thought…am I even a woman?

I hope to be by this Friday.

*Don’t worry, I don’t generally glean my dating advice from Glamour magazine. This article was recommended to me by a friend.