Tuesday, November 24, 2015

here lately





After skimming through the recent entries on this little blog I realized it has been awhile since I’ve posted a general life update. The things I am learning and deal with in writing are very important to me, and I love using this as a platform to voice those things. But the day-to-day monotonous things are good to remember, too.  They might not be artistic or enlightening (is anything I write?) but they are things worth holding onto. 

So here comes the boring stuff! 

We have been back in New Zealand for just over 2 months now. For the most part, it seems like we never left, although a few things have changed since our time away. We have moved house here, from the east side of the city to the west. Our old place was on a property deemed a rebuild due to earthquake damage, and the main house was torn down shortly after we left. It was a bit weird to not return to the familiar, but we are enjoying the new digs. Flatting is new territory for us, but ours has been a friend since we first arrived in Christchurch and so it is a positive arrangement. 

Kevin is hammering away at his dissertation, which is due next April. After which he will have completed his PhD, and I will lovingly refer to him as Dr. Chase and encourage anyone with ears to do the same. He has worked very hard, and it’s worth noting how fun it is to tell people my husband is a bug scientist.

I began hunting for a second job the day after coming back. I have learned from the past year or so that free time is like cake: really good, but too much can be detrimental to my well-being. So last week I started working part time at a social services company in our neighborhood. So far, I have heard a few sad stories, gathered for many morning teas, and memorized more acronyms than I thought possible. Joking aside, it is such a good work environment and I am looking forward to learning more about the field that my Mom worked in for many years. 


The reality of only having the next 8 or so months to live in this beautiful country is starting to sink deeper in. Our visas will expire next July, and then it’s onto the next chapter in our journey. We have a vague idea of what that entails, but cannot spend too much time planning the future. So for now we are taking day trips, eating meals with friends, and driving to the beach even if it's the windiest day of the week. Which, somehow, seems to always be the case. It's fine though, because Kevin has the windblown look down.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

sail


Living a life of entitlement is a dangerous thing. I often find myself with a false sense of ownership, of possession. Like stepping onto a ship and immediately assuming the role of captain. I pretend like I know how to sail this vessel, when in reality I barely know how to swim. I march on board and lead everyone around me to believe that I am an expert. That I am in control and know just what is ahead. 

This is laughable. I don’t know how to properly paddle a canoe, let alone sail a ship. I grip the wheel so tight, thinking if I can just hang on through this ocean squall everything will be all right again. Eyes squeezed shut and clenched fists will somehow bring smooth sailing and sunny skies. But there is so much more to sailing a ship than just hanging on for dear life.

My Captain has calmed the storms just by speaking the word. He has conquered sea with just a whisper. He knows the wind and the waves, because out of his breath they were formed. And this vessel I try to direct on my own accord: He crafted, shaped, and released onto the waters, onto its voyage with direction and a purpose.

I try to commandeer ‘my’ ship, to yank away the wheel and head for uncharted waters. Ignore the compass and the direction of the currents. I know best. I’m in charge now. This only lasts for a short while. Because the moment clouds roll in or tides change I am spun into a panic. Searching for ropes to pull and sails to release. For anchors to drop and gear to throw overboard. The ship rocks side to side and threatens to capsize.

All the while, my Captain is waiting on deck. Silent, calmed. I run circles around Him trying to fix the mess I have created. The fear of sinking nearly breaks me. The thought of drowning fills me with despair. Yet, He whispers to me, as he whispered to the waves. And when I finally release my clench fists from the wheel of this ship, His ship; steady hands guide us to safety.

The calm surrounds, and I wonder whey I didn’t let go sooner. I turn, and He is there.

He tells me which sails to release, and which ones to tighten. He gives a direction and co-ordinance and sets a speed. He shows me maps of the places we will sail. He points out the stars we will follow. He directs me to places on the ship that are in need of repair for the journey ahead. He teaches me about the currents and the wind. I follow His lead.

Our voyage together still encounters storms. The seas are choppy and the winds howl. But I am not hanging on for dear life. My Captain propels us through the dark waters with a steady turn of the helm. I navigate the way He has taught me. We are in sync. Sailing, soaring, across open oceans.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

leaving home, going home


I've written a few long, deep, well thought out posts over the past few weeks. But I'd like to pass on them to share a few snippets of our summer. And what a beauty the summer of 2015 was. I blinked and she was gone. Racing down the track towards a new season of the year and of life in general.

We fly back to New Zealand next week. And it doesn't feel so much like leaving one thing as it does returning to something that was missed. The definition of home has changed a lot for me in life so far. Right now, home simply means the place I am fully content and surrounded with loving people. Thankfully, that place exists in multiple locations.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

musings of a wallflower


I am a type B married to a type A. I am an introvert married to an extrovert. I am a wallflower married to a social butterfly. So I guess it’s true what they say, about opposites attracting. Kevin and I celebrated 6 years of marriage last weekend. 6 years of waking up next to my type A husband. 6 years of walking into social events with my extrovert partner. 6 whole years of parties and weddings and work functions and after dinner drinks with that social butterfly man. It’s been like a 6 year course in “how to be amazing and make friends.” And this introvert is still taking notes and failing tests.

To be honest, this has been a touchy subject for me in the past. And to be even more honest, in my weaker moments it still is. Anyone reading this who is part of a couple will understand how difficult it is to make ‘couple friends.’ Sure, the ladies have their friends, and the men have their own friends, but ‘couple friends’? Those can be pretty darn hard to come by. And ‘couple friends’ don’t have to be a couple themselves. No, sir. They just have to be a person who is friends with both members of the respective couple in their own right. Kevin and I have some great couple friends. Some are other couples, but some are just people whom one of us (usually Kevin) met, and has become a friend to both of us individually. 

Kevin, aka extrovert, type A, social butterfly that he is, is great at meeting new people and making friends. He’s literally become friends with the guy making us coffee. He’s made friends with the man who owns our local fish n chips shop. He is friends with a guy we bought a taco from one night year ago, and they still talk on Facebook all the time. Friends everywhere!! In these situations, I’m usually standing speechless as I watch two complete strangers become friends. It’s like he has a magical potion that I’m watching him use to entrance people. But the magic potion is just him! It’s him and his smile and his kind words and just who he is as a person. It’s incredible.

Now here’s where my insecurity comes in. Over the past 6 years as I’ve watched this happen time and time again, I have been left to wonder, why don’t I have that magic potion? Why does the idea of having a conversation with a stranger absolutely terrify me? Why am I not friends with the taco truck guy? I believed the lie that my personality and who I am is less than who my husband is. His type A trumps my type B. His extrovert outdoes my introvert. His social butterfly makes a dozen friends while my sad little wallflower sits pitifully in the corner. Alone. Because it’s an introvert.

About a year and a half ago, a lot of these feelings came to a head. I looked around and saw all of our couple friends, great friends, who have never been anything but lovely and awesome. But I believed the little lie whispered in my ear that told me these people were only friends with me because of Kevin. I saw myself as the pathetic add-on they got as a half friend, because Kevin and I are a package deal. And if they wanted to be friends with him, they’d have to take me too. I saw myself as that slimy dill pickle you get when you order a club sandwich. You don’t really want the pickle; it just comes with the meal. It sits there on the plate, not doing too much.

That is a bad comparison for someone who loves the slimy pickle that comes on the side of a club sandwich plate. But it wasn’t until I was honest with some people in my life about these thoughts that I was able to see them for what they really are: ugly, boldfaced lies. I’m not the gross pickle on the side of that plate! (or maybe I am? If you’re the kind of person who loves dill pickles from diners. Bad analogy.) It was a slow realization, and didn’t take place all at once. But slowly, and intentionally I began to take off the old identity I had as the ‘add-on’ friend. I saw the relationships I had with our couple friends flourish, even without Kevin’s help.

And the best thing was, these realizations do not discount how awesome my husband is. It made me understand that his incredible personality doesn’t weaken my own. Just because one part of the equation is amazing doesn’t make the other part lame. Are we different? Absolutely. More than you might think 2 married people could possibly be. But we each have strengths. We each have our magic potion. Yes, Kevin is friends with the taco truck guy. But I maintain friendships with people half a world away only by means of email. Kevin is friends with a stranger who made him coffee. But I can meet a friend for coffee and invest in a growing relationship. Kevin is better at the meet and greet, and I am better at the digging deep. We both have a lot we can learn from the other, which is what makes these two opposites attract.

It’s also a saying that you become like the person you are married to. And I have seen little bits of Kevin’s type A rub off on my type B. 6 years later, I am slowly (painfully so) getting better at small talk. I will go out of my way to say hello to an acquaintance. I’ve also been better at introducing myself to people in social gatherings. So no, I probably won’t become Facebook friends with the next taco truck vendor I meet, but I'm learning to embrace my own strengths. We can thrive in who we are, and who we were created to be, while still learning and growing from those around us. And the whisper who says one type of personality is better than another type, that whisper is a liar. 



[And shout out to our couple friends! Thank you for being friends with me and Kevin, not me because of Kevin.]

Friday, June 26, 2015

nest


Our time in America this summer is right at the halfway point. 2 months have gone, and we have 2 months to come. It’s not until I sit down in a quiet room and open up a blank file on my computer that the thoughts and musings of the past 8 weeks begin to come quickly to me. A long plane ride around the world, returning us to the place we both call home. Reuniting with familiar faces, greeted with warm hugs and whispered ‘I missed you’ s. To put it simply, it has been good.

And simply is a good word to describe this time, for me, anyway. Whenever I come back to stay with my parents for any amount of time I always feel about 16 years old. Like I have time travelled, and returning to my old bedroom makes me a teenager again. The space hasn’t been overtaken with exercise equipment or crafting tables. It holds the same wardrobe and bedframe that I used 10 years ago. The familiarity is comfortable and kind. Like a little nest I keep flying back to. It has seen me through many stages of life. This bedroom hosted sleepovers, with walls that listened in on prank phone calls and were adorned with posters of teenage heartthrobs (I’m looking at you, Orlando Bloom). The closet where my prom dress hung and the mirror that I relied on to apply that glitter eye shadow. The headquarters of dance parties and a few screaming matches followed by tear filled apologies.

And now, here I am again. It is my nook to simply breathe. A place where 20 mins of Netflix turns into an hour (or two). A spot to Skype with far away friends. My little abode to swift through old things, and reflect on the memories tied to them. It is the room I rush out of to meet friends and go to lunch, but hurry back to the minute my introverted nature begins to roar her head. Back to my nest. Back to my comfort. Back to this 16 year old teenage simplicity. Knowing that my parents are right upstairs should I need advice. With sisters banging down the door to borrow my clothes. With cars forever pulling in and out of the driveway and a constant rotation of people walking through the door. My dad is making a grilled cheese sandwich and my sister has Taylor Swift turned up too loud, but everyone is secretly enjoying it. 

I fall asleep with my smile on my face most nights. This is home. This is simply good.

Friday, June 5, 2015

a journey to joy

“My frustrations have turned to anger, which has turned to despair. 
I’ve never been depressed, but I think this is what it probably feels like.”
-Journal entry, March 25th, 2014

Those words were written with shaky hands and a torn down spirit. To put things plainly, 2014 was an incredibly hard year for me. And after much prayer and reflection, I believe it’s time to share this journey. We often view others lives’ through a false pretext, looking on through rose tinted glasses. Everything appears better than it is. Fake Instagram filters and 140 character tweets depicting happy snippets often build up this false ideal. I worry for our cultures’ sense of reality, honesty and authenticity. If I can do my part to pull back the curtain to reveal my struggles, maybe others could do the same.


It wasn’t one big thing that made last year so difficult. Not one giant catastrophe that left me disoriented and broken. Just lots and lots of little things. Little things that chipped away, and morphed me into someone almost unrecognizable. I felt like I had lost myself. Someone viewing my life from a distance would have never known what I was dealing with. Social media accounts showed our new life in an exotic location, beautiful sunsets, and fun nights exploring our city. Those things were real, but only showed the surface of my life. To see the whole picture, you must always dig deeper.

Under the surface I was fighting many battles. I struggled with being in a new place, and trying to figure out where I fit. Meeting new people and making fast friends does not come easily to me, and I often felt alone and misunderstood. There was culture shock, and homesickness, and just feeling like a clueless outsider. And these things were just the beginning. 

While settling into our new home and environment, I suddenly had several health issues spring up out of nowhere. And again, I didn’t have some severe illness; it was just a lot of little things going on with my body that I didn’t understand. I began to have issues with my hair, skin, hormone levels, menstrual  cycle, and so on, not to mention mood swings and severe fatigue. It seemed like my body had pitted itself against me for no apparent reason. I felt vain for being so upset about seemingly 'small' physical changes. However, if your hair falling out in clumps it usually points to a bigger problem.

These physical issues had a direct effect on my emotions, and left me seeking solitude 99% of the time. I remember being so glad most days that the only people I had to interact were my husband and the two young boys I nanny. I thought of any excuse to get out of social situations. And when I was forced to go out, every new person immediately intimidated me. They all seemed to have their lives together. With a career, or a family, or at least a plan. I had no plan. I still talk about becoming an adult one day, maybe 10 years from now. I felt like the kid showing up to the school science fair having never finished my project. Everyone's like, “Where's your poster? Where are your graphs?!” And I’m like, “What is science?” A balding, pimply, grumpy kid with no photosynthesis poster. That was me.

Poor Lindsey. Poor, poor Lindsey. What a sad, pathetic, downright awful situation I was in. I threw myself a pity party everyday for the better part of 4 months. I was the only person invited, and the party usually took place when I refused to get out of bed until I had to go to work every weekday at 2 in the afternoon. That’s a long ass party for one miserable person.

It wasn’t pretty; but this was my reality.  I began to shut down emotionally. I had gone through a difficult season of losing close friends when we moved so far away. It’s hard to invest in relationships when you have 10,000 miles and an ocean in-between you. I get that. But it still stung. More bits of me chipped away. I didn’t feel worthy of people’s time or attention. And because of that, I didn’t want to open myself up to the possibility of friendships where we were. I was in an incredibly vulnerable place, where it was easier to hide in my shell and tell everyone I was fine.

I counted down the days until we would return home for the summer of 2014. Everything would be better when we got back to America. I could sort all of this out, get healthy, spend time with my sisters and my friends. Life would be good again. But my wounds were deep, and a simple fix of girl time and taking my vitamins was not the answer.

Coming home last summer was almost more difficult than being away. I half expected everyone to drop everything the minute I stepped off the plane. This shows how delusional and selfish I had become. I did spend time with friends, but some relationships had become too distant, and being close geographically was not enough to repair the strain. I made the mistake of not working a steady job during the summer, rather taking small jobs here and there and enrolling in a summer class. This gave me a lot of flexibility with my schedule, but with Kevin travelling it also left me with a lot of time to be alone with my thoughts.

Some people reading this may be confused. You may have spent time with me last year and thought I seemed fine. And in reality, I had some really good days. We did fun things with friends, travelled to new places, and made great memories. But as a whole, something was amiss. I was not happy deep in my spirit. There was a dark cloud looming, and just as one storm would pass another would appear on the horizon.

But this is a story of redemption, and the clouds seemed to break for good last September just as we were getting ready to head back to New Zealand. I was turning 24, and birthdays are always a good time to reevaluate your life. Kevin threw me an awesome party with my closest friends. We ate and talked and danced late into the night. I made a decision that my 24th year of life would be better. I chose to live with happiness in my heart. I closed the book on the past year or so, and turned my attention to the future.

My 24th birthday party
The friendships that were beyond repair were left in the past. I visited doctors and started taking better care of myself. I let go of trying to control the situations I found myself in. It felt like I had been holding my breath for the past year and finally let it all out in one giant exhale.  I cried for what I felt was lost time. All those days spent in bed, wallowing over things I couldn’t change. But God’s grace washed over those days and weeks and months. He redeemed even the darkest hours.He gave me a new sense of purpose. He revealed goals to work toward, and new dreams to dream. Instead of just making laps in a pool, He took me to the ocean and let me to swim. 

I'd like to emphasize the fact that this was a conscious decision I made; the decision to live in joy and not sorrow. We as humans cannot control everything that happens to us, but we can control how we react. For 9 months it felt like I was in a boxing ring, and life was slamming me with blow after blow. My reaction was to lie in fetal position on the corner of the mat, just waiting for it to be over. It wasn't until I made the decision to stand up and do something that I became a participant in my own life again.

Near the end of September 2014, I was afraid to go back to New Zealand. I was afraid it would be too hard. Afraid that the monsters would come back to haunt me, rob me of this peace. But it worked out that my younger sister, Erica Joy, flew back with us to stay for a while. She was my Joy during that 4-week transitional phase from old home to new home. She helped usher my newfound happiness back into the environment that had been so harsh to my soul the previous year. She got me reacquainted and readjusted sooner than I thought possible. Then, I was afraid for her to leave! But when I put her on the plane back to America the only thing I felt was thankfulness. I had been given just what I needed.

Joy is a daily decision. Of course there have been hard days since last September. Some days where it would have been easier to throw myself another pity party. But I’ve found that it takes an enormous amount of energy to be sad and angry, and far less to be content. Carrying around disappointments is a full time job, and leaves little room for the joy and happiness that we need to thrive.



These first 5 months of 2015 have been so drastically different from last year. Our time in New Zealand was so good that I ended up staying longer, not feeling the need to rush home to America. How strange to feel at home half a world away. But I can tell you with great satisfaction that it is not where you are that matters, but rather how you choose to respond to whatever situation you find yourself in.  I have chosen to work, to write, to travel, and to enjoy this time spent at home with those closest to me. Some situations I cannot change; Kevin still travels, some friends are still not around, and some days I wake up in a panic because my science fair project isn’t ready! But GUESS WHAT? Life isn’t a science fair project, it is a journey. And the sun is shinning on my road.



  You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
12 
that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
Psalm 30:11-12

Friday, April 17, 2015

string on my finger

     I have been unregimented in my blogging these past few months. That is not due to lack of life lessons or happenings or things to write about. Quite the opposite, in fact! I have been in a state of perpetual epiphanies. Where, at every corner, I’m having another great realization. So many 'wow' moments, too many to write about. God’s workings never stop amazing me. 

    And since I write this blog primarily for selfish reasons, so that future Lindsey can look back and learn from/remember something of her life, I’d just like to write a few things worth remembering. Because humans often do not realize the good times while we're in them. I hope to not make that mistake. The good times are now; today. Here's what I'll remember from my last few months of this beautiful life.


Remember saying yes to new and scary things, and loving them.

Remember walking to the grocery store on a brisk autumn night for nothing but ice cream and sour patch kids.

Remember the colour of blue the ocean is.

Remember being encircled by sweet friends who have become a second family, 
listening to their encouraging words and prayers.

Remember doing illegal things in traffic on a motorbike in order to make it to work on time.

Remember talking about Chipotle and nobody having any idea what that is.


Remember learning from children.

 Remember the comfort that a Skype call to home can bring.

Remember going to the beach alone to collect sea glass.


Remember weekend trips across this tiny but beautiful country.

Remember being able to pack up the entire contents of your home in just a few hours.

Remember the cactus outside your window that is abnormally large.

Remember writing because you have to but also because you love to.


Remember the server at Denny’s who recognized you from eating there so often.

Remember the adrenaline rush after draining your bank account to buy plane tickets home.

Remember it's not about what you have, but who you have.

Remember simplicity and the joy that it brings.


Friday, February 13, 2015

50 things to do this weekend instead of seeing 50 Shades of Grey

Here we are, folks. The long awaited weekend of the year, where the biggest movie of the year is set to be released. Over the past few months we’ve been targeted with advertisements and ads about a film depicting a misogynist billionaire and the pornography which depicts his 'romantic life'. A storyline which says that a domineering and controlling relationship is cool and exciting and passionate. And I find myself asking the question, is anyone else bothered by this?

I’m sad to live in a world where women are paying to watch a film about a man literally tying a girl up for sex. And fact that everyone seems to be unfazed with this violent and controlling take on an physical relationship is downright scary. When did this become something we watched for entertainment? When did this become fun? And when exactly did it become okay with people?

I’m here to tell you that we as consumers have the power to end it. We have the power to not pay money to fill our minds with the garbage they’re trying to pedal as romance. We have the power to say it’s unacceptable and downright degrading to portray women in this role. We have the power to say it’s unhealthy for young people to think this is what a loving relationship looks like. We have the power to go against the grain by simply not seeing the movie.

Is it crazy, that on Valentine’s day weekend I don’t want to watch something described as abusive, controlling and twisted erotica? Wouldn't it make much more sense to do something good for yourself and for those around you? Here are some things I’d encourage you to do this weekend instead of watching 50 Shades of Grey. I think doing a few things on this list would be a better way of loving yourself and others this weekend.

1. Spend the weekend with loved ones (it is Valentines day)
2. Go through your closet and donate unused clothing to a shelter
3. Go to a farmers market
4. Send a letter to a friend
5. Call up a Grandparent
6. Read a short story by a female author
7. Watch your favorite childhood movie
8. Go for a hike
9. Test your trivia knowledge on this website
10. Print some of your favorite pictures from the past year and put them in a photo album
11. Go to see literally any other movie currently playing
12. Make a list of all the countries, states, and cities you’ve been to
13. Make a list of all the countries, states, and cities you’d like to visit
14. Read a newspaper
15. Download new music
16. Make a recipe off your Pinterest food board
17. Buy something for yourself online
18. Look through your old yearbooks
19. Unsubscribe from junk emails
20. Watch this video of Ellen scaring people
21. Buy chocolates to give to family and friends on Valentines day
22. Start watching a new show on Netflix
23. Subscribe to Netflix if you don’t have it
24. Try a hair mask
25. Go to the library
26. Share a bottle of wine with your significant other
27. Do at home yoga
28. Clean out your friend list on Facebook
29. Send your mom flowers
30. Go out for brunch
31. Reconnect with an old friend you’ve lost touch with
32. Watch a movie that empowers women
33. Go antiquing
34. Play a board game
35. Visit a used book store, and donate some of your old books
36. Brush up on your Spanish (or French, or German, or Swahili..)
37. Go window shopping
38. Or actual shopping
39. Try one of these smoothie recipes
40. Do that thing you’ve been procrastinating
41. Write to your local government about the importance of female equality in the work place
43. Rearrange your furniture
44. Create a new work out playlist and hit the gym
45. Go out for ice cream (only after the gym)
46. Write a letter to your significant other for them to open next Valentines Day
47. Get a pumice stone and give yourself an at-home pedicure
48. Meet a friend for coffee
49.Watch Emma Watson’s UN heforshe speech
50. Tell a female in your life that she is loved and appreciated

Spread the love! Happy Valentines Day