Friday, November 4, 2016

call out the art

"You are different." So often that statement is meant as an insult, when in reality it is a truth that we should learn to embrace about ourselves. All humans are born with innate characteristics that are unique to our person. Qualities and attributes and personalities that differentiate us from the next person. Many times, we are aware of our differences from an early age. I have blue eyes but always envied my cousin's dark brown eyes. That sort of thing.

But there are other unique qualities that sometimes we do not recongnize in ourselves. Things that may stay hidden, and require just the right circumstances and timing to come pouring out.  It is internal art. We often do not even know it’s in there, waiting, standing at the door. If left inside, we are keeping the best of ourselves from the world. It is a disservice to not only our true beings, but to those on the outside who might just need what you have to offer.

            The art that spilled out of me when I was an awkward little twelve-year old was words. Through all of my schooling, I was not a high achieving student. This was not for lack of intelligence, I was just happy to let other students shine brightly and let myself skate by unnoticed. So when my 7th grade teacher presented us with an optional extra credit assignment for our English class, it didn’t even register with me. “Optional” in my brain meant something not worth doing.

            But the night before the extra credit was supposed to be handed in, I had second thoughts. It was nearing the end of the year and my English grade was less than great. So I grabbed a spiral bound notebook and started writing about the given topic of the essay, “Why I’m Proud to be an American.” This was 2002, barely a full year after 9/11. A time when everyone had yellow ribbons tied to trees in their front yards and the stars and stripes raised proudly on their car antennas.  Patriotism oozed out of every corner of small town America, so this assignment made sense.

            I remember sitting in my living room that night only half paying attention to the words I was writing. Maybe it was my ex-air force Dad in the next room, or just the thought of hot dogs on the 4th of July, but I did my best to communicate the proper amount of American Pride. I tore the 2 pages out of my notebook and set them on my teacher’s desk the next morning. I had done my scholarly duty, and walked away just hoping it was enough to raise my letter grade.  

            A few days later my teacher pulled me aside. The words she spoke to me that day in school still resonate with me. She had my paper in her hand, looked up at me and said, “Lindsey, this is very good.” Her compliment was met with a blank stare. It was the last thing I was expecting and didn't know how to respond. It had taken me 20 minutes the night before to complete this half-assed excuse for extra credit. But she was serious. Nothing more was said, but those few words bolstered my self-confidence more than maybe anything else has in my life. I didn't realize it until much later, but in that middle school classroom in Gettysburg she called out my art. 

            Most of the kids in my class had submitted essays for the extra credit (overachievers). But what I didn’t realize at the time was that this whole essay thing was a much bigger deal than I thought. The teacher probably explained this when she told us about the assignment, but as soon as my brain heard the word ‘optional’, I tuned out. My 7th grade teacher, along with many of the other 7th grade teachers in the county, were submitting these essays into a contest run by the American Legion Association (the essay topic made even more sense now). The top 4 essays would be awarded with a certificate and cash prize. I was suddenly much more interested in this extra credit gig.

            A few weeks later my Dad flicked a letter my way. Not having any clue who would be sending a 12 year old mail, he stood by as I tore into it. It was from the American Legion congratulating me on my essay. I won 3rd place in the contest out of all the 7th graders in my county! I screamed and ran the 2 flights of stairs and nearly busted down my parents bedroom door to tell my mom. They picked me? They picked me! (After two others, but hey!)

7th grade Lindsey (on the left) had a hard time doing well in school and keeping her eyes open in pictures.
            My parents were so proud, my teacher was proud. My small private school had chapel every Monday morning, and asked me to read my essay aloud to the whole school. My mom took me shopping to buy a new outfit for the award ceremony held at the American Legion. My grandparents came and I rode in the back of their car. I got my picture in the paper and the cutout hung on our fridge for months.

            At the end of 7th grade, my teacher had a small ceremony for the class where she awarded each student with a certificate. The certificate listed that students’ strengths and talents. When she gave me my certificate it said, “Great Writer.”

            Throughout high school I wrote into the late night hours when I couldn’t get to sleep. I kept journals and tattered notebooks in piles around my room. I wrote about things I was dealing with. Awkward boy encounters, falling-outs with friends, times when my sisters got on my nerves and my parents weren’t fair. I wrote on the plane when I left America for the first time, and I wrote in my bedroom the night I first met Kevin (I was 17).  I couldn’t explain why I wrote about everything. It would be like trying to explain why I breathe. The things I wrote didn’t always make sense, and they weren’t pretty or meant for other people to read. It was an unwinding process for my tangled teenage mind.

            I can’t count the number of files on my computer that are half finished paragraphs of thoughts that came spilling out. Writing often feels like throwing my brain at a white wall and hoping the splatters make sense. And if the splatters are incoherent, that’s fine. They are often just meant for myself. But even if one person can make sense of my ramblings, and relate or gain understanding and strength, then I cannot ask for more.


Us women are appreciated for many things. Unfortunately, we are often first valued for our physical appearance, but those things are fleeting. Clothes and hair are not representative of who I am. But when a person compliments my writing my heart swells like when the Grinch comes to love Christmas.  I remember every single person who has ever had a kind word to say about something I have written. They are their own unique category of incredible people, beginning with my 7th grade teacher in 2002. I am so thankful to her for calling something out in me that I didn’t know was there. 

We all have the power to do that with people around us. We can sometimes see things living inside others who are unaware.  When we highlight a strength or talent in someone, we may be giving them courage and confidence that has an effect on the rest of their life. If you see art in someone, speak it, and if someone sees art in you, believe them when they say it.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

hello from the midwest


The first time Kevin or I had ever stepped foot in Minnesota was last summer. We road tripped out to the twin cities for our anniversary and to get a feel for the place we were considering moving to next. I remember walking around the University's campus when not many people were around, but still feeling in awe of it. The massive stone buildings with columns for days. It feels very scholarly. The real deal. I remembered that feeling this morning as I walked past the columns on my way to class.

Being a 26 year old college undergrad is weird. I'm a little too old to have a lot in common with the other students, but still too young to relate to the professors. But I'm okay with that. I'm just enjoying the novelty of being a student again. To consider learning my job. That is a privilege I do not take for granted, because I have wanted it for some time.

The photo is of my favourite little corner of our apartment. The window lets a lot of light in and I have proudly kept those plants alive for almost 2 whole months(!!). The place is new and tidy, but filled with things from our previous homes and travels. It's just right.

October is here, and she brought the cool air with her. It's safe to say we are very nervous for winter. People drive on frozen ponds here. Like, drive their giant SUV's across frozen lakes and it's perfectly safe and normal and not a big deal. And the reason they drive out onto the lake is to go ice fishing. What is this craziness?? Trust me, I have many questions and very few answers.

Details on ice fishing (which I will not be doing, but something tell me Kevin will) and winter hibernation to come.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

2 days in another world










When writing about our long route home, I thought Iceland deserved a post all to itself. Because, lets face it, it was an entirely different world than the other places we visited along the way.  The way it came to be a stop on our trip was almost an accident. When looking at flights from London to DC, it was cheaper to stop in Reykjavik than it was to book direct. And with many flights continuing from Reykjavik to the east coast of the US every day, it only made sense to us to spend a few days checking out this weird and wonderful place. It also happened to be our 7th wedding anniversary! So we booked in for about 48 hours in Iceland.

I cannot compare it to much, because Iceland is so unique and different to anywhere I have ever been. The landscape is gorgeous; with geysers, waterfalls and natural hot springs everywhere you look. Tourism has jumped in recent years, and the locals are taking full advantage of people coming from all corners of the globe. We went on a tour with Golden Circle, and while we are not big "let's go on a bus with tons of other tourists" people, this one was very good. It was nice to sit back and take in the scenery, without having to translate a map and follow our GPS to each spot.

Iceland has a lot of history, and one of the places we went was the location of the first ever parliament which was established in 930 AD. Thingvellir National Park is also the meeting place of 2 tectonic plates, so basically where Europe and North America meet. How crazy to be on 2 continents in the same afternoon! We also stopped at Gullfoss falls, which we were told is the 2nd largest waterfall in Europe (Google says it's 3rd). We both were soaked in the mist while hiking to get the best view. It was simply gorgeous.

In the end, we loved Iceland a lot, and there was far too much to squeeze into 48 short hours. The only downside I can admit was that things were quite expensive. But I'm not one to drop $250 on a sweater--that's just me (I settled on a pair of socks). Even so, it was an awesome last pit stop on our journey before returning to the US after 10 months of being away. 48 hours was not enough, so a return trip to Iceland will have to be arranged! Who's in?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Ireland & the UK


















I realize that is this, perhaps, the most photos I've posted in a blog ever. And for that I am sorry. But when Kevin and I planned our move from New Zealand back to the US we decided to take the long way home, and that route included a lot of pictures. We stayed with friends in Northern Ireland, and trekked around the UK for nearly 2 weeks. It was an incredible trip, and even though we packed a lot into it, I was still glad to have stopped in all the places that we did.

Our favourite city was Edinburgh Scotland, and we hope to make a return trip in the not-so-distant future. We were also able to meet up with my sister and her new fiancé in London and see the sites on a scorcher of a summer day. My favourite thing there was the statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and also any place that had AC :)

We've been back in the US for just over a week now, and I am happy to report I've only tried to drive on the wrong side of the road twice! (This is a major achievement, thank you very much). It is strange  that since the last time we were home we have made a complete circle of the globe. Isn't it crazy that we live in a day and age where we can do that? My mind still boggles.

Kevin is already beginning work out west and I am preparing to start classes in Minnesota in early September. So many changes but we are thankful for where we are and where we have been. Travelling is one of my favourite things, but I'm looking forward to a sense of stability and 'normalcy' for awhile. Whatever that means-- right?

Friday, May 27, 2016

transition


The term transitioning has many different meanings in today’s society. But we can all agree that to transition means to move from one thing to another, in whatever sense you’d like to apply that to. I feel through words. And this word has been on my heart and mind over the past few weeks.

The dictionary defines transition as, movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change.

For me, transition is a very apparent and obvious part of my life currently.  The definition of transition can apply to every aspect of my life. It can be stamped in bright red ink on where I’m at right now. Two months from today, we will be in a different country, a new city, a new apartment (hopefully!), with new jobs and new furniture and new positions in life. It’s overwhelming to think of all that at once, which is why I’ve taken the simple approach of focusing on one word: transition.

But if we’re defining transition as change, then it can be said ‘transition is a part of life.’ All humans go through change and therefore transition. Your changes might not be as blatantly obvious as mine, but they are changes nonetheless. And I have come to discover that it is better to embrace the changes and the little shifts of life than to hide from them.

Why do we fear change? The simple answer is because we appreciate comfort. We like what we know, and we also life to feel in control of our own lives. But we live in a world full of unknowns, where we cannot control many of the things we are faced with everyday. We can only control our response to the things given to/thrown at us.

When we moved to New Zealand I started collecting sea glass. If you do not know, sea glass is just shards of glass that have been in the ocean and become softened by the rubbing of the sand and salt water over a period of time. The glass becomes weathered and develops a frosted or glazed look. I started collecting it because a friend took me to a beach where we found it in abundance, and it was pretty. I collected a jar full in just a few hours.

But I think I appreciate sea glass for more than just it’s simple beauty. In each piece a transition took place, changing it from a piece of a broken glass bottle, to what it is now. For me, it became a sought after treasure on a beach full of sand and shells. I wouldn’t go dumpster diving for old Heineken bottles, so why do I scour the beach looking for bits of sea glass? It’s because of the change that occurred. The weathering of the glass has turned old trash into what many would consider art, or at the very least, things of beauty.


What if the changes and shifts in our lives, the gritty sand and the waves tossing us, were not looked at as things to annoy us, but things to refine us? What if we saw them as the perfect conditions which allow us to become even more ourselves? Instead of fearing change, what if we feared comfort?

The change is not comfortable. Transition is often not ideal or easy or even fun.  But I look at all the times God challenged me in the past to take a big step and transition into something new, and I can only see growth from those periods.  The transition never took me backwards, only forwards. And I can only ever be thankful for the sand that rubbed me, and the waves that pulled me under. Because the rough edges are slowly being smoothed, and I am becoming who I was created to be.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Autumn




Back in the day when I was churning out 2 or 3 blog posts a week, each of these photos would have had it's own write up. But these days, time to sit around blogging about each little thing is hard to come by. And to be honest, I prefer it this way. It's been busy lately, but full of good things.

We've had a gorgeous few months, and have tried to fully take advantage of the warm weather that has kindly lingered around. The leaves are just now starting to fully turn and the nights are arriving with a chill in the air. This is the first full autumn we will experience in NZ! Since we usually transition back to the US over the winter months here, we are not used to the cold that is sure to arrive in a few months time. We have prepared by purchasing thick slippers and a variety of hot drinks for the evenings.

But the spring was full of fun happenings, including a friends wedding at a lovely vineyard, visits from American friends, as well as spending Easter weekend near the mountains. We hiked at one of Kevin's favourite places in all of New Zealand, near Lake Coleridge. It was the windiest day but very beautiful.

With just over 2 months left on our visas we are trying to take in all the time we have left here. I do believe I could spend the rest of my life living in and exploring this amazing country. It is impossible to overstate the beauty. Trust me, I've tried. But in the end, we know the US is home, and we are both looking forward to returning soon.