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Posts Tagged ‘Vacation’

holiday

Having just returned from a week of holiday-ing on the west coast of Oregon, I am still living in the residual joy of that time away from the day-to-day responsibilities.

Getting away is amazing. Away from work, and the phone, and making dinner, and doing laundry, and all the rest of the same old, same old.

Then we return home, after time away, and revel in that very same, same old. We return and have refreshed thoughts about our jobs, try new recipes, make our suitcase-smelling clothes fresh and clean and reach for the phone to re-connect with our families and friends.

According to the definition (above) a holiday is a holy day, a day when work is suspended to celebrate an event … you know, an event, like Monday, or August, or Christmas, or … (you fill in the blank).

Though an extended time away from work is a great blessing, a holiday can be any day that we bring a holiday mindset into its beginning and sprinkle it through to evening.

As I prepare my mind for the beginning of a new sc—l year (I am simply not ready to say the word yet 😉 ), I am thinking that I need to incorporate the idea of holiday into every week.

I need to spend my lunch break, at work, going for a walk, or chatting with a co-worker about anything but work.

I need to include a dinner each week in candlelight.

I need to spend the end of my day reading a fiction novel (no self-help, DIY or factual reading).

I need to walk on a beach … any beach, at least once a month (even in the rain … I love it on vacation, so why not on a Saturday afternoon in November?).

I need to make plans with those people who we always say, “we should get together sometime,” and never do. Holidays are perfect for those sometimes.

I need to laugh, from the belly.

I need to dream.

I need to reflect.

I need to plan and look forward to the next vacation holiday, be it a weekend or a longer time away.

What do you need to do, in order to attain more holidays throughout your year?

“The holiest of all holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart,
When the full river of feeling overflows;—
The happy days unclouded to their close;
The sudden joys that out of darkness start
As flames from ashes; swift desires that dart
Like swallows singing down each wind that blows!
White as the gleam of a receding sail,
White as a cloud that floats and fades in air,
White as the whitest lily on a stream,
These tender memories are;—a fairy tale
Of some enchanted land we know not where,
But lovely as a landscape in a dream.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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A week of the sweet life (aka #vacationfortwo, #justus2, #justhubbyandme, #vacayfor2, #heandme, #roadtrip) has come to an end for hubby and I.

We travelled over one thousand five hundred kilometres, ate far to much of everything one shouldn’t, walked on sandy shorelines, stared in awe as the waves kept coming toward us, took dozens of pictures, spent precious hours with sweet people, went to sleep to the sound of pounding surf, and awoke to the noisy seagulls enjoying their morning feed on the beach.

It was all so good.

And now we are home.

We returned home to the adoration of the Wonderdog, and catching up with a daughter. We crawled into our own bed last night, delighted at the familiarity of our bed. Awoke this morning eager for the that first cup of brewed goodness, in our favourite chairs, with the Wonderdog stretched out on the floor between us.

Laundry in process, familiar, fresh air coming in the windows, life is good.

Vacation is delight, but coming home to who and what we love is the icing on the cake.

My Home 
This is the place that I love the best,
A little brown house, like a ground-bird’s nest,
Hid among grasses, and vines, and trees,
Summer retreat of the birds and bees.

The tenderest light that ever was seen
Sifts through the vine-made window screen–
Sifts and quivers, and flits and falls
On home-made carpets and gray-hung walls.

All through June the west wind free
The breath of clover brings to me.
All through the languid July day
I catch the scent of new-mown hay.

The morning-glories and scarlet vine
Over the doorway twist and twine;
And every day, when the house is still,
The humming-bird comes to the window-sill.

In the cunningest chamber under the sun
I sink to sleep when the day is done;
And am waked at morn, in my snow-white bed,
By a singing bird on the roof o’erhead.

Better than treasures brought from Rome,
Are the living pictures I see at home–
My aged father, with frosted hair,
And mother’s face, like a painting rare.

Far from the city’s dust and heat,
I get but sounds and odors sweet.
Who can wonder I love to stay,
Week after week, here hidden away,
In this sly nook that I love the best–
This little brown house like a ground-bird’s nest?

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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My son and I were discussing last evening, summer break is about to reach it’s midsection. With that realization, we both started expressing what still needed to be done, enjoyed and experienced so as to squeeze everything out of this summer. I could feel my heart quicken as my mental ‘to do’ list was growing. Then I remembered that summer was not just about recreation but relaxation as well.

Last summer was a bust for me. The moment I began to rest, my body decided to stop. It was as though all the energy reserves dried up and I was physically lifeless. So I vowed that this summer would be different. I had check-ups and blood tests. I have been eating well, getting ample sleep, and taking my vitamins. I also have been staying busy with home renovations, painting furniture, working in the garden. I have not really sat still yet, with little TV or movie watching, a book barely started, and only a handful of walks out in nature. This summer has been delightfully productive … but, not restful.

Then twice last week I said, out loud that we would not be going to our favorite west coast beach this summer, and twice I sobbed. You see for years our return to that beach meant stepping onto the sand, facing the horizon, and an immediate exhaling of all of the stresses of the year. Our week there was rest and refreshment for our dry and weary souls.

This year, we will need to find a new source of refreshment and rest. This will not be easy for me, as I struggle to stop when I can see work that needs to be done … I struggle with not being productive. I struggle with a fear that being still will cause my energy to dry up and leave me lifeless.

The following guest post, by Anna Rendell, at (in)courage, called On Blinking Cursors and New Pathways, spoke to the need to be still, and what might be found in the desert places of our lives.

“My tea is hot, steaming in the cup set on an old apple crate beside my armchair. Soft piano music drifts out of my sons room, where he’s cozy asleep in bed. Crickets are chirping outside, and the birch trees across the pond rustle in a breeze. The setting perfect, I open the laptop and stare at the screen, blank and bright. The cursor blinks as if it’s expecting a next move and I know I’m letting it down. My tea is hot, steaming in the cup set on an old apple crate beside my armchair. Soft piano music drifts out of my sons room, where he’s cozy asleep in bed. Crickets are chirping outside, and the birch trees across the pond rustle in a breeze. The setting perfect, I open the laptop and stare at the screen, blank and bright. The cursor blinks as if it’s expecting a next move and I know I’m letting it down. My tea is hot, steaming in the cup set on an old apple crate beside my armchair. Soft piano music drifts out of my sons room, where he’s cozy asleep in bed. Crickets are chirping outside, and the birch trees across the pond rustle in a breeze. The setting perfect, I open the laptop and stare at the screen, blank and bright. The cursor blinks as if it’s expecting a next move and I know I’m letting it down.My tea is hot, steaming in the cup set on an old apple crate beside my armchair. Soft piano music drifts out of my sons room, where he’s cozy asleep in bed. Crickets are chirping outside, and the birch trees across the pond rustle in a breeze. The setting perfect, I open the laptop and stare at the screen, blank and bright. The cursor blinks as if it’s expecting a next move and I know I’m letting it down.

I have no next move. I’m totally empty, utterly spent, not a word to be found in my brain or heart or fingers.

But the cursor doesn’t know that, and demands to march on. I half-heartedly clack away at the keys, flailing wildly for any thought that might make sense outside of my own head. I am sure none of them do. This heart that has always penned its feelings is dry, chalkboard dust all that remains of words. There’s been no great catastrophe, nothing life-altering to make my heart shrivel. I’m simply weary with the daily, the diapers and too-fast days and spilled juice, meetings and deadlines and full squares on the calendar.

There’s no room to just be and I am drying up.

Feeling dried up scares me. How am I supposed to teach my children, write blog posts, lead a devotion in my MOPS group, if I am running on fumes myself? A re-fueling of my heart seems impossible because there’s no time to go sit in a quiet sanctuary, on a dock at a lake, in a field of wildflowers. The perfect setting is fleeting. This is real life, people, and real life is messy and full of blinking cursors. Real life is loud, and I think I’m afraid that if I stop and be still, underneath the chatter, there won’t be anything worth saying. I forget that He calls us to stillness, to a deep sense of calm. That He speaks most clearly when I am most quiet. That even in my dryness, He shines clear.

When we are most dried up, He is able to do some of His finest work.

For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
– Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)

Those verses make me shiver with anticipation. Real life forces us to be still and know despite the dryness we feel. Our hearts may be covered in a thick coating of dust. We may be scared – to speak, to write, to be still. We may not see the new works, the new pathways, the rivers flowing. We may see nothing but wasteland from the horizon to horizon of our lives.

Even then, He is at work creating. In us and for us, He is working. And in spite of the blinking cursor and volume of our real life noise, we can be still and know that to be truth.”

 

 

 

 

 

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We got to spend two weeks in Florida, over the recent Spring Break.

large_Siesta_Key

Hubby was there for the entire month, giving about fifteen hours of service each week to a lovely Lutheran congregation, in return they provided a lovely condo for he (and we) to stay in.

This blessed opportunity provided family time (minus one), opportunity to see new sights, connect with old and new friends, try new foods, rest and … go to the beach!

It might already be obvious that our favorite part of the trip was going to the beach. In our two weeks, on the beautiful west coast of Florida, we visited the beach six times.

There is something amazingly refreshing about going to the beach.

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First there is the view of an endless horizon. It always amazes me that I can stare into that horizon for countless minutes and even hours and not be bored by the sight I see. It provides  a sense of how very small I am and how very amazing is this creation around me. Of course, having been to this same local a couple of years ago, and having had the joy of staring out at the horizon and seeing five dolphins swimming and jumping in the water, also gave me the hope of a return performance … and they did not disappoint (although only three this time).

Then there are the smells … the fresh air, the smell of the sand, of the water, of sunscreen (shouldn’t is always have that coconut scent?).

The scents at the beach can almost be tasted (just lick your lips after you have been there for awhile).

Then the sounds of the beach … the playful, joyful chatter all around, the sounds of the gulls and other birds chattering on about the buffet that the humans bring to them each day, and the sounds of the waves crashing (or gently falling).

Then the feel of the sun on your skin! It is like nature’s own version of giving us a massage … except we apply our own oils and lotions. The feel of the warmth on your skin is so renewing, so refreshing.

Even on a cool day, or a rainy day, being at the beach has a way of giving life to our souls.

To go to the beach is to close your eyes and simply allow each of your senses soak up all that it offers.

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This summer was different than most. And it was certainly not the summer I had planned or hoped for.

I worked for half of it, and the other half was spent with two Korean student house guests, and two Chinese student guests / new family members (they will be living with us for the school year). It was also different, because the warm summer weather was delayed, slow, and at times non-existent.

There are things that have been staples in our home and family, that just didn’t happen this summer. Things like daily swims in the pool (we have become wimps … and just do not go in the pool on cool or overcast days), nightly ‘tribal councils’ (we sit out under the stars to the light of the tiki torches, laughing and talking … and texting each other … while only a couple of feet apart), summer school work (I usually give my kids summer school work, to keep their brains engaged over the summer, but working made it hard to find the time … this is something that my kids have NOT missed 🙂 … I have never seen them so happy about me working. But, I digress), and a time away for all five of us 😦

The following is a wrap up of my summer:

Days when I did not have to leave the house … ZERO 😦

Days I had morning coffee on the deck … THREE

Days of temperature over thirty degrees … TWO

School lessons taught … ZERO (Mom 😦 … TWEEN kids 😀 )

Nights of ‘tribal council’ … THREE

Books read … ONE HALF (thanks to my flights to and from New Brunswick)

Pool parties … ZERO

Toes dipped into Pacific … ten

Toes dipped into Atlantic … ten

Korean students our family got to host … TWO

Chinese students who have become part of our family (for the whole school year) … TWO

Camps our two youngest attended … THREE

Summer debt accumulated … ZERO (thanks to my summer job). And every minute and hour of it were worth it! I got to work with fantastic people, learned much new information, and got a paycheck.

Was I loving working in the summer all the time? NO! I did have a ‘poor me’ day, where I griped and complained to hubby that I was working my tushie off and would have nothing tangible to show for it. Last week, as we were admiring the brick patio (bricks that we had, largely bought used … transported here, then carried up our mountain of a property) that our friend (who we had hired when it became obvious that we would not have time this summer to complete on our own) laid for us. And hubby instructed me to look at it, and see that my extra working did have something tangible to show for it.

And, it was good.

So, it was a different summer. It was not the one I had planned on having. Working was not what I had wanted to do. But different is not bad, it’s just … different.

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Having spent a week in my childhood home in New Brunswick, this summer on my own, I had ample opportunity to consider what it is that defines the province, and it’s people, for me since I am no longer ‘one of them.’

Really being or not being ‘one of them’ is a good place to start. Even though I have been ‘away’ for nearly twenty-one years (and about half of my life), if I were to return, I would be viewed as from there. Whereas a person who has lived there for the past twenty-one years might be viewed as from someplace else, or ‘not from here’, or even new. This is a reality that I was very aware of while I still lived there, and it is reality for any small or predominantly mono-cultural community. Even a small culture within a larger one. It is why, in a larger metropolitan area similar people groups come together. It is just one that has always amused me, when I go back for a visit (and, of course every visit includes at least one query of “so when are you moving back?”).

On another note, chivalry is not dead in New Brunswick! I do not think that I opened a door to a store or other business the entire time I was there. One day I was entering a McDonalds restaurant when a guy ran past me and opened, not just the exterior door for me, but the interior one as well (I contemplated asking him if he could follow me to the restrooms, so that I didn’t have to open those doors either).

Then there was another day … when I was going to McDonalds again (really I did not spend my entire vacation at McDonald restaurants … I was simply enjoying a coffee and free wi-fi). When I was at the paying, I asked my server if there was an outlet where I could charge my computer, while accessing the wi-fi. She said, “yes there is one, but … Joe is sitting there. As soon as your coffee is up, I will go ask him if he would move to another table.” I did not respond, because I was moving her words around, and around my head, trying to figure out if what I had heard, was indeed what she had said.

Sure enough, off she scurried to ‘Joe’s’ table! And Joe was more than willing to unplug his charging computer, and move to another table, so that I could plug mine in! My head was swirling with wonder … When I finally came to my senses, I suggested to Joe that if he wanted, he could stay right there, and we could share the table (and the outlet). And so he did. And so we two strangers, sat across from each other charging, and typing, and sipping on our coffee, with periodic comments about the weather.

And, speaking of fast food restaurants in New Brunswick … can you say oxymoron? There is nothing FAST in New Brunswick! The day I was at McDonalds, when the guy was opening any door in front of me, there was a lineup of at least twenty people inside, and the cars were around the restaurant, and to the road on the outside. And the employees had the deer in the headlights look … you know looking at the problem in front of them, and not moving a muscle to get let the traffic pass.

Part of the slow service (everywhere) is that New Brunswickers are a very social and friendly people. They will chat your ear off as you are paying for a purchase, asking about your day, where you are from, why you are there (as a former resident of the province, let me tell you, their motivation is not all about being friendly … they are nosy as can be and … you are not from there).

If you are in New Brunswick (or, really, any province from Ontario east) you will notice bilingualism everywhere. Every sign on the road, every government publication, every service from business to public, is available in both English and French. New Brunswick became Canada’s first (and still only) officially bilingual province in 1969 (a very good year 😉 ). The francophone community makes up about one third of the population of the province, with most being Acadian. But, my knowledge of french, in this bilingual province, is far more commonly known there as franglaise … a little french and a little english combined … it makes understanding both languages so much easier 🙂 .

I now live in another province with (unofficial) bilingualism (multilingualism) … but, it is far more related to where the province is going than where it has been. There are no ‘official’ indicators (signs, publications, etc.), but multiculturalism abounds. So, it is always a bit strange when it is everywhere I look while visiting New Brunswick.

There is one more thing I think of when I think of New Brunswick … 80’s music. I am not sure how it happens, but every time I go there, I end up having a rental car thats radio is set to a station that plays hits from the 1980’s. And, every time I am there, I do not really notice the radio station until I have been there for a number of days. I expect that I do not notice because I moved from New Brunswick in 1990 … so the sounds of Kenny Loggins, or Phil Collins or Billy Joel ‘fit’ that environment 😉

I love the salty smell in the air. I love the rolling hills. I love the horizon that goes on forever. I love the red-hued mud of the Bay of Fundy. I love the constant breeze. I love the seafood. I love the covered bridges. I love the sunrises. I love the red autumn leaves. I love the feet of snow, accompanied by the bright sunshine, in winter. I love the sounds of people speaking franglaise. I love the people. These are the things that define New Brunswick, for me … they are they things I miss, and the things that feel innately familiar when I am there.

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The day began as most have, while visiting my parents. I awake at least a half hour before my alarm goes off … despite not feeling rested, and having awakened numerous times in the night. As soon as my mind awakens, so does my bladder … and it’s an urgent awakening (how does that happen? You are sleeping comfortably, but as soon as your mind awakens to the day, your bladder is doing a 911 call).

After a shower, tea and homemade biscuits (tomorrow I will start the day with coffee and a ten mile hike, to try to work off these biscuits), we were off to the airport.

Gone are the days of ‘super packing’ your suitcase with whatever would fit … now they weigh your bags, and not just to save the backs of the luggage handlers … but also as  money-making scam (I am sure the airlines public logic is in keeping with being more environmentally responsible … but I still see it as an airline money-maker, otherwise more conservative packers would be offered a rebate from the airlines). All of that to say, I was required to do a bit of re-packing of my goods, and was sad to not be able to bring back the entire case of Simply Crispie (www.topfundraisers.ca/chocbars.htm) chocolate bars … sorry kids!

After tears filled our eyes (but, we are far too … mature to let them fall …), I entered airport security. A friendly security gentleman asked, before I was even able to breath yet, how I was doing today … all I could respond was ‘tormented’.

I passed through security, boarded my flight to Montreal. There I waited for over two hours … texting hubby, emailing, writing, people watching. And then on to my final destination … Vancouver, BC.

Anyone with loved ones who live away from where you live understands my ‘tormented’ response to the security personnel. Each farewell you are tormented with two realities. One is that your life is not where their life is, and the other is that each farewell could be a final one.

It is then that I am acutely aware how far the east is from the west. It is not like we can drive there in a day, or fly there in a couple of hours … we cannot even fly directly there from where we live. It takes planning, and effort to get together.

This day was really heavy for me … leaving always is. And I am not expecting it to get easier or lighter anytime soon. Because we live in such a large, such a vast country … and as the plane touched down on the west coast … nine and a half hours after taking flight from the east coast I was so very aware of how far the east is from the west.

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