>What. Ay. Day.

>

Actually, it’s more than just TOday. It’s more like the past 48 hours that qualify for a record-breaking pandemonium. I have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in such a short period of time that I am wondering if maybe I should be heading away for a personal retreat this weekend. Ah, if only I wasn’t an entire THREE weeks behind on my homework, I probably could have ducked out for a few days. No can do, though.

Starting with yesterday: I had known for about 6 days that I was going to the Celebration of Lights to see Mexico. That wasn’t even an option for me. I am all about traditions and free community events, so naturally I would be out there with bells on. I was all geared up for an evening spent on the beach watching jugglers and fire throwers and drunkards, and I had accepted the fact that I was gonna get squished and pushed around and dirty and feel all claustrophobic, and I was excited. Really excited. We stopped for a quick bite to eat at Subway before hitting the backroads to the bridge, and after we were on the other side of the Fraser River I just felt this surge of energy go through me, the kind that indicates something amazing is about to happen. I can’t exactly remember when or how I was told, but one moment I thought we were going to Kits Beach and the next moment I had found out that the 4 of us were actually going on a yacht to watch the fireworks from English Bay. Not the beach. The ocean. On a 40 foot yacht. Did I mention that I was excited for the crummy beach? THIS was absolutely mind-blowing news. It was a surprise from 2 of our friends. I almost cried. We arrived at the Linnwood Marina and saw this:



There we were, one of my favourite girls and I, dangling our legs off the side of this beautiful boat, beer in hand, perma-smiles on our faces, floating past Canada Place and the Harbour Centre Tower and Stanley Park and under the Lions Gate Bridge as the sun gently set behind those mountains of ours…it was magic. Magic, I tell you.













And the actual fireworks? There are no words. I was deliriously content and happy and could have stayed right there in that moment forever and ever and ever. It was beautiful. I was freezing and I had to pee really, really badly, but I was happy.






Not to put a damper on this blissful post, but some things happened today that swung that pendulum so far in the other direction that my head was spinning. Let’s start off with an early morning phone call from my supervisor…She was wondering what time my kids were going to be settled and eating lunch. Weird. I told her 12pm. She asked if she could pop in during that time to have a word with my coworker and I. Even more weird. I asked her what it was in regards to, whether or not he and I were in trouble, and she said she wanted to discuss our futures for the remainder of summer camp with us. Interesting. So with that lurking in the corners of our minds, we packed up our smiley group of kiddies and headed to the park for a morning of fun. We were there all of 30 minutes when we heard a crashing sound, followed by screaming. Needless to say, someone was hurt, and it wasn’t pretty. Thankfully all is well and we have a tough group this week, but it was still enough to send that adrenaline coursing through my veins at lightening speed.

Got back to our home base, had a little lunch, got some big news…I have been asked to step up permanently into the position of Sr. Coordinator. Which I accepted gladly, of course. It was just so many emotions and so many things taking place all at once. I was overwhelmed yet unexplainably calm through it all. It just feels right. It feels like this is how it’s supposed to be. You know what I’m sayin‘?

This is life. This is how it goes. It’s exciting and it’s nerve wracking and it’s adventurous and scary and dangerous and it’s so, so, so wonderful.

It was quite the day…ahem, quite the 48 hours, I should say, and I wouldn’t change a minute of it.

I was reminded today of a quote by Mary Oliver. It’s a good one. It’s got me thinking, that’s for sure…


What is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?



~C~
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>Teamwork

>Did you know that half the summer is nearly over? That’s just crazy. I sent out a dinner invitation to the summer camp staff last night for next Tuesday so we could celebrate completing exactly half the weeks of camp. Half. How and when did that happen? I feel like in so many ways we are just getting our bearings and figuring this whole thing out, so it definitely feels like summer has only just begun.


In my experience this summer, camp has started out fairly smoothly on Monday mornings. Yes, there is the hectic running around, setting up, and signing in factor, but I always look forward to welcoming that new batch of local kids who have no idea how much fun they are about to have. I enjoy taking the hands of little ones as they tearfully and bravely wave bye to Mom. There is the confusion that washes over me as we sit in our circle and play that first round of the Name Game and I seriously wonder how I will ever keep the names straight (or even learn how to pronounce some of them for that matter!). I love how as the day passes we start to figure out who these kids really are, where they come from, what they need, and how to make them smile. And as the week goes on, I love being able to look around at all those kids briefly and know exactly which kid is still in the bathroom.

Yesterday morning was a tough one and I don’t really know why. I spent the weekend camping out of town, and as relaxing as it was, I still think I could have used an additional day off. Even though I don’t feel like I have the flu, I spent Sunday evening pretty sick and was up most of the night. That didn’t contribute well to my morning, I guess. When I got to AEP my coworker was kind of tired and cranky, and my strong front started to crumble as I realized that if he was allowed to be tired then so was I. Things kinda fell apart from that point on. We didn’t have class lists or sign-in sheets printed, we couldn’t find our supplies even though I clearly asked for them to be labelled, another staff member gave us some serious attitude, we were running pretty late and we were still trying to gather things on the other side of town, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. It wasn’t pretty. So I made a phone call to one of the supervisors in the city, and let’s just say that although my intentions were to avoid confrontation, I basically vented my little heart out to her and almost cried and said things I might not have said had I gotten a little more sleep the night before. At first I felt much better, but then she said something about having people sit down to work through things, and I realized I maybe shouldn’t have placed that call. Because I hate those meetings. I have been in them many-a-time before. I know that it is good to communicate and have mediation and resolve, but I don’t want to. Simple as that. I don’t want to sit in a meeting and have to tell people how they are letting me down. Would you?

In the past few years, and especially this past year and half working for the City, I have learned to hold the value of teamwork very highly. It’s impossible to accomplish anything without it. I don’t know where or when we went wrong yesterday, but at some point we stopped leaning on each other and were all running around trying to do things our way, on our own, and it just wasn’t working. As soon as we pulled together and realized that we needed each other things slowly took a turn for the better. My first impression of this week filled me with dread and made me wish the week away, but now I am so thankful for the group of amazing little kids we have and for the dynamics of this particular camp and for the sunshine and for the lake and for my partner in crime. As a side note, the kids caught 16 fish at the lake today using homemade fishing poles, and my coworker also caught a huge turtle with his bare hands! It was brilliant. I smiled for 6 hours straight.

When I was talking to my supervisor yesterday about all the drama, she said to me, “Rachel, we can never change anybody or the way they affect us, but we can change the way we respond to the things that they do and we can learn how to respect and value them”. I thought that was very sound advice. I am putting it into effect immediately.

So, even though summer is half over, I am gonna go with the whole “the glass is half full” thing. It suits, doesn’t it? 4.5 more weeks of amazing sun and fun and laughter and days spent at the pool and waterpark and 7-11.

I’m walkin’ on SUNSHINE!

~C~

>Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Motivation Gone?

>Anthropology.


I went from loving it to hating it. Maybe I am being a little dramatic. And maybe I am just tired. And maybe distracted at the moment. By a few things. Good things.

Anyways, summer hit and I stopped studying. No matter how I examine and try to prove otherwise, that is the truth. I haven’t even unzipped my binder in weeks. Except to find my favourite pen, that is.

And now the pressure is on. When you pay $427 (+ fees) per class, you are gonna do your freaking best to make it worthwhile, and especially when you got off to such a great start and you were making good grades. It’s hard to not to feel like a failure. It’s hard not to give up. It’s hard to take the first step and reopen text books and force yourself back into that mind space. But I am going to do it. I have to do it. I owe it to myself and to the people who back me up and believe in me.

The problem is, when? I was just explaining the other day to a certain someone how I am being ridiculous with my time these days. I work 40+ hours per week at a job that is very hard to walk away from at the end of the day. I am overbooking. I am overcommitting. I am burning out. I am tired. Not the same kind of tired as before, the kind that consumed me and immobilized me. But the kind where I miss my house and I miss playing my instruments and I realize I haven’t sat still for longer than 20 minutes at a time. Minus sleep-time, which has actually been gradually dissipating lately.

It’s back to the drawing board for this girl. Back to that place where I sit down with a piece of paper and a pen and literally pick and choose life giving activities as opposed to activities that deplete me. It’s back to blocking out time (preferably every day) for myself; time where I can sit in my window and watch the neighbourhood kids playing, time where I can make a decent meal and have the space to enjoy it.

And time to make time for my schoolwork. It’s tough when it’s sunny and warm and the lake is so close you can breathe it in, but sometimes you gotta do what ya gotta do. And I am going to muster up every bit of strength and read once again about the Sto:lo and about resource use and about the 4 year salmon run in the Fraser Valley Watershed. I am going to pass this course with flying colours because I deserve to.

I am going to rebalance. I am going to keep on figuring out this life thing.

Happy almost-weekend, my friends.

~C~

>The Perfect Jar

>I think I am in serious debt. Remember the Perfect Jar? The one where I put 5 imaginary cents into an imaginary jar every time I use the word ‘perfect’? Well, I’m pulling it out again. Because I think I am slowly but surely losing sight again. Sight of what is and what most certainly isn’t important in life.

Like perfection. Point taken.
Anyways, this past week was an adventurous one for me. Not in the sense that I was rock climbing or travelling or anything like that, but in the sense that I felt like I was truly challenged in my job for the first time in a long time. Because let’s be honest, this past year was pretty repetitive for me work-wise, and I needed a change.
I got more than that. When our Sr. Coordinator’s father passed away last week they asked me to step up to the plate. I was really sad for Dan’s family, but a spark of excitement went through me. It was as if this was my chance to shine. To get some things organized that have been driving me crazy. To build up and encourage some people. To have a break from children. To feel a little more grown up.
To. Step. Out. Of. My. Comfort. Zone.
And step out I did. Actually, I was thrown out. Head first. And it was thrilling.
My phone rang off the hook all week. The to-do list kept growing longer by the hour. Month-old messages needed to be returned. Supplies needed to be ordered, purchased and organized. Staff needed to be spoken to (gently). Meetings needed to take place to further set the summer in motion. Storage rooms needed to be sorted through and emptied. Coffee needed to be drank. Bonding needed to happen. Badly. Kids needed to be played with, watched over, entertained, loved.
I can honestly say that thanks to a team effort, every single one of those things not only happened but thrived and were completed successfully.
You can imagine where I am going with this…
The Perfect Jar.
I owe a LOT of money right now.
There is an internal pendulum within my personality that teeters between Type A and Type C. Can’t make up it’s mind. It gets me in trouble. I like Type-C Christina. She is mellow. She is calm and content. She is flexible. She is generally a heck of a lot more relaxed than Type A girl. Type A girl showed up countless times along the way of the Battle With Bulimia. She is a lot more demanding. She is ruthless. She is a ‘Get’r Done” kinda girl. She doesn’t let me forget my mistakes. She wants me to be perfect.
*clink*
There goes another hard-earned nickel into the Perfect Jar.
Type A girl came to visit me today. She stayed back almost all week, allowing me to complete seemingly monumental tasks along the way. But today…today I felt the pressure. The pressure of wrapping up this week with confidence and closure and security and the joy of knowing the effort was well worth it. I felt immobilized. Helpless. Weak. And you know what? There is no room for her in my life anymore. She is not me. She was once a part of me, and I have her to thank for my organizational skills and desire to be tidy. But I’m done with the bossing around.
Please don’t think I have schizophrenia. I may seem a bit split personality at the moment, but this is just me taking all things internal and making them public. And I am starting to feel better.
I am going to start working off my debt right now. I am going to relax this weekend. I am going to put my homework aside and choose to have some fun. I am going to be 26 years old and I am going to swim in the lake. I am going to fly a kite. I am going to enjoy life. And I am not going to use the ‘P Word’.
It’s just not worth it.
Do you know what is worth it?
LIFE
Every single living breathing feeling flying moment of it.

Cheers to a bright and beautiful weekend.
~C~

>There She Goes

>



Before she leaves, I have something to say. Actually, I have a lot to say. So much that I am in desperate need of an outlet right now; a way to express myself, and even though I know writing won’t do my feelings justice, it might help.


We met six years ago. The bond was instant. The love deeply rooted.


We were 20 and 21 when we met each other. We were at Camp Qwanoes. We were really broken. We were really in need of this sisterhood that we have shared for the past 6 years.

“Alisha and I have been having little dates at night since this is my week off from counseling, and we are getting really close. I really think God has put her in my life to be someone to be honest with. The things I have told her have been brutally honest, like about Jake and just the way I really feel about myself and about life. I don’t feel like I CAN be fake with her, and it’s been awesome…”
“Alisha had a crappy Christmas but I don’t know the whole story yet. Unfortunately we had a bit of a fight but we are currently in the process of working through it. Please help her feel better and come home soon…”



“So Alisha and I both had quite a rocky weekend. We spent a lot of time together and we both broke up with our boyfriends in a sense. Neither officially, but we have both reached our breaking points. It’s ironic, really, because normally we are both so balanced with each other. One is weaker and the other is stronger at just the right times so for us this is new. But empathy is good and we are growing closer every year…”


“I want to live with Alisha. It looks like she is getting a place with Abby, Elyssa, and Abby’s brother. And by place I mean a big house. I would love that. But I’m too afraid to ask if I can come. Besides, I haven’t even applied to school yet and I am definitely jumping the gun. I’m starting to consider her one of my best friends in the world, actually. I just got back from hanging out with her tonight, and as usual it was amazing. We’ve had some adventures, like going to Crash Crawleys and accidentely driving to Abbotsford and sitting in the middle of intersections and getting free cake at Montana’s, but the best times have been sitting in the car and sitting at Starbucks. I can’t get over how much that girl and I can talk. I don’t think we’ve ever had a conversation that hasn’t last at least 20 minutes, even when we are just calling to ask the simplest question. We can talk forever, and not only are we both over-analyzers, explainers and justifiers, we both love to dig and search each others hearts. So in a nutshell, our conversations are extremely meaningful. I can’t begin to say how thankful I am to her…to have her…”


Alisha, I don’t use people’s names very often in my blog, but I had to this time. Because this is for YOU. You are my best friend. You are my family. You are my sister and my buddy and my shoulder to cry on.




I’m not going to say how terribly I am going to miss you or how hard it will be for me to be without you because I know this is only for a little while. I’m not going to say how hard it will be to listen to Jann Arden and Wilson Phillips and Sarah McLachlan, because those are our girls and I know that while I am listening to them here and thinking of you, you will be there listening to them and thinking of me.




Thanks for being my best friend. You’re the greatest ever. We are ALL thinking of you, wishing you a safe trip and the sweetest, most awesome, crazy-good 2 years ever.

SEE YOU SOON MY GIRL

~C~

>Slow. Down.

>


Tonight’s post is gonna be a simple one.

The summer staff gang hung out tonight and had gelato. It was really fun. On the way home I was going to drop off one of our girls, and something caught my eye.
It was THEE most beautiful, glorious sunset I have seen in a long time. I could see the actual sun setting behind us in the eastern sky, but what was most amazing was the west. The sky was bathed in the boldest pink and purple hues, and tucked away over to the right was a rainbow.
A rainbow.
Not a drop of rain in the sky. Scientifically I am going to assume that the humidity trapped in the clouds caused this, but it is not meant to be analyzed.
It’s meant to be adored. Cherished. Appreciated.
We jumped out of the car, leaving it parked haphazardly somewhat near the curb and ran into someone’s yard to get the best possible view of this amazing evening sky. Tried to capture it with my little Canon, but didn’t do it justice. Doesn’t matter. It’s tucked away inside me.
And you know what else? Last night I saw a shooting star. For real.
Let’s slow down this week. For lack of a better term, let’s stop and smell the roses. Enjoy a sunset. Breathe deeply. Tell someone close to you about something beautiful you encountered throughout your day. Smile more.
Know. You. Are. Loved.
~C~

>These Four Walls

I’ve had this topic in mind for awhile, but I haven’t had the time or energy to sit down and write about it. Not that this is the best time, mind you, a time when I should be fast asleep and not pounding down the keys on my laptop. But when inspiration calls, you listen!

This week I have the upmost privilege of working with some of the sweetest kids in Abbotsford at our annual day camps. There are 4 little girls who are just not as athletic as the other kids, so we have been hanging out on the sidelines enjoying the sun and each others company. In true elementary-school-age-fashion, we have been playing Truth or Dare. Classic. Don’t worry though, I have been steering them clear of the “Have you ever kissed a boy?” questions. But today one of them said to me, “Rachel Rabbit…” (pause—that’s the camp name I have been given)… “what are you afraid of?” I thought for a second, but I knew fairly quickly what the answer was.

I’m afraid of being trapped.

In a room, in a car, in a relationship, under water, on the ocean, on an island, in a marriage, in a dead-end job, in an emergency, in a box.

In. A. Box.

There is a Saved By the Bell episode that I watched the other night that freaked me out. It was the senior prom (of course it was), and Jessie and Slater got trapped in the boiler room while they were looking for a ladder and no one could hear them and no one came to look for them. They were just sitting there against a cold cement wall arguing with each other and growing more and more hopeless as time went on.

I hate imagining what that would feel like. I mean in real life. The panic that would set in, and the harsh reality you would have to face.

Sometimes I feel like this is a tangible fear of mine in the sense that one day I could very well get trapped in a physical situation that I can’t get out of, like getting locked in an industrial refrigerator or something. But mostly, I think this fear is really based on something mental. Something unseen.

I think that all parents, teachers, aunts and uncles, and other people of influence in our lives sometimes try too hard to mould us into what they think we should be. From the time we are born, grown ups are thinking hard about our futures. Mostly they will lie and say that they don’t care what you turn out to be, as long as you are happy. But actually, I think that every parent kind of wants their kid to be a little bit like themselves. A chip off the old block. And so they start to make decisions for us about who we can play with and what kind of activities we will do, and if they want us to be really smart they will force us to do extra homework or take summer school.

That in itself isn’t exactly what scares me. Maybe I won’t even be able to define it for you. But I will use one really good example of how a friend and I have been made to fit into two very different and very opposite boxes in life:

Taylor and I were talking about our summer plans the other day, and I told her that I really wanted to take a trip somewhere, like maybe Hawaii. I was expecting her to be excited about that, and maybe even say that she wanted to come, but she didn’t. Instead she said that she thought it was a bad idea because she knows I don’t have a lot of money right now. That was a totally legitimate reply, but it kind of bummed me out. We even had a little mini argument about it. Later that day, we made amends and talked out what had happened. She told me that her whole life she has been taught to work for what you want. In essences, Work Now, Play Later. That was really shocking to me, but it really helped me see Taylor’s point of view. I explained to her next that I was brought up quite differently, in a world where there might not be a tomorrow so get everything out of life you can. Translation: There will always be work to do, so make sure you play hard.

Completely different upbringings. Completely different perspectives. No right or wrong answer.

When I moved to Abbotsford I was 19, and felt very young and nowhere NEAR ready for a serious relationship. Where I grew up nobody was in a serious relationship, actually. So it was a shock for me to move here and find that the girls my age were either married, “courting”, or already knocked up. I couldn’t believe it. I think it is kind of cultural here. So for the last 7 years I have felt really behind the times.

But although it took me awhile, I learned that this was yet another box in life. Only this was a box in which you had to get married and become a wife in order to be happy in life. Kind of like that box where you have to go to university the second you graduate and have a career at 22.

I don’t fit into either of those boxes. Or maybe I don’t fit into ANY box. I am 26 and single, in my very first year of university, still slightly unsure of what I want to do in life. And you know what, people? I am happy. I am surviving. I am gonna make it. Just because I am not married and don’t have a career does not define my happiness.

I am not trapped. I am not trapped. And I am just now realizing this.

In my bathroom I have a message that I cut out of magazine letters and framed. It helps me every single day to realize I don’t need to worry about being stuck in a box. That message means a lot to me. This is what it says:

why can’t you see

 freedom is sometimes

 just simply

 another perspective away

There will always be four walls threatening to close in on you if you let them. If you let those stereotypes and preconceived notions and guidelines and rules and traditions in life get the best of you. But the fact is, babies are not born with manuals and nobody, not even God, has ever came up with a formula on how to live your life.

Well, except that we are supposed to love each other. And as long as I am loving others I know I am doing my best.

~C~

Also known as…Rachel Rabbit