A Long December

One of the things I so badly wanted this Christmas was to talk to my closest South African friend, Laura. She walked me through some tough s**t when I was over there, along with being the first person at my bedside in the hospital after I was hit by that cement truck in ’07. I miss her. So badly. And I’m so very thankful we got a chance to connect this Christmas, and we had a really good talk despite the fact that I had to call three different times because we kept getting disconnected. That’s fine though, because despite all our 2011 (almost 2012 ) technology, I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that my cordless phone in White Rock, BC can reach her cordless phone in Pietermartizburg, South Africa. Amazing.

Anyways, I’ll get to my point.

She asked me to tell her what the highlights of this year were for me, and the silence that followed probably cost $10. I really struggled to answer her. Why? Why was it so hard for me to come up with an answer for her? I have had a good year. But maybe not a great one…

Not that I really want to be bringing this up again after so much time, but it has to be said…not many of you know this, but Brian and I almost broke-up for good on New Years Eve last year. We should have, now that I have gained some clarity. And we also almost broke up in February. We actually should never have started dating in the first place, and I blame it on the star-filled sky that summer and the endless days and the excitement of newness…but New Christina knows better than Old Christina and I should have seen the signs but I didn’t. Anyhow, all this to say that as you know, he and I lasted until April. And by lasted I mean struggled. And I truly mean struggled…we rang in the New Year broken and frustrated and upset and both only thinking of ourselves. I was so sad about that, because I think in my heart I really wanted 2011 to bring awesome things to my life…big things. Life-changing things. You know what I mean. So while those dreams were shattered in April when we finally called it quits (which I haven’t for a single day in my life regretted), new dreams were formed.

Yes, it was a really hard year. A super duper hard year. But thank you, Laura-Loo, for asking me such an important question. When I think back on 2011 am I going to remember pain? Am I gonna remember a broken heart?

Or will I please please please remember JOY? Freedom from people who hurt me?

So if I could rewind time and have Laura ask me again what the highlights of this year were for me, I would tell her without hesitation that my heart is FULL of love and gratitude for all that 2011 brought….

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In 2011 I reconnected with my DAD! I can’t even comprehend the wounds that were healed on my 27th birthday when he phoned me for the first time after so many years (I can’t even remember how many it had been but it doesn’t matter now!)

In 2011 I joined the wonderful world of the Canuck-obsessed and LOVED every moment of it! (Um, except for the last moment in June…you all know what I am talking about)

In 2011 some insanely meaningful relationships were formed and pieces of my heart now belong to a few beautiful women out there who know exactly who they are.

In 2011 I went camping LOTS!

In 2011 I joined the band at church and have had a blast with my “family” there that have embraced me and all my flaws and have walked me through some sad times.

In 2011 I learned to deal better with conflicts and have become more solid in the way I work through things.

In 2011 I recorded in a studio for the first time and felt like I was in heaven! (click here to listen!)

In 2011 I “met” my Auntie M for what feels like the first time (sorry about my bad memory, Auntie M!) and feel so lucky to have even more family in my life.

In 2011 I finished my first-year at UFV…FINALLY. Jeesh. That “only” took 3 years!

In 2011 I got a TATTOO!!!

In 2011 my Kylee Ray (okay, okay…Kylee Hannah) was born and has brought so much JOY to my life and obviously to my best friend’s life, too!

In 2011 I completed my first half-marathon! And I’m doin’ it again this year, baby!

In 2011 I moved into my cottage and have never felt more at home in Abbotsford.

In 2011 I celebrated ALL this and more for which I am thankful with all the single ladies, who I didn’t even know existed.

And in 2011, above all else, this girl got her precious heart back. Not broken, also not perfect, but mine. All mine.

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One of my favourite songs of all time is Long December by Counting Crows. And yes, it’s a little depressing, but gets to me every time…

(and it’s been a)

Long December and there’s reason to believe

Maybe this year will be better than the last

I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell myself

To hold on to these moments as they pass

Yes, friends. Hold onto these moments as they pass. I don’t know if it’s a phase or what, but lately I have been so aware of time and how fast it’s going. And while 8 months ago I couldn’t wait for this year to be over, now I am realizing that I it was probably one of the best years of my life. I am changed and having growing pains, but that’s life!

Happy happy happy New Year, my dear friends and family!

“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.”  ~Benjamin Franklin

AMEN BENJAMIN FRANKLIN…amen.

~C

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She’s Makin’ a List; Checkin’ it Twice!

Feliz Navidad, my friends!

Hope you’ve all had the loveliest of Christmas with friends and family!

Christmas was super quiet here in my little world; close family and a best friend here from Montreal completed that special day. And now I can’t believe it’s over…not that I should be surprised. Every year I stand in shock at the close of this holiday…in some ways I really do wish Christmas would last forever. I do.

But since it can’t last forever, I’m very thankful that I chose to milk it for all it was worth. Remember that list I made back in November? It worked out pretty well. I missed a few points but for the most part I followed my little heart and rocked out December!

Let’s see here…

1) Write meaningful Christmas cards to the people who touch my life, and really take a moment to thank them for the ways they bless me.

CHECK!

2) Try some new recipes for Christmas cookies and give them away to people who would never expect it, like the sweet couple who own the cafe where I work.

CHECK!

3) Go to the Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach Camp in Stanwood, Washington (anyone up for it?)

CHECK!

4) Put up Christmas lights on the cottage.

CHECK!

5) Make one Christmas craft per week and share that time with people I don’t often see.

CHECK!

6) Take lots and lots of pictures, especially when no one is looking.

CHECK!

7) Go shopping at North Gate Mall and spend at least 2 weekends in Seattle.

CHECK!…okay okay, HALF check. I went once—but we stayed for a long long time so that counts right??

8 ) Ride the Stanley Park Christmas Train.

Umm…next year anyone?

9) Go to Starbucks alone and get a hot Christmasy drink and people-watch.

CHECK!

10 ) Watch every single Christmas movie possible. 

CHECK!

11) Go to Chapters and read all the children’s Christmas stories and enjoy (rather than be annoyed by) the little kids playing at the train table.

CHECK!

12) Allow myself to feel the overwhelming emotions of the true meaning of Christmas. 

QUADRUPLE CHECK!

13) Listen to O Holy Night and try to recapture the complete peace I felt when I spent Christmas in South Africa.

CHECK!

14) Buy fake snow in a can and go nuts on my 4 precious windows at the cottage (they are the perfect kind of windows for it, with wooden slats dividing them into 9 little squares). Sigh…I am so in love with my house.

Sigh…I totally wish I had done this. But to be fair, every time I have a shower the windows steam up and it LOOKS like fake snow?? No? Doesn’t count?

15) Blast Mary’s Boy Child (gotta love Boney M!) and dance like a crazy person. No matter who is watching. 

CHECK!

16) Go to a Christmas music concert featuring the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. The Nutcracker would also be good if an alternate plan is needed. 

CHECK!

17) Call my best South African friend Laura-Loo and tell her how much she means to me.

CHECK!

18) Try to find the kind of Christmas lights that plug into cigarette lighters…I’ve always been jealous of all those sweet holiday rides!

No can do…But I DID put up reindeer antlers and a rudolph nose…although by the end of week 1 I was down to one antler, and now my car is sporting just Rudolph’s nose…note to self, don’t open windows next year!

19) Go to the Vancouver Christmas Market! 

CHECK!

20) Find a tiny (fake) tree that fits perfectly in my tiny cottage.

CHECK!

21) Make popcorn strings for said tiny tree.

Next year!

22) Create a Christmas 2011 time capsule…as most of you know, I am in a very very verydifferent place than I was last Christmas. Who knew that life would change so drastically in one little year? This time I want to document it all; write letters to myself and capture memories with photos…and tuck it all away until Christmas 2012.

IN PROGRESS!

23) Finally make it to the Annual Abbotsford Christmas Tree Lighting…in the 8 years I have lived here I have not yet made it!

Super sick that day 😦

24) Sponsor an Angel Tree child. Or two.

CHECK!

25) Love more. Hands down.

CHECK TIMES A MILLION!

A few pics for you:

# 3: The Lights of Christmas…

# 4: Put up Christmas lights on the cottage…

# 11: Go to Chapters and read all the children’s Christmas stories and enjoy (rather than be annoyed by) the little kids playing at the train table…

 
# 19: Go to the Vancouver Christmas Market
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# 20: Find a tiny (fake) tree that fits perfectly in my tiny cottage…
 
# 16: Go to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra…
This was seriously one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard and seen before—I highly recommend the VSO and hope you ALL can see them live one day!
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So this is Christmas, and even though it was busy and a little stressful, it was incredibly rewarding! As a side note, the Five Corners Christmas production I was in went very well and was definitely a huge highlight of my year! And the kids production? Oh my word…those kids totally rocked my world! I have never been prouder of a mish-mashed group of little kids in my life—all ages, all sizes, all levels of abilities, but the same HEART! 
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I love how bored they all look 😉 I promise I made it a lot funner than they are making it seem! Final rehearsals are never all that exciting!
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There is nothing sweeter on this earth than the innocence of grateful kids…I feel so blessed to have been a part of something SO awesome this Christmas!
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At the end of the VSO concert the narrator closed with this Irish Blessing. And did I ever tear up…enjoy these final precious days of 2011 and know you are loved…
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May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
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~C

This Too Shall Pass

A silver ball hangs from the centre of the Christmas mobile I made a few weeks ago. It confuses me a little bit because I don’t remember why I made it. Christmas is always a bit of a tough season for me emotionally, being the sensitive girl that I am.

It says This Too Shall Pass and I don’t know if that was a good thing at the time or a bad thing. A bit of both probably.

Do you remember being little, standing in the middle of a crowded room, and feeling like you were in everyone’s way? That pretty much sums up where I am at emotionally right now. I feel like I’m butting heads with people, getting on nerves, messing everything up, saying the wrong things…and I don’t know why. It’s really getting hurtful. And it is making me want to throw in the towel. I don’t feel adequate right now, like I’m not quite measuring up the way people are expecting me to.

In a few days I will have my first break from work that isn’t just a long weekend…Other than being sick 1 half-day this year, I haven’t taken a single day off work since April 2010 when Myranda and Randy and I went to Cali for 4 days. It’s definitely time. And it won’t be easy to watch the numbers in my bank account dwindle or to have to borrow money from mom, but I have been working 3 jobs and trying to be everything for everyone and I am losing it. For real losing it. It’s break time, baby.

On Monday I sat in my car at Save-On and cried my little eyes out when a song came on that the choir sang in this year’s production…I am, if nothing else, rocking out #12 on my First Day of Christmas post…

“12) Allow myself to feel the overwhelming emotions of the true meaning of Christmas.”

Maybe I embarrassed myself in that parking lot by crying so hard and making passerby’s worry, but it’s okay. I needed to cry, I needed to be thankful, I needed to realize what an incredible gift we have all been given…

The heartache, the sadness, the inadequacy of this world we live it, it too shall pass.

But so will the joy, the laughter, the friendships and the beauty…

So although this too shall pass, let’s allow ourselves this Christmas to just be.

Be yourself. Because you are beautiful.

And don’t you forget it.

~C

Monday’s With Martha: Week 6 (Salt Dough Ornaments)

Okay, I know I don’t earn any points here for creativity this week, since salt dough is not only one of the easiest peasiest crafts in this world, but also one of the most common.

But still. Martha needed to make salt dough. It’s a Christmas rite of passage.

As you know, I am directing a kids choir this year. There are 37 kids who have been working their arses off to learn and master 9 songs for the Christmas Musical this year, and they have done it cheerfully and with good attitudes and smiles on their cute little faces.

This time next week it will all be over and while there is a part of me that is sad about that, I also know that we all need a break and there is always next year!

It is important to me to thank those talented little kids for all their hard work with something tangible. Something they can hold onto and remember. I am hoping they like this ornament I made them, and that one day, years from now, they still hang it on their trees and are reminded that they were a part of something beautiful, and that they, too, have a voice.

As you can see, I ran out of regular flour and had to use bread flour…complete with flax seeds and all! But thankfully it doesn’t seem to matter now that they are painted and glittered. I’d really like to find the time this week to make little tags for them, with maybe a line or two from one of the songs we’re working on. That would be nice but we’ll have to see.

Anyways, so there you have it. 6 weeks of this weird craft obsession of mine are behind us, with only 1 to go. Unbelievable how time flies.

Have a great week, lovely friends of mine!

~C

PS Thanks Elisa for your help!

Monday’s With Marta Week 5 (really? week FIVE?!)

Where does time go???

This is gonna be a short one. To be honest, I’m tired and my creativity levels are a bit down right now. But I did manage to put together a fun little circle activity for my preschoolers that I will share on here as a stand-in craft for the week.

A few cookie cutters. Some construction paper. A cookie sheet and some sprinkles for a prop and viola! You get a great circle time activity for 3-5 year old little ones.

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This year’s group of kiddos love to play matching games…they are good at taking turns and most of them love cheering their friends on. So I think they will love this!

The cookie cutters have given me a great idea for this coming week’s project!

Love,

~C