Under my tree

I had a particularly good day yesterday for a number of reasons, one big one being the boost of steroids and food. But this experience I feel is worth turning on the computer to capture at 2:40 AM.

Zsolt and I were relaxing on the front porch last evening, enjoying the massive sway of maple leaves mixing with a breeze and the gold evening light. Zsolt was mentioning how his friend enjoys recording short videos to remember the feeling of a place, rather than what it looked like alone with a photo.

This made me think a little.

I think, I replied, that I like to actually be in a place that has captured a piece of who I am, rather than a picture or a video…. being there, in that spot, whether it be an evening by the lake in Balaton or sitting under the tree I have literally grown along with all my life . . . that is what is really is to remember who, and what i am. That is when a piece of what makes me, me, shines. It reminds me that life is far more than a picture, or film, or a place to sit, a thing to let happen, a bed. These experiences are pieces of what I am. They make me, and they remind me of what I am.

So, I like them best. Far better than any form of art or screen.

Places that make me:

Under my tree

Balaton in the evening

The pond in Rockliff

The lake in Jasper called Horseshoe

The pool with family on a hot day

A drive with the window down and the music blaring

Eating into an orange that drips with sweet tangy juice

Sticking my face into a watermelon on a hot day

Warm cookies that are home made, not too sweet, and mine

A cup of tea and milk

Ice water

Little mountain villages with water down the middle

Home

Travel

Love

Zsolt

Dusk

I am all of these things

 

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Adventure is Worthwhile

Years ago my parents attended a psychic fair. There’s one in Ottawa, held each year, I think. Anyhow, they were there and my dad got to talking with one of the psychics. I suppose she must have given him a reading. And surprisingly part of that reading related to me.

“Your daughter is going to travel the world, and there’s nothing you can do to stop her,” said the psychic.

“Catherine?” he asked with a fair amount of disbelief. I mean, not disbelief that I’m his daughter – but that I would have ever considered traveling. As a child I hated not being home. When I went to camp my parents had to fax me every day, just so I could cope with being away. One day the fax came through with only the cover sheet – I balled my eyes out.

So, he doubted her prediction very much.

adventure-is-worthwhile

And then, one day, I went off to travel the world, and there was quite literally nothing they could do to stop me. (Even though before leaving for Europe Dad did in fact warn me, “don’t go falling in love with anyone while you are away.” Ha! Well, we know how that ended up.)

All that to say, I have been adventurous. From going to camp, then moving to Jasper for the summer and working at a Tramway, to moving to Quebec City for a month of solitude and French, to backpacking with my brother in Europe, to almost becoming an Au Pair in Sicily, to living in Hungary, to studying in England, to crossing the Atlantic by ship, to eating the best pizza of my life in New York, to Iceland and Portugal and Malta and Greece and Havana, and all the incredible places I’ve been gifted enough to visit.

Life has been an adventure. And it has been, as the great Amelia Earhart stated, worthwhile.

As you may appreciate, adventure can be big and it can be small. It can be choosing to raise a family, it can be buying a home, it may be travel, or diving into a passion project, it can be trying something new, it can be saying “I want this for my life” and then chasing that down, it can be a new recipe in the kitchen.

Anyhow!! One of the dearest gifts I’ve received from my adventures have been the relationships – the friendships. My goodness, what incredible relationships life has brought. It’s a theme I’ve explored in Bumpyboobs before – how living here and there can create heartache, because the fact is you always need to say goodbye. But you know what? The good friendships, the REALLY good ones – they keep. They just keep. My best relationships came from taking chances. Even if that chance was simply reaching out and saying hello to someone new.

Examples/Stories!!

Zsolt: Went back packing with little brother. Experienced fear like crazy. It was my first time in Europe and so far away from home. Each new city terrified me for the first day or two, (and then it was technicolour brilliance of adventures.) Met a man I thought I could marry. MARRIED HIM.

The creative writers: I won’t name them. But here’s the jot-note story. Moved to England with boyfriend. Eeeep. Arrived with nothing. Worked in a miserable job for 6 months. (still made friends!) Decided job was miserable. Applied for Creative Writing program, despite being sure I wasn’t good enough and was pretty sure a career post-MA would be hard to pin down. Was accepted. Spent every last penny on International Student fees. Met people who LOVE writing. Met people who would help shape my passion for writing. Met people who had such compassion and fascinating stories, and who dared to share their writing over many cups of tea. Met people who would be incredible FRIENDS FOR LIFE.

Zsolt’s PHD: This was Zsolt’s adventure, but I stuck my nose in. Zsolt applies for a PhD in England and GETS ACCEPTED. (Even though one teacher at his school in Hungary told him he’d never make it through a PhD degree in England). Leaves everything in Hungary and moves to England with girlfriend (me). Struggles like hell with the pressures of a PhD in a new country, all in English, with big expectations. Bonds with those who are doing the same, and facing their own big challenges, and they all persevere together. Kindly, he invites his girlfriend to join him and his colleagues for lunch every day at the Staff Club on the uni campus. They welcome her as if she belonged amoung this group of incredible scientists. Those same colleagues begin to invite their partners to join us for lunch too. Friendships and families form. We are blessed.

The Tramway: Again, no names. But here is the story. Am inspired when 15 years old after visiting the park to move to Jasper for a summer after high school and work. Do as planned. Work on a mountain. Live in a shit hole. Meet the BEST DAMN PEOPLE you could ask for. Go to the club every other night and we sweat through our clothes with the dancing. The next day, everyone gets on their bikes and heads to the glacier lake. Or the veranda at the Fairmount. Or the grocery stor. Or that tree in the park with the perfect kind of shade. At work, we savor what it feels like to look across the world everyday from the peak of a mountain. And we wear very ugly uniforms of green vests and mesh pants. Those people matter to me, and I still value the important friendships that have lasted from that time.

Working for Amnesty: Accepted a job in August, found out the cancer had become worse in September. Still began job in October – took the risk that it might wear me out (It did at first! But then it lifted me up.) in exchange for doing what mattered to me in life. Met people who inspired me to strive for better things, and helped me realize my potential. Worked 1.5 years before I had to stop. CONQUERED MY DOUBTS and grew a better relationship with myself.

Adventure is worthwhile.

These are big examples, but there are so many smaller ones I could list here too. Podcasting, publishing, applying to work in a book store (was I good enough to recommend books?!), inviting people to attend pumpkin carving parties (because I am terrified of social rejection), and many other things. Small things matter very much.

Adventure is worthwhile. But in every day life, so is risk. So is commitment and just a tiny bit of passion.

Hesitation is reasonable, but ultimately, it’s for suckers. Do plan and learn. Me? I worked boring jobs to save, applied for visas,  entered contests I’d never win and took opportunities never knowing what might and might not work, what might or might not fail, or where it all was going. (I also took many naps, cried too many times, ate a lot of cheese, and watched a lot of Netflix, ’cause I ain’t superwoman.) Somethings worked, others didn’t. Try, try and try again!

But, despite feeling rather aimless occasionally (*ahem*, okay, often), I strive to remember that my big personal regrets are all from times I let my fear and insecurities me. Not having a baby. Not chasing after a boy. Not running for class president. Delaying what I want because I didn’t know how to do it well  (learn how if it matters so much, and ditch perfection) … and from those moments I have taken much too.

Regrets happen, and so does fear, and frankly this is real life – opportunities will at times be missed.

But…

Adventure is worthwhile. Risk is worthwhile.

You are worthwhile.

Now, give the world a chance to realize that. Stop hesitating and dive into life. (You know who you are!) I promise, I will keep doing the same. Together we’ll see what happens next.

(High five!)

Considering the time, that is all I want to say about that. Sorry for being SO very didactic towards the end. This blog post has somewhat carried me away on a sentimental TEDTalk-esque wave of PREACH, LADY, PREACH!

 

P.S. Thank you to you-know-who for inspiring this blog post. YOU are so very worthwhile, in every way. 🙂 Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

P.P.S.

I’d like to dedicate this post to Jasmin. She truly challenged me to face my fears when I attended her retreat Stretch Heal Grow through Rethink Breast Cancer. She had metastatic breast cancer and passed away recently. If you’d like to learn more about her adventures, check out her story and considering supporting her incredible project as a legacy to this women.

A Manifestation of Love

During the day I get sweeping, gushing feelings of exhaustion, which essentially force me into the bed for a rest. But while I rest, I also think. And it’s quite nice to do.

This past holiday season – between Christmas and New Years, I did something very important: I re-watched for the umpteenth time Pride and Prejudice with my mother. The BBC version. The best of versions. She and I have watched it so many times. Countless times. There’s no one else I’d rather watch it with, and frankly it’s not half as good if I watch it without her.

So, we make our cups of tea and sometimes there’s a small plate of cookies. Then, we climb onto what is the most enormous bed ever, being a king-sized bed, with a gorgeously thick duvet cover, and settle in for a little bit of viewing. It’s not all watched at once, because it is quite long, so when we embark on watching Pride and Prejudice, I have  the additional please of knowing that there will be several sessions of tea, cookies, bed and viewings.

She may have her knitting, and I may have my phone. But mostly I think we have each other and the company of the Bennet Family. Because inevitably as we watching the show, we will end up holding hands and laughing at whatever witty thing just happened on the screen.

I love Pride and Prejudice, but even more I love holding hands with my mom. I love that space and time of being together. This is probably literally the first time I’ve mentioned the  action ‘aloud’ but there you have  it. It’s unspoken, and feels perfectly natural. It didn’t always happen, since growing up I wasn’t so into ‘touching other people’ – but living in a different country for a while from one’s family can make one more sentimental….and it carries on from there.

Anyhow, I really value my relationship with my mother. And I value those little moments. And I value that we get each other in a way that never needs exploration.

So I’m lying in bed ‘napping’ but really thinking about all of this, which makes me think a little further. My mom and I are close, in an unspoken way. It’s very hard to describe beyond Mom and Daughter – close friendship doesn’t capture it enough. But I think that scene in the bed does. So what about my other extremely important relationships? How are they best captured?

Well Zsolt and I… I mean… it’s captured every day in every moment. He is my husband, I am his wife, and we are for one other. So I’ll just leave it there because I think that is saying enough and frankly it’s all too big to hold in words on this blog. It’s like the intangible relationship with my mom, but so unique to itself.

My Dad and I – that is such an easy one. Our moment, I feel comes in two ways. One is simply the way we exchange. I’ve blogged about this before. The ‘he gets me every time’ and the ‘I get him right back with a zing’. I’m not sure he loves this arrangement, but it’s a dynamic that is more about love and habit than it is about anything else. And then the other way, the smaller moment of a hug or a smile. This is new for me because, like I mentioned, I don’t much love being touched. But in some moments, some important moments, a hug is okay.

And then that unique relationship with my brothers. It’s so different than my parents  or husband or best of friends. It’s not so sentimental, but … but maybe it is?

Big brother little sister – What moment or gesture marks its meaning? I think, of late, it has been his kindness and support. He loves to push – all his life he has pushed, and in his adulthood he’s harnessed that into the power of pushing people to live well. I, however, don’t love to be pushed. Ha! Not at all. So we find our medium ground. But more than that – beyond how he makes me juice and reminds me I should exercise… the real bottom line is we’ve learned how to support one another. Supporter and supported in turn, as needed, in different ways that life poses challenges.

At least, I think so. It’s kind of a new one for me to consider.

And then big sister little brother. I really am not sure the marker for love here – except that I care for  that guy like crazy. Like nutso.  Like bonkers. Growing up he was literally at times my closest friend, but probably too young to understand that, I think. In adulthood we have our own lives, but still these occasional wonderful moments. The other day he surprised me as he and his girlfriend took me out to see The Gift of Lights here in Ottawa. It’s a camp ground that was covered in Christmas light displays, and you drive through slowly and it’s quite surreal. Well we put on Pink Floyd and it was fantastic. How can you not love an evening like that? We even hit up my parents’ hot tub in Kanata afterwards. It felt like being a teenager again.

And then there are my closest friends. What moments make those relationships? The conversations, I think, more than the individual actions. The chance to exchange on ideas that are either about life, or culture, or just picking things to pieces and better understanding the world. God I love doing that over a cup off tea. Maybe they can best be represented by cups of tea 🙂

Anyhow, when I stop and think about it, there are so many kinds of very important relationships in my life. It’s quite fascinating how they are all so different in function and form, but bottom line all so very much filled with love.

Next, I hope to watch Anne of Green Gables with my mother. It’s a much longer series, produced by TVO (I think?) and a great classic. I have not watched it 1000 times before, but maybe 500 times. So, this is something to look forward to once again. And those cookies. Geez, my parents make amazing  cookies.