IMG_3531

A popular blogger was kindly chastised the other day for not using people-first language. She’d referred to her friend’s cute baby as a Down’s baby (as opposed to a child with Down’s Syndrome,) and her comment section lit up. People-first language, please, was the gist of it. My initial thoughts, I confess, were along the lines of, Oh, great. More political correctness to stumble over. More silly this-is-how-we-say-it-now. But after a moment’s consideration I realized, of course.

People-first language, please?

Of course. Yes.

Because people are always people, first.

I’m conscious of it, now. I’m more deliberate in my thinking about you. I try to consider people in a people-first way. I’m more intentional about looking past the easy, first-glance descriptors, past the first impressions. I’m exercising my Jesus-eyes, those eyes that look deep into hearts and souls. So …

The checkout girl at the grocery store is, instead, the woman who woke up early and went to work to earn her dollars by helping me pay for and pack my family’s food, so I sincerely thank her and wish her a good morning.

The homeless man wandering the downtown streets is, instead, the man who, for reasons unknown to me, does not have a place to live, and so I look at him and smile right into his face as I walk by.

The bratty kid in the park is, instead, the child who is having a hard time making friends, so I put a hand on his shoulder when I ask him not to push and I smile at his momma.

I’m trying so hard to negate all those years of first-impression eyesight. I’m trying hard to not see you as the snobby woman or the crippled guy or the blonde girl or the disrespectful teenager or the needy friend. I’m even trying to go beyond seeing you as a perfect mom or the smart girl or the lucky one, because that’s not fair or accurate, either.

I’m trying to be kinder to myself, too. I’m trying to see myself as a person, first. I am trying to look into my own soul and my own heart, and to see what He sees when He calls me Beloved, to see myself as a girl who is smart and beautiful, as a woman who loves to laugh and enjoys a good story and takes courage and tries her best.

We are people first, friends. All of us.

IMG_4467

I was one of those who drank the Tiny House kool-aide. Do you know what I’m talking about? Those websites and links with words like off-grid and financial freedom and eco-friendly and how to build a house out of a shipping container for $2000. I drank a tiny glass of all that tiny wonderful-ness and I imagined an amazing tiny life and I thought:

How cute. How adorable are those tiny sinks and tiny toilets. How wonderful to pare your home down to such a basic level. What freedom! What an awesome way to disconnect from consumerism and materialism.  How lovely to miniaturize everything. How easy it would be to clean and organize.

Then, without really planning for it, tiny living happened to me, and it looks like two bedrooms, a bathroom, and an itty-bitty multi-purpose space in the basement of our friend’s home. (He is so sweet. He could not be sweeter.) We share his upstairs area (kitchen and living room) while trying to give him the space he needs for his own busy life. We’re paying him a tiny amount of rent and in return we have the gift of time. A year or so to settle in and live in this town and figure out what *it* will look like for us.

Reality is often less adorable than the dream, isn’t it? Reality right now is an ugly second-hand couch (ugly couches are my lot in life, it seems) and a lot of close-quarters navigating. Reality is tolerance and accommodating each other and sharing. Reality is crowded.

It’s kind of a fun challenge. It’s not the tiny home of my dreams, maybe, but life is not a dream. Life is real and complicated and requires grace and flexibility, and if you embrace all of that, it can be a tiny bit wonderful.

May we live all kinds of tiny graces today, friends, no matter the sizes of our homes or the expanses of our lives. May we find polite ways to share our spaces, whether at home or in the grocery store queue or online. May we use our words in healing, supporting ways. May we share coffees and cookies and rub elbows instead of throwing them. May our close quarters invite intimacy, friendship, and cooperation.

May we experience all the unexpected crowded blessings life offers.

IMG_4298

When I moved from Saskatchewan to British Columbia, I was expecting some things. I was expecting to enjoy the weather and the view. I was expecting to have a few anxious moments along the way, and to miss my friends and my familiar Saskatchewan life. I was expecting some fun/uncomfortable/stretching feelings as we searched out new grocery stores, coffee shops, and churches.

What I hadn’t expected was to begin remembering myself.

I’m remembering myself here, on the shore of the Shuswap Lake and on the bank of the Enderby River and on the deck of the house of the friend who is letting us stay with him. It’s coming back to me in slow waves of warmth and a gentle soul-awakening. I’m waking up, is what it feels like. I’m turning, returning, to the girl who loved the lake and the sun and baggy shirts and cutoff jeans. I can feel her stretching inside me, turning her face up and smiling toward the sky.

IMG_4344

IMG_4327

IMG_4297

IMG_4402

It’s not the place, really, although there is no denying the beauty of British Columbia. It’s the change and everything it took inside to make the change. It’s the bravery of saying goodbye and the courage to say hello. It’s less stuff and better goals. It’s opening up to possibility and the freedom of starting fresh. It’s a longing acted on, and believed prayer, and going when it seems right to go. It’s accepting the hassle and stepping off the curb.

I’m remembering myself in all of this. I’m fifty-two years old, and I’m the youngest I’ve been in a long long time.

IMG_4322

If I’ve struggled with anything in my life, I’ve struggled to believe these two things: I am smart and I am beautiful.

And even greater is the struggle to resist measuring my smartness and beautifulness against her smartness and beautifulness, which is so destructive because we all are, you know. In different ways and at different stages, but we all are so smart and so beautiful. Not one or the other, not not enough of either.

I wish I’d learned this earlier. I wish I’d spent less time worrying about tummy rolls and hairstyles and grade point averages, and more time laughing and living and having fun. I wish I’d grown up learning how to affirm instead of compare. I wish I’d been better at complimenting others and myself. I wish I’d loved better the other girls, instead of harbouring secret jealousies and fighting the demons of self-perceived inadequacies.

I wish we could all accept that we are both smart and beautiful, all the time. We are smart, you guys. We do remarkable things that take brains. We learn stuff and we apply these learned things in creative ways and we adapt to the changes that come with environment and years and we make important decisions and we do clever, important things every single day.

And we are beautiful. We really, really are. We should take such great pleasure in our loveliness. We were gorgeously made and adorned and yes it’s true, beauty comes from inside. It shines right out through our eyes and it’s in our giggles and we don’t even understand, usually, how adorable we are when we smile or when we stroke the dog or when we beat eggs into frothy glory in the chipped blue bowl that was a wedding gift all those years ago.

I look at women differently than I used to. I used to evaluate you, my friend. Isn’t that sad? I used to try to determine whether you were prettier than I or better educated or more happily married or thinner, and I’d feel better or worse about myself based on how I imagined we stacked up against each other.

I don’t do that anymore. I mean, there are lingering wisps of silliness because of how ingrained these measuring-up thoughts and behaviours have been, but I fight them. I try very hard now to use my Jesus eyes and to see you in all your gracefulness and loveliness and brainy-ness.

And guess what? The world has become a friendlier place.

IMG_4132

So, we moved.

We packed all the things and we drove west and here we are now, in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, Canada.

When we left the little farm in Saskatchewan, a new family was just beginning to snuggle into the big old farmhouse. Two sweet boys and their parents, and a whole new batch of LEGO and toy trucks and dirty knees. It made me happy to know there would be bugs in jars on the windowsill of the kitchen, once again.

When we drove away from that little farm, I cried. Carter was with me, and my foster daughter, and I was tired from a long week-that-felt-like-a-year. I was on my way out-of-town for the last time and the farm was my last stop, and when I hugged the new farm-mommy it was a hello and a farewell and a I hope you love it here as much as we did, and I thought I was good. But then, as we were leaving, Carter asked me to stop.

I’ve never been brave enough to jump from that tree, he said.

Do you want to? I asked.

Ya, he said.

So I waited in the car and he ran out to the tree from which his brothers and their friends had jumped to often and so carelessly and he climbed it like a squirrel and without hesitating he leaped.

That’s when I cried.

Because of the leaping.

Because it was the perfect ending and the perfect beginning and because it was brave and cool and the absolute best last-thing-to-do-before-leaving-and-beginning-a-new-adventure thing ever.

IMG_3202

Ask me a question these days and chances are good my answer will be “I don’t know.”

Where will you live after you move?

I don’t know.

Will you buy a house or rent?

I don’t know.

Will you keep fostering?

I don’t know.

What will the kids do?

I don’t know.

Do you think your foster daughter will be okay?

I don’t know.

Why aren’t you stressed out?

I don’t know.

There are a lot of things I don’t know about how life will work over the next few months. Honestly, I’m not sure why I haven’t felt more stressed and anxious about that. I’ve felt so many other things about this move: happy, sad, excited, lonely, uncertain, melancholy, rushed, tired, joyful. But I haven’t felt much stress and I haven’t been much worried.

I wonder if all the things I don’t know have helped me focus on what I do know? Maybe. I don’t know much about the future, but I know these two things…

I know I want a smaller life. I want a teeny tiny house with a teeny tiny yard to care for. I want less stuff and less busy and less unnecessary, because I have other ways I want to live before my living is done.

Now, if you are someone who seeks the egg-gathering, gardening, canning, or whatever-ing kind of life, that’s great! I did that and I loved it for many years. The goats and the chickens and the butchering and all the gritty beauty of life and death that country living has offered our family has been wonderful.

I’m glad the kids grew up on our little farm and we’ve been blessed by so many country experiences. But I’ve learned to let go of things, even when they’ve been precious and lovely things, when the time is right. And for us, now, the time is right right right. It’s bittersweet, of course. There’s some loss and that means there is some grief. But there’s beauty and freedom and healing in a good goodbye said well at the right time.

I know I want a “funner” life. Okay, it’s not a word. Whatever. A funner life is what I want. I’m not saying I want a more leisurely life or more money or more holidays. I think (and I’m figuring this out as I go, you guys) it means I want to engage in better ways with the things that make me who I am, deep deep down in my soul. Or maybe in my gut. You know?

Simply, I hope to spend the next years of my life doing what I’ve always encouraged in my kids: to be true to who they were created to be and to live out of the confidence that who they are is enough.

Who I am is enough. That takes a certain amount of courage to say when you’ve spent most of your life trying to be good, be better, be more, be seen. But it’s truth. And I think it’s the key to having fun.

A smaller life and a funner life. It’s a start.

IMG_0345

I’m packing a box of memories – stuff the kids have made over the years – and I realize all of a sudden, like the calendar just up and slapped me on the back, that in just over a month I will be homeless. It sounds more dramatic than it is, but still my heart quicks its beating for a minute or two as I let that realization and all of its complicated associated feelings travel from my brain to my heart.

And then, just like that, I’m excited. Finally, I’m excited. After being by times fearful and sad and confused and grieving, all mixed in with tentative anticipation, I’m plain old excited.

If you’ve been following along, we are moving. We’re selling the stuff and packing up what’s left and heading west, all the way to British Columbia. For lots of reasons that I’ll probably write about when I have more time, this move has been as much a heart process as a physical one.

A lot of things have changed since we began this new adventure. The original plan, back when we first talked about doing something else for a year, has been completely revised. That’s the nature of adventures, though, isn’t it? They take on a life of their own.

The one thing about that original dream that I want to protect, though, is it’s smallness. The simple, teeny tiny, cozy, delightful essence of what this whole thing was about when we started, in spite of how the details have changed, is still what is most important to me. In four words, this is my dream.

Less stuff. More fun.

More later…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 535 other followers