Sunday, January 31, 2016

36 years

36 years ago tomorrow, on my 10th birthday, my Dad started a new job.

To be more precise... he left a high flying corporate career and followed a call on his life to full time ministry.

A call he answered but, in truth, we all answered. 

We moved cities, took a massive cut in income, gave up the company cars and set about living life as Missionaries and Missionary kids.  
Leader, mentor friend
Michael Cassidy

The blessings that accrued from this step of faith have far, far outweighed the not insignificant hardships and challenges that invariably show up in life.

That journey, that career, that particular, and peculiar at times, work life ends today.

It surprises us not at all that my Dad (and my Mom) will spend the afternoon today at Missions Fest staffing the African Enterprise booth, making connections, dispelling myths about Africa, telling stories, hailing and being hailed by many old friends, sharing passion and heart.  I am also certain my Dad will be back in this booth as a volunteer for years to come but today it stands as his last work assignment.


I am so incredibly proud of my parents, for this was a journey they walked side by side.  Their commitment, integrity, passion, sacrifice and steadfastness to the work, the organisation, the people, their faith, is remarkable.  

They are ready for this new phase.

Retirement.  

So tonight, at a family celebration, we will pause with gratitude for the gift of work and the gift of graciously laying down the work and courageously walking into a new stage of life where the same faithful God will continue to love and guide each and every day.

February 1 - a new day, a new chapter for Dad and for me.  Because if you were tracking the math from the opening sentence you'll know that tomorrow I turn 46.  We have long shared this day, my Dad and I, and many milestones along the way and tonight and tomorrow will be just one more.

I love you Dad.  Congratulations on your retirement.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

An unexpected life

Do you ever have moments when you seem to be outside yourself looking at your life and you find yourself surprised that THIS is you, your life...wondering how this all happened?

Of course you know how it happened.  Because you lived it.

But sometimes in the living, the busy living, the hectic pace, you don't actually see.

And then suddenly your little boy walks away from the car in a suit and bow tie.  

Bam.  Focus hits right when you least expect it and you SEE your baby is a confident, social young man in the home stretch of his school career. 

It left me a little breathless. 

Last night I picked up my girl from the ferry and we walked into a restaurant for dinner.  I recognised the hostess immediately.....from when she was a toddler....I hadn't seen her in nearly a decade.  I didn't say anything to her but a few minutes later her parents walked in.  Their shock at the change in Lindsay, the fact that she was at University, brought the passing decade into focus again.

And as Lindsay and I chatted as we had dinner, drove home, went for walk, it left me in no doubt this daughter of mine is growing into a smart, thinking, compassionate adult.

My children will be 17 and 19 in 2016.

It's cliched to ask "how did that happen?" though that very thought percolates through my head very, very often. 

The thing is I know how it happened.  I was there.

And I did my best to pay attention while it was happening.  To be present, to make memories, to guide, to care to feed , to love, love, love.

I have this very clear memory of once watching a family, in an airport I think, of two parents and three older teenage, early 20ish kids and thinking how cool that seemed.  To be a happy family with such big kids.  How far away, impossible and remote it seemed from my life at the time.

And now I imagine if someone saw us we would look remarkably like that family (minus that 3rd child).

So I guess as I sit in my quiet house this Saturday with a puppy snoring at my feet, as a birthday approaches, I am feeling at once the slight tinge of regret at how the years do seem to pass quickly, how the small changes sometimes elude us and then suddenly come into focus as big changes...but more than anything I feel truly, deeply grateful for this life I have been gifted.  

The kitchen is messy, the laundry needs doing, I should be cleaning the floors but when my beautiful girl wakes from a much needed sleep in her bed we are going to go out, and walk, and drink coffee and hot chocolate and eat and shop a bit.

Because we were given today.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Home Alone

Saturday night.

Dark and rainy.

Home.

Alone.

Except for Spanner.

And the whump, whump of the dryer

And the hum of the washing machine

Cue the violins.........

NO WAIT....CUT, CUT, CUT......

Toss the violins people!

I am home ALONE!  

This never happens.  

This is incredible.

I can play Air Supply and sing into my hairbrush in front of the bathroom mirror without emotionally scarring any teenagers.

Without a bra on...... In my jammies....at 7pm!

It means I can have whatever I want for dinner - in this case a fruit salad and avo on toast.  



No,  I am not hiding the wine ..... I am on a cleanse for January.  It's hard and it sucks but I am doing it.  I have eaten 55 kale salads in the last 16 days.  At least.  I packed my lunch to work for 8 straight days...... a world record I'm sure. 




But my pants have stopped chattering and I'm feeling great. 

Except tonight I could use a drink.  Strictly for medicinal purposes.

Because anyone who tells you getting a tattoo doesn't hurt or "isn't so bad" is lying or they are a woman with "I-forgot-how-much-labour-hurts" syndrome.

I got some ink today and I am super, super happy with it "Ohana" means family, not just my biological family but all the people I choose to have in my life - my peeps - my Ohana. 



But it flipping hurt man.  Thankful the best cheerleader a girl could hope for was there chattering away to distract me....it sure helped.  Plus I wasn't going to cry.  Especially after Lindsay braved a whole sentence or two and I only got 5 letters. 

Anyhoo back to being home alone....now that I have checked all the doors are locked. Again. 

I am the captain of my own ship and the possibilities are endless!

I could clean, I could organise, I could read (but I finished a book last night and I'm not ready to dive in again...), I could watch TV (but that would be weird seeing as I haven't watched TV since the third season of Greys Anatomy), I could watch a movie, I could cook, I could bake, I could play bejewelled on my phone trying to beat AC and LC, I could work on my Daring Leadership course ( it is ah-may-zing)..... the evening is a blank canvas!

I sadly can't walk across the street to the Dairy Queen because the whole no bra jammie thing....and now all I want is  a peanut buster parfait...Ugh.  Oh right, I'm cleansing, nevermind.

So whatever you do tonight....

DO NOT feel sorry for me!

And do not ring my doorbell.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Into the Arena

I have been eagerly and anxiously anticipating stepping into Dr. Brene Browns "Arena"

She uses a quote by Theodore Roosevelt to preface her work...

No big deal right...... GULP.

It's been a long time since I invested either personally or professionally in myself.  

But after reading enough of Dr Browns work and picking up the Daring Greatly book I actually bought for Allan ironically....I decided to sign up for her online leadership course.

It started today.  

No ..... I haven't watched the video.  But I did peek at the workbook for session 1 of 6.

Eeek.

It's about to get real.  

Inside my head at least.

I'm ready to tackle some big topics for myself and for my work.  

I'm not sure if it's a new year, or my looming birthday but I am feeling dissatisfied with the voices and ever-longer conversations I have with myself.

I am both boring and exhausting to talk to. And there is very little, if any, perspective to be had in my head. And I am not necessarily all that kind or forgiving of my real and perceived short-comings.  I have cultivated being busy, pursuing excellence and extending love and care to others.  This stuff fills me up. It does.  But as I get older I am finding I need to pay attention to the internal gas tank that is sometimes falling faster than I anticipated.  

It's time to take a long hard look at some things.

If ever there was a year for me to ever so slightly take my foot off the gas at work, this is it.  It has been a bumpy but interesting road the last while and now we are in a relatively flat spot, an in-between space.  There is another hill looming and I need gas in the tank not just for me but for the whole organisation.  We have good and important and hard work to do and that is going to take a leader who dares greatly.  Who shows up and picks herself up every time she stumbles. 

That needs to be me.  

And I have so much to learn.  

I am proud of where we and I are today but I still get caught up in regret for things I handled badly, problems I didn't foresee, deadlines and documents I missed or misplaced (don't even ask about my VISA receipts!).  This happens in my personal life too.  I get caught up in busy and forget to nurture myself and sometimes those around me.

I am going in to the arena and I am going to slay a few personal dragons (fingers crossed).  

I'm going to shut the "not good enough" voices the heck up. 

So easy to type.  So NOT easy to do. 

Here I go....I am stepping in.... AND that is perhaps my first daring greatly act. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

This year I will.....

This year I will be...... different.  

Ok get the wise cracks about how "different" I already am out of your system.

By different I mean changed. 

All I will commit to this January 1, 2016 is that by January 1, 2017 I will not be the same person.


  • I will be older. In 30 days actually.  46 seems a very "Meh" age.


  • I may be thinner and fitter (or not).  I certainly won't be taller - that ship has sailed as our family photos illustrated SO well.


  • I may or may not be wiser but I will have added knowledge to my brain.  And maybe my heart too.  I start an online course with Dr. Brene Brown on Daring Leadership in January that I am very excited about!


  • I may sleep better.  It can hardly get any worse.  And Yes I have tried melatonin!
  • I will learn some new tricks in the kitchen.  I have declared this the year of fried chicken.  We (and I mostly mean Allan, Lindsay and Emily) will perfect that holy grail.  And enjoy doing so.  Which may jeopardize other goals (see above second point!). Fried chicken and craft beer.  Yeah baby!


  • I will walk more.  My fitbit and I have embraced the pavement, the trails, the dyke and we walk as much as we can.  I don't see that stopping.  We may raise our step goal but we'll see.


  • I may learn to give myself a little more time and space to live my life the way I want it to be.  While the "Just in Time" thing certainly worked better than I could have imagined, it could give me an ulcer in the long run.  I hope to plan ahead better.


  • I might master the DSLR camera or I might just keep snapping with my iPhone.
  • I will go to actual yoga classes.  And I will try to quiet my mind while doing so.


  • I am committed to putting more focus on my faith life.  I hope to learn and grow and connect with church peeps more.


  • I did manage 2 naps in 2015 - I think I am hoping for 4 in 2016.  Aim high I say.  


  • I will spend time with friends.  I hope to make more time for friends that I missed in 2015.  I want to be a good friend even when I am busy


  • I'll do many more soccer trips while Masters Man does many more hours of school (double courses this semester!!).  I will try not to curse about the weather.


  • I'll move my girl out of residence back home and then from home back in somewhere.  I will learn to embrace all the coming and goings and do my best to just enjoy the moments we have together.


  • I will do what I can to balance my work.  I think if ever there was a greater chance of that it could be this year.
  • I will love my family - that is a given, not a goal.  It isn't always easy and I am not always good at it but it is always at the top of my list of priorities.  They are my peeps - we are each other's peeps.  I will also try loving myself more as I continue to struggle with that as a concept nevermind a practice.

And so I will learn and grow and stretch my body and my mind and my heart and my faith and my anxieties and my joy and my circle and I will be a different person simply through the very everydayness of my life.

Happy New Year.