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We’ve come a long way, baby!

It’s a cliche, I know.  It’s an add for cigarettes actually.  Regardless, it’s what’s been in my head the last few days.  Most of the time I feel a mixture of mild panic and acute guilt over the list of things to do at home, at work, and…other.  Most of the time whatever I get done during the day is just not good enough.  Most of the time.

Tonight Jeff came home after getting a haircut, had a shower then began to shovel the snow off the deck so that he could start the barbeque to make us the burgers he’d been planning on since lunch.  I asked what show we should watch together while eating dinner and he said “yeah, I’ve been thinking about this.  Maybe we shouldn’t watch TV after work anymore”.  Now my first thought was that if we ate dinner, then proceeded with the myriad of chores we have written on various lists around the house, we could get a lot more done.  I could continue the streak I was on all day at work, just translate it to home.  And what do they say?  Productivity is next to Godliness?  Or the Opiate of the masses?  I can never remember…

My very next thought?  SCREW.  THAT. 

First, I come home from work so that I can be home from work.  Making my home into workplace #2 does not appeal.  Second, by whose measure am I constantly finding myself lacking in productivity?  Why do I insist on self-flagellating for not ever being able to live up to my own standards?  My house is never clean enough, I’m never thin enough, I never do or see or know enough…but you want to know the truth?  At the end of the day all I really want to do is cuddle up with my husband and remember why I do what I do during the week: I work to support my life with him.  After all this, I told Jeff that even though we have a huge list of to do’s, we’ve actually accomplished a lot this year.  Maybe we should stop feeling bad about what we haven’t done and celebrate what we have done!  Maybe we should make a list of things to celebrate.  Things we’ve done this year that are a big deal.  And so, here’s the list.

1) We got married.  It didn’t take a lot of planning, but it did take some.  And it was lovely and romantic, whimsical and just perfect.  BFD.

2) We renovated.  We didn’t do the whole house, but we did a lot of it.  And it was hard.  AND there was minimal swearing, all done by me.

3) I moved here.  With all my stuff in a trailer pulled by a truck Jeff drove.  Not even a year ago.

4) I got a new job.  Then a temporary job.  Then a serious job, with travel involved.  All since last June.  The job thing alone is exhausting.

5) I bought a new car (new to me), and insured it in a province where insurance seems infinitely complicated.  The thing about this, I wanted one big thing to stay the same when I’d changed everything else in my life; I wanted my little  Mazda.  No such luck.

6)We met and got to know new in-laws.  It’s very strange having in-laws and then getting a divorce and getting new ones.  It’s been so worth it getting to know them, for both of us, but it takes a lot of work.

7) We have been on so many dates.  Maybe that doesn’t seem like an acomplishment, but with all that’s been going on, trust me it is.

8) I think the biggest thing Jeff and I have accomplished this past year is us.  I never knew a relationship could feel so much like home.  So the nights when we come home excited to eat dinner together and watch Gilmore Girls or Star Trek, we’re just solidifying our us-ness.  It’s not a waste of time, it’s how we like to spend it together.  AND it makes our sectional purchase make total sense.

Bring on TNG!

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Dear God,


I want too much.  And it seems like everything I want conflicts with the other stuff I want.  I know I’m selfish, self-involved, and choose more often than not to turn away from the people I could be helping.  I know you’ve given me a lot.  And I even know that instead of feeling grateful, instead of feeling privileged and loved just a little more than others, I’m meant to feel a burden for them.  I’m not above struggle; I was just born with more so that I could share.  I was not given more to keep it and appreciate it, I was given more to give it away.

And even though I realize all of this, I still choose time and time again to ignore it.  I choose to worry about silly things like fashion and comfort while people who aren’t so different from me worry about clean water and food to feed their families.  I choose this over and over because it’s too hard.  I look at all the hurt people are feeling, all that’s wrong with the world and know I can’t change it all myself and I give up before I even try.  And this thing I do, taking it all on myself and feeling overwhelmed and not even trying, it’s the most shameful thing of all.  I do it because I don’t trust you.

Since you are God, and you made me and the world and everything in it, and you know everything and don’t answer to me or anyone else, there is no reason to not trust you, except that I know better than you.  Well, since I know every time I read the news that I can’t fix it, who else is there to trust?  You know it’s bad, you see the pain down here every day.  And you need me to trust you and do my teeny tiny little part.  So how about this?  How about I stop making excuses to not?  How about every single day that I wake up, I ask you to give me the strength to do my teeny tiny little part?  How about I don’t worry so much about me, but focus on listening for direction from you?  How about I let go of my silly worries and know that every time I have fallen you’ve picked me up, and when I’ve started walking again  I’ve become that little bit stronger?  How about I rest in the knowledge that you’ve caught me?  And how about I show this to people by catching them, because you’ve given me the strength?

God, help me to live in what I know, and not die slowly in what I fear.


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Wasting Time (Also a Dave Matthews Band song)

You know what I never hear anymore?  Nothing.  No seriously.  When you ask someone what they’ve been up to, it’s always “Oh!  I’ve been soooooo busy!!!”  Usually they’ll go on to tell you about work, kids sports and activities, and various groups, clubs and organizations they’re involved in.  All this like they’re the only ones who have no time.  The sad thing is, most everyone is like this now.

In reality, we all get the same amount of time.  It’s a valuable currency every human being gets when he or she is born.  No one can check the balance, but there is one.  And one day, it will certainly run out.  But until it does, you as a human being have the luxury of deciding exactly how it gets spent.  Yes, we all have to work to live.  But how and where is up to you.  We all have to sleep, we all have to eat.  These things do take some of our time, yes.  But aside from that, we get a lot of choice.  What I see around me is an entire culture choosing to spend our time sprinting.  Running from thing to thing with no time to just be.  We all talk about needing vacations, but what about needing lives?  Needing to leave your home to be able to relax is incredibly unhealthy and weird.  And what about work?  Do we need to work this much?  For what?  For new cars and homes and furniture and clothes?  So we work like mad to get these things, or even just pay our bills if we’ve committed to living above our means, we exhaust ourselves, and then need to pay for vacations to relax?  Are we all retarded???

Just once, I’d like to hear from someone “Yeah, I’m not too busy lately.  I decided to start working 6 hour days so I could get some reading in.  I’m really into Sartre right now.  Yep, I love to sit in the living room of my small but comfortable apartment just reading Sartre.  And because it’s so small, I can easily afford the mortgage payments and cleaning takes no time at all, so that gives me even more time!  I use that to take long walks to contemplate God and the state of the world while being close to nature.  I have to say, I love my life!”

Have you ever heard anyone say anything close to that???  I haven’t.  And even if this person were to exist, he or she would be considered a loser.  For what, you ask?  For enjoying life instead of being suffocated by it.  For living below his or her means.  These things are shamefully referred to as laziness and lack of ambition.  In North America, where we are still close to our puritan roots, enjoying life and not taking it too seriously are sins.  It’s amusing to note that our European neighbours, who do take the time to enjoy life, and are scoffed at by us for being lazy, have still gotten so much done.  It’s…what do you call it?  Having a life so you have energy for life?   Light bulb moment!

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In or Out?

I have moved far away from stuff.  I live in a little town just outside of Edmonton called Devon.  There’s no Starbucks, the only clothing store is Fields, and to get anywhere else is 20+ minutes down a bumpy, although paved, road.  It may not be considered off the beaten path for some, but to me it’s the country.  Suffice to say, it’s one of life’s little jokes that I now reside here.  It’s ok, I can take a joke 😉

The attitudes I’m coming across here shouldn’t surprise me, but they do.  I expected to find people living in the country because they love the sprawling beauty all around them, because they like to hear birds more than the sound of traffic, because they prefer a simpler life.  I’m sure many do live here because of that.  Then there’s the other faction who lives out here because they don’t want to live near other people.  They think people suck, and when you get more of them together they suck harder.  Ok, I get this…kinda.  I wonder if any of these people have considered the fact that they’re people.  Seriously.  How can you be a self-hating human being?  I’m getting really tired of hearing “I don’t like people”.  I know there are bad people, I know bad things happen…and I also know that if all the people who see the problems we have  move away, then we have a much bigger problem.  I’ve always thought that if you see a disconnect  and it affects your world, then you’re there for a reason. “ Evil prospers when good men do nothing” was repeated a lot by my Mother  growing up.  So you don’t like how things are going?  Do something about it.  No running away allowed. 

The same applies for church.  Yes, Christians suck.  We’re a people group that takes self-righteous to the next level.  We should be modeling something better, but we don’t most of the time.  Because we’re people: we’re scared, we’re sad, we’re broken too.  The answer is not to leave church because of us, it’s to stay and contribute.  It’s to add your presence and your view to the mix, to be an example of something better.  If you want the world around you to be better, stay in it and add your two cents.  I know a lot of us have come to believe that removing ourselves from church, from communities, even from friend groups we don’t agree with is the right thing to do.  I’m here to tell you it absolutely is not.

 You earn the right to disagree with me when you do something about it.

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Comforts of Home

New home, new province, new relationship, new routine, new job (hopefully soon!). I guess you could say I’m in a season of change. Lately I’ve been alternating between elation and mild depression, depending on the weather and the day. It’s not too bad, it’s actually kind of nice to know I’m going through something hard. Life should shake you up from time to time, I think. Something that helps me in my new house are the pictures I’ve put up of my family. They’re not here and I won’t see them as much as I’d like to, but I have goofy pictures everywhere to remind me that life is silly and I should laugh at it. And that even if I can’t have a weekly family dinner with takeout, hours of chatting and my niece entertaining all of us with her stand-up, my family still exists and still loves me. It’s a nice thing! Even though I’m starting my own family, I need them around…if only in pictures and on the phone. I’ll take what I can get 

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The Language of Clothes

It’s an amazing thing, really.  I get flack from my family and close friends sometimes over my preoccupation with clothing.  I change several times a day for different activities, wear what some(Dad) would consider impractical shoes, and when pressed, will expand on why a particular garment does nothing for your figure.

Here’s the thing though: I’m not trendy.  I follow the trends in magazines, and will occasionally buy an accessory or piece that’s uber current if I like it a lot.  But for the most part, I have a style and I stick to that.  I don’t have a uniform, I’m a little too creative for that, but I do know what works for me and what doesn’t.  I’m on the short side, I’m curvy and I’m not a toothpick.  I know that skinny pants will make my legs look like ice cream cones, anything with ruffles on the front will make my boobs appear 4 cup sizes larger, and the current flowy/80’s/extra fabric/no waist tops, if not expertly paired with body conscious dark clothing underneath, will most certainly start rumours of me being pregnant.

So I buy simple clothes for the most part; slightly flared jeans to compliment my hips, tops with defined waists (ruching is the best thing to happen to me in recent years), structured jackets, pencil skirts, and pointy-toed 9 West heels.  These are the greatest, they make me look and feel taller by extending my leg line (remember: short).  The feedback I get from people who know me and people who don’t is very good, not because they see I’m on-trend, but because they see ME.  Let me explain.  Clothes say something about you, whether you want them to or not.  They’re what you’ve chosen to represent you wherever you go where people can see you.  We aren’t born choosing our bodies or colouring, but every single day we do choose what we wear.  Going outside in sweatpants and a wife beater communicates something to the people you encounter, as does wearing mink and a tiara.  No message is wrong, you just have to care enough to be intentional about what you’re saying.  I always think it’s a shame when people don’t get this, it means they could be working hard in life doing something, but putting themselves behind the 8-ball with unintentional communications.  How many of us know that bright young business woman who gets snickers and rumours instead of praise around the office because she wears too low tops and too short skirts?  Or the young guy who can’t get a date but insists it’s not because of his daily sweatpants and dirty t-shirt uniform?  And the deadliest of all: the person who is capable and intelligent and should be running the company but wears frumpy, old, shapeless clothing so that no one actually notices him or her?

Now back to me, because it’s my blog.  It bothers me to think that I could work hard and have that negated by what I’m wearing, so I’m very intentional about what I wear, all the time.  Hey, people are everywhere, and you never know who you’re going to bump into.  I don’t leave the house without makeup or wearing anything I’d be embarrassed to run into an ex in.  I choose clothes that make me look good, not clothes that overpower me.  I’m not a label whore, brainless consumer is not an image I’m cultivating.  I don’t cheap out on dress pants or shoes, because you can always tell.  I have clothing tailored, I have shoes repaired once before I throw them away.  I spend very little on fancy dresses so that I only get photographed in them once or twice.  I make sure that all my shirts hit my hip bone so I look proportionate, and I always wear earings.  I get my nails done and keep my hands moisturized, I learned that from my Mom.  I almost always have a scarf with me in case I get cold.

All of these little rules have taken me years to figure out, and they may seem a little binding.  Honestly  though, they free up my time and money considerably.  I don’t agonize over what to wear too much because everything I own looks good, and I don’t buy stuff that looks good on the hanger but not on me.  Over the years, people have noticed.  Being the woman who’s always nicely put-together has it’s advantages at work and personally.  My style communicates that I’m capable of handling whatever you throw at me.  It shows you I’m self-aware, grounded, and creative.  Most of all it shows you that I care enough about every person I meet that I’m going to put that effort in to dress intentionally.  Anyone who takes the time to think about what they’re putting on in the morning sends a message that what they’re communicating matters.  It’s not about looking a certain way; it’s about looking the way you ARE.  We could all use a little less fashion and a little more style, don’t you think?

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Stop bringing garbage home. Please.

I was sitting here in my new kitchen thinking about what to write, going through all the possible topics in my mind; stuff like life changes, relationships, international towel day (yesterday), but found I couldn’t write because I was distracted.  See, I moved into a house a week and a half ago described by some as a “clown explosion”.  The first person who described it as such to me was my boyfriend, the home’s owner.  The kitchen is bright orange with painted brown cabinets and faded country grey lino, for example.  The living room was a dark teal, and still has grainy honey-coloured laminate in it.  The carpet on the pre-fab stairs is full-on polypropylene…carpet shouldn’t even be made that cheap.  Maybe this all wouldn’t bother me, except for two things: first, I’m an interior designer by trade, and help home owners update their living spaces.  How can I live in this?  Second, my lovely boyfriend is in fact a collector.  Of lots of things.  So he brings stuff home that he thinks is cool, but has no purpose but to take up space.  I am an avid hater of collections.

Now you have to understand, I grew up with a mother who had 4 children and no space, and the woman reduced mercilessly.  I grew up thinking purging meant to literally throw out things I like from the crawl space off my attic bedroom.  Children are natural collectors.  Once I got married and had my own space, I proceded to fill it with whatever I deemed necesary.   Then my husband and I started moving every year; making hauling around my crap increasingly difficult.  By the last move, also called the divorce, I got rid of so much stuff that I went through a little mourning period.  After that though, it was refreshing.  Having less stuff I didn’t use anyway meant there was less to move, less to clean, less to lose.  I felt free!  Now, it’s a feeling I value over having a lot of things.

Back to the present problem: Mr. Dreamy keeps a row of antique bottles he found in old cars on top of the kitchen cupboards.  They’re making me mental.  A couple still have dirt in them.  Right next to them though, displayed proudly, is a Christmas card from his parents, the two birthday cards I got here, and the 5 cards I hid around the house for him the first time I visited.  He texted me a picture of his surprised happy face each time he found one.  He has family pictures on the fridge, and he’s letting me choose all the new house colours.  Alright!  I have a great guy whow ants to share his space with me.  Maybe I can put up with some stupid bottles…but the orange will have to go…


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Que Sera, Sera (I’m a quitter)

“When I was just a little girl I asked my mother, what will I be?”

Only, I ask that question probably every 6 months.  You know that statistic that says we’ll have 4 or 5 carreers now in our lifetime?  I’ve easily doubled that.  Not just jobs, careers.  If we’re counting jobs, I’ve had somewhere between 25 and 30.  I’ve done everything from interior design and contracting to fundraising in a non-profit and lots in between.  I guess you could say I’m ok with change 😉

It’s more than that though, growing up when other kids wanted to be a veterinarian, a ballet dancer or a fire engine, I remember wanting to do ALL of it.  I couldn’t pick just one career, I wanted to try out every vocation that seemed cool.  The grown-ups I looked up to were the ones who never stayed in one place, had a ton of experiences and stories, and lived lives of adventure and conquest.  Somewhere along the way, I convinced myself this was flaky and imature, but I never stopped wanting a life full of different experiences.  What ended up happening was I job-hopped, school-hopped and moved a lot, but I felt bad a bout it.  DUMB.

I married someone who also thought my choices were flaky, so my life became this ridiculous shame-spiral for years.  One day a few years ago, after a conversation with my ex husband and his roomate who wanted to start a business with me but were concerned I couldn’t “stick with something”, I called a braintrust meeting with my Mom, then-boyfriend and best friend called “what should Brianna be when she grows up?”.  We were brainstorming options when my Mom had an epiphany.  “Brianna!  You’re a quitter!”  I looked at her sideways with a face that said “you too, Mom?!?”  She gave me a big smile and explained how it was an attribute, not a flaw.  “You quit when you’re done, when you’ve learned enough…you don’t quit because it’s hard.  You’re just faster than other people; and you’re not afraid to take a leap without a plan!”  I liked that explanantion.  I liked it a LOT.  I’ve never identified as being lazy, mostly curious.  And an over-committer, that’s for sure.  But when I realise something won’t work, I see no reason in sticking around being frustrated and miserable.  I just move on.

So fast-forward to today.  I’m sitting in my boyfriend’s kitchen writing this.  He’s gone to work, and I haven’t, because I have no job.  Yet.  I quit mine to move to a different province to live with him because this could be the greatest adventure of my (and his) life.  My future mother-in-law has found me a potential residential decorating job, just one, and that seems pretty great to me.  After that, I don’t know what I’m going to do to pay my bills.  And that’s ok.  I haven’t been homeless yet, so if past predicts future I probably never will be.  I’ll find something, I’ll make new friends, and I’ll start a new adventure.  Because apparently, that’s what I do.

One thing that remains constant is writing.  I always go back to writing in some form.  Now I’m working on a book; I have time and I know this is the right time in my life to do it.  How I’d end up getting paid for it, God only knows.  But I have to put it out there.

What I want to know is: do you have something you have to do but have been to shamed or scared to start?  A big project?  A job or house move maybe?  A relationship you’re scared to end because of what happens after you do?  Let me know if you are, or have a secret desire to be a quitter.  We can take back the word for people who see the train has stopped and get off, not simply people who don’t try.

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Thanks for the conversation, dear.

I like to do things fast.  I don’t have time to be slow, I go fast.  FAST!  I like to over-book my days so that I’m rushing from place to place with no time to think or do anything that’s not on the schedule.  If something happens to take too long, like traffic, then I’m late to my next appointment which tends to domino into each subsequent appointment so that my day is tense and kind of awful.  The next day, I do it again.

So this was my life for years; being self-employed and panicky about it, I was in a rush having to be everywhere always.  And now I’m in less of a rush, but I’ve formed a habit of quickness.  Irony of ironies, I am now dating a man whom I consider to be the slowest human being on earth.  This of course, is not a fact…but if I have to wait for him to get ready for us to go out my whole body will tense as I silently shout “hurry up, hurry up, hurry up!”.  He is methodical.  He is intentional.  He does not multi-task and he does not cut corners.  The good part is, pretty much everything he does is done better than me, like when we were painting his living room and he insisted on sanding and priming and blah blah blah.  It took forever!  I whined a lot.  He told me I could take a break if I wanted.  I was shamed and kept working.  The living room now looks beautiful, and wouldn’t look half as good if I’d done it my way; screw sanding, primer optional.  I can appreciate his attention to detail and his calm.  Mostly.

Still, this whole “slowing down” thing is a huge challenge for me.  This morning I was at starbucks waiting to get to the condiment station to put cream in my coffee, and an old man was standing in my way talking to a barrista about something that I thought wasn’t worth me waiting for.  I felt my pulse quicken, the little annoyance start to build in my brain.  I was starting to get to the silent swearing stage when he said to her “Well!  Thanks for the conversation, dear!” and moved aside.  I paused.  I thought.  Maybe I have to slow down because getting to work early is less important that this man having a conversation with a stranger.  And maybe I’m not more important than him because I’m busier.  Maybe I’m just busier and that’s my life to deal with, not everyone else’s job to get out of my way.  Maybe I’m dating someone who’s going to remind me of that every day.  Maybe I like that 🙂

Thanks for the read, dear.

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Getting back into it

So I haven’t blogged in a long time…I’ve actually been pretty busy falling in love.  Sounds funny, but it’s true.  And it’s the first time it’s ever happened for me.  Yes I was married for 6 years; it still didn’t happen.  So now it has happened and it’s happened fast.  Leaves little time for blogging, even mini-blogs like Twitter.  So I’ve dropped off the face of the earth kind of, and now I’m wondering how to get back on.  I guess this is the first step.

It’s funny how things get more daunting the longer we leave them.  Like broken relationships, misunderstandings, laundry.  And we allow ourselves to be ruled by these things because they scare us, so we think about them constantly and torture ourselves.  Facing up to anything is easier than the stuff we put our minds through, every single time.  Take a break-up for example.  If you know your relationship isn’t going well, is not what you want or need and in all likelihood will not change because they are who they are and that’s how life works, then it’s far better to make the decision to leave the relationship, do what you have to do, grieve and begin to heal that to brood for years and let it become your everest.  I know we avoid pain, it’s a very human trait.  But by avoiding pain, we create more pain.  Every time.  Just watch The Village, that movie epitomizes why it doesn’t work to run from or avoid hurt.  It’s everywhere.  Lean into it and it shrinks.

So I am blogging again, because I don’t want my absense to become bigger than my presence.  This is a small thing really…but if I can’t master myself, then what can I master?