Sunday, June 27, 2010

Retreatville Day 3

It’s now 8 am and I am trying to prepare myself for home. Both physically and mentally.

I just came up from breakfast by myself.

(By the way I think my host must have high jacked my laptop while I was away yesterday. For breakfast today he offered me eggs and ham with my yogurt, fruit and granola. Of course this was after I had rounded out my meal ahead with some cottage cheese from home. Needless to say I am overly stuffed even after leaving half of the ham on the plate. My body is currently trying to process triple the protein it’s used to in one sitting).

I really enjoyed breakfast by myself. At one point the sun shone brightly through the window near me and I considered it God’s personal gesture of affection to start my journey home.

As I sit on my island in my oasis I ponder all of my little discoveries while I’ve been here. I’ve actually learned quite a bit during my short siesta.

I’ve learned ….

I love time on my own. I’ve always known this to some degree but never imagined I enjoyed it so much. I was actually quite comfortable with myself. In fact I’m pretty good company.

Sometimes you need to turn everything off. Even while away I found it easy to distract myself with books or movies. Though unromantic at times, intentional quiet is necessary too.

The movies I picked each taught me something new. Though 2 of the 3 I’d seen before and weren’t my favourites, I really got a lot out of them. A lot. It was good.

I am indeed a mother. Though I know many really have no idea what getting confirmation on this means to me, I do. It brings me so much peace, in so many areas of my life.

I learned that God is still listening (not that I ever thought He stopped). He is always waiting for us to stop and notice His great love.

I need to remember to see the joy in everyday. It’s there.

Silence is always around. We just need to remember to let it have a voice.

Eating alone is sometimes a gift.

Waterfalls are miraculous.

Gay people have their own travel magazine (they do! There’s one in my room). I didn’t mention this before but the man that owns and runs the B&B is gay (as was the woman who owned the one Wally and I went on our vacation). He definitely doesn’t hide it (it is posted on the B&B’s website which I thought was wise). I sort of purposefully came here because of that actually, since we had such a great experience at the other one, I thought maybe there was a correlation. I’d come back.

I’ve learned that I am more capable and daring than I ever thought I was. I mean I couldn’t travel abroad by myself but maybe someday.

I have an incredibly supportive amazing husband, whom for the most part I take for granted.

I guess I’ve learned quite a bit. Not all discoveries were expected but they were all welcome in the end.

Now I have to prepare myself for real life again and how I might find the quiet in it. I’ll do my best.

I know life is busy for everyone. I know it’s not always easy or seemingly possible to just take off by yourself for a couple of days but I believe it’s necessary sometimes. I don’t care if you are a single person or married, a mother of young children or free from that responsibility. We ALL need time to think, to pray, to hope, to relax, to dream, to figure. We all do.

If you are reading this and you wonder at all if this is something you may benefit from I’m here to say YES you will. Don’t expect a miracle in some lightning bolt sense, but if you go with an open mind and a willing heart you will learn something. And I’m pretty sure most times the little things we learn are indeed the big things.

I’m kinda thinkin’ that I might keep learnin’ a few little things even when I get back.

Here’s hoping.


Retreatville Day 2/4

It’s almost 9:30pm on my second night. The time has whipped by far quicker than I thought it would.

After my round of solitaire I enjoyed an hour long nap. When I woke up I went back to Gloryland for my final journey, it was grand. I then decided I needed to get out again. I perused my trusty map and got an idea of somewhere I could possibly park the car and go for a nice long walk.

Once again I made a last minute turn that shocked the car behind me and I veered towards my destination. I found a spot where several other cars were parked on the side of the road near a couple of small baseball fields filled with little kids and their parents. (I later wished I’d stayed to watch them play after my walk, there’s something about watching little kids do sports). I grabbed my MP3 player, my keys, my camera and cell phone (thought I’d be wise this time seeing as I was navigating myself around a foreign town). I threw my purse in the trunk and off I walked.

I walked for about 15 minutes when I came upon a street called ‘Lovers Lane’, took a picture of the sign and decided that was definitely to street I was going to walk down. And I did.

I noticed all of the large immaculately kept homes. Quite the sight to see. I enjoyed peeking through bushes and peering past gated fences to see how the people in this neighbourhood lived. Very nicely it appeared.

I walked as far as I could until I ran out of sidewalk then turned back and kept walking in the opposite direction of my car. I got to a bench and noticed I wasn’t all that far from all of the churches I drove past earlier today. I decided it probably wouldn’t be a wise move to try and walk to them since I had already walked 45 minutes and my car was still a good distance away.

Instead I chose to sit on the bench and watch the traffic go by. I really wished the bench was somewhere more secluded and quiet, but it wasn’t so I would try my best to ponder loudly.

I thought about my time away, if I’d made good use of it, if I had anything to take away from it, if I would try this again someday.

I decided I had a very good time, that it didn’t seem long enough but I could take things back with me and try and learn to rest and reflect while at home in the every day.

There was actually a phrase that came to me while I was on my walk. It was: ‘Find the joy in the everyday’.

I thought that was interesting. Surely it’s already on a plaque somewhere, maybe I’ve even heard it before, I don’t know. But it reminded me that all of the things I’ve done while away can be done in some way at home. And, there is always joy somewhere in a situation or the everyday, you just have to look. Maybe it’ll become my new mantra. We’ll see.

I sat on the bench and tried to collect up and organize my thoughts to figure out some great epiphany (because apparently getting confirmation that I am indeed a mother in waiting isn’t enough for me).

I found it difficult. After a while I stopped trying and decided it was time to return to my car.

Once I got home I read on the front porch for a little while, then judged that it was time for me to soak in the tub (seeing as I skipped having a shower this morning, it’s summer, I am a sweater and I guess it seemed logical). I filled it with bubbles then chatted with Wally on the phone for 9 minutes and 38 seconds (you needed to know exact times).

Next I thought it might be a good idea to have another visit with God. I went looking for my journal and could not find it in my room. Rats! I left it in the car and I was in no form to go out and retrieve it.

I then decided to compromise and use the laptop to ‘write’. I learned that it may now be the most natural form for me to use right now in communicating with God.

Seeing as I am now used to typing out my thoughts for the blog it did seem to flow quite well to write out my thoughts to Him on the computer. I know my mother in law would probably have thoughts on this techy style of communication but seeing as I have been communicating more out of the realm of ‘Hey God that’s a cool bug’ or ‘You know God, that person really annoys me’ or just plain ignoring Him altogether, I’m taking the computer as a good starting over point.

My letter was basic, to the point and sort of affectionate. As affectionate as I get. I may share it, I may not. We’ll see.

It’s now the time I normally go to bed but I really wanted to get a movie in tonight. I may start it and just see how it goes. I am really tired.


My Letter… (which I share only because I feel that sometimes we need to understand how basic things can be and how easy it can be to start this conversation. Give it a try sometime.)

Dear God,

Well I’m back again. I feel like I ripped you off a little in this retreat. Did I? I don’t know. I am just not sure how to do all this, but I already mentioned that.

I feel as though perhaps this is becoming an excuse for me to not communicate with you more often. Is it? I don’t want to make promises to you for when I go home like ‘I’ll do this for this amount of time and that for that amount of time’ but I do feel as though I need to make some sort of an effort, you know, considering all you put up with.

I kinda feel like the wife that wants to stay married but doesn’t know if she loves her husband anymore. This is actually probably a good analogy for me to relate to seeing as I have felt this way before and you have healed and brought hope to that situation. Clearly if I give even a little to start with you can do great things with that.

What do you think we should do when we hang out now? Is it any different than before? Should I go to church or home group again? What about Wally? How does it work for us?

God I know life is better with you. I know life is hopeful with you. God I know things are possible with you. Help me.

Am I allowed to listen for you? You know, like I used to. Maybe doing this would be good, just typing it out? Would that be so wrong? It makes me think of you. It makes me remember you.

God, you are more than I could ever deserve. You are … perfect.

I’ll be honest I’m sort of surprised I am saying these things but I’m pretty sure I mean them. You would know best.

I want to get to know you again. With fresh eyes and hopefully an open heart. I won’t lie it scares me a lot. I’m scared of religion, of theology, of confusion. I know to some degree those things are inevitable seeing as I’m human, you are God and I live on earth and humans sort of have issues with these things and stuff.

God, what if I commit to ten minutes a day? I mean it could turn into more somedays and of course that’s the hope but I’m thinking baby steps. I’m scared to fail, to let you down. I’m tired of failing, so tired.

Can you clean my heart please? A nice polish. I’ll do my best to let you do that and guard it from the dirt.

Thank you for the waterfall today. I needed that. It was beautiful. Really beautiful. I could have stood there all day.

Can you open my eyes and show me more? I know it’s all around me. I know it is. But sometimes I let other things get in my view. I want to always see you instead. I think you are pretty handsome.

I wish I could hug you God. I wish I could feel you hug me. I think you do all of the time but I probably don’t notice. Teach me God, how to notice your hugs.

Then of course there’s my family and those around me. I haven’t been great with them. I haven’t loved as well as I know I could. Can you help me with this?

God I want to keep seeing you, if that’s ok. I know that it’s pretty much up to me. Please feel free to remind me of stuff at anytime. I need it.

I love you Papa. I missed you. I don’t want to leave you again. Thank you for not leaving me. You are so great.

P.S. About the mom thing, I can’t do it without you. You know that right? I’m not tryin’ to be bossy but you are gonna have to orchestrate this one because I don’t know what to do. Have fun with it!

Love your daughter,

Eva :)

Retreatville Day 2/3

I’ve been here now for nearly 24 hours. It’s been good. I am currently listening to my host show some new guest through the house. I already know the spiel.

I had breakfast this morning with a couple from the States and a lady with a very thick accent I didn’t recognize. All three were hobby dog handlers in the area for training.

Much of the conversation held the words ‘diagonal’, ‘cross’, and ‘course’. I was lost but stayed too long to be excused in the middle. I mostly sat and listened. They were nice.

Breakfast was continental. I didn’t know B & B’s could do that, I mean isn’t there like a law somewhere that says they have to deliver real breakfast? I was a tad disappointed but oh well. My body got it’s daily dose of carbs and a retreat from protein, it wasn’t excited.

Later this morning I decided to get in the car and take a trip. To where? I didn’t know. Just out.

I grabbed the place mat sheet with a basic area map on it and all of the things to see. Initially I just had a goal of finding a Wal-Mart to people watch, if I got lucky I’d find a mall.

I did notice the map showed a trail or two (ok several) but the sky was quite overcast. I decided if I stumbled upon one I’d totally stop. Well, that is if I had the courage.

I took a snack, some water and all of my keys then hopped in the car.

As I drove I came to not one but two circle round about thingys. There weren’t as confusing as I thought. I was proud of myself for not screwing them up.

I kept driving, even past the Wal-Mart. Courage had come. I kept my eyes open for the trail.

I quickly learned ‘keeping my eyes opened’ was a bit dangerous as it also caused my eyes to wander. I barely managed to stay safe.

I drove past a little town with some beautiful churches but saw no where to park so I kept going. I came upon some gorgeous scenery as I was in an escarpment area with rocks and cliffs and stuff. It was cool.

As I drove I came upon my trail. In a last second decision I pulled over, no doubt giving the car behind me a heart attack. I parked the car and sat to figure out what I needed on this adventure.

Definitely my camera, certainly my running shoes and most likely a sweater – just in case.

Other things I should’ve brought but didn’t: my cell phone, my water and my snack. You know, just in case I got lost or stranded, abducted or hurt. I threw up a prayer as my insurance instead.

As I got onto the trail I read the sign and it said something about a waterfall. I clearly paid no attention at the time though because I was stunned when I eventually came to it. I guess I was focused on not getting lost.

I read signs that spoke of wearing the proper hiking gear. Runners and a hoodie didn’t make the list. I took my chances.

I walked along a narrow winding path that went steep down on one side to a babbling brook and went steep up to trees, trees, trees on the other. Though it was often cloudy every once in a while the sun found its way through the trees to play peek a boo with me. When it did I felt like the sky was smiling at me, even though I couldn’t really see it.

The walk was beautiful. There were a few firmly built bridges to walk over and rocks to watch your steps on but not a difficult hike. Rather short actually. Within ten minutes I had gotten to the end of the trail, but was not disappointed when I saw what awaited me.

A huge magnificent waterfall. Trickling down layers and layers of rocks.

There was a deck to stand on, sort of a ‘look out’. There was already a middle aged couple there chatting away. The gentleman said hello but the lady didn’t even look at me. I hoped they were on their way, but no such luck.

I stood there and looked for several minutes. I took lots of pictures from different angles. I tried to ‘connect with nature’. I’m not so sure I was successful but I definitely appreciated what I was experiencing.

I tried to figure out if this surprise waterfall meant anything in my journey. Nothing jumped out at me. I decided if my memory served me well that the waterfall may end up representing my time away. My little discovery about being a mother. (One might correct me and say ‘becoming’ a mother, but I’d correct them and say ‘being’ a mother).

Once I had absorbed all I could I ventured back to the car and decided to keep driving to see what I’d find.

Not too far in, my street came to an end and I had to choose a turn. I chose right and cemented in my mind that it was Main St. I was on. I figured as long as I knew the street and I kept straight how wrong could my sight seeing mission go?

I soon found out, when the street I was driving on turned into 4 lanes of one way traffic. I soon caught on that I was out of my element and clearly you can get into trouble even if you are travelling on the same street in one direction.

If you know me at all you know my incredibly hindered sense of direction. Like, there aren’t words. I had no map either, I mean, not a real one. So I decided on a common sense approach.

It worked. Within ten minutes, after a couple of one way streets and a trip on the freeway (as the GPS lady would call it and no I didn’t use her), I found Main St. again.

I was very proud of myself but now I was getting hungry. I concluded that I would do something I’ve never done before. Go to a sit down restaurant by myself for lunch and order whatever I wanted.

I found a famous chain restaurant that I am keen on that Wally isn’t a fan of (and now that we are eating ‘clean’ I can’t enjoy to it’s fullest anyway). The friend I went with for breakfast a couple of months ago ordered something that made me envious so I put myself in Gloryland and got it for myself today.

Sometimes when you are out of your element you have to enjoy (sometimes you have to enjoy things in your element but that’s the habit we are trying to correct). I concluded one bad meal out of the 18 while away wasn’t a sin. And it WAS my vacation right? (Clearly I still have mental work to do )

I got a cinnamon brioche dipped in French toast batter piled with fresh fruit (I mean fresh), a scrabbled egg and 3 thinly spiced pieces of bacon. I have to share a couple of things. I have not eaten bacon in 3 ½ months and before that I was involved in a deep and serious love affair with it.

Today I learned that the affair is over. Bacon was ok but not worth the affair. Good to know.

As for my cinnamon brioche French toast …. Oh. My. Goodness. It was indeed a piece of Gloryland. Seriously. Every bite amazing. And though I won’t be having it again, well, maybe ever. It was worth it.

I ended bringing half of my lunch/breakfast home to be enjoyed later.

I then did something I won’t share, then headed home.

I just finished watching a rather difficult movie. I learned something about myself from it. Or rather I was reminded of a piece of my past. Let’s just say I am thankful for today.

I am thankful for today.

The sun is shining now and the breeze blowing. If it wasn’t such a drive I’d go find another trail or something. Maybe later, maybe not. I think I’ll listen to a podcast now and play some solitaire.


Retreatville Day 2/2

I don’t want showers.

I mean no séances.

Absolutely not.

There will definitely be a party because clearly a family addition deserves that, but certainly nothing involving all types of ladies in a circle passing the newly acquired
creature around and cooing when it poops.

Nope, none of that. I refuse. Flat out refuse.

Just needed to clear the air.

Retreatville Day 2/1

I was up bright and early this Day 2 of my ‘retreat’. When I first glanced at my watch I was astounded at the fact that I slept until 6:35am!!! Then I looked at it in the light and realized that it was 5:35am. Guess I need to work on the sleeping in thing.

I did feel rested though and had fallen madly in love with what I now see as my own personal island oasis. I am referring to my bed.

An island is a perfect description for it. It’s the biggest part of the room. I make sure that it holds all of my needs (books, laptop, snacks, movies, pillows and 1400 thread count Egyptian Cotton sheets, and heavenly pillows).

It took me a little while to fall asleep lastnight. Not because I was lonely, dogless or scared because to be honest I wasn’t any of these things.

It was more because I’m used to having two pillows to sleep on that together make the perfect place to rest my head and when apart work for me to lie on my stomach and sandwich my head between them. These pillows were a bit too big to put together but not enough to use apart (though they were delightfully soft).

I must have made some sort of decision at some point because I woke up with both under my head and used a third as a pretend body beside me.

I also found it difficult to know how exactly to sleep in a queen sized bed as Wally and I are used to our double.

I wiggled and moved to and fro. I tried diagonal, then just on one side, then the other. I almost tried even laying across the bed then I thought ‘Girl get yourself under control this isn’t rocket science’. I ended up slightly past the middle on the side Wally is usually on and slept great.

I have to say I can’t believe how relaxed I am. I mean I’m on my own in a strange place, with people coming and going and I don’t really give a rip. I didn’t leave my room all evening yesterday. It was great.

I ended up watching the romantic comedy which reminded me of something in myself I needed to watch (who knew you could get a life lesson out of a romantic comedy?). I spoke to Wally on the phone for 10 minutes and did some reading. And of course I wrote the last post. It was nice.

When I woke up early this morning all rested up I wasn’t sure what to do. No dogs to walk, I was on the clock for breakfast at 7:30am, and I was doing my best to go with however whatever spirit would move me. I decided I would write a letter. So I did. To God.

Honestly this action was inspired more by reading ‘Eat, pray, love’ than an innate spiritual act of love. But if you read the letter I do believe it was a love letter … in some form.

I used to journal to God all of the time but marriage, life, heartache, and confusion pulled me away. I don’t blame those things, ultimately it’s been my decision to neglect the practice but they were my valid reasons as to why I had not done so any longer.

I used to approach God with great reverence and fear. Fear in all sorts of ways. Fear that if I said something wrong or phrased something inadequately He wouldn’t be able to ‘read between the lines’ and get what exactly my heart was saying. After reading a little tidbit out of the fore mentioned book I realized something I think I already knew in my heart, God’s cool.

I mean the cool thing about Him is that unlike people He doesn’t need the perfect wording to ‘get’ what you’re sayin’. He sees your heart, whether you want Him to or not. And even if you aren’t really sayin’ properly what you’re wantin’ to say, He knows what you mean. Know what I mean?

I guess I really just want Him back in my life. Not that He’s ever left. He hasn’t, but I sort of left Him. Not really intentionally and maybe in some ways not at all. But in some ways I’ve shut down parts of my heart to Him which is really no way to live. It’s no way to live with a spouse or a friend, it’s definitely no way to live with the one person who loves me deepest and knows me best.

Not to mention the person that created me to be … me.

And that’s what I really want isn’t it? To be the best me I can be? The best way to serve the one who made me is to let Him in, to let Him show me things, to let Him have His way with me.

At some point in the past several years I stopped trusting God. I stopped trusting that He would give me what I needed and I gave myself what I needed. I think I did that because the life I had disappointed me, it wasn’t a fairy tale, it wasn’t handed to me on a silver platter, it wasn’t easy. The life I had hurt me, broke me, and seemed to make me feel I was a failure.

Therefore God was clearly not making my life better so I took matters into my own hands.

Now to some degree I feel like this is exactly what He wanted me to do. You know, to learn that I have a responsibility to do some things myself. That though life isn’t handed to me on a silver platter I still have the power to go out and buy the platter, if that’s what I want (it maybe just a plastic platter painted silver but you know, it works).

I have learned so much in the past several years about how much we as people are indeed responsible for our own happiness, for our own lives. I have learned there are so many things we do control, no matter what circumstances we fall into.

However, it is at this point I feel God is quietly, patiently awaiting my return from this lesson to take me to my next one perhaps. I have a feeling He’s planning on catching a front row seat for this one.

I decided to do the mirror exercise again this morning, hoping maybe that yesterday’s possible epiphany was misguided. Hoping that I might see something different. Hoping that the lighting may be a wee bit kinder.

I stood tall in front of the bathroom mirror once again. I looked.

The first thing that caught my eye were my eyes.

I have always noticed my eyes. I’m not sure if it is really because they seem all that attractive, I mean they’re ok. I like them and all but, you know, they are just eyes. Made more beautiful with make up and more alive with a smile, but still I’ve mostly only ever seen eyes.

Today as I took another look at my reflection I saw it again.

I saw a mother.

You may wonder what I am seeing or how I am seeing this all of a sudden. I can’t really say I know. Just that in my eyes I recognize a fierceness and passion for some kid (or kids) that I am yet to meet.

I see a woman that is ready to fight for the best for potential little hellions that may enter her life (or angels, I’m preparing myself for a challenge). A woman that is made to learn from the littlest human creatures. A woman that is desperately trying to slough off her ‘calling’ to mother because she knows that on her own she cannot accept this ‘call’.

I am not sure if I can properly portray now how difficult it is for me to accept this job. I have guarded myself so carefully, against all rationale, all logistics, all cushy romantic thoughts about it, pretty much locked myself safely out of place from anything to do with this.

You may wonder why. You may know why.

Other than the obvious ‘I was hurt and grief stricken when it didn’t happen before’, I think it also has a lot to do with my very unromantic thoughts about having a family.

Nothing annoys me more than romantics. I’m talking about all kinds. Those romantic over love, over babies, over buying a house, over travel, over renovating, cooking, going to school, over pretty much anything that in thought appears beautiful but in reality gets very messy and even dirty.

I’m a realist, sometimes to a fault (clearly). I am a preparer. I prepare mentally for challenges. I map out how I can be prepared to handle unexpected aversions. I think of all of the ways something could or may go wrong so that I am able to figure out what to do to fix it if need be.

If I am traveling and I know that the weather’s going to be hot and uncomfortable I prepare my mind to put up with the fact that I’m not going to like it but ‘it’s’ part of the experience, then I move on.

I prepared myself originally to be a very young newly married mother. I wasn’t prepared for the fact that life was going to take a different turn. After that little episode I was no longer interested in this ‘call’ (as I feel for me) to be a mother. If I can’t prepare for it then I’m not sure that I want it.

I know all of you mothers out there will think me clearly insane as there is no possible way of preparing to be a parent. None.

My solution in the past few years has been to ignore what I’ve known in my heart for years in hopes that I was wrong all along.

Give me a minute … (dashes to the mirror again)

... Nevermind. I still see a mom.


Now I sit here and wonder what’s next. I’m certainly not planning on running home to Wally to say ‘Let’s have a baby!!’ because there are still a few things to think about. Adoption is at the root of my heart. That doesn’t happen over night. Of course neither does having a baby.

I guess the first thing I will do is this:

Go from ‘If we have kids’ to ‘When we have kid(s)…’

No more ifs.