Wednesday, December 29, 2010

June, like the month

I made a new friend today while working.  Work has been so hard lately, and I've been stressed out beyond belief because of my lack of sales and money.  And going to work has been...a very big challenge.  I'm an independent contractor, and although I have managers and accountability, it's up to me to get-er-done.  And just to give you an idea, I should be at a sales conference this week in Miami...but I missed hitting it by one client.  And I want be in Kansas City for a prayer conference...but I didn't think I should take any more time off.  My weekend trip to Michigan also got cancelled.  So I drag myself to work today...dreading... resenting... ungrateful.

And then I met June.  She is 85 and was a piano teacher for 40 years (and married for more than 50 I believe).  She is one of the happiest people I have ever met.  She is full of life, energy and opinions, mostly about God and how to be a good Christian...and I can't get enough of them!  Here is this woman who has walked the talk for the last 85 years of her life and it's working for her.  She tells me that she has never been lonely since telling God to take over...and she's been a widow FOR THE LAST 10 YEARS!  She gardens, she lives alone, and although she has never had children, she has many serogates through teaching.  She listens to Moody Bible Institute radio all day and will recommend a preacher for every topic.  She told me the three things she always told her students were don't give up, don't get mad, and don't run away.  She told me she is praying that her knees get better.  At the end of the day, she told me she didn't need doctors (or insurance for that matter) because she had God.  So we prayed for her knees and my attitude instead.  God, thank you for my new friend June.  June, like the month, she said.

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Bu

So...I've mentioned him a few times...and after the horribly depressing blog from yesterday, I figured, now that the storm has calmed a little, that I should try and focus on a HUGE blessing...and my boyfriend is definitely been one of the biggest blessings of the year.

Without getting a gag reflex, I just think it is about time I went public with my new favorite boy.

His name is Jean.  We met through a mutual friend.  He's a physical trainer.  He helped me train for my first half marathon this past summer which was a huge landmark for me--I was able to raise over $500 for microfinance, 2 other friends did it with me and raised money also, and I had one of my best sales months of my career around that time. 

He did two triathalons this last summer, a half iron man, which I was not able to attend, and an olympic distance which I did.

So my friend Yvonne and I are suppose to go running just the two of us, and she invites her friend Jean, without telling me...I'm annoyed.  I don't really talk to him at first.  But he is nice, gives me running tips, and invites me to start training with him and this other girl he is training.  I don't.  But he now has my number from Yvonne.  So he starts offering to run with me in the mornings.  And eventually I start letting him...but only when I can't find anyone else to run with. 

Eventually, he starts picking me up at 6 am most mornings and driving me to the lakefront to run.  And you can get to know someone fairly well spending the first hour of the day with him 3 days a week or so.  He invites me to lunch with him...then ends up blowing me off to hang out with another girl.  I'm pretty mad, but I figure it's just as well, it just means we are going to stay friends.

I go to his triathalon.  He comes to my half-marathon.  After that we start biking together, and talking about taking a bike trip and canoing.  Then one day he kisses me on the cheek.  I'm totally thrown for a loop.  What was that?  I go to my friends wedding that night, dance the night away with my friends and a different guy, but am definitely thinking about Jean.  We spend the whole next day together, he takes me out to lunch this time (and appologizes for last time--says he thought I was just another pretty face...whatever that means) and go to a pumpkin patch with friends.  That night is my friend's suprise birthday party.  He comes out, we dance, the next day go see my grandma.  He tells me that is when he decided that he was 100% going to go for it--when he met her.  My grandma says she never knew she was such a matchmaker (she also told me that it's a good thing I have a pretty face when I told her about the blowoff...Oh Gramma, I love you).  We walk around the country club my grandparents were a part of for 40+ years and have the RDT (relationship defining talk).

And since then, he's been making me the happies girl ever when we're together.  I would say this has been the worst 3 months and the best 3 months...the worst because of being sick so much, work, financial stress and the loss of a dear friendship.  The best because of Ireland...and Jean.  He loves to cook for me.  He's given me one of his bikes (he's only about an inch taller than me, so all his stuff fits me), one of his snowboards (he's planning to teach me), and he's gonna train me for the triathalon this next year.  I laugh so hard every time I'm with him.  He always drives, and often will drop me off and pick me up just to spend extra time together.  He's one of the most giving people I have ever met.  He use to be in IT, but has been pursuing this career being a physical trainer for the last 2 years, and he's starting to really make it, and I'm so proud of him.

He helped me through hell day yesterday, which I bawled my way through (poor guy) driving me from one place to the next to help me get my car out of the impound.  Christmas eve we're going to mass (he's catholic) and then getting up super early to deliver gifts and food to children and the elderly.  Then he's gonna come home and do Christmas with my family.

So that's the story...thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Lament

Why God?  Why do days like this even exist?  Why the flu, why being sick a whole other week, 4 out of 12 now?  Why does everyone who works for the city have to be rude, hardened, and totally unconcerned with anyone's lives they are ruining?  Why does it cost $400 AT CHRISTMAS to get your car towed?  Why during the worst cramps of my life? 

You told me to come to you, and I am.  I'm here.  Waiting.  I've said my bit.  There's so much more, but for now it can wait.  All I know is that for now you can take it.  You hear me.  You're not say You love me.  I'm not too opinionated, too blunt, too inconsiderate, too much of a mess, too dysfunctional for you.  So I'll turn to you.  I'll keep turning to you.  One day maybe it will all make sense.  One day maybe I'll see that You did use me for something. 

Beauty From PainThe lights go out all around me
One last candle to keep out the night
And then the darkness surrounds me
I know i'm alive but i feel like i've died
And all that's left is to accept that it's over
My dreams ran like sand through the fists that i made
I try to keep warm but i just grow colder
I feel like i'm slipping away

After all this has passed, i still will remain
After i've cried my last, there'll be beauty from pain
Though it won't be today,
Someday i'll hope again
And there'll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain

My whole world is the pain inside me
The best i can do is just get through the day
When life before is only a memory
I'll wonder why God lets me walk through this place
And though i can't understand why this happened
I know that i will when i look back someday
And see how you've brought beauty from ashes
And made me as gold purified through these flames

After all this has passed, i still will remain
After i've cried my last, there'll be beauty from pain
Though it won't be today,
Someday i'll hope again
And there'll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain

Here i am, at the end of me
Tryin to hold to what i can't see
I forgot how to hope
This night's been so long
I cling to Your promise
There will be a dawn

After all this has passed, i still will remain
After i've cried my last, there'll be beauty from pain
Though it won't be today,
Someday i'll hope again
And there'll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sick in Dublin

The Paddywaggon tour was a smash hit, and one of my favorite things I have ever done.  To read more about the wild adventures I had go to:

This is the route that we took:

The highlight= my tour guide, Joe.  He's a corporate solicitor (lawyer), going back to school to do family law.  He's one of the funniest people I've ever met, and knew how to make history interesting.  He's brilliant.  Some Joe-isms:
"Put the lip gloss on and pucker up ladies: it's me or the stone."  (He's all talk, btw...I told him I chose him, and HE DIDN'T DELIVER!)
After he asks a question and no one answers, "Yes Joe, sounds like a plan, Joe, good idea, Joe."
"I've only ever heard 3 stupid questions: When do we go to see Stonehenge, when are we getting there, and Joe, are you Irish?  They don't make men slightly balding, slightly overweight, and white as a ghost, and not Irish!"
"Men wanted to be like him, women want to be with him."
"Feck" as in "those feckers fecked everything up and now IMFucked" =)
"Now you can choose to believe me or a bunch of geologists.  If you ask me, a bunch of guys that look at rocks all day need to get out more."
"She was so unseemly, even the tide wouldn't take her out."
"Canadians are just Americans that didn't make the cut."

Right now I'm sitting at an Internet cafe, trying to avoid going outdoors where it's below freezing and there is snow on the ground.  I have the flu.  It sucks.  Last day in Dublin, and I'm cooped up.  Did the same thing yesterday just to recover from the tour.  It didn't work.  That being said, I am a little sightseed out...and the last 2 days have been about something far more significant that seeing more cathedrals and/or taking walking tours.  My mom and I have had some of the best conversations in our history of being related.  Years of hurt, frustration talked through.  Granted, nothing is solved overnight.  But the doors of the dungeon  have been swung open, and our sleeves are rolled up ready to do the hard work of restoring trust.  And that's the best thing I could have gotten out of this trip, and well worth every cent.  Sure it's been hard.  Reliving the things we have both been through and put each other through was exhausting at best.  But what I told her this morning was, you know mom, everything we've been through (and believe me, the women in my family have been to hell and back--we've suffered about every type of abuse known to women) one day is going to make us so much closer than we ever would have been if our family had been perfect and our men had loved us.  One step at a time...we have each other, which makes it worth it.  I bow my head and praise a God who creates new life from the darkest situations, beauty from pain.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 7

So this may be out of order, but today I am inspired to write about today.  Today was brilliant.  Last night was brilliant.  We went to an Irish pub after an amazing walking tour in the rain of Derry.  Derry is Northern Ireland, but over half the population is Irish Catholic and cheers for Irish football and not Northern Irish and certainly not English.  It is separated by a river.  There is a group of protestants that live on the wrong side of the river, and there are two fenses that 'protect' them from their Irish catholic neighbors.  They have signs all over that say, 'we will not surrender.'  My catholic tour guide says this hurts most of the catholic's feelings because 99% of the people there don't want to hurt them; They care more about the winners of x factor than the protestants living in their midst, he says.  So that was interesting.  The night before that we did a 'black taxi tour' in Belfast and saw the peace wall (and signed it!), and saw a lot of scary murals that imortalized skin heads that fought for their cause of never ever joining the rest of Ireland and staying loyal to the English crown.  It's a complicated issue, but a lot of people died.  10 loyalists went on a hunger strike in jail and lost their lives for their cause.  Today, tension still exists, but the killings have come to a halt.  However, people bomb the hell out of this city.  The walking tour guide, Stephen, who grew up in Derry says that it use to be beautiful, but it's hard when you've had fighting for a couple centuries.  A couple weeks ago a car bomb went off and blew a Kabob shop and a furniture store to smitherines.  The alarm from the furniture store has been going off ever since.

So last night after the walking tour we ended up in one of the most colorful places I have ever visited.  A real dried pig's head with sun glasses and a hat greeted did over 10 other animal carcasses, included several birds, and a shark jaw.   An Irish band belted out famous Irish tunes that I have never hear of and the flutist moved his fingers so fast, I couldn't see them half the time.  It was a scene that belonged in a movie.  I kept hoping an Irishmen would ask me to dance...not that the lack of dancing Irishmen that night slowed me down any, mind you.   I went to bed several hours after my bed time, full of drinks that had been bought, and happy that a place like Ireland exists.  My tourguide's favorite phrase is 'and remember, 5 million Irish people love don't do anythign stupid!'  It's true.  They do love me.  And you.  And anyone else other than the damn people across the river.

Today we woke up, crawled on the bus, and Joe (the tourguide, not redheaded, but in every other way fully Irish) welcomed us to the day after Derry.  Thanks Joe.  We slept for a while, looked at a tomb or house (they're not sure) from 500BC, then saw WB Yeats' grave and most importantly got coffee.  A couple hours and a few kilometers down the road found us in Knock where we drenched ourselves in seawead lotion from the seaweed and massage salon (everything seaweed) and admired the costal scenery.

We arrived in Galway by 4 and had a look around at this tourist capital.  Almost everything here is original.  The streets are tiny, cobblestone, and it's one of the shopping areas that tourists frequent.  I ended up buying the traditional 'claddagh' ring.  The story is that a local man from Galway fell in love with a local woman and since he was going to be away at sea for a couple years he made her this ring.   Her heart in his hands crowned with his love.  Mine heart is right side up.  2 months ago it would have been upside down.  Amazing how quickly things change.

We visited the latin quorter and ended the night at a pub (suprisingly).  Dave, as in Dave from 'Riverdance,' was there.  Him and Pete (from 'Lord of the Dance') and him put on the fastest foot clapping extravaganza I, or anyone else in my American/Aussie/Kiwi group has ever witnessed...I'll post it when I get back to the states.  And I'll say something funny about it when I've had more sleep.  Speaking of which, I should probably get on that.  My mind works quicker and puts together cleverer thoughts when it's rested.  I just wanted to get something up since it's been a couple days.  Don't tell your friends yet...this posting still needs work.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 4

Was boring.  Woke up early to go get my mom from the airport.  Packed and went to church.  Fell asleep in church.  Left in the middle of church to go sleep in bed.  Woke up.  Waited.  Read Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity.  Waited some more.  Got ready to go out.  Waited.  Went out.  Bought water.  Waited.  Went back. Waited.  Got frustrated.  Went to call Jean (the boyfriend).  Hostel phone didn't work. Got refund.  Tried again.  Went outside.  No internet cafe across the street.  Got frustrated.  Went back inside.  Got more specific directions.  Went to internet cafe.  They didn't have video set up on gchat.  Got frustrated.  Went in the back and made a phone call.  Finally got through.  Talked to Jean for 10 minutes.  He told me that, "I can't get frustrated just because everything doesn't go my way all the time."  I tell him yeah, but nothing is going my way.  My friend is sick.  My mom doesn't want to do anything.  I'm in Dublin and can't freaking find anyone to look around this amazing city with.  But he's right.  And I know it.  So I start laughing.  He tells me exactly what I need to hear.  He's great like that.

Go to dinner with my mom and get a salmon salad and a glass of wine.  It's perfect.  We talk for 2 hours about life changing things.  God is teaching both of us so much.  So thankful for a mother who loves God and who is willing to admit when she is wrong.  It's been a long road.  Life, that is.  But there is so much to be grateful for.  And this is just the beginning...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 2 and 3

Yesterday I woke up to a man about 2 feet from me coughing in the bunk next to mine...and my first thought was, how fun!  I'm in Ireland.  It was already 9...after loosing an entire night on the flight, I guess I was in catch up mode.  Breakfast was SO European...toast, butter, jam, corn flakes, muesli, coffee or tea... brought me back to my growing up years in Belgium.  I met a couple french guys during breakfast, which was fantastique!  J'ai eu la chance de practique mon francais. =)  Um...for those of you who don't parle francais...look it up!  So the two of them, plus our new friend Nozomi, a Japanese gal I lovingly named "fashion show" (she has a soundtrack: for the amount of accessories and makeup she applied to go with us to to the Dublin Castle, took off to see the sights.  We stumbled upon a tour group in the chapel by the castle where I learned about the independence of Ireland.  Apparently one of the provoking actions of England in 1916 was to dress up it's prisoners as "black and tans"(police) and ship them off to Ireland (Australia must have no longer been accepting criminals).  When these voices of the law started performing executions at random, the Irish people got pissed and on Easter started a revolution that eventually kicked these notorious villans, along with the viceroys (ruling men that the kings and queens of England left behind for when they could not be there) and every other English scoundrel that did not aprove of their newfound freedom in 1920.

So the castle use to have 15 meter thick walls, motes, bridges and the whole deal.  It was never invaded, but it did explode...because it was a storehouse for gunpowder, and when a fire started near there the Irish solution was to try to put it out through a series of other fires.  It didn't work, but the prince at the time wrote a letter saying that it wasn't a big loss anyway because it was so ugly, and with that got the funds approved to rebuilt on top of the remains what we have today.  The original castle's mote was apparently pretty nasty.  In fact they called it Dubh Linn (meaning "black pool").  Ok last couple fun facts...Dublin was originally settled by Vikings, and they are the ones responsible for the red hair that is actually Scandinavian trait, NOT an Irish one (this includes folk from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Greenland--I learned this on facebook thanks to Cerrie Gleason the red, and Savanah Crafton the actress)...typical Irish is far more Spanish-like with their features.  So the castle and different areas of Dublin flooded a couple years ago, so they started doing to excavating around the castle...and lo and behold not only did they find the remains of the old castle, but they found a ton of Viking stuff as well.

The lack of playmates has definitely been a little troubling...Chelsea is sick and when she is not sick she is working.  Fortunately it is Ireland, and all you have to do to make friends is to walk into a bar.  And they'll buy you a drink.  Or 3.  I'm not kidding.

More things I noticed:
-Girls wear tights...of all types and with everything...especially shorts.  I've been having bows/butterflies/flowers-all-over-my-legs envy since I got here
-There are pubs that don't have TV's's awesome
-A guy told me today that when he is in an airport in the states all he has to do to find Aer Lingus is look around and see where all the ugly people are he put it, it's a literary culture, not a visual one
-The Irish are undeniably very happy
-The bike stations that I mentioned in my previous post are a bitch...definitely not designed for fact they discriminate...but if you stand at a machine for long enough and get frustrated enough you may attract a tall redhead named George who may pay for your 2euro bike pass himself (not thinking about the potential 150e fee if I loose or decapitate the bike) and he might offer to show me where the park is and then offer to let me tag along his friend's free guided tour.  His friend's guided tour may stop by a drug store where the claim to fame is that there is an entire passage describing it in James Joyce's Ulysses.  The guided tour may also be the friend's entire Irish family in for the day to visit, and they may stop by a pub mid tour and start ordering Guinness and watching rugby, and that may be the end of the tour after all.
-The Irish cancer society is funded by second hand stores in Ireland...but these stores have no brochures or websites to direct you to finding out more
-Trinity College is quite snobby, which at 10,000 euros minimum a semester for a EU res is understandable
-There are skeletons that still have skin and red curly hair in the National Archeology Museum of Dublin
-Most Irish last names mean something and these meanings can be found on bookmarks that one can buy for 2.5 euros at the gift shop of the National Museum of Dublin
-The buildings here are beautiful
-There are 44 parliaments for 4 million people in Ireland--and it has some of the highest paid city/national employees of any first world country (part of the reason for the financial situation the country is in)
-40,000 people left Ireland last year to look for work elsewhere
-The IMF arriving here/taking over is the most significant thing since the founding of the nation in 1920
-Most of the people at the pubs drink approximately at twice the speed I do
-The nation is bankrupt, but cannot print off more money like the US does since they use the Euro
-They have 4 times the national debt here that we do (and we have 75 times the number of people)
-The Irish people however, have a lot of money in the bank, despite how screwed the government is
-Ireland is the best place to have a passport if you want to be a spy since they haven't invaded anyone and pissed them off since they have been a nation and therefore you can travel anywhere if you have one.
-Scarves go for about 40euros here in the gift shop (um...sorry Matt?), and the guy at the James Joyce drug store bought the last 2 pairs of cuff links that came through
-Despite waking up this morning to a naked couple in the bunk above me, I like it here.  If it happens tomorrow, however, I'm turning whoever it is in and they can suffer the consequences of that kind of behavior 2 feet from my head...even if I was asleep.

And with that, I'm going back out to the pubs.  

Cheers...and good luck!