Spring has sprung

Green bursts forth from the weeping willows at a park near our house

For the past several weeks, spring has come. To be honest, I heave a sign of relief and think to myself, hallelujah we MADE it!.

After six years living in Cambodia’s tropical climate, I knew that our first winter back in Canada would be a shock to the system. To be fair, we are in the Okanagan, where winter winter only lasts a couple of months. To our family and friends in the Prairies, this must sound like pathetic drivel.

But still. We got used to 40 degrees every day remember. Also, I maintain bragging rights for surviving two hot seasons in my third trimester of pregnancy. It was at least 35-40 degrees every day and I assure you, I was a huffing, puffing, sweating mess.

So this first winter back felt daunting. And while I mentally prepared for the cold, it was actually the dark that shocked my system the most. Day turned to night by 4:30pm. Crazy!

But we made it through the slushy snow and the bad roads and the worst storm the Okanagan experienced in something like three decades. We made it through the gloomy days and exceptionally dark evenings.

And I’ve made it through 33 weeks of pregnancy, which in itself feels like a remarkable feat.

So dear spring, thank you for finally arriving with all of your hope and light and expectation.

Burn, burn, burn

What the heck does “living fully” actually mean?

I was thinking about this today and mulling over a few different definitions. I liked dictionary.com’s enough for “living”, “abundant” and “full”.

Full: completely filled; containing all that can be held; filled to utmost-capacity

Abundant: present in great quantity; more than adequate; oversufficient; well supplied; abounding

Living: having life; active or thriving; vigorous; strong; burning or glowing as a coal

But Jack Kerouac nailed it for what people might look like if they were to live life to its fullest potential.

fireworks and jack kerouac

I would love to look back on my life and know that I had plumbed the depths and heights of what life offers. Not in a way that was out to make a name for myself or trying too hard to be that bright roman candle (that lacks authenticity!), but because of the way I invested in relationships, and navigated sorrow, and was present with my family and community, and the way I gave love away, that I knew I burned as brightly as I could. With every ounce of energy in me.

Living fully in the midst of transition, or trying to anyways

photo (5)How to do this? Living fully in the midst of transition?

It seems to me it’s a whole lot easier to seize the moment when there are beautiful Greek sunsets out your window or fabulous crusader castles to explore. While we felt a whole new degree of exhaustion on our Epic Trip through the Middle East and Balkans, that part of the transition to Canada felt a whole lot easier than actually settling in.

We decided to move to Kelowna, BC, because of its beauty, outdoor adventure possibilities and wineries. (Yes, seriously, that’s why we moved here.) Thankfully, my husband got a job in town which legitimated those hedonistic desires!

We’ve been here for about six weeks and much of that time has been a whirlwind of unpacking boxes and scouring garage sales for cheap furniture.

Only now are we beginning to feel more settled. And now, real life is setting in.

To be honest, some days I feel like we have all the time in the world. Like life is lazily sipping away at a freshly brewed latte with a gorgeous sunrise in the background.

But there are other days where I feel frantic. Frantic that we don’t really have any friends yet. Frantic that I’ll never find a way to balance working part time and shuffling kids to daycare and preschool.

And then there’s the reality that we are stationary. We are bound by work and school schedules, fewer national holidays, and the fact that Canada is ridiculously expensive.

Much of the time, I don’t actually feel settled at all and transition is still a daily experience.

So. This Nester’s #write31days challenge is a personal journey for me. It’s an attempt to live more graciously, more abundantly and more joyfully in my crazy-mundane-exciting-lonely-full new life.

Want to join me for the ride? Goodness knows the more wisdom, the more joy, the more stories, the merrier the journey will be.

Gratitude Winds Down

While this little #thegratitudeproject may be winding down officially in this format on this blog, I hope to keep up the practice each day – especially as Thanksgiving is just around the corner.

Here we go, Days 29 and 30, again…better late than never.

FullSizeRenderDay 29: Cambodia Legacies

This picture does very little service at actually conveying the awesomeness of this little book. It’s all bad graphics and even worse English, which combined makes for a hilarious page turner. It sits on our coffee table in our living room and every time I look at it, it makes me smile and brings back a few memories of our time in Cambodia. So grateful.


Day 30: Rainbows. I snapped this on my way home after a particularly dreadful meeting. And no I was NOT feeling grateful and was actually having a bit of a pity party.

Then this site greeted me as I rode my bike home. Not only had I missed the rain during my meeting, but this rainbow hung in the sky almost as if to say, “even on the bad days there are always things to be grateful for.” 

Now I’m onto my next blogging challenge. I’m attempting the Nester’s #write31day challenge focusing on living fully in the midst of transition.

Gratitude Days 26-28

#thegratitudeproject Days 26-28

photo (5) Day 26: Farmer’s Markets. Open-air markets in Cambodia are vibrant and colourful affairs where you can get everything from underwear and spices to fresh (still squirming!) meat and jewelry. They were one of my favourite parts of living in Asia. So, I am awfully thankful that here in Canada the farmer’s market has gained in popularity. We went to Kelowna’s Farmer’s and Crafter’s Market on Saturday and gorged ourselves on fresh spud stix (delicious!), Chinese dumplings and fresh coffee, while stocking up on local, organic vegetables and fruit for the coming week. The kids particularly loved the bouncy castle – so a win win for all of us!Look at the contrast!
photo (5) Day 27: Colour Pops.Every time I leave our house I am awed and inspired by the trees. The magnificent pops of colour are so spectacular. I can’t help myself but be a bit slack jawed and thankful for beauty. Let’s just hope I actually have time to slow down and really enjoy it.
syringes-and-vial-1028452-m Day 28: Health. We took our girls in for booster shots this morning and I am thankful for a few things…namely, the lovely nurse who was able to decode their Thai and Cambodian immunization records (no small feat let me tell you!) and the brilliant way she managed two little ones sensitive to needle pricks. She had bubbles out within 2 seconds of the shots so they were adequately distracted and stickers and toothbrushes followed quickly. Mostly though, I’m grateful for health and freedom from disease and infection.

Gratitude 23-25

#thegratitudeproject Days 23-25

I’m a bit behind. That can only mean that life has been full, we’ve been out a few times in the past week, and now we have visitors! It isn’t that I haven’t been grateful, but instead of posting here, have been filing them away in my heart.

Day 23 – Firsts: photo (2)Aya started French Immersion preschool this week and I am thankful for a few hours every morning to work in solitude. This week of firsts also included meeting some new friends, going to my first ever TedX event, and feeling a bit more connected to Kelowna.

Day 24 – Date Night: photo (3)It’s been a looooong time since we had a date night. But when Russell Peters comes to town, that’s excuse enough to get a baby sitter and go for a night on the town. This was the sky the evening we left our lil’  munchkins to laugh until our faces hurt.

Day 25 – Visits from Family!: DSC_1196Love these guys and so very grateful for the time they are spending with us in the Okanagan. The relationship between grandparent and grandchild is just so sweet. Love seeing it play out every day.


#thegratitudeproject Day 21

What do I make of all this texture? What does it mean about the kind of world in which I have been set down? The texture of the world, its filigree and scrollwork, means that there is the possibility for beauty here, a beauty inexhaustible in its complexity, which opens to my knock, which answers in me a call I do not remember calling and which trains me to the wild and extravagant nature of the spirit I seek. (Annie Dillard. Pilgrim At Tinger Creek. Pg. 140-141)

The hills around Kelowna are dramatic and beautiful. It’s a dry climate, without too much vegetation. I think that makes it all the more intense because you can see every dip and nob, ever cleft of rock and gully on on every mountain.Then there are bursts of farmland, vineyards and orchards. They are bright, green surges on an otherwise brown canvas.

It all makes for rather extravagant, stunning, texture.



#thegratitudeproject Day 20

photo (2)The leaves are starting to turn and I am absolutely delighted by this. I really noticed it yesterday while we were in the car driving down a street near our home. We live in an older neighbourhood and the trees are so tall and gorgeous they almost form an arc in some places. I looked up out the front window and noticed the transformation from green to yellow in progress.

This is the first autumn we’ve spent in Canada in six years!

Yes, six.

I’ve missed over half a decade of leaves turning. It was something I thought about every year in Cambodia because we didn’t have the same seasonal cues. (Instead, there were other fabulous ones. Like mango and mangosteen season. Or monsoon season. Or the cooler season (like 28 degrees each day instead of 35).

I am grateful to be experiencing a Canadian autumn once again. As we settle into life in Kelowna, I find myself reminiscing a lot about Cambodia and remembering the highs and the lows and our life of abundant adventure and joy there. But the leaves turning press me towards gratitude. For cool weather. For nature exploding into dazzling colour. For pumpkins and boots and spiced lattes. For seasons coming and going and coming again, and for a God who sees the whole cycle through over and over.

Plenty to be thankful for indeed.

Growing Imagination

photo (1)#thegratitudeproject Day 19

Look at those two. We spent a good half hour this morning at a park near our house making, serving and buying ‘ice cream’. Actually they were wood shavings, but that made it all the more sweet.

I am grateful for these two little ones, and especially their budding imaginations. Never a dull moment, I tell you.

Screen Therapy


#thegratitudeproject Day 18

On days like this, I am so thankful for beautifully made, inspiring films. I absolutely adored Anne of Green Gables growing up (the books, the film adaptations, and the musical!) and tonight she is providing some much needed comic relief.

thoughts on faith and life and the world


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