It Takes A Village

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 9.13.23 PM

Wow, it has been a WHILE since I’ve caught everyone up on the crazy that is my current life! Throughout the past weeks I’ve been moving, working, applying for jobs, moving AGAIN and trying to keep my head from spinning so hard it falls off.

Luckily, I am #blessed (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) with the best community a girl could ask for. Sanity saved.

So, what HAVE I been up to? Well, I’ve moved into my permanent housing situation in a beautiful Seattle neighborhood that is close to nature, parks, Puget Sound and a short bus hop to downtown. Sometimes I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. I’m so happy to be back home, it seems surreal.

The whole moving escapade has been quite the adventure because I started off staying with a friend on her bedroom floor, my first week back (thanks Claire!), graduated to a temporary living situation with some rad Seattle chicks. And a month later, I was lucky enough to land (kind of bumpy, but I’m still in one piece!) in my current abode. I’m living with a couple of fantastical chicks, now, and I’m sloooowly pulling together my heavily Pintrest inspired living space.

I would just like to reiterate that none of these things would have been possible without the amazing community I’m a part of. I have the best friends a girl could wish for, I’ve had more support and love than I could have ever imagined, and my mother has been a darling bringing down/moving boxes. Oh! And this time I’m in the same country as these people so I can actually hug them and say “Thank you!” You all have made the miracle of this transition happen. Thank you thank you thank you!

What’s up with the rest of my life? Well my job has been keeping me on my toes, and is filled with fun every day, my housemates are awesome, I GET TO HANG OUT WITH MY FRIENDS, and I get to see my family whenever I want to. Sheesh. It’s all just too much. When they say “cup overflows, “ I think I finally understand what it means.

I am so incredibly happy to be back in my city. But I also recognize that my joy in being back is amplified because of the adventures I’ve been on abroad. While it might seem like regret for leaving Seattle might be a feeling that hits right about now, that’s not the case AT ALL! I’m just so happy to be where I am right now.

Will this be my forever stopping point? Who knows. But in these moments I am happy. I love being surrounded by people I love, and I love having the adventures that pop up and meet me every day.

Enough with the frilly stuff??

Okay. Fine.

Just know that moving back to one’s own country, after having adventures in another one, CAN be done successfully. It takes a lot of hard work (A LOT), and a lot of patience with yourself, but it can be done.

One of the biggest things I’ve been learning, lately, is just to let go of my trying to control my circumstances, and to really dig deep. I have so many things I could stress out about, but taking a step back and approaching them each individually has proved to be so much better than curling up in a ball and trying to hope the problems go away.

Not only does glorifying stress not help solve the situations at hand, but it prevents me from enjoying the beautiful little things around me in my day to day moments. Yes, I am so thankful to finally be back, but that doesn’t mean things have been easy every step of the way. AND THAT’S OKAY.

I’m fine admitting that I don’t know what’s going to be the next step, moving forward. I mean, I didn’t even know where I was going to live until weeks before I would have been homeless.
BUT.
Something always comes up. And I have faith that it always will; because in the end, my fate and my future are not in my own hands. While the hard work is mine to dedicate myself to, the direction I’m heading is from an always-faithful Father.

This life is crazy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m back! I have no idea what the next step is in half of the areas of my life, but I know I’m on the right track, and FINALLY that’s enough.

bfe3a2bb2176da7eef6eede8d1515cf7

Even Heroes Get Homesick

DSC_1200
Paris, France

“But all night he dreamed of his own house and wandered in his sleep into all his different rooms looking for something that he could not find, nor remember what it looked like.”

Right now I’m making my way through the forever-favorite book, The Hobbit. I know, I know, all the rest of you read it in 7th grade when you were sporting rainbow braces, but I was off busy doing something else, and never had the chance. With the movies coming out, though, I decided to make it my book for the summer (one of a few).

Obviously it isn’t summer anymore. So I guess I didn’t quite make my deadline…but I’m still determined to finish the book, and I couldn’t be more happy with my decision.

One of my favorite things about J.R.R Tolkein is that, when he writes, he doesn’t romanticize the struggles of the adventures (which, personally, I think kind of makes it more romanticized, in a way). Throughout The Hobbit, again and again and again, he writes that Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit longing for home. No matter where he is, how good or bad things seem to be going; he remembers the tranquility of his hobbit hole and longs for it.

I don’t know about you guys, but I often find myself reading books that seem to coincide exactly with the kind of encouragement that I need. Or maybe, I find the encouragement in the books I read, because I need it.

Regardless, if there’s one thing you should know about me it’s that: I love adventures. I love living them, I love writing them and I love hearing stories about them. I love holding my breath while watching adventure movies, getting caught up in narratives and being on the edge of my seat – eyes wide and ready for the grand conclusion.

This hasn’t changed from when I was a kid and I’d spend weeks reading stacks of books about people who took their circumstances and turned them into stories worthy of being passed down through generations. That’s what I wanted then, and what I live for now. I want my life to be a story I can read back to my children; something that will have them on the edge of their seats, anticipating the part when mom _________________ (fill in the blank).

Adventures aren’t just something I think are necessary, but essential for my life. I need to travel, explore and see new things. I need to have my breath taken away by landscapes and oceans, to meet incredible people and take my place among the millions of experiences the world has to offer.

But the perspective of an adventure can be pretty different when you’re in the middle of it vs. when you’re hearing it second hand. Hungry wolves chasing after you might sound exciting from the security of your living room, but while you’re actually running from them– breath staggering, panic stricken eyes wild with fear, it’s probably not quite the same feeling (although, I’ve never been chased by wolves, so correct me if I’m wrong).

As humans, it’s in our nature to romanticize the past. We tell embellished stories (especially in my family) of what happened, who was there and how many obstacles there were; a foot long puddle turns into a raging river, a 10-inch trout becomes a 60-foot whale.

The stories get passed down from one person to another and then to another and another, until nobody even knows, for sure, what the facts are. As the details trickle down, from one person to the next, details get lost and scrambled in translation – especially emotions such as fear or uncertainty; finally, we’re left simply with the grand tales of bravery – unaware that the hero or heroine was having panic attacks before they made their brave, life altering, world saving decision.

I know personally, when I look back, I have a habit of romanticizing my past.

Somehow things always seem better when they’re not in the present. Life seems so much more exciting in the future; so much more secure and certain in the past. But if I’m honest, I realize that just isn’t the case.

Right now, I’m struggling with a Bilbo Baggins mentality.

Maybe I don’t live in Middle Earth, but I would consider my life an adventure right now. I’m in a strange place, with a strange culture and language surrounding me. I have no idea what the next year of my life will entail. But, all in all, life is pretty great right now.

So why am I still longing for the past?

I love the family I’m working with, I couldn’t have asked for a better match in personalities, tastes, hobbies and general atmosphere.

BUT…here it comes: I’m homesick.

I don’t really want to admit it, because I thought maybe I would miraculously overcome nostalgia (and I did for about month) but this week the homesickness has been hitting pretty hard.

It’s not saying that I don’t love the adventure that I’m on. I’m making awesome friends, getting to try new experiences and generally loving life – but there’s still a part of me longing for my hobbit hole (aka Seattle).

I miss friends, I miss my routine, I miss my bike, being able to call people up to go watch the sunset at Golden Gardens, or to WOW to drink bubble tea; I miss speaking and hearing English, and I miss being able to effortlessly talk to random people when I go out.

It’s expected and normal for us to want what we had before, whether it was bad or good, it was known. And who wouldn’t want to be somewhere they know over somewhere uncertain?

But right now, I’m reminding myself of the beauty in learning to love something I’m uncomfortable with. And let me tell you – sometimes it is VERY UNCOMFORTABLE to be living in a country that is so different.

But that’s part of the adventure, right!?

I’m so thankful for all of you who have encouraged me, sent me mail (which seriously makes my week) and have generally uplifted me during this transition. I feel so lucky to have such an amazing community around me, and I’m excited for what’s up and coming in my life – even if it means missing my city a little in the meantime.

Seattle will always have my heart. And striking out into the unknown can be extremely intimidating at times. But I’m learning to accept the fact that even the greatest heroes and heroines sometimes find themselves longing for home.

10665711_10204172456965047_9015377252074158795_n
I found a beret at a Paris street fair. Needless to say: J’adore.

228af07451553167c6efbe0f0a01ccd1

French Favorites For The Week

lemonde.fr-Juliette-Greco

1. Fashion Icon: Juliette Gréco

“Still more will remember the pared-down look invented by this muse of Saint-Germain-des-Prés: sheathed in black, her doe eyes rimmed with kohl, her bangs and long black hair framing her pale face and expressive hands. It has been inspiring girls with artistic aspirations for over six decades.” – Vogue August 2014

b1c270d36d7ab353a74160eac0cce7fe f9b7ffde9fb834b1ea3aa0f9026c0054 Juliette-Greco 2aa775c5f7392db4de81a187e28b775d

2. Cédric Klapisch series: L’auberge espangnole, Poupées Russe, et Casse Tête Chinois 

C5CBBAFB5EE42CD32DF532927F9FB8_h498_w598_m2

This is one of my favorite series of all time. The movies are made over quite a bit of time and show the lives and progressions of a group of student/young adults/adults. Filled with just the right amount of humor, drama, romance and real life experiences they are HIGH on my list of suggested watch, regardless of if you speak French. (They’re easy to find with English subtitles – Amazon has them to stream/buy!)

3. Miley v. Joan of Arc (aka Jeanne d’Arc)

Have you ever watched “Epic Rap Battles Of History” on Youtube? Ok, so this isn’t strictly French, but it does have Joan of Arc in it (aka The Maiden of Orleans, France – where I’ll be going to school). It’s definitely ridiculous and satirical, so watch at your own risk…of dying from laughter.

4. Bla Bla Car

image.php_

This is a resource that the French girl Couchsurfing with me right now told me about! Traveling around France can be expensive, and I’m going to pretty much have a budget of nothing while I live there, so it’s going to be really important for me to have little life hacks like this one that I can use to see the country without spending all of my savings. Example: Riding the train from where I live (one way) to Paris is about $40…ride sharing is about $15. So glad I found out about this!

5.  Normandie Armada Festival

logo2

Today I just found out about this festival that happens every four years (the next one is going to be in 2019) where old ships all gather along with millions of people on the coast of Normandy! Definitely on my bucket list.

6. Leboncoin.fr

LeBonCoin3

Another great resource for the young, broke and not yet famous, I’m really excited about using this website (which is a lot like the French version of Craigslist) to find some necessities at a more accessible for my soon to be financial stays (aka broke).

7. Nolwenn Leroy

My bohemian self is in love with these videos and Nolwenn in general. I’m especially fond of these songs because they’re kind of like a mix of Irish/Scottish music + French which may be the most perfect combination ever.

(Only two more weeks until France!!)

San Francisco: Fin

image

Somehow, no matter when, where or how I fly, I end up sitting next to the screaming child. This time I got extra lucky, though, because I have one in front AND behind me. Glory.
Well, all trips can’t be perfect, I guess. And this one has been a pretty extraordinary one, overall.

CONFESSION: Pre this trip I think I had forgotten how to have fun.

It’s hard to admit , but I was pretty uptight coming to San Francisco. I think I was so intent on getting everything set with my move to France that I’d put blinders on to anything other than that.

I’ve talked before about the mirror test while traveling. When you take a minute to walk past a mirror and notice your face. Well, yesterday I walked past a mirror and realized something crazy – I looked rested…and happy. Sounds crazy, but it’s been a while since either of those words have applied to me.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I only really only feel truly happy when I’m traveling.

Since the first and second day were so great, it seemed like asking too much to have a third perfect day, but then yesterday happened.

NOTE: A lot of this trip’s successes is because of an extraordinary Couchsurfing host, so a huge thank you to her!

Yesterday started off with the decision not to pay for transportation. So my host and I started to look up car sharing services and signed up for a few with some free minute promotions. All in all we saw pretty much the whole city for under $10.00 ( for both of us) which you’ll know is insane if you’ve ever tried to travel, with another person, around the whole city in a day.

On Saturday I saw that there was a Walt Disney museum in San Francisco, which I had never even heard of before – a fact that shocked me, since I’m such a huge Disney nerd. So, first thing we did was head over to the museum…which is literally I’m the middle of nowhere. I would never guess the museum was there, the building looks more or less like a mess hall at Barracks..

I was most excited for a special exhibit at the museum for Mary Claire, who was an artist and illustrator for Disney movies such as Peter Pan, Three Amigos, Cinderella and my all time favorite Disney movie, Alice In Wonderland.

The exhibit was amazing! I got to see original story boards and illustrations for some of my favorite movies, while learning about an amazing woman who not only worked full time and traveled the world as an artist, but also raised kids and was married – which I can’t even imagine. My favorite part of the exhibit, though, was being able to see inside her sketchbooks – they were a mess. Its pretty rare to be able to see inside another artist’s sketchbook, especially those who are professionals. It was so great to see that messiness is normal, beautiful and productive. It was so refreshing!

20140708-162908-59348924.jpg

20140708-162913-59353393.jpg

20140708-162911-59351184.jpg

After the museum we made the long trek over to the Palace of Fine arts, which basically looks like something out of ancient Greece, but was actually built in 1915 as part of the Panama Pacific Exposition. Its so incredibly beautiful and a MUST SEE for anyone visiting San Francisco.

20140708-160442-57882276.jpg

20140708-160440-57880467.jpg

20140708-160438-57878785.jpg
After the Palace, we tried to get some shots of the Golden Gate bridge, but the weather was no cooperating so the bridge was covered 90% with heavy fog (we’re talking, cannot see ANYTHING). Still took some pictures, but it was kind of a bummer not to be an!e to see all of its glory. We walked across the bridge, whip whirling wind and mist in our faces, and then decided to walk back the way we came, before we froze to death…or our legs fell off.

20140708-161430-58470351.jpg

20140708-161430-58470705.jpg

All in all, I could not have dreamt of a better trip. Everything didn’t go as planned, and I will have to go back down to San Fran in a few weeks to still apply for my Visa, but all in all I could have asked for more. In only three days I feel revitalized, refreshed and with a renewed sense of purpose. I really needed some down time to recuperate, and the funny thing is, I didn’t even know I needed it.

After regrouping, I’m going to be going in again August 1st to apply, and then begging and praying that they process my visa before my plane ticket on August 18th! Fingers crossed! Prayers much needed and appreciated.

Back On Le Train

26512_1374344912067_3839223_n
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Life has been crazy. I haven’t been blogging for the past couple of weeks because all the sudden my life shifted into fast gear and I kind of lost my footing for a bit. Summer has begun, and everything keeps chugging along. Work has been ridiculous – in good, but exhausting, ways.

My work day currently looks something like this:

6AM – Wake up

6:25 – Bus to work

6:45 – Arrive at work

9:30 – Leave work and bus home

10:00 – 2:30 Paint/write/try to catch World Cup games/eat/study french

2:45 – leave for work

3:30 – 7:30 Nanny

8:00 – Come home, eat dinner, paint

10:30 – Go to bed (if I’m lucky)

Repeat.

Needless to say, it’s been pretty hectic.

Mais, c’est la vie.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Next week will be my last week working mornings, which is going to be fantastic since I can then actually stay up later than 10pm and get things done (I’m a pretty hard core night owl). Other than that, here are the top 5 things that have happened since I’ve written last!

lr1e9bj1qanfa412128280

1. France in the World Cup: Sorry if you’re not into soccer (and shame on you), but this had to be #1. France is making me proud with their football playing in the World Cup, and I’m so excited to be able to watch them play Nigeria on Wednesday! I was able to watch the France v. Switzerland game in a French café here in Seattle, with a bunch of French people, while eating French food – and it was the most magical day ever. Best friend dates are the greatest, huh?

2

2. Booked hostel in San Francisco: Booked my hostel and I couldn’t be more excited. I was going to couchsurf while I was in San Francisco, but since I’m going on a holiday weekend there weren’t very many options for places to stay. Also, the hostel is only 10 min walk from the French Embassy, which will make getting to my appointment easy – yay! I still can’t believe I have to go all the way to San Francisco to apply, finger crossing and prayers are completely appreciated that all of my paperwork will go through seamlessly. Otherwise I’m going to be in a bit of a pickle…I’ve never understood where that phrase came from.

3. French tutoring: My French tutoring is no more. It really is the most tragic thing ever, because I really liked my French tutor. But now he’s gone back to Paris, so I have no one to help me. Commence weeping. That being said, I am DETERMINED to keep studying and practicing French so I don’t fall back into the chasm of ignorance before jumping on a plane to Europe.

4. Sending email to church in Paris: This is more of a “I need to do this” but it’s finally time for me to start sending out emails and stuff to people in France so I can get con-nect-ed. I don’t know why I said it like that.

5. Quit my j-o-b…my second job. I have been passing out most days from exhaustion, so it was time to say goodbye to job number two starting next week. There’s just too much work to be done getting ready to leave, and I really want to be able to focus on spending time with my family and friends during the last month and a half (holy shit!) that I’m here. I’m still going to be subbing at the Boys and Girls club through August, but no more 6am wake up calls. Thank the Lord.

5.5. French Kiss: I watched this movie and it is a true gem of the 1990’s: corny and fantastic. It has Meg Ryan in it, so of course it is perfect. If you haven’t seen it, you absolutely must.

It feels so good to be back writing, again!

(only 51 days until I leave! Eek!)

-E

Keep Moving Forward

Glasgow, Scotland
Glasgow, Scotland

Yesterday I stood in a Safeway aisle, staring at toilet paper.

Normally I always buy the same brand, same size, same everything (I’m a creature of habit), but for the first time in years I had to stop and think. You see, I’m moving out of the country in 2 months – I don’t need 24 rolls of toilet paper. And, as I continued to shop through the store, this realization kept hitting me. I don’t need a huge container of laundry soap. I don’t need spices in bulk. I don’t need twelve rolls of paper towels…no, wait – I do need those (#artistproblems). It’s odd, but grocery shopping yesterday was the most slap-in-the-face realization I’ve had so far.

Although I’m getting closer and closer to my leave date, there hasn’t been a whole lot that’s finalized so far. I’m still mid process in getting my Visa, moving and packing up everything. But, even thought things aren’t 100%, I’m at the point where I have to pretend they are. I can’t buy bulk at the grocery store anymore. I can’t buy new clothes, unless I’m going to DIE without them. I have to get rid of stuff every moment I can. I have a giant “Get Rid Of” pile in my living room because there’s no way I can take everything I own with me…or even half of what I own with me.

The hardest thing right now is acting the part, even though I don’t know for certain that I have the role. See, I’m the type of person who likes certainty. I like order, I like knowing things are going to work out, and at exactly what date, time and location they will happen. But, unfortunately, that’s not the way life works – as much as I want to be in control of this situation, it’s just not going to happen. There’s no net, here. There isn’t a back up plan for if things fall through. And, honestly, that’s terrifying. I am a type A personality. I NEED everything on charts and graphs. I NEED to know everything’s going to work out. But I don’t.

They say that big risks reap big rewards, but risks can also produce epic sized failures. Realizing this is part of adulthood. As we get older we realize that grass isn’t going to be purple, no matter how many times we color it that way; just because we can imagine something, doesn’t always mean it’s going to happen.

BUT, the other half of adulthood is realizing that sometimes you have to stick your middle finger to that side of your brain (yes, I just told you to flip yourself off) and fight for that kid-like disregard for the factual and definite. Because, living despite the potential for failure is essential for succeeding, growing and moving forward in life.

And while risking big is something scary, uncertain, and periodically gives me nervous breakdowns, looking back over my life I’ve realized that I cannot remember a time when I’ve risked big and not been blown away by God’s faithfulness.

The last time I moved, even though it was only a couple of states away, I had no idea what was in store for me. I moved to accept a job in southern California with a non-profit called Krochet Kids International, and it ended up being one of the most impactful experiences of my life.

But, that being said, it also was nothing like I imagined. While living in California, I was so broke I remember looking in my bank account and laughing when I saw I had $7.11; the irony of having barely enough money to go into a 7-11 store, let alone buy anything substantial like groceries.

When I was in California I lived in a three bedroom, two bathroom and one main room apartment with eight other roommates – guys and girls. If you’ve ever had roommates, you can imagine how much drama took place amongst that many people in that small of a space. I honestly think if we had lived together for another month someone might have ended up dead seriously injured. But we figured it out. We survived that ant infested apartment… and I figured out someway to buy groceries.

I cried a lot when I lived in California. But I also grew a lot. No, I didn’t have the experience I expected from being a “good Christian” and volunteering. I didn’t frolic on beaches, greeted by dolphins amongst the Pacific Ocean waves (there were sharks, however). I didn’t sit under palm trees and tan – I started to hate palm trees about a week after being there (all I could think about were Washington evergreens).

Things were just about as off kilter as could be, and I really loathed to all eternity  didn’t like living in California. But that experience was essential for making me into the person I am now. Living in California changed me, because I stepped into the complete unknown and failed miserably.

Right now there are a lot of uncertainties in my life, and it’s really hard to try piecing everything together when I only have a sketch of what the final painting is supposed to be. But what I do know, what I draw from daily, is that I’ve never been failed in the past. God has never failed to see me through. He’s never left the role of comforter, guide and Father. And even though I can only see the next step of my journey, he sees the entire playing field. And I have to trust that.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go color in some purple grass.

8777ebad9a4eda85f9f9539246453d5c

France Checklist

My mother and me exploring the Washington beaches, once upon a time ago.
My mother and me exploring the Washington beaches, once upon a time ago.

I can’t believe it’s been a week since I’ve posted on here! Life has been crazy hectic, per usual. But I think the real culprit is me having my head up in the clouds too much. So, since my mind has decided to ground itself for this slice of the evening, I’ve decided to catch you all up on what’s happened this week.

Medical Certificate

This week I went and had my “I’m not dying or trying to carry the plague to your country” checkup, which is required before you can apply for your French Visa. I’m happy to say the diagnosis was that I’m normal – physically, anyway.

Awaiting DIRECCTE Approval:

All of my paperwork is officially in! Now, all I have is to do is wait for the DIRECCTE (the local government in the French city I’ll be living in) to approve it and I’ll be ready to apply for my Visa. I’m so excited, and I can’t believe how much work it’s been to get to this point. Here’s to working your butt off just to be able to APPLY to live in France.

SIFF: French movies

Chinese puzzle

The Seattle International Film Festival is happening right now – my favorite time of the year! I saw this film last weekend with two of my friends and we absolutely loved it! It was witty, well written and the actors were phenomenal. There was one part of the movie when everyone in the theater was laughing so hard you couldn’t even hear anything on the screen. Definitely one of the best movies I’ve seen this year – a must see.

Mood Indigo

This film I’m going to go see next week and I can’t wait. Not only are Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris some of my favorites, I love the overall whimsy of this storytelling style. I can’t wait!

Official Acceptance Letter

Last week I got accepted into The University of Orleans and this week I got my official acceptance letter, which was so exciting! I can’t believe I’m going back to college. I know it’s going to be a challenge but (if I’m totally honest) I’m so excited to be a student, again!

Anthony Bourdoin: Parts Unknown

BourdainCNN

This series has been my absolute favorite this past week. It’s produced by CNN and is as much a series about culture and global perspective as it is about food. I’ve loved watching it and getting whisked away to different parts of the globe. My favorite episode is about Quebec, mainly because that’s where my French obsession began when I was there for my 9th birthday. Two seasons are on Netflix now, so if you have access I would highly recommend watching a couple of episodes. My only warning is: Have a healthy snack nearby, because you’re going to want to eat your entire kitchen after each episode.

Belle et Le Bete

I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE THIS MOVIE. And, weirdly enough, it has nothing really to do with the movie itself. I’m just so excited to see the cinematography, costumes and sets that I’m about ready to cry. Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But I AM really excited.

Yesterday’s Ceiling

Sequim, WA
Sequim, WA

Today I quit my job.

And after letting those words sink in a bit, I feel ready to cry. In case you were wondering, I have the perfect job; amazing family, amazing hours, great kids and great pay. Most people would think I was insane to leave, and right about now I’m starting to feel the same way. I think nauseous would be the word for the day.

All of the above being said, I think it’s important to state that there is a difference between feeling sick about a decision, and feeling uneasy. If I, at all, felt uneasy about leaving my job, I wouldn’t. I would stay put until I was forty and the last kid had graduated from college. But I don’t. And I’m not sure whether I’m happy or mad that I’m being led somewhere else.

In life there are always those “vitamin” decisions that you have to make. The choices that taste like crap and you have to half choke, half gag, down. But you do it anyway, because you know that they’re important and will make you stronger in the long run.

But, of course, being the brat I am, that doesn’t mean my soul can’t be furious. Although I know that moving is the right thing, and that it’s better for my future, even though I’ve dreamed about this my whole life, and I’m more excited than words can say, I’m still (for some unknown reason) livid.

I think it’s because I’m being forced out of my comfort zone. Ha. I didn’t even think I had one of those anymore. But I do. Although, sometimes I think I’m so busy convincing myself that I live on the edge, that I forget that even the edge can become a safety zone.

If only I could clone myself and put one self here, and one in France. Then we could correspond with each other and I’d be able to live out both lives simultaneously. I know that’s ridiculous. But you can’t blame a girl for dreaming.

I’m slowly starting to realize that, as the days go by, and the weeks pass, I’m getting more and more anxious about this transition. Even today, when I was telling my current boss that I would be leaving, I replied to her “That’s so exciting!” with a “Yeah…I guess so.”

It’s hard taking leaps. It’s hard to be someone doing something that no one you know has successfully done. It breaks my heart to know I’ll have to say goodbye to the kids I’ve loved for 2 years. It breaks my heart that I’m going to have to say goodbye to my family for an indefinite amount of time. It breaks my heart that I won’t get to hang out with the same Seattle people that I’ve loved for the past five years. It breaks my heart that I won’t get to play soccer, or go to my church or stop in on old places I used to work.

Basically there’s just a lot of broken heartage right now. That’s not a word. I don’t care.

I will say, though, that tangled amidst the brokenness, there is some excitement for the possibilities of the future. It feels a bit like a blank piece of paper staring me in the face and daring me to write a best selling novel. But maybe that’s what I’m the most afraid of? Messing up a blank piece of paper.

I probably sound like a crazy person right now, but these ups and downs are real talk. Transitions are scary and rugged. They aren’t always beautiful dreams, Pintrest boards and taking French lessons.

But that’s life. We appreciate the ups because we remember the downs.

When I was in India, our motto was, “Yesterday’s ceiling is today’s floor.”

It means what we’re called to today, all the promises and hopes and dreams, risks and pursuits, are only the stepping stools of the promises of tomorrow. We are created to cast off the “okay” and walk forward in confidence. There is so much more for us.

I think I forget too easily that, in the midst of my chaos, I have access to peace that surpasses human understanding; that even when I’m having nervous breakdowns and throwing spiritual tantrums, there’s a still small voice whispering, “Peace, greater things are yet to come.”

Because, ultimately, it’s not in the green pastures and safety nets that we find vitality and calling. It’s when we’ve pushed ourselves beyond our comfort zones and continued to strive for the inheritance of purpose we are called to.

“We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.” (Colossians 1:11-14)

Checklist for France!

DSC_1561
Glasgow, Scotland

This week, for some reason, it’s been really tough for me to feel like I’m accomplishing anything. Although I’ve been plugging away for months to get everything for France pulled together, it’s still hard to envision my work paying off, since that won’t be for a few months.

With that being said, here are some of the things I’ve finished up lately/I’m working on to get ready for France!

1. Doctor’s appointment: There are several steps in the process of applying for a French Visa. I had no idea how complicated this process would be, but I’m slowly finding out that you have to really WANT to go to France in order to move there. There are a million hoops to jump through before you can even think about applying.

One of these necessary steps is getting a  doctor’s note (aka Medical Evaluation) that states that you aren’t dying. This visit also has to be within three months of you leaving for France so it wasn’t until this week that I was finally able to make the appointment! Yay!

2.  Birth Certificate: Somehow I lost my birth certificate. I have no idea where it is and I need an official one to copy before I move, sooooo I ordered a new one this week. It’s surprisingly easy to get.

3. DuoLingo-ing the world: I know that’s not a word, but it is now. Every day I spend about 1 hour(ish) on Duolingo practicing my French. I used to dream of the day when I’d be at more than 20% word knowledge, and then I looked at my screen yesterday! I’m satisfied.

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 10.29.44 AM 4. I’ve been kind of obsessed with French Romantic Comedies lately. They’re just so much better. If you haven’t watched any I highly suggest these:

5. French Magazines are my new favorite thing to read! I can’ t seem to get a copy of a French Vogue, but I’ve been going through French Elle and Marie France

Claryssa-For-Marie-France-Magazine-France-May-2014_01_1

ELLE-France-28-Mars-2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. I finally started to actually go through my belongings and get rid of stuff: I’m trying to get rid of probably somewhere around 60ish% of my belongings so I’ll only be keeping essentials here in storage (20%) and taking the other 20% with me to France. Numbers, numbers, numbers.

7. I’m loaning out my fish to my little sister while I’m gone: My two goldfish, Octavius and Pyro, have been with me for about 5 years, now. But, since I can’t take them with me, they’re going to go live with my little sister until further notice. She better not kill them like she killed my bamboo I had her “take care of” last time I moved.

8. Dentist: Because I don’t know what the situation will be in France, I went to the dentist this week to get my mouth at 100% before leaving. Four shots of anesthetic later, and we’re good.

9. College application: I sent in my college application last weekend so I’m waiting to hear back from them! Hopefully I’ll be able to take classes there over the next year. I really hope I get in, but who knows?? Fingers crossed!

10. Growing out my f^$&^@! hair: Anyone who knows about curly hair knows that it is a beast that doesn’t want to be tamed. Anyone who has tried to regrow out a mowhawk knows it’s just awkward. Add the two together, and you have a recipe for disaster. Which is pretty much where I’m at right now. I almost get my hair re-shaved pretty much every day. But luckily, I have a hefty dose of Irish/Scottish stubbornness in my blood and if I said I’m growing it out – I’m damn well going to.

11. I bought a tablet! With layovers etc. I’m going to be traveling for like 30 hours when I go to France, so I bought a tablet so I can take it with me, to read/watch movies, when I travel. It’s coming in the mail today, hopefully, so I’m super excited!

12. I’m emailing a church in France to try to get connected with one near where I’m living.   Being able to keep connected with people who share my faith is so important to me, and I’m really hoping that I can connect with some fun people in France. One of my way too awesome friends was in Paris, and he found some people to connect me with at the Hillsong plant in Paris. I’m excited to see what connections I can make 🙂 (This had been high on my list, so I’m so glad to have some kind of lead finally)

And that’s “all” for now! Ah! Only 3 months!

Also, one of my friends left yesterday for his Au Pair-ship in Australia. Check out his awesomeness on his blog! 

Step By Slow Moving Step

A picture from a few days ago in Seattle.
A picture from a few days ago.

Right now I’m sitting on a park cliff overlooking Puget Sound. There’s a slight breeze, and half of the sky is sunny; the other filled with half huge cumulonimbus clouds speckled with highlights of gray and white. Staring at me are the Olympic Mountains. And normally, on a clear day, I would see them fully. But today, they are half hiding behind a dense curtain of clouds. I smell salt water. I hear seals barking on the beaches down below. Preening stay-at-home dads are walking by with their babies strapped proudly to their chests. A boy and his dad are practicing their Dempsey moves. The attire of each person here proclaims their love of hiking, nature and going on adventures.

This is Seattle. And I’m going to miss it – a lot. Sometimes I sit and just think of all the things I’m going to miss about home after I move. It sounds depressing, but I have a good reason for doing so.

I want to make sure I now appreciate what I won’t be able to appreciate once I leave. I want to make a list, and check off every special part of my city, knowing that I’ve enjoyed it fully. 
I want to savor everything. I want to imprint every favorite view, every spot I’m in love with, in my mind. I want to remember the smell of salt water and rain. I don’t ever want to forget home.

I’ve moved away from Seattle before, and I remember the feeling of displacement. How it feels to know you fit somewhere, but that you’re somewhere else instead.

But knowing that I’m going to miss my home city doesn’t make me sad, or prevent me from loving it in the moment. Rather, it makes me relish it. I don’t want to think for one moment, when I’m in France, that I wasted my last few months in Seattle. Because the weird reality is, I don’t know when I’ll have more. One year? Two? Five? Who knows?

Today I was thinking about the past year. It’s crazy how much can change in such a short time. Primarily that my AppleCare on my MacBook just expired, but other things too. We never know where we’ll be a year from now. I would never in a million years have guessed I would be moving to France. I know people always say, “ If you had told me, I would have told you that you were crazy.” But I literally would have.

France wasn’t in the books. There were no plans for it. But now, looking around, it’s incredible how much I seem to have been “preparing” for it for years without knowing. Now, here I am: getting rid of half my belongings and begging my mom to take care of, and love, my goldfish. Change is uncomfortable and inevitable, and I generally don’t like it. But, for one of the few times in my life, this change feels right.

I think it would be natural to step back from this opportunity. It’s intimidating. It feels like a rock wall blocking the path to the next chapter of my life. But, no matter how much I stare at it, it’s not going to dissolve. I know I have to climb it.

My job right now is to make sure I’m prepared, to equip myself and then grab on. Because ultimately, when I get to that end point, everything I’m learning now will enrich and enhance what I’m about to do – I just happen to still be in that stage of equipping.

Sometimes this place is scary, and awkward and frustrating. It’s taken me weeks to fill out paperwork for schooling and my visa etc. And it’s exhausting to not know what to prepare for on the other side. No matter how much work I put in now, how many French lessons, how much money I save, how many ideas I have and packing plans I make, I have no idea if it will be enough. The reality is that it could NOT be.

Regardless, I know the hard work is worth it. Something amazing is waiting for me on the horizon. Maybe it will be everything I ever hoped for – maybe it will be something I never knew I wanted. But, right now, it’s not my job to worry or freak out. My only task is to reach out and grab ahold of it.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

1609701_10203099066410954_2852783342838824546_n
The PRE paperwork before I can actually start on my paperwork for my French Visa.