Ancia

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I watch an otter
Poke his head out of the water
And look at me for a moment
Before he disappears again.
As I wait for him to reappear
I notice other sights and sounds
On the water and in the air.
I’m captivated by this place;
Is it okay if I just be still
And not move or think or speak?
I wait for nothing
I’m fully present
Nature is honest with me
And shows me true beauty.
Every piece of this moment
Is a timeless gift.

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Green Winter

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Today I took a break from the demands of my day and spent some time in the garden. Last time we were in town I bought a rake, and I put it to good use this afternoon, clearing some piles of branches and pinecones and the garden beds and pathways. Before we bought our house it was vacant for five years, and the once beautiful gardens were overgrown and in need of some love. I haven’t done much gardening, but I love the challenge to bring it back to life. My ambitions this year are simple, mostly just to clear the yard so we have a fresh start, and get a little herb garden going.

I also can’t believe that it’s the first day of  February and there are things growing in my garden! It’s a far cry from the Alberta winters I’m used to, where plants don’t start budding and blooming until late May or June! I haven’t really had any moments missing the snow, probably because I’ve been enraptured by the eternal green that surrounds me.

Did any of you make New Year’s resolutions? I didn’t make a list myself, but I did write down some words and themes that I want to see in my life this year. One word that kept popping into my mind is BLOOM. I’ve been planted in a rich community, and the past few months that we’ve lived here have been so full of vibrancy and friendship and healing. It’s amazing how being surrounded by an authentic, honest community brings out the best everyone. When we encourage and build each other up, not only are we seeking the best for those around us, but we are also living our potential and we in turn are encouraged and built up. It is a beautiful cycle that I am grateful to be a part of.

I’ve been doing a lot of growing in the past year, and now, like the bulbs that are pushing up through the dirt in my garden right now, I look forward to this next season where I can bloom in this beautiful community where I’m planted.

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Cheers,
Lauren.

There’s Something Brilliant Bound to Happen Here

You know those moments when you’re listening to a song as you’re doing something and that moment gets engrained in your mind forever and anytime you think of it, or do the same thing, that song comes back to mind?

That happened for me on our trip to Chicago, not with a song, but with an entire album. Zoltan bought me Death Cab for Cutie’s new record Kintsugi in Madison, so we loaded it onto the phone and listened (through the great stereo system on our Kia Soul rental) on the drive from Madison to Chicago. After that drive it became the soundtrack to the rest of the trip.

I haven’t had a listening experience like that for a long time, where we turned up the music and listened to the album front to back, not knowing what would come next from song to song. Maybe it was the circumstances that accompanied the music, but I found Kintsugi to be so beautiful, and the perfect soundtrack to our adventure. It didn’t get the best reviews, but I’ve still been listening to it a lot and I haven’t tired of it. Some of my favourite tracks are You’ve Haunted Me All My Life, Ingenue, and Binary Sea. Lots of the songs are reminiscent of older songs in Death Cab’s catalogue, and maybe that’s what I like about it. I’ll always swoon over Ben Gibbard’s vocals, and his wit and honesty that comes through in the lyrics.

What songs or albums have grabbed your attention lately? Do you have songs that trigger a certain memory of a time or place? I’d love to hear what all of you think!

Photos are from the Chicago Botanic Gardens that we visited before our flight home last Thursday.

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Until next time,
Lauren.

Bring on the New Year!

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Happy New Year, everyone!! I hope you had a lovely time ringing in 2015 whether you were out with friends or just at home. We stayed in and had a relaxing evening, which was just perfect.

It’s always exciting when the new year approaches. It’s a fresh start, a time to reset, make goals and dream about what the new year might have to offer.

This past year was a crazy one for me, personally and professionally. It brought with it some of the highest highs and lowest lows I’ve ever experienced and after all the ups and downs I am so thankful to be finishing off the year with stability and rest and so much hope and anticipation for the new year. All the long and windy journeys of 2014 taught me so much about myself, and put me through some tough situations that made me really evaluate my thoughts and motives. It’s really incredible how so many of the mountains we encounter in life can inspire change (if we allow them to) and can have such a positive impact on us in the long run.

So anyway, all that being said, I’m so ready to start a new year with new adventures. With everything that’s happened this past year, I really can’t wait to see what’s next! One thing I realized about myself is that I need goals in my life. I’m not the greatest at time-management (just ask my husband!) and I heavily rely on written lists and reminders to help keep me focussed and on task. Writing down goals is really important for me, but what’s even more important is to keep going back to those goals to see how I’m doing and remind myself to keep going, or re-evaluate and change things up.

Because I like writing things down, sometimes my lists can get a little long and overwhelming, so when I was thinking about my ambitions for 2015 I wanted to keep it short and concise and make some goals that I know I can stick to and hopefully expand upon! So, here are a few things that I’m going to work towards in the new year:

1. Make time for friends. Now that we live in Calgary and have a lot more time at home than we have in the past few years, I want to really invest in the friendships that have been more or less long-distance for the past few years. It’s so wonderful being able to hang out with people and be part of a community and I want to make a conscious effort to invest time into those people who have been faithful friends while we’ve been here and there.

2. Fit yoga into my daily routine. Last Christmas Zoltan got me a pass to yoga classes at the local studio in Brooks and I was hooked. I love how yoga focuses on both the mind and the body, and is such a great all-around way to build strength and balance and a positive state of mind. And it’s not restricted by time or place, which means I can do it at home, at a studio, and while we travel. I’m currently trying to find a simple morning routine, and something a little more in-depth that I can fit into my daily routine.

3. Cook or bake something new once a month. Last week I posted a little inquiry on Facebook asking for some suggestions of cookbooks that I could cook through to not only find good recipes, but also learn the basics of cooking. Zoltan does pretty much all the cooking in our house, and although I don’t expect that to change much, I’d really like to get better and more comfortable in the kitchen. I’m going to try and keep myself accountable by posting my progress and some recipes on the blog!

4. Learn how to take photos, not just pictures. I’ve always loved photography, and although I don’t expect to become a professional, I want to get more familiar with using a semi-professional camera so I can be more adept at documenting all the adventures we find ourselves on, and taking photos for blog posts, etc.

5. Fit journalling into my daily routine. I think this is a New Year’s goal every year. This year I didn’t write nearly as much as I have in past years, and I want to get back at it. There are so many experiences that I forget about when I don’t write them down, and just being able to go back over old journal entries is a great way to see how much I’ve grown, and relive specific memories.

6. Read one book a month. I unofficially made this goal when I started the As of Late feature in November, and although I haven’t totally stuck with it, I’m hoping to get better at it. Setting aside time to read is really important to me, it means I’m taking a break from everything else going on, quieting myself, and just being still. Not to mention, I’m a sucker for a good story!

I know it’s a short list, but I think these six personal goals will keep me busy all year! Have you made any goals or resolutions for the new year? I’d love to hear about them! It’s always inspiring to hear what other people are resolving to do. I think sharing our goals with each other is a great way to stay motivated and accountable!

I hope you all have a wonderful start to the New Year! Happy 2015!

Cheers,
Lauren.

A Time to Reflect

Time moves so quickly sometimes, and when it does I find my focus shifting to only looking ahead to what’s next. I’m always preparing myself for the next tour, the next project, the never-ending list of things to do and I’m so focussed on looking into the distance that I forget about the present moment that I’m in.

I think it’s really good to look to the future, set goals, and be expectant of good things to come, but too much focus on the future can turn into an unhealthy preoccupation, and then we lost sight of all the good things around us right in that moment.

I noticed this a few weeks ago when we were moving to Calgary, and I was looking forward to a new season of living in a new place, a new change of pace, and some changes in lifestyle. In my conversations with people I kept saying that I was excited to start something new, when one day it dawned on me that I was in that new season. I didn’t have to expect it anymore, it was here, and it was my responsibility to respond by fully embracing where I was.

One thing I love about December and Christmastime is that it’s a season of reflection and living in the moment. We gather with friends and family, we spend time together decorating, our focus is on our families and our communities, and for a few weeks of the year, our thoughts are centred on those in need. If only we would live this way every moment of our lives! How much richer would we be, in love and grace.

This Christmas season has inspired me already to embrace where I’m at, and appreciate the moments around me that give life so much brilliance.For example, I walked out the door to take the bus to work the other day, and it was COLD. Just as I was thinking about how much I didn’t want to take public transit to work, I noticed that everything around me was covered in frost. It was a little bit like Narnia, and I was blindsided by the beauty of the moment. The thing is, those moments are everywhere and I wished I noticed them more. They’re at our fingertips, but it takes a special kind of awareness to notice them.

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I’m reading a book right now called A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and I think I posted this quote in December’s “As of Late” but I’ll share it again, since it’s been quite meaningful to me lately.

Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.”

It’s a journey of discovery, and I hope that you will all keep discovering more and more of life’s beautiful and fleeting moments.

Cheers,
Lauren.