“You heading home?”

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Many years ago while living in London, I sat on the bus after work on my way back to the HOUSE I rented on King George Avenue. For a long time I was so sensitive to the word home  that I made sure I always referred to my dwelling as “the house” and not home. On that bus, lost in thought I must have had a dazed look on my face as another passenger had said to me, “You heading home?”

I couldn’t help my answer, “I’m far from home.”

This fellow passenger seemed to understand my reply (we both had non-british accents) with a nod of his head. Instead of prying for details, he let the conversation go with, “One of the last stops eh?”

I smiled and nodded as I returned to my thoughts: when will I really get to go back HOME.

I thought about this very short conversation with a stranger as I now sit on the couch with my two sons and I am back in Ohio.

In my younger childhood years I recall a popular teeshirt that had the saying “Home is Where the Heart is.”

If home is where my heart is, then my heart is in pieces.

A piece in Sweden. Another piece in England. And a big piece never left Ohio.

Or am I thinking all wrong? Home is not a location, its my heart. And my heart belongs to my family. No matter where in this world we live, home is always there. And here.

For someone who moves a lot I suppose I have to think like that.

Today’s positive thought: It’s good to be HOME.

xx

(photo credit)

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The Broken Roads in America

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Or maybe it’s just Ohio? Even my three year old noticed. We were walking home from Grandma’s house, one street over, when he tripped on the sidewalk and fell.

“The road is broke” he said.

Another time we had just parked the car and were on our way towards the store. He pointed to the ground and said, “Mommy the roads here are broke.”

And he’s right. Cracked parking lots. Holes in the middle of streets. Uneven sidewalks that suddenly end.

Perhaps he noticed this because in England, where we were just a few months ago, he never tripped on jagged roads and sidewalks were covered with snails or poop, not cracks.

My son’s observations had me thinking about broken roads. Not the literal ones I have just described, but rather the roads we travel in life that sometimes break.

Sometimes as we get about our life, suddenly we trip and fall. We didn’t see it when maybe we should have. We weren’t prepared for it so we scraped our knee or our hand and it hurt and we got mad, but now we are more careful and paying closer attention. Making better choices.

Sometimes our paths seem to dead end. Now what to do? Where to go? We have to find a different direction. It will still take us to the place we are heading, and it may feel like a detour, but maybe that other way had a purpose for us. Maybe we met someone along the way who was lost and needed directions. Maybe we found a quarter along the way, and with that quarter we were able to buy something that was needed. Who knows. Sometimes things happen in our life so we can help others. It’s not always about us.

Maybe the detour gave us the extra time we needed to just breathe and think and gather some peace to our minds. If we are too busy and being one-track minded, we forget to stop and just enjoy what God has given us. The warmth from sunshine. Beautiful trees to admire. Singing birds to listen to. When the sidewalk suddenly ended, we thought it was an obstacle, looking back we realise it was actually a blessing.

Maybe the roads aren’t even broke.

It’s just rough terrain. Each block of cement, or obstacle we face, is serving its purpose and building our character along the way.

x

(photo credit)

Love and Marriage- Ten Things

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Let’s be truthful.

Sometimes life just isn’t what we anticipated it to be.

The last five years of my life has been full of roller coaster emotions, life throwing its occasional mud ball in my face, but at the end of every day, no matter what happened that day, I am still sitting next to the same person.

If there is one thing I have learned in my five years of marriage, it is that we are in this TOGETHER. The TWO of us.

We HAVE to talk, ignoring each other when we’re mad gets us no where. And a conversation needs TWO people.

I am very lucky my husband is up for anything fun! Love him!

I am getting personal in this post today because I always believe, I can’t be the only one who needs this!

Here are Ten Things we have done -and continue to do- to keep marriage fun!

1. Say 3 nice things.

Real things. I wouldn’t let him say “you’re beautiful.” I want specifics. Long drawn out paragraphs of admiration are great! 😉

I confess and apologise I have no reference for this but I remember many years ago I saw a couple on TV who said they did this very thing. Every morning they started their day saying 3 nice things they liked about each other. Noted.

He takes his turn and I take mine. Who can resist nice things being said about them to them from the one person they love most!

2. Romantic gestures.

My husband surprised me one day with flowers! I really love this old tradition of giving flowers! Broke? Draw some! She’ll treasure it forever!

I appreciate the random love messages on the bathroom mirror. The lit candles at dinner. A letter posted to me- I love mail!

Just like when dating before marriage, these small acts score big.

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3. Date night.

With young children we have spent many date nights at home but it is something we always look forward to.

To be honest, friction does not cancel date night. If you don’t feel like talking to each other you can still play cards! Or other games 🙂

My favourite nights are the ones where we do interviews or play 2 truths/1 lie. There is so much we still learn about each other!

4. Traditions.

I’ve heard some couples/families make a yearly playlist of their favourite songs from that year.

Or go to the same place each year and take a couple/family photograph.

Whatever it is, making and keeping traditions is special.

5. Writing journals.

It is very funny when we document vacations/date nights/road trips and compare how we both experienced it differently! Re-reading them together makes for a fun night reminiscing.

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6. Smell good.

I really don’t have to elaborate on this do I?

I swoon when my husband wears cologne, especially the one he wore when we were dating. Ahhh!

7. Have pictures taken together.

I love looking at all the photos we have as a couple. Kissing ones. Laughing ones. Posed or candid. Photobooth! I personally think it’s important to have pictures as a couple. Memories, reminders and just a sweet keepsake.

8. A kiss before work.

I read an article where a study showed that men performed better at work when their wife kissed them before they left home! Sorry I don’t have the reference!

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9. Celebrating those Hallmark holidays.

It is not my intention to offend anyone here! I have heard many sides and different opinions but at the end of the day, doing something makes everyone happy!

I came up with a brilliant idea for those who tend to forget: plan ahead, buy a shoe box full of different cards and small gifts, and each year you save a trip to the store, just write your message and give it to your love! hahaha

10. The notebook.

This lovely article from a blog I randomly found, gave us this fun idea!

Have a small notebook, write a message in it, put it somewhere you know your spouse will see it and take turns writing messages to each other. It’s fun finding it in strange places and sweet when it is so unexpected!

If someone were to have shown me what life would be like before I married my groom, I know I would have just held him closer and said- let’s stick together no matter what!

A lovely quote I found somewhere:

"We are the perfect couple. We are just in imperfect situations."

Happy Valentine’s Day!

xx

Title photo by LeoPhotography

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A Woman In Her Element

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Is a way of really seeing HER.

An old friend before he passed away said to us, “I’ve been married to my wife for over 60 years and I am still learning new things about her everyday!”

This struck me significant because sometimes we feel we do know our other half SOOOO well! But there is so much in a person, and people change all the time, so how does one continue to learn about his wife. I am speaking in the point of view of getting to know a wife because I am a wife 🙂

The other day as I was preparing dinner I was pondering upon the expression “when you are in your element”, when we are in comfortable surroundings we are truly ourselves.

If a woman’s element is cooking, watch her. She will glide from the stove to the sink to the table, to the children, back to the stove and then the counter next to it. In and out of the cooler and the cupboards. She will dice and chop and sprinkle and dash a bit of this and that and serve a delicious meal. Stop. Take a step back and watch slowly. See the knife? A woman in her element is thinking about that knife and has a story to share. See the combination of seasonings with onion? Her eyes are not looking at the same pan as you are, her mind is somewhere else, because she learned to cook that meal in another country and her thoughts are running there to visit but will be back by the time you sit at the table to eat.

If her element is reading a book, watch her face. What situations stir her emotions? Do you read the same thing and think, “why is she crying about that?” At what parts of the story does she put the book down and ponder about what she has read? These are the things in her heart. Engage with sensitivity if you truly want to know. A scorned heart bleeds a long time.

If her element is photography, you will see the world through her eyes. Is her world dark and hazy? Why? Or is it colourful and bright. Why? Through her photographs one can find her hopes, her reflection, and things that move her heart. A laughing baby. She loves her children. She longs for children. A heart-shaped cloud. She values freedom and love. I knew a girl who included the same book in each photograph she took. That book had been given to her by her father who later left the family. It represents the importance of having him be a part of her life.

Each woman has an element, a place or hobby where she subconsciously reveals herself. You will get to know more than the heart she wears on her sleeve, but the one underneath the skin that she guards because of its fragility. This is the place where truth gets told.

Have you ever walked in a woman doing dishes, staring out the window with tears in her eyes?  She insists she’s fine. Just thinking. The running water noisy like a waterfall, drowning the screams in her head. Her hands constantly washing away her sorrows down the sink. The water cleaning the dishes while her tears are cleaning her soul.

Getting to know a woman is more than just watching and talking to her, it is being truly engaged in her life.

x

(photo credit)

The Kindness of Strangers- A True Story

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(photo credit)

I started work the usual way. Clocked in on the register, bid farewell to my co-worker who had just finished the previous shift and placed my belongings in the cupboard beneath me. How I started work is not significant. Just that I thought it would be another normal day.

Most of my customers were regulars. I did not know them by their names. I knew them by the brand of cigarettes they smoked, their favourite beer, the quick dinner they grabbed on their way to work, the candy bar they always got on their way home, all combined with their daily task of filling up their tanks. Yet they knew my name because I had to wear a name badge. Not everyone called me by name. I had nicknames, and this affection of having a nickname made me feel like we were not quite strangers but not quite friends either, somewhere in between. And although for a long time I only knew these people by their purchases and type of car, one night would change that. The night I learned so much more about them, not from what they said to me, but what they showed me.

The start of my shift began when the sun slowly tucked itself behind the horizon and one of my first regulars was on his way to work. He stood tall, not handsome as one would see in a magazine but still a pleasant face and very friendly. As he came inside the small kiosk he immediately began our conversation from two aisles away. The usual “how ya doin?” greeting. After he grabbed his juice and sandwich he came to the counter where I stood waiting.

“Number 3 and these please. Wait a minute, don’t tell me you’re here alone tonight are you? Haven’t you read the news? It was in the papers, look there! (he grabs the Beacon Journal) ‘A large armed man has been caught on camera robbing the gas stations around the Massillon/Canton area. Those working should be on high alert, especially around ten o’clock.’ And your manager left you all alone?”

I honestly never read the papers or watched the news so I had not heard about this potential danger. And there was 5 foot, 20 year old me in a small gas station working the night shift. My manager had said nothing to me but maybe she was not aware either?

This man never stayed long but tonight he kept talking to me. He told me of his wife and how much he appreciated her and how she had helped him battle through addiction and he was so happy and in love with her. In detail he described his work day as if I were in training. He explained the different purposes of his factory work suit and what he ate to stay healthy. Until another customer came in and the two quickly exchanged words and off the first man went, late for work.

This second customer was a lovely lady. I really enjoyed seeing her come in. She worked in an office and I genuinely did not understand what she did exactly but it seemed important the way she raised her eyebrows and slowed her sentences when she spoke about her tasks. That night she had just come from bowling with her co-workers and was on her way home. She expressed how tired she was but she was wanting to treat herself to some chocolate. She took a long time deciding. I watched the clock. She had stayed with me nearly an hour.

Soon the door jingled its bell to let us know someone else had just walked into the kiosk. An older man with grey hair but a youthful face had come in to pay for his gas. He was actually not a regular and had come straight to the counter so I knew he wanted to be on his way. The woman who had been with me quickly and quietly exchanged words with him, bid me good bye and left. The grey haired man suddenly held up his finger as if he had just remembered that he indeed wanted a cup of coffee. He analysed our coffee maker, our choices of sweeteners, he read every label on our cappuccino machine and seemed to memorise each flavour. He looked around the kiosk as if searching for something. Finally he came to the counter where I stood quite entertained by his many animated expressions. He started our conversation with, “Why are you working in a place like this?” He then told me that in his younger years he had gone to college, as if that was where I ought to be. He now owned a laundromat and dry cleaners down Cleveland Ave. In fact, he was looking for someone else to hire in case I was interested and gave me his business card. He did not have to stay long, another customer came in and they exchanged words before he walked out into the now very dark night.

And so it went all night. Customers who quickly spoke to each other and I was not left alone. Not for a moment. The armed man might have been a threat elsewhere, but because of the kindness of strangers, I knew I’d be okay.

As I reflect on that night I see it as a miracle. When it comes to helping others, it is easy to write a cheque and make a donation, not much time required. We can easily give away something we own but no longer want, not much time required. And then I have often heard excuses why someone cannot help someone else. Mainly due to inconvenience in their plans or schedules.

When these people gave their time to make a young girl feel safe and cared about, it really touches my heart, especially because that girl was me. Who was I to them? Just a girl behind a counter at a gas station. He made himself late to work. She was tired but stayed. They all stayed and gave me some of their time. They showed a young person how the world should be. Mindful of each other. Caring for each other. I witnessed good citizens of society watching out for each other.

God bless them.

x