Friday, July 31, 2009

What I'll Miss About Canada

For the last three days, I've disappeared to the Canadian Rockies, and while I know that Shenandoah National Park is only a 45-minutes drive from my new place, I just don't think it will compare.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


After an emotional breakdown yesterday in the registries office, I'm definitely ready for the mini-getaway that I have planned for the next few days. Yes, I'm probably the first person to have an emotional breakdown at AMA, but the combination of not enough sleep, feeling the pressure of more things to do than time to do them in and just one thing after another not working out for my registration (all of them out of my control!), when I found out that the expiry date on the insurance pink card I had just picked up said July 17, 2009, it was just too much.

Of course, everything has since worked out, thanks to some helpful insurance people, a good nursing friend who could sign my vaccination records rather than me going in for yet another appointment, and the friendliest, most sympathetic AMA registry girl. When I woke up this morning, the only thing left on my to-do list was pack.

So, I am off to get a stereo installed in my "new" car (yes, I sold my Civic and took my parents' Acura which will be bigger and better for the drive down to C'ville), get my hair cut, and then pick up one of my best friends for 2 days in the mountains with no phone and no Internet! When I get back, I've got one day to pack everything into the Acura and get all the food for my big birthday/going away party. But I'm not thinking about that right now...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Homeward Bound

As the plane begins it's descent, I revert to my childhood rituals. Fortunate that no one was in a position to watch me, I blink furiously in an effort to stay awake and keep my contacts in place and simultaneously swallow with my mouth open to relieve the pressure in my ears. I chew hard on a piece of gum as the plane rapidly drops. Despite the nuisance of the pressure change, I am happy to be nearly home after 9 hours of travelling.


The word rolls around strangely in my mind as I contemplate my upcoming address change. Yes, Edmonton is home for another week. After that, home becomes an undefined entity, as the place where I regularly lay my head and the place where my family resides become separate. What is home?

These were the thoughts yesterday as I prepared to land in Edmonton. There is a hidden track by the band Downhere that I love with the lyrics "remind us that we have not reached home." This reminder comes back to me every time I prepare for a move. I apologize, again, to those of different faiths, but the reminder of heaven is so powerfully poignant to me right now. As blessed as I am, the earth is such a tragic place. Though I have so many opportunities, I feel confronted every day with the need for something different, something better. I long for the ultimate Home.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Monkey Wrenches

One thing that I am starting to learn is that blips in the plan are God's way of reminding me to depend on Him.

After attempting to sell my car and pretty much giving up, I had three people express interest in it today. I am leaving in a week... so within a week, I will need to change the tires on my "new" car, get a stereo installed AND change over the insurance and registration. Oh yeah, and did I mention I will be gone to the mountains for two and a half days?

The nice part of this plan, though, is that my sisters, who do not drive standard/manual transmission, will not have to worry about getting stuck in some traffic jam on the highway. More importantly, I'll be able to bring more stuff along.

The last week has been filled with preoccupation with someone else's stress and I've been helping to tie ribbons around bottles and scrolls, decorate reception rooms and remind my friend, the bride, not to stress. But as I'm sitting in the Omaha airport, getting ready to head back to Edmonton and some semblance of "real life," the details are pressing in again. Unanswered emails in my inbox will need replies, cars will need to be sold, and trunks will need to be packed.

But the subject of this blog posting is "monkey wrenches," so I would be better served to talk about the other big monkey wrench this week, though it was quickly resolved. After checking off the big item of "visa" from my list a few months ago, I got an email from the international students office asking for a document ASAP. (To make a long story short, I changed my funding, emailed to see if I needed to send them anything a MONTH ago, didn't get a reply [or follow-up] and then this week, they requested a document.) Since I'm a relatively meticulous planner, this threw me off, and suddenly I had visions of not being able to leave Edmonton on time and having all my schools plans go down the drain. (My imagination is apparently overactive.)

Thanks to my mom, and my careful filing of important documents, it was all taken care of and a new I-20 is on the way, or maybe even already arrived.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Another Moving Headache

For the past week, I have been in Iowa getting ready for a friend's wedding. Being focused on that all week helped me to keep my mind off of the stress in my life, but last night, it hit that I am moving in just a week, and I had a total freakout.

Anyway, this morning, we all went to get our hair done for the wedding. Since the Wireless Company that I want to get my mobile device through was located in the same strip mall as the salon AND there was lots of time left waiting for other bridesmaids to get their hair done, I apologized to the bride (or got her blessing, however you want to look at it) and walked down the mall to see if I could maybe, just maybe, get a phone now so I have one on the drive down.

Here's some background: I called Wireless Company and explained my situation. What I was told was that a) I wouldn't be able to get a Virginia number in Iowa (but, since I'm relentless, I tried anyway) and b) they would have to charge me a deposit, but could put in a dummy code for my social security number since I don't have one.

So, I went down and said what I had heard on the phone, but was told a) they could totally get me a Virginia number and b) the system wouldn't let them enter a dummy SSN.

Anyway, I don't have a phone, and am torn between just giving my Canadian SIN to Wireless Company in Charlottesville or trying all over again. Because the problem today was not my location, but my lack of SSN. So frustrating!

In other news, the wedding was beautiful.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

In the Calm, Cool, Quiet of the Morning

The house is quiet. Though soon to be bustling with the other 7 people currently sleeping here and numerous others, for a short time I get to enjoy hearing nothing but the fan on the ceiling and the clock ticking above me on the wall.

Mornings are a special time. I don't consider myself a morning person because I'm not a smiley, cheerful person when forced to interact with others shortly after waking up. But when I get my space, mornings are a time to savour and reflect. Living in a busy place, mornings are an introvert's dream. When I worked summer camp, I would get up in the mornings to run or pray. Since most people (me included!) hate getting up early, mornings are a special space where everyone else is off in their dream world and I get the waking world to myself.

It's funny to me that if I can get less sleep but have some space in the morning, I will be less grouchy than if I have the opportunity to sleep in and be greeted with someone talking to me right when I wake up. Despite getting very little sleep last night, I feel much more rejuvenated than I have all week.

A door just opened upstairs. Soon someone will be down and the morning will no longer be my own.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Weddings are supposed to be a joy-filled celebration of the joining of two lives together. Instead, they've turned into an excuse for mother-in-laws to show the bride exactly who is the woman in the groom's life, family to air their dirty laundry and use attendance or non-attendance for power grabs, and friends to be hurt over not being chosen to play a special role in the celebration. Of course the drama goes on and on...

I have nothing against marriage. I am very much in favour of two people committing their lives together. But as I've sat in wedding after wedding over the past decade, I wonder why we pour so much money into one day and watch as the divorce rate creeps steadily upward. As I sat and had a heart-to-heart with my friend who is getting married on Friday (Disclaimer: None of the things I listed in the first paragraph apply to her wedding; they are just general trends that I've seen over the years.), she said "if you ever get married, just elope." This was nothing earth-shattering to me. In fact, I decided that would be the plan long ago: find a beach somewhere and make the vows there.

There is so much expense and stress that goes into a wedding. Even with the amount of money that I've put into this wedding, I could have probably just bought a ticket for a week at a resort in Mexico (though I wouldn't have my cute bridesmaid dress, which is actually cute and can and will be worn again). And if that's the case, I can't imagine how much infinitely more it is true for the bride and groom, who have very graciously been hosting us since we got here. On top of having to pay for wedding dresses, tux rentals, hall rentals, catering, flowers, hair appointments, decorations and on and on, they've been feeding us, driving two hours to pick us up from the airport and giving up their own personal space to have us around.

Anyway, a bridesmaid's job is to be supportive of the bride. This bride, being a teacher, is already very organized and has little left for us to do this week. But even she wonders why it is necessary to tie ribbons around all the little tiny bottles of bubbles...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sitting in an Airport, Waiting

It's always funny how different events and spaces come to take on different meanings as we grow older. Right now, I am sitting in the airport, and as I have spent significantly more time in airports over the past year than ever before, they are starting to take on different meaning for me. When I was younger, we drove for almost all our family vacations. In fact, I can distinctly remember two flights that we took, though I know there were more. Both of those flights were to fun places - LA (the Spring Break we went to Disneyland!) and Phoenix (which typically seems like seniors paradise, but with my Oma's pool and all the fun mini-golf courses, this was always a fun place to visit). Going to the airport as a child was an adventure, and it meant vacation was on the way.

Over the past year, my flights have pretty much all been related to the preparation for my MBA. It was exactly a year ago that I was in Toronto, visiting the Ivey campus at the University of Western Ontario. Though that trip involved some sightseeing as well, there were also class visits, networking and a coffee visit with an old friend who works at the company I want to work for one day. My most recent flight was down to Washington and followed by a two-hour drive to Charlottesville, where I had the interview which has pretty much determined the course of the rest of my life.

Though this current trip is purely personal (wedding in Iowa), as I sit here on my laptop, I am reflecting on the reality that when I start strategy consulting, regular time in airports will become the norm. And airports will officially make the transition from holding the anticipation of a fun vacation to my new life out of a suitcase.

Even though business travel is different, there's still something exciting about flying somewhere. On this trip, I fly through Denver, and am excited as I have never been in the Denver airport before. Seeing new places and experiencing small nuances of culture is something that will never grow old for me. I remember being down in C'ville for my interview and talking to the hotel clerk with her thick, Southern accent. There's something fresh about being in a place where people talk differently, and different chain restaurants adorn the road.

For now, though, I am excited about a week of focusing on relieving someone else's stress rather than thinking of the steadily approaching "final" departure date from Edmonton. I also view this week as a miniature immersion into American culture. My friend is marrying an American, so obviously his family and all his friends will be American. Hopefully this week, I will see what exactly are these key differences between Canadians and Americans that all the Canadians talk about, but my new German friend says don't really exist.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Triumph: No Tears

If I stopped to think about it, this past week would have been quite emotional. Instead, I planned a big goodbye/birthday party in a few weeks to stave off all the sad goodbyes and got to enjoy these last few evenings hanging out with friends. I very nearly got choked up at work when one of my co-workers (lovingly) said, "I still hate you for leaving," then gave me a big hug. I think one of the huge privileges of my (now old) job was that I got to work in so many areas, and I was given licence to really change things. A lot of times, when you are working in the day-to-day toil of a job, you don't take the time to step back and look at the big picture of what you have accomplished. But reading the messages in the goodbye cards was really encouraging. If only there was a way that I could just slip that in with my resume come internship-hunting time...

Of course, I got another kind of goodbye card. This one was filled with woman jokes, but all in good fun, of course. My favourite part was that on the front it said "To Julie, From Anonomys." After that, there were a few references to the subpar intelligence of females. ;-) (And if you do happen to read this, you-know-who-you-are, I do not think YOUR intelligence is subpar, just that your grammar is.)

The day ended with two very positive notes. One is that I got to say a "hello" for the first time all week and hang out with my friend who just got back from travelling in Europe for over three months. The second is that I got to chat with my sister who was gone all week doing soccer camps.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Another Patio and a Fond Farewell

The weather in Edmonton has been cooperating lately, so I spent a lovely evening with a friend on the Chili's rooftop patio on Whyte Ave, finally giving in to the craving for an Appletini. See, in Canada, as I mentioned earlier, we have approximately 5 days of summer, so when they hit, you need to make sure to make the most of them. Although it threatened to rain (actually, it did spit a little), we took the chance and had a great visit on the patio.

Though I am walking the line between denial and celebration about finishing work, it all feels very surreal. Today at lunch, my co-workers and I all gathered in our typical goodbye section in Earl's. We've been there for many a goodbye, and somehow it didn't feel as though it was my own. Though I've spent the last few days passing on as much knowledge as possible: training sessions, clearing out my files, and cleaning off my desk, it makes me sad to think that I'm losing the community I've had with my co-workers over these past years. It's rare to find a place (or maybe not...) where everyone gets along on the same level. And we've had so much fun joking around while accomplishing great things (or not so great), that I'm going to miss that environment. Of course, all signs suggest that Darden may be the same way, so perhaps I'll have a new set of people to be sad about leaving in two years. (Actually, this is quite likely.)

Anyway, I hope I don't cry tomorrow. It's going to be sad turning in my key and walking out of the office one last time. I've been counting down the days for a long time, but part of beginning a new adventure means leaving an old one.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Thank You, Feeding the Homeless and Can I Stay in my 20s Forever?

Tonight was a great evening.

First off, I want to thank the nice young lady who gave me a loonie to plug the parking meter. She was walking down the street with big, huge headphones on, and actually stopped and pulled them off when I said, "excuse me." When I asked if she had change for a ten, she just gave me a loonie so I could get enough time to head into the City Centre mall to meet my friend for half an hour. So, thank you. And I promise I will pay it forward.

Once in the mall, I ran to meet up with a friend to finish up some power shopping before we had to meet some other people a little further away from downtown. Now, for some time, I've been looking to replace my basic brown pumps (which got nasty salty snow dripped all over them thanks to the lazy guy who couldn't be bothered to shovel the walk) and my black pumps (the lifts were gone, and while I could replace them, they never really fit anyway). On a whim, I popped into Nine West, and guess what? Black and brown pumps... on sale... 70% off.

See, I hate buying cheap shoes. But I'm too poor (hello MBA tuition bill) to shell out money for good shoes. The compromise is that I've learned where to buy the good shoes for insane-percent-off. So, without a stressful shopping trip spent searching for shoes, I found both in five minutes.

Fast forward to sitting on the patio at Famoso with some more friends. Eating Neapolitan-style pizza and sipping Pinot Grigio, which is the only type of wine that I absolutely love. Since it's downtown, there are always characters around. As we are eating, this homeless man comes over, opens the plastic pane separating us from him and starts to ask if we've seen his car keys around. Apparently this man is a regular, since our server comes over and says "okay, Wayne, it's time to go." Our server started to close the plastic pane, and Wayne pushed back, and we all felt a little awkward, wondering whether we were supposed to watch or just resume our conversation.

Wayne goes away, but is back a few minutes later. In between, two girls had sat down at the table beside us. When our server came to ask Wayne to leave, the girl at the other table asked if she could give him some of her food. The server said no, since he was disturbing the guests, and the girl sarcastically replied, "yeah, we wouldn't want to feed the hungry." (She wouldn't let up... The server said, "he's reached in and taken food off plates before," and she retorted "you take people's plates off the table." While I appreciated her sentiments, I did want to kick her in the teeth.)

The first thought that immediately came to mind was the comparison between not feeding wild animals in parks. And when that thought hit, I was immediately confronted with the gap between rich and poor in our society. I don't tend to think of myself as rich, but being on the inside of that very physical barrier, treating Wayne almost as an animal, hit like a ton of bricks. I am so blessed with what I have. I would love to say that I went after dinner, gave him some food and got him off the street, but in reality I felt more comfortable after he left. It's all too easy to contribute to charitable organizations on a regular basis and then do our best to ignore people in need. And, again, I wish I could say something more noble, but I do wonder how best to contribute to social justice in society.

And, now that this is getting long, I just want to close with one thought: Can I just stay in my 20s forever? I love evenings on the patio, talking to friends who are between undergrad and graduate degrees, and sharing stories of new jobs and vacations. It was the last visit that we'll have for quite some time, as I am off to Virginia in a few weeks for my MBA, and another friend is heading back to law school.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

And Another Thing I'll Miss About Work

Today, our regular Tuesday server at Boston Pizza gave me a hug goodbye. Every Tuesday for the last 6 to 8 months, we have gone to Boston Pizza for lunch. All the staff know us, and we always have the same server. If she's serving in the lounge, we sit in the lounge. If she's serving in the restaurant, only to sections of 6-person booths, and we have 7 people, we stick a chair at the end of the booth and sit in her section. As soon as we've sat down, she's there with our drink orders, and she pretty much knows what we are going to order for food and what to recommend. We all get along well with her and have fun every week.

In addition to our server, one of the managers always comes over to say hi and talk for a bit. We joke around a lot. Our IT guy used to order pizza bread every Tuesday, and one week, after a few of us had already ordered pizza for lunch, the manager told our IT guy that they were out of pizza bread. The IT guy totally believed it, there were good laughs all around, and the next week the manager brought us free pizza bread.

So, as silly as it sounds, I'm really going to miss Pasta Tuesday at Boston Pizza, even though I never ordered pasta. It was fun being a "regular." Maybe I will just have to find a new place to be a regular next year.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What I'll Miss About Work

Today one of my co-workers sent around this link to a few of us. To understand why it is funny, check out step 30, for starters. After a few reply-alls, another co-worker distributed a cartoon that mocked Google maps.

This banter I will miss. Especially because we have a culture that openly mocks people who aren't funny, but attempt to be, so the comments in the reply-alls are generally actually worth reading.

Although you can't call them all meetings, I had several discussions today with co-workers that drifted between personal and business. While some people may view this as counter-productive, I actually think that we accomplish more and experience more collaboration when everything isn't specifically work-related. I love that working together in this way is encouraged at my job.

My co-workers are fun. Though we definitely view the world in different ways, we get along well and there are a few co-workers that I consider genuinely good friends. Seeing people every day opens the doors to talk about things that go beyond work, and I'm going to miss talking to them every day.

When my mom came in a few weeks ago to help me with some computer-related stuff, she was amazed at how much access I had to our database. It takes a long time to build up trust within an organization, but having that trust has meant that it's five times easier to do my job, since I don't have to go ask for permission every time I need access to a network or specific information.

There are many more things I will miss, but so many of them seem like inside jokes. With only four days left, I will definitely make sure to appreciate all of these things over the rest of the week!

Of course, all that said, I was very happy to finish my last "Monday" today. I can't remember the last time I had three weeks off in a row, and the first two weeks back at school, spent in orientations of various kinds, will be a good transition into a semester of insanity.

Friday, July 10, 2009

One Week to Go

It's 5:01 and I am sitting at my computer at work, about to leave, but realizing that in just one week I will be finished here at the Company. There are so many things and people that I will miss, but I'll blog about that later. No need to delay the weekend any further!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Farewell Lunch Announcement

One of my co-workers posted this on the company intranet, and I thought it was funny.

Best of Luck, Julie

After two faithful years at [the Company], Julie is heading to Darden School of Business in Virginia to pursue her MBA. We will appreciate all her hard work and accomplishments during her time here and wish her the best.

Come join us at Earls, on [Date and Time]

Sign-up is at the front desk.

Then come join us at Earl's 2 years from now when she comes back as our boss and tells us what to do.

Sleepless in South Edmonton

Once again, I find myself completely exhausted and wide awake.

As someone who generally aims for 7 or 8 hours of sleep per night, being up at 12:50 a.m. and knowing that my alarm will go off at 6:30 tomorrow morning is pretty much torture.

Ever since I moved back into my parents' house, I've been having trouble sleeping. I don't know what the connection is. So far, I've only been able to come up with three variables that have changed since I moved home.

  1. I've exchanged traffic noise for the constant croaking of frogs. (Save tonight when it is the steady pitter-patter of rain pelting down on my open window instead.)
  2. The curtains in my old room completely blacked out light, but the curtains in "my" new room only partially black it out.
  3. I used to have a TV in my bedroom and generally watched for at least a few minutes before falling asleep.

I'm not sure which of those three variables is contributing to the fact that my eyes suddenly pop open when my head hits the pillow, but as I only have seven 6:30 alarms left, I suppose I don't really need to worry.

If anyone out there is some sort of sleep expert, please give me some tips. I finally stopped fighting the restlessness and have done such things as write in my blog and, more importantly, work on reading The Goal (which, if you've been following along, was supposed to be done by the end of June, but which I did not actually pick up from Chapters until Monday. I hope all the books I have to read for business school are structured like stories.).

Until I figure out how to sleep, I am off to read other blogs. I noticed three new updates in my blogosphere when I logged on to write this...

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Mundane Night

Here's a tip for all my fellow blogging friends: don't assume that people don't read your blog.

Tonight I was sitting in O'Byrne's, an Irish pub on Whyte Ave. (which is kind of the hip, trendy neighbourhood that every city has, but I can't compare it to anything besides Calgary's Kensington) My friend leans over and says:

"You didn't tell me at supper yesterday that you got your loans in place! And why did you call the evening mundane?"

So I explained to her that it wasn't the evening that was mundane, more that I didn't think the people in India who read my blog would be particularly fascinated by the fact that I spent an hour in MAC yesterday doing my bridesmaid duties in memorizing the instructions for my bride-to-be friend.

A few years ago, I took a creative non-fiction writing class, and the big challenge in writing non-fiction is extrapolating from your own life experiences and writing something that is of value to someone else. I do try to keep that in mind when I am blogging, since there is no point in writing something for others to read if I am not adding any value for the time they spend reading. When I write about Darden details, it's because I know there may be people a year from now who find themselves in the same position as me and looking for some support. (I'll confess, I went back and read the archives of the Darden student bloggers when I was first accepted, hoping to scrounge up any useful information! And to get excited about what was coming...)

So when I write "this is what I did this evening..." I do apologize because I haven't figured out what value it adds. But, this evening I was reflecting on the beauty of friendship and communication. My bride friend is in town from China, on her way to her new home in Iowa. We've pretty much talked daily on MSN over the three years she's been gone, thanks to a time difference that has her on lunch break right before my bedtime. And as awesome as it is to actually be sitting and talking face-to-face, it doesn't feel weird or abnormal. I love friendships like that. You can live on almost the opposite side of the world, but pick up right where you've left off when you do see each other. That is really encouraging to me, as the reality of the rest of my life is that there will be people I love who live far away.

And if my other good friend or sister who are in Europe happen to read this, I'm looking forward to talking to you face-to-face as well in just a few short weeks!

Monday, July 06, 2009

All Smiles Today

One of the last of my biggest stressors finally came into place today... I was approved for my loan! Yes, I know, this detail should have been ironed out back in May, but I've been investigating multiple options and finally took the plunge. Anyway, prior to today, there was always a small fear in the back of my mind that everything wouldn't work out and I would end up jobless and homeless at the end of July. But it's all come together and now it really feels like a reality. If only I could sell my car, I would be able to just kick back and relax for the next month... (I probably will anyway, to be honest.)

And then I got home and there was a nice, big, friendly package from Darden waiting on the mail counter. It was filled with all sorts of welcome letters from faculty, students and support staff. It reminded me of the summer before Grade 7, when I pored over all the information from my junior high school. I will admit there are a few readings that look more like work than welcome letters, but I guess I can suck it up and read them while in a plane or car sometime over the next few weeks.

It will probably take some time, but I'm starting to realize that I'm headed off to a world-class institution. In Canada, there may be a few schools that stand out, but in general our public universities are all at the same level. (And a pretty good one, at that!) But in the US, it seems that a few really rise to the top. And I'm just excited, as I've mentioned dozens of times already, about being a part of Darden and the University of Virginia.

In other mundane news, I am flying to Iowa to be a bridesmaid for one of my best friends in about two weeks. She was living in China for a few years and will be moving to Iowa where her fiance is, BUT she is in Edmonton this week. After being pretty much off the hook for bridesmaid responsibilities all year (save trying on dresses and sending the pics to China and sending a fabric swatch to the florist), it was super fun to go shopping this evening and spend time at MAC getting ideas for eye makeup and all that stuff. As many of my friends in Edmonton are already married and starting families (which, don't get me wrong, is a really exciting stage in life), I am really looking forward (and hoping!) to develop some more friendships with other single girls at Darden next year. The agenda for the rest of the week includes drinks on a patio tomorrow (yes, it's a summer theme here. The summer lasts for precisely nine days or so, and I aim to spend some time on each of those days on a patio. Before you go look up Edmonton weather on Wikipedia to prove me wrong, I'll just let you know that the nine days of summer in Edmonton aren't actually consecutive.), bridesmaid dress fitting, and who knows what else?

And finally, if you are still reading, I officially gave my two week notice today. Since I have discovered since my last post about work that some of my co-workers DO read my blog, I just wanted to say that yes, I will miss you! And the Company and all the challenges that I have conquered... or starting conquering... or failed miserably at and learned good lesssons from...

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Making Progress

This afternoon, I took a look at my to-do list and realized it isn't feeling so daunting anymore. While there always seems to be a need to spend more time with the people you love, I am happy that I have at least been able to schedule in my good friends and family over the next month. And I finally invited everyone to my big farewell/birthday bash the day before I leave. (Well, you know how it goes, you try and make sure to invite everyone, but you always seem to miss you, so if I missed you, it's July 31 at my parents' place, but please let me know you're coming.)

July is going to be a fun month! Only two weeks left of work, then off to Iowa for a friend's wedding, then my sister is home from Germany for my last week in Edmonton! (And I'm taking off to the mountains for a few days to catch up with one of my other best friends.)

Of course, I'm still trying to sell my car. Please buy it, if you live in Edmonton. I'll give you a good deal, and it's amazing on gas and runs super well.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Surrender Isn't Easy...

(Just so you know, today's blog is very much faith-focussed.)

It's funny how music can affect us on such a strong level. Last Sunday at church, during the worship time, I had some powerful epiphanies about learning to surrender, and though I intended to reflect and blog about them, they slipped past my mind by the time I was driving out of the parking lot. Today, though, I found myself singing in the shower and found I was belting out the words from a song committing to surrender.

There's nothing more I need than to give you all of me.
There's nothing more I seek than to lay my all at your feet.
Everything I hold dear, I would trade it all for you.
My Lord, my life, I give it all to You.

My everything, my everything.
There's nothing I won't bring to you my King,
I give it all to You.

(Note: This song was written by someone in the worship band at my church, and if you want to hear it, try this site.)

To be honest, I can't say that I fully embrace the words of that song. My journey of surrender goes much more like a micro-manager handing out assignments. "Hmmm, let's see here, God, you can have this area of my life and that area of my life, but this one... no, I don't quite trust you to handle it."

I struggle with what surrender is supposed to look like for the 21st century North American Christian. I've heard stories from around the world about people who have been persecuted for their faith. People have given up their lives, watched their families tortured, been imprisoned, lost businesses... All for taking that step of commitment and surrender for their faith. Me? Well, here in North America, I may get snickered at when I say I'm trusting God for something, but that's about it. Or perhaps you may have been reading my blog all along thinking I've got a good head on my shoulders (actually, no, not my blog), and now you read about me talking about learning to surrender to a God that you don't believe exists and you may think I'm crazy, but that really doesn't have the same impact on me as if you were to murder my family in front of me.

So what DOES surrender mean? It's easy to say that I would give it all up if called to do so, but what does that look like in my everyday life?

One step I am starting with is learning to mentally give over control to God. As I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of areas of my life that I still hold quite tightly. It's definitely a daily struggle, but surrender starts with opening up and letting God's grace wash over those areas. Practically, this looks like being open to new ideas. I am one of those people who really likes to plan and know what is happening. I DO have a five year and ten year plan for my life. But learning to surrender means holding those plans loosely. It means learning to trust that God may open other doors besides management consulting and that maybe those other doors could lead to something better than what I have for myself.

And the second practical part of learning to surrender is learning to take myself out of that "#1 position" and putting others there. Jesus continually called his followers to LOVE. And if I am going to live a life of surrender, I need to learn to love, day in and day out. Fortunately, the Apostle Paul provided a manual on how to love. You've probably heard it quoted a few times at weddings... Love is patient... kind... not envious... not boastful... not rude... not self-seeking... not easily angered... (1 Corinthians 13) I can't say I have any of those mastered yet.

Why surrender? Ultimately I believe God has an amazing plan for my life. And when I fight his leading, it only creates anxiety and uncertainty for me. More importantly, the crux of my faith is that Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for me. So how can I possibly fathom holding back?

Surrender isn't easy. But the easy thing is never worthwhile anyway.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


These days it seems like my mood is totally manic. In one minute, I start freaking out about the upcoming move. I've been excited about it for a long time, and I'm still excited and it's definitely time to move, but... For a long time I ignored the downsides of moving... leaving everyone I know 2,300 miles and two time-zones away. And as I'm at a point where I really only have two weeks left in Edmonton (plus a few scattered days after that), the goodbyes are starting to become a reality.

And there are still some details to be worked out. (Seriously, BUY MY CAR!) So I get really stressed about working out the remaining details and the sheer amount of STUFF that has to be done. (Well, mostly just sorting and packing... and buying new clothes. I've gotten away with a wardrobe consisting mostly of office attire for the past two years and have virtually no casual clothes. And the casual clothes that I did have no longer fit thanks to the running and healthy eating and all that jazz...)

But then I remind myself to just relax and calm down. My mom told me that I probably wouldn't get everything done or see everyone, but that it would be okay.

So these days, I swing from stressing out to finding peace back to worrying about going to a new place (which I haven't really done for 18 years, oops!) to reminding myself that everything will be fine. For so long I was just ready to up and leave this Edmonton life behind that I chose to forget about the fact that I'm pretty much leaving for good. And there are people here that I really love and will miss.

It's raining tonight, though, and that always gives me peace, even though it seems to be foiling my plans for salad and cocktails on the patio tomorrow at lunch.

Hehe, well, next year will be a real treat once I get into actually stressful situations. I think I handle those better, though!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Stood Up

What is it with my generation and the inability to follow through on commitments?

Seriously. I'm selling my car. I get an email this morning that says, "I am in town until 6 and am interested in your car. Please call me at..." So I call. I figure since he is leaving town at 6, that by the time I get home from work at 5:30, there won't be enough time, so I tell him to just meet me at work at 5. I write down his cell, he writes down mine, we've got a plan.

So 5 rolls around. I head outside to park my car in a better location. I talk to some co-workers in the parking lot for a few minutes. 5:10 - I call to see if he needs directions and get voicemail. 5:15 - I move my car to an even better spot. 5:20 - I call again, get the voicemail and leave a message saying I am on my way home and he can call for the address if he is still interested. 5:25 - He calls and says he isn't coming. Um, thanks. Glad that I spent 25 minutes moving my car to different places in the parking lot.

When I was subletting the basement suite of the house I was renting a year ago, I got the same type of thing. People would make appointments to stop by and then not show up. It's the most aggravating thing in the world. Seriously, EVERYONE has cell phones these days... I know because I can tell from seeing your number on my call display. So if you're not going to show up, just have the common courtesy to pick up the phone and let whoever is expecting you know, so they aren't waiting around. There seems to be this attitude that other people's time isn't as important as your own.

And while I'm working up a good rant here... WHY do people always show up late when you have a specified time to meet them? If we say "let's meet at 10," why do I have to wait half an hour? Seriously, my friends, you know who you are... some of you I've started intentionally showing up 15 minutes late. And the crazy thing is that I've still had to sit around and wait for you.

Okay, I'm done. Just know that when you deal with me, if you stand me up, that will be the last time. And if you show up late, you go on my list of people that I have to convert time for. (Yes, I actually have a friend and when we make plans, I'll ask "is this 6 my time, or 6 in 'Bob' Standard Time?")