Friday, 2 December 2011

Just a Coffee, Please

As a frequent traveller, I expect certain cultural differences to be apparent no matter where I go. Even being in places that are very similar in modernity, you often find strange things that stand out. These are usually things that are so engrained in you as habit, that you would never even step outside and consider that a culture so similar to yours would do it differently (I say this, because in some countries just walking off the plane tells you to expect nothing similar to home.)

Things like, how in Canada, we say "washroom" for toilet, but go some where as close as the states and they think you mean the laundry room. My recent interest in wanting a family would have the Brits calling me broody, and the Aussie's calling me clucky, but to my recollection, there is no Canuck slang term for women wanting a baby.

This is the newest one for me - coffee. Drip coffee just doesnt seem to be all that popular outside of North America. I expect java-snobbery out of Europe - although I'll admit, the instant coffee that raided grocery shelves was a telling sign of the level they actually cared when in the comfort of their own home. Conversley, with the laid-back, care-free attitude most of the world stereotypes about our friends from down-under, I was shocked to see that ordering a plain, black, drip coffee in a restaurant made me bogan (another new favourite Oz term - google it). I thought I was a coffee expert... until I looked at a menu in a coffee shop and realized I only  new what 4 of the terms meant (from a girl who worked at starbucks this is just wrong!) You have no idea what I'd give for a festive eggnog latte right now.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

I Could See It When We Danced

I could see it when we danced,
The song we sung that day.
A melody all our own, enhanced,
And quietly leading the way.

The song we sung that day,
Unheard by our hearts before,
And quietly leading the way,
Like a silent ronde on the dance floor.

Unheard by our hearts before,
We ventured into the unknown,
Like a silent ronde on the dance floor,
The music, your arms, your cologne.

We ventured into the unknown,
With risk and fear, but not flight;
The music, your arms, your cologne,
You lead me valiantly through the night.

With risk and fear, but not flight,
And moving solely by your touch,
You lead me valiantly through the night,
Without a falter, a pause, or such.

And moving solely by your touch,
A melody all our own, enhanced,
Without a falter, a pause, or such,
I could see it when we danced.

 - M. M. Landry

I'm on a poetry spin at the moment... next post will be a blog :-)

Monday, 14 November 2011

From The Pit of Chagrin

Out from beneath my feet
I fell,
Unable to handle retreat.
From nowhere did deception a’ swell,
Creating a harlequin heat.

A storm from within my soul
Did rise,
Offering self and control;
Without restraint or clear seeing eyes,
I jumped deep into that hole.

There in penitence and sin
I sat,
Conjuring reproach from within.
With no one to share and inept to combat,
I fell even deeper from him.

And out of remorse and respect
I cried,
No more lies or care for effect!
This bottle was full and could no longer hide,
Thus I spoke every truth and regret.

The amount of anguish and sufferin’
I brought,
As I climbed from the deep pit of chagrin,
Slashed and stabbed at our love, no forethought,
Then suffocated the flame from within.

As a gift to oneself,
As forgiveness must be,
The flame renewed higher and hotter.

And out of that light
Came a gift from above:
A new trust,
A new friendship,

A new Love.

- M. M. Landry

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Happiness is like the old man told me...

There is a lesson I keep needing to re-teach myself in life (and I’m sure I’m not the only one.) I’ve probably written about this in past blogs, but let’s face it, these blogs are an expression of what’s on my mind and in my life, so if I’m re-writing it, then so be it.

Happiness is not a goal you can chase or seek out. It equates to satisfaction and contentment in the life you are living, and the starting point, despite how strange it may sound, is to be at peace with where your life is at, even if that means holding hope that things won’t be as difficult in the future. 

The idea of chasing satisfaction is absurd, because in order to seek it, you have to admit you are unsatisfied, which is the whole point. To be happy - truly happy in the now - you have to learn to accept and be satisfied no matter where you are at in life, or you will constantly be chasing that superficial form of happiness (in whatever form that may take – money, power, fame, love.) And this doesn’t mean that in order to be happy you can’t make changes in your life to make it better, it just means the goal of those changes isn’t to find happiness, it’s just to make life… well, life. 

I’m trying to teach myself how to be happy right now, even though things are difficult. I’m trying to teach myself that it’s not something I can chase; that I need to just accept and be satisfied that my life is the way it is, and the changes I make in it won’t make me happier, it just changes my life. A deeply content person will be fulfilled no matter what comes crashing down on them. It doesn’t mean they won’t feel sadness and anger, or sorrow and grief, it just means that when the distress is over, and they’ve gone through their emotions, that contentment for their life still exists. Those things around them can’t change the level of satisfaction they feel on the inside.

I’m trying to teach myself to do that. But in admitting that, I guess the point still hasn’t sunk in for me, because I’m flat out stating that I’m not satisfied, and therefore I’m seeking it, rather than just letting it come naturally.

Letting it come naturally. I think 'The Fray' clarify this best. Take a moment to listen to the lyrics and forget he wrote it about a girl.

  "... Happiness is like the old man told me
Look for it, but you'll never find it all
Let it go, live your life and leave it
Then one day, wake up and she'll be home
Home, home, home"

"I walked a mile..."

I was reading back through some of my old blogs and came across one describing the emotional roller coaster I rode prior to leaving for Ghana. I chuckled a bit at the familiarity of what I was going through right now. This time – despite heart ache and extreme stress – I’ve been doing a much better job of packing, cleaning and dealing with all the goodbyes. It’s quite different, because I don’t have the same network of friends here in Calgary as I did in Vancouver. And of the friends I do have here, I have never found the need to lean on them for emotional support as I might have only a few years ago. That part makes the goodbyes much easier.

It was a similar feeling before I left to work on the cruise ships as well. Lots of goodbyes and packing my life up. Never knowing what my life was going to look like in days, months or years to come. Each time has become a bit more adventurous and a bit more risky. This might sound odd considering my first jaunt overseas was to West Africa, but I knew I had my Uncle there and he would take care of me. The cruise ship environment was a bit more of a risk as I was on my own without a safety net, but it was easy to calm my nerves knowing regardless of how hard things got, I had a room to sleep in and food to eat for the next six months… or at worst, a plane ticket home.

Now, it’s Australia. There is no safety net. I have some friends down there to give me a hand, but no one to depend on. No home, or guaranteed meals. I’m completely providing for myself. Yes, Australia is Western civilization and if I can make life function here, I can make it succeed there. However, the Work/ Holiday Visa doesn’t give you the abilities to get a job and “have a normal life” down there. I’ll be back-packing and seeing the country on my own steam (sans credit cards and a huge savings account.) And that is only the first portion. Hopefully after coming to terms with my level of resourcefulness and courage, I’ll be heading through some much less developed countries and trying to make things work in South East Asia for a while.  The next trip, which will take me through Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece and Italy, will be the biggest test I’ve ever done. My “without plan” philosophy may definitely crash and burn here; prearranged travel visas and limited amounts of time to get straight through the middle of Iran without getting arrested will be of concern… but for the most part… it’s all just an idea. And I’m sending it out into the universe and seeing what comes from it.

From that perspective, this is the hardest/ riskiest journey I’ve ever taken. While the goodbyes have gotten much easier, I now know the fear will never diminish. It will all be worth it - and I know I don't need to justify that to anyone. The lessons to be learned and the challenges I face will only stand to make me a better person. But knowing that doesn't calm the fears.

Pardon my French, but I’m scared shitless. 

I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne'er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When Sorrow walked with me.

-Robert Browning Hamilton

Friday, 11 November 2011

It's 15,000Km from Vietnam to Switzerland

Plans are bad for me. This I know.

But I have one.

I don’t have the details of how I’m going to make it all happen, but I trust it will work. It always works out when it’s meant to be. When it comes from a place of peace. (Keep in mind this all comes out of heartbreak and 3 glasses of wine while packing up old memories for the last 3 hours.)

I have a plane ticket to Australia for 2 weeks from now. Then a couple places to stay, and maybe some job opportunities. I have a place to go for Christmas, and a brother who is so excited to see me.

I’ll stay there for a few months, make sure I have enough money to take on the next part of this journey.
A flight to Singapore for $500 AUD. Then a 15 day rail pass from Singapore through Kuala Lumpur up to Bangkok. It obviously won’t take 15 days, but I’ll drag it out. That should be about $70 USD plus food and hotel/ hostel costs.

I have a place to stay in Bangkok (fingers crossed it’s still there when I arrive.) Maybe a month of soul searching, daily yoga and local beer to set myself straight. 

From there, another train to HCMC, Vietnam, where I’ll grab hold of a work visa and teach English until I have enough money for the 15,000km journey  to get back to the one I Love who will be in Switzerland, or somewhere else in Europe.

And then happily ever after.

I hope.

Interested in how this journey of soul-searching and life-learning works out? Well stay tuned. Miranda the blogger is back. This time I mean it.

PS – Mom… I’m going to be just fine.

AS virtuous men pass mildly away, 
    And whisper to their souls to go, 
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
    "Now his breath goes," and some say, "No."                     
So let us melt, and make no noise,                                      
    No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ;
'Twere profanation of our joys 
    To tell the laity our love. 
Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears ;
    Men reckon what it did, and meant ;                             
But trepidation of the spheres, 
    Though greater far, is innocent. 
Dull sublunary lovers' love 
    —Whose soul is sense—cannot admit 
Of absence, 'cause it doth remove                                    
    The thing which elemented it. 
But we by a love so much refined,
    That ourselves know not what it is, 
Inter-assurèd of the mind, 
    Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.                           
Our two souls therefore, which are one, 
    Though I must go, endure not yet 
A breach, but an expansion, 
    Like gold to aery thinness beat. 
If they be two, they are two so                                       
    As stiff twin compasses are two ; 
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show 
    To move, but doth, if th' other do. 
And though it in the centre sit, 
    Yet, when the other far doth roam,                               
It leans, and hearkens after it, 
    And grows erect, as that comes home. 
Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
    Like th' other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,                                   
    And makes me end where I begun. 
 - John Donne

Monday, 5 September 2011

A perfect day

Today, my husband brought me breakfast and coffee in bed. I finished reading Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. We explored the Calgary Canada Olympic park and saw a street luge race. We ate burgers for dinner at a retro 50's style diner, Angel's Drive-in. After that, we came home and watched "The Good Wife", and then I baked home-made chocolate oatmeal cookies for my hubby and had them with a cup of tea.

Today was a perfect day.

Thank you for reminding me what a perfect day looks like.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

"Lotteries are Stupid"

I was watching this episode of House, MD last night. Strange and totally unrealistic show, but captivating and exciting, none-the-less. The episode sort of surrounded some of the characters viewing certain aspects about their life or how they live their life and attempting to change it. Olivia Wilde's character was stubborn in her belief that we are who we are, we can't change that. It's born into us, and thus, "lotteries are stupid." Her mentality being that winning the lottery will not make you happier or make your life better, simply because how happy you are and how good you've made your life to this point is dependent solely on who you are as an individual.

This whole perspective sounded really depressing to me. I know I am not doing justice to the argument the show was trying to make (probably because I think it's very wrong), but I hope you get the point.

Now, I started off wanting to combat this with "I know tons of people that have changed their life around and are happier for it." When in fact, it's only 2 or 3 people, and everyone else sort of lives in this middle ground (like me) where we are mostly happy, but sometimes life gets us down, and then ideas like winning the lottery sound like great solutions.

And then I started thinking, maybe I just don't agree with Olivia Wilde's character simply because I don't want to. I want to believe that winning the lottery would change my life. I want to believe that making changes in my life that are good for me will directly affect my overall life satisfaction and help me to be happier. Now, I'm quite confident that winning the lottery won't make me happy... but it would sure go along way to quieting down some stress in my life. But it's like "they" say - you will always find something else in your life to stress about.

This discussion always leads me back to a truth I cannot yet live: Learning to be satisfied with what you have now, is the only way you will ever be happy. It is essentially the same idea as the point the show is making in that I don't believe our happiness is dependent upon things that happen around us. But I do believe we can change our attitude and how we approach life, and those changes within us - not around us- will have a huge impact on how happy we are today.

Now if only there was some magic formula that would help us figure out how to do that...

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Nailed it.

“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those, who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is inherent in a human condition”

Graham Greene quotes (English novelist, short-story writer, playwright, and journalist, 1904-1991)

Friday, 15 July 2011

I'm doing OK...

Somehow, some when, I ended up falling into this horrible, snowballing mentality that I wasn't doing very well at life. 

One little thought about how I didn't feel like I was accomplishing what I should have spiraled into a phase of life I've never experienced before, and hope I never do again. Struggles with finances, lack of energy, and newly developed bad habits made it really difficult for me to see my life moving in a positive direction, and began to make me doubt all the decisions I was making. More forwardly, made me doubt myself.

Moments of rational, positive thinking pulled back on track, keeping me from any sort of depression or hopelessness, but feeling "down" was an understatement. I wonder at times if having lived in such a closed-in, small world [like the cruise ship environment] made it a little more difficult for me to look at life through that wide-lens again. When I look at my current situation now, I see success. I see drive and motivation. I see focus and achievement. I see goals, plans, and actions. Somehow, earlier, all I saw was the stress, lack of control, and feelings of failure. Possibly a little influence from you-know-who downstairs.

I had the gift (more so, an answer to a prayer) of going for tea with my long, lost friend Kristina last night. I may actually be the long, lost one, but that's besides the point. She did an absolutely amazing job of reminding who I am, and all that positive energy I had worked so hard to achieve. She showed me, through her actions, through her positive message, what I used to instill in others.

All I see now is how much I've done. Three and a half months ago, I wanted to stop working on cruise ships and for David and I to settle in Calgary for a while, find a job as an event coordinator, and have a normal life for the time being. A little time to catch my breath again and remember life doesn't always have to be some grand adventure. Well guess what? We've got our apartment full of furniture in Calgary with our little flower pots outside. I have a great job as an Event Coordinator (even if it's not perfect) where I get to be creative and work hard at something I enjoy doing. And I'm slowly but surely re-grounding myself. And with the help of great friends like Kristina, I'm remembering all those positive things about myself. I think, for 24 years old, that's far from failing. In fact, that's pretty darn good.

We've got more plans in the work, and I'm completely ready to knuckle down, focus and enjoy reaching more new and exciting goals.

Forgive me for no exciting stories, but to me, right now, the everyday challenge of learning and remembering how to be satisfied with life on a day to day basis is pretty exciting. How am I supposed to enjoy the big things if I can't enjoy the small ones?

Friday, 3 June 2011

A Lot of a Few Words

I'm not a woman of few words. Those following my posts will be aware of this. I imagine this is why twitter has never appealed to me. How can I say what I need to in only 140 characters? I think I listen well, and I hope my conversations with others do not sound like monologues of self-indulgence, but the fact that I am always acutely aware of these things assures me that I must fall into a category of people who enjoys talking more than the average person.

This has changed recently. After months as an untitled "social host" on the cruise ship, I find myself still recovering from the barrage of "friends" I had to make, and acquaintances I had to converse with constantly throughout the days/ months/ year of my time as Cruise Staff. I assume now that I'm satisfied socially, that or I've just grown out of my previously narcissistic, conversational obsession. Or maybe it's just that, in growing up, I feel less of a need to fill dead air with my voice.
Whatever the case, I find this blog ironic in two points. One, in that I'm saying I'm no longer narcissistic and yet I've just written a blog solely about my personal growth, and second is that in saying I like to talk a lot, it's one of shortest blogs yet.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Caution: Life Building in Progress

When David and I left the ship we pretty much had free range over where we wanted to live. While we did consider factors of friends and family, economy was probably the biggest influence. Knowing that I was going to be the sole breadwinner until his permanent residency application is approved, I needed to know I could make a decent salary – and fast.

We chose Calgary.

And I don’t think we could have made a better decision. Within a couple weeks of getting here I managed to land a couple jobs and get more than my fair share of job interviews and offers. Now, you must understand, while I come somewhat qualified in a few areas, I don’t come overly qualified for anything in particular. I have a… dynamic resume; let’s put it that way. I’ve had a variety of different jobs that seemingly have nothing to do with each other, and yet, have a lot of transferability.

I went to a career fair a week ago and the employers then made it clear to me that it was an employee’s labour market in Calgary (no surprise there.) It seems no one is able to get the people they need in this town. Everyone is hiring! And new businesses are almost desperate, which proves fortunate for anyone looking for work.

So I’ve got a job, we’ve got a place to live, and things are coming together rather quickly. I must say, after a year of ship life, I’m actually grateful to be able to cook, clean and be back under Canadian Labour laws. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much of a holiday after 6months of non-stop work, so a trip to Europe is in order for the fall. Ohh, how sad for me… (I’m kidding, that’s sarcasm.)

There is always bumps and grinds when planting my feet on solid ground again, but this one is coming along a lot smoother than anticipated. I have a lot to be grateful for, and I’m determined to not forget that.

God, it’s good to be home.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Awareness to Down There-ness

In the process of re-developing a normal life, I’ve decided I need to get involved in the community and I’m doing it the way I’ve always known best – Sport.

With the Underwear Affair 10k run fast approaching, I’ve signed myself up and started training. If you haven’t heard of this run, check out its website. It’s another of a million cancer fundraising events and I chose it because of my mother’s recent battle with the disease.

I have a goal of raising at least $500, and need all the support I can get. If you can afford to donate twenty – great! But really I’m just looking for a bunch of 5 and 10 dollar donations.

Just CLICK HERE and it will take you to the donation page.

Thanks again for the support – I promise lots of hugs and kisses to everyone who donates!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

I'm "Inbetween" Jobs

Ah - job hunting. Never has there been a task so full of desperation, rejection and disappointment. While I'm sure there are folks out there who can fire off one or two resumes and manage to get an interview and a job within a few days, I'm not one of them.

I've used a number of strategies this time round that seem to be working quite well for me (meaning, yes, I have interviews, hooray!).

1.      It's a numbers game - the more applications you send and people you meet, then, quite obviously, you will manage to land more interviews. As this is quite time consuming, prioritizing applications you plan to spend a lot of time on, and ones you just want to fire off without much more than a spell check, is important. If nothing else, writing, writing and re-writing all those applications could always land you a job as cover letter writer… for other unemployed people… who can only pay you in dandelions and G.I. Joe figurines they’ve kept since they were kids…

2.      Do your research – while some say this isn’t important until you actually land an interview, I say otherwise. Being able to entice the HR Manager by showing you have more than a little knowledge on the industry and their company is a great way to have them put you in the “contact” pile. Again, time consuming, so pick and choose which jobs you think will actually care that you went out of your way to learn more and which ones will think you are a little too keen (i.e., the supervisor at Burger Barn probably doesn’t even know that the company has invested $2.5million dollars in research to determine why everyone who eats their onion rings has flatulence that smells of dryer lint.)

3.      Don’t limit yourself – why just apply for one industry? With the market the way it is (Canada isn’t as bad as other places, but still), it’s not as though there is a ton of jobs to choose from in any one industry. And who knows, the industry you are looking in could have 30 other people sitting online desperately applying for all the same jobs you are. More than likely your past career options have supplied you with transferable skills to other job fields. Hunt through some of your recent work experiences for tasks and skills that are commonly seen in other jobs and display those prominently on your cover letter and resume, even if this means using some extracurricular or volunteer experiences you have (why not? It’s still experience). I mean, if you’ve been a plumber your entire life, acting might be a bit out of your league, but try modeling for one of those Coppertone Sunscreen ads!

4.      Put your pride aside – while setting standards and salary ranges is important, when you’re living off your savings, having some income is better than no income. Applying for little odd jobs that won’t really pay the bills, or aren’t really what you are looking for, come in handy, especially if you end up unemployed for some time; you’ll be thankful you can still say you work for a company when you need to apply for a rental apartment, cell phone, etc. Not to mention, it fills in blank spots on your resume that employers generally don’t like to see? “So, what were you doing all of summer 2010?” “Oh, you know, just the same old, same old. Researching Burger Barn and starting my G.I. Joe collection.”

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Graduation Celebration Frustration

High school graduation in North America had become one of the most ridiculous events to ponder. I am completely in support of celebrating the youth’s achievements, but for more reasons than simply being disgusted by some wealthy parents buying thousand dollar gowns with gifts of rhinoplasty, breast augmentation and the newest BMW, I have come to see this annual, cultural milestone a spectacle hiding what concludes as utter disappointment (I.e., how far can a high school diploma really get you now adays?).

The nearly-twenty age group becomes the unwilling worm hole for all advice from whoever deems themselves learned enough to provide it. While best intentions are always in place, it gets frustrating to watch elders pass on information that seems to be developed from cynicism and fear, rather than hope and optimistic practicality. 

I have exclaimed my frustration with ideas of being able to control your future before, and as I described then, it’s not to say that I don’t believe we have great influence in our lives, it just seems idealistic to believe that with so many variables in the world we actually have control over where our lives will ultimately lead.

So why then, do we endless push and nag teenagers to pick their life path? Why can’t they just study something in school that they are going to enjoy learning about regardless of their career path? Most likely they’ll change their minds 8 times or more anyway

Are you doing exactly what you imagined you would be when you graduated high school? Or even on the same career path?