Friday, September 22, 2017

my blue castle

"They never knew that Valancy had two homes - the ugly red brick box of a house on Elm Street, and the Blue Castle in Spain.... Always, when she shut her eyes, she could see it plainly... everything wonderful and beautiful was in that castle."  - The Blue Castle, L.M. Montgomery


If I had an imaginary Blue Castle, mine would be by the lake, so I could watch the storms roll in, heavy clouds and white-capped waves hurled against the shore. I'd have a house with lots of East-facing windows, so I could watch the sun rise and see the morning light speckle the walls. I would plant trees out front and back with low branches perfect for climbing, and I'd throw open all the windows to hear the birds sing.

I think my Blue Castle would be right on the edges of a small town with shops lined up on Main Street - the kind of town where people walk to the grocery store, and the cashier remembers your name when you go to pay. I'd live in a house with a small piano in the living room, even though I don't play very often, and I would have a room in the back of the house with nothing in it but books (and maybe a very comfortable chair)! If I was allowed to choose, I'd find myself someplace with a yard and a swing (or two), and a little wicker couch on the front porch. I'd have a big kitchen so I could throw loud, happy dinner parties, and have my grade 11 students over to make cookies.

Valancy's Blue Castle was a glorious, dramatic mansion, but I think if I had the choice, I'd settle for a little less. I'd choose somewhere that looks a lot like the house I grew up in... somewhere like my grandparents' small little beach town. If I could live anywhere at all, the only place I really want to be is somewhere I can call "home" ... and mean it.


I daydreamed a little bit yesterday ... in your wildest dreams, where do you find yourself? If you had all the choices in the world, where would you like to live forever? What does your Blue Castle look like?

xx,
Olivia
p.s. this lovely photo was brought to you by Valentina Locatelli on Unsplash

Thursday, September 14, 2017

university in the morning





I had my first class on Monday morning, and when it let out early I found a park bench to sit on and study while I waited for my sister to get out of her first class (mine was Family Studies and hers was Stats, so I think we know who got the better deal). In the shadow of an old, elegantly-bricked building, with my notes spread across my lap, I was happy to be back in school ... and that kind of surprised me.

Every semester when classes start again, I have a bad habit of looking at it as an opportunity to fail, like this is the year I'm going to drop the ball and miss assignments and blank on the exam ... like this is the term I'm not going to be able to keep my schedule together, and get all the readings done, and actually write the term paper due at the beginning of December. But, you know, it's usually fine, and by the end of the year after final exams, maybe there were a couple of marks I wasn't totally happy with, but I made it.

So I'm hoping that this will be the year that I just learn to relax a little bit (!!!) and stop overthinking things, and maybe expect for once that things will go well. I like to prepare for the worst (which isn't always a bad thing!) but often with me becomes being terrified of the worst and refusing to believe that the best is even possible. And that's not such a great place to be.

Here's to setting kinder expectations and upholding the highest of hopes ... and here's to the knowledge that it's just school, after all, and we can so do this.

what are your biggest school fears? biggest school dreams? what hopes are you holding onto this fall?

xx,
Olivia

Friday, September 8, 2017

things that make me happy // 593-611







593. long drives under a full moon
594. writing poetry on the beach in my favourite little town
595. selling my used textbooks!
596. planning trips to faraway places (more on this ... eventually)
597. water and sky
598. the start of school (which equals the start of youth group at my church!)
599. bonfires after church
600. thrift shopping with COUPONS
601. the little bit of nip in the air the past few days
602. morning sunshine patterns on the walls
603. the smell of Starbucks through the drive-thru window
604. writing love poetry
605. Pumpkin Spice Lattes (terribly cliche, but I do love them)
606. high schoolers - how young and old they are all at the same time
607. sudden cloudbursts (and the fact that we call them "cloudbursts". what a great word)
608. staff breakfast with my church coworkers
609. the way Aslan talks to Susan
610. seagulls
611. doing yoga under a blue sky

 what makes you happy these days?

xx,
Olivia

~pictures from a trip to Ottawa

Friday, September 1, 2017

poems about birds


Photo by Eder Pozo PĂ©rez on Unsplash


I looked up --
a flock of birds circled
deep in the sky
below me
the ocean of air holds them and
they hang, listening as
the current whispers, home ... home ...
I would swim
through the clouds
to greet them
arms spread, soaring
down, down
towards the sun.

how do they know
which way to fly?
do they map the
whitecapped breezes,
or merely follow
a compass deep within?
a restlessness that
only wants to go
home, again.


because the way their wings look silhouetted against the clouds has won my heart.

xx,
Olivia

Friday, August 25, 2017

what I swore I wouldn't do


what I swore I wouldn't do:

1. work in youth ministry, EVER
2. become a teacher, no matter how many people told me I'd be good at it
3. write as anything more than a spare-time hobby
(I bet you can guess where this is going...)

As a kid, I changed my mind a lot about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I went from a veterinarian to a marine biologist to an author to a teacher (for one very short pre-teen phase) to maybe some sort of part time something? Who knows? I'm not too sure? But as I graduated a rough year of high school, I thought I knew three things with certainty. The first was that I HATED teenagers and never wanted to see high school again, the second was that I was not a fan of the classroom and certainly never wanted to stand at the front of it, and the third was that writing was just fun. It was for me. It was not something I wanted to work at, seriously.

Over the past couple of years, as I've changed jobs and started my first semester of university, I made a lot of choices based on these three things I thought I knew.

I told my parents to knock some sense in me if I ever said "yes" again when my pastor asked me to lead the youth.

I told my academic advisor to take "teaching" right off the list of possible career paths for me. "It's just not an option," I said, with a little laugh, and didn't enroll in any credits that would open that door for me.

"No, writing isn't something I'd consider taking seriously," I told anyone who asked me.



And then everything got a little funky. After turning down my acceptance to a Youth Ministry University program, I said "yes" to my pastor one more time ... and eight months later found myself with a job at my church, as a youth ministry assistant, of all things. (and I LOVED it).

After finishing my first year of university and still not knowing what I wanted to do after, I had a long phone conversation with a friend and all of a sudden, teaching started to look more like an opportunity and less like a career. "That's where the students are," I remember telling her. Those students that I didn't even know I liked ... I realized that there's a lot of love in my heart for them after all, and I wanted to be where they were. I wanted to go back to high school, after all.

The writing is something that has happened recently ... more of a sense that "something is not right" when I don't pay enough attention to it ... a feeling that I am not where I am supposed to be if I don't have time to sit down and edit my novel, or jot down notes for a new story idea.

As hard as I tried to get away from these things - as confused as I was about what I thought I wanted, what I thought I was good at, what I thought I was or wasn't supposed to do, they just kept finding me. I didn't even notice until earlier on this week, when I was driving to a friend's and started to realize just how much of my life was NEVER part of my plan for my life. Clearly, God had other ideas.

I can't even tell you how reassuring this is. I'm still early on in university years and still trying to plan absolutely everything ... and a lot of the time, it stresses me out. I don't know what's going to happen this year, or next, or when I'll graduate, or if this dear little novel of mine will ever see a bookstore display shelf. I don't know how long I'll be working for the church, or exactly what I want to be when I grow up, and so instead of resting in the unknown of God's plan for me, I keep creating my own. I keep making plans and decisions and statements with a certainty I don't feel, and I find myself getting tired. I pray for God's will and guidance, but realized last weekend that I'm often asking Him to show up in the plans I've already made, instead of asking Him to show me His own.



If you had told me two and a half years ago that this is what my life would look like, I would probably have laughed. And then said something like, "okay but I don't really think that will happen", thinking never never never to myself. And now, I don't want to be anywhere else. I did everything I could NOT to end up here, and now I have trouble catching my breath when I think about how much I would have lost if I'd been given exactly what I thought I wanted.

So if any of this sounds like you, I hope this brings a little bit of peace to your soul today. You don't have to have all the answers. You don't have to know where you're going absolutely all the time. And no matter what choices you've made (or are making, maybe scared to death that they're the wrong ones), they are redeemable. And if you're a little scared to let go of your plans and grab onto the ones that God has for you, I get that. I'm there, too. And I'd love to start to figure it out together.


I'm blogging from the car today ... on my way to a friend's cottage! How are you spending your weekend? Whether you're in school or out, do you struggle with the idea of the future? Have you ever made plans and then changed your mind (or had God change it for you)?

xx,
Olivia

Friday, August 18, 2017

Time

... it flies!!

It's been a long long time since I posted in this space, but I haven't been as absent as I look, I promise! Truth be told, I think about the cwtch often ... and I lurk bloglovin daily, although I've never been able to find the time to comment (I like to think that it just keeps flapping its wings, ever out of reach, but in reality, I haven't put much effort into catching it and holding on).

Ottawa skyline from a trip I took with friends

I've made lists upon lists of my priorities and what's important to me and how I can do it all and still have time to sit on the couch with a book at the end of the day, and to be honest, I'm nowhere close to having it all figured out! Right now I'm working, and school is about to start up again, and I'm trying to maintain relationships with the people who are important to me, and write new books, and edit old ones, and prep book proposals so I can start dipping my toes into the publishing world (WHAT), and walk my dog a couple times a week, and blogging just keeps getting slipped to the bottom of the pile.

I think the easy thing to do would just be to say "BYE FOR NOW" and let go of the pressure to keep posting, this little niggling feeling that I'm falling behind (or, have fallen behind, since my last post was six months ago...) but every time I think about sitting down to write that post, it feels wrong. I love this space - and I love the people who visit - and I don't want to lose that.

an art project I was very, very proud of (!)
evenings in my favourite little beach town
So, what now? I'm not sure yet ... but I want to try to figure it out.

with all the love,
Olivia


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

summer of '03

it was hot
the summer we lost
power
for two days
dad listened
to the radio in
the car and I
stared at the
houses across
the street
he
was worried but
I was six and
all I cared
about was the
watermelon
we ate that
night
after dinner.

I was sitting in a lecture yesterday and my prof mentioned the Ontario blackouts of 2003 (I think that was the year??) and this one little memory came floating into my head. I scrawled this down right on top of my notes on change management, cramped in between subheadings and highlighted passages.

In other news, school is crazy, the sun appeared this week for the first time in forever, I sound more like Dory every day (oh look! Shells!), and Amanda Joy put up a wicked-awesome post about self love on Burning Youth.

Happy Valentines Day, readers! ♥

xx,
Olivia