Friday, November 24, 2017

a few things to remember at the end of the week

Hello friends!

 It's Friday again (isn't it lovely that we get one every seven days?) and this morning I wanted to offer you a few reminders as you go forward into the weekend. Maybe you had a fantastically wonderful week - or maybe it was just rotten. Either way, the hard part is over - you've basically made it to the weekend! I want to take a moment to invite you to sit - rest - breathe. Make some quiet space and see what happens.

learn how to rest like this Icelandic sheep is resting on the side of a mountain. so serene.

I kind of said this already, but something I've been learning this week is that when I create spaces of silence, God shows up. I found myself on a 30 minute lunch break in my office at work, and after scrolling through instagram for a few minutes, I decided to put my phone away and just sit and drink my coffee. I crossed my legs, looked out the window, and in about 30 seconds flat, I found myself reeling with how awesome it is that we are made holy through God's sanctification process (find the complete story on my post here). Thoughts that had flipped through my head at the speed of light earlier on in the week found a home in the 15 minutes of stillness that I found while looking out the window at work ... and I almost missed it all by watching YouTube in the background, as I so often do!

It's okay to not have it all figured out it. LOL @ the fact that I even typed that sentence, because this is one thing that I do not do well. I usually interpret weekends as "two days during which I must immediately figure every single thing out in my life and everyone else's, too". Don't be like me. Make better choices and let your weekends be weekends - time to do what you love (and maybe catch up on an assignment or two. Or sixty). You can figure it all out on Monday. (JOKING)

Sleep in at least once! Seriously. Be productive during the wee hours of the morning some other time, and enjoy your sleep. I always forget to do this until Monday morning when I have to get up for an 8:30 class - then I remember all the times I could have slept in and didn't.


I seem to be going through a phase where all my posts must be structured in some sort of list? Both of my drafted future posts are like this too and I'm not too sure why??? Anyway ... what are you remembering this weekend? Was your week long+hard, or short+sweet?

xx,
Olivia

Friday, November 17, 2017

4 strategies for maintaining balance in your life

I will be the first to admit that living a perfectly balanced life is not something I do well (or ever? But then, does anyone?) But I don't like waking up in the morning stressed before I get out of bed because I'm doing too much of one thing and not enough of another ... and I really don't like not knowing how to fix it. Below I've included a few strategies that I try to use when I feel like I'm living an off-balance life - usually, running down the list of these helps me even everything out again!




1. Manage your input and output
 
One of the main things that causes me to feel stressed or unbalanced is if I'm spending too much time either absorbing energy through inward activities, like studying, or pouring energy into outward activities, like public speaking. (In the years when I did NaNoWriMo, my output would go through the charts because I was writing.all.the.time.) The best way to get back to feeling balanced is to take a break and choose something from the other category ... if you're writing all day, every day, take a break and scroll through Pinterest! Read a book! Listen to someone talk about their day! Do anything and everything you can to put more info into your brain so you can turn around and pour it all out again.
On the flip side, if you've spent the last week studying and reading textbooks and watching tv in the evening hours, your brain is probably overflowing! Go write a journal entry, or tell someone about what you're learning, or draw some gorgeous art - anything to siphon the extra stuff out of your head so you can keep right on learning.


2. Go visit a human person

Go walking, or drink hot chocolate in a new coffee shop, or take a drive to a nearby small town! Take an afternoon off and invest in your relationship with someone else - hear about their life, and vent a little bit about yours. This could be anyone - a family member, a friend - it doesn't have to be outside your comfort zone! I find that just spending a little time with people goes a long way to straightening out the things that feel "off" in my life.


3. Make a list of things you love and do one thing every day

 For me, writing hit the top of the list - a few months ago, I was working and sleeping and studying for exams, and that's it. I felt worn out, and like I was missing something key because I wasn't allowing myself to carve out time to write, or blog, or even journal. Don't do that to yourself. When you find out what you love, make time for it. Or, if you love a lot of things, make a list! Do a couple of them! Don't let the pressures of school or work crowd out the essence of who you really are and what you love to do.


4. Remind yourself to aim for excellence, not perfection

**This particular piece of advice is courtesy of my mum
Aiming for perfection is one of the fastest ways to throw my life out of balance -  I end up pushing and pushing and pushing for a goal that is not only out of reach, but unnecessary. Striving for the standard of excellence means expecting great things - hard things - but it also means that there is such a thing as enough. Occasionally, it's not such a bad thing to just stop. And be done. And let it be what it will be, and call it good enough. I'm not advocating for half-finished projects, or 50% effort ... just arguing against the mentality that we have to spend forever fighting for a standard that we're never going to reach. Don't get stuck there! There are so many other places to explore.


Okay, rant over. I fight hard for balance, mostly because I so often find myself without any!! What about you? Do you ever get get "stuck" aiming for perfection? Lost in a broken cycle of input/output? Caught not allowing yourself to do what you love? How do you get unstuck, break the cycle, and go back to embracing what you were made for? I'd love more tips!!

xx,
Olivia 

ps. why yes this is yet another post to be illustrated with pictures from Iceland!! Definitely because I love Iceland and not because I have no other pictures at the moment ... ahem.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

poems about birds, vol II




And here I stand, hands
buried in
this place:
the very end
of the world
where the water and sky
cease to be two
and waves become whitecapped clouds
the birds swim through -
they are caught in the current of air
tugging, tugging
back toward shore
where the hungry waves
pull
the water back;
it is the tide that knits
water to land,
sand weighing down the waves
saying
remember, remember
where you belong.

***

I know why there are no clouds today
it is because the birds
have stolen them;
fashioned wingtips from wisps
of leftover storms, the
darkest roll of thunder for
every feather's edge
and white for their back
where they cradle
the sun.
they have borrowed the voices of
the wind as it
screeches around the corners of
my house and
whips the lake into
a hurricane
come back, come back,
they shriek
come back,
the fun's just starting
it's wild here,
don't you know?
and don't you want to stay
and watch?

poems about birds are my favourite kind of poems. any place where there's water and sky and winged creatures that glide comfortably through both worlds, I think there's a little bit of magic. where are your lovely, ethereal places?

xx,
Olivia

Friday, November 3, 2017

things that make me happy // 631-645



631. fall leaves and thick, heavy clouds
632. my siblings playing Christmas music on the piano
633. porch lights turned on at dinnertime
634. the mountains in Iceland
635. writing essays about fictional princesses (most fun part of being an English major)
636. when my youth pastor boss brings me a chai tea latte for no apparent reason
637. the way my dog looks at me when I get the peanut butter out of the fridge
638. library booksales (they sold their books for $2!!! each!!!!)
639. waffles+whipped cream
640. the way yoga+deep breaths unties all the knots in my chest
641. playing board games with friends until 1am 
642. going for walks after dark and talking about the stuff that matters
643. talking on the phone to faraway friends
644. when the sunlight comes through my window at work
645. dog-sitting a cuddly puppy

Did you know that Autumn is my favourite season? Anne of Green Gables once said that she was so glad that she lived in a world where there were Octobers ... and even though the month has passed, I wholeheartedly agree. What makes you happy this month? Which season is your favourite?

xx,
Olivia

Friday, October 27, 2017

thinking about love

NOT the romantic kind so just calm down everyone. whew.



I've been thinking a lot lately about the love of God ... something that seems to be a recurring theme for me. Every few months, it pops up again, and every few months, I find myself going back to the basics of what love is, and why I don't deserve it ... and why God wants to give it to me, anyway.

This time around, I find my own flawed view of love challenged, because I tend to look at love as a see-saw. If I do something loving, I expect the person I love to do something loving in return, BEFORE I do something loving again for them. I picture love as something that fits into a pattern, plan, or cycle ... a give/take relationship ... and when someone screws with my system and doesn't treat me the way I think I deserve to be treated, I start withholding my love from them, too.

Some of this is out of self-righteousness or me sticking my nose in the air and waiting until I get what I feel I deserve, but a lot of it comes from fear.


FEAR

that if I don't put my foot down and ask for it, I'll never get any love in return
that if I love with my whole self, I'll get hurt
that I'll be seen as needy or clingy if I'm too open with my affirmation


and so I do my best to maintain this balance, this steady back and forth of the see-saw, this order where my love fulfills a mathematical formula and always stays within the boundaries of what I deem to be socially acceptable.

But the longer this system just absolutely does NOT work for me, the more I realize that what I'm doing isn't really love at all. It's mostly just fear. 

Jesus doesn't love us like this. Jesus just loves us and loves us and the see-saw almost NEVER swings back in his direction, and He loves us anyway. He loves us enough not to give up on us or abandon us. He just loves us, end of story. No reciprocal action required.

This is very hard for me to understand.

I don't understand why someone would love me like this. I don't understand how I'm supposed to love other people like this. I just don't understand love at all, basically, is what I'm trying to say. But I was thinking about it today and realized that living to protect myself from getting hurt isn't working for me, either. The more I hold back and keep my mouth shut and refuse to love people because I'm afraid, the more stressed-out and tired I become. It takes a lot of energy to be afraid all the time. 

So here's to letting go and loving anyway. Here's to fearing less, and being open more, and accepting that it's okay not to understand. Here's to letting go of systems and see-saws, checks and balances, and just receiving the love that God has for me ... and then releasing it freely to the people around me. No more holding on with clenched fists.

This is what I've been thinking about love, lately ... it's an old conversation, one that I've been having with myself for years, and I always seem to end up here. Open my hands and receive - and then open my hands and release. Open, open, open. It's not a simple solution - it's something I still get wrong all the time - but it is a solution that brings freedom like I can't explain. When I disrupt the cycle of receive and release, everything in me gets thrown out of whack. When I relax and uncurl my fingers and start stretching myself out again, open-handed, everything begins to click back into shape.

I am so very loved. And I pass this truth on to you - you are so very extremely loved, too.


Thoughts and old struggles and new hope+forgiveness+freedom circling around my heart this week! How do you think about love? What part of the receive+release cycle do you get stuck on?

xx,
Olivia

Friday, October 20, 2017

white water, black sand (and other adventures)



So... I guess it was kind of a fun time.






At the end of August, I was at the cottage with some friends, and we ended up talking about Iceland in that random sort of way that summer conversations meander back and forth over all kinds of little things ... trips other people were taking, dreams from years ago, and plans made around a campfire that dissipate quickly in the morning light.

Except that this particular plan didn't float away like last night's smoke ... it grew.

That's the simple version, of course, but really, that's how I ended up on a plane to Keflavik, Iceland (and then on a bus to the capital city). It was just an idea, and then it was a plan, and then suddenly it was plane tickets and calendar dates and suitcases and boarding passes and the ground dropping away beneath us faster than I could blink.

And then ... Iceland!










We walked the colourful streets of the capital city, rode horses across stone-broken lava fields, hiked up waterfalls, and road tripped across the Southern part of Iceland ... we saw snow at the top of Glymur, sheep upon sheep upon sheep by the side of the road, and rainbows every 30 seconds in Reykjavik, where the weather changes faster than you can pull a hood over your head. It was the most "adulting" I've ever done, all the way across the ocean from everything that I'm used to, and as beautiful as it was, it made me realize how much I love living in Canada, too.


It truly was a wild trip... in every sense of the world! Would you be interested in seeing another post about tips and tricks for traveling Iceland? let me know in the comments!
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would YOU go?

xx,
Olivia

Friday, October 13, 2017

an Icelandic adventure

If you've been following along on my instagram account, you'll know that I've mysteriously vanished from Canadian soil and reappeared in another gorgeous place ... but I've been keeping the location a secret (mostly for my own amusement). Anyway ... if you haven't figured it out already, I've spent this week in ICELAND!

I'm hoping to get a more detailed post up next Friday (with photo edits so the LIGHTING will be fixed help), but until then, enjoy these cell phone snapshots from my week!
















xx,
Olivia