yes this is the life i know

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India.Arie is one of my favourite singer-songwriters.

On her last album, she wrote a song called “Life I Know.” It’s a beautiful song that I love, but I hadn’t heard it in while. Yet, it lodged itself in my head this morning as I walked in Munro Park, and I was glad to roll it around in my brain, and think about the phrase “this is the life I know.” Her lyrics aren’t exactly my situation and thoughts, as she’s writing about being a single woman in her forties and not being sure where she belongs. And I’m a partnered woman in my thirties, with someone else to help “cut the grass, take out the trash and fill the gas.”

But the song still makes my heart happy. It is still a place for my heart to rest and go “Ahhh, yes.” There are still elements of it that resonate in me as if they had plucked a string. To me it’s not a strictly sad song, it’s a thoughtful song. Contemplative, and coming up with joy at the end of the contemplation. True, hard-earned, simply beautiful joy, because although life does turn out a little differently than nearly everyone had thought it would, yet it is still my life, our life. It is the life I know.

What tomorrow brings, I do not know
Yes, I know it’s unconventional
But it’s the life I know.

You can hear the recorded version of the song here and see a live performance of it here. You can read the entire song lyrics here.

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the in-between

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Last night on my way in the door after yoga class, I took a picture of the almost-full moon. This morning, sitting out on the deck with my coffee, listening to all the birds, I took a picture of the same view.

I just love light and watching it do things to a space. To trees, to the sky. And I love watching the slight and subtle shifts in the world around me.

A while back when I was going through a hard time, my aunt Claude, my mother’s sister, emailed me a Word document with some words by Melody Beattie. It’s about the “in-between time”. The opening line is:

“Sometimes, to get from where we are to where we are going, we need to be willing to be in-between.”

I’m thinking of those words a lot these days. This is an in-between time for me, the time after school and before “the rest,” whatever that will look like. I am “hurrying up and waiting,” as someone put it the other day. There are two jobs I’ve applied for. One I interviewed for and am waiting to hear back from. Another one where I am hoping for an interview, and am waiting to hear about that.

In the meantime, I’m waiting.

I don’t want to complicate things with too many job applications, and I don’t want to look off-island just yet. I would in fact rather stay on the island doing something unrelated to my field for a while, until something in my field turns up. This is home, this is where my partner, my garden, my favourite beaches — in other words, my joys — are. Also, my blog wouldn’t make much sense elsewhere! “Dream Big… Edmonton?” Luckily we’re financially in decent shape, we’re not starving and we don’t have little mouths to feed. So the waiting can take a bit of time.

“Being in-between isn’t fun, but it’s necessary. It will not last forever.  It may feel like we’re standing still, but we’re not. We’re standing at the in-between place. It’s how we get from here to there.  It is not the destination.” — Melody Beattie

It does mean that when people ask me out and about, “What are you up to these days, now that school is done?” I feel like my answer is lame: “Gardening, job-searching, catching up on household chores, doing random bits of client work.” It’s not exciting news, and I love to have exciting news! I love to celebrate and to be enthusiastic.

But, oh well. It is what it is! And it’s not that bad, anyhow. Adam’s voice is in my head a lot, saying: “Relax, babe.” So often when I’m agitated and he’ll say that to me, I get even more agitated, thinking “How can he think it’s that easy, to just relax?” But now I find when I’m by myself during the day and I imagine him saying that, it does work, and I do relax. I relax into the in-between.

“Today, I will accept where I am as the ideal place for me to be. If I am in-between, I will strive for the faith that this place is not without purpose, that it is moving me forward toward something good.” — Melody Beattie

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multitude monday / june 9

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My friend and classmate Katie MacLennan writes a great blog called Polka Dot Soup. On it she writes a post some Mondays called “Multitude Monday.” About the feature, she writes, “Mondays are about documenting the little (or big!) things in life that make me oh-so-happy. Let’s make Mondays a day to reflect on the goodies, and not the baddies.”

A few months ago I read Brené Brown’s book “Daring Greatly,” in which she writes, “The shudder of vulnerability that accompanies joy is an invitation to practice gratitude, to acknowledge how truly grateful we are for the person, the beauty, the connection, or simply the moment before us.”

(The last Multitude Monday post I wrote, last week, is here.)

Here are the ten things right now that I’m thankful for:

91. Being part of my dad’s girlfriend’s retirement party on Friday at the Northside General Hospital. (She’s a physiotherapist.) Getting to meet her coworkers and lots of people whose lives she touched, and meeting her sister, son and grand-nephew, who live in New Brunswick, was all really special.

92. Having the windows open in our house most of the time, and as a result, hearing the birds singing just as a background noise, is so calming.

93. On Saturday, sleeping a nice big amount, then eating delivered pizza for supper!

94. Whipping through the book “Still Alice” on the weekend, and letting it show me the bountiful love in my own life, the great blessings. It made me think a lot about our minds, our memories, and the bonds that tie families together. (Which, although sad when there is Alzheimer’s involved, certainly, is overall a good thing.)

95. Meeting a friend at the Farmer’s Market in North Sydney on Sunday, and seeing other friends while there.

96. Smelling bars of soap and jars of creams and scrubs at the market. Such delicious scents!

97. Going with Mom to the Tea and Sale in Boisdale on Sunday — driving out there and looking at all the yards and gardens along the way.

98. Picking out plants at the plant table was my favourite part: I got lavender, lovage, bleeding heart, lady’s mantle, ground geranium and a climbing hydrangea, and I’m just itching to get them into the ground!

99. Adam’s mom was volunteering at the sale, and his Dad was there too. We sat and chatted together, drank tea and ate squares and sandwiches, and met new people, too.

100. On our way home, Mom and I stopped at a little pebbly beach and walked along in our bare feet. It was a bit hard going at points — my feet are pretty sensitive still after winter! — but it felt so good to be outdoors with the wind blowing and hearing the waves.

Have a great Monday.

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links loved / june 7

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Above: these are some of the lilies that I took home in a box last week, which you would have seen in my Multitude Monday post. They’re now happily in the ground at the front of the house. I check them daily, as I do all the plants in the gardens, like they’re my babies.

Anyway, here we are, the weekend! Huzzah. I’m still getting over a wee cold, so my plan is to hang out in bed and read. I’ve also got a few little jobs to do (a quick business card, and type up an interview transcript for the Gaelic College that I did last week — boundaries, I know, but it was with Heather Rankin and I’m thinking about it like I’m volunteering my time, or something!) but I’m hoping to wrap those up this morning and then hop back into bed with a good book or movie. Or just sleep more. Then tomorrow there’s a plan in the works with my Mama to attend a tea and sale in Boisdale, that Adam’s mom is volunteering at. But as most things in my life these days, “we’ll see!” is the new mantra.

Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful weekend, whether it’s busy + productive, or deliciously lazy. You deserve it!

Here are some links loved!

This bakery + greenhouse friend date makes me want to do the same with a friend, around here, and photograph it!

A gal in Darwin, Australia, makes pretty print work. This is a post from her blog showing some of her latest work.

I’m hugely in love with Erika Ray’s birth photography, especially this post about a midwife giving birth. (It’s safe for work.)

A rain barrel given the art treatment. Love it!

This gal makes me laugh with her straight-up, no-BS approach to marketing consultation.

Funny Cape Breton writer Lesley Crewe on getting her picture taken.

The meaning of love is so simple and yet so profound.

Wendy McElmon was my teacher these last two years at NSCC and she’s getting married! These are her engagement pictures taken at Whale Cove, over in Inverness County, by another fantastic photographer, David McVicar. Seriously, his website is a rabbit hole I fall down sometimes, of amazing photos of real people on Cape Breton Island, all looking absolutely stunning.

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“Green With Envy” Family Hair Salon

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It feels a bit like cheating on my longtime hairdresser to see another one, but I really wanted to check out this new business in Sydney!

I had met Ann and Chris, the proprietors, at the Women in Business dinner I attended back in March in Sydney, and heard about how they were opening an all-green salon. I was, of course, immediately intrigued. Both of the women are longtime hairdressers and aestheticians, and had worked for other salons. Unfortunately they both sustained injuries from chemicals they came into contact with on the job.

They both love what they do, though, and wanted a way to be able to continue snipping locks and applying facials, but in a way that was sensitive both to their own needs, and to the planet’s.

So with the help of the Cape Breton Small Business Development Centre’s training and mentorship, they started their own business, which opened its doors in April this year!

Yesterday, despite having a cold and feeling a bit under the weather, I kept my appointment at the Green with Envy salon. Chris washed and cut my hair, then put some mousse in and dried it. My hair felt soft and refreshed after her treatments, and the price was great, only $28! We chatted about gardens, family and blackflies, and she told me about the line of hair dye they use, which I might try in the future. Overall, it’s a lovely little salon, and I’m happy to support the endeavours of two intrepid local women!

You can check out the Green With Envy salon on Facebook or call them: (902) 270-8044. They’re at 270 George Street.

(I’m not posting pics of myself and my hair to show the “before” and “after”, simply because I felt sick and gross yesterday, and didn’t want to take any selfies, lol. As well, I only got a trim, so it didn’t look dramatically different.)

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power in numbers: 100 women who care CBRM

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Last night I drove over to Sydney around 5 PM, and drove to the end of Esplanade to the Victoria Park buildings. I parked and went inside to register. I was there for the first meeting of a group called “100 Women Who Care CBRM” and was excited to see how it was going to go!

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Joyce Rankin speaking on behalf of Habitat for Humanity, which was the first charity of the three to present.

It’s a simple concept. Every member brings a $100 blank cheque to the meeting. Three charities get to present a five-minute snapshot of what they do and why they deserve to be chosen. The members vote and the votes are counted, and then the winning charity receives the total raised, which would be $10,000 if the group were numbering 100. But there is no cap on members, and the group is currently at 136 members! So the winning charity last night — which was the Every Woman’s Centre, rather appropriately — received $13,600. That’s an amazing chunk of change, especially for a local charity that works so hard with so little!

Before the voting there are snacks and everyone mills around and chats, catching up with friends and meeting new ones. After the voting, a long line forms at a table to hand over the cheques and the self-addressed envelopes for your tax receipt. You’re welcome to stay and nibble more, and chat more. And that’s it! Quick, simple, fun, and powerful. I’m so glad I went, and look forward to the next meeting in September. Crowd-sourcing on the Internet is pretty rad, but getting together with local women to support a local charity felt even more powerful.

This group is for charities within the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, but there was chit-chat last night about starting something similar in other three counties on the island. There is also a men’s group in the works for the CBRM. There are similar groups all over, too: Halifax has 100 Men Who Give A Damn, as well as a 100 Women Who Care group, and Truro just started one, too.

As for the amount of money, it’s $100 every three months. At first I thought “Ah, I can’t afford that!” But then I took another look at my budget, and decided that I could. I’ll drink a little less wine, and maybe go to a thrift store instead of buying a brand-new top. The value of being a part of this group, and of contributing to the community right here around me, means more than $100. Is it cheesy to say it’s priceless? Hehe, probably. But you know me, I’m going to say it anyway.

If you haven’t already, consider joining the 100 Women Who Care CBRM, or helping to start a similar group in your county! Get in touch with the CBRM group’s founder Deana Lloy for more information.

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jobs, plants, breathe, repeat

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So, here I am, still here, just on the other side of some things! School being the main one. Classes have been over for a month, and as of this past Friday, my five-week work term at the Gaelic College is completed. The graduation ceremony for my classmates and I will be on the 21st of this month, but right now I feel that sort of “ahhhh” deep-breath-out feeling that comes at the end of a long project, or a busy season. It’s a good feeling, a ‘rest-and-take-stock’ feeling.

But of course, when you’ve got a plateful of things on the go, like I do and many people do, one big project ending doesn’t mean quiet or downtime, necessarily! It just means a shift, in what you do every day. And I’m realizing that having some freelance clients, and some volunteer duties, and a partner and a life, well, I need to take my downtime when I can get it, and worry less about what I’m supposed to be doing, according to (what I think) other people think.

As for what my future looks like, now that I’m finished my Graphic Design diploma, well, it’s very up-in-the-air. I mean, so is everyone’s future all the time, really, but when you have a steady job, the future feels a lot more confirmed, than when you don’t!

So, I have had two job interviews in the last two weeks, one for a job I did not end up getting, and another one just yesterday, which I will hear about by the end of the week. I applied for another position on the weekend, too, so hopefully I’ll get an interview for that. I read a blog post recently where the gal said, “To apply for jobs is to live a thousand different lives in one’s head,” and that’s so true. You can’t help but get your hopes up for each job you apply for, and project a bit about what your life will be like if or when you get the job, like what your commute will be like, and what sort of work will be filling your productive hours. There really is nothing you can do but keep trying, and work on having faith that the right job will come along.

All the jobs I’m applying for so far are here on Cape Breton Island, and it’s my hope that I will find employment here. There is always the thought, though, “What if I don’t?” and I wonder what I would do in that case, if I would take a low-paying job in customer service in order to stay, or if I would travel somewhere to find work in my field. It’s hard to say and I don’t know the answer. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Anyway, for now it’s a beautiful Tuesday morning, the birds are singing and things are growing and blooming! It’s like life goes on, or something, haha. I took a walk already, around the neighbourhood, and now am going to putter in the garden a bit before I get to some freelance work I’ve been putting off for several weeks, due to not having the time to do it. And if I’m feeling particularly ambitious, I may even fold the laundry! Things could get crazy around here, lol.

Also: Tonight is the first meeting of “100 Women who Care CBRM” and I’ll be there. I’m excited to take part in such a neat event! Every woman donates $100 and at the end of the night $10,000 gets donated to a local charity. They meet four times a year.

Posted in Day to Day Life, Design, Education, Jobs, Leah's thoughts, Work | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments