tell your story.

May 8, 2014

Sometimes you meet people…and you just have this sense that they’re extra special. And sometimes you even have the honor of doing life with them for a brief time… giving truth, experience, and meaning to your senses.

Yesterday I said goodbye to a student who I worked with for several months. I knew all week that he was leaving soon and these would be our last days together. In my work…my students come and go so quickly and when they go, I never see or hear from them again. In fact, it is big bad deal for me to be in contact with them, unless they were to contact me through the therapist, and the therapist were to approve any reciprocal communication for the sake of continued therapeutic reasons. (this has never happened) you know… Hippa. I have no complaints around that truth when it comes to some of my kids, I’ll be honest. They’re not all sunshine and butterflies, and sometimes, I’m their least favorite person. But there are a fair amount of young folks passing through, who impact me deeply, indeed. Whom I get to experience some mutuality with…who are invested in their growth and the great work of getting to know self, and taking accountability for the way they stumbled through that process before arriving in my charge and care.

Hear me out…I learn from all of my students. Each of their stories are different. Each one makes me a better staff in some way. They all bring a different dynamic to our group, which brings gifts and challenges. I’m continually humbled to hear their stories and be let into their worlds. I still can’t believe that I get to sit in on their therapy sessions each week and be a part of that process…that the therapist asks for my opinion on things and allows me the challenge and opportunity to help set out their therapeutic directives and interventions for the week. Let’s be real, they can be a HUGE pain at times. Some of them never come around to embrace the worth, opportunity, or resources at hand in their wilderness experience. A lot of them do. The ones who don’t, usually make my life very difficult. Ultimately, it makes me sad for them when they refuse what we offer. I don’t know if/how their lives are different after they leave. What I do know is what I see from living with them in a very intimate setting for eight days at a time and over several months time.

Anyway…this was one of those students who, when it came time to say farewell, left me feeling a sadness and a hole.

I packed up my gear and, one by one, said my “see you next week!” to the rest of the group. Then, as I turned to walk towards the creek where (let’s call him “John” for confidentiality’s sake) John was sitting having a session with our therapist…the tears began to fall without thought. I then began to think…and I knew right away that I was crying because I was so incredibly proud of John. As I got closer, he saw me coming and rose to his feet, he came to meet me, and we embraced. A tall, handsome, empowered, 17-year-old young man with big brown eyes, in repair and on the road to believing that – despite the abuse, bullying, trauma, and prejudice he had endured throughout his life – he is worth love and belonging. He was sobbing and he held on tight. Our therapist invited us to come sit with him while we said our goodbyes. We were both crying and struggled to talk.

Back in February, I met John on the wilderness road and got him out of the truck in his first hours at Second Nature. He was nervous, chatty, unsure, and sweet. Fragile…and a bit shell-shocked from sitting with a best friend of his, the day previous, as she almost lost her life from OD-ing on pills at school. He didn’t have a defiant bone in his body. He was just so lost and broken and clouded from all of the misguided and destructive ways that he was coping with life, stemming out of traumatic events from his childhood. I welcomed him, asked him how his flight from Texas was, taught him about all of his gear, and let him know what he could expect the rest of his day to look like, and that he was going to be OK. His first week with us was full of tears, vulnerability, remorse, and home-sickness. He turned the corner sooner than most of our students do, which gave him an advantage. He began his self-work immediately, with fear, trepidation, and hope – coupled with a lot of insecurity. I was in his therapy session as he, for the very first time in his life, reluctantly and painstakingly put words to his most traumatic life event. I was beside him for many highs and lows throughout his stay. I was a part of the ceremonies that signified his dedication to moving up in student levels until he reached the highest level possible – the first student I have known in my 1.5 years to do so. I had the pleasure of sitting by countless creeks and fires with him, listening and sharing tears, perspective and hope. His journey was a beautiful mess that I am so honored to have been a part of.

We shared our parting words. Of the many things John left me with, he expressed his “heart and sword medicine,” and his goodbye. Through tears he said, “You’re one of the most whole-hearted people that I’ve ever known.”

You know… I get much verbal appreciation from our therapist, which I am incredibly grateful for. But it’s more rare from the students themselves. I don’t necessarily count on it, and it’s not why I do the job. But when it spills out of them, I just swim in it. It’s such a sweet gift.

I don’t love my schedule. The lifestyle that goes with 8 days on and 6 days off is really challenging for me. Any semblance of normalcy or consistency is lost. It’s totally compartmentalized and I have found it impossible to intertwine the two worlds in which I live. I live two separate lives, really. And sometimes I wonder why I do…and for how long I can sustain it. But these are the days, the moments, the kids, that remind me of why I do what I do. These are the moments when I think, “THIS. This is it. Yes. I love this. I’m in the right place. I want to keep doing this.”

I cannot express the gratitude I feel for that.

I trust that John will be OK. That he has learned a better way and that he will strive to apply what he has learned to care for himself and loved ones. I trust that in the end, all will be well. I have to trust that.

I’m so grateful to know his story, to be a part of it, and that he is now a part of mine. Tell your stories. Stories change lives.


Back to the woods I go, I go.

February 17, 2014

My post-birthday stay-cation is coming to a close.

These are my reflections on three weeks to do whatever I want, whenever:

– Self-care is so important, and worth the time, dedication, and money. 
– I could spend every waking moment of my life being in contact with all of the people that I love and I would never feel like it was enough. 
– Asheville is an endless source of good food and drink.
– I have missed running and it is important for my mental/emotional/physical health. 
– Structure/routine/goals are crucial. 
– Organizing, achieving, simplifying, and cleaning make me feel less chaotic inside. 
– It’s ok to be lazy and watch tv sometimes.
– Watching too much tv can make you feel like a directionless and worthless human being. 
– I am loved and supported and cared for. 
– Intention, intention, intention.
– Growing up is hard and sometimes super lame. 
– Doing things/life alone is more expensive than doing them in community with others. 
– Bills seem to all be due at the same time.
– Taking risks can be empowering, rewarding, pleasantly surprising, embarrassing, and insanely painful.
– I am a grown-ass woman.
– Love is hard. Relationships are so complex and ever-changing. 
– I love my job…and I’m pretty ok at it, too. 
– Explore your city and don’t pass judgements/assumptions on it. 
– Taking the plunge to coffee-nerd status may just be worth it. 
– I am no different/better than the person whom it is the hardest for me to forgive. 
– Physical touch is a powerful, important, and beautiful thing. 
– Saying that “I’m 28” is weird. 
– Sometimes, holding onto something that’s broken, and trying really hard to fix it, is worse than just letting go of it. 
– Life is constantly changing. 
– Reunions are sweet. 
– Idle time can be used to your detriment or your benefit, it’s your choice. 
– Life tells you who your best friends are. 
– Love the ones you’re with.
– Sometimes, you just need to dress up and go have a fancy drink!
– No one is entitled to your trust…it has to be earned.
– Over-sharing is not helpful. 
– I love going for walks. 
– To be known and loved is one of life’s greatest gifts. 
– The grass is green enough. 

sweet natalie.

February 11, 2012


another plane…another “going home.” many goodbyes said, only to be soon followed by many warm hello’s. i hate the close quarters on airplanes these days… they seem to have shrunk since my earlier years of traveling the sky. i usually don’t make eye contact with too many people…trying to keep a smile and approachable demeanor as to not come off a complete jerk. overall though, i go into socially awkward mode. we’re all just so close to one another! i feel like a sardine who does not know any of the other sardines in my can. i stay friendly, but to myself – usually not looking around too much. today, i looked up…only to find a beautiful young woman across the aisle from me, maybe into her 20’s by now. she was holding a doll and stroking a small, very well-loved piece of cloth. immediately i knew, i was a friend to her, and she to me…and she knew it too. her smile was consistent in an unabashedly genuine way. her joy was absolutely contagious. i got up to let the gentleman beside me out of my row…she looked up at me with her eyes of unconditional acceptance and from no more than two feet away, smiled and waved. i smiled and waved back. i took my seat again – she gently poked me,
“your seat belt, sir.” (never mind that i’m a “ma’am” …my short hair covered in a ballcap along with my baggy, comfy travel clothes didn’t help me in this area i guess.)
“thank you!” i responded.
we looked at each other periodically out of what i knew to be curiosity. i wanted to know her story, and my guess is… she wanted her story to be known. i glanced in her general direction feeling her eyes on me… another smile. with my attention directed at her, she quickly pointed to her little pink dvd player resting on her trade table, softly sharing with me,
“pirates of the caribbean!”
we talked about which of the trilogy was her favorite, why she liked them, and who her favorite character was – jack sparrow, of course. she held out her doll to show to me, which i quickly realized was edward from the twilight movies.
“i like him better than dracula,” she said.
“me too!” i agreed. “i’m allison. it’s nice to meet you.”
“i’m natalie,” she responded, holding her hand out to shake mine.
i reciprocated.
“you’re nice.” she innocently declared.
“thank you, natalie. you’re nice too.”

happy thanksgiving, carie.

November 24, 2011

i got to sleep in this thanksgiving. and i get to spend it in larche… unfortunately a whole 2,500 miles away from my family. i went downstairs to lots of merry making around the island in the kitchen, a beautiful table setting, a “tree of thanks” hung on the wall waiting to be decorated with the gratefulness of 30 people, a huge turkey in the oven, a hug from my good friend kate…i went downstairs to my family. i walked into my friend caries’ “nook” where she sits many days in the quiet of her personal and beautiful space. i sat down with her, admiring her cute thanksgiving outfit and the smile on her face. and i just said…”happy thanksgiving carie!” and this feeling came over me, quite strong and powerful – this feeling that this moment was full, and it held so much for the both of us. so many thoughts and emotions rushed through me. i thought of my family and all of the pictures of food and togetherness they have sent me already today, i thought of choosing to be with them or choosing to be in larche – and how difficult that is for me, i thought of carie and her life here…all 20+ years without “family” in the traditional sense of the word. i felt an overwhelming sense of honor, to be with carie on thanksgiving, and what a gift that was to my life. and i said to her…”i choose you, carie. i choose you.” to which she responded with her huge and beautiful grin and the intentional blinking of her eyes, which is her way of saying “yes.” here i sat with this beautiful woman who has taught me so much about trust and patience and forgiveness and gentleness and just “be-ing”. a woman who has never known family in the way that i have and still do. living with her now “family”…a lot of whom get to choose to leave and be with their own families for holidays such as this… and the ones she is in the company of when it’s all said and done are those who have chosen her. and all of the possible feelings of regret and “missing out” on time with my family that was happening across the nation as we sat…completely disappeared, and peace to be exactly where i was totally covered my entire being. what a gift to tell carie happy thanksgiving. what a gift to be able to choose carie. what a gift to be with her and to see her joy on this day, knowing that she is loved, and that she has been chosen.

i am so grateful.

life in anawim house.

November 18, 2011

“where the heck does allison live nowadays, and with whom?”
+ L’Arche Tahoma Hope – Anawim House.
+ E 45th street, tacoma, WA, to be exact.
+ aka “the city of destiny” and “the evergreen state.” where it is always green [and grey].
+ more specifically, i live in a larche community. in our community there are four homes…three of which are together in one location along with our main office and our farm, in the southernmost part of tacoma. i live in Anawim house, which is set apart by about 7 miles from main campus, and only about a mile from downtown tacoma. we sometimes refer to our house as “the island.” which presents opportunities and challenges.

Anawim stats:
– huge and old – 2 stories, 14ish bedrooms, and a full basement.
– it originally functioned as a convent in the olden days.
– it works well for the 9 of us who sleep here, 11 who live most days here, and all the others who stay over and stop through due to all of our extra bedrooms. it is sometimes referred to as “hotel anawim.”
– i live with five core members (three men and two ladies) and six live-in assistants. two of our assistants are long term so they actually “live out” and come in during the day. we have five female assistants and one male.
– all of the core members in our house are generally from the area, one is originally from hong kong. all of their families/guardians live closeby.
– the assistants in anawim hail from vermont, ohio, tacoma, canada, the philippines, and florida.

” ‘Anawim’… ‘L’Arche’… so what?”
“we are people with and without developmental disabilities, sharing life in communities, belonging to an international federation. mutual relationships and trust in god are at the heart of our journey together. we celebrate the unique value of every person and recognize our need of one another.”
“our mission is to make known the gifts of people with developmental disabilities, revealed through mutually transforming relationships; foster an environment in community that responds to the changing needs of its members, while being faithful to the core values of our founding story; and engage in our diverse cultures, working together toward a more human society.”

“but what do you really do every day?”
wash dishes. mop floors. go to meetings. get out of the house and have fun! (i.e. church, fro-yo, library, park, shopping, dr. appointments, you get the idea). fold towels & napkins. fold more towels & napkins. talk in metaphors. tie shoe laces. administer medications. have dinner guests. assist to shower/shave/brush/toilet. sing songs. say prayers. clean rooms. advocate. write daily logs. balance checkbooks and money ledgers. brush teeth. make appointments. sit on the couch. go to the bank. mend clothes. read books and watch movies. make breakfast, lunch, dinner – and eat it together. build relationship. recycle. make crafts. “create home.” empty trash. wipe counters. clean bathrooms. make tea. walk the block. swim. “check in” each morning. laugh, tease, joke. redirect. be present to one another. “gab gab gab” around the kitchen counter.

and other tidbits…
– it takes me a lot less time to run my cell phone battery out these days…because i don’t really have it with me or use it much for most of the day.
– im very in touch with my body. our bodies tell us a lot.  a lot of my day has to do with bodies. i’m around a lot of bodies. and a lot of people who don’t really care what you think of theirs…or what you think of what they do with it. we take our bodies with us everywhere. our bodies are aways changing and causing us trouble and frustration or making us laugh. bodies are smart. bodies are funny. bodies bodies bodies.
– bodily functions/waste/fluids don’t really phase me as they once did. everybody poops.
– my bedroom is my favorite place on the planet. i’m in it as much as i possibly can be in my scarce “away time.” i like to keep it super clean. it’s quite cozy, calm, me, and covered in photos. if ive taken one of you in the past couple years…your face is probably on my wall.

– random dance parties, animal noise competitions, maniacal laughter, “fluffing”, radios playing in multiple rooms, doors slamming, and nudity are a part of the everyday here.
– i live across the hall from my hilarious, intelligent, hard-working, sneaky, and extremely capable new friend. and she sometimes thinks she’s a cat. but not really. but sort of. ok, most of the time.
– there is an entire language in larche which you start to realize the longer you are in it. i’m starting to speak in larche. hopefully i can still relate to the outside world and be understood with this newfound lingo.
– mount rainier is my back yard. i mean…it’s about a 2-hour drive, but it doesn’t feel like it when you see it. when the sky is clear enough… i get to see it whenever i want. THAT is pretty wonderful.
– tacoma is a pretty great city with a lot to offer. lots of local flare and much value placed on supporting local. it’s growing on me. if only i had more time to go check it out. i do enjoy the farmer’s markets, art museums, parks, waterfront, and a couple of chill bars (especially “red hot,” which has vegetarian hot dogs! yum!). i look forward to frequenting more local coffee/tea places and the local indie film theaters.
– im officially a tacoma cyclist. “i bike tacoma” – just like my sticker says. i love it. i love my bike. i love the freedom to go wherever. i can get to the furthest parts of tacoma in under an hour. the location of our home is fairly central which i am thankful for. and thank goodness for rain pants. i have invested in a red blinky light, gloves, helmet, and u-lock. next on the must-have list for biking in the pac-NW: fenders. it is so stinking wet. and it will only get wetter.
– it is very rare that i eat a meal alone these days. i like that a lot.

we eat well here. i cook dinner once or twice a week for usually eight or more people. im really enjoying learning to be creative in the kitchen and how to cook for a lot of people. the other assistants i live with rotate cooking meals as well. we are getting the last of our beautiful and scrumptious CSA (community shared agriculture) from our larche farm where a bunch of the folks work. two people in our house are employed and/or volunteer there…pretty cool that most days, they get to eat food they saw from seed to harvest.  we also get eggs weekly from our chickens on the farm…whom we feed our food scraps to. it all comes full circle. i love that about our life together here.
– “house money manager” = me. i am responsible for the personal finances of 5 people. no big deal. aaaaaahhhhhh. it’s going quite well thus far. no huge mess-ups. it just takes time. i get a lot of satisfaction from things that make sense and balance out and always coming up with a solution or answer. i think im going to like being money manager. also, my introverted self gets to be alone in the office listening to pandora for a few hours a week. that’s a nice change of pace.
– “community council member” also = me. i am now a part of a group of eight folks who meet twice a month and talk about the bigger picture stuff of our life together as a community. i’m looking forward to being in the presence of these rad people regularly and playing a role in our bigger story together. 
– there are so many deeper parts to life in larche. learning about your own disabilities. learning gratefulness. learning to listen…to really really listen. learning about your needs and gifts and “growth areas.” one word: community. i feel that i am getting more settled into what the day to day looks like…and i hope to be more open to really see the deeper parts of what we’re living here. i see that i have so much to learn and so many areas to grow in…

the hardest part…
balance“…it is a myth. there is no such thing. especially in regard to life in larche.

a friend here told me today…”when you say ‘yes’ to larche, you say ‘no’ to a lot of other things. except you don’t really know that you’ve said ‘no’ to anything until you move in…”

im finding that this is true. life in larche demands a lot of each of us. for me, right now, it’s mostly time and presence (emotional, relational, etc.). so i am learning. and i am grieving the time and presence that it is taking from the other parts/people of my life – while still holding them [you] close and lovingly in my heart and my days and my story. one morning i was “checking in” with the long-term assistants i live with…trying to express how badly i want the people i care about to understand larche, and to understand my life in larche. they both laughed and reassured me that this is impossible. i can dream.

i am grateful to be here. i am surrounded by some really amazing people. i am challenged daily to love myself and to love others…regardless of our ability or disability – and to celebrate both in us all. i laugh a lot…a lot a lot a lot. we have a lot of fun. we are a family, with all of the joys and disfunction that go along with it. i have some really sweet, intentional, and caring friends here. many aspects of my geographic location and transition into life in larche are really challenging for me. im trying to not be so focused on “my future” and “what i want to be when i grow up”…and just be content and present where and with whom i am…trusting that it’s right and good and true for me for right now.

we’re all pretty strange creatures, you know?
some of us just hide it better than others.

our community leader once said…
“life in community will give you the opportunity to comfort, and to be made uncomfortable.”  

uuummm…yep. it’s doing that! 🙂

school of the heart.

April 29, 2011

this little piece of art has spoken deeply to my heart lately. in the area of life direction/aspiration…i’ve needed some heart-speaking-to.

it’s really difficult and hurtful to feel like a disappointment to people that you love. to feel like where you are or where you’re headed isn’t enough, isn’t beautiful, isn’t worthwhile, isn’t acceptable, even if for no other reason other than that it’s part of YOU and your journey.

my housemate and “soul sister” molly shared with me tonight while holding back tears: “when you’re at larche and when you’re talking about larche…i don’t see the hurt and struggle in the other parts of your life. there’s something about you that comes alive in a really beautiful way. and there’s NOTHING wrong with that.”

she said it. it is what it is. i don’t have a 401k. i don’t have savings. i don’t have a 5-year plan. i don’t have furniture. i don’t have a husband or a family of my own. i’m a $500 plane ticket away from most of the people i know and love. it’s grey and cold and depressing here. i make didly squat in the way of financial compensation. but despite its mystery and potentially illogical nature, there’s something about my life and it’s direction and it’s peace that just makes sense in my soul…even if it makes no sense at all to anyone else.

where i am and what i’m doing and why don’t make me an awesome person. i have plenty of selfish motivation for a lot of what i do in life. i’m not saving the world…and i’m not out to. im no saint in my own doing. i just ended up here and i’m trying to do what feels right in my spirit…even if it hurts and makes no sense. and i think i’m in a good place.

here…we love each other and eat each others cooking and say it was good. some days i get to cut folks hair, go see a movie,  shred paper, have a drink at starbucks, shop for food, make art together, make coffee together, eat meals together, walk around the mall, sing songs together, or lie on a blankets in the grass surrounded by empty wheelchairs. other days we have dance parties, go for walks, watch little house on the prairie and charlie brown and barney, bake bread together, have some great laughs in the bathroom, look ridiculous in public because it doesn’t really matter after all, yell and push and kick and scream cause we don’t get what we want, or we hold each other tightly and cry because our brains and bodies aren’t working like we want them to and it’s frustrating.

those things may not be impressive to the CEO of a major company. they may not land me any kind of great insurance. they may not make me very “marketable.” but they are invaluable to me. and they make sense to me. i’m presently a student at the school of the heart. and that is just fine with me. it is enough for me. i am enough.

“may we be set free from the tyranny of believing that we are what we do.” 


April 29, 2011

that’s how i feel since i’ve moved here. completely inundated with new information, people, ideas, experiences, and challenges. it is good. it is hard. it is a blessing. here’s a tip of the iceburg…

❤  community. it’s hard. you have to work at it. you will get from it what you put into it. openness is so crucial. you can’t ignore conflict or pretend that it doesn’t exist, that makes things miserable for everyone. you have to be very intentional about solitude and silence in community. it can be a very holistic way of living life. i value so much about life in community and hope to take much from this experience into the next season of life.
❤  faith. it looks different for everyone. you can’t put it in a box. there are so many unique and beautiful expressions of it. the power and grace of God are much bigger and more mysterious than i’ve always given him credit for. i think heaven is full of surprises.
❤  anxiety. “anxiety is God’s gift to you to say that what you’re putting your hope/faith in is not powerful…not enough…not working out…it’s not him.”
i’ve been doing a lot of learning and seeking as to what in my life brings me anxiety and why. my conclusion has been that when i feel out of control, i become anxious. (re: relationships, illness, future, situations, experiences, etc.) also, when my hope and confidence are rooted in temporary and worldly things instead of Christ, i will be let down, worry, and not be at peace. how do you find inner peace when everything around you seems to be chaotic and loud and out of control? i don’t have the answer. but i am sure seeking it.
“you keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”  isaiah 26:3
❤  mental illness/challenge. i don’t really know where to begin on this one…other than that i feel like i’ve learned a ton in the past seven months, yet i feel as though i know hardly anything about it. it is heartbreaking and beautiful. it’s a mystery…one that the more we research and learn about, we realize how little we understand it.
❤  presence. being fully present emotionally, mentally, spiritually is so important. it is the only way to truly experience people, moments, life. otherwise, you are cheating those you are with and whatever it is you are experiencing. if my thoughts are consumed by so-and-so in such and such place…or about august and what it holds…then i am virtually in those places/times with those people/things. and i am not HERE, NOW. i am learning that my presence in moments is a way to love and live more fully. I have a desire to be everywhere with everyone at all times. this is not possible. i am one person. i can not do it all. i can not be all things to all people. i am not called to be.
❤  larche. it has taught me so much. and i believe it has so much more to teach me. it is my community of friends. i miss them when i am not with them. they bring me life in beautiful ways.
❤  long-distance relationships. these are very hard to maintain. you have to be really really intentional. i fail a lot. i miss a lot of people. thankfully, i have the opportunity to talk to and see loved ones a lot. (thank you, skype)
❤  grace. “the grace of God means something like: here is your life. you might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. here is the world. beautiful and terrible things will happen. don’t be afraid. i am with you.” – frederick buechner
grace is where freedom lies. in a society where you have to work for everything that you get…earn and measure up and prove…grace is a foreign concept. i am no exception to the difficulty in understanding this beautiful gift. grace has been given to me, and it is mine forever. i didn’t and don’t deserve it, but it’s mine. i don’t have to work for it. i don’t have to work for it. i don’t have to work for it. his mercies are new every morning. i am free from guilt.
“may we be set free from the tyranny of believing that we are what we do…”
❤  identity. this one is huge for me lately. i’ve been learning so much about identity. who/what i identify with and why. what that says about God, allison, and how i think of and love people and this world. identity is so important.
❤  vocation. [call]  [direction]  [force of attraction]
“there are things you do because they feel right and they make no sense and they make no money and it may be the real reason why we are here: to love each other and to eat each others cooking and say it was good.” – brian andreas
the ideas encompassed in this saying have weighed heavy on me this year. i am very far away from all of my family and the friends i have had previous to this season. yet, i believe i am where i’m supposed to be.

about the northwest…
it’s wet here. all the time. you can’t just sit in the grass at a park…even if it hasn’t rained in a couple of days, it will still be wet. moss grows on everything…houses, sidewalks, trees, cars if you leave them for too long…you name it, green, spongy moss probably grows on it.
people here don’t generally assume you are a certain way or believe certain things. and you can’t assume anyone else is…there is quite the array of people in these parts as compared to the good ol’ bible belt.  most people are quite open to the possibilities of you, who you are, what you hold inside, and what you believe.
everyone here recycles. EVERYONE. it’s really great. also there is an opportunity to recycle at most public places. and a lot of disposable materials are made recyclable or compostable.
i go on walks to meet up with friends. lots of people here go on walks.
there are a lot of parks. lots of trees. lots of tall trees…tons of evergreens.
it’s generally grey here. supposedly as of a week ago we had had 6 days of sunshine in the past 150. it’s still regularly in the low 40’s all day. it doesn’t generally rain very hard here…just a often. we don’t have thunder and lightening storms. it’s just grey. grey grey grey.
there’s a really cool sense of the importance of community here.
people here don’t really have accents…and they notice when you have one.
the outdoors are very important to a lot of people here. everyone has outdoor hobbies and whenever there is a nice day…EVERYONE is outside. i love it.
most days i can’t see rainier…even though it’s so close that on a clear day i can see it from my bedroom window. however, most days you can catch a glimpse of the smaller cascades. that’s pretty amazing thing to be a part of my daily routine.
it’s no florida…but it has its charm. 🙂


January 8, 2011

so i worked at this beautiful place in the southeastern woods for five years right. it was more than great. i loved being there. before i actually lived there…it was this feeling of coming home every time i pulled in the drive. i went to a staff reunion there one year over christmas break and my roommate at the time thought it was very strange that i would drive all the way to tennessee from florida just to be at this place with these people for a couple of days. then she worked there for a summer. and then she understood. and then she went to the reunions. it was just that kind of place. the kind of place with the kind of people that you are a part of once…and then you just always go back. you can’t help it, and you can’t explain it to people. it’s home. and it’s part of you.

currently i work at this place in a northwestern city…and it’s really beautiful. i realized this week that lots of people are always coming back…i think that’s a good sign.

so larche (where i work now) is this amazing place with a lot of really amazing people. really amazing. it’s a place where people of all gifts and difficulties – the seemingly strong and the seemingly weak – do life together. each strong and each weak in their own ways. each bringing their own strengths and challenges to the table, meeting there, and breaking bread. going shopping, changing briefs, dancing, listening, watching barney, taking our vitamins and medications, eating meals, laughing, sitting, playing, doing laundry, holding hands, holding each other, getting mochas, having tickle fights and playing thumb war. people doing life with people. it’s that simple. and did i mention that it’s really beautiful?

some of us struggle with selfishness and pride. some with behavior and walking. some of us talk too much and some of us wish we could speak. some struggle with putting our clothes on, overeating, toileting, yelling, motor skills, remembering, eating our food, wetting the bed, bathing ourselves, saying our prayers, and getting from point a to point b. and then there are others who have a really hard time with practicing gratefulness, kindness, giving of ourselves, being fair, patience, understanding, openness, child-like joy and faith, dancing skills, trust, peace, and knowing how to have fun.

the folks in our community are skilled in compassion, empathy, patience, love, comedy, grace, service, love for life, theatrics, passion, joy, fun, care, laughter, art, intention, hard work, prayer, adventure, sillyness, hope, perspective, and forgiveness.

see…we need each other.

ya know those moments in life that happen…and when you’re in it you feel really alive and like it belongs in a movie, and you just want to capture it and save it forever and replay it over and over again because it was so special? i have moments like that every day at larche. little glimpses of beauty and grace and love that are so precious and picture perfect that they can’t be repeated or explained…only lived, remembered, and cherished. i feel very blessed by this. lately i feel…that i don’t know what i did to deserve to meet these people, do life with them, spend time with them, and laugh and cry and play and eat and work and dance and struggle and joy with them…but i get to. it’s really beautiful, and i am overwhelmed with gratefulness.

i love what i get to do. i love this place. i love these people. i am very thankful.


today i rode a bike.

November 14, 2010

and it felt real good. even when the rain started to fall on me.

– i cut my hair today. hopefully it was a success. my hair is shorter anyway.
– i made a sweet new friend. i’m really thankful for her.
– get to see my new niece in 5 weeks. along with the rest of my family. what a lovely week that will beeeee.
– running is happening again. running needs to happen. running is challenging alone, in the rain and cold. running will continue…
– it’s a beautiful thing to be known deeply by someone. and to have them in your presence…even more beautiful. i miss that.
– love is crazy.
– i miss college and all those peeps.
– future possibilities are endless.
– today is all we’ve got.
– life overwhelms me very easily. i wish it would stop doing that.
– went to a conference all day today on human trafficking. i am re-inspired and encouraged and challenged to continue to pursue however/wherever it is that God created me to fit into this crazy world.
– also i met a bunch of franciscan nuns and plan to be their new best friend. hang-outs with the sisters to commence soon… these ladies kick butt.
– everything is spiritual.
– journaling = really good.
– a sweet sweet family at Soma (church) has somewhat adopted me and i couldn’t be more excited or grateful!
– beer pong is not my idea of fun.
– i am an old woman and everyone knows it.
– watch out for thrift stores on veterans day…they like to have 1/2-off sales.
– 1st thanksgiving away from family/deland…comin’ right up. it makes me sad to think about…but i am excited to do it up with the mandela house kids.

some things i’m realizing more and more every day…
1) i’m really blessed. like really really blessed. a lot of people care for me and show that care in beautiful and thoughtful ways. sometimes i just sit and think of the people in my life…and their kindness…and it just baffles me as to why  God chooses to bless me so.
2) i am an alien in a strange land. i don’t fit in…and i shouldn’t. if i am a child of God, then this world is not my home, and it shouldn’t feel like it. that’s tough. but really beautiful, and super rad to know that this isn’t IT!
3) a life lived for Christ should look radical. it should be radical. it should pose challenges. it shouldn’t be easy. his life wasn’t. and if it is…if i’m real comfortable…then i should probably mix things up a bit, sacrifice more, listen more, think of myself less, and get a little more uncomfortable.

on community…sustainability…etc…
i have failed miserably thus far it seems. or so it feels, anyway. after fall retreat last weekend in the beautiful hills of oregon, i am realizing the potential this year has, and how easy it would be to let it pass me by without challenging myself, working hard, and getting vulnerable (among other things). so here’s to trying harder and being more intentional!

we did have fall retreat. it was a rejuvinating time for my soul to be in the woods for 5 days. i really miss the woods. the job has had it’s ups and downs…it’s been a challenging time, but i can’t get over the Father’s faithfulness in my life. his plan is flawless and so above me. i mean, the dude hung the stars for goodness sake. things aren’t only going to be ok, they’re going to be great! and he’s revealing that to my eyes and my heart.

on blogging…
hopefully i’ll get better at it… 🙂 ❤

it’s community.

October 16, 2010

it’s new to me. it’s giving up pieces of myself. it’s a really beautiful way to live. it’s not always easy.

it’s taking others into consideration a lot. it’s not turning the lights on to get ready in the morning. it’s a family. it’s wearing earplugs in order to sleep. it’s laughter and it’s frustrations. it’s treating your grocery money like it’s someone else’s money…because it is. it’s playing your music quietly. it’s being a part of the bigger body. it’s sacrifice. it’s cooking for more than one. it’s openness, acceptance. it’s dying to self. it’s living by example. it takes time. it’s intentional. it’s doing dishes that aren’t yours…and with a joyful spirit. it goes against the norm. yet, it’s very organic, sustainable and seemingly natural. it’s “us”, instead of “me.” it’s support. it’s leaving the last cookie. it’s sanctification. it’s not always what we choose. it’s a lot of sharing. it will look like the energy you put into it. it’s learning grace. it’s beautiful and it can be ugly. it’s ups and it’s downs. it’s opportunity and connections. it’s differences…and embracing them. it’s boiling more than enough water and making more than enough rice. it’s communication, in all its various forms. it’s patience. it’s a really neat way to experience life. it takes our eyes off of self. it’s a process. it is good. it is an opportunity. it is a blessing.