Quiet Moments in the Crazy, Busy, Goodness of a Life Being Lived as an Adventure

I can finally breathe.

I’m sitting in a coffee shop in the student neighbourhood beside campus, drinking tea, listening to the classic coffee shop music and enjoying watching the people come and go.

Today is the first day since the middle of August that I have nothing I absolutely have to do. No commitments and no responsibilities. Yes, I should study. And yes, if my residents ask me a question I’m going to answer it because that’s just me. Yes I could prep for my interviews next week or I could finally get around to balancing my budget for a trip I led or I could do the research I haven’t had time to do for my volunteer project. But honestly I’m going to take full advantage of this unexpected time off.

Let’s be real, if you know me, you probably know that I would never have planned a “nothing day”. I absolutely thrive when I am busy and productive and surrounded by friends and adventure. And so, that’s what I planned for this weekend. I planned my third Outdoor’s Club trip in three weeks. I planned to take 10 people to the Adirondack mountains in New York state, my first time to go there. I spent three weeks planning logistics and signing people up and running around collecting gear and making sure everything was ready to go and I packed my bag, ignoring the fact that I was tired and my weekends off were meant to be restful, not stressful.

See I’m not that good at saying “no”. And apparently I’m not that good at listening when God is trying to tell me to “stop”.

Let me tell you all the things that went wrong while I was planning this trip:
– People didn’t show up to sign up and we spent days running all over campus to collect money
– A driver dropped out
– Then we found another driver
– Another driver dropped out
– Then we convinced another exec member to come and be a driver
– Then we realized no one had sleeping bags or tents and all the club ones had been rented out
– So we spent the day before the trip running all over the neighbourhood, posting on Facebook and tracking down as many sleeping bags and tents as possible.
– Then we couldn’t find the stove we were planning to take
– Finally at 10:30am the DAY OF THE TRIP – a driver cancelled because they were sick. After everything else, I almost wasn’t even surprised.

So, I took one for the team and I didn’t go. We managed to squeeze everyone else into the remaining two cars and I stayed home, after three weeks of thinking, planning and preparing for the trip. I was really sad but after running through all the options, this was the only one that really made sense. I’m not looking for praise for sacrificing my trip for everyone else to be able to go (which is what I’ve gotten from a lot of friends) because honestly, it just reminded me of all the things I’ve learned about being a leader over the years. A leader puts the team before themselves – I wasn’t necessary to the trip and I didn’t HAVE TO go. There are two other leaders still there and I was the least necessary to the well-being of the trip because I didn’t have experience in the location. And as the president of the Outdoors Club, I put in so many hours of organization to allow other people to experience the wonder and transformation I’ve always felt outdoors. I didn’t want to take this experience away from anyone else and so it made sense for me to give up my adventure so others could have theirs. That’s what a leader does sometimes.

So here I am.

And last night and today as I was getting ready for my unexpected day off, I reminded myself that everything happens for a reason, that God the Father knows what I need long before I do. Although I thought what I needed was a day in the cold mountain air, a day spent pushing my body to it’s limits and climbing and doing something new, God had other plans. I have to continuously remind myself that when you surrender your life to God, you surrender the right to be angry when plans change. A long time ago I surrendered having total control over my life and I asked God to led me down the paths that are the BEST for me. Not just good or better but BEST.

Trust me, I thought the mountains were a good path. I still think it would have been a great weekend. But I can see God’s hand in this. If I truly believe that God knows me better than I know myself AND that He cares for me and gives good gifts (I do believe that), then I also have to trust when He changes plans on me. That belief also means trying my best to take changed plans with a positive attitude and an open heart to learn from whatever situation I find myself in. I think it wasn’t so much the mountain adventure that wasn’t God’s best for me – it was the constantly being responsible for others that I needed a break from. I didn’t even realize it before now but I think I needed a weekend to be just Sam. Not a CA, not a leader, not a student, not a friend or anything else. Just me.

I’m taking this “weekend off” as I nudge from God that I need to slow down. That I need to remember to do simple things, to have Sabbath times in my life, whether or not that ends up being a Sunday morning. I need to be taking time to breathe.

Today I am drinking coffee and taking time to blog. I’m going to go finish my book in the park and I’m going to go to the mall and buy new jeans. I might do some readings for class but only if I feel like it. I’m going to go for a long walk and listen to worship music and maybe see some friends. And tomorrow I’m going to go to church which I haven’t done in weeks because it’s been a month since I’ve been in Ottawa on a Sunday.

And come Monday, I’ll be back to my crazy life; don’t get me wrong, I love it. This semester is full of light and life and goodness and excitement. I’m actually really thriving in the busy, crazy goodness of it all. For the first time in a long time this season feels like I am exactly where I need to be. I feel like I am doing the Sam things and that God is preparing me to springboard into even more exciting seasons. I’m truly so so happy. I’m taking six classes in three languages and I’m in my favourite residence with amazing first years, I’m running a club that I love and am so passionate about and I’m volunteering with a food security project at the university. I’m applying for coop jobs and spending time with people who I am incredibly blessed to have in my life. I’m spending lots of time outside and lots of time with Jesus and my heart feels happy and full.

I just need to remember that it’s ok to take a break from the chaos, EVEN WHEN the chaos is GOOD. Life is crazy and busy and above all full of goodness and sweet, simple gifts from God. I just need to remember that it’s ok to say “I can’t sorry. I just need to go have a coffee and be Sam.”

Thank you Jesus for knowing what I need long before I do. I’m so blessed.

 

Planes, Trains and Automobiles…and Buses…and Subways

Hey friends! How’s life?

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The girl who lives next to me in residence mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I always greet people with “friends” and since then I’ve been very aware that that is almost become a catch phrase of mine. But really, I do it because I mean it. I love all the human beings I know, with their little quirks and personalities and I consider everyone to be my friend. Including you dear readers! Anyway, that was a side bar. Sorry for being distracted.

Speaking of being distracted, it’s been close to a month since my last post! Where oh where does the time go? Even now, I really should be doing my economics project or studying for my history midterm but hey, we all need study breaks sometimes. And at least blogging is “productive procrastination”. Life is just busy!
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Since I last wrote, I’ve been on two “adventures” that included actually leaving city boundaries. One was a weekend trip to Quebec City to experience Carnevale and the sweet charm of Old Town. I’d been before and seriously loved it and it didn’t fail to meet my memories expectations. We explored, we ate, we shopped, we drank Cariboo (the signature drink) and visited the ice palace, we tried “tire d’erable” and danced in the snow and went to a nightclub. We made new friends and spoke lots of “Franglish”. It was so much fun. I almost didn’t go because I didn’t really have the time or the money but I am so glad that I did. (My pictures here just didn’t want to upload…imagination ooooh, ahhhh, poutine, pretty buildings.) UPDATE: pictures are here now!

 

Secondly, I just came home from a week in the Dominican Republic! Although I was sassily told this week that by a friend that he “got more tan staying in Ottawa” than I did by going away, it was really relaxing and nice to spend time with my family (Mom, sister, aunts and family friends). I just lay on the beach and read and napped and played in the waves all week long. And, was sorely disappointed by the dismal Spanish skills…I seriously need to brush up! (In all my spare time right?) One day we left the resort and toured through the city of Purto Plata. My favourite part was when we took a cable car up one the highest mountains in the country. It was so beautiful! Ya’ll know I got a thing for mountains. There was a national park at the top and I dragged Mal up and down several winding forest paths to see the lagoon and visit a cave.

Honestly, it just felt good to have a change of scenery. I get so antsy staying in one place for too long and this was the first time I had been on a plane since coming home from my exchange, almost 2 years ago exactly. As the title suggests, I took just about every form of transportation possible to get from Ottawa to Toronto to Porta Plata and back but I loved it. I love airports and train stations. I love how everyone is basically trapped together in this little building. And then, as if someone dropped and shattered a glass, we go flying to every corner of the globe, sending friends, family, strangers…everyday to new places. All kinds of people can be there all at once, for all different purposes. Are they scared, excited? Where are they going? Is someone meeting them on the other side? I don’t know, it just makes me think and want to people watch. Airports have a lot of potential and they make me happy 🙂

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That’s all for now, just a little update post. Kind of random and a little messy but that’s ok with me. I hope it’s okay with you too. Best of luck to those of you with me in the midterm grind. We got this! Smile today. Put on some happy music and do a little jig in your room or your car or right outside on the street. You’re alive! You’re alive and today, today is a good day to be human.

-Until next time, Sam

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P.S. Oh wow! I almost forgot. If I’m doing a life update, I have to include my two new volunteer assignments! I’ve started both of them now.

Foot Patrol. Basically, this is a service at my school that runs weekdays from 8pm-2am that offers walks to people who don’t want to walk at night alone. I go on Mondays from 8-11 and myself, along with a partner are able to walk people home so they feel safe, or just have some company. I love to walk and I love to talk, so basically, it’s the best thing ever.

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Sage Youth. This is a literacy organization that I am SO excited to be working with. Although it has programs all over the city, the one that I am currently helping with is with the Syrian refugee children that have recently arrived in Canada. Once a week, I go and help teach English to kids, many of whom have never spoken the language before. I went for the first time today and it was so chaotic but so fun. They are eager to learn and so polite and all of them want “teacher” to hear them read over everyone else haha. Some of them are just learning the alphabet. Anyway, I’m looking forward to next week.

That’s all, just thought I’d share how I’ve been trying to get involved. It feels good.