Dramatic Changes!

 

These pictures were taken on a  hike in October 2015.  The sky is blue, the scenery is beautiful and I am in China – Miyun to be exact, just north east of Beijing.

After years of “talking about it” and lots of time spent loving my two grand-daughters, I left my home of 28 years and my homeland of 56 years and came to China to teach English.    I know many people didn’t believe I would ever leave my family behind, especially as grand baby #3 was due to arrive in October, but the end of August saw me bidding farewell to my daughter, son-in-law and three precious little people, knowing it would be a long time before I could hug the newest little fellow.

Although I had planned to combine my three blogs into this one blog, that hasn’t materialized.  My health journey, which has drastically changed since leaving Canada, will be recorded at One Year, One Week, One Pound .

Here I will try to share with you some of the things I am learning about money and money management as I live outside of our country.  I haven’t thought much about taxes, but I’m sure some will have to be paid.  There are also other considerations that I hadn’t thought of, but may be helpful to others considering the “ex-pat” scene for a season of life.

In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful 2016, God’s richest blessing, and joy on the journey!

 

 

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2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Life Changing!

I haven’t blogged in quite a while and I am surprised that people still visit this space that seems to change as I change.  And right now I am in the midst of a very big change.  Not sure how it’s going to work with my life goals at the moment – I’m eating crazy, I’ve resigned from both my jobs (with a bit of a life-line to both of them, but still…) and some moments I think I’m going crazy.

drowning in life This image floated across my FB feed this morning and I so needed to be reminded of this truth.  I’ve used the analogy with a few of my friends – that I am getting ready to climb out of the boat.  Yes, I still have the potential to come back to the jobs I am leaving behind, but I am also applying for jobs in countries that I have no experience with – places like Turkey, China, Korea and just lately Saskatoon.

I’ve decided that since this is a journey that other 50 something women might consider embarking on and maybe some who are younger and not women, I would chronicle the experience instead of just sitting on it and internalizing it.  Life is meant to be shared and this is one way of doing it.  Of course, I may be going about this all the wrong way – but I don’t have a road to follow in this.  If I make a wrong step, I can share it and  help someone else from making the same misstep on their adventures!

Have a great day!

Marcia

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Babette’s Feast – Finally

I’ve made three Babette blankets of various sizes – and I’m working on the final panel of a fourth – but last night I was finally able to watch the movie.  I remember it being recommended to me many years ago – possibly more than 10 years ago even – but getting the movie from the library and actually having time to watch it?  That combination has been long in coming.  And of course it goes off the radar for a while and then comes back on.

However, I have at last been able to sit and enjoy the movie – while at the same time enjoying my own feast of sorts – sushi, red globe grapes and chocolate mint ice cream.  Quite delicious, but certainly not what the villagers enjoyed!
So, was it worth the wait?  Were there lessons to be learned from this movie?  I certainly think so!

babette 2

First of all, good things – really good things – take work, time, resources (in this case a lot of money) and patient practice.  Babette was an amazing cook who worked from the view that cooking was not just something to do, but something to do well.  She saw it as ART, not housework.  Yesterday my daughter made an omelette and she added a sprig of kale and a mushroom to the middle to make it look nice for the picture.  That’s the extra  mile that makes the mundane beautiful.  That is all over not just this meal, but every meal that Babette cooks.

 

 

Secondly –  you may have to go away to find the ingredients that make up the ART that is your life.  I’m reminded of the woman in Proverbs 31 who scours the market place.  My Pinterest board is evidence of my scouring and searching for things of beauty that may possibly add joy to my life!

babette 1

And because a good essay or sermon always has three points, I need to make one too.  While Babette was busy in the kitchen, paying attention to all these details, making everything “just right”  her guests had no clue as to what they were being offered.  Thank goodness the General came to help them discover the truth.

The people of that village had chosen to close their minds and to deny the sensation of taste that was offered them.  They deliberately turned the conversation towards the mundane, rather than fully enjoy the good things that Babette had prepared.  This is, I think, the point of the story.  I can choose, deliberately and completely, to ignore the abundance of good things that God in His grace has provided for me.  By pre-judging, I deny myself the possibility of a good friend, a new turn of thought and an opportunity to grow and learn.  I deny myself a fuller, broader, more experienced life.

 

 

All of my Babette blankets have been made with “stash” yarn – the stuff I have on hand.  I wonder, what it would be like if I deliberately sought out the colours that make my heart sing and one day, made a blanket that is truly a “Babette” feast for the eyes and the body.

Please take this post as an encouragement to enjoy this film.

Marcia

(Still learning to fully live!)

 

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Finishing UP!

Earlier this year – or maybe it was in December, I reflected on the clutter in my life – mental and physical.  There is too much wool in my cupboards and too many projects that need to be finished.

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Happily, I can report that two projects were completed this month.  One was the Morrocan Circles afghan for my dad.  I just got the card today and plan to mail it to him this weekend.  So excited!

 


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These pictures aren’t the greatest, but I have to say that I am so very happy with it.  It speaks to me of the many winter evenings my dad spent plowing snow, and the many flowers he planted to brighten people’s days.  (This afghan is designed by by Kimberly K. McAlindin and you can find it in a book called Unexpected Afghans)

The second project on my UFO (Unfinished objects) list was an afghan that I had made in the past.

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“Canadian Living” calls it ‘Another Colourful Blanket‘ and I’ve provided the link to it.  It’s a pretty easy project, but I had some yarn issues that kept me from finishing it.  Finally I eliminated the last round of each square, giving me enough to finish two each of the green and orange squares.  I learned a new technique for joining the squares which added some size back into the blanket and it’s just waiting to be delivered to the folks at Neighbourlink.

I took this picture to show just how little yarn I had left and how little I had left to do.  It was just a tad stressful to be so close to the finish line, and then run out of yarn.  First I prayed, remembering the story of Elijah and the widow woman whose pot of oil and sack of grain never ran out.  I figured God could make the yarn stretch.  But then I thought – I’m not living in a time of famine like Elijah.  I can just go to my favourite yarn shop and buy another ball of yarn!  I just kept working.

Even as I was contemplating how to rework the border (my plan was to change the double crochets to half doubles – a lot of work but I was sure I would have enough to get completely around) suddenly I was at the end and there was more than enough – almost half a yard or so.   I wonder if God was chuckling when I finished.

As I type this little story, I wonder if there isn’t a bigger lesson for me.  How often do I fail to start something, finish something, or do something, simply because I’m worried that there won’t be enough?  This project was always waiting for me to resolve the issue and even when there wasn’t enough to do it the way the pattern read, there was enough to make a pretty nice blanket to wrap a baby in.

Well, this isn’t the end of the story as I still have some projects that need finishing in my box.  One at a time.  I still have an essay to write this week and that has a due date!

Have a great day and I hope my pictures inspire your creativity!

Marcia

 

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“There’s no Win in Comparison”

My church, Hope for Life, here in Calgary is listening to a series of sermons by Andy Stanley.  The theme of these talks is comparison.  And I have to say that I do a lot ofimages (1) this.  When I think back on thoughts I had as I compared my single, single parenting, under the poverty line, overweight, house-cleaning, home-schooling, “survival-jobbing” life to those of others, I always felt “less than” .

emma

This is not to say that my life was awful – because it wasn’t.  It was great (for the most part – as most everyone’s life is) and we had lots of fun.  Looking back on it, there’s not much I’d change – except the envy part.  That I do regret.  I know that when envy creeps into my relationships, they don’t thrive.  They falter.  And I’ve been blessed with many special friends,  that have enriched my life in so many ways.

What I’m learning now, and trying to practice daily – is the art of looking in at myself and UP to my heavenly Abba who simply loves me. And has a plan for my life that isn’t the plan He has for anyone else.  Envy and comparsion lead me down the path of discouragement, when I so want to be encouraged and to encourage others.  I also want to move forward in my life, instead of hanging back because I might not be good enough.images

That’s where God is speaking to me just now, and maybe someone else is feeling the same way.  So here’s a link to “The Comparison Trap” and I hope it helps.  (I”ll also need it for future reference when I stumble into old thinking.

His mercies are new every morning, afternoon and evening – every moment of my day.

Marcia

 

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Partying “Inside the Lines”

halvahLast week I wrote about the party tithe and how I was going to take 10% of my net income and use it for whatever would give me pleasure.  As it turned out, there wasn’t much that I wanted to spend my cash on.  Suddenly the muffins I’d been buying quite regularly – with debit, credit or gift cards – lost their appeal.  It was kind of weird.  I’d walk by the Local Roast, look at what was on offer and walk on.  The only thing that I ended up buying all week was a bar of Halvah.

I like halvah and it’s relatively good for you with all those sesame seeds, but I am trying to remember that too much of a good thing is not good.  So I only buy this at my local Planet Organic store – and only when I need to get things there.  (This week Kefir starter was the draw!) .  I have to say that I really enjoyed it – but I know that’s because it’s not something I buy every day.

So, what happens to the leftovers of the party tithe?  In the Bible, the party tithe was used only once a year.  I’ve opted to keep the change in my wallet and I put the bills in my suitcase.  That way I’ll have some “party money” for my next trip, which is coming up in April!

Part Two: (January 17, 2013)

I wrote this post last week, just before a huge paycheck which included a great many holiday hours.  Let me tell you, its been a while since I had a paycheque over a $1000.  Because I have two jobs, I do have the luxury of  getting something in my bank account every week.  This week that second paycheque was very small because I didn’t work over the Christmas break.  Still, I am able to give, save and celebrate!  For example, this week I matched the amount I put into my “Savings Game” account.  The “party money”  is only $24 this week, but since I haven’t been spending most of it anyways, this is not a big deal.  It’s nice to be saving some of it to enjoy later when I visit my family!

All I can say just now is that I am enjoying this financial discipline.  And I’m enjoying the benefits of being debt-free and able to do the things I really want to do.

If  you have debt issues, here’s the system that helped me: Dave Ramsey’s Snowball  I’ve also read and re-read his book, The Total Money Makeover which helped me create an emergency fund and continues to encourage me day to day.

What I’m learning now is to “party inside the lines” – using the 10% figure in cash to help me.  It’s easy to go way outside the lines with lattes, smoothies from Jugo Juice and snacks here and there when they go on a debit card or plastic.  This way I know where I am and what I want to spend it on!

Have a great day!

Marcia

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