I Love Where I Live-Part I

childhood-

Sometimes I remember other places where I used to live and I sigh with nostalgia. When you’ve been everywhere it’s hard to settle somewhere. I regularly battle postal code envy.

This morning as I was getting ready for the day I smiled. I have a good life. There’s so much about living here that I love. It struck me that I should make a note about those things when days are sunny. What would it look like to think about the things I love about where I live? It seems like such a tangible way to live here and now.

I was talking these things over with Lowell. He remembered something he had recently read in Sacred Fire by Ronald Rolheiser. Rolheiser lists ten indicators of spiritual maturity. I was fascinated when Lowell said that the first one on the list is Live in gratitude and thank your Creator by enjoying your life. He goes on to say:

As well, our gratitude is meant to carry something else: enjoyment of the gift that is given to us. The highest compliment we can give a gift giver is to enjoy the gift thoroughly. We owe it to our Creator to appreciate things, to be as happy as we can be. Life is meant to be more than a test, and so we might add this to our daily prayer: give us today our daily bread, and help us to enjoy it without guilt.

I’ve invited others into the joy of discovering what we love about the places we live. I wrote several friends who grew up somewhere but now live somewhere else. I asked them to tell me the top six reasons they love where they live. The responses were so full of joy (and so plentiful…this has become a mini-series)! My friends took pleasure in thinking about their corner of the globe—they seemed to delight to tell me what they enjoy most about where they’ve been placed.

We live here on purpose. There are other places we could live, or even have lived—but this is the place we are now. And we owe it to our Creator to live in gratitude, to be as happy as we can be.

Robynn Bliss

I grew up in Pakistan.
I live now in Manhattan, Kansas.

  1. I love Radinas –our local coffee shop! It brings me joy that the morning baristas there know my drink of choice: single extra hot latte with half the regular vanilla syrup!
  2. I love the sense of community that thrives in this small city. I appreciate that people are friendly. They smile and nod their heads at me when I pass.
  3. Kansas has these wide-open skies and expansive horizons—I love that! It speaks to me of eternity and glory.
  4. I’m so grateful for USD383 (our school district) and the opportunities my kids have here. I’ve watched with pride as they’ve each tried their hands at pottery, school plays, sports.
  5. I love the Flint hills and the Konza prairie—unusual elements of creation right outside our back door!
  6. It fascinates me that we get to experience all four seasons when they come to visit –which is often—sometimes all in one week. There’s a reason most Kansans are fixated on the weather. They get a lot of it!

Karis N

I grew up in India, England and America.
I now live in England.

  1. I love that I live at home in my room and that it’s somewhere where I know I don’t have to leave in 6 months time.
    2. I love that I have an easy commute to work and that my colleagues are awesome.
    3. I love that I have a really solid core group of friends here and that doing life with them is a privilege and a joy.
    4. I love the fact that it doesn’t snow here.
    5. I love that public transport runs effectively here.
    6. I have 2 churches I go to here and both are family and that is a rare and special thing to have.

The list could go on!
I love the post script that Karis added: I call 2015 the year I learned to be content. Because I spent January-March itching to get back to America. Then I spent March to June being content where I was but still wanting to go back to America. And then I spent June-October wondering if I even should go back to America. And then I spent October-December telling people that it’s final and I’m back in England indefinitely.

Jill B

I grew up in Southern New Mexico and El Paso, Texas.
I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Six things I love about Albuquerque:

  1. Amazing sunsets
  2. Green chile
  3. 360 days of sunshine per year
  4. Seeing all the stars from our roof
  5. A mix of people: Hispanic, Native American, and more
  6. Wide open spaces with mountains
  7. And green chile—yes it’s that good to mention twice!
  8. And wait…coconut margaritas but need Robynn here to fully enjoy!!

 

Leaf R
I grew up in Holland, Australia, and India.
I live in Northern Thailand.

1. The sky is spectacular every day. It can be filled with every type of cloud, or golden light and in the ‘Green Season’ when it rains and rains, it is filled with rainbows.
2. My spiritual community at the moment is full of people who appreciate and love beauty. Everyone works together to bring more and more beauty to our little Christ-Centred Meditation Space. Often we will be sitting together in a circle and someone will get up and move something slightly or light a candle so that the space is more pleasing to be in.
3. The little town where I live, Pai, is a hub of musicians and poets. Artistic freedom abounds and there is a lot of sweetness and support as well.
4. I love going to the local market on Wednesdays when all of the Hill Tribe people come down from their villages and do a big shop for supplies. Everywhere I look is a potential postcard picture.
5. The place where I live is safe. My son can ride his bike all over and I can imagine a future where my daughter will be treated respectfully. I am so thankful for this.
6. There are still enough challenges to facilitate spiritual growth. I know that God is still working in me and that this chapter of life is a gift and that somehow (in ways I do not fully understand), these are the conditions that are needed to make me more like Christ and to help me understand His love more…if I will allow Him to do His thing.

What do you love about where you live? 

How to Find Joy in 2015 – Especially for the Third Culture Individual

Hunting joy

How to Find Joy in 2015An Amateur Joy Hunter’s Guide for the Restless, for Those Longing for Adventure or for the Third Culture Individual by Robynn. Follow Robynn on Twitter here.

I have to admit that for the first time in my middle-aged life I stood on the threshold of this new year with trepidation and anxiety. I felt nervous. We entered 2014 so naively. That naivety was unfounded and ridiculous. It taunts me now. What might happen in 2015? What plot twists? What challenges? Who might move? Who might die suddenly? What betrayals and emotional terrorists might cross my path? On New Year’s eve I could feel the anxiety well up like bile in the back of my throat.

January and I have never really gotten along. I’m usually tired and a little worn thin by the time the month begins. The grey skies and cold temperatures do little to warm me to her. It’s hard for me to see past the gloomies and the glumsters. It’s hard for me to find joy.

This afternoon I sketched out a plan. I’m going on a hunt for joy. I’m determined to try. Here’s what I’m working with:

  1. Cook “foreign” food. Perhaps it’s a dish you recognize from another place you used to live. Maybe it’s entrée completely strange to you too…but you know someone somewhere calls this comfort food. Try it out! Of course this involves tracking down interesting ingredients from tiny little aisles in odd little shops. You’ll likely meet interesting people who can help you properly pronounce the words on the bottles in front of you! The smells will spark memories (or if all else fails, make memories for the others in your house!). The tastes will stimulate conversation. And along the way you’ll happen upon some joy.
  2. Watch a foreign film—preferably one with subtitles! Make yourself a cup of hot chocolate. Snuggle up in a blanket. Enter into these foreign spaces and let your imagination run wild! Different countries produce different values and those different values are reflected in different styles of cinema. Without the hassle of packing and stress of updating your passport you can suddenly find yourself in a new and wonderful place with friends who speak with a different rhythm and tone. It’s not as dynamic as true travel but it does leave you feeling, for a little bit, that you’ve been somewhere else. (Here’s a place to start: http://www.indiewire.com/article/the-best-foreign-language-films-of-2014-according-to-criticwire-20141022)
  3. Planes, Trains and Automobiles Your Way—Remember a crazy trip you made in a strange place. Phone someone that was with you then: a sibling or a parent or a friend. Recall all the unbelievable details, the missed connections, the armed guards, the cow on the railroad tracks, how you got to the airport five hours before your flight. Remember out loud together. And laugh. Laugh long and laugh hard.
  4. Live now. Are there cultures close at hand that you might cross? Are there sub-cultures you suspect that you might bravely enter? My youngest daughter is learning sign language. In a couple of Sundays she and her teacher are going to a church that has a deaf population. A while ago I walked into a gaming store. There were grown men standing around tall tables. It seemed like they were playing with toy guns and little soldiers that were spread out on the tables. My son Connor tried explaining some of what he knew. We asked the proprietor a few questions. I wish I had approached the table and been more curious. I wish I had made more of an effort to enter a world that is completely foreign to me. I might have made some new friends. I certainly would have learned some things. As Third Culture Individuals we have culture-crossing prowess…we need to use it to actively live now as human bridges between communities. We know instinctively how to do that.
  5. Live later. Why not plan a trip? If resources and responsibilities don’t allow for international air travel, plan a road trip. Drive across the state. Venture into the biggest city near you. Drive to a new neighbourhood. Explore it. Eat food in a local eatery. Avoid chain restaurants or stores. Come to Kansas—for many of you that’s crossing cultures! (It certainly was for me!) Trip advisor has kindly created lists for nearly everywhere…including, as it turns out, Kansas! (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g28937-Activities-Kansas.html).
  6. Celebrate your unique story. Pour yourself a glass of warmed spiced Pimms, or a fragrant mug of hot chai. Make a strong espresso or a cup of pink tea. Whatever beverage you choose, fill your cup to the brim and raise it high. Drink to life…your life! It’s true that very few people in your community share your exact same story. It’s also true that on occasion that feels lonely and isolating. But it’s also true that you are unique. You bring something to the table that very few people do. Enjoy that. Celebrate it!
  7. Write a Psalm to God. Document His faithfulness. The poets and song writers who penned the psalms were honest with their fears and their doubts. They openly admitted their weaknesses. They also knew God’s presence and strength. They were mobile people, always in transition. They wrote about the permanence they found in God, the home they discovered in Him. Try it out: write a psalm. Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! (Ps 90:1). Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow or the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety (Ps 91:1-2). Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord? Who can ever praise him enough? (Ps 106:1-2)
  8. Take a deep breath! Be present to your current Now. Resist the temptations to dull the restlessness and the accompanying loneliness. Remember who you are and where you live. You’ve been placed here for a purpose. Look around. Notice the beauties and the blessings. Begin to write them down. Turn around and say thank you. Joy and Gratitude are cousins. They often hang out together. Invite Gratitude for coffee and Joy often shows up!
  9. Look around. Take your eyes off of you. See someone else in gloomiville. January is notorious for the effect she has on people. It won’t take you long to find another who is hurting. Take the initiative. Make eye contact. Strike up a conversation. Point out something amusing. Laugh together. Whatever little joy you brought for lunch, pull it out and share it. Jesus will make it stretch. There will be enough joy to go round….and there may even be some leftover for you both to take home and nibble on later.

I have no idea if this stuff will work. I’ve been feeling pretty bleak. But I dare me to step out and give it a shot! I really wrote this one mostly for me. I made vegetable curry and dhal and rice last night for supper. There was Punjabi Pachranga Pickle and plain curd on the table. I found naan at the Asian Food Store. We ate with our fingers and it made us warm and happy. And I think tonight we’ll watch a movie…..

Here’s to success in the hunt! Joy will be found!

Picture Credit: http://pixabay.com/en/carlsbad-california-beach-seaside-351318/ word art by Marilyn R. Gardner