About Me

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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Snow falling on morning

When I went to bed late last night it had started snowing steadily, the streets quickly being blanketed in a soft layer of wet snow. I woke up this morning quite early, came downstairs to let the dog out, and when I opened the curtains to let in the morning light what I saw was so beautiful it stopped my breath. Every edge, every branch, every step and eave and sill were outlined with light fluffy ice crystals, and snow still fell soft and gentle over the already rounded edges of the world. In the uppermost branches of the snow illuminated trees, a few crows were perched, as if in a painting. The snowploughs had not been through, and everyone was still in bed, so the neighbourhood was intensely quiet. There is something gentle and soothing about this kind of snow...the kind not accompanied by howling winds and freezing temperatures. It feels like the sky is somehow caressing the earth, trees, rooftops, fences and wings of the birds as they dart from perch to perch.

I went back upstairs and got my camera, came back down to the kitchen and took some photos of the view. As I was shooting I noticed a flash of light coming from the neighbour's door across the way. I looked over at his door to see him also capturing the brilliance of the day behind the shutter of his camera. It made me smile at how human both recognizing beauty and wanting to capture it in some way is.

I have to find a way to get my photos off of my camera as I forgot my USB connector in California, but am hoping to find a way to transfer photos soon, and will be sure to share my morning shots with you, friends!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Courage looks like this

I read a blog entry this evening by Jennifer Pastiloff entitled "What does courage mean to you?" It was a great article, and it made me stop and reflect on the last few weeks of my life, and how many people have told me how courageously I am living.

It is interesting to me that I rarely recognize as courageous behaviour that those around me consider to be so. Isn't it always like that in life though? Our most powerful, inspired, strong, empowered, or courageous moments are ones in which we are so immersed in whatever we are doing that we do not actually stop and take a step back from what is happening and see it for what it is -- truly miraculous!

On December 28th I caught a plane back to Prince Edward Island. I had a two-week ticket, which I was secretly praying I would never have to use the return portion of. Since arriving so many things have happened, and so much is STILL HAPPENING that it is quite clear to me that there has been considerable amounts of divine intervention on my behalf being dispersed into the universe over the last six weeks. Here are some of the incredible things that have happened:

1. My computer stopped working (as in it was completely, utterly dead, friends) and then after ten days of not working miraculously (not) started again one fine day.

2. My incredibly generous, patient and encouraging friends have welcomed me into their homes, given me a bed, fed me (I have done some of the cooking!!) and let me use their washing machines, showers, and internet connections for over six weeks. For free. And despite a few minor miscommunications, we all still love each other. Doesn't scream divine intervention in capital letters? You tell me.

3. Someone is willing to hire me and help me apply for a full-time work visa (fingers crossed....so far so good).

4. Two acquaintances have offered to have me move in with them (and their husbands and kids...I'm telling you....I am surrounded by guardian angels) if I have to find a room and still do not have full time work when this happens.

5. I was at the farmer's market two weeks ago at the end of the day when everyone was packing up and going home and someone gave me a freshly cooked meal for free because they had leftovers, another person gave me two home-baked cookies and two scones for free (again, too many left over), and a third person gave me two bags of organic bean sprouts. Add that to the farm-fresh eggs that Ricky, my former boss's brother gave me ON THE FARM where they were laid, the organic beef that my former boss gave me last week, and the organic pumpkin that my former boss's mother gave me that I used to make pumpkin mushroom risotto for friends a few weeks ago.

6. I may have just scored an absolutely AWESOME social media job for a local coffee shop that sells tea and coffee from local businesses..... I offered to do it for free until I get my work visa, but the manager has offered me free tea from the company I used to write for in exchange for my work. SWEET!

7. I am currently house and dog-sitting for my dear friends Ann and Stephen. They live in a gorgeous home in one of the cutest neighbourhoods in town with a fake fireplace (fire currently burning to my left as I type), and the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. AND they left me their car too. I cannot tell you how blessed I was feeling driving home from a study circle that I was facilitating tonight, instead of walking in the cold, sitting on a seat that actually heats up at the push of a button. As if having wheels were not enough, the seats heat up. I mean, really friends :-)

8. My dear friend Louise, who has put up with having me as a house guest longer than anyone else since I arrived, bought me a box of dried figs that she gave to me when I left to move over to Ann and Stephen's house today. Figs + fireplace + time to blog in the late quiet hours of the night = heaven, pure and simple.

9.  Whenever I start running low on funds, someone steps up and asks me to pet-sit, clean their kitchen, babysit, or take notes at a meeting.

10. I am meeting one of my best friends for breakfast tomorrow morning.

There is more I could list here, but I think you get the picture. The universe is smiling down on me.

But to get back to courage....

Coming back here has required a lot of courage on my part. I rarely stop to recognize it as such, but it is true. A lot of people have questioned this decision. I was after all living in California--the land of opportunity. And I DID leave Prince Edward Island two years ago after much prayer and soul-searching to follow my heart. But it is the very same heart that has led me back here, and I am learning to trust it despite the doubt and confusion being expressed by family and friends. Why am I back in a country where I have no legal right to work and where I cannot actually afford rent until I find full time work and obtain a work visa when my priority is finding stable work? Why am I back in the North Atlantic where the temperature drops below zero and usually remains there for many months before rising above freezing again in the (very) late spring when I could be living in the land of sun and warmth? And why am I returning to a place with so few single men my age when one of my reasons for leaving was to meet someone to share my life with? Good questions, and ones that I do not have very good answers to. But for the first time in a long time I am not questioning where I am or why. I am not wishing I were elsewhere doing something other than what I am doing. Sure it is tough to have to walk everywhere in the cold, and staying with friends non-stop has meant that I have had to learn to be more flexible and adaptable, and trying to live on random jobs here and there is far from ideal, but I am surrounded by people whose company I adore, land that I love and feels like home, and non-stop opportunities to be of service to my community. Things just feel right. Even when they are tough.

I am not sure, of course, that I will be able to stay here. But I will be here until the end of April, and I am incredibly grateful for the extra two months to work on trying to build a life for myself here again. Sometimes you have to leave a place to be able to come back and call it home. And sometimes you have you trust that a foothold will be set in front of you even though you cannot actually see where you are headed.

People tell me all the time that it must be really stressful to be in my situation, but to be honest, it isn't. I have not felt much stress at all since arriving here. I feel some deep-rooted certainty that everything is going to work out somehow. I call that faith, but I guess another word for that would be courage.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Finding joy in uncertainty

It has been a little while since I last wrote, and I have been missing writing and hearing your responses by email, in the comments section, or on my Facebook page. Thank you for being such faithful readers, and for all the encouragement to keep up my blog despite having limited time to devote to it during this period. I will be getting more regular again within the next month, so you can expect to see more from me soon!

It is Wednesday evening. I have spent the last week and a half visiting every media business I know in Charlottetown looking for marketing work. As those of you who have been reading this blog for a while now know, there are two things I am most passionate about: writing and islands. So the idea of using my writing skills to help island businesses market themselves is my idea of heaven. I have been doing social media work for two companies now since December, so I am heading into my third month of my first official exploration of the social media world for clients, and I am absolutely loving it! Being a poet, I love finding creative ways to say a lot with as few words possible. It is a challenge, and one I thoroughly enjoy. Social media is therefore perfect for me as ideally the shorter the post, the better.

Being an American citizen, I am an immigrant here on Prince Edward Island. I am, as they say, "from away." I am perfectly comfortable with that tag -- I lived with it for the six years that I lived here full time, and am happy to re-embrace the "from away" title if it means I can stay. The only part of being from away that I do not appreciate is the inability to work unless I can find an employer willing to jump through the loops required to get me a work visa. It is hard to know that I have the skills and the drive to be able to make a difference in this community, yet be prevented from offering my services to islanders because I do not have a full-time work visa, and thus far have been unable to find anyone willing to hire me full time and help me get a work visa. It is an issue I have been confronting my whole life, having grown up in Cyprus, and one I am truly tired banging up against. I have decided that if I can find a full time position here I will stay put and get residency, putting this legal "from awayness" to an end.

I have been on Prince Edward Island now since the end of December, and every day has been an adventure. Last night for example I attended a gathering at the Culinary Institute here on the subject of newcomers and farmers. The purpose of the event was to connect farmers with ethnic restaurant owners looking for locally grown vegetables, fruits and meat/fish. The presentations were interesting, and the dialogue between audience and speakers/panelists was engaging. It is encouraging to see this important dialogue starting, and to be able to see the implications of it for the future of the food industry on Prince Edward Island. As more immigrants come to the island, and its population becomes more culturally diverse, its tastes also change and diversify, creating a far more interesting culinary landscape to sample for visitors and islanders alike. The more the island has to offer, the more attractive it becomes, and the more linkages that can be made between those from the island and those "from away," the more successful this (and other) initiatives will become.

It is hard to believe that I have only been back for six weeks, and at the same time amazing that six weeks have already gone by. It feels--to me and my friends alike--like I never left, and at the same time I am finding myself having a very hard time imagining what will happen in the months and weeks ahead if I do not find work and a means of staying. When i first arrived on Prince Edward Island, it was a foreign landscape and culture--one isolated from everything and everyone I knew. But being back here and noticing my body relax and reinhabit this landscape, I am realizing that while I will never be considered an islander, this island has become home. I have roots here, and they are deep--not easily pulled up from the bright red soil.

I am back at my dear friend Louise's home this evening. I decided to stay in for a change and write a blog entry and speak with my parents on the phone. There is a plane flying overhead. I can hear its engines roaring as it climbs up into the sky. I wonder if I will be on one of those soon, or if I will still be here next week and the week after -- sipping hot tea, taking in the brilliance of sun reflected on snow crystals, and enjoying being a part of a community that has become like family to me. Life is a mystery. Why one door opens and many others do not will undoubtedly make sense some day, looking back on this period of my life. Now, in the midst of this period of uncertainty, I am just staying present, enjoying the company of my friends and colleagues, enjoying snowfall and the full moon and thousands of stars in the crisp, clear sky, the smell of wood burning in fireplaces, and the raw call of hundreds of crows that migrate in dark clouds from the treetops to the blueish surface of the frozen harbour at dusk. I am, in short, immersing myself in home and in winter for as long as I am able to remain on the island.

Wherever you are on this winter day, I hope you are enjoying the details of the moment: the sensation of the air against your face, the feeling of winter sunshine on your cheeks, the sound of the wind rattling through bare branches, and hopefully the sound of laughter as you share stories with good friends over steaming hot cups of tea!