countdown… to all things new

36 more hours to go before I leave for two weeks out in the mountains of Kathmandu.

This will be my first official ‘solo’ trip away from family and friends. While I am excited about all that I will experience for the first time, I am also apprehensive. I’m not quite sure what to expect.

When I traveled in Japan on my own last year, I still had my umbilical cord plugged into cyberspace. Reaching loved ones, answering work emails and staying ‘social’ kept me from feeling lonely. But out there trekking, I’ll be leaving it all behind and will only carry my trusty iPod, a journal and a pencil. At least, I’ll still have words. Will I miss people desperately? How will the world (as I’ve known it) look different when I return? Will my person change?

For the regular traveler, my questions may seem way too cautious and worry-filled but bear in mind… the places I’ve been too have always been swamped with familiar faces. Yes, even in Australia, Japan, Malaysia… there were always people I knew.

This trip was birthed out of a desire to get away from it all, to return to solitude and anonymity… something I’ve not had in a very long time, and I am really looking forward to it. Just so happened that I watched the following video (it’s adorable!) last night and chuckled to myself. How apt…

*

18 more days to go before I turn a year older.

I didn’t plan it this way but it’s nice to know that I’ll be returning two days before my birthday. I think, on hindsight, this trip was really the best way of celebrating the close of yet another birth year. What better way to seal personal growth and survival with a trip that I’ve not done before? As usual, I began thinking back about the past 300+ days and asked…

What did I learn about myself this year?

1. I actually love peanut butter.
2. I can face the world sweaty, grimy and make-up free… without an ounce of self-consciousness.
3. I can survive extreme fatigue, pain, loneliness and emptiness. With a smile.
4. I love running on trails more than pavements or tracks.
5. I’m not superwoman and I need friends & support. Goodbye selfish pride.

What did I do for the first time since my last birthday?

01. I ran my first 10km race. And I wasn’t last.
02. I got inked. Twice.
03. I traveled on my own. Well, at least I will be, soon.
04. I joined the local gym and began working out regularly.
05. I said, ‘No, I don’t think I can cope.’
06. I began eating healthily, three meals a day!
07. I wore a gown, on stage, in front of thousands, to sing.
08. I grew honest with my darkness, and in that, found freedom to be myself. Almost.
09. I wore trekking shoes to work and braved the snide comments. Ha!
10. I finally began doing things for myself. Just because. Without feeling guilty.

All in all, it’s been a good year.

And for that, I am profoundly grateful.

*

3 more months to go before the end of the year 2010.

Taking time to scroll through my writing (which I began regularly updating in April), I decided instead to frame my moments with music. It has, I believe, the power to re-fire memories in way that words sometimes can’t.

To Build A Home – The Cinematic Orchestra

In the pitch-dark performance studio, Patrick Watson painted a beautiful room of vulnerability, intimacy and safety, using only his weightless tenor vocals and piano. And in those few minutes alone, gave meaning to 2010. I walked away with a new desire to re-create that moment, this home every single day of my life, and for the many who come my way.

Let all that we pretend to be fade into the darkness… as we find beauty in who we truly are.

Holy – Jesus Culture

Again, it was the abandon with which Kim Walker sang that reached deep inside me, that taught me how I too, can be open about what’s in my heart when I sing. Each time this year I ran dry and wondered if I should quit… I picked up their album and listened. They are still on my playlist and I return, with regularity, almost every other week, to get re-ignited inside with their music.

Wonderful Life – Hurts

I have no idea where they’re placed on the scenester’s radar but when their album came out, I was on a blissful high for a long time. ‘Don’t let go, never give up, it’s such a wonderful life…’

They reminded me to smile.

Unredeemed – Selah

The words to this song was what struck me, when I first listened to some friends perform if last week. It felt as though someone had peered into my heart, penned down my questions and revealed it all for the world to see.

‘Life breaks and falls apart, but we know these are places where grace is soon to be so amazing. It may be unfulfilled, it may be unrestored, but when anything that’s shattered is laid before the Lord… just watch and see, it will not be unredeemed.’

It might be best to listen to it on your own below, and hear the story behind it all.

*

We sat there, side by side, contented just to be together. I leaned my head on His shoulder, closing my eyes…

‘What are you thinking?’ He asked.

‘You already know, so why do you ask?’ I looked up at Him.

‘I like to hear your voice,’ He smiled at me.

‘Well… I’m thinking about a year that’s gone by, and how each time I thought darkness felt overwhelming… those were just moments before the sun broke through,’ I reached out to hold His hand, ‘You were there every step of the way, always ready to hold me, to receive me, even at my ugliest. Thank You…’

‘No, thank you,’ He whispered.

‘For what?’ I said, ‘I didn’t give you anything!’

‘Yes you did,’ He reached out to hold me, ‘You gave meaning to what I did. You allowed me in to a place that no other person has ever been. You let me be your everything… and that is precious.’

We didn’t talk much after that, the Dream Maker and I. There was no need to.

We had everything we wanted right then and there.

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feeding a new home

Music: To Build You A Home by Cinematic Orchestra

Sitting in the luxury of not having to know what to do next, the Mother, The Husband & I began talking getting a new home.

‘Let’s get this straight… so all three of us have thought that it is perhaps, time to explore the idea of purchasing a new home?’ I asked them. They nodded.

‘Oh coolest!’I squealed.

‘But it’s the number one reason for stress, moving house, that is,’ The Mother said with her usual caution toward anything new. We talked about loans, financial health etc. I lost her somewhere at the term ‘house valuation’.

The Husband, who was by now, half asleep with his head on the dining table, mumbled his agreement. Mother was almost right though, moving house (funny how we call it moving house, we’re actually moving homes and changing houses) is the third common cause of stress, following death and divorce.

But we’ll conquer that mountain when we get there, which may be a year or two later. We like to take our time to do these things. I’d say that we’re at the Dreaming Stage of our new home, and like all dreams, we’ve decided (okay, I proposed enthusiastically, the rest just nodded) to compile a scrapbook of homes, interior designs etc. We’re going to feed the dream till it gets so big it overwhelms our senses. My opinion is that in doing so, when we finally see the right place months later, it’ll be easier to know it’s the right place. Besides, it’s fun to dream!

So here’s my dining room option #1. Get ready for more pictures of how different corners of our new home will look!

dreamdiningroom

There is a house built out of stone
Wooden floors, walls and window sills
Tables and chairs worn by all of the dust
This is a place where I don’t feel alone
This is a place where I feel at home

Cause, I built a home
for you… for me

– Cinematic Orchestra

cinematic orchestra

Ma Fleur

At every concert I’ve been to, I take home with me one song. Sometimes, it’s because it was enjoyable and I find myself humming the tune days later. Sometimes, it was the only good song in a lousy concert. And sometimes, it was the one song that moved me to a place I almost bawled my mascara-ed eyes out. But I don’t. I’m careful I don’t smudge my makeup in public.

So at the Cinematic Orchestra’s performance on Friday night, that song suddenly appeared. Unexpected. I wondered why my heart was beating so hard in my chest till I realised it was because I’d been holding my breath at random moments when a note hung in the air, beautifully quiet, oddly estranged from the environment.

Hear it.

Breathe by the Cinematic Orchestra

Now love it.