and not 24 hours later…

A little backstory:

My husband, Scott, has worked with Union Pacific railroad for 26 years. He has some fascinating stories of his time on the railroad. One of my personal favorites is on 9/11 when he was in lock-down at the main dispatching station in Omaha, Nebraska, listening to the tv say all planes had been grounded but looking outside in the sky as Air Force One brought the president to the underground bunker in Nebraska (dude!) He has been a train conductor, a manager, an instructor and as of October of last year, he has been managing a yard in Atchison, Kansas/St. Joseph, Missouri. He drives an hour and half to work and an hour and a half back home. The commute is ‘doable’, but not ideal. That was the reason for our moving further north. We didn’t want to leave the Kansas City area but needed to be further north and near a highway for Scott to pop on quickly. Our move to the River Market would cut a half hour off his trip – gaining him one full hour a day. We’ll take it.

Scott had some days off so we were going to dedicate four days to looking for something in the downtown/city market area of the city. And then I got sick. I battled the flu for the first two days so it wasn’t until the third day that we could start our search. Centropolis, the building we ultimately decided on, was our first tour. Of course they say you shouldn’t ever pick the first place you see, but when the first place you see makes your heart sing, what need is there to look further?! We told the realtor we loved it and begun the application process.

Not 24 hours later we received a phonecall from Scott’s boss. He apologized for calling Scott on his day off but he knew we were going to be looking for houses and wanted to give Scott a bit of news…

But first, another backstory. Or is it a sidestory?


There is a segment of the railroad commonly called the Tie Gangs. (Sounds like they’re Brooks Brothers bandits, doesn’t it?!) There is a VERY large, multi-million dollar machine – which I’m sure has an official name but I don’t know what it is – that travels the country laying cement railroad ties, replacing the old wooden railroad ties you’re probably more familiar with. When it comes to an area of the country, it is usually there for a number of months laying track in that area. Railroaders bid to get these jobs. They travel from all over the country to work on these Tie Gangs. A number of years ago Scott worked one of the Tie Gangs as the conductor of the train that carried the cement ties. They moved a few inches at a time while the Big Machine picked up the ties and laid them on the track. It’s actually pretty fascinating to watch!

But back to my story…are you still with me?

Scott is on the phone with his boss, Curtis. Curtis told Scott he knew he planned on looking at housing but said NOT to look in St. Joseph or Atchison because the big, BIG boss of the region had called Curtis to say The Big Machine was coming through Kansas City this summer and he wanted Scott to run the entire operation in Kansas City for the duration of the summer and fall. WHAT?!

To recap: We move downtown to be closer to Scott’s St. Joe/Atchison work and Scott ends up working in downtown Kansas City. CRAZY!

It is a real honor for Scott to be given this responsibility. The head of the region nominated Scott specifically, based on his experience and knowledge of the railroad (he really is a Railroad Savant!) The thing about Scott is that he is a communication hound. He’s liked by everyone (no bias or overstatement here…ask anyone. Our friends just put up with me, but truly love Scott) 😉 and he is very easy to work with. He will be the perfect person for the job!

So just like that, the entire landscape of our lives has drastically changed all within a 24 hour period of time.

As Scott was telling me about his day yesterday (the Tie Gang’s first day on the job) he said it was impressive to see all the people gathered together under a big spotlight, early in the morning. The Gang foreman gathered everyone around for a job briefing then they all bowed their heads for prayer. “Be with us, Lord, and keep us safe. Be with our families back home while we’re away. Help us to watch out for our brothers out here in the field…” Scott said it was a moving scene. These guys are doing a pretty dangerous job and know that they need to start with a plea for God’s protection.

So no stress here! Major downsize. Big move. New job. Extra responsibilities.

As for me and Scott, the best thing we can do is to stop, gather under the lights in the early morning, and commit this season to prayer…

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Adventures Ahead

It is with more excitement than trepidation (but a very healthy dosage of both) to announce that Scott and I will be moving in May. It has always been our dream to live in the River Market area of Kansas City, so we have finally decided to take the big plunge. Our nervousness (…okay, MY nervousness…) and what has held us back from making the move before, is the sacrifice of space. But it seems like it’s the right time to reduce and pare down. ‘Downsizing’ is such a popular term right now, but a much more difficult concept to execute. I’d like to take you along on the journey as we make this move – greatly reducing our living area, but at the same time exponentially expanding our ‘backyard’ quality of life.

Small living for a big life.


Many of you have heard me talk about my-best-friend-who-doesn’t-know-me-yet, Anne Lamott. The first book I read of hers, Traveling Mercies, was when I first fell in love with her old soul. She talked about her sobriety, her childhood, dating woes and how she eventually stumbled into a faith community. I read most of that book sitting under my favorite tree at Loose Park, going through a rather dark valley of my own. Some days I would go down to the City Market just to walk around and be lost in a crowd of ‘regular’ people.

Anne wrote:

‘…this is where I liked to be when I was hung over or coming down off a cocaine binge, here in the dust with all these dusty people, all this liveliness and clutter and color.’


That’s what the City Market has always been to me. A beautiful mix of everything. Dusty people. Not people striving to be perfect but people covered in life. That’s who I have always identified with the most. The City Market is where I think Christ would choose to walk around. It is where God’s creativity is most gloriously evident.

So at the end of April we are moving to a much (MUCH!) smaller place but at 5th and Grand (and why I recently changed my Instagram to @ourlifeisgrand.) Our backyard will be spices and Dutch flowers and Vietnamese markets and homemade salsa. We will reap the harvest of organic farming, without having to do all the work.

We envision running out in the early mornings for coffee, being in mid-recipe and realizing we are out of a certain spice only to walk down the street to the old spice man to pick up our needed supply. We will jump on the streetcar that stops at our corner and ride through our beloved city at a moments notice. We will insist that friends who come down to the city market to shop on the weekends, stop by and say hello by just buzzing us on the intercom just outside our building. As you can probably tell, we are beyond ecstatic for this new adventure.


I will be blogging and Instagramming the experience. Come join us as two suburban-raised, middle-aged, hippie-hearted adults take on the dusty magic of city-living life.

Come see us soon,

g

friendship 

I was sick with a terrible cold and had to cancel our lunch date. She offered to bring me soup. I declined. So instead she mailed me a Trader Joe’s box of soothing ginger and turmeric tea. 

These are the friendships you hang on to. You cherish. You foster. You invest. 

The older I get the less clinched-fist I have become about friendship. I used to hold very tightly onto people with whom I felt I had a common bond. When they didn’t have time for me, I clinched tighter. I must admit I have had a few beggy friendships in my life. Perhaps you have experienced those kinds of friendships too. 

But I am unclenching my fist more and more as the years pass. Not only with friendships but also with family members. It is important to me that people regularly step into my life and are willing to get messy alongside me. It is equally important that they allow me to do the same for them. And yet there have been times in the past that I catch myself mentally ‘begging’ and emotionally clinging to the What Was. I am learning, however, that perhaps there are things happening in those peoples lives that limit their involvement with me. That maybe it has something to do with an issue greater than our friendship. And with that recognition, I reluctantly but gently step aside. 

It took me a while to get to the place where I was not bitter about that retreat. But on my good days I have a wider understanding that we are all fighting struggles of our own. My best-friend-who-doesn’t-know-me, Anne Lamott, commented recently that “we all have the same stuff, just different details.” Oh how very true. 

That said, we only have so much energy to give and need to be resourceful about where we invest time, money, and emotional connection. And so those people, like my friend Monica that I mentioned above, who continually step into my life and walk next to me and allow me to journey next to them in their messiness – that is where I choose to invest. That is where I am intentional in friendship building. 

Unfortunately, I can readily think of people with whom I was not a good friend. And I have regrets. But I can’t fix those past relationships so I choose to be a better friend to the handful of people I have in my life currently.  

Adult friendship can be difficult, can’t it? It seemed easier when you could pass a note at recess: ‘Are you my friend? Check one: Yes-No-Maybe’ There are many people with whom we are acquaintance-friends. Many would blame social media for the downfall of authentic relationships, but I have some close friends that I met online, and I am thankful and appreciative for them. I don’t think ‘social media friendships’ all exist at a surface level. Friendship can happen anywhere where two people’s paths were intended to cross. 

I have spent a great deal of my adult life wanting the Oprah-Gayle, call-me-every-day friendships, but I have learned over time to be deeply thankful in this busy, complicated existence for the lovely ginger-turmeric tea friendships that shine so brilliantly in my world.


Thank you, Monica, for continuing to step into the messiness, as we talk and laugh our way to the other side…

Do more of what makes you…survive?

Scott and I had a nice few days away from our normal routine while we were in Omaha earlier this week. Scott had classes during the day, but we were able to get out and play a little in the city in the evenings.

On the drive to Omaha, the car was a little quiet. Both of us were regrouping and mentally climbing down from the various responsibilities we have during the typical work week. There seems to be last minute storms that whirl around in our home before we finally get out the door and on our way.

But on the drive home we had some nice conversations, one of which has stayed with me for a few days now…

It is a common phrase(s) that you see in the crafty and home decor world. I think I’ve even made a few signs with a similar sentiment:

Do more of what makes you happy.

or, Do more of what makes your soul sing.

We do spend a great deal of time spinning our wheels on the non-essential things of life, including worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet. So I get the message.

But all too often when I see those phrases – and others like them – I wonder what some segments of society think about them. Scott and I discussed the different ramifications.

I asked Scott, “I wonder what your dad and his buddies would say if someone told them in their thirties to ‘do more of what makes your soul sing’. I wonder what they would think about that.” We had a nice laugh at the thought. Scott’s dad labored hard in the welding industry all of Scott’s life. His dad became a manager but always worked with blue collar people. They owned a home in town and a getaway home at the lake. His dad provided a good living for their family of four as well as a comfortable retirement. But were they ‘following their passion’ in the beginning? It made me wonder if there has been a longitudinal study done of the contentment level of blue collar workers. Scott has never questioned whether or not he should get up and go to work each day. He just does it. He doesn’t spend time questioning whether or not he’s on the right path or if his soul is being fed. He just does what needs to be done. He goes to work. Brings home a paycheck. And has a blast during his off-work hours. He doesn’t question his existence or whether or not he’s living up to his potential.

He just does what needs to be done.

For those of us that live in our heads a little too much, we can tend to forget the ramifications of telling a working parent with kids at home and a mortgage that perhaps he or she should re-examine their career. Maybe take a personality test to see if they are in the right vocation.

“I’m just trying to put food on the table and a roof over my family’s head!”, I can hear the retort.

It made me wonder if the just-go-to-work variety employee is a more content human than the one always on the quest to better know oneself. In a world of self-discovery, we might be missing the all-important strength of simply doing what needs to be done. Rotely and without question. Working two or three jobs. Or putting up with an angry boss that enjoys micro-managing much more than doling out atta-boys. These are things that many people simply accept as part of the process. There is an admirable quality to working hard so you can play hard on your time off. To be content with where you are and blessed to have the employment you have without questioning its validity to your core personality.

Self-discovery allows us to grow and improve upon our lives as we better get to know what motivates and energizes us. But it is no more important than stepping up and doing whatever it is that needs to be done in order to love and support yourself and your dependents. I tend to get too carried away by self-improvement and need to remember the importance of Doing More of What Makes You…Survive.

Hug a hard-working loved one today. You might find you’ve been taking advantage of the fact that they are stable and steadfast because they never speak about it other than with a casual shrug of the shoulders: “Hey. It’s what needs to be done.” (But I bet they wouldn’t mind a sincere, ‘thank you’, from time to time.)

———-

I LOVE a traveling adventure. I am a wanderer by nature. I am always ready to experience the next thing that’s out there on the horizon. But boy oh boy do I love coming home too. I spent the first day home, fluffing and poufing and watering plants. Unpacking all the things and settling back into routine. {I love adventure.} {I love routine.} I’m just weird that way. I am always so grateful for the opportunity to travel with Scott. It’s a nice break in the day-to-day-ness of life.

I hope your week was a good one as well. And if it was mundane and routine and nothing out of the ordinary, then thank you. Thank you for being a constant. A reliable source. A foundational figure. You are greatly appreciated.