Pursuing Life's Daring Adventure

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Hand that Paints the Sky

Every day, my breath catches at the incredible landscape surrounding our new home near Prague. Shafts of low light sweep across a vast field. The morning sun skims across the lingering haze from the valley below, where spires and buildings and the Castle rise up out of the morning mist.

Some mornings, the view has been rose-tinted with the waking sun. Others, the crescent moon hangs like a glowing hook hovering above the dark forest. On every occasion I find myself breathless at the scenery, I can’t help remembering the Hand that paints the sky.

In this life we’ve been given, the sweetest expression of gratitude for the gift of life may be in the full expression of ourselves through our art. Out of love, and an open heart, we can respond with our hearts in our work, in gratitude not only for the gift of life itself, but also for the treasure of freedom of expression we’ve been given.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Substance and Accumulation

This is the first time in a week that I’ve sat down at a computer, so you can know I’m not exaggerating when I say the past week has been quite busy. Actually, the past week has been tremendously busy, more than any week I can remember, but more than that… the past few days have held for us all sorts of surprises.
The surprises have been wonderful, to speak of their magnitude somewhat lightly—so I have to share.

1) Our boys started school here in Prague, which, for any expat parents of young students, can always be a bit worrisome. But, even our oldest loved school, and made new friends on the first day.

2) Our sea container of household goods arrived at our home. Yay! No more sleeping, sitting, and eating on floors—we received our beloved soft furniture four weeks early!

3) Our long term visas were completed. Yippee-kye-yay! The documents we needed to do many essential things here in Czech Republic were finished nine weeks ahead of the date we had previously been given.

4) We found a family vehicle with several features of importance, especially safety, roominess, and within our cost guidelines (which is a huge deal in a country where the average cost of cars is two to three times higher than in the States).

Whew! Yes, this week has been a gift.

In Europe, most things are much smaller than what we are accustomed to in the States—not only the size of the country, but the size of the streets, and cars, and houses, and trash cans, and sinks, and closets (if even there), and refrigerators. Only the pilsner beers and rosebushes seem to be larger. So in our planning to move into a smaller house here in Prague from our modest-sized house of ten years in the Midwest, we gave many things away to people who needed them. It proved to be a good strategy. But I can say from the past five days of gritty work in settling our household goods, we didn’t give away enough.

According to the contract with the movers, after they brought our boxes in from the sea container, they were to empty the boxes for us and then haul the cardboard and paper away. In theory, that sounded wonderful. But when it came down to it, a couple of our rooms, we couldn’t even enter because of the sheer amount of things on the floor—books, pens, papers, socks, shoes—everything just kind of dumped onto the floor.

Yes, the past five days have been overwhelming, to say the least, but I’ve learned a bit about myself and my needs in the process.

Some things, to me, are like water—things I can’t live without: books, photographs, basic clothes, soft chairs, and more books. But, the past few days of trying to make sense of clutter and chaos has left me with a new feeling: accumulation is the enemy of peace and creativity. The more stuff we collect and drag around with us the less energy and time and love we have for the things that really matter and mean something to us.

Our lives are so much richer without the stuff.

As I wrap up the remaining five percent left of work I have in settling our house, I look forward to getting into a new writing routine, and constantly learning new ways to free myself up to a fuller life composed less of stuff and more of substance.

Life is too short to spend dealing with stuff, and too full of the riches of experience to waste. Enjoy today!

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Prague Photo Journal

Words cannot begin to describe the beauty we've discovered in the Czech Republic thus far, so I am dedicating this week's blog to a true view through my lens-- a photo journal of our time living in Europe thus far. The images can speak for themselves ... Enjoy!

Prague, Czech Republic: the Prague Castle

The infamous Astronomical Clock, and other sites around the Old Town Square

Crossing the Vltava River on the Charles Bridge:

Not too far from Prague, the Krivoklat Castle:

Berlin, Germany: the Brandenberg Gate, the Berlin Wall, and the Holocaust Memorial

History has countless stories to tell ... More photos to come. Enjoy the waning days of summer! -JK

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Finding Something New

Last month, our family left our home of ten years in Ohio for Central Europe, where we will make our home for the next few years. Each of us, including my husband and our three school-aged sons, has gone through a different process of leaving, and we all have had areas of our lives where leaving has almost taken a crowbar to pry us away. We all had our own pieces of comfort and familiarity that were particularly tough to leave behind.

The hard part of leaving is a very personal process, I think. For when we need to move on and have to leave something behind, we leave a part of ourselves as well. It’s easy to focus on the things we leave behind, the pieces torn from our lives by the wake of change. Far harder, I think, is opening the mind to the new possibilities ushered in by change and catching fleeting serendipity as it flutters by.

We are now in our new environment, and daily we are finding many delights and great surprises that far surpass what we thought we would find—new friends, flowers, foods, culture, and the accessibility of family via the internet. Two small examples: even though we left behind beautiful gardens, the floral beauties in Prague are lush and cascade from countless windowboxes and gardens on every street. And even though we left behind a small aquarium where some of our sons’ favorite creatures were the snails (that tragically never stayed alive long), our boys have discovered countless snails in our yard at our new house in Prague. I’m convinced that never before have snails been so loved like pets, despite the familiar saying for “snails and puppy dog tails, that’s what little boys are made of.” Yes, the new has us thrilled in ways we couldn’t have imagined—and certainly the discovery will continue. We are grateful. Perhaps new shouldn’t feel so scary.
When we leave something behind, yes, we do leave a piece of ourselves in the process, but I now believe we also gain something more as well. For in the process of moving forward into the unknown, we find a place where we are stretched and can more fully connect with the essence of who we are and that which we are truly made. Perhaps only in the unknown can we discover possibilities far wider than what we previously imagined; only in the new place can we really find a larger part of ourselves.