Welcome to A Life Examined

What is the examined life? A life worth living! As I look at the road ahead, I take all the baggage from the past and use it as experience - the pain and the passion, the sorrow and the joy - allowing it to carve wisdom into my mind and hope into my spirit.
There is no experience that can't be useful to me at some point in my life. There is no lesson learned that cannot make a contribution to the future.
A tiny drop of water is a part of the ocean. A tiny speck in the night sky is a ginormous star in the distance. It all depends on perspective.
So, this examined life is to offer reflections in the hope of discussing things which are of value to myself and to others.
Love, Sarah

Thursday, 18 December 2014

What is Christmas?

What is Christmas? And, how much is 'too much' at Christmas?

Is there any such thing as 'too much of a good thing?'

For some, Christmas is a joy. For others, it is a duty at best, an annoyance at worst. Commercialism certainly thrives on Christmas and many would say it preys on people's good will, sense of obligation or sentimentality.

As for me, there are elements of Christmas I cherish. I love Christmas Carols. I love the idea of giving and sharing with close friends and family. Cliff Richard has a song called, "Saviour's Day" which for me, says it all. I love the song because it puts the emphasis on Jesus, without the holiday fervour or excess of 'too much' eating, drinking or spending.

There is a great gift of Christmas. And I'm not going to say the cliche of Christ. I think in Christmas there is a primary lesson; it is not about tinsel, nor about children, not even about the baby Jesus.

I think Christmas is about love.

We may not like everyone we meet, but we can choose to love them. We can learn from Jesus what he came and shared about love, so that we can get along better and enjoy life far more all 365 days of the year.

Love came down at Christmas in the package of a baby boy. Love grew up and shared his understanding of what it means to love one another on a massive scale.

If we can learn to love as Jesus taught about love, then we can learn to cope at work when the person in the next cubical is annoying. We can accept the choices other people make, even when we believe their choices are bad choices. We can engage with people we seem to have nothing in common with, knowing we are all part of humanity.

As I celebrate the Season of Christmas this year, I'm going to choose to cope with, accept and engage with others lovingly, knowing we are all imperfect people aiming to protect ourselves and share with others whatever part of us we think is best to offer. This is my choice for this day, and for every day.

I won't drop in at An Examined Life next week because it's Christmas Day. I hope you and yours will enjoy - in your own way - the day and the season, in the fullness of your understanding of what it's all about. From me to you, God bless! Personally, I don't think there is any such thing as too much love in the world, so I'm hoping Christmas - defined in that light - goes to excess for all.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

New Beginnings - Part 9 Home & the Reality of Change

A cloud of reality leads me upward, and I realize: I'm scared. I'm also relieved.

First, the scared part: I'm in a new land which is now my home. I couldn't call it home until now, but now the official documents say I'm here. Until recently, I was caught between two worlds, my homeland of Canada and a new start in Spain. I confess I've considered turning back, going home to what I know and love. The thought, "I've been a tourist, perhaps it's time I went home" went through my mind, and I was serious. But now I'm here, to stay, and with that reality, I admit I'm scared.

What am I scared of? It isn't the new language or new orientation or people. It isn't starting over with relationships to build and places to discover. What it is, is having no control. I'm in free-fall and I'm not usually the paratrooper type. I like planes well enough; to stay in them until they're back on the ground is adventure enough. I'm in a new land and have no idea what I'll do with my time from this moment on. Oh, I'll be a mom and wife and companion to people. I reckon I'll continue to write. But what is in store? I've no idea. And though I'm scared of the unknown and what is beyond my control, I am anticipating the positive. So I am scared, but I'm not afraid to fly.

Now, the relieved part: Here I am, living in Spain, with my family. We've lived in 3 countries within 5 years. I've found it difficult to have time to myself over the past few months of transition - the leaving and the arriving both consuming my focus. I have been saying since arriving in Spain: "I've moved" while in my heart of hearts I've only been in trial mode. Now, with my belongings (red tape finally cleared! - see last week's excerpt if you aren't familiar with the reference point) and my family here, it's hard to imagine moving on - again.

So, I'm at peace with this new situation and after a long transition and a few doubts behind me, I'm relieved.

Apart from becoming acquainted with a new language, I have a lot of adjustments to make and a lot of information to digest. Among these adjustments to my changes in circumstance, I need to know: How will my writing be a part of this new life? I feel like it - as well as I - have been in a holding pattern since October. Now, I'm in my own office again - albeit a new one to me - and I have my space and my time to compose. But is there something else to be focusing on, something more immediate or important to the general pulse of the universe that I must do, to ensure I'm playing my part? Truth is, I don't know. That's what scares me, and intrigues me as well.
Me at Work

You see, I see that I'm not really in control anymore. I realize life has moved me on, and at breakneck speed, to a surprising place. There are few moments in my life when I wasn't 'in control' and now I have a feeling I won't have that control any longer.

I want to continue to write. It is a life pulse for me. But what shall I write? And how shall I convey what I've already learned to others? After all, as a teacher once, it's hard to completely turn my back on something that's inside me. So I write, and I talk about writing. And what else?

My family is settling in. Now, it is perhaps my turn to discover what's here for me.

As Christmas approaches, I'd like to complete this cycle of New Beginnings and look toward the festive season and how all things point to another moment in time, one that is and was and will always be outside of ourselves and yet a part of ourselves. We all need love, joy and peace. For me, Jesus is the reason for this upcoming Season; but whether or not it is for you, this season does offer lots of love and joy and peace in little surprising places and moments and faces. As we come upon this Season, may you embrace every opportunity to enjoy those unexpected places, moments and faces.

Until next Thursday...

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

New Beginnings - Part 8 Red Tape

Spain. Land of sunshine, friendly people and... bureaucracy!

I like the reality of administration. It is necessary. It keeps people organized and if someone is trying to get away with something, it helps to keep them accountable... and society safer.

But those in Administration really need to have their thinking caps checked to ensure they are able to cope with their responsibilities, without extremes of megalomania or the propensity to get stuck in a box.

Spain is 'known' for its bureaucracy. I admire their system that so effectively manages to ensure its inhabitants are officially accounted for, so that benefits are available to those deserving, and taxes are paid by those who are required.

But sometimes, be it in Canada, Britain, Spain or worldwide, some Administrators seem to lack common sense.

As I write, my property is in a holding pattern, because a particular Customs official can't seem to grasp the fact that I've moved from Canada, where I lived for the past 4+ years. Perhaps leaving the wide plains of North America, 'land of the free', is unfathomable for him (or her). Or perhaps 15 documents that prove I lived there aren't enough. (Apparently there is a transfer document for residents who depart Spain - but Canada doesn't provide that, and neither do many/most other countries.) Or maybe he or she is seeking a promotion and so thinks that blocking my shipment and charging a duty will earn brownie points.

I remember once years ago (in Canada), when I had changed my name and sought to get a government social insurance card changed, the administrator had difficulty restraining herself from charging me. The rules stipulated that there was no charge for a legal name change. I'd changed my first name, legally; however, the woman at the desk couldn't reconcile her concept of a name change - so narrow as to include only a sir name through marriage - when I'd changed my Christian name by choice. She just couldn't widen her scope beyond her assumptions. Eventually, I invited her to call her superior, who was a more flexible thinker, and I had my card revised to incorporate my new name, free of charge.

We all experience red tape from time to time. It can be annoying and inconvenient. It's important not to let our frustrations out on the person behind the desk who is, after all, only trying to do his job.

Yet, when the individual is incompetent, we'd like to draw the line, wouldn't we? How do we cope when we don't experience 'fair play'?

The key is grace.

We all make mistakes. Patience, kindness, giving the benefit of the doubt is what we want when we make a mistake. Likewise, it's what we need to offer when we know we're right but have to wait for the other person to 'see the light', even when it is at our expense and inconvenience.

I'm telling myself this because it's getting more and more difficult for me to live this out at the present time.

Is my shipment going to be released tomorrow? Or will I be denied my goods again and be asked to offer further documents, charged for delays I didn't cause, and shuffle my schedule yet again? I don't know. But I do know shouting down a phone won't get me any closer to getting what I want.

I do ask myself "Why?" Why am I being forced the expense and inconvenience of waiting? Why is my documentation not being taken at face value when others before me have had theirs accepted? Why don't Customs officials have a better grasp of international bureaucracy so they don't ask of someone from another nation documentation that doesn't exist?

To be honest, I don't think the "Why" has as much to do with the Customs agent as it has to do with me. I think this experience is the opportunity for me to stretch my grace muscles. I'm getting a workout, that's for sure. Let's see how I manage tomorrow.

Until next week... and I'll let you know how things have panned out at the Customs office here in Spain.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

New Beginnings - Part 7 Loneliness

Moving has an inevitable aspect to it: loneliness.

J fishing by Alan Tun

I observe my son, who is happy enough at his new school; however, he shows signs of being lonely and he's not made a connection with any special friend yet. While he, at age nine, is not old enough to grasp the content of this discussion, I'd like to share some strategy to overcoming loneliness, or at least that sense of 'aloneness' which arises every now and then in life.

Moving to a new place isn't the only time we may encounter loneliness. We may feel lonely when we hold sole responsibility, or when we experience a poignant moment in our lives, but have no one to share it with. Whether the season is a challenging one or a victorious one, in life's ebb and flow, we all fair better when we have others with whom to share the significant moments.

So, how do we get through those times when we feel lonely?

We can keep busy, but that only masks the problem, rather than solving it.

I find I feel lonely when I've got no one with whom to share my thoughts, so I overcome by writing. Whether I am writing to myself, my God, or my journal, I am taking the ideas and impressions that are inside me and putting them outside of myself. The specific audience is less important to me than the communication. For me, the inability to express my thoughts is what makes me feel lonely, so finding a way to express myself takes away much of the isolation.

Maybe that's why so many people blog! Is that what is at the heart of the billions on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest? In our need to find a way to express ourselves we take our opportunities though the forums provided.

Creative expression of any kind is a way forward through 'Alone Seasons'. I see it in paintings, sculpture, dance, stories. I think it was Earnest Hemmingway who wrote 'the' shortest story:
"For Sale: One Pair of Baby Shoes, Never Been Worn."
That would have been a very lonely moment for the character who lived that ad.

A sense of isolation can be with us, whether surrounded by friends or by strangers. When we are aware of it, I think we need to face that sense head on. There is an emptiness inside each of us that, until recognized and addressed, will effect our decisions and behaviour. No one feels completely fulfilled, accepted, peaceful, understood, heard all of the time. Those 'empty' moments are also opportunities. They are moments that give us time to reflect on, to take stock of who we are: our character, our attitudes, our ambitions and our purpose. I believe that if we never look inside we never really grow, and so I think those moments of solitude - aka loneliness - are an essential part of life.

I welcome solitude. I dislike loneliness. To me, they are simply the flip side of each other. Like sunshine and rain, they have an attractive aspect and an unattractive one. But both are essential to ensure growth to maturity.

My son is experiencing loneliness. I hope he'll learn much in the solitude. I also hope he finds a special friend soon. For both solitude and relationship are essential to life.

Until next Thursday, may you find special moments to enjoy - with a friend and with yourself...for you can be your own best friend.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

New Beginnings - Part 6: What is the ultimate fresh start?

My Wedding Day

In a few days' time I will witness a wedding between two lovely people, as they agree to become one in spirit.

Two most obvious circumstances that represent new life come at birth and at marriage. But new life may also spring from any major change: confirmation, graduation, a new job, or a new home. 'Firsts' mark new beginnings: the first time you buy your own clothes, the first job, the first mortgage, the first baby - these are a few markers of change, responsibility and maturity. Card shops even encourage a new take on tragedies such as divorce, and encourage us to see the beauty and majesty when a loved one dies. Almost any change then, is a spark toward the new - the new being a trigger for positive feelings and hope.

While I'm in the process of experiencing the upheaval and excitement of a transcontinental move, I will pause and gaze at the newlyweds, who are full of hope, anticipation and the challenges of a new life together. I will look forward in my life with its own quirks, and will reflect back on the good fortunes and surprises life has given me. Yet, at such a time as this, nothing quite compares to the enthusiastic confidence between a couple of young adults, about to embark on momentous change: from depending on themselves to depending on each other, trusting in love, and a future full of promise. In whatever life may bring, they will stand together through it all, strong in themselves, but stronger with each other.

Next week I'll be back in Spain, with more thoughts and reflections about change, and how I manage to grapple with New Beginnings.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

New Beginnings - Part 5: Hiatus

Whirlwind Season

Makes me smile:

Wedding wonders

In my pathway to adore.

Visiting homeland

Number 2

Great Britain, great friends

And family too.

Off from Spain, to England I roam

When I'm done

I'll go back home.

Home is a new land

Adventure is near.

Home - where my furniture

Plants me for now.

Feet are stayed

On firm rock of truth:

Never forsaken

I'm looking to hope.

Feet escalating

From sand to sky to roads

Excited and feeling

Joy inside.

For wedding and wonders

Renewed ties galore

Love never-ending

Expression and release.

I'll attend the wedding

And celebrate their joy

Then go back to my new life

Ready to comply

With all of the changes

All new, fresh and real

My idea is "live,

Love, laugh.

And celebrate."

Whatever the countryside,

Language or verse

I'll climb every mountain

To gaze on this earth.

(This week I've returned back to England after a 5 year absence. It's great to be back among family and friends. Returning for the joyous occasion of the wedding of my step daughter, family and friends meet and embrace, and laugh together. It's wonderful. I hope you'll enjoy your occasions this week, be they formal or informal.)

Ready to Celebrate!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

New Beginnings - Part 4: Low Point

Mediterranean Waterfront by Sarah Tun

I reached a low point in The Adventure this past week. Someone else who has already experienced the transcontinental move to Spain calls it 'a wall'.

I felt weary at this wall, isolated and unfocused.

Have you ever felt like that? Have you ever felt defeated, disappointed, alone and weary all at once?

Some might call the feeling 'depression', though it didn't last more than a day; it was sharp but mercifully short.

The low was triggered by our finding the possibility of a new home. Was it distressing because it symbolized permanence? It should be exciting, a relief! But the near-certainty of it brought me low, I think in part because I'm aware it isn't ideal. The location is a bit isolated.

This triggered my awareness of isolation.

The low that came upon me last week was exacerbated with my son being on school holiday; home all week, we used the time for him to catch up on worked missed because he joined the school in mid-October. But my son doesn't home school well. He's a perfectionist who rushes through everything, so it's never perfect, and he's repeatedly upset.

In giving him my time and attention, I had little left for myself. My outlet is creative writing and prayerful consideration of relationships and circumstances. Without quiet and solitude, I cannot process my own thoughts and impressions. I get lost.

Last week I got lost.

Further, we've attended the same church three consecutive weeks and are beginning to engage in some meaningful conversation. But we will, by necessity, be absent for the next few weeks. Have we had a false start at relationships?

I'm feeling better now - circumstances haven't changed but I found time for peace and quiet reflection during the wee hours, while the rest of the house slept. Putting pen to paper, solitude and time with God has changed me.

Over the wall, I can now look back at it, inspect it and learn from it.

What was I experiencing during that low dip?

Lethargy. Sadness. The desire to curl up and keep warm (although the room temperature and outside temperature has been over 20 degrees Celsius). The need to be held (though human arms won't satisfy my need).

The cure? Prayer, silence, writing, and knowing I have the choice to persevere. This is the place where I find God's perspective, and the reminder of why I'm in transition in the first place: because I sought the LORD and His will. Every time I've surrendered, my life has blossomed. Why would this time bring anything different?

Now, there is praise. It came both during and after the low. For praise in what is certain lifts us out of uncertainty. And praise helps our determination. We know that this season won't last forever, that old friends are available, and new friends are around the corner.

Now isn't easy. But now is always temporary.

Until next week... may you be richly blessed, stay blessed, know yourself and enjoy being you.

Getting my toes wet by Sarah Tun

Thursday, 30 October 2014

New Beginnings Part 3 - Recognizing the blessings in a foreign land

I used to wake up to the sun. My house in Bath, Ontario, Canada overlooked Lake Ontario. Our house sat 50 feet from the lake and my bed overlooked the sunrise.

Today I drove my son to school. It's a short drive from La Cala to Fuengirola, along the Costa del Sol. I drive along the Mediterranean, facing east as I travel.

The sun rises in Spain after 8 am. Today, as every day since my son began school 9 days ago, I drove him to school and faced the red round ball as it came over the horizon. But today was special. Today I realized a blessing. I still get the sunrise in the morning.

It's a simple thing, being blessed. But often it takes us hours, days, even years to realize just how blessed you are.

I am a Christian. But you don't have to be a Christian to be blessed. You just have to realize that in every situation is the opportunity to recognize the blessing in it.

It has taken me 9 repetitions to realize I still experience sunrise every day. I love it. And I am aware, again, just how very loved I am.

God bless you all, readers. May you discover a new blessing today.

End Note: I would really value if you would consider inviting one person to join this blog. If you follow it because it comes into your inbox, or you're on Google+ and you see it there, would you consider joining it? I'd really enjoy having you 'on board'.

May you enjoy your week ahead, and until next Thursday, Buenos Tardes.

The Universal Wonder of a Beautiful Sunrise

Thursday, 23 October 2014

New Beginnings - Part 2 Personal navigation in a foreign country

I have moved country and am in the process of seeking a new home for my family and settling in. So, I have important decisions to make. How can I be sure my decisions will be the best decisions? How can I be sure to keep myself on an even keel, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

How do I navigate in a new society, where so little is familiar?

A few days ago I did the unthinkable for me: I chose random experience as my decision-making strategy. I threw two pieces of paper up in the air, each which had information for a different potential home, with the view that whichever one landed first would be the one I would pursue.

One did land before the other; I contacted the relevant realtor/estate agent to pursue that first one.

So far, I've not had a clear response from the agent connected to that property, and I continue to pursue a home through other contacts. But this was a fascinating experience -  a one-of-a-kind for me - because I am the sort of decision-maker that usually makes a decision using facts, gut instinct and prayer. I can't remember ever being so 'random'. It's one way, but not usually my way of choice, to make a decision.

Right now my family is living in a cozy, safe, quiet, pleasant apartment on the Costa del Sol. We have much to be grateful for: the climate is warm and sunny, the people are friendly, the environment is safe, we know some people from England who live here.

But have you experienced how difficult it can be to stay grounded, clear-headed, and focused, when you are not in your own home, in your familiar neighbourhood, surrounded by familiar places, people or things?

How do we navigate when we seem to have little that is familiar on which to lean?

For me, the keys are accountability and structure.

If I keep to a routine of self control in diet, exercise and prayer, it's helpful.
If I continue in my writing, my reading and my reflection, I am able to maintain my sense of identity and emotional balance.
If I continue to relate to friends from abroad (the internet makes that so easy!), stay close to my husband, and allow events to take their course rather than seeking to control my circumstances, I find I remain connected to myself in surroundings that are so new, and yet am able to enjoy discovering this new world in which I find myself.

My son has found his school. My husband has his job. They are settling in in their own ways.
And I find I have time to be myself, with you and within, which helps me to navigate through tremendous change.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

New Beginnings - Adventures through Transcontinental Moving

What does one do to settle into a new home? Magnify that by 1000 and you have a sense of what it's like to change country.

My son began in his new school this week. Thank goodness there was room in our first choice of school. This meant he could begin with only a week's break between our living in Canada and our living in Spain. It also meant God heard our prayers and the over-subscribed school's waiting list had dwindled enough to get to our son. Yippee!! He's in.

Now to find a home.

Home is where the heart is. Where is mine? With my son, my husband and - although not homesick - it is, I confess, a bit with my shoreline of Lake Ontario.

Today I was driving along the Costa del Sol. Driving along the shoreline of the Mediterranean, who wouldn't say, "Wow!" It is beautiful. But it made me think of my lake and reflect on the languid peace and quiet there.

What will I do away from my shoreline? How will I write? Will I write, or will I find myself trundling back and forth between Jordan's school and my hubby's workplace so that I can have the car during the day? Will we settle near the school? Or near the job? Or neither? What will our neighbours be like? Will there be children? Will there be neighbours?

The questions go on and on, if I let them.

Instead, I search for a home by locality, narrowing down the circumference a little each day.

We have a bank account but no medical care. There are hairdressers galore and cheaper than in Canada. Everything will all work out.

What do you do when you leave everything and move to a new land? You trust! If you don't, you panic. And there's nothing - no productivity, no power - in panic. No. You trust. You trust that everything is going to work out. And one day, you'll have as many friends as you left behind, as many responsibilities as you were tired of, and just as many projects on the go. Life will be all the sweeter for the memories you have of the past, and the anticipation for the future.

For now, I'm relieved my son is happy and my husband is fulfilled. As for me? They'll be time enough for me, once we have a home. Such are the nesting instincts, it seems, for this wife and mother.

Maybe by next week I'll have something to report about a new permanent home. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the warm October sunshine. Whether you're experiencing North American autumn, chilly Northern Europe or a gentle Antipodean spring, may you make a memory this week that will last a lifetime.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Going Deeper into Self - Part 6 Ode to what is passed

A Poem of Farewell

I bade farewell to fond friendships:
Some exchanged, some too busy to explore -
I know I did my utmost
To receive and give once more.

I came from there and now I'm here; 
I know not when to return.
But in this world of brief encounters -
I've had my share and more.

I love my homeland, O Canada
With people, plans and places
I bade goodbye with many a sigh
And gratitude to the beautiful faces.

Now, as I see: new land is home.
Such interest and so bright;
The sun shines strong, the air is warm
And I'm ready to begin once more.

I was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. After teaching for a few years, I left to study. Eventually, I found long-lasting love in England. Twenty years on, returning with my family to Canada (after extensive travel to all but one continent), I re-engaged with my homeland and its people, loving every precious moment. Five years in Canada have passed pleasantly. I love my culture, its work ethic and easy way with people.

Now, called elsewhere, I've arrived in Spain. How thrilling, how daunting, how surprising to be here!

I stand in the balance between here and there, so grateful for all that has passed, so hopeful for what is to come.

As I begin anew - once more -  I hope I'll be staying for a good, long while. Ready to settle, I hope visitors will come - galore.

Have you ever moved country? It's funny really, but no matter where I live, I've found, I'm always with me. And the more I change location the more I grow, and appreciate my own roots and those of others.

One day, I believe, Heaven will come to the Earth, and with it will be a grand sense of 'arrival'. Until then, we create our own paradise if we appreciate what we have and enjoy ourselves and the people around us.

As for me, I seem to have a habit of landing in lovely locations... Here I am again, on the south coast of Spain, very blessed.

To synthesize, I've learned a bit from the trans Atlantic experiences in my life. I'll summarize my perspective this way:

Enjoy where you are. Never wish to be anywhere other than where you've been placed for this time.
Enjoy who you have in your life. Accept and explore life with those people and places you encounter.
Life is full of surprises... and each person is a blessing to your life. Take on board the opportunities you have for relationship
, and don't delay; you never know how quickly circumstances may change, and you don't want to regret the exchanges that 'might have been'.

Next week, I plan to share this new journey with you... twists, turns, surprises and all.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Going Deeper into Self - Part 5 A fond farewell

I will mourn departure from my homeland... Canada, the True north, Strong and Free.
Amherstview Lake Shore, Lake Ontario, Canada

A week or two ago, activity in the North comprised of the Russians encroaching on Canadian air space and the USA passing over until the R's departed.

Canada, Russia and China are the largest countries in the world (Brazil holds it's own in that department but for this conversation isn't relevant). Each of these reaches to the North, but only Canada is a truly free nation. I am truly free to vote, think and speak my mind without fear of Government reprisal. In fact, social oppression is slight in Canada and even political correctness, though present, is not pervasive. We are truly free. And as anyone from First Nations can attest, we are truly north, too. (Brrrr!)

I live in a country I love. For the past 5 years I've enjoyed the sights and sounds of my own culture after being absent for 20. Wholeheartedly, I felt welcomed back. Now, as I prepare to leave for sunny Spain, anticipating blessings and challenges, I mourn, a little, the departure.

I love Canada. The winters are white, the summers are smooth, the people are gracious and the heart of the nation is to befriend.

I will miss you, Canada. Thank you for raising me to be who I am. Thank you for showing my husband the grandeur of a humble nation, and my son the integrity which is a part of his Canadian heritage. Thank you for reminding me I come from good stock, worthy of respect but modest in demeanor, quietly proud.

The Sun rises in the East - from My Bedroom Window I Gaze

I will miss my lake shore view: daily I rose facing east and enjoyed the sunrise, the waves lapping.... or often the water was as still as glass. Morning by morning I scrambled for my child's breakfast, hastily putting together lunch and nagging him to catch his bus: Yes, the proverbial yellow school bus made famous by Hollywood and the Networks... and our own "Timothy Goes to School".

I will miss the unique vigour needed to shovel snow. I will miss the Bath Canada Day Parade, where candy is tossed lovingly into a crowd full of children, and the fireworks are second to none - thanks to Lafarge. And P's huge Canada Day party, where anyone and everyone converges for the day onto their corner lot for wine and cheese and friendly chatter. I will miss people, I will miss church, I will miss the scent of the land.

Canada, I will miss you.

I am stronger than when I returned 5 years ago. I am more loving, more gracious, more patient. This is largely due to my walk with God, but in part due to my beloved Canada and its people.

Thank you, Canada. Thank you, Ontario. Thank you, friends and church family and God, for bringing me back.

Long may you continue, strong and free in the north, true to self, true to history, true to what is right in the world.

Next Thursday I will be living in Spain. I am excited and enthusiastic about the move. 'Moss does not grow on me.' I look forward to writing to you, and hope you'll continue to look forward to all that life offers and share some of your moments with me.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Going Deeper into Self - Part 4 Testimony of Peace

I have peace in my heart because of choices I've made along my way to trust.

How do I make a choice to trust when I've been damaged or hurt in the past? How do I know I can trust? My answer to the pain and hurt I experienced was that I learned to trust a trustworthy person. I learned to trust Jesus.

I trust Jesus, and while it took a longer time, I also trust Yahweh: Father God the maker of Heaven and Earth.

Along my way, I also learned what's in the Bible. I studied for myself, allowing my own mind and heart to look into what the Bible had to say. I learned by experience and answered prayer, to trust what was in that book and to trust the one who inspired it.

I trust the Holy Spirit and the Holy Bible and recognize that the where the Spirit leads there is truth, safety and majesty.

These may seem like sentimental or religious concepts, but they are the truth of my experience.

You know those weight loss images of 'before' and 'after'? Well, in my self image, there is the 'before' and 'after' of my life. While I always had a belief in Jesus as the Son of God, I didn't trust him or know him as a friend and Lord until I was 24.

Before 24 I was an emotional mess. At 24 I had a moment where I said, "If you're there I'll follow you." Then, he gave me a job where there was none, and new hope, and I realized He was there. So, I followed.

Now, at 55, I am following him still.

This time, I have peace in my heart through an international move. My family is moving to Spain (from Ontario, Canada) and I have peace.

Oh, it's busy, exciting and an emotional roller coaster. But it's a wonderful time.

There is a verse (2 actually) in Proverbs in the Bible that says,

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
In All your ways acknowledge Him and He will give you the desires of your heart." Proverbs 3:5,6

I am preparing my family for the move. We have all chosen - even my nine-year-old - to trust this move is for our good and for good purpose in the bigger picture. Our attitude to trust makes it all the easier to make the move, even though moving is up high on the list of stressful circumstances, such as divorce and job loss.

Trust was an initial decision I made 31 years ago. And trust has deepened with each experience, as each experience has proven worthy of trust; every outcome has brought a good end. I've naturally deepened my trust. This has been my journey of some thirty years and so I continue.

Peace in my heart reigns because I choose to trust, every time, the God of the universe.

Best to you for the week. May you have wisdom in each of your decisions, and people worthy of your trust in your life.

Me, taken by my son

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Going Deeper into Self - Part 3 Finding Peace with Supernatural Heart

The Supernatural is all around us. But when I examine my heart, I know there is only one source of the supernatural that is truth and goodness. Holy Spirit comes from God and is our comforter, our convictor, our teacher; He loves, cares for, understands, protects and keeps us. He offers perfect advice. There are other forms of peace and other forms of the supernatural, but they are a counterfeit of the life that is intended for us. How do I know what is the true source of peace? I know, because I've experienced the counterfeit in many forms. I have friends who have also who, like me have come to experience the genuine article. There is no comparison.

For those who know and follow Jesus personally, this won't be new news. For those who do not, it may be a new reflection to consider.

He is my source of peace.

Last time I wrote about peace of mind. Now, I write about peace... peace in my heart that surpasses all other peace. It reaches beyond circumstances, beyond relationships, beyond the ups-and-downs of life.

For example, in the mundane of my life, it looks as though the family is going to be making a trans continental move. That is huge! I've done it before. I may again; who knows? God knows, and I have perfect peace.

I've learned that stressing and trying to control is fruitless, while diligence and rest in perfect balance get the job done, while enabling me to enjoy life at the same time.

Oh, there is the stress of moving: packing, settling a child, finding new friends and maintaining long-distance relationships with those I treasure (... and when they realize they treasure me back, oh how lovely an experience it is, just to be alive!), re-organizing, ensuring stimulating work while not overloading myself, adjusting (first time) to a foreign language - though my move to England proved to require a more foreign adjustment than expected... ha!... but that's a sidebar for another time!

If the Holy Spirit were to be the guide for all of us, there would be universal peace. Terror, friction, war, dispute, contention reside in insecurity, fear, or the desire to control. The peace of God - through the Holy Spirit - surpasses understanding. Its proof is in the experience. If you've experienced it, please raise a hand. If not, please don't knock what you don't know.

Where there is animosity or conflict, there is a lack of peace; where there is assurance, there is peace.

I suppose that's what Heaven on Earth offers, if only we can get our minds around it.

Until next Thursday, may God's peace invade and pervade your life.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Going Deeper into Self - Part 2 - Have you faced the Authentic You?

"What really lies inside me?"

Do you ever ask yourself that question?

Are you conscious of every nuance within your heart? Have you acknowledged every yearning? And if you've plunged 'the depths of your soul', what have you found? A deep need, passion or ability yet untapped? If so, have you surrendered it or have you surrendered to it?

Do you ask yourself: "Are there still unresolved passions within me, for better or worse, that are unfulfilled?"

I do.

I wrestle with myself. On the one hand, I want desperately to tap into the spiritual chasm within me, to discover what I value the most. And yet, it's hard work to go that deeply into myself. I can't help feeling helpless as I do it; I'm driven, compelled to understand my inner world, and yet simultaneously, I fear it.

What is it that I'm afraid of? I don't know which is worse: the thought of dark passions that are heinous and harmful, or the possibility that there is nothing of significance within me. To be 'bad' or to be 'dull' are both undesirable.

Nevertheless, I do press on... Hungry for truth and aware that truth will set me free. I keep digging, searching, questing for who I am. Because deep within me - within all of us, I believe - is a golden core of creativity and energy that is invaluable. I was created for a significant purpose and I desire to find that purpose and fulfill it. And I admit, I hope the same for everyone.

I believe that we are a bundle of thoughts, feelings, ideas, impressions, creativity, and productivity. I believe we've been born with a purpose and we are naturally driven to discover and achieve it. And when we are engaged in activity that draws us toward our innate passion, we are closer to fulfillment.

I press on in my search for fulfillment. I yearn for it because in fulfillment I will find peace of mind. Peace of mind comes when the truth of my desires and my purpose are aligned. Peace of mind comes when the reason for my being is in harmony with my activity. Peace of mind comes when I know that what I am doing is precisely what I was put on the earth to do. There is satisfaction in that.

Still, as I am digging for that purpose, I am also apprehensive, wary and hesitant. What if I miss it? Or what if I find it and it is too difficult for me?

Pursuing, I am full of nervous energy, imagining myself perfectly aligned with my raison d'etre.

Like an archaeologist with only a pick and chisel, I chip away at the layers of my life, at the layers of my heart until the blood vessels are exposed. Then I find relief because the light pours in and exposes those hidden things and the discovery sets me free.

When the dig is complete, the light of self-knowledge, hope, love and revelation will bring me to myself.

And in my mind I will have peace!

Next time I'll share about peace within my heart. Until then, may you dig deep and experience great reward.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

New Series - Going Deeper into self: Part 1 From Disengagement to Engagement

Ever feel disengaged with yourself, thinking: 'Am I going out of my mind?'

It's wonderful to be back, sharing my thoughts with you. Summer was wonderful in so many ways, but I love to sit at my computer composing, and gaze over the top of the screen onto a scene most extraordinary: my backyard on the shore of Lake Ontario.
Me and 'my lakeshore'

I'd like to share a reflection from a few days ago...

'I suppose I'm "out of my mind." Not crazy, but rather experiencing a sense of mindlessness - of being conscious but with my intellect/concentration/focus distracted. A feeling of vagueness - being unable to think deeply. I seem to be experiencing life differently from usual. I sense I'm outside of my head, detached and unclear, and I don't like it!

Ever feel like that? Like you have ideas to be expressed but you can't quite connect with them in your conscious mind?

As I compose this, it is Labour Day in N America - when the summer season's decline gives way to a new school year for children (and a new start for families; with mothers and fathers also effected by children's return to their routines, it gives room for the adults' return to theirs.

Over the last few months I've been wondering about continuing with this blog, because I write a few different ones. This summer I've come to realize:

I have to keep this blog!

Those of you who have been following will know I've been dithering about this for a while. Friendly encouragement has kept me going after I'd built a new website last spring, including a 4-path blog which developed through that site.
( www.LarusPress.com/category/larusblog for posts ).

Now I'm self-motivated too.

"An Examined Life" is important to me because it's me on paper, with glimpses of wisdom and universal truth others seem to benefit from... But I also gain from composing my thoughts, even making them public. I recently wrote in a gift book to a friend, "Words written down are experiences remembered."

Best of all, "An Examined Life" allows me to connect my thoughts with my feelings, and vice verse and for that I am truly thankful. The bridge between emotion and thought enables creativity, and occasionally wit and expression, which I use as a guide for making life choices; life is not random or confused, but rather it is clear and deliberate; writing grounds me and comforts me, who lives a self-imposed busy life on this demanding sphere.

I discover myself daily when I pray, but when I write I synthesize that which I discover. Sometimes its worth sharing, and I love those moments when life, composition and relationship intertwine.'

So, here I am, with you 100%, excited for the new season which lies ahead.

Next week I'll dig deeper still into self, digging to discover universal truths about our minds as our thoughts intertwine with our feelings to produce activity and productivity.

God bless.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Final week of holidays

May your mountains be small and your valleys rich and plush. May God bless you and keep you, the LORD make His face to shine upon you and give you peace....

I plan to be back with new thoughts and ideas next Thursday - 4th September.

In the meantime, enjoy past posts and may you have a wonderful Labour Day Weekend.


Thursday, 31 July 2014

An Examined Life by Sarah Tun

Inspiring Christians to Soar
An Examined Life by Sarah Tun may continue but it cannot be posted via email any more.

If you have followed this site and have received by email in the past and have enjoyed receiving it, check it out by going to:
sign up and become a follower directly from this site by clicking the 'join this site' box to the right of the posts window directly on the site.

I'd love to know your comments, share your insights, but I can't if you don't check it out.

I am going to take the month of August off, and so until September you can browse this website: http:sarahtunexaminelife.blogspot.com and join, so that when I post anew starting in September, you will receive the post directly as you have ordered.

I also post at: www.LarusPress.com/category/larusblog. You can join to receive those posts directly by signing up for the weekly newsletter, Soaring Post.

Hoping the best for you.. wanting that all share in the glory God has for us.


Larus Press

I am the founder of Larus Press: Christian-based books, blogs and literature to inspire, encourage, equip and empower your living spirit. Those who know Jesus Christ will receive spiritual nourishment; those who have not yet chosen to walk his path may discover their desire.

See: www.LarusPress.com

Thursday, 24 July 2014

How to overcome the fear of success - from Fear... not - Part 7

Obscurity. What is the opposite of success? Obscurity is the opposite of success.

Do you know a cure for fear of success? Self knowledge is the cure for fear of success... at least it is for me.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke on the subject of Fear... not I branched into the subject of Fear of Success. I have continued to think about this issue, because until recently I'd not put my finger on why I am afraid of success. Now, I believe I have discovered the cause.

Last week I reached out, stretched forth, eager and willing to strain toward success and overcoming fear. Then, I hit on the root cause or the essence of my fear. Allow me to explain.

As an author, in order to achieve success my name needs to be recognized so that my words and my books will be read. Now, thanks to Lance Wallnau ("Take All 7" (c) 2008, Lance Learning Group), an expert and public speaker on personal and organizational transformation, I've recognized my own hand in my failure.

What provokes failure? In my case, success has eluded me because I've shrunk from notoriety. I have held onto my identity as a person who is unknown. I have done so because - at least in my perception - my peer group, who has different aspirations and interests, exists in relative obscurity.

While I've worked hard to perfect my writing craft and have sought to grow as a person with a worthwhile message, in secret I've wanted to maintain the status quo... I have remained obscure and have resisted the very success I have worked so hard to achieve, because I've clung to my peer group. I have feared the notoriety I need to become successful.

In order to succeed, I need to allow my identity to change... I need to allow myself to connect with a different set of peers. I don't mean I can't keep my friends. I mean I need to allow myself to reach into an identity that has a set of peers who is 'successful', who has the sort of notoriety I need in order to be successful.

I have friends and acquaintances that excel in their work. But for the most part, I don't have friends or acquaintances who strive for the public recognition that I strive for. In fact, the thought of belonging in a peer group of famed people intimidates me. And that is what has held me back. I have feared success because I've feared relating to people of that sort of success.

How do I change? My attitude needs to grow into one of accepting all people and of recognizing that notoriety is just a facet of some people's lives.

Without allowing myself the recognition I need to draw people to buy my books, I'm not going to succeed. I need to allow myself to entertain the notion of belonging to a different set of peers. I need to face the fear of loneliness. I need to allow myself to accept this new set of peers before I meet them, so that I can accept myself as a part of this peer group.

I need to accept myself as a person of notoriety; I need to accept who I will be as a person of success. I need to trust that I will not be different just because my position is different. And I need to be willing to allow myself to be in that different position.

Last week I said I was eager to soar. Now I need to spread my wings. I need to embrace whatever encounter I may have with whatever set of people I may encounter.

Then, I will no longer fear the recognition I need to build, and I will be ready to succeed.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Fear of Success (continued) : Fear... not - part 6

I stand at a deciding moment - the edge of the cliff. As I consider the options open to me someone asks me, "Imagine yourself in thirty years' time and you are in your rocking chair. Looking back what would you most regret not doing."

The answer is clear. I must jump. Here I go.....

A time to Soar

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Fear of Success: Fear... not - Part 5

How can anyone be afraid of success? Well, I have been.

I have worked hard most of my life. I'm a bit of a workaholic I suppose. Enjoying diligence, creative expression and doing my best to do my best, I don't mind how many hours I put in. But, while I love to achieve, I'm always held back by one thing: being in the spotlight.

I like to achieve in a craft. I have a work ethic that says, "Work hard, use your talents, enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done." I've always lived that ethic, I have the credentials and output to prove it.

But notoriety and worldly success have so far eluded me. And here's why...

I choke. I never quite get to the top.

First, I'm too modest. I find it difficult to promote myself, and get self-conscious when complemented. I guess I feel shy at the attention. I love it and I dread it. I have this tape inside my head that says, 'don't show how you really feel'. I am delighted by encouraging words. Yet, I tend to deflect compliments, thanking someone graciously, yet, rarely allowing myself to enjoy the experience of my work - or myself - being appreciated.

Where does this sabotage of joy come from? Who knows. It doesn't really matter. I value generous words but I don't fully receive them. And that causes an even bigger problem, which is that...

Second, every time I climb toward a major accomplishment, I can't quite get over the ridge. I don't quite let myself succeed.

There's a story in the Bible. 12 men are told to check out the Land of Milk and Honey that God has promised they will have. They go and spy on the land, which is inhabited. Then, they go back to Moses, their leader, to report on what they saw.

Two men are very excited. The land is, indeed, flowing with milk and honey - it's rich and luscious and very promising. The other ten men see the land but are seriously intimidated by the people who live there, the people who they'd have to conquer in order to gain the land.

I've always thought I was like one of the two men who saw the possibilities and did not shy away from the challenges. But now, I think I'm seeing myself as I really am. Perhaps I've always been like one of the ten. Although I'm disguised, wearing a cloak of courage to take a risk, I'm actually clothed in fear underneath, and never quite go for it all.
Contemplative Gull

Right at this moment, I am at a precipice of decision. Shall I press forward in a particular aspect of my
work, or shall I draw back? Shall I soar, or hold back; right now I'm just thinking... I guess what I've always done in the past is to press forward in action but in heart, I've held back.

Now that I see this in myself, which choice will I make?

In the Bible story, the ten won the vote over the two, and the people waited 40 years before they got to the Promised Land. I'm not getting any younger. It seems to me, either I push forward 'for real' or I don't bother even to pretend.

What would you advise?

God bless... I remind you to have a look at the website for my publishing company, Larus Press: www.LarusPress.com. Have a look at the blogs... consider signing up for the free weekly newsletter, Soaring Post. Everything I write is to encourage others to discover their identity and purpose and to grow to be all God has created them to be. Larus Press seeks to inspire, encourage, equip, empower your living spirit.

Until next week....