Friday, April 25, 2014

Intentional Gratefulness v. 1

Photo via Pinterest

It's admittedly been a little quiet here on the blog lately. But I think every blogger sometimes has moments where life just gets in the way, and I think that can sometimes be a good thing. In my case, it hasn't been anything bad, quite the opposite - I have lots of reasons to smile lately. I've been busy loving life.

And so I thought it high time to begin a weekly series on gratefulness, coming to you each and every Friday. I was inspired by the journey my dear friend Beth has been going on - finding things big and small to be grateful for each day and documenting them on her tumblr. As this video adorably if un-scientifically proved, being grateful can and does have a huge impact on happiness. I have certainly found it to be true for me. And so, as both a log of blessings in my life as well as a method of keeping myself accountable to living in a state of intentional gratitude, this series was born.

My vision for this series was to capture these blessings and small joys in photographic form, but since I've essentially been walking on a cloud for the last few weeks, knowing that after many, many long years I will finally be going back to the little country that found a permanent place in my heart - Switzerland - I think it only right that that story gets full focus in this inaugural gratefulness post. I don't think it is possible to describe the level of joy that I feel about these upcoming travels. And when I saw this image on Pinterest - I thought the idea of "sunshine in my soul" captured it really well.

A bit of backstory - if you are interested: Fresh out of high school, I went on an exchange year to Switzerland. It is worth noting that we had a bit of a choice of countries to go to - and Switzerland was not on my list (I chose all Asian countries), or even on my radar as a place to go. It was, however the top choice of my friend Ellen. When it was announced to us eager outbound exchange students that she was going to Thailand and I to Switzerland, she burst out into excited happiness which prompted my then (and who am I kidding, still) very shy self not to mention what seemed to be an obvious mistake. Instead, I opted simply to grin and bear the fact that I was going to some country I'd barely heard of outside of the fact that it was the destination of the Von Trapp family at the end of the Sound of Music. I managed to hold it together until I got to the car where my mom was waiting, and promptly - and ungratefully - burst into tears. She reassured me that there must be some reason why I was going to Switzerland, and that I would surely see what that was soon enough.

As mothers often are, she was right - indeed there was a reason. Upon arrival, I met the most wonderful, warm, fun and loving family you could imagine, who I stayed with for six happy months (before the obligatory switching up of host families), and fell absolutely in love with all of them almost instantaneously. I think it was likely because I immediately felt that they were truly some of the kindest and most beautiful souls I have ever had the pleasure of knowing - and they proved me right again, and again, and continue to do so to this day. Lots of memories were made - there was laughter, tears, jokes, hikes (with bleeding feet: mine), baking disasters (also mine) and so much more - and I found that I suddenly had a whole extra family. They became, and still are, as close in my heart as my own family here in Canada. I even cajoled my dearest little brother S├ębastien (who is now totally grown up - even if I still picture him as a gangly 15 year-old) into at least considering coming to Canada on an exchange of his own. He subsequently did, and of all of the cities, towns, or provinces he could have ended up in, he landed in Moncton, NB. Which, as it happens, was where I was attending university, in the third year of my undergraduate studies. Fated to know this wonderful family? All the signs pointed to yes. The rest of the family journeyed to Canada to visit at the end of his exchange year, and on summer days spent swimming, strolling PEI's sandy shores and watching sunsets over the Gulf of St. Lawrence, it felt like all of the pieces that had been missing from my heart were finally back in the place where they truly belonged.

Fast forward the nine long years in which we haven't seen each other (far too long, I admit) to last spring, in arguably one of the toughest years I've had to date. It took one conversation with one member of that special Swiss family to spark the thought of a possible visit with the people who fill my heart with so much joy - a visit that has been such a long time coming. That whisper of a hope got me through, gave me a reason, when sometimes it felt like I didn't have many, to get up in the morning, to stand up and take notice. I credit that hope with enabling me to pick up the pieces and turn things around - to move forward. Giving me yet one more reason to be grateful that I ended up in the country of chocolate, cheese and cowbells instead of spices, heat and shining Buddhist temples - with people who would impact my life in so many positive ways, and fill my heart with more blessings than I can count.

 Even though oceans, borders and time have for far too long separated us, we will  finally have a long-awaited reunion and I am thrilled. Over-the-moon. Joyful beyond words. And absolutely grateful, more than words are able to express.

The 60-odd days until I take flight across the land and over the sea to the home of my heart cannot pass quickly enough. 


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4 comments:

Cee said...

I know exactly how you feel - because it's how I feel every time I go back to Paris, even though I've been able to do is so frequently. We all have so many little things to be grateful for every day, but sometimes a big one like this is nice, too ;)
xox,
Cee

TheLeigha72 said...

Thank you Rebecca, for this inspiring morning read.
I believe, gratitude may very well be the single most important state of being when we look at living consciously in faith and walking in the light of happiness.
My circle of gratitude would not be complete without you.
Have the very best of trips!

Pop Champagne said...

you are going to have sooo much fun on this trip! and it's so rare and fortunate to meet nice people like those.... Take lots of pictures during your eat pray love!! :) meanwhile what are your plans next week?! want to try the Speakeasy at Union?!

Leah said...

That's amazing! I hope the time flies by, and before you know it you'll be hopping a plane to Switzerland!