Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sharing from a web site: Let life come

I frequently read Today’s message from this web site spoke to me.

I find it empowering to know that for the thoughts that I have, they are for a real reason…maybe a sign of things to come or things that are possible.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Let life come

Let life come, without striving to force it. Let life come, and it will unfold with great abundance.

The feeling you seek is already yours. If it was not, then how could you even know about it?

Allow that feeling to live and breathe and grow and flow throughout your life. The life you wish to experience is yours when you let go and let it be.

Listen to those little inspirations that quietly whisper. There is a reason why you hear them and feel their truth.

Act in harmony with what you know is right and what you know is best. Instead of struggling against what is, ride joyously and successfully along with life's continuously unfolding possibilities.

Let life come. And live the beauty as each new moment is born.

-- Ralph Marston

Monday, June 8, 2009

Eating, drinking, relationships & dancing

I can't believe tonight is my last night in Sofia! I had no preconceived plans or ideas about what this trip would be like. It's a good thing I didn't waste my time thinking or planning because I would have been way off base! This trip has been life altering for me. Everything about it has changed many parts of who I am, what I think about who I am, what I think about what I am capable of, what I think about people in another country, what I think about friends, co-workers, relationships. This trip has shown me the depth of the relationships in my life and the support and encouragement people have for me. I am so grateful and realize the power of relationships and the strength that they provide. I am sure I won't realize everything until I am home and even more over the days to come.

Being in a routine, although only for a week, has created some level of comfort. The hotel is very nice and the staff has been very helpful. Having breakfast in the same place to start the day has been nice. Going to the same office most of the days to see the same faces and build relationships and share information will lead this project to further success.

The last night here in Sofia was so enjoyable! Because of the culture here where meals are big social events, we spent 4 hours at dinner! I didn't even look at my watch during the evening. It didn't matter what time it was - I was having so much fun. The tables sit at least 12 people. We didn't see any small groups there tonight. The appetizers were out when we arrive. Everyone shares from a huge platter in the middle of the table. You can imagine how big the tables are if a platter to feed 12 people is in the middle yet there is enough room to have a plate in front of each person. We all helped ourselves to cut up vegetables, eggplant/pepper mix, yogurt/cucumber salad. All this was on top of huge pita bread. This you would rip a piece off and dip it in a seasoning/salt mixture. Glasses of water and red wine were constantly being filled. Time went by while everyone continued to eat and talk and drink. They cleared that platter to bring another one. At the same time, some beautiful sounding singers started their performance. Then there were drummers. Then some people started dancing. Anyone could join in. The platter that contained the dinner had sausage, chicken, pork, potatoes and grilled vegetables. Again, water and wine glasses were replenished. More performances and more dancing. The dessert tray was the same...huge and full of options. One inch squares of wonderful desserts each with their own toothpick for sampling.

I did have to dance! The music is very easy to dance to. I didn't realize that while I was dancing someone picked up MY camera to take a picture. I am glad they did.

What great memories on this trip! I will never forget the experience and the things I have learned about life (some many parts to name but lots of material for future blogs).
My trip will be coming to an end but my writing won't. I hope you keep reading here and in any other forum that I write in.
If you are having doubts about yourself, ask a good friend how they see your strengths and gifts. Really listen. Believe them then believe in yourself. Take action one step at a time. The quality of your life and what you experience can bring you such rewards.
As my trip started out with someone I met on the plane saying "This isn't a dress rehearsal". Do what you want to do. Don't intentionally hurt anyone along the way. Live your life with passion!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A message even without a church service

I had made plans last night to go to and attend the local church service. I found, in the hotel booklet, a Lutheran service in English! How excited was I? It said it was at 9:00 AM. Great! That forced me to have a normal evening and bedtime so I could get up at a reasonable hour with reasonable amount of sleep and leave time for a nice breakfast downstairs.
I enjoyed my evening knowing plans were in place and fell asleep pretty quickly around 12:00 midnight. I woke before the alarm that I had set for 7:00 AM. That gave me plenty of time to check email, take a shower, eat and walk to church.
You should know that I do not enjoy eating alone in a restaurant. I have done it quite a few times and I am not sure why, but it just doesn't feel comfortable. I can eat alone at home in my house, and completely enjoy it by the way, but eating out alone is a different story to me. Since I was going alone this morning to service, I assumed I would be eating alone. Okay. I got my head in a different space so I wouldn't feel so uncomfortable. There weren't any other guests at the restaurant yet. So not only am I eating at a table alone, I am the only one eating! I asked if I could sit outside. The hostess said the tables were not set up but she would be happy to set a place if I wanted to eat outside. I was grateful. That way I thought I could enjoy the weather and sounds of Sofia on a Sunday morning.

The setting of this patio is very pretty. The area is secluded from the streets with walls only high enough to block the view and trees to buffer the noise. But on a Sunday morning, there is much less hustle and bustle from a work day. I was able to hear more of the birds which is one of the things I was looking for. Along the back edge of the patio was a nice wooden fence that was lined with roses. Most of them were in perfect bloom and they were a very pretty color.
I made sure that I took the time to enjoy eating my food and not hurry through the meal so I could just leave. The fresh squeezed orange juice is wonderful! There are machines at the local grocery stores (and assuming in the restaurant too) that make this juice. Mentioning again from my post about the food, that they eat well here. Nothing is added to the orange juice. I had a cup of coffee (there are some things I am not changing just because I am in another country!!). I do have my coffee with milk or cream because guess what, they don't have Coffee Mate fat free french vanilla here! I took some mushrooms, tomatoes (cut in half and grilled), scrambled eggs and a couple pieces of bacon. The food is in buffet containers as you would expect but it isn't piping fact it isn't really very warm. I was enjoying the simplicity of the food and beverages and the colors of the roses and sounds of the birds. I was relaxing and thankful that I was making positive changes about my attitude of eating alone. It turned out to be a nice experience.
I was looking forward to walking to church. I came back upstairs and did a few things and then decided it was time to start my next journey. I had to walk under the boulevard (underground stairs to walk under the busy street). There weren't many people around which was okay. People were walking their dogs, others were going somewhere else. I was conscious about how I was carrying myself and pretending I had a clue where I was going and not looking like a lost tourist! No one approached me so I guess I did okay. The tunnel was quiet. There were shops there but all were closed since it is Sunday (I miss that about home. I remember when stores weren't open on Sunday.) There was a lot of graffiti on the walls too - more than what is around the streets we have driven on. There were many points to take the stairs up so I took the first set I found. Hummm...not far enough. I was still on the same side of the street but in the next "lane" so to speak to catch a trolley maybe. So I go back downstairs and take the next set of stairs up. Would you guess? Not far enough. Now it was in a different "lane". I go back downstairs. I am laughing to myself. I didn't know I was going to get some exercise in on my trip-walking up and down stairs is good exercise and I looked good too in my church outfit! I finally go up the set of stairs that brings me to the other side of the boulevard :-) Now to find the street that the church is on. The brochure in the hotel is in English. The signs on the buildings and streets are in Bulgarian. Feeling a little lost and unprepared. I continue on and pray along the way for a divine nudge to go the right way.
I do end up finding A church. That was too easy. I walk in and hear male singing in a language that I don't recognize. I am a little confused and besides the brochure said the service was on the 2nd floor. There isn't an upstairs to this place that looks like it is what I am looking for. The church is very detailed inside. It is small and has maybe 20-30 tall wooden chairs. People are coming in and going out and performing some routine things like walking to the center and kneeling, blessing themselves and kissing whatever it was in front of them. A few people did this. Others came in with sticks. I watched a few people take their sticks and put them in an area where others were lit...kind of a candle area. I am not sure what it was for. So clearly I am not in the place I planned to be so I left.
I walked a little further and found a street sign that looks like what I wanted. I followed along until I got to the house number 4. Hummm...doesn't look like a building that would have a service in it and besides the iron gates were locked. My feet hurt because I have my heels on. It's warm out and I am starting to sweat. I am now sad. Should I have gone with someone? I think no because it wouldn't have turned out any different up to this point.
I asked a few people if they spoke English. They said no. I walked across the street to the 345 store (this is a local chain of market/grocery store). I asked again if someone spoke English. She said no but she motioned to me to follow her because someone else did. Good! Now I can ask where the church is. The cashier was the one I asked about the church. She pointed to the church I just came from. I explained further that I was looking for an English service but she said she didn't know of one. Now I am almost in tears! I leave the store and plan to go back to my room and sulk!
As I am leaving, a man calls to me. He spoke a little English and asked me what I was looking for. I told him and he motioned to follow him. He pointed me in the direction of another street and told me the Lutheran church was down a few doors in the right. I wasn't convinced but I was hopeful. I walked to where he pointed me to and sure enough...there it was! There was even an English sign with the name of the church! The entrance had iron gates as do most of the houses/buildings along the street. The one that looked like the entrance was locked. Had I missed it? If you are late, do they lock you out? I tried another gate. It too was locked! What was this message? I saw a sign in Bulgarian but it had numbers on it - I figured it was clock times. 10.45 and 11.45...okay. There goes that plan as I had made plans with the group to go sight seeing at 11:00 this morning.
So I didn't get to go to church service as planned but I did grow and I know God was with me. I felt protected. I did this planning and journey alone. I found the church. I saw some of the neighborhood where people lived. I was happy at what DID happen...even without a church service.
Lessons are in the journey.
It isn't always about the destination.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A little about the people and food in Sofia

Today is Saturday. Yesterday was a very long work day and things went very well! The team of folks we are working with are outstanding! They are young, smart, passionate, committed, eager to learn, and young (I know I already mentioned that)! We met the co-founder of the company and other management people. It's one of those environments where the co-founder knows the details of the work and is approachable. There isn't a lot of corporate stuff between the layers of management. It is very professional yet very comfortable.

Dinner last night was wonderful! We are trying to figure out why the people here are mostly very thin. There is a lot of walking (being a busy city where driving is only for the very brave) and food is everywhere. We are thinking its the kind of food and how it's cooked that keeps people thin. It's very tasty but must not be from additives like we have. They use lots of seasonings and the ingredients themselves are tasty. There seems to be a balance of fruits, vegetables, potatoes and meats. And the desserts - yum! The thing about eating is that I am not feeling totally bloated after - even though I am eating very well. It may also be about portion size - the plates are heaping like we expect at home.

Sofia hasn't gotten strict about their public smoking. There is smoking in most places. Restaurants have a smoking and non-smoking section. I remember when we had the split and the non-smoking section was better but not that great. It's that way here. I can smell the smoke but I am not as effected (headache wise) as I thought I would be. It must be all the walking and being outside in the air.

I think the people here are very attractive and thin for the most part. They look like they take a lot of pride in how they dress and attend to their hair and makeup. Like I mentioned before, they are very social. There's lots of couples walking and holding hands. I haven't seen a lot of people walking around alone.

The driving here is only for the brave. I seems like a game to most to see how close they can get without hitting the next car...ahead of them or next to them. They do use their turn signals, which is good, and then they go (change lanes). The cars are not clean like home but they aren't dented up either. It's interesting to me. I look at the driving, speed, stop and go, lane changing and expect to see damaged cars but I don't. The parking is new to me...along the street, along the sidewalk, on the sidewalk - 2 wheels of the same side of the car and some backed onto the sidewalk. I'll have to take some photos of the cars and parking. It makes me chuckle.

It's a different place here and I am seeing these differences. I am also noticing the similarities. This is their world and their life. It is good for them. They have families and friends and socialize and work and play and eat - just like us. They are other people living in the same world. We are connected in ways. I can feel that. I feel the same presence of my Lord here as I do at home. I feel stronger knowing that. I am grateful for seeing other areas of His work.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Slow start

It's Friday morning here around 7:30 AM. I feel different this morning - compared to yesterday morning. I slept longer for sure but am not sure I am ready to wake up. I believe a shower and warm cup of coffee will work fine.

Last night was wonderful! I had a very nice time at dinner, trying new food and sharing great conversations with some new friends. I was excited when I got back to my hotel. It took me a while to "wind down" despite it being around midnight local time. I kept on the local schedule anyway. Once I laid my head down, I fell right asleep!

I know I have a lot of work to do today. It may go easier than I expect once I get to the office and see what the team actually knows on a particular topic today. That would be a nice surprise if the day is easier than what I think. I am open to see how it goes.

I am grateful to have exchanged IMs with a good friend back home already this morning...she ending her day and me starting mine. We have become a global society and are always "on". Today I give thanks for that global connection...for the technology, the overlap in schedules (although late for her) and our friendship.

The photo is from yesterday morning. This is from my hotel window. It was a sunny day even though it doesn't look like it. I am facing north west I think so that's why the sun isn't shining on the mountain yet. I saw it from a closer view yesterday and it is amazing!

Have a wonderful day and take a moment to slow down, as I was feeling slow to the start of my morning, to notice and be grateful for the (global) connections you have.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Homesick? I made it NOT about me!

Today is day 3 into my trip. I still can't believe I am really in Bulgaria! I flew 7 hours to London in business class (wonderful experience and quite fun), two hour layover which went by fast because Heathrow airport is not easy to get around, then another 3 hours to Sofia in business class which seemed like regular size seats - they just fed us a lot of food. I met a really nice gentleman on the flight to London. We were meant to sit next to each other so I would be more relaxed and enjoy the experience...he travels all over the world, lives life to the fullest (life isn't a rehearsal he said), tries new things, does what he wants, owns his own company, is married with a 3 year old son, survived a bad car accident and survived a rare tongue cancer. I don't know how old he was but in his 50s anyway. Yea - things happen for reasons. I guess I wasn't ready to think about anything except what I was going through myself so I needed a distraction. It worked.

We had a long day today. I woke up at 3:30 am! It was actually nice-after I decided to go with it. I wasn't tired nor irritated that I didn't sleep long. I did some reading and some writing. It was actually relaxing.

Work was very productive and I met a lot of new people! All of these folks are learning something new - I am part of a team who taught them and have been working with them for the past couple of months. It is neat to see them working and executing using their new information. The day went by very quickly since we were so busy with more detailed training based on issues that came up. I love doing this type of work!

There was a point this afternoon when I thought I was going to crack...a little bit of being tired, a little bit of jet lag, a little bit being hungry and a little bit of missing home. I felt this overwhelming feeling like I wanted to tap my heels together 3 times and be home. I had enough and wanted to be back to normal. But I thought "I can't do that. I am here. My job isn't finished. I can help these people more so they can do a better job of understanding the work and deliver higher quality." It took me a few minutes but I was able to calm myself down and refocus. That isn't to say that I wasn't tired and hungry and missed home and wanted to be with my boys because I was feeling all of these things. And I acknowledged that. Then I thought about the team of people who I can help, and that we would be going out to a nice restaurant for dinner, and others were feeling the same way about wanting to be home.

I don't know much about jet lag except that it's hard to explain what it feels like and now I think I understand that. I was "off" today for a bit. Tired but not sleepy. Thinking but not focusing. Edgy but not irritated.

I have a mission and I know I am blossoming every hour I am here. Having people talk to me about a particular topic or share an experience at the right time, reading certain text at certain times, experiencing situations that force me to work through new feelings and find the tools to succeed are all part of my experience. Staying connected and having people be in touch is very encouraging for me! I am not doing this alone. I am never alone.

Be very you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.
-Ephesians 5:15-17

Thought for the Day
Today I will pay attention to God's nudges.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hello from British Airways Lounge

Hi there - I am at JFK in the Lounge for Business class folks! Such a nice place where everything is peaceful and free! The ride here was uneventful. We had a great driver who made it a relaxing ride. The dining area will be opening soon as well as the spa. Since the food and the spa are included in the price of the airfare, guess I'll have to experience both!

There have been so many people who have helped me in more ways than they know up to this moment! I want to thank all of them. My realization yesterday morning was that I am ready. I can make decisions with new adventures and trust myself that my choices are good ones. I can take the action that what I feel is best and I am okay with the results. I am to recognize situations and opportunities that are in front of me and know they are there because I am ready to experience them. I will continue to follow my gut, listen to my inner voice and feel those divine nudges to help me decide what my actions will be. The important point is for me to recognize the choice, listen for the divine push, act and be okay with the results.

So here I go acting on just that, the inner feeling to say yes to this trip and all the responsiblities and experience that comes with it. Knowing that others see me as qualified to perform the tasks, believe that and act on it.

Thanks again to those who have contributed to my personal and professional growth! I hope it is meant that I can return the favor some day (or have already).