Reflections on 2017…

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So 2017 is coming to a close…

Wow, where did the time go?

In late 2016 someone I don’t even know reached out to me and changed my life forever.  All I know her as is “Chelsea Relano” (though I believe that to be a psuedonym).  She told me she was opening a door for me, and it was up to me to decide if I wanted to step through it.

Well, step through it I did.  And although in the short term it threw my life into chaos, in the long term it will position me to live the sort of life I have always believed possible – a life of love (I hope 😊).

 

2017 has been a year of significant change in my life.

After spending much of the last decade plus where my identity was primarily defined by being a dad, I’ve re-defined what it means to be “me”.

I’ve focused on my education, almost completing a certification.

I’ve taken on additional responsibilities in my job, and although it can be stressful at times my job is somewhat of an extended family, and not just somewhere I go to pay the bills.

As a father, I’ve had some of my most difficult moments this past year; trying to support and help my children through the changes in their lives.  But although they haven’t always been easy, these moments have also been some of my most rewarding.  I’ve watched my children grow and I am beyond proud of them and the young men they are growing into.

This past fall I lost my last grandparent, marking the end of that generation in my life.  My parents are officially the “old generation”, my siblings and I are approaching our middle years, and their children and mine are transitioning to young adults (my oldest neice will graduate from high school this year!!!).

I took my first ever solo trip this year, heading off on a two week tour of China.  I wasn’t sure of what to expect going in, but it was something I needed to do at that time.  I met some great people and had some amazing experiences; and I hope to continue travelling in the coming years.  My travel bucket list has always been extensive, and although it just seems to grow I will hopefully make a dent in it in the coming years.

Less than a month ago I was in what could have been a very serious accident.  Although my car was wrecked, I walked away unscathed.  It was a reminder of my mortality, and that we should never leave things unsaid.

I also re-entered the world of dating, though that’s a story for another day 😊.

 

2017 has seen many changes for me, and really, almost all of the change has been positive.

There have been some bumps along the way, and there always will be.  But  looking back I feel blessed.  My life is my journey, and I try to live it well.

I look at who I was at the start of the year and who I am today, and I can truly say I’ve grown.  At the end of the day, I think that’s all you can really ask for.

 

Going into 2018, I know there is a lot more change ahead of me.  But that’s alright, because in life change is one of the few things we can actually count on.

Things happen, and people are always changing.

We can either fight against it and try to hold onto what our lives “used to be”.  Or we can embrace it, and try to enjoy the journey of what we are always becoming.

To Chelsea, whoever/wherever you are, thank you.  That door wasn’t easy to face, but it was a needed step in my journey.

 

I know my blogging has slowed recently, but that’s primarily because my computer died in early October, and events of recent months have kept me busy.

Blogging for me has been a great outlet these past few years, and my little community of readers has definitely help me transition through the changes in my life.

So to all of you, thank you; and know that I’m not going anywhere (blogging wise).

 

To everyone out there I hope you had a great 2017; and all the best as we move into 2018!

Andrew

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Return from vacation…

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In my last post I mentioned that I was going to be away from blogging for a bit as I was going on vacation.

Well after spending the past two weeks touring China, I’m back!

I went on the tour as part of a group.  Thing is, I went by myself and landed in Beijing with no idea what I would be getting myself into.

I’m a fairly sociable guy, and can get along with pretty much anyone.  But here I was half a world away; and I was going to be spending the better part of two weeks with a bunch of strangers.

I’ll admit I really wasn’t sure how it was going to go.

Our group was 41 people.  20 “pairs” – mostly couples (though there were a few people who went with friends or family), and me.

 

Most of the group was a bit older (largely retirees), so I naturally gravitated towards the group that was closer in age; and they became my “family from China” for most of the trip.  Though as I got to know some of the other people in the group there were a handful of other people who I would like to think became friends.

 

It was a really interesting microcosm of relationships though; as I had 11 days to meet people, form opinions of them and make connections with some of them.

In some ways 11 days is a short time, but when you’re around each other for approximately 12 hours a day it’s also long enough for personality conflicts to start to show and tempers to start to flare (there was one guy in particular who I would have been happy to leave behind on a number of occasions).

 

Still, it was a great time.

I was reminded of how much of the world I have yet to see, and how beautiful it can be.  I was reminded that first impressions can be wrong, that even with the people you get along with there will be rough moments, and that humor goes a long way towards making any experience more enjoyable.

 

In any case, I’m back.  I still don’t have a usable computer at home so it may take a while before blogging gets back to normal, but I’m getting there!

Drew

Broken, but whole…

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A few year back my family and I took a vacation to an island area.  We’re from the prairies, so the sight of all that water never ceases to amaze me.  In the prairies we have lakes, but it’s completely different from the oceans.  Lake water is freshwater (vs. the salt of the oceans), and it’s also really calm.

One morning we were out for a swim/walk on the beach, and the waves were really coming in.  It was awesome, I had never really seen anything like it before.  The boys and I waded out till they were around waist deep, and facing the waves became a sort of a game. 

We stood there, laughing as the waves crashed against us; feeling the force of them push us back.  A few times my youngest would get pushed over, into the water.  So we held hands and made a “human wall”.  We faced them together, and when one of us was struggling to stay on their feet, the other would help steady them, or help them up when they were submerged.

The waves were steady, but we never knew what was coming next.  Sometimes we would see a big one coming, and one of us would yell “brace for impact!!!,” as we leaned in to allow our bodies to absorb the force of the water.

 

I think life is a lot like that.  Sometimes the waters are placid, but other times we are buffeted by wave after wave.  In life though, you don’t always see them coming.  And some waves can threaten to drag you down if you aren’t prepared.

Sometimes the waves of life pull you down, and you feel like you’re going to drown.  Sometimes, they break you.  And nothing seems to make sense as you feel your life start to spiral out of control.

Just like the ocean though, these waves eventually pass.  No matter how much they hurt, and how broken you feel, you emerge out on the other side.

 

If you have people around you, and you are willing to reach out your hand you will often find them with you, helping to steady you and keep you afloat.  And helping to pull you out when you find yourself in over your head.

Or you can choose to go at it alone.  It’s harder, but if you hold on and fight the rushing torrent, eventually it will pass.

Even when you feel broken, you are still you.  And if you can find the strength to pick yourself back up you will find that you don’t have to retreat to the shore.  You don’t have to give in to the pain.  You can face whatever is ahead of you, and emerge on the other side.

Different maybe.  And maybe even broken.  But still whole.

Because there will always be more.  Waves of different sizes and intensities.  Periods of calm, and periods of storm.

HOW you face them, and how you emerge is up to you. 

 

Here come the waves – brace for impact.

And Now For Something Completely Different…

thezombieshuffle.com has (and continues to be) a way for me to try and share my philosophies on life and love. I consider myself an optimistic person, and this site hopefully reflects that.

Love and relationships aren’t always easy.

I try to talk about experiences that are common and relatable for many people in long term relationships, and provide a reminder that lots of people are going through the same things – whatever you are dealing with you aren’t alone. I also try to give hope for people who may be struggling.

Although love isn’t always easy, but it IS worth it.

I think many marriages can not only be saved, but can thrive if people would only accept that conflict is okay and take the approach that no matter what state your relationship is in today it can always be better tomorrow – IF you are willing to focus on solutions instead of your problems, and put your energies and effort into making things better.

I try to cover all sorts of topics. Some which I’m familiar with firsthand and others which I understand purely on an intellectual level.

But although I talk about all sorts of things, this blog is not even remotely a journal. It’s not about me. It’s about my ideas and philosophies, but not my life.

When I was younger one of the many careers I envisioned for myself was as an author. Mind you, I also imagined myself as an astronaut and a superhero, so I’m not sure if that really means anything. I do enjoy writing though, and this blog has reminded me of that.

So in an attempt to do something a little different, I have picked a period of my life that I felt would make for an interesting and at times even amusing read:

My days working as a hotel Bellman, and some of the experiences I had during that time.

I’ve been toying with the idea for a few months now, and have just published my first post at Memoirs of a Bellman

thezombieshuffle.com isn’t going anywhere, as I have 30-40 posts in progress right now. But Memoirs of a Bellman allows me to attempt a slightly different approach to writing, that will hopefully make for a worthwhile read.

My posts to the new blog will likely be much more sporadic than my posts to thezombieshuffle.com (where I aim for a post a week), but I encourage you to check it out and maybe even join me for the ride.

Drew