Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Cold

A few days ago, I was walking outside on my way to work and it was cold. I was thinking about how I should probably get out my really warm hats, and gloves. It is December after all. And it has been chilly. I think I have it in my head though, that the longer I wait until being fully winter decked out, the better chance I have of making it through without freezing, as if the winter continues to get colder. It is interesting, but not true logic.

So the same day that I was thinking I should have my warmer things out, I went straight from work to bell ringing, standing outside with the Salvation Army bucket shaking the bells. I was not prepared for the cold. I didn't think far enough ahead that day, and hadn't read the part of the email that said that we were for sure outside. Brrrr..... There were a few times that I left my bell ringing buddy and walked inside to thaw for a few minutes. We took turns every so often popping inside for a few moments to make our toes less painful.

It was a good experience though. I learned to be better prepared when standing outside. Also, when people see the bucket and the bells, they are generous. It was neat to get to see.

While we were standing there, thinking about going home and making a warm cup of tea and getting warm, it made me think of people who don't have that luxury. I was outside for about 2 hours. What about those people that are outside for the whole night?

Monday, 29 November 2010

More Madison love, shiny boots and a new cd

I had a good day today. Slept in, read, drank coffee, went for a run. Then I went to Trader Joe's and stopped by the cd shop on the way. I purchased the newest cd by the Weepies. After going to their concert last month, I figured I should support them with the cd purchase and listening. Plus we have a cute cd shop. I would like that shop to stay there. Therefore, I should go there and purchase a cd once in a while. The people working there are always nice, friendly and helpful. I got my cd in just a few minutes. I was so excited about the experience, that he asked if I wanted him to open the cd. I said yes, just cause someone was offering assistance and that is a nice thing to do. Really though, if I had been thinking, I can open my own cd and it is kind of like opening a package, peeling back the wrapping. But oh well, he had a fancy cutter that sliced the plastic and it was kind of neat.

Then I went to a listening station to hear a cd. The station is a cd player (an old big black one) with headphones attached and a lot of cds leaning on each other on the top. (perhaps they are sorted by genre or name or something, surely they are) So you get the cd out of its case and put it in the cd player...... Last time I used a cd player, other than the one in my car, probably years. I had to stare at it for a minute to find the right buttons. (never found volume, not sure it existed) The open and close button was temperamental. Pushing the button took a couple tries to open it. And then when I tried to push the button again to close it, it was over zealous and would close and open again. It was great, a nice challenge and a nostalgia for cd players, especially finicky ones. Or maybe that was just my luck they they were finicky for me. I was bad at cds, always scratching them. Digitizing music was good for me, keeps it safe. And then I have to laugh at myself too, because cds are still a normal thing and here I am like they are a old nostalgic used to be item. Odd.

I like that I could walk to the cd shop, then Trader Joe's, run into people that I know there, have a wander, then stop by a pharmacy on the way home. A nice little walk as it drizzled this evening. And good time, relaxing and taking the day at a slow pace. (my roommate thought I got lost somewhere) Taking time is so important. Life is busy and fast enough most of the time. So taking slow times, enjoying little things is really good.

I also sowed buttons back on my coat, cleaned our kitchen light, and put mink oil on my boots. They look good!

This evening was life group. I really like getting to be a part of people's lives and having them in mine. Catching up on life, talking about the sermon at church, really nice.

Madison is a good spot! (remind me of that once there is tons of snow or it gets really cold) It was a good day.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

There are always lots of things to be thankful for. This year, I am thankful for family, friends, living in Madison, having a good job, loving where my apartment is, church, vacations, good coffee, good food, running routes and bike paths, and all of the little things that go unnoticed but are important, like having the resources for the things that I have, being able to pay bills, having good health (after having systemic poison ivy, I am always thankful to not be itchy), and sunshine, beauty, freedom. There is a lot.

With all of these good things, I don't understand when people have poor attitudes or whine about everything. Of course there are times when life is hard, of course there are things that you have to do that you don't want to. I am not saying that we should go around with fake smiles or anything like that. But being grateful and not getting caught up in the little things. Seeing life for the blessing that it is, instead of finding the things that are going wrong. Seeking joy, not bitterness and complaining. Why not see the good side of how things are? Or if there is something that you have to do that you don't want to, why not go through it with the best attitude you can? Dragging your feet and finding fault does not help and certainly doesn't make it better for you or anyone around you.

I got to go to North Carolina last weekend (that's where the photos are from, neat stairs in a coffee shop, and a window display for coffee cozies). When I was in the airport in Madison, I talked to my sister on the phone, and we learned how different our traveling is. She prints boarding passes, confirmations, directions, and other information, and keeps it in a folder. I appreciate that organization and beforehand planning. But that is not me. I check in online the night before, but don't print anything usually. (sometimes the boarding pass) And I figure that I will sort the rest when I get there anyway. I do some research online before I go, and may make a note of something, perhaps. I made the comment during our conversation, that I travel even less prepared than I used to, because I have my iPhone and can look up stuff when I get there.

One time, I was flying from London to Detroit. I got to the airport and put my credit card in the self check-in machine. It didn't work, wouldn't find me. So I got some help from the lady working. She asked me for my confirmation number..... "I don't know", fight number..... "don't know"..... um.... "I am going to Detroit, does that help?"

Oh man! The lady was really nice about it though. I was laughing at myself, who travels without that information? She said I was a traveler of the future, where we are so used to not needing it. After that, I would take basic flight info with me while traveling. (now in an electronic form, but look at me being prepared!)

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Running into People

I love living in a city that you can walk around and run in to people that you know. Last night, while walking to dinner and back, I saw a few people that I knew. Then today, at the end of my run, I saw someone else. What a great surprise it is! And how it makes the city feel more homey and welcoming. It also makes it feel like I have been here a while. If I can wander around and run into people that I know, then that means that I know people. Duh, but still. I have been here nearly three years though, which in my world is pretty much forever.

Variety and Thankfulness

I like the variety that life has to offer. Last week, I went to Chicago for a day, spent time with great people, wandered around the city and went to a concert. Then the next day, I went for breakfast at my favorite coffee shop, then went camping, came back the next day and went to work. I like that there are always new experiences and new people. Or old people to get to know in a new way. There are new seasons in life as well as in weather. (winter, you can wait as long as you want to come)

And there is always a great sense of unknown that balances with the familiarity of the everyday.

I live a blessed life for sure and I am very thankful of it. I have great family, friends, apartment, car, enough money, joy in small things, a nice city to live in, a fun and challenging job, good life experiences, and thousands of things that I have not mentioned. Thank you God.

Life is a mixture of being present in the moment, being thankful and learning from the past, and keeping your eyes open for the future. A grand adventure!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Doing things you're not good at

It is difficult to do things that one is not good at. But it is thrilling at the same time, trying new things. Nowadays, I have joined an ultimate frisbee team. I had no idea how official the whole thing would be. Or all of the terms and strategies that I would need to know. My team is very gracious with me, taking the time to teach me, and not looking at me like I am dumb when I ask the most basic of questions. So that is nice.

It is frustrating though, to not really know what you are doing, to run around, not doing much that is super helpful. (but having good effort in in none the less) I feel like if I understood more what was going on and what my contribution should be, then I would be better. And I'll get there I think. After all, I have been playing for just a few weeks. But you how you just wish that you could be good at everything right away? And who knows if I will ever be good at frisbee anyways.

The important part really is the stepping out, the trying something new. The being willing to do poorly in order to learn and grow. The challenge of trying something new in order to learn a new skill, or outlook, to get a new experience.

In order to try something, you need to chance failure. And perhaps things will not go poorly, but just amazingly. Even better! But to know if you are any good at something, or in order to try something new, you take a chance and a risk. And it is so worth it!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Living Far Away

A little bit ago, I got to go to Michigan and see my family. It is so nice to be with family, to spend a few days laughing, relaxing, eating, playing cards, whatever. It is always sad to leave too and gets me to thinking..... why do we all live so far away? In some ways, the ability to live in different places is a great blessing, we get different opportunities, get to experience new things, and have different places to visit. On the other hand, it makes me envious of the people who have family just a few hours or miles away. It takes me 8 hours to drive to see my mom, my sister and dad are plane rides away. This is sad. And yet, we are in our respective locations for good reason. Also, because we don't know the length of time that any of us will be in said location, it does not give much bartering power to convince others to move. (plus I lose out strength of argument by living in Wisconsin with the frigid winters.)

So it is what it is. I love my family dearly and cherish the time that we do get to have together. And the phone calls during the rest of the time.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Loving People Near and Far

I was listening to a talk from my church. It was talking about how the health of our relationships with people is reflective or our relationship with God. Makes sense.

Also, they talked about how people in America are so geographically far apart from each other. How you get in your car to drive to work, then drive home, drive to the store, to the other side of town to see a friend, and then somewhere else. There was a statistic that people spend an average of an hour and a half in their car each day. That's a lot!

What are ways nowadays to build real relationship? With so many people being so mobile, people are living all over the place. Email becomes a good way to keep in touch, maybe a paper card (real mail!), calling works but you have to coordinate schedules. And there are so many people that you don't get to see nearly as often as you would like, people that you miss deeply. It is neat though that there is so much opportunity to meet and connect to people all over the place. There are relationships that are seasonal, there is depth and connection for a season of life. There are relationships that come and go, ones that you are close with for a while, then not for a bit and then are again later. And then there are the relationships that will always be close, even in seeing each other is not that frequent. The people that when you see them, instantly it is as if you have always been in the same room, like no time passed in between visits. I love those! That the connection that you have is there no matter if you haven't seen each other or spoken for a while.

Relationship and connection to other people is so important. So vital. It is simple and hard at the same time. Simple, just take time to love people, to hear them, to care, to laugh. Hard, cause there is vulnerability and busy lives, different priorities and interruptions. But oh so important and needed.....

I want to be able to walk to a friends house like I did in elementary school. When I was little your best friends we people that you could get yourself to. Maybe I should go wander around the neighborhood to make friends, get a sandwich sign, "wanna be my friend?"

I think the important part in any relationship, one with God or people, it just taking the time for it. Simple really.

Monday, 2 August 2010

A story that is not super important but is my Madison

A few days ago, I went to Trader Joe's. I love Trader Joe's. As I was buying my groceries, I had a confused look on my face because I thought that maybe I was forgetting something. So that started a conversation about how I just live down the street so really could come back should I need something. I get to walk to my grocery store! I love it!

Also, we were talking about the coffee shop that closed across the street. It made me sad that I didn't go there for a "last time", when you go knowing that it is the last time. We stood there conversing about the shops and what may go where and how great this neighborhood is. Then the guy raised his hand "knuckles" so we hit knuckles and I left for my day amused.

I love little things like that. I love conversations with people that you don't know. Some that you will see again and some that you won't. I met a lady in a coffee shop line once that was a crossing guard. She has been doing that for 15 years or some other long period of time. I have an affinity for crossing guards, I think they are neat. It is great how you can talk to someone and learn something new, or pass some time, or make a connection that makes the world less about individuals and more about relationship. I like too when you meet someone who knows someone, who knows someone you know. The interesting web of connections.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Things Changing

There are many things in my life that have changed recently. I have a new roommate, a new house, new people to work with. And the 24-7 Prayer Boiler Room that I moved to Madison to be a part of is ending. It is ending because a lot of the people are leaving Madison. These are not bad things. A season of change though.

It is interesting that I came to Madison to be a part of starting this community thing called a boiler room. As I was here though, I was learning different things, my time was committed differently than I was expecting too. I thought that I would come to Madison, get a part time job, and do work with the boiler room and the wider 24-7 communities team. I didn't know anything about Madison when moving here and also didn't know how long I would stay. I didn't think much about the city before moving here, not that I thought bad of it, I simply gave it no thought.

Now, I love the city of Madison. (I keep discovering more things to love about it- most recently, restaurant week, concerts on the square, and I had Michael's Frozen Custard today, yum!) I like being here in this city, I like the bike paths, the people, the food, the pretty lakes, so many things to love. I work full time at a job that is great, a good challenge and always changing. I have good friends here too, excellent!

And now I am wondering what the next season is going to look like. What/who will I be committed to? There are a lot of things shifting and changing, this could also mean growing in different ways, taking different risks, seeing different dreams happen. Any thing is possible. Also, there is a very big God who knew all of this was going to happen, and knows what is next. He is not spoiling the surprise though, as I have to wait for life to unravel in its time.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

If only

This week an opportunity came up to go to Spain. If only I knew spanish. They were looking for spanish speaking people. I have been wanting to learn spanish for quite some time now but have yet to actually do it. If only I had....

This got me wondering how many things are a someday kind of thing. What I mean by that are those things that we want to do or learn, places to go, people to meet, books to read, hobbies to start, crafts to complete. I have certain crafts now that I have a timeline on. If they are not done by Christmas, I am throwing away the supplies for them. As simple as that. Get it done or move on. De-clutter and stay simple.

What I am pondering now is what things are okay being a someday thing, and what things should have more of a goal and practicality to them. There are so many things that it would be neat to do and not everything can be done, especially at the same time. So really, it is about remembering what is important, using some discipline to get things going, and follow through to get it done.

Let's talk about the spanish example for a minute. I have been wanting to learn for some time now. I took some courses in college. And downloaded the coffee break spanish podcast a few years ago. I only listened to a percentage of them. I thought about looking for a class around, but didn't follow through on that and don't know that I would have the time. So yep, it's one of those someday things, that may have to work it's way to a now sort of thing...... someday. Hopefully that someday is soon.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010


I really like floating on the water, the feeling of floating, and the sunshine there, and the water rippling gently. So I had the idea of buying an inflatable boat. Less investment and seriousness than a kayak, and there is space inside to lay down to read a book or to have a friend come too. I just wanted it to be able to float on the tiny lake that is by my house.

On Sunday, it was supposed to be really warm, so I assembled the boat and oars, packed up my sunscreen, water and book, grabbed the floatation device/seat cushion and started the walk across the street and park to the water. This began the list of things that I had not considered in my planning. The day was fairly windy and here was me carrying an inflatable raft that acted like a little sail really. This also started the fatigue to my poor arms. And it made me laugh whenever the wind gusted and I started walking crookedly.

There are two options for where to put the boat in. Option one is off of the floating dock. This was scary as there were a bunch of people on it. The other option, which at first seemed safer is where the water gradually extends off of a ramp of pavement. The place where people can launch the kind of boats that would have a trailer. I thought this was the way to go, until I saw a truck with a sailboat that was going to start it's approach. I didn't trust my rowing skills to get out of the way in a timely enough fashion. So off to the floating dock it was. I was already wondering how many people I would need to apologize to for hitting with the mass of my boat. Miraculously, I didn't hit anyone and fairly smoothly got my boat in the water and me and my stuff inside of it. Then I had the realization that I haven't rowed a boat in a bit. But I was off! So I rowed around a bit, floated for only a few minutes at a time cause I didn't want to end up too far in the weeds.

The entire boat trip only lasted about an hour. I didn't want my poor little arms to be too tired the next day or too tired to get me back to the dock. There were some things that I did not think about beforehand that came to mind during the boat trip:

1. Carrying this boat on a windy day is hard.
2. My arms are not in shape.
3. Plastic oars that you twist together do not stay exactly where you twisted them and need to be adjusted.
4. I get seasick. This I knew before but hadn't thought about in my preparations.

My rowing turned out to be okay though. Overall, the first trip was a success. (I got to float, the boat didn't pop, I have both oars still, I didn't need rescuing, success.)

We shall see what future adventures are in store for this boat. I think it'll be good.

Monday, 17 May 2010

What’s in a name?

How come it means so much when someone knows your name? It is way more personal and makes it feel like they know you. Or that they care. I love when you meet someone again and they remember your name. A validation that they know you, at least in the most superficial of ways. One step past the surface perhaps, as you have seen them at least twice, and they remember! I feel bad when someone remembers who I am and I don’t know their name, or the worst is when I don’t remember meeting them before. (sometimes I remember after the embarrassment of not remembering) Sad.

There is something to remembering names. It really isn’t that hard, but it does take a little effort. It means paying attention. It means that that person matters.

A name feels so personal, even though there are a lot of other people on the planet with the same one. Somehow it is still really special and individual and a sense of identity. “Hello, I’m Chelsea.” And somehow that portrays a lot. And people say “nice to meet you” yet really they just know your name really and maybe what you do for a living, and yet they then can say that they know you. Interesting.

How many people to we come in to contact with on a regular basis and don’t know their name. I am thinking about the people at my favorite coffee shops and grocery store. I know them by face and sometimes they are even wearing nametags, but I don’t know their names. Is this because of the normal professional distance? Expectations? Or because I haven’t bothered to learn?

Thursday, 13 May 2010


Two weeks ago, I got to help plant a garden. It was great. There was a big patch of dirt, that rows we dug out of, and bags of seeds, and even a fence set up around it to keep the critters out. Seeds are so interesting because they are so small.

What is the ratio of seeds that actually grows? And how close to the package directions do you have to get? I was planting carrots. Those seeds are so small! The direction was to plant them an inch from each other and a quarter inch under the dirt. That is really hard to do when the seeds are so small. I tried pouring some in my hand first which helped in controlling them for the most part but there was a sneeze at one point and a gust of wind at another, so there were extra seeds dropped. And many holes got more than one seed. Maybe they just wanted a friend seed to be with? I'll have to go back and check on them at some point to see if there was any success in the carrot planting procedure.

We were planting the garden for a neat organization in town called MOM. (Middleton Outreach Ministry) They will then take care of the garden (though we can go back and help) and then give the veggies away, what a great idea! It's fun to get to help out with something like planting the garden.

A few days after that, I was with a group of people who were pulling out invasive species in the arboretum. My allergies didn't like that one quite as much. Yard work is a lot more fun when you get to do it with a bunch of other people and when it is not your yard. And when you don't have a yard that you have to take care of at home. There were huge patches of this plant that the 20 or so of us got rid of in minutes. Amazing.

It is fun to get to do simple things like that for other people. It doesn't take that much effort really, just showing up and helping. Neat.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Kevin Bales: How to combat modern slavery | Video on

Kevin Bales: How to combat modern slavery | Video on

Money or Time

I was thinking this morning and wondering if I had the choice to have unlimited time or limitless money, which would it be?

And I decided that both if these things are good to have enough of but also good to have limits on. Because if there are limits, then you have to have priorities. Therefore you give your time and money to things that matter to you. Sometimes this is sacrificial and hard, as resources are limited. And that then is what gives it meaning and significance. You make time for things and people that you care about. Sometimes though our priorities get messed up and flipped around, therefore
needing re-arranging.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

I forgot

The past week or so, the snow has been melting. The snowman that used to be huge in my front yard looked rather sad, as all that was left was coal, a tie, a small pile of snow, and a wrinkly carrot. It is really nice that the season is changing. As I see the soggy ground, I think that I got so used to seeing the mounds of snow, I forgot this part. This is the season of warmer weather, of rain, of people being outside a lot more. And in Wisconsin, if it goes over 40, you see shorts and flip flops.

I enjoy seasons. I like the change and variety, the excitement for what is happening and what is coming, a reset, a refresh. So tentatively (as it could probably snow again next week) I say welcome to spring. Here comes the hope, the sun, and more people out and about the city and the bike paths.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

If only we were in control.

There are times in life when you are not in control of what happens, circumstances that we don't have the final say in. There is something comforting in that, but also something really hard.

It is nice to have things out of your hands because there is a peace in knowing whatever happens happens and there is nothing that you can do about it. Things are in God's hands and you just have to wait and see. In this way too, things happen that we would not expect or sometimes turn out better than we anticipated. And sometimes I like the waiting, because things are still possible, and hopeful. Especially if I am worried that something will not work out the way that I would like it too, the not knowing is a good stage. But not a permanent one and not as good as the knowing when things turn out in a way that you love.

On the flip-side though, there is the waiting. The not knowing how things will turn out or where the pieces will fall. And the thoughts that if I could just have control of the situation, then I would know how things would turn out and the waiting would be over and the whole world would work the way that I think it should.

But alas. The not being in control is better. The waiting teaches trust. The stepping into situations without being in control, taking chances and risks, teaches boldness and living without fear. And then the outcome comes when it wants to. The pieces fall in to their places, for just a little while. Then things shift again, and there is more waiting and not knowing, more people making decisions about your life, more circumstances that need to play out, more opportunities that didn't used to exist but now do. And it begins again.

The key is to be okay and excited in the unknown as well as the known. To be able to live in the present, not pausing life until everything is clear. What a dance life is, circumstances, opportunities, people, challenges, joys, all moving in rhythm together, connected and parting, shifting and changing.

The choices that we make change the choices and chances that come after that. That idea used to scare me, like somehow we could mess up, make one bad choice, like there were a lot of right and wrong choices in life. On the rare exception there are bad choices, obviously there are ethically, and morally. Generally though, one choice leads us to a circumstance that may involve a different choice. All of the sudden there are opportunities that didn't exist before. And life is richer because of this.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Oh Life

Is there anyone in the world now who has some plan of their life and it actually happens? Or are most people like me. You have some ideas of what you are doing at the moment and some glimpses of where you are going. Maybe. I loved what my Dad said a few years ago.... I was debating and thinking and basically trying to figure out my life and he told me not to worry. "To figure out what you want to do right now." Not thinking so far in the future.

It makes a lot of sense. I have no control over what is out there years down the line, like my life could somehow be mapped out. There are always things that change, opportunities that arise, or interests that don't seem as interesting.

And letting go of the idea of needing one congruent line of life, means you are free to make a much richer life, not bound to the line that you thought your life would be made up of. Instead you get to dance around a bit more. It is the understanding too that God's will is not one line that you have to try to stay on like a tightrope, but more of a field in which you can go where you go. I think too, as we chose different things and options, new doors open. Or things that we never thought possible suddenly are, or something that you never thought you wanted or didn't think was you, suddenly is.

There are people who do have very specific career goals, and places that they want to live. I envy them sometimes. Choice can be overwhelming. It can be so sweet though too.

So here's to life and whatever the season brings....

Monday, 4 January 2010

My Knight in Florescent Yellow

There is a crossing guard that stands on the corner of Monroe Street and Edgewood. He is great and very handy to have around. As I run towards him, "going straight over?" Me, "Yep." And so he steps in to the road, raising he sword (or stop sign in this case) and the cars obey and stop and I safely cross the street. Thank you very much crossing guy. He always seems happy too. Really neat. My knight for sure.

What is a life of prayer? What is praying constantly, like Paul talks about in the Bible? Perhaps it is living life with an awareness of God's presence. Like running being great time with God. Or living thankfully and generously. Living a life where people matter, where relationships are key, and where you are real. Reality in shortcomings and in joys. And perhaps the key is presence, being in the here and now wherever that happens to be. That would be the best way to see God there too. If you are not there (your thoughts are thinking about what you are doing later, or on your ten year plan, or daydreaming, or thinking about everything that happened yesterday), how can you expect to see him there? Living in the moment, all the moments, the big ones and the little ones too.