Live Like It’s Spring!

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Live like it’s Spring. . . Spring. . .what does it mean to live like it is Spring? What does Spring represent? New life, growth, change, the warming of the seasons and the growth of the flowers. The way that everything seems to have possibilities as the world emerges from the snow and glum of winter? If you live somewhere that doesn’t have seasons, none of this Spring talk probably hits you in the feels, but for me a Colorado turned California mountain girl, it gets me.

 

Last summer was the first summer since I was 15 that I wasn’t working. I didn’t work summer school, or camp, I wasn’t working part-time at a pizza place or movie theatre. I was a teacher, on full on teacher summer. I had June, July, and part of August to just relax, do some DIY projects and hang out with my husband. Older teacher friends applauded me for taking the summer and talked about how I needed it to recharge after the crazy year in Special Education that I had. I was excited to sleep in, forget what day of the week it was, and maybe drink wine during the week without a reason.

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That lasted about a week. . .

After about a week I was BORED, I needed something to keep me occupied that wasn’t burning through 2 books on the “Hot Summer Reading List”  a week! I watched as other teacher friends my age went on hikes and to the pool and on road trips. .. all without inviting me. My best friends all moved across the country one by on to the Pacific Northwest  and I was feeling alone. Making friends as an adult. . .. SUCKS! I watched people I thought were my friends live a Teacher Summer like I thought I was supposed to live. But that teacher summer was only leaving me feeling like a 16-year-old girl who didn’t get invited to the prom.

 

Fast Forward to this summer, I am again taking the summer off. I have spent the summer hosting guests, going on one of those road trips that would have made me cry last summer. And spent many days paddle boarding on the lake 5 minutes from my house.

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SO what has changed? And what does it say about “Living like it’s Spring”

Well in my life, a lot has changed and a lot as stayed the same; we moved from CO to a tiny town in CA, I have a new job at a much different school. But I am still married, my best friends still live 1000 miles away from me, I live in a place with fewer options of activities throughout the day, but this summer I spend my days peacefully not full of anxiety about what I “should” be doing.

 

So I ask again, What has changed?

Me!

I have figured out how to live like it’s spring! Live like something new is always growing, something could change right around the corner. No matter how gray the sky is now, no matter how many feet of snow the winter dumps on you. Remember to live like tomorrow the sun is going to come out and you can jump into the lake! I still don’t love Summer, I still need a project to keep myself active, I still would make a horrible trophy wife. But I am content with here I am in life now, I am not comparing myself to the people around me and wondering “why they don’t like me” or why I wasn’t invited to this or that (Okay I still do both of those things sometimes) But somehow my life ended up somewhere I never pictured, In a tiny town 60 miles from the closest grocery store. Where I could name almost every full-time resident of the town and during the winter there is literally NO restaurants open during the week. But I also can’t remember a time since college that I have been this content in how all the pieces of my life fit together. I love waving to people as I walk through town, I love having dinner by the lake and knowing at least 10 people sit around me. I love having the sense of community that comes with living in a place where we all are forced to do life together without our cell phones.

 

My life looks nothing like I thought it would a year ago, but Hey maybe it is Spring.

I am just over here watching myself Bloom!

 

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A step inside a Libyan Engagement . . .

Tonight I attended my first engagement party ever.. and it was a Islamic engagement party, there were five of us that had been invited to our friend from Uni’s party. Over the course of this year I had become comfortable asking her questions that may offend others, I asked about the different culture practices, how she felt about Libya, what her wedding (a hypothetical at that point) would be like, the practices of hijab wearing and so on. So when she invited us to her engagement party, we jumped right in to asking questions.

Will there be men there? What should we wear? How will the engagement work?

Now since this was an arranged marriage we asked all sorts of things about that practice as well we learned as much about the practice as we could.

But when I entered this room it was still a shock, some of the most gorgeous women were dressed to the nines a roll away cart filled with Hijab’s and coats sat next to the door,a threshold where you no longer had to be restricted or worry about the happenings of the other gender.

These women had the most beautiful hair of all cuts, colors and styles they had curled it, straightened it, in updo’s. women I otherwise would have spent the night wondering about their hair now moved freely with gorgeous tresses on every head. These women were dressed in full make-up and gorgeous dresses, dressed up for each other, and themselves because truly that is who women have to dress up for everyday as it is. . .

I was lucky enough to sit at the table with the grooms family, Libyans via London, and the nicest women I have been in quite some time. They shared there customs with me, they told me what every piece of food I had on my plate was and invited me to London to relive this experience all over again in December.

While I am sure American’s have these same interactions at weddings, and make new life long friends there was something about this particular experience that was different, I don’t know if it was the fact that it was all women, and therefore no need to compete for the attention of the men in the room, or if it is a cultural difference that somehow in our capitalist, self preservation, separation  of Church and State society that we have lost. Something about this culture welcomed me in.

We ate, we talked, we laughed and enjoyed the celebration of our good friend, and new sisters engagement,  during the middle of dinner about 8 oclock, some women began to leave the various dining tables and make their way to the hijab holder, grab their beautiful over coats and hi jabs and make their way to the back of the room, almost out of sight but not quite. At first the 5 of us that were not Islamic were quite confused and then just as silently these women began praying, one of their 5 daily prayers, in groups of 2 or 3 women made their way back to complete this ritual. There was no interruption of the party even though the party of 98% women who partake in this act of Faith, they allowed the party to go on and each took part in their faith in their own way.

There is something beautiful about that, that these women did not feel the need to flaunt their faith or make their faith more important or better than anyone else’s this was a conversation between them and Allah and they were the only ones that needed to be involved. I think that this type of relationship with your God is a sign of true faith in whichever religion you are practicing.

Then came the dancing, a moment  when 30 women crowded on the dance floor to show off their moves to each other, there was traditional Arabic music and dancing, there was wonderful booty shaking that I think I could master with more practice, there was laughter and trilling that I could not get my tongue to manifest. Then in the middle of it, the music changes to . . . Trap Queen. and every one of these faithful women jumped onto the dance floor, began dancing away and singing every word!

In that moment I looked around, made eye contact with my two friends that were there with me and just thought, ” I love this moment.” ” I have never been more happy to have a new cultural experience than I am right now.

We spent the night celebrating, no competition, no petty drama, just women enjoying the moment in the life of our friend and each other.

And as I left I gave each of my new friends two kisses on each cheek, as four is traditional in Libya, as I learned and said goodbye and I hope to see them in December.

So how can we create these moments, these times when we are all so welcomed into a new cultural accepted as ignorant and unknowing but taught the ways and loved for our attempts at culture? When is there a space in our everyday life that we can invite someone into our culture and take the time to step into theirs? When we are comfortable enough to make the effort with no judgement no reservations?

I hope that I am able to find more times to step into other cultures to learn more about Libya and Islamic culture and to welcome them into mine.

❤ Kelsi Rae