Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Dock on Lake Harriet John Proposed

Well discovered what one of the adventures for the next year is going to be this Saturday! John and I- after an elaborate and thoughtful day filled with puzzle pieces, good friends, special places and a love note- got engaged. It was everything I could have ever dreamed up for a proposal and more- and by the time John got down on one knee- saying yes was the intuitive, right and only answer. It was one of my favorite days of being alive so far. I was able to relish and enjoy it moment by moment by moment. Magical doesn’t quite capture it.

And my daily experience since Saturday morning has been one of just pure, simple, fulfilled happiness. So much to look forward to, so much to appreciate and be thankful for- with no catch in sight. There is this small question happily singing in the back of my head- now what? Now what with God? With the future? With life? What are John and I going to do together? To be together? To accomplish together? I do not know but I have renewed faith it is going to be good. What is possible has newly expanded.

I want this season to be focused on giving to John, on him and I becoming closer to God and orienting our relationship around faith. I want our engagement season to function as a lighthouse lens- amplifying and reflecting light and joy and love to those around us. I want the “I” in my life to be more and more replaced by we and us. I want the year to be dictated by generosity- By affinity and authenticity- By community and being in concert with those around us.

I think back to a year ago- the struggles of the temporary breakup with John, the loneliness, the searching. All of it was to lead us successfully to the present. It was no coincidence to me that the friends and family members involved with Saturday’s proposal were those very people who supported me the most during our short and painful separation- Matt, Mike, Katherine, Lisa, Jenny, Erika and family, on and on. My cousin Erika reminded me how fitting even my last blog post was- the scavenger hunt John designed was so much like noticing lantern after lantern along the path of life.

One of the coolest parts of Saturday was an impromptu stop at my Grandfathers grave. The cemetery was aglow with fall- and my cousin Jenny and I searched and searched for David Dalquist’s leaf-covered plaque. The wind whispered its location and I finally gravitated towards the marker. We brushed it off and sat- thinking of all that was and is and is to come. It was fitting he was a part of the day’s journey. I left feeling blessed.

I am sure the potential content for this blog has become much richer. Now more than ever in the upcoming excitement and season of change (not like my life has been stagnant over the last year- let’s be honest) I see the importance of having a strong faith. Amidst a time where I think it would be easy to focus on myself- to instead be sure to focus on God and others. On growth, humility and appreciation.

New Chapter here we come! 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Do Dogs Go to Heaven?

We have certain things in our life that serve as symbols- tokens, people, animals, belongings. Whether we recognize it or not- these things trigger reassurances or provide us with small glimmers of happiness, hope or guidance. Each symbol is like a small white light along our long, sometimes dark pathway one year to the next.

One easy example of such a symbol for me is my stuffed animal horsey. Whenever I see horsey, I am reminded of comfort, family, childhood, a good nights rest etc. etc. There is an instinctual, gut reaction. Horsey triggers these reassurances every time my fingertips touch his coat.

 This week one of my symbols passed away. The beloved Tiempolo- regularly seen with Professor Taliaferro on St. Olaf’s campus- 13 year old well-loved and well-lived Border collie. He wisely sat in on so many of my favorite and most memorable classes- quietly reassuring all of us with his calm and kind demeanor.

Last December I went on a short walk with P. Taliaferro in his neighborhood. I remember thick snow falling on our grey trench coats and blending with Tiempolo’s grey and white fur. Even though we were in Minneapolis, mentally I went back to being a student on campus- the surroundings didn’t matter- only the familiar dog, professor, rich conversation and snow.

There is not much that forces pause more in life than a death. It is the passing of one of our symbols- suddenly along our road one of our lights has gone out, causing us to halt to reorient. Before Tiempolo died, I did not realize he was one of my lanterns along my road- now I do. And here I pause, noticing more carefully the other lanterns around me- they stand out more.

I don’t know if the above title is the correct title for this blog. It is not really a question I have, as it seems to me animals are the kindest and most genuine of spirits, and if they don’t get to go to heaven I don’t know if any human has a fighting chance. And personally, as great as it will be to see family members and friends in heaven, the individual I am almost most excited to reencounter is my dog Skipper when I die.

 So here is dedicated to life, to death, to our mortality, and to all of our own little guiding lights- And of course to a wonderful, memorable border collie. May we all pause more often.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Not Enough!

I have not answered all the emails I am supposed to answer, gotten together with all the people I want to get together with, written all the thank you notes that I owe, called all the people I’m supposed to call, cleaned all the spaces I need to clean- and I’m beginning to feel like life will ALWAYS be this way. The words that constantly drum in between my ears are ‘Kelsie! You are falling short! You are not doing enough!’

To anyone who knows me this likely sounds crazy, as I am regularly razzed for being busy and/or too busy ALL THE TIME. My parents have tried in vain to get me to push less and relax/take care of myself more. How many times has my mom told me “you are over doing it! You are too busy…”

I mitigate my anxiety about not getting to things by making extraordinary lists. At least it gets the items swirling out of my head. When I accomplish something I have this aha! feeling, and then I strike it off my list- and temporarily worry less about me adding up. It’s slightly addictive, the feeling of completing something and having it be done- only problem is it is only a temporary solution for the angst. The list gets longer and as it does you get more and more anxious. So in this swirl- I wonder where is the opportunity for freedom? I also recognize the drive above, although sometimes a great thing given how much I accomplish, can also be very detrimental in my relationships with others and with God. See- being preoccupied with what I am NOT doing has me focusing too much on the future or dwelling internally rather than being present and focusing on who I am with and what I am doing NOW. Poor John has listened to me worry over and over again out loud about the things that need to happen or get done in my life that are not. Here is a text he sent me yesterday that made my day- reassuring me once again (made my day).
I think the bigger issue at hand is that I am working under the assumption that I am not enough- or am lacking. To mitigate this assumption, I know I attempt to do a lot of self-diagnosis. And then if I can’t come up with a solution to something I am worried about- I ask for help/insight. Recently it has gotten to the point where I feel like a doctor always attempting to heal myself from an unnamed chronic illness.

So there is no strong resolution for me in this topic yet- just an admittance of how much it consumes my day to day thinking and how removed from the world I sometimes feel because of it. And how this is definitely is an area I can grow in- being intentional with my time and designing my life and thoughts so that they are not hyper focused on what I am NOT doing- and rather attentive to the life-bringing aspects of living: fellowship with others, time exercising, time praying and plenty of sleep and music.

Maybe there is something to be said for not attaching so much significance to the DOING and accomplishing of things... Thoughts on the topic are welcome-

Thursday, October 10, 2013

And We are Back

Here is what I wrote on the plane ride back from Israel in my journal:

"My journal has been strangely quiet over the last 10 days- but it is for no lack of magical experiences. I have been absorbing, breathing, sponging in every part of this trip. I feel, I am feeling everything. So many thoughts are swirling unarticulated... bouncing off the walls of my scull like excited electrons.

If I were to recount this trip, I could tell you about many wondrous things. I can tell you of the waves crashing on the Andromeda rocks in Tel Aviv, I can tell you of great generosity, of hospitality in the West Bank, in a flat in Tel Aviv with a wall open to the hot air of the city. I can tell you about the oasis of a summer camp, of dancing under soccer flood lights to American music while Frisbees fly through the air and hebrew, english, arabic and laughter all swirl up in the air together. I can tell you of dark stories told in a buried Ethiopian restaurant in the wrong neighborhood, of trains full of soldiers and antique shops drowning in treasures- including Victorian paintings of Lilacs. I can tell you about rafting down the Jordan, swimming in waterfalls with fish nibbling on my toes. I can speak of hot nights and friendly stray cats and warm breezes sucking the air out of the landscape around you.

But mostly, after all the interaction and walking and conversing and playing- after the dinner on the rooftop of Tel aviv drinking wine, eating goat cheese and watching the sunset cool everything in a light white light. After this moment right now- flying over Tel Aviv and Israel along the blinking coast at night- what I am left with is a sense of place and a sense of wonder. My purpose? I do not know. But my fate is intertwined with this country. And I am in love with it. With the hope and resignations, and atrocity and community it encapsulates. I am one hundred percent enchanted. And there are few places I have travelled- few experiences in which everything seemed to so obviously fit into a dance- a perfect symmetry. Israel breathed in in and guided me with ease and grace day in and day out.

This is not the end. This is the beginning."

....And then Slam! Life happened. Or maybe better articulated, it didn't. Came back to Minnesota with a summer filled with more ultimate, a all-consuming career switch to the Medtronic Communications department, a upheaval of all of my things moving to a new home, time spent up north with family and continuing work with Landmark and Orrery. I've been so busy its hard for me to even articulate with what- but I have been working real hard. Israel seems some distant magical world I visited in a dream- I look back on what I wrote and think- what does that even mean? What was I thinking? 

And I wish I could give you a great reason why I didn't keep writing my blog. Maybe it was that whispering doubt: "Does God really have an intention in all of this for me after all?" Maybe it was because I just wasn't intentional about making the time. Maybe because I thought my journey to Israel was going to provide all the answers. WRONG- had no answers to come home and write about. Regardless I didn't write a single post after Israel- and did not fulfill on my commitment do write once a week for a year. And if I put the guilt and the inadequacy i feel about that aside, here is what I am left with:

photo.JPGHere I am, 3 1/2 months after my trip- and I'm admittedly at a loss. A great build up- and a immensely moving experience- a stronger faith- but don't know where to turn to next. I feel like a pressurized room that just had its doors open and all the air rushed out of it. And if I look at my life- it is still filled with wonderful people and magical experiences and daily joy, but its just... well... altogether too comfortable. And God? Not feeling quite as omnipresent in my life as he could be.

And I have a whole new set of concerns, along with some persistent ones. Where am I going in my career? What should I invest my time into that makes a difference in this world? That fulfills me? What is my vocation? What is the next adventure? Am I missing something? And what about this whole potential marriage thing- that's terrifying!

I think it was a mistake this summer to assume that after developing my faith and spiritual inquiry it was ok to not pay attention to it for awhile- kind of like "Great, handled that! Now onto the next thing." Turns out it doesn't work that way.

So! All of this is building up to my humbling admittance that no- indeed I do not have my life, vocation much less the next week figured out and I feel pulled to continue this intentional exploration. So I am recommitting! One year. Once a week. Let's see if I can finish this one out- or rather we can- this is something I couldn't do alone as I found last year. Join me in this journey if you feel compelled. Doors are open- air is out. Room for new life, new people and God to come in all over again- and who knows what else.