Monday, July 29, 2013

Frangipani Trees

flowers 004

Smells like “home”. I was just thinking  how nice it is to have some familiar things to bridge cultures. This was one of my favorite plants in Niger. We had one in our front yard. Here in the Philippines, they are everywhere. There are some different colors, but I like the white ones with yellow centers. I call them Frangipani trees but they have other names like plumeria. They are one of the flowers used to make leis in Hawaii. I just love them! One of the streets in our neighborhood is lined with about 20 of them. As I walk alongside them, I often pick one up and smell it. Sweet fresh vanilla like fragrance. Like honeysuckle in the states, they can just put me in the best mood. For someone who has a VERY strong and sensitive sense of smell, I think things that smell good are truly wonderful (well, I am sure about anyone would appreciate that)!

Monday, July 15, 2013


Early May, I had the rare privilege to travel “home” alone to Indiana, PA. My last Grandparent, Hazel Howarth passed away. She was 101!  Living so far away from “home” I was not sure I would be able to joining my family to remember my Grandma’s life. I already had a ticket booked to travel home for a month’s break with my family on the 30th of May. My husband graciously asked me if I would like to go and  he reassured me that he would be able to handle things in my absence. What a gift!! I made it “home” in time for the memorial and enjoyed spending time with my extended family and then I enjoyed a whole month living with my parents. It has been years since I lived at home with just my Mom and Dad. I enjoyed just hanging out there, enjoying their company and just resting and taking it all in. When I would visit in the summer, many of my days started with visiting my Grandma, now there was a bit of a void. I was so glad to be there with my parents, to sit on the porch, watch birds, bike ride and take walks. So good to be “home”. Over the past 20 something years that I have not lived under my parent’s roof, I have still always loved to return to be where they are. They have moved a couple of times but it is still “home”, just to be with them…..that is home to me. Funny but I just slipped into their routine, totally content to do what they do and just BE with  them.

I started thinking about this and realized that with all of our relocating,  am I passing this value to my children? Living abroad has drawn us much closer as a family. That has been such a positive benefit of our life. I have found great truth in the saying “home is where the heart is”….the challenge there is that my heart is in many places…..PA, SC, Africa and now the Philippines. Now that I am back in the Philippines after about 2 months in the states, my heart aches. I want to be in all  of these places at once. Part of readjusting to being back in the place that is geographically home at this point in my journey is to find true contentment in the now. It was different coming “home” here. It was just Leron waiting at the airport, no phone calls or visits to welcome us back. That is the tough part of being new somewhere. Knowing that I have left my friends and family on the other side of the world, I depend on technology to keep me connected. I am thankful for that, but I trust that this next year will be full of making connections here. Building relationships and  well getting more at “home” here. I am full of hopes and dreams in this new place.

I think that HOME is such a wonderful thing. Thinking back on even the past two months, I felt at “home” so many places be it Indiana, PA or Duncan, SC or Dillsburg or York or Mount Joy or Vintondale or Armagh ……being with so many friends & family made me feel like so happy and alive! I spent time with family, new friends, and old friends. So instead of being sad or feeling lonely in this fairly new “Home”, I will look ahead to the days to come as the Philippines becomes more of a “home” !  I woke up this morning really embracing the adjustments and transition that I am in right now. I have been reading The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison. So much of what she writes put my thoughts into words. This particular quote put a lot of things into perspective:

“What began for us as a trial-starting afresh in a new town, where everything was different from what we were accustomed to-turn out to be, instead, a kind of reeducation, as we find ourselves surprised by delight in the ordinary moments and the modest pleasures of everyday life. Surprised, too, to find  that happiness hasn’t much to do with perfect surroundings, with having a lot or doing a lot. It comes with living simply, taking care of one another, allowing time in the day for ease and pleasure and play. In our own ways, we all forge strong connections to our new home, or rather home-to-be.”

I am so thankful for the many connections over the years that have made my life so rich. I have a new sense of “home”….. seeing you all again is like coming home over and over again. I am expectant in this new day, here in my new home!