that perfect hand…

In Ocean's 11, Danny said that "the house always wins. If you play long enough, never change the stakes, then the house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along, you bet big… and then, you take the house." Here's the hand I've been dealt, sometimes it's risky and sometimes it's safe, but all the time… it's perfect. It's mine.


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rolling waves

When I lived on Vancouver Island, one of my favourite places to tuck away was leaning up against a piece of driftwood and burrowed in the sand, watching the water as it crashed on the beach. I preferred this spot at night time, when the glow of the moon mirrored soul-type things. Hours spent – together or by myself – included a book, or beer and guitar, or catching scattered stars, arranging them however we thought they belonged.

The ocean…unrelenting, wild, and commanding the highest reverence, is home. Geographically, in some ways, but more – that feeling, of truth and the nudges in a particular direction – the not relenting, impassioned, reverent knowing I’ve got to do some things differently never lets up; home is being in the space of knowing which direction I want to go and not doing anything about it. At all. It feels safer that way, and far more controlled, when deep in my bones I actually do know what needs to be done, but keeping it at arms length means I still get to be in charge [or, the illusion of such]. I don’t have to risk anything. I think it’s time to challenge the comfort in this space.

I bought a bike about a week ago – the perfect place for this story to begin again. I’ve wanted a bike for years. Years. I’ve actually never owned my own bike. Growing up as the third of six kids there seemed to always be a bike available to me, but I never had my very own. As I’ve made some aggressive changes in my lifestyle these last few years, biking has appealed more and more as an alternative to running. So I finally got one.

In one short week, biking became a powerful metaphor for me and how I do things – and doing the exact opposite. On my first ride of my literal adult life, aside from a nice winery-hopping cruise on my 30th birthday, I was determined to ride the entire reservoir [16 k]. As I got going, I learned all too quickly that while I know how to ride a bike, I had NO idea how to shift gears on the ‘new’ bike – as I hadn’t done so since the late 90s and I think bikes have changed a bit since then. And the hills? Forget that I am in the best shape of my life, biking is a different exercise that I wasn’t prepared for… even though the hills are barely hills, because I couldn’t figure out how to shift properly for awhile, I had to WALK up the little inclines. But I did manage to complete the ride. The whole ‘first ride’ experience truly felt as inaugural as anything brand new – I have no idea what I am doing.

See, usually I won’t attempt something unless I have almost absolute certainty that I will be successful at it. And unfortunately, not ‘sort of’ successful, or ‘partly’ successful, but absolutely, almost expert, could-teach-a-class-on-it successful. Which is why I just don’t try much. I’ve convinced myself that being the master of some is better than an amateur of much.

Better? No, I realize that. Easier? Much easier.

And I’ll be honest – I didn’t think biking would be hard! If anything, I thought it would be a leisurely reward for my runs, alternating difficulty. Oops. With my perceptions so entirely off base, I pursued the new activity only to find out that it isn’t what I thought it would be. Aside from a learning curve that would be laughable [and not, at all, a curve] to most people I know, and the sore ass from a few long rides, I know that my determination to be a ‘really great biker’ is not why I started the hobby. I wanted to do something different, but I didn’t want it to be hard. Now what?

I’m going to keep riding. I see the need to pursue this if only because all my instincts are screaming against me doing so. It’s a risk. But such a small one! So small. And while I get that, it’s the first thing in a long time that has surprised me in that it’s not at ALL what I considered. I love it, and have had more fun with the new activity that I thought, but it’s not easy for me and I know it’s okay that it’s easy for others. Pretty simple, but something so foreign to me – risk taking.

On my road trip yesterday, I had two significant moments. First, I saw an old friend who is relentlessly pursuing his dream – mastering his craft while building his business – and I was struck by not only the artistry of his purpose, but that not doing it is not an option. He wouldn’t even consider stepping away from this path – his path. I really love that. I don’t remember the last time I knew I had to do something so fiercely. Or so imperfectly.

The other? I was listening to a podcast that included an interview with a well known author. She was talking about fear, and how she lives in a constant state of it. In fact, her fear is so rampant, she doesn’t know life without it. However, she chooses to harness the sense to propel her forward. I love this passage from her recent novel – “Fear is always triggered by creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome. This is nothing to be ashamed of. It is, however, something to be dealt with.” Something to be dealt with. It just might be time.

Assuredly, fear is implicit in why I’m so unwilling to take the risks I need to. And I think it’s even worse that I know what I need to do, in so many ways, I just don’t. For all those reasons. The only truth I can mustre is that I can’t get away with it any more – there’s no ignorance when it’s so clear. If only I perceived the risks were easy, like riding a bike, only to then find out their difficulty… I would do so much better in taking those initial steps.

Anyway. I’m starting with writing. Back to the trusty, reliable standby – perhaps one of the most natural expressions of my creativity, and of my soul. And a venture back to those late nights at the lagoon, as the waves crashed and fear, though very big and very real, was far enough in front of us that catching up to it meant stepping right into the water – the only true way to experience the ocean.

grace and peace.

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i forgot i had a blog.

And for that I apologize.

Moving on!

Whew, what a whirlwind these last few weeks have been. I know that is a cliched kind of term [that I try to avoid for the most part] but nonetheless, I am not quite sure how I got from then until now.  A recap? Sure.

May 22nd – I took my class on a ten day trip to the Island. A rite of passage, some say, the grade 7 class goes on a version of this field trip every year. When I signed up to teach 7, I knew of the trip because I myself went on it about 15 years ago (and my Dad chaperoned… crazy) but I did not know that being the teacher on the trip is quite different than being a student… ergo, it was a lot fun – relative to what it was (two weeks in Hawaii would probably be a little more relaxing!) – but I was glad to get home. Check it out:

‘I need a coffee THIS big, Fred! Pllllleeeeeaaassseeee?!’

Getting a tour of the Deeley Research Centre: BC Cancer Agency by the DRC’s finest! 😉

Touring UVic! Crazy if you run that through your mind a second.

Dallas Road beachcombing

The BC Legislature, 7s making a 7. Heyo.

Alright. So that was a good time, I laughed a lot, felt like crying a lot, slept very little, and just had an all around good time.

Two weeks after we returned from ‘The Big Vic’ (coined by my 7s), I flew back to Victoria to play witness to my cousin Jord’s wedding to his fantastic bride, Anne. The weekend was incredibly full – the wedding along with visiting with family I adore, and friends that I’ve longed for, and enjoying my favourite coffee…ever..at Discovery Coffee, I got some face time with THE one and ONLY, BRYAN ADAMS (and by face time, I mean I saw him perform). It was a blast to go with Luke, Darc, Celine, Alex, and Jocelyn and it was a moment, one I will never, ever forget. Love him. Love his music. Love that he played for 2.75 hours STRAIGHT, with no opening act. Such a rockstar. Here is the only reasonable-but-terrrible pic:

BUT…for your viewing pleasure, here is Bryan DOING HIS THING. Ignore (or embrace) Luke singing along. Everything I DO (I do it for you)… le sigh:

My weekend in Victoria was so wonderful. I couldn’t have been more thrilled for the gift that those few days were; I was so tired post-field trip and it was nice to put life/report cards on hold for 5 days.

When I got home, Nana had been admitted into the hospital, into palliative care. I don’t know if you would call it a nightmare as it was peaceful and beautiful to spend her final days with her, but it was incredibly hard on my heart. My Nana meant everything to me. I wrote about her here (click) a few years ago, around the time she was in Victoria getting surgery. We were friends. She left an incredible legacy of love. She also left a heavy desire in me to be more like her. I got to be in the hospital room for a beautiful, miracle time with her where she was conscious, somewhat chatty, and where I could say goodbye. But when she actually passed 5 days later, my heart broke. Death is a beautiful thing for believers but it’s not human if we don’t feel the loss. I was blessed to be asked to put together the memorial video and I loved it, I got to spend some time alone with her in that way. As I was thinking and praying through my grief, I was simply struck with how a little less ‘full’ life feels with her gone. Anyway, re-reading what I wrote from 2008 kind of stopped my heart all over again: Nana, with her stubbornness and age, sense of humour and quiet calm, reverent faith, experience and bravery, gentleness and mercifulness, grace and perserverance… somehow recaptured my heart in the moments of transferred care: I got to look after her. And in some small way, God was whispering that life has come full circle and He is to be truly and miraculously celebrated in this. I know that it was hard for her to be dependent on us for awhile, but I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. I am sure I could talk myself in circles over this, but I just learnt a pretty valuable lesson through spending time, and remembering, with my Nana… she has the connected life and love way of doing things figured out. I hope that I inherited some of that in myself. And I sure don’t mind being her prayer warrior for a change; 

I will love you forever Nana…

And then, right after Nana passed – my first full contract year of teaching ended. I don’t know if I can quite describe the emotions of that. Is it simply enough to say, once again, I will miss those represented by these? …

So that’s good. I love those kids. I will miss those kids. But yea, onwards and upwards…

TO CALGARY. I am moving there to teach! I have a full-time job for September and I am soooo excited. SO excited. More on that later as this post has ran my creative juices (or picture library) dry.

But here’s, in essence, what I am doing now. Basking in “2 months of Friday nights” – and sunbathed coffee in the morning…living the (teacher) dream:

Cheers!

catching up

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Hellllo, anyone out there? With November came an honest effort to get some balance back in my life, including doing some of the things I’ve been neglecting – such as blogging. Now it is November 12th and I’m actually getting it together. I think I will make this a regular thing. 🙂
Actually, I am  just looking for more excuses to play on my new MacBook. Fun!
I am settling in. That’s probably the best way to describe the monotony of newness in my life right now. “They” say that it takes about 6 weeks before the routines and expectations of being a teacher “click” and everyday doesn’t seem so difficult or tiring. Well, just like when I learned how to drive a standard, it took me closer to 8 weeks but I am finally feeling like I am not run off my feet EVERY single day. Honestly, I have the best class imaginable for my first year – but with report cards (what I am supposed to be doing now), parents, trip planning, assessment, and simply preparing for every class, it is exactly what I mentioned above: monotony of newness.
Some notable moments (I wish I could blog in detail but running the risk of defying confidentiality is much too great):
– I tried to make the kids caramel apples for hallowe’en. Mom used to do this for all of us kids and a few of our friends every year and since I am teaching at my old school, I thought I would continue the tradition. Unfortunately, in my quest to make the caramel soft and delicious, the caramel sagged right off the apples. The kids didn’t care but, as Jack’s caught, aesthetics to me is everything and I was devastated by how gross they looked.
– My class lead the school in the Remembrance Day celebrations and, after looking at the agenda from years past, I decided to do away with the seemingly-obligatory-but-not singing of “In Flanders Fields” and made a video of my class talking about what freedom and remembrance mean. The video was followed by a somber reading, some sharing of words that represent freedom, and my darling girls singing Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You”. I might be biased, but it was POWERFUL. It was an incredibly silent and respectful event as I tried to work with my kids about getting away from thinking of Remembrance Day as remembering war and more of remembering the price that has been paid. ANYWAY, I want to provide you with the video of the service but you’ll have to ask; I can’t post it online. I am so proud of those kids.
– Letting go. I know it sounds silly but just as I’ve made a turn in my comfort in teaching, I’ve also been able to relax a little bit on being stern. That is not my first nature as a teacher so now that routines are set, I am easing into being a little less strict and a little more Kate.
Either way… I am blessed. Incredibly blessed. Come see for yourself, eh? 🙂

IMG_0455

welcome to my home.

Yes. That is what I’ve been waking up to! Can you believe it? I am grateful that I am now driving that white SUV there (a RAV4 for inquiring minds) instead of my old dear Bella – who I sold, fortunately. The cabin living is growing on me. I am having a relatively easy time maintaining the fire and not waking up to every gunshot or growl or engine revving that goes on out in these parts. There is also a resident bear. I think things would be different if I lived out here on my own but my friends whose property the cabin sits on and their two kids have been such a blessing; I am enjoying the laid back life of living in the woods.

Except the horrible cell service and Internet connection. Oh well, not the end of the world.

What else?

I am 45% done my Christmas shopping! I am so excited about this endeavour this year; having two nephews makes it double the fun. And more than that, I am anxious for Christmas in all ways. I can’t wait to skate on Lake Kathlyn and see Luke and Joce and sweet Annabelle again and – ahem – have my kids be the starring class in the Christmas pageant…all before going home for 10 days to my family and being cozy in Penticton. I can’t believe it’s almost upon us; I am grateful for what 2011 has brought me… the list is so long.

Anyway,

That’s the catch up for today – more to come.

Cheers.

K.


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fortitude

If there is one LARGE frustrating thing about not keeping up my blog – when I sit down to actually write, I have so much to say, I don’t even know where to start! Sorry for the length that is sure to be this post. Ahhhhhh….

‘Fortitude’ is the name for the post because that is the only word to describe everything right now —

for·ti·tude

noun

mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously: Never once did her fortitude waver during that long illness.
 
Interesting. I think that’s my only aspiration right now – to live a life of fortitude through all these responsibilities. To be honest, I never thought being a teacher would be so hard. I am starting to think that a reason I dream of being a secondary school teacher is that I was inadvertanty trying to protect my heart from the vulnerability of the age of my current class – grade 7 is a tough year. It’s not to say that teaching in high school, that the kids aren’t hard to teach…but think back to when you were 12 or 13 and remember what it was like? Hard. You’re impressionable and growing up and trying to understand but  you just can’t quite nail down why you’re so unsure of yourself. The responsibility of being with kids this age is immeasurable. Everything is so fragile and exciting and difficult and easy and it’s unexplainable how emotional I’ve become when it comes to those 25 people I spend my days with – I think I’ve had a glimpse of what it might be like to be a parent, I can’t imagine the kind of love it would take to trust in someone like me to take care of their children – I am grateful for the responsibility. Tired and overwhelmed most days, but grateful.
 
I looked at the definition for fortitude and realized that a huge part of fortitude is courage. Most days, I don’t feel courageous at all. It’s interesting to be so sure of something in one sense, but so unsure in another. I know I can teach, I just don’t feel like I am that good all the time. And it’s human nature to want to be the best  Ican possibly be but my dear friend and her husband reminded me that I don’t have to be the best yet. But still. Some days, I just feel like I am carrying the weight of the world and I think my courage comes more from admitting that truth than actually carrying it gracefully.
 
That’s it for now, I am tired… I am loving every second of it, and laughing more often than yelling, but I am oh-so-tired.
 
Cheers!


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too fun

This won’t happen again, ever, but this is really funny – my kids are sitting here writing an English quiz and it is so quiet in here. I think I am going to live for these moments, when they’re on task, working hard, and asking questions that have nothing to do with what we’re doing in PE today.

And we’re going on a hike in about 45 mins for the rest of the day.

 

Really good day.


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finding magic

I’ve decided that that is all it takes – a little bit of magic (and a whole lot of patience). I am finding my way. I am so tired though, I think my patience is pretty stretched because I am so tired but it’s hard to focus on me when I have all of them to worry about!

I am sitting in my little cabin in the woods, the fire is blazing, and ignoring school for the next 20 minutes – I can’t believe that this is my current life. I don’t even know where to start. I couldn’t be blessed with a more intelligent, entertaining, and kind group of kids to make up my very first class. I am not even biased, that comment is fact and their energy is in one word – powerful. Powerful means they are positive and real and observant and engaging and enthusiastic. Powerful also means they are talkative and distracted and comfortable and sometimes a bit silly. They are thoughtful and very self aware for a group of 11-13 year olds – I am blessed.

‘They’ don’t train you for the responsibility. ‘They’ don’t train you how to handle your hearts when it’s breaking and falling for 25 preteens. The stress of how to encourage and educate and comfort and listen and care and reprimand… all the while maintaining a massive separation of heart and personal life – I don’t know if that is wholly possible. I had my first Meet the Teacher night and I was aghast at how nervous I was. At this age, parents are so present. It’s wonderful to feel supported, but it’s intimidating to know that ehile these kids are my 25 major priorities right now, that the parents each have 1 priority: their child. I so desperately want to be a great teacher, and that pressure I put on myself far exceeds any other pressure I am feeling.

It’s not enough to take a step back, breathe, and say ‘this is my dream come true’. That’s the easy part. What’s hard is being accountable, working harder when things aren’t working, not being afraid to fail from time to time, parents, answering everyone’s questions – all the time, all day, every second – because I am the one who has the answer, and spending too many hours in the classroom. It’s a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of energy that I am currently missing.

A very dear set of friends of mine reminded me that answering your call to life is not necessarily rewarding in the most earthly and humanly ways…but God does not ever leave us without what we need. I feel like that’s what I need to be telling myself because it is so easy to get hung up on the little parts of the job that actually make it a job and not a dream. I can’t believe my life. Seriously.

The last month has been one of incredible challenge and an unbelievable change – I still haven’t processed the fact that I am living back in my home town, let alone teaching in my elementary school. That’s ok though. In the last few months, I’ve felt friends leave and friends go, hometowns switching on a whim, cost of living change, all the while one large kick in the behind into the real world. I don’t know how I feel about that. Excuse he randomness of this post but I am lacking in the confidence and awareness of why I arrived here to begin with; it’s FACT that I feel like I am incapable of doing the job that I was hired to do – it’s incredibly difficult.

But anything is difficult where people are involved. Quadruply difficult when people’s…especially kids…hearts are involved. I feel like I have something to prove but it’s not about me and nor will it ever be.

I am a teacher.

It’s a dream come true, however that manifests itself for the next 9 months.

I am a teacher.

It’s magic. Or still looking for the magic?

I don’t know. But I’m trying.

Breathe.