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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in these moments [too]

Our journey can feel staggering, and faith feels wavering, amidst an altered path. Or – when something happens to contradict what we hoped for, prayed for, or when we decided and determined ourselves what is going to come. Then – that is when our true and far reaching roots are formed. With all my thoughts and love somewhat far away today, I can’t seem to put much into words.

“There is a complete awareness of our desperation [and weakness]. Through what God decided to reveal in a few moments of brokenness – when life happens to us, it’s not as simple as [singing a song]. I think sometimes we all need to admit…we don’t know what the heck’s going on.” – All Sons & Daughters, paraphrased from a 2011 interview.

I love that.

Grace and peace.


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a new, old way

There is nothing like spending the weekend with a brand new niece to deepen the desire to look at the world with fresh perspective. We are all captivated by new babies but sometimes, if you’re watching for it, you can see how captivated by us and everything that is around. The awe and adoring a child does as they see each piece of nature or colour or animal or candy for the very first time – we ought to learn from them, rather than teach them to learn from us. I know it’s impossible to persist in this thought as we get caught in each moment of the day-to-day, but still. I love the irony in life that the older we grow, the more we learn but the more we learn, the more we seem to sacrifice the basic truths and instincts that we were born with (and that we didn’t have to learn). What’s more, it takes some of us a lifetime to find that feeling again: deep and curious love for every breath we take and every sight we see.

One of my students asked me if I ever would want to be a kid again, and I laughed. They are up against so much more, it seems, than I was when I was young. It’s hard to witness, at times, as I wonder how much I would fit in. Maybe I was always an old soul, or maybe it’s my age that just makes it harder to understand. And honestly, I loved growing up. Not without its hardships or confusion or uncertainty of where I fit (a topic to pursue on here at another date, I think). However, the only way I’d take a do-over is if I could take all the wisdom I gained in getting through it. Mary Oliver, one of my favourite poets, asked in The Summer Day (go here for full poem): “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” It takes weekends like the one I just had, immersed in the sunshine and mugs of tea and quiet wonder of f reading stories with my nephews and following the eyes of my sweet niece, to remember how fleeting it all is.

I love this: living. I just want to remember how to do it like they do, as she does, and as those who have found a way to love exactly where and how they are. Mary Oliver, I still don’t know how to answer that question most days. Here’s to making plans and setting some goals, and looking around a little differently again… among other things.

Imageso beautiful, all of this.


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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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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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it happened

I figure it is time to stop looking at that lemon meringue pie — it’s not as if we savoured it as long as my blog would so onto bigger and better things.

Like graduating university. WOOT. See Auntie Carolene? It happened.

Convocation was a bit anticlimactic as we had been marinating in the fact that we already graduated but whatever, pomp and circumstance is important and I am glad that I participated. Triply glad that Mom, Dad, and Jayme came for the day.

Here are some highlights:

PLEASE don’t judge my flip flops! I have a broken toe and couldn’t fit any shoes on my feet.

Getting hit on the head – the traditional ‘welcome” to the Faculty of Education.

Not taking this serious thing seriously…Carly- well behaved, Kate- having too much fun, Aisa- bored…very indicative of our teaching degree experience.

Look at us go! 8 years later, graduating with my best friend AGAIN. Teachers? Really?

Sorry I didn’t get a trade, Dad 😦

Matching shoes! And smiles. She’s ok that I didn’t get a trade.

Duck face for Chrissy. Eyes closed for effect.

Bree, Linds, Carly and I with our favourite professor (taught philosophy). He was so glad we finished and are outta his face (and not watching his curling matches anymore).

Look who else graduated? My other best friend.

He’s a pretty big deal…and a pretty big dork.

… going to change the world!

Oh… it wasn’t all a delightful day of successes…

     

Oh, well. First year as a somewhat real fan…proudly not a bandwagon one…a little disappointing that this special day will be memorable for painful reasons.

Anyway…. thanks to all the fantastic people in my life who have supported me and shown me the love over the last 7 years…and those who came out to celebrate, especially under the circumstances:

I appreciate it, Trav, more than you know. 🙂

I am sooo glad this chapter is closed for the time being. Kate Stam = no longer university student. Feels awe-some.