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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being thankful

I don’t know.

It seems easiest to say the things I am most grateful for…starting with family, ending with health. Everything seems to roll into each other when thinking about what I am grateful for – the obvious parts of my life, the people and things in my grasp that I fear living without.

But then, this year – I think what I am even more grateful for are the challenges and unexpected confusions and left turns instead of right ones. I am so thankful for the hardest parts of life, the ones that make me feel vulnerable and unsure and keep me up at night. Those are the places of the heart that remind me of the deeper purpose and ambition I crave in this life, and that if it was always easy, I would simply be bored.

Or honestly, I am grateful for the challenges because they serve to remind me that I am still growing, still learning, and still seeking the very best and real possible outcome for it all. Difficulties show that we are alive — truly alive.

It’s organic and natural to be thankful for the best parts of our lives, but it takes something else to give thanksgiving for the trials that we don’t realize we’re thankful for until we’re reflecting on them after they’ve passed.

With a thankful soul, happy thanksgiving.

leaves become most beautiful when they’re about to die

regina spektor

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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!


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farther along

It’s all so new – this process of growing and being challenged and questioning myself in ways I’ve never tried or thought of before. My heart, it seems, needs a little attention and I’ve been finding out simple truths that are freeing and convicting and oh-so-powerful.

I can’t believe how hard it all is: life. Doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining or fun or easy or stress free at times, but navigating all of the responsibility and desires and concerns and inadequacies and hope can be overwhelming. Well, for me anyhow. It’s been a long couple months; powerful that it seems to be only in those especially hard or tiring or confusing periods that time ever feels “long”. Maybe it’s because I need to take full advantage to reflect or figure out some things and maybe, just maybe, the illusion of unending length of time is easing the process… giving me a couple extra ‘minutes’, or something.

Blah blah blah, I can hear you moaning but my thoughts are vague because it’s vague.

The coolest, most interesting, unexplored, completely wonderful thing? Myself. I am getting to know myself right now. I am going and getting help to do so but I am taking those steps, getting to know myself and it is fascinating. I like to believe that one of my giftings is an honest heart and a clear sense and understanding of what is happening around me, but recently things got a little foggy, especially where I am concerned. I was talking to a dear friend last night about self awareness and broken spirits and voicing words without meaning, how we’re maybe-kinda-sorta-hoping someone will hold us accountable to the things we say out loud for ourselves (dreams, confusions, anger, pain) so that one day, we might actually believe in and trust what we’ve shared. In other words, if we say it out loud enough, we might eventually believe or hear ourselves (fake it until you make it?).

I don’t know, I think it’s a tad frightening; I have this vision of me standing there while I am, my double so to speak, is sitting in a chair and as I stand there, I tell her all that I want her to know, trust, believe, do. It’s incredibly weird, sure, but that’s kinda what counselling feels like. That’s also sometimes the picture in my head when I am teaching and trying to engage the kids. I want to be hard but fair, fun but serious, and all those other binaries in the classroom, and I think I’ve been trying that in my own self talk/discussions.

Anyway, how does this apply to you? It doesn’t really, I just miss writing. I used to love it – I have a dream of writing a novel (or series of) and I started one a long time ago and I pulled it out a little while ago, dusted it off, I guess. It’s pretty terrible, but it’s a honest step toward something that I forgot I really wanted once upon a time. And if I really think about, still want more than some of my other pursuits. I also want to be whole and healthy again and recommitting myself to somethings I enjoy is probably a good start. I need to think about what I like to do and start doing those things again, too, because I seriously haven’t prioritized any of anything, other than school and stress, for almost a year.

SO. Here I am, a bit of a mess really, but looking forward to spending some time with you again.

And all the dust flies up in our hair
Road rushes by so fast
It’s hard to catch my air
Radio plays oh, some scratchy song
It’s keeping me moving on
Keeping me strong

Cheers!


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how it goes.

Ever look back on a year and wonder how you got from the beginning to the end?

Or you can’t believe that a January like that led to a December like this?

I can’t write life this good.

If you were to ask me what I needed in January, I would’ve said: a home, a job, direction, and hope.

Oh, and an attitude adjustment.

I am pleased to say that the year delivered and when I reminisce with those who were present for the first months of this past year, we are in awe of all that can happen in one year. I could still use an attitude adjustment right about now but I think that’s pretty standard.

Anyway.

2011 –

In January I was fresh off of the only identity I really knew for six and a half years: university student. Armed with my teaching degree and no prospective employment, I think I spent close to two months rethinking…analyzing…overthinking why I got that piece of paper to begin with. Discouragement can do that to a person. Oh well. With much gratitude to a dear cousin and his even dearer wife, I was blessed to hang my hat in their home for awhile as I tried to figure out what to do. I had no job, my car was broken, and my spirits were pretty low – I can honestly say January was THE hardest month of my life and without Trav and Chrissy, I don’t know where I would’ve been – literally/mentally/emotionally. They seemed to know exactly what I needed and I don’t think thank you would ever suffice. Looking back, it was a good time – but there was only so much cross stitching, Coke float drinking, good food eating, Canucks cheering, and Kary watching I could do before true lack of fulfilment set in.

OH but then I got a job. Two. I was blessed to be given an early spot on the teacher on call list down on the Island where I got to try my hand at teaching as a substitute. It was interesting, I had a lot of laughs and got to spend a lot of time TOCing in my practicum school which was fun for me and the kids who knew me. I also worked “full” time (any time they were open, but part time in hours) at a learning centre, teaching kids in an after school program. Work was sporadic and I made enough to survive, but not thrive.

The year started to pick up a bit. Still found time for fishing trips, Canucks watching, and Blue Buck Growler nights but I still wondered on a day-to-day what I was supposed to do and how I was going to do it. Not a fun feeling. It was as though life was going on around me but I wasn’t really able to take part. I thought I was going to stay depressed forever. That’s a real thing.

Sometime in April I interviewed for a Kindergarten teaching position in my hometown. My attitude to the interview was “I am just doing this for experience” so I didn’t think much of it…me? Kindergarten? Heck no. Lo and behold, they called a week later with an offer of my current job. Grade 7…still young but had potential for awe-some. I didn’t know how to respond. I was starting to enjoy my subbing gig. And still remained committed to staying on the Island at whatever cost.

But the offer was too good and my heart was too settled and my life was too unstable to not say “yes”. After counselling with those who mattered most, I accepted the job just after Easter and spent the next two months doing fun things like graduating university (yea I did!) and hiking around Thetis Lake and sad things like breaking my toe and saying goodbye.

I left my cozy little suite at the end of June, just in time to spend a summer with my parents, Jayme, and the members of the all-too-familiar regional district, planning the municipal election again…making money, distracting myself from moving from my home and missing people in Victoria, suntanning, and trying to navigate grade 7 curriculum as September loomed way too close.

August came too quick but when doesn’t it for teachers or students? 🙂 Just when I thought I had experienced enough change and years worth of prayers, the phone rang with a surprise that absolutely changed the course of the year; on the other side of the line was something I had learned to live without but was always pretty sure I’d be better off having around. In the course of this, I’ve relearned all sorts of ways of a friend (both how to be one and how to receive one), especially forgiveness and humility and honesty and humour and kindness and unguarded trust. I’ve also learned, again, how nice it is to be truly known and how laughing can make all the difference. I didn’t think I missed it as much until I had it again. Armed with the support of that plus confident determination (and to a certain degree, preparation), I moved back to my northern hometown, ready to embrace a new life: a career job, a home in the woods, and winter (something I hadn’t truly seen since living in Calgary five years ago).

Now here I am, 4 months later and overwhelmed by the blessed end of my 2011 year. I am not going to sit an explain the events, continuing phone conversations,life with a wood stove in the woods, learning how to teach, etc. I don’t know what I did right along the way, but I couldn’t be more stunned by the course these months have gone. I get  to go to my dream job every day and see kids that I love spending hours with. I get to live in a place that is sometimes all too familiar that I have to double check at times that it’s not 8 years ago. I’m loving reconnecting with old friends and being reminded of their importance in my life…same with family. The familiarity is hard at times and sometimes it feels like going home is going backwards but the nice part is that I don’t feel like it’s home anymore so moving forward is easy to vision. We’ll see.

I don’t even know how to be grateful for what I have. I find my heart changing and growing as things aren’t as easy as they used to be or familiar parts (relationships, routines, what have you) all of a sudden feel foreign and hard to connect with…I don’t really know how to describe that part…but to say that 2011 caught me off guard would be a massive understatement.

This year felt doomed to disaster but here, on the verge of a new one, I wish I had been a little more optimistic…because I can’t believe where I am today – what I get to do and who I get to spend my time talking to and connecting with…and I don’t just mean my 25 students.

It’s been a really good year. Teaching, learning, growing, surviving, loving, trusting, forgiving, laughing, visiting, challenging, and being humbly reminded of the fortunes in my heart – I am totally taken care of and thought of, and I think that is why I am in awe of what’s taken place. I miss a lot, people and places in Victoria especially – I didn’t think I could survive without! But here I am.

Like I said above, I couldn’t have written a year this good. Or scripted overwhelming gratitude any better.

I still haven’t “arrived” – if I did, what would there be to look forward to in the new year? Really.

And who better to close this off with than some words of my favourite Dave Matthews:

“take what you can from your dreams
Make them real as anything It takes the work out of the courage”

and a personal favourite:

“Celebrate we will
Because life is short but sweet for certain”

It is indeed.

With deepest thanks,

Cheers!

(and an update on the attitude adjustment to come…) 🙂


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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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insurmountable?

Remember THIS post? That was from when I finished my practicum back in the fall. That was huge then… but now? I feel like now it’s actually for real. Tuesday is coming very, very fast and while the last week has been overwhelming – moving, re-establishing, missing home in Victoria, and trying to set up my classroom and learn all the logistics of my new job – there is something really cool that is going to happen in a few days, I’ll be teaching my very first and very own class. Here’s hoping that everything lives up to my expectations – it’s going to be great. I’m not ready but I can’t wait to meet those kids. It’s for REAL this time.