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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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? šŸ™‚ 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 canĀ make all the difference. I didn’t think I missed it as much until I had it again.Ā 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 Ā 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:

ā€œtake what you can from your dreams
Make them real as anything It takes the work out of the courageā€

and a personal favourite:

ā€œCelebrate we will
Because life is short but sweet for certainā€

It is indeed.

With deepest thanks,

Cheers!

(and an update on the attitude adjustment to come…) šŸ™‚


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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 —

forĀ·tiĀ·tude

noun

mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously: Never once did her fortitude waver during that long illness.
Ā 
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 butĀ  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.
Ā 
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 bestĀ  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.
Ā 
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.
Ā 
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.


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sacrifice

So I missed lent.

Actually, I didn’t. I was all set to write about how I missed the season this year and subsequently, missed giving something up. However, upon some .25 second research, I learned that it actually starts tomorrow.

Crap.

What should I give up this year? Last year I attempted to give up bread. That didn’t work, I kept forgetting about it. The year before I took a year off. My most successful lenten sacrifice was in ’08 when I gave up coffee for 40 days — no cheating whatsoever. And the year before that when I gave up milk/cream/sugar in my coffee and haven’t enjoyed it in my coffee since.

What should I give up this year?

Here are my current things:

1. facial foundation make up
2. desserts (every form…after dinner, after lunch, and after breakfast — sometimes, it happens)

My breast feeding cousin-in-law Chrissy, who wishes to remain anonymous yet isn’t, said she will not be joining me in giving up desserts because she says Kalli, her baby girl, needs them.

She also is not hypocritical, stating that I cannot have exemptions. There is a new frozen yogurt joint in town that is AH-mazing so I want to visit it once or twice in the next 40 days — my only exception to my fast. Not only will Chrissy not partake in the fast, but she is ensuring that I only commit if I plan to commit 100%. I have visions of her sitting on the couch, eating espresso and ice cream and watching over her bowl as I suffer. No exemptions, no cheating. To quote: Ā “Kate, this is God we’re talking about. You can’t mess with him, God has no exemptions.” Wow. Okay.

Here’s the idea: I don’t really think anything I can give up for lent will in ANY way signify the greatest sacrifice of all, but relatively speaking – this will be a good challenge for me. Really good challenge and way to be reminded of why I am giving some things up to begin with.

Plus it’ll keep my breast feeding cousin-in-law entertained.

 

Any other suggestions?

 

Cheers!


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remembering.

It seems to matter more and more the years that go by. At least, the more I learn, the more I am humbled by what little I’ve had to do for the great amounts that I have.

If you don’t know what you’re remembering, go figure it out. We’ve got much to be thankful for and much to keep in mind. WWI, Afghanistan, or wherever in between… it’s great grandparents then, it’s students’ parents and a friend’s brother now. Seems much more personal now. I guess it really is.

I don’t know if it’s remembering as much as it is acknowledging. And finding a way to honour those who understood, and continue to understand, what honour, pride, and commitment really means. I know I don’t get it, I am even trying to teach WWII right now… we’re figuring it out together. But this week? It’s simply about remembering for those whose battles are done and reminding of those whose battles have just begun.

 

 


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grateful

I have been feeling convicted lately. Partially because I am overwhelmed by how selfish being on practicum is (and trying to find the balance in that). The other part is feeling convicted by thankfulness. I was in church yesterday, fixating on how easy it is to say thank you but wondering how often I actually stop and think about how truly grateful I am. It is so simple to live abundantly with the grace and peace of knowing I’ve got many people and things to appreciate; many people and things that take care of me. But I don’t think very hard about it and what it actually means to me. Perhaps, dare I say it, I even take it for granted? I need to start thinking about where the food I eat comes from (and I don’t only mean the hands who prepare it) or where the leaves, that turn their vibrant shades at this time of year, fall from (and subsequently, make my heart a little more full). I was encouraging my students recently to question “why” when they were writing their essays and reading response journals. As I said “Don’t just write it for the sake of writing something down, explain it so I know you’ve questioned why and made some sort of connection…” that little, aha!/hypocritical, voice danced its way into the tapestry of my heart as this Thanksgiving was nearing ever-so-close: just like in an English paper, saying thank you and being grateful is one thing, but understanding and being able to explain why shows that I am not just saying thanks because I know I should but because I have thought about it enough to know just how meaningful my blessings are. I am human, I mess up a lot and am aware of my many faults, whether pointed out to me by others or not, but if there is one thing that I know myself I want to get better at is not taking for granted the parts of my life that are gifts. By gifts I mean the things that I don’t deserve. And that basically means everything.

I want to love deeper because I know how fragile life can be. I want to understand thoroughly because I am learning how much there is that I do not know. I want to apologize and forgive unconditionally because that means I care enough to move beyond. I want to love myself a little more everyday so that I can love others more wholly. And this Thanksgiving, I want to be especially thankful for the things in my life that I cannot control because no one is forcing them to be here, and yet they are anyway.

to parents ~ who love unconditionally
to siblings ~ who understand grace
to weston ~ who grounds me, life at 25 should be just as exciting as life at 11 months
to family ~ where there is a place to fall into; who make chaos oddly calm me down
to best friends ~ who make it easy to just be; to who my soul craves without realizing it until they are around
to new friends ~ who make me wonder where I was without you; from who I am learning the quiet strength of time can mean nothing… or everything?
to far away friends ~ who I never forget, but tend to ignore
to high school students ~ who captivate me, inspire me, frustrate me, and make me laugh
to sharing a ride; to phone calls ~ where sharing an experience is almost as important as the experience itself
to mentors ~ who challenge me and in turn, keep me humble
to the world around me ~ who I continually benefit from yet I don’t notice often enough
to the place I call home ~ where I forgot how much I missed it and all of you
to my health ~ kidney stones or not, I am blessed
to my dream ~ for coming true and keeping me busy for 6+ years
to people in customer service ~ who I value for impromptu conversation and smiles
to music, to books, to writing, to long drives, to the Lagoon ~ that remind me to appreciate simple quiet
to hope ~ that I catch hold of when I get anxious for the things I cannot control
to beach fires and large mugs of tea ~ things that have come to depend on
to God ~ for entrusting me with these

Happy Thanksgiving.


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inspiring

I forgot the feeling of student teaching — learning a lot, not excelling at much. As I finished my first week, I was overwhelmed by all of the change and all of the pressure and importance and emotion of what I am doing. I don’t know how someone couldn’t do this without being overwhelmed. But it was fantastic… that teacher’s high of standing in front of the room, showing students something they might not have seen before (or showing them something they’ve learned a million times and have them teach it back to me). I wish I could tell you I hit it out of the park and the first week was a dream come true, but where is the fun in that? It was hard and tiring but worth every second and I am excited about week two. More on that later.

Monday was a professional development day and interestingly, one of my favourite educators and slam poets ever was one of the keynote speakers at the event! It was quite the event indeed, Scott and I were bewildered by the music and people and entertainment, it felt like a teacher party (at 9 am on a Monday). Anyway, when Taylor Mali shared some of his poems, the inspiration was electric and his passion magnetic… so I wanted to share a bit of it so you know what I mean. It felt like being in the presence of a celebrity that you’ve looked up to for a lifetime. Not that there are any celebrities I feel that way about, except for maybe Sean Connery when he rides up on his white horse as King Richard in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. So in essence, Taylor Mali was my Sean Connery for a moment. Take a watch/listen:


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sleepless

because he bends down to listen…

If publication of this post included the ‘time’ it would say 3:45 am. I can’t sleep, my mind is running a marathon, and I don’t know how to stop it so I’m producing something tangible from those thoughts in effort to slow it down.

I had my meeting with my mentor teacher for my up-and-coming practicum today (more accurately…yesterday). I was confident going in but a bit paralyzed coming out. I will be teaching two English 10 classes to the tune of writing composition and, cue the trumpets, Shakespeare. Again. Coupled with my fear that I would be teaching Shakespeare again is the overwhelming honesty and confidence of my mentor. I know it will be a good fit and I know that I will be challenged by her but I am left sleepless by our overwhelming differences. Expectations are high, expectations for failure were voiced and anticipated, and expectations for a sleepless eight weeks were guaranteed. Maybe tonight is just my training period? In other words, after meeting my last mentor, I got excited to teach. Cathy made me feel safe and assured and confident from the second I met her. I think it was because we are so similar. So this new challenge of different personalities and ideas might be overwhelming right now, made worse by the fact that I only just met her when my practicum begins in ten days. 10. I like humility, I appreciate being humbled by someone who has wisdom and experience and focus. But I also wanted a glimmer for assurance that it would be okay. I’m terrified (in this case, dramatics are not exaggerated… nothing ever keeps me up at night like this!).

Second, I have yet to be placed with someone for my Social Studies teachable. There is someone in the works but nothing has been confirmed and this, too, is something I am nervous for. This whole practicum experience is showing me how deep rooted I am by my faith in my plan for my life. Thus, if everything occurred as per what I think would be best for me… having mentor teachers way in advance (not one week), knowing my content better, having much more time to prepare, a mentor as fantastic as my first one… then I would be a rockstar teacher in no time. Doesn’t work like that. My plan isn’t working. In fact, I would testify against myself if that went to trial. However, I am awake in a bit of purgatory between hoping for the practicum situation that I anticipated and desired, yet didn’t get, and trusting the one that is in place; trusting the one that is not one made by my hand.

Yes, I’m not an idiot. I know I could be eating these words in a few short weeks and you know if I am wrong and my fears prove entirely unnecessary, I am good for admitting so. But for now, it’s 4:00 am, I’m feeling like my world got very, very full all of a sudden, and not just with my pending return to high school, and I am a little bit unsure of what to make of it.Ā  You know that feeling when you’re winded after going for a nice long run and your heart is racing for awhile after your legs have slowed down? The opposite is the best description for right now… my heart and brain have been kicked into overdrive, hoping the rest of me is going to catch up. I know change is imminent, but like I said, the new fullness of my life has caught me completely off guard. I could use a couple more days of a little slower, and safer, pace. Is that too much to demand?

Haha ‘demand’. Like I even have a say in the matter. Think of me?

Goodnight.

i will pray as long as i have breath
psalm 116.2


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pairing aces

The hiatus was unintentional. Unintentionally intentional… but unintentional nonetheless. September is right around the corner and I blinked long and hard, now summer is over and I don’t think I missed it.

Anyway, if you could’ve caught on video my procrastination the last 48 hours in regards to this post, the minutes (dare I say hours?) of my sitting down to this, then standing up and doing something else, would’ve have lapsed into a more tragic waste of your time than watching surveillance footage of the bunnies at UVic running around.

I don’t like to do ‘update’ posts because the descriptions of how I am filling my time seem like a waste of your time to read but when it’s been this long, why not? Summer was devoted to job hunting and enjoying bits of Victoria that I never really knew before in addition to spending some time with friends, making new ones/reconnecting with old ones, and enjoying the family I have here, too. There have been a couple pointed moments — whether hanging out with my littlest buddy Eli on hot days or having dinner and creating magic with people that have come to mean so much to me in only a few short months, that have made summer exceptional. I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Smithers to see my dear cousin get hitched to her Ryan and the weekend was a tease of sorts — three days spent saturated with family (most of my immediate one was there) and not-long-enough visits with Ang. I got a job working with people with developmental disabilities so I needed to get back to Victoria soon after the trip began. After many, many delays, and extreme anticipation, I finally starting working with someone about two weeks ago. It’s been really interesting and challenging. I say often that I need to work on my compassionate-heart and this job is forcing that to happen. I also was hired by Starbucks last week so the last ten days have been devoted to re-learning my skills acquired from years ago at Delicious Treats/Kokopelli’s and the compassionate-heart grows as I remember that coffee is a lifestyle for some — definitely not me.

Both jobs are interesting in their own ways… but they came too late as school starts again next Wednesday and thus, my final practicum on September 20th. Can you believe it? If I blink any longer, it’ll be December already and I will finally be a teacher. That exciting reality is extraordinary and my cozy little haven of life is finally breathing in a bit of freedom to plan outside of all of this. I was a bit worried about ‘what next’ as my last written post alluded to but someone told me there is no point fixating on what I can’t control and since I take his words as truth, I’m not going to. Done.

Other things on my mind? There are three. Settle in.

One – it’s been one year since my Uncle Dave died. A whole year. It’s also been one month since my best friend’s mom died. A whole month. To say I’m thinking about cancer is an understatement. I also keep being reminded of how unfairly blessed I am… I haven’t experienced that type of heartbreaking, unfathomable pain as my Auntie or cousins or Troy and the more I think of them, the more relieved I am that I haven’t gone through that. I know it’s selfish but I have such a hard time thinking about what I would do if I were them. I guess the only way to honour them is to remember that for some reason, my story has yet to include that loss — the loss of a parent — but it doesn’t mean it’s not in the plan and thus, I need to be a better daughter/sister/friend so that when the time does come, that I loved and cared for those close to me is enough for both me and them to find peace in whatever comes. I miss Uncle Dave and miss Troy’s mom, but more than miss them — I miss what those closest to them had in those precious, brilliant people.

Two – home is where I am not. Right now all my family, my whole family, is back in Penticton. While I am ok with being here and not fixating on not being there (as I can’t control that), I amĀ  surprised by how home is starting to feel more like being here, in my day-to-day. I never thought the day would come where I honestly can say I am surprised and amazed and blown away by who the people my siblings are (all 5 plus 1 of them), simply because I truly don’t know them very well as adults, in the day-to-day life. The older and established we get, mainly because we’re all so scattered apart, the less I seem to know them and pay attention to what’s going on. It’s easier. Not fair, but easier. Anyway, as they are all together, I think I’m grieving for the comfort of home knowing that I’m more comfortable here. I hope that a massive gust of wind changes this feeling… or, an opportunity to know my family on an every day basis will come again.

Three – poker. I don’t know much about poker but I enjoy it. I actually had to look up the scoring break down because I recently played a game and felt that a pair of aces should be worth more than three 4s. I don’t know why, seems fitting that a couple Aces, ace = #1, means more than three 4s. And this analogy is awfully simple when it comes to my current state — I’m gearing up for my last three months of school, making this my #1 semester-favourite in the history of my university career (thus leading into the #1 career :)) and that ace coupled by the ace made by my unending, biased claim to the very best friends and family in the world… well, a pair of aces here means more than anything, certainly more than three of 4th place anything ;). I’m pretty lucky.

Also… Robert Frost comes in to make it more of a hat-trick of aces because this poem is perfect, and I think you may think so too:

Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Anyway,

Cheers!!!