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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state[s] of being

If you’re even out there still, thank you. 

Nothing like a long, deafening silence from my corner, only to be interrupted by a [complex] question…

There is an every growing chasm between what I am doing and where I want to be – is that normal? 

‘Restless’ can often be likened to a ratty old sweatshirt, one that is so uncomfortable, yet so familiar, that it is difficult to want to discard the feeling it brings. I am five years into a career that brings me challenge, joy, and growth. I find pleasure in the Sunday morning stillness, and in running so hard my lungs hurt. I am getting creative in my coffee shop and prairie scenery pursuits, and I am confident that I am doing the best that I can with what I have. I am also pretty certain that I could continue this for a long time. Unfortunately.

I’ve often wondered about the ‘right’ way, or ‘missing’ something, or if I should be doing something entirely different with my time. I watch furniture design shows and think I would be pretty good with a sketchbook and a skill saw. I watch TED talks or listen to pod casts and consider what I need to become a public speaker. I peruse the plant section of department stores or peek into scads of cookbooks and think I could be pretty good in the artistry of gardening and cooking. I stumble through the manual of my Nikon and laugh at the sheer immensity of what that hobby requires. I watch my latest guilty pleasure, Chicago Fire, and think that a fire station could be exactly where I fit in most appropriately.

My meanderings are not unlike anyone else’s; I truly believe that we all stumble on these thoughts. From a time that I was quite young, I knew two things: I want to teach and I want to write. [And be a public speaker, but nobody really knows that]. I considered myself fortunate to be in company of those who know who they are, what they want to do, and ultimately, even find out that I could do it pretty well. The dream, if we’re calling it that, was never in question, and I think I assumed an identity with it before I even had time to decide whether or not what I do could be synonymous with who I am.

It isn’t, is it? Call it turning 30 soon, or looking at all the ways that I am not where I thought I would be at this point in my life, but I am a little lost in this space of ‘what else could I do?’ or ‘how can I do it all?’ and being content with where I find myself at this moment. Is what I do, who I am? Because it sure feels like it, and I sure don’t think what I am doing is representing the very nature of who I am.

And then there is taking risks. You know, those big, huge leaps of faith (fear?) that I don’t do so well. So much has changed for me in the last year. It’s been 365 days of growth and healing and change that knows no bounds…I don’t even recognize myself, literally. Yet – still I struggle with saying the things I should, acting on conviction that has served me so well, and willing myself to make the mistakes that I know will have immeasurable, lasting outcomes. It’s as if I know everything to do, I just won’t. My favourite friend could attest to this, as I constantly listen, yet rarely act on, his encouragement to just go for it, Kate. Why don’t I?

I have this friend who’s [likely unknowingly] been teaching me how to analyze various types of feedback in my world – edifying and evaluating the words and insights of others, yet accepting and applying the ‘wisdom’ of only those whose voices we [I] actually trust our vulnerabilities with. So we take certain voices as truths, only to question why we allowed that power to them. It’s interesting how this squad of people changes over time…at one point, being grateful for certain voices, yet now careful to silence those same hearts when they forget how to know you. I’ve been watching some of my relationships shift this way, and it’s been good to face the value of those changes.

We’ve all heard those words by Wendy Mass – ‘be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle that you know nothing about.‘ I am beginning to consider applying these words for myself, to myself. I think the person I am least kind to can be myself…especially when my battle seems non-existent, until I am sitting on my tush, labouring over that question above…

Is there a right way to do this? My mom would say ‘bloom where you’re planted’, and I am doing that [I think]. But does that nagging wondering, oh-so-whispering sense of ‘is this what and where I should be?’ ever really dissipate?

Yea, yea, yea. I guess the fact that I am even articulating this, after almost a year of blog-silence, must mean I know the answer already. But where’s the fun (confusion?) in that, really? I thought that by 30, I’d be a little more sure of where I fit and how to curb the loneliness. It’s an interesting place to be.

I want it all. And my all looks different from everyone else’s, absolutely, but surely the sentiment is the same for everyone…

…just different. Different goals, uncovering needs, changing avenues, evolving hearts…

various states of being [exactly who we are].

Now, back to Chicago Fire.

grace and peace.

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defining gratitude

New Year
Thank you.

‘Thank you’ kind of looks like this: As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

Sometimes, I’ve decided, being grateful is my default action and reaction to circumstances I cannot understand – or change. It is as though I’ve learned that I need to be grateful for adversity, or difficulty, because I know that this is where my purest growing happens.

However, it is a bit of a charade. And things are changing. I think somewhere between situation and reaction, I’ve forgotten to let myself be. Be tired. Be hurt. Be afraid. Be lonely. Be angry. Be frustrated. Be confused. And then, let the authentic gratitude come later. I am pretty sure I am not alone in this – a masking of what is really going on, providing the “right” answer instead of the “true” one.

Doesn’t sound like much good around here, does it?

I think I have mentioned that this year has been a difficult one.. not just at work, and not just in my personal life. For some reason, 28 has boasted more adversity and more confusion that any years past.   As it has all unfolded, I’ve felt pretty vulnerable, yet consciously aware of why I am walking through everything. Call it self-awareness, call it maturity, or whatever you want, but as everything has happened, I think I’ve been attune to it because this is the first year I’ve also really understood myself. My limitations, my downfalls, my talents, my strengths. I have struggled with worthiness this year; I wonder often if the range of who I am is as valuable as I think it is. I’ve taken more risks this year, but I’ve also struggled to find my voice in some of the most important aspects of my everyday.

Anyway. My profession provides a myriad of ways to feel success and vulnerability every day, all day. I feel like I am perfecting my craft a bit more, all the time. I often refer to myself as a “work in progress”, yet this has negated myself from seeing that even so, I am pretty good. There have been many instances that have left me wondering and questioning that this year, but I try to see that humility to my art is the place that I want to be. The same is true for my relationships. While sometimes leaving me feeling as though I shoulder much responsibility for things that really aren’t mine, I am learning to trust that people are capable of disappointing or hurting me, even when they love me and fill that need in my soul for connection. It might not be revolutionary to all, but it sure has been to me. Somehow, it makes me feel better, learning that all this can’t solely be on me. I tend, as we all do, look at our own situations and go “well, this is really not so bad and compared to others, I have nothing to complain about”, but as much as we do this, we need to get better at recognizing our hurts need only to be measured relative to our own experiences. In other words, this is the worse it has been for me. And I am tired. 🙂

Now, none of that [very confusing and vague] explanation is my point. I have been struggling to put words to everything, because I know I am not ignorant to how beautiful and much-more-whole I will feel once I am out of these valleys, looking back and seeing how much better I am for these bits and pieces of my life. However, I am tired of putting an inaccurate voice to how difficult it’s truly been. My mom’s favourite saying (and subsequently, my least favourite) is “bloom where you’re planted” – some line from a Catholic hymn that used to drive me crazy in grade school. I’ve tried, and ultimately struggled with, being grateful, genuinely, in the moment as the days of this year have passed. Instead of allowing myself to be more honest with others, and myself, about everything, I’ve created a cautious identity of gratitude, even though it doesn’t always work.

Don’t misinterpret this – I am grateful. I know that amongst pain are immense blessings. I just also know that I am not better for ignoring some other truths in my heart, and in my experience. Chalk it up to working with kids all day, and encouraging them to find their voices and be authentic in their being, but I’ve been feeling convicted in knowing that there is a bit of a competition in my heart right now – being grateful and being unsure [of why things are panning out as they are]…is it possible for me to be both?

I remember going to counselling a few years back and we were talking about how tired I was about learning lessons. I wanted to be left alone for awhile…no more lessons for a bit. As I write that, I am taken back to that day, and I still feel silly for saying it. I guess my point is that I want to know that what what I am doing is good enough for awhile, even though I know it’s never that easy. We don’t plateau, nor would I want to, at a mediocre version of ourselves; a version we spend our entire lives trying to overcome as we get better and better at identifying ourselves with who we’re supposed to be. 

Anyway, this post is lame. And I am as restless with it as I am restless with many things right now. But I think what I have learned, especially in the last four to eight months, is that even though it might lack authenticity at times, attempting to live in gratitude is much better than the alternative. My gratitude looks different, as I try to be thankful even for experiences that have been hard on me, but somehow I have to trust that this will be more beneficial in the long run.

Doesn’t mean I am not exhausted. Or hurt. Or confused. Or humbled. I am trying to be all of those things, too.

Looking forward to so many things… ❤

grace and peace.

 

 

 


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peace

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Second Sunday of Advent.

The second candle symbolizes peace.

Peace is so fitting right now, I find (as I am sure you all do too) that Christmas season, which should be the most peaceful of all, often isn’t. I spent a lot of time around the city this week, waiting in lines, waiting for kids to settle, waiting for my coffee to be made, waiting with abated breath for people to stop moving. And stop rushing from everywhere to everywhere else. It’s as if Christmas is the ticket to speed up, get out of control, and be justified doing so.

But lack of peace is so much more than the busyness of the season. I’ve found, with some experiences, that there can be some really hard circumstances that make it hard to find the peace of this second week of Christmas. Oftentimes, people share how they are simply not at peace. I find I am not the most equipped person to deal with other people’s hurts or concerns very eloquently or even say things that directly reflect my heart… I mean, I am hardly comfortable hugging people so it is hard when someone is struggling for peace because it so mirrors my own soul. So I just ruminate on it; and pray… because our burdens are small compared to the love that encompasses us. We’re seeking instant-gratification, often manifested by impatience, which can suffocate the peace that should be resting inside.

The dictionary defines peace as the separation or distance from anything that causes strife or pain; it’s serenity and silence. Silence. Maybe that’s why it is so hard to hold onto, peace, because it only takes a drop of water or a gust of wind to break the silence. If that’s all it takes, that I can see why school or health or family or fear can take over and replace the peace in our hearts. But as I consider the notion that we all spend a little more time in silence, the more we may slow in peace. The longer it’s quiet, the more we get used to it…and I am convinced, the more we’ll miss it when it’s gone. The better acquainted we may get with this peace, the more real it becomes. And like our hope, we need to share it. I have a deep and persistent yearning for that peace… not just for myself but those whom I love who need that peace right now… the settling of hearts and silencing of fear.

The quiet surrender of our souls.

Can you feel it? We’re being held; we’ve got more than enough to step into the silence and embrace a bit of peace.

 

grace and peace,

Kate

 

[adapted from d.08]


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hope

90_20_2-advent-candle_web

First Sunday of Advent.

The first candle symbolizes hope.

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Hope Breeds Hope is my classroom theme this year; a maxim that adorns our eastern wall, above the boards, staring at the children each and every day. We’ve woven its meaning into every aspect of our time together, desiring hope to be in the forefront of what they do.  As I teach my students about how hope can – and needs – to inform them, the choices they make and the ways of their being, we challenge this hope to be contagious…breeding willful hope in others.

Some say it’s fleeting (or reaching), the quiet moments of accessing such a higher order understanding amongst eleven and twelve year olds. But as we teach these children about hope, their awareness of all they’ve been entrusted with is transcending the words on the wall. Slowly, and ever so simply, I am seeing the impressions of their hope in others. People enter our classroom and sense the quiet community that is growing within a common faith. Though their faith might look different from the person sitting beside them, I am certain that there is a new, existing belief… even if somedays, it’s only a belief in themselves.

Hope breeds hope. Three words that mean everything today; a day that begins the journey we embark on each winter seasons. To use my own words from a few years ago, I don’t know where you’re at, who you’re with, what you’re struggling with, but I encourage you during this advent season. Hope is the greatest thing we can put into this life, and you can always have hope when it feels like you have nothing left. If you’re struggling to find the hope of this season, through the lights and candles and chaos and busyness and the oh-so-apparent, but sometimes too subtle, reminders of the simple beauty of what we’re doing here…why we’re here, let me hope a little for you. Sometimes we need encouragement as we wait in joy for the things that are promised to us.

I see that hope breeds hope, every day. If not only by the explicit words that are guiding me, and our class, but in the gentle ways that we do and need to risk hoping a little more for each other.

Have a blessed 1st Sunday of Advent.

grace and peace,

Kate


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all i know

The best I know how.

Amidst a conversation the other day, my teaching partner asked me how I handled a situation amongst a few of our kids. Not unlike many of the incidents or experiences in the first two months of our year, I felt helpless and hadn’t predetermined a strategy, so it felt fitting that he asked me post-handling. All too often, we’ve felt uncertain about how and what we’re doing and, as I’ve mentioned before, been overwhelmed by the fragility of our ‘clientele’ this year. It feels as though the distances between corners-turned are quite lengthy, and we’re teaching ourselves how to have some more grace for, well, ourselves. Anyway, some tough days. So within a conversation regarding these matters and how we do, I think I smiled weakly, but said directly, “I just do it the best way I know how.”

The best I know how.

I am in a space right now that happens every so often as the season changes and it seems as if I’ve been evolving at a little slower of a pace than usual. Self-reflection overrides all other aspects of my time and I am caught up in having tea with myself, wondering what lesson I am supposed to be learning or when I will be enveloped within a challenge that I cannot foresee the reason for (yet). I should apologize to those around me, because I tend to be a bit of a bother during these times as I don’t know what to say, for fear of being found out that I am [heartfully, mentally] journeying again.

I realize that I don’t have answers or understanding or awareness for absolutely everything, but I do know that I live and act the best I know how to. As a daughter, I try to honour my parents for the ways they’ve raised me and the role they uphold within my life. As a sister, I know I’ve come up short here and there, but trust that the love, grace, and forgiveness that I wholeheartedly extend to them in moments will ultimately be sent my way. The best way I know to be a friend is to think of them, be intentional with my honesty, care, and support, and pray for that in return. In my profession, I don’t know how to teach or be a colleague or mentor in any way other than the way I do it. I am growing, learning, changing, and sifting through different ways that I believe I can get better.

The only thing I am absolutely certain of is that this part, the part where I am looking at what I am doing and how I am doing with an honest heart, is truth. My truth – what informs me, guides me, criticizes me, molds me, might look different than yours, but it’s all I know. I struggle with comparisons (I think we all do, to some extent) because I think that comparison is unfair to the nature of who we are. If everyone is operating honestly for themselves, then I believe co-existing with each other might be a much more gracious task. So as to look at one another and whisper “your way of doing, of being, is different from mine – but we’ll find our way.”

I read somewhere today that “broken bones heal stronger, and so do broken [people].” My brokenness surfaces during these seasons for me; when the noise of what I am walking through magnifies the parts of my truth that I need to piece back together and fix. But I am working towards deeply understanding that this is not a bad place to be – vulnerability, trepidation, quiet. In a moment, I wait for the next [light hearted] time where simplicity masks the contemplation of where I am at. It can be easier to be satisfied and not question, than to crave and look for more to cultivate your truth.

The best I know how.

I only know one way to be, and that’s how I am doing it. I seek to understand others in my desire to love them for where they’re at when they meet me at “this” (undisclosed/unspecified/proverbial) place. I find that knowing people, asking questions, and truly listening helps me see the best parts of them and maybe use some of their ways to help me with mine. I am not sure if I’ll ever get it right – being daughter, sister, friend, teacher, but I know that I am doing my best with what I’ve been given. I try to appreciate, and be grateful, for that awareness.

Someone told me once that his way of looking at what he does is by ensuring that he “doesn’t get in his own way.” Profound, was my understanding – don’t over think or question too hard what is smouldering in your hearts, otherwise you might inhibit yourself from seeking those truthful, honest, natural desires and truths. And in not getting in my own way, I certainly hope I don’t get in the ways of others. The best parts about me seem to require an ever present you (in any defined form) and I am at a point where my excuse for being is that I am doing it [all] as I can, as it should be… for who I am.

Garrels' Quote


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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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the year.

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I remember back in university when I got in the habit of seeing the year as September – April, as opposed to January – December. It seemed fitting since every September brought something new – classes, people, living arrangements, and sometimes, a new city. Instead of holding the opportunities for a fresh beginning, January simply became the continuation of this – second semester of third year (or whatever was appropriate). Then, come April 30th, I would round out my year by working for 4 months to save/provide for my next year…and so on. Since I did this for 6.5 years, I got the hang of it.

This cycle persists. Approaching the end of September, it fits to reflect on it as the first month of my new year, not as the 9th month of 2013.

Colder temperatures are setting in as I am cozied up in my bed this Saturday morning. We had a beautiful Indian Summer here on the prairies, and for that I am grateful. The summer months were woven together by celebrating the love of those around me. It was a blessing to travel and participate in weddings during July and August, but the busyness begged for some time to enjoy the weather at a bit of a slower pace – yes, even though summer heat in September can be an upward climb for teachers and students!

Summer brought – a wife for my brother, a union for two of my dearest friends, another for friends I adore, yet I see so rarely, fresh fruit, coffee to overflow, Okanagan beach days, Bulkley River nights, the living skies of Saskatchewan, and countless precious moments to steal away the loneliness that can set in when family and friends feel so far away. I was prepared for my new year with the hope and renew that comes from trust in the path set before me.

Here now, I am back in grade 6 and with the same teaching partner I was blessed with last year. I am grateful for a year that breaks from the transitional patterns I’ve had for so long. The children in our room this year are complex – their genes, hearts, and experiences bring us unparalleled difficulty. To clarify: it’s not a negative struggle. Difficulty doesn’t mean bad. It simply means that the fragility of people becomes more powerful and true to me as I experience the world through my desperate desire to help these kids. They’re all heart as I like to say… and you can interpret that as a characterization of their enthusiasm or how much of me it’s going to take each day. The only way to approach it is in love and reflection and truth that my career is a gift, each new year bringing a different energy and focus than the one past.

September represents new. But what is new does not always look the way we think it will. Upon adjustment, my view is clear and approaching a different type of beauty.

The year – looks to be promising but definite a pull at my heart. Walk with me as I learn another new and different way of doing; a deeper, more gracious and humble way of being.

My life is yours 
My hope is in you only 
My heart you hold

Your glory is so beautiful 
I fall onto my knees in awe
And the heartbeat of my life
– your glory, 
all sons and daughters