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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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.

his_grace_sufficient_thumb-500x500

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


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We come with beautiful secrets
We come with purposes written on hearts, written on our souls
We come to every new morning
With possibilities only we can hold
Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are
I want to add to the beauty
to tell a better story… (~sara groves)


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resolution ’13

It is fascinating, the whole idea of new years, new perspectives, and pressure to ‘change’ or ‘goal set’ or determine something BIG to shape the next 12 months (or however far into the foreseeable future that you allow yourself to ‘plan’ for). I think every January I’ve posted something about what I resolve to do in the upcoming year. However, it was only in a recent conversation with someone that I faced the fact that I think resolutions are ridiculous. Yes, I believe being adaptable and actively seeking growth is important and reflection is crucial to my own understanding of ‘success’. But to actually create a list of all the ways I need to get it together always turns into more of a personal pep talk or worse, talking myself into insecurity over all the ways that I may have messed up the previous year. Not that commiserating over my shortcomings isn’t valuable at times but really… do I really think it’s an important ritual: starting a new year by focusing on all the failures of the last? Hmm. So here’s my thought process –

Commitment – isn’t that what resolutions actually are? Making a commitment, rather than setting a goal, to changing something. Or re-evaluating a part of our existence that might need a little guidance. Sure, it might simply be saying the same thing as I argue against in my previous paragraph. However, I like a good challenge – I am a very committed, loyal, determined person and somehow, ‘committing to’ instead of ‘resolving to’ is going to be a little more realistic for me. And simply: I only have one commitment to this new year, 2013, the year I turn – shame – 28.

I was thinking and praying a lot over the winter holidays about relationship. What does ‘being in relationship’ with people actually mean? What do I bring to the ones I am a part of? How much do I value the relationships in my life and what amount of me is filled by the love and grace that others give to me? Am I worthy…are we worthy…of Jesus’ love and grace, especially in moments when we tend to forget Him? How can I be blessed by but not filled by my earthly relationships? Do those I care for, know how hard it can be? Oh yes –

No answers. It’s really just a thinking/talking point but my heart seems very focused on the meaning of relationship in my life. Because I value the thoughtful and meaningful part of being in relationship with someone, and my love language being quality time, it’s been an interesting question for me to render… relationship, Christ, me, you, value, perseverance, grace, love, patience, pride, change, growth…and how each part woven together is an overwhelming responsibility…but a blessed one. And relationship? Is it okay to admit that sometimes, I just don’t know how?

How to be selfless?
How to be gracious?
Forgive?
Laugh even when it’s hard?
Make room for more new people – when the old are just fine?
How to listen all the time?
Make it through hard moments?
Not miss the ones I miss as much?
How to make time to be grateful for those who’ve given me so much?

Words of a beloved Christmas tune seemed to surround me through this pre-2013 holiday contemplation:

truly He taught us to love one another..

and again:

truly He taught us to love one another..

No questions anymore really, that’s pretty much it.

Going into the new year, that is my simple commitment: to be more intentional in my relationships. To give grace freely, to trust completely, to listen wholly, to remember and be thoughtful, to be present, to recognize each relationship for what large and intimate or small and distant role they have, and to love unconditionally and intentionally all those who have chosen me.

Relationships with intention.

Because that’s the way it was intended to be.

sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise [I]


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trusting change

“…because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” -Romans 5:5

And for that, I have hope to trust I am exactly where I should be. Why does it feel like there is no turning back now?

Hmm..

Cheers… to fully embracing a new adventure!


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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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mornings

how glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains! – john muir

Some days [disclaimer], I am not going to feel so vibrant, neither will these posts. But again, as always, we’re moving on.

Every morning my drive to work ranges from thirty-five to fifty minutes, depending on traffic. This is just one of the ways that moving back to the city has been an adjustment. For the first month of my commute, the sun was shining and I found myself grateful for the forced excuse to get up early. Calgary has had an Indian summer unlike any I’ve experienced in awhile and I let myself believe that it’s been a ‘welcome back’ gift just for me…

However, as fall has set in – even with warmer temperatures – the sun seems to less prominent during my drive to work. Last week was particularly noticeable as every morning, I left for work in the dark. My car has been covered in the remnants of colder nights and skirts without leggings already feels like a memory. There’s something quieter about these darker mornings, where it feels as though the rest of the world is still sleeping, and I need to be careful not to disturb anyone.

One thing I am finding as these days are slipping into shorter and shorter lengths of light, is that if I leave at a specific time, the sun is actually rising in my rear view mirror as I round the corner from the east of Calgary, heading west to the school. I have to go down a ramp to switch from one road to the next and if I time it right, I can go down the ramp just as the sun is rising behind me. They’re a beautiful thing, prairie skies, and best experienced for yourself, not described by a morning commuter.

It can be tough though, especially today, because the sun propels me forward and unfortunately, I just wanted to keep driving. I am not prepared to face today; a late night with work and Ken followed by parent interviews and nagging fears of replays from last year are clouding my heart. And with the sun behind my back as I drove in, I want to keep on driving until the sun sets and who knows where I would be at that point. The metaphors for that are endless but I will leave it alone.

Anyway. Thoughts from a Tuesday, sunrise filled morning… one more precious reason I’m glad my life led me here. Again.


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vibrant

“…talking about truth and love; you can wield your profession, your craft in a way that hurts people, because you’re so good. And so, when someone can present it in a way that is inviting people into their joy, that’s when the most beautiful things are formed.” – Josh Garrels.

It’s been six weeks. I moved. I am teaching grade 6. I am tired. And I just realized that Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I haven’t caught my breath since… my last blog post? I’ve been thinking about all those things that make life busy and sometimes I think that we actually fill time more than necessary – maybe to feel valuable, as though productivity means we’re doing something right and extraordinary. I doubt the truth of that, even though my intent to do so is probably more accurate than I’ve admitted until now.

Before I get ahead of myself —

I moved to Calgary in August, taking a job at a school where one hundred percent of the students (500+) have some type of learning exceptionality (the current label for learning differences or disabilities). Whether it be ADHD or a varying amount of anxiety or sitting on the Autism spectrum or simply underserved by the public or generalized private school systems, my new school serves to take care of the children who haven’t really been given a chance. Or ran out of their teacher-given-‘chances’ at their last schools and are simply trying to find a way to succeed. Either way – my mind is blown constantly by all that I am learning and all I have yet to learn. Not only are the kids exceptional, but my colleagues and administration all seem to be some of the best as well. As you can imagine, my students (16 in my grade 6 class!) are unique and demand a different type of grace and accommodation from teachers, and as such, the accountability of teachers at this school is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It has to be. It should be like that everywhere else. Anyway. The responsibility is beyond what I ever considered when I became a teacher.

I am teaching my core subjects (language arts and social studies) and I have a partner teacher who is in the room at all times; he teaches our other academic courses. Yes, two teachers and 16 students. I thought it was overkill too but as we’re moving into week four, and the initial overwhelming ‘someone hanging over me’ feeling has dissipated, I like having the comfort of someone to manage the kids while I teach, and alternatively doing the same for him. [I only wish my partner was Lexie instead… ;)]. It’ll be a challenge, this year, but one that I am officially looking forward to; it took a few weeks but it’s not supposed to be perfect or easy to start, is it? I am finding my way, and that’s not always the worse thing.

It’s unnatural, I think, to be comfortable. Maybe it’s just who I am. Or maybe it’s the way of the world or God’s intention for us but I am starting to trust that a lack of comfort simply means being challenged and a restless spirit might just keep me motivated to continue this quest to “wield my profession, my craft in a way that hurts people because” I can do it well…but more than that, remember why I am doing it and that it’s not really for me, at all. I like being a teacher, I am pretty good at it too, but it’s not really about me, either.

Vibrant; vigorous, energetic, vital. Strong. Vivid. I’m trying to commit to that being my adjective for this year. No incredible words or commitments or changes or anything, but simply a desire to be vibrant – to expect vibrance, to trust in vitality and strength of the beauty of the greyest of days and moments where the newness and challenges darken my motivation, or desire to continue – like anything, I am hoping that the vibrancy of these months to come dims all the hesitancy or concerns I have starting a new job, especially because no part of this particular job is going to be easy. Being in this place, in this moment, and of being so good it hurts people.

Not that that is what I am going for, I just think Josh Garrels is wise and I like what he said. And I think it’s important that I am here, as if I should be. And it’s going to be good. Real good.

 

Oh, and I’m back. This little spot on the internet is going to be vibrant, too. More new posts to come.

 

Cheers!


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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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a good start

Mornings seem to be the only time that have what I am searching for the rest of the day: quiet, coffee, and slow pace where each moment is not woven with a need to get somewhere, do something, take care of someone, or get anxious about all the ways I am not doing those things. The earlier the morning, the better, and today has been earlier than most. I wanted to see a sunrise but I think the sun is going to hide out today…it never came and now the quiet moments are fading.

Enjoy your day! (As I spend the rest of mine looking to have morning again! :))