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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i’m here!

And what better time to kick start my re-entry to blogging but LENT – my own consistent blogging series. Mmhmm… missing my good friend Chrissy for this particular ‘event’ (see last year), especially in choosing what to give up, but I persevere.

First of all – I am going to make an effort to be on here more. I enjoy blogging a great deal, I just have too many hilarious and life changing moments that start with “Today, with my students, we…” and I have to watch it – for privacy and also for boredom…to you. I sound like a broken record most of the time but honestly. teaching is an honest-to-goodness-made-for-television style of entertainment. I will try to keep you in the loop much more.

So. Lent. Last year I gave up make up. It was a powerful time. While a time of healing, mostly for my face that had been covered up for over 10 years, the challenge/fast was habit forming and I haven’t touched foundation since, except to throw it away.

I also apparently gave up dessert. That didn’t happen very often though, there was always a justification and since I always wanted to reward myself for being so diligent in not wearing make up, it was a bad combo. Excuses, excuses. But seriously, that one was especially tough – largely in part due to my living situation at the time (coke floats that flowed…endlessly?).

So here we are, day one of the 2012 lenten fasting, and here are my sacrifices:

1. hitting the snooze button, even on weekends. A very good friend of mine is doing this and I think it is a great idea. It’ll be especially tough given the zero accountability but I’ve declared it, so here I go.

2. Staying at the school past 5. I know it’s crazy but some evenings I will be in my classroom until well into the evening and I need to work on this. It might be a “contradictory” sacrifice but any teachers out there, especially new ones, will understand this.

3. Watching TV shows/movies to fall asleep. I don’t remember when this habit started but I need to spend this time pleasure reading or with my devos or just thinking. When I consider how much of my day is filled with distractions, busyness, and talking to others, I need to bring in some quiet.

How’d I do today?

Well.

I hit snooze once. Oops

I left school at 5:10. BUT I was tutoring one of my kids later than planned so I think it was important for both of us.

I haven’t gone to bed yet. And I am blogging. But it’s quiet and there is hope for some committed success in this area.

What are you thinking of letting go of for this season?

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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…) 🙂

catching up

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Hellllo, anyone out there? With November came an honest effort to get some balance back in my life, including doing some of the things I’ve been neglecting – such as blogging. Now it is November 12th and I’m actually getting it together. I think I will make this a regular thing. 🙂
Actually, I am  just looking for more excuses to play on my new MacBook. Fun!
I am settling in. That’s probably the best way to describe the monotony of newness in my life right now. “They” say that it takes about 6 weeks before the routines and expectations of being a teacher “click” and everyday doesn’t seem so difficult or tiring. Well, just like when I learned how to drive a standard, it took me closer to 8 weeks but I am finally feeling like I am not run off my feet EVERY single day. Honestly, I have the best class imaginable for my first year – but with report cards (what I am supposed to be doing now), parents, trip planning, assessment, and simply preparing for every class, it is exactly what I mentioned above: monotony of newness.
Some notable moments (I wish I could blog in detail but running the risk of defying confidentiality is much too great):
– I tried to make the kids caramel apples for hallowe’en. Mom used to do this for all of us kids and a few of our friends every year and since I am teaching at my old school, I thought I would continue the tradition. Unfortunately, in my quest to make the caramel soft and delicious, the caramel sagged right off the apples. The kids didn’t care but, as Jack’s caught, aesthetics to me is everything and I was devastated by how gross they looked.
– My class lead the school in the Remembrance Day celebrations and, after looking at the agenda from years past, I decided to do away with the seemingly-obligatory-but-not singing of “In Flanders Fields” and made a video of my class talking about what freedom and remembrance mean. The video was followed by a somber reading, some sharing of words that represent freedom, and my darling girls singing Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You”. I might be biased, but it was POWERFUL. It was an incredibly silent and respectful event as I tried to work with my kids about getting away from thinking of Remembrance Day as remembering war and more of remembering the price that has been paid. ANYWAY, I want to provide you with the video of the service but you’ll have to ask; I can’t post it online. I am so proud of those kids.
– Letting go. I know it sounds silly but just as I’ve made a turn in my comfort in teaching, I’ve also been able to relax a little bit on being stern. That is not my first nature as a teacher so now that routines are set, I am easing into being a little less strict and a little more Kate.
Either way… I am blessed. Incredibly blessed. Come see for yourself, eh? 🙂

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welcome to my home.

Yes. That is what I’ve been waking up to! Can you believe it? I am grateful that I am now driving that white SUV there (a RAV4 for inquiring minds) instead of my old dear Bella – who I sold, fortunately. The cabin living is growing on me. I am having a relatively easy time maintaining the fire and not waking up to every gunshot or growl or engine revving that goes on out in these parts. There is also a resident bear. I think things would be different if I lived out here on my own but my friends whose property the cabin sits on and their two kids have been such a blessing; I am enjoying the laid back life of living in the woods.

Except the horrible cell service and Internet connection. Oh well, not the end of the world.

What else?

I am 45% done my Christmas shopping! I am so excited about this endeavour this year; having two nephews makes it double the fun. And more than that, I am anxious for Christmas in all ways. I can’t wait to skate on Lake Kathlyn and see Luke and Joce and sweet Annabelle again and – ahem – have my kids be the starring class in the Christmas pageant…all before going home for 10 days to my family and being cozy in Penticton. I can’t believe it’s almost upon us; I am grateful for what 2011 has brought me… the list is so long.

Anyway,

That’s the catch up for today – more to come.

Cheers.

K.


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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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too fun

This won’t happen again, ever, but this is really funny – my kids are sitting here writing an English quiz and it is so quiet in here. I think I am going to live for these moments, when they’re on task, working hard, and asking questions that have nothing to do with what we’re doing in PE today.

And we’re going on a hike in about 45 mins for the rest of the day.

 

Really good day.