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.


Leave a comment

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

Advertisements


Leave a comment

farther along

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!


2 Comments

being teacher.

Grab yourself a cup of coffee or tea, this one might make you wish I published it in a Reader’s Digest so your eyes didn’t burn so much from the computer screen’s glare…

I’m trying to decide how I feel about this career choice. There is so much work involved in preparing and creating and deciding and learning all the material that needs to be covered for even one 80 minute period. I spent all weekend crafting my introductory lesson to Macbeth and before I walked out the door on Monday, I told Mom I was afraid that I had too much to cover/expected too much. I was surprised to find we covered everything and more over 70 minutes, leaving 10 minutes of “oh no, what now” ringing in my head.

And it’s not just the preparation, it’s the teaching. It’s a difficult task to comprehend something my self so entirely thoroughly before I teach it so that I can ensure my kids will understand it the way I’ve decided they need to. Again, how I decide. Shakespeare is hardly my second language, so expecting 19 grade 11 students to have a love affair with it themselves is a bold request — so my goal is to simply challenge them to give it a chance. However, remember when your teachers in high school or beyond talked about staring into a sea of glossed over eyes and stunned looks of “what the heck are you talking about”? It’s the truth. High school = a whole other world.

In a week, I’ve learned many things.

I have learned that while one lesson and day might go perfectly according to plan, successful both in delivery and student engagement, the next day might be a fail beyond repair. Then the next day, I won’t even recognize the faces that stare at me in earnest… ready to learn. It’s constantly changing and dynamic and unpredictable… they weren’t kidding when they said to be prepared; and be prepared for anything.

I’m also learning that I can’t take things personally. I am so far off the kids’ priority radar that even if I bomb a lesson in my head, they aren’t the wiser nor will they remember the next day. They have boyfriends, girlfriends, after school job, drama, sports and the playoffs, TV shows, obsessions with Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga (oh yes!), break ups and make ups to deal with — far more important than Miss Stam whose knees have gone weak and stomach flip-flops when they haven’t been able to answer three questions in a row as my mind races with insecurity. So as I learn that I can’t take things personally, I am quickly learning how much I truly do carry burdens, of all sorts, in my heart. Seems like more lessons than just for teacher me.

I’m learning tricks of the trade — how to be friendly without being friends, what battles to fight and battles to ignore, and the list goes on and on. I have been blessed with a great group of kids who genuinely seem to enjoy me, which has made this a much more enjoyable transition. My 9s, who I get in a week and a half, seem a lot more distant and a lot harder to please or engage, but they are even more concerned with Justin Bieber than my 11s so I am not too worried.

To say I am humbled is an understatement. In fact, as an English teacher, I feel like I should invent a word that describes how I feel since I can’t seem to come up with the right one. High school students make me so happy… they are funny and obnoxious and emotional and thoughtful and careless and innocent while being experienced and almost wholly real. I know, I know, when you think of your own high school experience, you remember the fake parts and the cliques and insecurity or whatever else there is and I know that all exists. But when I am standing there in front of the room and there are 19 people sitting there, waiting to hear what I have to say, trusting me (albeit, not by choice) and respecting me and opening up to me, well, it’s much easier to see high school students for who they are when you’re teaching them, not being their peer. Make sort of sense?

The stories are already piling up, the comments and anecdotes and encounters are too hilarious to attempt to put into words — plus, I don’t want to privatize my blog so we’ll have to just save those for a coffee date one day. I’ve now had two official evaluations. One by a university supervisor and one by my mentor teacher and they both went super well. The things I have to work on are minor, mostly about disciplinary tactics (being a bit more harsh) or waiting a bit longer for them to answer questions but all in all, I think I am doing well.

Learning lots but not excelling — and in so many ways, I am glad I am not. I think humility is a huge, if not the biggest, part of this job. And realizing that it most definitely is not all about me, and I like that.

Going into the first day, I really wondered how it all would go, especially since I was blessed with no anxiety or fear whatsoever. Even though the fear comes and goes and my confidence is fairly shaky, Miss Stam truly seems to fit like a well worn glove already and when I am standing in front of those kids I know I am exactly where I dreamed of being for so long; were I am sure that I am supposed to be. It also feels pretty darn cool to have my kids step away from their groups in the hallway to say “Hey Miss Stam… I can’t wait for class!”

Me either.


1 Comment

have coffee with me

Fall has set in and I’ve been waiting for it. In Victoria, fall is unlike the autumns I am used to so it is such a treat to be in Penticton where scarves and mittens are as evident as the cold puffs of air I breathe. October never feels quite right until my windshield is frostbitten, the afternoon disappears with my mind in a good book, and the season changes right before my eyes.

Need someone to think about? How ’bout me? As always, my time home or time in Alberta serves to be anointed where I spend more time with my heart and noisy mind than while I am in the throws of my everyday life. I’m facing a couple of impossible decisions right now and as the everchanging leaves of fall, my mind is everchanging over these matters in my heart.

And in finishing my first week in secondary school as a person of authority, I am all over again overwhelmed by the responsibility I am getting myself into. How do I teach students while being real yet not making oh-so-obvious my inadequacies as someone to learn from. Can I? High school is interesting… being back there reminds me of my own time as a student and the five thousand ways that I was immature and brave and curious and obnoxious and selfish and scared. I hope I am removed enough from my own experience by now — the positivity of my own high school years threatens my compassion towards these students’ experiences. The simple reality is that I may struggle understanding them because my existence has been pretty easy. It’s a huge responsibility. I am excited but I wish I could look at myself in the mirror and say that I would trust me with the task. But I am honestly not sure.

A couple things to think about —

When we know that what we are doing is something we’ve been continuously prepared for, how do we fight the fear that we might not be good enough for it?

If a battle for me is a breeze for you, will you tell me how you approach the world and its acceptance of you with grace and trust that it does love you regardless of who you are and where you’re at? How do you own that?

How do you make your impossible decisions?

How long does it take and how far do you go before you openly admit you are struggling? Do you ever? Can you read between my lines?

Finally, when can our hearts meet over coffee? I am aching for the company of a friend.

I could really use some help.

melancholy_autumn

Like the changing season, I feel like I should be changing too…

’cause in the dark, I can’t find my feet
Built my world on promises, colourless and cold

I’m short of breath, I’m sure
Gone, let it wash away the best I had
Gone, and when I disappear
Don’t expect me back, don’t expect me back


Leave a comment

more on that

Main Entry: authentic
Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: real, genuine

Synonyms:

accurate, actual, authoritative, bona fide, certain, convincing, credible, creditable, dependable, factual, faithful, for real, legit, legitimate, official, original, pure, reliable, sure, true, trustworthy, trusty, twenty-four carat, valid, veritable
Notes: genuine means not fake or counterfeit – or sincerely felt or expressed, while authentic means conforming to fact and therefore worthy of belief and trust

Who wouldn’t want to be that? I’m trying.


1 Comment

reckless abandon

I stopped thinking for awhile, could you tell? I don’t remember the exact second it happened, but I do know it was a conscious decision. Leading my life with my head had kept me from feeling; I was being safe. But in the last few months, I really tried to do the opposite and let myself feel. Not just emo or happy or sad things… but anger and frustration and emotions that have been real and honest and joy-filled at their core. To be spontaneous and act on impulse and do things because I had an idea and decided to act on it. Instead of thinking about much, I’ve truly lived the last while with the adventure and fervor of the free spirit that I know is at the core of me; the spirit that needs no containment — at least, I’ve learned that now. I want to see and do and live parts of this life and this world for myself, not vicariously through the stories I love to read or the experiences of people I love to talk to. But living by instinct or impulse has sort of made me forget my responsibilities. For example, a friend asked me if I was actually even going to school this semester because there was no way someone with six courses had so much time for… fun. Someone else questioned my attendance to Sunago while someone else made a point to explain how little we’d seen each other all year. So my responsibility to commitments or others changed… so what is the balance? Because living through my head and brain made me closed off to feeling, getting excited about things, and simply living a life of joy that radiates through me and topples onto those around me. Yet living the opposite way, while reminding me of the beauty and awe-someness of my life (and each one of yours), also seems to be really selfish and impulsive or even at times disrespectful.

While I truly believe it is a brave and mighty thing to embrace the true character and nature of who you are and have that person be who you are, every moment of every day, it’s a powerful thing to feel that that said person or free spirit is acting out of ignorance or being irresponsible in relation to what or how you should be.

Are our responsibilities conditioned based on where our lives have been?

In other words, do you ever find that a responsibility is only such because we’ve been constrained by ‘duties’ or ‘norms’ that we’ve adhered to in the past?

What I am curious about is change — where is the room for change?

How can we give grace and room for people who change, or change itself, when we don’t trust grace for ourselves?

Or better yet, what if the change simply means you are finally acting or being the person you know you were created to be and that old version of you wasn’t real?

Let’s take me for example. As I am currently striving to live a life that is honest and real and so transparent that I don’t have to watch behind me for fear a lie or a reaction or an out-of-character moment will ever catch up to me, I am a little distracted by that fabulous and brilliant freedom that comes with choosing to just be. I am being selfish, I know… but you’ve read my blog, you’ve spent time with me, you know how hard I think about many things. It’s been fun to just go with it and be up for anything, not giving anything in the last 5 or 6 months much thought. It’s refreshing. I am happy. I am filled with joy for many God given reasons and blessings.

But that’s not really reality for me either. I want to know the balance. I want to know what deserves reverent thoughts and attention and what just needs to be lived and experienced. I want unconditional grace during this time, but I also want to learn how to give grace and appreciate change freely for others. I want to learn how to feel deeply while living spontaneously and laughing uncontrollably and thinking hard about the things that matter the most. I don’t want to have to apologize for all the ways I don’t measure up but focus on the confidence in how I do. And on that topic, measure up to who any how? What right is that of any earthly human being to decide that… or set the bar for that matter…for others? I know that I am a work in progress, and I love that and the growth that comes along with it, but I think we spend far too much time trying to ‘fix’ or to ‘change’ or to ‘mold’ or to ‘be responsible’ rather than celebrating the very perfect nature of our imperfections. There is a reason it’s called amazing grace. I will try to be better at it.
There’s a peace I’ve come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There’s an anchor for my soul
I can say “It is well” –
Chris Tomlin


Leave a comment

new venture

…I got a digital camera for Christmas and on more than one occasion I’ve said “my blog will NEVER be the same again!”… so until I can figure it all out and do a pic-share with my sister who also recieved one and who also has a blog, my fabulous Christmas/New Year post will have to wait. Suspending the suspense…

🙂