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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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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in this storm, too

As we all are trying to connect some very disconnected thoughts and feelings and emotions in the process, today of all days I found courage and intend to keep faith in some powerful things:

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. Jn 16.33

And this:

And didn’t You see me cry’n?
And didn’t You hear me call Your name?
Wasn’t it You I gave my heart to?
I wish You’d remember
Where you sat it down
And this is all that I can say right now
And this is all that I can give
I didn’t notice You were standing here
I didn’t know that
That was You holding me
I didn’t notice You were cry’n too
I didn’t know that
That was You washing my feet

And then this came on my playlist:

And the simple reminder that life is fragile and short and passes as quick as the cold breaths in winter’s air. Thank you for the moments we got to have him, but I am grateful for knowing he’s been Yours all along.

Be blessed.


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heartstrings

cinnamon-hearts (If anyone is thinking about it, my favourite Valentine treat are chocolate truffles and cinnamon hearts. But not the fake truffles. Or fake hearts, for that matter. I am just sayin’.)

I wonder sometimes why and how I am so abundantly blessed by all of the fascinating, wonderful people in my life. Then I remember that it doesn’t take very much to make me smile or make me want to know more about a person. After that I wonder if I do anything to touch other people’s lives the way that they touch mine, even if it’s in the smallest way.

Recently, Jocelyn came over for a walk and she brought me a coffee, which was unreal and much needed… but what I’ve loved and needed more are the weekly talks we have, heart to heart over coffee at Starbucks (10:15 every Friday if you want to crash). Later that week I sat side by side with Amanda and Brooke (missing Mal) in Starbucks, giggling over the silliest little things, while Ryan made us vanilla lattes… for free, which was fabulous. Luke spent the evening distracting me from studying, with much more compelling and delightful topics than WW2 history..and way more fun.. and Troy and Kieran cooked me dinner and made me laugh so hard it hurt the night before, right before Paul called for the first time in eons. My stomach and soul jumped this afternoon when I got a text from Nadina saying “we should make SALSA next week”… a day cooking and a day with Nadina is like soulfood in and of itself.

And I already mentioned how wonderful it was to visit with Nana, but I forgot to say how special it was to share some quiet moments with my aunties Cornelia, Anita, Tanya and my mom while they came down to play-nurse for their mom; or how wonderful people like Alicia, aunties Monika and Sylvia have been in rearranging their lives in a way to accommodate the recent events (and continually envelope their ‘stray’ nieces into their homes). I am waiting patiently for auntie Carolene’s visit in April.

Mom and Jayme were here for the week and if there is any evidence of heartstrings-tied-tight, it’s written all over my heart whenever they (or I) have to leave. My sister Marli called me and we hadn’t talked to each other in ages, and I couldn’t tell you how cherished and worthy I felt by hearing her affirmation in my life that I might be doing okay. Or how I grinned when Jes e-mailed me to ask me to come visit, sometimes feeling wanted matters so much to me. I think my heart actually swelled when her sister in law, Amy, sent me a photo of the sweet baby that she’ll be having in the summer. And I just adore the other mama-to-be, Chrissy, for giving me a place in her and Trav’s lives.

I miss Ang way too much, long for coffee with Billiejean, and think life could very likely be complete if Megan lived in the bedroom beside me and Leanne upstairs, down the hall. When life affords me moments to check blogs and ‘check in’ on everyone, I head to see what Avey and Michelle have been up to first before making sure Chelsey and Maya had a good day, as they always seem to do!  I simply love making conversation with random people on the street or in coffee shops or class who seem to nestle their way into my corner of the world. Or reconnecting to find the heartstrings never to fade away.

And I need to save a whole chapter on my blog for the ways Kyla continually touches my life with her friendship and kindness and wisdom and unending patience (and hilarious dates with her husband).

(I kinda got carried away, and I didn’t miss people intentionally, by any stretch what-so-ever, I was just trying to make a point).

The point I am trying to get at is that every time I invest something in someone, and feel they’ve invested in me, I have given them a piece of my heart that I don’t mind being without. I love the feeling that family, friends, and new faces in my life do to my soul. I remember once Jes asked me what I was passionate about and I didn’t have an answer for her. But I think it’s people. (Am I allowed to be passionate about people?) I would way rather spend an evening hearing your heart, sharing my own, and embracing you with my heartstrings than anything else — especially if there is coffee involved. I love how worthy it makes me feel that I am a part of something greater, something invaluable, something more intricate and intimate and intensely personal other than myself — I get to play a small role in your lives which is something I do not take for granted for a second. I could spend a whole jar-of-cinnamon-hearts worth of time listing people and things that have touched me and taken a piece of my heart in the last week, or in the last few years, and continually stoke the flame of my greatest passion, but I think I will share it with them first.

I just thought you might like to know that my heartstrings are tied tight around you, and I am in awe, as always, at the people I get to love in my life. It’s very much a privilege and I love that you can have a piece of me…because as hard as it can be to share my heart and my flaws, I know with you, it means I’ve gotten a piece of your hearts just for me– heartstrings woven ever-so-close and threaded deep within my soul.

To my soul friends, you are loved and cherished and appreciated. Happy Valentine’s Day.


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of all days.

poppy

In the cold echoes of the wind, the trumpets blare and the men in uniform march one…by…one. Down the street, past the monuments, in view of thousands wearing the little red flowers so close to their hearts.

 

Perhaps it is because the last three months in school have been consumed with war…how it happened, how it continues to happen, who it involved, who was victorious, and who was dessimated. Or maybe it’s because I had a friend who recently returned from there, who had friends there, as the war – a different war – rages on. It doesn’t matter, but today remembrance seems to mean more than it ever has.

 

It is not just about our freedom or the price that was paid, in bodies and blood and debt and uncertainty, but about the devastating confusion that came when an expected four month war stretched into four years; how our nationality was deeply exposed when Canada, for the first time, entered a war (WWII) on our own. It’s so easy to wave a Canadian flag, a British flag, and American flag, and boast thanksgiving to those who lost their lives for our freedom… and our unity. It’s so easy to sit in front of the TV or read the headlines and believe that war was then, and freedom is now.

 

But what do we do with that freedom? We gripe about the economy and gas prices; job shortages and the weather; we struggle with the Canadian government and the situation in the United States. We complain about tuition and having our parents’ still boldly lay claim to our lives. I think with freedom comes our responsibility to the price that has been, and continues to be, paid to keep us secure, radiant, proud Canadians. We justify our spending or actions or beliefs on a simple justification: “because we can”. Yet I wonder, what if the Unknown Soldier decided he couldn’t? What if the nurse laid down her bandages and said she would no longer serve? What if Fisher had not manufactured the Dreadnought? What if conscription never took place or time stood still on industrialization or the atomic bomb was never created? What if the other side won?

 

What if the World Trade Center had never been attacked? Where would we be? Who would we be? Why does it matter?

 

It’s frighteningly cold today, as if the wind has rushed in to hold our hearts cold to imagine what it was like when the opposing sides called a truce, meeting in No Man’s Land, for one day – Christmas Day – and decided to lay down the weapons, to Live and Let Live, if only for one day.

 

I think it is time that we, Canadians, British, North Americans, whoever, are exposed to simply remember. Today is not only a time to remember who has served, but to center ourselves, again, on what is really important. My sister often talks about how God calls us to be good stewards of what we’ve been given. With that, what are we doing with this freedom we’ve been given? What are we doing with this life? Would hundreds of thousands upon thousands of fallen soldiers believe it was all worth it?

 

Let’s not forget the veterans and members of the past, but let us also continue to remember those with the Canadian flag and cause that are fighting and peacekeeping now. It is, literally, the least we can do.

 

“It’s only in the dark and cold of night that we can see the stars…and I pray that those stars will lead them, too, all the way home.”

 

November 11, 1918 – November 11, 2008 : 90 years since the armistice ending WWI was signed.

 

I choose to remember.


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foundations

There is nothing quite like rekindling a relationship with an old friend. As I get older and meet new people, I am fascinated by the simple fact that my new friends (new-ish as well) are often better friends than the old. There is no assumption or expectation on new friends’ parts, merely (if we’re lucky) a simple intrigue to get to know you. I can say this because as a new friend to many people over the last number of years, I find it simple to kill an hour with a new person because there is so much to learn and see and ask and it goes on and on. And sometimes with old friends, I struggle with conversations because the connection might’ve passed, we’ve got little in common, and just don’t seem to enjoy each other the way we used to.

Little do we know that when we are younger, and still to this point, each new friend has the ability to be a forever friend, we just don’t know it until much, much later as forever seems to evolve. So when I look at my best friend or lasting friendships from days passed, I can only gather that we remain true and honest and blessed by one another because once upon a time, during the ‘get to know you’ part of our friendships, we decided that we would forever be ‘getting to know each other’ and still enjoy doing so. And if that foundation was initiated by a genuine curiousity at the start, then all the better.

I fortunately have been blessed by solid foundations a couple times over. Last night I was able to reconnect with a friend that I spent my late elementary years dreaming about (I swore we would get married and I didn’t know him aside from being on my soccer team), my middle school year trying to get his attention and potentially just even be his friend, our whole high school experience doing everything together from watching movies to working at the rink to being the first person to drive with alone when I got my ‘N’, being my grad date and everything in between. I even remember one fateful birthday when I was the only girl invited to his party and I had to learn quite quickly that ‘system link’ meant hooking up 4 x-boxes to 4 tvs and playing with 16 people and that Chinese food is an activity on it’s own when eating with a bunch of guys. We fought a lot, too. He was always right and I was always wrong and he’d always apologize and I would always yell louder.

The thing I most appreciate about him is that he has always taken an active interest in my family, genuinely concerned about my parents moving or excited that Jes got hitched or Marli in culinary school…all of it. And the reversal – his Mom and sisters and the rest of his family always welcomed me to a point where I never just miss him, but all of them (his sister was my very first skating coach!). It makes all the difference when someone not only knows the names of my five sibling and parents but wants to know what they are up to and how they are (we bond now not so much over having older siblings who didn’t get in as much trouble as we did but instead, our excitement to be an aunt or uncle to those said siblings’ children one day hehe).

But the point is that he was my very best friend and when his parents moved away from Smithers the year he moved away to university, I thought I was lost. But we grow up? And it was okay.

Anyways, aside from the ever present e-mails, we talk on the phone three times a year: my birthday, his birthday, and Christmas. I haven’t seen him since June of ’05 when Joce was in her accident and I went to his house in PG to stay for a week while I was hanging in the hospital. But I got an out of ordinary phonecall from him about three months ago saying “I am moving to Victoria, Kate!!” and I fell out of my chair. Last night we saw each other for a pint of Keith’s for the first time in over three years and we couldn’t get enough of eachother. It was like drinking water and when the cup is empty, you’re so thirsty you have to refill over and over and over. There was so much to say! And when I thought we finished, there was more to say! To say I had a wonderful evening is an understatement. I was giddy almost because he’s the honest-to-goodness definition of a true friend, and the foundation to our friendship (well over ten years in the making!) made it almost too easy to fit right back in. At one point he said “it’s kinda weird how with us, it’s always the same”… I guess a testament to how important it is to give room to friends to let them grow as you grow; live as you live, independently…and maybe the person will one day walk right back into your world and God taps you on the shoulder as if to say “Hey? Remember when you asked if it was worth the effort? What do you think now?” you can answer with a resounding loud and passionate “YES”.

So I am thrilled at having him only 10 minutes away from me instead of four years from me. And if last night was any indication of what I have to look forward to, I still think that new friends can trounce the old, but I am blessed by the few still standing on that foundation we worked so hard to piece together long ago.

And it doesn’t hurt that we’re both proud owners of Blue (albeit two different shades) Honda Civic SI’s… great minds think alike…and like minds think great! Like I said before, I am BLESSED.


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twenty-three

I am way too old for this. Well, way too old for many things. Twenty-three just seems old. I know some of you may argue, but I digress. Atleast, it’ll be old until twenty-four. Oh the horror!

Here are some pics from Jes’ trip and Jayme’s birthday… sister lovin’. And some Dad lovin’ too.

Aren’t we just a big bowl of good times and delights?

Maybe we’re actually aging like fine wine. This picture doesn’t do my tan justice.

Look Dad, you made that. Or those. Three. Rather.


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uninspired

“I found my place
In a fairytale of thought”

Maybe it happened because I cut off my hair (well, 4 inches of it) but I am struggling lately. Struggling to find the words for what is going on in my head and heart right now.

I was just driving back from my girlfriend’s a little while ago. It started raining and I went down to the beach for a little bit (stormy weather = strong waves = God’s fine masterpiece) and I noticed that I struggle with how to express what’s going on but just how absolutely quiet everything is right now. During school the noise becomes so loud (and downright obnoxious) that I sometimes forget my motive or approach or reasoning for what I am doing. Or what I did. It’s easy to justify things based upon all that noise and simply not hearing over the loudness that consumes us.

But right now, everything is so quiet. Not in a way that makes me believe that it’s ‘setting me up for something’ or that I am numb, but a stillness that is making me feel like, if only for a breath, that I am where I am supposed to be (mentally, physically, emotionally) and I don’t want it any other way right now. My sister was talking to me about being newlyweds or pregnant or just dating or just engaged or any other milestone in that part of life and told me that she is content with where she and her husband are at. And I think that that might be where I am. It’s pretty quiet here. I don’t mean not lonely and I definitely don’t mean I’ve peaked, but I do think God has me right where He needs me to be and I am not worried. It’s just…really cool.

It’s kind of like at the end of Christmas holidays and we’ve just removed all of the ornaments from the tree for another year. The tree stands there, just as it did before it had ornaments on it, erected in a way that makes you think ‘while the ornaments made it beautiful, the tree can stand on its own, without all that’. And for a moment, we stare at the tree in a way that glorifies the tree just for being a tree, for standing in your living room, for what it represents.

I feel like I am a tree stripped of all my ornaments right now. Even though our ornaments are irreplaceable, what is there when they are gone? Strip them away. Take away what says ‘student’ or ‘mother’ or ‘wife’ or ‘child’. Take away the part of you that is for your children, your family, for work and play and commitments and goals and pride and accomplishments and dreams and obligations. If you removed the grudges and pain and anger and bitterness and hyper activity and laughter and emotion and depression and love. Whatever you’ve decided that defines you, whatever things you believe you’re only good for or not good enough for or whatever you would say to someone when saying ‘this is who I am’. If that was stripped all away, as it will be one day, what will you be? Who will you be? Where do your desires end and God’s desires begin? Where to they merge? Where have you lost yourself? Did you lose yourself on purpose? Are you ignoring something that you know you shouldn’t be? Are you being encouraged to say something you should have a long time ago? Are you afraid to be honest? Are you scared to be vulnerable? Are you aware that all that you have and all that you control really is beyond your possession and beyond your control? Did you know you’re not always right (but you’re not always wrong, either)? Did you know that what you could’ve done when you chose not to could’ve changed the day of that person for the better? Did you know at the end of the day, all that matters is you and God, not what we acquire and desire in this life? Did you know that we always have options? Did you know that at this very moment you could be in someone’s prayers and have no idea? All I know is that we are a lot more transparent, not only to God, than we’d like to believe.

It’s just very quiet right now. I want to know all of those things. I am just waiting. It’s pretty cool right here.