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.

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thoughts

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’

-Erma Bombeck


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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.