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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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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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!


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it happened

I figure it is time to stop looking at that lemon meringue pie — it’s not as if we savoured it as long as my blog would so onto bigger and better things.

Like graduating university. WOOT. See Auntie Carolene? It happened.

Convocation was a bit anticlimactic as we had been marinating in the fact that we already graduated but whatever, pomp and circumstance is important and I am glad that I participated. Triply glad that Mom, Dad, and Jayme came for the day.

Here are some highlights:

PLEASE don’t judge my flip flops! I have a broken toe and couldn’t fit any shoes on my feet.

Getting hit on the head – the traditional ‘welcome” to the Faculty of Education.

Not taking this serious thing seriously…Carly- well behaved, Kate- having too much fun, Aisa- bored…very indicative of our teaching degree experience.

Look at us go! 8 years later, graduating with my best friend AGAIN. Teachers? Really?

Sorry I didn’t get a trade, Dad 😦

Matching shoes! And smiles. She’s ok that I didn’t get a trade.

Duck face for Chrissy. Eyes closed for effect.

Bree, Linds, Carly and I with our favourite professor (taught philosophy). He was so glad we finished and are outta his face (and not watching his curling matches anymore).

Look who else graduated? My other best friend.

He’s a pretty big deal…and a pretty big dork.

… going to change the world!

Oh… it wasn’t all a delightful day of successes…

     

Oh, well. First year as a somewhat real fan…proudly not a bandwagon one…a little disappointing that this special day will be memorable for painful reasons.

Anyway…. thanks to all the fantastic people in my life who have supported me and shown me the love over the last 7 years…and those who came out to celebrate, especially under the circumstances:

I appreciate it, Trav, more than you know. 🙂

I am sooo glad this chapter is closed for the time being. Kate Stam = no longer university student. Feels awe-some.


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grateful

I have been feeling convicted lately. Partially because I am overwhelmed by how selfish being on practicum is (and trying to find the balance in that). The other part is feeling convicted by thankfulness. I was in church yesterday, fixating on how easy it is to say thank you but wondering how often I actually stop and think about how truly grateful I am. It is so simple to live abundantly with the grace and peace of knowing I’ve got many people and things to appreciate; many people and things that take care of me. But I don’t think very hard about it and what it actually means to me. Perhaps, dare I say it, I even take it for granted? I need to start thinking about where the food I eat comes from (and I don’t only mean the hands who prepare it) or where the leaves, that turn their vibrant shades at this time of year, fall from (and subsequently, make my heart a little more full). I was encouraging my students recently to question “why” when they were writing their essays and reading response journals. As I said “Don’t just write it for the sake of writing something down, explain it so I know you’ve questioned why and made some sort of connection…” that little, aha!/hypocritical, voice danced its way into the tapestry of my heart as this Thanksgiving was nearing ever-so-close: just like in an English paper, saying thank you and being grateful is one thing, but understanding and being able to explain why shows that I am not just saying thanks because I know I should but because I have thought about it enough to know just how meaningful my blessings are. I am human, I mess up a lot and am aware of my many faults, whether pointed out to me by others or not, but if there is one thing that I know myself I want to get better at is not taking for granted the parts of my life that are gifts. By gifts I mean the things that I don’t deserve. And that basically means everything.

I want to love deeper because I know how fragile life can be. I want to understand thoroughly because I am learning how much there is that I do not know. I want to apologize and forgive unconditionally because that means I care enough to move beyond. I want to love myself a little more everyday so that I can love others more wholly. And this Thanksgiving, I want to be especially thankful for the things in my life that I cannot control because no one is forcing them to be here, and yet they are anyway.

to parents ~ who love unconditionally
to siblings ~ who understand grace
to weston ~ who grounds me, life at 25 should be just as exciting as life at 11 months
to family ~ where there is a place to fall into; who make chaos oddly calm me down
to best friends ~ who make it easy to just be; to who my soul craves without realizing it until they are around
to new friends ~ who make me wonder where I was without you; from who I am learning the quiet strength of time can mean nothing… or everything?
to far away friends ~ who I never forget, but tend to ignore
to high school students ~ who captivate me, inspire me, frustrate me, and make me laugh
to sharing a ride; to phone calls ~ where sharing an experience is almost as important as the experience itself
to mentors ~ who challenge me and in turn, keep me humble
to the world around me ~ who I continually benefit from yet I don’t notice often enough
to the place I call home ~ where I forgot how much I missed it and all of you
to my health ~ kidney stones or not, I am blessed
to my dream ~ for coming true and keeping me busy for 6+ years
to people in customer service ~ who I value for impromptu conversation and smiles
to music, to books, to writing, to long drives, to the Lagoon ~ that remind me to appreciate simple quiet
to hope ~ that I catch hold of when I get anxious for the things I cannot control
to beach fires and large mugs of tea ~ things that have come to depend on
to God ~ for entrusting me with these

Happy Thanksgiving.


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made with love…

I would like to acknowledge the following people for making the, well…following, photographs possible (or what is inside them):

Dad – for telling me they taste JUST LIKE MOM’s a couple years ago, making me persevere to make them again and again. YES.

Chrissy – for the generous lending of your cooling racks — for the very first time I made biberli not using an extra oven rack or overturned dish drying rack. Trav you get thanked just for your association with Chrissy. And your commentary to my life.

Ky – for you generous donation of icing sugar. I needed more BUT yours got me through round one 3 days ago.

Tim – the guy I work with and his honey bees — the honey he gave me this summer was exactly what I needed for these cookies.

Megan – for being the very first person I made biberli with, I think I’ve come a long way since then.

My Nana – for her legacy of incomparable Christmas cookie recipes.

My landlords — God bless them for the smells they have to put up with wafting through the vents.

Jes — for your patience over my questions over the years, I think this year I might’ve done it solely on my own? Wait, I did ask how long the dough could sit out I think — it’s tough to make these in one sitting!

Luke – for being my biggest fan and favourite ‘critic’… insisting it’s not enough to fairly judge by trying just one.

My dear Mom — whose heart probably broke when her second daughter did nothing but sit around and watch all of the Christmas baking being done… little did she know my baby blues were suffocating my brain with every last detail for making the softest, sweetest, most deliciously golden brown and delightful Christmas cookie the world will ever have the privilege of recognizing. To you mom, I tip my hat.

SUCCESS, friends…SUCCESS!


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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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detrimental realities

Mom and I were discussing something peculiar the other day as I struggled with this new reality I’ve discovered. Figuring myself out — It’s kind of similar to reading a book over and over again only to discover something new every single time.

I remember years ago an Odyssey tape was talking about the difference between ‘joy’ and ‘happiness’… that you can be joyful without necessarily being happy. In Philippians, Paul calls us to “REJOICE in the Lord always” so while I may not be happy all the time, I have been actively trying to live my life in joy.

You know those conversations with people where the person seems to be actively trying to get under your skin, actively trying to start an argument where she/he will make fun of you, pick apart parts about you they don’t like, bring up multiple things he/she knows you disagree on, almost as if the conversation isn’t initiated because they want to talk to you but rather, they are looking for an argument or trying to upset you [for whatever reason]? I had one recently and it rocked me to the core… I didn’t get angry or upset during the conversation, but later I kept thinking “What was that?” …was there any point? Where’s the joy?

However, it has become more apparent as I try to walk with a joyful step, how many people live in a state of un-joy. There are about five people at work that I particularly enjoy and/or like a little more than the rest, simply because there have been relationships forged over the last three summers. The other day, four of those five were in bad moods. I don’t know why, three of them were in moods so poisonous that I didn’t dare even ask. As the day wore on, I realized that even though I actively try not to wallow in my own unhappinesses, or bring a bad mood in front of those who didn’t cause (or deserve) it, I am largely affected by the moods of those I care about. I find it more difficult to be joyful around someone who is down than if I have semi-negative feelings towards my own day. More honestly, it is even harder to smile when I know that person is not acting as he normally would. This reality is odd, because it is interesting how easy I find it to leave my own dilemmas at home yet can become consumed by others as they’ve brought them, both directly or indirectly, to me at work (or in life in general).

So for the segment between coffee and lunch, I tried to be in a bad mood as the rest of them. I actively tried to get down on myself and my day, just to see what the point was and why. The fifth person, who was not in a bad mood noticed… and actually asked me “Kate, what are you doing?” so I told her that I was trying to be in a bad mood because everyone else was. She laughed out loud and said “Good luck with that.” Needless to say, by the time lunch was over and afternoon coffee rolled around, I had given up.

To live a joyful life doesn’t mean wearing a perma-grin or insincerely being happy all the time, but to me, means trying to remember that even though it’s not always easy or dreams haven’t come true yet, that this life is designed for me by God, and that if I get everything else wrong, I know I actively worked at living a life of joy.

There was a point in my life a number of years ago where everything had gone awry and in a last minute decision (some might say brash decision), I decided instead of staying in Calgary for the summer, I would come home to Penticton. I didn’t have a job, or a plan, or even a ride home… so when I stuffed my car with all my belongings, having to leave MANY behind in my room as a result, I spent the whole 8 hour ride home thinking “what am I going to do?”… all I knew was that I had to get away from the city to think and to pray and I Just wasn’t sure. Mom warned me “You better be prepared to get a job right away.” And I was terrified.

Then I applied at the regional district, where I’ve now since learned just happened to have their previous summer student find a job elsewhere, someone who would’ve returned if she hadn’t. And lo and behold, I was hired and have been told I am allowed to return as long as I am in school and need summer work. I got the job about 5 days upon returning to Penticton…and I never looked back.

The point is that every time I walk into work, I am overcome with joy to the fact that that place is an absolute answer to prayer in a vulnerable moment, and highly unjoyful period in my life… so it is easy to lead a life of joy when I am walking around in it because the whole building has been an example of God’s lifesaving tactics.

I know this is completely muddled, and perhaps I even lost my point along the way… but that’s okay. After my experiment of trying to be in a bad mood, I have decided that to lead a life that is not peppered with joy is way too much of a sacrifice and a loss, especially considering how much God has given me.

The problem with this reality is that I  still hurt for those who can’t see this, so as this week wore on I realized that the frown or sadness on my face were not because I had a problem but because others did. Doesn’t seem normal, does it? I am not exerting my perfection, by any means, what I am trying to say is that leading a life of pure joy is probably made more difficult because others’ lack of joy more than by my own lack of faith. For me, anyhow.

On another note: Any book recommendations?


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expenses

Hey guys, I will write as soon as life settles down immensely. A detailed little letter anyways… but I just wanted to ask for your prayers. Our house isn’t done and in a new development, I need to buy a new computer. So not only is this a huge inconvenience, but it’s an expense I didn’t count on. The unfortunate thing is being an english major (and universitys becoming increasingly more digital) a computer is necessary. So I am scared about how much it will cost and how much the expense will set me back. As I said, I covet your prayers in this unexpected issue but also in my search for a new job.

Thank you… and I will get back to you soon!

Cheers!!!


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diamonds in the rough

My mom talks a lot about seeing the “extraordinary in the ordinary” and I want to look at things in life like that. Kind of like diamonds in the rough, sometimes we have to search for these rare gems and find the beauty in things that may not appear to be. Or more importantly: Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary that someone else may over look. So I spent my drive home yesterday thinking of the things I find beautiful, that go past a sunset on the oceans surface or the snow on a Christmas morning:

~a hot bath after a long day
~skating so fast at night on the lake when all I can see is my breath from the cold and the starry sky
~Dave Matthews, Tom Petty, John Mayer, Bryan Adams, and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers
~Staying up super late, playing basketball in the parking lot, and wishing time would stand still
~driving with the ‘top down’ on the bug in the middle of the summer
~A good book
~Going into someone’s room and looking at everything on the walls… a self portrait without even meaning to be
~thunderstorms any natural phenomenon.
~the power of prayer
~Driving alone at night, for a long ways blasting Mark Perry (any Smithers residents soundtrack for life 😉
~Silver jewelry
~Chats with my sisters and mom
~Strawberry marshmallow candies and cream soda
~Spending time with my Dad.
~Dreams (and not sleepy dreams, but life-dreams…especially hearing other peoples)
~Long hair
~Living in residence, only 5 doors down from one of your new best friends
~Memories
~One Tree Hill, Ocean’s 11, Blood Diamond, and Prison Break
~Movie nights where I fall asleep and wake up to find everyone else doing the same
~Adrenaline rushes, risks, and forgetting who you are for a moment
~An unexpected phonecall from a dear friend
~Iced tea with peppermint
~The feeling that the song “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me” by Keith Urban, reminds me of, and makes me want to feel.
~John 15:13
~The serious side.
~Writing
~Jumping on the trampoline with soap and water
~Playing first base
~Calgary’s skyline; Camrose’s simplicity; Prairie sunsets
~Independence; Innocence
~Barefoot
~Swimming at night
~When he looks at her “that way” and she keeps his secrets: observing from afar
~Smithers moments
~Smiling at someone who needs it
~Ken’s aunt’s cabin out in Kananaskis, and the moments along with it
~The smell outside after the rain
~Steak, medium rare
~The way anyone can always make me laugh
~Reliability and freedom
~Feeling to never forget such as: walking down the aisle at grad or when I saw Jayme for the first time
~Knowing who I can cry to; who to trust.
~Wishing on the stars
~My fleece blanket
~Family gatherings
~Talking to you—listening to you
~Wearing socks to bed then taking them off in the middle of the night.
~Crawling out my window in my old room in Smithers to lay on the grass when I couldn’t sleep
~How I never know your voice on the phone
~Wet hair
~Pictures, photo albums, yearbooks and old letters
~The gingerbread my mom makes
~Laying on a dock, counting shooting stars, at Tyhee Lake
~Seeing someone for the first time, after a long time
~Swiss Pride
~Arguing with someone even if you know you’re wrong
~My quicksilver toque
~Being deliriously happy
~Curb sitting
~Knowing that there will forever be something to come home for.

and most importantly,

~A feeling that nothing will ever be the same. For if it was the same, I wouldn’t grow. And because it changes, I have hope.

I know it’s long, and I am sorry for that, but it’s on my heart… so tell me, what do you find extraordinary? What are some of your diamonds in the rough?

xo your Kate