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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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…) 🙂

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pairing aces

The hiatus was unintentional. Unintentionally intentional… but unintentional nonetheless. September is right around the corner and I blinked long and hard, now summer is over and I don’t think I missed it.

Anyway, if you could’ve caught on video my procrastination the last 48 hours in regards to this post, the minutes (dare I say hours?) of my sitting down to this, then standing up and doing something else, would’ve have lapsed into a more tragic waste of your time than watching surveillance footage of the bunnies at UVic running around.

I don’t like to do ‘update’ posts because the descriptions of how I am filling my time seem like a waste of your time to read but when it’s been this long, why not? Summer was devoted to job hunting and enjoying bits of Victoria that I never really knew before in addition to spending some time with friends, making new ones/reconnecting with old ones, and enjoying the family I have here, too. There have been a couple pointed moments — whether hanging out with my littlest buddy Eli on hot days or having dinner and creating magic with people that have come to mean so much to me in only a few short months, that have made summer exceptional. I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Smithers to see my dear cousin get hitched to her Ryan and the weekend was a tease of sorts — three days spent saturated with family (most of my immediate one was there) and not-long-enough visits with Ang. I got a job working with people with developmental disabilities so I needed to get back to Victoria soon after the trip began. After many, many delays, and extreme anticipation, I finally starting working with someone about two weeks ago. It’s been really interesting and challenging. I say often that I need to work on my compassionate-heart and this job is forcing that to happen. I also was hired by Starbucks last week so the last ten days have been devoted to re-learning my skills acquired from years ago at Delicious Treats/Kokopelli’s and the compassionate-heart grows as I remember that coffee is a lifestyle for some — definitely not me.

Both jobs are interesting in their own ways… but they came too late as school starts again next Wednesday and thus, my final practicum on September 20th. Can you believe it? If I blink any longer, it’ll be December already and I will finally be a teacher. That exciting reality is extraordinary and my cozy little haven of life is finally breathing in a bit of freedom to plan outside of all of this. I was a bit worried about ‘what next’ as my last written post alluded to but someone told me there is no point fixating on what I can’t control and since I take his words as truth, I’m not going to. Done.

Other things on my mind? There are three. Settle in.

One – it’s been one year since my Uncle Dave died. A whole year. It’s also been one month since my best friend’s mom died. A whole month. To say I’m thinking about cancer is an understatement. I also keep being reminded of how unfairly blessed I am… I haven’t experienced that type of heartbreaking, unfathomable pain as my Auntie or cousins or Troy and the more I think of them, the more relieved I am that I haven’t gone through that. I know it’s selfish but I have such a hard time thinking about what I would do if I were them. I guess the only way to honour them is to remember that for some reason, my story has yet to include that loss — the loss of a parent — but it doesn’t mean it’s not in the plan and thus, I need to be a better daughter/sister/friend so that when the time does come, that I loved and cared for those close to me is enough for both me and them to find peace in whatever comes. I miss Uncle Dave and miss Troy’s mom, but more than miss them — I miss what those closest to them had in those precious, brilliant people.

Two – home is where I am not. Right now all my family, my whole family, is back in Penticton. While I am ok with being here and not fixating on not being there (as I can’t control that), I am  surprised by how home is starting to feel more like being here, in my day-to-day. I never thought the day would come where I honestly can say I am surprised and amazed and blown away by who the people my siblings are (all 5 plus 1 of them), simply because I truly don’t know them very well as adults, in the day-to-day life. The older and established we get, mainly because we’re all so scattered apart, the less I seem to know them and pay attention to what’s going on. It’s easier. Not fair, but easier. Anyway, as they are all together, I think I’m grieving for the comfort of home knowing that I’m more comfortable here. I hope that a massive gust of wind changes this feeling… or, an opportunity to know my family on an every day basis will come again.

Three – poker. I don’t know much about poker but I enjoy it. I actually had to look up the scoring break down because I recently played a game and felt that a pair of aces should be worth more than three 4s. I don’t know why, seems fitting that a couple Aces, ace = #1, means more than three 4s. And this analogy is awfully simple when it comes to my current state — I’m gearing up for my last three months of school, making this my #1 semester-favourite in the history of my university career (thus leading into the #1 career :)) and that ace coupled by the ace made by my unending, biased claim to the very best friends and family in the world… well, a pair of aces here means more than anything, certainly more than three of 4th place anything ;). I’m pretty lucky.

Also… Robert Frost comes in to make it more of a hat-trick of aces because this poem is perfect, and I think you may think so too:

Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Anyway,

Cheers!!!


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my happening

So I need a job. I’ve been done school for two full weeks now and on top of being a financially strapped, I am bored.  Not that it hasn’t been gorgeous out and that I haven’t found a million and one ways to occupy my time…but weather and chillin’ is only fun when you’re not stressed about anything, like getting work. And stress doesn’t dress me well — I have so little drama and stress in my joy filled, peaceful, fun life so when it does hit, I feel like it’s almost out of body. However, instead of being able to stand outside myself and watch the stress happen, I need to be proactive in dealing with it. But it’s so dang hard! I’ve applied all over the place. I had a job interview on Tuesday, maybe pray for that, for the perfect summer position but I still haven’t heard back yet so here’s to hoping that it works out. Selfishly, for my bank account and wellbeing. Selflessly, for the people who spend time with me who are not used to me whining (and hopefully will never become familiar with the act).

Anyway, that’s what’s happening around here so if you know of anyone hiring in my area, tricks to not being depressed throughout job hunting (I haven’t looked for work in 5 years!), or some excuse to come visit me so I am not simply keeping busy stewing, I’m all ears.

Positive? Did you know I am done university entirely on December 3? Can’t. Wait. This road is far too worn and bumpy to want to keep going on it any longer, wow.

Cheers (and bring me some beers — just kidding)!


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cheering on

Is it time for an update? It’s time at least to say hi. I am so indebted to my bed — I owe it at least 12 straight hours of quality time but school is owning those precious moments right now. I am exhausted. After getting home from practicum, I have been going to school for the month of June in a ‘summer institute’ designed to get me enough course credit to be eligible for my B.Ed. Since I couldn’t imagine coming this far and not getting the degree, I had a few days off when I was finished teaching before coming back to Victoria and back to university. It’s been a short month filled with a ton of stretching mentally and it’s been draining physically but it was worth it. It’s been fantastic, it’s over Thursday, and now I need a job. Any suggestions?

June has been fun — it’s my first on the island and I am grateful for it. The month started with my favourite friend’s birthday which seemed to begin his constant reminders to me of my own pending 1/4 century day in a few short weeks. Eep. Then a lot of our family arrived in Victoria for my cousin’s wedding. The weekend was packed with lifetime style memories, especially having Mom, Jay, and Nath in town and getting spend the pre-wedding day with Megan and Steve. I love weddings. And I loved being able to celebrate Josh, someone we see far too little of. It was a fun and special day and we were blessed to be a part of it!

The last few Saturdays have been spent up on the Sooke river where fish are finally biting and the sun is shining (rather than the rainy and crazy fishing trips I’ve been on)… there is nothing better than sitting by the river with one of the books I’ve been putting off reading. It’s such a joy and if I could live out on the Sooke river for almost-ever, I would.

In other news, Dad blessed me the other day with a special Father’s Day invitation for Luke and I to come and see the Empire Stadium…the temporary sports field he built for the BC Lions. Huge treat! We took the ferry over yesterday morning and spent the afternoon watching football and visiting with Dad and Nate. It was so incredibly cool to get to see Dad honoured for his work, not only over the loudspeaker in front of 22,000 people but to see the reception he got from all of the tradesmen and employees of his that were sitting in our section. He’s a BIG deal… but incredibly, genuinely humble and while the Lions lost to the Eskimos in the last 4 seconds and with L being really sick, it still was a perfectly fun and special day, especially because it was Father’s Day! Only thing to make it better? If they were playing the Riders! Oh well, we’re hoping to go back on July 10 for THAT game… 🙂 So so cool! 🙂

Finally, if you think of it or think of me, I’m going to start pursuing my writing dream. After my practicum I was overwhelmed by this sensation of a dream come true. It’s a bit intoxicating, having something that I’ve prayed for and thought of forever finally be realized and tangible, but it also has begged many questions about “what next”. So I’ve started thinking and writing and wondering how to pursue this other dream. I have some ideas on how to go about it but for the most part, it’s a crapshoot. I’m afraid of failing, obviously, but not enough to not want to try. So that’s where I am at — starting to dream another dream. Do you think that is asking a bit much?

Before this turns into an exhausting ramble, I just wanted to say hi. And spend some time with you. And think about how blessed I am. So that’s about it. Here’s some pictures, in no such order. Be blessed. And be rested enough for me? 🙂

(Click on images for larger, gallery-style viewing)


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ramalama…bling, not dingdong

SO many things to say, SO little time…

First of all, Ky sent me this beautiful story via a beautiful link. Go read about a mama’s love story with her baby Nella by clicking on the link. THEN once you’ve read Nella’s story, subscribe to Kelle Hampton’s blog… it’s breathtaking. I don’t know why, but it gets me excited to read blogs. Not that I am not excited to read yours, cause I am, but her photography and joy is precious. I love her!

Happy Birthday to my most favourite 5 year old in the WORLD…Connor Joshua, I hope your birthday was filled with animals and candies and ice cream with sprinkles and all of your best things! I love that guy much more than I love most people, certainly more than I love Nella’s mom but really, go read her site.

In 4.5 WEEKS I am going to be a practicum student teacher. Are you praying for me? You better be! I am teaching Macbeth to English 11 and the War of 1812 to Social Studies 9. Should be interesting. And no, I am not prepared.

It’s been almost a month but we lost Iron Chef. Basically, it’s time to trade my partner or do some cook-searching (not to be confused with soul-searching). Also, I’ve embarked on a journey I like to call watching-all-the-Oscar-nominated-and-won-best-pictures. So far, not good showing.

I gave up bread for lent and I’ve failed twice. Mainly because I simply forgot. I am also currently 5/13 for Roll Up the Rim at Tim Horton’s… it’s basically and literally a competitive game out here; my friend even has a spreadsheet that charts his successes. It’s supposed to be 1/9 wins but I would argue against that. Luke and I pledged to split any big wins 50-50 (so the Rav 4, 10,000, or the 100 Tim Card). But I think if I win 10 G’s, I’ll buy him dinner then jet off to Mexico without him.

I bought the shoes I most covet today. Chrissy has them and I’ve hummed and hee-hawed over purchasing them for about 9 months… but I justify them via the fact that I can wear them teaching, they’ll be comfortable, etc. So here’s a pic, since it’s not very often I buy shoes:

Any who, that’s about all I have to say for now. Apparently not a ton worthwhile.

Cheers!

Cheers!

No seriously, CHEERS!

(I keep trying to delete cheers but it’s not working so I thought I’d add that last one for good measure…)

grace and peace.


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it’s nothing exciting

All things considering, it’s been a good week.

I just finished my fourth week of my comeback tour at the Regional District. I can honestly say that it’s been a difficult transition this year. Last August, I gave a mini speech at my good bye lunch because I honestly thought I would still be in Victoria this summer (the teaching program initially began in July but has since moved to September — hence my return). You know when you have mentally said good bye to something and yet it’s not gone? Kinda that feeling. Plus, last summer my work project was really exciting, dynamic, and ever-changing because I was being educated and preparing for the municipal election which made for a really neat and challenging four months…this summer, I am filing. Gross. But the people are the same, the weather is the same, and the latest development is the basketball hoop they put up outside which is such a perfect way for me to spend my breaks — and work on my game for the fall when I am back in Vic.

In other news, old people need to get off the road. My friend and I were running on our break the other day when she literally got trampled by an old man who forgot to look both ways before backing up. It was like he was skidding on pavement (What’s the correct terminology? “laid a patch of rubber”? I have no idea) but it was on her shin. I will spare the details but I am so glad she is okay for two reasons: one, that she was okay and two, that I actually was able to laugh hysterically. It was totally one of the funniest things I have ever witnessed. The same said friend was ran into on her bike last summer by a lady using a walker. So either she needs to learn something or the Penticton elderly need to just stay on the beach. This is nothing new to residents though, ask Mom how she feels about their driving.

Oh, and I was delicately and meticulously cleaning the pool pre-Nate’s grad and then in the filling process, the liner tore so now we are pool less. It’s not fair, life, when it’s 35 degrees of stale, forest fire induced smoke ridden, unmoving air in the South Okanagan and the pool is inoperable. I apologize to those of you who had been considering a visit?

On that note, Nathan graduated and it was awesome. Coupled with the fact that our family, minus my brother in law, were all here, the best part of the weekend was Nathan and his 4 friends wearing extension cords at the ceremony. They told the principal it was in recognition of their shop teacher who was retiring but I think the truth was a deep mockery of those who were wearing those yellow and white (French Immersion) honour cords… which I fully supported them because I still harbour bitterness for missing my own opportunity to wear an honour cord by a few measely percentage points. What was even better was that in the massive venue grad was held (the brand new South Okanagan Events Centre), there were over 300 grads and the principal said “….and to those wearing the extension cords, please stand up.” Oh it was perfection in its purest form.

And if you’re really interested to know, Luke and I made ‘bucket lists’ for the summer (basically, a list of attainable goals for the summer) and we had a little update session this evening and so far I am faring quite nicely. One of the things on the list that I’ve been ignoring is repairing Bella, my little blue Honda bombshell, who is literally a ticking time bomb with the problems withher front end (axel). Donations to her cause can be addressed to me. But success in the other things on the list, I might’ve peaked and finished. Not really, but lists are only fun when you can check them off.

Something else to consider — I’ve decided that coffee is going to be one of my passion areas. I am super fired up about this decision. Basically, I am going to research coffee (how it’s made, where it comes from, etc) the way people learn about wine. I already have a trip lined up to go to the Cherry Hill plant in Kelowna (one of the greatest types of local, fair trade, organic? coffees EVER) for a tour and obviously, coffee. Have you ever had Cherry Hill stuff? It’s unreal. And since I haven’t spent much time with it since it’s become my passion, I know very little so don’t ask yet. Although, random, but the lighter the roast of coffee, the more caffeine. There’s one fact for you to trust that I am learning so much already.

And finally, my tan is right on schedule.

Disclaimer: I realize sometimes that I write pretty close to how I talk… so for those of you who are reading this and have never met me or talked to me face to face and are wondering if my thoughts and rambles are this random and jump all over, yes. You should try having a conversation with me on the phone.

Cheers. Pics to come. (Of what, I don’t know).