Monday, December 31, 2012

cold winter song

so every year I do this one word thing.  and it's a good, good thing.  the word that chose me for twenty twelve may have kicked my ass.  surrender.  it kicked hard.  and honestly, I feel a little beat up.  I fought it the whole year and it still won.  I'm not there yet, but I am further along in this journey than I was a year ago.  I've discovered new things about myself and about what I'm capable of.  both good and bad.  and I'm tired.  tired of fighting.  tired of trying to always be the boss of me.  and the boss of everyone else for that matter.  so when tomorrow shows up, that first day of a new year, just know that I'm not shelving all of last years work to take on a new work.  my word for twenty thirteen walks alongside.  embraces.  works with.

and I think for the first time in years, I'm going to set some goals.  some resolutions.  and create some focus for the next couple of months.

and just because I love this song, I'm going to leave this with you for the evening:



happy new year, friends.  I hope for you a night filled with celebration, reflection and no regrets!
xo

Saturday, December 29, 2012

all you need is love

love.  the last of the advent topics.  {I'm going to share my random, chaotic brain with you this morning. I'm hoping you can find the thread and follow along.}

man, have I struggled with these!  I've had a difficult time getting into the christmas spirit.  I know that a big part of my issues this winter have been being too busy.  or maybe that's the excuse I'm going with.  between school {which has been going full throttle since the beginning of august}, kids sports, and a husband who works night shift, I didn't really anticipate the impact on my mental health.  yes.  I'm going crazy.  ha!  no really, my body hasn't figured out how to relax.  I've had some down time in december and I haven't known what to do with it.  as a result, I've sorta missed the anticipation of the christmas season.  and that makes me sad.  did I put on the happy face, put the lights up, buy the presents, throw the party and maybe actually enjoy it?  yep.  sometimes behaviour needs to lead and the heart can follow.

that said, my purpose in doing these advent posts was to help get my heart and my mind into the christmas spirit.  the advent, or anticipatory season.  and once again, I'm a week late.  and you know what?  that's okay.  because regardless of the timing of my writing, my heart has been focused and then refocused on joy, peace, hope and love.  and although I didn't totally feel like my energy was there, the boys and I drove through candy cane lane and enjoyed the lights, we decorated the tree together, we watched all the home alone movies together, trips to costco together, we went to church and then a movie on christmas eve...together.  it's been good.  and slowly, rest is coming.

so how does this relate to love?  I'm not sure.  what I know is that love does.  love shows up.  love acts.  love shuts up.  I've been the recipient of this lately.

a gift from friends that was unexpected and I was unable to reciprocate.  I literally burst into tears when I opened it.  it's hard being taken care of when you focus about 85% of your daily energy on taking care of others.  love.

then yesterday I got a phone call and it was a "get your ass up and meet me now!" kind of phone call.  I needed that.  and she knew that.  love.

and I had a revelation yesterday... I read this post at a deeper story.  grace's #1 resounded deeply with me:
"1. People are hurting, err on the side of kindness.  If they aren’t now, they will be soon.  So many of us, so often in misery taken out by life’s ugly curve balls.  Your kindness can make all the difference in the world.  Be kind.  Be kind.  Be kind.
When you tweet, when you blog, when you visit family, when you come home to a cranky spouse, when you change a diaper, when you are in traffic, when you are on your period, when your cat pisses on your shirt, when you have no words for the exasperation you are feeling.  No matter what, be kind.  Play nice."

kindness is the prelude to love.  when you struggle with love, start with kindness.  when you meet people that are difficult to love, let alone like, start with kindness.  because sometimes you have to change your behaviour first and give your attitude and heart a chance to catch up.

because I watched love actually this week, I'm going to end with a quote from joni mitchell {go listen to the whole song sometime...it's lovely!}: "I've looked at love from both sides now, from give and take and still somehow, it's love's illusions I recall, I really don't know love at all".

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

we three kings

I still owe y'all my last advent post, but I don't think I'm going to write it today.  so for today, I wish for you a relaxing day with family, friends and loved ones.  and a few minutes of reflection on the wonder that is the miracle of christmas.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

I hope you dance

dec 16
hope.  seems so well timed and almost cliche at this time.  I feel like this word is more than just a one-post thing, but the reality is that this week is going to be insanely busy and one post a week is all I'm managing right now.  I know darn well that I won't really be able to do my thoughts on this any justice, but I'll try my best!
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder, you get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger, may you never take one single breath for granted, God forbid love ever leave you empty handed, I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean, whenever one door closes I hope one more opens, promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance, and when you get the choice to sit it out or dance. I hope you dance.  {lee ann womack}
hope, like joy and peace before it is not simple.  it's not a wish.  it's not an "I want".  it's not simple nor is it a trite desire.

{not me...}

dec 23
it's taken me a week to write this, mainly because I couldn't think of how to put my thoughts into words and give them meaning.  I still am not sure I'm making any sense, so bear with me.

hope.
morning comes after the long, dark night.
spring comes after the cold winter.
pregnancy gives way to birthing which brings new life.
the new moon comes on it's lunar cycle.
the sun rises in the east and sets in the west...even when it doesn't make an appearance.
joy follows the time of sorrow.

there are many things that are unpredictable in our lives, but many that are securely fastened.  they are predictable.  reliable.  promises we know to be true.  in a world of chaos, I'm going to put my hope in the predictable.  the promised.  the true.

life is hard.  filled with heart break and sorrow.  filled with unrealized dreams and expectations.  but it will all pass.  hope is bigger than a wish.  bigger than compassion.  it's knowing that although the winter is long, dark and cold that spring always comes.  always.



Sunday, December 09, 2012

peace train

so today is about peace.  I think, like joy, this word is more.  bigger.  deeper.  more intense than what we've let it become.

it's the absence of war.  but more.
it's the lack of worry.  but more.
it's contentment.  but more.
no chaos.  no discord.  no disagreements.  no raised voices.
peace.

well that all sounds lovely, but kinda dull.  so ironically, or maybe intentionally - depending on how you see the world, I heard a bunch of things about peace today.

and this is what I pieced together:

l.gen romeo dallaire asked once:  are all humans human or are some humans more human than others?  this was a man who saw war in a way that far too many in our world have encountered - the genocide in rwanda.  he is a man who has seen the horrors of war and knows the key to peace.  living as though no one is better than or less than us.  equal because we have the same creator.  the same blood flowing through our veins.  family.  yet daily we treat people as though we deserve to be honoured and they deserve to be brushed off.  no compassion, only ego.

peace exists when we stop seeking our own ego.  our own power.  when we seek gratitude and joy, we find peace.  and I believe when we stop the chaos in our own lives, we can begin to stop the chaos around us.  sounds easy, eh?  ha!

stoping the chaos is so much more than slowing down or cutting down on the business.  it's a state of the heart.  it's slowing down to make a difference in the life of someone else.  it's choosing someone else over the wants of your own ego.  it's putting away the need to be right...'cause who cares if you are that one time.

had a little "joy to the world" thrown my way this afternoon...what can I say?  I get around!  read that first line a couple of times.  his rule is not shrouded in power and ego, but with truth and grace.
he rules the earth with truth and grace
and makes the nations prove
the glory of his righteousness
and wonders of his love and wonders of his love
and wonders, wonders of his love
we are called to be peacemakers.  to carry the torch of peace.  to start a revolution of peace.  and it starts with me.  this hits so close to home so tonight I am writing this for myself.  to record a lesson that I need to revisit.  especially the part about keeping my mouth shut.  {yeah, don't act all shocked.  we all know it's true.}  okay, so it's not about keeping my mouth shut, but about putting away the need to be right.  in my world, they're the same thing.  and perhaps I need to start ruling my little world with truth and grace.  or with just less ego.

I've posted this quote before, but it bears repeating:
Go now to make a difference in this perilous and broken world.May you all hold each human life in the same regard as your own.May you bring serenity and peace to the lives of others.May God's Loving Spirit go with you and guide you this day and always.Amen. - Rev. Brian Yealland {2003}
peace.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

ode to joy

I had this idea...and then I forgot about it {shocking!} and then remembered today so I thought, "hey! I should just do it instead of thinking about it!"  I know.  random brain.  my idea was to do a series of blog posts throughout the advent season on the four themes of advent:  joy, peace, hope and love.  it's like lighting my own advent candles in blog-land.  metaphorically speaking.  I may not be going in the same order as y'all, but this is my little order.  and this week, I'm going to focus on joy.  if you'd like to join me in this little quest, just comment below and leave your blog address.  I'm not fancy around here - there's no graphic, linky thing or badge - I have no idea how to do or make those things, nor do I have the time or energy; however, I would encourage you to join in and reflect in some way on the advent season.  count down with me.  celebrate with me.  pause with me as I reflect on how to make christmas about giving.  gratitude.  grace.  and about how I celebrate the christmas season.  with a heart focused on the gift given to me.  and a wee babe, lying in a manger.

joy.

this morning we sang this song and the last verse caught my attention in a new way:
mortals join the mighty chorus
which the morning stars began
father love is reigning o're us
brother love binds man to man
ever singing march we onward
victors in the midst of strife
joyful music lifts us son-ward
in the triumph song of life
stop and read it again.  it's so incredibly powerful.  and I feel so small next to it.  my life is bigger than me.  I am a small piece of a very large puzzle.  singing in unison with the choir.  my measly voice in unison.  in joy.  nothing makes my heart happier than when I am engaged with music.  in worship.  in dance {okay, well I can't dance to save my life, but once in a while I move these hips with some wee boys!}.  in life.  life is a song.  and I am just a small voice in the choir.  I wear this tattoo on my arm that says "choose joy".  and some days this is so incredibly difficult.  because joy does not equate happiness.  joy is deeper.  joy is immense.  joy is a way of being, not a fleeting emotion.  joy creates such consistency in my soul.  I don't even know what I mean by that exactly, except to tie it to something I heard today.  and really, it reminded me of a conversation I had with my dad about seven or eight years ago.  joy creates an atmosphere where nothing can make me or break me.  nothing is so overwhelming that I can't deal with the blessings that life gives me nor is anything so threatening and awful that it can break me.  when I choose joy, I am choosing it in all situations.  not just the good.  "victors in the midst of strife".

have I had to put this to the test?  yeah, kinda.  but not totally.  do I wish to try this out?  not really.  I don't want bad things to happen in my life.  that said, life is not perfect.  and things happen.  what I want to practice in the meantime is how to have joy permeate my soul, so that I can live "in the triumph song of life".

all that said, I still have to choose it.  I still have to be conscious.  I still need to see myself in context.  so this week, and heading towards christmas, I am going to choose joy.  in the busy.  in the chaos.  in the shopping and wrapping and baking and concert prep.  I am going to choose joy.  because luke 2 says this:  "But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."  this season is about the news of great joy.  and I want that joy to be in every part of my being.



oh, and I can't leave you without THIS:  {my fave! and I *heart* lauryn hill, even if this is old, old school!!  if anything, the clothes alone will make you smile...}


Thursday, November 29, 2012

five minute friday: wonder

I'm exhausted and I should be in bed, but I'm going to try my hand at writing tonight regardless of how I feel.  If you want to join the party, hit the badge on the right hand side of my page.  okay so don't really hit your computer.  you'll just hurt something.  clicking works though...

go.

walking on christmas eve, in freshly fallen snow.  past a church.  music wafting it's way out.  
silent night, holy night.

holding a new born baby.  nine years since the first and I still get "that feeling" when I remember holding him.  smelling him.  touching his wee hand. 
all is calm, all is bright.

little voices singing in unison and sounding so sweet and awful at the same time.  
holy infant, so tender and mild.

boys sleeping.  hands flailing.  hushed breath.
sleep in heavenly peace.

alone, with a piano.  closed door.  it's just me and the song in my heart.  
all is calm, all is bright.

silent night
holy night
all is calm
'round yon virgin
mother and child
holy infant
so tender and mild
sleep in heavenly peace
sleep in heavenly peace

wonder.  god in flesh.
holy night.

stop.

Monday, November 26, 2012

yellow light

so I grew up in church.  and when I say I grew up in church, I don't mean that we went to church every sunday.  no, the church raised me.  saturday night.  sunday morning.  wednesday night bible study.  friday night youth group.  pre-service prayer.  post-service coffee.  oh, and school.  monday-friday.  yep.  many of my misconceptions about church and God come out of this "full exposure" as a child.  and many of the spiritual practices that define the church were so pounded into me that I just disconnected.  too much forced prayer and too much forced bible reading and memorizing gives those practices a bad taste in my mouth.  literally.

and then there is tithing.  I have heard about 50 too many sermons on tithing.  my favourite was the impetus for leaving a church in my early 20s {the pastor preached that ananias and sepphira in the book of acts were killed because they didn't tithe.  pack your bags kids, we're going on an epic guilt trip.}.  and that is the sum of my tithing "preaching at you" experience.  guilt.

as a result, I hate tithing.  I give when I have a few extra dollars.  I had one year that I think I tithed 8 months out of 12.  I give to a couple of international organizations.  but really, I don't tithe.  or didn't.

over the last little while I've come to see my lack of tithing in a different light.  see, I've always justified my money decisions.  "I give of my time" or "I give when I can" has become the mantra of my adulthood.  it's true.  I am generous with my time.  I am generous with my stuff.  I am generous with my gifts.  but I'm not generous with my money.  and for a long time my excuse has been that I don't have enough money to make ends meet, let alone give.  when faced with the choice to feed my children or tithe the magic 10%, I choose feeding the kids.  and starbucks for myself.  and a cell phone bill that supports my data addiction.  oh, and that new pair of shoes.

so this my revelation on all of this:  there is a God and it's not me*.  that's right.  I believe that I know best for my life.  I don't trust God or myself.  and I'm not just talking about faith, I'm saying that it's taken me many, many years to figure out that God, the creator of this universe, has my back.  I grew up believing in God the judge; not in God the lover of my soul.  and the result of living this way has been a life of chaos at best.  my soul is in hiding.  I am in a huge financial mess.  my relationships are strained.  I don't trust myself or anyone else.  in the depth of my being, I believe I know best for my life.  I am God.  but I'm not.  there is a God and it's not me.  I suck at being in control.

here's the connection.  if I am not God, then He must be who He says He is.  and apparently, I'm suppose to trust him.  I'm learning this.  it also means that everything I have belongs to Him.  and in the same way that I want my boys to have every opportunity and all of their needs met, He wants that for me.  he's just asking me to obey.  it started with me beginning to replace my worries with a grateful heart.  philippians 4 says, "do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God." and it goes on to say that peace will guard your heart and mind.  try it.  it's really hard to worry and be grateful at the same time.  and in those moments, God was faithful.  and He continues to be faithful.  and very slowly trust is being restored.

what I discovered through this process is that the biggest cause of worry in my life is money.  the lack of it.  the shame of living as result of poor choices.  the shame of being 40 and not knowing what the heck we're doing.  the shame of feeding my kids lots of pasta because that's all we could afford in september.  but something happened.  when I started to trust God with my worries, money issues became less and less.  I wish I could say that we miraculously won the 50/50 at an eskimo game or some anonymous donor handed me a cheque for $10 000 and all my problems went away, but it didn't happen like that.  it was the small stuff.  it was only having to spend $35 on school supplies because I found a bunch of used and new stuff when I was packing up my classroom last spring.  it was a good friend of ours donating hand-me-down hockey equipment.  it was cheques not going through our bank account until payday when they should have gone through when there was not enough money in the account.  it was being invited for dinner when we had almost no food in the house.  all little things that added up to big things.

then I had an unexpected conversation with some new friends.  about tithing.  and obedience.  and the challenge was left that I needed to be obedient.  the amount of money that comes into our house has not changed, but God has proven Himself to be faithful.  so I decided to get over the whole "it has to be 10% or nothing" extremist attitude and to start with some fiscal obedience and responsibility.  I decided to start with 1%.  every pay day, I give 1%.  that was last month.  this month it's 2%.  it's going to take us 10 months to get us to the 10% mark.  and then, when we get to 10%, I feel so strongly, in every fibre of my being, that we need to go +1% every year.  it's obedience when I choose gratefulness over worry.  it's obedience when I tithe.  it's obedience when I give with a grateful heart.  God will bless each and every percentage I give because of the obedience and ultimately because of my faith.

what I've learned is that it's not mine.  when I horde, it slides through my hands like sand.  I cannot serve two masters.  I'm choosing to serve God not money.  I've learned that God has my back.  tithing is a spiritual practice that I cannot ignore.  it's not about guilt trips.  it's not about shame.  it's not even really about money.  it's about trust.  obedience.  faith.  stepping out on nothing and landing on something.  and for me, 1% more.

*not my original words...totally stolen from THIS guy.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

five minute friday: thank you

it's five minute friday...on saturday!  I've been exhausted this week, so staying up late to write seemed a bit daunting.  so you're getting it this morning!  and if you want to play along, hit the badge on the side and get all the deets!!

go

thank you for...

a roof over my head
clothes in my closet
a few bucks in my wallet
some food in my pantry
a song in my head
healthy kids with some smarts in their brains
a job that I adore
people that I work with - they're an amazing team
friends that surround me
parents that love and support me
a husband that works hard and loves his family
wi-fi
a starbucks close by and a card with some money on it
hot coffee
cable tv that's entertaining my kids right now
heat
water
a car that hasn't died even though it really wants to
hockey and soccer - my boys adore their sports and I adore watching their passion
a church community that supports and loves me
a creative soul
being 40
my health
a creator that made me, loves me and pursues me

so much gratitude.  so thankful.

stop

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

big parade

holy tiredness, batman!

I just spent two full days doing PD {professional development for all you non-teacher types!}.  it was all really good work, but my brain hurts!  and my tummy.  sheesh.

it's time for some changes over here, boys and girls.  I was doing really good with taking gluten out of my diet, but then laziness snuck in alongside busyness and now I'm feeling icky again.  really, really icky.  and I'm up two pounds which puts me higher than comfortable for my clothes.  so, the next three days {there are only three more teaching days left in my week!} are going to be focused on drinking a lot of water, getting a lot of rest and making some better eating choices.  then, this weekend, I'll make some plans and do some baking.  my energy level is so low right now and I know it's because of what I feed my body with.  junk in + no rest = tired and grumpy.

I am really thankful that tomorrow is a new day.  and on that note, it sounds like there's a fight happening upstairs that needs some intervention.

I'll keep you posted...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

five minute friday: stay

it's friday somewhere, right?

gonna try something new tonight.  a bit of a writing challenge.  yippie!!!  go HERE to get all the deets and join, if you want!  {I'll also put the badge over to the right when I get a moment!}

so the topic is STAY

go.

I've tried to run away from home.  more than once.  and not when I was a kid...no, as a full-blown adult.  I had a plan.  I had a motive, means and opportunity.  I was packed and ready to run.  and maybe part of my heart did run away, but physically I stayed.  I wish all of me had stayed, in hindsight. I'm still chasing down that piece of me that left on that cold, lonely night.

we give our hearts away so readily when all we're do is to stay.  to be still.  to be quiet.  to listen.  to watch.

I talk too much.  I give too much.  I share too much.

stay.  be still.

being alone and being lonely.  these often drive me into motion.

a restless, discontented heart.  disquieted by the status quo, yet asked to stay.  to be still.  to listen.  I am the kite flowing in the wind, just begging for someone to ground me.  to hold on.  to keep me close.  to envelope my heart and soul.  to stay with me.  to be with me.  to quiet my soul.

I have learned to stay.  and I am learning that a wild soul knows how to find rest in a world that is restless.

stop.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

reminders

I do try to blog at least once a week.  this week has been a touch on the crazy side.  okay, what week isn't?  my life right now:  school. soccer. hockey.  repeat.  it's all good, just not a lot of down time unless I don't come home!  ha!  for real.  today I just hung out at school and finished my report cards.  and then had coffee with jill.  I love jill.  regardless, sometimes I just have to take advantage of the opportunity to step away from the chaos.  let's be honest.  it will always be there.

this is what I've been up to...
{stole John's batman t-shirt and wore it to all the sporting events on saturday}

{I'm cursing the roads, but the sun on the snow was really, really beautiful on saturday}

{sometimes playing the piano at church is really where I get into that sweet spot.  like it's not about me. and I am just the lucky girl who gets to facilitate.}

{remembrance day at next often includes a choir.  okay, well twice now.  but it was lovely.}

{oh, and a "conversation" with clinton kelly...that was pretty cool.}

{I shovelled that.}

{at ground level for one of nate's soccer games this weekend.  love watching him play!}

{coldest arena EVER.  froze my ass off.  grrrr.  oh, and ty almost scored and we lost.  double grrr.}

busy is good.  no time to think and sometimes then I don't have time to over think.  just to be grateful that I have kids that LOVE sports.  grateful that I belong to a community that loves me.  grateful that although we have massive amounts of snow in the second week of november {grrrrrr} that I got around safely with all the driving I had to do this weekend.  grateful for moments of perfection that I couldn't orchestrate if I tried.

the title of the mumford & sons song "reminders" was fitting tonight.

cheers!

Monday, November 05, 2012

slow it down

things that make me happy on a monday:

1.  good music
2.  hang out time with ty
3.  stir fry and rice
4.  chocolate
5.  the chew
6.  watching the civil wars sing billie jean.  FOR REAL.
7.  laughing with my students today
8.  melting snow
9.  dr pepper
10.  seeing how many boxes of books that I need to get rid of...because I started purging the garage!
11.  taking some pause
12.  knowing that some days I need to just remember this:


Friday, November 02, 2012

stubborn love

y'all know my titles are song titles, right?  well the lumineers have been toping the playtime on my iPod as of late.  LOVE.  they make for some good thinking music.  so hunker down.  it's a long one tonight. oh, and I'm on meds - buckleys AND antibiotics; if stuff makes less sense than normal, well it's my normal for today...a little left of centre!!

so this week has been the start of a season of purging and fasting.  and full-on chest cold from hell.  eff.

on sunday I offered up a challenge to myself: "seven drastic changes" is what I called it.  heck if I know where I got the number seven from.  maybe just one for each day of the week!  and today, looking back, I'm not sure if seven was the correct number, but the effort has been there.

the purge:
I hold on to things.  physical and emotional.  this week has brought a conscious effort to purge my heart, more than anything, but it has been kick started by my drive to purge "the stuff".  the physical purge is one that I need help doing.  the garage is FULL of boxes that have been sitting there for 2+ years.  they need to be sorted through, purged and re-packed.  it's been on my to-do list for almost 6 months, but I can't do it alone.  it's just stuff.  stuff that I don't need, but it belongs to me, so it's my job.  john and I have an official plan that is going to work.  I don't know why it takes me so long.  funny enough, I don't have issues with throwing things away, or with giving them away; I have issues with getting started.  this was the week to get the plan in motion.  tomorrow is the actual day.  no more procrastination on the purging of "the stuff".

purging my heart has also come with some emotional procrastination.  I hold on.  I hold on to bad habits, unforgiveness, memories...all things that create a toxic place in my soul.  this week I've begun the purge.  it's making a conscious effort to forgive.  it's making a conscious effort to make a bigger effort with some people and no contact with the ones that are harmful.  it's hitting the delete button and not the send button.  and it's immersing myself in truth.  and it's bloody hard.  and I've not been super great at it this week.  but I'm trying.  trying hard.  forgiving myself is ridiculously difficult.  trusting myself, even harder.

the fast:
well this went sideways big time.  getting sick through my resolve out the window, especially since the bulk of this was food and drink related.  that said, I can't drink booze while on antibiotics.  somehow the fast wins.  no booze for two weeks has turned into no booze for the next 10 days.  My stomach was feeling pretty crappy last weekend and I know that is totally related to the amount of gluten I eat or don't eat.  I had planned to sort that back out this week too, but sickness makes me want kit kat bars.  yes, those ones all collected while trick-or-treating.  I've totally been snitching from the kid's candy stash.  I'm blaming the fever.  I should be back to normal in the next 24-48 hrs.  I'll start again.

john and I have also spent tonight working on creating a debt diet...an active fast from what we want to a focus on being good stewards with what we've been blessed with.  this goes with a shopping fast and man, that's hard!  we are held hostage by our debt situation and for the first time in a long time, I feel like we're taking it on.  together.  no more fear and shame when it comes to our money.  just a singular focus on the goal.

I know this doesn't look or sound like seven things.  and it's not.  and I got messed up in my plans by sickness, but I'm moving forward.  taking it all in small steps.  and feeling like sometimes when you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  auto-pilot is not an option, regardless of how busy and overwhelming my life can feel.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

carry me home

you all with perfect eyesight aren't really going to get this metaphor, but I'm going to use it anyways...'cause it's the best way to describe what I'm feeling today.

I used to be super blind.  no glasses equaled full-on handicapped functioning.  I had to squint to see the alarm clock and all of it's bright red lights.  the only reason to go without glasses back then was to put on my make up.  I could see close up, but not far away.  I wore huge pop-bottle-like glasses and hard contact lenses.  it was pretty ridiculous.  when I was 24 or 25 my eye doctor told me that I need to stop wearing contacts - that they were wrecking my eyes.  at that point I made the decision to have eye surgery and my vision was corrected to better than 20/20.  talk about a radical change!  it took months for me to get used to seeing that darn alarm clock.  my sight was perfect.

and then, ever so slowly, over the next 10 years, my eyes began to change.  my corneas continued to reshape and my eyesight began to fade.  it never went back to what it was.  I wear glasses now {okay, well mainly contacts!} but I can function without them.  my eyes are still bad, but not like they were...not even close.

this is how I feel my life has been.  seasons of complete blindness {like my 20s? ha!}.  seasons of clarity and vision.  and seasons of that in between - like I can see but I should put my glasses on.  not as bad as it used to be.  but not as good as it could be.  and that's where I am right now.  in the in between.  and I need to put my glasses back on.  I feel an air of ominous lingering over my life.  like a hovering warning.  "PUT THE DAMN GLASSES ON...'cause there's a piece of lego hiding in the carpet and you're going to step on it!"

I know what I need to do.  I don't want to do it.  every fibre of my being knows the right way to turn and yet I want to hold on to an illusion.  I'm holding on to blindness because seeing is scary.  it sounds silly, doesn't it.  'cause it is.  so this week, I am going to make seven drastic changes to the way I do business.  some I'll share with you and some I won't, but trust me when I say that for the first time in a really, really long time I feel like I'm not alone.  and that I have the courage to see clearly again.

grace.
courage.
and some crazy reckless love.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

from here on out

it's been too long.  and the last three weeks have been a blur.  I've been sick this week, so I don't have the emotional fortitude to be very deep, but I do have pics.  lots of these I share on twitter {@corifraser} or facebook and instagram {corifraser}, but honestly, it's a good way to chronicle my life...and remember where I've been in the last three weeks!

 {my office - my view every morning - I spend a lot of time in this space.  it's a good space though and for the most part, I love my job and I'm so incredibly grateful for the people I get to fight in the trenches with.  I totally get how lucky I am.}

 {I just like this picture - my blinged out lanyard with yoda attached!}
  
 {this kid loves this game.  we waited a long time to jump on the hockey train and somedays I have to work on not resenting the time commitment, but that smile says it all.  and you couldn't wipe it off his face when he scored his first goal last weekend...in front of his grandparents, aunt & uncle and cousins.}

 {this was part of "crazy thursday".  ha!  it was read-in week at school, so a couple of the edmonton eskimos came to read to our kids.  plus it was grandparent's day in the elementary classrooms...oh, and our big grand opening that night!  super crazy and a ton of fun when all was said and done.}

 {number 9.  playing defence.}

 {wasn't loving the 645 ice time last sunday.  no wonder I've been sick this week!}

 {voice or no voice, I do love having this job once a month on a sunday morning.  last sunday was rock solid in every way and I am so grateful that I get to be a part of it.}

{and just so no one thinks that nate's been neglected...we've been through a whirlwind with him in the last three weeks.  on one of his best friend's recommendation, he was asked to try out for a u12 rep/club soccer team.  although he's a bit young for the team and I know darn well that if they were only filling two spots with the three kids that showed up, he wouldn't have made the cut.  that said, they had room for him and were willing to take a chance on him...my poor boy who was WAY too nervous that night!  so now we're up a level and into far more skill development than just community soccer...which means two 90 minute practices per week and a soccer schedule that I haven't seen yet.  so this week, ty & I dropped nate off at practice and we went to grab a coffee!}

{and today, the morning after one of the worst fridays in recent history - at school - I have the killers playing in my ears, a sinus headache that doesn't want to leave, kids in pjs playing pokemon & watching dumb tv, drinking coffee and just being grateful for our "four-family".  in the same room.  grateful for my boys.  for a house that keeps us warm and protected from the wind and snow.  for food in my fridge.  and that I can love on my kids so they always know how loved they are.  so grateful.}

Saturday, September 29, 2012

be still

so I've been pretty singularly focused over the last while.  and for good reason.  my life has been school, school, school, hockey and school.  it's like that every september.  and this september has been no different.  okay, well a bit different.  this september has marked the start of a new school, a new school year and a new job description; add in some personal things that I've been working to confront head on, trying to keep tabs on eating properly, a seven year old that has fallen in love with hockey and all that comes with that.  it's created a perfect storm of insular focus.

in being wrapped up in my own self, I've missed some pretty significant signs that have been trying to point me in a slightly different direction.  however, it's not anything that is unfixable.  it's just that I lacked some perspective.  what I've grown to appreciate is that I'm surrounded by a community that cares enough about me to tell me when I'm not looking past myself.  like I said, it's not like anything drastic has happened or that I dropped the ball on something or someone, I'm just really grateful that I have friends who cut me some slack and shine the light of "the other side" of things happening in my world.

I've been actively working on bringing an attitude of gratitude into my life and replacing worry with gratitude.  sounds simple, right?  ha!  this weekend has challenged my ability to be grateful and I've been fighting worry tooth and nail.  money stresses me out.  STRESS!!!!  and in my world, stress equals worry.  and overeating.  and in the case of the last 48 hrs, lunches consisting of pumpkin pie.  exclusively.  I feel like today I was given the opportunity to change my perspective and begin to change my priorities.  I am excited about what this holds.  I want to live a life where gratitude is central and where worry gets beat into a pulp.  I want to live a life where relationships are my priority.  I want to live a life where I'm not overwhelmed, but enjoying every moment.  deep breaths.  and I'd better go get some sleep...we have hockey in the morning!!


Sunday, September 23, 2012

heart of a girl

I am selfish.  selfish with my time.  selfish with my words.  my actions.  I don't give freely enough.  I live under a measure of obligation.  I don't trust.  myself or others.  I let people in, but often at arms length.  I overcommit and undercommit based on my wants.  I am selfish.

but I struggle with the tension between needs and wants.  between obligation and respect.  between sacrifice and martyrism {yes, made that word up!}.

I'm not sure where I'm even going with this, but I feel like I live in this tension.  there are things that I must do as an employer, mother, and wife.  I don't always like scrubbing little boy pee off the toilet, but I must.

okay.  I can't formulate a thought today, so I'm going to save this and come back to it.  it's like this idea is a bit of an itch on the edge of my consciousness but I just can't see it clearly yet.  I hate that and love it all at the same time!!

I think this is where I was going the other day.  we live in this dichotomy.  this tension.  good vs. evil.  judgement and mercy.  grace and holiness.  one of my biggest life struggles is finding balance in all things.  and practicing reckless love.  balance and recklessness.  in tension with each other.

balance is so elusive in my life.  I live in the extreme.  I'm an outlier.  chaos is my world.  I stand and move for days on end.  and then I sit.  I don't know how to do balance.  the middle.

but it's not all bad.  I'm learning.  I'm figuring this out.  and I am learning that I have so much to be grateful for.  a community that surrounds me and holds me close.  health.  cars that keep working when they should be dead on the side of the road.  bills that can be paid at the end of the week because it's finally payday.  a kid that loves playing hockey.  in the equipment we were given.  my house.  our home.  amazingly irritating yet lovely children.  so much to be grateful for.

I may not have this whole living life in balance figured out, but I am going to focus on who matters and loving them recklessly.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

the rising tide

and it continues.  the chaos.  no surprises.  and in the middle of it all, I'm faced with the opportunity to extend forgiveness.  and grace.  it's really hard.

and I wrote a really good post just now and lost it.  it had dorothy and red shoes and tornados.  and how I know I don't deserve grace and forgiveness but yet how I am truly worthy.  and if I am worthy, then the people around me are too.  it looked {my last post, my real post}, in word, like nothing I am about to attempt.  but it felt the same.  LOVE that when perfection is lost with a button.  ha!

forgiveness.  grace.  change.

redemption is possible.  I crave it, yet should model it.  in the giving and the receiving comes knowledge of change.  for so long I've expected it from others and have seen myself time and time again judge.  and expect.  and judge.  I have become judge and jury in my relationships.

in my chaos, I find myself sitting in a tension.  like the middle of a storm.  my feet are pointing in the right direction {away from the door}, but not yet engaged in the process.  my soul is screaming for reprieve and yet none comes.  alas, that is not entirely true.  in my swirling, twirling bit of chaos.  change comes.  reprieve from the crazy.  a lone light in the darkness of my heart.  in the choosing of silence when anger seeped through my pores.  in the allowing my heart to settle before saying words that I couldn't replace with a million years of kind actions.

I am no longer a child that gets to act out and react out of pure emotional frustration.  nor do I get to play the games of the passive aggressive.  that child in me needs to figure it out.  she is no longer.  she is the past, not the future.  in learning this, the tantrums have stopped and surrender has begun.

so as I ramble through this week, this life, I know that I will fail and I know that I will succeed.  two steps forward.  one step back.  mired in the chaos of my life.  the consequences of my choices.  the words that escape my lips.  the thoughts that haunt my dreams.  failure.  success.  both.  neither.  and the paradox that I live with.

and in the calm of the storm, I see more clearly.  like dorothy {wearing some kick-ass shoes}, in the middle of a tornado, needing to make choices that would help her find her way.  colour.  imagination.  and a road full of adventure.

my soul longs to be on fire, yet it doesn't trust me.  earning trust with oneself is a complicated process.  a process that does not happen overnight.  yet, I keep putting one foot in front of the other.  with my silent exit to my back and restoration in front of me.  sometimes slow is best.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

a matter of time

there is so much rolling around in my soul right now that I can't process.  or see the pattern.  although I know there is one, just waiting on the cusp of discovery.  if change is in the doing, then change is happening.  I am no longer standing still.  I wrote this yesterday:  I'm feeling like I'm beginning to move away from the back door {the one where I exit quietly from and run away from my life} and I'm beginning to cut myself some slack.

do you watch the show touch?  kiefer sutherland is the main actor.  it's hard for me to hear his voice and not hear jack bauer.  ha!  I really like this show though and I think it's because it touches on connections; how the action of one can impact in ways that you'd never see or know.  that connections and actions are not random, but the result of conscious choice.  I watched the season finale today and the first episode of the new season.  everything thing happens for a reason.  there are no coincidences.  this is the premise.  that's how I'm feeling right now.  it's all connected, but I can't quite see the thread yet.

this I know to be true.  I am being pursued.  the word surrender has nipped at my heals, grabbed my pant leg and isn't letting go.  I can't escape.  so here is the random connections that my brain is making right now:

1.  I listened to a podcast this afternoon.  recommended by someone who knew I needed to listen to it.  it's no coincidence that I listened today.  nor is it a coincidence that I had coffee with this friend this week.

are you tired of existing?  do you want to live?  what am I passing on?  death and despair or life?  there is a future waiting to be unleashed through my future, through my faith, through my life.  God is waiting to do something extraordinary.  surrender.  {paraphrased from erwin mcmanus}

2.  I'm glad that jason was quick enough to tweet this quote from church this morning:


and the question that was asked:  is your soul in hiding or is it wild?  {the answer, for me, is glaringly obvious}

3.  and I can't get this song out of my head:

in these bodies we will live,
in these bodies we will die
where you invest your love
you invest your life

awake my soul
awake my soul
awake my soul
for you were made to meet your maker
{mumford & sons}

this thread that is surfacing and making it's way through my life and through my head is weaving in and out of my consciousness.  the busy chaos that is my life squelches its music.  it's in perpetual tension.

but a revelation has occurred.  change, for me, is not linear.  it's not a + b = c.  I've been looking for linear, a straight progression of "do this" and "this" will be the result.  it's not me.  it's not how I operate.  I am a mind map of colours and images, not an equation.  and it's taken me 40 years to figure it out.  {okay, well 30...I wasn't so cognizant in my early years!!  ha!}.  and it's in the realization, peace has come.  

grace.  surrender.  peace.  joy.  life.  the essence of my soul.

I'll keep you posted {but of course!!} as things surface.  'cause you know I spin in circles.  and hear music in strange places.

xo

Thursday, September 13, 2012

flesh and bones

5 days.  and the new killers album drops.  SWEET!  I do love them...

okay, what I was really going to blog about tonight.  ha!  sooooo unfocused.

it's hard to paint a true picture of my world right now.  kid #1 is to my right, trying to do homework {that was due today} and kid #2 is on the couch watching fishhooks {HATE this show!}.  meds have been doled out, supper was probably skipped.  I walked in the door at 620 and john left at 625.  that's the longest we've been in the same room in the last three days.  lunches made, dinner made and the kids refused to eat my pasta.  I am too tired to care.  completely exhausted.  nate just broke his pencil and threw his homework on the floor and I don't care.  exhausted.  every september this happens and this september is compounded by a new school {building only!}, a new job and being over committed.  oh, and some pms.  now {20 minutes later}, I am using rio to entertain the kids because I need three minutes of no whining, no touching, no "mom!  I'm STARVING" and no interruptions.  yes, it's their bedtime, but I want to be in bed.  I don't want to do bedtimes tonight.  they are just as exhausted as I am.  between being a mom and being at school, I am pulling 15 hour days.  I am hanging on by a thread.

that all said, I get asked all the time, "how do you do it?".  they want to know how I manage a high stress, fully involved job and being a mom to two very energetic boys.  although I always give my pat answer, today I was reminded of how honest of an answer it is.  I do not do this alone.  parenting is a two person gig.  and when the other person is on nights and this mom is feeling like she can barely do this for another minute, my mother-in-law calls to tell me that she'll take the boys overnight tomorrow so I can have a break.  and she tells me that I'm doing a good job.  and she tells me that she prays for me.  how do I do it?  I am not alone.  I am so grateful for my extended family.  I am not alone.

oh, and it's now 912.  nate is tucked in, ty is listening to music {that settles him} and I'm going to find some stuff on pinterest.  I can do this again tomorrow because I know rest is coming.  oh, and I'd better fire off an email to nate's teacher explaining the homework situation!


Tuesday, September 04, 2012

it gets better

the first day of a new school year.  really, it's my new year.  pencils sharpened.  smelly markers and new lunch boxes.  backpacks and eager faces.  and that's just the teachers.  {sad but true!}  this year, this start up has had a ridiculous amount of challenges, yet I go home at the end of a long day and I'm happy.  I am so grateful that I am able to go to work everyday with people I love to spend time with.  I work with a team of the most dedicated, diverse, crazy, passionate teachers.  and today, amidst the crazy disorganized mess that was the day, I laughed hard and whispered quietly.  I experienced ups and downs.  all in one day.  all in one building.  where we work to create community.  and hope.  so today, I'm grateful for my job.  my calling.  my passion.

{oh, and I can wear my pink-kick-ass-tall-cork-wedges and I'm normal!}

what are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

getting in tune

maybe today will be list-like.  just 'cause.

1.  I've been making {okay, in some cases just assembling} a lot of food lately.  I've been working hard to eat cleaner and healthier and cheaper.  ha!  so I've been scouting pinterest [follow me & I'll follow you!  my name is corifraser72.  shocking, I know.] and trying a bunch of gluten-free recipes out.  I made some granola bars for the kids {HUGE HIT!} and I tried some vegan cornbread and pizza inspired quinoa.  super yum!  and, in the vein of the whole pinterest thing, I created some ice cream sandwiches and made them look pretty!  The boys picked out cookies and ice cream and I slapped them together.  then I needed a way that the kids could eat them without as big of a mess as I could anticipate, so I wrapped them in wax paper.  HOWEVER, have you ever tried taping wax paper and throwing it in the freezer?  doesn't work.  string worked.  and looked kinda cool!  mom of the year.  that's what award I'm apparently going for.


2.  John & I went to the football game on friday night.  we lost.  but we had fun.  we haven't been in the same space for that long {like four whole hours!} in FOREVER!  our schedules have been not super coordinated as of late.  it's been a lot of spelling each other off with the kids and not a lot of us in the same space.  he's studying for his police exam {it's on saturday...do or die!  eeekkkk!} and I've been spending a lot of hours at school.  throw in shift work and voila! living in the same house as someone and not ever seeing them!  alas, it was nice to spend the evening together.


3.  I've been actively avoiding dealing with some shit lately.  I've stalled.  and then I got an email from a friend that has catapulted my head into action.  and my heart is now yearning for change.  I am hopeful, where two years ago I was hopeless.  I've said it before, but I suck at maintaining relationships.  and I got called out on it.  big time.  this isn't new news to me, but it's hard to see it in print.  I like to flee.  I read this post last night, and preston may as well been talking about me.  when things get hard, I run.  it's been a big part of my history.  I run, I avoid, I move.  this summer, without really realizing it, I've confronted it.  kinda.  

every summer I make a plan to get rid of the kids.  I justify it with "I need a break" or "they like playing with their friends" or "I can't do the stay at home mom thing".  list the excuse, I've made it.  this summer, with what started out as financial reasons more than anything, I've kept the kids home with me.  they did swimming lessons, ty did hockey camp, they had sleep overs with cousins and grandmas, but for the most part, we've been home.  and although I ran away to vegas for seven days at the start of the summer, and although I have completed NOTHING on my to do list, I've spent the summer in the same space as my kids.  working on being a mom.  a better mom.  not running away from it.  and {wait for the shocking part...}, I've kinda enjoyed it.  yes, my kids are older.  I can kick them outside to play when I'm having a day.  but it's been nice.

I bring this up because the email I got last week had something in it that has stuck with me.  it goes along the lines of this:  no matter what people say they value, you can be sure by what they choose.  I've not been great at choosing anything but myself.  I've been selfish with my choices.  and it negatively affects my relationships.  all of them.  the relationships I've started to choose over my selfish desires are those I have with my children.  john is a bit more complicated...as in, I'm not his mother and therefore do not have supreme control over his life...HA!!  but we're trying to work on that too.  {the relationship, not me having supreme control!!}

I have not nurtured any relationships in my life for a long time.  friends.  family.  kids.  husband.  and it's time to stop running away.  because there are some pretty great people in my life.  I just need to open my heart up to those relationships instead of bolting.  all the friggin' time.

and right now, these are the people that I'm looking to surround me in this journey.  the people who are grace.  people who send tough emails.  people who call me on my shit.  people that journey with me.


a wise person once told me that change isn't in the knowing, but in the doing.  and right now, it's putting one foot in front of the other.  and not towards the back door.

Friday, August 17, 2012

survivor

yes, I've fallen off the face of the earth (aka I'm back at work and my world is not my own!). it's been a busy couple of weeks. I'll give you the low-down via pictures! {and they are terribly out of order; just work with me on this!}

{edmonton folk music festival - night time on the hill}

{the lake}

{discovering the barr brothers at folk fest.  they are AMAZING}

{the zoo with the smalls}

{ty & I, feet in the water, before the storm}

{unpacking new xylophones & metallophones at school}

{the plan for august...with most of the stuff on it!}

{the cabin after the storm...it was CRAZY!}

{my fave zoo picture - on the little stone elephants, watching the elephants}

in the last two weeks:  the boys and I drove almost 8 hrs over 48 hrs, we survived a violent, sudden storm at the lake, we survived a mosquito swarming, I helped my sunburn along {grrrr}, I sat on a hill in the dark, listening to music, I made the kids come and watch jim cuddy play on a side stage, we played with cousins {first cousins & second cousins...and some sleepovers were involved, and bale hopping}, and I've unpacked {with some help} a library, a textbook room, a music room {okay, well it should be done today!} and a drama room.

it's been good to spend time with the kids.  and it's good to be back at work.  so, now I must find coffee...have a great day, peeps!!

Friday, August 03, 2012

penny lane

I'm feeling really out of sorts tonight.  and not just because I have the sun burn from HELL {totally my own fault.  I own this one.} and the mosquito bites from a place worse than hell.  my spirit is restless.  and lonely.  and just really out of sorts.

this isn't new.  I experience this feeling on a fairly cyclical basis.  only I'm usually too busy to take notice and the feeling passes.  apparently being out of sorts when one is not working kinda forces a person to take a closer look.

I have an enormous fear that looms high above my head.  like dark, foreboding clouds that hang in the sky, never giving way to rain, just sitting there, blocking the sun.  and this week it got pointed out and I had to give it a name.  it's almost by giving it a name, by giving it being, I have the ability to squish it like the little bug that it is.  I fear rejection.  I live to please others in hopes of not being rejected.  I know that this may come as a bit of a surprise to some of you {okay, well it surprised me a bit}, as I usually come off as quite confident and outgoing with my usual "I don't give a rat's ass" attitude, but fear drives much of what I do.  when I let it.

someone along the way once told me that I wasn't good enough.  and I believed it. it cripples most of everything I do and think.  I literally over-achieve or under-achieve based on my perceived success.  does that make sense?  there is a duality to my thinking.  I am super confident and overly bold in my professional life.  I rarely second guess my choices at work.  I'm a total geeky over achiever when it comes to my career.  in a lot of other areas, I often don't try things because I am so afraid of being rejected.  being laughed at.  being told I suck.  being told to stop showing up.  it makes me very reserved in my relationships.  and in the last few weeks, I've succumbed to it and it made me feel unwanted.  uncared for.  unloved.

I know that so much of this comes from the negative self-talk I'm working really hard to break.  and I know that it is also about my perception.  the bottom line is that it comes from a place of fear.  I do not want to spend the next 40+ years feeling afraid.  I'm not too sure why in the last few weeks I've been placed in a position where I have had to face rejection on such a big scale.  and my response?  feel sorry for myself.  ha!  {yeah, I'm not joking...}  but rejection is often a perception of reality.  pain that others wear.  a lack of communication.  but my heart takes a blow every time, especially when the clouds of fear are lurking closer than they should.

well, I'm done.  totally and completely done.  I will always wear my heart on my sleeve.  I will always tear into a situation with my opinion and with as much honesty as I can muster.  the bottom line is that I cannot let this fear change who I am.  I am the kind of person who isn't always guarded and I like that about myself.  I'm done with letting fear label me.


talk about wearing my heart on my sleeve.  I'm going to go bury myself in my book until these storm clouds pass.  I'm counting on some sun tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

eight days a week

I have some new summer loves.  thought I'd share!

1.  the chew.  CLINTON KELLY.  do I need to say more??  I have it set on my pvr.  it's cooking.  it's crafting.  it's fun.  I don't usually watch daytime tv {yeah, 'cause I work!} and in the summers, it's usually all about csi and criminal minds reruns.  and now, I have the chew.  LOVE!



2.  batman.  FOR FLIPPIN' REAL.  I have never really bought into the batman craze.  I liked the other movies, but JF & I went to see the dark knight rises last night and I loved it.  k.  and anne hathaway as catwoman?  she kicked ass.  loved.


3.  RDJ.  why is this a new obsession for me?  I had a strange dream about him the other night.  I've decided that he's my new boyfriend.  I'm stealing him from e.  and I may re-watch the iron man movies.



4.  maeve binchy.  she passed away today.  I've read almost all of her books.  I've never been to Ireland, but she takes me there every time.  circle of friends.  light a penny candle.  I may have to re-read my faves.  oh, and have you seen the movie "circle of friends" {1995 friends!!}??  chris o'donnell & minnie driver.  and the the song "you're the one" written and sung by shane macgowan of the pogues.  L.O.V.E.


oh, you know I found the video.  my tribute to maeve binchy.  go read one of her books.



and I'll leave that at that for today.  I'm going to finish watching the chew and drinking my coffee.  have a great tuesday, peeps!!