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A Stanley Cup (loss) Theory

23 Jun

I listen to the Team 1040 on the radio, a lot. Yes, I’m a chick and I listen to sports radio. In fact, it consumed my airwaves over the past few months during the Vancouver Canucks storied, and ultimately, heartbreaking Stanley Cup run. I couldn’t turn it off for fear that I would miss an important injury update, intriguing statistic or controversial comment. And as a huge music fan, I started to feel guilty… almost like I was cheating on music. But I continue to be drawn to listening as the various on-air personalities break down what went wrong with the Canucks, analyze areas of improvement for next year and offer their insight for the upcoming draft and looming free agency deadline.

Last night the annual NHL Awards were held, so again, I was glued to the radio as I listened to see which Canucks would take home hardware this year. Amongst many, the Canucks’ GM Mike Gillis was named GM of the Year. He was asked if winning this award took the edge off the disappointment of losing the Stanley Cup in game 7 to the Boston Bruins. His answer? A simple and concise, “No”. (My sentiments exactly.) Gillis then went on to discuss the extensive collection of work that has been published on the theme, ‘before success, comes failure’. In Gillis’ case, the theory suggests that before his team is able to experience the ecstasy of success, they need to endure the agony of defeat in order to brutally learn what it takes to overcome every single hurdle imaginable to reach the ultimate prize. This theory got me thinking about the correlation between heartache and love.

If one must go through the devastation of failure before revelling in a great achievement, is it so far fetched to think that before being able to love another and learn how to put one’s need before their own, one must first wallow in the waters of of heartache? Of course this is not an absolute as it’s definitely not the case for everyone, but when I say “one”, I really mean myself. Truthfully, before having my heart broken, I didn’t know how to love another and put their needs before my own. I wanted to, but I constantly tripped on my own shortcomings and inexperience and instead of getting up and seeking help, I got up, only to trip and fall flat on my face again. Sometimes, I think I’m someone who has to learn things the hard way. Well here I am, two years later, with the gift of another chance in a relationship to love someone and put their needs before my own. And wow, thankfully, I have learned a lot. Maybe it’s too early to tell (but then again, maybe it’s not), but it’s looking like Mr. Gillis’ reference to the theory of ‘enduring failure, before achieving success’ in regards to the Canucks can accurately be translated to the theory of ‘enduring heartache, before experiencing love’… for me at least. And hopefully, the former theory holds true for next year’s Vancouver Canucks.


The Year That Was Part 2

10 Jan

Continued from my last post…

Feeling very ready for a change of scenery, an adventure, less distractions, inspiration and some time alone with God, I left for a two month road trip across the US of A on Monday, June 7, 201o. Why a road trip across the States? Good question. I don’t have a perfectly articulate answer as to why other than this idea was placed on my heart and the more I thought and prayed about it, the more it just kind of fit. And for other reasons that I can’t explain, I was fascinated with the idea of the Southern US and wanted to experience for myself what it was like. (Which, by the way, was all I’d hoped it would be and more. The South is lovely and somewhere I want to go back and spend more time). I won’t get into all the details of the trip (if you want to read about it, check out my archive for the months of June-August), but I will say that it turned out the be one of the best things that I’ve ever done. And to think, I almost bailed just three shorts days in. Even now, when I think back on what I did, I’m still amazed that it happened. There were times when I was spooked, lonely, lost, overwhelmed and unsure, but God had me covered in grace and protection the entire time and is the only reason that I was able to do this. The trip was good for me in so many ways – I gained a better understanding of who I am in Christ by being stretched beyond comfort zones and forced to rely solely on Him, I learned more about who Christ is, I met wonderful people, I saw amazing things and I felt a refreshed sense of creativity and inspiration. And I experienced an adventure that was fun, challenging, random, scary, insightful, lonely, enriching and soulful all at once. Something my soul had been craving for a long time!

While away, my grandpa (my mom’s dad) unexpectedly passed away. I was in Charlotte, North Carolina at the time I heard the news, staying with a couple that I just met. The day before I arrived in Charlotte, I emailed them asking if it would be okay if I stayed with them for a night – I had never met them and they had no idea who I was (other than a distant connection) – but they said yes. We became fast friends and I ended up staying for five nights. And what a blessing that turned out to be. When my grandpa died, rather than being alone seeing the sights in Asheville, NC (per my original plan), I was surrounded by compassionate, supportive and wonderful people. In the midst of sadness, it was amazing to see how God knew exactly what was going to happen and ordained a situation to meet exactly what I was going to need in that moment, under those circumstance. This couple and their friends will always have a special place in my heart and I am so grateful to them for giving me a place stay, food to eat, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen and some really great laughs during a tough time. It was during this time that I really began to understand what true hospitality and community is and has become something that I strive to foster in my life…. authentic, transparent, welcoming, accepting community.

Upon arriving home from my trip, I had five quick days at home to unpack, catch up with as many people as possible and then repack for my move to the Sunshine Coast for three months to work as a temporary office manager for my aunt and uncle’s company. I decided during the trip to make the move and at the time I was really looking forward to it because I thought it would be a great chance to debrief everything that happened during my time away and build momentum off of the renewed sense of creativity and inspiration I gained. But instead, it turned out to be a really challenging time… a bit of an isolated island experience. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time living with my aunt and uncle and two younger cousins and was really grateful for their warm hospitality and opportunity to get to know them all better, but it was a tough time for me. I was coming off such a spiritual and emotional high and naively assumed that it would continue once I was back on more familiar territory. I thought I’d write some books, work towards big dreams and figure out exactly what my next steps would be. It didn’t quite go that way.

In hindsight, those three months were good for me. One of my greatest weaknesses, patience, was tested and grew – albeit it, incrementally. I learned what it’s like to go away for awhile and return only to find out that there is a transition process looming and needs to be gone through in order for the feelings of not belonging to subside. In doing so, I gained a better understanding, if only a glimpse, of what several friends have endured in moving away for work and then having to readjust when they’ve moved back a few years later. Perspective… it’s a funny thing. But not ‘ha ha’ funny.

My stint on the Sunshine Coast was nearing its end and the awareness that I had squandered away nearly three months without a clue of what I was going to do next struck me in a big way. Guilt from time wasted set in, anxiety for the future took over and  feelings of inadequacy showed their ugly face. Oh me of little faith. But God had something up His sleeve. A few weeks prior to moving back home from the coast, I got a message from a former colleague asking me if I wanted to take on a big writing and editing project. Honestly, the timing could not have been more perfect and the project, more exciting. It was the first time since arriving home from my trip that I was genuinely excited about something. You see, I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming a writer for at least a year, but lacked the courage and confidence to step out and do it. This project was the step I needed, and God put it right in front of my feet, all I had to do was inch forward onto the path laid out before me.

This marked the beginning of a new chapter in my life and brings me to where I am right now. I’m officially calling myself a freelance writer and editor and, although cautiously and gradually, have been trying to build my client base over the past few months. It’s exciting and freaking scary at the same time. I make my own hours, work from wherever I want and am accountable to myself. That might sound wonderful and yes, at times it really is, but going from having my time dictated by someone else to being completely governed by myself is quite the adjustment and requires a level of discipline that I haven’t quite figured out yet. It’s a work in progress. But to be doing something that I truly enjoy is refreshing and fulfilling and I’m so thankful for how God has provided in this way.

Christmas was good, although being the first Christmas without grampa, a noticeable void was felt that was filled with sad moments, joyful memories and a few tears. One thing that I’ve become increasingly aware of over this past year is that I’m truly blessed with a wonderful family. I’ve always known this, but the reality of it just kind of hit me this year. Sadly, not everyone is blessed with a great family and it’s something that I’ve taken for granted, but I’m unbelievably thankful for them… even when we make each other mad.

All in all, 2010 was a year of heartache and joy, love and loss, transformation and change. In the past, I have not responded well to change, but God has lovingly forced it on me and I’m learning to just let it happen… it’s simply easier that way (and I use the word ‘easy’ loosely). I think I’ve learned a lot this year. But it’s funny, in learning, I realize that there is not an arrival point for this. In other words, I will never learn everything. If learning was a cup, it would never be possible to fill it. I know that may sound pessimistic, but it comes from a realistic place – a place that is allowed to not know everything, to not have all the answers, that doesn’t have all the proverbial ducks in a row or even knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. Maybe this place sounds stressful to you, but this is a place that has eluded me for quite some time and I’m finally able to find a varying degree of rest and peace here and face (and hopefully enjoy) the moment that’s right in front of me because that is what I’m given.

If you made it all the way through this, I’m impressed and thank you for reading. I’m excited for a new year. I know that a new year is just another flip of a calendar page, but there is something about it – it’s almost like the flip from December to January represents the opportunity to start from a clean slate. It’s interesting, I have no idea what this year holds, sure I have my hopes and have jotted down a list of goals/resolutions, but I go into this year with an open heart and mind to wherever God leads. And just pray that when He does, I’m listening and follow suit.


7 Dec

Do you ever have moments in your life when you’re filled with an overwhelming sense of wanting more? I’m not talking about making more money or acquiring nice things. I’m talking about an aching so deep in your soul it makes you squirm in discomfort for what it might be telling you about yourself  or what it might be urging you to do. It’s almost suffocating because you know it’s there, you sort of know why it’s there, but what to do about it, well that’s the tricky part. Do you know what I mean?

That’s where I’m at this morning. I want more. So much more. I’m sitting here drinking my morning coffee and can barely sit still because there is this stirring in my soul that won’t be quiet. It feels like there is a confined game of pinball being played in my soul and that little ball just won’t go down the black hole. I don’t want it to though because it’s telling me something. But what I’d really like is to know what this little pinball is telling me… more? More of what? What does it mean? I wrote something awhile back about living the questions. I suppose that’s relevant right now. But that requires patience, which is perhaps one of my greatest weaknesses. I guess that in itself is pretty revealing.

Wanting more + Patience = God preparing me for something?

I hope so.

Day 21 – living with boys

12 Sep

As the oldest of three girls, I’ve always been accustomed to living in a house full of females. Sure, my dad was there, but as the only man living with four gals, it was more him conforming to our living habits rather than us to his. Heck, even our dog was a girl. Dad never stood a chance (but he loves it). However, in my current living situation with my aunt, uncle and their two boys (my cousins who are  8 and 10 to be exact) – I’m experiencing what happens when the roles are reversed and I must say, it’s both vastly different from a house full of females and highly entertaining. Plus, I’m learning so much about what it’s like living with the opposite gender.

Here are a few highlights (and for the sake of some anonymity, the boys will go by the screen names Green Bean and Peanut E – as chosen by them):

In reasoning with the boys one night when I was in charge of putting them to bed, Green Bean pointed out that I’m a young adult, I’m not a full adult yet. Although it didn’t help his cause any, I secretly appreciated that he referred to me as ‘young’.

I took the boys through the Starbucks drive-thru the other day as a little Friday afternoon treat. Green Bean decided on a smoothie, Peanut E ordered a Jones orange soda and I got my usual high maintenance grande, extra hot, half sweet, skinny cinnamon dolce latte. It was taking longer than usual for our beverages to be ready and from the back seat, I hear Peanut E, in a very nonchalant, matter of fact tone, ask “I wonder how long it takes the lady to take a pop out of the fridge?” It wasn’t the least bit sarcastic, just an honest to goodness question. If I asked that, it would be considered rude and another adjective that rhymes with itchy, but when an 8-year old asks, it’s hilarious.

Peanut E and I decided to watch Lord of the Rings on this rainy Sunday. As we were getting the movie going, I said to Peanut E, “I like this movie.” His response, “Yeah, me too. I grew up watching this movie.” He’s 8. Priceless.

I picked up the boys from school the other day. Having never picked up youngins from school before, I figured asking them how their day went was a good question. They both said “good.” But then Green Bean went on to tell me about this hole in his classroom and how he wanted to see how deep it was (why there was a hole in his classroom and how it got there, I don’t know). His solution? To shove pencils down it to see if he could touch the bottom with them. He lost three pencils that day.

I didn’t realize the sheer number of unique names there are for the male genitalia. ‘Jim and the twins,’ ‘twig and berries,’ ‘meat and veggies’, and ‘tenders’ are amongst a few of the new ones I’ve learned.

One evening when I was watching the boys, Green Bean came up with the great idea of sledding down a lengthy flight of stairs on a blanket. When I kiboshed the idea, he was shocked and later told his mom that I’m too cautious to look after them again. Oh man, so funny.

They call each other Justin Bieber as an insult.

I feel much more enlightened on all things boys having had this time living with them and have honestly really enjoyed getting to know my younger cousins on such a real level. I even appreciate it when they complain about my ‘clutter’ in the bathroom, point out that I’m 27 and single or say “woah” when I wake up in the morning and my hair looks like a lion’s mane… I think it means they like me. Which is good because I like them too.

Day 18 – a living house

9 Sep

This evening I walked off the edge of a 1 inch ‘curb’ and rolled my ankle. Not only did I roll my ankle, but I dropped to the ground in the most dramatic fashion not unlike if someone had yelled “fire – stop, drop and roll.” Who does that? Luckily the ligaments in my ankles are similar to loose rubber bands from years of playing basketball so I should recover quite quickly.

But that’s not what this post is about.

I must admit, coming up with original blog material for 30 days in a row is quite the challenge. I figure I’m on Day 18 now, so I may as well see this thing through to the end. And for the most part, I actually enjoy the test of sitting down to write something every day. In some ways, it has affirmed my desire to take this whole writing thing a bit more seriously. But today, I’m going to recycle if you will, a quote that I used awhile back because well, I love it and it’s 11:30pm and I’m quite sleepy.

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you know that these jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominately and does not seem to make much sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Isn’t it fitting that Jesus was a carpenter. It’s so amazing to think that we are each made uniquely in His image, therefore the palace that Jesus is building us into, and intends to live in, is based on an original  blueprint – not one palace will look like another. This brings whole new meaning to the verse, “our body is a temple.”

Day 17 – breakfast club

8 Sep

I’m currently reading a book called ‘The Help’ by Kathryn Stockett. It’s a book about life in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi and journeys the paths of three women (two black maids and one white spinster who I am finding myself having way too much in common with) who come together to form a movement to forever change the racial prejudices that exist in their town. One of these three women, the white girl, is an aspiring writer. In her pursuit of this dream, she was offered some advice by a Senior Editor at the prestigious, Harper & Row Publishers in New York – “when writing, don’t waste your time on the obvious things. Write about what disturbs you, particularly if it bothers no one else.”

I thought this was interesting advice to give an up and coming writer. Advice I didn’t particularly like. I feel like it’s quite a simple task for anyone to come up with a laundry list of things that bother them that may not bother anyone else. What is so insightful about that? It seems to me just another way to fuel the cynic in ourselves and the culture in which we live. So I’m going to take a different approach on this and share something that I really enjoy, perhaps more than the average person.

I love breakfast. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I think about is breakfast… it actually makes me excited. There is just something about two slices of perfectly toasted whole wheat bread – one slice with a hard poached egg, the other smothered in natural peanut butter – and a giant mug, the type of mug that takes two hands to hold it, of warm, medium strength coffee that just makes me so content. And I like to take my time at breakfast. In an ideal world, breakfast would last at least an hour and I could catch up on current events in the paper (by this I mean sports and entertainment), read some of my book, do devotions and pray. It really is the perfect way to start the day. On the contrary, if for some terrible reason I don’t get my morning breakfast and coffee, bad things happen. Which, unfortunately, one of my friends can attest to when she traveled with me for a week during my road trip.

Do you know what else I like? Commutes. I like commuting to work. I like the time between leaving home and arriving at work when I can just listen to music in my car and sing along at the top of my lungs. To me, it’s similar to a pre-game warm-up for a basketball game, but instead, it’s pre-work mental prep.

I’m curious, are there certain things that others thoroughly enjoy more than the next guy/gal?

Day 9 – my friend the thesaurus

31 Aug

I have become a big fan of the thesaurus over my many years of writing university papers and now in my personal writing. Sometimes I just can’t think of the best word to convey my message and need some outside assistance. Kind of like phoning a friend in the writing world. Or, truth be told, I just want to sound more intelligent. I used to think this was cheating, but today, much to my delight, I read a little tidbit that a thesaurus is a writer’s best friend. For some reason I just assumed that writers must know all the words. Their origin. Their definitions. Their synonyms. Their antonyms. Their word friends. Their word enemies. And their favourite colour.

But alas, this is simply not the case. I can stop memorizing my dictionary now and reach for my thesaurus without shame. This is good news.

I think the trick with a thesaurus though, is to not over use it. A writer doesn’t want their readers to know that a thesaurus has been invited to the party only to become the awkward guest that everyone wants to leave. No, the use of a thesaurus must be subtle yet captivating, like that mysterious party guest that no one knows where they came from but everyone wants to know more of.