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The Year That Was Part 1

4 Jan

Happy New Year everyone! I suppose at January 4th, 2011  I’m a bit behind on a yearly review post, regardless, that is what this post is going to be. It’s a good thing that I started journaling about two years ago so I have something to refer to or otherwise I’d have a tough time remembering everything that occurred over the past 12 months.

[Several minutes later]

Well I just did a quick scan of my journals over the past year. As it turns out, I didn’t actually journal as much as I thought. I started strong in January and February – probably because it was a resolution of mine from the previous year – and then it dwindled off in the following months. This probably coincides with the deep rut I found myself in during the dog days of winter and heading into spring. My journaling picked up again though between June and August because that’s when I went on my two month road trip through the US of A that saw me hit 23 different states (yes, I just counted them out on my fingers) and was awesome (more on this later). Journal entries continued to go strong for the few months following my return from the trip, but died down again towards the end of the year, bringing me to now.

Rather than provide a play-by-play of the events of my year, I think I’ll stick to some of the highlights… and low-lights. Because really, we wouldn’t know what the highs are without experiencing the lows.

The year started out tough. My little heart was still in recovery mode from heartache and was flooded with painful emotions and spinning from unanswered questions. On January 1, 2010, I wrote a prayer to God. I prayed that my relationship with Christ grow deeper, wider and stronger. That the wounds of past hurts would close and leave behind scars that would become a beautiful part of who I am, hurting less with each passing day. I prayed for inspiration. I prayed for moments with Christ in which His Spirit would overcome me and that I’d hear His voice and see His face. I prayed for transformation of my heart.

While some of these prayers are still a work in progress and always will be I think (and hope), I can honestly say that these prayers have been answered over this past year. Maybe not always in the way that I wanted or thought was best, but answered nonetheless. Although it’s been difficult to see along the way, going back and reading my sad words and painful feelings is a reminder of how far God’s brought me over these past 12 months. I think one of the most important things I’ve learned this year is that I can’t base my faith and relationship with Christ on experiences alone – those moments when I feel His presence or have tangible encounters with the Holy Spirit. It’s in learning this that my relationship with Christ has grown more solid and my trust in Him, more true…. though still so imperfect.

Moving on. It was early in the year when feelings of restlessness crept in leaving a constant feeling of discontent. And by the end of February, they were in full force. This is around the time when I made the decision to go away for a bit and how I ended up driving through the States for two months. But winter wasn’t all doom and gloom. We actually had one of the nicest BC winters that I can recall and Vancouver was host to the 2010 Winter Olympics. During these few weeks, Vancouver was the place to be and there was a tangible buzz everywhere you went. It was so cool to be right in the thick of it all. And witnessing Sidney Crosby score in overtime to win Canada the gold medal over the US in the final hockey game with literally thousands of people at Live City in Yaletown was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience! I’ve never felt more patriotic than I did during those two weeks. The feeling of patriotism has since worn off, it’s a bit tiring being that patriotic. Is that how Americans feel all the time?

One thing I almost forgot… I started taking piano lessons again in January. I took up to grade 5 Royal Conservatory when I was younger but then quit for basketball (still can’t believe I did that – I could’ve done both), but I’d been itching to play again so I called up my former teacher and asked her if she’d have me as a student again. She said yes. So every Monday up until I left for my road trip, I went to piano lessons and absolutely loved it! It was during this time that I really began to understand the discipline it takes to hone a skill. Yes, I partially learned this lesson during my basketball glory days, but to be honest, too often I was guilty of relying on my natural ability. But with piano, I wanted to be great at it and realized the amount of work that it takes to become great at something. Update: I’m still not great at piano, but I’m getting better.

In spring, I took a week off of work, got on an airplane and went to visit friends in Phoenix and Oklahoma. It’s funny, whenever I refer to these friends, I say that one lives in Phoenix (a city) and the other lives in Oklahoma (a state) – I think it’s because if I said Yukon, no one would know that this is a city in Oklahoma whereas most people know that Oklahoma is a state in the US. Anyways, it was great to see friends and I got to take them both to a Needtobreathe (my favourite band) concert. It just so happened that Needtobreathe were playing in Tulsa, OK and then in Tuscon, AZ a few nights later so it worked out quite perfectly. There is nothing quite like seeing your favourite band play live… especially when the live show is SO much better than anything recorded.

This brings me to the month leading up to my road trip. Months of planning went into my two month trek across the states, which considering, I should have been far better prepared. I was a rookie traveller though. Any traveling I’d ever done had been with a team in which everything was planned and executed for us and all I had to do was show up with my basketball shoes and uniform and at times, even that was a stretch. Other traveling includes two family vacations to all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Dominican… again, all that was required of me was to get up in time to catch the airplane and be fun. But the most important preparation for this trip was what was going on in my heart and soul… and I knew God was taking care of that.

In preparation for my trip, in April 2010, I quit my job as Assistant Marketing Manager at Relevention Marketing. I didn’t have to, but I felt that in order for this trip to fulfill its purpose, this was something I needed to do. My last day of work was June 3rd, 2010 and on June 7, 2010, I left for what would turn out to be quite an amazing experience.

Halfway through writing this, I decided to turn this post into two parts, so this is to be continued… (hopefully by this weekend).

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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 6 – random encounters

28 Aug

Today, I spent a bit of time wondering around Gibsons – a small, touristy town on the Sunshine Coast. I was looking for a vintage store I went to last year that I remember liking. I actually managed to find it on my first try, which is a feat in itself for my directionally challenged tendencies. As I roamed around town, I was trying to pay extra close attention to my surroundings. One of my new favourite writers, Sue Monk Kidd, says that she will often practice paying keen attention when she is out and try to look at things with new eyes to gain new meaning or a unique way to describe something. I have to admit, I didn’t come up with anything revolutionary. Maybe another day.

However, I did have a random encounter with a male pedestrian. As I walked past this 30-something joe shmoe on the sidewalk, he looked at me and said, “Volleyball?” With his one word questioning comment, I knew immediately that he was making a reference to my height as oddly enough, this happens somewhat frequently. As an aside, I am six feet tall, which is not absurdly tall, but I suppose tall enough that I am free game for unsolicited comments from strangers. I humoured him and said, “Close, basketball.” Even though the only things that basketball and volleyball have in common is that they are both team sports played with a ball in which height is advantageous. He followed up with, “Scholarship?” I replied, “Yes,” sticking with the theme of one word statements. He went on – “Let me guess, going into your third year.” Well now I was just plain flattered. My third year? That would mean that he thought I was around 20. I smiled and let out a ‘I can’t believe you think I’m 20, but I’m actually really flattered that you think so’ laugh and humbly corrected him, “No, that was a long time ago. I’m actually 27.” “Well then you must coach,” he asked. “Yeah, I did that too, but not anymore,” I answered as we continued moving backwards in opposite directions. “Well do you still play?” “No, I don’t actually,” I responded without any feelings of yearning for the ‘glory days.’ “I’ve found other things I like to do,” I finished. “Well good on ya love.” And with that, he turned and walked away.

It took me a long time to get to a place where I was at peace with no longer having my identity wrapped up in my ability to play basketball. Even a few years ago I would have answered that man’s questions with feelings of longing for what was. But when I finally accepted that my identity is found in Christ, not basketball, I was free to discover the many other things that I enjoy. I am so grateful for the significant role that basketball has played in my life – for the lifelong friends made, the blood, sweat and tears shed, the elating victories, the heartbreaking losses, the countless fond memories and lessons learned along the way. But I am also thankful that I have been able to move on and allowed myself to discover life after basketball because it’s actually pretty great. It’s nice that a random stranger who felt prompted to point out the obvious (my height) reminded me of this.

Day 4 – a little bit humbled

26 Aug

Since getting home from my road trip I have started working out again. Two months traveling through the states with the time in between stops spent driving, didn’t do wonders for my fitness level so I’ve been quite determined to get back into shape. And with a minimal social life in my new temporary home, I’ve been working out almost everyday.

Back in the day (yep, I’m playing that card), I used to be a bit of an athlete and working out everyday was just par for the course, although I was playing basketball, not golf. However, I seemed to have forgotten that I am no longer 21 and am not accustomed to working out everyday.

It was going relatively well, even though my right knee had been giving me warning signs for the past two weeks. But I politely ignored them until they went away. Thinking that I had made it over the proverbial fitness ‘hump’, I started to work out a bit more aggressively. This evening, after taking the dog for a walk, I decided to try a new workout regimen that I found in a fitness magazine in my aunt’s house. From the pictures, it looked quite do-able and effective. After the first two exercises I knew it was going to be more challenging than I thought, but my pride started to creep in and I pressed on. I used to be a well-trained athlete, so surely my muscles, tendons and joints also remember those times. Exercise three and four went a bit better, but exercise five did me in. Laying flat on my back, with my hands holding seven pound dumbbells stretched back behind my head, I lifted my arms with the weights up over my head to reach my left leg that was extended straight up in the air… it was the 12th rep and that was it. Something in my left shoulder made an unfortunate crunching sound and it was over. Dang seven pounders.

As I sit here, I have a bag of frozen peas on my shoulder hoping that it is just seized up for the time being and everything will be better tomorrow. But I also sit here quite humbled. My pride got the better of me and now I’m paying the price. What was I trying to prove? And to who? Lesson learned.

Day 1 – a little cat story

23 Aug

This is my third week at my new job working for my aunt and uncle’s company on the Sunshine Coast. Because it’s only for three months, I am living with them until I house sit their friend’s place for the month of October. Right now though, I am holding down the fort as they are away on vacation. This includes taking care of a 90-pound dog and a temperamental cat. It’s not a big secret that cats aren’t my favourite thing in the world and this particular cat did not do its species any favours in my books with its antics last night.

Last night, I was fast asleep with the dog laying on his cushion at the foot of the bed when I was abruptly awoken at 4:00am by a frantic scampering/scratching sound. Naturally, in my slumbersome state, I thought that a family of raccoons had snuck into the house and were having a party in the room above me. I pulled the sheet over my head in an attempt to drown out the sound and just hoped that their party would be over by the time it was actually time to wake up. To my dismay, the scratching of paws against wood, sounding way too much like fingernails against a chalk board, was unrelenting. I sat up in bed to devise a plan of how I was going to handle the family of raccoons, when I realized that the sound was coming from the closed bedroom door. That’s when I remembered the cat.

Thoroughly annoyed, I pulled myself out of bed, stumbling towards the door to try and reason with Bear the cat. I gave him this look like “really, what could you possibly want from me at four in the morning?!” The cat looked back like “don’t you give me that attitude” as he curled up his backs like cats do and rubbed up against the door frame. After he was done stretching and being full of all kinds of attitude, he led me to the washroom where his food was. His bowl was empty. Of course. Why wouldn’t a cat want to eat at four in the morning? I forgot cats were nocturnal. You know, like owls. Sleep during the day, eat and live it up at night. Anyways, I gave the prince his food and made my way back to sleep.

To my aunt who will most likely read this post… I love you, but I do not love your cat. I’m sorry. I will continue to take care of him though like a good niece would and I hope you are thoroughly enjoying your vacation :)