Sunday, March 8, 2015

A ramble that led to reflections...

I sat down at the computer today and decided that I was going to force myself to write. So, what follows is an unplanned, unedited flow of thoughts from my brain to your eyes as you read this blog. When writing I find that I float along from one idea to another, unsure about what really to write about until it seems like something "fits" and it flows easily. That lovely "fitting" moment has not happened for me over the past few days. That's the thing though, if I always wait for that wonderful moment where words just easily flow I will probably never really write anything.

I find myself sometimes with an idea but I'm not in the "right" place or atmosphere to write and I just leave the idea on a shelf to come back to later. However, when I wander back to the shelf later to pick up the idea because I've found myself in this ideal environment I no longer really want to write. It's a conundrum. Actually, it's a conundrum that has a name. Perfectionism.

I had this moment in my first year of my Masters program when I was sitting in Personality Theories where I realized that the professor was very aptly describing me. She said that sometimes perfectionists procrastinate and leave things to the last minute, this way when they don't do well on the project they can just blame it on the fact that they did it at the last minute and it was rushed and that it's not about them personally or their intelligence or what-have-you.

I denied for many years that I was a perfectionist. Actually, I think I even wrote about that denial a tiny little bit on here one time. I was under the impression that perfectionists were only those who spent 100's of hours on papers and researched until the cows came home and edited their papers thousands of times and always got 90's on all of their assignments. I could always say that I wasn't anything like my idea of a perfectionist, so I denied that I was. However, sitting in that class, listening to my professor I realized that my tendency to procrastinate a bit and not put as much effort as I probably could have was because I feared finding out that I wasn't really enough. I think that there was a part of me that dutifully protected me by not really putting my full effort into things, that way I would never have to acknowledge that I wasn't the best at things. By procrastinating I was able to tell myself, indirectly, that I could be the best if I wanted but I just wasn't getting A+'s because I was always rushed to finish papers.

However, there are many flawed things in this where I was placing and finding my worth, how I was determining that I was enough. Two, it really didn't help me feel any better about the grades that I received because I knew that I hadn't really done my best.

As I have continued in my schooling over these past three-ish years I have grappled with where I have found and sought my worth. Unfortunately, I discovered that I hadn't been seeking it in the best places-nor had I been seeking it in places that would remain constant and steady. These externals of life (school, beauty, relationships, etc.) go up and down, they are not constant and there is no way to guarantee that they will be, no matter how hard anyone tried to keep them steady. There are too many variables in life to guarantee perfection, no matter how hard we might try to control these variables or be perfect ourselves...there will always be a wrench in our plan. However, if my worth is based on something...Someone...who is constant, I will not find I have a need anymore for my perfectionism. Or, at least, I'll be less likely to hold on tightly to my perfectionism for my worth.

Now that I've begun writing I feel like I might be able to go on for a while about this topic, and maybe I will on another day but today I need to sign off so I can work on a paper that I actually have to write instead of a blog post that has no real consequential effect on my schooling or professional career. Cherrio!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Long Hiatus

It has been a long time since I have written here, and I truly don't expect anyone to still be following along. However, recently I have realized that if I ever want to really write, and get deep into it again I need to make it a consistent habit. I have started so many stories and never finished them. So, this is me, declaring to the solarverse (think Jim Gaffigan) that I am back- though certainly not with a vengeance.

I believe that there is great insight that can be gained through reflection and analysis of the world, this is probably why I have pursued becoming a counsellor and also why I love learning and also teaching. Blogs, allow a medium for that reflection but in a different way than a journal might. In journaling all that is really important is that you know what you are talking about and there is no need to explain a concept so someone else can understand it. When blogging you're kind of forced to actually explain your perspectives, ideas and experiences in a way that other people can also understand them and join with them. So the plan is to go back to trying to write a post every day. For a while I'm just going to follow some sort of guideline just to get me writing again, then hopefully eventually my creative juices will actually start to flow again after a long-ish, cold winter.

So, upon some self-reflection and pondering and reading back over old posts I realized that one of the "30 Things" that I never answered about myself was my 5 Greatest Strengths. For some reason it is much more difficult for me to write about how great I am, BUT I am going to do it. I have already run through the list with a friend because they "made me" do it the other week.

1. I am able to find humour in everyday life and almost every situation. I try to do this in appropriate situations obviously, but every once and a while I find humour in a situation where there should potentially not be humour. I was one of those kids who sometimes had to hold back laughter when we were yelled at in class. However, on reflection this was probably less likely due to my ability to find humour in every situation and more likely says something about my discomfort when people express anger.

2. I am empathetic. I try to meet people where they are at and often really feel with people. I hope that this is something that makes me a good and effective counsellor.

3. Related to my empathy I think is the fact that I am understanding. I try to take other people's perspectives (try being the operative word here...) and really understand their story and approach to their life and situations. There is something incredibly enriching to me to hear how other people approach life, so often I learn something helpful or am given something to reflect on.

4. I am thoughtful, in two ways I guess. I like to think a lot about things and analyze and process the world around me and ideas. This, obviously has it's benefits and detriments. Secondly, I am thoughtful regarding other people and my interactions with them.

5. I have a pretty good memory for facts about people...this is particularly helpful in the line of work I am pursuing. I wish that this memory extended to facts and information in other areas but unfortunately it does not. So, while I can tell you a lot of details and things about a person I just talked to I could not for the life of me remember anything I learned about neurobiology in university...except for something about synapses...

So, there you have it, we're off to a bit of a rough start but I am hoping it will improve as time goes on. See you tomorrow world!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Beginning of Another Short Story

So, I have this problem with finishing stories. I currently have two ideas for books started on my computer, but once I open the document, convinced I am going to write I hit a wall. I just sit and stare at the cursor...hoping that the next part of the story will come. I started to write another short story a while back and got stuck again, but I decided to share the beginning of that story here, with you, my loyal blogosphere compadres. Warning: it does not have the happiest ending right now but I'm hoping that in sharing it here I'll find the motivation to finish it off! It's also just a draft, so bear with me loyal friends.

Richard paced around his room, his hands clenched by his side and his face covered in sweat and tears. He had been pacing around his bedroom for hours. He paced from one side to the next, back and forth, around and around. His heart ached within him pounding furiously, he had a headache from crying and his body was exhausted.
He knew he couldn’t pace for much longer, but the thought of crawling into bed, again, without her, tore him apart. The thought of going to bed and having memories run through his head again and again was unbearable. Memories of good times and times that he wished that he could go back and change, memories of heartache and joy. It didn’t just stop at his own memories; he would get pulled into news articles that he had read, stories from hurting friends that they had shared with him and then up he would get, in the middle of the night, and pace. The pain in his heart felt unbearable, and his inability to understand the pain, the hurt and the suffering that surrounded him on all sides frustrated him.
“How long God? Seriously how LONG are you going to let this go on? We’ve been waiting and waiting for thousands of years. Do you here us crying? Do you hear your people? Oh God, we suffer and we break... do you really suffer and break with us?!”
Richard threw his hands in the air. This was the question he was asking, night after night, day after day. As that heartbreaking day moved further away and new pains were added in he was not sure how God could stand it. But yet, he knew, somewhere deep within him that God was suffering with him. That, as much as his pain felt like it would break him that he was not experiencing it alone. He knew that on that night when he picked up that phone expecting to hear his wife telling him that her and their daughter had arrived safely at his in-laws but instead hearing the unfamiliar voice of a nurse from the soon to be very familiar hospital that God was there crying out with him, wishing to stop the pain. He knew that when he slipped onto the floor beside the bed and cried for hours when the battle was finally all over for his wife and his precious little girl that God sat with him and wrapped him in his arms, crying over his pain and crying with him in his suffering. He knew that God understood how much he missed his daughter.
Richard’s heart ached as he thought of his daughter dancing in the living room, laughing outside in the sun as she ran through the sprinkler, sitting on the stairs and pouting up at him with her arms crossed refusing to clean up her toys, sleeping peacefully in her bed. His heart also ached because of all the moments that he no longer would experience with her, so much that she never got the chance to do but yet also, so much pain that she never had to experience. But when he thought of his daughter and her smiling face he could not help but se his wife, her optimism, joy and zeal for life.
His wife, whom he loved quietly but deeply. Oh! How he missed her. He missed her laughter, her comfort, her warmth. This hard journey may have been easier if he could walk through it with her. But she, the love of his life, had also been taken from him. Yet, in these moments of pain when he could hear no other voice sometimes he would hear hers, whispering to him softly, reminding him where to turn.
But at times it seemed impossible to escape the ache the filled his heart. He longed to see them again, longed to say one last word to them, laugh over one last moment with them, and hug them one last time. He knew where to turn but at times he would turn there to God, to his friends and family and he wouldn’t find what he felt he needed. At times he would turn to them and would find anger instead of comfort. Anger that they were living their lives as though nothing happened, anger with God for taking away from him what he loved most in the world. But his anger would quickly turn to a desperate plea to God to let him be with his daughter and wife, or a peace would consume him that let him know that God understood his pain.

Richard sat down on his bed, his elbows on his knees with his head bent forward. Tears streamed down his face, he had long ago stopped brushing them aside, knowing that more would follow. 

Old Journals

So, I keep a journal on my computer. I've had it since first year university and it is the journal that I have gone to when I needed to type quickly and get a lot of ideas out of my head. This means that many of these thoughts are not really one for public consideration, but I stumbled across this one tonight in my browsing and thought that I should share it with you all. It's more of a prayer to God, which is what my journals tend to be, but I guess that really means it's more honest.

God you are so good! I know that right now there is so much pain in the world. I understand that you never desired for us to live in a world of imperfection, and that your heart is breaking more than our own at the destruction in the world.

 We shut you out, yet cry that you do nothing; we push you out of our lives, but then ask why you are doing nothing in them. We scream in the face of control yet wonder why you gave us free will. We are  an undecided humanity, holding onto our control like a child to its security blanket, yet wanting so badly to give it up. All our control is, is a ratty old cloth with holes and little strength or purpose. Without you we are lost yet we are convinced that we know the way. We look to other things to guide us, yet your hand is always showing us the way. You're gently whispering in our ear that we have gone the wrong way, that we are heading down the wrong path but that you will guide us back. With a steady and gentle hand you will take control. Yet again we fight back, convinced we know ourselves better than our creator. I can only imagine the pain in your heart as we make the same mistakes over and over again in each generation. You will to hold us in your arms, yet we push away like an angry child, refusing to admit our stupidity and our mistakes. We are ashamed, yet too proud to admit our shame. We find more to cover up our brokenness all the while creating more brokenness in our wake. We do not take the time to look beyond ourselves and our “nation” to look to your nation that exists beyond, our family that is struggling just as we are to uncover our shame. 

When will we allow you to strip away our shame, to break down the walls our pride has built up? Why are we so afraid to embrace the breaking world in our arms, to allow your love to flow through us? Are we afraid of being vulnerable of not being loved in return? Do we not realize that we all long for love and that we are all searching for someone to make themselves fully open so that we feel safe enough to become vulnerable ourselves?  When will we rid ourselves of this pride? 

It will hurt to open ourselves, to not back down when someone lashes out, to love them just the same, and to stand strong in peace when others advance in war. You did not promise a life void of struggles or pain, you promised a life loved and full. When will we rise up with you behind us? When will we finally realize your power?

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Where is my dependency? Where do I go for comfort in trial and to celebrate in joy? Who do I run to first when I feel my heart break? What do I do with my anxieties and fears?

God calls us to depend on Him first, that He is always our first love, that we put nothing else before Him. I'm reading a devotional right now that's all about putting God first, it's a devotional based off the book "I am Second". As I was thinking about that idea this morning I wondered at whether it's really that I have a problem placing myself in second or whether my problem is placing others before God. There is a comfort of having someone sit physically beside you, take you in their arms and hug you when you are feeling low. And I don't think that there is anything wrong with that. I know that God has given us others to support and encourage us, to give us hugs and sit with us when we need it. He has given us fellowship and relationship for a reason, because He has made us relational, He created us to be WITH others. He also created us with a need for Him.

So, what do I do with this? As a person who loves God, but also gains greatly from my friendships with others, how do I find the balance between going to God and going to others. I think it truly matters where I go first. There are times I believe where we will go to God and His response will be to give us a friend. There are times also where we may feel unable to go before God ourselves, sometimes we need others by our side praying with us and supporting us as we tremble before our Father. Other times we may feel so surrounded by darkness that we can see no way out and we need someone to come alongside us and pray for us, intercede for us so that we may see the light again.

God is truly the bringer of peace, comfort, joy and all good gifts. I believe that when we go to Him, He hears our prayers and He responds. Although, He does not always respond when we want or how we want. I think often times we are so focused on immediate relief or response that we forget about the growth and depth that comes from wrestling through things WITH God. That out of moments of pain, trial, anxiety, sadness, or frustration can come a greater understanding of who He is and a greater depth to our relationship with Him; and a deeper love for Him will be discovered.

He does not ask for us to "go it alone" but He should be our primary support and strength. It should be the case that He is always there, that we are inviting Him into our every conversation, moment, struggle and joy. Then with Him we will walk, we will understand the goodness that comes from Him, that even in our "worse" moments we will feel ourselves drawing near to Him as we work things out with Him by our side.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sleepless in Waterloo

Before we get down to business I  would like the share a few thing with you:

1) I dislike Rob's keyboard. I'm trying to be quiet but it is oh so loud and the only way to make the keys work is by pressing them hard. This will not do...

2) Sometimes I feel like my body likes to play tricks on me. This is how I imagine the conversation taking place...
"OK guys let's make her nice and calm....That's it."
"Move onto phase two, let's make her eyes feel nice and heavy and her brain feel nice and fuzzy."
"Good! Good! She's thinking of going to bed early so she's well rested...right on schedule."
"Keep her feeling tired guys we don't want her to realize our scheme..."
"Ah, good she's feeling the comfort of her bed...curling up under the covers...and GO! GO! GO!"

3) I don't so much mind being awake, it's the being awake and knowing I have to get up at 5:20 that I don't like so much.

4) This is how I picture the conversation going with the cashier at Starbucks tomorrow, "Hi...I'd like a cafe americano with an extra shot of espresso added to the extra shot of espresso..."

5) I'd also like to point out that I didn't even drink that much coffee today, IN FACT I drank LESS than I desired. I only had one cup, it may have been a large cup...but it was just ONE!

Moving on, moving on as I'm assuming you do not normally come on here to read about all the things that run through my head when I sit down at my computer after trying to fall asleep for an hour. Though, to be honest, sometimes when I can't fall asleep I work through a lot of things in my head and it's really good.

For the past few days a line from a song has been running through my head over and over. So much so that I ended up putting a memo on my phone that said, "Lost and found in"

The line is from a song titled Alabaster that is on an album by Rend Collective. The line that has been running through my head for days on end is as simple as that, "I am lost and found in you..." This got me just pondering and mulling this idea, of being lost and found in God. Colossians 3:3 says "Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on this earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God."

I remember reading this verse years ago at camp one time and just sitting and pondering that idea for my whole break. What does it mean for our lives to be hidden with Christ in God? What does it look like to be lost and found in God?

I'll tackle the second question, as it is easier for my mind to think about at this current moment. The picture that it bring to mind for me, to be lost in God, is one of someone who is really taken with something. Being lost in God is like being lost in a thought or a good book or a picture or a conversation. You are so taken with Him, that you are "lost", it's hard to tear you away or distract you. You are just desiring to know Him more, seeking after Him in all moments, you are searching for Him in every moment, everything you see relates back to Him, you spend hours reflecting on His prayer with Him.

Being found in God is this idea that He finds us. The thing about this phrase that I think is so awesome is that it kind of has two meanings. We are lost and then found in Him, but we are also lost and found in Him. Does that make sense? I guess it is kind of just semantics! In God who we really are is found, He finds us and takes us in. He has searched us out when we were lost and wandering without Him and has proclaimed us found. We are FOUND in Him. Only in Him can we truly be found. It makes me think of just walking along one day and all of a sudden being like, "Hey! That's me! I've found me!" You realize who you really are, who you were created to be, who you were created for, and the worth that you have. You're made complete, your eyes are opened and YOU are revealed because of HIM.

Guys, am I making any sense?!

Just think about those things for a while. What it means that we are hidden with Christ in God because we have decided that yes He is our Saviour and we desire to do His will above all others and also what it means to YOU to be lost and found in Him.

I pray today you realize that you are found in Him and that you desire to be lost in Him.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Friedrich the Opossum

This is a story that was written for my friends Katie and Hannah while I was in my Theology of the Human Person class. Basically I told them that I would write a story that started with the next three words that my professor spoke and whatever character name and back story they wanted. If you knew my theology professor you would understand the risk I was taking in starting a story off his next three words. Luckily, they were "was sent off" and the rest of the story follows. 

Friedrich was sent off to the cheese factory one day to buy some apples. He thought that this was a little strange as he thought that apples grew on trees. Friedrich figured that this was just another strange quirk that Canada had. Even though Friedrich had come to Canada to study the art of apologizing he found he was learning a great deal about the world and it’s cultures as well. In fact, Canadians enjoyed eating apple pie and perhaps it was not strange for apples to be sold at a cheese factory. He found that Canada was very different than Bavaria but he was glad to have met some wonderful kind Canadians who spoke German, which was his first language. 

As Friedrich walked along he thought of all that he had learned about apologizing. He was so glad to have come to Canada to learn this art, as they specialized in it.  "There is no country better," he thought "at apologizing than Canada."

As an opossum he had never felt a great need for apologizing but as he watched the Canadians interact with one another he began to realize how many apologizing opportunities he had missed! Why, he had not realized that one could apologize for so many different things! He could apologize for having a different opinion, for looking at someone, for talking to someone, for handing someone something for being kind to some. In fact, Friedrich had noticed that sometimes Canadians apologized for nothing at all, or so it seemed. It was very complicated and Friedrich had much to learn about this more subtle art of apologizing when nothing has really seemed to happen at all. This was something he wished to study more before he left Canada. Actually,  he hoped to study it while out to buy apples. 

Friedrich swung from tree to tree on his little opossumy tail, happily breathing in the fresh Canadian air and humming a sorry song.

"I love being sorry and I apologize for that. I really like to wear a touque, but will never wear a hat. I'm sorry that I said that. I'm sorry I apologized. I'm sorry that you've heard this song and I'm sorry you're surprised. I'm sorry I'm Canadian, I'm sorry that you're not. I'm sorry for apologizing but it's really all I've got."

With the end of his son Friedrich looked up just in time to see another opossum swinging toward him at full speed. But he could not stop in time and they crashed straight into one another... tune in next time for more fun adventures with Friedrich the opposum from Bavaria. Will he grasp this opportunity for ample apologies or will he get swept away by the beauty of Olivia the Ontarian Opposum?!

(I apologize for the weird formatting, I don't know how to fix it!)