2018 — An obligatory New Year’s Day post


It is 2018.  It is January 1st.  Actually, in the time zone I inhabit, by the time I’ve hit publish on this post, it’ll likely be January 2nd.  Thankfully, I’m currently chilling in the Rockies and Mountain Standard Time has gifted me with two whole extra hours — something I’m thankful for tonight, but was annoyed by at this time last night as I set myself a reminder alarm to remember to text my Ontario peeps at 10 pm to wish THEM a Happy New Year!

Anyway, I digress.  Where was I?  Yes; it’s 2018.  Nothing really feels like it’s changed from yesterday.  But yet, so much has, hasn’t it?  We do this yearly.  We wait til January 1st to start things.  We spend the last week of December eating all the junk food in our houses in hopes to start fresh January 1st.  I was a day late with this silly plan and made my last bag of chips my personal mission for today.

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But it doesn’t have to be like this.  Futility doesn’t have to be our best friend as we launch into every single new year.  New Year’s Resolutions don’t have to be a to-do list that extends no further than the first week of January.

In the fall of 2016, my dear friend Rachel sent me a link to this thing she’d heard of called Power Sheets.  Lara Casey and her team make them over at Cultivate What Matters.  It’s designed for intentional life planning.  Intentional goal setting.  Progress.  Not perfection.  Rachel and I dove right in.  We each ordered a set and split the shipping (since it has to come from the States and the shipping is steep), and we dug in.  (This year 6 of us ordered and split shipping — highly recommend this if you’re Canadian and want your hands on a set!)  We did the prep work while discussing all of our goals together, and we were ready over the course of about a month of intentional thinking, planning, and praying to meet 2017 head on.  For me, it felt like 2017 was going to be the year I finally got my act together and stopped making resolutions I couldn’t keep.  Resolutions I knew even as I made them I wouldn’t keep.  But it’s what we do, right?

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I can’t say that my Power Sheets were overwhelmingly life-changing in 2017.  Though maybe I can — it’s hard to achieve perspective since I don’t have a 2017 without Power Sheets to compare it to.  I don’t know.  It certainly wasn’t the productive year I’d hoped it to be.  The entire point to Power Sheets is to set goals, track your tending lists, make progress, and cover yourself in grace when you fall short of your own expectations.  After all, we don’t keep pushing into what we want to change when we feel defeated and like it’s hopeless, do we?  Progress.  Not perfection.  But I know they made some difference.  I was able to measure growth in some areas.  Some were more stubborn than others, and I’ve had to re-evaluate what I really wanted to see change in this year to make sure that I was choosing the right goals.  But more importantly, I’ve had to evaluate the why for my goals.  Why am I choosing this?  Am I choosing “be healthier” because I think people will like me more?  Or am I choosing it because I actually want health and I want to be able to do things I’ve only ever dreamed of — like learn to surf.  The prep work at the beginning of the planner for each year asks big questions and makes you look deep into the whys, and I know I got to the root of some of my wishes for 2018.

I don’t have my 2017 book with me.  I don’t have the list of goals I chose for 2017 with me because they’re in my book, and they’re in Ontario, and I am not.  But I do have the goals I’ve chosen for 2018, and I’d like to share them with you.  I’d like to be a little bit vulnerable and put them out into the air for the blogosphere to read.  This year, I’ve chosen bigger, over-arching goals.  There’s a Facebook group dedicated to Power Sheets users where a couple people have referred to them as “umbrella goals.”  They’re more like a topic where I want to do some work in my life this year, and then the more specific goals (which I have a lot of for 2018) will work their way into my monthly, weekly, and daily check-lists for each month.

Without further ado, here are my umbrella goals for 2018:

  1. Finances ~ Saving and not spending needlessly.  Obviously each month will have specific targets for this.  I’d been working on it throughout 2017 as well, and with some careful planning and some good timing, I managed to pay off a pile of debt in May, and have been relishing in the freedom of that ever since.  Can I recommend You Need A Budget (YNAB) to you?  Seriously, it changed my life in March of 2016.  Jesse Mecham, the creator, has written a book and it just released last week.  It’s on my list of things to do in January.
  2. Spiritual Growth ~ Depth.  I want a relationship with Jesus that is marked by reliance, listening, and trust.  That doesn’t come from just thinking about it and hoping it comes.
  3. Fun ~ Responsible Fun; Not running to fun to escape uncomfortable emotions.  This felt like a funny goal, but through a lot of introspection this year I’ve discovered something I don’t really love about myself.  Where I’d perpetually thought I just liked to have fun, it dawned on me that I’m prone to running to fun as soon as I don’t want to deal with something that doesn’t seem fun.  Awkward relationship situation?  I run away.  Work sucks?  I want to switch jobs — it isn’t fun!  Pain?  No fun.  Let’s go on vacation instead.  Where I want to goal-set around fun this year is to make sure it’s not my escape, as much as it is something that is just necessary to live.
  4. Mental Health — This is something I began to take very seriously in 2017, as I battled some anxiety that it turned out had been simmering just beneath my surface for a long time, and I’d never dealt with it.  I’ve started seeing a counselor, and I honestly can’t recommend a professional therapist enough — seriously.  You get to talk about yourself for an hour, and you don’t have to do anyone the social courtesy of listening back to them.  My goals here revolve around leaning into stress and anxiety and the situations that cause them so that I continue to get better at managing and reducing both of these things.
  5. Leadership — I am a leader.  For better or for worse, I’m in leadership positions in my church and at work.  I’m not sure how this happened.  I’m honestly not sure how I got here.  But people see potential in me, and I’d like to harness it for good!
  6. Health — this one is so common.  How many of us set healthy lifestyle New Year’s resolutions?  This one could be a whole post for me, but it’s a very raw spot at the moment, so… nope!  That doesn’t sound fun!
  7. Creativity — Brene Brown once said in a podcast interview I was listening to her on (For the Love with Jen Hatmaker) that “Unused creativity is not benign.”  It hit me to my core.  For a long time, I’ve wanted to write but have been too afraid people wouldn’t buy it.  I’ve wanted to paint but have been self-conscious because I’m not as good as someone else.  I’ve wanted to be a better musician but again, compare myself to others and always fall short.  But if unused creativity is harmful to me, then this needs intentional work as well.
  8. Bravery.  It has occurred to me that I am not that brave.  I’m a pretty big chicken, actually.  So 2018 needs to hone in on some of those areas where I could use some bravery the most.  I read Annie F. Downs’ book “Let’s All Be Brave” (buy it on Amazon here) in November, and I cried through parts of it.  I’m so ready to be brave.  So ready.  I highly recommend the book, but if you’re determined to stay seated in. your comfort zone, it may not be for you.  I’m doing her 100 Days to Brave devotional starting as soon as I get home (as it’s arrived in Ontario before I have).
  9. Adventure — I thrive on this.  It’s linked to my fun, and it’s linked to my finances.  I found a lot of my goals are linked to each other — I actually created a very messy flow chart that reflects that!  But I will have adventure based goals.  Where will I travel next?  Europe is calling — Scandinavia?  The South of France?  Switzerland (the land of my ancestral people)?  Who knows?
  10. Relationships — This is not just the romantic kind — though that’s pretty intrinsically linked to bravery.  I want to be intentional.  I want to be present.  I want to be brave.  In all of my relationships.

 

And there you have it.  My over-arching umbrella goals.

Do you set goals?  Do you make resolutions?  Do you keep them?  If you’ve been a successful Power Sheets user, I’d love to hear from you!  I really want them to help me make big changes this year!

Even if you don’t use Power Sheets, I highly recommend both of Lara Casey’s books.  They’re less intensive than using Power Sheets, but still give you lots of great tips and encouragement for living a more intentional life.  Get Make It Happen on Amazon here, and get Cultivate on Amazon here.

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Why I’m not one of Dean Brody’s Canadian Girls


Disclaimer:  I know the song was not written to be an all-encompassing description of the definitive Canadian Girl.  It’s just that every time I hear the song it makes me snicker to think how much it doesn’t describe me, so I’m blogging it.

 

First, if you haven’t heard this song, check it out ~

 

And now, please chuckle along as I pick apart how different I am from the lyrics of this song 😛

She grew up watching hockey
With her daddy on Saturday nights

Nope, not me!  I hate hockey!  And my Dad never really watched it!
He taught her how to tie her skates
Her brothers taught her how to fight

I hate skating.  I don’t know how to tie skates.  I fall down when I skate.  I don’t like falling down… so I avoid skating.
She can wear high heels or flannel

I don’t like high heels all that much, and I don’t think I own anything flannel, though I’m sure I could wear both if I wanted to… though not at the same time.  That’s a no-no I’m sure.
She can look sexy in a tuque

No one looks sexy in a tuque.  Warm?  Yes.  Sexy?  No.
She likes snow storms and Gordon Lightfoot

I like neither of those things.  Neither.
And if you’re lucky she’ll love you

That’s true….
Canadian girls, Canadian girls
Irresistible, lovable, trouble though sometimes – girls
We could travel the world
From New York to Paris, France
But we’re always gonna come back, Canadian girls

Baby, she likes to snowboard

I did try that once, I liked it.  It was fun.
And spend her summers out on a boat

Nope.
Thinks the perfect night out is a cabin
Smell of coffee on an old wood-stove

I’m sure that smells awesome, but that doesn’t sound like the perfect night.
She won’t admit she watched Degrassi

I can’t admit it…. I didn’t watch it… I’ve never seen it.
She’s proud and she’s sometimes quiet

I’m never quiet.
A true north national treasure
She’d give her life for the red and white

I am a national treasure, but…..

Canadian girls, Canadian girls
Irresistible, lovable, trouble though sometimes – girls
We could travel the world
From New York to Paris, France
But we’re always gonna come back Canadian girls

Well us boys we like our fishin’
Our hockey and Ron McLean

Who is Ron McLean??  And why do boys like him?
We like Moosehead beer and whitetail deer
Stompin’ Tom and the USA
And we like the foreign ladies
Their accents are really nice
But there ain’t nothin like our northern girls
To keep us warm at night

Canadian girls, Canadian girls
Irresistible, lovable, trouble though sometimes – girls
We could travel the world
From New York to Paris, France
But we’re always gonna come back Canadian girls

From the mountains to the ocean sands
Tuktoyaktuk to Newfoundland
You keep us coming back Canadian girls

 

I’ve been waiting a long time to pick this song apart… just happened to be in my head tonight because it was the last song on in the car when I got out.  I like the song, don’t get me wrong, I’m just nothing like the Canadian girl he describes 😉

Are you?

5 Things About Me


This feels a lot like those American Idol “5 Things About You in 20 Seconds” dealies.  So… here it goes.

Five Things About Me:

  1. I love music.
  2. I believe in the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
  3. I want to write a book.
  4. I speak, read, and write French fluently — and want to add to my language arsenal.
  5. I am addicted to hash tagging and selfies.  #legit.

Keep tuning in in March through BlogHer’s March NaBloPoMo, and you can learn lots more about me!

Also — this took far longer than Idol’s 5 in 20.  I’d have been buzzed out with a giant x for sure!

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You kick it into 4-wheel drive, and you go… til you hear the banjo.


Have you ever played in a band? Tell us all about that experience of making music with friends. If you’ve never been in a band, imagine you’re forming a band with some good friends. What instrument do you play in the band and why? What sort of music will you play?

Thanks WordPress, I haven’t wanted to write for a few days… this I’ll write on though, for sure!

I have played in a band — worship band, at Camp.  There’s nothing like it.  

Two weekends ago, I played violin in a worship band at Camp for our Sunday morning service.  I’d never played in front of people before.  Not more than a few, anyway… and not for anything more significant than a talent show.

I’ve sang for years and years.  I played piano for several years as well, until I finally acknowledged that it’s not my favourite thing, and that while I value the skills I have now because of how long I played (read:  I don’t have to learn theory while I learn to play the violin, I did it as a kid…), I don’t really want to play much.

My ideal band has an acoustic guitar, a banjo, a mandolin, rockin drums (portable ones, because, well, you’ll see…), and you guessed it… me on the fiddle.  We’ll have an amazing vocalist (because sadly, I haven’t figured out how to fiddle and sing at the same time yet…), and we will just have fun.  We will play and sing, we will rock out and jam.  The drums should be portable, like a jambe or a cajon, because this will all take place on some hot summer night around a camp fire.

Picture:  what I’d like the theme song of my life to be right now…

My idea of perfection right now is the end of a country road …. I kinda have country fever.  It’s what happens when you put a country kid in the city for 6 years I imagine.  Anyway… I won’t entertain that thought too seriously right now, since I’m city-bound for the time being… but there it is 😀

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What Brings You Joy?


Holley Gerth over at holleygerth.com has asked us this week “What Brings You Joy?”  That’s what she wants to talk about today on Coffee For Your Heart.

Let me tell you what just fills my heart up to the brim with joy.

It’s music.  It’s singing, it’s playing, it’s listening to music.

It’s anything played on a fiddle.

It’s pretty much anything with a country twang.

You know, they say there are studies that listening to music does fantastic things for our health.  I forget where I read that, so I can’t cite it… whoops.  But I was reading that listening to music releases endorphins and gives the illusion of happiness that may not otherwise have been there.  That’s my paraphrase.  I personally will take it one step farther and assert that for me, music gives more than the illusion of happiness.  Music makes me joyful.

I have God-given talent in music.  I won’t argue that.  I can play both the piano and the violin by ear.  I taught myself to play the harmonica so that I could teach it to Grade 6-8 students who just really didn’t want to play the Recorder for another year. 

I can sing a (low) soprano, alto, or tenor part when singing with other people.  I love my vocal range, and I thank God for it all the time, because I have a lot of fun with it.

I use my musical talent to give back to God, and I feel like that makes a huge difference in why it makes me more than happy.  I’ve learned to play the violin (am learning) for two reasons — so that I can fiddle, but also so that I can play on the Worship team at my church.  I haven’t made it to that level yet, but I’m getting there.

This weekend, I played with a group of people for the first time in my life.  Pretty much in tune, and all by ear.  My Mom asked me to sing with the team, but since I’d just been sick, I declined.  She said, “well you brought your violin, right?”  On Saturday afternoon, my Mom and I worked through the music she gave me, a couple of the songs being unfamiliar to me.  I played off of guitar chords, which, on a violin, means I played pretty much by ear.

Now, I’m starting to feel a little bit like I’m bragging, so I’ll stop talking myself up and start talking God up instead.  I felt so incredibly privileged to be able to participate in Worship in a completely new way this weekend.  I’ve never played an instrument in front of 75 people before.  I’ve only used my voice.  And let me tell you, my heart has never meant it as much as when it was a bow across a set of strings… not while I was helping lead.  I find that normally, while I’m singing on a worship team, it’s a fight for me to pay attention to the reason that I’m singing rather than the mechanics and the act of singing.  Is my part right?  Am I flat?  Where do I come in?

On Sunday, when I played with the Worship team, I messed up all over the place, but I made those strings sing for Jesus, and it was the best feeling I’ve experienced in a long time.

Following our Sunday morning service, I got a chance to play some fiddle with our guitar player and our drummer, and my heart just soared. 

Music makes me joyful.

Even when it makes me seat dance in the car and look like a fool at stop lights… I’m joyful.  My heart is full of joy.

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Generation XYZ – What I Don’t Get About Middle School Girls and Justin Bieber.


WordPress is asking us (well, asked us… this is Thursday’s prompt) to describe the generation immediately younger or older than us, and to explain what we understand least about them, as well as what we can learn from them. 

I’ll take the Generation younger than me.  I’m 29… so… I don’t know exactly how old that ‘generation’ is, but probably kids around grade 7-8, maybe early high school?  Middle school I guess.  Particularly… middle school girls.

Here’s what I don’t get about Middle School Girls……

I don’t get the Biebs.

I don’t.  I do not get Justin Bieber.

I know I was guilty of poor musical choices when I was in Middle School.  I was a member of the raging wars between friends that were caused by not being able to choose between ‘N Sync and The Backstreet Boys.  Confession:  I loved ‘N Sync so much more than The Backstreet Boys, but none of my friends would admit to agreeing, and so I towed that Backstreet Boys line hard core, too embarrassed to admit that I had free will and a mind of my own.  Twelve year old me had a mega crush on Justin Timberlake.  It didn’t last, though… his transition to hip hop or whatever that is… lost me.

But I digress.  I don’t get Justin Bieber.

I do understand that Middle School girls find him adorable.  I don’t, but that’s probably best since I’ve got like ten years on him.

When he first hit the scene, I was very clear with my classes of middle school aged students that even if you weren’t a fan of anyone’s music, it was important to recognize talent and give credit to that where it’s due.  I’ll die on that hill if I have to.  I’m not a fan of Justin Bieber’s music, but I won’t deny that he’s got a good voice, and you have to be driven to achieve any sort of success.  I mean, I have a great voice… but I don’t have the drive or the desire to sell out stadiums, do tons of interviews, and constantly be watched. 

I’ve been watching American Idol this season, and I’ve never really been a fan because I have typically found the judging really condescending… but I am digging the combo of Keith Urban, J Lo, and Harry Connick Jr…. even though he’s earned himself the nickname “Hatchet Harry.”  It occurred to me after something Harry said though…. that this would not be the life I’d want.  He talked about getting up early, going to bed late, always being ‘image-conscious,’ and being willing to do whatever it would take to make a name for yourself… all of those things are a part of what they’re looking for in the next American Idol.  So while I think it would be kinda cool to be a star… maybe for a day… I know it’s not the life I want. 

Back to Justin Bieber… when he came onto the scene, I defended him against… particularly the Middle School boys… because they can be ruthless toward anyone with talent, never mind those they deem talentless. 

But now…. now I don’t know how to defend him, and I’m glad I teach primary kids so I don’t have to defend him.  My kindergarten girls will say they love him, and that concerns me a bit… but…. I feel like the majority of that comes from older sisters.

The thing is… talented or not…. and I haven’t listened to anything he’s put out in a long time so my jury’s totally out on that… he’s become a terrible role model, and I can’t understand how Middle School girls can be so blind to the drunk driving, the racing, etc… there are other charges… I just haven’t cared to pay attention to them.

I had two grade 7 girls last year who decided that they would both marry him.  They were going to share him.

I wish that I had some way to explain to these girls that they can do better than whatever ‘bad boy image’ that the Biebs is trying (or maybe not?) to get out there. 

I wish I could convince the world that DUI charges, speeding, and assault should not bolster celebrity approval ratings… this has always confused me.  It’s the same kind of mentality that keeps Rob Ford going strong.

Now I’d like to make something really clear… He’s only 19.  I understand that many 19 year old kids go through rebellion/poor choices/partying/whatever… I never did.  So I find I completely lack empathy in this situation…. That said, just because he’s 19 doesn’t mean his actions are to be excused.  Perhaps just a little better understood…

I just don’t get the hype… I mean, I don’t wish him ill; I don’t want to see anyone lose a life; I don’t want anyone to lose a dream they’ve worked for… I’m not judging… I’ve made mistakes, and I’ll keep making them until I’m no longer this side of heaven… I just quite simply don’t understand the undying support of a celebrity no matter what they’ve done… sometimes to the point of tears in the case of my middle school girls.  I had one last year who burst into tears because one of the boys said something mean about Justin Bieber.  Apparently, we don’t need to bully each other anymore.  We can just make fun of the current celebrity obsession.  I just wish Middle School Girls would be that devoted to their friendships.  There’d be far less drama all around.

What can we learn from Middle School Girls, though?

1.  They’re loyal when they need to be.

2.  They’re independent and don’t feel like they need to justify their musical choices at all, to anyone.  I actually kind of admire that. 

 

 

 

 

One Word for 2014. Some goals, and my favourite posts from 2013.


I had actually already thought about my New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 when I read She Loves Magazine’s One Word idea for the year.  I’ve decided to combine this with Mama Kat’s writing prompts, and add in my top 12 blog posts from 2013 and to talk about some Resolutions, or anti-resolutions if you will.

Here’s what I love about this one-word idea, to get myself back on track.

You pick one word for 2014.  Not a bunch of New Years’ Resolutions.  Not a bunch of lofty probably unattainable goals that you’ll be discouraged over later.  No.  One word.  I had already thought about it.  I had already given 2014 enough thought to decide that the only thing I’ll be ‘resolving’ is this:  value.  I will value myself.  I will value those around me.  I will refuse to devalue myself on account of things of this world.  I will wrap my value up in things of Christ, knowing that that’s where my true value is to be found.  I described this idea to my parents as “I will be less hard on myself,” but when I saw the One Word idea put out by She Loves, I wracked my brain for one word.

So the things I’m not resolving to this year, because I’ve resolved to them every year and failed:

I’m not going to put a number on weight loss.  Instead, I’ll value myself enough to make healthy choices, and if that results in weight loss — awesome.

I’m not going to put a kilometre goal on running.  I haven’t been able to run in such a long time because of a stupid ankle injury from LAST CHRISTMAS that I may stick with boxing and take up swimming instead anyway :p  I will value myself enough to know that I don’t need to obsess, and that if I don’t get in a certain number of kilometres or minutes or whatever… accomplished in a week, that doesn’t mean I’m a failure or that I should be so hard on myself.

I’m not going to put a ‘I hope to be in a committed relationship before I’m 30’ marker on this year, because that doesn’t value my singleness or myself AS a single individual.  I will instead recognize that I have value whether single or coupled.  Besides, I’m currently rocking the preferable term, ‘independently owned and operated.’

I have a few things I’d like to accomplish this year, certainly, but these things have less to do with beginning a new year, and more to do with being a person who likes to set goals for herself.  Most notably, I’d like to rock the violin this year.  I’m starting a 52 week money saving challenge with the end goal being a stellar (probably refurbished) violin which was not made in China and which will not break as easily (mine’s currently with a repair guy and I have a borrowed one.  Handing it over to a stranger was like turning over my baby.  It was sad).  I actually may have a resolution for 2015… I’d really like to enter the Canadian Open Fiddling Competition held every year in Shelburne.  I went with my Grandparents for the first time this past August… and I was enraptured.  I don’t think I’ll be ready for this August.  Maybe next year though 😉

Ann Voskamp summarizes really well my thoughts on heading into 2014.  I want to fall forward, not stumble backwards.  Check this out.  Wonderful words, here.

And as I get ready to usher in 2014 with One Word, I’m going to bid 2013 farewell with a few of my favourite blogs from this year (both my posts and those that I follow).  I’ll do 12 of each.  One for each month, I suppose.  Check out Sarah Bessey’s post along the same idea.

First:  Blogs I followed.

Tim and Olive, Olive To Run, A Holy Experience (Ann Voskamp), Jen Hatmaker, Sarah Bessey, Megan Gahan, Sometimes Screaming Helps (Sarah Richardson), Holley Gerth, She Loves Magazine, The Young Woman’s Bucket List, Mama’s Losin It, Darcie the Kindred Spirit, The Road To Rome, Avoiding Neverland (I know… that’s 14.)

Second:  My top 12 posts from 2013.

1.  My ‘2nd Blogiversary Post — I Will Not Humour the Cray Crays.‘  I wrote this just kind of summarizing my most recent dating experiences, and didn’t expect it to get kind of out of hand.  Blog Her picked it up and featured it and it got like 1300 views or something insane like that.  For a fairly newbie blogger, it just blew my mind.

2.  I Am Not Bible Barbie.  This was another one that kind of blew up on me.  I had decided that I’d had enough of being held to this impossible standard by potential suitors, and some friends and I were talking about it at church, and this happened.  And then 450 views happened.  It was my first big post, and the first one that blew up without help from anything else.

3.  The More Boys I Meet, The More I Love My Dog.  I’d been on an AWFUL date.  Seriously, read the story.  I decided that I’d better channel it into good writing that would get new readers, lest I sit around and mope.  It was good therapy 🙂

4.  I Don’t Want to Marry Bible Ken.  The day after I wrote I Am Not Bible Barbie, it occurred to me that I had picked on guys for holding us women to this impossible standard, when we do the same thing to them, and that I don’t want to keep looking for the ‘perfect’ guy.  Read on to find out why 🙂

5.  Singleness is not a disease, nor a curse, nor an affliction… nor is it a problem of mine for others to solve.  I wrote this post about a year ago.  Someone obviously had a ‘solution’ to my singleness problem.  I haven’t re-read these posts, so I don’t remember what prompted it, but it sounds angsty.

6, 7, 8, and 9 were parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 in a series of stories I wrote about a girl named Anna (fictional) who was sold into the sex trade.  I wrote it for The Exodus Road, an organization which works to spread awareness about sex trafficking and the work that’s being done to combat it.  Read Part 1 here.  Part 2 is herePart 3 is hereAnd Part 4 is here. Please read them.  They were hard to write because the details were supplied by Exodus Road, and I knew they were technically fictional, but it was gut-wrenching to think that even though I was making this up, it could very easily have happened in real life.

10.  How I Feel About Endings — A Tribute to My Buddy, Jack.  Hardest post to write this year probably.  I wrote it in the days before we had to have one of my Mom’s dogs, Jack, put down… he was very sick, we had no choice, really.  But it was really hard.  So hard.

11. A Picture’s Worth A Whole Lot… Apparently.  I updated my profile pictures on the dating sites I was registered on because a friend of mine showed me how to use makeup…. and like magic, I had a whole bunch of interest generated.  It caused me to reflect on the value we place on looks.

And tied for number 12 (yes, I know that means I have 13… but I have 4 tied into one story that took 4 months to finish, so I think it’s fair.  Also — it’s my blog.  #idowhatiwant)  “My ‘come-to-Jesus’ moment about Rob Ford’ and ‘A Duck Call for Love.’  Both of these posts were written in response to public figures blowing it in view of the entire Western World, and how I feel like there has to be a better way to do things than we’ve been doing it.  As Christians, we’re called to love, and that’s what both of these posts are aimed at.

favourite TV

Bones, NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles, Nashville, Chicago Fire, Rick Mercer Report, Elementary, Castle, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, and… apparently there are only 11 of these.  That’s ok.

Books:  Confession ~ I didn’t read anywhere close to 12 books this year.  I’d like to read more in this next year.  I guess that comes with valuing my intelligence and not squandering so much time on Facebook?  We’ll see how that goes.

Pirates of Savannah, The Sacred Search, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Made To Crave, Every Body Matters, The Sweet By and By, Love Lifted Me, Softly And Tenderly, Flabbergasted.  I can’t think of any more that I read this past year.  There might be more, though that number in itself kind of shocked me.  I have a giant stack beside my bed to get through still, so… we’ll see how that goes :p  Next on the list, which I’m really excited about (just have to finish The Sacred Search first), is Real Men Don’t Text, by Ruthie Dean.  Can’t wait.

Movies: I should preface this — I’m not super picky when it comes to movies.  I’m pretty easy to please.  The only one I really didn’t like was The Heat.

The Hobbit, Frozen, The Butler, Captain Phillips, 12 Years A Slave, The Family, Oz the Great and Powerful, Gangster Squad, Safe Haven, Olympus Has Fallen, 42, Runner Runner.  Those are just ones I saw in theatres.  Like I said, I’m pretty indiscriminate.

Music:  I could never pick just 12 songs.  I guess I can pick 12 artists, though.  Note:  I fell in love with Eastern Canadian Folk Music this year.  So…. get ready for this.  That’s right… The Rankins are in there.  Classic, 1990s Rankin Family.  On repeat in the car for the last 5 days.  Straight.  Legit.

Charlie Worsham, Natalie MacMaster, Leahy, The Rankins, The Band Perry, Luke Bryan, Third Day, Dixie Chicks, Sugarland, Duelling Fiddlers, The Piano Guys, Lady Antebellum, Lindsey Stirling.  I know, I know, that’s 13.  It’s the best I could do.

And that’s it, guys!  That’s it for 2013!  Stay tuned for January.  Another NaBloPoMo kicks off January 1.  Am I insane for taking the challenge during a Report Card month?  Probably, but it could lead to some really entertaining (albeit brief) posts 😉

Tastes Like Christmas, and other Christmas traditions.


Yesterday I wrote a post from Mama Kat’s Losin It’s blog’s writing prompts.  Sorry, there were a lot of possessive adjectives in that sentence…. woah.  Not fixing it, haha and I only care a little bit……..

**Yesterday I wrote a post pulled from the writing prompts given on Mama Kat’s Losin It, a blog I’ve been following for a while because of the great prompts she gives.**

I feel better now.

Ahem.

A favourite holiday tradition, she says.

I have a few.  And I have a few “tastes of Christmas” to share, as I write this on Saturday, from my Grandparents’ farm.  After lunch, Grandma handed me one of her amazing sour cherry tarts, and with a mouth completely full of deliciousness, I muttered “this tastes like Christmas.”  How can something taste like Christmas, you ask?  Well, read my list, and see if you agree.

Things that taste like Christmas to me:

  • Grandma’s Sour Cherry Tarts
  • Egg Nog
  • Clementines
  • Misty Mints

And finally, I suppose turkey dinner tastes like Christmas, though it also tastes like Thanksgiving and Easter… so… who knows?  What does Christmas taste like to you?

Two traditions that happen every year that I don’t like going without are things that I can’t taste.

1.  The Christmas program that gets put on every year at Grandma’s.  I arrived a day ahead of most of my family due to a pending ice storm.  I was coming from South of Grandma’s, and everyone else is coming from North of here, so I left in time to not get stuck in a ditch somewhere between home and here.

cuz… you know… awesome.

This morning over breakfast, Grandma and I cracked open the Bible, picked the passages we’ll be reading from the Christmas story (in the various Gospels), and then she left me with a Christmas carol book to pick the songs that would go with them.  I finally got my violin in tune… gosh, it’s hard…. and then she played piano while I played piano.  Dad and the rest of the crew are slated to arrive in about an hour and a half, and he’ll bring his guitar, and we’ll have a musical night of praising Jesus and celebrating His birth.  We didn’t do this last year because Christmas was at my house.  I had just bought a house and I really wanted to entertain, so I invited everyone down to my place.  It’s really nice to be back at Grandma’s again this year.  Shout out to my Grandparents, who are more than likely reading this….

2.  Decorating the tree with my Mom.  Ever since I was old enough to do this without busting ornaments, Mom and I have done it together while watching the Toronto Santa Claus Parade on TV.  My brother joined in when he was younger, but it became ‘our thing’ as he got older and didn’t want to do it anymore.  We would eat Voortman’s cookies and clementines, pop popcorn, watch the parade, and hang the ornaments on the tree.  Now that I’m all grown up and I don’t live with my Mom anymore, I feel it’s imperative that I wait until my Mom can get to my house so we can decorate the tree together anyway.  It never seems to coincide with the parade anymore, but we’ve changed the tradition a little bit so that now we watch a Christmas movie while we decorate the tree.  It’s probably my favourite tradition of all, and if I ever have kids, I hope to recreate it with them… though I imagine it’ll be easier with girls past a certain age…. but regardless.  I want to keep it going.  Love you Mom, I know you’re reading this!

This year’s masterpiece
My favourite ornament, bought at the Christmas store in Banff last year

My Top Five Christmas Songs


Mama Kat’s Losin It is a blog I’ve been following for a while.  Once a week, she does a Writer’s Workshop and hands out prompts.  This week there are two I’ll be writing on…  one today, and another tomorrow.  They were technically written on Saturday afternoon, but who needs to know that that “schedule’ button on WordPress is my favourite thing?

Pick five favourite Christmas songs….

Well, I picked six.  I had it to five, but then I remembered one that’s been a favourite since high school, so it’ll be number six.  Here they are, in absolutely no particular order because I couldn’t do that to any of them… how to relegate a favourite to the bottom?  I don’t know.  Tell me if you know how.

1.  Third Day’s version of O Holy Night.  This song is hard to do.  It’s even harder to do well.  Mac Powell and the rest of the guys from Third Day NAILED it on their (phenomenal) Christmas album, entitled Christmas Offerings.  I’m happy to announce that they really are that good live.  I thoroughly enjoy them.

2.  Sugarland’s O Come O Come Emmanuel.  I’ve mentioned this song already in a post last week.  Jennifer Nettles’ voice gets me.  It’s right in my range, I can belt right along with her… she’s a marvelous singer.  Obviously I love twangy, deep Southern country voices and feel that Southern Ontario, Canada was not where I should have been born…. but nevertheless…. Actually, Sugarland’s entire Christmas album, Gold and Green, is spectacular.  I have listened to it on repeat for most of December in the car.  Legit.

3.  The Little Drummer Boy by Pentatonix.  To be able to pull this off without a single instrument, entirely voices…. incredible.

4.  Anything and everything ever done by Lindsey Stirling is genius.  That said, I love love love her Celtic Carol.  I want to be her when I grow up.  Please keep in mind my deep love of Carol of the Bells as mentioned in my post yesterday, and my love of all things fiddle.  Lindsey Stirling just combined them.

5.  Speaking of my deep love of Carol of the Bells… please please check out The Piano Guys’ Cellist playing, I assume split-track recorded over himself multiple times… as he combines with another favourite of mine, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.  The Piano Guys are also musical geniuses, so if you don’t know what I’m talking about, seriously, check them out.

6.  And lastly, as I was making my list, when I got to the song above, I couldn’t help but remember my favourite Christmas song all through my high school years… which inspired the first time I ever asked for a Christmas CD FOR Christmas…. Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan combining God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen with We Three Kings.  I’m sure my Mom thought I was nuts when I asked for “Barenaked for the Holidays” for Christmas…. but no joke.  I still have that CD.  I should dig it back out again.

Collecting Details


I like the idea of this prompt, because there’s a whole lot of truth there.  I spend a good chunk of my day wandering from task to task, collecting details in my brain about what I’ll write next.

This week’s challenge

To recap, here’s what to do for the challenge. As always, feel free to adapt the challenge as you see fit. The object is to get you writing:

  1. Pick three original details from encounters during your day or your week that you’ve observed.
  2. Once you’ve collected your details, your “glimmers of a beginning,” write at least one paragraph containing your original details.

Last night, I stood outside walking my dog for the last time before bed, and I was struck by something I’m not usually struck by — the snow is beautiful.  (Back story — worst Canadian ever.  I hate winter and all that comes with it… the cold, the snow, the ice, the slippery-ness, the shoveling, the scraping… it’s not my favourite.)  It was crisp bitterly cold outside, and the moon was full, shining enough light through the complete lack of clouds in the night sky that my front porch light was completely unnecessary.  Over the weekend, we were dumped on by about 15cm of snow.  I know that for some, 15cm is really not a lot of snow.  For where I live in Ontario though, we tend to get avoided by pretty much all weather, and so to have it snow for 24 hours straight…. I freak out a little bit.

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The sheer amount of snow that piled up, combined with the chilly temperatures means that while I’m teaching Kindergarten in the morning, I have to have them back in time to have 10-15 minutes to bundle up before eating lunch so they can be warm going outside (or going home at home time).  Today, I had Kindergarten right before first recess as well as last period at the end of the day.  One of them comes to me as she’s finally finished bundling up (all but one mitten), and asks me to help her with the last mitten.  She says “I’m a big girl, now!  I can do up my own coat!  But… the other mitten is hard.”  I agreed with her, and asked how old she was.  She holds up one mitten covered hand and announces proudly, “I’m THIS MANY!”  Helpful, haha.

The prompt asks for three details, so I guess… I dunno… I’ll share my favourite Christmas song right now, because when it’s on in the car I belt it at the top of my lungs.  I love everything Sugarland has ever done, so it’s not a stretch that I love this, but the incredible voice on Jennifer Nettles just adds to the beauty of this song.

Oh, and while I’m here, here’s the song that’s been in my head for two days, because Charlie Worsham might be the most talented artist I’ve seen in a looong time (check out his youtube channel and watch his covers — he lets his fans pick one song on his Facebook page each week, then he learns every single part on various instruments/implements, and plays/sings every part, recording it in just 24 hours for our listening pleasure.  Amazing.  Anyway, here’s Could It Be.