Where I’ve Been: Why I’m Abandoning NaBloPoMo


I am a writer.

I’m a writer because I write.

But it has occurred to me lately that I should occasionally ask myself why I write

To put it incredibly simplistically, I write because I don’t tend to know what I think until I’ve written it.

It makes me wonder then — why do I feel like I need to write every day, if I don’t have anything of value to say?  Why do I just spew words for the sake of spewing words?  Why?  Is there value in self-reflection?  I would argue that there is.

The last few months, I’ve been desperately trying to garner more followers to this here blog, and I suppose I’ve succeeded in that aim, but I’ve noticed a pattern.  The days I gather followers are the days when I’ve posted something that I thought up myself, or at least when I’ve taken a prompt and run in my own direction with it… not the days I’ve taken a mindless prompt and hardly given it any original thought — writing just for the sake of writing.  Is that any different from talking just to talk?  Should I be writing just to write if I shouldn’t talk just to talk?

This is the reason I’ve written nothing since March 7th.

This is the reason I’ve abandoned NaBloPoMo altogether.

Writing should not be a chore.  I love writing.  I write to think.  Some things, I guess…. just don’t really need to be thought about?

I’ve been pondering something else alongside all of this…. You see, if I truly do write to think and process ~ and I believe that that’s true of me ~ shouldn’t I be using this craft for something deeper and more substantial?  Could the words that spill out of me so effortlessly using a keyboard or a pen not be used to Worship and glorify my Creator when the words I speak so often get ixed mup and tangled so badly that I forget what I was talking about?  I know, I know… this doesn’t happen all the time.  I’m pretty well spoken verbally as well, but I find that when I pray I am so easily distracted that I’m talking to God about something and SQUIRREL!  Yeah… that’s about how it goes.  I teach like that some days, too…. it’s pretty fun when you have to rely on students to put your train back on its’ track.

But if my brain processes better while I write, if I focus better while I write, and if I’m better spoken and far more eloquent when I write than when I speak, why wouldn’t I talk to God like that?  I must admit, I’ve never written a prayer.  I know many people who have.  I know many people who admit that it helps them focus, because it’s like writing a letter to a dear friend.

So I’ve abandoned NaBloPoMo, for March anyway.  I don’t think I’ll go back to it for April.  I haven’t given up anything for Lent, mostly because I was afraid I’d fail…. but maybe even though I’m late I can add something in.  I have a blank journal beside my bed, and I’d like to pray with a pen in my hand from here on out.  I’d like to see if it can add some focus to my conversations with the One who matters most, since, you know, SQUIRREL!

I’ll keep you posted.  Until then, though, I hereby announce that I am no longer committed to blogging every single day, lest feeling like I’m forcing myself to do it sucks the joy and the life out of it.  I will still continue to receive all of the prompts into my inbox from The Spin Cycle, Mama Kat (check out her Writer’s Workshop, too), Holley Gerth (check out Coffee For Your Heart), BlogHer’s prompts, and The Daily Post, but I reserve the right to pick and choose the ones that I tackle, if I choose to write any at all.

And who knows what kind of gold I’ll crank out now that I’ve relieved my own source of pressure?

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#BoycottSochi, #SochiProblems, and other Sochi thoughts


I’ll be honest when I start this off.

I am not a sports fan.

I’m ok with playing some of them — I’ll play volleyball, quite happily.  I love swimming.  I’ve dabbled in snowboarding.  I like to think I’m a runner, even though I haven’t run in months, haha…. I love cardio kick boxing…

But I participate in every single one of those.

I don’t watch sports…… except for every four years in February.  Then… and only then… the PVR needs to be regularly emptied so I can record some more, and I make sure I’ve watched all of the sports that I want to see.  It’s the only time I care about results, scores, whatever…. it’s the Winter Olympics.

This year, they’re being held in Sochi, Russia.  Personally, my patriotic support of the games has never been higher than on the last ones, Vancouver 2010.  That might be my Canadian Passport talking, though.  Plus… there were Inuksuks everywhere, and if I had to pick a symbol of Canada that I love most, it wouldn’t be the maple leaf; It’d be the Inuksuk.

But I digress.

There’s been a lot of controversy over the location of these games.  There are many people out there… I even know some of them… who believe that we shouldn’t be there — that the depth of the inappropriateness, criminal activity, prejudice, and discrimination that happen in Russia in general is too great, and that we as a global community can’t possibly support Russia by showing up for the Olympics.

To be honest, I don’t know that much about what’s been going on.  And that is what’s going to fuel my argument in this debate.

Prior to January 2014, I knew virtually nothing of the conflicts going on in Russia in regard to human rights, gay rights, war crimes… just to name a few.  I’ve had to do some reading.  I’ve been sitting on this post for about a week and a half… and then Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop Prompts came out for this week and gave me the platform to write the back half of the post… and so I sat on it some more.

As food for thought, here are some of the things I read.  Now, I realize that some of the sources here aren’t amazing.  I realize that my search term – “boycott Sochi” – was a very leading search term, and that it’s probably led to some biased results… but… for me, that’s inconsequential.  If that matters to you, you can stop reading right here.  I’m being honest with you so that in the comments, I don’t get blasted for using slightly slanted sources…. plus, as a fair warning, I probably won’t approve any comments that are rude, anyway.  I never do.

Now — here’s my stance.

First of all, the only thing I’d heard about Sochi at all was the anti-gay policies and the eradication of stray dogs.  I’m not minimizing these things at all; They’re awful.  But there are other issues at hand here.  There are all kinds of human rights issues that are massive, all surrounding Russian government.  “Human Rights Watch have documented exploitation of migrant workers in violation of Russian law; evictions of residents without fair compensation and in some cases, with no compensation at all. Many resettled residents lost a portion of their livelihoods; Threats, harassment, and lawsuits of activists and journalists critical of the Games, as well as Russia’s discriminatory anti-LGBT propaganda law.” [Source]

And I think that’s my point…. before the Olympics started, that’s all I’d heard about.  While they aren’t good things, by any stretch of the word, and they aren’t things I want to draw attention away from, there are issues that go so deep in Russia…. that I would never have known about.  Because I wouldn’t have looked.

So yes, I know many people wanted Sochi boycotted.  They wanted The Olympics not to be held on a world stage that’s so fraught with issues deserving of international attention……. but if The Olympics weren’t being held in Sochi, would all of these issues be garnering such international attention?  Or would they have gone on, largely unnoticed, out of the public eye?

I get it.  We don’t want to be supportive of crimes that are being committed what appears to be completely intentionally.  But my argument is, if we boycott and keep international attention out of such places, how can any change be effected?  How will we know?  I wouldn’t have known.  Maybe that’s my own fault, but the point stands.  I would have been completely clueless that most of that was going on in Russia.

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Now that I’ve expressed that, Mama Kat’s prompt that I chose for this week is to choose one Olympic sport we’d like to compete in and explain why.

I can’t choose.  I can’t.  I need two choices!!

I want Slope Style Snowboarding.  And I want Ice Dance.  I want them both.

Why?

Because both of them are beautifully artistic and require incredible athletic ability (neither of which I’m very good at — my art comes out in words, and I’m a super klutz.)

Like I said above, I have dabbled in snowboarding.  I know PRECISELY how difficult it is.  I learned in the Alps in France, and I couldn’t even handle the Bunny Hills.  Wrecked my knee… basically proved for a whole week why I should never strap my feet on top of a waxy board and slide around on slippy snow.  Period.

I have a similar experience on ice.  I think that ice dance is phenomenally, outstandingly…. pulchritudinous (Characterized by or having great physical beauty and appeal ~ because I needed a word that carried more punch than ‘beautiful,’ ‘stunning,’ ‘gorgeous’ etc.)  My heart nearly broke when Tessa and Scott were beaten by Meryl and Charlie and ‘only’ took silver.  I love Tessa and Scott.  I think they should get married and have figure skating prodigies, and I’m super sad at the thought that this is their last Olympics.  I want to a) be in that incredible shape physically, and b) be able to move around on skates while letting go of the boards.  Both of those things would be amazing.

Speaking of figure skating… have you seen this?  I’ve thought pretty much all of these things (27 Things You’re Really Thinking About During Figure Skating)

Those are my sports.  Or, if I was athletic at all… those would be my sports.  But those are my choices 🙂

So there you have it.  Not only would I NOT boycott Sochi, but in an ideal world, I’d be the only athlete to compete in two completely different disciplines.  Everyone was super surprised when Torah Bright of Australia decided to compete in Slope Style, Snowboard Cross, and half pipe…. well I’d compete in Slope Style, then blow the competition off of the frozen water in ice dance.

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No Matter What Happens, You’re Going To Be Ok….


I don’t know if I totally agree with this prompt title.  It’s part of Holley Gerth‘s Coffee For Your Heart, though, so I’m supposed to be encouraging.  I’ve seen a lot of people who’ve battled many many things.  Hard things.  Things they never thought they’d be ok at the end of… and things that changed their lives forever.

But…. I also know that the God I love and serve is a powerful, powerful God.  I also know that every single time that I’ve handed over whatever’s bothering, perturbing, distressing, plaguing me… whatever -ing verb you want to use… when I give that over to God, it becomes clear that I am going to be OK.

Now.  Am I saying that praying makes everything peachy keen and there’s nothing that can touch me?  That everything’s going to be sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows?  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I’m NOT saying that.  I’d be lying to you if I were, because it’s so simply untrue.

With that cleared up, now that you understand that I’m not saying that praying cures every issue, I can say what I really am saying.

What I really am saying, and I will stand behind this for life…

“No matter what happens, you’re (eventually) going to be OK, because the God of the Universe is on the side of those who love Him.”

We’re not promised easy roads.  In fact, we’re promised difficulty and strife in life as a Christian…. but I do know that God has my back, and that even if my situations don’t improve — sometimes they don’t — when I give up my circumstances and trust my Creator, I feel more prepared to tackle them and face them with a realistic understanding of what they are.

Holley Gerth has a book that’s just been released called “You’re Going to be OK.”  I haven’t ordered it yet, but it is sitting in my Amazon “later” cart, which holds all kinds of books and just waits for me to have money to spend 🙂  I love Holley’s blog, though, and am currently reading another of her books called You’re Made For a God-Sized Dream, and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

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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. 

 

 

 

 

My Biggest Fears


I’m gonna have nightmares after I write this post.  I shall make it brief.

WordPress’s 365 Days of Writing Prompts says, “You’re locked in a room with your biggest fear.  Describe what’s in the room.”

If I were locked in a room with my biggest fear, there’d be centipedes crawling around all over the floor, probably up my legs…. moths flying overhead, probably landing on me…. and there would be multiple June Bugs stuck in my hair, buzzing incessantly while they squirm to get unstuck.

Oh, and I’d be alone and childless.

You know, no big deal.

AAAHHH I need to stop.

That is all.

You’re Loved.


So for a little while, I’ve been following this fantastic blogger (and I now own a couple of her books) named Holley Gerth.  She’s another one of those who writes into my heart.

She’s started “Coffee For Your Heart,” which allows those what want to join in a chance to be encouraging (with prompts she sends out) every Wednesday, whether through their blog, their Facebook, or a Tweet.

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150I was apprehensive about whether or not I’d join in on this… but I’ve decided that it’ll be good to be stretched beyond a random prompt and into one that is kind of serious.

So today’s prompt is simply “You’re Loved.”

I’ve decided to write a letter to all my students.  I understand that they won’t see it, but I find that when I really focus on the reason that I keep teaching, even on the hard days, it makes me better at what I do, and that helps me encourage my students by extension.

So here it goes.

Dear Kidlets:

I want you to know that the reason I drag my butt out of bed on weekday mornings is not just because I have to and because they pay me to.  I do it because you make me laugh with your antics, with the way you see things, and with the things you say.  It’s because I’m not succeeding unless you’re succeeding, and so neither of us can succeed if I’m not there.  It’s because when I see you finally get something that you’ve been struggling with, your persistence makes me beam with pride.  It’s because I’m watching you grow up before my very eyes, and I’m so proud of the people you’ll become some day.  You’ve all got potential to be someone amazing, and I truly hope that each one of you harnesses that potential and soars.

Some days it may not seem like I love you that much.  You see, sometimes love from a teacher looks tough.  Sometimes I say no to things you really want, or I make you do things you really don’t want to do.  Whether you’re 6, 10, or 14, I promise I’m doing my best to make decisions that are best for you, even if they seem like I’m out to make you miserable.

Sometimes you may think my rules are stupid, but they’re there to keep you safe.  Like this morning in gym when I said we’re going to do a relay where we have to hold hands, and so I said NO RUNNING because when we run holding hands, it’s really really dangerous and we can fall and hurt ourselves… I was doing it not because it’s less fun to walk, but because I didn’t want you to get hurt.  It nearly broke my heart when one of you wiped out and bumped your head, and that’s why I ran to you to help you up and scooped you up to get you some ice.

I want you to know that the reason I’m there every day is so I can teach you about more than just what’s in the books.  I want to teach you how to handle conflict.  I want to teach you how to get along with each other, even if you don’t like each other.  I want to teach you how to be kind to one another, show compassion, and to accept people’s differences so that we can all live together peacefully.  I know these are lofty goals, but if I can be an influence in even one of your precious lives, and make an impact that years from now makes you remember me and smile, I’ll know I’ve done my job.  I’ll know I’ve done it very well if you can remember me and smile, and then remember an important lesson that I taught you.  Hopefully it’ll have nothing to do with curriculum.

Kiddos, I know this has been sappy, but I have to tell you… that even when you’re challenging to teach, I still love you.  Without you guys, I wouldn’t have a job to do at all, but you certainly keep it interesting.  Keep it up.

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 😉

Snow – My love-hate relationship with it…. and Pictures with Santa.


Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop this week has two prompts that I’m going to jump all over.  One is this one, on snow.  The other is Santa Pictures.

I have a love-hate relationship with snow.

I love looking at it.

I love how people say each and every individual snowflake is different and unique, and that no two are the same, though has anyone ever seen all snowflakes in one place at one time and scientifically analyzed this?  I love their uniqueness, but I feel that this is a difficult claim to make.  Doesn’t detract from each individual snowflake’s beauty, though.

I love playing in it.

I love building with it.

I love watching it gently fall from the sky.

I love how it mutes all the other sounds around you, even in the city, especially when it’s falling or very freshly fallen.  How the cars even can seem to slip by unnoticed because the snow absorbs their noise.

I love how my dog loves to frolic in it.

I love snow days more than any student I’ve ever met.  Teaching gives you a whole new appreciation for snow days.

But I hate driving in it.

If it could snow all winter long without leaving ruts of slush, icy spots, slippery patches, and covered up lines all over the road, I’d be fine with winter.  So when I say I hate winter, I’m not being entirely truthful.  Most of it is pretty alright.  In fact, most of it is downright beautiful.  Until I have to go shovel my car out, scrape all the ice and accumulated snow off, and cling to the steering wheel of my car for dear life.

That being said, I’d like this to be a happy post, so instead of griping about how much I hate winter driving, because I don’t imagine I’m alone in this, I’m going to share with you the amazing pictures I got today, as I’m up North at my parents’ house.  If you’re familiar with Ontario at all, you’ll know that South Central Ontario doesn’t get nearly the snow that Muskoka does, and my parents are right on the Northern edge of Muskoka.  Not quite in it, but they’re close… and so if you’re familiar at all, you understand that where I am right now…. we’ve got snow.

Also included in the pictures are some from last weekend’s ice storm.  Yes, the one that has thousands of Toronto Hydro customers still powerless.  I was at my Grandparents’, and while we only lost power for 4.5 hours on Sunday afternoon, it was evident that ice is a powerful force to be reckoned with — especially when it then gets covered in snow.

Check it out.

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Grandma’s backyard last weekend.
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Out Grandma’s kitchen window last weekend. This is the reason I stayed an extra day.  Imagine the roads.

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King City On Route service plaza — 4 days later, now there’s snow on top of the layers of ice.

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Hwy 400 N somewhere between King City and Barrie. I was not driving, for the record.
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If you look through the trees, you can see where water runs down off the rocks and freezes in waterfall-esque cascades down the rock face. Very cool. Taken this afternoon.
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Taken today
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Taken today
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the pooch, off the beaten path, carving her own road. She got tired pretty quickly.
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I thought it might be fun to pull the snow down off some overhanging branches.
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It took an inordinately long time for a) a snowflake to land on the right spot on me for me to take a picture, and b) my camera to macro focus well enough to capture it. Solid ten minutes went into capturing this snowflake ‘on film.’

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Santa Pictures

I don’t have children.  I know, this is totally new information.  But I don’t, and so I don’t have kids to take to Santa.  But I do have a dog.  And to me, this creature is all the family I need right now.  The kennel that I take my dog to when I can’t be home to take care of her does pet pictures with Santa most years.  It sounds cheesy… ok, it is cheesy… but it’s great.  The pictures were done by Let Me Shoot Your Pet, and the money raised this year went to a charity that helps get pound dogs rescued and prevents their being euthanized.  Great cause, if you ask me.  So I leashed Kloë up, put her in the car, and drove her to the kennel to get her picture taken with Santa.  I’m sure if Santa could ask her what she wants for Christmas, all she’d say is ‘to get off this stool and go play.’  Either that, or “people food.”  Regardless, I get her picture done most years, and I have no shame about this, even though I’ve been made fun of for having both this year’s and last year’s pictures hanging on my fridge.

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Someone Free — Stretch Marks of Faith


I’m not going to say much to introduce this video that The Exodus Road emailed us this month.  I don’t think my words could summarize it adequately.  I profoundly admire something in every poet, because that has never been my strength, and this girl is no exception.  It’s worth 7 minutes of your time. 

 
 
 
That being posted now, and hopefully you’ve watched it (seriously, do it; it gave me shivers), I’d like to draw your attention to something else that The Exodus Road has for us this month. A job opportunity.
 
Do you know someone who you think would be ‘just right’ as an undercover investigator?
 

The Exodus Road is currently seeking qualified individuals to join our investigation teams in SE Asia.  This role serves as a key function in The Exodus Road’s targeted intervention initiative, which is to support local authorities and governments in the identification of human trafficking victims and their traffickers.  Agents will work on a team of investigators to manage and advance current case loads and intake of new cases.  All agents will work underneath the authority of the Operations Manager/Investigative Lead and the Country Field Director. For more information, go to the job application page: https://www.theexodusroad.com/exodus-road-employment-opportunities/

How I Feel About Endings (a Tribute to my buddy, Jack)


Today is November 30th.  It is the end of NaBloPoMo.

This means that when I wake up tomorrow morning, I will not have to think “I need to think about something to write about.”  It’s the end of the month.

I feel very similar to how I felt at the end of the summer, when I left Camp, went home, and didn’t HAVE to blog anymore.  The thing was, though, the habit had become so engrained after a little more than two months of blogging daily, that when I got home I felt like I was still looking for things to write about.

Today feels very much the same.  I know that when I get up tomorrow morning, I won’t have to think about what I’m going to write about later in the day….. but my reality is that I will likely write something anyway.  I just won’t be able to tag it “NaBloPoMo,” and I suspect greatly that my readership will take a bit of a nose-dive.  I do want to throw out a HUGE thank you, though, to everyone who read with me over this past month while I rambled my heart out onto these ‘pages.’

Endings are something that I’m not totally comfortable with right now.  Spoiler alert:  If you cry easily about dog stories, you may not want to read further.  My Mom has two dogs.  She has for ten years.  That means that I lived with both of them for a long time before I moved out of the house.

Jack and Keisha are brother and sister.  They were born to Jena in our kitchen in Wainfleet.  Jena was the first dog I ever really loved.  Prior to Jena, I’d been more of a cat person.  She broke down that wall in my heart that wouldn’t let slobbery dogs in, and she threw out all the pieces.

When I was in my first year of University, Jena got hit on the highway and was killed.  I sobbed for days.  Like… silent, gigantic tears running down my face the entire way through my first ever university exam, and I came home from it and collapsed in a heap on the floor and bawled… sure that I botched the exam because I couldn’t concentrate and even more sure that I would never get over missing Jena.

That wasn’t true, of course.  I did get over it, as great of a pooch as she was.  But we were left with her 2 month old baby girl — Keisha.  We’d found homes for every other puppy in the litter Jena had, and that left poor baby Keisha with no Mommy.  She’d go out in the yard and just cry, looking around… she did it for days.  When Jena’s life ended, there was sadness that I’d never experienced before.  I’ve never lost a close friend, a parent, or even a grandparent.  So far, my deepest-felt losses in life have been pets.  They really do become family.

A few months later, we got a phone call from one of the families we’d given a puppy to.  Their work situation had changed, and they couldn’t keep Shadow.  They wanted to know if in light of losing Jena, would we like to take Shadow back.  We did.  And we gave him his original name back — we welcomed Jack back into our lives.

It took Keisha a week or so to get over being a jerk to Jack, and they’ve been inseparable for the past 9.5 years.

But now… I have a heavy heart tonight, because Jack’s life is ending.  And this ending SUCKS.  I know he’s ten.  I know he’s ‘just a dog.’  I know he’s been sick for a very long time, and it’s the end that he needs because he’s in so much pain…. he’s being put down on Monday.

And it sucks.

And every time I think about it, I get a little weepy again.  It took a long time to make the decision.  Mom wanted to be sure she’d done everything she could before making the decision, but he’s in so much pain and he hurts all over.

So on Monday morning, I will have to say goodbye to my buddy, Jack.  And it will suck.  It will be so hard.  I don’t like this ending.  This is not a happy ending.  And it’s like Keisha knows.  You see, they’re at my house right now because my parents are down… and Keisha follows him around all over, and snuggles right up beside him for what little sleep he does get.

I am going to miss my buddy….

And that’s how I feel about that ending.

And with that, here’s a picture tribute to my buddy, Jack.

Jack as a baby - November 2003
Jack as a baby – November 2003
baby Jack - November 2003
baby Jack – November 2003
Jack at 6 months -- when we got him back.  2004
Jack at 6 months — when we got him back. 2004
Jack and Keisha... not yet best buds, but even then Jack was smiling.
Jack and Keisha… not yet best buds, but even then Jack was smiling.  I like how the flash made a perfect heart right over his head when I took the picture of a picture frame.
Jack with my baby Kloe sniffing at him.  August 2010.
Jack with my baby Kloe sniffing at him. August 2010.
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Jack always likes to be cool… just laying in the snow. This was today.
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Relaxing with Keisha by the Christmas tree (taken yesterday)
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Ohana means family…. and family means nobody gets left behind… or forgotten. In this case, Keisha will be left behind, but I doubt Jack will ever be forgotten, even by her. (taken today)
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The three musketeers. (taken last night)