September 30, 2014: Day 16 – Learning How To Cook (40 Days of Writing Challenge)

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One of the things about learning how to cook is discovering that there is an art and a science to it. You need to know the language if you’re going to follow a recipe exactly as written. However, for the flavour you want, that takes more than skill, it takes passion. Yeah I am making cooking more artsy than it can be…but to me food is art.

I have typically put my Dad and my brother in the category of just having the cooking passion…knowing what to do when, having good knife skills, mixing a little of this and a little of that. I looked up to my Dad for many of the staples: stew, tea biscuits, fish, mmmm, his shepherd’s pie. My brother, I look up to for being adventurous: beer chili, bacon cheeseburger meatloaf, and once we made chicken cordon bleu.

I’ve been on a journey to combine both of the lessons learned from theses two cooks. I have attempted many of the staples like my Dad while taking risks with curries much like my brother. One memory for my Dad relating to cooking was the aspect of him putting mustard in Kraft dinner. I thought it was so weird until one day I decided to make macaroni and cheese from the Betty Crocker cook book from scratch. Sure enough the recipe calls for mustard powder. I loved reading that.

Maybe I should comment on the photos that started this post off. I like to use the crock pot because I put everything in, play with flavours, and take a leap of faith that when I get home from work it is going to taste good. Tonight after my dinner guest took finished and we assessed the meal, I said, “I think stews are my thing.” I have found the best results I have had have1 been while making a chilli or stew. Of course, there has been the odd bad pot of whatever, but it’s a learning experience. And I hope to keep doing that very thing, learning how to cook cause I know why I cook – it’s in my blood.

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1. Footnote: “have had have” really Catherine? I had had that that other other thought in mind… ūüėČ Nod to Jasper Fforde

September 29, 2014: Day 15 – Reflection on the “Tight Pants” Video (40 Days of Writing Challenge)

“Everybody’s talking about my tight pants, I got my tight pants, I got my tight pants on…”

Okay, reflecting on this video is the topic one of my best friends gave me… so I’m about to deliver. What this video proves to me is that sometimes things are funnier because of who is telling the story versus the content itself. Let’s dive deeper into that concept shall we?

When my friend first shared with me about the “Tight Pants” video, I laughed about it with her because she only described that it was about tight pants and then she began to sing it and just the line I quoted above. Hoping this won’t offend her, the tune she sang was not in the above video. I HAD to see this video she exclaimed while we were camping. I watched the video, and I was disappointed. I clearly needed my friend to commentate on what I was watching. And the most ironic part is that I can’t even really place the humour of the clip with her humour. She doesn’t swear or unnecessarily get angry… I’m that one probably.

Humour is one of those things that often needs the right audience and can be subject to personal taste. What one person finds funny another person could find offensive. Some people love Seinfeld, others don’t get why a show about nothing would be so hilarious.¬†I even catch myself changing my humour moods when I compare the movies I find funny now compared to in my teens. I feel like right now I like smart and witty humour (most likely British) compared to the slapstick humour of Adam Sandler when I was fourteen. Many of friends like certain movies that are raved as “one of the funniest” whereas I find the content disgusting and unnecessary.

“I love to laugh, ha ha ha ha, long and loud and clear” – Bert in Mary Poppins

Have you ever had that moment with a friend where no matter what is said next you both cannot stop laughing? The kind of laughing where your stomach hurts or you might pee your pants or you’re already crying? A couple of scenarios come to mind that will probably be inside jokes but I’m going to share them anyway.

With my one friend we found saying numbers with emphfasis on the wrong sillabbble so funny we barely got to teeeeen. Eggight (8) was the most funny.

Another friend and I once pretended to have a kung-fu fight at a bus shelter after leaving class. We were so into it and even made sound effects. We could not stop laughing at the fact that no one was around to witness it. Another time we were studying for Human Health & Sexuality on the bus to school and you can imagine what we were quizzing each other on. As we stepped off the bus and were in line at Tim Horton’s, we kept talking about different things and a German guy from the bus turned around and said, “I kant get away from you two!”.

At work I received a call from my boss asking where we should put French in our HR Database when tracking spoken languages. I suggested, “Let’s put it under Gender”… I could hear her laughing from where I was at my desk. She thought I meant that French was a gender, like, male or female or french. I was thinking in terms of where it would show up on an employee screen.

To wrap up and go back to the beginning, I still don’t find the above video funny, but what does make me laugh is thinking about my best friend making me write about it. Hopefully she enjoyed this reflection on the fact that she is funnier whether she wears tight pants or not.

September 28, 2014: Day 14 – What I Like About Camping (40 Days of Writing Challenge)

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I borrowed the above photo from a friend’s backpacking trip that only ended some time today. It visually captures what I like about camping – the beauty of God’s creation. Camping, to me, means being outdoors and soaking in everything around me.

In my teens, I would go camping with one of my best friends’ family to a variety of places. The one that stands out the most was when we went to Algonquin Park. It was my first time there and I was ready to explore. I wanted to set out and see everything.

One day we were canoeing where I sat in the middle between my friend and her Dad and I was looking here and there hoping to see an animal. I had read in a book about someone praying and the sight of an animal brought them peace and a sense of God’s presence. I prayed that I would see something. I saw an otter. He swam near our canoe and I got such a rush of wonder.

Another special aspect of that particular event was that my friend’s Dad and I had a lot of really good conversations that week camping. I got to hear his perspective on a lot of different topics and share my own. I think I was under eighteen at the time and he respected me as if I was an equal. What a blessing for a young woman.

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Camping with my own family was a bit different. We would get a cabin at a camp in Stayner, where my Mom grew up, for the whole summer. My Mom worked in administration and my Dad managed the sound booth for services. I would travel throughout the camp freely. One time my Mom said she was looking for me as a kid, and I was just happily sitting at the trailer of an older couple chatting away.

Whether out in the wilderness or in a campground, camping is liked by me because it seems to bring people together in relationship. You need to pull together things if it suddenly rains. A tent will not set itself up. You’re stuck with others and it will bring out your best and worst, especially if one. Of you snores or your back hates the ground or most of you are women during “that week”. It’s always an adventure!

September 27, 2014: Day 13 – My Experience Climbing Mount Margaret in Seattle (40 Days of Writing Challenge)

mount margaretThe journey up Mount Margaret started as a geocaching adventure. My good friend wanted to do the 5ishkm one way to a certain point in order to get a specific cache (link), apparently one of the oldest in Washington State. It has a 1,600 feet elevation.

On the way to the hike, I decided drinking a Dr. Pepper would be okay versus the water I could have drank. We began the climb up the mountain on a gorgeous day with the sun beating down on us. Most of the hikes I have been on go up and then flat for a bit and then up… this one just felt like it went up.

At about 1.3km, I started to get a little light headed and almost passed out on my friend. I determined that it was time to head back down to where we started and rest while he pressed on with another couple of guys we were with. He was reluctant but with the technology available (cellphones), I convinced him to let me go back down alone.  Little did I know that God had orchestrated such a beautiful time alone with Him.

I started down the mountain and felt such a peace about just listening. I said out loud, “Speak Lord, I am listening.” As I took my next step, a little brown snake slithered out of the nearby brush. Normally I am afraid of snakes, but in this case, I looked at it and said, “Move along!” It did. I said to God, “Yes, the lies really do run that deep.” The snake reminded me, as it can with many Christians, about the Fall in Genesis when the snake says to Eve, “Did God really say?” The lies I have believed, that run pretty deep, are about God being who He says He is and whether or not I can trust Him and am I good enough for Him.

As I was soaking in these thoughts, the trees suddenly parted and I hills in the distance, one layered upon another (the picture above). The scene took my breath away and I felt as if God had revealed beauty to me in such a timely and wonderful way. I exclaimed, “You brought me all the way here just to tell me how much You love me?!” I knew deep down that the Sovereign God had orchestrated the trip, the hike, the timing for me to just enjoy Him. I was being wooed by the Beautiful Pursuer.

Every time I look at the photo I am reminded that God is who He says He is and that is love is amazing and unique and beautiful and special and precious. I am glad that I had the time to myself and I would not have traded it for anything on that hike.

September 26, 2014: Day 12 – Being a Pursuer and Not a Distancer (40 Days of Writing Challenge)

For the last three years, when January 1st hits, I pick a word for the year. The first time I did this, I picked the word “Freedom”. Throughout that year, I explored the difference between “freedom from” and “freedom to” and I was on a journey of understanding what freedom in Christ meant. Last year, the word was “Identity” as it seemed to build off the previous year’s growth. This year, my word is “Pursuit”. I decided to intentionally seek to recognize Christ as Pursuer and to see the variety of moments in life as God wooing me to Himself.

I received this topic from one of my best friends because she has pegged me as a pursuer and her as a distancer. I seek others out and make every effort to get to know them. She reminded the other day that I practically annoyed her into being my friend when we met in college. She described the encounter as, “I was headed to Zehrs across the street and you followed me and kept asking if you could go with me.” Sounds stalkerish eh? It is obvious that I did win her over. She tried to distance herself from me but my pursuer nature would not relent. Thank God.

Why am I a pursuer rather than a distancer? Let’s start with the positive side of being a pursuer shall we.

Today a friend shared with me a line from a song, “The opposite of love’s indifference”…I asked, “How can love be indifferent?” My heart could not ponder such a thing. For me, to love others means to pursue them. I want to know who they are, what makes them unique, how they think… ¬†Some of my best friendships were formed out of my desire to get to know the other person. I intentionally and boldly asked that question – you know the deep kind of question that opens up the other person… and I listened. Another way I have been describing pursuit lately is the concept of just getting in someone’s way. It can be literally standing so they can’t get by or inserting myself into a conversation or some sort of activity. Once it is put in my mind or heart to get to know that person, it’s pretty obvious to me that I’m going to try hard to see results. The other positives of this side of the coin are that it is easier and natural to meet new people and help others feel welcome.

One thing I am learning is that often our strengths can also be our weaknesses. In being a pursuer, I often have wondered if it flows from a sense of control. If I make the first move or start the conversation then I am in some way in charge of the outcome. Even though I know deep down I cannot control someone else’s reactions or decisions, I have myself convinced that I can. I get to start the rippling effect, so there! The other disadvantage is that I often cannot tell if I am being pursued. If I waited, would I be surprised? I once experienced this in friendship. One of my best friends came up to me after we had met at a party and said, “We’re going to be friends.” I have loved her for that ever since. It gave a taste of what it is like to be on the other side; someone got to know me first. What a wonderful feeling.

Ironically, I realize that although I may be a pursuer in human relationships, I tend to be a distancer when it comes to my relationship with God. It is why I have made a conscious decision to put Him as the Beautiful Pursuer. The more I respond to the work of the Holy Spirit through Scripture, relationships, prayer, and every day life experiences, the more I see God pursuing my distancing heart. He does not give up even when I walk in the other direction at times. Last Sunday the sermon was about when Jesus washes the feet of the disciples and something struck me…He washed the feet of Judas, the one who betrays Him. I had this feeling of pursuit as I realized that He pursues me even when I betray Him. His grace and love are not conditional on how much I pursue Him. And at the same time, the more I see God’s pursuit, the more I do want to pursue Him in return. I want to know who the Beautiful Pursuer is and truly grasp why He loves me so much. His love remains…

September 25, 2014: Day 11 – Describe What Today Was Like (1 Month Ago) (40 Days of Writing Challenge)

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As I was prepping for this writing assignment, I got my topic mixed up and researched what today was like a year ago, five years ago, and nine years ago. Call me crazy, but journalling really has its advantages. I think I could have even gone 15 years and possibly 20 as I have been journalling since the age of nine.

fun w the ladiesOne month ago, on August 26, 2014, I met three wonderful ladies for dinner. The four of us have done these ladies nights once in a blue moon to really enjoy each other’s company. On this particular evening, I learned how to have a good time despite awkward circumstances. The waiter in the middle of us was on the job for the first time and tipped his tray of drinks onto our table (not the one we’re at in the photo). I was unfortunately sitting in the corner of the booth and experienced what it is like to have coke and water pour into my lap! I looked like I had peed my pants, seriously! I wanted to have a good time with my friends, so I moved on. We had some amazing conversation and our meal ended with this photo – proof that you can have a good time no matter what life pours on you (yeah bad pun).

One year ago, on September 25, 2013, I was wrestling with God on a couple of things. From my rather large handwriting I can tell that I must have been having an emotional day. The journal entry starts with, “Maybe my pen was not working because I was going to argue with You.” I can see that the fountain pen I went to use to begin writing looks scratchy for the date and then the colour changes to a lighter blue. I wonder now what I would have written if the pen allowed me to actually begin arguing with God. Reading through my thoughts, I came to the conclusion that I was meant to learn something through the ups and downs I was encountering. There are a lots of questions in the journal entry…questions to God and questions to myself. I was discontent and I wanted God to answer for it. Another thing I recognize is that in the midst of battling I was also proclaiming my beliefs on who God is and the connection I have to Him. Thankful there was hope in the midst of misunderstanding.

Five years ago, on September 25, 2009, I was praying before an eight hour shift at Starbucks. I prayed for a customer’s Dad who was diagnosed with cancer. I prayed for a good friend who was the Head Resident Adviser for girls dorm at Heritage, and I was considering transferring to another store closer to home. If I went through my journals just looking for when I have intentionally thought of or prayed for others, I wonder how many people there would be. There is something so special about¬†being able to look back and see how prayers are answered. ¬†I finished the day and the journal entry by reflecting on “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel while riding the bus home from work.

coffeeNine¬†years ago, on September 24, 2005, I’m just going to copy into here what I wrote then because I think it’s funny considering where I worked five years later and my current love of coffee:
“Ok I’m tired. I went to Tim Horton’s & the line was insane, so now I am at Starbucks. I think I should cut myself off soon. I’ve spent too much money on coffee…and Starbucks loves it! I have to be at work in 20 mins. I hope I won’t get too hyper & scare the other sales people or customers. I’ll walk over now.”
I wrote this before starting school and working at Starbucks. I remember that I would get a tall caramel macchiato before every retail shift in order to get through it. I made the trip to Sunrise Center, a long bus ride, about getting coffee instead of going to work. The spending money part was that at the time I had not even considered school, I thought I was going to work retail. I decided one day to do the math on what I was spending on coffee, and did the drink cost x 5 days a week x 52 weeks a year = a lot of money spent of coffee per year. The most logical step was getting a job at a Starbucks.¬†Double irony, this week and last, I went to Tim Horton’s 5 days in a row. No insane lines and no worrying about being hyper at work. If I arrive back to work in a good mood or possibly hyper, it is not due to the coffee but the break from the office, the fresh air, and the good company.

September 24, 2014: Day 10 – Sweaters Vs. Sweatshirts (40 Days of Writing Challenge)

The difference between sweaters and sweatshirts to me like the difference between formal and informal, business and casual, dressed up and dressed down.

When I go to my closet and pick a sweater it means I want to appear more put together. I want to be warm in the office, for example, but still display some level of professionalism. Of course, if I’m really trying to make an effort, I will have a dress shirt underneath rather than a simple camisole. A hoodie does not quite give off the put together vibe. I have found that since working in an office and feeling like I’m in my first “big girl” job, I have purchased more sweaters versus sweatshirts. I now have 40ish (depending on my Friday & Sunday moods) hours in which I need to dress up. The compromise from my beloved hoodie is the sweater.

Oh hoodies, so loved by Catherine. So, when I go to my closet and pick a hoodie/sweatshirt it means I don’t care about my appearance and I am seeking comfort. I enjoy the ability to sort of hide in the hood if I wanted to. A good hoodie can be loose or tight, but the hood adds the comfort I need. When I was in my teens, I would wear college hoodies that I bought from Value Village because I thought they would make me look older. I had a University of Western one and a Carlton University one. I felt so cool and yet was able to continue to be comfortable… Win/win.

Which do you prefer and why?

“If you want to destroy my sweater, pull this thread as I walk away…”