October 9, 2014: Day 24 – True Friends (40 Days of Writing Challenge)

“I see your true colours shining through, I see your true colours, and that’s why I love you… so don’t be afraid, to let them show.” – Cindy Lauper

Friendship has been one of those areas of life that I do not want to live without. I once heard a sermon that said, “Friendship is a one way street”. He was expressing that sometimes we are a friend to someone who may not be a friend to us. To be a friend is to love sacrificially and with their best interest at heart. That is tough to do because we are constantly looking at what is good for me, or what can I get out of this, or how can I be pleased today. What?! You want me to put someone else first? I have had many moments of stupid resentment because a friend hasn’t called or checked in or initiated spending time with me. But as I write this and reflect on what I think a true friend is, I realize that I have it all wrong when I put the focus on the other person. I cannot control them. I can love them.

The sermon guy went on to say, “but if you find someone who will be a friend back to you, consider yourself blessed.” Mutual encouragement. In the last couple of years I have began to see that some of my best friendships have been a beautiful balance of give and receive, carrying each other’s burdens and carrying our own load, pursuing growth and connection, and getting through the hills and valleys of life alongside someone else. I know not all my relationships are like this, in fact, I’m ok that some of them are more me showing love than receiving it… but when I do find one that is mutual, man do I cling to it.

We’re getting close to Thanksgiving and I realize that I am thankful for friendships. Throughout the many hills and valleys of singleness, good friendships have been essential. They give the opportunity to put someone else ahead of yourself when you can get stuck in self-centeredness. They sharpen you as you realize where there’s relationship, there’s conflict. Friendships give you a place to love with boundaries. I love showing love through a variety of ideas and thoughtfulness… friendship has been wonderful for me to just unleash the encouragement that wells up inside me. A note, a treat, a coffee, a hug… in friendship, I can “just be” myself.

To my many friends reading this, I love you dearly and hope you know that.

October 7, 2014: Day 23 – Favourite Children’s Story and Why? (40 Days of Writing Challenge)

When I was in grade five, ten years old, four foot three, with an unfortunate boy-style haircut (in case you need a visual), we read “Maniac Magee” by Jerry Spinelli as a class.

IMG_0691.JPG Spoiler alert! I may share too much plot if you plan to read the book.

The book starts out with tragedy and then is written much like the movie “Forrest Gump”. The kid starts running and ends up trying to find real family after losing his parents. He goes to the “wrong” part of town, interacts with other races and ages, and you are always surprised at the kid’s boldness with others. I can still relate and interact with the story even now, and I haven’t read it in decades (wow that makes me feel old).

As I grew up in a more multi-cultural city, compared to the one in the book, I did not understand why it was strange for a white kid to talk to kids in a mostly black neighbourhood. My first neighbourhood friends were from Japan, Costa Rica, Portugal, Vietnam, and England. I didn’t think about skin colour.

I also can relate to the kid in terms of multigenerational interactions. The story has a part where he becomes friends with an older man. This seems normal to me as I was the kind of kid who was taught to talk to adults openly. I was the only eleven, twelve, and thirteen year old at the church I went to during childhood. It was either talk to the adults or talk to no one my age.

In terms of boldness with others, well, I have it in spades. I ask questions that don’t typically get asked. I try new things on a whim – like the kid trying to untie the one town’s signature knot. I once had a random person bring me a Turkish coffee pot just because of a previous conversation we had about coffee while we were in line at a Tim Horton’s.

The key thing in the story that stuck with me is that after all the running, one member of one of his surrogate families finds him. It’s like in that movie “Catch Me if You Can”, he runs hoping someone will care enough to follow, to chase. The kid is found and scolded that he should know that his place is part of their family.

I keep recommending the book to a co-worker who finished reading “The Silmarillion” by J.R.R Tolkien with his son… But I think I need to find my copy and re-read the book that has stayed with me for so long. I can’t help but wonder if my perspective would be different so many years later. We’ll have to see…stay tuned.

October 6, 2014: Day 22 – If Two Colours Went to Battle, Which One Would Win? (40 Days of Writing Challenge)

As I looked at the T.V. during Monday night football, I realized that it was one color against another in terms of jerseys. When you look at the field from above, you see green against white or maybe you see purple against red. Sometimes football is described as a chess match which I absolutely love, but I think it could also be seen as a battle.

I don’t feel like it’s a very far stretch to even compare chess to battle and battle to football… I think that might be why I enjoy watching football so much. There is strategy and focus and leaning on the guy beside you to get through the situation. I mean no one’s trying to kill you in football but think about how many times in a movie you have heard one of the opponents say “I’m going to kill you!”

My favorite colour going into battle is the Seattle Seahawks. Sometimes I wonder if people will think I picked this team because they won the Super Bowl last year, however, there are many reasons why I picked them as my favorite team. For one, I went to Seattle the summer of 2013 and I loved the place so much. I think another influence was a couple coworkers really like the Seahawks and they kind of like brainwashed me into liking them as well.

As I watch football this year much more hard-core than I did last year, I realize how much I really like watching Russell Wilson manage the field. The way he coordinates plays and is willing to run the ball is not typical and is just awesome. I also enjoyed the aspect of the twelfth man: the fans.

Before being encouraged to watch more football by one of my best friends, I would love watching the Super Bowl. I looked forward to it and even spent one year explaining to some ladies at a party now the yards and downs work.

I love how football has been used as an outlet for strengthening and growing relationships. My best friend got me more into it and we have relaxed watching many games. I was at my elder’s house for dinner and then we watched a game with huge pumpkins (inside joke). Fantasy football has been really fun at work as we give each other a hard time or gloat. Lately, football has become an excuse for some sweet quality time with someone pretty awesome.

But no matter who I get to watch a game with, I have enjoy the sport, especially the Seahawks. They show the colours I want to win in battle.

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October 5, 2014: Day 21 – If God Were to Give Me A Written Answer, What Question Would I Ask? (40 Days of Writing Challenge)

If God were to give me a written answer, what question would I ask…one of the most complicatedly simple things to ponder.

Instinct tells me that all of the answers to life’s questions have already been written out by God by the work of the Holy Spirit in the Bible. Some of you may think what I call instinct is brainwashing or simplicity when it comes too applying Scripture to life. Perhaps you aren’t thinking any of those things at all and have already tuned out.

The question I have been asking God for years is: “Am I good enough and loveable?” From a young age, I learned that I need to prove that I was good enough to receive love. It’s a deep lie that, by God’s grace, has been brought to the surface so it can be squashed. Let me share the first time God wrote out the answer to part of this question (good enough):

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14 NIV)

I was reflecting on this verse in the middle of a school chapel and noticed how many times full is in that verse. Inside I heard, “now go and live out of that fullness.” I had been meeting with a counsellor at school due to academic difficulties and she was used by God to bring both the “good enough” question to the surface and to help direct me to Scripture to answer it. She pointed out that in the above verse, there is no measuring up to some sort of standard to receive love: “you’re good enough already” she would say. I needed to believe that because I was created or made by God that that was wonderful in and of itself. I did not need to earn wonderful, I was just was wonderful.

As to the loveable part of the question, I have been on quite the journey to trust that God’s love is unconditional. There has been much unlearning that has taken place when looking at what it means to rest in God’s love.

“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19 NIV)

Trying to find only one part of Scripture where it is written is quite difficult. I could quote so many. This morning I heard a beautiful sermon on God’s unconditional love (here: John 14:15-31 Obedience, Love and the Holy Spirit). A couple things stood out – the smoothness is not where the assurance is and we are perfectly loved by God, even if we are not perfect in showing love. I needed to be reminded that God’s love is unconditionally perfect, He does not need my works or love in return, He shows self-giving love through the trinity… AND He shows His love to us through Christ’s sacrifice and the gift of the Holy Spirit. I have Him to guide me and remind me and spur me on to love Him because of the rest found in His unconditional love, not because I earned it by being good enough.

To anyone who has read this far: You are good enough because you are made in God’s image and His love is unconditional. No matter what, His love remains.

October 4, 2014: Day 20 – Do You Prefer Mornings or Evenings? (40 Days of Writing Challenge)

Ironically, I did not write this post yesterday because I wanted to sleep instead. I got up early to go to the Ride for Refuge and I got home late after seeing Conflict Wrestling. Does that mean I like both mornings and evenings? Let’s figure it out together as you read me processing out loud (If you have read this far into the blog posts, you have come to expect this approach).

sunriseMornings can be beautiful in the fact that they often signify a new beginning. His mercies are new every morning (Lam 3:22-23). I get a clean slate on what decisions I made, what words I say, and how I treat others. I love mornings when I get to wake up with ease and naturally and see the sunlight streaming in. Last year I trained to run/walk for a 5km fun run and I decided I would do this around 545am. I actually began to enjoy the quietness of waking up early and being out in the open air so early. As I got to further distances, it was such a wonderful experience arriving back home as the sun began to rise. In a practical sense, I feel like I can accomplish more in the morning than in the evening. I have noticed that I get more work done before lunch than I do in the afternoon. I have this exhilarated drive when I arrive at work and plunge into the day’s tasks or another pile of hours on a project. I do not concentrate or work well in the evening.

On the flip side, I can sometimes be a bit of a bear in the morning. If I went to bed with too much on my mind and then woke up on the “wrong side of the bed” then look out. I started to notice that my Mom would want to have a full blown conversation sometimes in the morning, so I have intentionally stayed in my room five extra minutes to wake up a bit more so I can be nicer. I also do not do well on mornings after a nightmare or when tears kept me company as I tried to sleep. I’m too raw to enjoy the morning fully and it takes me time to adjust from the night of emotional craziness.

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Evenings bring a different dynamic. Look at the above sunset! It’s gorgeous living on the twelve floor of an apartment building when the sun sets and your bedroom is filled with this orangey-pink glow. You can’t mimic it or capture it with a camera really, you just need to experience it. I enjoy that evenings give me an excuse to get out of the apartment also and spend time with friends during the week. Not many friends want to do something in the morning of a weekday before work. I love that with the evening you get stars and the moon. The sky is beautifully painted with little specks of glowing light. One time while I was looking out my window from my bed, I noticed a star in the sky that was incredibly bright and I could not take my eyes off of it. It filled most of the window and gave me a child-like sense of wonder as to whether it was a planet or not.

I don’t accomplish work stuff well at night. I cannot stay focused as I start to get tired from the day’s activities. I did not do well as a student because I would often choose sleep over studying. I convinced myself that sleeping was more important than handing in an assignment on time (I know some of you are cringing at this, and trust me I learned that this does not work in a job). In hindsight, I wonder if I would have done better in school if I had woken up earlier and worked on assignments. *shrug*

I think the conclusion is that I prefer mornings. I feel so much more productive when I can say I accomplished a, b, c, and d before noon. I love getting up early to go to the farmer’s market on a Saturday or heading to my favourite coffee shop. I think, like I said earlier, mornings bring a fresh start and I often need that.

October 3, 2014: Day 19 – Describe the Perfect Day Off (40 Days of Writing Challenge)

The perfect day off starts with hearing “Good Morning” and “I love you”. This is what I thought of when waking up thinking about my perfect day off… To be honest, this topic seemed simple at first until I over-analyzed it and thought, “perfect day off from what? Reality? Work? Life?”. So I decided that it would be my perfect day off from work if anything was possible. So let’s start again.

Taking a friend’s perspective, I would wake up naturally. I would see the sunrise and would peacefully know that the day was starting. Then, the day would start off with hearing “Good Morning” and “I love you”. Who doesn’t want to start their day off not feeling loved or knowing that love is present? And it would be a good morning, because I have the day off.

I would look into the day to see what possibilities it would hold. I would not worry about what I was going to do or could do because everything would be possible.

hagleslagI would get out of bed and would be able to get on a jet to England. Of course it would be my own private jet with a massage therapist and all the amenities I would need to arrive in England in style (or at least showered 😉 ). I would arrive at the airport and would have my own personal black cab waiting for me. It would have a driver and an amazing acoustic guitar player with an awesome voice (plug: Black Cab Sessions).

On this particular day off, I would get to meet the Queen of England who would be listening to Queen of course because she would enjoy the irony with me. Queen Elizabeth, listening to Queen with Catherine Elizabeth, it just makes sense. We would have tea and crumpets with peanut butter and Hagleslag. We would chat about how we’re probably related and she would give me a complimentary tiara from the crown jewels.

I would dine and dash because my goal is to sheer a sheep in Scotland. I once had the idea that I would also need to try haggis at the same time. A friend reminded me that just because I sheered a sheep didn’t mean I needed to also eat that same sheep. The fleece would come home with me already washed and ready to be spun into yarn and it would be gorgeous. Being in Scotland would remind me of my Scottish roots and somehow I meet at least one Macmillan in my family line and we would just know each other well.

I suppose that time does not exist in this scenario… but eventually I would want to come home. The perfect day would end with “Good night” and “I love you” because that’s how my days end now and it’s not anything I want to change. I thank God for parents who said it and I will not go to sleep until I say it and hear it. Loved all the day through, it’s just awesome.

Sidebar: in real life – I could continue reading through John or Ecclesiastes, I could lay in bed and just ponder life, or I could reach for the book I’m supposed to be reading for book club (at the moment: Pride & Prejudice & Zombies). I could play games on my ipad or watch tv. But these things are more normal to a day off, so let’s get a bit more unrealistic.
On a typical day off, if I would choose between Downtown Kitchener, Downtown Galt and Uptown Waterloo. If in the mood for Kitchener: I would visit my friend’s store, More Than Half, and possibly go to Woolverine and see what new yarns might have arrived. If in the mood for Galt: I would head to my new favourite coffee shop Monigram Cafe for breakfast or just some amazing coffee and then check out what is at Phidon Pens. If in the mood for Waterloo: I would stop at the Honey Bake Shop for french macaroons and then would eat lunch or dinner at Taco Farm. You can see that days off mean food and hobbie adventures. I would not run errands or make appointments, I would just spend the day doing my own thing and just going from place to place enjoying some of my favourite things. Thinking about doing all that plus evening activities is crazy… so we’ll just stick with during the day. 🙂

October 2, 2014: Day 18 – My Favourite Yoga Poses (40 Days of Writing Challenge)

Coming soon to a blog near you…a post. Headache present from pressure change and yoga helped chill me out in order to already be in bed. I’ll finish this entry in the morning cause I’ll probably be up before my alarm.
Cheers!

Naturally woke up at 430am, but am more prepared to continue writing now – 617am. Thanks for understanding readers :)!

The first time I tried doing yoga was in a community center gymnasium. It was during my degree and I was having a lot of lower back issues. I remember that it took me forever to get to and from it on the bus but I had invested money into this activity, so I needed to be there. I was nervous about doing postures and poses because outside of believing I can krip-walk (hip hop dance move) I would not put myself in the coordinated category. Wasn’t yoga graceful? I do not put myself in that category either (unless we’re speaking of the double-entendre side of showing grace, and yeah, I digress).

yoga pose 1 All season at yoga I practiced the darth vador breathing (eunji breathing) and tried to extend the poses. I actually saw progress! The funniest thing happened that describes one of my favourite poses. I was doing the Prasarita Paddotanasana pose where the full extension of the pose essentially has you with your head between your legs… yeah, awkward right? The yoga instructor, who was quite the character, said quite loudly across the room, “Catherine, I think we found the right pose for you.” I fell out of the pose laughing as I found the idea of my “right pose” being this particular one somewhat embarrassing… especially since my butt was in the air.

Since this first time of doing yoga, I am now doing yoga with a very good friend who began teaching last year. She has introduced me to many more yoga poses and a lot of them are my favourites because they have brought more relief and rest to many of my muscle groups, but especially my back. Here’s her page if you’re interested: Soul Connection Yoga – https://www.facebook.com/soulconnectionyoga?fref=ts Though I also have some funny moments in her classes, I have found that she encourages the restful and serious side of yoga. Her voice is soothing and she intentionally challenges you to strive for growth internally and physically.

 

 

yoga pose 2Another pose I like is the Adho Mukha Kapotasana or Pigeon pose. It feels amazing and I feel like it makes my body feel longer/taller than it actually is.

yoga pose 3The Virabhadrasana or one of the Warrior poses makes me feel like a superhero. When I am able to actually stay balanced and do focus on the point in front of me as instructed, I imagine a cape behind me blowing in the wind. I feel like I can take on anything, I’m a yoga superhero!

 

 

 

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The Natarajasana or Dancing Shiva pose was introduced to me only in the current yoga session…last night, I realized that it is the perfect amount of twist for my back muscles and I feel like it brings rest.

 

 

 

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The Malasana or Garland pose is not my favourite… and yet it brings me laughter. The first time we were instructed to do this pose, I remembered how “blessed” I am in the butt as gravity took its toll. I cannot seem to get this to work. But mark my words, I will!